Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News April 23, 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. Veteran’s war-to-work idea for comrades is a growing effortA little bit of salt and a lot of votes could propel a farm helping recovering veterans expand its sales into the stores of the nation’s largest retailer.
2. Pacific pivot by US draws warning from Chinese army paperA Chinese military newspaper accused the United States on Saturday of stirring up trouble in the South China Sea, saying it will have “a massive impact on regional peace and stability.”
3. Guantanamo defense team cites Santeria case as due-process precedent.  In arguing that the United States discriminates against alleged al-Qaida terrorists by subjecting them to a special war court, a Pentagon defense attorney invoked a surprising precedent at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, last week.
4. As veterans seek mental health care, VA faces criticism over delays and shortages.  Nationally, there is growing concern that the VA is failing its mission. It’s facing criticism for staffing shortages and delays in seeing veterans worried about their mental state.
5. War declared on sex assaults.  This week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta outlined new guidelines for investigating military sexual trauma, which the Department of Defense reported as being slightly on the rise. For some plagued with memories of being sexually assaulted while in the military, it seems too little, too late.

6. VA office announces new medical claims forms.  St. George Daily Spectrum  The US Department of Veterans Affairs announced the release of 68 forms designed to speed up the processing of veterans’ disability and pension claims. Adding to the three existing forms that deal primarily with Agent Orange claims, the new forms bring …

7. Learn ways to help ensure VA benefits.  Pensacola News Journal  As a veteran who has been through the belly of the bureaucratic beast and been rewarded for patience and persistence, I know. Now the US Department of Veterans Affairs is reaching out to potentially eligible clients — including those on active duty, …

8. Hundreds of homeless veterans live in Central Florida.  WFTV Orlando  The Homeless Services Network and other groups have partnered with the US Department of Veterans Affairs to offer homeless vets medical care, information on housing, and new clothes. “They’re here for all the vets,” said Tim Gilham, former Marine Corp.

9. The “Hire Our Heroes” Event in Houston, TX Created Brand New Success Stories.  San Francisco Chronicle  Hire Our Heroes Event Makes for Great Success Stories – Helping Veterans Land Jobs with VA Home Loan Experts at Security America Mortgage, Inc. in Houston, Texas! Houston, Texas (PRWEB) April 21, 2012 In recent headline news within the United States, …

10.  Sayre artist’s work in national competition.  Towanda Daily Review  Walt Kozier’s painting, “Take My Hand,” recently received first place in the art division of the Local Veterans Creative Arts Competition for the Wilkes-Barre Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center, making it eligible for national competition.


