Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – July 13, 2012

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

 

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1.   Report: Troops open to increased pay now, health-care fees laterTroops may be open to substantial cuts in military retirement and health care benefits that could save the Defense Department billions in future personnel costs, according to a new think tank report released Thursday. But any such plan would need to be combined with immediate pay increases and other personnel perks to get the backing of servicemembers.
 
2.   Former homeless veteran lands $4M government contractAllen Edwards, CEO of EBA Enterprises Inc. and a veteran who was once homeless, recently landed a $4 million federal government contract to do construction work on the Arlington National Cemetery visitors center.

3.   US Department of Veterans Affairs Makes Major Investment in Microsoft.  Businessweek  With the goal of strengthening its technology investment to transform healthcare, benefits and other services for America’s veterans, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has renewed its commitment to Microsoft Corp., …

4.   SBA Launches Program to Help Transitioning Service Members and Veterans.  MarketWatch  The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has joined with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) to launch a training program for transitioning service members and veterans to help them become entrepreneurs and …

5.   Homes for heroes in the works.  Our Colorado News  Through partnerships with Jefferson County’s departments of human services and community development, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Metro West Housing Solutions will be …

6.   100000 Jobs Mission: 18249 Veterans Hired Through Second Quarter 2012.  MarketWatch  … the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the American Legion, Illinois Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, Student Veterans of America (SVA), U.S. Department of Labor – VETS, U.S …

7.   Processing of retroactive Agent Orange claims nearly complete.  Groesbeck Journal
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that nearly 230000 claims have already been processed for the three newest Agent-Orange related conditions through June 2012, including over 150000 claims required to be adjudicated under the
 
8.   Iraq War Veteran Faces Election Fraud Charges. AP  Iraq veteran Christopher Bain “and his wife are charged with forging dozens of names on nominating petitions in a bid for a seat in the Pennsylvania legislature.” The couple “faces charges including tampering with public records, forgery and obstruction.” Christopher Bain was “featured in a US News & World Report story on disabled soldiers and Walter Reed Army Medical Center.”
 
9.   VA Program To Bring Specialty Care To Veterans In Rural Areas. Healthcare IT News  “A new initiative from the Department of Veterans Affairs seeks to bring better care to veterans in remote parts of the country. Specialty Care Access Network-Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (SCAN-ECHO) will deploy video conferencing equipment to rural and underserved locations.” In a news release, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said, “Through SCAN-ECHO, patients in rural areas with complex medical conditions are now able to receive specialty care treatment from their local VA physician.” Healthcare IT News adds, “Shinseki has said that one VA’s top three priorities is increasing access to care and services for veterans wherever they live.”
 
10.   Hickey Says VA Is Improving Its Claims System.  Military Times “Veterans Affairs Department officials pledged Wednesday that its backlog of benefits claims will begin to shrink, with hopes for a modest 5 percent improvement by the end of the year and a more significant drop in 2013 as changes in claims handling and employee training take root.” During a conference call with reporters, Allison Hickey, VA’s undersecretary for benefits, “said improvements are coming” because VA is done processing some Agent Orange-related claims that had been clogging the system. Hickey also noted that VA is expanding an “express lane” claims processing program and that VA has had success with a training program for its new claims processing employees. But in a statement, US Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) “said he wants to see ‘a long-term plan, not these continuous announcements by VA to give the appearance that the veterans will get their claims decided faster.'”

 

