Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – July 30, 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.   2005 BRAC cost more, saved less than estimatedThe 2005 BRAC round has fallen fall short of its original billing – at least as far as taxpayer savings are concerned. Overall, one-time construction costs related to BRAC jumped by 67 percent, from a $21 billion estimate to $35.1 billion in 2011.

2.   A long sail to retirement for the USS EnterpriseAfter the USS Enterprise is defueled and stripped down at Newport News Shipbuilding as part of its retirement from the Navy fleet, the hulking ship must be towed to the Seattle area, home of the only shipyard capable of disposing its nuclear reactors.

3.   Marines aim to counter teachers’ opposition to recruiting studentsThe bellowing from the drill instructors began as soon as the newcomers arrived. But instead of young recruits, the group was made up of were high school teachers, guidance counselors and administrators from school districts in the Los Angeles and Sacramento areas who had accepted the Marine Corps’ invitation to spend four days at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, watching the training and talking to recruits, enlisted Marines and senior officers.

4.   US is the driving force behind the fighting in SomaliaNearly 20 years after U.S. Army Rangers suffered a bloody defeat in Somalia, losing 18 soldiers and two Black Hawk helicopters, Washington is once again heavily engaged in the chaotic country. Only this time, African troops are doing the fighting and dying.

5.   Search team finds U-boat off NantucketThe U-550 disappeared to the bottom of the ocean for 68 years, until Monday, when a team of history buffs skilled in diving and sonar found the doomed submarine, largely untouched.

 
6.   Korean war veterans in Arizona recall conflictThe United States military forces in Korea at the onset of the war in 1950 had been devastated by enemy forces. By July of 1950 they had been cornered in the southeast corner of the Korean Peninsula. But the battered men were determined to maintain the “Pusan Perimeter” that surrounded the strategically important port city of Pusan on the coast.

 
7.   Voting-rights debate sets off alarms among disabled people and their advocates“I want to vote,” said Dave McMahan, a 61-year-old military veteran with mental illness who lives in a Minneapolis group home and has his affairs controlled by a legal guardian. “I’ve been through sweat and blood to vote. I don’t want my rights taken away, because I fought for my rights here in the United States and expect to keep them that way.”
 
8.   Fort Jackson military dog is a contender for hero awardOn Oct. 6, Gabe, a weapons sniffing dog at Fort Jackson who conducted 210 combat missions in Iraq – and has more than 20,000 Facebook friends – will be cooling his paws at the Beverly Hills Hilton with the likes of Betty White and Whoopi Goldberg.

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9.   Local state offers benefits for veteran-owned businesses.  WPSD Local 6  “It helps the veteran-owned businesses that are here today connect the dots to get access to those state contracts,” said Louis Pukelis, spokesperson for the Illinois Deparment of Veterans Affairs. Governor Pat Quinn signed a new measure into law last year …

10.   Neglected War of 1812 gravesites may get a federal sprucing-up after all.  Toronto Star  U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs spokeswoman Jo Schuda confirmed that “if someone could be shown as having been a veteran, regardless of the conflict, we could provide a marker. It would indicate, among other things, years of active duty.” Heritage …

 

More Veteran News

  • Few “Must Pass” Measures In Pre-Recess Week.  CQ If bills are to reach President Obama’s desk during the final days before the “five-week recess,” lawmakers will have to “address political imperatives shared by both parties.” Lawmakers in both chambers are “trying to push through legislation that would give veterans priority for Federal jobs and are taking other steps to help jobless veterans find work.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) “said the veterans job corps proposal backed by Obama has momentum.” And, Sen. Richard M. Burr (NC), the “ranking Republican on Veterans’ Affairs, said there is a bicameral deal to advance the measure, which includes Republican proposals to improve job-referral services” and streamline Veterans Affairs’ operations.
  • Some Fixes Needed To Get Vet Programs Moving.  AP  Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki appeared “before a rare joint hearing” of the House Armed Services Committee and Veterans Affairs Committee Wednesday to “explain what progress had been made in coordinating programs at the two massive departments.” Lawmakers listed complaints and asked questions about “homeless veterans, rising troop suicides, vet unemployment and “VA clinics overrun with veterans in need” of mental health care. Panetta and Shinseki said their departments are cooperating like never before but acknowledged there are still bureaucratic problems because each department has a “complex system of care, benefits and services.” Panetta said bureaucratic “foot dragging and infighting is slowing urgently needed programs” and noted that officials are working to fix the problems.
  • Integrated VA-DOD Health Record At Least 5 Years Away.  Chicago Tribune House Armed Services and VA Committees’ members on Wednesday “were disappointed” that VA and DOD do not expect to have a fully integrated EHR system “until 2017.” VA Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Bill Johnson (R-OH) told VA Secretary Eric Shinseki his department “lacked ‘an overall information technology architecture.'” But Shinseki said he and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta are now in agreement on an iEHR system and are moving forward with it. Moreover, IPO Director Barclay P. Butler recently said VA and DOD are “leading the nation in developing” an iEHR protocol as they continuously test the two systems’ ability to transport information at the James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center.

