VA News 517
October 15, 2012
Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
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.'
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.
IDES and IDVA Partner to Put Veterans to Work; Pre-Registration is Encouraged for Best Service, Results
CHICAGO--(ENEWSPF)--June 28, 2012. With a goal of hiring at least 100,000 Veterans by 2020, a coalition of more than 60 companies, government agencies and Veteran groups will be hosting a huge hiring event in Chicago July 12 for military Veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses.
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They came from Walker Basin, a speck of a community at the edge of the Sequoia National Forest. From the farm town of Reedley, where a barber gives boys joining the military free haircuts before they ship out.
They came from San Francisco. Los Angeles. San Diego.
When they died, photos went up on post office walls in their hometowns. On Veterans Day, there are parades and charity golf tournaments. Buddies gather at graves to drink to the ones who are gone.
In the 11 years since the wars began in Iraq and Afghanistan, 725 service members from California have been killed.
Many died young -- 41% were not yet 22. Sixty-three were still teenagers.
They were fun-loving singles. Forty-seven were engaged. They were married, leaving behind 307 wives and husbands. They had children -- 432 sons and daughters.
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By Michael M. Phillips
Wall Street Journal
HOOVER, Ala.—Two years ago, Matthew Proctor dropped to his knees in the Afghan dirt and watched his best friend bleed to death.
These days, when dreams get disturbing or guilt eats at his gut, there is one person the former Marine corporal is likely to call: Thomas Rivers Sr., his dead friend's father.
When Mr. Rivers, 60 years old and a pharmaceutical executive, feels himself sinking into black depression or misses the pleasures of raising a son, it is the 24-year-old Cpl. Proctor he confides in or invites over for a boat ride. "He lost a best friend, and in a sense I lost a best friend as well as my son," says Mr. Rivers. "That is a bond we share."
War sunders some relationships and forges others. More than 6,500 Americans have died in Afghanistan and Iraq, leaving gaping holes in families across the nation. Out of duty or kindness, guilt or need, the troops who survived often step forward to fill the voids their buddies left.
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By Robert Weintraub
New York Times
September 22, 2012
When No. 10 Clemson plays at No. 4 Florida State on Saturday night, Daniel Rodriguez, a walk-on wide receiver, will be a member of the Tigers' kickoff coverage unit. The sure-to-be frenzied atmosphere is not likely to affect him much.
That is partly because, at 24, Rodriguez is older than most college players. And also because his service in Iraq and Afghanistan will probably leave him unfazed by the raucous cheering of Seminoles fans.
On Oct. 3, 2009, Rodriguez was deployed in Nuristan Province, in the far northeastern corner of Afghanistan along the Pakistan border. He was a sergeant and had experienced a year of fighting in Iraq. About 50 United States and Afghan soldiers manned Combat Outpost Keating, a forward operating base near the remote town of Kamdesh.
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By Mike Mullen and Steven A. Cohen
Our nation is finally emerging from one of the worst recessions in American history, yet for our military veterans there is no recovery in sight. The nation's unemployment rate is 8.1 percent. But the unemployment rate of our youngest military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan hovers at a stunning 29 percent.
Saturday marked the first of what will be three days of Veterans Day commemorations across the United States.
The holiday falls on a Sunday, and the federal observance is on Monday. It's the first such day honoring the men and women who served in uniform since the last U.S. troops left Iraq in December 2011.
It's also a chance to thank those who stormed the beaches during World War II — a population that is rapidly shrinking with most of those former troops now in their 80s and 90s.
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DETROIT — Malcolm Byrd got out of the Marine Corps in 2003 and found work, first in a General Motors factory and then with a nonprofit group. But four months ago, he lost his job because of government budget cuts and has been job hunting since.
Telling potential employers that he was a Marine supply clerk who managed millions of dollars in Kevlar helmets and folding cots does not seem to have helped him find the management job he is seeking.
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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — At Amazon's Chattanooga distribution center, military veteran Scot Newport is using his leadership skills developed over 27 years in the Army to help run the busy distribution center during the annual holiday busy season.
"It's a very exciting time of the year for Amazon," he said.
Newport told The Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/XGl538 ) he joined the nation's No. 1 retailer, which has been named among the nation's top military friendly employers, because of the company's openness to veterans. He's a former U.S. Army colonel who now serves as senior operations manager for outbound shipping at the Chattanooga facility.
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By Mohana Ravindranath
Kelly Perdew has founded and led at least three Internet companies, won the second season of “The Apprentice,” served as the executive vice president of the Trump Foundation and is a former Army Ranger. He also has written a book on leadership principles learned from the military.
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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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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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Forensic Methods Led To Loss Of Pensions; Soldiers retested after problems at Madigan
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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The Army, along with the Department of Veterans Affairs and other military services, is standardizing the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD, otherwise known as post-traumatic stress disorder, in an attempt to increase the soldiers’ level of trust and fairness in the system.
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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, itâ€™s unfortunate that some in the media continue to perpetuate a stigma linking military service to mental illness and violence.
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WASHINGTON – Although the Obama administration has stepped up efforts to process medical disability claims by U.S. veterans, a top Department of Veterans Affairs official is set to tell lawmakers Wednesday that the agency's backlog continues to grow.
Allison Hickey, undersecretary for benefits at the VA, said in written testimony submitted in advance of a hearing before a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee that the flow of VA claims has increased 48% over the past three years.
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Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday blamed Republicans for blocking a budget deal and risking automatic Pentagon cuts. But he promised a veterans group that America's fighting men and women won't suffer and will be guaranteed the best medical care for life.
