Military/Veteran Transitionnews for 2/5/14

Military transition and veterans affairs news of the day for 2/5/14

Good news story of the day

Helping wounded vets move from ‘surviving’ to ‘thriving’  (Stars and Stripes)  Back when Michael Baker was a nuclear submarine technician in the Navy, he was a triathlete who spent as much time as he could exploring the Hawaiian outdoors near his naval base.

Military transition

Helping Transitioning Servicemembers Find Jobs Before Becoming Veterans  (The Huffington Post)  You’ve heard it said countless times: “It’s easier to get a job if you already have one.”

New website launches to help Montana veterans  (KXLF.com)  Lieutenant Governor John Walsh announced the launch of a new website to help military personnel transition to civilian life.

The 10 Best Jobs For Veterans  (Forbes)  Many veterans returning to the U.S. from stints overseas have years of job experience under their belts, yet they feel daunted by the challenge of making the transition into the civilian workforce.

Military veterans graduate from Boston Fire Academy  (The Daily Free Press)  After 20 weeks of grueling training, 51 military veterans were inducted into the Boston Fire Department on Tuesday with Boston Mayor Martin Walsh in attendance.

Texas A&M Students Launch New Program To Help Aggie Veterans  (TAMU Times)  A new branch of the Student Government Association (SGA) at Texas A&M University, with the specific purpose of helping Aggie veterans, plans the first national military veteran conference in higher education  Friday and Saturday (Feb. 7-8) at the university.

Veteran students meet with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs John Scocos  (University of Wisconsin Superior)  Fifteen UW-Superior students with military experience were able to connect one-on-one with the Wisconsin Secretary of Veterans Affairs John Scocos on Monday.

Veterans

Veteran Groups Launch Pre-Emptive Strike on Federal Budget  (The Wall Street Journal)  Four major veterans advocacy groups called for more veteran health-care spending in the next federal budget and changes to a number of Department of Veterans Affairs policies, in their annual outline of legislative goals released Tuesday morning.

New UC panel to aid military veterans  (Fox 5 San Diego)  The University of California on Monday announced the formation of an advisory  group to help military veterans address specific issues and succeed in earning  degrees.

Villa Park VFW Bringing Veterans Welcome Home Back Home  (Chicago Tribune)  The popular and effective Veterans Welcome Home and Benefits event is coming back to the VFW Post in Villa Park.

Despite progress, VA still has 400,000 backlogged claims  (UPI)  The Department of Veterans Affairs cut its backlog of hundreds of thousands of  disability claims by nearly one-third last year but is still struggling to  modernize an outdated processing system, a report released Monday by the Iraq  and Afghanistan Veterans of America found.

Veteran Hopefuls Use Bravery, Heroics in Bids for Congress  (Roll Call)  Veterans regularly run for Congress, but this cycle features candidates armed with particularly impressive biographies involving escapes, captures and military adventures that Tom Clancy would have struggled to dream up.

Veterans affairs

VA Launches Online Tool to Calculate Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits  (Department of Veterans Affairs)  The Veterans Affairs Department today launched a new online tool to make it easier for veterans, service members and family members to calculate their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and learn more about VA’s approved colleges, universities and other education and training programs across the country.

Feinstein bill pushes housing for homeless vets at West L.A. VA campus (Los Angeles Times)  Sen. Dianne  Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced a bill Tuesday to smooth the way for the U.S.  Department of Veterans Affairs to partner with private agencies to develop  housing for homeless veterans on its West Los Angeles campus.

VA Offers New Tools to Ensure Post-9/11 GI Bill Beneficiaries Are Informed Consumers  (The White House)  What’s the first thing you do when shopping for a big-ticket item?

Report: Rocky Hill veterans’ housing goes unused  (The Washington Times)   Five houses in Rocky Hill that state officials set aside and renovated for  Connecticut military veterans have sat mostly empty for several years, while  statistics show one in 10 homeless people in the state is a veteran, according  to a published report.

Report: No ‘evidence of planning’ from Obama administration to help veterans  receive benefits  (The Daily Caller)  The Obama administration’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has no long-term  plan to correct the errors that have left hundreds of thousands of veterans  waiting months to receive benefits, despite President Obama’s State of the Union  vow to fix the problem.

