Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – February 21, 2012


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.    For visiting Marines, an ‘incredibly powerful, healing measure’For the Company B Marines who arrived back in the states on Feb. 4, and for whom the trauma of war is still fresh in their minds, visiting their wounded comrades at Walter Reed and presenting Purple Hearts at the Marine Corps Memorial was a therapeutic venture.
2.    Legislation looks to limit funds for schools that target veterans for GI Bill benefits.  Lawmakers 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.
3.    Military pay raise plans could pinch troops’ wallets.  Troops could see their lowest pay raises in four decades — far below what their civilian peers will get — if proposed changes are made in the way military raises are calculated.

4.    How many US presidents have also been veterans of military service? (blog)
George Washington is certainly the most well-known of Presidents of the United States who also served in the military. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, 24 of the nation’s 44 Commanders in Chief …

5.    Raleigh homeless couple: ‘Within a blink of an eye, it can be you’.  The US Department of Veterans Affairs tries to track the number of homeless veterans by counting how many people it serves. Locally, WRAL News followed volunteers with the 100000 Homes initiative and the United Way as they ventured out at night last …

6.    How Military Veterans Are Finding Success in Small Business.  Entrepreneur  This could be because military training develops organizational skills and risk-tolerance, says Thomas J. Leney, executive director for Small and Veteran Business Programs at the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Todd Fisher, a veteran and founder of …

 7.    Elks staging comedy benefit for homeless veterans.  More than 6000 veterans are homeless in New Jersey, and 67000 suffer that plight throughout the United States, according to a report released in December by the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development. “How can this be?

8.    VA to host outreach open house in York.  Lincoln Journal Star  A Veterans of the Armed Forces open house to provide rural-area veterans information and assistance with US Department of Veterans Affairs benefits and services will be March 16, noon to 7 pm, and March 17, 9 am-1 pm, in the Cornerstone Ag and Events …

9.    Military Same-Sex Partner Benefits: “Separate But Not Equal”.  TIME (blog)  The law has outlined the federal definition of marriage as the union between one man and one woman since it was signed in 1996. In the eyes of the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs, the federal law trumps any state-recognized same sex marriage and as …

10. State agency assists job-seeking vets.  Green Bay Press Gazette  With about 15 percent of veterans unemployed, those who served in the military can reach out for job-seeking help. Jim Warner’s passion is to match veterans with job opportunities. He is a US Navy veteran who works for the state Office of Veterans …


