Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – February 20, 2012

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

 

We encourage you to browse our list so that you can take what you want and keep what you need

 

1.    DoJ Wont Fight for Gay Spouse Benefits.  Military.com  The Justice Department will not defend the Defense Department and Department of Veterans Affairs in a lawsuit filed last year intended to extend rights and benefits to married same-sex couples in the military. Attorney General Eric Holder informed …

2.    Invisible, unemployed, more female veterans homeless in Michigan.  Southgate News Herald  A GAO investigation found that although the US Department of Veterans Affairs offers referrals for shelters or short-term housing, some homeless women veterans said they didn’t receive such referrals or even know about them. According to the report, …

3.    Daytona State College group offers free PTSD treatment.  Daytona Beach News-Journal  The treatment is open to all veterans — not just college students. It is available for free. About 11 percent to 20 percent of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have PTSD, according to statistics from the US Department of Veteran Affairs.

4.    Social Security and Medicare: Will they be there for you?  Belleville News Democrat
… of Fairview Heights, said he believes a funding mechanism should be set up for Medicare Part D, just as the government should be allowed to negotiate for cheaper drug prices, in the same way the US Department of Veteran Affairs does.
 
5.    Supreme Court To Hear Military Medal Lying Case.  Reuters  The Supreme Court will hear arguments next week on a law that makes lying about military medals a criminal offense. The Obama Administration is expected to defend the law on behalf of the nation’s service members, while opponents are expected to argue that the law is a violation of free speech. The high court will consider whether an appeals court was right to reject the “Stolen Valor Act,” which Congress adopted in 2006. The Administration’s case arguments will be presented by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli.
 
6.    Lying About Receiving A Medal Of Honor? It’s Shameful — But It Shouldn’t Be A Crime.  Washington Post   Jonathan Turley, professor of public interest law at George Washington University, examines the issue, pointing out that everyone may agree that someone lied about military service, but “what has perplexed judges is whether” such “lies are protected by the First Amendment.” Turley observes, “The problem with the law” is that “it can be dangerous to criminalize lies. After all, with the power to punish a lie comes the power to define the truth — a risky occupation for any government.”
 
7.    LSU Student Charged With Lying About Purple Heart.  AP  Louisiana State University student has been “charged with falsely claiming he was awarded the Purple Heart and with wearing military medals without authorization. An indictment handed up Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Baton Rouge claims 31-year-old Andrew Bryson defrauded the state Office of Motor Vehicles into giving him a military honor license plate for Purple Heart recipients in 2009.” According to the indictment, which was unsealed Thursday, Bryson also “allegedly wore several military medals and ribbons, including the Purple Heart and Joint Service Commendation medals, at an awards ceremony honoring veterans in 2010.” If convicted, Bryson faces a “maximum sentence of 2 years in prison and $200,000” in fines.
 
8.    Bill Seeks Limits On For-Profit Schools Funding.  Army Times  A new bill would prevent for-profit schools from receiving “more than 90 percent of tuition from federal education programs,” including GI Bill and survivors’ education programs from the VA, and military service-related tuition assistance. Although there already is a “such a rule,” the 90-percent tuition cap applies “only to programs funded by the Education Department, such as Pell Grants.” The goal of the “Military and Veterans’ Education Protection Act” is to prevent for-profit schools from “recruiting service members and veterans to take expensive courses of limited value.”
 
9.    Why I Chose Online Education: David Gowel: This Military Veteran Completed Classes In Kentucky And Massachusetts While Starting His Own Company. US News & World Report
 
10. Fort Harrison Chosen To Help Decrease Backlog Of Veterans’ Disability Claims.  AP  The Veterans Benefit Administration “regional office at Fort Harrison is one of three sites nationwide chosen to help decrease the backlog of veterans’ claims for disability and education benefits.” On Wednesday, VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki told US Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester (D) that the Fort Harrison office “along with sites in Wichita, Kan., and Milwaukee, Wis., will help test the VA’s proposal to streamline the claims process.” Tester said it could result in “seven new jobs” at Fort Harrison. At present, the VA has a “backlog of about 600,000 claims pending for over 125 days.”

 

Have You Heard?

The Department of Veterans Affairs is expanding its efforts to prevent suicide through several new initiatives that increase the availability of services for Veterans, Servicemembers and their families. The initiatives include a new, free, confidential text-messaging service in the existing Veterans Crisis Line, and the introduction of toll-free access from Europe to provide crisis help to Veterans, Servicemembers and their families living abroad. Now, in addition to the Veterans Crisis Line and online chat (www.VeteransCrisisLine.net), those in crisis may text 83-8255 free of charge to receive confidential, personal and immediate support.  Veterans and members of the military community in Europe may now receive free, confidential support from the European Military Crisis Line, a new initiative recently launched by VA.  Callers in Europe may dial 0800-1273-8255 or DSN 118 to receive confidential support from responders at the Veterans Crisis Line in the U.S. For more information about VA’s suicide prevention program, visit: http://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/.