"We're going to keep our commitment to American veterans no matter what happens," Biden said, winning applause from an audience of 3,000 people attending the Disabled American Veterans convention at Bally's hotel-casino in Las Vegas.
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The jobless rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans fell dramatically in June despite an overall economy that produced few jobs and left the national unemployed rate unchanged.
The unemployment rate for Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans fell to 9.5 percent, down from 12.7 percent the previous month and from 13.3 percent in June 2011, according to the employment situation report released Friday by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
For veterans of all generations, the June jobless rate was 7.4 percent, a slight improvement over the 7.8 percent rate for May.
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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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By Tom Philpott
What if the military gave every service member an expensive car as a reward for honorable service, but they could take delivery only at night and the headlights didn't work? Many of those gift cars might end up damaged.
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.
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."
By Gregg Zoroya, USA Today
Most companies canvassed in a study published Monday say it's good business to hire veterans because of their leadership and teamwork skills, but some negative perceptions about veterans persist among business leaders.
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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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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is taking decisive action to end Veteran homelessness in five years. All Veterans at risk for homelessness or attempting to exit homelessness must have easy access to programs and services. VA offers a variety of resources, programs, and benefits which are detailed below.
The Department of Veterans Affairs' efforts to transform its broken disability claims process is yielding concrete results, despite a growing number of cases, a senior VA official told a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee Wednesday.
Allison A. Hickey, undersecretary for benefits for the VA, said training initiatives and a new paperless system being introduced are yielding faster and more accurate decisions on pending claims.
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Beefy trucks and trikes get these guys back on the road in style, feeling good
By Chris Woodyard, USA Today
Left a paraplegic by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan two years ago, retired Marine Jack Pierce vows not to let his disability leave him in life's slow lane.
Pierce applies that attitude to pretty much everything, including right now, his summer vacation.
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.
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 â€” and whether the department is truly facing up to its problems.
By James Dao
New York Times
PHILADELPHIA — In July 2010, a Department of Veterans Affairs employee named Kristen Ruell was updating a benefit claim when she noticed something odd. What should have been an increase of about $2,000 in a monthly payment to the widow of a veteran showed up on her computer screen as $21,000.
Puzzled, she set the claim aside and began digging into computer files for an answer. What she found surprised and worried her: the department’s database contained duplicate records for the widow, and the system was trying to pay her twice. It was also recommending a retroactive payment dating back months — though the widow had already been paid for that period.
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A bill to put veterans to work preserving and restoring national parks and other federal, state and local lands has become mired in a political fight, facing a procedural vote Wednesday in the Senate that could leave the legislation's future in doubt.
Democratic sponsors charge that the Veterans Job Corps bill is being held up by Republicans who refuse to allow any legislative victories to the Obama administration. Republicans counter that a GOP version of the legislation would lower veterans' unemployment without deepening the deficit.
The Democrats' bill is based on a proposal for a $1 billion program outlined by President Obama during his State of the Union address, but has been amended to include a number of Republican-sponsored provisions, including measures that would improve veterans' access to Internet tools to find jobs, and make it easier for troops leaving military service to get transition training for civilian life.
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Picture this: An applicant walks into a job interview, extends a firm handshake, looks the hiring manager straight in the eye, and begins to detail her impressive qualifications.
Her resume clearly shows a record of dependability and enthusiasm. It is evident that teamwork and commitment to the mission at hand are hardwired into her DNA. She has received world-class training from one of the most revered and demanding organizations in the world. And she has been tested, time and again, in pressure-cooker situations.
What's more, if she is hired, the company may receive a tax credit from the federal government of $5,600 or more.
In an effort to provide more opportunities for wounded veterans, multiple federal agencies discussed what they could do to employ veterans as they continue their medical recovery.
Wednesday's meeting was the first time many of the local agency representatives had heard about the program and what opportunities are available to them to provide extra training to wounded veterans and to get extra hands at their office. Those in attendance included a wide range of agencies, from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the National Weather Service.
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Tulsa, Oklahoma - World War II veteran Pietje Wall served in the Marine Corps from 1945 to 1950, with 13 months of that time on active duty.
Her job during active duty was to help give the military ships returning from combat new orders, she said. It was a time when women were finding their place in the military and were allowed to serve only in limited roles.
Now, female troops are serving in more positions in the military, and the number of female veterans is expected to rise in the coming years, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
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By Nancy Benac, Associated Press
WASHINGTON--Michelle Obama has been everywhere from a West Point mess hall to a NASCAR speedway in the past year to drum up support for military families, and now she's capping the yearlong effort with a two-day, four-state tour to take stock of what's been done.
Opening another front in her nearly year-old campaign to support military families, First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled a push for jobs on or near military bases.
By Beth Brown
San Antonio Express-News
September 20, 2012
The transition into civilian life hasn't been easy for Michael Jenkins.After 23 years in the Army, he retired as a sergeant first class in February. He has been unemployed ever since.
Jenkins is not alone in his struggle. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that while veterans have a nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 6.6 percent, Gulf War-era II veterans — or those who have served in the military since Sept. 11, 2001 — have an unemployment rate of 10.9 percent. The country's overall unemployment rate is about 8 percent.
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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.
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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More than 244,000 U.S. troops have been diagnosed with some form of brain injury over the past 12 years, according to Pentagon statistics.
They are the most common injuries among combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, and yet little is known about how to treat these wounds or cure the illnesses that result from them, says Peter Chiarelli, retired four-star general and former vice chief of the Army.
