Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – September 22, 2011


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


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1.   VA Holds True to Families…It is their decision not Organizations.  The US Department of Veterans Affairs holds true to families and settles a lawsuit that accused VA officials of religious censorship at Houston National Cemetery, Veterans of Foreign Wars District 4 and Houston National Memorial Ladies will resign their positions as official VA volunteers. …
2.   NJ providing $195K to help train veterans in construction trades.  The effort is part of Helmets to Hardhats a national program jointly created by the US Department of Veteran Affairs and the national AFL-CIO to help National Guard, reserve, retired and transitioning active-duty military members connect to quality …
3.   County commissioner candidates propose vet center.  The Times Herald  The planned center would work in conjunction with the Montgomery County Office of Veterans Affairs and US Department of Veterans Affairs in Norristown. Richards envisions a public-private partnership to fund a well-staffed center estimated to cost …
4.   Fitch to Take Rating Actions on Oregon Dept of Veterans’ Affairs.  MarketWatch  Fitch Ratings will downgrade the short-term rating assigned to the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs (ODVA) series 83, 84 and 90B (the bonds) to ‘F1’ from ‘F1+’ and …
5.   Senators blast rise in GI Bill funds going to for-profit collegesFor-profit colleges aggressively targeting student veterans doubled and in some cases nearly tripled the amount of GI Bill funding they took in last year, a trend lawmakers called disturbing and potentially predatory.
6.   Mullen blames Pakistan for Haqqani attacks on U.S. troops in AfghanistanPakistan’s intelligence service directly aided the terrorist Haqqani network’s recent wave of attacks against U.S. servicemembers and other targets in Afghanistan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said Thursday.
7.   Retreats aim to put ‘together’ back into marriagesThe weekend trip to Verona, Italy, for Valentine’s Day this year recharged the DeCortes’ marriage, they said.
8.   Navy extends sea duty for 60,000 sailorsThe change affects 36 ratings, with the sea time being increased from anywhere between six months and two years. Those scheduled to rotate to a new duty station before March 2012 will not have their projected rotation date adjusted
9.   Remains of bomber crew interred in ArlingtonThe remains of nine servicemen, missing in action from World War II, were buried in a single casket Wednesday in Arlington National Cemetery, the Department of Defense announced.
10.  Soldiers Struggle For Jobs After Service. Washington Times  “Nationwide, unemployment among veterans is 8.3 percent according to the most complete statistics” from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Maryland, the “rate is lower, around 5.7 percent, but the disorientation veterans feel transitioning from war to the work force is the same.” State officials “said Maryland has a lower veteran unemployment rate than national figures, in part because military base realignments have brought jobs to the state, and also because the government has focused programs and money on helping the state’s 13,000 unemployed veterans find careers.”


Have You Heard?

VA Implements Coaching into Care

VA has launched a telephone service called Coaching into Care, which is a national phone service that links Veterans and their family members with benefits and services available in their communities. Read more at VAntage Point


