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1. Veterans’ personal information accidentally posted on Ancestry.com. More than 2,200 veterans had their personal information accidentally posted on the genealogy website Ancestry.com last year, a move that could potentially expose them to identify theft crimes.
2. Hiring heroes: For too many veterans, jobs back home are far too few. Lansing State Journal The state’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs — which Vadnais heads — works with other agencies and organizations to help veterans find jobs. One organization called Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve hosts job fairs around the state …
3. Veteran amputees best police and firefighters. OCRegister The softball team started as an idea to hold an athletic camp for disabled veterans at the University of Arizona last March. George Van Sleet, 56, had worked in prosthetics with the US Department of Veterans Affairs and was also an Army veteran. …
4. Court blocks free appeal of frivolous claim. Business Management Daily To stop meritless cases from clogging up appeals dockets, more and more federal judges are refusing to waive court fees. Recent case: Reginald Hunter claimed he wasn’t hired by the US Department of Veterans Affairs because he is disabled. …
5. Manor caught in tug-of-war. Charlotte Observer The records also say that the Manor failed to tell the US Department of Veterans Affairs about the death of a resident who suffered a heart attack after being assaulted. The defendants contend that the Manor was two months delinquent on its loan …
6. VA Expands List Of Ships With Agent Orange Risk. Military Times Veterans Affairs has added “47 vessels to its list of Navy and Coast Guard ships whose crews may have been exposed to the defoliant Agent Orange. Former service members who served aboard these ‘blue water’ ships as well as the more than 200 others listed in VA’s database from 1962 to 1975 may be eligible for disability compensation.” Vessels recently added to the VA online inventory include the “hospital ship Repose, which operated in close coastal waters from 1966 to 1970, and the transport ship General R.M. Blatchford, which landed…at Vung Tau in October 1965.” VA updates the roster when evidence showing that a “ship moored, operated close to shore or traversed an inland waterway where its crew risked exposure to the toxic herbicide” is discovered.
7. Veterans Affairs Will Host Electronic Health Records In DISA Data Centers. NextGov The VA will “start to move data center” support operations for its Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture electronic health records to “data centers operated by the Defense Information Systems Agency in March.” According to VA Chief Information Officer Roger Baker, officials anticipate completing the transition in “slightly more than a year.” Baker noted that VA “already has shifted data center operations that support the Veterans Benefits Management System and the post-9/11 GI Bill to commercial data centers operated by Terremark Worldwide.” Moving the VistA EHRs to DISA data centers will “help support development” of a joint EHR system “for both departments.” VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates “agreed in March 2011 to develop” the joint system.
8. Pushing The Green Button For Energy Savings. New York Times At a Jan. 18 event “in Silicon Valley, California’s three major utilities – Pacific Gas and Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison – became the first in the nation to announce they now support Green Button.” The companies have “worked together to make this data available to homeowners since Aneesh Chopra, President Obama’s chief technology officer, issued the challenge last fall.” Chopra, who “delivered the keynote address at Wednesday’s event, predicted that other major utilities around the country would follow California’s lead.” He cited the “success of Blue Button, a similar government program that allows military personnel to obtain their medical records” maintained by Veterans Affairs. Since Blue Button launched in “October 2010, more than 500,000 veterans have downloaded their records,” Chopra said.
9. Army Report: Suicide Rate Sets Record; Some Alcohol Abuse Up 54 Percent. Christian Science Monitor The “suicide rate among active-duty soldiers hit an all-time high in 2011.” According to Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who spearheaded the recently released Army report, efforts to “confront suicide,” have yielded some “encouraging successes.” However, the past decade of war, Chiarelli cautions, has prompted “second- and third-order effects…that our nation has never experienced before.” Overall, there were “164 suicides among active-duty, Army, National Guard, and Reserve troops in 2011, compared with 159 in 2010.” The study also found that since 2006, the domestic violence incidence among increased by 33 percent, while alcohol abuse “associated with domestic violence increased by 54 percent.” Prescription-drug abuse also “continues to be a source of concern” as does the use of “synthetic marijuana.”
