Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – October 26, 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.    VA warns returning soldiers about risk of rabies.  The Detroit News  The US Department of Veterans Affairs is sending out a nationwide alert to recent Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to get checked out following the death of a California soldier from rabies. Specialist Kevin R. Shumaker, 24, of Livermore, Calif., …
2.    Saco facility helps homeless veterans rebuild lives.  Bangor Daily News  Michaels said much of the Huot home’s day-to-day operational funding — adding up to about $160000 per year — is provided by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, while donations and grants are sought for clothes, food, furniture and recreational …
3.    New White House initiatives aim to bring vets into health care industryThe White House announced a pair of initiatives Tuesday intended to help veterans find jobs in health care as part of its wider push to create 100,000 jobs for former military members and their spouses by 2014.
4.    U.S., Japan will face Pacific challenges together, Panetta saysA strong U.S.-Japan alliance will grow stronger as the United States pulls out of conflicts in the Middle East and increasingly turns its attention toward the Pacific as a nexus for U.S. security concerns, leaders from both countries said Tuesday.
5.    Arizona State Veteran Home in Tucson to be dedicated on Veteran’s Day.  KVOA Tucson News  The $27 million project was a joint venture between the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services and the US Department of Veterans Affairs who provided funding for 65% of the new construction cost for the project. The dedication of the Arizona State …
6.    Gene variation predicts rate of age-related decline in mental performance.  Eureka! Science News  The National Institute of Aging and the US Department of Veterans Affairs funded the study. First authorship was shared by Martha Millan Sanchez, MD, postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Devsmita Das, MD,
7.    A Business Incubator Gives Funding And Jobs To Vets.  NPR  Ken Myszka is one of five former business executives who received a $3 million grant from the US Department of Veterans Affairs to open and operate VETransfer. “What we’re trying to do is, when somebody has a good concept that we think it’s going to …
8.    4 Wisconsin Veterans Advisory Groups Dissolved.  Green Bay (WI) Press-Gazette “As a part of the continued revamping” of Wisconsin’s Department of Veterans Affairs, the agency’s secretary, John Scocos, “has dissolved four advisory organizations.” A memo sent earlier this month reveals that “Scocos has decided to ax the County Veterans Service Officers advisory council and three Board of Veterans Affairs committees dealing with legislative and program review, long-term care and finance. The memo was sent to members of the board and the Council on Veterans Programs.”
9.    FDA Says Chantix Did Not Increase Psychiatric Problems In Studies, Though Data Not Definitive.  AP  “Federal health officials” with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “said Monday that Pfizer’s anti-smoking drug Chantix did not increase psychiatric problems like depression and suicidal thoughts in two studies, though the findings are not definitive.” The FDA “said in a statement that two federally-funded studies involving more than 26,000 patients did not show an increased rate of psychiatric hospitalizations among Chantix patients, compared with those using nicotine patches and smoking cessation treatments.” The studies were conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. The AP adds, “FDA regulators stressed that the studies only recorded psychiatric problems that resulted in hospitalization, meaning many issues likely went unreported.”
10.    Mammograms Don’t Save As Many Lives As Women Think.  Reuters  A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine on Monday finds that while many female breast cancer survivors often credit a mammogram with saving them, the chances are low that this is the case. Dr. Timothy Wilt with Veterans Affairs in Minneapolis wrote a commentary about the study in the same issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. Wilt said the research will provide doctors with science-based information to share with their patients, who frequently are influenced by “powerful, but inaccurate” survivor stories, added Welch.

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  • Participants Needed For Schizophrenia And Bipolar Illness Study.  Cyprus (TX) Times The Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center “(MEDVAMC) is currently conducting research addressing the genetics of functional disability of individuals suffering with schizophrenia and bipolar illness.” The “goal of the study” is to “help researchers discover genetic risk factors related to these disorders.”
  • VA Delivers Quality Care To Vast Majority Of Patients.  St. Petersburg (FL) Times Veteran Tony Zappone criticized a recent Times editorial, saying it “selected one very small and specific problem that could have given readers the idea that the James A. Haley VA Medical Center and the veterans hospital system in general is irresponsible, inept and broke.” Zappone added, “While it would be highly unusual for the hospital to cancel appointments with outside medical consultants due to budget constraints, that may be the case. However, it has been my experience and that of everyone I have talked to that the hospital is 99.99 percent efficient, organized and dependable in its dispensing of medical care to veterans.” Zappone concluded that if anyone is to blame for any budget problems VA may have, it is Congress.
