Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – November 30, 2011


Veterans! Here’s your Top 10 News stories of the day compiled from the latest sources


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1.       Medal of Honor recipient suing BAE for character damageMedal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer is suing a defense contractor for allegedly labeling him a mentally unstable employee with a drinking problem, damaging his reputation as a war hero.
2.       Marine general: Fears of end to gay ban prove unfounded.  Marine Gen. James F. Amos, the face of opposition in the military to lifting the ban on gays serving openly, now acknowledges his concern has proven unfounded that repeal would undermine the war effort. In fact, he says, Marines have embraced the change.
3.       Commissaries overseas to stop selling magazinesStarting in February, commissaries overseas will stop carrying magazines and most newspapers due to declining sales and the expense of airlifting the periodicals from the States, Defense Commissary Agency officials said this week.
4.       Homeless veteran program coming to Fort Monmouth.  News Transcript  According to Burry, 75 percent of the funding would come through the US Department of Veterans Affairs, which works directly with Soldier On. “There are other areas of monies that would come in on this. It’s not a burden that is solely going to fall on …
5.       2 postal employees plead guilty to taking drugs intended for veterans.  Lexington Herald Leader  Two US Postal Service employees have admitted to stealing packages with prescription pills intended for veterans living in Central and Eastern Kentucky, the US Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday. Pamela J. Hawkins, 40, pleaded guilty Tuesday to theft …
6.       ‘Islands’ veterans to benefit from VA Pacific Islands improvements’. Saipan Tribune  Changes can now be seen at the US Department of Veterans Affairs VA Pacific Islands Health Care System, which has “come a long way” in its ongoing efforts to build a healthcare system that would better serve veterans on the islands. …
7.       Colleges Face Challenges With Influx of Military Veterans.  Gant Daily  On Veterans Day, UT-Austin opened a veterans center on campus whose staff will include a psychologist from the Department of Veterans Affairs. San Diego State has pioneered on-campus housing for veterans, who typically live off campus, in an effort to …
8.    Obama Signs 3% Withholding Repeal, Job Creation Act.  Contractor Magazine  “On Nov. 21, President Barack Obama signed into law H.R. 674, the 3% Withholding Repeal and Job Creation Act, marking the first proposal” from his “Jobs Act to be enacted. The legislation repeals the requirement that federal, state and large local governments begin withholding 3% of each payment of $10,000 or more to a contractor after Jan. 1, 2013. It also includes the Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 in which the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in collaboration with the Secretary of Labor will establish a program of retraining assistance for eligible veterans, and creates tax breaks for companies that hire jobless veterans.”
9.    Veterans Find That Their Transition From Combat To College Can Be Difficult.  Washington Post  “Propelled by the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which took effect in 2009, 2 million veterans, many of whom served in Iraq and Afghanistan, are eligible for generous benefits that can amount to a full scholarship.” Because of this, “colleges are contending with adjustment problems and serious disorders far different from those for which their staffs have been trained: traumatic brain injury; post-traumatic stress related to combat and often accompanied by depression and substance abuse; and military sexual trauma, as sexual abuse in the service is known. Many counseling offices don’t have a veteran on staff, nor have their workers been trained in these issues, said Ted C. Bonar, a clinical psychologist at the Center for Deployment Psychology, part of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda.”
10.   VA Has Spent $14.3 Billion On Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits In Last Three Years.  Army Times  “The Veterans Affairs Department has spent $14.3 billion on Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits over the past three years, but it is only now getting a handle on where the money is going.” Transfer “rights are a costly option added to the Post-9/11 GI Bill at the urging” of the Defense Department. As a result, VA is “paying for what DoD and service officials call one of the biggest retention benefits since creation of the all-volunteer force.”

