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Information to help military veterans protect themselves and make health a priority. Family Violence, Prevention and Care, Healthy Living, Managing Stress, Wounded Warrior

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As a US Military Veteran, medical benefits are important. Medical Benefits Package for Veterans

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'We Pretend The Vets Don't Exist'

Author and former marine Anthony Swofford gets to the bottom of an epidemic.

I was sitting next to Melissa, a call responder at the VA Crisis Hotline in Canandaigua, N.Y., when she looked at me and whispered, 'He just said he thinks he should walk out into traffic on Interstate 5 and end it all, that life is not worth living.'

Posted in Veterans News

1,600 Museums Offer Military Families Free Tickets

By Brett Zongker, Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- More than 1,600 museums across the country will offer free admission to active-duty military personnel and their families this summer in a program that has more than doubled in size since 2010.

Posted in Veterans News

A War Veteran's Identity Crisis

July saw a record number of suicides in the Army and among recent veterans. I was nearly one of them.

I suffer from both traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, the two most common conditions of suicidal veterans. Sometimes life becomes overwhelming.

This summer, as has happened often before, I experienced severe depression, which leads to isolation. Then, when I was feeling most hopeless, I also started feeling tremendously reckless. I found myself feeling aggressive and impulsive, feelings that fuel erratic behavior. With each passing week of the summer, as I pushed yet another friend or family member away, it became easier to envision suicide as an option to break this insufferable tension.

Posted in Veterans News

Anger Grows Over GI Bill Profiteers

Critics warn that some schools are misleading veterans, giving them expensive educations with little chance of a job or credit transfer.

WASHINGTON -- After Moses Maddox left the Marine Corps in 2006, he took a sales job with the for-profit University of Phoenix, making up to 100 calls a day to persuade veterans to enroll using their GI Bill benefits.

Only after he enrolled himself did the former corporal discover that the state university he wanted to attend didn't accept the nine course credits he'd earned at Phoenix.

"Basically, I wasted my GI Bill benefits -- just like a lot of other veterans I talk to," said Maddox, who until recently was a veterans benefits counselor at Palomar College in San Diego County.

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Posted in Veterans News

Annual relief effort in San Diego focuses on providing veterans with dental care

SAN DIEGO -- Two dentists and two Navy dental corpsmen are working on the mouth of John Gardinier, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam and now lives in Tijuana near the clinic where he can get methadone for his drug addiction.

"It's no good to have teeth that are rotten," Gardinier, 64, had said as he waited to be treated at the dental services area at the 25th annual Stand Down in San Diego for homeless and hard-luck military veterans. The relief effort brings together dozens of government agencies, nonprofits and volunteers to provide veterans with a variety of health and social services.

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Posted in Veterans News

Army Changes PTSD Evaluations

Forensic Methods Led To Loss Of Pensions; Soldiers retested after problems at Madigan

The Army Surgeon General's Office has issued new guidelines for diagnosing PTSD that criticize an approach once routinely used at Madigan Army Medical Center.

The policy, obtained by The Seattle Times, specifically discounts tests used to determine whether soldiers are faking symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. It says that poor test results do not constitute malingering.

The written tests often were part of the Madigan screening process that overturned the PTSD diagnoses of more than 300 patients during the past five years.

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Posted in Veterans News

Army Establishes Hotline

The Army Medical Command has a hotline available for soldiers and veterans who have been screened by forensic psychiatric teams since 2007 as part of the evaluation process for medical retirement. Soldiers and veterans with concerns about their diagnosis may call 800-984-8523.

Posted in Veterans News

As Attitudes Shift On PTSD Media Slow To Remove Stigma

In 1999, President Bill Clinton convened the first White House Summit on Mental Health. The aim of the conference and the public campaign that followed was, in part, to educate the media on the moral and ethical imperative related to dispelling the stigma associated with mental illness. In a radio address to announce the conference, Mr. Clinton said, "Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all."

In recent years, the Department of Defense has made unprecedented progress toward eliminating the stigma associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues affecting service members. This cultural shift within the military is a sea change, as more and more of our service members are seeking and receiving the support they need and deserve from a grateful nation. In the face of that progress, it’s unfortunate that some in the media continue to perpetuate a stigma linking military service to mental illness and violence.

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Posted in Veterans News

Bill Would Expand Fertility Coverage For Veterans

WASHINGTON -- The roadside bomb that exploded outside Andrew Robinson's Humvee in Iraq six years ago broke the Marine staff sergeant's neck and left him without use of his legs. It also cast doubt on his ability to father a child, a gnawing emotional wound for a then-23-year-old who had planned to start a family with his wife of less than two years.

The catastrophic spinal cord injury meant the couple's best hope for children was in vitro fertilization, an expensive and time-consuming medical procedure whose cost isn't covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Robinson and his wife were forced to pay out of pocket, with help from a doctor's discount and drugs donated by other patients.

