Military/Transitionnews for 2/28/14

Military transition and veterans affairs news of the day for 2/28/14

Good news story of the day

Marine paralympic game trials start  (Union Tribune)  Several hundred injured Marines are set to compete in the annual Marine Corps Trials, starting Sunday at Camp Pendleton.

Military Transition

Pilot class preps soldiers to be entrepreneurs  (Ft Leavenworth Lamp)  “Man, if they had something like this when I got out, life would have been better for me,” Dr. W. Chris King, dean of academics at the Command and General Staff College, said during the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s FastTrac NewVenture for the Veteran Entrepreneur course graduation Feb. 21 at the Resiliency Center.

Marywood University to sponsor Renewal-Veteran Education and Transition Services (R-VETS) to Veterans  (The Abington Journal)  Marywood University’s Office of Military and Veteran Services will be offering a Renewal-Veteran Education and Transition Services (R-VETS) program, which is focused on providing college access to community veterans interested in post-secondary education.

Air National Guard: Another chance for Airmen affected by force shaping  (DC Military)  The Air Force is currently implementing force management programs to meet budget reduction requirements. Nearly 25,000 Airmen will be affected by these programs over the next few years.

Female veterans luncheon planned for March 8 at University of Redlands  (The Sun)  Female veterans will be recognized at the Inland Empire Women Veterans luncheon planned for March 8 at the University of Redlands.

Army Warrior Transition Command Congratulates Army Veterans on U.S. Paralympic Team (Workers Compensation)  As the Army’s lead for wounded warrior care, the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command congratulates all members of the 2014 U.S. Paralympic team, and especially the eight Army athletes.

Navy mentoring making dreams a reality  (DC Military)  How is the Navy making dreams a reality in the fields of science and engineering for wounded warriors, interns, new employees and students in middle and high school?
From Military To Finance: A Fuqua MBA Does Wonderful Things For Women  (Business Because) When it comes to female business leaders and MBAs, the numbers aren’t pretty: women make up just over 30 per cent of the student body at U.S. business schools.

Spectrum Health expanding job program for veterans  (Washington Times)  For eight months, Hugh Lehigh struggled to find work after relocating from Seattle to West Michigan in 2012.

Veterans

World War II veteran visits Weston school  (Sun Sentinel)  Decorated signs of patriotism and appreciation welcomed World War II veteran Harold Flagg during his recent visit to Tequesta Trace Middle School in Weston.

VET GROUP: COAST GUARD WRONGLY DISCHARGED MEMBERS  (AP)  The U.S. Coast Guard routinely violates its procedures and regulations intended to protect service members from erroneous discharges for personality or adjustment disorders, a veterans group and Yale Law School students alleged Thursday.

Retired Marine Reveals Secret Suffering of Male Military Rape Victims  (The Daily Beast)  Former Marine Lance Corporal Jeremiah Arbogast tried to kill himself after he watched his rapist walk free. He shared his story, Wednesday, in hopes of helping spark change within the ranks.

Key lawmaker: Don’t try to hash out pay reform this year  (Military Times)  The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee wants to delay any major military retirement and compensation debate until next year, instead focusing on other areas of potential savings for the fiscal 2015 defense budget.

Benefits threaten Pentagon mission: Our view  (USA Today)  The government is underfunding a lot of things these days — infrastructure and science, to name just a couple.

Veterans Affairs

The VA’s War: Department Of Veterans Affairs And Congress Clash Over Suicide Charges  (International Business Times)  Simmering tensions between members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs boiled over this week following an IBTimes report that the veterans department had substantiated three ethical lapses — one of which involved veteran suicides — cited last March by an agency whistleblower.

VA’s time to resolve disability appeals shoots up, lagging department’s goals  (The Miami Herald)  The average time for a denied claim to work its way through the cumbersome Department of Veterans Affairs appeals process shot up to more than 900 days last year, double the department’s long-term target.

VA security breach leaves veterans’ data at risk  (WVEC.com)  An internal memo prepared by top IT professionals inside the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says the agency’s computers that hold private information for hundreds of thousands of military veterans are essentially wide open.

Congress harms veterans’ medical access  (The Hill)  As a physician, I find it unacceptable to see brave military veterans going without needed care within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Executives responsible for Augusta VA consult delays likely won’t face punishment  (The Augusta Chronicle)  The senior-level executives responsible for delays in care at veterans affairs medical centers in Augusta and Columbia probably won’t face punishment because they retired before they could be disciplined, VA leadership testified before Congress Wednesday.

Benefits

Senior defense official: ‘We don’t want to cut.’ Blame Congress  (Army Times)  A senior defense official says the Army and Defense Department are being unfairly vilified in the media over military budget cuts when Congress is really to blame.

Commissaries move to stem ‘bulk buying,’ coupon abuse  (Military Times)  A policy update posted Wednesday on Facebook by the Defense Commissary Agency is aimed at preventing abuse of the system through bulk buying and coupon redemption.

Omnibus VA bill falls in Senate  (The Washington Post)  A broad Veterans Affairs bill that would have expanded benefits for former service members and repealed a military pension cut for future troops stalled out in the Senate on Thursday.

Bickering Over Defense Budget on Horizon, Republican Lawmakers Say  (National Defense)  When the cuts that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced as part of his Pentagon budget preview come to Congress, expect a battle, said the two top Republicans on the House and Senate armed service committees.

