Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – October 13, 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.    As Iraq pullout progresses, U.S. keeps troops numbers high to provide ‘flexibility’Despite reports that the Iraq government had requested about 5,000 U.S. troops remain as trainers, U.S. Forces-Iraq remains on track to be out of the country by the end of the year, USF-I spokesman Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan said Wednesday.
2.    S. Korea to review status of forces agreement with U.S.South Korean government officials will meet in late November to determine whether to ask the United States to revise the status of forces agreement, in the midst of public anger over two separate sex crimes involving U.S. Army suspects.
3.    Army must maintain conventional warfare skills, Panetta saysThe Army should maintain the counterinsurgency and special operations chops it has honed in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it should rededicate itself to conventional operations as well, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday.
4.    SMOC agrees to let Framingham shelter be a Safe Haven.  MetroWest Daily News
Starting this week, the US Department of Veterans Affairs can send up to 10 of those veterans at a time to Larry’s Place, 90 Lincoln St., as part of its new Safe Haven program. Previously, all 19 beds at the dry shelter, which SMOC opened in 2009, …
5.    New Programs To Help Homeless Vets Launched.  KGTV San Diego  — The San Diego branch of the US Department of Veterans Affairs is rolling out a series of outreach programs to combat the growing number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans that become homeless. The department’s goal is to reduce the number of …
6.    Awareness Event Highlights Help for Homeless Veterans.  KTUU   A Wednesday event at the Loussac Library’s Wilda Marston Theater put a spotlight on homeless veterans — an issue that weighs heavily on the US Department of Veterans Affairs. “Just as those on the front lines left no …
7.    State honors veterans with Distinguished Service Medal.  Asbury Park Press  MG Glenn Rieth The Adjutant General addresses veterans.   New Jersey Department of Veteran’s Affairs Distinguished Service Awards ceremony held at the Ocean County Mall. The state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs has …
8.    Blue Button Use Blows Away VA Expectations.  Modern Healthcare  “More than 430,000 veterans have downloaded their healthcare claims information through” the US Veterans Affairs Department’s “Blue Button initiative-far exceeding initial predictions for use of the service. The results to date for the technology, which aims to make it easy for VA patients to go online and download copies of their medical records, were reported Tuesday by Todd Park, chief technology officer at HHS, during the FedTalks 2011 conference in Washington.” Modern Healthcare adds, “The initiative has spurred several private-sector versions, Park said, including downloadable-claims programs from Aetna, UnitedHealth Group and Walgreen Co.”

9.    Campbell Wounded Warrior Barracks Ready To Open.  AP  “New four-story apartment-style barracks are opening at Fort Campbell to serve hundreds of troops who are ill, injured or wounded in combat as part of the military’s effort to revamp medical treatment for soldiers. Funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the barracks can house up to 206 soldiers who use wheelchairs or prosthetics or need specialized medical care.” Col. Bill Howard, “commander of the warrior transition battalion at Fort Campbell, told The Associated Press during a preview of the quarters on Tuesday that even as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, the military has an enduring mission to support injured and ill troops and their families.”

10.  New VA Training Video Produced By Iraq Vet.  Washington Post   “With thousands of military veterans returning regularly from Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Veterans Affairs is facing new pressures to adapt and serve a new generation that still regularly refuses government-backed health care and benefits provided to them. Consistent with a push to use the Internet and social media to help turn around its reputation as obstructionist, antiquated and overwhelmed,” VA recently hired US Army veteran Kyle Hausmann-Stokes to produce “Doubts”, a “new four-minute training video for department employees and new hires.” The Post adds, “VA officials said they hope the video will remind department employees to provide good customer service to veterans and that it will remind them of what the system – often confusing, time-consuming and daunting – looks like to veterans just getting home.”

 

Have You Heard?

