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1. House panel opposes base closings, Tricare hikes. The Obama administration’s requests for two rounds of base closings and higher health fees for some military retirees are running into strong resistance from leaders of the House Armed Services Committee.
2. ‘Evaders’ tell their stories of being behind enemy lines. For a week in December 1944, 20-year-old Jesse Casaus and his nine fellow crewmen sneaked across the Yugoslavian countryside, knowing that capture — or rescue — could be just over the next hill. Casaus and other “evaders” will share their stories at the annual convention of the Air Force Escape and Evasion Society, taking place in Albuquerque, N.M., this week.
3. Memorial walk for fallen Marine arose from Special Olympics fundraiser. When a group of Tulsa police officers brainstormed on an idea to start a walk benefiting Special Olympics Oklahoma, they decided that in addition to fundraising for the nonprofit, they wanted to honor fallen Tulsa Police Department Officer and Marine Cpl. Jared Shoemaker.
4. Man gets two years for bribery of VA official. STLtoday.com A Dupo man was sentenced Tuesday to two years in federal prison and fined $50000 for bribing a US Department of Veterans Affairs official with cash, baseball tickets and strip club lunches to steer business to a company that used a disabled
5. New veterans diversion program in southeastern Neb. Coshocton Tribune A special component of the veterans diversion program: helping vets suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders or traumatic brain injuries get the help they need from the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Regional VA health care system spokesman …
6. Two juveniles accused of vandalizing new veterans cemetery. Charleston Gazette
Most of the damage had been cleaned by Monday. By Travis Crum CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Police said two juveniles vandalized the state veteran’s cemetery Saturday morning, just weeks before a Memorial Day ceremony to celebrate its opening.
7. State Senate Approves “The Valor Act”. Patch.com As the previous session’s Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, and a recent appointee to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) Task Force on Military and Veterans’ Affairs, Senator Donnelly has continued …
8. Ninth Circuit Can’t Order VA Mental Health Fixes. Reuters The underlying lawsuit was brought by two veterans’ groups seeking better treatment for their members. The VA’s mental health care system has been described as incompetent and is often blamed for the large number of veteran suicides.
9. Veterans Affairs Eliminates Copayment to Increase Patient Access. Sacramento Bee
The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare today praised the US Department of Veterans Affairs final rule eliminating copayments for tele-health services for …
10. Obama Pushing “To Do” List For Congress. AP “Applying pressure on Congress, President Barack Obama intends to lay out an election year ‘to do’ list Tuesday that urges lawmakers to take another look at economic proposals to promote job creation and help families refinance their mortgages.” The AP adds, “For veterans, Obama planned to press Congress anew to pass legislation creating a Veterans Job Corps to help service members returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan find work as police officers and firefighters.”
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More Veteran News
- House Appropriations Panel Releases 2013 Budget For Military Construction And Veterans Affairs. The Hill The House Appropriations Committee “released its military construction and Veterans Affairs (VA) budget Monday, which was funded at $71.7 billion, the same amount as the 2012 budget. The majority of the bill’s spending goes toward VA medical services, which totals $41.4 billion.” The measure “also includes $10.6 billion for military construction projects, a drop of $2.4 billion from last year’s level.” CQ The bill would give $60.7 billion to VA. Medical services projects would get $41.4 billion of that money while minor construction projects would get $608 million. The Hill “House appropriators on Monday announced that they had come up with a 2013 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill that both Republicans and Democrats can live with. But because of a wider fight between President Obama and the House GOP over top-line budget levels, the bill, which faces a Tuesday subcommittee markup, has no chance of becoming law.” According to The Hill, the bill “would spend $71.7 billion, the same as last year and about $700 million below Obama’s request.”
- VA To Employ More Family Therapists, Licensed Mental Health Counselors. Army Times Marriage and family therapists, along with licensed professional mental health counselors, will be among those hired as part of Veterans Affairs’ recently announced plan to bring in more mental health workers. In a news release, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said, “Veterans and their families can face unique challenges. By providing a complete range of services, we can help them address those challenges and help keep more families together.” The Times notes that in April, US Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) praised VA’s decision to hire the aforementioned positions, although he added that he thinks the decision should have been made sooner.
