Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – December 28, 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.    Strapped Illinois grappling to meet needs of younger vets returning from Iraq.  Chicago Tribune  Pat Quinn put together to provide feedback on veterans’ services. “With Illinois and a couple of others states, I think they’ve created more of a culture,” said Blumke, who went to work for the US Department of Veterans Affairs after graduating last …
2.    VA centers connect vets through Facebook.  WCBD  Additionally, in June 2011, VA produced a Department-wide social media policy that provides guidelines for communicating with Veterans online. The US Department of Veterans Affairs says that all 152 of its VA centers are now represented on Facebook, …
3.    Brides Across America Offers Wedding Gowns To Women Vets. NBC Nightly News  “Brides Across America, a nationwide program that gives wedding dresses to military couples. At first the idea was to donate a handful of bridal gowns to engaged servicewomen, but Brides Across America grew beyond the founder’s wildest dreams.” So “five years, 38 salons nationwide and 8,000 dresses later, it’s not just active servicewomen who benefit but also fiancées of servicemen.”
4.    Bio-feedback Program Helps Women Vets.  Redlands Daily Facts  “Years ago, psychologists at the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Medical Center in Loma Linda would bring biofeedback training to certain patients. But its use came to an end, until about 18 months ago, when it was resuscitated, said Idalia E. Canez, a staff psychiatrist at the hospital.” There is also some discussion about “ancillary courses, such as yoga or Transcendental Meditation.”
5.    Veterans Find N.C. Residency Requirements Hinder Higher Education Efforts.  Fayetteville (NC) Observer  “Military veterans who want to attend college in North Carolina are encountering a roadblock to their plans to further their education: the state’s residency laws combined with new restrictions in the GI Bill.” The program “no longer pays out-of-state tuition rates at public universities and community colleges,” so “veterans who haven’t become North Carolina residents must make up the difference.” And “about 420 student veterans in the state’s 16-campus university system are affected.”
6.    Veterans Face Uncertain Times.  Westchester (NY) Journal News   “Many veterans are coming home to an uncertain future in a weak job market.” Yet, while “the challenges are considerable…so are the growing support networks for veterans.” The paper highlights the “VOW to Hire Veterans Act, the only part of President Obama’s sweeping jobs initiatives to clear Congress,” and “the Department of Veterans Affairs’ new online tool, My HealtheVet portal (, gives veterans detailed data about their training and duties performed during deployment,” intended “to help veterans enhance a resume or figure out how their military training fits into their future job prospects.” It quotes Secretary Shinseki saying, “Savvy employers look to veterans for the excellent training and unique experiences they bring to the civilian workforce.”
7.    VA: Happy Feds Saved $200 Million In Turnover Costs.  Federal News Radio “The Department of Veterans Affairs avoided $200 million in turnover costs this year by using its VA Learning University to train employees.” The article is based on an interview with Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration John Sepulveda. He said that “the VA is preparing for a busy year as troops return home” and “is asking its employees to carry larger workloads.” The VA is “one of the natural leaders in the Obama administration’s drive to bring more veterans into the civilian federal workforce.” He also said that “more work is needed to preparing agencies to welcome disabled vets, in particular, to their workforce.” And “VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and Deputy Secretary Scott Gould have championed investing in employees as the best way to serve veterans, he said.”
8.    District Director Says VA Listening To Valley Veterans.  Monitor (TX)  “The new director of the region’s Veterans Affairs health care system said he is not fighting the push for a full VA hospital here, but said he cannot join the campaign to create a hospital.” Lawrence A. Biro, director of the VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System explained, “I cannot lobby Congress.” He also said, “What I learned from last time is that any decision like that, in strategic planning, will come from the secretary.” Biro said that Secretary “Shinseki does read letters and emails sent to the DVA by Rio Grande Valley veterans and is very thorough.”
9.    How The Iraq War Changed A Generation Of Veterans.  PBS NewsHour  A “conversation with four American war veterans about their experiences and conclusions.” The veterans spoke about the war as having changed their lives. They also discussed their views on the wars. They also talked about their injuries. One said, “when we talk about the war being over, really, there’s a whole other war that veterans are facing when they return to get care for post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, and other physical and mental injuries that they suffer. And it’s a huge problem.
10.   VA’s Costs To Care For Iraq, Afghanistan War Vets Likely To Exceed Vietnam, Analysis Finds.  St. Paul Pioneer-Press  “The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may be winding down, but the long-term costs of caring for those wounded in battle is on a path to rival the costs of the Vietnam War.” And “the VA is losing ground in efforts to provide fast, efficient and accurate disability decisions.” The story cites Harvard’s Linda Bilmes’ estimates “that providing disability payments to Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans could range from $355 billion to $534 billion over the next 40 years; on top of that, costs to the VA’s medical system could range from $201 billion to $348 billion.” The VA’s Thomas Murphy is cited saying that with respect to difficulties in coming to disability decisions, “We think we’ve got the problem identified and we think we have the right disciplines in place.”