VA Launches Homeless Vet Outreach Initiative

VA is launching a nation-wide outreach initiative, “Make the Call,” to spread the message about its special programs to help homeless Vets and their families to 28 communities across the nation in October. Learn more

More Veteran News

 

  • Video Shows President Giving Purple Heart To Wounded US SoldierCNN Newsroom  On Monday, President Obama “travelled to Walter Reed Medical Center…to visit and lift up our wounded warriors.” CNN noted that the President handed out four Purple Hearts during his visit. One of those receiving a Purple hear from the President was US Marine Corporal Justin Crabbe, who lost “parts of both…his legs” in Afghanistan. Crabbe’s “family posted…video on YouTube of the Commander in Chief presenting him with the award.”
  • Brain Linked To Robotic Hand; Success Hailed. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  The success of Tim Hemmes in putting a “robotic hand in the waiting hand” of another person “represented the first time a person with quadriplegia has used his mind to control a robotic arm so masterfully.” The project, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), has “received more than $6 million in funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the US Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA.”
  •  Fallout From The $16 Muffins Continues.  Washington Post  “The fallout from those controversial, overpriced muffins served at a conference sponsored by the Justice Department continues: The crumbs now spread all the way to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which soon could be forced to regularly inform Congress of any and all costs associated with the conferences and training sessions it sponsors.” On Tuesday, the House “passed a bill that requires the department to provide details of costs for meetings big and small – including an upcoming VA-sponsored training session at the Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando.” The Post adds, “While it sounds alluring, the conference is designed to give the department’s contracting officers the 80 hours of training they must complete every two years in order to keep pace with federal contracting guidelines, according to VA spokeswoman Jo Schuda.”
  •  Federal Labor-Management Forums Look Like GOP Target.  Washington Post  “It’s been almost two years since President Obama ordered the creation of labor-management forums to ‘improve the productivity and effectiveness of the Federal Government.’ At a Senate hearing Tuesday, people directly involved with the forums – administration officials and leaders of employee organizations – praised the non-confrontational approach to problem-solving that the forums provide,” but the praise was “not unanimous.” The Post notes that in his testimony, W. Scott Gould, the Veterans Affairs Department deputy secretary, said, “It is important for all parties to understand that the executive order does not undermine management’s responsibility or authority to manage the workplace.”
  •  House To VA: Improve Sexual Assault Reporting.  Army Times  “The House of Representatives wants a March 1 deadline for the Veterans Affairs Department to improve how it tracks sexual assaults in its hospitals and clinics. Acting in response to a June report from a congressional watchdog agency that found two-thirds of rapes at VA facilities were never reported to headquarters, the House on Tuesday passed by voice vote a bill ordering the centralized collection of reports of sexual assaults or other safety incidents at VA medical facilities. Any allegation, whether confirmed or not, would have to be reported and investigated under” HR 2075, “which will not be binding unless it also passes the Senate.”  CQ  reports that also on Tuesday, the House passed HR 2349, “which would require the VA to carry out a pilot program to assess the skills and training provided to claims processors” at the Veterans Benefits Administration, HR 2302, which “would direct the VA secretary to notify Congress” of VA-sponsored conferences, and HR 1025, which “would provide honorary veteran status to individuals who served at least 20 years in the reserves, are younger than 60 and were never called to active duty.”
  •  Improving VA Mental Health Care Now.  Washington Post   Warrior Project Executive Director Steven Nardizzi writes, “The Oct. 4 news story ‘Mental health needs unmet through VA, care providers say’ highlights the Department of Veterans Affairs’ failure to meet its own standard for scheduling mental health appointments for veterans. Tragically, this lack of timely treatment is symptomatic of deeper problems in VA mental-health care.” Nardizzi urges VA to “better utilize the hundreds of vet centers nationwide and allocate more resources to those centers; better integrate peer-to-peer support to help sustain veterans in such treatment as group therapy, and pay for private-care options if VA resources are so limited that a warrior in need cannot be seen within a reasonable timeframe.”
