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1. DOD lends staff to VA to address claims backlog. The Defense Department is developing more in-depth exit physicals for departing troops and lending staff to the Department of Veterans Affairs in an effort to help eliminate the massive backlog of disability claims.
2. Shinseki worries sequestration still could hurt vets. The Veterans Affairs secretary said secondary effects of the military spending cuts could hurt his department too.
3. Austin will be nominated to lead US Central Command. Gen. Lloyd Austin will be nominated to lead U.S. Central Command. Austin, the vice chief of staff of the Army, is “one of the military’s most seasoned combat leaders — with extensive experience in the CENTCOM area of responsibility,” Defense Secretary Panetta said.
4. Coburn, McCain sway Senate to bigger military prescription fees. Late-hour speeches by Republican Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.) and John McCain (Ariz.) on runaway military health costs led the Senate Tuesday to shelve a defense bill amendment that would have spared family members and retirees more burdensome co-pays on drug prescriptions filled off base.
5. US providing support in African-led Mali effort. U.S. military experts are providing key planning support to regional militaries on a strategy for an African-led intervention in northern Mali, which has become a safe haven for al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations, U.S. defense officials said Wednesday.
6. Buddy says he’ll care for slain Lewis-McChord soldier’s family. Staff Sgt. Rayvon Battle and Sgt. George Fuller once made a pact: If either soldier ever got hurt, the other would take care of the fallen man’s family. Both believed they’d never have to follow through on the deal. They were wrong.
7. Warrior Hope and Care Center to open at Camp Lejeune. Once open, the Camp Lejeune facility will support more than 200 wounded, ill and injured Marines and sailors, as well as their families, with mental health care services, medical case management, recovery care coordinators, transition services, education specialists, family support and chaplain programs.
8. Quaint town of Bastogne, Belgium, rich with wartime history, memorabilia. They speak French in Bastogne, Belgium, but if there is an official second language in this town of 15,000, it would have to be “American.”
9. Manhattan VA Will Partially Re-Open In Spring. WNYC-FM “The Manhattan V.A. Hospital – which was damaged severely by Sandy, will partly re-open next March, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.” Yet, officials say that to be able to again provide “full-time care, including the ability to perform surgery and keep patients overnight, will require many more repairs.” The hurricane “caused the ‘catastrophic failure’ of many of the hospital’s systems, including electricity, heat, water, elevators, fire protection and computers, according to the VA.”
10. Michaud Ranking Dem On Veterans’ Affairs Committee. AP “Rep. Mike Michaud of Maine is now ranking Democrat on the Veterans Affairs’ Committee, a panel on which he has served since being sworn into office in 2003. Michaud was selected by the House Democratic Caucus on Wednesday, and the appointment became effective immediately following the resignation of Rep. Bob Filner of California.”
Have You Heard?
Secretaries Shinseki and Panetta Discuss Collaboration Efforts
On December 6, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta held a joint press event to discuss ongoing points of collaboration between the two agencies.
Check out the highlights.