Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – February 25, 2013

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

 

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1.   Famous ‘Victory or Death’ letter returns to Alamo The iconic “Victory or Death” letter from the commander of the Alamo has returned for the first time since it was carried away on horseback at the start of the famous siege in 1836.
 
2.   After 62 years, Marine’s fate remains unknownMarine Pfc. Billy Gene Fields simply disappeared in the frozen hills of North Korea on Dec. 11, 1950, while his convoy scrambled to get its deuce-and-ahalf trucks away from the bloody battlefields around the Chosin Reservoir to the relative safety of the port of Hungnam.
 
3.   New Jersey vet surprised by quick action to fix veterans cemeteryA Vietnam War veteran didn’t expect much of a response when he pushed for improvements to a local veterans cemetery. But local New Jersey officials reacted quickly to the appeal and a major renovation to the Cape May County Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery is now under way.
 
4.   Analysis: Kerry’s divergence from Obama on foreign affairs raises questionsJohn Kerry opened his diplomatic mission to Syria in 2009 with a decidedly undiplomatic question for President Bashar Assad: Why did so few Arab leaders trust Assad?
 
5.   Florida lawmaker firm on tax exemption for military housingHaving thrown her support behind a bill that would erase an $11.5 million tax lien on U.S. Navy housing, state Rep. Holly Raschein, Republican from Key Largo, appears poised to take on the city of Key West, Monroe County Property Appraiser’s Office and, to some extent, her own constituency.
 
6.   United Arab Emirates set to buy US Predator dronesThe United Arab Emirates is close to purchasing Predator drones from a San Diego County defense contractor, sparking concern among arms control advocates.
 
7.   Congress taking aim at military sexual assaultsAs the military struggles to eliminate its sexual assault epidemic, Congress has included a record number of provisions in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act that address sexual violence.

8.   Will abortion law change help female troops?  Starting this year, for the first time in 22 years, military women and dependents pregnant by rape or incest won’t have to pay for their own abortions.

9.   In Belgium, hundreds walk in footsteps of 82nd AirborneSome 1,200 people — World War II re-enactors, history buffs, soldiers and ordinary civilians — struck out Saturday from Basse-Bodeux in Belgium on a 13.5-mile trek in the footsteps of the 82nd Airborne Division during the Battle of the Bulge.
 
10. Posthumous MoH For Korean War Catholic Priest.  AP A Roman Catholic priest and Army Chaplain who died in 1951 in a prisoner of war camp during the Korean War, will posthumously receive the Medal of Honor from President Obama in an April ceremony. Kapaun grew up in Pilsen, Kansas, and “has been celebrated for his actions” during the war, when he “continued to look after his men even though he was wounded and sick himself” and “would sneak out after dark to scrounge food for the weaker soldiers, fashion makeshift containers to collect water and wash their clothes.” Kapaun also served in World War II and has been declared a Servant of God by the Vatican, “a step in the process to sainthood.” The AP notes that word of the honor apparently came from “former Kansas Congressman Todd Tiahrt” rather the White House or Pentagon, as expected.

 

