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1. After WWII, vet endured a life of shell shock. Charlotte Observer In letters his mother wrote to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, she spoke of his restlessness, inability to hold a conversation, difficulty making friends, and new behavioral ticks. “If you could know this boy now and before he went in the …
2. What Is Telehealth, And What Does It Mean To Vets? thejournal-news.net I recently attended a brief by US Department of Veterans Affairs medical staff folks regarding a relatively new service called “Telehealth.” What is telehealth, and what does it mean to us as Veterans? Well, it appears to be the …
3. Special court helps Ventura County veterans turn lives around. Ventura County Star
The Superior Court, District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, Probation Agency and Behavioral Health Department participate, along with the federal Department of Veterans Affairs and other groups. Some of the court team members are veterans …
4. Study shows VA has insufficient resources for returning vets. Evansville Courier & Press The Veterans Health Administration (VHA), a unit within the US Department of Veterans Affairs, is the agency primarily responsible for meeting the health care needs of vulnerable patients. The VHA in recent years has made improving mental health care …
5. VA ‘angel’ works to help homeless. The News Herald Shaymna R. Salaman, a social worker for the US Department of Veterans Affairs, represents the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program. There are multiple variables when dealing with the homeless, …
6. A firsthand account of World War II. Buffalo News In fact, of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, only 1.7 million are living today, according estimates from the US Department of Veterans Affairs. For Julia Lyons, it was a chance to show off a grandfather she admires. …
7. 2011 Legislative Summary: Military Construction-VA Appropriations. CQ Weekly Congress approved the military construction and Veterans Affairs “spending measure,” which served as the “vehicle for the nine-bill fiscal 2012 omnibus package” that was cleared Dec. 17. HR 2055 (pdf) provides “$137.4 billion,” including $73.7 billion in discretionary spending, which is “$3.2 billion below fiscal 2011 funding and $2 billion less” than the amount President Obama requested. The measure provide “$53.1 billion for the Veterans Health Administration, including $52.5 billion in advance funding for three main VA medical programs in fiscal 2013.” The VA programs received a $50.6-billion advance from FY2012. For military construction and family housing projects, the bill grants “$13 billion,” a $3.5 billion-reduction from FY2011. The President signed the bill on Dec. 23.
8. Hear What Vietnam Veterans Think About The Kavanaugh Embezzlement Case. WIHI-TV Local veterans “continue to share strong reactions” over accusations against “Kevin Kavanaugh, who is accused of stealing more than $40,000” from veterans organizations. “Vietnam veterans meeting at Dry Hootch Coffee House aren’t at a loss for words just one day after Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm announced embezzlement charges” against Kavanaugh. Some veterans say their concern is not about “money, but the reputation of veterans organizations.” Kavanaugh is a “Vietnam veteran, a former member of the Milwaukee County Veterans Service Commission, and former Treasurer of a local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.” The money he purportedly embezzled came from donations associated with an “Operation Freedom event, and from the military order of the Purple Heart and other sources.”
9. Former Army Major Sentenced For Bribery. AP “A widespread investigation into bribes on defense contracts during Operation Iraqi Freedom has resulted in a 12-year sentence against a former Army major from north Alabama, who was convicted of taking nearly $3 million in bribes.” Eddie Pressley is “one of 17 people who have been convicted or pleaded guilty as a result of the federal probe into how contracts were awarded at Camp Arifjan” in Kuwait. On Jan. 4, US District Judge Virginia Hopkins “imposed the sentence on Pressley and ordered that he and his wife forfeit $21 million.” Pressley is scheduled to “report to prison Feb. 27.” Former Army Maj. James Momon, who testified that Pressley “recruited him to join the bribery scheme,” is awaiting sentencing.
10. Clarksville Woman Arrested For Prescription Drug Fraud. Jeffersonville (IN) News and Tribune A nurse was arrested Friday morning “for filling fake prescriptions.” According to a probable cause affidavit, “Vicky L. Payton, 57, was working as a nurse at the Robley Rex VA Medical Center in Louisville and filled the fake prescriptions at a Rite Aid Pharmacy.” Indiana State Police said Payton “turned herself into the Clark County Prosecutor’s office Friday morning after an arrest warrant was issued — two counts each — for acquiring a controlled substance by fraud and possession of a controlled substance.” Payton has been charged with “four class D felonies, which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for each charge.”
