Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News May 24, 2012


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


We encourage you to browse our list so that you can take what you want and keep what you need


1.    Accessing VA and DoD Information is Getting EasierCross-posted from the VAntage Point Blog By Rob Reynolds, Director of Benefits Assistance Service at the Veterans Benefits Administration. It’s great to see how access is changing since the end of my service with the 82ndAirborne Division and U.S. Army…
2.    GAO: Military’s disability evaluation system has gotten steadily slowerEfforts to simplify and speed up the military’s disability evaluation system have instead produced a slower, more frustrating process, according to data released by Congress on Wednesday.
3.    Veteran wins chance to rock and roll all nightUnemployed wounded veteran selected as roadie for the upcoming Kiss tour.
4.    Pakistan hands 33-year sentence to doctor who helped CIA track bin LadenThe Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA in the hunt for Osama bin Laden was sentenced to 33 years in prison for treason Wednesday, officials said, in a further blow to relations between Islamabad and Washington.
5.    Afghan civilians flock to Army medics with ailments new and oldEven if he hasn’t seen combat, Spc. Joe Kunsch, an Army medic, had seen plenty in his first five months in Afghanistan. On daily patrols with Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, it’s almost a sure thing that Afghan civilians will ask him to attend to their injuries and ailments, everything from simple scrapes to cancer.
6.    Allen: Troops in Afghanistan are fully supplied despite rift with PakistanDespite ongoing diplomatic tussles with Pakistan and the continued closure of land supply routes, U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan have all the food, fuel and ammo they need, the war’s top commander said Wednesday at the Pentagon.

7.    Prevalence of Kidney Stones Doubles in Wake of Obesity Epidemic.  Newswise  “While we expected the prevalence of kidney stones to increase, the size of the increase was surprising,” says Charles D. Scales, Jr., MD, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/US Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Scholar in the departments of urology …

8.    Prepare to help our vets.  Charleston Gazette  Many veterans come home to face unemployment, economic insecurity and homelessness. While here, he will meet with homeless and unemployed veterans. The US Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that 131000 veterans are homeless on any given night, …

9.    Center for Independent Living encourages coming together to support.  Heritage Newspapers  A reason why is a gap in the care provided by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, which he said has arguably the best health system in the country. However, he said it’s also the largest and in many cases is unable to help returning veterans …

10.    ECU to host speech by state secretary of veteran affairs Thursday.  Rita Aragon, Oklahoma’s secretary of veterans and military affairs and a retired Air Force major general, will speak at the Veterans and.

Have You Heard?

Fallen Troops Memoralized in Portraits

On May 22, VA honored all Veterans past and present with a gallery of works from The American Fallen Soldiers Project. Artist Phil Taylor has created portraits free of charge for nearly a hundred Gold Star Families. View photos

