American Veteran News 06.29.16

FIREWORKS SEASON CAN TRIGGER PTSD FOR VETERANS — AP — JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. — Stationed in Khandahar, Afghanistan, for nine months in 2012, Sgt. Matthew Thomason got used to falling asleep to the lullaby of gunfire and explosions — so much so that he could tell what kind of weapon was being fired just by the sound. When he returned home to Clark County in September 2013, he thought he would miss the noise of war as he transitioned back to the quiet civilian world.

The first time he heard the crack of fireworks around July 4 the following year, he realized how wrong he was. Thomason, a 28-year-old Louisville native and Sellersburg resident, remembers being at that first Independence Day party when a flashback was suddenly triggered. He was either playing a game or in a conversation with his wife — he can’t remember which — when someone behind him set off fireworks without warning.

“When that happened, I physically just jumped and didn’t really know where I was for a minute,” he said. “I had a flashback and we had to leave, and that started to be a trend.”



MONTANA HOSPITALS HIT HARD BY VETERANS CHOICE NOT PAYING BILLS — NBC MONTANA — MISSOULA, Mont. – The program is meant to let veterans in rural areas go to private doctors instead of driving miles to a Veterans Affairs clinic.

Here’s how the process works:

The VA determines if a veteran is eligible. A contractor called Health Net gets that information and sends the veteran a card. Then, the veteran either contacts Health Net to make appointments or the VA tells Health Net to contact the veteran. Health Net confirms the eligibility, makes the appointment and then passes the bills to Veterans Choice to pay.

But here’s the catch. Veterans Choice is behind in its payments.

This isn’t the way the system’s supposed to work. Just two years ago, U.S. taxpayers shelled out over $17 billion for a deal to fix a scandal – a backlog of veterans waiting for care.



HOW THE BRAIN RESPONDS TO COMBAT — T&P — This week, Lauren, Nate, and Weirick are joined by senior staff writer Adam Linehan. They discuss the research of Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, who has studied how combat impacts the mind and body. Adam interviewed Grossman for a long-form multimedia essay now published on Task & Purpose that offers a visual guide to this research.



CLINTON WOULD ADD TENS OF BILLIONS TO VA SPENDING, TRUMP EVEN MORE — GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have both proposed increasing spending on the Veterans Affairs Department by at least tens of billions of dollars over 10 years, according to an analysis of each of their plans.

Trump’s proposals would come with a much heftier price tag, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan group advocating fiscal responsibility. The presumptive Republican nominee would add between $500 billion and $1 trillion to the deficit with his VA reforms, CRFB said, in large part due to his plan to give all veterans immediate care from any doctor who accepts Medicare.

Congress in recent years has regularly boosted VA’s appropriations, though it has started to receive some pushback for failing to eradicate some longstanding problems while continuing to ask for more money.



FORMER WORLD WAR II FEMALE PILOT JOINS VETERANS ASSOCIATION — JOHNS CREEK PATCH — JOHNS CREEK, GA — A woman who served as a pilot during World War II was recognized last week as a member of the Johns Creek Veterans Association.

A ceremony was held June 22 for Jerrie P. Badger, one of the few female pilots during the war, at the Women In Service Plaza at the Veterans Memorial Walk at Newtown Park in Johns Creek.

Badger was one of about 1,000 women in a program called Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP.

WASPs were pilots who performed duties such as ferrying airplanes and towing targets for gunnery practice, which freed male pilots for combat.

WASPs were not considered officially part of the military, but the Johns Creek Veterans Association accepted Badger, one of the first women to fly American military aircraft, as one of their own.



AN AUDIO HISTORY OF VETERANS’ AFFAIRS — WNYC — There are about 48,000 homeless vets out there right now, and in response, the Obama administration has made a concerted effort to combat veteran homelessness. Obama is the most recent of many American politicians who have addressed (and failed to address) veterans’ needs.

In continuation of our 30 Issues coverage of key presidential election issues, hear an audio history of politicians’ treatment of veterans’ issues in America.



CONGRESS BLOCKS VETERANS EQUAL ACCESS AMENDMENT DESPITE HOUSE AND SENATE APPROVAL — WEED BLOG — On Thursday, news broke that the Veterans Equal Access Amendment had been stripped from the House Conference Report of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017. The provision was removed from the conference version of the bill, despite passing in the Senate Appropriations Committee 20-9, and on the House floor 233-189. The removal of an amendment to an appropriations bill that has been approved in both chambers is unprecedented and defies explanation.