More Veteran News


  • Michelle Obama Does “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” “The Oval,” USA Today  “First lady Michelle Obama recently shot a segment of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, but acknowledges she did limited work on an expanded community center for homeless veterans in Fayetteville, N.C. ‘I’d like to say I put up the drywall, but my handy skills are limited,’ Mrs. Obama told People magazine in an interview.” She added, “I did help screw in some plaques as a part of a fabulous design project that paid tribute to all of the female veterans who have passed through Barbara’s home.” USA Today adds, “‘Barbara’ is Barbara Marshall, a Navy veteran who founded the homeless center and inspired Mrs. Obama to participate in the home makeover project.
  •  Arlington Cemetery Lacked Voice Mail For Veterans’ Families. Washington Post     A voice mail system was added by Arlington National Cemetery’s leadership “when it took over after a scandal that involved millions of dollars wasted in botched contracts and the burial of bodies in the wrong places.” A new report by the US Army’s inspector general (IG) found that the system created “another problem: Except for those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the average wait for a burial with full military honors has increased to almost three months.” The IG “investigation, which will be discussed before the House Armed Services Committee on Friday, is a follow-up to the scathing investigation a year ago that touched off congressional inquires.” Army Secretary John McHugh has reacted positively to the IG’s report, saying a lot of what it found shows the “Army is on the right path toward repairing the cemetery’s failures and restoring the confidence of Congress and the American people.”
  • Study Seeks Diagnosis For Gulf War Illness, Better Treatment. San Diego Union-Tribune  “Twenty years after the war, veterans suffering from a mysterious constellation of ailments known as Gulf War Syndrome lack definitive answers about what caused their health to deteriorate, how best to treat it, and a cure. The Veterans Affairs Department issues ‘presumptive’ diagnoses based on patients’ symptoms, after ruling out other physical disorders.” A team from the San Diego-based Veterans Medical Research Foundation now “hopes to develop the first biological diagnosis for Gulf War illness, based on a study of receptors in the lung and nerves linked to respiratory problems for many veterans of the 1990-1991 conflict.”
  •  Grant Awarded To Advance Kosten’s Research In Treating Veterans’ Addictions.  Houston (TX) West University Examiner  Dr. Thomas R. Kosten will “receive the National Institute for Drug Abuse Avant-Garde Award for Innovative Medication Development Research.” The grant that goes with the award “supports novel approaches for treating methamphetamine and nicotine addiction. Kosten, the associate chief of staff for Research at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, will receive $500,000 per year for five years to support his research, according to the NIDA, part of the National Institutes of Health.” The West University Examiner quotes the DeBakey’s director, who said that with “this grant, the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, through Dr. Kosten’s important research, can continue its commitment to developing safe and efficacious medications to treat addiction in our” veteran population.
  • Wyden Urges Super committee To Improve Care Coordination In Medicare And Medicaid. The Hill  Wednesday testimony by Melanie Bella, director of the Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office, before the Senate Finance Committee on the subject of efforts to “improve care for the so-called ‘dual eligibles’ who are enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid.” One of the committee’s members, US Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), thinks this can be accomplished in part by providing some home based care to such enrollees. Wyden “points to a recent Veterans Affairs report” on the success of VA’s Home Based Primary Care program. Wyden “argues that if the program works so well for veterans, there’s no reason not to expand it to dual eligibles.”
  • Hospital Finds New Ways To Treat Veterans, Service Members. Chicago Tribune The Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago, which is a pilot project run by Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense, offers the “latest interventions to help veterans go from broken to coping.” Last “week, Lovell was named one of the top 405 hospitals in the nation based on quality control measures as judged by the Joint Commission, a leading accreditation agency.” The Tribune adds, “Top Department of Defense and VA officials frequently tour the facility…said” Lovell spokesman Jonathan Friedman, who pointed out that lawmakers and outside healthcare professionals also frequently tour Lovell. According to Friedman, there is “no manual” for how best to operate Lovell. He added, “There are a lot of eyes in the nation on this one facility to see how it goes.”
  •   Salt Lake City Housing Agency Accused Of Endangering Veterans. Salt Lake Tribune  “The Department of Veterans Affairs is threatening to withhold funding from two Salt Lake City Housing Authority properties, saying poor management is ‘endangering the health and safety’ of veterans.” Treatment at Sunrise Metro Apartments and Valor Apartments is “unfocused, and care for veterans has been marred by ‘flagrant indiscretions in confidentiality and professional standards’ by staff, according to a Sept. 16 letter from the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center to the housing authority.” The “housing authority’s response to the VA has been ‘very positive,’ said Jill Atwood, spokesperson for the VA in Salt Lake City,” who noted that VA is meeting with the housing authority this week.
