Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – December 05, 2011


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


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1.       Preserving the legacy of veterans of WW II (Col. Leo Thorsness).  The Huntsville Times – (blog)  The WW II veterans are leaving us. Sixteen million Americans served in uniform in WW II. More than 90 percent are gone, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs. In Alabama, only about 25000 of the more than 314000 who served are still with …
2.       World War II veterans living links to history.  Daytona Beach News-Journal  The US Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 740 World War II veterans die each day, and that the 16.1 million Americans who once served during those years has dwindled to 1.7 million. The VA predicts the last World War II veteran will die in …
3.       War’s horror still haunt’s area’s wounded warriors.  Sacramento Bee  The small agricultural town of Dixon, where Spraktes lives, has the highest concentration of disabled vets in the region along with nearby Vacaville, according to a Bee analysis of US Department of Veterans Affairs data of ZIP codes with populations …
4.       As Pearl Harbor veterans dwindle Abilienians and others speculate on future.  “We are painfully aware of the urgency of capturing these memories because we’re losing that generation so quickly,” she said, adding that the US Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that more than 700 World War II veterans die each day. …
5.       Department of Defense embracing alternative medicine.  allvoices  This month the US Department of Veteran Affairs has announced the launch of the Congressionally mandated chiropractic services program. Veterans can receive chiropractic care at 26 selected Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities beginning this …
6.       Bureaucracy has blossomed in military?s war on rapeUnder the political gun, the Pentagon has bulked up its anti-rape campaign far more than many people realize. It’s expensive, aggressive and imperfect. Training on preventing and dealing with sexual assault has proliferated. Sometimes it’s tainted juries. Budgets have ballooned. So have bureaucracies. Lawmakers have tried to protect victims. Sometimes they’ve bungled the job. Higher-ups have demanded tougher action. Sometimes they’ve unduly cowed subordinates.
7.    Senate Revises Death Benefits For Reservists.  Army Times “A retroactive change in death benefits that would extend payment to reservists who die at home during drill weekends passed the Senate on Thursday by voice vote. Retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010, death gratuity and burial benefits provided for active-duty deaths will be extended to reservists who die while at home during or between successive days of inactive duty training, under the amendment to the 2012 defense authorization bill” sponsored by Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AK). Current law provides death benefits only if a “service member dies on an installation or ‘in the vicinity of the site of inactive duty training.’
8.    Senate Moves To Help Some Guardsmen On BAH Cuts.  Army Times The Senate approved by “voice vote and with no debate” an amendment by Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) that will “help up to 800 National Guard members deployed in Afghanistan whose pay was cut up $1,000 when they were mobilized under federal status.” Brown’s amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill (S 1867) would “prevent any reduction in housing allowance as long as there is no break in service between fulltime support assignment and activation for deployment.” Similar legislation is “pending in the House.”
9.    Jobless Rate For Veterans Drops In November.  Army Times Unemployment rate for veterans “fell in November to 7.4 percent for all veterans and 11.1 percent for those who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan era.” The national unemployment rate declined from “9 percent in October to 8.6 percent in November” while the rate fell “0.4 percentage points for veterans of all generations and a full 1 percentage point for people who separated from the service” since 2001. However, Friday’s Bureau of Labor Statistics report “contains an unexplained disparity”: Whereas the unemployment rate “fell from 12.3 percent” to 10 percent for men who “separated since 2001,” but for women veterans, the unemployment rate rose from 10.9 percent to “18.7 percent.”
10.  Experts: VA Suicide Programs Need More Exposure.  Army Times  VA has a “myriad of programs” to help prevent suicide, but most “troubled veterans never get access to them.” At a hearing Friday before the House VA Committee’s health panel, experts said about “70 percent of all US veterans have no contact with VA. … ‘Why aren’t we buying targeted Facebook ads?'” asked Tom Tarantino of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Rep. David Roe (R-TN) also noted several innovative ways to outreach, such as efforts by “some cities to include veterans services on metropolitan 311 emergency phone lines.” But Rene Campos of the Military Officers Association of America said outreach may be “only part of the problem. … ‘The system is overwhelmed. You have pockets where there aren’t enough resources and facilities,'” Campos told lawmakers.


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  • Nation Needs To Be Ready To Help Vets, Soldier Says.   AP  “The Army’s top enlisted soldier said the entire nation has a responsibility to help the tens of thousands of young combat veterans who will be entering the civilian workforce in the coming years. Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler visited Fort Campbell, Ky., on Friday to hear concerns of soldiers and their families about the coming changes for the Army, including the challenge of reducing the Army by 50,000 soldiers over the next five years and uncertainty about the effects of budget cuts.” Chandler told reporters at the “installation on the Tennessee-Kentucky state line that the Army is preparing soldiers to leave the service but noted the American public has an important role in helping those veterans.”