Government concedes negligence in Legionnaires’ lawsuit  (TribLive.com)  House legislation that would make it illegal for veterans hospitals nationwide to conceal disease outbreaks won passage on Monday evening with bipartisan approval.

Senators want answers on veterans records breach  (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)  Both U.S. senators from Missouri are seeking answers about the potential fallout for veterans and their families after a former clerk admitted misfiling hundreds of military records at a St. Louis warehouse.

Former fighter pilot named new director of Punchbowl  (Star Advertiser)  A former Air Force fighter pilot and onetime inspector general for Pacific Air Forces will become the new director of Punchbowl Cemetery March 9, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced.

Benefits

Tax break for young military retirees stirs debate, clears House committee  (The Spokesman Review)  Idaho doesn’t charge its state income tax on military retirement pay for those age 65 or older, but it does tax pension benefits for military retirees who are younger than 65.

In new pitch to pass jobless pay, Harry Reid sweetens deal with measure to restore military pension cuts  (Washington Examiner)  The Senate this week will make another attempt to pass an extension of federal unemployment insurance by tying the effort to a plan to restore military pension benefits.

Senate to take up comprehensive veterans reform bill Thursday (The Washington Times)  Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vermont  independent, said Tuesday a comprehensive veteran’s reform bill could be brought  up on the Senate floor as early as Thursday.

Florida Legislators aim to increase veterans benefits  (First Coast News)  Lawmakers are debating new programs that will impact the more than 1.6 million veterans who live in the state of Florida.

Veterans Service Organizations Urge $72.9 Billion Investment in Veterans’ Health Care and Benefits  (Boston.com)  Four of the nation’s leading veterans service organizations—AMVETS, DAV, Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)—are urging the Administration and Congress to provide $72.9 billion to sufficiently meet veterans’ health care and benefits needs.

Senate panel to mark up bill repealing military pension cuts  (The Hill)

The Senate Armed Services Committee will mark up a bill next week to repeal the $6 billion military pension cuts included in last month’s budget deal.

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Military/Veteran Transitionnews for 2/4/14

Military transition and veterans affairs news of the day for 2/4/14

Good news story of the day

Wounded veteran gets the keys to mortgage-free home   (The News Tribune)  A combat-wounded Army veteran got the keys to a mortgage-free home in Federal Way Monday through a Wells Fargo military affairs program.

Military transition

22,500 face cuts this year  (Marine Corps Times)  The Air Force is planning to cut roughly 22,500 airmen this year alone through its massive force management programs.

Job fair for military members, veterans set for Tuesday  (Los Cruces Sun-News)  A free job fair for veterans, is scheduled for Tuesday at Fort Bliss in El Paso.

Veterans given tools for civilian job hunting  (Sun Sentinel)  They came out of the Army, Marines, Air Force and Navy more skilled than they went in, and many thought employers would welcome them with a job.

Interstate compact aids transition of students in military families  (Great Falls Tribune)  Senior Brandon Brooking transferred to C.M. Russell High School from Texas in the middle of his junior year, and he said it was the easiest transition he’d experienced as the son of military parents.

New UC panel to aid military veterans in university  (Los Angeles Times)  The University of California on Monday announced the formation of an advisory group to help military veterans address specific issues and succeed in earning degrees.

Programs aimed at veterans go into motion  (The Scribe)  Last month The Scribe reported on two planned programs to benefit the campus veteran community: Boots to Suits and Peer Mentorship.

Veterans

Veterans with traumatic brain injuries and combat-related challenges  (Medical Press)  Virginia Commonwealth University researchers have found that among traumatic brain injury-diagnosed veterans treated by the Veterans Health Administration between 2009 and 2011, the majority had a clinician-diagnosed mental health disorder and approximately half had both post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and pain.

World War I Portland veteran’s Purple Heart returned to his family  (Morning Sentinel)  A military medal awarded to a Portland man wounded in World War I was returned to his family in Pittsfield on Sunday.

Simi Valley gala to benefit troops  (Ventura County Star)  Auction items at the Military Tribute Gala in Simi Valley will include a weeklong stay at a Maui resort and a sailboat cruise in Newport Beach.

