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1. University program helps faculty prepare for veterans in classrooms. Last semester, when a student in her class casually commented that “soldiers don’t care who they shoot at,” professor Marilyn McMorrow wasn’t sure how the Iraq War veteran a few seats away would react.
2. DOD civilian furloughs planned; What it means for you. Pentagon officials said that if sequestration is not averted, they would notify civilians in late March of impending furloughs. Based on guidance from the Pentagon and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, here’s what sequestration could mean to hundreds of thousands of DOD employees worldwide.
3. Mabus: Automatic defense cuts could break ship, aircraft contracts. Massive cuts to the defense budget scheduled to take place March 1 could jeopardize acquisition of future Navy ships and planes purchased under multi-year contracts, the Navy’s top civilian leader said Wednesday.
4. Helmet sensors help Army study brain injury. Known as HEADS, the gadget contains a sensor and data recorder that is glued into a soldier’s helmet. The device sits dormant until a blow is detected, then it measures and records acceleration information.
Army Post Sets Example in Curbing Suicides, Preventable Deaths. As military leaders struggle to reverse rising suicide rates within the force, Fort Bliss, Texas, is bucking the national trend, reporting a 30-percent drop last year and serving as a promising model for the Army and its sister services.
6. Petition Seeks To Lower Rank Of Distinguished Warfare Medal. FOX News America Live There is “some outrage over a new military medal for cyber and drone combatants. Many veterans say they’re furious that someone operating from a safe, remote location could get an honor higher than some of those who actually face our enemies on the battlefield.” A petition to lower the rank of the Distinguished Warfare Medal “needs to have 100,000 signatures” by March 16th “for the White House to fully review this entire medal situation.”
7. Pentagon Reworks PTSD Strategy. McClatchy “The Defense Department aims to create a more accepting environment for service members seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder in its latest behavioral health guidelines.” The “new guidelines de-emphasize one of the two main criteria doctors use to diagnose PTSD – that patients feel a sense of overwhelming ‘fear, helplessness or horror’ during a traumatic event.” Both the “Army and the Department of Veterans Affairs are moving away from that diagnostic criterion, because they found that service members tend to be unwilling to admit to feeling a sense of ‘helplessness’ in combat.”
8. Veterans Programs Should Be Overseen By One Federal Entity, Report Says. Washington Post “A think tank report being released Tuesday calls for the creation of a single federal entity to oversee and coordinate national veterans programs and policies that are now spread among at least six federal agencies apart from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The proposal is part of a ‘National Veterans Strategy’ being released by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, which argues for a more holistic approach to how the financially strapped country should care for veterans after more than a decade of war.” The “institute, which was established at Syracuse in 2011 with a $7.5 million grant from JPMorgan Chase, proposes that the Obama administration appoint a presidential commission to make recommendations for a ‘whole-of-government’ approach to veteran programs and initiatives.”
9. House Veterans Affairs Committee To Conduct Hearing. EHRIntelligence “The House Veterans Affairs Committee is not very happy with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. Following their unexpected decision to scrap ambitious plans for a joint EHR system earlier this month, the Congressional committee has announced a hearing titled ‘Electronic Health Record U-Turn: Are VA and DoD Headed in the Wrong Direction?’ that will no doubt ask some uncomfortable questions about the sudden change in plans.” EHRIntelligence adds, “Regardless of the outcome of the probe and the path the DoD and VA will ultimately take, the public relations debacle will provide a valuable lesson for organizations looking to implement large-scale IT innovations: be very sure of the outcome before making prematurely optimistic announcements.”
10. Baltimore VA Office Gets Help With Backlog. Washington Post “Teams of claims handlers and new technology are being deployed to help the troubled Baltimore Veterans Affairs office, where veterans face some of the longest waits in the country to have their cases handled, VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said Tuesday. ‘Many veterans, including those living in Maryland, have to wait too long for benefits, and that’s never acceptable,’ Shinseki said during an appearance at the Baltimore office” with US Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD). According to the Post, Mikulski “said Congress must ensure that the VA is given the resources needed to cut” its claims backlog.
Have You Heard?
Top VA Health Stories of 2012: Of the more than 100 feature articles which appeared on our health page in 2012, Veterans and their families found these top 10 to be the most popular, and we hope, the most helpful. Take a look »