Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – January 28, 2013


 Veterans! Here’s your Top 10 News stories of the day compiled from the latest sources


We encourage you to browse our list so that you can take what you want and keep what you need

1.   US clears legal hurdles to Mali aid, but internal debate continues.  The Obama administration has resolved its legal questions about supporting the French military in Mali, but an internal debate is ongoing over whether more assistance is in U.S. policy interests.
2.   Women at war touches on broader issues of gender roles.  The announcement from the Pentagon on Thursday in some ways signaled only a change in nomenclature, codifying actions that are often already in practice. But symbolically, it was seismic.
3.   DOD’s 46,000 temporary workers may face firing.  The Pentagon has given managers authority to start firing some of its 46,000 temporary workers now in anticipation of across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect in March according to Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
4.   Desert Storm veteran is a natural teacher.  Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Ricky Lobo spent the last 10 years of his military career as an instructor, whether it was training new privates, drill sergeants or non-commissioned officers.So it’s no surprise he now feels at home in a high school classroom.
5.   Book Shares Aroostook County WWII Hero’s Battle With PTSD.  Bangor (ME) Daily News  A new book that reflects a World War II soldier’s experience with PTSD. The book, “In the Shadow of a Mountain: A Soldier’s Struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” was written by Susan Dahlgren Daigneault about the life of her father, the late Edward C. Dahlgren, an Army lieutenant who earned the Medal of Honor for leading the rescue of his fellow soldiers facing a German counterattack. Dahlgren suffered the rest of his life, but his daughter said the way he “lived his life provides lessons for all of us on how to live well, even while struggling to do so.”
6.   After Combat, Do Military Moms Get More Depressed Than Women Without Kids?  Washington Post  Justin Moyer notes recent research that suggests women who recently became mothers “may be more prone to depression after seeing action” on the battlefield. The Journal of Women’s Health carried the results of a study by the Naval Health Research Center that was based on “surveys of more than 1,600 women who ‘gave birth during active duty service.'”

7.   Pentagon Must Do More To Understand Suicide Problem.  Washington Post  In 2012, more military service members died by suicide than on the battlefield. “The numbers are a grim reminder of the challenge that suicide has long posed for the military – and they should lend urgency to the Pentagon’s efforts to combat this insidious problem. … More needs to be done to understand the causes, with particular attention on traumatic brain injury.” The Post welcomes the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 because it removed the bar to commanders speaking to their troops about their private weapons. “Such discussions are important, given that 60 percent of the 2011 suicides were committed with firearms, and most of those were personal weapons,” adds the Post.
8.   Auditors: Veterans Affairs Overpaid Disabled Vets.  Federal Times “inspectors say the most stubborn, chronic mistake made by Veterans Affairs Department claims examiners while trying to dig their way out of a growing backlog of cases is overcompensating some veterans.” Brent Arronte, director of inspections for the VA’s Office of Inspector General, said a rating mistake “will run forever until somebody like us stumbles upon it.” That office says it projects that the “VA overpaid 12,800 veterans $943 million from 1993 to 2009” and could add “another $1.1 billion…by 2016” if claims aren’t revisited. The Times provides more detail, including remarks from the VA about how it is proceeding, noting that “the mistakes occur in a narrow batch of cases where veterans temporarily receive a 100 percent disability rating while undergoing surgery or debilitating treatments and convalescing.”
9.   Baltimore VA Office Worst In The Country For Processing Disability Claims.  Baltimore Sun  “The Baltimore office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is the slowest in the country in processing disability claims for servicemen and servicewomen – averaging about a year – and makes more mistakes than any other office.” It says the local “failures…are a symptom of a national breakdown,” as “more than 900,000 veterans wait an average of nine months for the agency to determine whether they qualify for disability benefits, according to the VA.” The Sun includes information on an Iraq war veteran who “has been hospitalized three times for paranoia and anxiety caused by post-traumatic stress disorder since he filed his disability claim with the Baltimore office 21/2 years ago. He’s still waiting for his benefits.”
10.   Beattyville Woman, 93, Honored For Her Service In The Army.  Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader  Mary Helen McGuire of the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore, who was honored Friday “with multiple medals” for her World War II service. She served in the Army “in England, France and Germany, dodged Nazi ‘buzz bombs,’ fed soldiers wounded in the Battle of the Bulge, and helped secure victory,” yet McGuire, 93, “says she can’t agree with Thursday’s U.S. Defense Department decision lifting the longstanding ban on women serving in combat.” The Herald-Leader says that her reaction may “reflect the times in which she served.” Her generation was told, “GIs have enough to do taking of themselves without having to worry about your protection.” The report details some of her service.

Have You Heard?

There have been a few times I’ve used VA services when I’ve asked, “Why do they need this information from me? Isn’t it out there somewhere?” This is especially true for anyone who has had to fill out an eligibility verification report to confirm eligibility for benefits—an annual event that put the burden of information on Veterans and drew resources away from VA staff.

Now the red tape is coming off the verification process. From WBTV:

VA will implement a new process for confirming eligibility for benefits, and staff that had been responsible for processing the old form will instead focus on eliminating the compensation claims backlog.

Historically, beneficiaries have been required to complete an EVR each year to ensure their pension benefits continued.

Under the new initiative, VA will work with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) to verify continued eligibility for pension benefits.

About 100 VA employees handle those verifications, so now they’ll be put to good use by tackling the claims backlog.

Check out VA’s benefits page on Facebook, Twitter, and their home page.


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