A Variety of Veterans News from a Variety of Sources
Veterans Compete in National Wheelchair Games: Last year, Navy Veteran Jeff Deleon of Salem, Oregon, signed up for seven events and announced that he planned on taking home seven gold medals. That’s the spirit of competition that hundreds of Veterans bring each year to the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. It’s the 37th year for the event, being held this year in Cincinnati July 17 – 22. The purpose of the National Veterans Wheelchair Games is to provide Veterans with physical disabilities an introductory experience to a variety of wheelchair sports and expose them to the numerous organized wheelchair sports and recreation activities available nationwide.
Defense News Senator wants answers on Army contracting issues. Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill says service leaders need to develop plans for reforms in contracting processes.
New York Times As Relations Worsen, Iran Says U.S. Sanctions May Violate Nuclear Deal. Mohammad Javad Zarif, the foreign minister of Iran, charged on Tuesday that the Trump administration’s attempt to reimpose sanctions on his country was a violation of the accord signed two years ago that sharply limited Iran’s ability to produce nuclear material in return for its reintegration into the world economy.
Defense News US Senate confirms Shanahan, but Democrats still slowing Trump picks. The Senate on Tuesday confirmed the Pentagon’s new No. 2, Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan, 92-7, but Democrats say they will continue to delay Trump administration nominees.
Defense News Acquisition nominee Lord, others cruise in confirmation hearing. Ellen Lord appears poised to become the last undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.
Defense News Space Corps could 'disrupt' DoD capabilities, warns Selva. Creating a new military branch focused solely on space could disrupt Pentagon capabilities and exacerbate existing issues rather than fixing them, the Defense Department’s No. 2 uniformed official warned Tuesday.
Defense News DIUx set to get emergency cash infusion. The Pentagon’s commercial outreach office needs an emergency infusion of cash to keep key programs moving forward — and the department is ready to give it to them.
Military Times Top general blames unclear science for transgender troops delay. Questions about the science behind gender dysphoria prompted the Pentagon’s six-month delay in a new policy allowing the enlistment of transgender individuals into the military, the Joint Chiefs vice chairman told senators on Tuesday.
Army Times Poll: Soldiers are open to the idea of more senior NCO ranks. At a leadership conference last month, Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey suggested adding two new pay grades — E-10 and E-11 — to the enlisted ranks in order to bump up pay for sergeants major who take on high-level jobs.
Military.com MARSOC Deputy CO Salutes Unconquerable Spirit of Fallen Marines. For the second time in two years, Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command held a press conference Friday to memorialize and salute seven troops from within the command who perished in a tragic aviation incident.
Navy Times Punishment for 'missing' Shilo sailor likely capped at 30 days in the brig. The decision by top Navy officials not to seek a court martial for Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) Fireman Peter Mims severely restricted their options for disciplining the sailor who was initially thought to be lost at sea in June but was found a week later hiding in an engine room on board his ship.
Associated Press Wife of senator on military duty to fill in for him in Washington state Senate. The wife of a state senator has been sworn in as a temporary senator in order to fill in for the Centralia Republican while he's participating in required military training with the U.S. Navy Reserve.
Air Force Times Air Force broadens PME eligibility, drops time-in-service requirement. The Air Force on Tuesday unveiled the biggest changes to enlisted professional military education in three years.
Associated Press Woman to command Alabama National Guard for first time. Maj. Gen.Sheryl Gordon has been named to command the Alabama National Guard, becoming the first woman to hold the post.
Associated Press NY Army National Guard troops to train Ukrainian forces . More than 200 soldiers in a New York Army National Guard until will head to Europe in October for a nine-month mission to train Ukrainian forces.
FOX News: House Republicans unveil budget proposal: What to Know. The proposal seeks to alleviate some problems of the embattled VA through several initiatives, including reducing improper payments and reviewing the Government Accountability Office’s audit of the federal agency. Black said in an editorial Tuesday that there has been a weakening of the U.S. military in terms of potential and readiness under the Obama administration.
