Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – December 22, 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.    Soldier pawns Purple Heart for Christmas.  Here is a harsh reminder that yellow ribbons and care packages aren’t always enough support for the troops: A soldier on leave from Afghanistan walked into a Michigan consignment shop last week to pawn a Purple Heart to help cover his Christmas bills.
2.    Flag honors for federal workers killed on job.  Families of federal workers killed on the job can be presented with an American flag on behalf of a grateful nation, under legislation signed into law this week.
3.    Veteran provides tax help and other services to seniors, fellow veterans.  After spending hours preparing tax returns, Ward is off to another destination in town to help a fellow veteran file a benefits claim or navigate through the often complicated US Department of Veterans Affairs bureaucracy. He’s also active in service …
4.    Veteran Owned Business Wins Multi-Million Dollar Federal Government Contract.   L1 Enterprises, a service-disabled veteran-owned business announced today that is was awarded a federal government contract in the amount of $14.6 million to provide the “L1berty UDB901 Urine Collection” bags to the US Department of Veteran Affairs …
5.    Brandon leaders to submit ‘vague plan’ for state veterans nursing home.  Brandon Valley Challenger  15 is the deadline for proposals to be submitted to the South Dakota Veteran Affairs office. Brandon had been the only community to vocalize their interest in landing the veterans home until last week when Aberdeen officials announced their interest …
6.    Congress Approves $1.4 Billion Military Health IT Budget.  NextGov  “Congress fully funded the Military Health System’s information technology systems for fiscal 2012 as part of a multiagency appropriations act passed this weekend, but a separate measure limits how the Defense Department can spend the money.” The “fiscal 2012 Defense Authorization Act…restricts spending on a next-generation electronic health record system until the Pentagon has met specific requirements.” According to NextGov, the requirements are that the Defense secretary must report to “Congress that MHS has developed an architecture that is cost-effective and interoperable” and “must define the role of the Defense-Veterans Affairs Interagency Program Office in developing a joint electronic health record the two departments agreed on this May.” The bill also says VA cannot spend any of its fiscal 2012 IT budget until it can certify to Congress that department projects satisfy Office of Management and Budget capital planning requirements.
7.    Air Force Seeks Outside Advice On Dover Penalties.  AP  US Air Force Secretary Michael Donley is “expanding his review of the disciplinary actions taken as a result of the mishandling of body parts at the Dover, Del., military mortuary, and he did not send a completed assessment to Pentagon leaders last week as initially expected. In a statement Tuesday, the Air Force said Donley is asking a retired general and two experts to review the punishments.” Donley also wants to include a separate Office of Special Counsel investigation in his review. The AP adds, “Asked about the delay, Pentagon press secretary George Little said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta believes Donley is ‘proceeding prudently and deliberately.'”
8.    First Lady Delivers Cards At VA.  Lebanon (PA) Daily News  On Tuesday, “Susan Corbett, Pennsylvania’s first lady, delivered hundreds of holiday cards to veterans receiving treatment” at the Lebanon Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The “cards, part of the American Red Cross ‘Holiday Mail for Heroes’ program, were signed by people who visited the governor’s residence in Harrisburg during recent holiday tours, according to a news release.” The Daily News adds, “Almost 900 holiday cards provided by the American Red Cross were signed during tours at the residence, the release states.”
9.    Federal Health IT Market Set To Grow To $6.5B By 2016.  Healthcare IT News “Federal spending on healthcare IT will reach $6.5 billion by 2016, according to a new survey from Deltek, Inc. That represents a compound annual growth rate of 7.5 percent — outpacing forecasted growth of just 1.1 percent for overall federal non-health IT spending for the same period.” Federal “‘agencies possess the most advanced EHRs in the world, however due to their age and legacy architectures and technologies, they are overly ripe for major transformation,’ says Angie Petty, senior principal analyst at Deltek.” She added, “The Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs are on the cusp of creating a joint records system that will serve soldiers from their induction into the military through the rest of their lives.”
10.   Gov’t Recovers Record-High $2.8B In Whistleblower Fraud Cases.  FierceHealthcare  “Breaking records, the government has recovered an all-time high $2.8 billion in false claim cases with the help of whistleblowers, officials announced” this week. In “total, the Justice Department (DoJ) secured more than $3 billion in settlements and judgments in civil cases involving fraud under the False Claims Act in fiscal year 2011, ending Sept. 30. Of that, $2.4 billion involved fraud committed against federal healthcare programs, mostly attributed to Medicare and Medicaid but also including TRICARE, federal Employees Health Benefits and Veterans Administration health programs.”


