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1. Female troops find ways to relate to Afghan women. Female troops are learning about the half of the Afghan population that is nearly invisible to male soldiers. Like mothers the world over, Pfc. Renee Buschman found women in this country most want healthy children and help getting medicine.
2. On ‘Soldier Day’ children try out parents’ life while deployed. On the cusp of his third deployment, Sgt. David Kirkpatrick is preparing to leave two sons behind, each with his own understanding of where Dad is going.
3. A day of honor for WWII veterans. Thank you for your service.” That was the refrain U.S. military veterans heard over and over Wednesday in Washington, D.C. as hundreds of men and women who served during World War II were brought in from Ohio, Illinois and Missouri as participants in the Honor Flight program.
4. Defense budget provision aims to extend service life of submarines. A provision added to the House 2013 defense bill could extend the service life of the Navy’s nuclear ballistic missile submarines, according to documents released by a House subcommittee Wednesday.
5. A warrior unbowed: Captain’s wounds will never heal, but he’s a better man because of them. Capt. D.J. Skelton was severely wounded in Iraq in 2004. Shrapnel and AK-47 fire tore through his body. He lost an eye. He endured countless surgeries. Through it all, he fought to stay in the Army. In 2011, he returned to combat in Afghanistan.
6. Veterans symposium at SHU to focus on educational opportunities. Norwalk Plus Magazine Sacred Heart University, working in collaboration with the US Department of Veterans Affairs, will host a symposium to help veterans understand educational benefits, programs and options available to them and …
7. $1M grant brings homeless Brevard vets a step closer to self-sufficiency. Florida Today
Governor’s $1 million grant helps homeless veteran…: A grant by the governor will give veteran support groups in the state of Florida a $1 million boost. By Craig Rubadoux, Malcolm Denemark and Tim Walter Posted April 27, 2012 Homeless Army veteran …
8. Volunteers hope to honor vets whose remains were unclaimed. The Virginian-Pilot Then they check the names against VA records to see if any of the unclaimed served in the military. For those who did, proper military burials are then arranged. It will bury its first group of Virginia vets May 14th. A funeral will be held May 12th in …
9. Local vets chosen for 1st bionic ankle system. Dayton Daily News Retired Marine Corps veterans Cpl. Larry Draughn of Fairborn and Cpl. John Powers of South Charleston each received bionic ankle systems at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center. By Kelli Wynn, Staff Writer …
10. Ex-VA hospital official faults mental health care. CBS News Instead, the veteran was told when the next appointment was available. Then, that appointment, often weeks or months away, was entered into the VA’s records as the desired date. “If that’s being done, it’s totally unacceptable,” William Schoenhard, …
Have You Heard?
VA Hiring Fair Comes to Detroit
VA is hosting a free Veteran Hiring Fair in Detroit June 26-28. The event will coincide with the National Veterans Small Business Convention and offer career opportunities, workshops, and resume building. Learn how one Vet’s life changed after attending last year.
More Veteran News
- Veterans Group Revokes Charters From 26 Colleges. USA Today Advocacy group Student Veterans of America, “concerned that some for-profit colleges may be misrepresenting the organization to boost their image as military-friendly schools, has revoked chapter membership from 26 for-profit campuses and is reviewing compliance at its remaining 35 for-profit members.” The group “requires that chapters be run by and for students,” so charters were revoked if campus administrators were listed as primary contacts. Michael Dakduk, executive director of the group, said there were “concerns that the colleges could be ‘leveraging the SVA brand’ as a recruitment tool aimed at veterans without offering resources to support them.” Chronicle of Higher Education 40 chapters’ memberships were initially revoked three weeks ago, but “the group has since reinstated 14 chapters, with up-to-date contact information, after verifying that they are indeed led by students.”
- VA Taps Archives To Scan Paper Disability Claims. Nextgov VA Chief Information Officer Roger Baker said that the agency “reached an agreement with the National Archives and Records Administration to help it scan disability claims into its electronic Veterans Benefits Management System.” The VA’s paperless Veterans Benefit Management System will debut at 16 regional offices by September and be “in all 56 regional offices in 2013, but Baker said VA still has to wrestle with paper claims that number in the billions of pages.” NARA’s “high quality scanning systems” will help deal with the workload and Baker said that “VA will scan paper claims only to update current claims,” but he added it will take “a long time.” VA Secretary Eric Shinseki “vowed to eliminate” the VA’s backlog of 897,566 disability claims by 2015.
- Unemployment Is A Special Challenge For Veterans. Los Angeles Times The difficulties veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have in finding employment. “Veterans’ advocacy groups, and many unemployed veterans, say civilian employers don’t always appreciate veterans’ skills and maturity,” noting “that this is the first generation of employers who have no widespread military experience and thus no inherent appreciation for what the institution can provide.” Meanwhile, military and media attention “to post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury has had the effect of stigmatizing veterans, advocates say.” Additionally, “veterans themselves don’t always do a good job at making their case to potential employers,” often not translating their resumes into language a civilian can understand.
- Veterans Job Fair Brings Hundreds To Salem VA Medical Center. Capital Bay News “About fourty [sic] employers and service providers were on hand” at the Salem VA Medical Center’s veterans only job fair “to talk about job opportunities and help veterans with applications, resume preparation and tips to help get them hired.” In fact, organizers say “they actually had to turn employers away who wanted to be part of the event.”