Senate rejects far-reaching Veterans Affairs bill  (The Washington Post)  A broad Department of Veterans Affairs bill that would have expanded benefits for former service members and repealed a military pension cut for future troops was rejected in the Senate on Thursday.

Military Groups Blast Republicans For Killing A Bill To Support Veterans  (Yahoo Finance)  Veterans organizations are not happy with U.S. Senate Republicans today, after a bill to expand health care and education programs for veterans failed to gain enough support to move forward, Reuters reports.

Americans Remain Divided on Military Spending  (Gallup)  As the Obama administration announces plans for further decreases in military spending, Gallup surveys show no broad consensus among Americans that the U.S. is spending too much or too little on the military.

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Military/Veterans Transitionnews for 2/27/14

Military transition and veterans affairs news of the day for 2/27/14

Good news story of the day

In Commitment to Troops, Actor Gary Sinise Treats Wounded Veterans to Hollywood Trip  (ABC News) It’s been 20 years since “Forrest Gump” took its place in motion picture history. And since its release, the story about the incredible journey of an innocent everyman with a low I.Q., has inspired actor Gary Sinise to take an unexpected journey of his own.

Military Transition

Transition GPS arms Airmen for life outside military  (52d Fighter Wing Public Affairs)  In these times of fiscal restraint and force drawbacks, the time to explore options and potentially prepare for a life outside of the military is here.

Secretary expects personnel cuts to be less severe than previously estimated  (Air Force Times)  The Defense Department’s 2015 budget request, to be unveiled next week, will propose cutting fewer than the previously estimated 25,000 airmen over five years, and the majority of those cuts will come from the active duty, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said Wednesday.

Fort Meade: Retired Marine lands a job with help from transition program  (TMC News)  After 20 years with the Marine Corps, Hank Brown decided to work for an entrepreneurial company

Transition GPS program helps Sailors prepare for civilian life  (Ventura County Star)  By definition, “transition” means the “process of change,” and a process is a  series of actions. Put them together and you have a pretty accurate description  of what the Transition GPS program is all about.

Veterans fair to assist in job hunt  (Aiken Standard)  U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R–S.C., will hold his second Veterans Fair next week to  give veterans and local agencies a chance to discuss job opportunities in the  CSRA.

Fox: Pentagon will plan for possible carrier cut in 2015  (The Hill)  The Pentagon will take steps next year to retire an aircraft carrier in case Congress does not lift sequestration by 2016, a top defense official said on Wednesday.

Winnefeld: A Brave Congress Needs to Accept Base Closings  (Sea Power)  The Pentagon announced this week that it’s fiscal 2015 budget submission would include another round of base closures and a significant force reduction.

DoD Has a Detailed Sequester Back-Up Plan  (Defense News)  The Pentagon has a detailed five-year spending plan that adheres to federal defense spending caps should sequestration return in 2016. Just don’t expect to see it anytime soon.

Despite ‘historic’ cuts, the US will still have 450,000 active-duty soldiers  (The Guardian)  “Hagel plans to shrink the United States Army to its smallest force since before World War II,” blared the lede in yesterday’s New York Times. The Defense Department “proposed cutting the Army to its smallest size in 74 years,” said the Washington Post.

Veterans

New Veterans Center Opens After Controversy  (NBC San Diego)  A new facility aiming to prevent homelessness among veterans opened its doors in San Diego Monday, but not without some controversy to start.

College kicks disabled vet, dog off campus  (Tampa Bay Online)  Bill Smith, a 100 percent disabled retired Green Beret colonel, survived the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon, several deployments to war zones and ailments seen and unseen as a result.

Veterans at Home, on a Mission of Compassion  (The New York Times)  Rachel Gutierrez was an army sergeant in Iraq, but back home in Phoenix she leads a platoon.

Air Force rules Minn. veteran’s cancer caused by base accident  (Fox News)  A retired U.S. airman got great news just weeks after the Fox 9 Investigators  questioned whether an accident on a military base that exposed him to high  amounts of radiation caused his brain tumor.

Pleas for more help for military veterans to recover from sexual assault (Christian Science Monitor)  When Jeremiah Arbogast was a lance corporal, he was drugged and then raped by his boss, a fellow Marine.

Gunman killed in standoff identified as Vietnam Veteran  (CBS 8)  An apparently suicidal 62-year-old man who was shot and killed after raising a rifle toward officers has been identified as a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD.

Veterans Affairs

Move to speed up vets benefits paying dividends  (Union Tribune)  A twofold campaign to accelerate the collection of veterans benefits after years of leaving millions of federal dollars unclaimed appears to be paying early dividends, including in San Diego County.

The facts about VA health care and benefits  (Tampa Bay Online)  America’s veterans deserve the very best this nation can offer to honor their service and sacrifice.

Sabattus man admits to theft of VA services  (Sun Journal)  A Sabattus man pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court to stealing U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs travel benefits.

DoD, VA issue new concussion care guide  (Military Times)  The Defense and Veterans Affairs departments have published new guidelines on post-concussion care — a detailed, step-by-step road map for returning to duty that embraces rest and nixes activities such as driving and video games.