10. Veterans’ Struggle. Financial Times Interviews conducted with five American veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. The vets discussed their struggles with adjusting to civilian life, particularly, the difficulty finding employment, homelessness and PTSD. The veterans also lamented general public’s insouciance about the wars, which made them feel isolated. The Times quotes Iraq veteran Kayla Williams as saying, “The divisions were so jarring. I felt like I had more in common with my taxi driver from a third world country than with my fellow Americans.” The Times points out that a recent Pew study showed 44 percent of veterans who served in the past 10 years had a difficult transitioning level that was 19-points higher than it was for veterans who served in all previous wars, including in Vietnam.
More Veteran News
- Vets Find Ways To De-stress Using Yoga, Meditation. Houston Chronicle “Army veteran Weldon Holder stood barefoot on a yoga mat and extended his arms straight in front of him, fingers interlaced and palms pushed away from his chest. ‘Drink the breath and let the awareness reside in the body,’ urged his instructor.” Holder, 37, “started practicing yoga in September at the suggestion of his wife.” He says the “relaxation and breathing techniques he’s learned help him overcome insomnia and lessen the headaches he gets” from a TBI he incurred in Iraq. The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston has “started offering yoga and meditation classes at the hospital gym and the VA domiciliary several times a week. The instructors are volunteers from Expedition Balance, a nonprofit founded by Carl Salazar, a 45-year-old Navy veteran.”
- Psychiatric Treatment Crucial For Many Parkinson’s Patients. Psychiatric News “Not just the public, but many clinicians, believe that Parkinson’s disease is exclusively a neurological disorder.” However, there are “many psychiatric aspects to the illness as well,” according to psychiatrists who “specialize in Parkinson’s disease.” Parkinson’s patients can experience a “raft of psychiatric symptoms, Daniel Weintraub, M.D., an associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at the University of Pennsylvania and a psychiatrist with the Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education, and Clinical Center at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center,” reported. And these symptoms “can occur at different stages of the disease and have different causes,” added Parkinson’s researcher Laura Marsh, M.D., Director of the Mental Healthcare Line at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
- SD War Veteran Discusses Living With PTSD. KTVU-TV Veteran Cody Pourier, who says “if it wasn’t that he wanted to see his two children more often,” he would probably still be in the Army, despite the fact that he “returned in 2004 from a tour in Iraq with a sometimes debilitating case” of PTSD. According to Veterans Affairs, Nearly a “quarter of the 1 million veterans who left active duty since serving in Iraq or Afghanistan were diagnosed with a mental health problem.” For Pourier and other veterans of “Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn, the toll of war did not end with deployment”; for them, “withdrawal of the last troops from Iraq on Dec. 18, 2011, signals the start of another war: the internal struggle to readjust to life at home.”
- Veterans’ Job Fair Boasts 6,500 Open Positions. CNN “Military veterans crowded this Washington D.C. job fair, hoping to find work. Among them, young veterans — age 20 to 24 — a staggering 30% of whom are unemployed. … Former Marine Kevin Schmiegel, who runs Veterans Job Fairs for the Chamber of Commerce, says vets must be savvy.” Schmiegel: “They need to start thinking about where are the jobs? Not just thinking about going to their home towns, but where are the states where there is low unemployment?” Starr: “To improve things, experts say businesses must commit to veterans. The White House has called on private businesses to hire or train more than 100,000 veterans or spouses by 2013. VA, which sponsored this job fair, required each employer here to be ready to offer at least 25 jobs — 6,500 jobs are available, and interviews are on the spot.”
- VA Shouldering Bulk Of Responsibility For Job-Seeking New Veterans. CNN’s Your Bottom Line The “double-digit unemployment” for new veterans, asked CNN correspondent Barbara Starr, “What kind of military assistance, job assistance and training, is the government providing for these folks?” Starr: “In terms of the military what they’re trying to do is get these veterans, these young people, right before they leave the military, to start thinking more about their future: Get them organized, where do they want to go, what kind of jobs are they looking for? Help them get a resume together. But a lot of it is really falling on the VA once these guys are out of the active duty, to provide some of that job counseling and try and help with job placement.”
