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2. Helping vets: ‘The system is broken’. Richmond Times Dispatch Complaints about the hoops that veterans have to jump through to get benefits they are due from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs are widespread, though vets generally say they are pleased with the benefits themselves. Kapinos has been working …
3. Gold Star Mothers continue the service of their fallen children. Baltimore Sun Soon after his death, the Owings Mills woman began volunteering with the Red Cross at Walter Reed and in the emergency room at the Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Chance is one of 50 Maryland mothers who are honoring the memory of their …
4. Officer: Military could learn from civilian courts. Fox News He cites an instance in Buffalo, NY, in which federal authorities allowed a veteran’s case to go through the state’s deferred-adjudication program. “So the involvement of the VA is changing the dynamic and allowing the court to build in a method to …
5. Veterans of Different Eras Prepare for Competition. MarketWatch “We are very pleased to be able to bring the Golden Age Games to St. Louis,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said. “Through this rehabilitative athletic event, VA strives to introduce older Veterans to the benefits of sports and …
6. Veterans, others eye Alabama budget cuts warily. Anniston Star Ken Rollins, a board member of the State Board of Veterans Affairs, agreed with Farrow’s view on the effects of these possible cuts. “The more we get cut, the less we’re able to take care of a veteran,” Rollins said. Rollins said the Veterans Affairs …
7. Obama Names Former Missouri Green Beret To Veterans Affairs Post. AP A “36-year-old former Green Beret” and Iraq War veteran Tommy Sowers, who “lost a US House bid from southeast Missouri in 2010 could now be heading to Washington.” President Obama has nominated Sowers as “assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
8. Secretary Of Veterans Affairs Sides With Veteran In DOMA Case. New York Times “Just hours after President Obama announced on Wednesday that he supported same-sex marriage,” Veterans Affairs said it “would not defend the constitutionality of two federal laws that define marriage as between a man and a woman.” However, it is unclear whether the VA has “actually given up the fight against” giving Navy veteran Carmen Cardona “spousal benefits.” In a letter “explaining his decision” to House Speaker John A. Boehner, VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said the department would “remain a party to the case.” Meanwhile, the “Republican-controlled House has hired a private lawyer to handle the DOMA cases” that the Obama Administration has “decided not to defend.”
9. Bill Would Streamline VA Healthcare Structure. Army Times Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced a bill Thursday that would “reduce the number of VA’s regional medical administrative offices, called Veterans Integrated Service Networks, from 21 to 12.” The change would cut down “administrative overhead and ‘reallocate and better target funds to improve healthcare for our nation’s war heroes,'” Burr said. VISNs were “created to consolidate duplicated services and allow medical centers to focus on healthcare and services” but Burr says they “siphon money away from veterans’ healthcare, with their collective staffs topping more than 1,300 employees.” He pointed out that initially, they were to have “about 220 staff members.”
10. VA’s 7 Steps To Protect VLER Data. Government Health IT The VA has determined how it will protect veterans’ and service members’ records in the “virtual lifetime electronic record (VLER) program” and published a notice of Privacy Act System of Records in the May 11 Federal Register. The VA outlined seven steps, beginning with limiting access to databases. Government Health IT lists all seven steps and notes that VLER is “currently being road tested in a number of pilots around the country and subsequently will have a national roll-out.”
Have You Heard?
A Celebration of Mothers, In and Out of Uniform
For Mothers Day, VA honors the sacrifice and commitment of mothers who both wore the uniform and supported those who did. Read how one mother inspired an Iraq Veteran to serve at VAntage Point.
More Veteran News
- Pennsylvania Seminar Offers Information On PTSD. WJAC-TV “According to Veterans Affairs, between 11 percent and 20 percent of soldiers who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan have PTSD; 10 percent of soldiers from Desert Storm; and a shocking 30 percent of veterans from Vietnam came back home with a mental health issue. To combat the high number of veterans diagnosed with PTSD, more organizations are offering treatment. This seminar in Altoona is called ‘Healing Trauma’s Invisible Wounds.’ The idea is to supply the necessary tools and information to anyone and everyone. Organizers say help is available and agencies like these are ready, willing and able. They add that 90 percent of the population suffers from some type of traumatic event in their lifetime.”
- Military Taking Steps To Limit Use Of Antipsychotics For PTSD. Philadelphia Inquirer The Pentagon “took steps in the last few weeks” to limit the use of powerful antipsychotic drugs to “treat the growing legion of war fighters” suffering from PTSD; and the VA “said last month that it would hire 1,900 more psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and support staff.” But for Stan and Shirley White, “it’s already too late.” They lost their son Andrew, an Iraq veteran, to what physicians described as “an accidental intoxication” of antipsychotic drugs he was taking for PTSD. The Whites say the social worker Andrew was seeing at the VAMC was laid off a few months prior to his death. They’re advocating for “more money and greater emphasis on counseling for veterans.”