 

More Veteran News

 

  • Veterans Face Benefits Battle At Home.  WREG-TV  “Many veterans with health problems running into red tape when applying for benefits.” For example, in 2007, Iraq veteran Tshonba Bernard “says he returned home,” suffering from PTSD, anxiety and depression, and he was “unable to hold a job.” He has a “13-year-old daughter to support and brings in just $130 a month for disability.” In 2008, Bernard “applied for military benefits in 2008 but was denied.” He is appealing the denial but Franklin Budd with the Disabled American Veterans Office in Nashville said, “The appeals process can take up to 3 or 4 years from the start to the appellate process.”
  • Military Physicians Examine Unconventional Therapies To Help Vets With Painkiller Addictions. WPDE-TV  “Instead of a pill for every ill, military physicians are being told to examine new options, including chiropractic treatment, massage and acupuncture. This new look at unconventional therapies is aimed at heading off drug dependence on powerful painkillers; and the effort takes on new urgency with the 47,000 US troops wounded fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Back home, at least 40 percent of veterans entering the VA health system are dealing with pain. Acupuncture has already been tried in some special clinics and for troops in battle zones; and despite some skepticism in the Army’s medical ranks, it now more widely available.”
  • VFW, Auxiliary Donate Flag To WOW Project.  Rapid City Journal  “The Belle Fourche VFW Post 3312 and Auxiliary presented a new flag to the Women of War residential job training program for homeless women veterans for display at the new campus in Belle Fourche.” The WOW project is “ramping up to full operation and has begun intake of women veterans who will reside on campus and receive training at Black Hills area programs.” The Belle Fourche VFW as well as “other local organizations have adopted the program in recognition of the special needs of women veterans.”
  • Women Key Part Of Cherry Point, Marine Corps History.  Havelock (NC) News  The atmosphere during World War II at Cherry Point, where some 2,600 Marine Corps Women’s Reserve members — otherwise known as “Lady Leathernecks” — served in jobs that ranged from aircraft mechanic to chemical warfare specialist. Women who served recall their experiences, noting that they weren’t always welcomed by their male colleagues. One Gladys A. Hansis recalled, “Some were hostile. I do remember not being liked…because we were replacing them in those jobs.” The women’s reserve’s motto was “Free a Marine to Fight,” and “by war’s end, there were 19,000 Women’s Reserves nationwide.” Another, Francis Skiba Hoffman, recalled, “There’s an awful lot of discipline in the Marine Corps and really it wasn’t easy to do everything that was expected of us. It was an effort. What brought us through was we arrived at camaraderie.”
  • Nurses Leave, But VA Says Clinic Won’t Close.  Adirondack (NY) Daily Enterprise The VA outpatient medical clinic in Saranac Lake just opened in August but “has been without a doctor since late November” when a physician left to attend an ill family member. Then, “one of the two nurses who worked in the clinics…resigned, and the other one…just retired last week.” The Daily Enterprise says the staffing “has sparked concern and frustration among the local veterans who fought for three years to get the VA to locate a clinic here,” but Peter Potter, spokesperson for the Stratton VA in Albany, which oversees the Saranac Lake and Westport clinics, “confirmed that the two facilities will remain open despite the staffing issues.” Until new staff is hired, “other VA nurses will come up from Albany to run the facilities” and patients can use a telemedicine program to consult with VA staff in Albany.
  •  VA Medical Center Debuts 8,500-Square-Foot Addition. Lock Haven (PA) Express Altoona on the ceremonial opening this week of the Van Zandt VA Medical Center’s new addition for physical and rehabilitative medicine, a $3.6 million, 8,500-square-foot space that is expected to experience 20 percent growth annually in rehab patient count. The Express adds that “the new facility, plus a similar-sized, $2.5 million addition for department offices currently under construction next door, will enable” Dr. Frederick Struthers, chief of physical and rehabilitative medicine, and his “18-member staff to help wounded vets make the transition better.” The old facility “was only a quarter as big with fewer rooms and less equipment,” yet even it “hosted 15,000 visits last year.”
  •   VA Will Shift Warsaw Clinic To Batavia.  Daily News (NY)  The VA Western New York Healthcare System will “close its community-based outpatient clinic in Warsaw and shift those services to the Batavia VA Medical Center, 222 Richmond Ave.” The realignment, which becomes effective March 3, will “allow five-days-a-week primary care, which is up from the two days at Warsaw, the VA said. There also will be more specialty services at the Batavia site.” Notably, the VA “isn’t cutting jobs through the move.”
  •  Organization Donates $20,000 Gift To VA Hospital.  KRCG-TV “Administrators at Columbia’s Truman Veterans Hospital were surprised with a large donation on Friday afternoon. Representatives of a local non-profit organization called the Veterans United Foundation gave a surprise gift of $20,000 for morale boosting programs.” The VUF also “gave away some Valentines” as part of the VA’s National Salute to Veteran Patients, which encourages “everyone to visit a hospitalized veteran during Valentine’s week.” Foundation Coordinator Megan Sievers said, “Morale and just being there and letting them know that their community is here to support them is huge and it speaks volumes.”
  •  Miss West Virginia Reigns At Beckley VA.  WVNS-TV  Veterans at the Beckley VA had a “special visitor on Friday. Spenser Wempe, Miss West Virginia, toured the new Mobile Vet Center, a customized vehicle designed to provide veterans with vital, on-the-spot counseling and reintegration services.” Wempe, who recently “competed in the Miss America pageant, serves as an advocate for veterans issues” and recently raised “$8,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project.”
  •  Expansion Of Billings VA Clinic Moving Forward.  Billings (MT) Gazette  VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki in July promised to “do what he could to accelerate the planned expansion of the Billings VA clinic, currently scheduled to be completed in 2014.” And on Feb. 16 in Billings, VA Montana Healthcare System Associate Director Dan Herrera “told a standing-room-only group of veterans that the expansion project is ‘fully funded.’ Bids were let this month” and contracts are “expected to be awarded” in the summer. Shinseki was in Billings “at the invitation” of Sen. Jon Tester, who made an “unabashed push for the second phase of the clinic. … ‘A bigger clinic will save money and save lives,'” Tester said Friday. Notably, the clinic expansion is expected to generate “as many as 70 jobs.”

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