American Veteran News 03.25.16

PTSD MAY STIFFEN VETERANS’ ARTERIES, BOOSTING HEART RISKS — SIGNATURE HEALTHCARE — Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may have blood vessels that don’t expand normally, a new study suggests. If vessels don’t widen as they should, the risk of heart attack and stroke goes up, the researchers noted. The researchers also found that risk factors usually associated with blood vessel problems — such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and smoking — didn’t seem to account for why people with PTSD were more likely to have blood vessels that didn’t dilate properly. The researchers suspect that stress may be to blame. “We believe that we should try to gain a better understanding of the relationship between mental illness and cardiovascular health,” said lead researcher Dr. Marlene Grenon. She’s an associate professor of surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center-Surgical Services. Better strategies to manage stress could potentially have a positive impact on heart disease, she said.

WHISTLEBLOWERS BEING TARGETED — FOX13 — FOX13 has uncovered problems at the Memphis VA Hospital over the last many months. We’ve exposed bad care for patients and even a reported on legionnaires disease. These things are usually brought to light by people referred to as whistle blowers; Men and women willing to risk their jobs to point out the things going wrong. One such whistleblowers told FOX13 the promises of protection by the Commander and Chief and United States Congress have never materialized. He said he has had to fight tooth and nail to get his job back, after he claims he was fired as retaliation. “That’s what the president promised us, but we didn’t get any help,” Sean Higgins, an Air Force veteran and employee of the Memphis VA Hospital for the last 9 years, told FOX13. In 2014, as a research logistics technician, he reported dirty dialysis machines. An investigation by the Joint Commission found they hadn’t been cleaned properly in years.

HOUSE APPROPRIATORS APPROVE VA SENIOR EXECUTIVE BONUS BAN — GOVEXEC — Senior executives at the Veterans Affairs Department would not receive bonuses in fiscal 2017 under a major House spending bill approved by an appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday. The fiscal 2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations measure now heads to the full House Appropriations Committee, and includes a provision that prohibits the department from using any funds in the legislation for senior executives’ performance awards. It’s the first time the language has been included in the base MilCon-VA spending bill. An amendment banning bonuses for all VA senior executives was successfully added to the fiscal 2016 MilCon-VA legislation, but was not included in the eventual omnibus package Congress had to pass at the end of last year to avoid a government shutdown. There have been other legislative efforts over the past few years to limit or prohibit VA’s senior executive corps from receiving annual performance awards, which they are eligible for under Title 5.

HOMESTEAD TAX REDUCTION EXPANDED FOR OHIO VETERANS — AKRON.COM — SUMMIT COUNTY — The Homestead Exemption eligibility requirements for military veterans has been expanded, according to Summit County Fiscal Officer Kristen Scalise CPA, CFE. Amended Senate Bill 10, from the 131st General Assembly, has added a provision to allow veterans to qualify for the benefit based on their rating for individual unemployment (also referred to as “IU”). Previously, veterans were qualified based only on a total (100 percent) disability rating. This expansion will allow more military veterans in Summit County to enroll in the homestead exemption program, according to Scalise. The homestead exemption is a property tax reduction that provides eligible Summit County homeowners an average savings of $535 per year, according to Scalise. The amount is double for qualifying military veterans.

PROGRAM PROVIDES RESIDENTIAL CARE ALTERNATIVE FOR VETERANS — BLUERIDGE NOW — Cooking is a language of love for Connie Turner, and for the retired veterans living in her Edneyville home, the choice of what kind of birthday cake they would like baked is just one way they can feel they’re in a caring home. The Turner family opened their home to veterans in 2012 through the VA’s Medical Foster Home Program, a relatively new program that offers the option for veterans to live in a family setting with individualized care. “It’s a great program and I think a lot of vets don’t know about it,” said Turner. “It saves the government a lot of money, and puts people into a loving home.”

REMAINS OF U.S. MIAS IN NORTH KOREA IN POLITICAL LIMBO — MILITARY TIMES — RYONGYON-RI, North Korea — The village elder put his shovel aside, stooped down by a scraggly bush and pulled a sack from the freshly turned dirt. Spreading open the sack, he reached in to reveal femurs, skull and jaw fragments, boots, and a rusted green helmet. “These are your American GIs,” Song Hong Ik said at a burial mound near the top of a small hill. Perhaps they are. But for more than a decade, no one has been trying to find out. “Until They Are Home” is one of the most sacred vows of the U.S. military, yet Washington has long suspended efforts to look for 5,300 American GIs missing in North Korea whose remains are potentially recoverable. The countries’ abysmal relations suggest that no restart is coming soon.

VETERAN PUSHES FOR MORE RECOGNITION OF PTSD IN MILITARY DISCHARGES — WISCONSIN PUBLIC RADIO — For some veterans that received less-than-honorable discharges from the military, post-traumatic stress disorder may have been the cause, even if it wasn’t recognized at the time. To reflect that, former marine Alexander McCoy and others are now pushing for a bill in Congress that would change the process to essentially put a greater deal of emphasis on PTSD when reviewing less-than-honorable discharges.

“There are tens of thousands of troops who the military is letting slip through the cracks,” said McCoy, who is now the communications director of U.S. Military Veterans of Columbia University. “That we are taking the natural symptoms of their mental illness that they’ve incurred from their combat experience, and characterizing it as misbehavior … this is what we’re trying to fix.”

The New York Times reports that since 2001, “more than 300,000 people, about 13 percent of all troops, have been forced out the military with less-than-honorable discharges.”

HOUSE VETERANS AFFAIRS CHAIRMAN REP. JEFF MILLER LAWMAKER QUESTIONS WHY VA REINSTATED EMPLOYEE LINKED TO ARMED ROBBERY — MILCOM — A House lawmaker is demanding answers from the Veterans Affairs Department over how an employee fired after being convicted of charges related to a 2015 armed robbery could win her job back. Rep. Jeff Miller, a Republican from Florida and chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, also wants to know if Elizabeth Rivera’s termination from the VA hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was challenged “by the fact that the HR [Human Resources] manager responsible [for] imposing her discipline, Mr. Tito Santiago Martinez, is a convicted sex offender.” In a March 22 letter to VA Secretary Bob McDonald, Miller said, “The union allegedly asserted that Ms. Rivera should be reinstated in her job since Mr. Santiago was also convicted of a crime and therefore cannot discipline other employees who have been convicted of crimes.” Miller sent the letter the same day The Daily Caller reported that Rivera was arrested in connection with an armed robbery last year. According to a June 16 online report on the San Juan news site Metro, Rivera was in a car with Rolando River Febus when Febus stepped out of the vehicle armed with a gun and attempted to rob a couple. Local police spotted the incident and Febus fled on foot, leaving Rivera in the car.

3 REASONS VETERANS HATE NETWORKING — MILCOM — Networking is challenging for anyone. Even the most extroverted people wrestle with initiating new relationships and extracting value from their contacts. While the concept of networking may have been frowned upon in the military, in your civilian career it will be critical. Unlike our social relationships, networking should be viewed in an intentional and strategic way. If you approach networking as a focused meeting of your target audience in an authentic way in order to nurture mutually beneficial professional relationships, then networking becomes a very valuable part of your transition, and civilian career. After all, you never know who you are about to meet – that new contact could be the key that unlocks your future! Here are a few of the reasons people dislike networking and how to overcome them:


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