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Posted in Veterans News

California: Call For Veterans Agency Fixes Is Reversed

By Associated Press

A federal court on Monday reversed its demand that the Veterans Affairs Department overhaul its mental health care system. A special 11-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said that any such changes need to be ordered by Congress or the president.

Posted in Veterans News

Coming Home From War To Hit The Books

By David Wallis

FALLING asleep in a crowded lecture hall was never a problem for Adam Connell. Just the opposite.

As a freshman at the University of Iowa in fall 2010, he uneasily eyed his classmates. "I had feelings of bad anxiety," recalled Mr. Connell, 25, a Navy veteran. "When you pull into ports, because terrorism is so high, you are always super-vigilant at all times. In these 300-person lecture halls, you are just surrounded by people you don't know."

Posted in Veterans News

Contaminated Water

CBS Evening News, 6:30 PM

ANTHONY MASON: For 30 years, Marines and their families drank contaminated water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Today, many have cancer and other illnesses they blame on that water. Now they're battling the Veterans Administration for disability benefits. Mark Strassmann reports the Marines face an uphill fight.

Posted in Veterans News

Defense And VA Can’t Track PTSD Treatments, Report Finds

Neither the Defense nor the Veterans Affairs department -- which operate the world’s largest electronic health records systems -- tracks treatments used for post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a report the Institute of Medicine issued last week. What’s more, Defense does not even know how many PTSD treatment programs it or the services provide.

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Posted in Veterans News

Dempsey: I Would Pay More For Health Care

By Patricia Kime, Staff writer

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs told Congress on Tuesday he would willingly pay more for health care in retirement than the rate structure currently enjoyed by military retirees.

Posted in Veterans News

DoD Panel Urges New, Single Health Agency

By Patricia Kime, Army Times

An internal Pentagon task force is recommending the creation of a single defense health agency that would have broader reach and responsibilities than the current Tricare Management Activity, but would leave command of military treatment facilities within the individual services.

Posted in Veterans News

Does The V.A. Get It?

The Department of Veterans Affairs says it plans to hire 1,900 psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, clinicians and clerical employees, a 10 percent increase in its mental health staff. That's welcome progress for a system that is struggling to meet the needs of veterans. But there are questions about whether it will be enough — and whether the department is truly facing up to its problems.

Posted in Veterans News

For Veterans With Post-Traumatic Stress, Pain Killers Carry Risks

By James Dao

Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder are more likely to be prescribed opioid pain killers than other veterans with pain problems and more likely to use the opioids in risky ways, according to a study published Wednesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Posted in Veterans News

For Veterans, Finding A Job Is Biggest Challenge, Survey Finds

44 percent polled say they are not ready to make civilian transition

Despite a continued drop in the unemployment rate among Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans, a new survey reports that more than two-thirds of their post-9/11 generation believe that finding a job is the greatest challenge they face in making the transition to civilian life.

Among the most striking findings of the Veterans’ Employment Challenges study, released last week, is that 44 percent of veterans participating in the poll said they were not ready to make the transition to civilian life.

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Posted in Veterans News

For Vets, Fireworks Can Stir Memories Of Gunfire

Many who served on battlefields seek refuge from and ways to cope with Fourth of July displays

He knows it's just fireworks, but Andrew Sabin's heart races anyway and he starts to sweat profusely.

The concussive booms sound like Iraq.

The 26-year-old Army veteran from Racine, Wis., didn't have trouble when he returned from the war. But gradually fireworks displays began to affect him.

This Fourth of July, many combat veterans like Sabin will try to stay far away from fireworks displays. Fireworks take them back to combat, when the sound of explosions meant death and injury, not colorful rockets lighting the sky on a peaceful, happy holiday.

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Posted in Veterans News

For-Profit Schools Taking In Millions From GI Bill

Back in the spring, close to 50 unemployed young veterans gathered in a state agency building in Richardson to learn how to rework their résumés and make themselves more attractive job candidates.

The first speaker was someone from the University of Phoenix, a mammoth for-profit college that does an overwhelming amount of its educating online, not in classrooms. She passed out brochures, then detailed why the veterans should use their generous education benefits at her school.

Jim DePaolo, laid off just weeks before, was stunned.

Posted in Veterans News

Gen. Odierno Discusses Army Efforts To Limit Traumatic Brain Injuries

MATT LAUER: It is a startling number. More than 244,000 U.S. troops have returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain injuries, an issue that is front and center for the NFL, a league dealing with the problem of concussions among many of its current and former players. The league is now teaming up with the U.S. Army and National Institutes of Health to research ways to limit these types of injuries. Roger Goodell is commissioner of the NFL. Dr. Story Landis is the director of the NIH's Neurology Institute, and General Odierno is the chief of staff of the Army. Good morning to all of you. It's nice to see you.

General, that's a huge number, 244,000 returning military personnel with these brain injuries. I know the seriousness of those injuries varies from person to person, but it's a problem that has to be addressed.