  • Traumatic Injury Pay Now Covers Genital Trauma.  Army Times  “Veterans whose genitals have been severely injured as a result of trauma are now eligible for a lump-sum payment under the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury program,” the VA announced Friday. The TSGLI changes are “due in part to an increase of such injuries among combat veterans, who are vulnerable to “improvised explosive devices. … ‘We recognize that these types of injuries are devastating and can have a long-lasting impact on the service member’s quality of life,'” said VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. For males, there is a $25,000 payment for each testicle lost; and a $50,000 payment for the anatomical loss of a penis” or severe damage to the organ. Women who lose “external sexual organs” would receive $50,000; and a $25,000 payment for each lost ovary.
  •   Speakout Lets Locals Voice Views On Health Care.  Gainesville Sun  Dr. Lynn Chacko “told those gathered at a speakout on healthcare Saturday that she gave up a profitable job as a private physician in South Florida” to work for the VA in Gainesville. “Because of the way our healthcare system is, I could only spend less than 15 minutes with most patients,” Chacko said. “In 2010, I decided to leave private practice and took a huge pay cut, but it was the best decision I ever made” to work for the VA. Although the “veterans healthcare system is not perfect,” Chacko added, the health outcomes are “better for its patients than for those with private insurance.” Saturday’s speakout was “organized by the Alachua County Labor Party along with Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Gainesville.”
  • Injured Vets Gain Garb.  CQ  “Veterans who’ve suffered multiple injuries as a result of their service are now eligible for twice the typical clothing allowance” that VA generally provides to disabled vets. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki announced the revised policy “last month and said it would bring the department into compliance with a 2009 federal appeals court ruling that found that the VA could not deny” a former Army staff sergeant “extra money for clothes, given the nature of his injuries.” The Vietnam veteran, James E. Sursely, “lost both legs and his left arm when a land mine exploded near him in 1969.” He and other disabled vets who incurred multiple injuries during combat can now request up to twice the VA current clothing allowance, or up to “$1,432 a year.”
  • VA Announces New Payments For Sex Organ Injuries.  “Troops who suffered injuries to their genitals” are now eligible for a “one-time payment of up to $100,000,” the VA announced Friday. The payment, under “Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection, will be in addition to VA healthcare for genitourinary problems and disability compensation for service-related injuries or illnesses involving genitourinary organs. ‘We recognize that these types of injuries are devastating and can have a long-lasting impact on the servicemember’s quality of life,'” said VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. Adding genitourinary injuries to SGLI coverage “comes as military doctors are reporting an increase in these types of injuries,” primarily from IEDs. The Defense Department has determined that roughly “570 servicemembers sustained genitourinary injuries between October 7, 2001, and May 2, 2011.”
  •   TRICARE Kicks Off Procurement For Defense/VA Pharmacy System.  NextGov  The TRICARE Management Activity on Wednesday “kicked off the process to develop a joint electronic pharmacy system for the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments with a request for information to industry for commercial products that could handle the task.” The combined system would “manage 190 million prescriptions a year.” TRICARE “said it wants a single solution to track prescription and medication orders and improve patient safety.” Notably, MHS “fills 50 million prescriptions while VA fills 140 million” annually. And industry sources, who “declined to be identified, said the ability to handle this scale of transactions, which makes the program the largest pharmacy system in the world, will be a key criteria as the procurement process moves forward.”
  • Program Reduces Disability Benefits Waiting Period After Separation.  USAF officials “held a training conference recently to teach those operating the Integrated Disability Evaluation System how to process service members who, because of medical conditions, may no longer be able to serve in the Air Force.” The conference, held jointly by the “Air Force Personnel Center and the Air Force Medical Operations Agency, was attended by more than 250 base-level physical evaluation board liaison officers, who guide service members through the disability evaluation system, and medical physicians, who recommend service members for the disability evaluation process.” The IDES provides a “more seamless transition to veteran disability benefits with more consistent ratings between DOD and VA than the previous system, said Lt. Col. Lorianne Hodge, the Air Force Personnel Center’s Air Force Physical Disability Division deputy division chief.”
