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1. Obama: All U.S. troops coming home from Iraq by year’s end. President Barack Obama announced Friday that all U.S. troops will be out of Iraq by the end of the year, marking an official end to the controversial eight-year war that killed almost 4,500 U.S. troops and divided the American public.
2. Pentagon looks at military-wide tuition assistance plan to cut costs. Pentagon officials announced Thursday that they are looking into developing a military-wide tuition assistance plan in hopes of bringing down skyrocketing costs.
3. U.S. reaches deal with N. Korea to resume search for remains of American troops. Defense Department officials on Thursday announced plans to resume the search for missing U.S. troops declared missing or prisoners of war in North Korea, after successful negotiations with the government there.
4. Suicide prevention crisis line available for troops in Europe. Troops stationed in Europe can now use a toll-free hot line to connect to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Veterans Crisis Line.
5. Rising Veteran Suicide Rate Concerns Mayor’s VA Group. The Epoch Times By January 2010, suicide rates for 18–29 year old male veterans had increased by 26 percent from 2005 to 2007, according to the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). Veterans also face substance abuse disorders, unemployment, and homelessness when …
6. Returning Iraqi veterans face economic challenge. The News-Press Lee County will probably see a small increase in unemployed veterans once the troops come home, Ebling said. They may receive federal benefits from the US Department of Veterans Affairs or state benefits such as disability and food stamps, …
7. Audit: High price for running Mich. vets program. BusinessWeek But if we didn’t have people doing administration in a county, we wouldn’t have anyone serving the veterans,” Dutcher said. Under state law, counties are not required to handle applications or pay for the service, she said. “No veteran was not given a …
8. Stand Down aims to help vets. Polson Lake County Leader … state and local organizations at the Arlee Powwow Grounds last Friday and Saturday. The Veterans Warrior Society and the Department of Veterans Affairs joined forces to organize a Veterans Stand Down. VA staff and veteran service providers were on …
9. Veterans at risk of homelessness get a boost from Centerstone program. Clarksville Leaf Chronicle Identifying homelessness as a significant problem facing veterans and their families, a new $1 million grant has been awarded to Centerstone to provide needed support services. The one-year grant, provided by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) …
10. Obama Awards Presidential Citizens Medal To 13 Men And Women, Including 1 Posthumous Honor. AP The White House on Thursday, President Barack Obama awarded the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal to 13 people, including Judith Broder, who created “The Soldiers Project in 2004 to provide mental health services to service members, their families and returning veterans.” Also honored was John Keaveney “for creating New Directions, a home for homeless and disabled veterans who have addiction and mental health problems.”
More Veteran News
- Senate Approves COLA Increase For Disabled Vets. Army Times “The Senate moved Wednesday night to make sure disabled veterans receive the same 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment as Social Security beneficiaries and military retirees, but in typical congressional fashion it’s not yet a sure thing.” The “Senate passed S 894, the Veterans Compensation Cost-of-Living Act of 2011, which directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to give disabled veterans the same increase on the same effective date as the rise in Social Security.” This “would be the first increase in two years.”
- Nicotine Dependence Underdiagnosed In US Vets. HealthDay “US veterans are more likely than the general population to have a nicotine dependency, especially if they’ve struggled with other substances, mental illness, or homelessness, but VA services may be underestimating the scope of the problem, according to research published in the November issue of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Preventing Chronic Disease.” While conducting its research, “Jack Tsai, Ph.D., of the VA New England Mental Health and Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center in West Haven, Conn., and colleagues analyzed 5,031,381 users of VA health services to compare those diagnosed with a nicotine dependence with those who were not.” Authors of the research wrote, “Veterans who are homeless or have mental health or substance abuse problems are at highest risk and should be targeted for smoking prevention and cessation interventions. These results support, in principle, efforts to integrate smoking cessation programs with mental health and homeless services.”
- Tough To Predict Who’ll Wind Up Back In The Hospital. MedPage Today “Hospital readmission risk prediction models, both administrative and clinical, generally perform poorly, a systematic review showed. The models are used to assess the risk of readmission for the purposes of comparing hospital performance or for targeting high-risk patients for interventions to keep them out of the hospital.” The study, published in the “October 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association,” was conducted Dr. Devan Kansagara of the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center “in Oregon, and colleagues.”
