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1. Europe remains a partner of first resort, Clinton says. As the U.S. unfolds plans to withdraw troops from Europe in a strategic shift toward Asia, top U.S. officials here sought to reassure European counterparts that the continent and its collective defense remain priorities.
2. Work begins on new national veterans cemetery. The Advocate The US Department of Veterans Affairs is on a fast track to develop burial sites at a new national cemetery before the Port Hudson National Cemetery runs out of space for new interments later this year.
3. The Conversation: New help for our wounded warriors. Sacramento Bee “Not from our perspective,” says Deborah Amdur, the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ chief consultant for care management and social work who oversees the program. There’s already a push to extend the caregiver benefits to all veterans, …
4. Veterans jobs corps: beating swords into plowshares? Christian Science Monitor Army veteran Kim Richardson listens to a recruiter at a job fair sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs Wednesday in New York. President Obama has proposed a five-year, $1 billion effort to …
5. Veterans bond with horses in therapy program. abc13.com Both the defense and veterans affairs departments have been putting more resources into behavioral health programs aimed at active-duty service members and recent war veterans. Therapists have been using horses to work with the disabled for decades.
6. New Online VA Healthcare Enrollment Available. LA Veterans Affairs Examiner The VA announced Friday it has “partnered with the First Army at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, to launch a streamlined version of its online application for VA health benefits (VA Form 1010EZ) for service members returning from deployment.” The agency said that by “early spring,” it will introduce the form at “demobilization sites” throughout the nation. “This online application demonstrates VA’s commitment to work with the Department of Defense to make it easier for service members to get the care they earned by their service,” said VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. The application is used to “enroll in the VA healthcare system, which has more than 1,000 locations” nationwide. The online system “noticeably reduces the paperwork and reduces a 10-day process to three days,” Shinseki noted.
7. ABC Chooses Fallen Afghanistan Vet As “Person Of The Week.” ABC World News “And finally, a hero marine, just 23-years old, who served four tours of duty in Afghanistan. He felt very strongly about the importance of service and the meaning of sacrifice.” ABC (Donvan) added, “He’s Will Stacey of Washington state. … His words, from a letter he left for his parents to open, just in case, that they’ve now released. ‘My death did not change the world,’ he begins. … Stacey was writing about a child free to become the man he became.” Bob Stacey’s father: “We’re going to miss him.” Donvan: “These are their boy’s parting words, near the end of his letter, meant to comfort them. ‘If my life buys the safety of a child who will one day change this world, then I know that it was all worth it.'”
8. Petition: Iraq Veterans Deserve Parade. Army Times “A group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans wants government officials to organize a National Day of Action and parades around the country to celebrate veterans of the Iraq War.” Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is “calling on Americans to sign a petition to support the victory parades for veterans. As of late Thursday afternoon, 308 supporters had signed on. … ‘This Super Bowl weekend is a critical moment to put the spotlight on our country’s real heroes,'” said IAVA Founder Paul Rieckhoff. IAVA wants “President Obama, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, and mayors and government officials around the country to organize the day of action and parades.”
9. VFW: Retirement Changes Could Hurt Recruitment. Stars And Stripes VFW National Commander Richard L. DeNoyer is the guest columnist for the
10. For Wounded Vet, Love Pierces The Fog Of War. Wall Street Journal The life of Iraq war vet and PTSD and TBI victim Ian Welch, and the effect of his service-related injuries on his relationship with Katie Brickman. Welch has amnesia and is plagued by anxiety and anger over small events, and the Journal says his experiences are likely to be felt as continuing echoes for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and their families. Welch’s amnesia is so severe that he even questions his ability to become a father, worried that he won’t remember where to collect his future children from school.
More Veteran News
- Army Studies Use Of Blood Test To Detect TBIs. Army Times The Army has started clinical trials on a “simple blood test that can diagnose traumatic brain injuries.” Col. Dallas Hack of the Army’s Combat Casualty Care Research Program said the trial of more than “1,600 patients will culminate with submission of its findings to the Food and Drug Administration by year’s end.” According to research conducted by neural pathologist Dr. Ann McKee of Boston University, the test will look for “hyperphosphorylated tau protein, which is not found in great quantities in normal brains but collects in the brains of people who have suffered repeated blows to the head.”
- Obama Pushes For Veterans Jobs Programs. AP President Obama on Friday called for a “new conservation program that would put veterans to work rebuilding trails, roads and levees on public lands. … ‘Let’s get more cops on the beat, let’s get more rangers in the parks, let’s get more firefighters on call, and in the process, we’re going to put more veterans back to work,'” Obama said at a fire station in Arlington, Virginia, that was “one of the first to respond to the attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.” Veterans have “risked their lives defending America. They should have the opportunity to rebuild America,” the President said. USA Today Obama said the “federal parks system also will put a priority on hiring veterans to help rebuild roads, bridges and other aging infrastructure” at national parks. “Congress should take the money that we’re no longer spending on war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building here at home, to improve the quality of life right here in the United States of America and put our veterans to work,” the President said at the firehouse.