For a nation that takes pride in taking care of its wounded soldiers, he laments, it is a shame that the so-called invisible wounds of war get so little attention.
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.
According to a study that was based on U.S census data and was conducted for the International Franchise Association Educational Foundation, U.S. military veterans own and operate almost 15% of franchise businesses. In the United States, more than 66,000 veteran-owned franchise businesses provide jobs for 815,000 people, generating in excess of $41 billion in GDP.
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Over the next five years, more than one million military service members will return from active duty.
By Stan McChrystal
'Wanted for hire: Enterprising, reliable self-starter. Must work well in teams. Technological literacy and leadership experience a plus."
This notice could be posted by many businesses today as they look for employees to help them survive, and thrive, in difficult economic times.
Retired Master Sergeant Ken Holman was confused when Scott Miller and Paul Cotter approached him about applying for a job at Microsoft.
On Feb. 21, 2002, his vehicle flipped over during a training exercise. His seatbelt broke, flinging him against the windshield. He broke his neck in three places and shattered his lower vertebrae, leaving him partially paralyzed. He had to relearn how to talk, walk, read, and write.
He'd served 26 years in the Marines specializing in bulk fuel and later in acquisitions. Though he had run a 2:35 marathon, served as a drill instructor and as a Marine recruiter, he had zero IT background.
So why were they interested in hiring him?
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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.
New program provides extra year of training for those aged 35 to 60
By Rick Maze
A new veterans education benefit could help 99,000 unemployed veterans learn new skills in career fields forecast to have high job growth over the next decade, a senior Veterans Affairs Department official said.
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.
By Jon Soltz, Co-Founder of VoteVets.org, Iraq War Veteran
Do Republicans care about keeping our promise to veterans?
Looking at the recently released GOP budget, written by Rep. Paul Ryan, it's hard to see how they do. In fact, looking at the nearly 100 page document, the word "veteran" doesn't appear once. Not once.
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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HAMPTON, VIRGINIA -
The "Hiring Our Heroes - Hampton Roads"Â job fair will go from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hampton Roads Convention Center, 1610 Coliseum Drive, in Hampton, VA. This job fair is open to veterans, active-duty military personnel, members of the National Guard and Reserves, and military spouses.
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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.
LESTER HOLT: Tonight we're proud to announce our NBC News network-wide initiative in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help more than a million unemployed veterans get back into the workforce. Tonight we're focusing on unemployed women veterans and the mentors helping them realize their full potential.
Utica, NY - The "Hiring Our Heroes" job fair will go from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. today at the Utica National Guard Armory, 1700 Parkway East, Utica, NY 13501. This job fair is open to veterans, active-duty military personnel, members of the National Guard and Reserves, and military spouses.
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The money will be used primarily on housing initiatives across the nation, including in Atlanta.
All Things Considered (NPR), 4:10 PM
MELISSA BLOCK: You're listening to All Things Considered from NPR News.
This month, more than a dozen homeless veterans in Connecticut will finally have a place to call their own, thanks to the American Legion. They'll stay at the legion's post in the small town of Jewett City. Lucy Nalpathanchil from member station WNPR reports.
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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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Nonprofit — Soldier On — provides affordable housing, support and job training
Four years ago, Michael Shindler's home was a sleeping bag under a pine tree in a park in Pittsfield, Mass. Today, the 54-year-old Air Force veteran, recovering alcoholic and mentor to at-risk kids lives just up the street, but worlds away in his own gleaming apartment. He also owns a share of the complex and has a voice in how the place is run.
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By Eric Tucker and Kristin M. Hall, Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Misha McLamb helped keep fighter jets flying during a military career that took her halfway around the world to the Persian Gulf. But back home, the Navy aircraft specialist is barely getting by after a series of blows that undid her settled life.
She was laid off from work last year and lost custody of her daughter. She's grappled with alcohol abuse, a carry-over from heavy-drinking Navy days. She spent nights in her car before a friend's boyfriend wrecked it, moving later to a homeless shelter where the insulin needles she needs for her diabetes were stolen.
By Matt Fuller, CQ Staff
A House subcommittee advanced a legislation package Wednesday dealing with issues concerning veterans' compensation.
The House Veterans' Affairs Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee gave voice vote approval to a measure that would provide annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) to a number of veterans' compensation programs.
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.
HOUSTON — A 73-year-old attorney pleaded guilty in Houston federal district court Tuesday to conspiring with his wife to steal $2.3 million from 49 disabled veterans and then hiding the thefts by creating fake reports, imaginary bank accounts and filing a bogus income tax return.
As part of his guilty plea to two of 21 charges against him, Joe B. Phillips admitted to transferring more than $1.36 million from veterans clients' accounts directly to a joint checking account that he shared with his wife between 2003 and 2007.
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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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.
Men 18-24 years old hit hardest; unemployment for veterans overall dips
By Steve Vogel
Unemployment among Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans stood at 12.1 percent in 2011, a slight increase over the previous year, according to a report issued Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
By comparison, the unemployment rate for non-veterans decreased from 9.4 percent to 8.7 percent over the same period.
By David Fitzpatrick and Drew Griffin, CNN Special Investigations Unit
Birmingham, Alabama-- A national charity that vows to help disabled veterans and their families has spent tens of millions on marketing services, all the while doling out massive amounts of candy, hand sanitizer bottles and many other unnecessary items to veteran aid groups, according to a CNN investigation.
