Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News May 15, 2012


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


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1.    In military-rich battlegrounds, Obama targets a new group: veteransRepublicans have long defined themselves in part on their hawkish stance on national security issues and their popularity among the military and veterans. But the makeup of the nation’s armed forces is changing, and President Barack Obama hopes to win over veterans by appealing to the same subgroups that propelled him to victory in 2008: women, minorities and young people.
2.    Military research at record amounts as war winding downWith the Afghanistan War winding down and the chance to study troops in combat running out, military scientists are conducting record amounts of research on everything from blast effects on the brain to stanching blood loss.
3.    Afghan forces will take control of some volatile areasMore details about the third phase of Afghanistan’s security transition released Monday indicate that Afghan forces will take the lead in some areas still under persistent threat from insurgents.
4.    Troops leave Korea with a little piece of historyIf you’re looking for a souvenir, Mardi Gras has its beads, Florida has its Mickey Mouse ears, and South Korea has … barbed wire?
5.    Clinic in Afghanistan is first stop for US troops recovering from brain traumaThe first room they go to is small and dark, with a single bed in the corner and a blanket hung over the window. The building is covered in a hardened foam that muffles the constant drone of the Apache helicopters, Warthog attack jets and massive cargo planes coming and going from the airfield at this base just north of Kabul.
6.    At Afghanistan hospital, troops treat the wounds of warJust after 9 a.m., the helicopter descends past jagged, snowcapped mountains, and the crew rushes a soldier with a gunshot wound to his leg into the trauma center. Nurses, doctors and medical technicians, clad in camouflage scrubs, flood into the room, unwrapping his bloody bandage, checking vital signs and inserting lines for intravenous fluids.

7.    “No Drama” In Bill For VA, Military Construction.  CQ Weekly  The House Military Construction-VA Subcommittee has “endorsed a $71.7 billion fiscal 2013 draft bill for military construction and veterans’ affairs.” Veterans Affairs “would receive $135.4 billion, including $60.7 billion in discretionary spending,” an increase of $2.3 billion from last year. The subcommittee’s ranking Democrat, Georgia’s Sanford Bishop, said, “We have…hopefully” drafted a “no-drama bill.” CQ Weekly says the full House Military Construction-VA Committee “may take the bill up this week.”
8.    VA Increases Research On Women’s Health Issues.  Boston Globe  “As more women veterans return home, the Department of Veterans Affairs has had to rethink and reshape” its healthcare, according to “Kristin Mattocks, the associate chief of staff for research for VA Central Western Massachusetts Health Care System.” The Globe adds, “Last month, the VA Central Western Massachusetts, VA Connecticut, and VA Boston Health Care Systems joined 34 other VA centers across the nation in the Women’s Health Research Network, a collaboration of researchers and clinicians studying women’s” healthcare issues. Mattocks says that while the main goal of the project is to improve VA care for female vets, the “hope is that what we learn translates into better care for women everywhere.”
9.    Helping Survivors Of Military Sexual Trauma.  Boston Globe  “The US Department of Veterans Affairs has called military sexual trauma,” or MST, an “epidemic.” The agency, which universally screens “its patients for MST,” offers a “variety of treatment options” for those with MST. One of those with MST who “praises the care she received from the VA in Maine as ‘phenomenal,’ and urges victims to seek VA treatment.”
10.   The Pain And The Power Of A Mother’s Love.  Canandaigua (NY) Messenger Post Deb Kluss is “campaigning to have her son,” Iraq veteran Jonathan Trottier, “released from prison, where he is serving a 4 1/2-year sentence for causing a serious crash while driving drunk. She is seeking his release from prison to instead have him admitted to a facility for treatment of his post-traumatic stress disorder,” or PTSD. Trottier praises efforts by Veterans Affairs to help vets like him. The messenger Post adds, “Kai Chitaphong, social worker and program manager for veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center, said the VA provides services for veterans in transition from prison to civilian life, putting them in touch with VA programs and services to access after prison, for PTSD, family and employment counseling and other needs.”


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  • Helping Vets: “The System Is Broken.”  Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch Richmond attorney Matthew A. Kapinos, a veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and who says the US VA is “not efficient in meeting” veterans’ needs. Kapinos, who “has been working with the Virginia Bar Association’s Veterans Issues Task Force to assist Virginia veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with benefit hurdles,” said VA does the best it “can, but the system is broken.” The Times-Dispatch added, “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.” Diana Rubens, VA deputy under secretary for field operations dealing with veterans benefits, said VA is taking steps to reduce its claims backlog.
  • Bill Gives Conn. Vets Second Chance To Avoid Jail.  AP  “As thousands of troops return from war to Connecticut, lawmakers have approved a measure that would give veterans a second chance to avoid prosecution or prison when they commit a minor crime.” The Connecticut “House and Senate voted unanimously in recent weeks to pass legislation allowing veterans to use the Accelerated Rehabilitation program twice, rather than just once.” The AP, which notes that Connecticut’s governor has not said if he will sign the bill, adds, “The bill would save the state up to $3.5 million over the next three years because treatment is cheaper than incarceration and because the federal Veterans Administration can provide much of the treatment, supporters said.”
  • Actor Devotes Time To Helping Wounded Vets. CBS’ 60 Minutes  Gary Sinise, who “plays bass guitar in a band named after Lt. Dan,” the “gung-ho Army officer who loses both legs in Vietnam in the film classic ‘Forrest Gump.” The role was played by Sinise, who started the Lt. Dan Band, which “will give nearly 50 concerts this year to raise money” to modify homes for disabled Iraq veteran Juan Dominguez and “nine other wounded veterans.” Last year, a Lt. Dan Band concert helped raise funds to build a modified home for disabled Afghanistan veteran Todd Nicely.
  •   A Hero’s Welcome For Rex, A Marine’s Best Friend.  New York Times  “Bats” blog notes that during a pregame ceremony held at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, 28-year-old veteran Megan Leavey and Rex, the bomb-sniffing dog she worked with during her service in Iraq, were honored. The Yankees, a Major League Baseball franchise, “recognized Leavey and Rex at home plate on Sunday and even surprised Leavey” with a Purple Heart to replace one that was recently stolen from her. The Times points out that Leavey adopted Rex with the help of Yankees president Randy Levine and his wife.
  •  Financial Woes Weigh Heavily On Veterans. McClatchy
  •  Celebrities Make Pitch For Patient Safety Panel. American Medical News Actor Dennis Quaid, whose “12-day-old twins developed infections in 2007,” has “joined with patient safety and aviation experts to call for an agency akin to the politically insulated, independent National Transportation Safety Board to investigate cases of medical harm and report deidentified findings to physicians, hospitals and the public.” American Medical News adds, “The proposed NTSB for health care is promising, said James P. Bagian, MD, a former flight surgeon and astronaut with NASA who helped drive safety efforts at the Veterans Health Administration and now is professor of engineering practice at the University of Michigan College of Engineering.”



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