Have You Heard?
With the tax filing season upon us, there are a number of scams that impersonate the IRS. Some of them appear with great frequency, particularly during and right after filing season.
- Refund Scam — This is the most frequent IRS-impersonation scam seen by the IRS. In this phishing scam, a bogus e-mail claiming to come from the IRS tells the consumer that he or she is eligible to receive a tax refund for a specified amount. It may use the phrase “last annual calculations of your fiscal activity.” To claim the tax refund, the consumer must open an attachment or click on a link contained in the e-mail to access and complete a claim form. The form requires the entry of personal and financial information. Several variations on the refund scam have claimed to come from the Exempt Organizations area of the IRS or the name and signature of a genuine or made-up IRS executive. In reality, taxpayers do not complete a special form to obtain their federal tax refund — refunds are triggered by the tax return they submitted to the IRS.
- Lottery winnings or cash consignment — These advance fee scam e-mails claim to come from the Treasury Department to notify recipients that they’ll receive millions of dollars in recovered funds or lottery winnings or cash consignment if they provide certain personal information, including phone numbers, via return e-mail. The e-mail may be just the first step in a multi-step scheme, in which the victim is later contacted by telephone or further e-mail and instructed to deposit taxes on the funds or winnings before they can receive any of it. Alternatively, they may be sent a phony check of the funds or winnings and told to deposit it but pay 10 percent in taxes or fees. Thinking that the check must have cleared the bank and is genuine, some people comply. However, the scammers, not the Treasury Department, will get the taxes or fees. In reality, the Treasury Department does not become involved in notification of inheritances or lottery or other winnings.
- Beneficial Owner Form — This fax-based phishing scam, which generally targets foreign nationals, recurs periodically. It’s based on a genuine IRS form, the W-8BEN, Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding. The scammer, though, invents his or her own number and name for the form. The scammer modifies the form to request passport numbers, information that is often used for account security purposes (such as mother’s maiden name) and similar detailed personal and financial information, and states that the recipient may have to pay additional tax if he or she fails to immediately fax back the completed form. In reality, the real W-8BEN is completed by banks, not individuals.
More Veteran News
- Coming DoD Cuts Will Hit Some Services Harder. Army Times The Pentagon’s “just-released military strategy document will shape budget reductions across the Defense Department beginning in 2013, cuts that will not be distributed proportionately.” The strategy aims to make “$487 billion in cuts to planned defense spending over the next decade.” Although officials “would not discuss specific programmatic decisions,” Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said “‘major changes’ were made during the 2013 budget build.” Members of the Defense Department, National Security Council, State Department, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs and the “intelligence community” contributed to the “strategy review, which began last spring.”
- An Asian-American Veteran Reflects On When Discipline Becomes Hazing. New York Times Former Army Infantry Captain and ROTC instructor Tim Hsia notes that eight “service members have been charged with hazing-related crimes” against Army Private Danny Chen, who “like me,” was the “son of Chinese immigrants.” However, when asked if the military is a “friendly place” for Asian-Americans, “I cite not only General Eric Shinseki, a former Army Chief of Staff, but also the fact that my current commanding officer” is Asian-American. Moreover, one of the “most decorated Army units ever” — the 442nd Regimental Combat Team — was “composed primarily of Japanese-Americans.” Meanwhile, hazing news is spreading “like wildfire within closely connected Asian-American communities”; and if the military “does not calibrate its message to such communities, enlistment rates among Asian-Americans will likely drop.”
- VA Expands Facebook Presence. Federal News Radio Veterans Affairs “began using Facebook in 2008 — with a single page for the whole agency. Now, every individual VA hospital has its own page.” The VA maintains a “robust social media presence in other platforms as well: Twitter feeds, a YouTube channel, Flick streams and the VAntage Point blog.” Last month, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki “called the move ‘an important milestone’ in the department’s communications efforts. ‘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,'” Shinseki said.
