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1. Documenting the service of Jewish vets of World War II. Highland Park residents Bill Harris and Albert Miller say every military veteran has a story to tell, and their goal is to capture as many of them on film as they can.
2. Obama’s picks for Secretary of State, Defense may come Friday. President Obama hopes to announce his new national security nominees Friday, but the date depends on the status of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations, administration officials said. The likely choices for top posts are Sen. John F. Kerry as secretary of state and former senator Chuck Hagel as defense secretary.
3. US reimburses Pakistan $688 million. The United States has decided to reimburse Pakistan $688 million for the cost of providing support for some 140,000 troops on the border with Afghanistan. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter notified Congress that the U.S. would make the payment to Islamabad for expenses incurred from June through November 2011.
4. Fort Hood suspect allowed to keep beard at trial. The Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly Fort Hood shooting rampage will be allowed to keep his beard during his military trial.
5. Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, WWII hero, dead at 88. Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, a World War II hero and Medal of Honor recipient who broke racial barriers on Capitol Hill and played key roles in congressional investigations of the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals, died Monday. He was 88.
6. Inouye, A Decorated WWII Vet Who Went On To Long Career In Senate, Dies. NBC Nightly News, Democrat Daniel Inouye, the longest-serving member of the US Senate, has died. According to NBC News, the 88-year-old lawmaker from Hawaii was a disabled World War II veteran and a Medal of Honor recipient. ABC World News ABC did not mention Inouye’s time in the US military, though it did say that he “had been in office since Hawaii became a state in 1959.” Inouye’s “staff said late today that his last word was ‘Aloha,’ Hawaiian for ‘hello’ and ‘I love you,'” and “of course, also for ‘good-bye.'” CBS Evening News Inouye died in Washington on Monday, “in a hospital where he was being treated for respiratory problems.” Inouye “was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism during World War II.” As “President Pro Tem of the
Senate, he was third in line of succession to the presidency.” AP “Inouye was a World War II hero and Medal of Honor winner who lost an arm to a German hand grenade during a battle in Italy.” The veteran “became the first Japanese-American to serve in Congress.” President Barack Obama, a “native of Hawaii, said in a statement, ‘Tonight, our country has lost a true American hero with the passing of Sen. Daniel Inouye. … It was his incredible bravery during World War II…that made Danny not just a colleague and a mentor, but someone revered by all of us lucky enough to know him.”
7. Veterans Feel Anxiety, And Relief, After School Shooting. New York Times When Alex Horton “heard the initial report of a school shooting in Newtown, Conn.,” he thought to himself, “Please don’t let the shooter be a veteran.” Horton adds, “Unfortunately, with the ubiquity of rapid-fire news without context on complicated issues like mental health, veterans are a group uniquely (and unfairly) singled out as broken and unstable, damaged by the horrors and experience of war.” The Newtown gunmen, notes Horton, was not a veteran but he did have a form of autism called Asperger syndrome. Horton concludes that perhaps people with the syndrome and veterans “can work together and learn how to combat…unfair and damaging characterizations” that they face in society.
8. Preparing Troops For The Job Wars. Air Force Times “The high unemployment rate among veterans in recent years has sparked a transformation in the way the Pentagon views separating service members and its own role in preparing them for life in the civilian world. A sweeping overhaul of the military’s Transition Assistance Program is recognition that many service members – whether officers retiring after 20 years or young enlisted troops separating after a single term of service – will be facing the civilian job market for the first time and likely need basic tactical instruction.” Veterans Affairs “helped draw up a portion of the three-day class about the GI Bill and other benefits.”
9. VA Office In Wichita Cited For Errors, Delays. McClatchy “The Wichita regional office of the Department of Veterans Affairs made errors in half of a set of key disability reviews, often because of poor training or because staff wasn’t scheduling medical exams as required, according to a recent inspection.” The office, “which handles disability claims from veterans who live in Kansas,” has begun correcting the problems identified by VA’s inspector general. McClatchy adds, “In an interview, VA officials said they were in the midst of a significant transformation of their benefits operation and that error rates and processing times – both longtime issues for the VA – are expected to drop.” Beth McCoy, a VA official who oversees offices in the region of the country that includes Wichita, said, “Our undersecretary is constantly challenging us to go faster and find better efficiencies.”
10. Shorter Hospital Stays Don’t Necessarily Mean Higher Readmissions: Study. Modern Healthcare “Hospitals that have grappled with how best to curb length of stay while also preventing readmissions may find comfort in a new study that suggests that a drop in the former does not necessarily mean a greater number of the latter. Using 14 years of data from 129 Veterans Affairs hospitals, researchers concluded that an overall reduction in risk-adjusted length of stay was not associated with a corresponding spike in 30-day readmission rates, according to the VA-funded study, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.” Authors of the study wrote, “Instead of reducing or eliminating payment for a readmission, further research is necessary to determine whether readmission costs more or less than the actual index admission and change payment based on the actual cost of care.”
Have You Heard?
Sen. Daniel Inouye: 1924-2012
On December 18, Sen. Daniel Inouye, an Army Veteran of World War II, Medal of Honor recipient, and longstanding Veterans advocate, passed away at the age of 88.
Read VA Secretary Shinseki’s statement