- Alaska Legislature Pushes Military Education Credit. AP The Alaskan House and Senate on Friday approved separate bills that would give veterans there “credit toward college or vocational degrees for their service and military training.” Moreover, the bills would make “spouses of soldiers stationed in Alaska…eligible for temporary professional licenses if accredited elsewhere.” Legislators said the bills would help veterans and the state in a cost-efficient manner, and House and Senate leaders “said getting a version of the bill passed is a priority,” with the separate bills differing only on the time frame for enactment.
- IDVA Launches “Stand Up And Be Counted” For State Veterans. WJBD-FM “The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs has designed a new tool for state veterans to have better access to services. ‘Stand Up and Be Counted’ is a new online tool launched in January that encourages all Illinois veterans to submit their contact information to IDVA online.” Veterans who register through the website “will be contacted within 48 hours by a local Veterans Service Officer, who assists veterans, their dependents and survivors navigate federal, state, and local benefits and resources.”
- More Than 500 Vets Hired At VA Hiring Fair. Los Angeles Examiner “Veterans living in or near Washington, DC had a distinct advantage for the VA Hiring Fair held last month at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. On February 2, the VA announced that more than 500 veterans had received tentative job offers and others may follow.” VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said, “‘America’s Veterans need to know that, across the federal, private and non-profit sectors, hiring managers are ready to put them to work.’ Veterans make up 30% of the VA’s total workforce, and Secretary Shinseki has established a goal to increase that total to 40%.”
- State Farm Plans To Hire 3,000 Employees. AP State Farm Insurance “said Friday it will hire 3,000 people across the US and Canada, filling many positions left empty during the recession, and add 900 agents.” Bloomington, Illinois-based State Farm said it is accepting applications for the “3,000 jobs, which will be mainly in customer service, claims and information technology.” Spokesperson Holly Anderson said State Farm will be “trying in particular” to recruit veterans. “We have had a lot of success with veterans. We think it’s an easy transition for them to make,” she said.
- Post-9/11 Veterans Unemployment Drops In Jan. Army Times The unemployment incidence for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans “fell significantly in January to 9.1 percent,” down from 13.3 percent in December and 15.2 percent in January 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly report. But female veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars continue to have a higher jobless rate: Whereas the January unemployment rate for women was 17.3 percent, for males of the same era, the rate was 9.1 percent. Additionally, the BLS data showed that the January unemployment rate for veterans of all ages was “7.5 percent, down from 7.7 percent in December”; and the overall, national unemployment rate last month was 8.3 percent, down from “8.5 percent in December.”
- 23 Companies Join In Effort To Hire 10,000 Military Vets. Indianapolis Star Recruiting company PeopleScout announced Friday that it will lead the Veteran Hiring Initiative, “a national effort by 23 companies to hire 10,000 military veterans this year.” PeopleScout parent SeatonCorp. promised to hire 2,000 vets this year, while US Infrastructure Corp. of Carmel, Burger King and Fifth Third Bank also made commitments to hire vets. The Star added that PeopleScout’s commitment grew from its role last year in helping “the US Chamber of Commerce organize 100 job fairs for veterans around the country. More than 7,300 veterans were hired through those fairs.”
- Job Training Funds Still Available. Beloit (WI) Daily News The Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board says it still has some $1 million available in federal funding for job retraining, and it is encouraging people to use the Rock County Job Center in Janesville “as a resource for job hunting, resume building and mock interviews” or the “E-Hub program for those interested in starting their own business.” The Daily News also noted that Gov. Scott Walker is support one bill this year that “would make it easier for veterans to apply their military training toward licenses, such as commercial driving licenses.”
- Four Career Fairs Coming Up. Waterford (CT) Patch The Danbury Career Fair will take place March 20 in Danbury. The Manchester Career Fair is slated for April 14 at the Manchester Community College. The Heroes4Hire Fair, which is co-sponsored by the Connecticut VA and is “now in its eighth year,” is scheduled for April 27 at “Rentschler Field in East Hartford.” And the Middlesex Career Fair will be held on June 19 in Cromwell.
- VA Loans See Near 14 Percent Annual Rise in 2011. National Mortgage Professional Magazine The Department of Veterans Affairs, “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 numbers, as VA loan originations reached their highest total in eight years.” Since 1944, when home loan guaranties “were first offered under the original G.I. Bill, the VA has guaranteed more than 19.4 million home loans worth over $1.1 trillion.” VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said the “continued strong performance and high volume of VA loans are a testament to the importance of VA’s home loan program and a tribute to the skilled VA professionals who help homeowners in financial trouble keep their homes.”
