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1. Revised policy streamlines the Disability Evaluation process for wounded, ill and injured Service members. The recently updated Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) Directive-Type Memorandum (DTM) includes several major changes to streamline the process for wounded warriors. “The updated guidance will immediately help the Military Departments and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) ensure Service
2. Marines in Hawaii looking to turn mountains of trash into handful of ash. The Marine Corps is now testing a compact disposal system that turns a barrel full of trash into a handful of ash through gasification, all without harmful air emissions associated with incinerators. Initial testing is at Camp Smith on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, with field testing expected this summer during training exercises.
3. Group calls for more medical focus on veterans. Officials from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America praised the first lady’s announcement Wednesday of new training for medical students that will focus on veterans’ mental health issues but said they think that should be the first step in a larger overhaul of the medical community’s focus on returning troops and their families.
4. 2012 Should Be The Year Of The Veteran And Military Spouse. Huffington Post Kevin O’Brien, vice president of business development, UBM Studios, Milicruit, says that “2012 needs to be the year we execute and turn…initiatives into actual jobs” for veterans. According to O’Brien, the “year is off to a great start with several hiring events planned for the military community.” For example, the “VA for Vets Veteran Career Fair Expo” will be “held in Washington, DC on January 18th.”
5. Native American Vets Worry About Healthcare. KDLT-TV “Dozens of Native Americans who fought in a handful of wars feel that they’re not being treated like every other veteran.” That is according to comments heard on Tuesday, when veterans and tribal leaders from South Dakota’s nine Native American tribes met at the Royal River Casino in Flandreau, South Dakota. One of those in attendance was Don Loudner, who “said veterans on reservations have to travel too far to receive treatment” from a Veterans Affairs clinic. Loudner went on to say that while “they are trying to create community based outpatient clinics,” they are “not trying to put them within the confines of the Indian Reservations.” KDLT added, “Some Native American veterans feel they are in a gray area” between VA and the Indian Health Service “when it comes to their” healthcare coverage.
6. Wisconsin Governor Unveils Worker Training Plans. AP On Monday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has “announced…that he is creating a new council to help better prepare students for college and careers.” Walker also has “said the Department of Workforce Development will double the number of job fairs it holds across the state to 100 this year in hopes of getting the unemployed into current vacancies.” The AP added, “The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs will hold 14 job fairs in conjunction with DWD this year to help veterans and organize an employer educational seminar to lobby employers to hire veterans, Walker said.”
7. Congress And Camp Lejeune’s Water. Raleigh (NC) News & Observer Elizabeth Dole, who “served as a Republican US senator from North Carolina from 2003 to 2009,” writes, “The contamination of Camp Lejeune’s water supply, which involves several hundred thousand Marines, sailors, their families and civilian employees who were posted to the installation from the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s, is a sad chapter in the Marine Corps’ otherwise superlative history.” Dole says, “Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., are to be commended for their sponsorship of legislation that would provide medical care through the Department of Veterans Affairs for individuals who suffer from one or more of these cancers or other health effects and who are known to have served or lived at Camp Lejeune during the years in question. Passage of their legislation and its enactment into law are the necessary next steps.”
8. Agencies Plan For Governmentwide FOIA Portal. Fierce Government “Three federal agencies are creating a common web portal for Freedom of Information Act requests with the intention of launching it in fall 2012. The $1.3 million portal, being built mostly with funds from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Commerce Department, with some participation from NARA, could save the federal government $200 million over 5 years were it to be adopted governmentwide, according to a NARA blog post.” Fierce Government adds, “Other agencies, including the Veterans Affairs Department, have expressed interest in joining the project and the EPA will host a meeting of senior FOIA professionals on Jan. 11 to drum up interest.”
9. VA Collaborating With Wake Forest On PTSD Research. Winston-Salem (NC) Journal “Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center are collaborating” with the US Department of Veterans Affairs “on a one-year study to use imaging technology to better understand post-traumatic stress syndrome and traumatic brain injury. Wake Forest Baptist is one of 35 clinical sites across the nation using the equipment. Researchers compare the images of brain activity from individuals with PTSD and/or mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) with the images from individuals without the condition to see whether particular parts of the brain function differently.”
