American Veteran News 04.14.16

VA MANAGER SAYS ‘THANK GOD’ THEY DON’T HAVE TO HIRE VETERANS — DAILY CALLER — A Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hiring manager said in a sworn deposition “thank God” they don’t give veterans hiring preference for well-paying jobs.

The statement came when a VA dentistry chief was asked if being a veteran helps someone get a dentist job in the agency. His response was “not really. And thank God,” The Daily Caller News Foundation recently discovered in a court filing.

Being a scout master in the Boy Scouts would do more to help someone get a top job at the VA than serving in the armed forced, Dr. Gonzalo Solis Sanchez of the VA Caribbean Medical Center said.

He was speaking in a July 2014 deposition in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint brought by a dentist who is a veteran.

The exchange about hiring practice follows:


VETERANS AFFAIRS IMPROPERLY REJECTED VETS’ EMERGENCY MEDICAL REIMBURSEMENTS — NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL — The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims recently held that the Department of Veterans Affairs had been using an invalid regulation since 2009 to deny reimbursement to veterans for emergency medical costs incurred outside of the V.A. health care system.

“This is a major win for veterans, and their families,” said Bart Stichman, joint executive director of National Veterans Legal Services Program and an attorney in the case. “This practice has violated federal law since at least 2009. The court’s ruling means the V.A. will have to amend the unlawful regulations it should have amended in 2009 and do right by these veterans.”

He added that the ruling was “not just a win for one veteran,” but that “veterans who have pending claims for reimbursement will benefit. Plus, veterans whose reimbursement requests were turned down years ago may now be able to get paid by claiming that the previous denial contained ‘clear and unmistakable error.’ ”

The unanimous three-judge panel decision on April 8 came in Staab v. McDonald, an appeal from the Board of Veterans’ Appeals by Richard Staab who served in the U.S. Air Force from November 1952 to November 1956 as a ground radio operator.


VETERANS STRUGGLE WITH SLOW, COMPLEX VA PROGRAM — GREEN BAY PRESS=GAZETTE — Some days, all Jake David can do is sit in excruciating pain and wait.

The De Pere man, a Vietnam veteran with a Purple Heart, spends many of his days writhing on the couch, trying to find a position that doesn’t hurt and finally having to conclude there isn’t one.

“On a 10-point scale, the pain ranges from 2 to 10, depending on how much I try to move,” said David, 66, who says he hears a grinding, gravel noise whenever he moves his leg a certain way. “It hurts. Sometimes you scream, you moan. My wife says I do it in my sleep.

“You wouldn’t treat a dog this way.”


MOUNTING NUMBER OF VICTIMS IN VA HOSPITAL SEX ABUSE SCANDAL — ABC NEWS — A former physician assistant is accused of using his position to commit sexual battery and other crimes against at least seven patients at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Kansas, and a lawyer says yet more victims will emerge.

At least three lawsuits filed in recent weeks in U.S. District Court in Kansas accuse Mark Wisner of conducting unnecessary and improper genital examinations at the Leavenworth VA Medical Center. He also faces criminal charges of aggravated criminal sodomy, solicitation and sexual battery in Leavenworth County, just outside Kansas City, Kansas.

Wisner surrendered his medical license last year after at least seven patients accused him of abuse, and medical regulators said at the time that others could come forward.

Daniel Curry, who represents plaintiffs in two of the lawsuits, said Monday that his research, the findings of the Kansas Board of Healing Arts and his communications with other attorneys indicate there could be dozens of victims.

Some of the lawsuits also name the Department of Veterans Affairs and the federal government.


GROIN INJURIES WOULD ENTITLE VETERANS TO PAYOUT, UNDER PROPOSED BILL — MILITARY TIMES — A House bill would pay injured veterans who lose their reproductive organs in combat or a service-related accident $20,000 to start a family or use however they want.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., introduced legislation Monday that would compensate veterans for the “loss or loss of use of creative organs,” to help veterans who can’t have children as a result of a service-connected condition.

Under the bill, veterans would receive $10,000 in two lump-sum special compensation payments — funds over and above the disability compensation the veteran receives — to be used “at the veteran’s discretion.”

