Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – November 26, 2011


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.       Needy Vietnam veterans get $1500 in ShopRite gift cards.  County officials plan to distribute the gift cards at their monthly Veterans First events, which help those service members who are cared for by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, on disability or reside at the Alfred J. Thomas Home for Veterans in …
2.       Vets on the edge: a special report on Oregon’s coastal veteran population.  The Cannon Beach Gazette  The bill urges Congress to require the US Department of Veterans Affairs to pay veterans’ transportation costs in certain circumstances, including when a veteran seeks emergency care at a facility not operated by the VA. Until a state or national …
3.       McKesson in Three-Way Contest for VA Drug Contract.  Bloomberg   McKesson Corp. is in a contest with Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp. for a US Department of Veterans Affairs drug distributor contract worth as much as $32 billion. McKesson has been the sole medicine supplier for …
4.       Agent Orange: With more diseases tied to use during Vietnam War.  Grand Forks Herald  Over the next decade, the US Department of Veterans Affairs is expected to pay $50 billion for health-care compensation for ischemic heart disease alone — one of the 14 diseases the VA says is associated with Agent Orange exposure. …
5.       Wyoming veterans find tougher job market. Billings Gazette  He and other veterans organized the Student Veterans of America chapter in order to reach out to other returning veterans. Rocarro noted that there is no US Department of Veterans Affairs representative on campus, a situation he believes should be …
6.       Groundbreaking research looks at how blasts injure brainDuring a firefight in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province in 2002, U.S. Army Maj. Kevin Kit Parker stood atop a hill awaiting a Medevac flight for an injured soldier when a bomb exploded several miles away.
7.    War-torn marriage: Family shattered by TBI, PTSD picks up pieces.  The breaking point came when Sandra Rivera found their 9-year-old son backed against a wall with his arms over his face, shielding himself from her husband’s screaming.
8.    Report shows a military and a nation disconnectedA new report on civilian ties to the military puts numbers to what top military leaders have been a lamenting for years: The American public is largely disconnected from its fighting force.
9.       J.R. Martinez Grabs “Dancing” Title.  USA Today  “J.R. Martinez ended a storybook chapter to ABC’s Dancing With the Stars by hoisting the show’s mirrorball trophy in victory following Tuesday night’s finale.” The 28-year-old “Martinez, an Army veteran who often joked in the beginning of the season about how much of an unknown he was on the celebrity dance competition, went on to inspire millions of viewers with his story of recovery from a 2003 landmine explosion in Iraq.
10.  The “Darkhorse” Battalion And Wartime Sacrifice.  NPR  audio  “Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment, known as the ‘Darkhorse’ Battalion, have suffered the worst casualty rate of any Marine unit in the Afghan war.” The “experience of this famous unit is just one example of the enormous sacrifices of the US military, sacrifices many civilians struggle to grasp. A recent Pew study found that more than 80 percent of recent veterans say the American public has little or no understanding of the problems they face in the military, and most of the public agrees.”


More Veteran News


  •   Senate Will Vote Next Week On Extending Payroll Tax Cut, Obama Says.  CQ  “The Senate will vote next week on whether to extend the Social Security payroll tax cut that is set to expire at the end of the year, President Obama said Tuesday, although Republican opposition seems likely to doom it.” Meanwhile, the “only bipartisan-supported piece of Obama’s jobs package – which the president signed into law Monday (PL 112-56) – is a measure to provide tax credits to companies that hire veterans and also to repeal a tax-compliance law requiring the federal, state and local governments to withhold 3 percent of most payments to contractors. That bill advanced where others did not because it was paid for with an extension of current fees on Veterans Affairs home loans rather than with a tax increase.”
  • Brown Fills Slots In Veterans Department.  San Diego (CA) Union-Tribune  California Gov. Jerry Brown has “filled three key slots” in the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs. Larry Gutierrez will be the department’s deputy secretary of minority affairs, while Lindsey Wathen “will take over as deputy secretary for women veterans.” Pouneh Simpson “will be the new chief of financial operations for a division that oversees homes for veterans.”
  •    Alzheimer’s Forum Offers Information To Local Caregivers. Spartanburg (SC) Times And Democrat  On November 10th, an Alzheimer’s forum was held in South Carolina. In March, meanwhile, the US Department of Veterans Affairs “studied different behavioral interventions such as light, exercise and recreation therapy” and “found that there was little evidence that any of them worked. It was concluded that there was nominal benefit in music, pet or exercise therapy.”