- Veterans Services Open House Planned For This Weekend. Sioux Falls (SD) Argus Leader “The US Department of Veterans Affairs is partnering with the Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs, veteran service agencies, county veteran service officers and military transition assistance advisers to bring information and services at a Veterans of the Armed Forces Open House” that the South Sioux City, Nebraska, American Legion Post 307. The paper adds, “Veterans who are not currently enrolled for VA benefits are encouraged to bring their DD Form 214, “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty,” to the open house to help the agency counselers [sic] assess individual eligibility for VA benefits.” VA counselors will be there to “assist veterans to complete eligibility and enrollment applications.”
- Hiring Our Heroes Job Fair At Birmingham Crossplex Attracts 300 Veterans. Birmingham (AL) News Free Hiring Our Heroes job fair was held in Birmingham, “hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Birmingham Business Alliance, the Birmingham Society for Human Resource Management and other local sponsors.” Lt. Col. Kathryn Poynton, a military fellow with the US Chamber of Commerce’s Veterans Employment Program, said the “Chamber will host 400 job fairs in cities across the country.” She “credited Marcus Lundy, vice president of education and workforce development for the Birmingham Business Alliance, for helping the US Chamber attract a solid list of employers.” The fair also “included seminars designed to help veterans find jobs.”
- VA Increasing Workforce For Vets’ Mental Health Care. San Antonio (TX) Express-News Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki announced the VA “will add approximately 1,600 clinicians – to include nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers – as well as nearly 300 support staff, to its existing mental health workforce of 20,590.” The agency “projected the need for the 1,900 additional mental health staff largely because of increasing needs for the Veterans Crisis Line, as well as an expected increase in compensation and pension and integrated disability evaluation exams.” Fort Wayne (IN) Journal-Gazette The VA Northern Indiana Health Care System will gain seven mental health specialists. Jennifer Baran-Prall, public affairs officer for the northern Indiana system, said, “Any type of addition is worthy and worthwhile. Any addition of mental health services increases access to care.” Additionally, “VA plans to rent 27,000 square feet of space in a Fort Wayne building for development as a mental health clinic.” Houston (TX) Business Journal The VA “plans to add 202 clinicians and 39 support personnel for mental health operations in its South Central VA Health Care Network.” Hampton Roads (VA) Daily Press “59 clinicians and 12 support personnel will be hired in VA’s Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network, which includes the Hampton VA Medical Center and seven other centers in Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia.”
- Ex-VA Hospital Official Faults Mental Health Care. AP Nicholas Tolentino, former mental health administrative officer at the VA medical center in Manchester, New Hampshire, testified before Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee that “veterans are waiting too long for mental health care and are unaware that hospitals sometimes manipulate records in an attempt to make it appear that standards are being met.” He said that “hospitals are ‘gaming the system,’ with administrators so focused on achieving performance targets, in part to get bonuses, that they don’t always do what’s best for the patient.” While patients are required to get a mental health treatment appointment within 14 days of their desired date, patients would be told when the next available appointment date was, with that used in records of the desired date, even if it was weeks or months away. Washington Post Linda Halliday, the VA’s assistant inspector general for audits and evaluations, told the committee, “They need a culture change” and “to hold facility directors accountable for integrity of the data.” Committee char Sen. Patty Murray said there was a “rampant gaming of the system,” and Sen. Scott Brown, (R) “raised concerns that the long waits that veterans seeking mental-health services face leaves them at heightened risk for suicide.” William Schoenhard, deputy under secretary for health for operations and management, said, “We fully embrace that our performance measures need to be revised.” He laso said that the VA is adding 1,600 mental health workers as well as 300 support staff, but lawmakers said the agency is “already struggling to fill some 1,500 openings.” Schoenhard responded that “the department is studying ways to better recruit and retain mental-health professionals.” Military Times “Lawmakers expressed concern that despite VA’s efforts to hire new doctors, psychologists and social workers, its efforts will be stymied by a national shortage of behavioral health specialists.” Tolentino’s said that “that the VA’s own hiring practices, which often advertise positions as ‘temporary’ with contract renewal after one or two years, impede the effort.” CQ Healthbeat Schoenhard said “the VA has gone back to a system in which wait times are measured by how long it takes between the date an appointment is requested and the date the veteran sees a mental health professional.” He added that “decisions about staffing and programs largely have been left up to each medical center. But ‘it is clear sites can benefit from more central guidance on best practices’ in determining how many staff members are needed.”
- Veterans’ Care Is About Results, Not Blame. Fayetteville (NC) Observer The disagreement over how promptly veterans seeking mental health treatment are evaluated, “doesn’t neatly break down into a good-guys-bad-guys kind of problem.” The Observer notes that the VA’s motives weren’t faulted by the Inspector General, and “steps have already been taken to reinforce medical staff.” The paper concludes, “Infighting and finger-pointing would be poor substitutes for a concerted effort to do what’s right for those whose service and sacrifice we willingly accepted.”
- Veterans and Brain Disease. New York Times The discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) during autopsies of veterans’ brains suggests that blasts from explosives could “have a catastrophic impact similar to those of repeated concussions in sports,” resulting in “the rash of suicides among young veterans.” Kristof adds this “could be stunningly important,” although, if a link is demonstrated, it suggests “the worst is yet to come,” as CTE normally develops decades after exposure. Meanwhile, “the military has been far more proactive” than the sports industry in dealing with the issue, with the Defense Department forming “its own unit to autopsy brains and study whether blasts may be causing CTE.”