Quirk-Silva Seeking Support for OC Veteran’s Cemetery  (Orange County Breeze)  Assembly Bill 1453 would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs to apply to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs State Cemetery Grant Program for the construction of a Southern California Veterans Cemetery in Orange County.

Veterans Beat: New Veteran Health Identification Cards is easier to use  (Twinsburg Bulletin)  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced Feb. 20, the phased rollout of newly designed, more secure Veteran Health Identification Cards.

County consolidates Veterans’ Affairs department  (Gettysburg Times)  The Office of Veterans’ Affairs is no longer an individual Adams County department.

VA Defends Deleting Veteran Medical Appointments  (Military.com)  The Department of Veterans Affairs on  Wednesday denied wrongdoing in the alleged deletion of thousands of medical  appointment requests at the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Medical Center  beginning in 2009.

Top VA official disputes mass purge of medical appointments cited in ‘scurrilous’ Examiner investigation  (Washington Examiner)  Revelations by the Washington Examiner of a mass purge of backlogged medical appointments by the Department of Veterans Affairs were dismissed as a “scurrilous newspaper report” by the agency’s top health official Wednesday.

VA Cites Drop in Opiate Prescriptions, but Some Lawmakers Skeptical of Progress  (ABC News)  U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs senior officials told a panel of skeptical House lawmakers today that the VA has reduced the number of veterans receiving opiates by 20,000 since October in response to congressional pressure and media scrutiny.

Concerned Veterans for America starts Veterans Affairs accountability project  (The Augusta Chronicle)  Support is growing for a new law that would ease the process of firing and demoting senior executives within the Department of Veterans Affairs, including the directors of VA medical centers.

Veterans Affairs execs who quit can avoid discipline, agency leader tells  Congress  (TribLive)  Veterans Affairs officials can escape punishment for deadly lapses on their  watch if they quit before they’re disciplined, one of the agency’s top leaders  told Congress on Wednesday.

Executives responsible for Augusta VA consult delays likely won’t face punishment  (The Augusta Chronicle)  The senior-level executives responsible for delays in care at veterans affairs medical centers in Augusta and Columbia probably won’t face punishment because they retired before they could be disciplined, VA leadership testified before Congress Wednesday.

House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health Hearing  (Insurance News Net)  Good morning.

Benefits

Top enlisted members: Don’t mess with commissaries  (Military Times)  The Marine Corps’ senior enlisted adviser told lawmakers Wednesday that he believes focusing on the commissary benefit as a potential source of defense budget savings is a mistake.

Veterans groups to Senate GOP: Don’t tie Iran sanctions to our bill  (The Hill)  Two of America’s largest veterans organizations on Wednesday urged Republicans to abandon their push to attach Iran sanctions to pending benefits legislation.

Veterans Groups Slam GOP Effort To Tie Iran Sanctions To Their Benefits Bill  (The Huffington Post)  Two top veterans groups have come out against a Senate GOP effort to insert an Iran sanctions amendment into an unrelated veterans bill, putting the party at odds with a constituency that leans Republican.

Jeanne Shaheen To Introduce Measure To Give Equal Veterans Benefits To Gay Married Couples  (Huffington Post)  Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) is set to introduce an amendment Wednesday to sweeping veterans benefits legislation that would extend federal benefits to legally married gay couples.

Senate Debates Bill to Extend Health Care to Vets  (Military Times)  The Senate on Tuesday debated a bill that would extend Department of  Veterans Affairs health care to hundreds of thousands more veterans, provide  assistance for families to care for veterans at home and add new services for  veterans with fertility issues.

Military Compensation Savings About 10 Percent of Cuts  (Bloomberg)  Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s proposed reductions in military compensation, such as housing allowances, amount to only about 10 percent of cuts being sought over the next five years, the No. 2 U.S. military official said.

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Military/Veteran Transitionnews for 2/26/14

Military transition and veterans affairs news of the day for 2/26/14

Good news story of the day

Fundraiser to benefit Texas Military Honors Team  (The Record)  Texas Military Honors Team Fund-raiser event 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 27 at St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica, 700 Jefferson St. in Beaumont.

Military Transition

Workshop Focuses on Military to Civil Transition  (Aviation Today)  Among one of first workshops to open at Heli-Expo 2014 on Monday, Feb. 24, was a military-to-civilian transition seminar.

Hagel details Pentagon budget cuts: US Army to shrink to pre-WWII level to face new era  (Global Security)  The Pentagon said on Monday it would shrink the US Army to pre-World War Two levels, eliminate the popular A-10 aircraft and reduce military benefits in order to meet 2015 spending caps, setting up an election-year fight with the Congress over national defense priorities.

A look at Air Force FY14 Force Management: Programs II  (17th Training Wing Public Affairs)  Force Management programs continue to affect Airmen Air Force-wide as new programs and changes to existing programs are implemented.

Experienced Airmen wanted: continue to serve with the Reserve  (Air Force Reserve Command Recruiting Service Public Affairs)  Force management programs will push many Airmen out of their full-time active-duty positions, but that doesn’t mean they have to give up the retirement plan or the other hard-earned benefits they had come to expect.

