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1. Statement by Secretary Panetta on the Passing of General Norman Schwarzkopf. The men and women of the Department of Defense join me in mourning the loss of General Norman Schwarzkopf, whose 35 years of service in uniform left an indelible imprint on the United States military and on the country. The son of a decorated Army officer, General Schwarzkopf followed his father’s legacy of service by enrolling in West Point in the 1950s. His bravery during two tours in Vietnam earned him three silver stars, and set him on the path lead our troops into battle in Grenada, and then to take charge of the overall allied effort in the first Gulf War as Commander of…
2. Vets bills could fall victim to fiscal cliff indecision. A pair of veterans bills with broad support are poised to fail if lawmakers don’t return to town this week.
3. US military’s 2012 year in review. There were significant setbacks as soldiers in Afghanistan transitioned from fighting to mentoring. A mass murder of Afghan civilians and some cultural missteps hindered NATO’s efforts to win hearts and minds in the 11th year of America’s longest war, while incidents of Afghan police and soldiers murdering their American mentors spiked. Some nagging problems persisted more broadly in the military, as well: Navy commanders were relieved at an alarming pace while bad behavior among troops in Japan resulted in curfews and liberty restrictions. Not among the problems, however, was the acceptance of gays serving openly, which despite dire forecasts by opponents happened without major incidents. As a new year begins, the military’s toughest foe might well be dwindling budgets.
4. Chuck Hagel For DOD. The Hill Brent Budowsky, an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, says Chuck Hagel “as secretary of Defense would bring immense confidence in the capitals of America’s allies around the world, and great enthusiasm from veterans and military families throughout America who know him well, and trust him greatly.”
5. Seven New Congress Members Who Will Shake Up Washington. US News & World Report Profiles people who are “expected to be major players” when new members of Congress arrive next month in Washington, DC. Duckworth, a disabled Iraq veteran, “served as the assistant secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.” She will represent Illinois as a Democrat. She “has said she hopes to make policy that better reflects the needs of veterans who return home after combat,” in part by expanding education opportunities.
6. Aloha, Sen. Akaka. AP Outgoing US Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) “said…he knew it was time for him to leave Washington, DC, when, at a family gathering last year, he didn’t recognize some of his grandchildren – didn’t know their names, didn’t know who their parents are.” The AP adds, “Among his proudest achievements is his work on veterans’ issues, including passage of a ’21st Century’ GI Bill to help veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, expansion of veterans’ services and changes in the way veterans’ health care system is funded.” Akaka, who chaired the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee from 2007 to 2010, recently “received a lifetime achievement award for his support of veterans from the Japanese American Veterans Association.”
7. Pennsylvania Supreme Court Piloting Diversion Program For Veterans. Wilkes-Barre (PA) Times Leader “Military veterans facing incarceration for minor criminal charges would have the option of supervised treatment under a pilot program of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The Magisterial District Judge Diversion program, aimed at veteran offenders, was initiated in Centre County in November and will be piloted in Monroe and Westmoreland counties starting Jan. 1.” The Times Leader points out that Veterans Affairs “provides treatment services” for vets taking part in the program.
8. VA Pensioners Annual Report Eliminated. Highland (CA) Community News “On Dec. 20, the VA announced that, effective immediately, it is implementing a new process to confirm beneficiaries’ use of pension benefits.” The agency “will monitor beneficiaries’ continued eligibility by working with the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service,” which “means that recipients of the VA’s Aid & Attendance benefit will no longer be required to complete and submit an annual Eligibility Verification Report (EVR). The VA says it plans to redirect staff who formerly handled EVRs, to help process the claims backlog.”
9. VA Finds Sexual Assaults More Common In War Zones. USA Today “About half of women sent to Iraq or Afghanistan report being sexually harassed, and nearly one in four say they were sexually assaulted, according to new” Veterans Affairs research. Nate Galbreath, a “senior adviser for the Pentagon’s sexual assault prevention office, said reports of any abuse concern him. He said he’s withholding an assessment” of VA’s “findings until he better understands how the research was conducted.”
10. Overtreatment Still A Problem In Healthcare. MedPage Today “Although improvements have been made in the delivery of under-used healthcare services, overuse problems of other services in the ambulatory setting remain, researchers found.” The study was “reported online in Archives of Internal Medicine.” Study “authors have received support from the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Veterans Administration.”
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Office of the Press Secretary
Statement by the Press Secretary on the Passing of General Norman Schwarzkopf
With the passing of General Norman Schwarzkopf, we’ve lost an American original. From his decorated service in Vietnam to the historic liberation of Kuwait and his leadership of United States Central Command, General Schwarzkopf stood tall for the country and Army he loved. Our prayers are with the Schwarzkopf family, who tonight can know that his legacy will endure in a nation that is more secure because of his patriotic service.