More Veteran News

  • SBA Helps Veterans Start, Grow And Expand Small Businesses.  Kitsap Peninsula (WA) Business Journal  “With thousands of service men and women returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the US Small Business Administration (SBA) is “welcoming them home with programs and initiatives to help them start, grow and expand their businesses.” The Business Journal added, “SBA had a near record year lending to veteran-owned small businesses in this fiscal year. SBA lending to veterans in this year amounted to more than 4,300 loans totaling $1.5 billion in its flagship 7(a) and 504 programs.”
  •  Military’s Brain-Testing Program A Debacle.   NPR  audio  The US military has “spent more than $42 million to test every service member’s brain to find out who suffered a traumatic brain injury, or TBI, during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. But an investigation by NPR and ProPublica has found that military leaders are refusing to carry out the testing program as Congress ordered.” NPR added, “From interviews with dozens of medical specialists and an analysis of hundreds of pages of military emails and documents, evidence shows that military officials have made poor decisions about the testing program, preventing it from helping many troops who have brain injuries.”
  •   VA Denies Benefits To Veterans Who Flew In Agent Orange-Contaminated Planes.  Army Times   “The Veterans Affairs Department has denied benefits and compensation to a group” of Vietnam veterans “who sought relief for what they believe are service-connected illnesses tied to flying aircraft contaminated with Agent Orange.” Even “‘if crew exposure did occur, it is unlikely that sufficient amounts of dried Agent Orange residue could have entered the body to have caused harm,’ VA officials said.” But a “Vietnam Veterans of America spokesman called…VA’s conclusion ‘bull,'” adding, “it’s another sign” that VA “hasn’t changed its corporate culture of denial.”
  •  More Physicians Tapping Into Social Media To Engage Patients.  FierceHealthIT “One of the first actions the Department of Veterans Affairs has undertaken since launching in August a central body dubbed the ‘custodial agent’ to oversee open source electronic health record projects is to commission a study on how the code for its EHR system could be refactored, VA Chief Information Officer Roger Baker told reporters during a conference call last week, reports FierceGovernment IT.” According to FierceHealthIT, Baker “said refactoring of the system, called VistA, won’t necessarily replace its MUMPS-written code with a more modern object-oriented language.”
  • Some Female Vets Find Fight Not Over.  Tampa (FL) Tribune  Last month, veteran “Josefina Reyes went to work for Tampa Bay Crossroads, a rehabilitation and counseling center that came into being in 1977, the year she was born. Reyes serves as an intake counselor for women veterans, most of them homeless or headed that way, and helps to assess their problems and begin to find solutions.” In an “effort to deal with this problem,” Hillsborough County’s “Commission on the Status of Women is hosting a Women Veterans Forum today to identify the challenges and to develop solutions for women returning home from military service.”
  •    Shalini Madaras, Who Lost A Son In Iraq, Overcame Grief By Helping Women Vets.  Christian Science Monitor  “When Shalini Madaras pushed the polished handle and opened the door of the Pfc. Nicholas A. Madaras Home, she opened a new door for homeless women veterans.” After noting that the home is named in honor of Madaras’s son, who was “killed by a roadside bomb in 2006 in Iraq,” the Monitor continues, “As Connecticut’s first female-only housing for women veterans, the neat three-story house in Bridgeport is a haven for veterans recovering from physical or emotional combat scars, Madaras says.” The Monitor adds, “With the help of the Veterans Administration (VA) Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program, and donations from citizens, businesses, and dedicated volunteers, the project slowly became a reality.”
  •  New Program For Female Vets.  Wisconsin Rapids (WI) Daily Tribune  “Tomah Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Marshfield Clinic have reached an agreement that makes it easier for women veterans in central and north central Wisconsin to be screened for breast cancer.” Under the agreement, veterans “can choose to have a mammogram at one of Marshfield Clinic’s seven mammography centers or on the monthly Mobile Mammography Health Screening Unit. After a VA medical provider orders a mammogram, the veteran will get instructions on how to make an appointment at the Marshfield Clinic location of her choice.”
  •   Judicial Officials Plan New Court For Veterans.  Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune “Boone County judicial officials are contemplating a new alternative sentencing court in an effort to provide specialized treatment for local veterans. In conjunction with the Veterans Integrated Service Network, which operates Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital, Boone County Circuit Court is applying for federal and state grant money to operate the court, said Marie Hulett, mental health administrator for Veterans Integrated Service Network. ‘The need is so prevalent for veterans,'” said Hulett, “noting that it will only grow as troops return from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