Veterans

USC leaders advise mayor on veterans issues  (USC News)  USC has a history of supporting the United States military — from its days as a training school during World War I to the formation of programs and centers aimed at helping veterans make their transition at home. – See more at: http://news.usc.edu/#!/article/59184/usc-leaders-advise-mayor-on-veterans-issues/

Get real, Hagel tells nation in proposing military cuts  (CNN)  Get real, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told America on Monday in proposing a scaled back, modern military that would cut the Army to its lowest troop level since before World War II, retire the A-10 “Warthog” attack jet and reduce some benefits for fighting forces.

Military cuts could increase cost of living for troops, veterans and families  (Fox News)  Military groups and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are vowing to fight proposed cuts to the Pentagon budget set to be unveiled next week that could increase the cost of living for American troops, veterans and their families.

Bordentown City veterans committee misinterpreted flag code, deputy mayor says  (NJ.com)  Deputy Major James Lynch says the veterans committee’s refusal to fly a flag presented to it by the family of a soldier killed in Afghanistan is based on misinterpretation of the U.S. flag code, and he is hopeful the issue will be on the committee agenda next week.

Battle over slots at veterans’ halls continues to pinch Attorney General Mike DeWine: Mark Naymik  (Cleveland.com)  Veterans have Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in a tight spot.

ABC NEWS LAUNCHES VETERANS SERIES “COMING HOME: AMERICA’S PROMISE”  (ABC News) ABC News will produce and present a series of reports, “Coming Home: America’s Promise,” that will investigate the most important issues facing veterans returning from battle.

Veterans Affairs

Disabled veterans group rallies for full VA advance funding  (Navy Times)  Despite a budget detente on Capitol Hill, veterans advocates are worried about what another government shutdown could do to Veterans Affairs Department benefits checks and assistance programs.

Veterans Affairs Initiative Shows Early Promise in Reducing Use of Opioids for Chronic Pain  (SurfKY.com)  The Department of Veterans Affairs has initiated a multi-faceted approach to reduce the use of opioids among America’s Veterans using VA health care.

Former VA Doctor Says She Was Forced Out After Limiting Opiate Prescriptions  (ABC News)  On the eve of a congressional hearing about the Department of Veterans Affairs’ skyrocketing use of narcotic painkillers, a former VA doctor has stepped forward with new allegations about the agency’s prescription practices.

Concerned Veterans for America starts Veterans Affairs accountability project  (The Augusta Chronicle) Support is growing for a new law that would ease the process of firing and demoting senior executives within the Department of Veterans Affairs, including the directors of VA medical centers.

Veterans Affairs purged thousands of medical tests to ‘game’ its backlog stats  (Washington Examiner) Thousands of orders for diagnostic medical tests have been purged en masse by the Department of Veterans Affairs to make it appear its decade-long backlog is being eliminated, according to documents obtained by the Washington Examiner.

Benefits

Military commissary budget slashed $1B  (The Washington Times)  Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans to decrease the size of U.S. military commissaries, which will take a $1 billion hit over the next three years.

Military veterans benefits bill should win initial Senate vote  (ABC Local)  A sprawling Democratic bill expanding health, education and other benefits for veterans seems ready to clear an initial hurdle in the Senate.

Cuts to Military Commissaries Could Undermine Morale  (The Fiscal Times)  Few issues rouse anger like commissaries.

NH Veterans Join Ayotte as She Discusses Successful Efforts to Restore Military Retirement Benefits  (Political News) New Hampshire’s veterans and military service organizations at VFW Post 8641in Merrimack to discuss successful efforts she led in Washington to restore military retirees’ pension benefits.

A Military Budget to Fit the Times  (The New York Times)  The Pentagon’s proposals to reduce the Army to pre-World War II levels and modify some benefits for troops and retirees may seem unsettling to a nation that prides itself on having the world’s most capable military.

Montana delegation leery of proposal to scale back military benefits  (Independent Record)  Members of Montana’s congressional delegation said Tuesday they’re willing to look at possible cuts to military budgets — but not benefits and salaries for U.S. troops and veterans.

Broad veterans’ benefits debated in U.S. Senate  (Portland Press Herald)  The Senate on Tuesday began debating a broad veterans’ benefits bill that would expand health care and education services for former military personnel but that some Republicans warned could overburden programs already struggling to meet demand.

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Military/Veteran Transitionnews for 2/25/14

Military transition and veterans affairs news of the day for 2/25/14

Good news story of the day

Group helping veterans find housing  (Times Online)  A few local nonprofits are helping veterans help other veterans.

Military Transition

Soldiers survive combat, then lose their jobs  (USA Today)  For thousands of career-military troops who endured combat and family separations during a dozen years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the end of hostilities brings a new directive from the government — your services are no longer needed.

Veterans Resource Fair offers job, education opportunities and more  (Cleveland.com)  They served their country, now they’re looking for their country to return the service.

George W. Bush launches program to help veterans transition from war  (Reuters)  Former U.S. President George W. Bush on Sunday promoted a new initiative to help veterans transition back to civilian life and aid in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Budget cuts to slash U.S. Army to smallest since before World War Two  (AOL)  The Pentagon said on Monday it would shrink the U.S. Army to pre-World War Two levels, eliminate the popular A-10 aircraft and reduce military benefits in order to meet 2015 spending caps, setting up an election-year fight with the Congress over national defense priorities.