  •  Website Makes WWII Records Available For Free.   USA Today   “Carol Horner-Iacona of San Marcos, Texas, knew her father had been aboard the USS Helena on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.” But it “really hit home this week when she found the Navy document on the genealogy website placing him there on that day. ‘It’s like a treasure hunt,’ she said of her search through the online records.” According to VP Josh Hanna, that “treasure trove, which includes 60 million World War II records of individual members of the US armed forces, will be available for free over the next six days, starting Friday and running through Dec. 7, the 70th anniversary of the attack.”
  •   VA & UHC Partnering To Treat Cancer Patients.  WDTV-TV  Two local hospitals are “collaborating for a one of a kind partnership to help treat cancer patients. The Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center is purchasing a PET/CT Scanner to place United Hospital Center property.” At present, UHC has a “mobile PET Scan that comes to the hospital once a week” but a lot of “folks, especially veterans, have had to travel out of the area for this type of treatment. ‘Trying to avoid their having to travel long distances when they’re sick and be able to keep that care locally for the veterans,'” said UHC President Bruce Carter. The PET/CT Scan is expected to “be complete sometime next summer.”
  • Resources To Help Veterans Land A Civilian Job.   Wall Street Journal New veterans are having a difficult time obtaining employment, especially because their military skills often do not translate easily into civilian-type job descriptions. However, there are number of available resources designed help veterans with that transition. Web-based programs at, and, allow veterans to enter their skills and then translate those skills into non-military language and provide a list of potential positions. Moreover, about 15 major employers thus far, have pledged to hire veterans. In addition, there are recruiters that cater to veterans and job fairs, such as the annual Milicruit Career Fair, which both helps vets and their spouses. This year’s fair is scheduled for Dec. 13, according to the Milicruit website.
  •    New Tool Helps Neb, Iowa Veterans Talk With Doctors.  AP  “A new tool available to Nebraska and Iowa veterans will help speed communication with healthcare providers. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System says its ‘secure messaging’ feature allows veterans to communicate electronically with their doctors.” The Department says the tool, which can be used to “ask about appointments, prescriptions and non-urgent health issues,” will help veterans “avoid long waits.” The tool is available at the VA’s MyHealth website.
  •  South Dakota Veterans Groups, Lawmakers Working Together. KSFY-TV “When you ask a state legislator why” he or she supports “South Dakota veterans, you get a simple answer.” Rep. Frank Kloucek was shown saying, “They’ve done so much for our country and willing to give their lives to defend our freedom.” KSFY continued, “But getting veterans the best quality-of-life after war can be a challenge. Today, representatives from various veterans’ organizations presented new legislation ideas stressing why this year is especially important. Topics included disabled parking, needing more funding for service officers who file veteran claims, and giving veterans access to more jobs. … Getting more veterans into the workforce was one of the bigger talking points.” DAV Director Gene Murphy said that with employments, veterans are “going to feel better, their health, self esteem will be better, and they’ll be more productive citizens.”
  •     “Disaster” Building Becomes Eco-Friendly Housing Facility.  Tampa (FL) Tribune  “Less than two years ago, a vacant building” that once housed a construction company, was a “neighborhood garbage dump and magnet for code violations.” But through the “vision of the city, the nonprofit Tampa Crossroads” and HUD — “with about $3 million in federal stimulus money — the property is an eco-friendly project soon to be home to female veterans and low-income families.” Eco Oaks, is an “18-unit facility on just more than two acres that was paid for through the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program.”
  • Legion Hosts Women Vets Focus Group.  American Legion  American Legion “staff in Washington, D.C., hosted a women veterans focus group Nov. 29-30 to discuss key issues affecting women veterans and servicemembers. The 20-person group included representatives from community outreach organizations, the departments of Labor, Defense and Veterans Affairs, and other stakeholders, who discussed the results of a women veterans survey that the Legion conducted in January,” which showed that many women veterans have “encountered gender-specific problems at VA medical centers, and only about 25 percent of those eligible are actually enrolled in VA’s healthcare system.” The discussion group also noted that many women vets “perceive VA medical center staff as ‘not friendly.'” Meanwhile, VA has started to “change its traditionally male-oriented culture through the ‘Herstory’ campaign, the ‘I Care’ initiative,” and other initiatives.
  • Women Veterans Get Their Due At VA.  Saipan Tribune  VA Pacific Islands Healthcare System Director Dr. James E. Hastings said the VA is now “putting ‘major emphasis’ on women veterans, a group where the agency ‘failed in the past. … ‘What I can tell you is that all VA facilities are making a major effort to recognize the fact that they need to increase the services that they’re offering women veterans,'” Hastings said during an interview with the Tribune. According to Hastings, the “nature of military is now ‘changing,’ with about 15 percent of the deployed force are women.” He was in Saipan “for a town hall meet attended by veterans and their family members on Nov. 16 at the American Memorial Park Visitors Center Theater in Garapan.”
