Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – February 04, 2012


Veterans! Here’s your Top 10 News stories of the day compiled from the latest sources


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1.    Panetta, Clinton in Munich to discuss transatlantic securityAs U.S. and international leaders gather for a weekend of talks on Europe’s most pressing security issues, the new U.S. defense strategy and drawdown of forces on the continent will likely dominate the discussions.
2.    Air Force to cut nearly 10,000 troops in cost-saving effortThe Air Force will shed people, planes and drones as part of the Defense Department’s overall budget-cutting efforts, the force’s top leaders said Friday at the Pentagon.
3.    Army doctor at Madigan suspended over PTSD comments.  The Seattle Times  The diagnosis also can help qualify a retiree for disability benefits from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. Keppler allegedly made inappropriate comments about the forensic team’s role as financial gatekeeper in the Army retirement process …
4.    Horses help injured veterans regain direction.  San Jose Mercury News  Gregory, one of two dozen soldiers who were injured that day, has what the US Department of Veterans Affairs calls polytrauma — he suffered a traumatic brain injury, severe burns and shrapnel wounds. He has spent the past five years recovering.
5.    VA Loans See Near 14 Percent Annual Rise in 2011.  National Mortgage Professional Magazine  Accoring to the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), mortgages guaranteed by the VA continue to have the lowest serious delinquency and foreclosure rates in the industry. Veterans have also taken advantage of their home loan benefit in record …
6.    Contract Controversy.  WWMT  In some ways the state government’s trying to help by providing an open door to business-minded veterans with combat injuries, giving them a preference in bidding on $3 billion worth of state contracts. Disabled veteran-owned business owners get 10% in …
7.    Obama to announce Veterans Job Corps.  Washington Post  … a $1 billion Veterans Job Corps that the White House says will put up to 20000 veterans to work over the next five years on projects to preserve and restore national parks and other federal, state and local lands. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K.
8.    Google and SVA Partner to Offer Scholarships to Student Veterans.  Student Veterans of America is proud to announce a new partnership with Google that will provide 8 student veterans pursuing computer science…
9.    US Marine Fights Conviction For Suicide Attempt.  AP  25-year-old Lazzaric T. Caldwell, a “discharged Marine private who slit his wrists in a suicide attempt,” is “fighting his military conviction for deliberately injuring himself, arguing the punishment is inconsistent with the armed forces’ efforts to battle a rise in suicides during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Caldwell’s defense attorney, Navy Lt. Mike Hanzel, “said this week he will ask the military’s highest court, the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in Washington, to hear the case.” Hanzel “claims military law prohibits intentional self-injury prosecutions for genuine suicide attempts induced by depression, PTSD or other mental illness because the mental illness makes it impossible to prove a guilty intent.”
10.  Deputy Secretaries Cite Their Proudest Accomplishments. Government Executive “Political appointees serving as chief operating officers at five departments named their top accomplishments at a panel hosted by the nonprofit National Academy of Public Administration on Wednesday. The Obama administration deputy or undersecretaries at the Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy and Veterans Affairs departments are among top political appointees profiled in a new book Paths to Making a Difference: Leading in Government by consultants Paul R. Lawrence of Ernst & Young LLP and Mark A. Abramson of Leadership Inc.” Government Executive notes that W. Scott Gould, VA’s deputy secretary, “spoke of progress toward the goal of ending homelessness among veterans by 2015, reporting that his team has reduced the number of cases from 131,000 to 76,000, with 12 percent reduction in the past 12 months.