According to Miller, chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, the legislation is designed to give former troops with devastating injuries the funds needed for medical treatment or adoption services.


VA MEDICAL RECORDS ONCE AGAIN SENT TO WRONG VETERAN — WAVY — WEST POINT, Va. — A local veteran says the Hampton VA Medical Center sent him the medical records of three other patients by mistake.

Chris Stamper, of West Point, Va., received the results of blood work last week. When he opened up the envelope on Tuesday, he found his results, along with the private medical records for three other patients.

The documents included full names, social security numbers, birthdays, addresses and medical evaluations.

In one case, Stamper said he received a patient’s suicide screening, and in another case the records indicated a patient was being treated for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“These documents should have never been in my hands at all,” said Stamper.


PUSH FOR FEDERAL RECOGNITION OF BLUE WATER NAVY VETERANS — FAIRFIELD SUN — In a sign of legislative unity for our Blue Water Navy Veterans, all members of the House of Representatives including State Reps. David Rutigliano (R-123) and Laura Devlin (R-134) supported a State House resolution urging the President of the United States, Vice President of the United States, and Members of Congress to provide VA benefits to Blue Water Navy veterans who have been exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam between 1962 and 1975.

“Our Blue Water Navy veterans deserve full VA benefits, my hope is the federal government will recognize this resolution as a stand in solidarity with them,” said Rep. Devlin.

Rep. Rutigliano said, “Agent Orange is a toxic chemical which caused major health problems and illnesses to our bravest soldiers. The Blue Water Navy vets deserve to be recognized by our government.”


GLITCH CAUSES ACTIVE SHOOTER ALERT AT VA HOSPITAL — WTVR — RICHMOND, Va. – Hundreds of patients daily walk through the doors of the McGuire VA Medical Center on Broad Rock Blvd. On Tuesday, visiting patients and staff received notice there was a gunman on the loose; but it turned to be a big misunderstanding.

“We seen blue lights flashing and police coming from everywhere and then they got out with shields and assault rifles,” said veteran Jerome Barnes.

An email alert was sent to the hospital, about an armed gunman on site, called a Code Silver.

“Essentially it said that there was an active threat and that you were to initiate safety precautions, which are basically to shelter in place,” said Darlene Edwards, McGuire VA Medical Center Public Affairs Officer.


STATE GROUP FIGHTS TAXPAYER FUNDING OF VETERANS MEMORIAL — WDAM — ALBIA, IA (WHO DT/CNN) – A national organization is coming after a memorial that honors every branch of the military and every war.

“Everybody on here has a story, I don’t care who it is they have a story,” said Jim Keller, Founder of Welcome Home Soldier Monument.

Keller started the planning process for the Welcome Home Solider Monument 12 years ago.

“It’s very humbling but I’m very proud,” he said.

As a veteran himself, he wanted a public place to honor all those who have served.

The monument honors thousands of veterans with 21 marble crosses, 100 American flags and a 200 foot marble wall.

“I have such a love for those that gave us our freedom and the older I get I just love what they’ve done for us.” Keller said.

The organization filed a 28-E agreement with the county to use seven acres of the county’s land for the monument.


VETERANS FIND CHALLENGES IN NAILING THE RIGHT JOB — ORLANDO SENTINEL — Five years ago, the headlines on veteran unemployment were grim. “Unemployment crisis among veterans spurs call to action in Congress,” read one. “Unemployment for Young Vets: 30%, and Rising,” warned another. In the midst of two wars, America’s veterans were in trouble at home.

Today, veteran unemployment rates flirt with record lows. Even the youngest post-9-11 veterans no longer face dauntingly large gaps separating them from civilian counterparts.

Yet despite the significant, sustained decline in the national veteran unemployment rate, Florida’s veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses still face numerous challenges. Florida’s 2015 veteran unemployment rate of 5.4 percent lagged the national average, and the demand for job fairs, employment workshops and other training opportunities remains high, especially in Orange County, where more than 60,000 veterans and their families reside.