  •  Building Homes, Building Relationships.   KHON-TV  “Thirty women volunteers including active military service members spent their Friday helping a two-tour Vietnam veteran build his Habitat for Humanity home in Papakolea. … ‘They help us do the final touches get ready to paint and stuff like that,'” said Wallace Bailey, Vietnam veteran and homeowner. The effort was part of “Lowe’s ‘Hammer’s for Heroes’ project that will revitalize or construct 21 homes across Hawaii.”
  •   Veterans Home Cashier Allegedly Stole Money From 20 Residents. KMSP-TV  “A cashier at the Minneapolis Veteran’s Home is accused of stealing from Minnesota veterans. The investigation was triggered by two separate family members who noticed discrepancies in bank statements. A legislative auditor a reviewed bank records and found he was giving fake receipts for money never deposited. By the time it was discovered, nearly $7000 was missing from 20 residents.” Meanwhile, the Office of Veterans Affairs is “working to safeguard the accounting system and says all veterans will be reimbursed; and prosecutors are considering charges against the cashier.”
  •  Muncie Man Charged With Torturing Dog.  Muncie (IN) Star Press  “A Muncie man faces a felony charge over allegations he severely abused his dog. Anthony Michael Seneff, 24, was charged Thursday with torturing or mutilating a vertebrate animal, a Class D felony carrying a standard 18-month prison term.” Earlier this year, Seneff took part in a “rally opposing an Indiana Supreme Court ruling prohibiting citizens from resisting police officers who try to enter their homes without warrants.” A newspaper photograph “showed Seneff — described as a Ball State student, and a Marine veteran of Iraq — holding a sign that read, ‘I went overseas to protect your rights so you can trample on mine.'”
  •   Saratoga War Horse Reporting For Duty.  Saratogian (NY)  “Following years of planning, a new equine-based intervention program is getting off the ground that could stem the tide of this alarming mental health problem. The Saratoga War Horse program will teach veterans to connect with horses, a process called ‘Join-up,’ to work through the emotional scars of warfare.” The first veterans are expected to “take a three-day introductory class this month at the Ruggles Road farm of Dennis and Joann Walpole.” Meanwhile, program founders “Bob Nevins, a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran, and prominent horsewoman Marilyn Lane want to lay the groundwork for a national model that can be implemented at military bases throughout the country.” The two have enlisted support from the VA’s “Center of Excellence in Tampa, Fla., whose experts will analyze long-term results of the program’s effectiveness.”
  •   Ceremony Shines Light On Military Sacrifice.  Wisconsin Radio Network  Wisconsin’s “Capitol Christmas tree was center stage” Friday at two ceremonies “but at one them — veterans and service members were the stars. At the morning event, Governor Scott Walker said it is appropriate to honor their sacrifice of often being away from their families.” State VA Secretary John Scocos “said it’s important to thank veterans ‘with actions’ including jobs, educational outreach and benefits.” The second program, “held midday, focused on the tree itself, a 36-foot balsam fir from Northwest Wisconsin.”
  •  Freeholders Honor Plainfield’s Oldest Living Veteran.  Union County Freeholder Linda Carter presented a “resolution to Tennyson Moore, 98, thanking him for his military service and recognizing him as Plainfield’s oldest living veteran.” Moore is a “US navy veteran who was in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked the American naval base.”
  • International Documentary Association Picks Doc Winners, PGA Shortlists Nominees.  HitFix   International Documentary Association “held its annual awards gala” Friday evening. One of “last year’s Best Documentary Short Oscar nominees, ‘Poster Girl’ — a fantastic portrait of a female Iraq veteran grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder — managed to win the short film prize (beating out fellow Oscar nominee ‘The Warriors of Qiugang’ in the process).”
  •  VA Opens New PTSD Facility.  KSDK-TV  St. Louis Veterans Affairs Medical Center “has a new facility” to treat PTSD. “They lit up the Christmas tree in the front lobby Friday to celebrate at Jefferson Barracks.” Mental Health Services Director Dr. Stephen Gaioni “says the hospital is seeing a number of service members return from Iraq and Afghanistan with symptoms of PTSD. … ‘As you can see we are increasing capacity here to be able to care for our veterans with PTSD,'” said VA Medical Center Director Rima Nelson. The new outpatient PTSD center, which “has been two years in the making,” will help veterans “re-experience the trauma under safe, controlled conditions, and then gradually help reduce their response to the trauma.”

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