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. Obama announces new mortgage relief for servicemembers. Troops victimized by unfair mortgage practices could see hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments, and other homeowners could see mortgage refinancing costs cut in half, under plans outlined by President Barack Obama on Tuesday.
2. Eight military women allege rape, assault in lawsuit. Eight Navy and Marine Corps women are suing current and former leadership of the Navy and Marine Corps in an effort to change the way sexual assaults and rapes — and the victims who report those crimes — are treated by the military.
3. VA study: PTSD patients more often prescribed potent opioids. Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars with mental health diagnoses, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder, were significantly more likely to receive prescriptions for oxycodone, hydrocodone and other opioids than those with pain but no mental health issues, according to a large Veterans Affairs study released Tuesday.
4. Army psychiatrist calls review of PTSD diagnoses ‘a charade’. A physician says a panel that reviewed 14 of her team’s diagnoses initially agreed that 12 of the soldiers did not suffer from PTSD, then later changed that number to 8. She says the panel was pressured to make the change; the Army says that’s not the case.
5. Out of the war zones, veterans move into a brutal labor market. They leave the military with a unique set of challenges and benefits. They’re relatively young and inexperienced at a time when the job market favors the seasoned. They may have physical and psychological injuries related to their service and combat deployments. They don’t always know how the skills they learned in the military can be used in the civilian workplace.
6. Mattis: Battlefield partnership with Afghan troops unchanged, despite murders. Despite a recent wave of murders of U.S. servicemembers by Afghan security forces, the United States will stick with its strategy based on battlefield partnership between troops from the two nations, the commander of U.S. Central Command told Congress on Tuesday.
7. Veterans Service Organization works hard to get vets everything they’re owed. Clarksville Leaf Chronicle In a nutshell, our main function is to help veterans and eligible dependents navigate the US Department of Veterans Affairs system in applying for benefits, including disability compensation, non-service connected pension, and education entitlements, …
8. Program links war vets with community groups. Mail Tribune The program is offering 500 community service fellowships to post 9/11 veterans across the nation this year. A fellowship typically lasts six months. The program’s mission is to allow a veteran to rebuild his or her sense of purpose through local …
9. Region 8 Veterans’ cemetery now open for interments. KAIT According to the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, the Arkansas State Veterans’ Cemetery at Birdeye is open. The cemetery, located in the community of Birdeye in Cross County, will be the final resting place for veterans, their spouses and …
10. The Defense Health Agency. Federal News Radio “Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has submitted a plan to create a new organization called the Defense Health Agency, which would oversee TRICARE.” The “new agency would also be responsible for running military treatment facilities within the National Capital Region (NCR), including Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital.” The “plan was required by the 2012 Defense Authorization Bill and would not affect any TRICARE benefits.”
Have You Heard?
All month, VA is celebrating the contributions made by women Veterans to our Nation’s history. Several new videos are available from the “Stories of Service” series, in which women Veterans speak of their experiences in the military and their return to civilian life. Each of the 3-5 minute videos can be found at www.womenshealth.va.gov/
stories.asp. In addition, download posters and tools that promote Women’s History Month and recognize women Veterans as history makers at www.womenshealth.va.gov.
More Veteran News
- Vet Center Fight Heads To Tuesday Showdown. Arkansas Times The “Little Rock City Board will consider Tuesday night a new ordinance drafted at Mayor Mark Stodola’s insistence to prevent the VA from placing a better facility for veterans at 10th and Main in an abandoned car dealership.” . Drake Mann, an attorney for the property’s owner, “said his clients were ‘absolutely’ prepared to sue if the city passes an ordinance to attempt to invalidate the use of the building after the lease has already been negotiated.”
- VA Braces For “Unprecedented” Flood Of Veterans. Army Times VA “expects 600,000 veterans to seek” healthcare, benefits, and “other services over the next five years as a result of the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a military drawdown that will cut 123,000 or more active-duty jobs. Whether VA is prepared for this flood is unclear.” But at a recent hearing on the proposed 2013 VA budget Secretary Shinseki “said VA is moving in the right direction” on preparation, with the agency working on technological advances in VA care, electronic record keeping, and claims processing. The Times, however, called the advances “unproven.”
- Official Says VA Is Working To Expand Automated Processing Of Post 9/11 GI Bill Claims. WAVY-TV “Many veterans” are having problems with late GI Bill payments. WAVY said it “contacted Randy Noller with Veterans Affairs in DC,” who “said the processing time with GI Bill claims and payments increase during peak college enrollment times, such as January through March and August through October. He went on to say that they are working to enhance and expand the automated processing of Post 9/11 GI Bill claims.”
