Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News April 20, 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.    VA plans to hire 1,900 additional mental health staffersThe Department of Veterans Affairs plans to hire 1,900 new mental health staffers to deal with gaps in existing psychiatric care and to prepare the agency for next wave of veterans returning home from war.
2.    Marine Corps to open officer infantry school to women.  The Marine Corps will soon allow women to attend its school for infantry officers, as part of a larger effort to determine how to expand the role of women in the Corps.
3.    7th Fleet sailors to take part in cultural exchange with Vietnam counterpartsThe USS Blue Ridge will stop in Da Nang on Monday for the third annual Naval Exchange Activity Vietnam, a weeklong skills and cultural exchange with the U.S. Navy’s counterparts from Vietnam, officials said Thursday.
4.    Navy’s top enlisted chief: More ‘heads up’ for sailors being separatedThe Navy wants to give sailors being involuntary separated from the service earlier notification of their impending exits, the service’s top enlisted sailor said Thursday.
5.    Wounded vets pedal for fellowship, awareness.  Twenty five wounded veterans are bicycling 50 miles around Washington as part of the Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride.
6.    Veterans’ remains go unclaimed, unburied, sometimes for years.  On Friday, 15 veterans will be buried with full honors in an Arizona cemetery. One served in Africa during World War II, another in Korea. A third earned an Army Commendation Medal for his service in Vietnam.

7.    Students promote importance of occupational therapy.  Quinnipiac Chronicle  Scott MacDonald describes himself as many things: a triathlete, road racer, professional poker player, an employee of the US Department of Veteran Affairs and a paraplegic. One word he does not identify with is handicapped. Ryerson Stinson, a student …

8.    Erie VA hopes to get some of nationwide increase in mental-health staff.
The Erie Veterans Affairs Medical Center hope to receive some of the mental-health staff being added nationally to address the needs of veterans returning from war. The US Veterans Affairs Department on …

9.    VA picks Gilbert for new regional health care clinic.  Arizona Republic  The US Department of Veterans Affairs will build a 60000-square-foot health care clinic in Gilbert, town officials said today. The two-story center, to be built on the northeast corner of S. Val Vista Drive and Market Street, is expected to open in …

10. SD woman convicted in federal court of illegally taking veterans’ assistance.  The Republic  Johnson says the maximum penalty for the convictions is 10 years in prison and a $250000 fine. Jonson says Maki took nearly $60000 in payments from the US Department of Veterans Affairs she knew she was not entitled to receive.


Have You Heard?

Charlie Mitchell, a professor as well as a volunteer at The HONOR Center (providing Hope, Opportunities, Networking, Outreach and Recovery), located in Gainesville, Fla., teaches theater appreciation and improvisation for political and social change in addition to his work with Veterans.  One of the most important exercises the Veterans do is called “Difficult Conversations.” Here, a Veteran identifies a conversation he needs to have but is worried about – perhaps reconnecting with a family member, or explaining an addiction to a friend. Mitchell often plays the other person so the Veteran can act out what he or she might say. The scene is practiced several times, with other Veterans suggesting how to improve the conversation after each take. At the end of each session, the group wraps up by discussing what they learned. Mitchell said that the reaction to improvisation is always “overwhelmingly positive.” Sometimes the Veterans talk about life skills: how to listen, how to be patient, how to act in social situations. Other times, he said, the Veterans are thankful they had a good time.  “Most of these guys are not in a joyful time,” he said, “so to bring them a little bit of fun, even if it’s just for that hour, is huge.”



More Veteran News

  •  Plantation South Dunwoody to host forum on veterans’ care.  The benefit is available through the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Called “Aid in Attendance,” it’s designed to help veterans and their spouses help pay for rent in assisted living communities. The benfit isn’t new, but many people who are …
  • Veterans Department To Increase Mental Health Staffing.  New York Times  “The Department of Veterans Affairs will announce on Thursday that it plans to hire about 1,600 additional psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other mental health clinicians in an effort to reduce long wait times for services at many veterans medical centers. The hiring…would increase the department’s mental health staff by nearly 10 percent at a time when the veterans health system is being overwhelmed not just by veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, but also by aging veterans from the Vietnam era.” In a statement to be released on Thursday, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki stresses, “As more veterans return home, we must ensure that all veterans have access to quality mental health care.” The Times notes that VA’s “announcement comes as the department is facing intensified criticism for delays in providing psychological services to veterans at some of its major medical centers.”