- Army Updating Transition Assistance. Fort Leavenworth (KS) Lamp “Officials soon will unveil a fully revamped Transition Assistance Program that’s aimed at better reaching service members throughout the world, a senior Defense Department official said. TAP is a collaboration of the Defense, Veterans Affairs and Labor departments, explained John R. Campbell, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy.” The Lamp quotes Campbell, who said, “We’ll be able to unveil the new TAP from
- Beyond The Battlefield: As Veterans Fight For Needed Care, Long-Term Funding Remains A Question Mark. Huffington Post Veterans Affairs “funding remains an enticing target as tempers fray over the ballooning deficit.” The agency, meanwhile, “doesn’t have a good record of forecasting future expenses.” The Post quotes Dr. Robert Petzel, VA’s undersecretary for health, who said the “best we can do” is project VA’s budget three years into the future. The Post adds, “While no one would argue that veterans don’t deserve medical treatment and compensation, the long-term costs of caring for veterans remains unfunded, and that concern has prompted some to lobby for the creation of a Veterans Trust Fund.”
- Hidden Wounds, Unhidden Costs. Time “Battleland” blog notes, “A new report out this week – combined with a new report out last week – suggest there will be hefty costs associated with taking care of the nation’s post-9/11 veterans. This week’s report, released Wednesday, says vets with mental-health ailments require a lot more treatment, at far higher cost, than those without such ills.” The report released last week “made clear that a greater share of post-9/11 vets have mental-health problems than older vets.”
- Man’s Unique Technology Helping Injured Vets. KGTV-TV Kevin Carroll, who “developed special technology to help an injured dolphin swim again,” is “creating devices to aid injured military veterans.” KGTV added, “Prosthetics for wounded warriors are some of the most sophisticated anywhere, according to Carroll, who contracts with the Veterans Affairs Department to help veterans. Last year alone, the VA fitted more than 75,000 veterans with prosthetic devices.”
- Veterans Affairs Aids Ailing Vet With Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Arizona Republic Ken Jones was “one of the first Arizona veterans to receive” Veterans Affairs benefits for Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, after it was “declared a service-related disease. And that puts him at the head of what veterans’ advocates and doctors say could be a wave of diagnoses as tens of thousands of servicemen and -women return from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The Republic added, “As a part of the benefits Jones received from the VA, he was given a $40,000 power wheelchair last year and a custom van with a ramp, power sliding doors and ‘low-effort’ braking and steering.”
- Aquino Asks US To Be Liberal In Philippine War Veterans’ Claims. Philippine Daily Inquirer “President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday said the Philippine government had requested the US government to be more liberal in processing compensation claims of Filipino war veterans. Speaking during the 67th Leyte Gulf Landings commemorative program Thursday, Mr. Aquino said Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario had met with US Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to discuss the matter.” The Inquirer adds, “The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) had also been discussing with its US counterpart a proposal seeking to ease the process of payment of benefits to the heirs of deceased Filipino veterans entitled to receive compensation under the US Veterans Equity Compensation Act.”
- The Case for the President’s Jobs Act. Wall Street Journal Gene Sperling, the director of President Obama’s National Economic Council, argues for passage of the President’s American Jobs Act, in part because it offers a tax credit for hiring veterans. International Business Times A provision in the President’s “jobs bill would provide tax incentives for businesses that hire veterans.” The bill also “includes a directive for the Department of Labor, Department of Defense and Department of Veteran Affairs to develop job readiness programs.”
- Economist Worried About Unemployed Vets. Los Angeles Times “The number of workers filing for new unemployment benefits slipped slightly last week, a sign the job market is improving, albeit very slowly.” But “Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial, observed another trouble spot in the latest labor market indicator: rising ranks of unemployed civilian and military federal workers. ‘Those who want smaller government are getting it in droves,’ she said in a note to clients,” adding, “The problem, especially for returning veterans, is that we don’t seem to have jobs for them when they return home.”
- Sexual Assault And Harassment Are Widespread In The Military. KPBS-FM “All veterans who enter” the Veterans Affairs “system are screened for military sexual trauma, or MST. And the latest report is troubling: nearly one in four women report suffering MST during their service, and about one out of 100 men.” Dr. Carolyn Allard “directs the Military Sexual Trauma Clinic at the VA Center in Mission Valley,” which is “one of only handful of such VA clinics nationwide.”
- Surgery Delay Has Vet Question Women’s Health At VA. KTXL-TV A misunderstanding between female Gulf War veteran C. Tyler Storm and the Veterans Affairs hospital at Mather Field over Storm’s medical diagnosis. Storm thought budget cuts were delaying surgery she needed, but “Dr. Scott Gale, Medical Director of Women’s Health at the VA,” pointed out that Storm does not have cancer — which is what Storm thought – and “said their facility doesn’t have the resources in house to treat gynecologic cancer.” Dr. Gale “added the VA is doing more for women’s health, and is making it a top priority,” as demonstrated by the fact that a new women’s health clinic is being built at the Mather Field facility.
- Cheyenne VA Gets $2.6M For Rural Health Services. AP The Veterans Affairs hospital in Cheyenne, Wyoming, is “receiving $2.6 million from” the US VA “to expand and continue its rural health care program. The VA said Wednesday the money will go to upgrade an existing mobile clinic, increase services at outpatient clinics and start or expand other programs.” David Newman, the “Cheyenne VA’s tele-health manager, says technological advances have allowed the VA to provide medical care to veterans in almost any location.”