GEN. ODIERNO: Absolutely, and one of the problems we have are soldiers coming forward first to say I have a problem. And so one of the things we're really focusing on is making sure that the same qualities -- mental toughness,physical toughness,dedication to mission accomplishment -- does not impede people from saying "I have a problem and I need to get help." That's why this initiative is important to us. We're now putting sensors in helmets, our kevlar helmets for the first time. About 7,000 soldiers have those in their helmets. As we're collecting more and more data, we're learning more and more information, but we have a lot of work to do yet.

Posted in Veterans News

Good News For Veteran Discharged Without Benefits

More than 20,000 men and women have left the Army and Marines in the last four years with other-than-honorable discharges, jeopardizing their benefits and leaving some of them struggling to find treatment for health problems.

Jarrid Starks, a troubled Army veteran who received the Bronze Star for Valor but was dismissed from service with an other-than-honorable discharge, has been granted health-care benefits by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Starks was featured in an Aug. 12 Seattle Times story that examined the plight of veterans whose other-than-honorable discharges have put their veteran's benefits at risk.

Starks had been told that it might take a year or more for the VA to undertake a review to see if he is eligible for benefits.

Posted in Veterans News

Grant to help veterans

Agencies to expand services within state

Veterans homeless shelter receives VA funding: Veterans homeless shelter receives VA funding

Officials with state-based nonprofit groups that provide shelter and other emergency services to at-risk military veterans say the $847,000 grant awarded them Tuesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs is a windfall that will provide tangible benefits soon.

 

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Posted in Veterans News

Hampton VA Tapped As National Test Bed

By Hugh Lessig

The Obama administration has selected the Hampton VA Medical Center and a site in San Antonio as launch points for a massive medical record-sharing program between the departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense.

Posted in Veterans News

Homeless veterans find help getting reconnected

WORCESTER —  In the years after John A. Doherty left the Air Force, he was diagnosed with chronic depression, worked a series of what he calls “meaningless jobs” and struck out at three job fairs.

No more, he claims. Mr. Doherty, 36, landed a bed at the Veterans Inc. shelter for homeless veterans in Worcester three months ago and, about three weeks ago, started a temporary full-time job at Eaton Corp. assembling computer server cabinets.

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Posted in Veterans News

House VA Panel Chairman Knocks Administration's Silence On Cuts

By Steve Vogel

Despite a proposed budget that would boost spending for veterans, the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee accused the White House on Wednesday of leaving veterans "twisting in the wind" by refusing to declare the Department of Veterans Affairs exempt from automatic cuts to reduce the deficit.

Posted in Veterans News

Improve Care for Veterans With PTSD: Report

FRIDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Access to care for U.S. military service members and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) must improve, says an Institute of Medicine report released Friday that also calls for better tracking of treatments and results.

The congressionally mandated report also said that the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs should launch research programs to evaluate the effectiveness of their PTSD programs and make the findings widely available.

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Posted in Veterans News

Iraq, Afghanistan Vets Are Congregating Online, And VA, Veterans Groups Are Following Them

DENVER--Busy, tech-savvy and often miles from their peers, thousands of new veterans are going online to find camaraderie or get their questions answered -- forcing big changes in long-established veterans groups and inspiring entrepreneurs to launch new ones.

"We're going back to school, we have full-time jobs, we have families and kids," said Marco Bongioanni, 33, of New York, who deployed to Iraq twice while on active duty in the Army.

That leaves little time for what he calls "brick-and-mortar" groups like the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.

Posted in Veterans News

Is The Army Doing Enough To Help Soldiers Suffering From Mental Health Problems?

By Greg Barnes, Staff writer
Fayetteville (NC) Observer

Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick stood in front of 14,000 soldiers on Fort Bragg in February with a message:

"We have got to stop the violence."

Just weeks before, Helmick had closed out the combat mission in Iraq and brought the troops home. Now, as he congratulated them for a job well done, he could not ignore some disturbing numbers. In just the past six weeks, he knew of six suicides and 25 accusations of spousal abuse.

Since Helmick retired in May, the violence at home has only gotten worse.

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Posted in Veterans News

Lawmaker Sees 'Leadership Void' At VA

House Veterans' Affairs chairman decries waste, lavish conference costs

By Steve Vogel
Washington Post
October 4, 2012
Pg. B4

The chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee said Wednesday that an inspector general’s report on Department of Veterans Affairs spending on conferences raises questions about its leadership’s ability to cope with problems faced by the people it serves.

“Disappointed is a polite word to describe my thoughts about this,” Rep. Jeff Miller, (F-Fla.) said at a joint hearing with the House and Senate veterans affairs committees to hear legislative requests from the American Legion.

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Posted in Veterans News

Legal Ambiguity With Sequestration Raises Questions for Veterans Panel

By Frank Oliveri, CQ Staff

The chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee is raising concerns that the 2011 deficit reduction law inadvertently could lead to a 2 percent cut to Department of Veterans Affairs health care.

Jeff Miller, R-Fla., has asked the White House to clarify what he called a "legal ambiguity" surrounding how VA health care spending could be affected if automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration, take effect.