Genesee County veterans’ military records dating to WWII damaged by mold, document restoration set  (mLive.com)  Thousands pages of damaged military papers belonging to Genesee County veterans are boxed and bound for Livonia, where document recovery specialists will try to salvage them from water, mildew and mold damage.

Military sniper links his string of armed robberies to PTSD  (Los Angeles Times)

As an Army sniper in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gabriel Brown craved danger. Combat satisfied what he called his “adrenaline addiction.”

Veterans have mixed feelings about Budweiser’s ‘A Hero’s Welcome’ Super Bowl ad  (PRI)  One told the story of a relationship between a puppy and the Anheuser-Busch signature Clydesdales. The other, however, looked at a celebration for an American veteran, returning home from battle. The ad, according to several veterans, tried to walk a delicate line between celebrating and pandering.

Marine intelligence officer busted in $235,000 sting, FBI says  (Sun Sentinel)  A U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer complaining of money and marriage woes may have thought his troubles were over when he pulled into a Dania Beach parking lot to pick up a duffel bag stuffed with $235,000 in cash.

Army program helps soldier choose life over suicide  (USA Today)  The demons rushed in during the months after Levertis Jackson returned from Afghanistan in 2011. “I felt like I was losing complete control of my mind and my sanity,” says the former Army specialist.

Veterans affairs

Veterans hospital finds ways to tame MRSA super bug  (USA Today)  Before 2007, the potentially deadly super bug MRSA stalked patients at the Louisville Veterans Affairs Medical Center — with infection rates 20 times higher than they are today.

Veterans Affairs to hold information forum for patients  (JournalStar.com)  Veterans who receive health care services at the Department of Veterans Affairs clinic in Lincoln are invited to attend an information forum Feb. 13 at 6 p.m.

VA reduced benefits backlog, but needs to get back in gear, say veterans  (The Christian Science Monitor)  Despite having made good progress to reduce a backlog of disability claims that peaked last March, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ efforts have lost momentum in recent months, according to a new report from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).

VA lacks control over own data, leaks could occur: audit  (The Washington Times)  The Veterans Affairs Department doesn’t have solid controls over its own financial reporting or computer data, leading to the possibility that the agency could leak information or mistake just how much it is spending, an investigation found.

Report: Veterans Affairs Backlog Shrinking, But Still Daunting  (National Journal)  The Department of Veterans Affairs has made a dent in its mountain of backlogged disability compensation claims, but it still has a very long way to go, according to a report released Monday.

Benefits

Lawmakers seek in-state tuition rates for veterans  (The Washington Post)  The House overwhelmingly passed legislation Monday that would require public universities around the country to charge veterans in-state tuition rates or face financial penalty.

IRS offers special benefits for military  (The Tennessean)  The Internal Revenue Service opened the 2014 tax-filing season Jan. 31, so filers who have their tax returns done can send them in now.

Raises, BAH are likely targets of 2015 defense budget  (Military.com)  The Pentagon’s 2015 budget is likely to contain such belt-tightening proposals as reducing active-duty pay raises and housing allowances and instituting fees for Tricare for Life, officials told a Senate panel Thursday.

Reid readies bill repealing pension cuts  (The Hill)  The Senate is gearing up to vote on a bill as early as next week that would repeal the $6 billion cut to military pensions as part of a larger veterans package, according to Senate aides.

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Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America event in San Diego

I recently had the good fortune to swap emails with a leader in the IAVA: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.  They are holding a membership event this evening (Wednesday, 22 January 2014) aboard the USS Midway, the aircraft carrier museum that is on the San Diego waterfront.

It looks like a great opportunity to learn more about the organization.  From their website:

Join us for a gathering with IAVA staff and IAVA Leadership Fellows, Veteran Transition Managers and local IAVA members. Learn more about what IAVA has accomplished over the last year, the benefits of membership (it’s free!), and the exciting programs and events we have coming up in 2014. 

Member Veterans, supporters and anyone interested in learning more are welcomed!

If you are interested in attending, follow this link to register.  It seems like a pretty interesting event and an even more interesting organization.  I will certainly be engaging to learn more about what they do and how they help veterans.  Check out the event if you are in the area!