American Veteran News 03.09.16

UNION JOB PROTECTION DEMAND BLUNTS BENEFITS OF MILITARY-VA HOSPITAL MERGER — A plan to merge military and veterans hospitals is in jeopardy because the restructuring was based entirely on nobody losing their job, which produced a poorly organized medical facility that isn’t geared to patient care, federal auditors found. The combined facility failed to achieve cost savings because a federal employees union demanded not a single worker be laid off, even though many jobs were redundant. Military members were dissatisfied by the work ethic they observed among Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees. The newly released report examined the Lovell Federal Health Care facility in North Chicago at the end of a five-year pilot program. The findings are intended to help Congress weigh whether more Department of Defense and VA hospitals should be merged around the country.

OPTIMIZING NURSING SKILLS FOR BETTER VETERAN CARE — The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) continues to face the challenge of trying to meet a growing number of increasingly complex demands with too little funding. For example, the department has seen record growth in veteran health care needs — in some large hospitals a 20 percent increase in patient needs — while facing a nearly $3 billion budget shortfall.

As an economist, I look at the most efficient way to use scarce resources. In my work on health care policy, I specifically look at health care in terms of costs, efficiencies and patient outcomes. To meet this challenge, the VA must find areas where it can increase efficiencies without lowering the quality of patient care. To put it another way, how can it better use the resources and tools that it already has? One area that stands out is how the VA is utilizing — or underutilizing, as the case may be — Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN), such as certified nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists.

APRNs are registered nurses educated at master’s or post-master’s levels and trained in specific practice areas. Although APRN education is standardized, their licensing standards are set state by state, and thus, their ability to practice to the full extent of their training varies by state. When a resource — human or otherwise — isn’t being used to its full value there is inefficiency in the system. We all know enough to recognize that inefficiencies increase costs, and in the case of the VA, the inefficiencies have also increased veterans’ wait times, among other things.

LAWMAKERS TO PUSH REGISTRY FOR SOLDIERS EXPOSED TO BURN PITS — CORPUS CHRISTI – State lawmakers are now taking up the cause of a Robstown couple who helped establish a national registry for veterans exposed to toxins from open pit fires in Iraq and Afghanistan. Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa and Representative Abel Herrero want to create a state registry for Texans exposed to the toxic fumes. “The state of Texas is going to do it’s part to make sure that we provide them with every form of assistance that we can,” Representative Herrero said. It is a cause very close to the hearts of LeRoy and Rosie Torres. LeRoy Torres worked near burn pits when stationed in Iraq, and now many of his days are spent in and out of the hospital dealing with Constrivtive Bronchiolitis in his lungs and other ailments. “The headaches, the chronic fatigue, always have like an upset stomach,” he said. Torres’ health battles began when he came back to the United States in 2008. Since then he and his wife have been pushing to register soldiers and veterans exposed to burn pits.

VETERAN SAYS SERVICE DOG THERAPY FOR P.T.S.D EPISODES IS BETTER THAN V.A. HOSPITAL TREATMENTS — Many of them suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and don’t get the treatment they need. Some service men and women are scared to admit they experience episodes, taking them back to their days at war, because of fear they will lose their careers. Since there is very little screening post-deployment, thousands of P.T.S.D. cases go undetected until it’s too late. William Mosley is a 21 year Afghanistan and Iraqi Freedom Air Force Veteran. When he returned from deployment life was good. About a year later he says he began suffering from survivor’s guilt. Mosley says he turned to alcohol to numb his

FASTER PROCESSING OF DISABILITY BENEFIT FOR WOUNDED WARRIORS AND VETERANS — Social Security honors those who have served in the U.S. military. We recognize the sacrifices these Americans made while serving our country. Often, their dedication comes at the expense of significant and lasting effects on themselves and their families. Social Security provides expedited processing of disability benefit applications for wounded warriors and veterans with a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) compensation rating of 100% Permanent & Total (P&T). While both Social Security and the VA pay disability benefits to qualifying individuals, the criteria for awarding benefits is not the same. Even if you have a VA compensation rating of 100% P&T, you will need to meet the strict definition of disability set out by the Social Security Act to receive Social Security disability benefits. Social Security pays benefits to people with a severe medical condition expected to last at least one year or to result in death, while preventing you from performing substantial work.

REPORT OUTLINES LAVISH SPENDING BY WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT A major donor to the Wounded Warrior Project veterans charity called Thursday for the nonprofit’s CEO to resign in light of allegations of lavish spending on staff meetings, according to a CBS News report. Fred and Dianne Kane, the parents of two Iraq War veterans, have donated $325,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project since 2009 through their personal charity, Tee-off for a Cause. Slightly more than half of the Kanes’ donations directly benefitted veterans, according to CBS News.

MILITARY VETERAN DIAGNOSED WITH TERMINAL DISEASE CAN’T GET HEARING OVER BENEFITS, PLEADS FOR HELP — Nestor Capifali’s passion is building and fixing things. It’s what he did as an Air Force mechanic. But now he can barely walk, much less create anything. “My fingers are frozen,” said Capifali. “It is kind of heartbreaking to be restricted,” he added. Only 68 years old, Capifali looks years older. Within months he lost 70 pounds, had two heart attacks and needed a splint. He has scleroderma. If it wasn’t for his wife of 34 years, Nilsa, Nelson would be in a home. “It is emotional because you have to see a person fall apart you know all these years,” said Nilsa Capifali. Nestor’s exposure to a degreaser he used in Okinawa could be behind his debilitating condition.

VA WHISTLEBLOWERS ACCUSE DUCKWORTH OF IGNORING VETERAN ABUSE, CORRUPTION — During a radio appearance Monday, Veterans Affairs whistleblowers Germaine Clarno and Dr. Lisa Nee claimed that Rep. Tammy Duckworth did little to respond to their claims of mistreatment of veterans and corruption within the Hines VA. According to their allegations, Duckworth was largely unresponsive to evidence related to veteran mistreatment and inadequate investigations conducted by the VA’s inspector general. Clarno claimed that, although she approached Duckworth “many” times, the congresswoman did little to respond to her claims.

HOSPICE OF BATON ROUGE WELCOMES VETERANS TO SPEND TIME WITH VETERAN PATIENTS — In the late 1960s, the Army trained Don Kenyon for the artillery, a skill he was never called upon to use. But his military service prepared him for something else later in life — hospice volunteer. At least one local organization wants more just like him. Since military veterans make up a significant percentage of the clients it serves, The Hospice of Baton Rouge is recruiting veterans to spend time with them. This is one aspect of the organization’s involvement with We Honor Veterans, a program that focuses on end-of-life care for those who once wore their country’s uniform. “The ‘We Honor Veterans’ program just ensures that veterans die with dignity,” said Evelyn Ramirez, volunteer coordinator with The Hospice of Baton Rouge. “So, our goal is to have veterans volunteer with veterans to be, like, ‘It’s OK. I’m here for you,’ to bond over that, because it is a brotherhood or sisterhood. We really want to make sure that when our veterans are in the last stages, that they are completely at peace and comfortable.”


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