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More Veteran News


  •    Building Code Measure Endorsed By House Veterans’ Panel. CQ  “Groups seeking funds from the Department of Veterans Affairs for programs to help homeless veterans would need to document that their buildings meet or exceed all safety codes under legislation approved” by the House Veterans Affairs Committee on Wednesday. The bill “also would direct the VA secretary to give priority to groups seeking VA grants for homelessness projects if they use some of the funds to make improvements to a building in order to ensure it meets safety code standards.” CQ adds, “VA Secretary Eric Shinseki has set a goal of providing housing by 2015 for each veteran who does not have a place to live.”
  •   State Budget Problems Affect Two Veterans Homes In California. CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront  “California has a budget shortfall of $15.7 billion, yet spent a quarter billion in state and Federal funds to build two new state-of-the-art nursing homes for veterans.” But the state, which “can’t come up with enough money to run the places,” is now “spending a fortune maintaining” the mostly empty facilities, frustrating vets who want to reside there. CNN adds, “According to the California Department of Veterans Affairs, money to maintain facilities like this and to prepare them to begin to accept residents is one of the only areas of the state budget that was actually spared from cuts.”
  •     Veteran Burial Legislation Approved By House Veterans Affairs Committee. CQ  The House Veterans Affairs Committee “voted Wednesday to create a new memorial at Arlington National Cemetery that supporters say will ensure that the unidentifiable and fragmented remains of combat veterans will never again be cast off in a landfill.” The legislation was included in an omnibus veterans bill that included a proposal which would require VA “to provide for proper burial of veterans with no next of kin.” The bill included a “provision that would allow mourning families to display any religious symbols they wish at military funerals” and that would “instruct…VA to respect the family’s wishes and allow them access to public spaces of national cemeteries to the greatest degree possible.”
  •    Omnibus Veterans Bill Would Direct VA To Create Burn Pit Exposure Registry. AP An omnibus veterans bill approved on Wednesday included legislation that would direct VA to “create a government registry” with “information on the number of veterans exposed” to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan “and the types of health problems they later reported.”
  •  Veterans Retraining Assistance Program Helps Clark College Students. Oregonian 40-year-old Clark College student Darin Weldon says Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) will pay for his schooling. The program “provides a $1,473 monthly stipend to veterans to pay the cost of community college or technical school. Unemployed veterans between ages 35 and 60 who aren’t participating in federal or state job-training programs are eligible.”
  • Mental Disorders Among Troops Up 65% Since 2000. Military Times  “Diagnoses for mental disorders among active-duty troops have risen 65 percent in the past 12 years, with adjustment disorders the most common condition, according to a new Defense Department report.” Authors of the report “noted that the increase in mental health diagnoses in the military coincides with a similar rise in the general population. Researchers said it also might reflect a growing willingness in the military to seek treatment for emotional or behavioral problems.”
  • Canine Battle Buddies Bring Healing To PTSD Veterans. Asbury Park (NJ) Press The “new Canine Battle Buddies program, started by local resident” J.T. Gabriel, “matches service dogs…to veterans, training the warriors with online college courses and hands-on training to care for their dogs. ‘The Veterans (Affairs Department) doesn’t pay for service dogs, but they will pay for college credits,’ Gabriel explained,” adding, “So we have a program set up with Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, Pa., whereby…veterans” who have post-traumatic stress disorder “can earn 10 college credits in canine care.”
  •   Gallo Center To Lead New Army-Backed Program Aimed At Substance Abuse, Combat Injury, PTSD Links. San Francisco Business Times  “The Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center will manage a new $15 million, US Army-funded program aimed at discovering and developing new ways to treat alcohol and substance abuse for people with post-traumatic stress and combat injuries. The Emeryville-based Gallo Center, which is affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco, will administer and manage the new Institute for Molecular Neuroscience.” On Wednesday, the awarded three research grants, one of which went to “Steven Batki at the Northern California Institute for Research and Education at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center.” Batki was awarded $598,519, according to the Business Times.
  • How To Get Mobile Under Control. Federal Computer Week  “Third-party mobile device management (MDM) solutions promise a consolidated set of tools to help IT managers control smart phones and mobile hardware across multiple operating systems.” But Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel has “acknowledged that the government is still in the early days of defining the details of that platform.” However, Veterans Affairs and some other agencies are “plowing ahead with internal evaluations of MDM solutions to find options that will meet their needs.” Federal Computer Week quotes DJ Kachman, VA’s director of security assurance and mobile technologies, who said, “For us to stay cutting-edge in delivering medical services to veterans, we need to take a look at all the technology out there – not only from a VA standpoint but also from the veterans’ standpoint.”

 

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