- Jobs-Assistance Program Aims To Put More Military Vets To Work. San Antonio Business Journal “Young military veterans who are leaving the service these days are finding a very tough job market on the civilian side of life. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that joblessness among young veterans ages 18-24 was 1 in 3 for the last quarter of 2011, up from 1 in 5 in the last quarter of 2010”; and the overall unemployment rate for “young veterans in December 2011 rose to 13.1 percent.” Area business leaders met recently to discuss veterans hiring incentives, such as tax credit programs.
- When Soldiers Return: Part One. CNY-TV “As the economy has continued to struggle, more and more people are counting themselves among the unemployed. And many of those without jobs are veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Officials said veterans should be the first to get hired but it’s not always so easy. In part one of our series, When Soldiers Return, Lara Greenberg tells us why vets are having such a hard time finding work.” The page includes a video and a transcript of Greenberg talking with Bath VA Program Manager Dawn Smith; veteran Jake Swanson, who obtained a job at Chesapeake Energy Completions; and CareerLink Supervisor Rob Shannon.
- Military Vets Sleep Outside For A Good Cause. Valley News Live (Fargo, ND) “With temperatures in the single digits Friday,” military veterans took up the “challenge of being homeless for a night to benefit Fargo’s VA medical center. About a dozen vets and volunteers set-up camp along 13th Avenue South across from Sam’s Club in Fargo.” They planned to “stay outside collecting donations for 27 hours.”
- Tax Credits Aim To Help Veterans Find Work. Kansas City (MO) Business Journal “Tax credits that went into effect at the end of last year are geared to encourage employers to hire veterans, and although they are helpful, employers’ biggest concern is landing qualified employees, according to the
- Vietnam War Veteran Remembers Smell Of Death In Jungle. Fayetteville (NC) Observer Vietnam veteran Major Wilfork, “40 years later,” he still “can’t forget the smell. The deep, pungent aroma of jungle mingling, then giving way to, the dizzying smell of death, left to simmer in a subtropical stew of heat and humidity.” During his service in Vietnam, the “Florida native had a job that no one else wanted: body retrieval.” Now, 35 years after leaving the Corps, Wilfork “can still fit in his work uniform, and he treasures his ‘anchor and eagle’ – the Marine Corps symbol attached to his service cap. ‘Not many people could do it. But it had to be done. It was important, it was an honor,'” he says.
- Omaha Beach Vet: “I Wanted To Fight For My Country.” Chambersburg Public Opinion Interview with Fayetteville, North Carolina, resident Guy Sentz, who joined the Army Air Corps in 1943. The WWII veteran talked about his combat experience in Europe during the war. Seven days after D-Day, Sentz landed on Omaha Beach, on June 13, 1944. He “soon encountered enemy fire for the first time, and remembers forcing himself to ‘keep moving.'”
- Students Connect With WWII Vets. Beaver Dam (WI) Daily Citizen The “past has come alive for scores of sophomores in Nate Brieske’s and Lisa Lenz’ world history/service-learning class. Instead of studying old books and yellowing newspapers about World War II, they went to the source — the men who actually served and fought.” Brieske said they decided to “interview area WWII veterans because the number of survivors is dwindling fast.” According to the VA, only about “2.5 million WWII vets are still alive,” and they are “dying at a rate of more than 1,000 a day.” In all, the students made DVDs of interviews they conducted with 17 people: “15 vets, the commander of the Waupun VFW post, and a woman who talked about life in America during the war.”
- WWII Vet Continues To Serve By Volunteering At VA Hospital. KSHB-TV “He served his country for 20 years, and now, in retirement, William Mauer is still helping soldiers. In his own words, he shares the stories he hears and the people he meets.” Mauer: “When I came out here and I seen the veterans, who were mostly at that time, WWII veterans, Korean veterans, and Vietnam veterans, and it put something in me to say, ‘Well I’m going to help out if I can.’ … I’ve been volunteering at the VA hospital for eight years. My job is to pick up patients out in the parking area and bring them to the hospital.”