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  • Beach Bill Boosting Aid To Blind, Paralyzed Vets Clears Senate Committee.  Gloucester (NJ) County Times  “Legislation that would increase the amount of aid given to blind and paralyzed veterans has cleared” the New Jersey Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Jim Beach (D-Voorhees Township) would “increase monthly payments made to veterans who have permanently lost their vision as a result of military service.” The bill also would “increase monthly payments to veterans with permanent paralysis and other described disabilities as a result of enemy action.” The bill now heads to the “Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.”
  • Noncitizen Veterans Protest Possible Deportation To Mexico.  Los Angeles Times Vietnam War veterans – brothers Manuel and Valente Valenzuela — are “trying to stop the country they served from deporting them.” On Saturday, they donned their blue military uniforms and “took their protest to the US-Mexico border” to participate in a rally that coupled “solemn defiance with unabashed patriotism.” ICE spokesperson Lauren Mack said agents consider “military service” a positive factor when determining “whether to begin deportation proceedings.” But critics argue that few veterans are “spared” because authorities have “expanded the category” of deportation-eligible crimes, which can range from murder charges to such nonviolent misdemeanor arrests as “drunk driving.” The brothers and their attorney Dennis Hartley say the Valenzuelas’ records include only misdemeanors “committed more than 10 years ago.”
  •  HIV Drug Tenofovir Increases Risk Of Kidney Damage.  San Francisco Chronicle Patient taking “one of the most widely prescribed drugs to treat HIV infection increase their risk of kidney damage by up to 34 percent every year,” according to a study of more than “10,000 HIV-positive veterans” conducted at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. The study, which was published in the journal AIDS, involved “10,841 HIV-infected men and women who started antiretroviral therapy from 1997 to 2007; 4,303 of those patients took tenofovir at some point.” The researchers found that “among those who took the drug, the risk of developing one of those signs of kidney damage increased by 11 to 34 percent each year, and their risk remained elevated even after they stopped taking it.”
  •  Homeless Group Opens First Transitional House For Veterans.   North County Times (CA)  “Seven female veterans who are down on their luck soon will have a home in San Marcos thanks to a retired military couple who have a dream to help others. ‘Vanessa and I are both Navy veterans, so when we decided we needed to do something about homelessness, we chose veterans to support,’ Larry Wood said about founding the nonprofit Fan of the Feather with his wife.” The Woods and “supporters of their organization” gathered Friday on a “driveway in front of a four-bedroom house on Grand Avenue to cut the ribbon on the group’s first transitional home.”
  •  WWII Vet Helps New Veterans Suffering From PTSD. KCRG-TV “John Gaultier has battled PTSD, what they used to call ‘combat fatigue,’ for more than 50 years. That’s why psychiatrists with the Iowa City VA Healthcare System asked this Bronze Star recipient to teach them so they could better treat soldiers now coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. North Linn High School recently honored Gaultier, who in many ways has never left the battlefield: He’s still saving veterans, and helping in his own healing by opening up to the next generation. And we’re proud to say Gaultier will now represent Eastern Iowa at the National Jefferson Awards in Washington, DC.”
  •  Great Falls Veterans Center Offers Support.  KRTV-TV  The Great Falls Veteran Center has “helped more than 250 veterans since opening last year,” including Afghanistan Holly Hill, who “says it’s been difficult to sort through the emotions of her experiences overseas.” Hill is suffering from PTSD and has been receivinh counseling at the center for “about six months.” Therapist Kelly Smith say, “You hear a lot about female veterans that have been fired upon. But very rarely do you hear about a woman” like Hill, who “picks up the M-16 and leaves with her commanding officer, and fights back. So her story is really unique.”
  •   Ore. Soldier Says Insurance Company Owes Him Benefits Because Iraq War Ended Before Deployment.  AP  An insurance company that “denied benefits to a military veteran” is facing a federal lawsuit “that argues its reasoning was groundless because the US wasn’t at war with Iraq in 2008. Jerico McCoy, 29, said Iraq was a sovereign nation when he deployed there in 2008.” McCoy was denied benefits for PTSD by his “former employer’s insurer, which cited an exception to its health coverage if an injury was caused by an ‘act of war.'” According to the lawsuit, McCoy sued “Aetna Inc. for using the exclusion to deny his benefits claim, which would have paid him his full salary of $1,056 a week during an unpaid medical leave granted by his employer, Bank of America.”
  •     VA Home Loans’ Enduring Success.  Albuquerque Journal  “When Duane Dimas recently signed off on the loan for his new home in Belen, he didn’t have to make a down payment or worry about mortgage insurance, and he still received a competitive interest rate.” Dimas, a Vietnam vet, is “among thousands” of veterans across the US “taking advantage” of the VA’s “home loan program.” At present, there are more than “1.5 million active VA loans in the country and more than 19,000 in New Mexico, with 6,500 in Albuquerque.” 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.”
  • Relay For Life Chapters Receive Awards.  St. Louis Post-Dispatch  Under “Healthcare Awards,” that the Hospice of Southern Illinois became a “national partner of We Honor Veterans, an awareness campaign developed by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the Department of Veterans Affairs.” Hospice of Southern Illinois is currently implementing “veteran-centered education for staff and volunteers, developing veteran-centered policies and strengthening partnerships with local veterans organizations like the VFW, American Legion and healthcare centers.”
