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1. Army to trim NCO ranks starting in April, memo says. The Army plans to trim its enlisted ranks of staff sergeant and above starting in April according to a Nov. 14 memorandum.
2. Hazing-related charges in GI’s death could be difficult to prove. A low-ranking soldier is hazed and mistreated by his fellow troops and even his leaders. He commits suicide. The military investigates. Are his tormenters legally responsible for his death’
3. HUMC taps VA spinoff VistA to earn $3 million in stimulus funds. Government Health IT
Using a commercial spinoff of the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ VistA EHR, the Hoboken University Medical Center (HUMC) recently achieved Stage One Meaningful Use. The 328-bed New Jersey hospital has been working with Medsphere Systems Corporation …
4. New property tax exemption for veterans’ surviving spouses. Your Houston News
In 2009, veterans began receiving an exemption for the total appraised value of their residential homesteads if they have received 100 percent disability rating or are considered unemployable by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. …
5. Virginia lawyers volunteer to help military veterans. Lynchburg News and Advance
“We’ve seen the (US Department of Veterans Affairs) say ‘no’ for completely wrong reasons,” Kapinos said. “It should have been an automatic ‘yes.’ That can take months to rectify. “We can help soldiers overcome road blocks like that,” Kapinos said. …
6. VA Issues RFI For Cloud-Based Telecommunication. GovConWire The US Department of Veterans Affairs is seeking industry input on how to move its telephone infrastructure into cloud computing, according to a request for information posted Dec. 23. The VA is asking for a solution that can integrate traditional …
7. In the Age of Email, the Good, Old Letter Still Holds Sway. U.S. News & World Report
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a form of anxiety brought on by exposure to a horrific, life-changing or traumatizing event, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Symptoms can include reliving the event in your mind, avoiding things …
8. Reports of sexual assaults increase at service academies. Reported sexual assaults at military academies rose significantly in the last academic year, but defense officials insist that school administrators are handling the issue properly.
9. U.S. gives Pakistan a Christmas briefing on November border fight. On Christmas morning, U.S. time, a Pentagon representative showed Pakistan’s top general the unreleased report on a cross-border firefight that left 24 Pakistani troops dead, and the United States in a deepening diplomatic crisis with a key regional partner.
10. Murder plots, theft – we’ll get there. The U.S. and Afghan soldiers who occupy a roadside outpost near this village in northern Kunar province work in buildings a half-block apart. They meet daily to discuss reports of insurgent activity and almost as often to drink tea or eat rice and naan.
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More Veteran News
- Federal Workers’ Pay Gains Are The Slowest In 10 Years. USA Today “The paychecks of federal workers grew at the slowest pace in a decade this year, held down by a partial pay freeze.” However, a USA Today analysis found that despite the federal pay freeze, wages “rose an average of 1.3% for the budget year that ended Sept. 30, according to newly released federal data.” The article notes, “The Department of Veterans Affairs started paying physicians market rates in 2006. VA doctor pay doubled to an average $200,604 in 2011. The raises reduced spending on bonuses and outside contracts, helping the VA add more than 5,000 doctors, the VA’s Brian McVeigh says.”
- VA Seeks New Medical Scheduling System. Modern Healthcare “The US Veterans Affairs Department is looking to trade up on its medical scheduling system.” According to the VA, it’s “current scheduling system, part of the department’s VistA electronic health-record system, is more than 25 years old and is ‘highly inefficient.'” A notice in FedBizOpps says that “a new medical scheduling system should rely on online and mobile-device services to help ‘enable reliable, fast and secure communications with veterans’ and support data-driven decisionmaking about resource allocation within the Veterans Health Administration.” Modern Healthcare says that “representatives of industry and academia and others can submit their ideas through Jan. 31, 2012, on how best to replace the medical scheduling system.”
