Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – October 04, 2011

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

 

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1.   Homeless veterans find community in ‘Huot House’.  Kennebec Journal  He has been homeless four times in the past five years and has already been through a similar program in Biddeford for homeless veterans there. Veterans Affairs referred him to this housing program. “These are new to Maine and are really needed,” Wells …
2.   Alpha Hosts Symposium on Hiring Our Nation’s Veterans.  DigitalJournal.com   Connecticut state leaders, including State Senator Carlo Leone, Senate Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee, and Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, were among distinguished speakers who addressed private-sector employers interested in hiring veterans. …
3.   Changes made to Family and Medical Leave Act rulesBeginning Oct. 31, federal employees will be entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to assist an active-duty family member who is deployed overseas, or who is about to deploy, according to regulations issued by the Office of Personnel Management.
4.   U.S., Afghan soldiers trade volleys ? ?No problem!?  It’s volleyball night in the motor pool. U.S. versus Afghan troops. Dust and diesel fumes, shouting in at least a couple of languages. Men who would not normally be doing this together.
5.   World War II vet?s daughter searches for the things her father carriedJack Usadi joined the U.S. Army in 1943 and served in the 3104th Signal Service Battalion in Europe. He came home afterward, graduated from law school at Columbia University, and started a family with his wife, Janna.
6.   Weapons cuts, fewer jobs likely lie ahead in Navy?s futureStar Trek-style weapons development will be among the first cuts the new chief of naval operations says he will recommend for next year’s expected defense budget overhaul, but those savings alone might not spare sailors from personnel cuts in an era of unprecedented retention.
7.   Vet marches forward.  Florida Today  He works at the Chevron store on US 1 just south of the Beachline. National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, US Department of Veterans Affairs. …
8.   Law lets friends help put indigent dead to rest.  Houston Chronicle   When a 44-year-old Navy veteran died in March in southern Nevada with no money and no local relatives, the US Department of Veteran Affairs paid $300 of his cremation expenses and the Clark County Social Services Department picked up …
9.   Many Wash. baby boomers not prepared for retirement.  The Columbian  At age 53, Vancouver resident Tammy Howard has put in enough years working at the US Department of Veteran Affairs to be eligible to retire. But with mortgage debt that’s more than her home’s value and insufficient savings, retirement doesn’t appear to …
10. Conference Brings Female Vets Together. Palm Springs (CA) Desert Sun  “The California Department of Veterans Affairs and the Inland Empire Veterans Collaborative are scheduled to host the 2011 CalVet Women Veterans Conference: Enhancing Inner Beauty, Inner Strength on Friday and Saturday at the DoubleTree Hotel Ontario Airport, 222 N. Vineyard Ave., Ontario.” It adds, “The conference – a networking forum for female veterans from all wars – will also…provide information about benefits, healthcare programs and help with employment opportunities.”

 

Have You Heard?

The Challenge of Coming Home

Coming home from war can be a difficult experience for some Vets. At VAntage Point, Iraq Vet and author Colby Buzzell writes about his own struggle with reintegration and alcoholism—as a beacon for others. If his story hits close to home, be sure to learn about the resources VA offers.

More Veteran News

 

