American Veteran News 05.29.16

REMAINS OF 13 MORE WORLD WAR II MARINES FOUND ON PACIFIC ATOLL — FOX NEWS — The founder of a volunteer group says it has found the remains of 13 more World War II Marines on a Pacific atoll.

Mark Noah, head of Marathon, Florida-based History Flight, tells The Associated Press that 12 sets of remains were found on Tarawa between January and March and a 13th set of remains was found this week.

The Pentagon’s Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency confirms more remains have been found, although it couldn’t confirm the number. The agency says it will return the remains to the U.S. this summer.

Last year, Honor Flight found the remains of 35 Marines on Tarawa, which is part of the island nation of Kiribati, and the Defense Department found a 36th set.

All were returned to the U.S. The Pentagon says 23 of them have been identified.



A GOLD-STAR WIFE’S MESSAGE TO VETERANS — HONOR THE FALLEN BY LIVING — T&P — Jane Horton lost her husband in Afghanistan. She urges veterans on Memorial Day to honor fallen troops through living.

On September 9, 2011 my husband, Spc. Christopher Horton, was killed in action in Paktia, Afghanistan. My world shattered. As I struggled to look through the kaleidoscope lens that made up my life, I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t eat, and I could barely breathe. I didn’t understand why God would take away my husband so soon, or why he chose me to live on alone and carry this great burden. I was drowning in grief, heartbroken and almost hopeless.

Throughout my long four and half years of being a war widow, nothing has been harder for me than to learn to live — when all I wanted to do was die. There have been many sleepless nights where I have laid on my face praying and crying my eyes out, and many mornings where I rolled up into a ball, asking for God to take me, or somehow spare me from this pain. I didn’t want to be here anymore, I didn’t want to face the day.

To live means so much more than just struggling to function. I may have still been breathing, but I wasn’t alive. After all, life is so much more than just breath. There was no life left within me — only a broken, devastated heart that struggled to carry on and somehow project a kind of artificial life. I was going through the motions, painting lipstick on and plastering on a fake smile every morning just to get through the day. I was only a fraction of the person I had been before, and fought hard to make it through each day.



THE VA BLOCKED A DISABLED VETERAN’S KIDNEY TRANSPLANT BECAUSE THE DONOR WASN’T A VETERAN — BUZZ FEED — Charles Nelson, a disabled Army veteran, needed a kidney transplant and luckily his son, Coty Nelson, was a match. But the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs wouldn’t cover the transplant because his son was not a veteran.

When Charles, a former Army Specialist, attempted to get approval from his Veteran Affairs Choice Program healthcare provider, he was told he wasn’t eligible for coverage because his son was not a veteran.

The program – available to veterans who live more than 40 miles away from a VA transplant facility – only allows veterans to receive transplants from other veterans.

“If you know about transplants, you know it’s hard enough to find a non-veteran donor,” Charles told BuzzFeed News.

Charles, 48, and his wife Tamara Nelson decided to raise the money to cover their son’s half of the surgery, but the VA told them the Choice Program still would not cover it, because it “was really just one kind of surgery” for both people, she said.

“The VA is kind of a joke,” Tamara Nelson told BuzzFeed News. “We love our doctors and could not be happier with them, but the bureaucratic bullshit makes this all so hard.”



AUGUSTA VA STAFF TESTIFY ABOUT WORRIES IN PUSH TO CLOSE CASES — AUGUSTA CHRONICLE — It wasn’t just that they didn’t want to do it, they didn’t know how to do it. And they feared that if they did it wrong, veterans would suffer, several administrative employees at the Charlie Norwood Veterans Af­fairs Medical Center testified Thurs­day.

In the fourth day of Cathedral Henderson’s trial in U.S. District Court on 50 counts of making false statements, Tara Holliday told the jury that Meribeth Bredehoft, then chief of health administrative services, gave her a list of names and told her to close out the consults.

“I didn’t even know where to start,” Holliday said. She said she received no training and had no medical education to fall back on. Holliday said she stopped doing it and shelved the lists.

“I didn’t think it was morally right, that it was ethical,” she said.



VA’S LAPSE JEOPARDIZES FLA. NURSING HOME, POSSIBLY OTHERS — KGW — ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — At least three states say the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs failed to formally notify them of a significant policy change in the construction requirements for veterans nursing homes, in turn threatening the future of at least one facility.

More states — possibly the remaining 47 and Puerto Rico — could be clueless about the sudden shift in policy, veterans officials said.

“To the best of my knowledge, nobody has received that letter — no state,” said Fred Sganga, legislative officer of the National Association of State Veterans Homes.

The communication breakdown already has halted plans for Florida’s seventh veterans nursing home, slated for St. Lucie County, potentially jeopardizing the project if officials can’t come up with another $20 million from the federal government and the state.

