Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – January 31, 2013


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


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1.   Can veteran Hagel bridge gap between Pentagon and VA?  If former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel can survive his nomination fight in the Senate, President Barack Obama’s second-term Cabinet will become the first to boast Vietnam veterans leading the departments of defense, state and veterans affairs.
2.   Hagel pledges, as defense chief, focus on Iran attack options.  Chuck Hagel is pledging that as defense secretary he will “focus intently on ensuring the U.S. military” is prepared to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities if needed.
3.   Defense spending plummets in biggest decline since Vietnam.  Defense spending plummeted in the last three months of the year, which may foreshadow the dangers to the economy of across-the-board budget reductions set to kick in March 1.
4.   Tax tips just in time for the launch of filing season.  Tax season officially kicked off Wednesday, later than usual because lawmakers only this month passed legislation to address expired tax cuts. The IRS needed time to update its forms and systems.
5.   GAO: Military personnel lack guidance on responding to sex assaults.  The military does not always do enough to respond to victims of sexual assault, according to a report released Tuesday, a week after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that he was lifting the official ban on women in combat.
6.   US Patriot deployment in Turkey mired in bureaucratic red tape.  U.S. Patriot missile batteries deployed as part of the NATO mission to protect Turkey from a possible missile strike from Syria remain inactive in connection with a bureaucratic logjam, according to U.S. officials.
7.   Lawmakers Aim To Close GI Bill Loopholes.  Fayetteville (NC) Observer A “bill filed in Congress would force public colleges and universities to offer in-state tuition to veterans using their GI Bill benefits.” The Observer added, “Veterans relying on the GI Bill who are charged out-of-state tuition are caught in a doughnut hole: Even if the out-of-state rate is cheaper than a local private school, the GI Bill won’t cover the out-of-state premium.”

8.   Sandy Relief Bill Covers Some Of VA’s Information Technology Costs.  NextGov A “$50 billion Hurricane Sandy relief bill passed by the Senate” earlier this week “includes $207 million for the Manhattan Veterans Affairs hospital, closed due to extensive flood damage after the October 2012 storm,” and “$531,000 for the VA information technology account for Sandy related expenses” Martina Parauda, “director of VA’s New York Harbor Healthcare System, said in a Facebook post last week after the House passed the bill that the disaster funds will allow VA to ‘move forward with plans to redesign the facility, creating a new home for outpatient clinics and move utilities above sea level.’ Outpatient clinics at the hospital will reopen in March, Parauda said.
9.   VA Grants For Women’s Health Programs Expand Telehealth Efforts.  FierceHealthIT  “Women’s care with a special emphasis on telehealth is at the forefront of 33 grants awarded” by “Veterans Affairs to VA facilities. The money will go toward improving emergency healthcare services for female veterans, expanding women’s health education programs and offering telehealth programs in rural areas, according to an announcement.” In commenting on the new grants, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said projects funded by the grants “will improve access and quality of critical healthcare services for women.”
10.  Separate And Unequal: Sexual Assault Survivors In The Military.  Huffington Post Sandra Park, a staff attorney for the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, writes, “The documentary Invisible War played a vital role in bringing much needed attention to the horrific experiences of servicemembers who are sexually assaulted.” And today, the “ACLU, Service Women’s Action Network and the Yale Veteran Legal Services Clinic will be back in federal court in our ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. We filed the lawsuit because the extent to which the government addresses, ignores, and hides military sexual trauma and its effects must be fully known” before “we truly address the injustice that helps perpetuate military sexual violence.”

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