More Veteran News


  •  VA pledges to speed up Northern California disability claims.  Sacramento Bee  The US Department of Veterans Affairs is offering what looks like a smidgen of progress to deal with a big backlog and a high error rate at the office that handles disability claims for Northern California vets. Responding to a Thursday letter from 16 …
  •    Obama Salutes Wounded Warriors’ Bike Riders.  AP  President Obama “cheered on 22 injured service members who spun their way around the South Lawn of the White House in specially built bikes” on Friday as part of the sixth annual Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride. The President called the annual event, which was launched in “2004 by a New York bartender who rode cross-country to raise awareness” about wounded troops, “one of the better ideas to come out of a bar.” In a photo accompanying the article, Obama and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki are shown welcoming the participants as they rode to the White House.
  •  Military Mental Health: A Lagging Indicator.  Time Veterans Affairs announced Thursday it is “boosting its mental-health workforce by 1,600 psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers – a 10% hike, as well as hiring 300 support staff to help them do their jobs.” Announcing the effort, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said, “As more veterans return home, we must ensure that all veterans have access to quality mental healthcare.” But Time says that may be easier said than done, considering that both the “civilian world” and the Army have a “shortage of such help.” The blog also suggests Shinseki made the announcement “under pressure”: In May 2011, a “federal appellate court ruled that the VA’s provision of mental-healthcare to vets is so poor as to make it unconstitutional.”
  • Technology Speeds VA Effort To Cut Claims Backlog.  Federal Computer Week Veterans Affairs has “put a new Web portal and support systems into place to speed up its claims processing and reduce an outstanding backlog of claims, Tom Murphy director of compensation service,” told the House Veterans Affairs Committee at an April 18 hearing. The agency is preparing for a “huge influx of 1.3 million new claims in 2012 while also reducing” its outstanding claims backlog. VA Secretary Erik Shinseki has “pledged to eliminate the backlog and process all outstanding claims within 125 days with 98 percent accuracy by 2015.” Deputy Secretary W. Scott Gould said the new claims are expected “because VA has finally decided to accept claims related to Agent Orange exposure.”
  •   DOD Establishes Procedures To Address Potentially False Personality Disorder Discharges.  CNN Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta reported, “We asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about false diagnoses being used to discharge military members.” Panetta was shown saying, “There are procedures within the DOD that allows these individuals to raise these concerns and I hope they’ll follow the procedure to determine whether or not they were treated fairly.” Gupta added, “The Pentagon also gave us statement saying that if military members feel they were discharged unfairly, they can appeal to a discharge review board.” Blitzer asked, “How often are victims getting psychiatric discharges?” Gupta: “We found that between the years 2001 and 2010, 31,000 military members were discharged because of the diagnosis, ‘personality disorder.'”
  •    TBI Clinic Takes Individual Approach To Care.  Army Times “The Army has had more than 126,545 diagnosed cases” of traumatic brain injury “since 2000, and recently a record number of concussions were detected among US troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq last year due to improved battlefield diagnoses; an average of 16 were inflicted each day last spring, according to Pentagon figures reported by USA Today.” To understand TBI better, the Army devised a “comprehensive plan.” The plan includes “protocols,” aimed at detecting TBI “early. Soldiers who were in vehicles struck by a blast, near a blast or knocked unconscious now must be evaluated for at least 24 hours afterward.”
  •  VA Program Keeps Traumatized Veterans At Home.  Meriden (CT) Record-Journal The VA “Caregiver Support Program for Post 9-11 Veterans” was “designed to help disabled veterans stay in their homes and provide support for family members who care for them.” According to “caregiver support coordinator Bonnie Cecarelli, ‘the VA started taking applications last May and, so far, just 18 Connecticut caregivers are participating.'” Cecarelli predicts that the program will grow as more soldiers return home. “The program was established after a study showed that disabled veterans fare better at home than in institutions, Cecarelli said.”
  •   Incorporating Our Veterans: Peaceful Living Event.  Montgomery (PA) News   “Local nonprofit Peaceful Living found a void in community support for returning veterans and is working to mend it.” After discovering that “nearly 18 veterans commit suicide every…Executive Director Joe Landis” organized a workshop scheduled for May 1 titled “Sowing Hope: Hearing, Respecting, Supporting Our Veterans.” The workshop’s keynote speaker is Montgomery County Community College psychology professor Ann Marie Donohue, who organized the “Student Veterans Organization at Montgomery County Community College and” served as “a contributing member to the 2007 Brain Injury Conference convened to provide recommendations for treatment and care for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans with traumatic brain injuries.”
  •  Joint Pathology Center Doctors Use Forensic Science To Treat Wounded Warriors.  WJLA-TV  “Doctors at the Joint Pathology Center are relying more and more on forensic science to determine how to treat everything from bullet wounds to IED blasts as soon as a they happen in the battle field.” Using “cutting-edge” technology, the physicians determine “what elements are present in tissue samples, then send that information to clinics such as Walter Reed to help treat injured patients.” The analyses enable the VA to “figure out how do you manage these patients, do you remove the fragments? What type of care do they need?” explained Col. Thomas Baker, Interim Director of the Joint Pathology Center. He said about “5,000 soldiers who have suffered a traumatic injury” could have “some sort of foreign material still lodged in their body.”
  • Business School Reforms Get the Green Light.  Bloomberg BusinessWeek  SUNY Empire State College’s degree program for military veterans was among the winning projects that “received $7.1 million in funding from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) this week.” The grants were the “culmination of a contest — the Ideas to Innovation Challenge, launched in 2010 — that asked the business school community and the business world for ways to improve management education.” The Saratoga Springs, New York-based business school says it will use the GMAC funds to develop a program to ease new veterans’ transition to the “business world.” SUNY’s goal is to “convert some of the veterans’ military training into course credits” that can be applied towards “an MBA degree.”
  •    VA Hosting Detroit Veterans Business Expo In Late June.  ExecutiveGov  Veterans Affairs will “host the National Veteran Small Business Conference and Expo in Detroit from June 26 to June 29” at the Cobo Center. The VA expects about 6,000 veterans to attend the event, which will include “more than 200 business training sessions, online and onsite networking and booths hosted by nearly 400 industry professionals.” Notably, VA data show there are presently “more than 700,000 veterans” living in the Detroit metropolitan area.
  •   Lack Of Jobs Not Always Reason For High Veteran Unemployment.  Augusta (GA) Chronicle  The percentage of jobless veterans is “higher than the national average, but evidence suggests it’s not always for a lack of jobs.” Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Membership Director Jason Hansman says the array available resources “can be overwhelming” for veterans. Locally, IAVA executive director Jim Lorraine says the Augusta Warrior Project is “making a dent in the demand for veteran services,” but finding veterans and “educating them about their options is an ongoing issue.”
  •  40 Great Employers For Veterans.  Military Times EDGE  Hiring veterans has “come into fashion,” especially in the “financial services” industry. “Ten of the top 40 companies on our list this year specialize in financial services, including our top-scoring company, USAA.” Smaller companies also are “rolling out the red carpet” for veterans: Intuitive Research and Technology Corp. and Kearney & Co., both of which have “fewer than 600 employees, have instituted vet-friendly programs ranging from special orientation for former service members to hiring programs for their spouses.”
  • Mayor Launches “Jobs For Veterans.”  WJXT-TV  Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown is “launching Jobs for Veterans, a one-stop service to help military veterans transition to civilian life by connecting them with educational opportunities and job leads at veteran-friendly employers.” In today’s economy, companies need that “never-give-up attitude and that sense of ingenuity that so many of our returning veterans can offer,” Brown said. Nearly “one in four Jacksonville residents claims a direct relationship to the military as a service member” or veteran; and Brown’s office says Jobs for Veterans is another step towards growing Jacksonville’s “reputation as the most military-friendly city in the nation.”