- VA Chief To Visit Troubled Orlando Hospital, Lawmaker Says. Orlando Sentinel VA Secretary Eric Shinseki told Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) Friday that he “soon would visit Orlando’s incoming VA Medical Center, which is expected to miss its planned October opening because of design and construction problems.” Brown said Shinseki “made that promise during a breakfast meeting in Washington and that they were working to resolve what she called a dispute between the VA and its contractors.” But no date “was given for Shinseki’s visit.” Earlier this week, VA officials “moved the facility’s expected opening from October to summer 2013 because of design errors, delays in getting equipment and unnamed contractor-related issues.”
- Congressmen Question Pace Of Probe At Arlington. AP “Members of Congress on Friday questioned why nobody has been prosecuted as part of a criminal investigation of mismanagement at Arlington National Cemetery, nearly three years after reports of problems that included misidentified graves first surfaced in the press.” At a hearing, Lt. Gen. Peter Vangjel, the Army’s inspector general, “said the Army’s Criminal Investigations Division has completed its probe of the mismanagement at Arlington, and said a decision now rests with the Department of Justice.” The AP adds, however, that a CID spokesperson “said Friday evening that the agency’s investigation remains ‘open and ongoing,'” but a spokesperson for the US Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, “which has jurisdiction over Arlington, declined to comment Friday.”
- Iraq War Veteran From ND Honored With Purple Heart. AP Iraq veteran Rusty Ouart was “honored Saturday with a Purple Heart medal, more than three years after he was wounded in combat. Local, state and National Guard officials” presented Ouart with the award “during a ceremony at the Armed Forces Reserve Center” in Fargo. Ouart suffered a TBI “from a mortar attack in 2008,” which required “extensive medical treatment.” North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said Saturday that Ouart “proudly answered this country’s call to duty and willingly put his life on the line to protect our homeland and our ideals.”
- Vietnam Veteran Given His Medals 43 Years Later. Evansville (IN) Courier & Press “Forty-three years after he earned three Bronze Stars, a second Purple Heart and a handful of other medals for his service in Vietnam, Terry ‘Dutch’ Herzog finally received those emblems of valor” last week Tuesday. But Herzog, who has “shrapnel in his head and right arm; ill effects from exposure to the toxic Agent Orange in Vietnam and — as of five years ago — a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, does not see himself as being worthy of admiration.” His deeds as a “Green Beret in the US Army Special Forces was, he said, ‘just part of my job.'”
- MIA Bracelet Finds Its Way Home. Edmond (OK) Sun “A silver Missing In Action bracelet found its way to the mother of a Vietnam veteran recently. It was through the tenacity of another veteran that Laverne Ransbottom was united with her son Fredrick Ransbottom’s memory yet one more time.” The bracelet, stamped with “Capt. Fredrick Ransbottom,” had been “worn on the arm of Mary Milley for 39 years prior to her recent death.” During the Vietnam war, it was “common for Americans to wear silver bracelets stamped with the names of those missing in action. ‘Mary never knew that Fredrick’s artifacts had been found, sent home and buried with full military honors,'” said Vietnam veteran Peter Gauthier, who “come in possession of the bracelet when Mary’s daughter Catherine brought it to the local American Legion post.”
- Medal Of Honor Nominee Among 26 Vets At Maine Adaptive’s Veterans/No Boundaries Program. Lewiston (ME) Sun Journal “Tyler Kurth looked and acted like a Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation volunteer on Friday at Sunday River Ski Resort,” in reality he’s a nominee for the Medal of Honor who was enjoying the day as “one of 26 disabled veterans and active-duty military persons participating with their families” in the seven-year-old Veterans/No Boundaries program. Kurth, who retired as a captain with the 10th Mountain Division, “now works with the Wounded Warrior Unit at Fort Drum in Watertown, N.Y.” and helped bring some of the soldiers from there to the Newry event. The Sun Journal adds that “like many of the participating veterans, Kurth is dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and physical limitations.”
- Veteran, Family To Move Into Donated Home This Week. Jacksonville (NC) Daily News “A Richlands family celebrated more than a new house Saturday as friends, family and partners on the Purple Heart Homes project gathered to welcome them home,” with veteran Jim Davis, his wife Jodie and “their daughter Julianna planning to move into their new home this week.” The Davis’ lost their home and “belongings last year after their house was vandalized and destroyed in a fire.” But the new home “doesn’t just replace a structure,” it is “handicap accessible to meet the needs of Davis, a service connected disabled veteran who served the country during Desert Storm.” WNCT-TV Greenville, NC (2/5, Hunter) also covered the story on its website.