  •  Returning Veterans Prepare For Civilian Careers.  Lasalle (IL) News Tribune  Local perspectives to the wider picture of how Illinois veterans are faring in the job market after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. One Spring Valley veteran, Pete Thomas, said his first pass at college was a decade ago and featured “more partying than studying.” He shelved that, and instead enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard and served in Afghanistan for a year training the Afghan National Police. Thomas, now 28, is attending Illinois Valley Community College, working at Menards, and is “set to graduate this fall and hopes to find a job in sales or business consulting” near Chicago.
  •   Planting The Seeds Of Success.  Palm Springs (CA) Desert Sun  Vietnam veteran Andy Gibbs, the “founder of Veterans Business Institute,” who was “given a cubicle in the Rabobank Regional Business Center — one of many old city jail cells the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership and Coachella Valley iHub retrofitted for budding entrepreneurs — and went to work.” Gibbs’ effort has been lucrative. In mid-January, Microsoft “sent over a film crew to tell the story of Gibbs and the intellectual property business model he created,, to manage a network of veteran-owned businesses across the nation by 2014.” His story — one of three chosen by Microsoft — is “among several startups,” including Tala Enterprise; Seismic Warning Systems and Mobile Farming Systems, among others, who have used the new iHub.
  • Shares His World War II Experience At VA Hospital Program.  Detroit Free Press  WWII Navy veteran John Heller, who’s story about “surviving five days in the shark-infested Philippine Sea in the Pacific Theater is about to become a big-screen movie.” On Friday, the “84-year-old Clawson resident was just one of the guys as he chatted with other vets at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit, as part of the National Salute to Veteran Patients Week,” which ends today. Heller told “surreal stories about the five days he bobbed in the sea after his ship, the USS Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine torpedo just after midnight on July 30, 1945 — having delivered the parts for the first atomic bomb.”
  • Pirro Salutes Afghanistan Veteran Joe Mille. Fox News Channel’s Justice With Judge Jeanine  Jeanine Pirro signed off with a “military shout out. Justice viewer Kim Merricheech wrote us about Corporal Joe Mille. Joe is with the 10th mountain division out of Fort Drum, New York. Last month, while serving in Afghanistan, a fellow soldier was injured by an IED blast. Joe rushed to his aid, but there was a secondary explosion and Joe was hit. He lost his leg in the blast and is currently recovering in Bethesda, Maryland and the Walter Reed Hospital. When asked what his plans were once rehabilitated, Joe’s response was, ‘To return to duty.’ Joe, you are a true American hero. Your attitude shows that. You and all the other heroes at Walter Reed make us all proud. Good luck in your recovery and thank you for your service.”
  • Brigantine Groups Help Soldier Wounded In Afghanistan.  Press of Atlantic City (NJ) “When Vincent Caliguire heard about a local soldier who was wounded in Afghanistan he immediately reached out to find groups to lend their support.” The Sons of American Legion post in Brigantine held their “annual Jimmy Buffett Night at the facility on West Brigantine Avenue” on Friday; and donated the proceeds to the “family of Joseph Mille, a corporal in the US Army who was wounded on Jan. 9. ‘I was moved by his story and wanted to help him,'” said Caliguire, who served in Iraq from 2005 to 2006. “Diane Mille, Joseph’s mother and Nick Mille, his younger brother,” entered the event under a “color guard, amid a standing ovation.”
  •  Mother Of Fallen Marine Pursues Memorial Effort.  York (PA) Daily Record  Efforts by Deborah Higgins to fund and build the $120 million National Fallen Heroes Memorial north of Frederick, Maryland. Higgins lost her son, Marine Lance Cpl. James Higgins in the Iraq War, and he was the inspiration for research and planning that she started in 2007 for “a museum complex, statues and five walls representing the military branches” that “will sit on 18 acres across US 15,” while “an additional 35 acres is meant for military burials.” So far, “Higgins has collected more than $700,000 for the memorial fund, but she is still looking for more donations, as well as possible grants for the 501(c)(3) National Fallen Heroes Memorial organization.” She plans construction within two years and hopes the entire complex is done in 10.
  • Burnham Dedicates Vet Center After 14 Years Of Planning.  Farmington (NM) Daily Times  Regardless of whether they “returned from military duty six months or six decades ago, Burnham veterans were welcomed home again Friday with the dedication of a 2,500-square-foot veterans center.” According to Burnham Veterans Organization Commander Leon Spencer, “about 50 veterans live” in Burnham. He said area veterans “about 14 years ago,” began planning the memorial. The total cost of the building was “less than $1 million, and builder Robert Nelson, of RJN Construction, allowed the veterans to help design it.”
  •    “They Haven’t Forgotten.”  Shelby (NC) Star  “Russell Thorington has served in the US Army for 22 years. The Sgt. 1st Class, dressed in Army fatigue, called an event Saturday ‘unexpected. We (the armed forces) always expect something on Memorial and Veterans Day, but this provides us with motivation to keep going, to continue training,'” he said. First responders and fellow military service members “joined Thorington Saturday afternoon for a service in their honor. Mother and daughter, Lisa and Nicole Williams, hosted the memorial event as tribute to the men and woman serving across the nation.”
  •  PBR 721: Restored Vietnam-Era Navy River Patrol Boat Moves To Currituck.  Daily Advance  Navy veteran Dennis Ambruso and his restoration of “the PBR 721, a restored Vietnam-era river patrol boat,” of the type central to the movie “Apocalypse Now.” Doyle belongs to the Mid-Atlantic Game Wardens Association, “the group of Vietnam vets that served on and around the Mekong Delta for the Navy.” He moved the restored boat to Currituck County recently, “and with the help of his friends like Doyle, he plans to make it available here for veterans, memorials and the like.”


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