Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News April 25, 2012

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Veterans! Here’s your Top 10 News stories of the day compiled from the latest sources

 

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1.    Odierno onboard with smaller, smarter ArmyPresident Barack Obama has called a halt to the decadelong rise in defense spending that began after Sept. 11, and has proposed shrinking the Army and Marine Corps by about 14 percent.
 
2.    Philippines to seek counsel from U.S. military in standoff over Chinese shipsThe Philippines plans to seek counsel from the United States military over its two-week standoff with Chinese ships operating in the Scarborough Shoal, a new step in the simmering dispute.
 
3.    Marines issue guidance on planned expansion of women’s rolesThe Marine Corps issued a service-wide message Monday night, charting the way forward as it prepares to open more combat roles to women.
 
4.    A suicidal veteran and a call for help, unansweredJacob Manning waited until his wife and teenage son had left the house, then walked into his garage to kill himself. The former soldier had been distraught for weeks, frustrated by family problems, unemployment and his lingering service injuries. He was long ago diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, caused by a military training accident, and post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from the aftermath. He had battled depression before, but never an episode this bad.
 
5.    Veterans Crisis Line averting suicide via textBruce Long’s job is to save lives, 160 characters at a time. Long and other staffers at the crisis line have been working with text services for only five months. It’s the latest outreach in the Veterans Affairs Department’s suicide prevention efforts, and Long said it has been a significant change from the traditional phone hotline services he has been involved with for years.
 
6.    For suicide hotline workers, pranks are an unfortunate realityStaffers with the VA’s suicide prevention efforts say that prank calls to their offices total hundreds each week
7.    Review: Care for PTSD sufferers same for active duty or those leaving service.
A review of access to behavioral health care for U.S. troops in Europe found that troops with post-traumatic stress disorder were offered equivalent services, whether they were being discharged or returning to duty, according to the Europe Regional Medical Command.

8.    Veteran Affairs Apartment Complex to Expand.  ABC6OnYourSide.com  Within a year, all 50 apartments at the Commons at Livingston were filled, according to Adam Ruege, coordinator for community outreach at the US Department of Veterans Affairs in Columbus. “Most of [the veterans] came out of a shelter or came out of …

9.    Health Highlights: April 24, 2012.  Doctors Lounge  The US Department of Veterans Affairs does not provide mental health care to veterans as quickly as it claims, according to an inspector general’s report. While the VA says that 95 percent of first-time patients seeking mental health care in 2011 …

10.    Veterans benefits fair set for April 30.  Corpus Christi Caller Times  Several tables will be set up to address a variety of veterans services, such as Department of Veterans Affairs claims and appeals, pensions, education and employment. The Texas Veterans Land Board also will be on hand to discuss state land and housing …

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More Veteran News

 