- Veterans Can Step Up Life Insurance Coverage. Government Executive “Under a new law, participants in the Veterans Group Life Insurance Program will now have an opportunity to beef up their coverage,” the VA recently announced. As a part of the 2010 Veterans’ Benefits Act, veterans can receive the “equivalent of the maximum coverage available under the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Program,” which is $400,000. However, according to a VA press release, “only 21 percent of eligible veterans have taken advantage of the increase.”
- 2012 Military Times Insurance Guide. Army Times “Even if a spouse doesn’t work outside the home, financial experts say it’s worth considering a life insurance policy on the spouse.” Military Officers Association of America spokesperson Bob Nolan “said couples should consider their total financial picture when determining insurance needs: Would you be able to pay the rent or mortgage, car payment, utilities and other bills if your working spouse died?” Although Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance for spouses “cannot be carried over to Veterans’ Group Life Insurance if service members opt for that coverage,” spouses can convert their Family SGLI policy to a “commercial policy without having to provide proof of good health, such as a medical exam.” The VA provides an online list of participating commercial providers.
- PA Veterans To Receive Free Income Tax Assistance. WDAD-AM “Stephen E. Barrar, a Republican from Chester County and chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, announced Friday that Pennsylvania veterans will be offered free assistance in preparing their state and federal personal income tax returns through the help of the PA Veterans Law Clinic.” The program is open to Pennsylvania veterans, “current servicemen and women, and their dependents.” The deadline is Feb. 17.
- Photos Sought For Vietnam Memorial. Broomfield (CO) Enterprise The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is “collecting photos of the more than 58,000 American service members whose names are inscribed” on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the District of Columbia. There are “623 names of Colorado men and women on ‘The Wall,’ denoting they died for their country in Vietnam,” but thus far, the Memorial Fund has only been able to collect “193 photos and is seeking assistance to find photos of the remaining 430 Colorado residents memorialized. The photos will become part of The Education Center at The Wall, a multi-million dollar visitor’s center slated to open in November.”
- NY Army Vet Says Someone Stole His Wheelchair. AP “A wounded Iraqi war veteran says someone stole his wheelchair from the front lawn of his Long Island home. Christopher Levi served as a corporal in the US Army and lost both of his legs in March 2008 when a bomb exploded in Iraq.” He told Suffolk County police that he “left the wheelchair on the lawn of his Holbrook home to go on errands” in his handicapped-accessible vehicle, and discovered it missing upon returning home “at about 5:45 p.m. Wednesday.” Levi said the “blue wheelchair is adorned with a large embroidered Purple Heart, a US Army seal and military stickers.” The VA has provided him with a loaner wheelchair, but Levi “wants the original back.”
- Marine’s Priceless Vest Stolen. KOAT-TV “An Iraq veteran is pleading for thieves to return a priceless item that he earned while defending the US overseas. Isaac Martinez, 27, returned home from his vacation to bad news from his landlord. ‘She asked if I was moving out. I said no, and so she’s like, ‘I think you got robbed,'” Martinez said. The veteran said items stolen included a “mountain bike, two snowboards and his television. However, the vet’s biggest loss was his Marine Corps vest that was given to him as a token of appreciation for serving in Iraq.” Martinez served in the Marine Corps for “four years and was deployed to Iraq twice.”
- Purple Heart Stolen, Thieves Eat Cake Before Leaving Elkhart County Home. WSBT-TV “A WWII veteran’s Purple Heart was stolen from an Elkhart County home. On Jan. 18, Thieves broke into” the Border family’s home on “Thrash Lane where they stole a TV, computers, jewelry and the military medal.” The missing Purple Heart “belongs to a family friend,” 89-year-old WWII veteran Junior Cramer.
- Students Thank Our Veterans. Jackson (MS) Clarion Ledger
- 43 Years Later, A Shout-out To His Marine Brothers. Bakersfield Californian
- “Welcome Home Soldiers” Program Celebrates Its Volunteers. KYTX-TV
- Wounded Vet Back Together With Pup He Raised In Afghanistan. WCSH-TV Portland (ME)
- Owner Of Fayetteville Bus Company Offers Rides To Fellow Vietnam
- Volunteer Drivers Needed To Aid Vets. A plea in the Yuma (AZ) Sun