Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – December 24, 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.    Homeless veteran receives apartment, aid for Christmas.  AZ  The coalition works closely with city, county and federal officials to quickly find homes for homeless veterans who qualify for federal vouchers, which are offered through a special program of the US Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and …
2.    Linked by trauma, officer seeks recognition for soldier he never knew.  Separated by rank, role and age, two soldiers never met, but both returned from war with psychological wounds. One sought help and recovered. The other was abandoned by the Army and hanged himself. Now the survivor is fighting one last battle for the one who didn’t make it.
3.    PACOM studying negative attitudes toward Hawaii’s public schools.  The U.S. Pacific Command is in the middle of a $600,000 study to find out why thousands of military families are not sending their school-age children to public schools in Hawaii.
4.    Feds charge Exeter Township man with stealing more than $185000 from government.  Federal crime-fighters say an Exeter Township man defrauded the federal Department of Veterans Affairs by collecting benefits after becoming ineligible. The defendant, Jason Milbrandt, 41, unlawfully received $185460, according to a news release. …
5.    Agencies band together to help veteran’s fresh start.  Sarasota Herald-Tribune  JFCS was one of 85 agencies nationwide to be awarded a grant in the $60 million effort by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The money will help the organization assist 125 low-income veterans and their families in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto …
6.    Ask and You Shall Receive: A Community’s Fight for Local War Veteran.
He began experiencing an intense amount of back pain in 2007, and while McCambridge suspected a direct correlation between Steppe’s discomfort and time in combat—during which he was exposed to uranium and anthrax—the US Department of Veteran’s …
7.    Fiscal 2012 Omnibus: Military Construction-VA.  CQ Weekly  “The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs portion” of a fiscal 2012 omnibus bill “includes larger-than-expected reductions.” Under “allocations based on a security spending cap set in the August debt limit law (PL 112-25), funding for military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was expected to be cut by $618 million. But deeper cuts were made to allow more money for the Defense spending measure.”
8.    Army: Some Arlington Markers May Need Replacement.  AP   “Thousands of grave markers at Arlington National Cemetery may need to be replaced or added to accurately account for the dead, following a meticulous Army review of each of the nearly 260,000 headstones and niche covers on the grounds. In a report to Congress on Thursday, the Army found potential discrepancies between headstones and cemetery paperwork on about 64,000 grave markers – about one in four.” The review was ordered last year by Congress, “following reports of misidentified and misplaced graves that led to the ouster of the cemetery’s top executives.”  USA Today  In its report to Congress, the Army “says it checked all 259,978 gravesites in the nation’s best-known cemetery against more than 510,000 records that it had on file, and found that one in four require ‘additional review.'” According to USA Today, the “report did not turn up any new cases of veterans or dependents buried in the wrong plots, but it pointed to other problems, such as misspellings on headstones and inconsistencies in records. ‘While great progress has been made thus far, additional work is required,’ the report says.”  Washington Post “After a year-long effort to account for every grave at Arlington National Cemetery, Army officials said Thursday that there might be problems, some as minor as typographical errors in paper records, with nearly 65,000 sites – or one-quarter of the graves at the nation’s most prominent military burial ground. In a highly anticipated report, mandated by Congress last year after the discovery of misidentified remains, the cemetery cited monumental challenges in completing the task: missing Civil War-era logs, illegible headstones and burial procedures that changed significantly over the 150-year history of the site.” But on Thursday, US Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) “praised the cemetery’s leadership, saying that Arlington ‘is now a turnaround story.'”
9.    More Veterans Getting Federal Jobs.  American Forces Press Service  “Nearly 29 percent of federal government hires in fiscal 2011 went to military veterans, marking a 20-year high, US Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry said” earlier this month. Berry “released what he called preliminary numbers from fiscal 2011 following a meeting of the President’s Council on Veterans Employment, an Obama administration initiative he credited with the increases in veteran hiring.” AFPS adds, “The council is co-chaired by Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.”