Defense budget would shrink U.S. Army, cut benefits  (UPI)  The 2015 Pentagon budget will cut benefits for active-duty personnel and reduce the Army to pre-World War II levels, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said.

The Army Force Cuts: 3 Truths, 4 Fallacies  (Breaking Defense)  There are three things you need to know about the administration’s new budget plan and what it means for the Army. Most importantly, the fact the Army will be its smallest since before World War II is not one of them.

US Lawmakers Push Back Against DoD Budget Plans  (Defense News)  Congress and others in the defense community pushed back on Pentagon plans to cut 120,000 personnel from the active and reserve Army ranks, retire entire fleets of Air Force aircraft and sideline Navy ships.

Veterans

Vietnam veterans get their day in Utah  (Standard-Examiner)  This spring, it looks as though local Vietnam veterans will finally have a day to call their own — as a signature from Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is the final hurdle to clear before March 29 becomes Utah’s official “Vietnam War Memorial Day.”

Veterans raising new flagpole in Highland Cemetery  (Great Falls Tribune)  Last fall, a group of veterans set a goal to raise enough money to replace the vandalized and unusable flagpole in the veterans section of Highland Cemetery.

Special Court for Veterans Gaining Momentum  (Military.com)  After a slow start, an innovative effort to reduce crime by veterans in Washington County is showing encouraging signs of lowering recidivism rates among vets, county court officials say.

Local Tuskegee pilot to be honored on a U.S. stamp  (Philly.com)  Long after he piloted a plane that transported first lady Eleanor Roosevelt to the skies above the Tuskegee Institute, C. Alfred “Chief” Anderson sometimes sidestepped the limelight.

Task force hears veterans’ testimonies  (Rapid City Journal)  About 30 local veterans gave strong, passionate testimonies on behalf of keeping the VA Black Hills Health Care System’s facility open in Hot Springs, before a crowd of more than 100 people at the American Legion on Monday, Feb. 17.

Veterans Affairs

California Veterans Signing Up For Benefits At Low Rates  (Capital Public Radio)  The State of California says veterans are not taking advantage of all the benefits that are available to them, and it’s trying to change that.

Kirk Tours Illiana Health Care System and Addresses Nationwide VA Backlog  (Press Zoom)  U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today visited with veterans and Veterans Affairs (VA) officials at the Illiana Health Care System to tour the system’s living facilities and to discuss the continued disability claims backlog facing veterans across the nation.

Tommy Sowers: Facts about VA health care and benefits   (Sun-Sentinel)  America’s veterans deserve the very best this nation can offer to honor their service and sacrifice.

Department of Veterans Affairs employees destroyed veterans’ medical records to cancel backlogged exam requests  (Daily Caller)

Employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) destroyed veterans’ medical files in a systematic attempt to eliminate backlogged veteran medical exam requests, a former VA employee told The Daily Caller.

Benefits

Pentagon budget would cut military health benefits and commissary funds  (Washington Post)  The Pentagon’s 2015 budget proposal would raise health-care costs for certain members of the military community and drastically trim subsidies for the commissaries that provide discounted groceries to troops and their families.

Massive veterans bill heading toward Senate vote  (USA Today)  What has been characterized as the most sweeping veterans legislation in decades could reach the Senate floor for a vote as early as Tuesday.

Dozens of veterans priorities rolled into 1 bill  (AP)  It’s hard to vote against veterans these days.

Will partisanship derail veterans benefits bill?  (CBS)  The Senate is preparing to tackle a major veterans bill this week, a process that will test whether the chamber is still stuck in a feud over a rules change last fall that reduced the power of the Republican minority.

Vets Benefits Bill Should Win Initial Senate Vote  (ABC)  A sprawling Democratic bill expanding health, education and other benefits for veterans seems ready to clear an initial hurdle in the Senate.

A Concrete Way to Honor Military Sacrifices  (The Wall Street Journal)  One of the most important measures of a country’s greatness lies in how it treats those who put their lives on the line to defend their homeland.

Veterans advocates prepare for new budget fights  (Military.com)  Cuts to annual cost-of-living adjustments in military retired pay are gone. Now comes the next fight.

DoD seeks to raise Tricare fees for active-duty family members  (Military Times)  The Pentagon’s proposed 2015 budget, unveiled Monday, includes a surprise proposal to raise health care fees for active-duty family members which, if approved, would mark the first increases in health care costs for those beneficiaries since Tricare was established nearly 20 years ago.

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Military/Veteran Transitionnews for 2/24/14

Military transition and veterans affairs news of the day for 2/24/14

Good news story of the day

Janesville housing program helps homeless veterans  (Twin Cities)  The first thing Don Gross will tell you is how thankful he is to have a roof over his head.

Military Transition

Companies Need To Help America’s Military Veterans Get Back To Work  (Forbes)  On a hot Annapolis afternoon in the summer of 1966, I stood alongside hundreds of other young men on the grounds of the U.S Naval Academy.

Fort Leonard Wood to lose 1,000 troops; changes at Scott AFB less clear  (Saint Louis Today)  As part of budget cuts throughout the U.S. military, the largest base in Missouri is expected to lose about 1,000 soldiers by October 2015.

Help wanted in the Reserve: Big bonuses, retraining opportunities and a way to stay Air Force  (Air Force Times) Thousands of airmen at risk of being cut in the drawdown could find a parachute in the Air Force Reserve.