- Families Also Pay Price For Repeated War Tours. Bellingham (WA) Herald The US Army’s “No. 2 officer, Gen. Lloyd Austin, said on a visit to Joint Base Lewis-McChord this spring that the ‘high up-tempo’ of soldiers going on multiple overseas missions was challenging but had left the military with a ‘highly trained and incredibly resilient force.’ The same words apply to the spouses, children and other loved ones of oft-deployed troops.” In the South Sound, “thousands” of families are “coping with the absence of soldiers who have gone to do dangerous work” in Afghanistan. And the “perpetual cycle of coming and going also has exacted a hard toll on marriages.” According to the Pentagon’s most recent data, the “annual military divorce rate at 3.7 percent – its highest point since 1999 and greater than the 3.5 percent civilian rate.”
- Saratoga War Horse Ready To Go National, Needs Larger Year-round Area Facility. Saratogian (NY) The Saratoga War Horse, a program that “teaches veterans how to work through stress and trauma by connecting with former racehorses in a process called ‘Join-Up.'” The first “several dozen soldiers have already gone through a pilot phase,” of the program, which co-founders Vietnam veteran Bob Nevins and “noted horsewoman” Marilyn Lane launched last November; and the project is “preparing to take off on a national scale with full backing from the US military.” Nevins, who is “extremely concerned about the high rate of suicide” among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, said the goal is to “intercept these soldiers before they leave the service.” But he said the program, which is presently based at a “small local farm,” needs a “larger, year-round facility.”
- Caretakers Are Key To Successful PTSD Treatment. Digital Journal “One of the major complaints from caregivers is that they have no one to turn to and no real help. They become exhausted and display symptoms of Secondary Trauma Stress, or Secondary PTSD.” However, a new study released by researchers at the “University of Syracuse’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families suggests that treating the family members for their STS will make the living environment better for veterans and increase the chances of success in treatment.”
- State Officials Say Tennessee Needs New State Veterans’ Cemetery Between Memphis And Nashville. AP “State officials are looking at sites in West Tennessee to build a new state veterans’ cemetery and hope to choose three finalists later this year.” Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs’ steering committee members “expressed a need for one in the 190-mile stretch between Nashville and Memphis” during their meeting May 10. State Rep. Steve McDaniel, who attended Thursday’s meeting, said the committee will “meet again in late June and have three final sites selected by the fall.”
- Veterans Court Stalls For Lack Of Candidates. Augusta (GA) Chronicle A veteran’s accountability court put together by the local judiciary system lacks veterans willing to use it. “It’s a troubling situation for Superior Court Judge James Blanchard,” who said, “‘We stand ready, willing and able.” The Chronicle says a “‘one size fits all’ approach isn’t working with veterans” and “coordinators are also running into a lack of qualified veterans.” Compared to a judicial program for drug offenders that has worked, veterans don’t share the same problems and “there’s not the same level of commonality,” according to District Attorney Ashley Wright. “Each one has a different issue that needs attention.”
- Fort Smith Shelter To Cater To Homeless Veterans With Goal Of Reintegrating Them To Society. AP “A home is opening in Fort Smith to care for homeless veterans and provide them the services they need to get back on their feet.” The Buddy Smith Home, which has “just over 5,000 square feet and 16 bedrooms,” is expected to be “full in about two weeks.” The home will offer “structured programs for veterans who need more than just a roof over their heads.”
- Alabama State Veterans Cemetery’s Phase One To Open In Spring 2013. WKRG-TV “Construction continues on Alabama’s first state-operated veterans cemetery. The 120-acre cemetery is located on Highway 225, just north of Spanish Fort. Local veterans’ cemeteries in Mobile and Pensacola are no longer accepting new interments. Spanish Fort dentist and veterans’ advocate Dr. Barry Booth donated part of the land to build the cemetery. Booth says local veterans are honored to have the facility built in Baldwin County. Phase one is expected to open in spring 2013. A grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs is paying for the $7-million dollar project.”
- Drop-In Center Handles Veterans’ Needs. Northwest (IL) Herald Workings of the Lake-McHenry Veterans Drop-In Center, where “veterans and their family members” can walk in “unannounced and receive help” immediately. It has been open for 13 months, has about 100 people use it each month, and is a joint venture between the two counties. The center “provides peer-to-peer support for veterans or family members.” It also links to “emergency housing services” and to “other agencies, counseling and case management” programs, among other services.