  •    Meditation Keeps The Mind On Track.  MedPage Today  “Meditation diminishes activity in areas of the brain associated with mind-wandering, researchers found. Compared with novice meditators, experienced study participants had significant deactivation in parts of the brain associated with the ‘default mode network’ — areas linked with attentional lapses and anxiety, Judson Brewer, MD, of Yale University, and colleagues reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” The “study was supported by grants from National Institute on Drug Abuse and the US Veterans Affairs New England Illness Research Education and Clinical Center.”
  •   Soldier Talks About Coming Home.  LeMars (IA) Daily Sentinel   “Tyler Jelken, a local National Guard soldier who works at the Le Mars National Guard armory, is getting readjusted to being home after being away for almost one year for the recent Afghanistan deployment. Jelken encourages family, friends and community members to be understanding as soldiers work through the process of getting back into life at home.” The Sentinel continued, “Veterans can…access services through the Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics and offices, Jelken said,” adding, “The vast majority of the people who work at the VA are Vietnam vets or Operation Enduring Freedom vets. Vietnam was 40 or so years ago but they went through the same things, so they can relate.”
  •   Phone Calls From The Edge.  Rochester (NY) City Newspaper  “Thousands of veterans call the Veterans Crisis Line, a toll-free hotline for veterans and active service members, at all hours of the day and night. The calls come into a call center run by the Canandaigua VA Medical Center, which is part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ vast network” of healthcare facilities. According to the City Newspaper, the Veterans Crisis Line is “staffed by specially trained mental-health professionals.” The City Newspaper quotes Janet Kemp, VA’s national mental health director, who said VA has to “make sure that” crisis line callers “not only haven’t somehow fallen through the cracks of the system, but that they’re also feeling better.”
  • Healthcare CIOs Juggle More Mobile Challenges.  Information Week  “As mobile devices multiply in numbers and grow more sophisticated, healthcare CIOs are facing all kinds of new challenges in distributing information and keeping networks secure. The ‘bring your own device,’ or BYOD, phenomenon in hospitals has created a networking problem for CIOs by driving up demand on wireless LANs and has kept security officers busy because it’s difficult to control all the data that flows to hundreds or thousands of handheld computers and smartphones, according to Kenneth Kleinberg, a senior healthcare director for health consulting firm Advisory Board Co.” Kleinberg “noted that the US Department of Veterans Affairs has announced plans to deploy 100,000 touch-screen tablets throughout its massive enterprise, many of them to Veterans Health Administration clinicians.” Kleinberg said he wonders if VA CIO Roger Baker and his IT team “knew what they were really getting into.”
  •  VA’s Blue Button Innovation Takes Private Healthcare Sector By Storm. AOL Government  Veterans Affairs Blue Button has “expanded to more than 500,000 patients, including users at the Defense Department’s Military Health System and the Health and Human Services Department’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.” But the Blue Button technology, which was designed to give “veterans easy and quick online access to their personal health records,” has also “caught the attention of a growing number of America’s leading private sector healthcare organizations, which have begun to incorporate Blue Button into their own websites. In the process, it has also demonstrated how the federal government has gained the capacity to take a leadership role in creating major innovations in health information technology.” AOL Government spoke with VA’s chief technology officer, Peter Levin, who said VA wants “private sector partners to do even more” with Blue Button than VA has done.
  • GAO’s 9 Common Critical Success Factors Of Federal IT Projects.  Government Health IT  “Knowing which tactics make for smooth, investment-worthy IT efforts can be as tricky as the projects themselves. Looking to shed some light” on “which tactics make for smooth, investment-worthy IT efforts,” the “Government Accountability Office (GAO) compiled a list of best practices based on interviews with CIOs and other acquisitions and procurement officials. Using as a basis seven government IT projects – one of those being the VA’s Occupation Health Record-keeping System – the GAO boiled that list down to the ‘common factors that were critical to the success of three or more of the seven investments.'” The GAO’s resulting “report, titled ‘Critical Factors underlying successful major acquisitions,'” named the aforementioned VA system as one of seven government projects that “best achieved their respective cost, schedule, scope and performance goals.”