“We don’t want to be held hostage by a design guide that doesn’t recognize the state’s ability to provide what they need for the veterans living in their state,” said Sganga, who also is executive director of the Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook, N.Y.

Sganga said he never received formal notification of the policy change.



UNIONS AT ODDS OVER VA EMPLOYEE ACCOUNTABILITY BILL — GOV EXEC — Unions representing rank-and-file employees at the Veterans Affairs Department are at odds over legislation that would change the disciplinary process for VA poor performers.

The National Federation of Federal Employees, which represents nurses, doctors and other health care professionals at 17 VA facilities across the country, on Wednesday urged senators to oppose the Veterans First Act, calling it a “misguided attempt at reform that will not improve veterans’ care.” Specifically the bill, which includes several measures aimed at strengthening accountability among the department’s more than 300,000-person workforce, “would undermine the integrity of services available to our nation’s veterans by eviscerating important safeguards protecting VA employees from undue political influence,” said a May 25 letter from NFFE President William Dougan to senators.



CINCINNATI VA WARNED ABOUT AWOL DOCS — CINCINNATI.COM — The Cincinnati VA Medical Center has developed an “unofficial practice” of doctors leaving the hospital early, at times to work instead for UC Health on private patients, and a VA lawyer warned last year that the doctors could be committing a crime that could be prosecuted and should be reported to the VA inspector general.

The July legal opinion came amid a gathering power struggle inside the Cincinnati VA, involving officialdom from UC Health and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, over the administration of Dr. Barbara Temeck, then the facility’s acting chief of staff. The Cincinnati VA hospital on Vine Street in Corryville serves 43,000 veterans in Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky.

One factor in the VA struggle was Temeck’s discovery and documentation that part-time and full-time VA doctors routinely left their VA jobs early, which stranded veterans with appointments in the hospital’s waiting rooms. In August 2014, a list prepared for Temeck found that of 61 part-time doctors, only six fulfilled contracted time obligations to the Cincinnati VA.



MONEY CAN’T CURE WHAT AILS VETERANS AFFAIRS — WALL STREET JOURNAL — ‘Total VA funding has grown by nearly 86 percent from 2009,” says the headline of a document put out by the Department of Veterans Affairs this year in support of the agency’s fiscal year 2017 budget request for $182.3 billion. Politicians and government officials argue that increases in VA funding demonstrate a willingness to support veterans and their legitimate needs. Many of the increases are justified because of the higher costs of providing health care and the growing numbers of veterans receiving compensation and pension benefits.

Yet our concern should not be about the amount of money the VA spends. We should focus instead on the impact that money has on the lives of veterans. While the annual budget was growing over the last decade, there have been cuts to literally hundreds of programs throughout the federal government, many of which directly benefit veterans and their families.

Instead of arguing about VA funding levels every year, it’s time to consider fundamental changes in the way the VA delivers services. Here’s how:

• Realign the separate VA and Defense Department health-care systems. Together, the two health systems receive more than $100 billion in taxpayer funding every year. A fully integrated system would help control health-care costs. It also would help VA and Defense Department employees—who provide care to the same veterans and active-duty service members at different points in their lives, although Defense also cares for dependents—refocus their efforts to provide coordinated world-class care.



FRENCH VILLAGE INVITES VETERAN TO REVISIT AS ‘HONORED GUEST’ — AP — TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — A tiny village in France hasn’t forgotten. The deeds of American soldiers such as Tom Cundiff, even 72 years later, are remembered there.

This summer, Cundiff plans to return to Etrechy. He lived in that rural town of 6,100 residents for 16 months during World War II, serving as a U.S. Army staff sergeant, a company clerk, helping fellow soldiers rejoin their units after hospital stints or report for duty after arriving from the States

His outfit, the small 446th Replacement Company from the 85th Replacement Battalion, set up operations in a castle – Le Chateau de Gravelles – just days after American forces liberated Paris and Etrechy from Nazi German occupiers.

Every Aug. 28, the Etrechy townspeople celebrate the moment when the Americans turned the village back over to the locals. This year, Cundiff will be their honored guest, representing his country, again, and fellow service members.



OBAMA VISIT TO HIROSHIMA OPENS OLD WOUNDS FOR SURVIVORS, WORLD WAR II VETERANS — LA DAILY NEWS — An angel, a stunning streak of silver, danced across a vibrant blue sky. Kaz Suyeishi remembers being taken by its beauty. Nearly 71 years later, its memory remains in vivid color.

Shortly after 8 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1945, she spotted it from the family’s front garden — a B-29 vapor trail cutting through the morning air over the Pacific. Suyeishi was just 18, home from her factory job because of a fever, and as she traced it across a cloudless sky, she noticed an unusual white speck falling from the plane she’d soon know as the Enola Gay. “Look at that,” she pointed out to a friend, who stood nearby.