- Jobless Rates For Young And Female Vets Climbed In Late 2011. USA Today “Growing numbers of young and female veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan remain jobless despite an overall decline in unemployment and an infusion of new federal programs aimed at providing them jobs. One out of three veterans ages 18 to 24 were without work the last quarter of 2011, double the rate of civilian peers,” according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday. Nearly “22% of female veterans — or an estimated 50,000 women — who served during both wars were unemployed” in December. Moreover, unemployment among “all Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans remains stubbornly higher than the national average”: BLS data show that in December, the rate was “13.1% among this veteran group, compared with the nation’s 8.5% unemployment rate.”
- Sophia’s Haven Of Hope Turns Women Veterans’ House Into “Home.” WTVD-TV “Inside this small house in a quiet Fayetteville neighborhood, lives are being changed. Welcome to Sophia’s Haven Of Hope. Sandra Spearman presented the idea to retired Army Staff Sergeant Helen Shaw; and they started making her vision a reality. … But it’s more than just a just a home for five residents.” Shaw: “It is a place just like our house. All individuals need sometimes is…for people to say ‘I care about you.'” WTVD added: “Haven Of Hope recently received a VA grant and because it’s a program of vets helping other vets, there’s an advantage.” VA Social Worker Marsheta Boyton explained, “Veteran helpers are able to identify in terms of any emotional crisis or transitioning from out of the military.”
- The War In Iraq: Fighting Battles After The War. San Angelo (TX) Standard-Times “A few native sons returning” to San Angelo are now grappling with “life beyond the war zone of Operation Iraqi Freedom. … ‘It’s frustrating to think that with 10 years of that war, and…now that it’s over, there is no parade, no victory day. It’s a little disheartening,'” said Alix Hernandez, who served “as an Army signals intelligence analyst.” Hernandez, who has “family members in the military,” joined the Army “when he was 21.” The Standard-Times also provides excerpts of interviews it conducted with Juan Rubio, who served as a combat medic during two tours and Jason Bright, a “Marine friend who grew up with Hernandez.” Bright’s duties in Iraq included “supporting infantry battalions,” building infantry bunkers and conducting weapons searches.
- Playwright Battles For Injured Vets On Stage. NPR “The more Kate Wenner heard about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the more she felt compelled to act. Wenner was struck by the thousands of US troops returning with traumatic brain injuries. To make people take notice, she wrote a stage play about troops with TBIs.” The page includes a video of NPR’s Daniel Zwerdling reporting on his experience at one of Wenner’s plays performed at a “tiny theater in Chicago.”
- Denise Crosby: Health Problems Plague Vietnam Vet’s Daughter. Naperville (IL) Sun-Times Although Vietnam veteran Craig Carson was frequently exposed to Agent Orange, he “is in good health” but he has seen many fellow “comrades succumb to rare cancers and other illnesses associated” with the defoliant. Moreover, his daughter, who is “now in her mid-30s,” suffers from a “host of maladies, including auto immune disorders that, Carson since learned, mirror the health problems of a generation of offspring whose parents” served in Vietnam. The Carson family has reached out to “Mokie Pratt Porter, director of communications for Vietnam Veterans of America, which is undertaking research on the impact of Agent Orange 40 years later. The organization is looking for ‘real stories from real people’ about second and third generational health struggles.”
- Troubled Vets Find Sympathetic Forum In Camaraderie Of Point Man. Evansville (IN) Courier & Press “Mike Wilson returned from the war in Iraq physically unhurt, but he nearly lost his marriage before he understood that he is still affected by the war.” Wilson eventually “sought counseling, but he said it wasn’t until he began attending a local support ministry” called Point Man “that things began to truly change.” Last year, Vietnam veteran Mike Burkdoll and his wife Donna “formed local chapters of Point Man International Ministries and Home Front, its family equivalent, at Crossroad Christian Church.” Burkdoll said the VA “does a good job with its counseling, but as a government agency, it is limited in addressing the moral and spiritual aspects of veterans’ experiences.”
- Experts At VA New York Hospital Help Veteran Amputee Enjoy Active Lifestyle. WNYW-TV Alfredo De Los Santos, whose “impressive fitness regime is remarkable considering that in 2008, the Army veteran lost his right leg” in Afghanistan. Lacy asked: “What goes through your head when you realized you suffered such a serious injury?” De Los Santos: “It was a nightmare, but I had a lot support from my family and the Army, and I made it through.” Lacy: “Helping him not only make it through, but thrive, the staff at the VA Hospital in New York.” Prosthetist Neil Carbone: “We are here to lift up their spirits.” Lacey: “A team of experts make sure Alfredo’s state-of-the-art, computerized prosthetic leg keeps pace with his active life. … He says his lifestyle helps him cope with the anxiety resulting from the service overseas.”