- West Point’s Quiet Place Of Honor, Lost Dreams. USA Today Former military academy “cadets have accounted for a higher proportion of the dead in Iraq and Afghanistan than in any other recent war, partly because of the ubiquity of hidden bombs, partly because of the peril to junior officers leading patrols and partly because academy graduating classes are larger.” Among Iraq war casualties, “about 1.3% of the US dead were former cadets, three times higher than in Vietnam or Korea and six times higher than in World War II.” The majority of the article offers details on the West Point cadets buried in the academy’s “Section 36, a garden of unrealized potential and thwarted dreams that sits on a windy bluff over the Hudson River.”
- Military Still Struggling To Treat Troops With Brain Injuries. Pro Publica “More than 115,000 soldiers have sustained mild traumatic brain injuries, also called concussions, in the wars when shock waves from bombs rippled through their brains.” Though “most have recovered quickly…some have suffered lasting cognitive problems, from headaches and dizziness to problems with memory and reasoning.” Since Pro Publica and NPR unveiled reports of lapses in treatment, “Congress and government investigators have pressed the Defense Department to fix flaws that have prevented troops with TBIs from being properly diagnosed and treated.”
- The Air Force Grounds Its Officers. Wall Street Journal The Air Force separated, or fired, 157 officers on the brink of retirement to avoid paying them pension benefits. According to the authors, the Air Force cited budgetary restraints for their decision. Flynn-Brown and Rotunda call on the Air Force to reinstate the fired officers, who will receive no long-term retirement or healthcare benefits, even though some served in the force for years and flew on dangerous missions.
- A Military Base ‘On The Brink’. Los Angeles Times “Wars have always sent many of their practitioners home with lingering emotional scars, but the growing toll of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts is catching up not only with the US military, but with communities” near Washington’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord. “Towns like Lakewood, DuPont, Spanaway and Parkland are home not only to military families, but to thousands of veterans who over the years have stayed on after their enlistments.” Many in the communities return home with mental health issues.
- Study Will Test Neck Injections To Combat PTSD. Navy Times “After seeing promising results with an innovative treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, a group of Navy doctors in San Diego hopes a new study will show a shot in the neck that quiets nerves could bring quick, lasting relief to suffering combat vets.” Under “a pilot study at Naval Medical Center San Diego, 42 active-duty service members will get injections to block or turn off nerves from transmitting triggers that can cause anxiety, hyperarousal or other symptoms of PTSD.” The “nerve blocks, much like basic pain management treatments first done in 1925, typically bring relief in a few days, if not several hours, and in the weeks or months after the procedure.” The study uses stellate ganilion block, also known as SGB.
- As Iraq War Ends, No Parade For Troops Is Imminent. AP “Americans probably won’t be seeing a huge ticker-tape parade anytime soon for troops returning from Iraq, and it’s not clear if veterans of the nine-year campaign will ever enjoy the grand, flag-waving, red-white-and-blue homecoming that the nation’s fighting men and women received after World War II and the Gulf War.” According to “officials in New York and Washington…they would be happy to help stage a big celebration, but Pentagon officials say they haven’t been asked to plan one.” Some contend that “with tens of thousands of US troops still fighting a bloody war in Afghanistan, anything that looks like a big victory celebration could be seen as unseemly and premature.” Though the idea has been floated in New York City, Pentagon officials say they haven’t been asked about coordinating such an event.
- Programs Exist To Help Veterans Secure Employment. WTRF-TV “The federal government has launched new initiatives through the ‘Gold Card’ and the National Resource Directory to help veterans” find jobs. Also, “job assistance from the State of Ohio is also available for veterans. The Ohio National Guard has partnered with AMVETS to create a site, ‘Ohio Vets Can,’ which has job postings in the state available for veterans.”