10.  VA Medical Centers All On Facebook Now, But What Comes Next?  Federal Computer Week  “The Veterans Affairs Department announced this week that all 152 of its medical centers now have Facebook pages.” The agency’s secretary, Eric Shinseki, “described the large-scale Facebook outreach as a milestone for expanding veterans’ access to the VA and a way to ’embrace transparency and two-way communication.'” Federal Computer Week adds, “The next step is for every medical center to create a presence on Twitter as well, the VA said in its news release.” NextGov Shinseki “said he viewed the widespread use of Facebook by VA hospitals as a transformative event that changes the way the department communicates with veterans.” Shinseki “added that veterans helped provide the impetus for VA’s embrace of social media.” In a news release, Shinseki said, “Veterans and their families told us from the beginning that they want to engage and they want relevant information delivered at the local level. By leveraging Facebook, the department continues to expand access to VA and embrace transparency and two-way conversation.”


More Veteran News


  •  Utah’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center Prepares For Influx Of Veterans As US Leaves Iraq.  KCPW-FM  interview with Jill Atwood, spokeswoman for a Veterans Affairs hospital in Salt Lake City. Atwood “says with the war in Iraq officially over, the hospital is already seeing an increase in veterans seeking services.” She “says over the past five years, the hospital has added numerous staff to help service men and women” adjust back to life at home. Atwood noted that the hospital has an “entire team…devoted” to serving Iraq veterans.
  •    Bronx VA Prepares For Soldiers Coming Home.  Amsterdam (NY) News  James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center “in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx” is “gearing up to treat and help soldiers adjust to civilian life” after returning from Iraq. Jim Connell, the hospital’s director of community and government relations, said VA is “ramping up its homeless and housing program staff and its mental health department and working on many new and exciting methods of diagnosing and treating the problems of our latest generation of veterans.” Connell added, “We remain the region’s only PolyTrauma and spinal cord injury referral center, and we are breaking ground on a new, three-floor Spinal Cord Injury Center of Excellence that is scheduled to be completed in 2017.”
  •   New Program Rehabs Vets’ Brain Injuries.  KXAN-TV  “As many as 90,000” veterans with brain injuries “may require long-term, specialized care,” the US Department of Veterans Affairs has “begun a 2 1/2-year pilot program, contracting with private clinics to provide such care. The CORE Health Clinic in Dripping Springs is one of some two dozen clinics to be involved.” KXAN (12/22, 10:09 p.m. CT) aired a similar report
  •  VA Clinics Deal With Rise In Veteran Suicide.  WDAY-AM  “Since 9/11, the Fargo VA’s Seamless Transition Program has enrolled 6,000 soldiers,” 4,000 of whom “have had visits with the special VA program which works with those coming home after deployment. This comes as Minnesota State legislators heard from returning guardsmen who have struggled with depression and suicide attempts after coming home from the war.”
  •   Plymouth Killer Helped Run Brockton Veterans’ Jail Diversion Program.  Brockton (MA) Enterprise  “A Brockton program to help convicted veterans avoid prison has ended after officials learned a man helping to run it is on parole for murder. Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz said he terminated the ‘Mission Direct Vet’ program last week after discovering the man, Charles E. Delaney III, was convicted in 1989 of second-degree murder for strangling his ex-wife.” The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, “with help from the Veterans Administration and the University of Massachusetts Medical School, used a five-year federal grant to adopt” the prison diversion program for vets in 2009.
  •  Federal Agencies To Go On A $6.5B Health IT Spending Binge. , FierceHealthIT “Federal agencies will spend $6.5 billion on their own health IT needs in 2016, up from $4.5 billion in 2011, according to a new report from Deltek, a government IT contractor that operates a research subsidiary.” The spending includes money for the “health IT systems of the Department of Defense” and the Department of Veterans Affairs, which are “engaged in intertwined modernization programs that eventually are expected to result in a single lifetime electronic health record for active military personnel and veterans. In the omnibus spending package just passed by Congress, the fiscal 2012 budget allocates $1.4 billion for DoD spending on health IT, and a whopping $3.1 billion for VA health IT projects.”