- Marion VA Opens New Facility. Southern Illinoisan “With the cut of a ribbon, a state-of-the-art residential treatment facility will formally open on the main campus of the Marion Veterans Administration Medical Center today. The 14-bed facility houses the center’s Rehabilitation and Recovery Treatment Program, which accepts veterans seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder, severe mental illness, situational homelessness or substance abuse/addiction.” The Illinoisan adds, “The program accepted its first resident Sept. 12, program manager Sonja Comer said.”
- Helping Veterans Find A Good Job Fit. St. Cloud (MN) Times “Heidi Claypool is one of three vocational rehabilitation counselors” at the St. Cloud VA Health Care System, which helps “about 1,200 veterans annually find work. ‘Our belief, especially in this discipline, is that employment is more than just a paycheck; it’s your identity, it’s your routine, it keeps you productive,’ she said.” Claypool “said the vocational staff at the VA looks at veterans’ disabilities and how that might impact employment in addition to helping them develop career plans or with job placement.”
- Mobile Vet Center Works To Help Homeless Veterans. Southeast Missourian On Wednesday, a “handful of area veterans…sought out the Mobile Vet Center,” which was “camped outside” the John J. Pershing Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s “Community-Based Outpatient Clinic at 3051 William St. near West Park Mall. The four-hour event was part of the Poplar Bluff-based” hospital’s “‘Homeless Stand-Down.’ The goal of the event was to be a ‘one-day, one-stop shop’ for services and resources to veterans who are homeless or at risk to be homeless, said Kristina Bowlby, the medical center’s homeless coordinator.”
- Comedian On Mission To Help Homeless Veterans. Mattoon (IL) Journal Gazette & Times Courier Stand-up comic and comedy writer John Stites learned from “Homeless Veteran Program coordinator Jennifer Gerrib of the Danville-based US Veterans Administration’s Illiana Health Care System” that veteran homelessness is a big problem. Stites “recently started using his three-year-old Operation Comedy tour to help raise funds for the Illiana homeless veterans program, which serves Coles and 36 other counties in Illinois and Indiana. The tour is set to bring together nationally recognized comics for performances at 8 p.m. Friday at American Legion Post 88 in Mattoon and at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Eastern Illinois University’s Doudna Fine Arts Center.”
- Navy’s Chief Chaplain Stresses Need To Address Spiritual Issues For War Vets. Augusta (GA) Chronicle “In the care of wounded soldiers and those returning from war, there is a need to address spiritual needs along with the physical and mental ones, the Navy’s chief of chaplains said. Speaking Thursday” at the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center “as the kickoff for its Pastoral Care Week, Rear Adm. Mark L. Tidd said he was impressed by the stories he heard as he toured the facility and its unique Active Duty Rehabilitation Unit.
- Man Accused In VA Benefits Fraud. AP Williams E. Seliby is “accused of using another person’s identity to fraudulently receive more than $90,000 in benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. That’s according” to US District Court records. Seliby “has pleaded not guilty to the charges.”
- Homeless Veterans To Get Food, Shelter, Support During Operation Stand Down At Joe Davis Stadium. Huntsville (AL) Times “Thanks to organizations like Operation Stand Down and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and volunteers, homeless veterans can learn this weekend about programs that can help them, legal issues and housing. They’ll also get food and a warm shower and bed, clothing and health care Friday through Sunday at Joe Davis Stadium.” Operation Stand Down is a “nationwide movement that began in San Diego in 1988.” Rock River Times “Area veterans are invited to the 2011 Top of Illinois Veterans’ Stand Down from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 26, at Verdi Hall Club, 782 N. Madison St. in Rockford.” At the event, the US Department of Veterans Affairs “will offer free medical and dental examinations.” In addition, employment “consultations will be given by” the US VA and the Illinois VA.
- Death’s Door And Back: VA Doctors Save Korean Ware Veteran’s Life. Cyprus (TX) Times “Surgeons at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) recently performed an emergency, contained ruptured aneurysm fenestrated graft repair using a special stent configuration to save the life of…82-year-old” Korean War veteran William Rester. Just “six days after his brush with death, Rester left the hospital. ‘I am so very grateful for the Houston VA. I can’t say enough about the doctors – I wish I could take them home with me.”
- Lost Gravesite Of Civil War Hero Found. Boston Globe
- New Memorial Honors Valor Of Jewish Chaplains. Washington Times
- 76-Year-Old Vietnam Veteran Receives Award In Surprise Ceremony. El Paso Times
- Veterans Information Fair Set For American Legion Post In Woodbury. Gloucester County (NJ) News