  • USDA Awards $6 Million For Rural Telehealth.  InformationWeek  “Rural areas in six states will get $6 million in grants from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help finance 10 telehealth projects” that “will deliver health and education services to rural areas currently lacking adequate healthcare in the Delta region.” The US Department of Veterans Affairs, meanwhile, “recently selected American Well and SweetSpot Diabetes Care, to launch two separate projects through its industry innovation competition known as VAi2. The two initiatives will provide telehealth services to veterans, many of whom live in remote areas of the country.”
  • VA Delivering 9 Out Of 10 IT Projects On Time.  Washington (DC) Business Journal  “The Department of Veterans Affairs has been re-engineering the way it manages its information technology projects, and it seems to have paid off. For fiscal 2011, VA managed to cross the finish line on 89 percent of its project milestones on time.
  •   Veterans Can Get Answers Before New Cemetery Opens.  Corpus Christi (TX) Caller Times  “Veterans have two opportunities this week to ask questions and get information about their new Coastal Bend State Veterans Cemetery before an opening ceremony Dec. 7.” The “two question-and-answer sessions are 10 to 11:45 a.m. Tuesday in Room 106 at the Del Mar College Center for Economic Development, 3209 S. Staples St., and 6:30 to 8:15 p.m. Thursday at VFW Post 2397, 4441 Ayers St.”
  •   WVU Student Invents Solution For Phantom Pain.  Charleston (WV) Gazette Katherine Bomkamp, a 20-year-old West Virginia University (WVU) student, “is in the national spotlight after inventing” the Pain Free Socket, a “device to alleviate phantom pain among amputees.” Bomkamp, the daughter of a veteran, “came up with the idea” for her invention “during visits to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where she heard stories of phantom pain from disabled veterans.” Bomkamp’s device, which incorporates thermal-bio feedback into prosthetics, “forces the brain to focus on the heat produced through the thermal-bio feedback rather than sending signals to the missing limb.”
  • Remedy Offers Free Video Service To Veterans.  Gainesville (FL) Sun   “Remedy Intelligent Staffing offices in Gainesville and Ocala are offering free video interview services to military veterans.” The Sun adds, “Franchise owner Stephen Wycoff said he wanted to do something to help after learning that the unemployment rate among veterans is higher than that of the state and national averages, according to a news release.” The Sun points out that Remedy is an employment services firm that “films job seekers in an interview setting and transmits the interviews to client employers.”
  • Maine Senators Want Senate To Recognize Maine Non-Profit’s “Wreaths Across America” Work.  Portland (ME) Press Herald    The US Senate “is set to recognize the work a Maine non-profit does in laying wreaths on veterans graves at Arlington National Cemetery and elsewhere.” Republican “Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine are proposing the Senate pass a resolution designating Dec. 10 as ‘Wreaths Across America Day.’ That is the day wreaths made by the Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington are to arrive at Arlington on trucks donated by companies from around the country.”
  • Maryland Woman Opens Her Home To Returning Military Families.  USA Today Tina Pearson has transformed “her three-bedroom home just outside Berlin, Md., into a haven she calls ‘Home of the Brave,’ where servicemembers and their families can visit to spend quality time together.” Pearson, who used her own money to pay for the project, “says military families get a free stay if the servicemember has deployed in the last 18 months or is a veteran recovering from combat injuries.”
  •   New Orleans, Struggling With High Numbers Of Homeless, Lays Out A Plan To House Street People.  AP  “New Orleans and federal officials say they’ll work aggressively over the next decade to end homelessness by getting more people on the streets into homes.” The plan “calls for using parts of a Veterans Affairs Department hospital as a center where people in need of housing, work and other services can get help. The hospital was damaged by Katrina and it is being replaced with a new one set to open in part by 2013.”
  • $141,000 In Grants Awarded To Help Vets’ Groups.  AP   “Three groups that help veterans will share in about $141,000 in state lottery grants. The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs announced grants for three Chicago-area organizations.” Money from the grants, which are “financed by the Illinois Lottery’s Veterans Cash scratch-off ticket,” is “intended to help low-income and homeless veterans, female veterans and couples struggling because of military service-related stress.”

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