- Mental Health: Use Of Statins May Lower Depression Risk. New York Times “The use of statin drugs to lower cholesterol in people with stable coronary artery disease is associated with a significantly reduced risk for depression, a new study reports.” The study’s senior author was Dr. Mary A. Whooley, a professor of medicine at the VA hospital in San Francisco. The “study was published online Feb. 21 in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.”
- Montana Veteran’s Best Option For Help Was In Florida. Billings (MT) Gazette 54-year-old veteran Paul Schinker, a resident of Billings who says he was raped during his time in the US military, “went to the Vet Center in Billings” and “met Natasha Houston, a licensed clinical social worker who is certified in military sexual trauma, MST.” After that meeting, Schinker “traveled 2,300 miles to Bay Pines, Fla., to seek treatment in an acute psychiatric unit that specializes in MST.” Both Schinker and Houston “lamented the fact that Fort Harrison is not in a position to house veterans who need acute psychiatric care.”
- VA Urged To Re-Evaluate Plan For Closed Mental Health Facility At Fort Harrison. Billings (MT) Gazette The “empty Veterans Affairs psychiatric facility at Fort Harrison is disappointing and perplexing.” According to the Gazette, “VA Montana Director Robin Korogi told a Gazette reporter that the eight acute beds can’t open until three full-time psychiatrists are hired to staff them around the clock.” The Gazette concludes, “VA should re-evaluate its existing resources and its staffing plan for the closed unit and come up with an action plan that works for Montana veterans.”
- Despite County Plea, VA Won’t Budge On Ending Veterans Therapy Group. Victoria (TX) Advocate “Despite protests to senators, representatives and county leaders, two Crossroads post-traumatic stress therapy groups will not continue.” Victoria County Commissioner Gary Burns “is trying to find a positive outcome in the veterans’ situation. Burns said he plans to meet next week with members of the Veterans Affairs regional office and US Sen. John Cornyn’s office to develop a plan to help the veterans.”
- Hearing Looks At Ways To Help Veterans. Legislative Gazette “In an effort to improve the treatment of soldiers returning home from combat with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, advocates and veterans last week testified before the state Legislature” in New York. The Gazette continues, “Sen. Shirley Huntley, D-Jamaica, said not enough is being done, neither on the federal nor state level, to assist veterans battling the disorder.” But Dr. Charles Kennedy, “clinical director of the PTSD Treatment Program at the Albany Stratton Veterans Affairs Medical Center, said his center is on the verge of treating 1,000 war veterans this year, up from less than 200 in 2001.” However, Kennedy did add, “We need to bring mental health treatment out into the community.”
- Bidders Get Second At-Bat For VA’s $102M EHR Software Contract. Washington Technology “The $102.6 million Veterans Affairs Department software contract awarded to ASM Research in January, but which was then canceled on Feb. 28 after a conflict of interest was cited, has now been reopened to the original bidders.” Josephine Schuda, a spokeswoman for VA, “told NextGov that VA will ‘make another best-value selection based on the remaining offerers in the competition.’ NextGov, citing industry sources, said Harris Corp., SAIC, SRA International and 7 Delta have submitted competing bids to create the software for the integrated electronic health records system.”
- HUD Secretary: Administration Is On Track To End Veteran Homelessness By 2015. Comedy Central’s The Daily Show An interview with US Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, who said the Obama Administration “lowered the number of veterans sleeping on the streets last year by 20%.” He added, “And look, even in these fiscal times, we made a commitment to end” homelessness among veterans by 2015. And “we are on track to do that,” said Donovan.
- DOD Mismanages Disabled Vets Contracts: Report. Bloomberg News “The Defense Department is mismanaging a nine-year-old effort to set aside contracts for companies owned by disabled veterans, according” to a new report by the Pentagon’s inspector general. Bloomberg adds, “The Veterans Affairs Department inspector general found in a July 2011 report that the VA awarded at least 1,400 contracts to ineligible businesses. The VA’s inspector general said last year that the agency overstated by 17 percent the number of contracts it awarded in fiscal 2010.”
- Homeless Veterans May Find A Place Of Their Own In Auburn’s Historic Case Mansion. Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard Michael Henty is planning to convert an Auburn, New York-based “mansion into a youth and vocational training center and shelter for homeless veterans.” Henty is “working with the Veterans Administration office in Syracuse to provide free housing to down-and-out Central New York veterans.” Pete Dougherty, acting executive director of VA’s homeless veterans initiative, “did not know the details of Henty’s plan but said the VA is constantly looking for opportunities to find shelter for homeless veterans.” Dougherty added, “I can tell you at least conceptually that we’re always interested in partnering with folks who are helping to create housing and service opportunities to help get veterans off the street, get them back employed and get them reconnected with families and friends.”