George W. Bush launches program to help veterans transition from war  (Reuters)  Former U.S. President George W. Bush on Sunday promoted a new initiative to help veterans transition back to civilian life and aid in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Pikes Peak Community College opens veterans center in response to more military in transition  (The Gazette) The 25 percent of Pikes Peak Community College students who are veterans, active military or military family members have a new Military and Veterans Center of Excellence at the college’s Centennial campus near Fort Carson.

Veterans

Seeking a man left behind: Aberdeen war hero enlisted to help find Vietnam-era pilot’s remains  (Idaho State Journal)  It’s been 45 years since Aberdeen’s Leland Sorensen clung to a thin steel cable as he was lowered into the jungle canopy of Southeast Asia.

Killeen: Veteran Runs In Memory Of Fallen Soldiers  (Our Town Texas)  Long-distance running didn’t used to be a normal activity for retired Army Master Sergeant Norma Dealcala, but that changed after she got out of the military last year.

George W Bush fights to stop PTSD being called a disorder  (Daily Mail)  George W. Bush has called for the stigmatizing word ‘disorder’ to be removed from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which he claims hinders military veterans’ transition into civilian life.

Remains of Bragg soldier shot down in Vietnam to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery  (FayObserver)  Staff Sgt. Lawrence Woods was on a Fairchild C123 Provider near the border of South Vietnam and Cambodia when it was shot down in late 1964.

Lejeune water contamination dated to 1950s  (The Daily News)  When the 37 year old heard about the latest study conducted by BioMed Central and published in the Environmental Health Journal this week documenting contamination of Camp Lejeune water sources dating earlier in the 1950s, he wasn’t shocked by the findings.

White House: 24 soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor  (Army Times)  The Medal of Honor will be awarded to 24 people, three of them living, who served in wars of past decades, the White House announced today.

Hagel: No Medal of Honor for Peralta (Marine Corps Times)  Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will not reopen the Medal of Honor case for Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta, his office announced Friday.

Walter Ehlers, last living Medal of Honor recipient from D-Day, dies  (Army Times)  Staff Sgt. Walter Ehlers, the last Medal of Honor recipient from the D-Day invasion in 1944, has died at the age of 92, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

Local veterans want to create new group for Iraq, Afghanistan war veterans  (Waco Tribune) Local veterans advocates are hoping to gain support for a new veterans organization tailored for men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Veterans Affairs

VA: Peer Support Program  (Examiner)  As the war on terrorism continues more military service men and women return home with symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Veterans caught in limbo while searching for mental health help  (Waco Tribune)  Veteran Brad Marsh is a retired U.S. Marine who moved to Waco in an effort to control his mental disorders.

Olympia man suing Veterans Administration after he contracted MRSA  (The News Tribune) A Vietnam veteran living in Olympia is suing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs two years after a severe bacterial infection he developed while receiving care at the system’s Seattle hospital led to the amputation of his right leg.

68 years of injustice and still counting  (Global Nation)  It has been 68 years—68 years since the Rescission Act of 1946 removed United States military service recognition and benefits to Filipino World War II veterans.

Benefits

What’s on the Chopping Block—and What’s Safe—in the Pentagon’s Shrinking Budget?  (National Journal)  This year’s scramble in Washington over the budget request will start Monday, when Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to preview the fiscal 2015 Defense Department budget—a week before the official request goes to Congress.

U.S. Military to Unveil Plan to Cut Personnel Costs  (The Wall Street Journal)  Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is set Monday to recommend a limit on military pay raises, higher fees for health-care benefits and less generous housing allowances to prune billions of dollars in benefits from the defense budget, setting up an election-year confrontation with veterans groups and lawmakers.

D.C. Report: Senate focus is veterans’ pay, House takes up IRS rules  (Tulsa World)  The Senate begins on Monday with Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, giving the annual reading of President Washington’s Farewell Address. Its major legislative task this week is veterans’ benefits and pay.

Retirement Medal moves forward  (Army Times)  Sgt. 1st Class Steven Janotta never imagined his idea for an Army retirement medal would garner so much attention.

Sources: DoD 5-Year Spending Plan $115 Billion Over Budget Caps, Ignores Sequestration  (Defense News) The US Defense Department on March 4 will propose a five-year plan that boosts Pentagon spending by a total of $115 billion over sequestration spending caps, according to multiple sources who have been briefed on the plan.

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Military/veterans transitionnews for 2/21/14

Military transition and veterans affairs news of the day for 2/21/14

Good news story of the day

Stand Down for Veterans an Annual Success  (WHBF.com)  Helping homeless vets get back on their own two feet.

Military Transition

Veterans Affairs counselor supports transitioning Airmen  (31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs)  To assist eligible separating or retiring service members in answering benefits questions, the Airman and Family Readiness Center provides a counselor from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to inform members on benefits they are entitled to apply for.

Dr. Biden Speaks at Summit Focused on Post-9/11 Veterans at The Bush Institute  (Whitehouse.gov) Yesterday, Dr. Jill Biden joined President Bush at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas for a Summit focused on how Americans can support post-9/11 veterans as they transition back to civilian life.

New Arts Program for Veterans Helps Ease Transition to Civilian Life  (Greenpoint Gazette)  For Army veterans seeking to transition to civilian life, a New York City management company is offering a creative outlet for expression.

