Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – September 09, 2011

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Veterans! Here’s your Top 10 News stories of the day compiled from the latest sources

 

We encourage you to browse our list so that you can take what you want and keep what you need

 

1.   Japan’s new government vows to move forward with plans to relocate Marines on OkinawaJapan’s new leaders say they will redouble efforts to move forward with plans to move U.S. Marine Corps air operations at Futenma to Camp Schwab on Okinawa.
2.   Why You Fight: Readers Tell Their StoriesAfter the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001, a special group of Americans stepped forward to answer the call: the men and women of the U.S. armed services. Why You Fight is about you, your brother, your wife, your friends. It’s true, personal stories from Stars and Stripes readers about why they fight in the war on terror. We hope you will be moved to share your own story and photos.
3.   Veteran receives care and wants others aware.  Illinois Times  Amber Burke, a clerk at the Veterans Affairs Commission of Sangamon County, says the SCVAC provides emergency relief assistance for rent and utilities and also provides food vouchers. Veterans can apply for up to $400 for rent, up to $150 for utilities …
4.   The aftermath of 9/11: A neglected, looted America.  Seattle Post Intelligencer  In 2004, as casualty rates in Iraq soared — and military medicine saved injured soldiers who would have died in other wars — the US Department of Veterans Affairs sought to shut down the VA’s Wainwright Medical Center in Walla Walla. …
5.   Help for veterans is available.  FSU Voice  If you’re a student veteran or a veteran’s dependent attending college, there may be a program that can assist you with obtaining an education. The US. Department of Veteran Affairs offers several programs designed to aid veterans or their families …
6.   Columbus woman gets 33 months in prison for embezzling from veterans.  WLTZ 38 NBC  The Attorney had been appointed as a fiduciary for several individuals receiving veterans benefits pursuant to the Fiduciary Program of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”), which oversees benefits paid to beneficiaries who are …
7.   Yellow Ribbon Program will aid UW-Madison’s military veterans.  University of Wisconsin-Madison  Under the Yellow Ribbon Program, the difference between the resident and nonresident rate is split between the VA and the university,” says Bechtol. “For example, the Post-9/11 covers an in-state tuition rate of $4800. A student is a nonresident, …
8.   Honoring student-veterans.  Houston Baptist Collegian  The University allotted a maximum of $1000 for each of the 20 eligible students, and the US. Department of Veterans Affairs will match that contribution. More than 40 students qualify for the grant this year. Jackie Morgan, academic records processor, …
9.   A Family’s Wishes. New York Times  A Bush administration regulation “that the family of the deceased – ‘and only they’ – would identify any text to be read” at national cemetery funeral rites “to protect families of veterans distressed by the intrusion of volunteer honor guards offering unsolicited prayers and recitations.” Some honor guards and conservative legal group the Liberty Institute are challenging the regulation and claiming “falsely, that the Obama administration has banned the mention of God and decreed ‘Jesus is not welcome’ at veterans’ burials.” The Times concludes, “The wishes of a grieving family should never be overridden by outsiders, however well intentioned.”
10.IDES Aims To Streamline Military Benefits Program. El Paso Times The VA and Department of Defense “have partnered to create what they hope is a more efficient system to determine eligibility for benefits for wounded, injured or ill military members.” Under the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES), active-duty military don’t need to be examined by each branch. Instead, the exam used to determine if a military member is fit for duty is used by the VA to determine a disability rating. “Bertha Griffith, chief of the Special Exams Unit with the VA in El Paso, said the idea is to ‘avoid duplication of efforts between agencies.'”

 

Have You Heard?

