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1. Vet groups, VA split over mental health expansion. Veterans Affairs officials say they are meeting requirements laid down in a 2010 law mandating the agency to improve health care to veterans and their familes. But not everyone agrees.
2. Growing number of troops return to battle after suffering severe wounds. The sniper team was in a hurry. The sun was up and they weren’t in position yet. Staff Sgt. Donald Thompson took the lead as they passed through a gate and into an orange grove.
3. In US politics, religion often is thrown into the mix. As 10 states prepare to hold Super Tuesday presidential primaries this week, long-divisive social issues involving matters of personal faith and beliefs have become an increasing part of the effort to win the White House, as well as dominance on Capitol Hill.
4. Giant new plant shows coal power isn’t going away. The Prairie State power plant, set amid farm fields and woods in southwestern Illinois, will start producing power soon, beginning a life of burning local coal that’s expected to last until at least the 2040s.
5. Women veterans deserve recognition, services. Baltimore Sun (blog) Today, women comprise the fastest growing segment of the veteran population. Comprehensive care for women veterans is now the standard, rather than the exception at US Department of Veterans Affairs facilities throughout the country.
6. VA director, shortage of psychiatrists blamed for acute psychiatric unit. Billings Gazette
“For some clients, going out of state is very, very scary,” said Houston, a US National Guard veteran. Some are scared to fly. Others are afraid to drive. The problem is being compounded by the number of veterans returning home from Iraq and …
7. Vietnam veteran, traumatized by war, seeks help in Wyoming. Billings Gazette More than 500000 of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ 6.2 million patients have a PTSD diagnoses. The VA’s 2013 budget proposal includes $6.2 billion for mental health, which the department plans to use for increased outreach and screenings, …
8. Native American Vet Who Achieved Great Accomplishments During WWII Dies At Age 92. NBC Nightly News Medal of Honor recipient Van Barfoot died today at age 92. During the WWII, Barfoot, who was “part Indian,” took part in the “landings at Sicily, Silerno. In one engagement…he walked through a minefield while killing two enemies on the run; he took 17 prisoners single-handedly, destroyed a tank with his bazooka and turned away two others before getting two of his wounded men to safety”; and he “turned down a trip home and chose to receive his Medal of Honor in the field in France so his men could be with him.” With his death, there are now “82 living” MOH recipients. AP Barfoot “gained national attention in 2009 when he fought to keep his 21-foot flagpole at his Henrico County home after the homeowners association ordered it removed and threatened to sue him.” The White House “even entered the fray,” with a spokesperson for President Obama “calling it ‘silly’ not to allow Barfoot to fly the flag.” The association “later backed off, but Barfoot’s fight eventually led to a state law that makes it tougher for homeowners associations to restrict the flying of the US flag.” Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch Barfoot “later served in the Korean War and in Vietnam, where he served as deputy chief of Army aviation and earned 11 Air Medals in less than two years. He also received the Purple Heart with two clusters.” Barfoot retired as a “colonel and senior Army adviser to the Virginia Army National Guard in 1974.” Notably, the “Sitter-Barfoot Veterans Health Care Center at McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center was named in his honor, and he was active there.”
9. Troops From Iraq, Afghanistan To Be Honored In DC. AP With the Iraq war “just over, and Afghanistan continuing, there are already plans to honor those veterans in a new National Mall tribute in the works.” It will not be a “full-scale Iraq and Afghanistan war memorial,” but the same group that built the Vietnam memorial wall said it will “expand the scope of a planned education center nearby to include service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Their photos would be “displayed alongside those” who died in the Vietnam conflict. The Education Center at The Wall is slated to “break ground in November and open in 2014.”
10. Researchers Test New Tool For Identifying TBI. AP That scientists are “testing a tool that lights up the breaks” that traumatic brain injuries “leave deep in the brain’s wiring, much like X-rays show broken bones. Research is just beginning in civilian and military patients to learn if this new kind of MRI-based test really could pinpoint their injuries and one day guide rehabilitation.” Dr. Rocco Armonda, a neurosurgeon at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, said the new tool “promises a much closer look at nerve fibers than is now possible through a technique called diffusion tensor imaging.” Armonda will soon begin “studying the high-def scan on soldiers being treated for TBI at Walter Reed, to see if its findings correlate with their injuries and recovery.”