Posted in Veterans News

Mental-Health Experts Call For Military 'Parity'

The National Alliance on Mental Illness released a report Thursday calling on the Defense Department, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Health and Human Services to eliminate barriers to mental-health care and make better use of local care in the treatment of military service members, veterans and their families.

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Posted in Veterans News

Military Bonds Draw Veterans to Mental Health Jobs

by: Rob Kane

Veterans have turned to psychology to become mental health professionals, and they’re filling in gaps in veteran care that government and civilian efforts have left open. And while they are still rare, programs to train them are slowly emerging at universities and nonprofit organizations around the United States.

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Posted in Veterans News

Military PTSD: All-Star Scientists Start Mental Health Mega-Project

There's no question that plenty of soldiers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But exactly how many soldiers? That's a question that even top medical experts, not to mention military officials, still can't quite answer.

Now a new consortium, manned by some of the nation’s top scientists where PTSD is concerned, is hoping to develop an objective means of diagnosing the condition. In other words, the group hopes that the illness can — one day soon — be diagnosed using medical techniques like blood tests or brain scans, rather than self-reported symptoms.

Posted in Veterans News

Murray: 285 Madigan PTSD Diagnoses Reversed

Senator Calls For New Evaluations; Army investigating screening process

By Hal Bernton, Seattle Times staff reporter

The Army Medical Command has identified some 285 Madigan Army Medical Center patients whose diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder were reversed as they went through a screening process for possible medical retirements, according to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray.

Posted in Veterans News

Nearly 30% Of Vets Treated By V.A. Have PTSD

Jamie Reno
TheDailyBeast.com

A new study by the Veterans Administration reveals nearly 30% of its patients who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD. Jamie Reno reports.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has quietly released a new report on post-traumatic stress disorder, showing that since 9/11, nearly 30 percent of the 834,463 Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans treated at V.A. hospitals and clinics have been diagnosed with PTSD.

Veterans advocates say the new V.A. report is the most damning evidence yet of the profound impact multiple deployments have had on American service men and women since 9/11. Troops who've been deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan are more than three times as likely as soldiers with no previous deployments to screen positive for PTSD and major depression, according to a 2010 study published by the American Journal for Public Health.

The report, which revealed that 247,243 veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars have been diagnosed with PTSD, was buried on the V.A.'s website without fanfare.

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Posted in Veterans News

New Steps Announced To Reduce VA Claims Backlog

The Department of Veterans Affairs is processing more than a million disability compensation claims a year, for veterans of every age and era, whether they served in wartime or during periods of relative calm.

But that has not been enough to keep the claims backlog from rising through current wars and the expansion of compensation eligibility to more medical conditions, particularly for veterans who served in Vietnam.

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Posted in Veterans News

Number Of Veterans In Congress Rises

By Rick Maze, Staff writer

At a time when Congress is facing big questions that will affect military careers, the percentage of lawmakers who served in uniform has increased slightly and remains higher than the general population.

Posted in Veterans News

Nursing Schools Examine Efforts To Care For Veterans

Colleges sign on for Joining Forces national initiative

With nurses often at the front lines of medical care, there's a movement in the Chicago area and across the country to ensure that nursing students are better trained to tend to a new generation of patients who are military veterans.

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the National League of Nursing, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and other industry groups are calling on nursing schools to take a pledge to do more to educate students on handling veterans and their families. The pledge is part of Joining Forces -- a campaign championed by first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, to support veterans. Hundreds of nursing schools have already signed on, according to nursing groups.

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Posted in Veterans News

Obama Campaign Struggles To Get Veterans' Support

By Aamer Madhani, USA Today

WASHINGTON – For months, President Obama and his surrogates have been spotlighting his efforts on behalf of military veterans — a group they think potentially could play an important role in determining who wins several battleground states in November.

Posted in Veterans News

Obama To Sign Lejeune Bill At Oval Office Signing Ceremony On Monday

President Obama will sign a bill on Monday to give health care to thousands of sick Marine veterans and their families who were exposed to contaminated water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., according to a White House official.

Obama will host a signing ceremony at the Oval Office. The time of the ceremony and guest lists have not been released. But several guests from the battleground state are expected to attend.

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Posted in Veterans News

Obama To VA: Expand Mental Health Services

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama signed an executive order Friday directing the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand mental health services and suicide prevention efforts.

The president made the announcement in a speech to troops at Fort Bliss, Texas, where he was scheduled to hold a roundtable with soldiers and their families.

Much of what’s outlined in the executive order are initiatives that were previously announced earlier this summer by the VA.

Posted in Veterans News

Panetta: Care At Lovell Center 'Sacred Responsiblity'

By Dan Moran

NORTH CHICAGO — Standing in the nation's first facility that combines the medical services of the Navy and the Veterans Administration, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his VA counterpart, Eric Shinseki, outlined their commitments Monday to both the ongoing military presence in Afghanistan and the care that will be required for those returning from the mission.

