Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – February 17, 2012

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

 

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1.      Legislation looks to limit funds for schools that target veterans for GI Bill benefitsLawmakers concerned over schools targeting veterans for their GI Bill education benefits on Thursday introduced legislation to limit how much federal funding those institutions can receive
 
2.      Family seeks answers about lone U.S. servicemember unaccounted for in IraqIn almost nine years of war, more than 1.5 million U.S. troops served in Iraq, with 4,408 losing their lives. The last 40,000 crossed into Kuwait by Dec. 18.
 
3.      Pentagon lays out significant cuts to U.S. forces in EuropeIt’s official: The Germany-based 170th Infantry Brigade will be inactivated later this year, followed by the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade next year as part of a broad restructuring of the military force structure in Europe that also calls for the inactivation of two U.S. Air Forces in Europe squadrons and the eventual elimination of the Army’s V Corps from Wiesbaden, Germany, according to Pentagon officials.

4.      National Guard engaging clergy to help prevent service member, veteran suicide.  Cronkite News  Louise Wilson began worrying about a member of her church while volunteering with him at Phoenix Veterans Affairs Hospital.

5.      Hire Me! Veterans: A local business owner reads the News’ series and calls in.  New York Daily News  Veterans lining up for a recent job fair in Manhattan organized by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. It’s not just big companies who say they’re committed to hiring vets. After the Daily News launched the …

6.      Bill aims to help veteran mental health facilities.  Marshalltown Times Republican  During a conference call with the Iowa Veterans Home director of mental health services, Braley announced the bill which would add Veterans Administration facilities and state veterans homes to the National Health Service Corps scholarship, …

7.      Snyder salutes veterans with visit to Ann Arbor’s VA Hospital.   Dearborn Press and Guide  Jim Dunn, chief of staff for the state’s Department of Military & Veterans Affairs, said that Michigan is home to some 700000 veterans, and account for 7 percent of the state’s population. This makes Michigan home to the 11th largest veteran population …

8.      Questions freeze veterans’ plans for St. Joe’s in Lorain.  Chronicle-Telegram  … felt by local veterans working to purchase and renovate the fifth floor of the building to provide transitional housing and other services to needy veterans. Dan Gillotti, a veteran who moderated a meeting Wednesday on the future of the facility, …

9.      Pilot program helps veterans into farming.  Daily Camera  The so-called Veteran Farmers Project — funded by the Agriculture Department’s Risk Management Agency and the Center for Rural Affairs in Nebraska and supported by a coalition of farm groups across based mostly in the Midwest — will start with a …

10. Richland County Coroner’s Office conducts burials.  The Herald | HeraldOnline.com  Recently, the coroner’s office arranged with the US Department of Veterans Affairs to have those who are military veterans buried at Fort Jackson National Cemetery, Watts said. When people with no known relatives dies, their bodies are stored at the …

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Home loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs continue to have the lowest serious delinquency and foreclosure rates in the mortgage 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. “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,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric K. Shinseki.  Last year, VA helped 72,391 Veterans and Servicemembers who were in default on their mortgage loan retain their homes or avoid foreclosure, an increase from 66,030 from the prior year.  At the same time, foreclosures on VA guaranteed loans dropped by 28 percent. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association National Delinquency Survey, VA’s foreclosure rate for the last 14 quarters and serious delinquency rate for the last 11 quarters have been the lowest of all measured loan types, even prime loans.  Since 1944, when home loan guaranties were first offered under the original GI Bill, VA has guaranteed more than 19.4 million home loans worth over $1.1 trillion. More information is available at www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans.