More Veteran News


  • Obama Plans Push For Veterans Jobs Programs.  AP  “In an effort to cut the unemployment rate among veterans, the Obama administration is calling for a new conservation program that would put veterans to work rebuilding trails, roads and levees on public lands.” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar “said the Civilian Conservation Corps that operated during the 1930s could be viewed as a model for what the administration will try to accomplish through its ‘Veterans Jobs Corps.'” Salazar “said that the administration will propose spending $1 billion that would be used to put an estimated 20,000 veterans to work restoring habitat and eradicating invasive species, among other activities.”  Washington Post  “President Obama announced details” of the Veterans Job Corps effort on Friday. On Thursday, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki “described the program as ‘a bold new effort’ to lower the high unemployment rate for post-Sept. 11 military veterans, which stood at 13.1 percent in December.”
  •   Daily News Launches Hire Me!  New York Daily News  On Friday, it will launch “Hire Me! Veterans, a weekly series that will profile New York-area vets as they seek to secure their financial freedom.” The mission of the series, according to the Daily News, is to “focus attention on the challenges while providing guidance to veterans as they transition from military service to the civilian workforce.”
  •   Expert: Young Vets Unemployment Could Reach 50%.  Army Times   “The unemployment rate for young combat veterans – especially National Guard and reserve members – could reach 50 percent in the next two years, warns a veterans employment expert” named Ted Daywalt, who is “president and chief executive officer of” Daywalt stated, “Due to the constant activation of the National Guard, upwards of 65 percent of employers will not now hire as a new employee anyone who is an active member of the National Guard.” But according to the Times, “Brig. Gen. Marianne Watson, the National Guard Bureau’s manpower and personnel director, said more study is needed to understand the unemployment rate for young veterans.” Watson added, “For example, we are finding a number of these service members were high school students before they deployed, so they do not have jobs waiting for them.”
  • Bill Would Force Some Employers To Rehire Members Of Guard, Reserve.  Army Times  US Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) “wants to block most US companies from using the excuse of poor economic times for not rehiring National Guard and reserve members who try to return to work following a mobilization. The Veterans Reemployment Act of 2012, introduced Wednesday” by Garamendi, “would allow only small businesses to use a loophole in law that permits a company to not rehire a veteran because of economic hardship.” The “bill, HR 3860, was referred for consideration to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, the panel responsible for the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act that includes the rehiring rules.”
  •  Veterans Help Manufacturers Plug Skills Gap.  Reuters  Hundreds of veterans have been hired by manufacturing companies. Such companies are struggling to fill approximately 60,000 vacancies, according to a joint study by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute. Reuters reports that the study shows not enough of America’s 13.1 million unemployed people have the skills to work for manufacturing companies. Reuters points out that finance, software, communications, and security companies are also seeking to hire vets.
  •  An Unwavering Commitment To Asian American And Pacific Islander Veterans.  AsianWeek  Chris Lu, co-chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), notes that on Tuesday, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki hosted a “roundtable on AAPI veteran’s issues.” Lu says that over the “past three years, the President has provided unprecedented levels of funding to help veterans. And Secretary Shinseki and his team have worked tirelessly to ensure that VA is doing all it can do to ensure that veterans are receiving the services and benefits they have earned, and that they receive this support in a timely manner.”
  •  Veteran Concerned Over VA’s Plavix Policies.  WINK-TV  Vietnam vet Jim Lowry “believes the Department of Veterans Affairs put his life in danger by taking him off a drug he believes is saving his life. Lowry takes the drug Plavix to prevent blood clots around a stent put in his heart.” According to WINK, it received a statement about Lowry’s concerns from Michael Valentino, the chief consultant for VA’s Pharmacy Benefits Management. Valentino said, “Within the medical community, there are differing opinions about the use of Plavix, with some suggestion that prolonged use can lead to an increased risk of adverse drug events. As a result, VA’s approach to prescribing Plavix is determined by VA clinicians on a case-by-case basis, guided by published medical evidence.”
  • Military Health System Has Courage To Change, Official Says.  American Forces Press Service  “On the final day of the 2012 Military Health System Conference” in Washington, DC, the “Defense Department’s top health affairs official spoke…not about the undisputed excellence of the system and its caregivers, but rather about the need for more collaboration, transformation and organizational courage.” On Thursday, Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs and director of the TRICARE Management Activity, “said…the military health system must have the courage to become more joint, more collaborative and integrative, and broader in focus to leverage all the talent in the system, irrespective of service or rank.” The AFPS adds, “The system…must engage in a strategy of collaboration with all of its federal partners, Woodson said, particularly the Veterans Affairs Department.”
  •  DoD Moving Towards Functional Prosthetic Arms. Army News Service  “A robotic arm, dubbed ‘Luke’ — after the Jedi with the mechanical hand — served as the centerpiece for a Jan. 31 discussion” in National Harbor, Maryland, about advancements in prosthetics. The “robotic arm is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-funded project, in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The goal of the project,” which is “still in development,” is to “restore functionality for individuals with upper extremity amputations.”
  •  The Doctor Can Listen To You Now.  Dow Jones Newswires  Kristen Gerencher says an increasing number of doctors and public-health experts are using casual conversation to help patients. Gerencher quotes Tom Houston, with the Veterans Affairs hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts, who said, “People in the health world now are beginning to explore narratives or stories as intervention.” Houston says research he has conducted on high blood pressure found that patients benefitted after seeing other people talk about how they controlled their condition and discussed it with their doctors. Houston says a second on blood pressure study now being conducted by VA examines what happens when theater methods are used to help patients tell their stories.
  •  Bird Flu Research – Science For Good Or Evil.  Southern California Public Radio An interview conducted with Dr. David A. Relman, the chief of the Infectious Diseases Section of the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System. Relman discussed the dangers of research examining what it would take to mutate bird flu so that it was transmissible in an airborne from mammal-to-mammal. Relman is a voting member of the National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity, which “came to the conclusion that this research needs to be halted at this point to determine whether the protocols in place are sufficient.” Relman said the board decided that the “possible benefits of communicating the details of this work” are “not great enough to outweigh the very large potential risk.”
  • SC Leaders, Wife Of VA Chief Meet On Military Kids.  AP  “South Carolina has made progress helping the children of military families during the past 10 years the nation has been at war, but more can be done…said” Patty Shinseki, the wife of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. Mrs. Shinseki made her comments in South Carolina on Thursday, when she met “with about 100 community leaders from across the state at a session hosted by Barbara Livingston, the wife of South Carolina’s Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Robert Livingston.” Mrs. Shinseki “travels the country working with the national nonprofit Military Child Education Coalition, which aims to support military children, and Livingston helped organize the South Carolina meeting with representatives of the group.”
  •  Woman Court-Martialed For Lying To Get Into The Navy Charged With Falsely Securing US Loan To Buy York County Property.  Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News  “A former North Carolina woman who was court-martialed for lying her way into the US Navy’s nuclear program has been indicted on charges that she falsely acquired a federal loan to buy a York County property. A grand jury in US Middle District Court in Harrisburg indicted Caitlin Lucille Walls Smith, 37, on federal wire fraud charges, US Attorney Peter J. Smith said” this week. The Patriot News adds, “The wire fraud charges stem from an investigation involving the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service…said” Peter Smith.
  •   Feds Charge Vets With Selling Drugs At VA.  Boston Herald  On Thursday, five men were charged with selling “heroin, oxycodone and other drugs at the VA hospital” in Bedford, Massachusetts, where some “vets go to beat addictions.” According to the Herald, the US Attorney’s Office announced the charges against the five men.


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