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1. Army, Air Force chiefs defend cuts in end strength. The Army and Air Force chiefs of staff offered more detail Friday on the shrinkage they expect in their respective forces, arguing the cuts won’t hamper the ability of soldiers and airmen to protect the country.
2. Rotational forces: New way of doing business in Europe. For the military, reorganizing the force structure in Europe will mean a new way of doing business for some U.S.-based troops while maintaining Europe-based support units that make rotational training possible. It also will pose challenges for commanders, who will have to do more with less and find new ways to use rotational forces to accomplish the mission. Meanwhile, U.S. soldiers can likely expect fewer two- and three-year assignments in Germany.
3. DOD plan indicates 172nd and 170th infantry brigades to be eliminated. Two heavy Army brigades based in Europe will be withdrawn starting next year as part of the new defense posture, and while defense officials declined to name the units in question, Europe’s only two heavy brigades are the 172nd and 170th infantry brigades.
4. Absentee voting should be easier for servicemembers in 2012. Voting experts anticipate fewer problems for military and overseas absentee voters in this November’s presidential election, thanks to more online tools and more accommodating deadlines from states.
5. Veterans groups push back against new health care fees. Of the $259 billion in savings the Pentagon is carving out of the next five defense budgets, just over 10 percent will come from future military pay and retiree health care, a top military leader said. Still, veterans groups argue that DOD is looking for savings in the wrong places.
6. First two defendants enlist in Dauphin County’s new Veterans Court. Patriot-News
A component of the court is a close working relationship with the US Department of Veterans Affairs, which will offer substance abuse treatment and programs to help participants deal with service-related issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
7. A Marine fights to stand after losing his legs in Afghanistan. msnbc.com (blog)
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have created over 1300 amputees in the US military, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Each one is a story of life-changing pain and rehabilitation. Here, PhotoBlog highlights an unusually intimate …
8. NJ leads the way in combating GI suicide. Dailyrecord.com Of the funds, $20 million will support suicide prevention efforts for active-duty soldiers and reservists at the Department of Defense, while the other $20 million will support veterans suicide prevention at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
9. Programs help homeless veterans get shelter, direction. Las Vegas Review-Journal
Veterans Affairs Community Based Outreach Clinic/Health Care for Homeless Veterans at (877) 424-3838. By Keith Rogers Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki’s goal is to eliminate homelessness among veterans by 2015. If he succeeds in Las Vegas, …
10. Dignity Memorial Buries 1000th Homeless Veteran. Huffington Post Naval Petty Officer 2nd Class Roy, buried in Willamette National Cemetery, was the 1000th homeless veteran to be buried by Dignity Memorial. Operating in 35 cities, the organization partners with the US Department of Veterans Affairs, local medical …
Have You Heard?
National Salute to Veteran Patients
The National Salute to Veteran Patients program encourages all Americans to visit and volunteer at VA medical centers and to send letters of thanks or valentines to those who have protected our nation. This year’s national salute is Feb. 12-18. Last year, more than 328,000 valentines were received at VA medical centers, and 21,330 people visited nearly 70,000 veteran patients. For more information regarding the National Salute to Veteran Patients and volunteer opportunities at a local VA medical center, visit the VA Voluntary Service webpage.
More Veteran News
- Homeless vet population falling, but for how long? USA TODAY Images Homeless US military veterans stand in line to receive free services at an event hosted by the Department of Veterans Affairs on November 3, 2011, in Denver. The 1991 Gulf War veteran gets a rental voucher from the …
- Group Helping Female Veterans Adjust To Life After War. CBS Local Long-serving institutions like the US Department of Veterans Affairs are struggling to adapt their services for women. An estimated 40 percent of VA homeless shelters cannot accept them, and VA hospitals are often criticized for offering insufficient …
- Former postal worker gets probation in painkiller theft. Knoxville News Sentinel Evans worked for the US Postal Service from 1997 until October 2010, when authorities learned she had been stealing packages of prescription painkillers shipped by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, court records show. The indictment against Evans …
- VA Audit Found Problems At Several National Cemeteries. US Navy Seals VA “has revealed that they have identified problems with 123 gravesites, which include eight instances of people being laid to rest in the wrong gravesite. The issues were identified after a review of cemeteries administered” by the department. The blog adds, “Most of the errors consisted of headstones and markers that were inadvertently moved to the wrong gravesites, during renovation efforts, usually one grave space away from their intended location.”