Have You Heard?

Sally Ann Homes, M.D., the spinal cord injury care line executive at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, recently received the Operation American Heroes Foundation Founder’s Award. The Founders Award is given annually to honor local heroes, Veterans, and first responders who have gone above the call of duty to serve their country and community. “Dr. Holmes has always been the consummate rehabilitation professional who practices, teaches, and exemplifies a life that has far transcended her physical challenges and limitations,” said Thomas Horvath, M.D., former chief of staff for DeBakey VA. “Her patience, strength of character, quiet determination, and inspirational leadership has led the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center to be recognized as the finest spinal cord injury service in the VA.” Holmes was diagnosed with a congenital neuromuscular disorder that prevented the development of her muscular system as a baby. She now oversees medical care for more than 500 patients who are in rehabilitation from spinal cord injuries.

More Veteran News


  •  Illinois Grappling With Younger Veterans’ Needs.  AP  “Military veterans are streaming back from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the state of Illinois has only limited means to help them with jobs and education because of its budget problems. More than 80 percent of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ $97.7 million budget is dedicated to running four veterans’ homes with a population of just under 1,000 older veterans.” So “Veterans Affairs Director Erica Borggren says the agency has to look for inexpensive or non-financial solutions to unemployment and education needs.”
  •   Efforts Underway To Help Returning Iraq Veterans Find Jobs.  WDUQ-FM  “With the official conclusion of the Iraq War, local officials have made much of Pennsylvania’s efforts to help returning service members come back into the civilian workforce.” The article focuses on the need to get civilian employment saying that veterans are advised to “cut the shorthand out of their speech,” and to “check out an online skills translator.” Pennsylvania law “ensures that veterans who take civil service exams get 10 extra points for their military experience. Veterans get an additional hiring preference when they’re in the running with another job candidate who is otherwise equally qualified.”
  •  Milwaukee’s VA Hospital Cuts In-Patient Stays.  NPR’s  “The VA hospital in Milwaukee is shortening its residential mental health treatment programs. Doctors there say the shortened stay – from 90 to 45 days – will mean more intense treatment and will make it easier for veterans to transition back into society sooner.” Clinical psychologist Karen Berte explained, “Residential care is really designed to be a more intensive level of care to help someone through a difficult time and prepare them for continuing their care on an outpatient basis.”
  •   San Diego Naval Hospital Testing Unusual PTSD Treatment.  Los Angeles Times “The Pentagon is spending hundreds of millions of dollars searching for a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder,” and “nearly all of the dozens of research projects involve long-term counseling and prescription drugs. But researchers at the Naval Medical Center San Diego believe that something as seemingly simple as injections of an anesthetic given to women during childbirth may be effective in alleviating the symptoms associated with PTSD.” The research is being led by “Dr. Robert McLay, a psychiatrist and director of mental health research at the medical center,” and “Dr. Anita Hickey, a Navy captain and pain control specialist.” They “are midway through a two-year study” and “hope to present their findings to the American Psychiatric Assn. at its May convention in Philadelphia.” Chicago Anesthesiologist Dr. Eugene Lipov is credited with the idea, though the Pentagon rejected his applications for research funding.