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced last week that more than $2.2 billion in retroactive benefits have been paid to approximately 89,000 Vietnam Veterans and their survivors who filed claims related to one of three new Agent Orange presumptive conditions.  On Aug. 31, 2010, VA amended its regulations to add ischemic heart disease, hairy cell leukemia and other chronic B-cell leukemias, and Parkinson’s disease to the list of diseases presumed to be related to exposure to Agent Orange.  Secretary Shinseki’s decision to add these conditions to the list of Agent Orange presumptive conditions was based on a study by theInstituteofMedicine, which indicated a positive association between exposure to certain herbicides and the subsequent development of one or more of the three conditions.  Potentially eligible Veterans include those who were exposed based on duty or visitation in Vietnam or on its inland waterways between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975; exposed along the demilitarized zone in Korea between April 1, 1968, and August 31, 1971; or exposed due to herbicide tests and storage at military bases within and outside of the United States. The Agent Orange Claims Processing System website located at www.fasttrack.va.gov/AOFastTrack/ may be used to submit claims related to the three new presumptive conditions.

More Veteran News

 

  •  Brown Vetoes Bill To Limit Protests At Military Funerals. San Diego Union-Tribune California Gov. Jerry Brown “vetoed legislation that would have sharply limited protests at military funerals,” saying that “it conflicts with a recent US Supreme Court ruling that upheld picketing by the Westboro Baptist Church,” which pickets veterans’ funerals “to promote its anti-gay message.” Tom Richards, a retired marine and chairman of the San Diego United Veterans Council, issued “a sharp rebuke” to Brown, arguing Brown should have forced a court challenge. Bill sponsor state Sen. Ted Lieu said “he will work with the governor to introduce a narrower version next year.”
  • Proposed Fort Ord Cemetery A Step Closer To Reality. Santa Cruz Sentinel  “A military cemetery at Fort Ord is one step closer to reality” with California’s new law that “makes it possible for the Fort Ord Reuse Authority to take over management of the project, a potential cost-saving move that would lower the fundraising bar for cemetery supporters.” While the VA would eventually pay for the cemetery’s construction, “locals must first raise enough to cover planning costs before the federal government steps in.”
  • Oakland Park Votes Down VA Facility. Miami Herald  Oakland Park city leaders rejected “a proposed Veterans Administration treatment program as incompatible with the city’s plan for a retail-focused, family-friendly downtown.” The VA sought to use a former women’s shelter for a pilot program that would help veterans transition from military to independent living and teach “life skills through vocational and education programs.”
  • House Committee Poised To Pass Vets’ Jobs Bill. Army Times  “The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee is preparing to pass comprehensive legislation aimed at aiding veterans and separating service members and current veterans in finding work in a tough economy.” The Veterans’ Opportunity to Work Act “includes improvements in transition counseling and obtaining professional licenses or certificates for military-learned skills” as well as “a section directed at older veterans who have lost jobs by providing up to one year of benefits for 100,000 people to learn new skills that could help them qualify for other existing jobs.” Dropped from the bill is “a provision that would have made it mandatory for every separating or retiring service member to attend transition assistance classes, something the Defense Department said was excessive.”
  • Changes In Military Benefits Have Some Troops Up In Arms. USA Today As part of the effort to reduce government spending, the Defense Business Board proposed replacing “the time-honored, lifetime pension for those who retire at 20 years from the military…with a 401(k) program that pays benefits after turning 60 to 65.” The board called the current system “unsustainable,” predicting that future military capabilities would “erode” due to pension costs. “Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said that given the current economic crisis, it must be given serious consideration,” although he believes “any changes should be ‘grandfathered’ in.” However, opponents, such as the American Legion, “argue that without the option of early retirement, careerists willing to serve 20 years or more will quit, draining the military of leadership.”
  • New Cemetery Blessing for Area Families. Brewton (AL) Standard  VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki announced a $7 million grant to for the construction of Alabama’s first State Veterans Cemetery. The Standard adds, “Clyde Marsh, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs said the grant award is an honor to Alabama’s veterans and their families.” Governor Robert Bentley said, “This project affords our veterans the dignity and respect they deserve in recognition of their service to this state and nation.” Escambia County Veterans Affairs Service Representative Mike Hanks said, “This cemetery will be a great opportunity for families of veterans in this area to have a local cemetery for the burial of their loved ones and have it accessible without a long drive.”