- Committee Chairman Presses VA To Expand Its Review To Include All Veterans Graves. AP “Lawmakers are calling on the Veterans Affairs Department to audit all its cemeteries to ensure that remains are correctly interred and marked.” But Josh Taylor, a spokesman for VA, “says the department has already decided to review all 131 cemeteries under its control.” The AP adds, “The House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman, Republican Rep. Jeff Miller, said Thursday he has questions about some 2 million gravesites not reviewed and expects a full accounting of every gravesite.”
- US Veterans Affairs Secretary Meets With National Franchise Leaders In Atlanta. WABE-FM Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki “sat down with national franchise leaders in Midtown Atlanta Wednesday as part of an effort to increase employment opportunities for veterans. The International Franchise Association has pledged to hire and recruit 75,000 veterans and their spouses by 2014.” Shinseki “says Wednesday’s meeting is part of a broader initiative by the Obama Administration to find more veterans work in the public and private sectors.” WABE quoted Shinseki, who said, “veterans make exceptional employees and business leaders. Let’s hire them. Let’s find them work.”
- Shinseki Urges Industry To Keep Hiring Vets. Military.com Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki “urged the private sector to help lower the climbing unemployment rate among post-Sept. 11 veterans Wednesday, one day after President Obama proposed a new ‘Veterans Job Corps’ in his State of the Union address.” Shinseki “spoke at a federal symposium hosted by engineering giant Siemens, to commend the company for hiring 631 veterans since this summer – about 20 percent of the available jobs in the company.” Military.com points out that VA has “launched a new website –VAforVets.gov – to help soldiers write their resumes and navigate the bureaucracy of landing a federal job.”
- Vt. Proposal: Legalize Pot For PTSD treatment. AP “A Vermont lawmaker wants to amend the state’s medical marijuana law so that anyone suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder could use it to help alleviate their symptoms. State Rep. Jim Masland said he introduced the bill earlier this month at the request of a number of his constituents who were using marijuana to alleviate stress symptoms they felt were caused by their military service.” The AP adds, “In a policy implemented a year ago, the Department of Veterans Affairs allows its patients to use medical marijuana in states where it is legal, although not at VA facilities, and VA health care providers can’t provide the documentation vets need to get it.”
- VA Ready To Consolidate EHR Data Centers. FierceEMR “The move to consolidate the electronic health records systems for the military just took another step forward, with the announcement that the Department of Veterans Affairs will begin transitioning the data centers that support its Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Articulation (VistA) EHR into data centers run by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) beginning in March. VA CIO Roger Baker told Nextgov that the move helps support the development of a joint EHR system, making it the largest in the world, covering 15.7 million people.” According to Fierce EMR, VA’s “move is expected to take a year to complete.”
- VA Sees “Paperless” Claims As Critical To Ending Backlog. Stars And Stripes “The only way to achieve VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s goal for 2015 — that every disability compensation claim gets processed within 125 days and with 98 percent accuracy — is to shift to a paperless claims system. And that transformation has begun,” according to Tom Murphy, VA’s “top claim processing official,” who testified “before the House veteran affairs’ subcommittee on disability assistance.”
- VA Mobile Device Rollout To Concentrate On Clinicians And Benefits Handlers. Federal Computer Week “The Veterans Affairs Department expects its mobile device rollout to accelerate in the second quarter once a mobile device management system is put into place, according” to Roger Baker, VA’s chief information officer. FCW continues, “The main targets for using tablet computers and other mobile devices at the VA are as many as 100,000 employees handling patient clinical information and veterans’ benefits who would use the devices for managing records while moving around units and facilities, Baker said in a conference call with reporters on Jan. 25.” FCW adds, “All of the smart phone and mobile device applications to be used would be encrypted.”
- Salt Lake Veterans Affairs Enlists Vets For Huge Medical Research Project. Salt Lake (UT) Tribune The Million Veteran Program was formally launched at the George E. Wahlen Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Thursday. According to Laurence Meyer, Wahlen’s chief of research, the program builds a genetic database for use in large-scale studies. The Tribune says Wahlen is “one of 40 hospitals participating so far and has enrolled more than 300 veterans since fall; the program hopes to have 50 participating hospitals by summer.”
- Veterans Affairs Black Hills Health Care System To Hold Women’s Retreat. Rapid City Journal “The specialized Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Outpatient Treatment Program (PCT) of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Black Hills Health Care System is hosting its semi-annual women’s retreat April 27, 28, 29, 2012, beginning at 12 p.m. on April 27.” The retreat, which “will be held at the Fort Meade Campus,” is for “women veterans of all eras diagnosed with PTSD and family members of male veterans diagnosed with PTSD. The weekend retreat offers a condensed psycho educational, experimental format that educates participants of the symptoms of PTSD, effects on the family, with an emphasis on developing healthier coping strategies and increasing one’s social support network.”