10. Smoking Pot Doesn’t Hurt Lung Capacity, Study Shows. MSNBC “Periodically smoking marijuana doesn’t appear to hurt lung capacity, the largest study ever conducted on pot smokers has found. Even though most marijuana smokers tend to inhale deeply and hold the smoke in for as long as they can before exhaling, the lung capacity didn’t deteriorate even among those who smoked a joint a day for seven years or once a week for 20 years, according to the study published Tuesday in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association.” MSNBC notes that Dr. Stefan Kertesz of the Veterans Affairs hospital in Birmingham, Alabama, co-authored the study.
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Under Secretary Addresses Chaplains – VA’s Unsung Heroes
VA employs 500 full-time chaplains to serve the spiritual and emotional needs of Veterans across the country. Learn more about their mission at VAntage Point.
More Veteran News
- Survey Finds “Discouraging” Injection Habits Among Anesthesiologists. Infectious Disease Special Edition An annual compendium of educational reviews on medical developments, reports, “A new survey paints an at-times alarming picture of injection practices among anesthesiologists in New York state. Nearly half (49%) said they sometimes used the same vials of medication for more than one patient-a strict no-no for many kinds of drugs, including propofol.” Dr. Richard Beers, an anesthesiologist at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Syracuse, New York, “helped lead the survey.”
- Young Veterans Without Jobs: Too Many Are Locked Out Of “Recovery.” Huffington Post “Young military veterans saw little to celebrate in last week’s much cheered unemployment report. Data released the same day by the Department of Labor revealed that one in three young veterans was out of a job in the last quarter of 2011 — an employment picture even worse than a year earlier, when one in five couldn’t find work.” The Post adds, “Ted Daywalt, who runs VetJobs.com in Georgia, observes that most young unemployed veterans are part of the National Guard or the Reserves, and employers hesitate to hire them not because of weak résumés, but because of the increase in Pentagon calls for Reserve and Guard members to return to service.”
- Federal Prison’s Job Fair Targets Ind. Veterans. AP A Federal “prison in western Indiana is trying to recruit unemployed veterans whose military experience might make them good candidates for prison jobs. More than 60 veterans turned out Monday for a job fair at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, where jobs often open up due to retirements and transfers.” The “prison complex hosted the career fair with participation from Bureau of Prison facilities in Marion and Greenville, Ill., the National Cemetery Administration, the Small Business Administration, the VA Medical Center in Indianapolis and area employment agencies.”
- 7 Things To Learn From The Blue Button Initiative. Healthcare IT News “Traditionally, health IT interoperability specifications have been structured, consensus-driven, focused on system-to-system communication first, and haven’t really focused on going that extra mile, said Shahid Shah, software analyst and author of the blog, The Healthcare IT Guy. But, the Blue Button Initiative, created by the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2010, is changing all that, he said.” Shah spotlighted seven lessons to be “learned from the Blue Button” initiative, including that the “importance of good leadership,” as VA displayed in developing the initiative, should not be underestimated.
- VA Hospital Of Western New York Interview. WGRZ-TV Jill LaMantia, a registered nurse at a Veterans Affairs hospital in western New York. LaMantia told WGRZ about things her hospital does for women veterans. For example, last year, according to LaMantia, her hospital sent teddy bears to the mothers of 50 newborn children. LaMantia also said her hospital has a women’s center that provides “specialized care in a beautiful area.”
- Sick Utah Vets’ Families Have Softer Place To Rest Their Heads. Salt Lake (UT) Tribune On Monday, families began checking into “Fisher House, the new home-away-from-home for families of veterans being treated at the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.” The new Fisher House was “built by the Fisher House Foundation, which has built 54 such houses on military bases and near VA hospitals over two decades. It provides a home-like stay for families of veterans who must travel more than two hours or over 50 miles for treatment, said manager Quinn Kiger-Good.”