- Non-profit Group Aiding Vets With Jobs, Services. Cullman (AL) Times “Collecting benefits and finding jobs can be difficult tasks after years in the military, but the emergence of a non-profit organization in Huntsville – Still Serving Veterans – is reaching out to help veterans upon their return home.” The organization is led by “a group of veterans, many who serve as chief executive officers in private businesses, who want to be sure that returning soldiers receive the assistance they are entitled to, and to integrate them back into the workforce.” William Webb, SSV’s president, said, “Generally, we’re an Alabama-based veterans organization, but the service has grown since we opened in 2005. We hear from veterans all over the country now.” The organization has a goal of finding 100 new veterans jobs this year.
- New Vets Struggle As Older Veterans’ Programs Take Up Most Of VA Budget. WBBM-AM “Military veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan seem to be in competition with older vets for financial assistance.” As veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan, “veterans’ agencies are facing a challenge as they move from focusing on senior citizens who fought in World War II and the Korean War to the needs of younger vets.” Currently, “the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs currently devotes more than 80 percent of its nearly $98 billion budget to four veterans’ homes which serve the older population.”
- Veteran’s Claims Of Awards, Service Do Not Withstand Scrutiny. Chicago Tribune “When David Stump died last year, the south suburban man left his family a sheaf of yellowing documents and a troubling question: Did the US Army veteran earn the Bronze Star and the three Purple Hearts the records suggested,” for serving in Vietnam “or were the military documents falsified?” After investigating the case, “Officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery south of Joliet have decided to replace the simple granite headstone at Stump’s grave site.” According to “officials,” Stump’s “military records do not support claims in the records the family provided when Stump died.”
- County Programs Help Vet With Repairs To His Home. Cutler Bay (FL) News Vietnam War veteran Vincent Zerbilio received home-repair assistance “from two of the Miami-Dade County Community Action and Human Services Department’s (CAHSD) home rehabilitation programs – the Single Family Rehabilitation Loan Program (SFRLP) and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).” Zerbilio’s home was flooded during Hurricane Katrina when as it passed over Florida.
- Breakdown Of Agencies, Contract Spending For FY 2012. ExecutiveGov (12/28, “The Department of Veterans Affairs will have more money for health contracts as it received a $2.1 billion increase in its discretionary budget” as a result of the budget deal struck last week. According to Kevin Plexico of Capitol Business, “contractors will see some of this money as the VA continues its efforts to modernize health IT.”
- VA Healthcare Offers ‘No Veteran Dies Alone’ Program. Ann Arbor (MI) Journal “The Veterans Administration Ann Arbor Healthcare System’s ‘No Veteran Dies Alone’ program is part of a national effort in which specially trained volunteers provide companionship and assistance to veterans at the medical center who are entering the final stages of life.” Through the program, “volunteers fill in and provide constant comfort bedside whenever family and friends are unable to be near their loved ones.” In a news release, Robert McDivitt, the director of the Ann Arbor VA, said, “No veteran should have to face the challenge of death alone, and No Veteran Dies Alone accomplishes this mission.”
- Veterans’ Air Plans For HMMC. Kingman (AZ) Daily Miner “As representatives of Kingman Regional Medical Center pondered short- and long-term plans for the hospital formerly known as Hualapai Mountain Medical Center, local veterans organizations brought up the idea of using portions of it as a Veterans Affairs medical facility.” Two organizations, “the Jerry Ambrose Veterans Council of Mohave County and the Vietnam Veterans of America Arizona Chapter No. 975 have created a petition in hopes of gathering support and getting the attention of the VA.” A “joint release from the organizations” said, “We are lacking sufficient medical care in Mohave County, Arizona. Our clinic is outdated to handle the volume of veterans seeking attention. We now have a vacant new hospital facility in Kingman with sufficient space and equipment.”
- Families Of Troops In Afghanistan Want Americans To Remember ‘There Is Still A War Going On’. Grand Rapids Press
- Colquitt Co. Fire Leaves Couple Homeless, Including Vietnam Veteran. WALB-TV
- Medal Of Honor Gravesite Gets A Facelift. Crossville (TN) Chronicle
- Disabled Vet Still Saving Lives, Fighting For Independence. Royse City (TX) Herald Banner