- Women’s Legislative Caucus Dedicates Bill Package To Female Veterans In Hawaii. AP “The Women’s Legislative Caucus is championing a bill package dedicated to female veterans during Hawaii’s 2012 legislative session.” The “measures include…creating veteran programs and services aimed at women and establishing a veteran’s court within the Hawaii State Circuit Court. The package also recognizes the Fisher House Foundation, which provides free or low cost-housing to veterans and families receiving treatment at military medical centers.”
- Job Fairs Help Iraq, Afghan War Veterans. NPR For the “past year, business leaders have held a series of job fairs across the country to try to help” Iraq and Afghanistan veterans find jobs. NPR focused on one such event that was held earlier this week, at the Knoxville Convention Center in Tennessee. NPR added, “Organizers say they have no solid numbers on how these jobs fairs help unemployed veterans and spouses. But there are success stories, enough to keep the fairs going.”
- Veterans Often Struggle To Find Civilian Employment. KTBS-TV Unemployed veteran Terry Kasper, a Louisiana resident, “started the Facebook page, Bet on a Vet, last month as a way to connect with other veterans who are looking for employment.” Sandy Franks, with the Overton Brooks Veteran Affairs Hospital in “Shreveport, encourages vets to emphasize skills like leadership and teamwork on a resume.” Franks “encourages veterans to visit www.usajobs.com, which offers tips on breaking into the civilian workforce, as well as job openings in the local market.”
- Comcast Launches “Hire A Veteran” Service. Boston Globe Comcast Corporation has “launched ‘Hire A Veteran On Demand,’ which aims to connect returning soldiers to jobs to help ease their transition back into civilian life. The pilot program, which posts video profiles of returning soldiers who are looking for work, will be available for the next 90 days for prospective hiring managers and recruiters to review for their employment needs.” Massachusetts Secretary of Veteran’s Services Coleman Nee “applauded the new service.”
- Stand Down At Winterhaven. American Legion Each winter, the Veterans Affairs hospital in Washington, DC, “opens its doors to homeless veterans, giving them free health care and other services to help improve their quality of life. The annual Winterhaven Stand Down for Homeless/At-Risk Veterans gets a lot of volunteers, including members of The American Legion’s national staff.” The Legion adds, “This year, on Jan. 21, nearly 500 veterans got meaningful help at Winterhaven.” The Legion points out that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who visited this year’s event, said VA has made progress in solving the problem of homeless vets.
- Homeless Female Vets On The Rise. Time “The Department of Veterans Affairs has made stamping out homelessness among the nation’s veterans a top priority.” But according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, VA “has its work cut out for it.” The Report states, “Limited VA data show that the number of women veterans the agency identified as homeless more than doubled between FY 2006 and FY 2010.” Time adds, “Because the data are so limited, the GAO warns that its sample probably cannot be applied to the entire female vet population.”
- Homeless Vet Population Falling, But For How Long? USA Today In what the Obama Administration “calls an unprecedented effort,” the Housing and Urban Development, “Veterans Affairs and Labor departments and a network of federally funded community service agencies are working together to move every homeless veteran into permanent housing by 2015. The Obama administration ‘deserves an awful lot of credit for staying on task and (is) well within the reach of that goal,’ said John Driscoll, president and CEO of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.” Funding for the effort, however, is being cut. USA Today adds, “The VA spends less than one-tenth of 1% of its budget on homeless vets – but wastes billions each year on a cumbersome and outdated procurement system…said” Brian Hampton, president of the Center for American Homeless Veterans.
- Beckley VA Nurses Treat Simulator Patient. WVNS-TV On Thursday, nurses at the Beckley Veterans Affairs Medical Center “had the opportunity to practice” with Jane Doe, a human simulator that cries, bleeds, and “sweats, re-creating a series of potential health problems.”
- Women’s Sentencing Scheduled For March. AP “A Jackson County woman will be sentenced March 29 after pleading guilty to three counts of felony exploitation of a vulnerable person.” Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hoods “says in a news release that the victim was an 82-year-old World War II veteran who resided in the Alternative Care Personal Care facility, which was owned and operated” by the defendant, Melissa Webster. The AP adds, “Hood says on the date of the victim’s death and several days after, Webster allegedly was depositing his Social Security and Veterans Administration checks into her personal account.”
- Network Of Drivers Brings Aid To Disabled Veterans. KWES-TV