The Statehouse File: Soldier-to-teaching program passes House  (Herald Times) The transition to civilian life can be difficult for military veterans.

Veterans

Sandbox Veterans: Who they have/haven’t helped  (WANE.com)  Despite concerns in the community, the director of the Sandbox Veterans wouldn’t share financial records or name any veterans he’s helped.

Belding Veterans Park moving forward with WWI monument  (The Daily News)  On a cold, snowy day, Belding Mayor Ron Gunderson pulled his truck up to the Veterans Park, stepped outside, and grabbed himself a shovel.

Wells Fargo Celebrates Military Saves Week; Offers Free Financial Education Webinars  (The Street)  In an ongoing effort to support military members, veterans and their families, Wells Fargo is celebrating Military Saves Week by offering three free financial education webinars focused on home buying, credit, and budget and saving.

Restaurant refuses to seat Marine veteran because of his service-dog-in-training  (Marine Corps Times)  A Marine Corps veteran says he was told to leave a Texas restaurant because he brought his dog in training to be certified as his service animal.

Study: Soil dust suspected in illnesses among Iraq vets  (Military Times)  When Army Sgt. Jayson Williams deployed to Iraq in 2003, he was a healthy 33-year-old who enjoyed the outdoors, running and playing with his son.

Experts: Data lacking on long-term IED effects  (Military Times)  Troops injured by bomb blasts — who absorb the full brunt of a shock wave, are hit by flying debris or even exposed to bomb-making chemicals — are at higher risk for developing long-term health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, persistent headaches and some skin conditions, a panel of top scientists says.

JBLM deserter who lied about combat service sentenced to one year in jail  (The News Tribune)  An Army deserter’s nearly 10-year run from Fort Lewis ended this week when Kevin Shakely of Sacramento pleaded guilty to abandoning his military post and lying about his service in combat in a recent TV interview.

Veterans Affairs

Secure Veteran Health Identification Cards being introduced by VA  (Examiner.com)  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced the phased roll out of newly designed, more secure Veteran Health Identification Cards. The new cards will have additional security features as well as look and feel different.

VA data breach ‘practically unavoidable,’ memo says  (CNBC)  The online privacy of veterans and Veterans Affairs employees—including their health-care and financial information—is at risk, according to an internal draft of a VA report obtained by CNBC.

More younger military veterans are committing suicide despite available VA programs  (BorderZine)  As he sits at a faded-black dining room table, a man in his mid-twenties stares at the front door, his reflection visible from the dirty tabletop where a brown paper bag holding his lunch rests.

Rubio, Miller would take away employee rights in name of serving veterans  (The Washington Post)  The latest in a series of moves against top civil servants in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would eliminate key employment protections.

Grieving widow looks for answers from Veterans Affairs after delay in receiving husband’s pension  (KJRH.com)  The 2NEWS Problem Solvers are getting answers for a woman who recently lost the love of her life.

Veterans pitch their needs for new clinic  (Gloucester Times)  Local, state and federal officials employees heard from a number of Gloucester veterans who shared their thoughts on what they would like to see in a new Veterans Affairs clinic planned for the city.

Tribal Health hires veterans advocate to assist vets signing up for VA health care benefits  (Char-Koosta News)   The recently created and filled position of Veterans Health Care Representative is another cog in the health care delivery machine that the Tribal Health and Human Services Department is fine tuning to make health care more accessible to more people as well as to recoup funds expended for treating veterans at its clinics.

Bipartisan legislative group wants to change VA funding  (USA Today)  A quiet backdrop to Washington’s government shutdown last October was the anxiety rippling through 3.9 million disabled veterans who rely on government compensation for wounds and injuries, their advocates say.

VA Accused of Obstructing American Legion’s Review of Claims Backlog  (Fox News)  The Department of Veterans Affairs is accused of obstructing the efforts of the American Legion, which reviews the processing of veterans’ claims.

Military Update: VA, Congress shrug as sleep apnea claims ‘surge’  (Stars and Stripes)  Last June the VA Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation privately recommended to Allison A. Hickey, under secretary for benefits, that the Department of Veterans Affairs consider four steps to address a “recent surge” in VA compensation awards for sleep apnea.

Benefits

Troop Advocates Prep for Future Benefits Battles  (Military.com)  Fresh off a lobbying victory to undo military pension cuts, an officers’ group is preparing for more legislative battles over the upcoming Defense Department budget.

Warning: Website Scam Targets Military  (Better Business Bureau)  BBB Military Line is sharing information from the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Command (CIC) warning about a new website scam in which criminals are attempting to take advantage of soldiers and their families.

Hampton man gets five years for falsely claiming military benefits  (Inside Tidewater)  For one man, “Be all you can be” included being other people.

Troops prefer cash over in-kind benefits  (Military Times)  Proposals to front-load military compensation with more cash now rather than back-loading it with deferred, in-kind benefits later on are gaining traction with the commission tasked with recommending reforms to the current system.

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Military/Veteran Transitionnews for 2/20/14

Military transition and veterans affairs news of the day for 2/20/14

Good news story of the day

Wounded Warrior Program Founded by Col. With TBI  (Military.com)  A plaque here hangs on the wall at the Wounded Warrior complex dedicated by Gen. James Amos, the Marine Commandant, to the self-described “mean S.O.B.” who overcame his own traumatic brain injury to start the program.