Then suddenly, there was a tremendous flash, burning across the horizon. Buildings collapsed. Tens of thousands were killed instantly. In seconds, Hiroshima was drowned in a blinding orange and yellow light, like a sheet of the sun had rained down and set the city ablaze. Suyeishi lay unconscious, buried in the rubble.

Six weeks later, Paul Rubenstein and his Marine infantry battalion stepped off a transportation ship in Nagasaki. In August, before the bomb, they’d begun practicing amphibious landings for an invasion of Japan — a mission many, Rubenstein included, expected to be a bloodbath. For the first time since enlisting, he worried he might not survive.



WESTLAND ORDINANCE OFFICE REMOVES AMERICAN FLAGS FROM BUSINESS — FOX DETROIT — A Westland business owner lines his property with small American flags in honor of Memorial Day.

But someone in the city didn’t approve of the patriotic gesture now — those flags are gone.

Ken Dabelstein operates Ken’s Country Produce also known as the big red barn on Ford Road at Newburg in Westland. And every Memorial Day weekend Ken respectfully plants these American flags in a row along his nursery yard.

“I put them in the ground by the curb, 12 on each side,” Dabelstein said.

Ken planted 24 American flags. But Thursday afternoon Ken says a woman who said she was with the city of Westland pulled every one of the 24 American flags and confiscated them.

But Thursday afternoon Ken says a woman who said she was with the city of Westland pulled every one of the 24 American flags and confiscated them.

“She pulled the flags out and wouldn’t give me her card,” Dabelstein said. “She pulled the flags out, customers tried to grab them out of her hand. She wouldn’t give it to them.

“She took the flags and literally threw them in the back of her truck.”

Ken is 73 years old and even he went after his flags.



HELPING AMERICAN VETERANS REINTEGRATE INTO SOCIETY — FOX NEWS RADIO — Sebastian Junger, former war correspondent and New York Times bestselling author joined Kilmeade & Friends to talk about his latest book “Tribe: On Homecoming And Belonging”

Junger discussed the problem American veteran’s face dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and trying to re-acclimate to society after returning home from war.



ILLEGAL ALIEN ALLEGEDLY POSED AS DEAD VETERAN TO STEAL SOCIAL SECURITY — BREITBART — An illegal immigrant was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona, for allegedly stealing the identity of a deceased U.S. military veteran in order to get the vet’s Social Security payments and other benefits. The scam had been going on for over four years, authorities say.

Court documents show that Rene Ortiz Quintana, 69, had been posing as a veteran who passed away back in 1994 to defraud the federal and state governments of nearly $30,000 in illicitly obtained benefits.

Investigators allege that Quintana stole the identity of Ruben J. Gallardo to obtain a number of benefits ranging from the state health care program to Social Security to benefits from the Dept. of Veterans Affairs.

In particular, Quintana used the deceased veteran’s name to sign up for a VA Choice card, a benefit that allows veterans to find medical care outside the VA Hospital system.

Quintana, who authorities say has been living in the U.S. illegally for upwards to 50 years, was arrested on May 19 and has been charged with seven counts of identity theft, six counts



SENATORS BLOCK PENTAGON EFFORT TO PRIVATIZE MILITARY BASE COMMISSARIES — BELLEVIEW NEWS-DEMOCRAT — A bipartisan group of 31 senators has introduced legislation that would block the privatization of commissaries at five installations until a study has been completed that would assess the impact, according to Military Times.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., vice chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, introduced the amendment, which is co-sponsored by another 29 senators.

They’re trying to stop a provision in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill which would require DoD to begin turning over operation of commissaries to private companies.



HARRIET THE BALD EAGLE WHO HELPED WOUNDED MILITARY VETERANS HAS DIED AT THE AGE OF 35 — INDEPENDENT (UK) — She was 35 years old – one heck of an age for a bald eagle, especially for one that had lost a wing.

Yet when when it was announced this week that Harriet, the eagle who had helped heal wounded soldiers, had died, there was nothing but sadness.

“With a heavy heart, we announce that our senior eagle ambassador, Harriet, has died,” said the National Eagle Centre in Minnesota.



BILL TO HELP MILITARY CAREGIVERS PASSES IN HOUSE — PRESS REPUBLICAN — PLATTSBURGH — The U.S. House of Representatives has approved the Support Our Military Caregivers Act sponsored by North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.

The legislation would reform the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Family Caregiver Program to help better support family members caring for seriously wounded veterans.

“This bill is critically important,” Stefanik told the Press-Republican.

“I represent the highest number of veterans in the state, and many have served since Sept. 11, 2001, and their caregivers have played a significant role in providing for them and they deserve the services they earned.”



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