  •  Veterans Affairs Claims Progress In Ending Homelessness Among Vets.  Washington Post  “Halfway into an ambitious five-year campaign to end homelessness among veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs says it has made enough progress that the goal is within reach, even as a new generation of veterans returns from Iraq and Afghanistan.” It quotes the VA’s Susan Angell saying that “there is ‘a better opportunity to end veterans’ homelessness by 2015 than at any time in the past.'” The VA “estimates that more than 20,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been homeless at some point during the past five years, and that their numbers are rising.” Secretary Shinseki is quoted saying, “We’ve learned we can’t end homelessness by street rescues alone.” The article says that the VA-HUD joint voucher program is “the most effective remedy.”
  •    Arizona Vet Is First To Get Aid Under Project H3 VETS. USA Today  Greg Guerra who received “a new sofa, chair, TV, bed, pots and pans, plates and other necessities” along with an apartment. “Until Friday morning, he had been homeless.” He “is the first veteran in Arizona to get an apartment through Project H3 VETS. The new initiative involves 25 non-profit groups working under the umbrella of the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness.” The group also works with the VA to get housing vouchers.
  • Current Veterans Seen Falling Faster Into Homelessness.  Yuma Sun  Veteran Robert Herr, who “was homeless and living in his car in California.” Then “in late 2010, he came to Phoenix to be close to his 8-year-old son. He ditched his car and slept in bushes outside the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center until a VA liaison connected him with U.S. Vets, a private organization that provides temporary housing, counseling and job placement for veterans.” And “Sean Price, the homeless veterans services coordinator for the Arizona Department of Veterans Services, said Vietnam veterans fell into homelessness an average of six years after they left the service, but many veterans of recent wars are becoming homeless in two years or less.”
  •   Assistance For Veterans Arrives In Bath Area Next Month.  Lansing (MI) State Journal  “Beginning next month, veterans and their family members will be able to get help with veterans benefits at the local level. Michael Thompson, a state field service officer for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, will spend two days per month at the Bath Township Hall to help with VA health care benefits, service-connected disability compensation, burial and death benefits and other services, township officials said.”
  •  Employers Work With CalVet To Help Veteran Employees.  Lake County (CA) News “California employers are working with the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) to help ensure veteran employees are connected to the state and federal benefits they have earned through military service. CalVet’s growing list of employer partners includes Aerojet, Bechtel Corp., Cintas Corp., Comcast, Health Net Federal Services, HP, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Merck, Oracle, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Republic Services, Southwest Airlines, State Farm, TASC Inc., United Airlines, United Rentals, Verizon, Warner Bros. Entertainment and many others in the defense, energy, technology, telecommunications, transportation, finance, health care, pharmaceutical, media, entertainment and retail industries.” Yet, “less than 15 percent of eligible California veterans are taking advantage of their compensation and pension benefits and only 36 percent are using their health benefits.”
  •  VA’s Message System Improves Patient-Physician Relationship.  Star-Telegram “The VA…has been aggressive in North Texas in trying to get patients to register for its MyHealtheVet system,” and “nowhere is it more popular than the Fort Worth outpatient clinic on Interstate 20.”
  • Two World War II Gunners With A Lot In Common Enter Hospice Care With Pride, Dignity And Sharp Memories.  San Jose Mercury News
  • 96-Year-Old SC Army Veteran Eager To Give Blood. ABC
  •    Black Navy Veteran To Get Medal For WWII Action.  AP
  •   Group Fighting For WWI Memorial At Pershing Park.  Washington Examiner
  •  A Vet Helping Vets.  Santa Rosa (CA) Press Democrat


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