The Heritage Foundation: 9 Key takeaways from the House Budget Proposal. The Department of Veterans Affairs has been plagued by mismanagement issues that have prevented vulnerable veterans from getting the care that they deserve. For the first time, the House budget proposes making modest reforms to the VA. The budget calls for the VA to implement Government Accountability Office recommendations to ensure that its resources are being used efficiently to improve the lives of veterans.
Government Executive: Nine Major Agency Reform Proposals in the House GOP Budget. House Republicans said their budget would solve “mismanagement and lack of accountability” at the Veterans Affairs Department, saying it has “suffered from a growing bureaucracy.” On workforce issues, the measure would direct VA to trim layers of middle management, cut management overall, streamline the disciplinary and hiring processes and modify performance metrics.
Washington Examiner: Congress scrambling to keep key VA health program funded past August. Members of Congress are hoping to pass legislation in the next few weeks that would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to boost funding for the Veterans Choice Program before funding is exhausted in August. The Choice Program was created in 2014 legislation that responded to the VA waitlist scandal, which revealed thousands of veterans were unable to get timely healthcare appointments at the VA.
WMUR (ABC-9, Video): Documents show VA Secretary Was Informed About Allegations Months Ago, Shulkin said complaints about Manchester VA Medical Center were ‘new to me’. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin removed top officials at the Manchester VA Medical Center hours after reports of health care deficiencies and allegations of negligence were reported in a Boston Globe story, but documents obtained by News 9 show Shulkin was informed of the concerns last year.
NH1 News (Video): Gov. Sununu: “Quality of care overall at the Manchester VA is really good”. Gov. Chris Sununu is responding after the Boston Globe's Spotlight report revealed sub-par care at the Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Sununu spoke with Mike Pomp on "Open Mic" on Tuesday morning on WTSN AM 1270. "They are taking it incredibly seriously," Sununu said of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David Shulkin and his staff.
New Hampshire Union Leader: Kuster wants hearing; Vets defend Manchester VA. U.S. Rep. Ann McLane Kuster has formally requested a field hearing in New Hampshire by a House committee on conditions at the Manchester VA Medical Center. In a July 17 letter to Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Mich., chair of the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, the New Hampshire Democrat says the concerns raised in Manchester have national implications.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Real VA accountability: Overdue housecleaning. Accountability has improved dramatically at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has fired more than 500 employees, suspended 200 and demoted 33 since the Trump administration began, The Daily Caller reports. And that's before June's passage of the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. As Investor's Business Daily notes, VA Secretary David Shulkin advocated this new law to make firing bad employees easier.
Psych Central: Brian Anomaly tied to PTSD & Brain Injury in Vets. A new study finds that veterans who developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) tend to have a larger amygdala — the part of the brain that helps regulate emotion — compared to veterans with mild TBIs who didn’t develop PTSD. The findings were recently presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s Sports Concussion Conference in Jacksonville, FL.
MedicalXpress: New PTSD study identifies potential path to treatment. A study of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—conducted by the VA National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD), National PTSD Brain Bank, and Yale University—has identified a new potential mechanism contributing to the biology of the disorder that may be targeted by future treatments. Among combat veterans, PTSD is a common and disabling condition that is associated with high suicide risk, and in some cases it is difficult to treat effectively.
Huffington Post: Mental Health Under Attack: Veterans Among Those To Pay The Price. One of the consequences to which Lieberman refers will be the effect on the military and on veterans. Less than half of all U.S. veterans actually receive their health care through the Veteran’s Administration (VA), either because they do not qualify for benefits or live too far from a facility. This leaves nearly one in 10 veterans relying on Medicaid for their health care.
The Washington Post: New GI Bill expansion would offer lifetime window for college tuition assistance. Military veterans and their families would see a significant expansion of education benefits through a bill that is being considered by a committee in the House. The legislation, introduced by Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Rep. Tim Walz (Minn.), the panel’s ranking Democrat, would bolster the GI Bill that offers tuition assistance by allowing a longer time frame for using that assistance.
