Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – October 31, 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.    U.S., South Korea preparing for next provocation from NorthThe United States and South Korea will step up efforts to head off provocations and attacks from the north, the countries’ defense chiefs said Friday following annual security talks.
2.    Veterans Day Parade.  TheNewsTribune.com  What: Auburn is designated by the Veterans Day National Committee and the US Department of Veterans Affairs as a regional site for celebration of Veterans Day. The city has hosted the Veterans Day Parade since 1965. This year’s parade is paying special …
3.    Veterans Agents face challenges tracking down younger soldiers.  MetroWest Daily News  Because there are so many requests for help sent to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Carew said, he has people ask him to start the process when they are home on their final leave. “I work directly on VA claims for veterans and families,” said
4.    Arizona veterans centers help soldiers, families cope.  AZ Central.com  Vet centers were established more than three decades ago, after the Vietnam War, with the US Department of Veterans Affairs opening Arizona’s first vet center in Phoenix in 1980. Prescott and Tucson vet centers have been around for years, …
5.    Elks Host Veteran on a 48-State Bicycle Tour.  Patch.com  Veterans were in attendance, as well as Gregory Jones, deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs and Kenneth Thompson of the Anne Arundel County Veterans Affairs Commission. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-District 5) sent a letter for the …
6.    Search narrows to one site for VA outpatient center.  Winston-Salem Journal  A single site, most likely in Kernersville, is the top choice of the US Department of Veterans Affairs for a major outpatient clinic. Aaron Groen, a spokesman for US Rep. Virginia Foxx, RN.C., said that he was told by VA officials that the department …
7.    First Lady Asks Military Children to Send Cards for White House Display.  Military Health System With the holiday season approaching, First Lady Michelle Obama is “asking children from military installations around the world to help decorate the White House. ‘I encourage you to use your imagination, and include words, pictures, and drawings to create a holiday card that honors your brave mom or dad,'” Obama wrote in the Oct. 7 invitation (pdf).
8.    Pentagon Official Clifford Stanley Resigns While Under Investigation.  Federal Computer Week  “The Defense Department’s personnel chief has stepped down amid allegations of waste and mismanagement, a resignation Defense Secretary Leon Panetta accepted Oct. 27. Clifford Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, is being investigated by the DOD inspector general after complaints that he abused staff, failed to uphold duties and wasted money.” Stanley is also “accused of mismanaging programs, including the Wounded Warrior program.” A report dated Aug. 3 alleges that Stanley “used funds designated for wounded troops to pay for the new conference room and a $5 million contract with McKinsey and Co. to create a strategic plan and employee survey” for his office.
9.    Cracks Repaired In Tomb Of Unknowns At Arlington Cemetery.  Washington Post  “Repairs to large cracks that run across the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery are finished and holding up well, cemetery officials said, but the recent work will be checked again in the spring to see how it fares this winter.” The Post added, “Preservationists who had criticized the cemetery for what they said was lax oversight and poor care of its historic artifacts said they are pleased with the progress.”

10.   VA Warns Iraq, Afghanistan Vets Of Possible Rabies Exposure. WLUC-TV  “The VA is urging veterans who deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan in the last 18 months to consider if they were possibly exposed to rabies. This comes after a soldier from California who served in Afghanistan died of rabies in August, just months after returning home. Veterans who had an animal bite or scratch, or who had a bat in their sleeping quarters could be at risk for rabies. Veterans can call the VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain or outpatient clinics in Manistique, Menominee, Marquette, Hancock and Ironwood.”

 