 

More Veteran News

 

  •  Smithsonian To Honor Japanese-American Veterans From World War II, Mark Anniversary.  AP  “The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is marking the 70th anniversary of the presidential order that led to the imprisonment of more than 110,000 Japanese Americans during World War II.” On Saturday, the “museum will host a program and film screening…with US Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and Japanese-American veterans from World War II. The museum also will display artifacts relating to Japanese-American history.”
  • Miller Accuses Obama Administration Of Leaving Veterans “Twisting In The Wind.”  Washington Post  “Despite a proposed budget that would boost spending for veterans, the House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman accused the White House Wednesday of leaving veterans ‘twisting in the wind’ by refusing to declare the Department of Veterans Affairs exempt from automatic cuts to reduce the deficit. At a committee hearing on the budget,” US Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) “said the White House silence on the issue is meant to pressure Congress to accept a deficit reduction agreement that would avoid the cuts otherwise required under the Budget Control Act of 2011.” But Democrats on Miller’s committee and Secretary Shinseki, who testified at Wednesday’s hearing, touted Obama’s efforts to help vets, highlighting the budget for VA that Obama proposed earlier this week.
  • Legion Representative Says VA’s Proposed 2013 Budget Has Some Problems.  American Legion  “In testimony before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs (HCVA) on Feb. 15, The American Legion used the analogy of a house for sale to describe” VA’s budget request for fiscal 2013. Tim Tetz, the “Legion’s legislative director, told the committee that the ‘curb appeal’ of VA’s budget request was impressive, including the expansion of programs for homeless, rural, women, and student veterans.” But on “closer examination, Tetz said the budget request is ‘not the gem it’s made out to be,'” partly, he added, because it does not have enough money for VA construction.
  •  Getting A Handle On Veteran Homelessness.  Huffington Post  55-year-old Lewis Russell “came to the 16th annual Winterhaven Homeless Veterans Stand Down on Jan. 21 to visit his brother, who stays at the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and hopefully land a job.” The story adds, “As it looks to end veteran homelessness by 2015, the VA is shifting its focus from rescuing the homeless to preventing at-risk veterans like Russell,” who is unemployed, “from being on the streets in the first place.”
  •  Steven VanRoekel Breaks Down 2013 Federal IT Budget.  Washington Technology “On the heels of the president’s 2013 budget proposal that revealed relatively flat federal IT spending, the Obama administration remains determined to push innovation in a fiscally responsible way, according to federal CIO Steven VanRoekel,” who made the comment in a “Feb. 13 conference call with reporters.” Washington Technology added, “The Treasury, Human and Health Services and Veterans Affairs departments will see the most IT spending under the president’s plan.” At VA, the “budget increases reflect investments in IT to support the Blue Button initiative, a joint venture between VA and DOD to provide veterans easy access to their medical information.”
  •   VA Funds To Surge As Troops Return.  Dayton (OH) Daily News The “nation’s 22 million military veterans would receive more federal funding for health care, fighting homelessness and finding jobs under President Barack Obama’s proposed” VA budget for fiscal year 2013. But the budget will “face the scrutiny of the GOP-dominated House and Democratic-controlled Senate.” A “surge of 610,000 men and women from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the nation’s other 21 million veterans, are expected to seek VA services.”
  • VA Disability Claims Grow More Complex, Costly.  Army Times  “A combination of more veterans’ disability claims and higher disability rates that result in bigger benefits checks are part of the reason for a requested 20 percent increase in Veterans Affairs Department benefits funding in the 2013 budget. The compensation and pension budget, $51.2 billion for fiscal 2012, would increase to $61.7 billion under the VA budget unveiled on Monday.” Officials with VA are “pledging to make progress” on a disability claims backlog, “with a goal of processing up to 100,000 more claims than received in 2013.”
  •  EHR Alerts Contribute To Information Overload For Doctors, Study Finds.  iHealthBeat “Electronic health record-based alerts can inadvertently lead to information overload for health care providers, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Medscape Medical News reports.” According to iHealthBeat, the study was conducted by Veterans Affairs’ Health Services Research & Development Center for Excellence in Houston.
