American Veteran News 06.08.16

VETS ADVISED: DON’T HESITATE TO SEEK RIGHTFUL DISABILITY CLAIM — OMAHA.COM — Securing disability benefits for Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange is a big part of the job for county veterans services officers like Darlene McMartin of Council Bluffs.

For more than 20 years the Department of Veterans Affairs has offered medical exams that include a physical, chest X-ray, medical history and blood work to check for diseases like diabetes, ischemic heart disease and prostate cancer that are linked to Agent Orange exposure. Many are also the diseases of old age, which is catching up with Vietnam veterans. Even the youngest are now in their mid-60s.

If they’re found to have a disease, McMartin can help them file for disability benefits — an intimidating process for someone who has never done it before.

VETERAN WITH GULF WAR SYNDROME: ‘I SHOULDN’T BE LIKE THIS’ — POST & COURIER — Within two minutes of answering his door and sitting down for an interview, Army veteran Justin Vosicky removed his shirt, revealing the feeding tubes he had placed in his abdomen in 2013.

“Sorry, I can’t stop sweating,” said Vosicky, who was also shivering repeatedly after taking enough medication to briefly stifle his abdominal pain.

Following a 10-year stint in the Army, from 2000 to 2010, Vosicky was told by VA doctors that he had Gulf War syndrome, a sickness that the VA prefers to call “chronic multisymptom illness” or “undiagnosed illnesses,” since any number of issues could be plaguing a patient.

The VA cannot pinpoint a cause of Gulf War Syndrome, which may afflict tens of thousands of veterans from both Gulf Wars. Outside theories include exposure to nerve gas, post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychiatric disorders.

BILL WOULD LET ALL VETERANS SEEK CARE OUTSIDE VA — WASHINGTON FREE BEACON — All veterans who qualify for Department of Veterans Affairs health benefits would be able to seek care outside the VA under new legislation.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.) introduced a draft bill on Tuesday afternoon that would allow any veteran unsatisfied with his or her care at the VA’s network of government-run medical facilities to use their benefits to obtain care in the private sector.

The bill, titled the “Caring for our Heroes in the 21st Century Act,” aims to overhaul the delivery and management of veterans’ health care at a time when the VA is plagued by long wait times, insufficient care, and other failings.

The VA already allows some veterans to seek care at non-VA health providers as a result of legislation enacted after agency staffers were found keeping secret lists to conceal long waits for care in 2014. The controversy led to the establishment of the Choice Program, which allows veterans waiting over 30 days for VA appointments and veterans who live far from VA medical facilities to obtain care outside the VA.

OUT-OF-CONTROL VA: SEX CHANGES OVER SERVICE DOGS — POLIZETTE — Transgender people cannot openly serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, but Department of Veterans Affairs has proposed paying for former military personnel to get sex-reassignment surgery.

At the same time, the VA will not pay for specially trained service dogs to aid veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“It underscores a confusion of priorities when we have 22 veterans per day committing suicide, and the number, tragically, is probably higher than that,” said Cole Thomas Lyle, a former Marine corporal and advocate of the use of dogs as an alternative to medication.

The VA currently pays for counseling, hormone treatments, and other services for veterans with gender dysphoria, a condition when a person feels trapped in the wrong gender. But the VA has a formal ban on taxpayer-funded gender-reassignment surgeries. The agency has submitted a proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget to change that.

DO DEMOCRATS REALLY OPPOSE VA PRIVATIZATION? — DISABLED VETERANS — No, and Democrats’ claims that they oppose VA privatization is no more real than Christmas reports of a real Santa flying a rocket-propelled sleigh.

Over the weekend, the White House published numerous articles through its news media contacts claiming President Obama opposes VA privatization. Hillary Clinton also supposedly opposes this move now that she is running for office.

But is this position against privatization genuine given that much of VA is already privatized?

What does it really mean? Are there no private companies involved in VA operations? Do private doctors not conduct compensation exams? What about satellite VA facilities – who runs those?

MOTHER: FORMER MARINE HAD PTSD ATTACK WHEN KILLED ON INTERSTATE — MILCOM — FAIRFIELD, Ala. — A former Marine and combat veteran who was killed when he ran into traffic on Interstate-20 had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and he thought he was under attack when it happened, his mother says.

The Jefferson County coroner’s office says Samuel Wayton, 27, of Bessemer, Alabama, died Friday near Fairfield, according to multiple news organzations.

Wayton’s mother, Clair Wayton, told WBRC her son returned from fighting overseas 10 months ago. She said he had been hit with an IED and developed traumatic brain injury and PTSD.