Posted in Veterans News

Pentagon Wants To Raise Some Retirees Health Fees

By Elisabeth Bumiller

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has warned that runaway personnel costs at the Pentagon are "unsustainable," and on Monday he tried to put a big brake on the spending: Over the next five years the Defense Department plans to nearly quadruple the health insurance fees paid by many working-age military retirees.

Posted in Veterans News

Planned Invictus San Diego facility would treat veterans, and later civilians, who have had amputations or traumatic brain injuries

By Gretel C. Kovach, U-T

A group of military, veteran and community health care heavyweights began meeting last year in San Diego to think big about improving treatment for amputation and traumatic brain injury.

The plan that took shape is unlike any nationwide, organizers say: a community center offering medical treatment, family and mental health counseling, job placement and education services under one roof.

Posted in Veterans News

PTSD can harm families of veterans

For 22 years, Shirley Booze attributed her husband’s violent nightmares and depression to “mental fatigue.”

It was clearly more than just everyday stress that was affecting the Army veteran, but Booze had no other way to classify his emotional isolation.

“It was like he was in a foxhole and trying to protect himself,” she said.

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Posted in Veterans News

PTSD Study Halfway Finished

Largest research project in U.S. military history, started in 2001, follows 187K service members for 21 years

The largest research project in U.S. military history aimed at studying the long-term effects of post-traumatic stress disorder has now passed the halfway point.

The Millennium Cohort Study, run out of the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego, is a 21-year study that is comprehensively following the lives and habits of 187,000 service members. Researchers began accumulating data 11 years ago, in 2001. The project is scheduled to run another decade, until 2022.

Researchers hope the massive amount of data they collect will help them pinpoint who gets PTSD and why.

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Posted in Veterans News

Raise TRICARE Fees Or Deepen Force Cuts, Top Doc Warns

By Tom Philpott

If Congress blocks Defense Department plans to raise TRICARE fees for military retirees and beneficiary co-pays on drug prescriptions filled off base, the services will have to make even deeper cuts in force strength than now planned, the military's top health official told lawmakers Tuesday.

Posted in Veterans News

Readjustment Issues May Spur PTSD Treatment

The stress of readjusting to civilian life is a major reason some soldiers seek treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, a new study finds.

Many veterans who require mental-health care do not receive it, and a great deal of previous research has focused on barriers to treatment. The new study was conducted to identify characteristics and factors that motivate veterans to seek mental-health treatment.

Posted in Veterans News

Retirees In New TRICARE Fight

By Tom Philpott

Older retirees, like Air Force Master Sgt. Floyd Sears, 81, stand shoulder to shoulder with younger retirees in opposing the higher fees being proposed for TRICARE benefits.

But Sears also agrees with many retirees that there's something especially wrong with the Obama administration's plan to impose a first-ever enrollment fee on 900,000 retirees age 65 and older and their surviving spouses.

Posted in Veterans News

Soldiers' Mental Health: An Emergency

By Arnold Fisher And Bill White
New York Daily News
October 10, 2012
Pg. 32

Be Our Guest

Anyone who believes that our country’s methods are adequate for helping veterans re-adapt to society as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down need look no further than at the following data: In the year 2012, 211 members of the United States Armed Forces took their own lives.

At least 53 of them committed suicide in July and August. That is more than the total number of battlefield deaths in those months. This is a crisis that has gone largely unaddressed in this political cycle, and it’s unacceptable.

Posted in Veterans News

Study Calls For Better Assessment Of Government PTSD Programs

In the first comprehensive review of the government's programs for treating post-traumatic stress disorder in service members and veterans, a panel of experts recommended on Friday that the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs expand access to services, particularly for people in rural areas, in the National Guard or Reserves, or in combat zones.

The report, by the Institute of Medicine, also concluded that the two departments need to improve their assessment of how well their many treatment programs work, as well as find better ways of coordinating care that can begin overseas and then continue on bases or in small towns across the country.

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Posted in Veterans News

Study To Examine If Fatty Acids Lower Veterans' Suicide Risk

By Harriet McLeod, Reuters
Reuters.com
October 8, 2012

CHARLESTON, South Carolina -- A new $10 million, three-year study will investigate whether daily doses of a common dietary supplement could help curb the number of suicides among military personnel and veterans, researchers said on Monday.

The study, set to begin in South Carolina in January, is part of the Defense Department's heightened focus on suicide prevention as the number of service members attempting to take their own lives has risen.

Posted in Veterans News

The Death Of Peter Wielunski

For every soldier killed in combat, 25 veterans are dying by suicide. It's time to broaden efforts against PTSD.

By Robert Morgenthau
Wall Street Journal
Pg. 23

During the Civil War, they called it "soldier's heart." In World War I, doctors called it "shell shock." In World War II, the war I served in, we called it "battle fatigue." Now we know it as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The name may have changed, but one thing is clear: It is reaching epidemic proportions among our soldiers and veterans.

According to a Veterans Administration report released this March, current or former military personnel represent an estimated 20% of all known suicides in the United States—that's more than 7,000 veterans and service members each year. For every soldier killed in combat, 25 veterans are dying by suicide.