  •   Vets Group: VA Still Struggles With Late Claims.  Federal Times  “The new head of the nation’s largest veterans group said the Veterans Affairs Department is trying to speed up the processing of claims, but progress is proving elusive so far. Fang Wong, the retired Army chief warrant officer elected in August to head the 2.4 million-member American Legion, said he trusts that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is ‘trying hard to get this under control.'” Wong added, “They are trying a lot of different things at VA. But I just don’t know when we are going to see things get better.”
  • Outside The Wire.  Providence Journal  “The crying will come, back home, when DiRaimo begins to experience debilitating symptoms of wartime post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, once known as shellshock and battle fatigue. Many others who served in Iraq and Afghanistan will suffer from PTSD too –– but DiRaimo at first will believe he is alone.” DiRaimo “in the fall of 2006 agrees to visit” a Veterans Affairs PTSD clinic, where his is frustrated by the bureaucracy but he “agrees to begin therapy and take medications.” He later began missing appointments and contemplated suicide, according to the Journal.
  •  Virtual Reality Helps Vets Deal With PTSD.  WNEM-TV  “Veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are getting better with the help of a new treatment that uses virtual reality exposure therapy.” One of those being helped is Iraq veteran Joshua Musser, who through the treatment can “experience the sights, smells, vibrations and sounds of war – a customized scenario targeted specifically to treat his psychological trauma.” WNEM added, “Three months after being treated, Musser’s doctors said his PTSD levels have significantly improved.”
  • A Broader G.I. Bill.  New York Times  It is “good news” for vets facing high unemployment figures that the Post-9/11 GI Bill now “covers non-degree institutions like vocational and technical schools, flight schools, and licensing and apprenticeship programs.” But unless “strong controls are put in place” by Veterans Affairs, the “surge of G.I. Bill money will be a windfall for fly-by-night schools more interested in cashing in on veterans than educating them.” The Times adds, “Congress could also help by closing the 90/10 loophole that makes veterans targets for aggressive and deceptive recruiting” by for-profit schools.
  •  Official: VA Ready To Make Sure Students Benefit From Expanded Bill. Norfolk (VA) Virginian-Pilot  “Nearly half of the $321 million” in Post-9/11 GI Bill “benefits paid out on behalf of Virginia veterans last year went to for-profit schools,” a trend that is “raising alarms with some in Washington, including the bill’s principal sponsor,” US Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA). The Virginia-Pilot adds, “At a teleconference with reporters last week, VA officials said their biggest challenge up to now has been simply getting the program up and running smoothly. With that mission accomplished, they said, they are turning their attention to student retention, degree completion, employment success and other measures of educational value.” The story quotes Allison Hickey, the VA’s undersecretary for benefits, who said, “We have strong internal controls to manage those issues. We’ll apply the same strict standards to nondegree programs.”
  • Contractors Face Tougher Rules For Certifications.  Washington Post  “As the federal government focuses on directing dollars to disadvantaged businesses, it’s also adjusting the way companies prove they qualify, in an effort to ensure those claiming special status actually merit it.” The Post adds, “The Department of Veterans Affairs, for instance, has removed close to 19,000 contractors from its roster of veteran-owned or veteran-owned, service-disabled companies, according to Tom Leney, executive director of the VA’s small business office. Previously, about 27,000 contractors had certified themselves as eligible to receive preference in relevant Veterans Affairs contracts – a pool of work Leney said is generally worth between $3 billion and $3.5 billion annually.”
  •  Seminar On Thursday Will Address Healthcare For Veterans. Kansas City Star  “A seminar this week in Kansas City, Kan., will address” Veterans Affairs “healthcare in Kansas. The event will offer information about the services provided at the Community-Based Outpatient Clinic and the VA medical centers in Leavenworth and Topeka. A department representative will answer questions.”
  •  Syracuse VA Medical Center Plans Job Fair For Vets. Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard The Veterans Affairs medical center in Syracuse “will hold a job fair for veterans 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday in the center’s auditorium. More than 25 employers with job openings in manufacturing, health care, education, retail and government will participate.” Hospital spokesman Gordon Sclar discussed the job fair, stating, “Just like an antibiotic can get you well, a good job can put you on the right footing. Jobs help prevent homelessness and other ills.”
  •  Fisher Houses Serve “Wounded Warriors”, Families On The Murfreesboro Post.  Murfreesboro (TN) Post  Staff Sgt. Jeffery Redman is “recovering from massive lower body wounds from two incoming mortar shells from enemy forces in Iraq.” It was “‘hugs’ and shared ’emotions’ as the soldier chatted enthusiastically with Gold Star Mom, Joyce Mount, a devoted volunteer fundraiser for a Fisher House to be constructed next year” at the York Veterans Affairs Medical Center “in Murfreesboro. ‘I lost my son, Jud, to an explosive device in Iraq,’ Mount explained,” adding, “I travel the state, in support of other Gold Star Moms and raising funds to build the much-needed Fisher House to serve families as their soldier heroes are treated at nearby York VA and Nashville VA Medical Centers.”
  • Law Lets Friends Help Put Indigent Dead To Rest.  AP  “When a 44-year-old Navy veteran died in March in southern Nevada with no money and no local relatives, the US Department of Veteran Affairs paid $300 of his cremation expenses and the Clark County Social Services Department picked up the remaining $125. Now, with budgets shrinking and the number of county ceremonies for indigent people increasing – to 959 from 867 a year before – the county is relying more on veterans groups, co-workers and families to help pay for putting the dead to rest.” Since May, a Nevada law has been in effect that “lets people other than family members help pay county funeral costs.”
  •  Veterans Affairs Maryland Provides Door-To-Door Transportation Service. Easton (MD) Star Democrat  “The VA Maryland Health Care System now provides a free door-to-door transportation service Monday through Friday throughout the Eastern Shore for veterans needing transportation to the Cambridge VA Outpatient Clinic. The shuttle serves veteran patients referred by their VA provider or social worker and who have below-minimum income levels, have a catastrophic illness, qualify for VA beneficiary travel and do not have any other transportation resources.” The service also provides wheelchair vehicles.
  • Program Uses Fly Fishing To Help Heal. Durango (CO) Herald  “Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing strives to effectively serve past and present members of our armed forces who have made great sacrifices in the service of our nation. The mission of this project is to help the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active-duty personnel and veterans through fly-fishing and fly-tying education and outings.” The Herald notes, “In order to have a viable Project Healing Waters program, three groups must co-exist: a fly-fishing club willing to provide the volunteers and organize the program; a Department of Defense or Veterans Affairs hospital willing to host the program; and wounded or disabled veterans willing to participate.” It adds, “What is now needed are wounded or disabled military personnel and veterans who would like to participate in Project Healing Waters fly-fishing.”
  • 3 Doors Down Guitarist: Giving Back Is The Coolest Thing About Being In Rock.  WWBN-FM  Rock band “3 Doors Down are long known for their generous charity work. Most recently,” the band members “joined up with the Home Depot Foundation and the Mission Continues to help rebuild the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration Medical Center, a home for homeless veterans recovering from substance abuse, mental illness and post-traumatic stress disorder. The effort is part of 3 Doors Down’s non-profit organization, the Better Life Foundation.”
  • Disabled Vet Gets Dream Home. Florida Today  “Luis Puertas, a 24-year-old military veteran who lost both of his legs to a bomb while serving in Iraq, is about a month away from owning his own home,” as a result of a non-profit effort called Homes For Our Troops, “a partnership with local volunteers and building companies,” that “organizes and pays for construction of new homes customized to make life easier for severely disabled veterans.” Florida Today notes that Kim Cone, “along with her husband, Garren, leads the American Veterans Empowerment Team (or AVET), a veterans group from Patrick Air Force Base that has been instrumental in mobilizing volunteers to help build the home for Puertas.” It adds, “Founded in 2004, Homes For Our Troops is unique because it gives the homes it builds to the veterans at no cost.”

 

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