The Hill: How the post-9/11 GI Bill help Veterans close America’s skills gap. With surprising bipartisan support in a divided national climate, politicians are finally starting to address the need for skilled workers by making much needed modernizations to the post-9/11 GI Bill. According to the Student Veterans of America, nearly half of the veterans transitioning from military to civilian life enter higher education, and two-thirds of them are first generation college students. Research shows that one of the leading motivations for military service is the opportunity to receive a post-service education.
Military.com: VA Official Worries Over Tech Requirements for GI Bill Expansion. A top official with the Department of Veterans Affairs told lawmakers his main concern regarding a major post-9/11 GI Bill expansion package is that the agency will not have the technology to support the upgrades. "Probably my biggest concern is two words: 'IT,' " Curtis Coy, deputy under secretary for economic opportunity at the VA, told lawmakers. "Much or almost all of these sections require some changes in our IT system."
Springfield News-Leader (Video): Veterans Affairs trying to find new future for these buildings in Missouri and Arkansas. The Department of Veterans Affairs is trying to find a new future for hundreds of vacant or nearly vacant buildings it owns — and the list includes several properties in both Missouri and Arkansas. The federal agency, which provides health care to those who have served in the military, has identified 430 surplus buildings. Last month, Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin announced he wants them to be demolished or set aside for reuse in the next two years.
Military Times 70-year-old Army veteran fired from Home Depot for trying to stop shoplifters. A 70-year-old Army veteran was fired from a Home Depot in Pearland, Texas, after he tried to stop a trio of shoplifters.
Oshkosh Northwestern: New Miss AMVES White Clover Princess from Oshkosh. The White Clover Princess is a liaison between AMVETS and the Hospital & Service Foundation. She will tour the various VA hospitals serving our Wisconsin veterans. These include Zablocki VA in Milwaukee, Tomah VA, Middleton VA, Madison and the VA hospitals in Iron Mountain, Michigan, and Minneapolis, MN.
KVOA (NBC-4): Southern Arizona VA Health Care System Seeks Volunteer Drivers. The Southern Arizona VA Health Care System (SAVAHCS) in partnership with the DAV (Disabled American Veterans) Transportation Network is recruiting volunteer drivers to help provide transportation for eligible Veterans to and from scheduled medical appointments at SAVAHCS facilities throughout Southern Arizona.
WCPO (ABC-9, Video): National Veterans Wheelchair Games bring 600 athletes to Cincinnati. Those who fought for our country now have the chance to fight for something a little different. The 37th National Veterans Wheelchair Games kicked off Monday. The six-day event is happening for the first time in the Queen City, “It's huge! It's like bringing the regular Olympics to Cincinnati,” said Todd Sledge, Chief of Communications for the Cincinnati VA Medical Center.
WVXU (NPR-91.7): Veterans Compete In National Wheelchair Games In Cincinnati. More than 600 veterans are in Cincinnati this week competing in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. It's billed as the world's largest annual wheelchair multi-sport and rehabilitation event. The competition is organized by the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Athletes from the U.S., Puerto Rico and Great Britain must compete in at least four events.
The Hill Watchdog: Pentagon missed out on $33.6B in savings. The Pentagon may miss out on $33.6 billion in savings by not adopting recommendations made by its own watchdog, according to a new report.
Defense News Congress advancing DoD nominees while McCain heals. Congressional proceedings for Pentagon nominees this week will proceed as planned, despite the absence of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain for medical reasons.
Washington Post Foreign-born recruits, promised citizenship by the Pentagon, flee the country to avoid deportation. Frustrated by delayed promises from the U.S. military for citizenship, and in fear of the Islamic State if he were deported back to Iraq, Ranj Rafeeq has given up the American Dream for a Canadian one.
Associated Press Lawyers: Government seeking to deport Iraq War veteran. An immigrant rights group is asking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to release an Iraq War veteran who has been detained for more than three months while waiting to learn whether he'll be deported.