More Veteran News


  •   Military Construction-VA Draft Spending Bill Wins Panel’s Approval.  CQ  By a 30-0 vote on Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee “approved a fiscal 2013 Military Construction-VA spending bill that would meet the president’s funding request for an integrated electronic health record system for the Veterans Affairs and the Defense departments.” Unlike a House version of the bill, the Senate measure “would not lock up money until certain plans are submitted” for the integrated electronic health record system. But in a report accompanying the Senate version of the bill, Senate appropriators did direct “VA to submit to the House and Senate spending panels a timeframe for completing the project and a spending plan.”
  • VA, DOD Promise Online, Lifelong Military Medical Records By 2017.  Stars And Stripes  VA and the DoD “plan to fully merge their health care records systems in the next five years, with the goal of giving troops and veterans a single, seamless system to track medical care throughout their lifetime.” During a “joint appearance in Illinois on Monday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki announced they hope to put the single system in place in 2017, creating what would be the world’s largest electronic health record system.” Reporters at the Illinois “event noted the target date is two presidential elections away,” but Shinseki said officials in VA and the DoD are trying to bring their “systems together in a way that doesn’t sacrifice quality or safety.” He also indicated that the timetable could be moved up if testing of the joint system goes well.  NextGov “The Defense and Veterans Affairs departments will not deploy an integrated electronic health record until 2017, eight years after President Obama kick-started the project, according” to comments made by Shinseki and Panetta on Monday. The two men were speaking to reporters at the Chicago-based James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, a “jointly operated North Chicago Defense-VA hospital that serves as a showcase for iEHR projects.” NextGov adds, “Panetta said when it’s completed, iEHR will stand out as ‘the world’s largest electronic health record system’ and Shinseki said a project of such scale and importance requires a deliberate approach so ‘we can get it right.'”
  •  Medical Records Immune To Tornado In Joplin, Mo.  USA Today  “Across the country, electronic medical records, designed first and foremost to make health care delivery safer and more efficient, are proving valuable when disaster strikes,” as it did last year, when a “deadly tornado tore through Joplin, Mo.” Dr. Abir and Dr. Kellermann add, “The tragic consequences of not having a computerized record system were especially evident in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed many thousands of patient records in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast.” But the “Veterans Health Administration’s ground-breaking VistA system” preserved the records of evacuated veterans, who “were able to receive uninterrupted care at other VA medical centers throughout the country.”
  •  VistA Will Overcome-Eventually. Modern Healthcare  “To some, recent plans by the VA and the Defense Department to jointly develop an EHR appears to be yet another battle in a long war to kill” the “excellent VistA system” developed years ago by VA. But Peter Groen, a former national director for health IT sharing at VA, is not worried about the demise of VistA. Conn adds, “Some things will be consolidated under the new plan, like data centers, and there will be common user screens developed for both the VA and the Military Health System’s EHRs, both good things, Groen says. But the Defense Department will do what it always does, contract out its EHR system and the VA will keep most of VistA, with improvements added as needed.”
  •  New Veterans Set Record For War-Disability Claims. AP “A staggering 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for injuries they say are service-related. That is more than double the 21 percent who filed such claims after some other relatively recent wars, top government officials told The Associated Press.” The “Department of Veterans Affairs is mired in backlogged claims, but ‘our mission is to take care of whatever the population is,’ said Allison Hickey,” the undersecretary for benefits at VA, which is streamlining its claims system “and going to electronic records.” For now, though, Hickey says VA has “4.4 million case files sitting around 56 regional offices that we have to work with; that slows us down significantly.”
  • Angry Vets Demand End To Backlog Of Disability Claims. Los Angeles Times  In San Francisco on Monday, “more than 200 veterans seeking to expedite stalled and bungled” Veterans Affairs disability claims attended a “heart-wrenching forum” that had been convened by US Reps. Jackie Speier and Barbara Lee, who are both California Democrats. The “main target of the frustrated, often tearful, men and women” was VA’s Oakland office, which “has the second-largest case backlog of any regional office in the country, behind Seattle.” In a room next to the one where Monday’s forum was held, VA workers met with more than 180 veterans, in an attempt to help them with their claims. Meanwhile, VA Western Regional Director Willie Clark “alternately apologized for and defended his beleaguered agency during hours of painful testimony” given by vets who attended Monday’s forum.
  •   Diverticulosis Progression To Diverticulitis Found Surprisingly Rare. Family Practice News  “A new study has found that people with diverticulosis actually have a low risk of progression to diverticulitis – far lower than the rates of 10%-25% commonly cited in the medical literature. The actual rate seems to be at most six cases of progression from diverticulosis to diverticulitis for each 1,000 person years of follow-up.” The “newly derived rate came from a careful review of more than 2,000 people who were identified with diverticulosis in the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and followed for as long as 16 years.”
  • Study Extends Traumatic Brain Pathology To Blast-Exposed Veterans. Family Practice News  “Evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy has been found in autopsies of four blast-exposed veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, signaling a potential overlap of the clinical signs and symptoms of the neurodegenerative disease observed in some athletes with a history of multiple concussions. But the case-control study’s small sample size – four veterans, four athletes with multiple concussions, and four controls without a history of head injury, blast exposure, or neurological disease – and additional history of civilian concussions in the four veterans leaves the specificity of the findings for blast-related trauma under question until further studies can be conducted.” The “study was supported by various grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, the Migraine Research Foundation, the March of Dimes Foundation, and the National Football League.”
  •     “Possibly A Game-Changer.” Middletown (NY) Times Herald-Record  Veterans Affairs is “studying the use of transcendental meditation to help” Iraq and Afghanistan who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After noting that there has been recent criticism of VA’s mental healthcare system, the Times Herald-Record added, “‘Conventional approaches fall woefully short of the mark, so we clearly need a new approach,’ says Norman Rosenthal, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown’s University’s medical school. He addressed a May 3 summit on the use of meditation to treat PTSD, calling it ‘possibly even a game-changer’ in the approach to treatment.”
  •   Cleveland VA Helping Veterans Dealing With Mental Stress Of War. WKYC-TV Latisha Bowen came home from Iraq “with a violent temper she had trouble controlling. Without psychological guidance from the Cleveland VA, she believed she was on a very dark road.” WKYC said a VA polytrauma team directed by Dr. Ronald Riechers helps “returning veterans like Latisha get back into civilian life, even if they’re suffering from traumatic brain injuries or post traumatic stress disorder.” Dr. Riechers told WKYC that he thinks the “most important message veterans need to hear is that things can get better but they’re not going to get better” without help. WUHF-TV VA mental healthcare services.


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