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  •  Feds Crack Down On VA Fraud.  KING-TV  “Federal prosecutors have filed a flurry of cases aimed at cracking down on people who are scamming” the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The agency is “cross checking the names of those getting benefits, with the names on the Social Security death notification database.” Jim O’Neill, the Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, said, “Over 2,785 investigative cases have been opened and resulted in the actual recovery of $54.2 million, with an additional $20.8 million in anticipated recoveries.”
  •   Study Finds Slight Decline In Veterans Using Shelters.  New York Times  The number of veterans who “used emergency shelters or transitional housing for the homeless in 2010 dropped 3 percent from the year before, to 144,842, from 149,465,” according to report (pdf) released Friday by the VA and HUD. The analysis also found more than 90% of homeless veterans in shelters are male, about 40% of whom are between the ages of “51 and 61.” More than 50% of all the homeless veterans were “California, followed by Florida, New York and Texas.” The Times notes that some experts say the VA’s five-year goal to end veterans’ homelessness is “unrealistic,” but in a statement accompanying the report, VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said, “We have much work to do, but we are on the right track.”
  •  More Iraq, Afghanistan Vets Become Homeless. USA Today The HUD-VA analysis determined that about “13,000 of the nation’s homeless in 2010 were ex-servicemembers between ages 18 and 30. … ‘These findings are particularly concerning given the anticipated number of new veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq,’ the study concludes.” Young veterans comprise only “about 5%” of the nation’s veteran population, but they constitute “nearly 9% of all former servicemembers who are homeless.” Overall, veterans make up about “12% of all homeless adults”; and the majority of homeless vets are “white males who suffer some disability.”
  •    McCaskill Expanding VA Surveys.  AP  US Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is “expanding a survey that allows patients at Veterans Affairs medical centers to rate the quality of service they receive.” McCaskill plans to be in “Columbia on Saturday to announce she’ll start providing the surveys for patients at that VA facility. She released reviews Friday of her customer-satisfaction surveys for VA medical centers in Kansas City and St. Louis,” which showed veterans “generally were satisfied with their experiences, including with the timeliness of seeing doctors, the respect they were shown and the cleanliness of the facilities.” McCaskill began the “confidential surveys earlier this year…after sterilization mistakes raised concerns about the quality of care at the John Cochran VA Medical Center.”
  • IAVA Calls for Investigation Into Occupy Oakland Incident.  CNN Newsroom  Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr reported “A group called, ‘Iraq Afghanistan Veterans Of America,’ is the country’s largest organization of veterans, mainly young veterans from that war. They are a very mainstream group. They focus on veterans healthcare, homelessness, jobs issues; and they have just this afternoon put out a statement calling for an investigation into what happened to Scott Olson, an Iraq veteran hurt so badly Tuesday night in the Occupy Oakland Protest. It says, ‘We expect to see a full and complete investigation into the circumstances of this incident. It’s what Scott and all Americans deserve. … The strength of the new veterans community lies in our shared commitment to country and veterans like all Americans should actively participate in the ongoing conversation about America’s future and their safety as a paramount concern.'”
  •   Mental Healthcare Not Meeting VA Standards. Study Finds 35% Increase In Vets Seeking Care. Federal News Radio  “Mental healthcare at the Department of Veterans Affairs ‘is as good as or better’ than the care the private sector provides civilians with comparable conditions. However, a new report from the RAND Corporation said the care still doesn’t meet standards set by the VA.” RAND studied the “mental health services veterans with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, major depression and substance use disorders received from the Veterans Health Administration” and found that from 2004 through 2008, the number of veterans “seeking treatment for these conditions increased by 38.5 percent.” The study was commissioned by VA “under the Government Performance and Results Act.”
  •   Six Decades Of Memories Locked Away Until Now.  KUSA-TV  “For more than six decades, Charles Chaves kept his memories of his time fighting in World War II largely to himself all while knowing that five pieces of shrapnel were still firmly lodged inside of his body. Then in 2008, his wife of 61 years passed away” and the memories “started to pour out. … ‘Recollecting war experiences with family members can be really difficult,'” says VA psychologist Dr. Sara Gilloth. She said Chaves’ story is “quite typical among the ever-aging group of WWII veterans. ‘There is a process of what we call life review for older adults,'” she explained. Chaves now spends time “working with other veterans at the Barnum Recreation Center” in Denver.
  • State Polling Women Vets On Health Programs.  North County Times  California’s Veterans Affairs Department is “surveying female veterans living in the state to identify barriers to services. Begun Oct. 10 and continuing until Jan. 31, the survey — which can be anonymous — asks 45 questions ranging from knowledge of state and federal resources to health status to sexual trauma in the military to homelessness.” Notably, San Diego County is “home to 25,000 female veterans out of a state population of about 170,000. California has the largest veteran population in the US at 1.9 million former service members. ‘No one knows the experiences, needs and challenges of women veterans better than women veterans themselves,'” said Barbara Ward, deputy secretary for Women and Minority Veterans.
