Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – October 19, 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.    Commandant: Marines permitted to wear KIA braceletsFollowing a public outcry, Marines can now wear KIA bracelets that honor fallen comrades, according to a Corps official.
2.    Braley, subcommittee hear of veterans’ job quest.  DesMoinesRegister.com (blog)  –Just up the street from the Iowa Veterans Museum here, a field hearing of the House Veterans Affairs subcommittee on economic opportunity on Monday zeroed in on two major issues affecting jobless veterans: translating military experience into the
3.    Veterans Committee Leaders All Open To VA Cuts.  Army Times   “The top leaders of the House and Senate veterans’ affairs committees are willing to cut funding for the Veterans Affairs Department in hopes of averting across-the-board cuts in federal spending.” A “rare joint letter signed by the four top Democratic and Republican members of the veterans’ committees” was recently sent to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. The Times adds, “No specific cuts were recommended by the four lawmakers, but they attached a list of all of the reductions made in veterans’ benefits since 1980 as part of other deficit reduction packages and a separate one-page list of ongoing initiatives to reduce expenses.”  CQ The “four top leaders of Congress’ veterans’ affairs policy panels suggested that significant budget savings could be achieved by rolling back annual increases” to the Post-9/11 GI bill, a “popular veterans’ education assistance program.” The lawmakers wrote that “veterans and their survivors who are the beneficiaries of Department of Veterans Affairs benefits and services have an active interest, as we all do, in ensuring the fiscal health of our nation.” But according to CQ, congressional “aides insisted…that the letter should not be viewed as a recommendation to dial back the tuition assistance program or any other program cited in the letter.”
4.    First Lady Michelle Obama And Dr. Jill Biden To Honor Military Vets At World Series Opener.  AP  First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, are “scheduled to attend the World Series opener in St. Louis on Wednesday night to honor military veterans.” Major League Baseball (MLB) “announced Monday that it has dedicated Game 1 between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals to veterans and their families.” The First Lady and Dr. Biden “will participate in a pregame ceremony at Busch Stadium as part of MLB’s Welcome Back Veterans program” and Mrs. Obama’s Joining Forces initiative.
5.    IG: VA Spent More Than $1.6M On Questionable PMAS Oversight Contract.  FierceGovernmentIT  “The Veterans Affairs Department office of information technology incurred more than $1.6 million in questionable costs because a contractor hired by its office of architecture, strategy and design did not effectively accomplish technical reviews for the incorporation of enterprise architecture standards compliance within its Project Management Accountability System, finds” a recently published Office of Inspector General report. In a “letter dated Sept. 26, VA’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for IT Stephen Warren said it will terminate the task order Dec. 30, 2011. In order to ensure that the task does not fall by the wayside, Warren also said he would direct the product development office to implement a PMAS program management office.”
6.    High Court To Rule On Lying About Military Medals.  AP The US Supreme Court “said Monday it will rule on the constitutionality of a law that makes it a federal crime for people to claim falsely, either in writing or aloud, that they have been awarded the Medal of Honor, a Silver Star, Purple Heart or any other military medal.” The Stolen Valor Act “apparently has been used only a few dozen times, but the underlying issue of false claims of military heroism has struck a chord in an era in which American soldiers are fighting two wars. At the same time, the justices have issued a series of rulings in recent terms in favor of free expression.”  USA Today  Challenge to the Stolen Valor Act, passed in 2006, “tests the reach of First Amendment free-speech protection for false statements, including those about personal military feats. Government lawyers who have appealed a decision invalidating the law,” contend that “false claims of having received military awards dilute” the meaning of the medals, but judges have found the law violates First Amendment freedoms by targeting speech solely because it is false.
7.    VA Seeking To Bolster Success Of GI Bill Students.  Army Times   “The Veterans Affairs Department is monitoring not just how many people are using the Post-9/11 GI Bill – about 350,000 for the fall semester – but also is requiring colleges and universities to report when GI Bill students are in academic trouble.” Keith Wilson, who directs VA’s education service, told the Times that this requirement will not only allow VA to contact students who are in trouble before they drop out or are thrown out of school, it will also allow VA to encourage schools with many veterans in academic trouble to create programs that would improve the chances of veterans earning degrees.
8.    Documentary Spreads Awareness Of Brain Injuries.  Army Times  “A powerful, poignant 28-minute documentary portraying patients and caregivers” at the Hunter Homes McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s polytrauma unit in Richmond, Virginia, is the “centerpiece of a new” VA “campaign to raise awareness” of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). The Times adds, “VA hopes viewers will become familiar with the impact of TBI and better understand efforts to help service members suffering from head injuries and debilitating physical wounds. VA also hopes the film will encourage veterans to seek treatment.”
9.    Beyond The Battlefield: New Hope, But A Long And Painful Road, For Veterans Pulled From Death’s Grasp.  Huffington Post  The efforts to repair the face of badly burned Afghanistan veteran Todd M. Nelson. Dr. Robert G. Hale, who has performed many surgeries on Nelson, directs “craniomaxillofacial (head, jaw, face) research at the US Army Institute of Surgical Research in San Antonio” and is a “consultant at the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine. He and other military researchers are working with scientists at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Institutes of Health and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., and universities across the country to regenerate tissue lost in combat — skin, muscle, bone, blood vessels, even nerves.”
10. CASAC To Host Web Seminar On Suicide Prevention For Vets.  Jamestown (NY) Post Journal  “Chautauqua Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Council will host…its next Learning Thursday Webinar from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday titled ‘Suicide Prevention for Veterans.'” The US Department of Veterans Affairs “presentation will inform the viewers of the basic facts about suicide prevention with veterans, as well as provide specific instructions about how to address suicide risk with veterans.” The Post Journal added, “‘Suicide Prevention for Veterans’ will be presented by Paul Noonan of OASAS and Joe Hunter of Albany Stratton VA Medical.”