- Back From War, Fear And Danger Fill Driver’s Seat. New York Times “Erratic driving by returning troops is being identified as a symptom of traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder, or P.T.S.D. – and coming under greater scrutiny amid concerns about higher accident rates among veterans.” The Pentagon and Veterans Affairs are “supporting several new studies into potential links between deployment and dangerously aggressive or overly defensive driving.” The Times points out that “researchers in Palo Alto are developing therapies – which they hope to translate into iPhone apps – for people with P.T.S.D. who are frequently angry or anxious behind the wheel.”
- An End In Sight For Veteran Homelessness? Deseret (UT) Morning News “Two-and-a-half years into an ambitious campaign to end veteran homelessness, the Department of Veterans Affairs reports the country is on track to get former soldiers off the streets by 2015. Homelessness among veterans dropped 12 percent between January 2010 and January 2011, according to a report published in December.” The Morning News adds, “Though he’s hopeful for the future, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki acknowledged there’s still much to be done.” The Morning News quotes Shinseki, who said, “Our progress in the fight against homelessness has been significant, but our work is not complete until no veteran has to sleep on the street.”
- VA Extends Gulf War Filing Deadline. American Legion Veterans Affairs has “extended the presumptive period for Persian Gulf War veterans to file claims for undiagnosed illnesses.” The agency’s new “deadline is Dec. 31, 2016.” Verna Jones, “director of The American Legion’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Division, said that VA’s decision to extend the presumptive period for Gulf War veterans is most welcome,” although she added that “we want Congress to give these veterans an indefinite extension.”
- Recovery Day Providing Veterans With A Variety Of Needs. WSYR-TV Tuesday was “Recovery Day” at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Syracuse, which used the day to offer “some hope” to veterans, including those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One “‘important message those veterans who’ve been through it have for the new veterans is don’t wait 10 years, 15 years before you come and seek help. Help is here and our culture – our VA culture is very supportive and very respectful,’ said Recovery Coordinator Bob Barash.”
- New Knee Helps Amputees Return To Front Lines. American Forces Press Service “A sophisticated prosthetic knee with a newly designed microprocessor is giving many wounded warriors with above-the-knee amputations the chance to return to active duty…reported” amputee services officials at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The device is called the “Genium X2 prosthetic knee.”
- Viagra May Soon Be Back On Tricare Formulary. Army Times “Pfizer’s…pill for erectile dysfunction could get a whole lot cheaper for military men and retirees in the Pentagon’s health system. On Thursday, Tricare’s Uniform Formulary Beneficiary Advisory Panel will consider a proposal to drop Bayer’s Levitra and Staxyn, currently the only erectile dysfunction pills in Tricare’s formulary, and add Viagra.” The Defense Department’s Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee “said the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs Department issued a joint solicitation for erectile dysfunction medications and Viagra was the contract winner.”
- New Year, New Diet. St. Joseph (MO) News-Press “Starting a diet and seeing it through to the end of the year, let alone the start of the month, requires mental effort on par with quitting any other bad habit.” Marty Glenn, a registered dietitian with Dwight D. Eisenhower Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Leavenworth, Kansas, “works with his clients to reduce calories and concentrate on foods that will keep them fuller, longer.” The News-Press adds, “‘We’re moving away from a one-size-fits-all diet,’ he says, adding that dietitians often push for moderate approaches to diets because that’s easier to follow for the long term.”
- One More Reminder That Exercise Has Many Benefits. Crain’s Cleveland Business “The work of Jay L. Alberts, a Parkinson’s disease researcher at the Cleveland Clinic, is highlighted in this Washington Post story about the value of bicycling and other exercises in curbing Parkinson’s symptoms.” With “‘$1.5 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs, he has finished a 60-person study and has just launched another for 100 patients,’ according to The Post. ‘Although no final answers are in, Alberts’ work has sparked interest in the Parkinson’s world.'”
- Country Singer Aaron Tippin To Perform Free Concert For Veterans. WSLS-TV “Country music star, Aaron Tippin will make a stop at the Salem Civic Center next month.” The visit is “part of a special concert called, ‘Valentine’s for Veterans.’ It’s sponsored by the Salem VA Medical Center, Help Hospitalized Veterans Organization and others.”
- Veteran’s Widow Learns About Presumptive Diseases Too Late. Washington Times “Sgt. Shaft” column.