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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Starting now: Personalized support for your post-service life
The 22-year-old Transition Assistance Program is getting a total makeover, aiming to make the classes and workshops more helpful for troops leaving the military and entering a struggling civilian economy.
The new program, unveiled by President Obama after heavy prodding from Congress and veterans groups, recognizes that troops don’t all have the same needs.
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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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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.
A divided Supreme Court on Thursday overturned a law that made it a crime to lie about having earned a military decoration, saying that the act was an unconstitutional infringement on free speech.
The case arose from the prosecution of Xavier Alvarez under the Stolen Valor Act, a law signed in 2006 that made it a crime for a person to falsely claim, orally or in writing, “to have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States.”
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The Macho Spouse, Male Military Spouse online community, has started a new video series on PTSD. Check out the first video, Defining PTSD with Nicholas Lind, and view the other great videos they provide on topics ranging from depression and deployments to finding work and career building.
"Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a serious battle injury we wanted to know more about, so we found Nicholas Lind, PsyD, Co-Owner of Post Traumatic Resources (Columbia, SC). In this multi-part series, Dr. Lind defines PTSD, explains the symptoms, shares how and when to seek help, and offers insight into living with someone who struggles with PTS symptoms. This first video offers a thorough explanation of what causes PTSD and how it may affect our families."
Caleb Getscher's new home means a lot to him.
The 21-year-old Marine lance corporal lost both of his legs and part of an arm while on duty in Afghanistan last year. His parents' home in Chaptico, where he spends weekends when he is not at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, was not easy to get around in a wheelchair or with prosthetic limbs.
Now he is able to live more comfortably in an addition built to that house, thanks to a program administered by Patuxent Habitat for Humanity. Volunteers and elected officials gathered at the house Aug. 25 to dedicate the new living space.
With his marine unit caught in an ambush, Dakota Meyer knew what he had to do. In September 2009, Meyer and Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez drove their Humvee into the thick of the action in the Afghan village of Ganjgal, stopping repeatedly under murderous fire so that Meyer could leave the vehicle to pick up stranded Afghan soldiers. Using a machine gun and grenade launcher to ward off the swarming Taliban militants, Meyer darted house to house searching for four missing Americans. They were dead, and while the precise details of the action have been a matter of controversy, an official review of the battle credited Meyer with saving the lives of numerous fellow marines and Afghan troops.
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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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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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By Kevin Loria, Christian Science Monitor
Federal grant program to put more cops on the street emphasizes jobs for military veterans who served after 9/11. Unemployment among recent veterans stood at 12.7 percent in May.
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Misplaced markers, interment mix-ups at 2 Calif. cemeteries
By Christian Davenport
The Department of Veterans Affairs has found more than 100 unmarked or mismarked graves at two more national cemeteries, adding to a mounting toll of problems at military burial grounds across the country.
By John H. Cushman Jr.
Members of the military services who lost their homes in unfair foreclosures have won a big victory â€“ and will receive big payouts â€” in the comprehensive settlement of mortgage litigation that was reached last week.
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.
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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Senator Jim Webb
Recently, I introduced bipartisan legislation to preserve veteransâ€™ education benefits, offered under the Post-9/11 G.I. bill, from abuses by certain schools. Troubling statistics show that the cost to taxpayers to send a veteran to a for-profit school is more than double the cost of a public university and that eight of 10 educational institutions collecting the most V.A. benefits are for-profit schools.
Five years after launching a combined effort to cut the time it takes to complete disability evaluations and begin paying benefits to wounded, injured and ill troops, it now takes the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments an average of 100 days longer to close a case.
The Integrated Disability Evaluation System was launched in 2008 to combine the separate DoD and VA systems into one and cut the time it takes to complete to 295 days for active-duty troops and 305 days for reserve-component members.
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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Written by R. Norman Moody, FLORIDA TODAY
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki today unveiled a new portal on their departments’ websites designed to help military veterans find jobs in the transportation industry.
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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.
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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By Aamer Madhani, USA Today
WASHINGTON â€“ For months, President Obama and his surrogates have been spotlighting his efforts on behalf of military veterans â€” a group they think potentially could play an important role in determining who wins several battleground states in November.
$1 billion program would focus on conservation
By Steve Vogel
President Obama will announce details Friday for a $1 billion Veterans Job Corps that the White House says will put up to 20,000 veterans to work over the next five years on projects to preserve and restore national parks and other federal, state and local lands.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki on Thursday described the program as "a bold new effort" to lower the high unemployment rate for post-Sept. 11 military veterans, which stood at 13.1 percent in December. The government estimates that 250,000 post-Sept. 11 veterans are unemployed.
Biden highlights drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan, criticizes Romney during speech
By Amy Gardner and Scott Wilson
President Obama and the first lady will greet soldiers at Fort Stewart in Hinesville, Ga., on Friday at a time when his reelection campaign is focused more intently than ever on a novel and potentially fruitful voter set: military families.
By Brad Plumer
President Obama on Tuesday unveiled two housing initiatives intended to assist members of the military and Americans with government-insured loans.
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.
By Bob Brewin
The Veterans Affairs Department's budget is exempt from sequestration, the White House Office of Management and Budget said in a letter to the Government Accountability Office today, a decision hailed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
By Steve Vogel
The White House's personnel chief is calling on senior federal executives to ensure that National Guard and Reserve troops returning to their civilian federal jobs are not penalized for their military service.
The Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs approved legislation on Wednesday that would expand access to infertility treatment for disabled veterans. The bill would authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs to cover the cost of in vitro fertilization treatment for veterans and spouses.
By Associated Press
New York Times
By Marcus Weisgerber
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will begin a weeklong visit to the Asia-Pacific next week, his first visit to the region since the Pentagon announced an increased focus on that area earlier this year.
Panetta will attend high-level meetings with leaders from key U.S. partners and deliver a speech at the Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, a forum for discussing regional defense issues and equipment modernization.
By Dan Moran
NORTH CHICAGO â€” 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.
By Andrew Lapin
The Defense Department awarded millions of dollars in veteran-owned contracts to ineligible firms and made coding errors affecting billions of dollars more, according to an inspector general report.
Pima County One-Stop Career Center is preparing to open the nation’s first workforce center aimed at helping military veterans find jobs and get training, benefits and support services.
The center will also help employers hire veterans.
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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.
MOUNT PLEASANT, South Carolina--The Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, a popular tourist spot in South Carolina's Charleston Harbor, is facing the same challenge as other U.S. Navy ship museums: keeping retired, once-storied warships afloat.
Its World War Two destroyer, the USS Laffey, just had a nearly $13 million restoration. The almost 70-year-old World War Two aircraft carrier, the USS Yorktown, will need eventual repairs at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.
The Center for Custom Prosthetics in Naples, Florida, is making an impact on U.S. military veterans by providing them with unique prosthetic solutions. The Center also provides the same quality service that veterans receive to the general public, which includes creating custom prosthetic eyes, noses, ears, hands and more. Based out of the west coast of Florida, the practice will be expanding its reach this Fall by opening new offices on Florida's east coast.
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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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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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By Alicia Tarancon, CNN
Facing an aging rail industry workforce and an influx of returning military veterans, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Tuesday an initiative in which the growing rail sector will hire more than 5,000 veterans this year, matching the same number hired in 2011.
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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.
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.
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.
By Michael Melia, Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn.--As a truck driver for the U.S. military in wartime Iraq, Ed Young racked up 7,000 miles, facing a constant threat of attack that left him struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.
Four years later, he is driving long hauls again, but now in the U.S. as one of a growing number of veterans turning entrepreneur. The Navy veteran who had seen his post-war life spiraling out of control says his Connecticut-based car transportation business has helped to put him on the road to recovery.
Petraeus -- Holly, that is -- makes mark on military by putting herself between soldiers and swindlers
By Rick Hampson, USA Today
When 18,000 members of the Army's 101st Airborne Division flew back to Fort Campbell, Ky., in 2004 after a year in Iraq, Holly Petraeus was there to meet them, no matter the hour, the weather or her other duties.
Rep. Howard Waxman says the Veterans Affairs bureaucracy is impenetrable. His opponent says Waxman hasn't tried hard enough.
By Steve Lopez
Los Angeles Times
September 26, 2012
Bob Rosebrock and I sat under a tree on the West Los Angeles Department of Veterans Affairs property, discussing his pet peeve: How the country is failing its veterans. There was plenty to talk about.
Nearby was the gleaming $253-million California Veterans Home, opened with great fanfare more than two years ago, with local politicians lining up to take bows. But today, in a region with an estimated 8,000 homeless veterans, many of whom can't get access to care, roughly four-fifths of the 396 rooms are empty.
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'Blatantly misleading' enlistment agreements acknowledged
At the time, the deal seemed irresistible to Eric Hickam: Give six years to the Army, a recruiter told him in 2003, and you can get a $50,000 "kicker" -- the Army College Fund.
When his payments started coming last fall, his first year at Columbia University in New York City, the amount fell far short of what Hickam had anticipated. He thought the college fund was a bonus on top of his GI Bill, worth about $35,000 at the time. The Army says the $50,000 figure was a total of all benefits. Last month, it denied Hickam's appeal seeking $50,000 more than what he's receiving for his GI Bill.
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Fewer than 9,000 spots remain open in a government program that pays for unemployed veterans to get retraining in high-demand jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Part of the federal VOW to Hire Heroes Act passed in 2011, the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program offers 12 months of assistance to 45,000 participants who sign up between July 1 and Sept. 30.
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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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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.
By Joseph Berger
After Eugene Ovsishcher returned from a nine-month combat tour in Afghanistan, he experienced what his doctors called symptoms of post-traumatic stress: nightmares, flashbacks and a pervasive anxiety. A psychiatrist advised him to get a dog, and last August he did â€” a shaggy, mocha Shih Tzu puppy that Mr. Ovsishcher named Mickey because he crawled like a mouse.
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
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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SAN DIEGO, Jun 28, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The UPS Store (R) franchise network today announced it has extended approximately $300,000 more in financial incentives for up to 10 qualified U.S. military veterans interested in opening a new location. This commitment is part of "Operation Enduring Opportunity," a national initiative to recruit and/or hire as many as 75,000 military veterans and their family members by the end of 2014.
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The travel industry is promising to create nearly 3,000 jobs for veterans and military spouses by 2014 as part of a program announced Wednesday by Michelle Obama.
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.'
But vets must take first step: seek help
The most common misconception about post-traumatic stress disorder is that there is no effective treatment.
Dr. Matthew Friedman, executive director of the Department of Veterans Affairs' National Center for PTSD, is working to get the word out that it's "very treatable."
PTSD is more prevalent among service members today, with 17 percent to 20 percent of the troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from it, he said. But studies have shown that 80 percent of those, given proper treatment, are without symptoms after five years.
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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.