  •    Michelle Obama Military Focus Helps As Women Swell Ranks.  Bloomberg News “Michelle Obama and Jill Biden started Joining Forces a year ago with the intention of helping military families cope with extended separations, unemployment and other issues.” During an “April 4 conference call with reporters to announce pledges of more than 15,000 jobs for service members’ spouses from US companies, the first lady lauded the men and women who she said ‘take on so much.'” According to Bloomberg News, Joining Forces is “also working to improve training for doctors and nurses who treat military veterans suffering from combat trauma, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and on efforts to make it easier for military spouses to transfer state professional licenses.”
  •   Survivors Of Tokyo Bombing Raid Honored. CBS Evening News  More “70 years ago today, 80 Americans who became known as ‘Doolittle’s Raiders’ did the impossible and helped turn the tide” in the US conflict with Japan during Word War II. On Wednesday, 20 “vintage B-25 bombers flew in formation over Dayton, Ohio,” to honor four of the five remaining survivors of the raid on Tokyo that was led by “dashing aviator Jimmy Doolittle.”  Washington Times  96-year-old veteran Richard E. Cole, “one of the five remaining survivors of Doolittle’s Tokyo Raid, was unfazed by the pomp and circumstance around him, as well as the rock star welcome he and his fellow Raiders received at the 70th anniversary celebration of the famous April 18, 1942, mission, hosted” by the National Museum of the United States Air Force. On Wednesday, Cole “quietly told the crowd that he never expected the daring raid, the nation’s first military response against the Japanese homeland four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, to make him a legend.” Cole added, “We’re grateful we had the opportunity to serve, and mindful that the nation benefited from our service.”  AP  “A flyover by World War II bomber planes, Chinese visitors and a memorial ceremony with four Doolittle’s Raiders helped mark the 70th anniversary Wednesday of the daring US air attack on Japan. Thousands of people flocked to the National Museum of the US Air Force near Dayton for the events, part of a four-day observance.” Cole, the “oldest surviving Raider, said all the attention surprises the Raiders, who earlier in the day gathered privately for their annual toast to those who have gone before them.”
  • Honored Veteran Stands Up For VA Site.  Louisville Courier-Journal “Supporters of the proposed Veterans Administration hospital on Brownsboro Road couldn’t have asked for a better advocate than Dakota Meyer, the Kentuckian who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery in a firefight in Afghanistan.” Meyer, the “second in a long line of speakers at a public meeting Wednesday at Kammerer Middle School” in Louisville on Wednesday, had a “message for the hundreds of area residents who don’t want the hospital built in their backyards: ‘Us as veterans, it wasn’t an inconvenience for us and our families when we went out and we fought for you to be free in this country,’ Meyer said. Meyer received cheers and a standing ovation, but his endorsement didn’t seem to change the minds of about two dozen speakers” concerned about traffic at VA’s chosen location for the new hospital.
  •  Recruitment Ads By For-Profit Colleges Targeted.  AP  On Wednesday, US Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) “introduced a bill to try to check the flood” of for-profit college advertising, “which has particularly targeted Iraq and Afghanistan veterans for the benefits they receive under the new GI Bill. The measure would prohibit colleges of all kinds from using dollars from federal student assistance programs, including the GI Bill, to pay for advertising and recruiting.” The bill “faces daunting odds in Congress.”
  • Pressure To Reduce VA Disability Claims May Cause More Delays.  Washington Post  “With the Veterans Administration facing a growing backlog of more than 900,000 disability claims, advocates for veterans warned Wednesday that pressure by the VA to reduce the numbers will increase the number of mistakes it makes,” which could lead to more appeals and longer delays. The comments were made Wednesday, during a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on the VA disability claims process. Thomas J. Murphy, “director of compensation service for the VA’s Veterans Benefits Administration, testified that the VBA is implementing a series of…training, process and technological improvements aimed to meet the department’s goal of processing all claims within 125 days with 98 percent accuracy by 2015.” The chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, US Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), said his panel will “maintain ‘vigorous oversight'” of the improvement efforts.
  • House Panel Approves Automatic Vets’ COLAs.  Army Times  The House Veterans Affairs Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee “moved Wednesday to erase a tiny bit of uncertainty over cost-of-living adjustments in veterans’ disability and survivor benefits by passing a bill that would provide automatic annual increases beginning next year.” The Times adds, “Major veterans’ groups and VA support” the bill. In a “statement, VA officials said they support the bill ‘because it would be consistent with Congress’ long-standing practice of enacting regular cost-of-living increases for compensation and DIC benefits in order to maintain the value of these important benefits, but would eliminate the need for additional legislation to implement such increases in the future.'”
  •   Lawyers Want Access To Vets’ Electronic Claims.  Army Times  “Attorneys who help veterans file benefits claims are worried that electronic claims processing will hurt rather than help some people unless lawyers also have access to the claims records.” For “security reasons, access to electronic records will be severely restricted,” a situation that “has drawn complaints from veterans service officers and lawyers who help veterans. ‘The lack of access undermines our veterans’ due process and property rights,’ said Paul Sullivan, a managing director at the Bethesda, Md.,-based law firm Bergmann & Moore LLC, who testified Wednesday before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on behalf of the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates.”
  •   Automatic VA Enrollment Plan Splits Vets Groups.  Army Times  A proposal by US Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY) “that war veterans should be automatically enrolled in the Veterans Affairs Department health system has divided veterans groups over concerns that the legislation would strain an already burdened system and estrange those who did not serve in combat.” Robert Jesse, VA’s principal deputy undersecretary for health, “said his department has not yet formed an opinion on Owens’ bill.”


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