  • Varicose Veins: Closure Procedure Removes Enlarged Vessels In Minutes. Los Altos (CA) Town Crier  “Medicare, TriCare and Veterans Administration military health plans all cover a minimally invasive treatment that heats, shrinks and seals” varicose veins “in minutes. A boon for older patients who won’t have to undergo general anesthesia, the Closure procedure targets venous reflux disease, which causes varicose veins.”
  • Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center Seeks Input On Senior Housing. Augusta (GA) Chronicle  The Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center will “hold a public hearing” this coming Tuesday at 6 p.m. “on a proposal to renovate a vacant building on its Uptown Division campus for senior and assisted-living patients.” The Chronicle continues, “The Enhanced-Use Lease Project would put 40 senior and assisted-living beds there in a good location for them, interim spokeswoman Robin Brown said.” The Chronicle adds, “The building would require minimal renovations and is part of a VA effort to get better use out of its properties, according to a VA news release.”
  •  New Grant Helps Veteran Families Avoid Possible Lives Of Homelessness.  Cronkite News  “Thanks to a $545,000 grant” from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, United Methodist Outreach Ministries, “known as UMOM New Day Centers,” can “help more veterans’ families avoid eviction and find permanent places to live, as well as connect with financial help and health care.” The “first–of–its–kind grant is part of the Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program, a VA endeavor aimed at helping eradicate homelessness among veterans. UMOM New Day Centers, along with the Primavera Foundation in Tucson, were among 85 grantees across 40 states and the District of Columbia to share the total funds of about $59 million.”
  •  Volunteers Give Back To Our Veterans. Arizona Public Media “The Southern Arizona VA Hospital’s Concierge Service, as the only all-volunteer concierge service for veterans, has tripled the number of volunteers to 60 in the last year, the VA volunteer coordinator says.” Gayle Donkin “says the idea behind the concierge service is to give back to those veterans who have fought and sacrificed for others.” The “volunteer corps will be put to work” on October 22nd, when the hospital will host a “Welcome Home Event.”
  • Vets Seek Connections To Jobs, Benefits At Stand Down. Oregonian On Tuesday Eric Upchurch was “one of the thousand or so veterans” attending an “annual Stand Down, sponsored by Central City Concern, the Portland nonprofit that seeks to prevent or remedy homelessness.” The US Department of Veterans Affairs had a table at the event. There “‘are a lot of misunderstandings,’ acknowledged James Satterwhite,” a “VA Public Contact Outreach Specialist who spoke with Upchurch Tuesday morning. The VA was there to help clear things up for vets, he said.”
  •  WWII Vet Receives High School Diploma. MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports      “99-year-old Word War II veteran” named George Harriger has “finally received his high school diploma.” He “dropped out of school in the 10th grade to join up when World War II broke out. He hopes his story will inspire other students to stay in school.”
  •  Japanese-American WWII Veterans To Honored In Ceremony At Honolulu’s Punchbowl Cemetery.  AP  “Japanese-Americans killed in action during World War II are due to be honored at a National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific service in Honolulu this weekend.” A Sunday memorial service will “honor fallen members of four segregated units: the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Military Intelligence Service and the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion.” The Oahu AJA Veterans Council holds the annual ceremony, which is “held each year on the Sunday closest to the anniversary of the date the first American of Japanese ancestry was killed in action in World War II.”
  •   Legion: Government Must Lead Way In Vets Hiring. Air Force Times  Fang A. Wong, the “national commander of America’s largest veterans'” group, “said Wednesday that the federal government is setting a poor example for private businesses.” Wong, who commands the “2.4 million-member American Legion, said the government expends a lot of time and resources trying to convince businesses that veterans have a wide range of skills and experience that would make them ideal employees in many settings – but fails to lead by example. Testifying before a joint” hearing “of the House and Senate veterans’ affairs committees, Wong said the veterans’ hiring pitch to private employers falls flat because 80 percent of veterans employed by the federal government work at one of three departments: Defense, Veterans’ Affairs or Homeland Security.” Wong said the US government “needs to…ensure” veterans are hired “across the broad spectrum of the entire government.”
  • Houlton Postal Worker Gets 30 Days For Stealing Veterans’ Prescriptions. Bangor (ME) Daily News  “A 32-year employee of the US Postal Service who was arrested and charged in February after he stole prescription medications that were supposed to be delivered to local residents will spend the next 30 days in jail.” The 57-year-old Joseph Skehan was “sentenced in Aroostook County Superior Court on Wednesday on charges of theft, unlawful possession of scheduled drugs and stealing drugs” that were “mailed by the Veterans Health Administration to veterans in the Houlton area.”
  •  Union Seeks To Halt To Layoffs At Veterans Home In Grand Rapids. Detroit News

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