- Troubled High Desert Vets Have Place To Turn. KTVZ-TV “On Friday, Central Oregon veterans and outreach organizers encouraged troubled veterans to look for help.” Several veteran groups “met in a room at the Vet Center to talk about their thoughts and feelings, but for some, help came too late”: On Jan. 1, Iraq War veteran Benjamin Barns “killed a park ranger in Mount Rainer National Forest” and on Jan. 4, Matthew Stewart “reportedly killed a police officer in a Utah shootout. ‘Sadly those men did not get the help'” they needed, said team leader Gary Hunter. He leads “discussions and meets with vets who need someone to talk to” at the Oregon Vet Center.
- Power Of Music To Help War Veterans. KBOI-AM “Various recording artists and musicians” have formed the group Soldier Songs, under which they “volunteer their time to give free lessons to any veteran who wants to learn how to sing or play musical instruments. … ‘Whatever that veteran wants to learn, whether it be a guitar, piano or voice lessons, we’ll find someone who teaches it,'” said Organizer Jay Burbank. He said Soldier Songs “started last July with only three students and two teachers and now it has grown to more than 50 students in three states. Burbank said music is a very healing outlet for veterans who have seen the horrors of war.”
- Evans Man Receives Dog Tag Of Father Who Went Missing In WWII. Augusta (GA) Chronicle for Chuck Moore, “all that he had to remember” his father Charles H. Moore Sr was a “pair of Army Air Force wings and a Purple Heart medal that his father never had a chance to wear.” The Army declared Moore Sr, who was missing “since Oct. 16, 1943, when he and the other crew members of the ‘Lucky Star’…went down in the Pacific Ocean,” dead in 1946. But Moore “said his father has become more real, more tangible, every time his hands hold a small piece of metal that came to his home in Evans from halfway around the world.” Moore’s family tracked the dog tag to PacificWrecks.org, and his son Seth negotiated its return “just in time for Christmas.”
- Purple Heart Vets Raise Money For Wounded Warriors . Troy (AL) Messenger “There will be one lucky team, but two lucky fans on Super Bowl Sunday this year. As part of a fund-raiser to help local wounded veterans, autographed Mark Ingram and Cam Newton jerseys are up for grabs. … ‘The money will be used to help veterans locally,'” said K.T. Cole, “senior vice commander of the 2205 Chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.” The chapter, which comprises “more than 100 wounded” veterans in Montgomery and Pike counties, “strives to assist veterans as they come back from combat.” Cole, himself a wounded vet from the Vietnam era, added that back then, “we didn’t understand about PTSD.” And that is one reason why Cole and the other chapter members “are passionate about assisting their fellow wounded veterans.”
- Group Looks To Build Affordable Housing For Veterans In East Haven. East Haven (CT) Patch “A Connecticut-based group is seeking to build a new 24-unit condominium complex along Route 80 in East Haven that would offer affordable housing to the nation’s returning veterans.” Heroes Village, a “socially conscious for-profit company, currently is looking to build a series of ‘affordable, state of the art, ‘green,’ customizable homes,'” has proposed the construction of a “24-unit, multi-family residential affordable housing development” for veterans. According to Heroes Village, Veterans Affairs has “said 90,000 affordable housing homes are needed for returning soldiers, and Heroes Villages, LLC is projected to build 30,000 units nationwide by 2015.”
- Author Working On Book About Those Who Gave Lives In Vietnam War. Macomb (MI) Daily
- Startup Supports Vets With Ties. Inside INdiana Business “Three DePauw University students who wanted to use their business backgrounds to help people have founded a company that sells patriotic ties. True Hero Ties donates half of the price of each purchase to veteran organizations.”
- Wheelchair Basketball Team Plays First Game. WSVN-TV “Members of a unique South Florida basketball team made their dream to play and compete a reality. The Sunrise Suns wheelchair basketball team competed for the first time, Saturday.” Among the team members are a “Vietnam War veteran and a woman battling Spina Bifida.”