  •   Medal Of Honor Recipient Seeks Better Care For Vets.  Galesburg Register-Mail “One of the 81 living Medal of Honor recipients stressed the need for the public to provide adequate care for wounded soldiers returning from duty, during a speech to the Galesburg Rotary Club on Thursday.” Retired US Army Col. Harold Fritz, who “received the nation’s highest military award as a lieutenant in Vietnam, argued that government needs to provide cutting-edge health services for returning soldiers, while not overburdening taxpayers.” Fritz, who served “until 1993,” is president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. He presently works at the VA Clinic in Peoria, Illinois.
  • The VA’s Palo Alto Healthcare System Welcomes Marines With Open Arms.  San Jose Mercury News  Nearly “800 Marines” spent their Saturday at the VA’s Palo Alto Healthcare System as “part of an effort to welcome Marines with open arms — and get them in the door.” The daylong event, which included “health screenings, dozens of community organizations and a family-friendly barbecue, was organized for Marines who live within a 150-mile radius” of the Palo Alto facility. The Marine Corps “paid the Marines a day’s wages — about $210 — for attending.”
  •   Hospital Sues Veteran For Almost $200,000.  Charlotte (NC) Observer  After experiencing slurred speech and a headache, Cleveland Davis’ family rushed him to Carolinas Medical Center, thinking he had a stroke. “Doctors found problems, including a blood clot next to his brain and severe circulation problems in his legs.” Carolinas HealthCare System charged Davis roughly $200,000 and is suing him for the charges he incurred. “A combat veteran who received the Purple Heart for injuries suffered in Vietnam, Davis contends that if the hospital had done its job properly,” the VA would have “covered his medical bills.” Documents Davis submitted to the court contend “that the hospital didn’t properly process the documents needed to submit the bills to the VA.”
  • Veteran Finished Ninth Boston Marathon.  Bedford (MA) Minuteman Mike Welsch, a “veteran and former Lance Corporal in the US Marines, and left leg amputee, ran his ninth Boston Marathon” on April 16 in “10.5 hours.” Welsch has been “receiving medical treatment at the Bedford VA Hospital for many years and he credits VA staff for helping him to accomplish his goals.”
  • VA Picks Gilbert For New Clinic.  Arizona Republic  Gilbert “officials are celebrating another coup for the town’s expanding healthcare industry” after the VA announced plans to build a “two-story, 60,000-square-foot” medical clinic near “Val Vista Drive and Pecos Road.” The agency anticipates the Gilbert clinic, which will replace an existing VAMC “near Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport” in Mesa, will be ready by the spring of 2014. VA officials say the new clinic will add “audiology, radiology and dental care” to the services offered and it will have the capacity to “house outpatient services for more than 19,000 veterans in Maricopa County and parts of Pinal and Gila counties.”
  •   Helena Vet Center Proposal Takes Another Blow.  Helena (MT) Independent Record “Advocates for a veterans center in Helena suffered a blow” earlier this month as a letter from a top VA official “suggested existing services in Helena are more than adequate. … ‘The Vet Center services currently available in Helena remain underutilized by eligible Veterans and their families,'” VA Undersecretary for Health Dr. Robert Petzel “wrote on behalf of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.” The letter was “received April 5” by retired Montana National Guard commander Adj. Gen. John E. Walsh and Montana VA Administrator Joe Foster in response to a letter they “had written Shinseki on the matter.” The letter from Petzel said the VA would “monitor local needs for ‘possible future augmentations.'”
  •      VA Approves Contract For Odessa VAMC Expansion. KOSA-TV  “Veterans Affairs has approved a contract for the construction of a new VA clinic. It will be double the size of the current Odessa clinic and offer much more in services.” West Texas VA Health Care System Iva Jo Hanslik said the expanded clinic will offer “audiology services, more mental health services, optometry and ophthalmology care and physical therapy.” Hanslik said the design phase is expected to take from “three to six months, after which the construction phase will begin.”
  •  VA Clinic Keeps Promise To Veterans.  Greenville (SC) News  The recent “groundbreaking on a new Veterans Affairs clinic in Greenville is good news for veterans.” At present, Greenville’s VA clinic, which “delivers services to around 16,000 veterans,” has more than doubled the “amount of patient visits every year than were expected when the facility opened more than 20 years ago” and it also “lacks adequate parking.” Hence, the $3.8-million expanded clinic, which will be located on more than three acres near the Greenville Memorial Hospital, “is money well spent”; and as Sen. Lindsey Graham said at the groundbreaking ceremony, it is a way to express “our gratitude toward our nation’s veterans.”
  • Veteran’s Voice: A Soldier’s Death.  People’s World  Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Gregory McLaughlin discusses PTSD and its link to veterans’ “suicidal symptoms and tendencies.”
  •  Blue Star Marker Added To East Tenn. Vet Cemetery.  AP  The Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs donated a Blue Star Memorial Marker that “honors servicemen and women and is part of the Blue Star Highway system, which covers thousands of miles across the continental US, Alaska and Hawaii.”  WBIR-TV “Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder unveiled the marker during a ceremony Friday at the East Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery. Officials say the Blue Star marker pays tribute to US armed forces who helped defend this country and their families.”
  •   Veterans Benefits Focus Of Upcoming Fair.  Charlotte (NC) Observer  A fair at the VFW Post 9488 on April 28 will give service members and veterans information about how they can “sign up for health benefits or get help with claims.” The fair, which is “sponsored by the W.G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center’s Rural Health program, the Winston-Salem VA Regional Office, the Charlotte Vet Center and VA’s Mobile Vet Center,” will have staff and volunteers on hand to help.
  •  Frat Members Restore Fallen N.Y. Soldier Mural.  AP  “College fraternity members spent Friday restoring a roadside mural dedicated to a fallen soldier that they ruined by painting over her image with their organization’s Greek letters.” Livingston County Sheriff John York the “two Kappa Sigma Epsilon members” were restoring a “tribute to Army Sgt. Devin Snyder, who was killed in Afghanistan in June.” After her death, Snyder’s friends “painted an American flag superimposed with her portrait on a large rock alongside Interstate 390, close to her hometown of Cohocton.”
  •  Oklahoma Family To Build Homeless Center For Veterans. KOTV-TV  “Joy Steward and her family have operated a homeless shelter for veterans since 2006, when they noticed many veterans, including the Steward’s grandson, were having a hard time when they returned home. The Stewards have now decided to open a homeless center for veterans. This $500,000 project covers more than 5,800 square feet and will have 25 beds for veterans.” Joy Steward explained, “It’s a place for veterans to get back on their feet. It isn’t just about giving them a safe place to live, which is very important, it’s also a way to impart information that may prevent their staying stuck in homelessness and addiction.”
  • Mail Carrier Accused Of Stealing Vet’s Drugs.  Chattanooga (TN) Times Free Press A  postal worker “charged with stealing painkillers from a military veteran on his mail route pleaded not guilty Friday to a nine-count federal indictment” at the US District Court in Chattanooga. “Michael Murdock faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of misappropriation of postal funds and up to five years on each count of theft of stolen mailed matter.”
  •  A Soldier’s Long March Back From Hell.  U-T San Diego  Bataan Death March survivor Lester Tenney. “Over…three years and four months, Tenney would be beaten, starved and worked as a slave in the Philippines and Japan.” Though he’s forgiven the Japanese and has made peacetime visits to Japan, Tenney is still seeking an apology from Mitsui, the Japanese conglomerate that enslaved him and others during WWII. Mitsui is seeking to build California’s high-speed rail project. Tenney calls seeking an apology from Mitsui his “final mission.”
  • This Time, A Warm Welcome For Returning Vietnam Veteran.  Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle  “When Jim Lachman’s plane from Vietnam landed in San Francisco in June 1969,” there were no “welcome home signs or words of thanks.” Her husband’s “un-welcome home from war nagged Bernie Lachman, herself a veteran, so much that 43 years later, she righted a wrong.” On Saturday, Lachman “returned home from Vietnam again — but this time, to the balloons, flags, and thank you’s he never received the first time.” Lachman, a “junior social work major at The College at Brockport,” had been in Vietnam since January as part of the school’s “Vietnam Program.”