Military Transition

New efforts help soldiers with life after Army  (NBC)  After years at war, America’s military is slimming down, leaving thousands of service members looking for their next steps. Fort Bragg already sees an average of 8,500 soldiers leave the Army each year. A reduction in force is expected to increase that number.

Bank of America commits to hiring 10,000 more veterans  (San Antonio Business Journal)  As the U.S. military prepares to scale back in the face of budget cuts, Bank of America is committing to hire another 10,000 veterans and service members by 2019 as part of a strategy to help military personnel returning to civilian life.

From service to new skills: Spectrum Health expanding job program for veterans  (MLive)  For eight months, Hugh Lehigh struggled to find work after relocating from Seattle to West Michigan in 2012.

Bush hosts summit on helping veterans transition  (SFGate)  Efforts must be made to end the stigma attached to post-traumatic stress disorder, which can hinder military veterans’ transition into civilian life and employment, former President George W. Bush said Wednesday.

Blackstone Continues Efforts to Support Veterans  (Market Watch)  Blackstone Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder Stephen A. Schwarzman, today attended the George W. Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative Summit.

Bush Institute aims to identify best resources for vets’ transition   (Military Times)  Researchers at the George W. Bush Institute in Texas want to know which military advocacy and assistance groups are truly helping veterans.

Veterans

Congressman Raul Ruiz bills target veterans issues  (MyDesert)  Better access for disabled veterans to jobs, health care and national parks are among bills introduced by Rep. Raul Ruiz.

Veterans using marijuana to ease PTSD symptoms  (KHOU)  A growing number of veterans suffering from PTSD are using medical marijuana to ease their symptoms even though they risk violating federal drug laws.

After Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Brain-Injured Veterans Search for Solace  (Wall Street Journal)  Pete Bunce walked into a room at a U.S. military hospital in Germany in March 2004, and stared hard at the unconscious young Marine on the bed. His head, gouged by shrapnel from an insurgent bomb in Iraq, was grotesquely swollen. His face was distorted and his right eye was near blind.

Nonprofit begins search for a wounded-veteran recipient for a new home  (FayObserver)  A search to find a wounded veteran in search of a home near Fayetteville will begin today.

Land O’ Lakes jail opens special place for veterans  (The Tampa Tribune)  A new unit in the Pasco County jail has been opened to help a particular segment of the inmate population: military veterans.

Lifetime with Marines finally ends for man, 84  (Fredericksburg.com)  After dedicating 65 years of his life to the Marines, Richard Govoni will finally take a break.

Pentagon agency slow to ID, return remains of America’s fallen  (CBS)  There are 83,000 Americans missing tonight

Veterans Affairs

Klein planning veterans’ affairs initiative  (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)  A Lubbock city councilman in his last months in office is making one more effort to raise official awareness of veterans’ issues at City Hall.

Veterans Affairs names new director for central Ill., west-central Indiana health care  (The Republic)  The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has named a new director for its Illiana Health Care System based in Danville.

Woman sentenced for defrauding Dept. of Veteran Affairs  (WVEC)  A Richmond woman was sentenced Wednesday to twenty months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for defrauding the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

VA Announces Cape Canaveral National Cemetery  (Space Coast Daily)  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has officially announced the new 318-acre Cape Canaveral National Cemetery in Scottsmoor, Florida.

Vietnam Veterans Currently Denied Benefits for Agent Orange Exposure  (MintPress News)  During the Vietnam War, the U.S. and the UK sprayed more than 20-million gallons of the herbicide Agent Orange over eastern Laos, Cambodia and communist-held Vietnam.

Veterans Affairs should focus on results, not more spending: Opinion  (NJ.com)  The average veteran waits close to nine months to learn whether he or she will receive the benefits earned and the care needed from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Benefits

House chairman: Obama administration ‘obstructed’ review of veteran benefit program  (The Daily Caller) The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs chairman Rep. Jeff Miller accused the Obama administration of obstructing the work of a veteran group trying to investigate unprocessed veteran benefit claims.

Veterans could have Social Security disability benefits expedited  (Stars and Stripes)  Veterans with a Department of Veterans Affairs disability compensation rating of 100 percent Permanent and Total will soon have their applications for Social Security disability benefits processed faster, the Social Security Administration announced Wednesday.

Military Lobby Gets Ultimate #ThisTown ‘Compliment’  (Intercepts)  In Washington, there are compliments. And then there are “compliments.” Sometimes — no, oftentimes — both kinds are inadvertent. A key military lobby got one this week that was both a “compliment” and inadvertent. In fact, in shrewd terms, it might be the ultimate #ThisTown pat on the back.

Senate candidate campaigns in Augusta on veteran benefits, health care  (Augusta Chronicle)  U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn said Wednesday during a campaign visit in Augusta that providing quality health care and restoring retirement benefits to area veterans are among her top priorities.

Months after court ruling, DOMA issues remain unresolved  (Washington Blade)  Ever since the Supreme Court ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act last year, the Obama administration has been rolling out on a continual basis new federal benefits for married same-sex couples — but access to some benefits remains uncertain months after the decision.

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