  •  PTSD’s War Toll: Buddy System Helps Veterans Battle Demons.  Florida Times-Union  “About 300,000 of the 1.7 million service members who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression, according to a Rand Corp. study in 2008. Hundreds of such troops live in Jacksonville: In the past year, the Veterans Administration’s Vet Center downtown has had servicemembers who were in Iraq and Afghanistan visit the center about 1,600 times.” And, while some “have horror stories of fighting” with VA “over access to care and over the disability rating decision made” by the government, “troops say…the push to make asking for help more accepted has gained some traction.”
  • Suit Claims VA Negligent In Suicide.  AP   “The widow of an Iraq war veteran from Tennessee claims in a lawsuit that the Veterans Affairs was negligent in failing to diagnose and treat” his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) before the vet committed suicide in 2008. The “suit filed Tuesday in federal court in Greeneville says staff at the VA hospital in Mountain City did not adequately treat Scott Walter Eiswert, of Greeneville before his suicide.”
  •  Clinic For Military Veterans With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Oct. 26.  Newnan (GA) Times-Herald  Veterans “who believe they may be suffering” from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are “encouraged to get more information about the condition and its impact on veterans and their loved ones when the Coweta Veterans Club hosts its third clinic to benefit veterans Oct. 26 at 7 p.m.” Michelle Lindsey-Bailey, a “PTSD Trauma Specialist from the Decatur VA Medical Center, will lead the Oct. 26 clinic program.”
  •   Beyond The Battlefield: From A Decade Of War, An Endless Struggle For The Severely Wounded.  Huffington Post  Tyler Southern is “just one of a growing number of young Americans — 16,000 or more, so far, out of 2.3 million American troops sent overseas — who volunteered for Iraq or Afghanistan and came back alive but catastrophically wounded.” Their “wounds are more severe and complex, raising difficult issues for military medicine and for the nation on which disabled soldiers will depend for a lifetime of care.” The Post added, “Among the questions the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs cannot answer is how many young Americans have been severely wounded in combat,” because of incomplete battlefield reports and conflicting databases, according to Pentagon officials.
  •  Beyond The Battlefield: With Better Technology And Training, Medics Saving More Lives.   Huffington Post  “Razor-sharp training, battle-tested new medical procedures and new technology — and the heroic work of medics” like James Stoddard, who is profiled by the Post, — are “rescuing and revivifying a new generation of severely wounded survivors.” The Post adds, “Tough and realistic training, constant drilling and the widespread use of tourniquets has helped change the face of battlefield trauma medicine. Now, the military is saving people ‘who are literally within a minute of dying,'” said Dale Smith, a “medical historian at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., a Defense Department medical school.”
  • Soldiers Say It’s Hard To Return To Civilian Life.  NPR  “Many veterans are having a difficult time adjusting to civilian life.” NPR interviewed Afghanistan veteran Nick Colgin, who said there is a “program, it’s called TAP, Transition Assistance Program, and the problem with that is…it’s based off the installation level. … So each base does it their own way. Each service does it their own way.” He added, “You’re not getting the type of resume training skills that you should be getting, everything along those lines.”
  • Commanding Safety.  Trustee Magazine  “In regard to patient safety, or at least its public perception, the Veterans Affairs health system has developed a bit of a split personality in recent years. The federally funded system for veterans, with 153 hospitals and more than 1,400 other clinical treatment sites, has been the focus of various newspaper and congressional investigations,” most recently involving “concerns about sterilization or reprocessing of medical equipment for such procedures as colonoscopies and dental care.” At the “same time,” however, “VA’s national safety center, launched in 1999 from Ann Arbor, Mich., continues to spearhead quality and safety improvement efforts that have received kudos in national peer-reviewed journals.” Trustee Magazine quotes Dr. David Nash, dean of the Jefferson School of Population Health in Philadelphia and an expert in quality improvement, who said, “VA is a national leader in having a centralized leadership team committed to the quality and safety agenda.”
  •  Medical Center Takes Good Care Of Veterans.  Atlanta Journal-Constitution  Georgia resident Michael Markcity writes, “Atlanta has a crown jewel that 95 percent of its residents don’t know exists: the Atlanta VA Medical Center.” From the “janitorial staff to the transportation crews, pharmacists, technicians, office staff and chaplains, they make this center the model of how and what a superior hospital should be. Kudos to a class act and a group of people that make it all possible.”

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