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 â€” Suicides are surging among Americaâ€™s troops, averaging nearly one a day this year â€” the fastest pace in the nationâ€™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 â€” about 50 percent more â€” 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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By Elizabeth Samet
In his landmark 19th-century treatise "On War," Carl von Clausewitz asked "whether history has ever known a great general who was not ambitious; whether, indeed, such a figure is conceivable."
Clausewitz knew that ambition had gotten a bum rap: "Other emotions," he explained, "may be more common and more venerated -- patriotism, idealism, vengeance, enthusiasm of every kind --but they are no substitute for a thirst for fame and honor."
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.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has launched a new program in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Defense Department to train transitioning service members and veterans to help them become entrepreneurs and create jobs.
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By David Lerman, Bloomberg News
The unemployment rate for U.S. veterans who've served during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan increased last year, while the rate for non-veterans declined, the Labor Department reported yesterday.
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 â€” Navy and Marine Corps members and their families â€” may have been exposed to water found to be contaminated by carcinogens from the 1950s into the 1980s.
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Also at conference, HUD secretary calls for more funding
By Steve Vogel
An Obama administration effort to end veteran homelessness by 2015 requires more urgency, the secretaries of the departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development said Wednesday.
CBS Evening News, 6:30 PM
SCOTT PELLEY: Finally tonight, America of course owes a great debt to the men and women who have sacrificed so much in more than a decade of war. But it turns out many are forced to wait months, even years, to get disability benefits. David Martin has been investigating whatâ€™s behind the delay.
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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.
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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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.
By Kevin Freking, Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- After reporting that it had found 102 more misplaced headstones or markers and 21 graves missing markers at its cemeteries, the Veterans Affairs Department told lawmakers Thursday that it's trying to prevent future errors by requiring contractors to keep headstones at gravesites undergoing renovations and by conducting daily inspections.
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By Leo Shane III and Megan McCloskey
Stars and Stripes (stripes.com)
WASHINGTON – Caregivers of wounded veterans mistakenly received letters recently warning that automatic spending cuts set for January could stop their monthly stipends, creating more concern about the problems that sequestration might bring.
Veterans Affairs spokesman Josh Taylor said department officials have contacted all of the caregivers who received the notifications, clarifying that their stipends are not in danger and apologizing for the confusion.
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Supreme Court said false claims are protected speech
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- Jack Jacobs can proudly -- and truthfully -- say he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor in Vietnam. After a recent Supreme Court ruling, anyone else is free under the First Amendment to make the same claim, whether it's true or not.
Some military veterans say they consider the ruling a slap in the face. For Jacobs, though, it was the right decision. He said he wore the uniform to protect people's rights -- even if he doesn't agree with how they exercise those rights.
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CNN Sunday Morning, 6:00 AM
RANDI KAYE: Thousands of U.S. troops are heading home from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But now many of them are fighting a war after the war. We're talking about post-traumatic stress disorder, also called PTSD. It is a term that we first started to talk about in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, but for today's troops, it is as relevant as ever. PTSD is a mental disorder that some get after seeing or living through a dangerous event such as war combat. A person may have a flashback or begin reliving the event. They may have bad memories or even nightmares. They might feel numb or become jittery, or always be on alert or on the lookout for danger.
Even knowing what PTSD does to a person, it's shocking that many veterans commit suicide in this country. How many? On average, as many as 18 every day. Mike Scotti is a former Marine lieutenant who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has recovered from PTSD. Good morning, Mike, thanks for joining us this morning.
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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.
According to Greg Rivara, Communications Manager for Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), the 100,000 Jobs Mission job fair held Thursday was a big success.
The event was held at UIC Forum and was attended by over 1,300 veterans and more than 60 companies. The 100,000 Jobs Mission is a collaboration of the IDES, Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA), JP Morgan Chase, Joining Forces, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), American Legion, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), Student Veterans of America, U.S. Department of Labor – VETS, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Since the program’s launch in 2011, the group has collectively hired more than 12,000 veterans, and has a goal of 100,000 hired by 2020.
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Nonprofit grooms ex-military for jobs via service projects
Jeffrey Hall knows the look of an empty pantry.
“I do remember some days when we only had crackers in the house,” said Hall, 45, who recalled frequent trips to a food bank on the North Side. “A family of four, and crackers and water.”
Hall left Chicago to join the Navy, but he will return this week as a fellow with The Mission Continues, a nonprofit group dedicated to involving veterans of recent wars in meaningful service projects. More than 100 veterans will gather in Chicago this weekend to prepare for six months of work at nonprofits across the country.
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The Veterans Job Corps Act died in the Senate Wednesday on a procedural vote when 40 senators balked at the $1 billion price tag for a measure that would have provided employment for veterans in conservation work, in Veterans Affairs Department cemeteries, and helped in police and fire departments.
Supporters needed 60 votes and got only 58 to overcome an objection by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., that the $1 billion in costs, although paid for through budgetary gimmicks, would have pushed VA over the spending limits set by last year’s Budget Control Act.
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To the Editor:
Re "Does the V.A. Get It?" (editorial, April 25):
Along with hiring more psychiatrists to provide mental therapy for veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs should also hire a significant array of employment specialists.
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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By Steve Vogel
Injured servicemembers wait on average over a year to receive an official government disability evaluation, and the wait time increased significantly in 2011 for the third consecutive year, according to testimony released Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office.
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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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.
Civilian employers are reluctant to hire them, they say.
