American Veteran News 04.20.16

IOWANS PACK FUNERAL FOR VETERAN WHO HAD NO LIVING FAMILY — KCCI — MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa —More than 100 people including at least 80 other veterans honored an 81-year-old veteran at his funeral Monday.

The funeral for Charles Lanam was held Monday afternoon at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. Lanam, a Korean War veteran, had never married, had children, and outlived all of his relatives.

Word about Lanam’s funeral and no living family spread fast on Facebook.

“No veteran should go to the grave by himself,” said Jeff Hauser. “When I got here we pulled in and saw literally hundreds of cars. My heart just went, ‘Wow.” I mean look at this.”

Veterans from the VFW and American Legion organizing a proper burial with full military honors.

“Someone needs to be there for you especially a veteran, someone who gives us our freedom,” said Jill Deike.


VETERANS STILL CAN FACE LONG WAITS FOR CARE — IF THEY GET IT AT ALL — POWER POST — Veterans newly enrolling for health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs and requesting an appointment commonly wait for months before they first see a medical provider and the department’s way of measuring those waits understates them, a House committee was told on Tuesday.

VA officials faced a House Veterans Affairs Committee skeptical of the department’s response in the two years since a hearing there triggered a flood of revelations that veterans had been enduring long waits for care and that some patient records had been fudged to hide it.

According to the most recent VA data as of April the average waiting times for appointments were seven days for primary care, 10 days for specialty care and four days for mental health care.


HOW A DIFFERENT KIND OF CRIMINAL COURT SAVED THIS MARINE VETERAN — TASK & PURPOSE — Timothy Wynn was in a downward spiral until he arrived in a veteran treatment court. Then everything started to change.

Timothy Wynn enlisted in the Marines in 1999, but when the Corps extended his contract, he was sent overseas. In 2003, Wynn deployed to Iraq with 2nd Military Police Battalion as part of the initial invasion.

Since Wynn was one of the first to go, he was also one of the first to come back, but his return to North Carolina was followed by his abrupt separation from the Marines.

“I was on stop-loss, and once they lifted stop-loss, everyone who was on it, came home,” said Wynn, who was honorably discharged as a sergeant. “Within 72 hours of being back at Camp Lejeune, I was back in Philadelphia, with really no time to just process where I’d just been.”


WHY IS THE VA APPEALS PROCESS BROKEN? — TASK & PURPOSE — There’s good news and bad news for veterans, according to a new report analyzing the VA’s appeals system.

This past January, the Department of Veteran Affairs released a 44-page report, titled “Veteran Appeals Experience: Listening to the Voices of Veterans and Their Journey in the Appeals System,” which sought out to do just that: Listen to the veterans who are currently in or have gone through the appeals process with the hopes of discovering the best way to overhaul the system. The report drew from the accounts of 92 veterans in 21 states, from World War II to today’s ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the hopes of addressing the current problems with the process and creating solutions to fix them. I had the opportunity to be one of those 92 veterans.


PHYSICIAN SHORTAGE DRIVES WAIT TIMES AT VA SAN DIEGO — KPBS — The VA San Diego is trying to cope with the longest wait times for patients seeking mental health care of any Veterans Affairs office in the country.

For one physician, it feels like the problem has been getting worse.

Dr. Hoang Nguyen has worked as a psychiatrist for the VA San Diego for nearly 19 years. San Diego has seen the demand for mental health appointments increase 9 percent a year for the last 10 years. Nguyen said the recent departure of mental health professionals has made the wait times even longer for veterans.

“I think the number of physicians … is the lowest I’ve known since I’ve been here,” Nguyen said. “So we have more openings than I remember.”


MONTANA HOSPITALS: NEW VA PROGRAM FAILS TO PAY — MONTANA PUBLIC RADIO — This week we’re reporting on a year-old program for veterans that’s supposed to make it easier for them to get health care. It’s called Veterans Choice, and yesterday we heard widespread agreement that it’s not working as Congress intended. Frustration with Veterans Choice in Montana became evident in February, when Senator Jon Tester held 28 meetings across the state to get vets feedback on it.

Veterans Choice is supposed to let vets who live more than 40 miles from a VA health facility get care at nearby private clinics instead, with the VA picking up the tab.

“We were the first facility to provide services through the Choices [sic] Program, says Ron Gleason, CEO of Mineral County Hospital in Superior.

“We provided our first services to a veteran on September 9, and we have not been paid for the services since that time. So we have not been paid for any Choices services,” he says.


RENO VA REGIONAL OFFICE COMMENTS ON DOCUMENTS FOUND IN SHRED BINS — NBC NEWS4 — RENO, Nev. — On Friday, April 15, 2016, News 4 learned that the Reno Veterans Affairs Regional Office had wrongly designated several documents for shredding, according to a report from the Office of the Inspector General.