Have You Heard?

Dealing with Holiday Stress

The holiday season can be a time of joy, happiness and family get-togethers.

But for some Veterans, it is a time of loneliness and anxiety about their future.

Why do I have the Holiday Blues?

Many things can cause the “holiday blues.”

It could be stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, money problems, or unable to be with one’s family and friends. The demands of shopping and family reunions can also lead to feelings of tension.

Some Vets develop stress symptoms such as headaches, excessive drinking, over-eating and problems sleeping. There is also the post-holiday let down after January 1. This usually results from disappointments during the holidays added to the excess fatigue and stress.

Here’s One Way to See if You Are Depressed

You may be wondering if you have symptoms of Depression. One way of determining that is to take a brief confidential and anonymous screening. Only you will see the results of the brief screening. None of the results are stored or sent anywhere. You can choose to print a copy of the results for your own records or to give to your VA physician or mental health professional.

Is the Weather to blame?

Some Veterans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which results from being exposed to fewer hours of sunlight as the days grow shorter during the winter months.

This article on the “winter blues” will help you understand SAD.

The VA Medical Center in Albuquerque has a great feature on how to deal with holiday stress.

VA has numerous resources to help Vets get through the Holiday Blues and VA’s Mental Health professionals are ready to help you deal with your depression.

More Veteran News


  •   $40M Secured For Military Suicide Prevention Efforts.  East Brunswick (NJ) Sentinel “After years of advocacy and the work and support of East Brunswick residents Linda and Greg Bean, whose son died by suicide after serving two tours in Iraq,” US Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) “announced he has secured” suicide prevention funding for soldiers and veterans. Holt “announced during a teleconference on Monday that $40 million will be allocated in the final 2012 federal budget to support military suicide prevention.” Holt “said that the funding – which will be split equally between the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs – will be used to enhance current suicide prevention programs, create new ones, and work to publicize these services for the soldiers and veterans who need them.”
  • Michael Finegan Receives Chase Award For Excellence From VA Medical Centers.  Ann Arbor (MI) Journal  The “Department of Veterans Affairs awarded Michael Finegan, network director for Veterans Integrated Service Network 11, the John D. Chase Award for Executive Excellence at the 117th annual meeting of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States last month. Finegan oversees a regional veterans’ health care network of eight VA medical centers and 27 outpatient clinics covering more than 90,000 square miles in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, including the VA facility in Ann Arbor.” In a news release, VA’s under secretary for health Dr. Robert A. Petzel said, “Michael Finegan’s distinguished” VA career “clearly demonstrates a level of sustained and progressive leadership which has contributed to improvements in the organization’s ability to carry out the mission of providing high quality” healthcare for veterans.
  •  Costie Wants To Work With Community Leaders To Improve Dayton VA.  WDTN-TV  Glenn Costie, the new director of the Veterans Affairs hospital in Dayton, “says he wants to work with the community and his staff to provide better treatment for veterans.” Costie was shown saying he wants to “get with some of our community leaders and let them give us a fresh eyes approach on how they view us. They may see things that we’re doing that they may say, ‘You know, you could do better in this area.’ So I look for those ideas.” WDTN added, “Costie says he wants to break down the barriers by establishing a greater relationship with the CEOs of other medical facilities in this area.”
  •    Neosho Military Veteran Accidentally Shoots Himself At VA.  KSPR-TV  On Tuesday night, a local veteran was “recovering from a gunshot wound to his leg.” Investigators “say the man was waiting for an appointment at the Gene Taylor VA clinic and was cleaning his gun in his vehicle. The small caliber handgun discharged, hitting the man in the leg.”
  •   Civilian And Warrior: A Common Crisis.  Washington Times  For veterans, the “crisis of civilian healthcare is unimpressive. They’ve already experienced healthcare in the arms of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the incompetence is staggering.” Madison adds, “With no recovery in sight for the American economy and with veteran financial assistance in the hands of the incompetent VA, our current soldiers and Marines returning from Iraq and Afghanistan threaten to swell” the numbers of homeless veterans.