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Posted in Veterans News

Treating Veterans Sexual Trauma

Baltimore VA center offers help to victims of attacks and harassment in military

By Matthew Hay Brown, The Baltimore Sun

Machele Fredericks had to face her attacker every day.

She was in the Air Force. He was a fellow service member on the base. And he said that if she told anyone what he'd done, he'd kill her.

"You didn't hear much of people getting raped in the military back then," Fredericks said. "At least I didn't. So, you know, it was like fear every day: 'I hope he's not at the gate today.'

Posted in Veterans News

TRICARE Debate Rages On

By Tom Philpott

A House subcommittee expected to vote soon on whether to recommend raising retiree TRICARE fees sharply over the next five years heard some emphatic testimony against the move last week.

Posted in Veterans News

Troops' Surge In Suicides Shocks Military Officials

After leveling off in 2010 and 2011, suicides among U.S. service members have jumped to nearly one a day, catching many by surprise.

By Robert Burns, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Suicides are surging among America’s troops, averaging nearly one a day this year — the fastest pace in the nation’s decade of war.

The 154 suicides for active-duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the U.S. forces killed in action in Afghanistan — about 50 percent more — according to Pentagon statistics.

The numbers reflect a military burdened with wartime demands from Iraq and Afghanistan that have taken a greater toll than foreseen a decade ago.

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Posted in Veterans News

U.S. Starts Campaign To Prevent Suicides

A new national strategy for reducing the number of suicides by better identifying and reaching out to those at risk was released Monday morning in Washington.

The 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention report includes community-based approaches to curbing the incidence of suicide, details new ways to identify people at risk for suicide, and outlines national priorities for reducing the number of suicides over the next decade.

In conjunction with the report, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced $55.6 million in new grants for suicide-prevention programs.

Posted in Veterans News

Updated PTSD Program Means Better Care For Vets

For Johnnie Larmore, a veteran of three combat tours in Vietnam, living with post-traumatic stress disorder means bursts of anger followed by wells of depression.

Last week, the Port Angeles man left a recently expanded treatment program at VA Puget Sound American Lake Division in Lakewood. He calls it “the best staff and the best facility” he’s seen in his 41 years seeking help coping with Army combat-related PTSD.

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Posted in Veterans News

US Army Suicides Rose 80% After Start Of Iraq War: Study

By Agence France-Presse

The number of suicides in the US Army rose by 80 percent after the United States launched the war on Iraq, American military doctors reported on Thursday.

Posted in Veterans News

VA Care Extended To Camp Lejeune Water Victims

By Rick Maze, Staff writer

Congressional negotiators have taken a big leap in expanding veterans' health care by proposing Veterans Affairs Department treatment for veterans and dependents exposed to contaminated well water at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Up to 750,000 people — Navy and Marine Corps members and their families — may have been exposed to water found to be contaminated by carcinogens from the 1950s into the 1980s.

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Posted in Veterans News

VA Goals Skew Vets' Mental-Health Care, Senate Panel Told

By Steve Vogel

The Department of Veterans Affairs' mental-health care system suffers from a culture in which managers attach more importance to meeting meaningless performance goals than helping veterans, according to testimony before a Senate committee Wednesday.

Posted in Veterans News

VA Says Bay Pines Vets' Care Falls Short

By Howard Altman, The Tampa Tribune

As the military struggles to cope with an alarming suicide rate among veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs for the first time is monitoring how its hospitals handle patients making the critical transition from hospitalization to living on their own.

The first published review in the country: Bay Pines VA Health Care System near St. Petersburg.

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Posted in Veterans News

VA Short Of Mental Health Specialists

Need critical as PTSD cases rise

By Gregg Zoroya, USA Today

As thousands of additional veterans seek mental health care every month, the Department of Veterans Affairs is short of psychiatrists, with 20% vacancy rates in much of the country served by VA hospitals, according to department data.

Posted in Veterans News

Veterans Dept. Will Increase Mental Health Staffing

By James Dao

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced on Thursday that it plans to hire about 1,600 additional psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other mental health clinicians in an effort to reduce long wait times for services at many veterans medical centers.

Posted in Veterans News

Veterans Unemployment Rate Improves Again In July

The job outlook for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans continues to brighten as the unemployment rate for the group fell for the sixth month in a row.

The unemployment rate for veterans who entered service after Sept. 11, 2001, fell to 8.9 percent in July, down from 9.5 percent the previous month and from 12.4 percent in July 2011, according to the latest monthly employment report released Friday by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Posted in Veterans News

Veterans' Homelessness High Priority For Agency

VA pursuing strategic, and some say lofty, goal of ending problem by 2015

WASHINGTON -- On a cold night in Monmouth County, N.J., a lone dishwasher stayed late, taking on extra work to buy time. The restaurant's owners, trying to close up, guessed the man had no place to go. And when they tried to find him one, they struck out.

