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1. Army patrol dog retires to Fayetteville. Brit is an 8-year-old German shepherd who has spent his entire life — about 56 dog years — in military service. But now, Brit is enjoying retirement in the home of Mark and Jasmine Russell in west Fayetteville, N.C.
2. Credit company to pay $12 million to troops for violating Civil Relief Act. Capital One will pay $12 million to servicemembers and their families to settle claims that it violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, according to documents filed in federal court Thursday.
3. Navy taking measures to fill undermanned at-sea billets. The Navy will ship hundreds of sailors to sea before their projected rotation date to fill undermanned billets, the Navy has announced.
4. Budget officials: Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan underfunded by $94 billion. The Navy’s most recent 30-year construction plan underestimates the cost of growing and maintaining its fleet by more than $3 billion annually over the next three decades, according to a recent analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
5. US construction projects in Afghanistan challenged by inspector general’s report. A U.S. initiative to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on construction projects in Afghanistan, originally pitched as a vital tool in the military campaign against the Taliban, is running so far behind schedule that it will not yield benefits until most U.S. combat forces have departed the country, according to a government inspection report to be released Monday.
6. Veterans still waiting on Oakland VA for help. Ben Curtis was one of hundreds of veterans who attended a Department of Veterans Affairs Fix-It event in San Francisco in May. Sponsored by Bay Area Reps. Barbara Lee and Jackie Speier, it was aimed at reducing the crushing backlog of disability claims –some outstanding for years — in the Oakland regional office.
7. Focus strengthens on local Veterans Treatment Court. Jacksonville Daily Record Part of the program includes a veterans’ justice outreach coordinator who helps veterans find the benefits available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Before the July 23 announcement, one coordinator was responsible for 51 counties. The …
8. Gaps in veterans’ health services must be filled. Boston Globe Along with strained resources, the centralized structure of the US Department of Veterans Affairs health care system can make it difficult for veterans to access the health services that they urgently need. Veterans today have lived through multiple …
9. House Panels Grill VA, DoD On Medical Records Progress. Hampton Roads (VA) Daily Press During a joint hearing of the House Armed Services and Veterans Affairs committees Wednesday, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki acknowledged VA and the DOD “for 10 years have been discussing and taking interim steps toward an integrated Electronic Health Record (iEHR) system. He described as ‘ground breaking’ the fact that he” and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta now agree on “what the system will be and are moving toward it.” But VA Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) “told Shinseki and Panetta not to be satisfied with a 2017 deadline to give healthcare providers access to all VA and military electronic medical records.”
10. VA Putting New Procedure In Place To Speed Up Claims Processing. CNN’s The State Of The Union Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently “testified…on Capitol Hill about a problem we’ve tried to focus on here at ‘State of the Union’ — our military men and women lost in the system.” Secretary Panetta was shown saying, “The reality is that…not all of them are getting the kind of care and benefits that they should be get.” The program noted that VA “says it’s putting in a new procedure to increase and speed up processing of benefit claims.” The program also said it will “continue to pursue a time for VA Secretary Shinseki to join us for a conversation.”
Have You Heard?
Revamped Transition Assistance Program Coming
An emphasis on translating military skills into civilian language has gone into a revamped Transition Assistance Program run by the Department of Defense.
- Iraq And Afghanistan Veterans Urged Into Mental Health Treatment By Telephone Motivational Interviewing. Medical News Today “A brief therapeutic intervention called motivational interviewing, administered over the telephone, was significantly more effective than a simple ‘check-in’ call in getting Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans with mental health diagnoses to begin treatment for their conditions, in a study led” by Dr. Karen Seal, a physician at the Veterans Affairs hospital in San Francisco. The “study was published electronically recently in General Hospital Psychiatry.” In commenting on her study, Seal said VA has “gone to extraordinary lengths to provide these veterans with state-of-the-art, evidence-based mental health treatment. The irony is that they are not necessarily engaging in this treatment. This study was positioned to try to connect our veterans with the treatments that are available to them.”
- Long Journey To Line Jobs At Automakers. Detroit Free Press For “every person who gets a coveted job” on the auto production line in Michigan, “hundreds more don’t.” General Motors (GM) spokesman Bill Grotz “said GM uses more than just referrals in its hiring, including posting on sites such as http://us.jobs. GM also has started recruiting a few military veterans at job fairs, such as the National Veteran Small Business Conference last month in Detroit, he said.”