By David Zucchino
WASHINGTON -- Matt Pizzo has a law degree, can-do attitude, proven leadership skills, and expertise in communications and satellite technology from his four years in the Air Force.
Motorcycle rally marks 25th year of taking D.C. by storm
By Ben Wolfgang, The Washington Times
For Walt Koren, it would be easier to know that his old friend is dead. Instead, he's lived with uncertainty for 41 years. Whether William Patrick Millner, an Army Air Cavalry pilot in Vietnam and high school classmate of Mr. Koren's, survived a crash landing in Laos in 1971, and whether he remains in captivity somewhere in Southeast Asia, are questions that haunt him to this day.
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.
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.
By Christine Harvey, Bloomberg News
The U.S. government should provide a tax credit to military veterans to buy foreclosed properties owned by government mortgage financiers, according to Richard Peach, a Federal Reserve Bank of New York economist.
By Greg Barnes, Staff writer
Kyle Maynard implored Fort Bragg's wounded soldiers to set impossible goals for themselves and then strive to reach them.
When he had finished speaking, about 300 strong from Fort Bragg's Warrior Transition Battalion responded with a standing ovation.
Official site of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Allows you to apply for benefits online, research schools, calculate your benefits and, if you get stuck, ask a question right then and there.
Department of Veterans Affairs' step by step â€œRoadmap for Successâ€ to determine what GI BILL benefits or combination of benefits are the best fit for you.
Find jobs with military-friendly companies looking for employees with your skills and experience.
This is a Department of Defense Yellow Ribbon program that allows employers to post all their jobs at no cost. H2H is the lead sponsor in several Milicruit virtual career fairs, and also co-sponsors some of the U.S. Chamber Hiring Our Heroes career fairs.
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Hiring Our Heroes has hosted more than 220 hiring fairs in 48 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia; more than 10,400 have gotten jobs.
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Homeless Veteran in need of help? Call 1-877-4AID VET (1-877-424-3838)
The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) has founded a National Call Center for Homeless Veterans hotline to ensure that homeless Veterans or Veterans at-risk for homelessness have free, 24/7 access to trained counselors.
VA for Vets facilitates the reintegration, retention and hiring of Veteran employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). We offer career-search tools for Veterans seeking employment at VA, career development services for our existing Veterans, and coaching and reintegration support for military service members. VA for Vets is your gateway to a rewarding career serving our nation's Veterans.
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.
At the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the mission is to get the right information to the right Veteran at the right time. Millions of Veterans and their family members use social media each day, so the VA is continuously expanding its online effort.
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Disability often brings to mind wheelchairs and amputees on crutches. The scope of disability has changed throughout the years and so has the mindset on what constitutes a disabled person. Federal disability discrimination law states that disability is defined as a mental or physical affliction that to a large extent hinders at least one or even more of an individual's important life actions. Impacted life activities can include self-care, learning, moving, and the basic activities of daily life, which include cooking to keeping your home clean. The terms that once defined disability have changed as well. Mental retardation is no longer a mainstream term, intellectual disability has long replaced it. People are less likely to be pigeon-holed into a category as the world awakened to what's possible, not impossible for a person "differently-abled." There is no physically disability that needs to set a person back, those veterans who have lost a limb, a child born with a physical birth defect such as a shortened arm, to diseases such as multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy, don't need to curtail activity or social life. Many disabled people used to live in institutions, now the amount of resources available to live a quality life are abundant; and most people living with an impairment can either live on their own or with support from family, friends, private, public or government programs.
Military sexual trauma (MST) is the term that the Department of Veterans Affairs uses to refer to sexual assault or repeated, threateningsexual harassment that occurred while the Veteran was in themilitary.
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The Veterans Crisis Line provides help for veterans and their families by connecting Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text.
call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1
The Veterans Law Center provides support and counsel to America's Honorably Discharged Military Veterans, wherever they may be, and we do this free of charge to them.
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.
As a civilian male military spouse and US Military Veteran advocate, I hear many stories about tough military transitions that servicemembers and their families have gone through.
BEFORE you transition from the military to civilian life, do your best to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Take a look at the mistakes others point out for you to avoid when doing your military transition.
Each state maintains its own Veteran Affairs office. It's in your best interest to connect with your state's VA office, as each state may offer unique tax benefits to veterans. Below, you'll find a links to each state's VA office, along with links to their benefits and contact pages. Keep in mind, however, even if you are a resident of the state, that does not mean you are automatically qualified to receive their VA benefits.
The Internal Revenue Service has announced that the nation's 2016 individual income tax filing season opens Jan. 19, 2016, with more than 150 million tax returns expected to be filed this year.
People will have several extra days to file their tax returns this year. Taxpayers have until Monday, Apr. 18 to file their 2015 tax returns and pay any tax due because of the Emancipation Day holiday in Washington, D.C., falling on Friday, April 15. The IRS expects more than 70 percent of taxpayers to again receive tax refunds this year. Last year, the IRS issued 109 million refunds, with an average refund of $2,797.
Shown below are several ways Veterans and their families have access to free tax preparation and electronic filing services to keep more of their hard earned money.
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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pension exists to help financially disadvantaged wartime Veterans and their survivors.
The Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) is a field operating agency of Headquarters, U.S. Air Force, Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower and Personnel.
The following information is provided for individuals who have served in the United States Air Force and have retired or separated from service.