The restaurant is owned by rock legend Jon Bon Jovi's foundation, and Bon Jovi and his wife, Dorothea Hurley, discovered that night that finding services for the homeless is no easy task. For the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is trying to tackle the problem of veterans' homelessness, figuring out how to make the task easier is a pivotal goal.

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Posted in Veterans News

Veterans' Mental-Health Care Is Delayed

Report says department overstated how quickly it provided service

By Steve Vogel

The Department of Veterans Affairs has greatly overstated how quickly it provides mental-health care for veterans, according to an inspector general's report released Monday.

Posted in Veterans News

Wal-Mart Therapy Tried By Pentagon For Traumatized Troops

By Gopal Ratnam and Michelle Fay Cortez, Bloomberg News

No one knows better than Connie Chapman that almost 150 years since troops came home with "soldier's heart" after the Civil War, the U.S. military is still struggling to identify and treat what's now called PTSD.

Posted in Veterans News

War Might Be Making Young Bodies Old

BOSTON -- A litany of physical or emotional problems spill out as Iraq and Afghanistan veterans make their way, one by one, to the 11th floor of a VA hospital in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

The tragic signs of post-traumatic stress disorder or battlefield concussion are all too evident. Even more alarming for researchers is emerging evidence that these newest American combat veterans -- former GIs and Marines in their 20s and 30s -- appear to be growing old before their time. Scientists see early signs of heart disease and diabetes, slowed metabolisms and obesity -- maladies more common to middle age or later.

Posted in Veterans News

Veterans Affairs (VA) suicide prevention hot line for veterans

VA's Suicide Hot Line Begins Operations

July 30, 2007

Nicholson: “Help a Phone Call Away”

WASHINGTON – To ensure veterans with emotional crises have round-the-clock access to trained professionals, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has begun operation of a national suicide prevention hot line for veterans.

“Veterans need to know these VA professionals are literally a phone call away,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson. “All service members who experience the stresses of combat can have wounds on their minds as well as their bodies.  Veterans should see mental health services as another benefit they have earned, which the men and women of VA are honored to provide.”

The toll-free hot line number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  VA's hot line will be staffed by mental health professionals inCanandaigua, N.Y.  They will take toll-free calls from across the country and work closely with local VA mental health providers to help callers.  

Read more: http://www1.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=1363

The Complicated Grief Program

Complicated grief is a debilitating condition that has been under-recognized by the mental health profession.

Our Complicated Grief Treatment Program focuses on finding treatments that can help people with complicated grief, and on teaching professionals to recognize and treat this condition. Our goals are:

  • To improve the lives of people suffering from complicated grief; and
  • To find the best ways to disseminate and implement complicated grief research and treatment information 

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Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital Compare website

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The VA Hospital Compare web site. This site is for Veterans, family members and their caregivers to compare the performance of their VA hospitals to other VA hospitals. Using this tool, Veterans, family members, and caregivers can compare the hospital care provided to patients.

My HealtheVet for online personal health records

image for My HealtheVet for online personal health records

My HealtheVet is VA's online personal health record. It was designed for Veterans, active duty Servicemembers, their dependents and caregivers. My HealtheVet helps you partner with your health care team. It provides you opportunities and tools to make informed decisions and manage your health care.

VeteranAid website Has Information On Veteran Aid and Attendance Improved Pension

image for VeteranAid website Has Information On Veteran Aid and Attendance Improved Pension

The Veterans Administration offers Aid and Attendance as part of an "Improved Pension" Benefit that is largely unknown. This Improved Pension allows for Veterans and surviving spouses who require the regular attendance of another person to assist in eating, bathing, dressing, undressing, medication dosing, or taking care of the needs of nature to receive additional monetary benefits. It also includes individuals who are blind or a patient in a nursing home because of mental or physical incapacity. Assisted care in an Assisted Living facility also qualifies.

Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC)

The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) is a part of the U.S. military health system. Specifically, it is the TBI operational component of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE). Founded in 1992 by Congress, DVBIC’s responsibilities have grown as its network of care and treatment sites has grown.

Posted in PTSD / TBI

Life Improvement Following Traumatic Brain Injury (LIFT)

Life Improvement Following Traumatic Brain Injury (LIFT) is an interventional pilot study to test the effectiveness of a telephone-based and in-person Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) intervention for treating Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) following Traumatic Brain Injury.

Participants are randomly assigned to receive one of the following: 1) Telephone-based CBT, 2) In-person CBT, or 3) Usual care (control).

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Posted in PTSD / TBI

Macho Spouse PTSD Video Series

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Macho Spouse PTSD Video Series: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - Treatment

Our friends over at Macho Spouse - the male military spouse online community - have posted the fourth video in their Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) series.  In this video on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) treatment, Dr. Nicholas Lind, Co-Owner of Post Trauma Resources (Columbia, SC), shares his philosophy behind what makes PTSD treatments effective and what programs Post Trauma Resources uses to help those suffering from PTSD control their symptoms.