  •   From Combat To A Parking Lot.  Kennebec (ME) Journal Homeless Iraq veteran Aaron Rollins, who “suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and other symptoms of battlefield injuries.” Rollins does, however, receive “$3,100 a month in a disability pension from the Veterans Administration” but he must also spend money each month on expenses related to his divorce.
  • Obama Calls Congress “Increasingly Dysfunctional.”  USA Today  On Monday, President Obama “said…he will start issuing executive orders to forge new economic policies because ‘we can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job.'” USA Today adds, “This week, Obama plans to issue executive orders for plans to encourage business owners to hire veterans and to help students repay college loans.”
  •  Raising Breast Cancer Awareness.  St. George (UT) Spectrum  Veterans Affairs is “asking all female veterans to talk to their health care providers about appropriate breast cancer screenings. A regular mammogram is one of the most effective methods of early detection.” Veterans Affairs, according to Estrovitz, “excels at breast cancer screening, outperforming private health care systems, with 87 percent of eligible women receiving screenings.”
  •   VA Works To Improve Treatment Of Gulf Illness.  USA Today  “Twenty years after the end of the Persian Gulf War, the Department of Veterans Affairs plans to standardize and improve treatment for the one of four veterans who suffer from a multi-symptom illness that could have been caused by environmental exposures.” The agency has “created a pilot program starting this week in Salt Lake City aimed specifically at caring for Gulf War veterans, and it vowed to improve training, data collection, research and communication for that group.” USA Today points out that in a statement, the VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said a report from VA’s Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses Task Force “provides a road map for our continued enhancements in our care and services we provide to Gulf War veterans. We will be applying lessons learned from this report to veterans of all eras.”
  • VA Provides Services For Brain Injury.  St. George (UT) Spectrum  Veterans Affairs has “launched a campaign to increase awareness about” traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Estrovitz added, “Treatment is available and the VA provides specialized services to support veterans and service members through evaluating and diagnosing traumatic brain injuries. More information is available at www.polytrauma.va.gov.”
  • Augusta Conference Sees Better Ways For Treating Wounded Warriors.   Augusta (GA) Chronicle  “From gushing wounds to chronic pain to finding a better way to get deserved benefits, those caring for injured service members in Augusta are finding better ways to get it done. Researchers and clinicians gathered Monday at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center for the First Augusta Research Symposium on Advances in Warrior Care.”
  •  Local VA Clinic Ready For Troop Withdrawal.  KAUZ-TV  “The Obama Administration says troops will start coming home from Iraq in less than three months and that could put a strain on Texoma veteran’s services.” But Dr. Russell Smith, a psychologist with the Veterans Affairs clinic in Wichita Falls, says the facility has a tele-mental health system. Dr. Smith “says with this new system they are prepared to take on an increase of patients.”
  • Honoring Our Troops And Veterans.  Naples (FL) Daily News  Mental Health Association of Southwest Florida Executive Director Petra M Jones notes, “Veterans with mental health conditions often face long and ‘unconscionable’ waits for treatment, according to a report by the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General.” Jones adds, “In honor of Veterans Day, the Mental Health Association of Southwest Florida in partnership with VFW Post 7721 is planning a ‘Welcome Home’ appreciation dinner honoring all service personnel and their families on Saturday, Nov. 5. The event will be held at the VFW post at 800 Neff’s Way, off Pine Ridge Road.”
  • Plaque For Jewish Chaplains Dedicated At Arlington.   AP  On Monday, a “memorial to 14 Jewish chaplains who died during active military service” was dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery. Monday’s dedication service “marks the completion of a memorial that will sit alongside existing memorials dedicated to Protestant and Catholic chaplains. Backers of the memorial say it corrects an important omission and pays proper respect to the sacrifice of Jewish chaplains who died in World War II, Vietnam and during the Cold War.”
  •   Filipino-American Veterans In Nevada Fight For Benefits.  Las Vegas Review-Journal  When President Obama visited Las Vegas on Monday, the Filipino-American Veterans of Nevada wanted to give him a petition calling for an executive order that would compel the US Department of Veterans Affairs to grant Filipino-American World War II veterans a $15,000 benefit. Money for such vets was set up under the American Recovery and Re­investment Act of 2009. The petition has been signed by more than 500 people. According to the Review-Journal, more than 24,000 Philippine-American veterans have had their claims rejected by VA, because VA’s Manila office and the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis do not recognize guerrilla rosters and other Philippine military papers that have been submitted with the rejected claims.
  •  Veteran Says VA Refuses To Give Wounded Warriors Preference When Granting Contracts.  FOX News  “A government investigation is seeking a response from the Department of Veterans Affairs after the agency allegedly failed to follow a law that would have it set aside work for qualifying firms owned by disabled veterans.” The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) “began its probe after a complaint filed by former Marine Rodney Marshall,” who “says the VA failed to follow a 2006 law – known as ‘Veterans First’ – that requires the agency to set aside work for qualifying, service-disabled, veteran-owned firms.” The GAO has agreed with Marshall, and “VA now has two months to respond to the GAO’s recent findings.”