  •    Veterans Wary Of VA’s Plans.  Chadron (NE) Record  “Military veterans from around northwest Nebraska crowded a church meeting hall in Gordon on Wednesday Dec. 14 to hear first hand from Veteran’s Administration officials about a proposal announced two days earlier to close the VA hospital in Hot Springs, S.D. shift many services to Rapid City, S.D. and the Fort Meade facility near Sturgis, S.D., and contract with local clinics and hospitals for some services. Support for the Hot Springs facility was strong among the nearly 160 people who attended the session, although some veterans said they would be open to the idea of using local clinics for services, provided they still could be assured of quality care.” The Record adds, “The distance that veterans have to travel for care is among the concerns that the proposal hopes to address…said” Steve DiStasio, acting director of the VA Black Hills Health Care System, who attended the meeting in Gordon.
  •  Vet Suggests VA, HUD Team Up To Assist Homeless Vets In South Dakota.  Rapid City (SD) Journal  Veteran Dave Batchelor said he is concerned about a recent proposal from VA to close its hospital in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Batchelor asked, “Why not convert much of the space” at the Hot Springs VA to “living quarters for homeless or any other vets from across the country who may need medical and rehabilitation services or just a nice safe secure place to live with access to the greenhouse, hobby shop, chapels, recreation and gardens?” Batchelor added, “What I’m suggesting is a long term living facility that can be managed as a joint VA venture with HUD whose mission and services support housing initiatives like this.”
  •   Patients Want To See Docs’ Notes: Study.  Modern Healthcare  “Most patients are enthusiastic about viewing and sharing their doctors’ notes about them, while doctors-perhaps predictably-are more wary of the practice, according to two studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. One study examined attitudes of patients and physicians at Beth Deaconess Israel Medical Center” in Boston, “Geisinger Health System in rural Pennsylvania,” and “Harborview Medical Center, a county hospital in Seattle. The other study surveyed users of the My HealtheVet US Veterans Affairs Department Web-based personal health record.”
  •  Young Veterans Encouraged To Get Medical Checks.  KFDA-TV  The “Department of Veterans Affairs offers five years of free medical care for recent veterans dealing with combat-related medical problems.” The department is “encouraging returning vets to check in with its medical and counseling centers once they get back home.” David Crabtree, who works at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Amarillo, “says the sooner our vets get checked, the better.”
  • Military Order Of The Purple Heart Event Helps Homeless Veterans In Springfield.  Springfield (MO) News-Leader  “The local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart welcomed…about 35” homeless veterans “to a special holiday event at Cook’s Kettle on Commercial Street.” One of the vets in attendance was James Calver, who was “able to get some of his records straightened out and an appointment at the Veterans Affairs medical clinic in Mount Vernon thanks to local representatives of the VA who were on hand.” Last week, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki “announced…that the homeless count in January recorded 67,495 homeless veterans, compared to 76,329 in 2010,” and that $100 million in grants will be “available to community agencies through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, a homeless-prevention and rapid re-housing program.”
  •  Hampton VAMC Gets National Recognition For Helping To Shelter Nearly 300 Vets.  WVEC-TV  Veterans Affairs “says homelessness among vets is down 12%. Meanwhile, the Hampton VA Medical Center has just earned national recognition for its efforts to eliminate homelessness” through a “program called HUD-VASH,” which “stands for Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs’ Supported Housing. It has helped nearly 300 local vets find homes.”
  •  US Hopes Music And Art Can Sooth Traumatised Soldiers.  BBC News   “The US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan etched scenes of violence and death into the memories of hundreds of thousands of soldiers. Now, military researchers are exploring whether writing, art and music can sooth veterans seared by wartime trauma.” Lt Col Ron Capps, who served in Afghanistan and has been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, is “running creative writing workshops at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE), a new military medical facility at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, that offers holistic healing for brain trauma and other invisible wounds of war.”
  •  Veterans Find A Place In The Ivy League.  CBS News  “Tens of thousands of American troops are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and finding out just how tough it is to get a job right now. So, thanks to the GI Bill, many are going to school instead — and not just any school — the Ivy League sometimes comes calling, recruiting veterans.” CBS also pointed out, that while recent changes to the GI Bill limit “government tuition payments to private schools like Columbia,” Columbia is “making up the difference by increasing financial aid for veterans.”
  • Veterans’ New Battle At Home: Find Jobs.  Humble (TX) Observer  A “growing number of veterans, discharged after Gulf War 2-era service,” are “having difficulty finding suitable work.” Kelly Shupak, vocational rehabilitation and employment officer with the US Department of Veterans Affairs, “said VA programs help veterans identify the right place to market their skills, and assists with navigating some of the many new choices they now face.”


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