Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News April 16, 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.    In North Korea, it’s weapons over foodFor decades, North Korea’s leaders have bet heavily on a stark calculation: In order to survive, they need to nurture their rocket and nuclear programs at the expense of feeding their people. Rarely have the consequences been as clear.

2.    Fifteen homeless veterans in the county will soon have another way.  Lancaster Eagle Gazette  This funding, from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, is a coordinated effort involving HUD, the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and FMHA to provide permanent housing for homeless veterans in conjunction with supportive services.

3.    DAV marks 65 years of guidance for veterans.  Florida Today  Behind the local landmark, a daily and steady flow of veterans seeking help with obtaining their benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs files into the building that houses Disabled American Veterans. Paperwork can be daunting, …

4.    Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs to honor Mundelein man.  IGNN  The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) later this month will honor Estan “Stan” Villarreal, Jr. a Mundelein resident and US Marine Corps veteran, at its April 2012 “Veteran of the Month.” The program will begin at 10:30 am (CDT) …

5.    Help for Veterans Suffering with PTSD.  The River Journal  “PTSD was officially recognized in 1980, by the Veterans Administration, as a stress-related, combat-induced disorder,” reads a handout from a Spokane Veterans Outreach Program. The handout was reprinted from The Stars and Stripes—The National Tribune …

6.    Mo. looks to join states expanding veteran courts.  NECN  Veterans’ courts meet on a weekly basis, unlike many criminal courts. Defendants, often first-time offenders, are usually pre-approved by the judge and the prosecutor. Also in the courtroom is a liaison from the US Department of Veteran Affairs, …





7.    VA helps active duty transition back to SA.  WOAI  About 30000 local veterans need help transitioning from active duty into the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs system. That’s why a special “welcome home” event was held at Morgan’s Wonderland on Saturday. Service members, veterans and …

8.    Returning vets face ‘new normal’ of invisible wounds, isolation, joblessness.  Pittsburgh Post Gazette  Many government and social agencies are targeting veterans’ needs. President Barack Obama in February proposed a $140.3 billion budget for the US Department of Veterans Affairs for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. If approved, a VA statement said it …
 
9.    Campbell Sgt. Gets Distinguished Service Cross.  AP  A  “Brazilian-born Army sergeant credited with saving two lives during an attack in Afghanistan while wounded has been presented with the nation’s second highest military honor, the Distinguished Service Cross.” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno “presented the medal to Sgt. Felipe Pereira of the 101st Airborne Division during a ceremony” April 12. Pereira is the “first soldier from the famed 101st Airborne Division since Vietnam to receive the honor.”
 
10.   Pentagon Warns Against Bogus Emails.  Washington Post  The “Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), which manages accounting and financial operations in the Defense Department, has issued a warning about scam emails seeking personal information.” The phony messages appear to “come from a DFAS employee with a dot mil address and have been sent to uniformed personnel, retirees, and civilian employees. ‘The emails indicate that individuals who are receiving disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may be able to obtain additional funds from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS),'” according to a notice on the DFAS website. The DFAS warning says the email “claims funds can be received from the IRS if the recipients send personal information, such as that on tax forms, ‘to a so-called retired Colonel at an address in Florida.'”

 

Have You Heard?

This week VA celebrates National Volunteer Week.  VA relies heavily on volunteers to perform a variety of tasks all to provide service to Veterans.  Nearly 87,000 regularly-scheduled volunteers provided more than 12.3 million hours of service to our Nation’s Veterans.  Using the figure the independent sector used in 2010, the hourly contributions made by VA volunteers equates to $264.2 million. Those same volunteers and the organizations they represent contributed more than $90 million in cash and item donations which equals to more than $354.6 million in time, talent, non-cash and cash donations. Please say “Thank You” to individuals who serve Veterans as a VA volunteer.

 

More Veteran News

 

 