  •  VA Hospital Unveils New Infusion Center For Cancer Patients.  Ann Arbor (MI) Journal  “The pride was nearly palpable at the grand opening of the Veterans Administration Ann Arbor Healthcare System’s Hematology-Oncology Infusion Center Nov. 14. The day’s open house gave staff, patients and community members a look at the new facility, where veterans with cancer and blood disorders can come to receive infusion therapy, a type of medical treatment in which medications or other treatments are delivered into the body through a vein.” The Journal adds, “Director of the VA Hospital Robert McDivitt said the hospital is proud to offer patients five times the space as the former location,” adding that the new center was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
  • Big White RV Brings Mobile Services To Area Vets. KMOX-AM  “When ex-military personnel can’t come to them,” officials with the US Department of Veterans Affairs “send out their Mobile Vet Center. The big, white RV’s latest stop was Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville, where Congressman John Shimkus was among those coming by to check things out. ‘It’s a nice operation to help get the VA services out as far as possible in rural America,’ Shimkus said, noting that this is one of 50 Mobile Vet Centers that crisscross the country.”
  •   Atheist Group Challenges Marine Base Cross.  AP  “An atheist group is challenging a cross erected at a San Diego County Marine base to honor veterans and those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The “Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers has protested” to Camp Pendleton “officials, arguing that a Christian symbol on base violates the Constitution.” Marine “officials never sanctioned the cross and are reviewing the issue.”
  •   Efforts Continue To Put Unemployed Veterans Back To Work.  Montgomery County (MD) Sentinel  The US Department of Veterans Affairs recently “sponsored a nationwide, online job fair.” In a news release about the fair, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki stated, “As we work to help veterans find good paying jobs, it is important that we take advantage of online resources that connect our veterans with employers around the nation who want to hire these highly qualified and experienced men and women.” The Sentinel pointed out that US Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) “praised the VA for setting up” the online jobs fair.
  •  Agent: New Offer Could Alter St. Catherine Indian School Campus Plan. Santa Fe New Mexican  “The city Historic Design Review Board on Tuesday postponed a hearing on a proposal to move three small adobe buildings on the St. Catherine Indian School campus so the owner can consider a new offer.” The New Mexico Consolidated Construction Services “bought the 18-acre campus on the north side of Santa Fe in 2005 from the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, who ran it as a boarding school for Native Americans from 1887 to 1998. The Albuquerque company is looking at selling 6 acres on the north end of the campus to the US Veterans Affairs Department for expansion of the adjacent Santa Fe National Cemetery.”
  • New Tools Help To Connect Extended Military Community. American Forces Press Service  “Wounded warriors at five polytrauma centers as well as military members soon will have an easier time staying in touch with their families and friends, thanks to the new ‘Chrome for Wounded, Ill and Injured Warriors’ program. Google, which launched the program in partnership with the American Red Cross, donated 600 new Chromebooks for patients to use during their hospital stays.” And last week, in “partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Google unveiled the “site, Google for Veterans and Families,” which includes a “job bank for veterans.”
  •  Gold Card Initiative To Help Montana Vets.  KFBB-TV  “The Department of Labor and industry is launching” the Gold Card, a “new initiative to help Montana veterans.” The program, which “focuses on helping” Post-9/11 veterans, will offer career guidance and “follow-ups with a case manager for six months.”
  • Veterans Groups Brace For Disability Claims Hearing.  Wall Street Journal  Veterans groups are getting ready for a December 12th court hearing that could help determine how to handle Veterans Affairs disability appeals. Recently, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals reversed an earlier decision it made to allow a Federal judge to change the way VA handles disability claims. The Journal quotes Ron Elsberry, the managing attorney at Disability Rights Advocates, who said, “We are confident that the en banc panel will reaffirm the Court’s prior ruling that the VA’s unconscionable delays and bureaucratic dysfunction in providing proper care to veterans violates veterans’ constitutional rights to due process of law.”
  •   Vet Could Be Eligible For Compensation Because Of Agent Orange. Washington Times  “Sgt. Shaft” column.
  •  Journal Junction For Nov. 23. A letter from an unidentified reader to the editor of the Martinsburg (WV) Journal  says the Veterans Affairs hospital in Martinsburg “does an awesome job.”
  •   Sweaters Collected For Vets At The VA Center In Dayton.  WHIO-TV
  •  Female Veterans Face More Challenges Than Male Counterparts.  WFTS-TV


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