- Pension Costs To Add Billions To Contracts. Federal Times “Agencies face billions in additional contracting costs because of a new federal accounting rule that requires the government to reimburse contractors for a greater portion of employee pension costs.” The Times adds, “A Veterans Affairs Department spokeswoman said VA has not looked at how its contracts would be affected by the new accounting rule.”
- Belknap County Pilot Program Helps Veterans Live At Home. AP “New Hampshire’s Belknap County is serving as the site of a pilot program aimed at helping veterans remain in their homes instead of nursing homes.” The “Veteran-Directed Home and Community Based Services Program is part of a national effort by the Veterans Health Administration. It was launched this week by the state Department of Health and Human Services, the Belknap County ServiceLink Resource Center, Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health and the VA Medical Center in Manchester.”
- VA Home Council Still Eyes Drop In Ranking. Cleveland (TN) Daily Banner “A state senator said Friday he could make no promises, but he would do everything he can to find out why Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home fell on the 2012 VA funding priority list. State Sen. Eric Stewart, D-Belvidere, met with the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home Council late Friday to learn the status of the home proposed to be built on 27-acres of donated land at 1940 Westland Drive.” Stewart, a “candidate for the 4th US Congressional District created through the decennial redistricting plan pushed through the Republican-controlled General Assembly in January,” is the “latest state politician to ask the VA why the local home dropped from 47th to 58th on the annual priority funding list published Feb. 9 by the VA.”
- Region 8 Veterans’ Cemetery Now Open For Interments. KAIT-TV According to the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, the Arkansas State Veterans’ Cemetery at Birdeye is now open for internments. KAIT adds, “A dedication ceremony is scheduled at the cemetery for Friday, May 4 at 1 p.m. The event will be open to the public.” KAIT (3/5, 10:09 p.m. CT) aired a similar report
- Grand Island Veteran’s Home Celebrates 125 Years. KHAS-TV The Veterans Home in Grand Island is celebrating “125 years of providing quality care and services to Nebraskan veterans.” A ceremony marking the occasion “was held Sunday afternoon.”
- House Passes Bill To Help Returning War Veterans. Deseret (UT) Morning News “State lawmakers may study how to help war veterans reintegrate into civilian life.” The Utah House has “unanimously passed a bill that would create a 15-member task force to address employment, personal finances, suicide prevention and other issues.” The bill, which now goes to the Utah Senate, “would also create a plan to help transitioning veterans.”
- Veterans Job Fair Set For Wednesday. Rockdale (GA) Citizen “A veterans-themed job expo will take place in…Walton County on Wednesday.” The fair will run from “10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at American Legion Post No. 233, located at 4635 Atlanta Highway, which is US Highway 78, in Loganville. The job expo is sponsored by the Georgia Department of Labor and the American Legion.”
- Committee Passes Veterans Jobs Bill. Shawnee (OK) News-Star “A bill that will assist veterans seeking employment after serving in the armed forces has passed unanimously out of” Oklahoma’s Government Modernization committee. HB1985 would offer veterans the “opportunity in interviews to demonstrate that they acquired ‘transferable skills’ in the service. To this end, when applying for a job and an interview is a component of the selection process, public employers must interview each veteran who meets the minimal and special qualifications for the position.”
- Governor Signs Veterans Jobs Bill. WQOW-TV “To help veterans get back on the job faster,” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker “has signed a bill that will give them education credits for skills and training they now have thanks to the military. For example, someone who was driving trucks for the military will get credit for that experience.” Walker “has also directed the state to hold more job fairs for veterans and employers.”
- 650 Jobs Available For Veterans At Career Fair Friday. WUVM-FM “Military veterans are invited to attend the 7th Veterans Career Fair at the Zablocki VA Medical Center this Friday.” The fair is “sponsored in part by the Milwaukee County Veterans Service office. Director James Duff says employers attending the event have more than 650 jobs available.”
- Veterans Unite Community To Help Returning Military. Peekskill-Cortlandt (NY) Patch “A group of determined veterans is organizing to help military members returning from war in any way they can.” A “group of about 40 veterans, public officials, clergy and community members learned about the Heroes to Hometown program, designed to welcome home and support service members who are severely injured. The program is supported on the national level by the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
- Caught In An Ambush By Agent Orange. Buffalo (NY) News
- Duval’s New Court Helping Veterans In Trouble. Florida Times-Union
- Utah Veteran-owned Startup Part Of National Conference. Salt Lake (UT) Tribune
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