  •  Proposals For Driver’s Licenses, TOPS Awards Aimed At Louisiana Veterans.  Alexandria (LA) Town Talk  “Two legislative initiatives aimed at helping Louisiana’s military veterans were introduced” in Leesville, Louisiana, on Wednesday, “during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Central Louisiana Veterans Cemetery. One will allow an official ‘Veteran’ designation on the driver’s licenses for Louisiana veterans, according” to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. The other piece of legislation, says the Town Talk, “will ensure that students who delay their TOPS scholarship award to serve in the military do not lose their eligibility for voluntarily re-enlisting.”
  •  State, Veterans Salute Irvin.  Aurora (IL) Beacon-News  “Leaders of state veterans groups came to Aurora Tuesday night to honor Alderman Richard Irvin as Illinois’ Veteran of the Month.” The 41-year-old Irvin, who “served in the Army during Desert Storm and Desert Shield from 1988 to 1991,” is an “‘advocate and friend to Aurora’s veterans,’ said Rodrigo Garcia, assistant director of Illinois’ Department of Veterans Affairs. In a ceremony at Aurora City Hall, Garcia presented Irvin with the award and a United State flag that has been flown over the state Capitol.”
  • At Minn. Capitol, Ideas Aplenty To Help Veterans.  AP  “With the Minnesota National Guard bracing for the end of its largest troop deployment since the Sept. 11 attacks, state lawmakers are considering a bevy of proposals to boost job creation for veterans.” The AP adds, “Legislation would give employers tax credits for hiring or rehiring veterans, permit a hiring preference for veterans and set aside some contracts for veteran-owned businesses. But with a tight state budget, some fear legislation to benefit veterans may not pass.”
  •  Companies Are Recognized For Hiring Veterans.  Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune “With thousands of troops on their way home as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, they will be hunting for jobs in a labor market that has few to spare. But 10 Mid-Missouri businesses that have hired veterans in the past year” were honored earlier this week by Missouri’s Department of Economic Development. Among those honored was the Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital.
  •   Veterans In Crisis Can Now Text For Help.  Army Times “Veterans and service members contemplating suicide can now text for help through the Veterans Crisis Line, formerly the national Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline.” On Wednesday, VA “announced…that confidential text-messaging is available 24 hours a day by texting 83-8255.” The “new number is one of several initiatives rolled out this month by VA to address suicide in the veteran population.”
  •  Counseling Available To Cherokee Combat Vets.  Cherokee (OK) Phoenix “Cherokee combat veterans who may need counseling services may benefit from an outreach program called Oklahoma Cherokee Veterans Outreach,” which is a VA initiative. Jack Musgrove, an “outreach specialist working for Caduceus Healthcare-Tulsa Vet Center, is seeking Cherokee veterans in rural communities who were in combat. He refers them to Tulsa Vet Center readjustment counselor Matthew Tiger if they wish to talk to a counselor about issues they are having as a result of being in combat.”
  •  Mobile Vet Center Making Stops In Texas Panhandle. KVII-TV  “America’s veterans and their families now have the opportunity to receive additional help thanks to the US Department of Veterans Affairs,” which sent one of its Mobile Vet Centers to Canyon, Texas, on Wednesday. This center “makes a lot of trips through the Texas Panhandle offering veterans and their families a chance to come in and talk about counseling services. Their hope is to help identify” post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) “in veterans, as well as offer bereavement services to family members.”
  • Man Suffers Severe Injuries After E-Cigarette Explodes In His Mouth.  ABC News 57-year-old Vietnam vet Tom Holloway is recovering at a burn center in Florida, “after suffering severe injuries from an electric cigarette that exploded in his mouth.” Chief Butch Parker of the North Bay Fire District “said the explosion knocked out all Holloway’s teeth and part of his tongue.”
  •  New Destroyer Being Named For Charleston Native.  AP  Navy Secretary Ray Mabus “said Wednesday a new Arleigh Baker class destroyer will be named in honor of Ralph Johnson. Johnson was a Marine private first class who was awarded the Medal of Honor after his death for throwing himself on a grenade after shouting a warning to his fellow Marines during a firefight in Vietnam.” The AP notes that the Veterans Affairs hospital in Charleston, South Carolina, also is named in honor of Johnson.
  •  Gulf Coast Community Salutes Vietnam Veterans.  WKRG-TV  “The VA Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System, USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, VA Vet Centers and many community partners from the Gulf Coast region will host a Vietnam Veterans Salute event on March 31.” The free event, which is “open to everyone in the Gulf Coast community,” will be “held at Battleship Memorial Park to honor Vietnam Veterans across the Gulf Coast region and provide Veterans the opportunity to connect with one another.”
  •  Lt. Gen. Helmick Calls For “Thorough Inspection” Of Fort Bragg’s Warrior Transition Battalion.  Fayetteville (NC) Observer

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