  •    Emotional Reunions Mark Veterans Week.  Joplin (MO) Globe  “It’s like a big family reunion, Barb Riggle said of Veterans Homecoming Week” in Branson, Missouri. From “Nov. 5 through Nov. 11, Branson plays host to thousands of military families who come to the Ozarks to catch up with former squad members, recount battles and make new friends during the annual celebration of US military service members and their contributions. Riggle, first a Branson Veterans Task Force board member, and now office manager for the organization, is a veteran, too.” She served in the “US Navy from 1969 to 1972 and from 1972 to 1996 with the Indiana National Guard.”
  • Women Vets Unaware Of Veteran Medical Benefits. CTWatchdog  The VA Connecticut Homeless Veteran Summit at the VA’s “Errera Community Care Center in West Haven, focused on services for female veterans. Out of more than 15,000 women veterans in the state, 2,752 go to the VA for healthcare, said Jane Sarja, women’s program manager for VA Connecticut. In an interview, she admitted that it’s a challenge to attract more women vets partly because of misconceptions that ‘the VA doesn’t know how to take care of women.'” She said the women’s health center, which “opened at the West Haven VA in 1996 in a basement to give women privacy,” will move to “an upper floor next year, and will still be separated from men’s services.”
  •   Stand Down For Homeless Offers Resources For Homeless Veterans.  Augusta Chronicle  “Multiple agencies came together Friday to provide a one-stop location for homeless veterans searching for resources. The annual Stand Down for the Homeless outside the Salvation Army on Greene Street offered giveaways such as haircuts and hot food, and the chance to get tested for HIV and ask questions about benefits.” Kathleen Scott, of the Veterans Affairs Department, “which worked with the Salvation Army for the event, said at noon more than 300 people had been served break­fast and more were expected to receive resources.”
  •  Stand Down, In Transition, Brings Services And Vets Together.  St. Cloud (MN) Times  “If you went to the St. Cloud armory Friday and happened to arrive after 2 p.m., chances are you missed the Stand Down event that was scheduled to run until 3 p.m. In its 14th year, the event once again drew a large contingent of veterans in need of everything from food to advice.” Veterans were able to obtain “legal consultations, employment assistance, clothes, a haircut and even a hot meal. … ‘I had a good time,’ said Wayne Sipman, one of more than 800 veterans who attended.”
  • Northwest Florida VAMC Holds Stand Down. WEAR-TV  Northwest Florida’s homeless veterans received special assistance today. The veterans center on highway 98 hosted a Stand Down. The VA and community organizations were there to help vets get food, clothing, health screenings, legal assistance, and other services. Staff Sgt Terry Pennington, USAF was shown saying, “I feel that it’s highly important to help out the veterans because you never know where you’re going to find yourself in life. I’m serving right now, but down the road…I could be in the same shoes as some of these folks.” WEAR added, “Escambia County Area Transit provided free bus service to and from the Stand Down.”
  •   Cumberland Valley Graduate Awarded Presidential Medal For Supporting Deployed Troops And Their Families.  Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News  President Obama awarded Michelle McIntyre-Brewer of Jefferson, Maryland, with at 2011 Citizens Medal during a ceremony at the White House Oct. 20. The President “selected McIntyre-Brewer and 12 other honorees from nearly 6,000 nominations.” McIntyre-Brewer, a military spouse and mother, founded the Soldier’s List program in “2002 to send packages to thousands of deployed troops in Iraq and Afghanistan” but her assistance has “gone beyond care packages. Since its inception, the organization has helped more than 21,000” high-risk service members and their families. McIntyre-Brewer “works from home, juggling as many as 40 case files” daily and doing everything from arranging “care for an ill child” or coordinating “an international adoption” to assisting a “wounded soldier.”
  •   Wreaths Across American Program Honoring Fallen Soldiers At Natchez National Cemetery.   AP   Veteran Oscar Seyfarth coordinates the “Wreaths Across America program at the Natchez National Cemetery. The nonprofit organization coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at national cemeteries across” the country. This year’s ceremony at Natchez National Cemetery will be held at “11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10.”
  •   Touchdown For America Supply Drive Ongoing Through Football Season.  Walpole (MA) Times  Volunteers have been collecting “donated supplies, ranging from toothpaste and toothbrushes to heavy duty Velcro, during every home football game” since Oct. 1 to “donate to active members of the military. The organization, ‘Touchdown for America,’ was created by Westborough High School student Max Silverman after he wrote a paper on harnessing the spirit of local football to honor members of the military.” On Nov. 12, the Westborough High School varsity football team will “honor veterans and active servicemen and women” during half-time. All “servicemen and women, veterans and their families are invited to the game free of charge.”

 

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