Task&Purpose Mattis Tried To Kill Plan To Bar Transgender Surgery For Troops. On July 13, as the House debated an amendment to the 2018 Pentagon budget bill that would have barred the military from funding servicemembers’ gender reassignment surgeries, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis privately intervened, calling the amendment’s Republican sponsor and asking her to withdraw it from consideration, CNN reports.
Military Times Senator wants answers on Army contracting issues. Following a study which found numerous problems with Army contracting practices, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill wants to know what service officials are going to do to fix them.
Marine Corps Times Marines aid Afghan forces in recapture of strategic district. U.S. Marines with Task Force Southwest aided and advised Afghan forces in the recapture of the strategic Afghan district of Nawa, according to Major Kendra Motz, a spokeswoman for the task force.
Navy Times MCPON says rating and NEC overhaul will create new opportunities. The Navy's top enlisted sailor said the new reorganization of the Navy’s enlisted ratings will ultimately give sailors more career opportunities and allow the Navy to better match individual sailors to job assignments that best fit their skills and training.
Air Force Times Incomplete PME cost 5,489 airmen a chance at making tech sergeant. The Air Force Personnel Center said Monday that 5,489 enlisted airmen were ineligible for consideration for promotion to technical sergeant because they didn't finish the required online professional military education course.
Stars and Stripes Navy commissions destroyer honoring WWII’s first Medal of Honor recipient. The John Finn is the first new ship built from the keel up with the Aegis Baseline 9 weapon system, which enables the ship to simultaneously conduct air warfare and ballistic missile defense.
Daily Hampshire Gazette: Editorial: Nation’s atomic Veterans’ deserve recognition. Thousands of military veterans who were exposed to radiation — including many who developed debilitating and sometimes fatal diseases — as the result of nuclear weapons tests between 1945 and 1962 are closer to receiving the long-overdue recognition they deserve. The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday unanimously approved a measure co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D-Worcester, that would create a service medal awarded to the so-called “atomic veterans” or their surviving relatives to recognize their sacrifice.
The Post and Courier: Civil Service Needs Reform. The federal civil service needs reform starting at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, as shown by new data listing how many VA employees were dismissed in the last five months and how that compares to the rate of dismissals in the private sector. Ironically federal employee unions and advocates insist that the data show the opposite.
WGIR (CMN-610, Audio): Weekend Round-up: Interview with VA Secretary Shulkin. In this nearly eight-minute clip, correspondent Kimmy McCormack interviews Secretary Shulkin about the new GI Bill legislation, which would remove the 15-year time limit for Veterans to take advantage of those education benefits. It also covers the VA accountability legislation and the Choice program.
Military Times: VA Medical Center Leaders Removed After Reports of Unsafe Conditions. Top leaders at a New Hampshire Veterans Affairs Medical Center were swiftly removed from their posts Sunday after a scathing article portrayed the facility as unsanitary and disorganized, despite internal ratings labeling it as one of the agency’s best facilities. On Saturday, the Boston Globe chronicled multiple problems at the VA-labeled four-star facility, including flies in surgical rooms, poorly-maintained medical equipment and an administration that ignores the best interests of patients.
WMUR (ABC-9, Video): VA whistleblowers said they were thanked when they returned to work, 2 top officials removed. Two top officials at the Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center were removed from their positions after a Boston Globe Spotlight article exposed allegations of negligence and mismanagement at the only care facility in New Hampshire designated for veterans. The article was triggered by allegations made by 11 whistleblowers who started sounding the alarm last year. That prompted quiet visits to New Hampshire from federal investigators, and a report was issued in June.
Valley News: Vt. Leader Takes Helm at NH VA. The director of the White River Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center has been asked to oversee the VA Medical Center in Manchester following whistleblower complaints about patient care and sanitation at the only New Hampshire-based VA hospital. U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin on Sunday asked Alfred Montoya Jr., who has been the permanent director in White River Junction for little more than a year…
Star Tribune: Waltz calls report on local VA’s ‘concerning’. U.S. Rep. Tim Walz on Monday requested a meeting with top Department of Veterans Affairs officials from Minneapolis and St. Cloud after a watchdog report criticized how the VA hospitals told several patients about their cases and scheduling. A report from the VA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) released Monday looked at concerns at the two VA hospitals and the Vet Center in New Brighton, focusing on mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatments and scheduling.