- VA Testing Transcendental Meditation As PTSD Treatment. Federal News Radio VA is “testing the effects of transcendental meditation” on PTSD. Federal News Radio added, “Final results of the trials won’t be available for another year, but VA Deputy Secretary W. Scott Gould said he was ‘encouraged’ by the initial findings.”
- American Psychiatric Association Debates Name Change For PTSD. Fox News’ Happening Now “A public hearing is happening right now in Philadelphia as to whether or not” the American Psychiatric Association should change the name post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, to post-traumatic stress injury in the future. Fox News discussed the matter with Dr. Brian Russell, a psychologist who said, “The word disorder has a connotation among members of the public that I think isn’t helpful to veterans.” Russell added, “I think the greatest concern” if a name change occurs “would be that insurance companies continue to give it the coverage that they do now.” Russell stated, “Certainly, I think the Veterans Administration already is on board with that.”
- Vet Center Grand Opening In June, But Services Are Available Already. Panama City (FL) News Herald “There is a new veterans center many may not have heard about. Michael Hamlin, 40, Panama City, an outreach specialist with the Bay County Veterans Center on Minnesota Avenue in Lynn Haven, said he and his staff want to invite veterans who have seen combat to come in if they are in need of counseling, housing or looking for other vets with similar issues.” Larry Rappe, a team leader at the center, said, “We are planning to have a grand opening” on June 23rd.
- In Military Courts, Considering Alternative Punishment For Troubled Service Members. New York Times A “senior military prosecutor at Fort Benning, Ga., is arguing” that the veterans treatment court concept should “be applied to the military’s judicial system so that judges can sentence service members to treatment programs rather than automatically issuing punitive discharges that put them on the street without benefits. In a deeply researched, 200-page article published in a recent edition of The Military Law Review, Maj. Evan R. Seamone argues that military courts may be aggravating the problems of service members by discharging them without first treating them for conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder.” The Times adds, “So far, Major Seamone says he has received some positive response to his article from the Department of Veterans Affairs, but not much feedback from his fellow military lawyers.”
- Manufacturers Search For Workers To Sustain Revival. USA Today “Manufacturers ‘are coming back,’ said Meredith Aronson, director of the New Jersey Advanced Manufacturing Talent Network,” who added that companies in the industry are trying to find workers. USA Today adds, “The situation calls for educators and employers to get creative, Aronson said, whether it is by sharing training costs or tapping into veterans who are returning home from war with the type of discipline, team building and modern skills that could translate to manufacturers.” Advanced Technology Services, says USA Today, has “hired more than 1,000 workers” in past year, “many of them military veterans, according to Jim Hefti, vice president of human resources.”
- How Amazon Learned To Love Veterans. Fortune “Amazon is one of a growing number of US companies that is taking advantage of a bumper crop of well-trained officers and enlisted people transitioning out of the services.” Fortune adds, “‘We actively seek leaders who can invent, think big, have a bias for action, and deliver results on behalf of our customers,’ says Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, alluding to some of the company’s oft-repeated leadership precepts. ‘These principles look very familiar to men and women who have served our country in the armed forces, and we find that their experience leading people is invaluable in our fast-paced work environment.'”
- Needs Of Women Veterans Reflected In Art At San Francisco Exhibit. Oakland (CA) Tribune The needs of female veterans, “from child care to military sexual trauma, are reflected in the poetry, painting and music and writing by women veterans in an exhibit called ‘SHOUT! Art by Women Veterans,’ which opens Wednesday at the San Francisco Women’s Building.” The writing of female veteran Victoria “will be on display,” along with “works by 18 other women during the annual art exhibit organized by Swords to Plowshares, which provides services to former military personnel. The fact that the Department of Veterans Affairs has a women’s clinic is ‘a huge advancement,’ said Hudson, who served as a civilian affairs officer, convoy commander and adviser to a female Iraqi provincial legislator.”
- IRS Forms Show Charity’s Money Isn’t Going To Disabled Vets. CNN Special Investigation Unit, accompanying an Anderson Cooper 360 broadcast story, found that the nonprofit Disabled National Veterans Foundation “received about $55.9 million in donations since it began operations in 2007, according to publicly available IRS 990 forms.” But CNN says that “almost none of that money has wound up in the hands of American veterans.” CNN added, “CharityWatch, a group that rates charities, gave DVNF an ‘F’ for its effectiveness, reflecting a wider trend among veterans’ charities, two-thirds of which ‘were given either a D or F grade.'”