The report says that staff reviewed 16 claims-related documents found in a shred bin in Reno’s office, one of 10 offices that were inspected for violations.

Six were found that were incorrectly placed in the bin, with one affecting benefits and three that had the potential to affect benefits, according to the report.

Printed below is the VA’s official statement and background regarding this report which was provided to us by an official with the Reno Va Regional Office:


VA ACCUSED OF SHREDDING DOCUMENTS NEEDED FOR VETERANS’ CLAIMS — FOX NEWS — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been systematically shredding documents related to veterans’ claims — possibly affecting benefits for veterans, according to an investigation by the inspector general.

Investigators with the Department of Veterans Affairs audited 10 vererans benefits offices around the country and found that staff were destroying mail related to claims, according to a report by Military.com, citing an OIG report released on Thursday.

The surprise audit, which was conducted at the offices on July 20, 2015, came after reports of such document shredding in Los Angeles, the website reported.


VA HEALTH CARE REFORMS ARE UNDERWAY, LEADERS TELL PANEL — MILITARY TIMES — A blue ribbon panel crafting recommendations to Congress on the Veterans Affairs health system heard Monday from the department’s top leaders, who said reforms underway at the department will improve many aspects of patient care by year’s end.

VA Secretary Bob McDonald and Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson addressed the Commission on Care during an open meeting in Washington, D.C., to explain the department’s ongoing reform effort, known as MyVA, which was created to fix internal issues as well as problems highly visible to veterans, such as the benefits appeals backlog, Internet platform problems and the Veterans Choice medical program.

McDonald said MyVA is transforming the Veterans Health Administration, where changes have included new training for employees, increased hiring, one-day stand-downs to focus appointment wait times and patient care, and adding evening and Saturday hours to accommodate patients and increase appointments.

The changes have led to VA completing 97 percent of appointments within 30 days of the date a veteran wanted for an appointment, McDonald said.


THE VA NEEDS A RADICAL OVERHAUL — WASHINGTON TIMES — In December 2010, a fruit seller in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, doused himself with gasoline and lit himself on fire in front of a provincial government office. That act of despair — and the man’s subsequent death — ignited a revolution of consciousness in Tunisia and throughout the Arab world.

The street vendor’s protest touched off a surge of public outrage with the corruption, abuses and failures of governments throughout the region. It was the turmoil that became known as the Arab Spring.

Last month, a 51-year-old veteran set himself on fire in front of a Veterans Administration facility in Northfield, New Jersey. His comparable act of despair should be a call to another political revolution here in the United States — one focused on transforming the bureaucracies that are failing many of the most vulnerable Americans, not least our veterans.


HOUSE CHAIRMAN BLASTS VA FOR MORE PROBLEMS WITH VETERANS’ WAIT TIMES — WASHINGTON TIMES — A top House Republican criticized the Department of Veterans Affairs Tuesday for persistently misleading the public and Congress on the amount of time veterans must wait to receive health care.

House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller, Florida Republican, said the VA is still manipulating its records and failing to hold employees accountable for inaccurate record keeping, two years after a scandal hit the agency over phony waiting lists and veterans who died awaiting care.

“Two years after what was and is a systemic crisis in care being brought to light, it is time for VA to stop using misleading data to tout wait times successes that simply do not show the real wait time experience of veterans,” Mr. Miller said at an oversight hearing.


FOCUSED NETWORKING FOR VETERANS — MILCOM — The importance of networking for anyone in the job market cannot be ignored, but there is a right way and a wrong way to network. The right way means that you are prepared and know your goals. The wrong way means you’re taking a scattershot approach that doesn’t lead to lasting relationships and relies heavily on luck. To be an effective, focused networker, consider the following tips:


SBA OFFERING ENTREPRENEURSHIP CLASSES FOR VETERANS — ARGUS LEADER — The U.S. Small Business Administration presents its Boots to Business Reboot program for veterans this week.

It provides participants an overview of business ownership as a career, an outline and knowledge on the components of a business plan, a practical exercise in opportunity recognition and an introduction to available public and private sector resources.

Part one is a one-day Introduction to Entrepreneurship course presented at the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship at 2329 N. Career Ave. on April 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Veterans of all eras are eligible including active duty, National Guard and reserves and their spouses.


VETERAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP: THE NEXT FRONTIER IN THE MISSION TO END HOMELESSNESS? — HUFFINGTON POST —

Transitioning from a military to a civilian career can be among the toughest challenges faced by active-duty service members. This may seem counterintuitive: these men and women are trained to handle extreme circumstances, and many have lived through combat. But their leaving active duty doesn’t just change the work they do, it changes the very fabric of their lives.

Millions of veterans make this move successfully, either finding work at established firms and earning a steady paycheck, or launching new businesses that thrive. Some fall on hard times, and float in and out of the workforce. Far too many slip into homelessness.

To THE VETERANS VOICE

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