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1. Sprawling air base in western Afghanistan reflects hopes, perils of massive buildup. Across nine square miles of arid flatland in Herat province lies evidence of the shattered past and robust present of Shindand Air Base. Less obvious is the uncertain future of the second-largest coalition forces airfield in Afghanistan, home to the nation’s fledgling air force academy.
2. A pet project: Dogs help troops ease into therapy. In a hallway where the thud of Army boots is the common sound, the padded paws of a small black dog were barely audible. Certified by a new Red Cross program, he’s one of three dogs placed in outpatient settings in the Kaiserslautern and Grafenwöhr communities last year in an effort to soothe the discomfort that surrounds medical and counseling appointments. Advocates increasingly see a role for dogs beyond hospitals and combat zones and within the garrisons that more soldiers will likely call home in the coming years.
3. Ready to help. The Steubenville Herald-Star A US Department of Veterans Affairs’ Mobile Veterans Center manned by, from left, Jesse Davis and Lesa Meinze, readjustment counselors for the mobile unit; and Eric Ullery, a counselor with the Wheeling Vet Center; stopped at the Fort Steuben Mall …
4. Group effort reunites veteran and dog veteran. Daily Inter Lake A Navy veteran, Vincent had to leave Vanilla with his mother in Florida when he became homeless. He subsequently moved to Kalispell to pursue his dream of living among the mountains of Montana. Karen Blackbird, who works with the Veterans Affairs …
5. Cumberland County Veterans Cemetery reinforcing rules for grave decor, flags. NJ.com “The vision is a pristine, simple appearance that lends integrity and honor to the military ways that each veteran participated in during their service,” said Veterans’ Affairs Director Diana Pitman. “Uniformity is essential to honoring our veterans.
6. Summary Judgment On Monday In Hearing For FOIA Lawsuit Against DoD And DVA. Veterans Affairs Examiner US District Court of New Haven will “hold the summary judgment hearing for the Dept. of Defense and Dept. of Veterans Affair’s failure to respond to the FOIA requests” regarding government records “documenting incidents of rape, sexual assault, domestic violence and sexual harassment in the military.” In December 2010, the Service Women’s Action Network, the National ACLU and the ACLU of Connecticut “filed a lawsuit” against the DOD and the “for their failure to respond” to FOIA requests. Judge Mark R. Kravitz will oversee Monday’s hearing.
7. N.C. USO To Honor Vietnam Vets. Charlotte (NC) Observer The USO of North Carolina will host what it is calling “a long overdue” celebration to honor Vietnam War veterans “next month at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.” USO-NC President, retired Army Lt. Col. John Falkenbury said the event is “designed to recognize the efforts and sacrifices” of those who served in Vietnam and to “educate the public about the war.” Veterans Affairs will have “mobile units available at the event to offer services to veterans.” The celebration, which is “part of a growing trend nationally to publicly recognize” veterans, was inspired by “Heroes Homecoming, a 10-day event held in Fayetteville” in 2011, Falkenbury explained. It was scheduled to coincide with “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” on March 30.
8. New Jersey Aims To Open Veterans Haven North At Hagedorn This Summer. Lehigh Valley (PA) Express Times New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie “announced plans last week to convert the Sen. Garrett W. Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital in Lebanon Township into a second such facility: Veterans Haven North.” Christie allocated “$2.3 million in state money to use 100 of Hagedorn’s 288 beds for the program, but provided few other details.” A spokesperson for Christie “said the governor would release more information later this week.”
9. Reality Dims Promise Of Jubilee House. Fayetteville (NC) Observer “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” episode on Barbara Marshall’s home for female veterans “aired and millions of viewers watched the show’s signature bus move to reveal a dream house, lofty public expectations were giving way to a messier private reality. Marshall unnecessarily kicked out women and children and refused to help destitute veterans even when rooms were available in the 7,200-square-foot duplex on Langdon Street, according to six women who either lived in or applied to live in the Jubilee House.” And even as “tens of thousands of dollars in donations were pouring in along with free food and clothes, some former residents said, Marshall made them buy their own groceries and sometimes asked them for up to $75 a week to live there.”
10. Support Program Helps Veterans Change Lives. AP “If Marjorie Newman hadn’t asked for help, she believes she would be living under a bridge or dead.” Newman is one of the “16 veterans living at the Veterans Life Changing Services home and hoping for a better life.” Sunday marks the “two-year anniversary for the transitional housing program,” which started out as a support program created by Army veteran Bessie Hitchcock and her husband Henry Hitchcock. Veterans Life Changing Services has since helped more than 300 local veterans, Bessie Hitchcock noted.