  • The Mission Continues.  Time  “Merely serving wasn’t enough” for former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens. “When he came home, he decided that wounded veterans needed a pathway back into society”; and in 2007, he and three colleagues launched The Mission Continues. The orientation session for the “Bravo Class 2012 of The Mission Continues” will be held at “Petco Stadium in San Diego before the Padres-Phillies game on Sunday.”  U-T San Diego  The Bravo class, which will be “sworn in” today during a ceremony before the Padres game “numbers 121 people.” Notably, a Washington University survey of the “first 52 Mission Continues fellows found that 91 percent were still engaged in civic activities after leaving the program.”  KGTV-TV  114 Mission Continues fellows and 40 Wells Fargo employees spent Saturday sifting through “trash, tires, appliances and other unwanted items to help beautify a two-mile stretch” around the San Diego River. Saturday’s cleanup “kicked off the fellowship program, which usually lasts about 28 weeks. Each participant earns a stipend of $7,000 for six months of service.”
  • Town Celebrates With Wounded Soldier.  Wabash (IN) Plain Dealer  “A giant party took place Saturday” at Warvel Park in North Manchester. It was a “combination birthday party and welcome home party for PFC Rex Tharp,” who lost his right leg to an IED explosion in Afghanistan in January.
  •  Triple Amputee Sgt. JD Williams.  WBKO-TV  Business members of the “Bowling Green community and south central Kentucky are doing their part to help a hero.” On Saturday, “help was in Bowling Green to help wounded soldier sergeant J.D. Williams, his wife Ashlee, and daughter Kaelyn start a new life.” Williams lost “three limbs to an IED bomb in 2010” in Afghanistan. Organizers estimated nearly $100,000 was raised at Saturday’s event.
  •   Thousands Gather For Wounded Marine Homecoming.  Military News Examiner  The “sounds of a homecoming hit the heavens over Mooresville, North Carolina” as US Marine Garrett Carnes “came home” for the first time since losing “parts of both legs in an IED Afghanistan explosion.” Thousands of people “lined the streets to welcome Garrett and his wife, Courtney.”