Posted in PTSD / TBI

Project Sanctuary: Where Military Families Reconnect

Project Sanctuary is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to provide therapeutic, curative, supportive and recreational activities to veterans, active military personnel, their spouses and children in a leisure environment.

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The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program

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The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program is a DoD-wide effort to promote the well-being of National Guard and Reserve members, their families and communities, by connecting them with resources throughout the deployment cycle. Through Yellow Ribbon events, service members and loved ones connect with local resources before, during, and after deployments.  

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Whistleblowers call VA inspector general a joke

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Department of Veterans Affairs continues to retaliate against whistleblowers despite repeated pledges to stop punishing those who speak up, a group of employees said Tuesday. One called the department's office of inspector general a "joke."

VA whistleblowers from across the country told a Senate committee that the department has failed to hold supervisors accountable more than a year after a scandal that broke over chronic delays for veterans seeking medical care and falsified records covering up the waits.

Shea Wilkes, a mental health social worker at the Shreveport, Louisiana, VA hospital, said agency leaders are "more interested in perpetuating their own careers than caring for our veterans."

Wilkes, who helped organize a group known as "VA Truth Tellers," said "years of cronyism and lack of accountability have allowed at least two generations of poor, incompetent leaders to plant themselves within the system," harming medical treatment for veterans. The informal watchdog group includes more than 40 whistleblowers from VA facilities in a dozen states.

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Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors

image for Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors

Veterans of the United States armed forces may be eligible for a broad range of benefits and services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Some of these benefits may be utilized while on active duty. These benefits are codified in Title 38 of the United States Code. This booklet contains a summary of these benefits effective Jan. 1, 2014. For additional information, visit www. va.gov/.

Important VA Numbers and Websites

We grabbed the useful telephone numbers and links to other websites so you can access them here whenever the VA Website is down for maintenance. (Please note: These phone numbers and links are present on the VA website even when the website is down for maintenance. However, it may be difficult to find what you need because the information on the website does not appear in the normal format.)

Veterans Crisis Line - 800-273-8255 and Press 1

More important numbers and website links below...

The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs

The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs reviews veterans' programs, examines current laws, and reports bills and amendments to strengthen existing laws concerning veterans and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), such as health care, disability compensation, GI Bill education and job training, home loan guarantees, life insurance policies, and a nationwide system of veterans' cemeteries.

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The Veterans Voice

The Veterans' Voice"THE VETERANS' VOICE" is an independent, grassroots publication founded  in 1998 as a quarterly newspaper dedicated to all Veterans past and present. Since that time we have grown tremendously. We  distribute nationally to VA facilities, outpatient clinics, Vet centers,VSO's, elected officials and individual subscribers. 

Veterans Information Service

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Veterans Information Service publishes an annual book and a monthly supplemental bulletin service. These unparalleled publications provide veterans and their families a single source of timely, easily accessible benefits information, including public record, pending legislation, bills, laws and policies of the various US government Veterans Administration organizations and their subsidiaries.

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MaketheConnection.net

MaketheConnection.net connects Veterans and their friends and family members with information, resources, and solutions to issues affecting their health, well-being, and everyday lives.

The Retired Enlisted Association

THE RETIRED ENLISTED ASSOCIATION (TREA) was founded in 1963 by two men retired from the Air Force -- Master Sergeant George Skonce and Master Sergeant Dean Sorell. These two dedicated retirees realized that they, and their fellow enlisted retirees, had no voice in the corridors of power to stand up for their hard-earned rights and promised benefits.

Apps Designed to Help Wounded Warriors

Handheld technology helping to heal the invisible scars of war.

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Posted in Veterans Videos

Army's Top Doctor Addresses Mental Health Awareness

Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho gives a public service announcement about the Army supporting the National Mental Health month in May.

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Posted in Veterans Videos

Defense Department proposes Military Health Agency

The Department of Defense is looking for ways to cut costs in the Military Health Care System. One plan calls for Congress to create a New Military Health Agency.

1547 Views | 256 Likes | 0 Dislikes | 0 Comments


Posted in Veterans Videos

How to Apply for VA Healthcare Online

How to Apply for VA Healthcare Online

1327 Views | 214 Likes | 0 Dislikes | 0 Comments


Posted in Veterans Videos

Military Retirement System Overhaul Proposals

Federal officials testified on proposals to overhaul the military retirement system. They urged caution in moving forward with overhauling the military retirement system and said options were being reviewed carefully by the Defense Department.

 

Posted in Veterans Videos

Video - Health Care Professionals Look to the Future of Military Medicine

A Pentagon Channel report on the future of military health care with commentary from Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs and the director of Tricare Management Activity. Speaking on the strategy for the military health system's future, Dr. Woodson said, "This is an opportunity for us to reorganize, be more efficient, be more effective and make us stronger for the long haul. It will not affect patient care in a negative way, in fact I think it will strengthen our strategies for taking care of beneficiaries." Watch this video for the full story.

1308 Views | 215 Likes | 0 Dislikes | 0 Comments


Posted in Veterans Videos