WJXX (ABC-25, Video): Veterans Choice Program success might be affecting Veterans waiting for care. The Navy Veteran was seeing a Brunswick, Georgia podiatrist approved through the Veterans Choice Program (VCP). "[VCP] was working so well Veterans," he said. "More veterans are asking for it. You can stay at home and receive treatment." Now, it seems the program's success is creating some backlash for Yale and other veterans.
"[VCP] was working too well, the funds are leaving the VA and they're afraid to close the clinics and hospitals," he said.
LA Weekly: Law Would Force Feds to Let Veterans Get Medical Marijuana. The amendment to force the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to make cannabis available to veterans who need it was recently approved by the Senate's Appropriations Committee on a 24-to-7 vote. The department would be prohibited from interfering with a veteran's ability to obtain weed, and from blocking health care providers from giving pot to veterans where it's legal, according to language attached to a military appropriations bill.
Task & Purpose: Will VA Doctors Finally Be Able To Recommend Marijuana For Vets? In a 24-7 vote on July 13, lawmakers on the Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment that would give Department of Veterans Affairs authority to recommend medical marijuana in states where it is legal for medicinal use. The Senate amendment, part of the VA’s budget request for fiscal year 2018, would work by removing funding from the VA portion of the budget that is used to police VA doctors from recommending marijuana…
CNN: How tapering of opioids can help people with chronic pain. "It's counterintuitive that pain and well-being could be improved when you decrease pain medication. ... Patients felt better when dosages were reduced," said Dr. Erin Krebs, medical director of the Women Veterans Comprehensive Health Center, part of the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System, and an author of the study.
Stars and Stripes: Large GI Bill expansion faces easy review in House hearing. The changes to education benefits for veterans in a new House bill are numerous, including the end of a 15-year deadline for veterans to use their GI Bill after leaving the service, reimbursements for veterans whose schools abruptly close and boosts in aid for Purple Heart recipients, dependents, technical education and members of the National Guard and Reserve.
The Fiscal Times: A New GI Bill Would Boost Spending for American Military Veterans. Lawmakers have introduced new legislation that would increase spending on veterans’ educational benefits under the GI Bill. In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Congress approved major improvements to the GI bill, paving the way for hundreds of thousands of veterans and their families to obtain undergraduate and graduate college degrees or advanced training to help them find a job.
Military Times VA will need major technology updates if GI Bill reforms pass. Proposed changes to expand and extend the Post-9/11 GI Bill would mean a considerable amount of behind-the-scenes work for the agency in charge of administering the updated benefits.
Politico: Cerner hires ex-VA exec. Waltman is working on “efforts related to government strategy, innovating, engineering and compliance,” Cerner said in a release. Waltman was chief information strategy officer under David Shulkin at the Veterans Health Administration from 2014 until November when he took over IT strategy at AbleVets, a VA and DoD contractor.
Becker’s Hospital Review: Senate passes 2018 VA appropriations bull to ‘reevaluate’ Cerner HER funding at later date. The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved its fiscal year 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill in a 31-0 vote July 13. The bill includes $88.9 billion in discretionary funding across various agencies, up $6.1 billion from 2017. It also earmarks $78.4 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, a $4 billion increase over last year.
Washington Examiner: ‘Historic preservation’ blocks VA bid to save millions, help more Vets. The Department of Veterans Affairs is trying to unload hundreds of vacant and useless buildings, potentially saving taxpayers $23 million every year, but historic preservation tags have been slapped on many of them, blocking action. VA Secretary David J. Shulkin said the agency owns thousands of buildings from the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I, and World War II, many vacant and under historical preservation status.
Stars and Stripes Soldier photographed saluting funeral procession in viral image identified. The soldier seen in a viral image standing outside his Jeep at a stoplight in the rain to salute a funeral procession has been identified as Colonel Jack L. Usrey. "I just did what my parents taught me to do growing up," he said.