More Veteran News
 

  •  House Speaker Says System For Veterans’ Disability Claims Is Broken, Cites “Shameful” Failures.  AP  House Speaker John Boehner “said the system for handling veterans’ disability claims is broken and he wants the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs to explain what is being done to fix it.” Boehner told Secretary Shinseki in a letter this week that there had been no real improvement “in the four years Shinseki has headed the department and the backlog of compensation claims ‘remains alarmingly high.'” Boehner pointed to Ohio’s backlog, “despite the announcement at the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Regional Office last summer of a new organizational model to help reduce the backlog by 2015.” The AP notes that “the VA was preparing a formal response” on Friday and “has said it completed a ‘record-breaking’ 1 million claims per year the past three years.”
  • Help For Veterans Twice Betrayed.  New York Times  The Ruth Moore Act, a bill “that would make it easier for veterans to receive benefits for disabilities linked to sexual assault in the military.” The Times says that “sexual assaults are an underreported epidemic in the military,” and victims are doubly victimized and “deeply disadvantaged” in trying to collect benefits for related PTSD from the VA, which approves such claims at much lower rates than combat-related PTSD. The bill would require annual VA reports on how it handles such claims, and “for the thousands who have suffered in the aftermath of sexual assault, the bill brings a long-overdue promise of fairer treatment.”
  •  War Zone Killing: Vets Feel “Alone” In Their Guilt.  AP Emerging issue of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans experiencing “moral injuries,” or “wounds from having done something, or failed to stop something, that violates their moral code.” The term is part of “an evolving understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder,” the AP says. One VA clinical psychologist, Dr. Brett Litz of Boston, “sees moral injury, the loss of comrades and the terror associated with PTSD as a ‘three-legged stool’ of troop suffering.” The AP notes that “moral injury” is “not an official diagnosis for purposes of getting veterans benefits,” although some doctors believe its sufferers may be receiving care through a PTSD diagnosis.
  •   Senate Bill Would Provide Caregiver Training For Vets With PTSD And TBI.  Norman (OK) Transcript  The Oklahoma Senate “is the next stop for a bill creating two pilot programs to help Oklahoma National Guardsmen returning from duty with either Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Traumatic Brain Injury. Sen. Brian Crain, Chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee won passage for Senate Bill 527 in Senate Appropriations on Wednesday. He said the University of Oklahoma would administer the programs.” The Transcript cites VA data on the number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans returning with both conditions. Crain said, “We need more caregivers who are trained to deal with TBI, and that’s what this bill will help us do.”
  • Real-Time Location And Mobile Health Solutions Gain Traction, Show ROI.  Government Health IT  “According to a recent presentation at a Stanford Business forum, healthcare Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) is an emerging market equaling $325 million worldwide, with an addressable market that is larger. Intelligent Insights on Wednesday ramped up the sector by announcing that it won a $543 million contract” with the VA “to deploy RTLS technologies across 152 medical centers in 5 years.” RTLS is “expected to enable ‘operational efficiency, quality, compliance, decreased operational costs, reduced delays in patient care, and increased staff productivity,’ said Kimberly Brayley, Director, RTLS Project Management Office at the VA in a prepared statement.”  Information Week  VA “has contracted with HP Enterprise Services to provide a real-time location system (RTLS) in 152 medical centers and seven outpatient pharmacy facilities to help identify, locate and monitor assets and supplies within and between facilities. The five-year contract, which is worth up to $543 million, will be a shot in the arm for the RTLS sector,” which has US hospital market penetration of up to 15 percent.
  •  New Vet Center Open For Area Veterans.  Chicago Tribune “Veterans and their families in the Oak Park area can now receive services in a beautiful new Vet Center location” after the VA “cut the ribbon on a new Oak Park Vet Center” that “is larger, more modern and located a mere three miles from the former location.” Oak Park’s center first opened in 1980 “and since that time has served nearly 15,000 veterans in their community. Presently, they provide care to approximately 200 veterans each week.”
  •    Among Veterans In Legislature, A Drive To Help Returning Troops.  Cronkite News An overview of Arizona legislative measures that are focused on veterans, including “at least 12 introduced this session to help veterans get jobs, college educations and more.” A group of lawmakers also has formed a Veterans Caucus. Rep. Mark Cardenas of Phoenix, a veterans of the Army and National Guard, said the group is “talking to stakeholders and connecting veterans to organizations that they may not have known about.”
  •  Arkansas Legislators Approve New Veterans’ Home. KATV-TV, “Arkansas lawmakers have approved a bill for a new veterans’ home. House members voted 95 to zero today on an amendment to the bill, which would authorize the state to establish the home. The state closed the veterans’ home in Little Rock last year after veterans complained that years of neglect caused the facility to deteriorate. The State Department of Veterans Affairs would set up and maintain the new home. The bill limits the maximum capacity of the veterans’ home to 150 beds.”
  • Where The V.F.W. Is Both Tough And Feminine.  New York Times The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 12097 in Tonawanda, New York, which “has a membership of 24 women and 8 men. Officials say it is the only current V.F.W. post that was specifically created for women in the military. Its members are concerned mainly with education and health care.” VFW national office spokeswoma Randi Law “said the post was believed to be the only existing one that ‘was founded to address the current needs of women veterans.’ Of the organization’s 1.6 million members, she added, only 12,130 were women.”
  • Army Veteran Pays Visit To Pottstown School.  Pottstown (PA) Mercury  Florida native and Army Staff Sgt. Catrina Dorsey, a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan who is due to “ship out to Korea…spent some of the short time here in the states with students at Rupert Elementary School” because she “a special relationship with these students – a relationship made possible by technology and the U.S. Postal Service.” Dorsey got to know the students after their teacher, Shannon Wagner, “contacted Adopt-a-Platoon in 2009 looking for service members who might like to get letters and care packages from her students.” Dorsey “and her fellow soldiers were delighted to be on the receiving end” of their efforts in Afghanistan.
  • Film Featuring Local WWII Vets To Debut In Levittown Next Week.  News 12 Long Island (NY)  “Honor Flight,” which tells the story of a group of World War II veterans who went to Washington, DC, last year, “is set to debut next week.” A screening will take place Thursday in Levittown because of the efforts of veteran Sal Perrone’s family. The documentary was originally set to be screened only in New York City.
  • Group Trying To Find Names Of Fallen Veterans.  Orlando (FL) Sentinel  Darryl E. Owens writes of the “grim roll call” being conducted by the nonprofit Central Florida Veterans Memorial Park Foundation, which started a search six years ago to find “every name of every Central Floridian who perished in every war from World War I through Afghanistan” to for a $3 million granite veterans memorial planned “near the oft-delayed veterans hospital (shamefully) still under construction at Lake Nona.” To date, the group, led by Korean veteran Jerry Pierce, has “roughly 1,150 names” and is asking service branches to check the names. Still, as many as 500 names may be “M.I.A.”

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