 

  • Veterans’ Jobs Program Gets An Overhaul.  AP  President Obama on Monday announced a redesign of the Transition Assistance Program. “Starting later this year, assistance will begin earlier in a military career, rather than at the end. There will be more one-on-one help, a separate focus for those wanting to go back to school or start their own businesses.” In the redesigned program “will have a fancier new name — Transition GPS – and classes will be “five to seven days, rather than the current three and more things will be mandatory for most people.”
  • State Hopes $1.5 Million Effort Will Reduce Backlog Of Veterans’ Disability Claims.  Austin (TX) American Statesman  State officials in Texas will “spend $1.5 million to create special teams of claims counselors in hopes of putting a dent into the backlog of disability claims pending before the Department of Veterans Affairs.” Texas Veterans Commission spokesperson Rachel Shumaker said the one-year initiative, which officials hope to make permanent, will seek to reduce the backlog of the most severely delayed claims by at least 17,000.” The TVC will “create ‘state strike force teams’ at VA regional offices in Waco and Houston, where pending claims wait to be processed.” The effort will include hiring 34 “new claims counselors” to work with “existing counselors at VA hospitals and clinics in Austin, Temple, San Antonio, Houston, McAllen, Dallas and Fort Worth.”  KRGV-TV Gov. Rick Perry also “authorized a $100,000 grant from the Governor’s Office so TVC can begin immediately addressing the issue.” Perry said, “Our veterans have put their lives on the line in the name of service to our country” and Texas “will not sit by while our veterans wait to receive their benefits from the federal government.”
  • Study Examines Suicide Among OEF, OIF Vets.  Army Times Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are “no more likely to commit suicide than other veterans – unless they have been diagnosed with a mental health condition,” according to a study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. The analysis showed that a “mental health diagnosis increased the suicide risk in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans four-fold.” The study also suggested certain “mental health conditions, namely substance use, depression and schizophrenia” but not PTSD “correlated with higher risk.” The researchers, from the VA Serious Mental Illness Treatment Resource and Evaluation Center and VA’s Office of Mental Health Services, said the findings “show suicide prevention efforts and readjustment assistance are ‘particularly important for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with mental health problems.'”
  •   Trauma Program Gains Ally.  Albany (NY) Times Union  Bob Nevins, a “medevac pilot in Vietnam who created a horse-based healing program for veterans,” has “found an important advocate” in Rebecca Morrison, the “widow of a West Point graduate who committed suicide after serving in Iraq.” Nevins and a “team of specialists built a training program in Saratoga County that they hope will treat 700 veterans and service members annually. The Veterans Health Administration is considering funding the project nationwide.”

 

  • Florida Lacks Adequate Mental Health Finding To Serve Growing Number Of Veterans Seeking Treatment. WXJT-TV “Florida’s mental health finding is now under the microscope. … Large numbers of veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from PTSD and they are also finding delays in getting treatment. VFW Post 3308 Commander Mark Alvarez believes that as many as 40 percent coming home are feeling the effects of combat.” Alvarez: “They’re very quiet, very edgy sometimes and they lose their focus at times.” WXJT added, “A swamped VA is the first place for those seeking help to turn; and after that, it is private or state programs. But the problem is that Florida ranks 50th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in mental health funding; and experts say the state is losing ground.”
  •  A Canine Prescription For Veterans.  Clarksville (TN) Leaf Chronicle “For an increasing number of combat veteran sufferers of traumatic stress, help doesn’t come in the form of a pill, but rather from a four-legged, cold-nosed live-in therapist.” Dogs are an “innovative approach to a long-standing and worsening” PTSD and “groups are springing up nationwide to help find dogs and train them to help veterans with combat and traumatic stress, as well as traumatic brain injuries.” Iraq veteran Chris Crawford, a “former cavalry scout” who struggles with “severe PTSD, says that nothing in the medical arena he has used can compare to the practical effect of having a dog trained to recognize his symptoms and to intervene when necessary.”

 

  • How One Soldier Regained His Life.  KTVO-TV  Operation Warrior Wellness Founder Jerry Yellin, was a WWII Veteran “suffering from PTSD until he discovered Transcendental Meditation.” The program helped Afghanistan veteran Luke Jensen, who says transcendental meditation is the reason he is “still with his family today.” Jensen sends out a particular message to others suffering from PTSD: “‘If you’re not willing to get help for yourself, do it for your family.”

 

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