  • West Michigan Veterans Call For Stop Of “Misleading Marketing” By Colleges Seeking G.I. Bill Funding.  Michigan Live  West Michigan veteran students are “voicing support for federal legislation that would require schools that accept G.I. Bill benefits to disclose more information to prospective student veterans,” including the average debt load of a student, whether credits are transferrable, how many veterans are enrolled, and “job placement rates for specific programs and degrees.” The G.I. Bill Consumer Awareness Act “also aims to reduce what backers call ‘aggressive recruiting and misleading marketing’ by colleges and universities looking to enroll veterans.” According to the report, “for-profit colleges and universities have largely been responsible for such practices.” In Michigan, some 9,800 student veterans used $79.6 million from the G.I. Bill between 2009 and 2011.
  • Senate Committee To Hold Montana Field Hearing On Care For Rural Veterans.  AP  US Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a “field hearing on healthcare for rural veterans in Billings on April 21.” Sen. Jon Tester will chair the hearing during which panelists will “discuss physician recruitment, mental healthcare, transportation and issues affecting Native American veterans.”
  •  Veterans’ Affairs: Wallis.  CQ  Veterans’ services organizations continue their push for VA programs to be exempt from budget cuts, an “important voice for Navy veterans will be Anthony A. Wallis, the new legislative director” for the Association of the US Navy. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chair Jeff Miller (R) has introduced legislation to “exempt veterans’ healthcare programs from the $600 billion in sequestration that would be required under the 2010 debt limit law”; and Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) has sponsored similar legislation. Another “hot-button issue that Wallis inherits” is potential cuts to the TRICARE system.
  •  VA Chief Shinseki Visits Joint Base Vets Center.  Asbury Park (NJ) Press  Veterans who use the community-based outpatient clinic at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst “no longer need to travel to Philadelphia to consult with medical specialists — they can do it by video conference.” VA Secretary Eric Shinseki “got a demonstration Friday when he visited the clinic” with Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ). “Digitally linking veterans to medical care is part of a VA priority for increasing access at a time when the veteran population is swelling,” said Shinseki, who has “helped grow the VA budget from $99.8 billion to $140.3 billion.” VA officials say Telehealth systems are in use at “150 of its medical centers and 782 community-based outpatient clinics.”
  •    Veteran Affairs Secretary Shinseki: No Plan For Cuts.  Wilmington (DE) News Journal  VA Secretary Eric Shinseki “said he’s ‘not making any plans’ for the possibility of mandatory federal budget cuts and that he’s ‘not putting my people through the planning of what I don’t think is good policy. The president believes a balanced deficit reduction plan is needed,'” Shinseki told reporters after touring the Wilmington Veteran Affairs Medical Center Friday morning. Shinseki, was accompanied by Democratic Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons and Rep. John Carney.  Wilmington (DE) News Journal  “Billions have been added” to VA’s budget for PTSD and TBI, which are “considered the ‘signature wounds'” of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; and witnesses before the Senate VA Committee last fall “said VA medical center mental-healthcare staffing and management of such care has lagged behind demand.” Although one “pointed a finger at Wilmington as an example of the backlog,” Shinseki on Friday “said Wilmington appears to be properly staffed. ‘I’ve been assured here that we are, and we can handle both the initial appointment and the follow-on appointments,'” Shinseki said.
  • Military Hospital Consolidation Isn’t Living Up To Savings Potential.  NextGov “While Congress considers a new plan to cut costs, reduce management overhead and improve efficiencies in the Military Health System, a watchdog report indicates MHS has failed to deliver on promises in a 2006 management and governance strategy.” As an example, while “MHS projected it would save $172 million annually by consolidating military hospitals in the Washington area,” the GAO said the cost would wipe out savings over 20 years, in part due to “$2.8 billion in construction at Bethesda and Fort Belvoir.” NextGov points out that the GAO has recommended that MHS “follow through on its 2006 governance plans,” including “a joint directorate for shared services and common functions, and additional streamlining of military hospitals.” Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of Defense for health affairs, agreed with the GAO’s conclusions.
  •    Report: Female Vets Still Find VA Healthcare Hard To Access. WDAF-TV  “The VA medical system is reaching out to women; and here at the VA in Kansas City, there has been a 20-percent increase in female patients in the last 18 months. But a new report says many female vets still don’t find it easy to access the VA and they still think of it as a place that serves only men.”
  •     Lung Transplant Recipient To Promote Donor Awareness.  Courier Post (NJ)  “On Sunday, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Bonnette will stretch and warm up with thousands of other Delaware Valley residents ready to participate in the Dash for Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness.” Bonnette, 57, had a lung transplant in “March 2010 at Duke Hospital in Durham, N.C., almost 20 years after his Air Force reserve unit was deployed to the Persian Gulf War and he was exposed to chemical warfare.”
  •    A Veteran’s Death, The Nation’s Shame.  New York Times Nicholas D. Kristof notes that for “every soldier killed on the battlefield this year, about 25 veterans are dying by their own hands.” Preliminary data suggest being a veteran now “roughly doubles one’s risk of suicide”; and for male veterans between the ages of 17 and 24, the suicide risk “almost quadruples,” according to a study in The American Journal of Public Health. Many vets have sought help from Veterans Affairs; and although VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, “declined to speak to me,” the most prevalent view “among those I interviewed was that the VA has improved but still doesn’t do nearly enough about the suicide problem.” Still, to its “credit, the V.A. has established a suicide hotline and appointed suicide-prevention coordinators.”  New York Times  “On the Ground” blog that providing “robust mental health services to veterans won’t be cheap, but I hope that after you read the column and see the video, you’ll agree that it’s the right thing to do.”
  •    Service Dog Roxie Provides Therapy For Veteran With PTSD.  Park Rapids (MN) Enterprise  Brad Livingston, a Gulf and Iraq war veteran, who has “paired up with Roxie, a Belgian Malinois, to control his PTSD and help other veterans.” Livingston says Roxie “keeps me grounded.” He began “fostering Roxie in and training through the Patriot Assistant Dogs program” last summer; and now Livingston says Roxis helps speak with others about PTSD.
  • Paperwork Buries Veterans’ Disability Claims.  New York Times  Iraq veteran Ian Rodriguez, who filed a disability claim with the VA five years ago, is “still waiting for a final determination.” Rodriguez is “one of 870,000 veterans” nationwide, waiting for a claims decision; and the problem is “particularly acute in the Bay Area,” where the average wait is 313 days. The Bay Citizen says its request to interview Oakland VA Director Douglas Bragg about the issue “was denied.” Instead, spokesperson Jessica Arifianto, released a statement, saying the office was “taking steps” to meet VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s goal to “process all disability claims in fewer than 125 days” by 2015. During a VA facility tour Tuesday, Shinseki said he expected “waiting times to be cut in half over the next years,” but thus far, there is “little evidence of progress.”

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