  • Broader Budget Authority Could Help CIOs Cut Costs.  NextGov   “One way to wring more savings from the federal information technology enterprise in a time of flat or declining budgets is to give agency chief information officers broader power to make financial decisions, Veterans Affairs CIO Roger Baker said Monday.” He “was speaking in a panel discussion at the American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council Executive Leadership Conference in Williamsburg, Va.” Baker “is the only agency CIO with authority, provided by Congress, to unilaterally cancel IT spending projects or to shift funding from one project to another.”
  •  Report: Okla. Doctors Take $6.3M From Drug Companies Since Start Of ’09 For Speeches, Expenses.   AP  “Pharmaceutical companies have given more than $6.3 million in speaking fees, free meals and other benefits to Oklahoma doctors since the start of 2009.” Among “those who accepted the drug companies’ money” is Dr. John Chelf, a psychiatrist for the Montgomery Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Muskogee, Oklahoma. After noting that Chelf received money from Eli Lily and Pfizer, the AP adds, “That was fine, according to hospital spokeswoman Nita McClellan, as long as Chelf did not purport to speak” on VA’s behalf. In addition, McClellan said, “We don’t promote or support the drugs he speaks about.”
  • No Arrests In VA Equipment Auctions.  Albuquerque (NM) Journal  “An investigation into how tens of thousands of dollars worth of VA hospital landscaping equipment wound up on eBay has ‘not substantiated any criminal activity and no arrests have been made or are anticipated,’ according” to VA officials. After pointing out that the equipment came from the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, the Journal added, “VA officials said they have…made improvements in handling old or unused items, but they will not say what happened to the equipment, its total worth or whether any employees were disciplined.” When pressed for “details about the case,” VA spokesman Bill Armstrong said that the US Attorney’s Office “declined prosecution…because of the age and the low value of the VA property.”
  •   Homeless Veteran Gets Hand Up From Wheaton Shelter.  Chicago Daily Herald Veteran Gordon Burkhalter, who had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When he turned to the Hines Veterans Affairs Hospital “in Maywood for help,” he found that the facility “had no immediate vacancies in programs that could serve Burkhalter.” Hines, however, “found him a bed at the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans in Wheaton. Burkhalter soon enrolled in classes to update his computer skills.” He told the Daily Herald that the shelter “is a shining beacon.”
  • Veterans Stand Down Draws Hundreds Of Western Montana Veterans.  Char-Koosta News  A two-day Veterans Stand Down was held recently “at the Arlee Celebration grounds.” Representatives from Veterans Affairs and the Missoula Vet Center attended the event, which “focused on the plight of homeless and unemployed veterans, and their healthcare needs.” Tony Snell, the “VA Healthcare for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) coordinator at Fort Harrison, near Helena, said the Stand Downs are a part of the VA’s effort to provide services to homeless veterans.”
  •  Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center.  Guidry News Service  “Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) Program at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, in cooperation” with various organizations, including the “Texas Veterans Commission, US Veterans Initiative, VA Regional Office, Vet Centers, and numerous Veteran Service Organizations, held the 11th Annual Houston Stand Down for homeless Veterans on October 20, 2011 at the Emancipation Park Community Center.” The event provided an “opportunity for homeless Veterans to access a broad spectrum of services at one convenient location and to create a plan for re-entry into mainstream society.” Luis Paulino, HCHV director, said the “2011 Stand Down was a tremendous success.” Guidry News Service added, “Recently, VA has transformed its efforts in the fight against homelessness.”
  •   Stand Down Against Homelessness.  WCIV-TV  The Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center is “calling for…help” with a Stand Down, to be held “this Saturday at 5000 Lackawanna Blvd. in North Charleston.” The event will offer mental health and dental services, along with “job assistance, food, clothing and more to homeless veterans across the Lowcountry. There are more than 2,000 clients expected to attend the event that will offer all of these services free of charge to those who show up.”
  •  Veteran’s Outreach Fair Set Saturday.  Helena (AR) Daily World  “The Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs is teaming up with several other area agencies and organizations,” including the VA hospital in Memphis, “to host the ‘Eastern Arkansas Veterans Outreach Fair’ this Saturday, Oct. 29th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will be held at the Delta AHEC facility on Highway 242 South and is free to all veterans. The purpose of the outreach fair is to educate veterans on what benefits are available to them as well as provide updates to their VA healthcare”

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