  •     Siblings of veterans not eligible for education benefits from VA.  Washington Times  Requirements for survivors’ and dependents’ educational assistance are as follows, according to the VA: 1. The spouse or child of a service member or veteran who either died of a service-connected disability, or who has permanent and total …
  •     VA Exempt From Automatic Cuts, White House Says.  Washington Post   “The Department of Veterans Affairs’ budget is exempt from the threat of automatic cuts to federal spending scheduled to be made next year, the White House said Monday afternoon.” Veterans groups “had feared that medical care or other programs for veterans could be cut because last year’s failure to reach a deal on reducing the federal deficit is supposed to trigger automatic cuts under a sequestration mechanism. Uncertainty over the VA’s status had sparked criticism on Capitol Hill, where the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), accused the White House of leaving veterans ‘twisting in the wind’ by refusing to declare the department exempt from the cuts.”
  • Veterans Groups Support Proposed Burn-Pit Register.  Army Times  “Veterans of advocates favor proposed legislation that would require the Veterans Affairs Department to record the names of troops and veterans who served near open-air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The Times adds, “VA opposes the bill because current law already permits the department to create a registry, according to Robert Jesse, VA principal deputy undersecretary for health.” According to the Times, VA is “monitoring Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in tow long-term epidemiological studies, the Millennium Cohort and New Generation studies.”
  •   DoD, VA Panel Would Review Colleges Under Lawmaker’s Plan.  Army Times  “The GI Bill Consumer Awareness Act of 2012, introduced recently” by US Se. Patty Murray (D-WA), “would require the disclosure of information about dropout rates, degree completion and post-graduation employment for schools receiving GI Bill payments.” The act would “also create a consumer working group to survey student veterans about the quality of education they think they are getting and to review marketing and recruiting practices for schools.” The working group “would be made up of Defense Department and Veterans Affairs Department staff, who would coordinate with veterans organizations.”
  •  Report Says That Wait Time For Mental Health Care Often Exceeds VA’s Goals And Projections.  AP  “Federal investigators reported Monday that nearly half of the veterans who seek mental health care for the first time waited about 50 days before receiving a full evaluation, a much longer lag-time than cited by the Department of Veterans Affairs.” The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is scheduled to discuss the inspector general’s report at a hearing on Wednesday. On Monday, the panel’s chair, US Sen. Patty Murray, said the report is “deeply disturbing and demands action from” VA. The AP notes that Monday’s report recommends that VA “undertake a comprehensive staffing analysis to determine just how much vacancies are hurting its ability to meet its standards for timely” mental healthcare. But VA “says that analysis has been underway since last year, leading” to VA’s recent decision to increase its mental health workforce by approximately 1,900 employees.  USA Today  The report, which says that VA’s “mental health performance data is not accurate or reliable” and that VA has “overstated its success” in providing mental health services to vets. The agency “said it concurred with the investigation results and would move ‘rapidly’ to revamp its process for measuring delays.” USA Today adds, “The VA announced Thursday it would immediately begin expanding its 20,000-member mental health staff by 1,900 to reduce delays in care.”  New York Times  VA’s inspector general “released a report on Monday confirming what many veterans have long suspected: it takes longer to get a mental health evaluation from VA clinicians than the department has been willing to acknowledge.” Murray said,
  • “Clearly, the VA scheduling system needs a major overhaul.” Meanwhile, VA’s “under secretary for health, Dr. Robert A. Petzel, said in a letter to the inspector general that the VA generally agreed with the recommendations and that it would initiate a timeliness review of its entire medical system, not just the four regions analyzed by the inspector general. In a statement, the department said that in addition to hiring new clinicians, it had taken several other measures to improve mental health services, including creating a new office to oversee its mental health programs.”
  •  Army Wants PTSD Clinicians To Stop Screening For Fakers.  Wired   “In a big reversal, the Army has issued a stern new set of guidelines to doctors tasked with diagnosing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among returning soldiers. Stop spending so much time trying to spot patients who are faking symptoms, the new guidelines instruct.” In its guidelines, the “Army Surgeon General finds great fault with a dense personality test popular with clinicians that ostensibly weeds out ‘malingerers,’ as PTSD fakers are known.”
  •  VA Trains Clergy On Panel Mental Health Issues.  Army Times  “The Veterans Affairs Department is holding ‘teach the preacher’ workshops in rural areas with the goal of training clergy to support veterans with mental health problems. Training includes help in identifying psychological issues, and briefings about how to get treatment and benefits from VA.” The workshops “will be held this year in rural parts of Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.”
  • VA Extends Authentidates’ Telehealth Contract For Remote Monitoring Of Vets.  HealthTechZone  “Authentidate Holding Corp., a provider of secure web-based software applications and telehealth products and services for healthcare organizations,” has “announced that its contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to remotely monitor patients’ vital signs and improve patient care, has been extended for 364 days.” HealthTechZone adds, “‘We are pleased that the VA has exercised their first option to extend our contract term,’ said Ben Benjamin, CEO, Authentidate said” in a press release. He added, “We are working closely with the VA to better deliver care to patients and believe this extension opportunity reflects positively on our progress.”
  •  VA Should Care For Lejeune Vets, Lawmakers Say.  Army Times  “Key lawmakers are appealing directly to President Obama to get the Veterans Affairs Department to provide free health care to veterans who were exposed to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune during a 30-year span that ended in 1987.” The appeal was made in a letter sent to Obama on Friday by the leaders of the Veterans Affairs Committees in the House and Senate. In April, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki “said…it was premature to provide health care to everyone who served at Lejeune from 1957 until 1987. Shinseki suggested veterans could still file for disability claims if they felt they had a service-connected disability.”
  • Wartime Killing May Raise Veterans’ Thoughts Of Suicide.  HealthDay  “The experience of killing in war is strongly linked with suicidal thoughts, according to a study of US veterans of the Vietnam War. Researchers analyzed data from a survey of a nationally representative sample of Vietnam War veterans and found that those with more killing experiences were twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts as those with fewer or no experiences of killing.” The lead author of the study, “recently published online in the journal Depression and Anxiety,” was Shira Maguen, a clinical psychologist at the Veterans Affairs hospital in San Francisco. In a news release, Maguen said, “We want clinicians and suicide prevention coordinators to be aware that in analyzing a veteran’s risk of suicide, killing in combat is an additional factor that they may or may not be aware of.”

 

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