  • Westover Vets Fight For Agent Orange Benefits. New Haven Independent Veterans Wes Carter and Paul Bailey “found dozens” of former Westover Air Force Base residents who have “illnesses connected to exposure to Agent Orange.” Now, they “are spearheading an effort to get the US Department of Veterans Affairs to recognize that the crews who manned the ‘spray planes’ stateside from 1972 to 1982 were exposed to lingering Agent Orange contamination and should receive compensation for their illnesses, as their fellow veterans who served in Vietnam do.” Carter cites Air Force documents on Agent Orange contamination aboard C-123 aircraft. Rick Weidman Vietnam Veterans of America’s executive director for policy and government affairs “expects to file a petition with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, asking that the stateside reservists who flew in contaminated C-123 planes get the same ‘presumptive exposure’ status as their Vietnam-based counterparts.”
  • Panel Focuses On Women Veterans Issues. American Legion A women veteran’s panel at the American Legion’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Commission meeting “examined a variety of issues related to women veterans, including military sexual trauma (MST), post-traumatic stress (PTS), difficulties in readjusting to civilian life, and frustration over not being recognized as true veterans.” Allison Hickey, under secretary for benefits in the Department of Veterans Affairs, “said VA is becoming more responsive to the needs of women veterans, and that the Veterans Health Administration has added a women veterans coordinator to the staff of each VA medical facility.” She also “is working to get a women veterans coordinator at every VA Regional Office as well.”
  • VA Launches Online Open-Source Agent For VistA EHR System. iHealthBeat “The Department of Veterans Affairs has launched an online open-source community that aims to update VA’s VistA electronic health record system using crowd-sourced knowledge.” The Informatics Application Group is “the custodial agent for the community, called the Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent.” According to VA CIO Roger Baker, VA and the Department of Defense will use “an open-source process to modernize the VistA EHR system.” VA CTO Peter Levin said “that the open-source community represents a step toward a more open, modular structure within VA and the Department of Defense.”
  • New VA Director On Board At Roseburg Medical Center. Roseburg (OR) News-Review  Carol Bogedain is “ready to use her expertise with rural veteran health care at the helm of the VA Roseburg Healthcare System.” One of the challenges “she will face…is recruiting doctors,” but Bogedain “hopes to work with Oregon universities to attract recent medical school graduates.” She also plans “to cut down on travel time for veterans seeking care through the VA” both “by forming partnerships with doctors outside the VA system and increasing the use of telemedicine.”
  •  VA Hospital Doesn’t Need Anniversary To Recall 9/11. Long Beach (CA) Gazette Newspapers The Veterans Affairs Hospital in Long Beach “is seeing an increase in registered veterans – a mix of those returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as veterans from previous wars” – according to CFO Michael Rupert, and “the hospital’s budget isn’t growing at a pace that can keep up.” Compounding the issue is that “the hospital has seen a decrease in donations since the economy began to decline.” Richard Beam, director of communications, noted that “another problem faced by the veterans hospital is an increase in homeless veterans who have been unable to find work in the economic recession.”
  • VA Program Helping MT Veterans Get Care Closer To Home. KAJ-TV The VA program Project ARCH (Access Received Closer to Home) “allows veterans to go outside VA facilities to receive services which will then be paid for by the VA.” Billings, Montana, is one of the five sites in the three-year pilot project. Montana VA official Robin Korogi said, “We already have 30 hips scheduled and about 15 knees, so we have about 15 more veterans that we need to get signed up to get knees done to be able to use all the money that was sent to us.”
  • VA Requests Proposals For Historical Property Renovation Program. KTVH-TV “The VA has issued a request for proposals for the enhanced use lease program to renovate historical properties at Fort Harrison.” According to VA Montana facility planner Teresa Bell, contractors can “get long leases, make an income and get tax deductible grants.” She added that if the agency doesn’t “receive any interest in the buildings; the VA will consider other options, including possible demolition.”

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