The unemployment rate alone doesn’t capture the importance of providing employment support and resources for Florida’s veterans. We also have to plan around the aspirational interests of the 250,000 service members annually transitioning out of the military for the next four years who will be searching for jobs. It doesn’t capture the men and women with years of training in medicine, logistics, information systems and other essential fields who are unemployed or underemployed, while Florida businesses search for skilled workers. And it certainly doesn’t capture the desire that many share to transfer to a new, more rewarding job.


CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL AWARDED TO PUERTO RICAN ARMY REGIMENT — FNL — Washington, D.C. – Finally, an Army regiment made up of Puerto Rican soldiers received its long-deserved recognition on Wednesday.

The 65th Infantry Regiment – which is known by the nickname “Borinqueneers” and fought and served in World War I, World War II and the Korean conflict – was honored at a ceremony at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., where their Congressional Gold Medal was unveiled.

“Today we’re setting the record straight for the Borinqueneers,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, one of many prominent political leaders who attended the ceremony.

The honor came more than 50 years after the unit was disbanded.


TO HELP KEEP VETERANS HEALTHY, VA WANTS TO HEAR THEIR LIFE STORIES — KPCC — The pace of modern medicine can make patients feel like they’re little more than a row of symptoms on a check-off list. A new VA program, though, is giving doctors a chance to get to know their patients better.

It’s doing that by putting stories about veterans’ lives into their medical records for doctors, nurses and therapists to read. It’s called “My Life, My Story,” and it started at the Department of Veterans Affairs medical center in Madison, Wisconsin. It expanded last year as a pilot program to six more VA medical centers around the country, including the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville, N.C.

Now, half a dozen more VA hospitals are planning their own versions.

One of the Asheville patients who participated, Dorothy Managan, 93, of Hendersonville, N.C., already knew the value of taking the time to build relationships between patients and their doctors and nurses.


DAYTON TO HOUSE VETERANS AFFAIRS’ NATIONAL ARCHIVES — AP — The leader of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says it plans to put its national archives in Dayton.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald announced Tuesday that the agency’s massive archives will be housed on the campus of the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The two buildings that will hold the archives are each more than a century old and will undergo $20 million in rehabilitations. The archive will serve as an education center for the public and will contain archival records, memorabilia, artwork and other artifacts.

Sen. Sherrod Brown says locating the archives in the city would build upon the area’s historic military ties and boost economic development and tourism for the region.


INDIA REPATRIATES REMAINS OF US AIRMEN FROM WORLD WAR II — MILCOM — The government of India on Wednesday repatriated the possible remains of American airmen from World War II, the U.S. Defense Department announced.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter participated in the repatriation ceremony in New Delhi for the remains that are believed to be those of two American crews whose planes crashed on supply runs from India to China over the Himalayan Mountains in 1944 and 1945.

The remains recovered late last year are possibly associated with a B-24 crash on Jan. 25, 1944, when a crew of eight personnel assigned to the 14th Air Force, 308th Bomb Group, were lost during a routine mission from Kunming, China, to Chabua, India, according to a press release from the Pentagon.

Two bone fragments — small enough to fit inside a sandwich bag — along with some other artifacts from the B-24 flight were found during a U.S. excavation in the rugged mountain in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, according to the Associated Press and the Pentagon.

Another set of remains that were also turned over to Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency are possibly related to a C-109 that crashed on July 17, 1945, traveling from Jorhat, India, to Hsinching, China, with a four-man Army Air Force crew, according to the Pentagon release.

The ceremony sponsored by the Defense Department, the U.S. embassy in New Delhi and the government of India highlights the nation’s commitment to bringing fallen personnel home “and providing their families the fullest possible accounting,” the release states.

“It’s also a testament to the deepening U.S-India defense partnership and a reflection of our shared commitment to universal values,” it states. “Secretary Carter is grateful for the Indian Government’s support for this important humanitarian mission and looks forward to cooperating on future personnel accounting operations.”

Afterward, the U.S. military flew the remains to the agency’s lab in Honolulu for DNA analysis to confirm the identify of the missing crew members.

An estimated 350 U.S. service members are still classified as missing in India, the Associated Press reported.

To THE VETERANS VOICE

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