 

Have You Heard?

Vets Take Creative Talents to Arkansas

More than 100 talented Veterans from across the nation have gathered for the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in Fayetteville, Arkansas, showcasing their winning entries in art, music, dance, drama and creative writing. Learn more

 

More Veteran news

 

  • Disabled Veteran’s Home Gets $100,000 Renovation.  AP  “Thanks to a $100,000 renovation, the first floor” of disabled Afghanistan veteran Johnny Agbi’s home “has been transformed, with wide entrances, a spacious kitchen with new appliances and a large, accessible bathroom.” In Washington, DC, on Monday, “First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden,” helped “finish off the renovation, which was retrofitted through a charitable venture called Heroes at Home. Agbi, 32, was the 1,000th veteran whose home was renovated under the program, which began in 2007 and is a joint venture between the nonprofit Rebuilding Together and Sears Holding Corp.”
  • Program Helps Identify Homeless Vets.  Kauai (HI) Garden Island  “Ten more homeless veterans were identified through the efforts of the Veterans Administration Homeless Veterans Outreach program, Friday, at the Kaua’i Veterans Center.” The Garden Island noted that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, a “Kaua’i native, established a priority goal of eliminating homelessness among veterans by 2015. ‘We had a terrific turnout and it was a great display of the VA and the community coming together to carry out Secretary Shinseki’s goal,'” said Charlene Burgess, team leader and social worker for the VA Kaua’i Community Based Outpatient Clinic.
  •  $98.8 Million Slated For New VA Rehab Center.  Palo Alto (CA) Weekly  “A new, state-of-the art Polytrauma-Blind Rehabilitation Center to be built at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System campus has just received $98.8 million in funding, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced” last Tuesday. Secretary Eric Shinseki “awarded the contract to Walsh/DeMaria Joint Venture V of Chicago, Ill., on Sept. 30 to build the new rehab center. The contract is part of a $1.6 billion reconstruction project that is underway at the Palo Alto campus that will consolidate services and replace aging buildings weakened or damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.” In a press release issued last Tuesday, US. Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) said, “I applaud VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and the entire staff at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System for their continued care and devotion to our veterans.”
  •  Pentagon To Resume NKorea Talks On War Remains.  AP  After “a six-year hiatus, the Pentagon has agreed to negotiate with North Korea on resuming an effort to recover remains of an estimated 5,500 US service members unaccounted for” from the Korean War. In a brief announcement, the Pentagon said Monday that the talks would begin Tuesday in Bangkok, but “offered no explanation for seeking to resume” the recovery operation.
  •  Substance Abuse By Veterans Focus Of VA Program.  Philadelphia Business Journal  On Monday, the Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center was scheduled to host a “unique program focusing on substance abuse.” The “program presented by Outside the Wire” was to “explore addiction through the dramatic readings of Conor McPherson’s one-man play ‘Rum and Vodka.'” The reading was to “be followed by a panel discussion and town hall on substance abuse and addiction.”
  • Drug-Eluting Stents Safe In Renal Patients.  MedPage Today  “Drug-eluting stents are safe to use in older patients, regardless of a patient’s kidney function, researchers found. Compared with bare-metal stents, drug-eluting stents were associated with lower risks of death and MI across the range of renal function through 30 months of follow-up, except in patients on long-term dialysis, according” Dr. Thomas Tsai, of the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center, “and colleagues. And the use of drug-eluting stents was not associated with greater risks of any adverse outcome, the researchers reported in the Oct. 25 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.”
  •  VA Seeks Further Changes At Salt Lake City Housing Authority.  Salt Lake (UT) Tribune  “The Department of Veterans Affairs is still negotiating with the Salt Lake City Housing Authority over changes it demanded a month ago in how veterans’ cases are managed at two apartment complexes. In a brief statement Monday, the spokeswoman for the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center said the VA intends to make recommendations to the housing authority by Nov. 1.” The Tribune adds, “On Sept. 16, VA Salt Lake City Health Care System Director Steven W. Young sent a notice of the VA’s intent to cut off funding for veterans at Sunrise Metro and Valor Apartments unless the housing agency fixed its policies and procedures within 30 days.”
  •  Middletown Court Working On Helping Veterans.  Dayton (OH) Daily News  Middletown Municipal Court Judge Mark Wall is “overseeing a new veterans court in the works as part of Middletown Municipal Court.” The “first veterans court in Ohio – part of the Mansfield Municipal Court – began in November 2009.” Mansfield’s “veterans court utilizes a local VA center for recovery programming and Middletown court officials are already working with the VA clinic at 4337 N. Union Road.”
  •    “Until Tuesday” To Be Made Into A Movie.  Reuters  On Monday, Waterman Entertainment said it has the rights to the book “Until Tuesday,” which is about Iraq veteran Luis Carlos Montalvan. While in combat, Montalvan suffered a numerous injuries, including traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. He struggled at home until he got a service dog named Tuesday. Waterman Entertainment plans to adapt Montalvan’s book into a movie. In a written statement, Waterman Entertainment Executive Vice President Tucker Waterman said, “Service dogs have played a crucial role in the rehabilitation of many American soldiers, and this film will pay tribute to them as well as the soldiers who have sacrificed so much for our country.”


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