The Marine Corps League perpetuates the traditions and spirit of ALL Marines and Navy FMF Corpsmen, who proudly wear or who have worn the eagle, globe and anchor of the Corps. It takes great pride in crediting its founding in 1923 to World War I hero, then Major General Commandant John A. Lejeune. It takes equal pride in its Federal Charter, approved by An Act of the Seventy-Fifth Congress of the United States of America and signed and approved by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on August 4, 1937.
The League is the only Federally Chartered Marine Corps related veterans organization in the country. Since its earliest days, the Marine Corps League has enjoyed the support and encouragement of the active duty and Reserve establishments of the U. S. Marine Corps. Today, the League boasts a membership of more than 76,000 men and women, officer and enlisted, active duty, Reserve Marines, honorably discharged Marine Veterans and qualified Navy FMF Corpsmen and is one of the few Veterans Organizations that experiences increases in its membership each year.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America (IAVA) is the first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. With over 200,000 Member Veterans and supporters nationwide, IAVA strives to build the New Greatest Generation. Our programs empower our community online and offline, and include Smart Job Fairs, our signature New GI Bill calculator and Community of Veterans, a veterans only social network.
Joining Forces is a way that you can get involved and provide help for veterans and families of veterans.
The Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) is a U.S non-profit organization that was established to "help veterans and their families meet and overcome the challenges of blindness".
Services from BVA are available to all veterans who have become blind, either during or after active duty. The BVA has its headquarters in Washington, D.C. BVA is a 503(c)(3) registered nonprofit; for the 2008-2009 Fiscal year, BVA's income was $4.2 million.
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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THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WICHITA, Kansas â€” The Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center wants to hear directly from veterans and their families about their experiences with their services.
The facility has scheduled a town hall from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday in the facility's auditorium. The agency VA's regional office in Wichita also will be holding a benefits claim clinic from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Representatives from the Dole VA Medical Center will be available to provide one-on-one assistance to veterans during the town hall. Senior staff and medical experts will be in a move to improve communications with veterans, their families, and other beneficiaries.
Veterans can get help for their benefits claims at the clinic, and the VA says staff will be on hand to finalize their claims as appropriate.
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WASHINGTON (AP) â€” 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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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/.
Get to know your benefits with these links from Military OneSource.
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.)
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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Check out Veterans Network, the first inter-television Network dedicated to the men and women who have served and sacrificed for our nation's Freedom.
The Veterans Network has 22 Channels, including: Veterans News, Veterans Legislation Ledger, Veterans Nation Archives, Eleven Bravo, Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans Channel, Homeward Bound, C-4, Veterans Helping Veterans, Beneath The Uniform, TV Hour, National Veterans Foundation, The Wounded Warrior Project, The Fisher House, Step to the Plate, World War II, and U.S. Vets.
The Veterans Nation video above is from the Veterans Network website. Great videos filled with valuable information for Veterans by Veterans.
Disabled American Veterans (DAV) is the official voice of the nation's wounded warriors and their families.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs provides patient care and federal benefits to veterans and their dependents.
The VA's mission is to fulfill President Lincoln's promise "To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan" by serving and honoring the men and women who are America's veterans.
Since 2006, VALoanCenter.net has been helping Veterans with information and resources to assist them in obtaining a VA Home Loan for the purchase or re-finance of their home.
VALoanCenter.net is not a government agency website or affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs. VALoanCenter.net has relationships with VA Loan Specialists who work for VA approved lenders. VALoanCenter.net may share your information with these trusted affiliates in order to assist you.
At VAntage Point, the official blog of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, that same old way of communicating (or not communicating) goes out the window. Here, VA employees will provide Veterans with a wealth of information.
Armed Forces Talk Radio is dedicated to all members of the United States Armed Forces, past and present. The show airs every week for an hour, on Thursday's at 10 AM Pacific Time. Armed Forces Talk Radio will cover issues important to Veterans and Military personnel, with information concerning all Branches of the Military and issues facing their Families. Weâ€™ll also bring you interesting Guests from a wide variety of organizations with an interest in Veterans and the Military!
About The Host: Introducing your host - Scott Langhoff is a Navy Veteran with many years of experience in Veterans Service.
Show Contact Info: 888-327-0061, VETRADIO@COX.NET
TUNE INTO "Armed Forces Talk Radio" Thursday 1pm Eastern 10am Pacific on wsRadio.com
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Witnesses testified on oversight and accountability at Arlington National Cemetery. Over 120 graves at military cemeteries had been misidentified according to a study done by the Department of Veterans Affairs, including eight cases of bodies buried in the wrong grave site. The review was prompted by problems at Arlington National Cemetery.
e-Benefits offers Veterans a "one-stop shopping" experience to quickly pull up all of their VA benefits information, which provides them with easy access to the many benefits and services they've earned.
eBenefits is a portal; a central location for Veterans, Service Members, and their families to research, find, access, and, in time, manage their benefits and personal information.
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Overview of how legal professionals can help the Department of Veterans Affairs end homelessness among Veterans.
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The Department of Veterans Affairs is adding 34 new locations around the country to serve as housing for homeless and at-risk veterans.
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VA News 515
October 1, 2012
Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
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VA News 517
October 15, 2012
Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
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VA News 516
October 8, 2012
Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
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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.
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Our Veterans put everything on the line to protect our freedom. We may never be able to repay them for their sacrifice, but we can show them just how much we appreciate all that theyâ€™ve done.
Everyday, hundreds of people just like you volunteer to help our veterans. You can help by simply sharing your time, lending a warm smile, a supportive hand, or a sympathetic ear to someone ear needs it.
Everyone can do something to make our Veterans know how much we appreciate their service. What will you do?