  •   Police Academy Students See Homeless Sites.  Battle Creek (MI) Enquirer  At Kellogg Community College Police Academy, Rob Miller takes “his class on a run through Battle Creek with stops at the Share Center, Haven of Rest, some inner city motels and under highway bridges to expose the students to people with less and to emphasize the importance of their humane treatment.” Lynda Paulino of the Battle Creek Veterans Affairs Medical Center “asked the officers to keep an open mind when they encounter someone who is homeless or poor. ‘Everyone deserves that the stereotypes be left at home,’ she said.”
  • Take Care Of Veterans: Don’t Let Them Go Homeless.  Westchester (NY) Journal News  “President Barack Obama and the Veterans Affairs secretary, retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki, have announced grants in excess of $4 billion to aid the homeless.” But Donnellan says a “large percentage of that grant money will go to administration, construction and salaries and will take a good deal of time to filter down to the client.” Donnellan asked, “What if offices like mine could be given federal credit, even money to pay landlords or banks to offset the rent for part or all of the cost for returning or recently discharged veterans” for a year? Donnellan
  •   Legion Director Touts VCS Help For Homeless Vets.  Veteran Journal  American Legion Executive Director Peter Gaytan writes, “New VA initiatives are aimed at reaching out to homeless vets.” For example, free “meals will be offered at Veterans Canteen Services (VCS) cafeterias to homeless veterans attending their first VA medical appointment. New veterans who are participating in the Housing and Urban Development and VA Supportive housing program will receive a $20 coupon to be used in VCS retail stores located at every VA medical center.
  •   Veterans Homebuilding Charity Gets A Boost This Holiday Season.  USA Today “Kindness” blog noted that Iraq veteran John Gallina and disabled Iraq veteran Dale Beatty, “each Purple Heart recipients,” have “joined forces…to launch the aptly named Purple Heart Homes, Inc., dedicated to providing customized housing solutions for veterans of all ages.” On Monday, it was announced that Purple Heart Homes, Inc. “would receive a $15,000 grant” from Wal-Mart. The “donation is part of company’s $20 million commitment to veterans organizations through 2015.”
  •    Most Sick Or Disabled Seniors Want Docs To Say How Long They Have.  HealthDay  “Life expectancy is a topic many disabled seniors want to talk about with their doctors but very few have that discussion, a new study finds.” The Veterans Affairs medical center in San Francisco and the University of California, San Francisco co-conducted the study, which was “published online Nov. 30 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.” The San Francisco VA’s Dr. Alexander Smith, the principal investigator on the study, said, “We’ve made big strides in changing the way that doctors communicate prognosis to patients who have cancer, organ diseases or other terminal diagnoses, but this study shows that we still have room to grow in discussing life expectancy with frail older adults who have poor prognosis simply because of multiple physical or cognitive impairments or old age.”
  • Survey: Patients Want More Open Medical Records.  FierceEMR  “A striking majority of patients would like to share information in their electronic records and see what their physicians are saying about them, according to a pair of studies published in the Dec. 20 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. The first survey, ‘Patient Interest in Sharing Personal Health Record Information,’ found that 79 percent of the 18,000 users of My HealtheVet–the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) electronic personal health record (PHR) system–would like to share the information in their personal health record with someone outside of the VA system.” The “results were corroborated in the second study, ‘Inviting Patients to Read their Doctors’ Notes: Patients and Doctors Look Ahead.'”
  •   Army Wants Old Guns Back From Cemetery Rifle Squad.  AP  “The volunteer rifle squad at Fort Snelling National Cemetery has provided military honors at almost 60,000 burials.” Now, however, the Army “wants to replace the honor guard’s 1903 Springfield bolt-action rifles, a model that predated World War I, with a somewhat more modern weapon, the World War II vintage M-1 Garand semiautomatic. But the volunteers with the Fort Snelling squad hope to stick to their old guns.”
  • US Vets Prepared To Help Soldiers Returning Home.  KTNV-TV



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