She said her son was traveling with his girlfriend on I-20 Friday morning when they heard the loud noise of an 18-wheeler’s brakes.

VOLUNTEERS COME TO THE RESCUE FOR VIETNAM VETERAN — HATTIESBURG AMERICAN — Vietnam veteran Jasper Perry was grateful volunteers were at his home Tuesday, sprucing the place up and making it nicer for him and his wife.

“I think it’s wonderful,” he said. “I think this is great. They are showing their patriotic spirit as much as they can.”

Volunteers from Home Depot’s Team Depot worked together with Hattiesburg Area Habitat for Humanity to make improvements to Perry’s Marie Street home, after his electric wheelchair caused some holes in the walls and ripped up a patch of carpet.

“We’re going to do some sheet rock repair,” said Habitat’s construction supervisor Glenn Newell. “He has a motorized wheelchair that has put some dings in the sheet rock. We have plexiglass to protect the walls.

SEVEN DECADES LATER, NEVADA WWII VETERAN AWARDED PURPLE HEART — MILCOM — GARDNERVILLE, Nev. — More than seven decades after he fought in the Battle of the Bulge, a 92-year-old World War II veteran from northern Nevada has been awarded the Purple Heart.

Russell Rodgers of Gardnerville served as a private first class in the Army’s 101st Airborne’s 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment.

The long wait for his medal — caused in part by the loss of his records in a fire in Chicago — came to an end over the weekend at a family celebration at the senior living center where he lives about 45 miles south of Reno.

“I joined the Airborne to see if they were crazy or brave, and I’ve learned that they are both,” Rodgers told The (Gardnerville) Record Courier.

“Being a part of them is a dream come true for me when I thought I wouldn’t even get into the military,” he said. “This is just icing on the cake, to be awarded this.”

CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS QUERY GAO ON VA’S EHR MODERNIZATION EFFORTS — HEALTHCARE INFORMATICS — Why It Matters: The subcommittee hearing focused on the HHS Data Protection Act (H.R. 5068), a bill introduced by Representatives Bill Long (R-MO) and Doris Matsui (D-CA). The legislation would direct HHS to alter the department’s organizational structure so that the chief information security officer (CISO) no longer report to the chief information officer (CIO), instead they would both report to the Assistant Secretary for Administration within HHS.

In addition to discussing HHS’ cybersecurity responsibilities, the witnesses covered a number of cybersecurity challenges facing the industry. CHIME’s comments focused on the value of coordination of information security efforts, regardless of an organization’s reporting structure. CHIME also called attention to the efforts underway within HHS as directed by the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 which directed HHS to set up an internal coordination plan across the department, which is due to Congress by December 2016 as well as the Health Care Cybersecurity Task Force also included in that legislation which will meet through March 2017 to promulgate recommendations for the industry to improve its cybersecurity readiness.

THIS VET OVERCAME HIS PTSD BY HIKING 12 US NATIONAL PARKS — T&P — This vet got out of his comfort zone by embarking on a 25-day, 7,200-mile adventure from coast to coast.

When former U.S. Army soldier J.T. Ibanez returned home from Iraq in 2004, just going to the grocery store was a challenge. He’d intentionally do his shopping in the morning or early afternoon when there were fewer people around.

“The more people I was around, the more anxious I’d get. I became hyper-aware I guess you could say. So I’d avoid situations that might trigger any negative thoughts or emotions,” said Ibanez. “I’d tend to stay at home as much as possible.”

In 2000, the St. Louis native enlisted in the U.S. Army, spending four years in the 82nd Airborne in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Then, in 2003, he was deployed to Iraq for a year. When Ibanez returned, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD TOWN HALL AIMS TO HELP ALL VETERANS — CITIZEN-TIMES — When organizers asked Brandon Wilson to moderate the upcoming PTSD Town Hall, he had no hesitation, despite a schedule that often has him working 70-80 hours a week.

“I think it’s important for me to come to this town hall because of the wide scope of experiences I’ve seen,” said Wilson, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran of two tours in Iraq and the deputy director of the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “I think my visibility and my personal involvement — and with me having PTSD — I think it’s important to these generations, the Iraq and Afghanistan generations, to have representation there to show that it’s OK to talk about this, that the community needs to know about it.”

The Vietnam Veterans of America, North Carolina State Council, is organizing the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Town Hall, a free event which will take place Saturday at the Mission Health/A-B Tech Conference Center. The idea is to connect veterans and their families with the wide range of services available — and to let them know that a support network of fellow veterans is there for them.