- Kayaks Help Injured Veterans Enjoy “Day At The Beach” In Goshen. Daily Hampshire (MA) Gazette “Trading wheelchairs for kayaks, 10 veterans with spinal cord injuries spent a day at the beach at the DAR State Park last week.” The “annual picnic is organized by staff at the VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System in Leeds, through its spinal chord injury program, along with the Easthampton-based nonprofit All Out Adventures. Richard McNeil, a nurse with the spinal cord injury program, said the event is popular with the veterans as well as their families and friends.” McNeil added, “It is just an awesome outing that challenges people to get out and enjoy themselves.”
- Lewiston Clinic To Open Doors To Veteran Advocates. Lewiston (ME) Sun Journal “A variety of agencies that help veterans, including the Disabled American Veterans, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Maine Bureau of Veterans Services, will soon be keeping regular hours” at a new Veterans Affairs clinic in Lewiston. The Sun Journal adds, “Currently, several service groups share a suite of offices at the Togus VA hospital. But there are few other central locations in Maine.”
- Medical Foster Care Provides Option For Veterans. Albuquerque (NM) Journal “A new program in New Mexico is matching caregivers with veterans who can no longer live independently but still want to stay in the community. A medical foster home is designed to be an alternative to a nursing home, says Evynea Rocco, medical foster home coordinator for the New Mexico VA Health Care System.” Rocco, who is also a social worker, stated, “Our hope is to find a caregiver who is committed to caring for the veteran as though the caregiver is providing care for their own family member.”
- No Toll Cut For Disabled Veterans In Central Texas. AP “Disabled veterans are not being granted discounts on Central Texas toll roads despite legislation passed in 2009 giving state agencies authority to grant free rides.” Only “toll authorities in the Houston area have granted disabled veterans a discount. Two agencies that oversee Central Texas tolls have not adopted the practice, and do not plan to in the short term.” Austin (TX) American Statesman The inaction by the two agencies that oversee Central Texas tolls has “angered veterans groups and legislators.” But some “toll officials in the state worry the veteran toll discount would open a Pandora’s box of toll discounts for other groups. Others say it could be too expensive.”
- VA Commissioner Warns Against Scams. Columbia (TN) Daily Herald The Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs commissioner encouraged former soldiers to be wary of scam artists when applying for disability benefits.” Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder “visited American Legion Post 19 in Columbia Friday, marking her first time she has appearance in the county. Her visit was part of Maury County Salutes Veterans Day, an event sponsored by Rep. Sheila Butt.”
- Contractors Bemoan Delays As Rookie US Buyers Learn The Ropes. Bloomberg Government “The federal workforce charged with awarding more than $500 billion in contracts annually isn’t as seasoned as it was a decade ago, according to government data.” Bloomberg Government adds, “The Defense Department had the highest share of contracting employees with less than five years of service, at 34 percent. It was followed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, with 33 percent, and the Department of Homeland Security, at 32 percent.” Claudine Adams, the president of a small technology contractor in Maryland, said the lack of experienced contracting employees means she faces an “information black hole.”
- GAO Finds Agency IT Cost Estimation Wanting. FierceGovernmentIT “Few federal cost estimates for information technology programs chosen by the Government Accountability Office for a review are credible–and their parent agencies typically have significant weaknesses in cost-estimating policies and procedures–the GAO says” in a report that was recently posted online. Auditors who worked on the report “selected eight large federal agencies and two projects within each of them for a review of cost-estimating processes.” They concluded “that the Defense Department is the only one of the eight (also including the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Justice, Labor and the Veterans Affairs Administration, plus the Environmental Protection Agency) to meet GAO standards for cost-estimating policies and procedures.”
- Agile Development Faces Challenges At Federal Agencies. FierceGovernmentIT “Federal oversight practices can conflict with agile software development, finds a Government Accountability Office report that also points to other difficulties within federal agencies in using the development method.” For their recent report, GAO auditors “interviewed officials at five large federal agencies with agile projects, including from the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Agile, the report notes, is ‘more a philosophy than a methodology,’ but generally it’s meant to be the iterative antithesis of the linear waterfall development method of requirements-design-development-test-and-delivery.”