  •  Veteran’s War-to-work Idea For Comrades Is A Growing Effort.  Stars And Stripes  “Datil Pepper Salt from Veterans Farm in Jacksonville, Fla., which employs veterans injured since Sept. 11, 2001, beat out about 4,000 entries to claim a spot among the 10 finalists in the Wal-Mart ‘Get on the Shelf’ contest.” If the entity “finishes in the top three — you can vote online through Tuesday — Wal-Mart will carry the product on its website,” while the grand-winning product will be sold at Wal-Mart Stores. “The farm is the brainchild of former Army Staff Sgt. Adam Burke, 34, who began looking for a way to help after meeting a homeless veteran in 2009.” The farm teaches returning veterans about the business and physical characteristics involved with running a successful agricultural enterprise.
  •  Veterans Receive New Garden.  Hudson Valley Your News Now  “Female Veterans in Ballston Spa receive a new outdoor garden to enjoy the summer. It’s part of Kohls’ Volunteers in Action Go Green Event to benefit local nonprofit organizations in the Capital Region.” The Guardian house is one of only two New York shelters “dedicated to female veterans.”
  •   Meet The Heroes: Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight WWII.  Pascagoula Mississippi Press  As part of its Meet the Heroes series, reports Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight will “send 95 World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday for its third trip to Washington D.C. to visit the World War II Memorial.” During the daylong visit, veterans will have the opportunity to “visit the Lincoln, Vietnam and Korean War memorials, the Iwo Jima Monument and Arlington National Cemetery to view the changing of the guard ceremony.” The article provides a brief biographical synopsis on several of veterans slated to attend the event.
  •  Air Force Captain Who Disappeared On Mission In 1951 Gets A Marker At Arlington National Cemetery.  Chicago Tribune
  •  World War II POW Who “Paved The Way” Surprised With Flight To DC.  Rockford (IL) Register-Star
  •  Legion Honoring World War II, Korean War Vets At Luncheon.  Hendricks County (IN) Flyer


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