IN AN EFFORT TO REDUCE WAIT TIMES, VA PROPOSES NURSES ACT AS DOCTORS — WTTV — INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Thousands of nurses could take on duties doctors typically perform at VA hospitals around the country. It’s a proposal the VA is looking to have in place to alleviate some of its notorious and controversial wait times.

The department has proposed a rule change, allowing advanced practice nurses to prescribe medications, do diagnostic testing, and in some cases, even administer anesthesia, all with hopes more vets will be seen and the notoriously long lines for care will downsize.

Public comments on the proposal are pouring in. Many comments reflect fear that the change would reduce the quality of veteran care.

“As the family member of a Veteran, I know the incredible sacrifices America’s servicemen and women made for our country… I urge VA to preserve the high-quality, physician-led anesthesia care that our nation’s Veterans currently receive,” read one comment.

“I oppose any policy that would lead to the removal of physicians practicing anesthesia in the operating rooms of American heroes,” read another.

CHANGES TO VETERANS’ PREFERENCE COULD BE ON THE HORIZON — GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE — Veterans’ preference would only apply to a vet’s first job in federal service under a provision in the Senate fiscal 2017 Defense authorization bill.

The provision, which is new this year, would not allow veterans’ preference – a confusing and often controversial factor in federal hiring – to be an advantage in any subsequent federal jobs that an eligible employee applies for. In other words, vets would receive the additional points that veterans’ preference confers during the application process for their first jobs in federal government, but not for any future positions within the competitive service.

The measure also would affect certain close relatives of veterans, including spouses and parents, who are eligible for veterans’ preference under specific circumstances when applying for federal jobs.

While the provision is part of the annual Defense policy bill, it would apply governmentwide. The House NDAA, which lawmakers in that chamber passed last month, does not contain a similar provision.

WAR VETERAN’S MYSTERY LETTER RETURNED TO HIS FAMILY MORE THAN 70 YEARS LATER — KATU — COOS BAY, Ore. — In 1944, a soldier wrote a letter home to his family that once lived in Coos Bay.

More than 70 years later that letter has now made its way back to its rightful owners.

Brent Lerwill says he was inside a home on Cottonwood Avenue in Coos Bay doing repair work up in the attic when he spotted a piece of history under the floorboards.

Half buried, Lerwill found a letter dated October 1944, written by 1st Lt. William Denny to his young bride.

Lt. Denny was writing from a hospital in Italy.

He wrote about his recovery, watching a Betty Grable film, and missing the comforts of home.

“He put a PS at the bottom and said, ‘oh, please send cookies,” Lerwill said.

The letter also mentions their young daughter: “Kiss Susie for me.”

“Susie” was Lerwill’s only clue.

HOUSE PROPOSAL WOULD GIVE VA HOSPITALS TO NONPROFIT CORPORATION — STARS & STRIPES — WASHINGTON — The nation’s veterans hospitals would be transferred from the Department of Veterans Affairs to a charitable nonprofit corporation under a plan floated Tuesday by a House lawmaker.

The proposal unveiled by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., who is the House GOP conference chairwoman, terminates the Veterans Health Administration’s role in hospital care, medical services and other health care and creates a Washington, D.C.-based corporation and board of directors to take its place.

Her draft legislation, which was published for discussion and not yet introduced, also creates three new categories of health care coverage, with all new veterans given access to private care.

It could be the most profound overhaul in the department’s history and comes as Congress continues to grapple with delays and dysfunction in the VA’s nationwide network of hospitals and clinics more than two years after a scandal over long wait times for care.

AG LYNCH REFUSES TO DEFEND LAW TO SPEEDILY TERMINATE VA WRONGDOERS — CNS NEWS — One of an Attorney General’s fundamental duties is to defend laws passed by Congress against constitutional challenges – even when those challenges might have merit. But Attorney General Loretta Lynch is refusing to do so, in a challenge by a former Department of Veterans Affairs director suing to get her job back after she committed a crime. Lynch argues that a statutory provision designed to prevent incompetent and criminal federal employees from suing for reinstatement is itself a violation of the Constitution.

9 COMPANIES WITH JOBS TO LAUNCH YOUR CAREER IN TECH — T&P — These 9 Hirepurpose partners are hiring veterans in the tech field right now.

Technology is ubiquitous — it pervades every aspect of our lives. It’s no wonder that job growth in the tech industry has outpaced private sector job growth by a rate of three to one since 2004. In a 2012 study by the Bay Area Economic Institute, tech jobs earn between 17% to 27% more other fields, have a low unemployment rate, and offer a demand that will steadily increase through at least the year 2020.

That’s why transitioning service members and veterans in the job market should consider careers in the field of technology. We’ve highlighted nine companies below that are actively seeking veterans for tech openings located around the country.


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