“Blocking this amendment at the conference committee stage is an assault on democracy and those Americans who risked their lives and health to defend it,” said Michael Liszewski, Government Affairs Director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA). “It’s shocking that House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers would allow a veterans health care provision that won by wide margins in a Senate committee and on the House floor to be stripped from the bill behind closed doors.”

The amendment would forbid the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from punishing its physicians who discuss the benefits of or recommend medical cannabis (marijuana) in accordance with state law. Currently, VA doctors can be punished by the Administration for recommending medical cannabis under state law, and veterans who rely on the VA for their health care are denied access to state-regulated medical cannabis programs. The amendment would not require VA doctors to fill out recommendation forms or allow anyone to possess medical cannabis on federal property, it simply would open up a path to access state programs for America’s military veterans.



MADAWASKA VETERANS: NEW BATHROOM’S PROXIMITY TO MEMORIAL DISRESPECTFUL OF FALLEN SOLDIERS — BANGOR DAILY NEWS — MADAWASKA, Maine — When the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated at Bicentennial Park in 1996, the soldiers and friends who brought the project to life most likely had no idea they would be back 20 years later to fight for the dignity of what some consider hallowed ground.

The inscription on the memorial reads, in part, “Tears are still shed. Lives are still shattered.”

As he stood beside the memorial recently, Jack Myers said, “We didn’t know how true those words would be.”

Myers, who grew up in Madawaska and now lives in St. Jacques, New Brunswick, and his friend Marcel Gendreau of Madawaska are both Vietnam veterans and were among a small group that worked to erect the memorial.

The two recently talked about their efforts to honor the soldiers from the St. John Valley who died in Vietnam, and shared their disappointment and anger over a new restroom facility the town built this month, which they and others say is located too close to the memorial.



WWII MEDALS FOUND IN GLADSTONE HOME RETURNED TO VETERAN’S FAMILY — KPTV — GLADSTONE, OR — Several World War II medals found in a Gladstone home, including a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, have been returned to the veteran’s family.

Gladstone Police officers found the medals tucked away in a corner of a home in May. The medals belong to Lt. Col. Frank Wilson, who previously lived in the home.

Officer Eric Graves began looking for any clues to who Wilson was, mainly through social media.

A group of amateur genealogists heard the story and helped in the search. They found and created a family tree of the Wilson family.

The family tree helped lead officers to Wilson’s daughter, Bliss, who lives in Mexico.

Unfortunately, Bliss couldn’t make it up here, but Wilson’s great niece lives in the Portland area and received the medals on Monday.



NMAI TO ESTABLISH NATIONAL NATIVE AMERICAN VETERANS MEMORIAL — CHEROKEE ONE FEATHER — The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) has been charged by Congress with establishing a National Native American Veterans Memorial, to give “all Americans the opportunity to learn of the proud and courageous tradition of service of Native Americans in the Armed Forces of the United States.”

The Honorable Ben Nighthorse Campbell (Northern Cheyenne) and Chickasaw Nation Lieutenant Governor Jefferson Keel are leading an advisory committee of tribal leaders and veterans representing the geographic diversity of Indian Country and the various branches of the Armed Forces. The committee will assist with outreach to Native American nations and tribes and their veterans and advise on plans for the memorial.

Throughout 2016, the advisory committee and the museum will conduct community consultaions to seek input and support for the memorial. Regional events will bring together tribal leaders, Native veterans, and community members to gather their insights and advice.



DESERT STORM VETERANS DESERVE DC MEMORIAL — TOWNHALL — Efficient, precise, swift, and dominating.

Those are just a few of the words that come to mind when recollecting Operation Desert Storm.

Scott Stump, president and founder of the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association, came up with the idea for a Washington, D.C. based Persian Gulf War memorial years ago. He, like many others, sees the war at risk of being forgotten.

“This was one of the pivotal events in the nation’s history. While the war ended very quickly, we cannot forget the nearly 400 servicemen who did not come home,” he told told Fox News. “We owe it to their families and to all of those who fought to remember.”

Stump’s group recently obtained congressional approval for the $20 to $40 million project.

“There is a tendency to downplay the war because it only lasted about 100 hours,” he said. “We had a mission to liberate Kuwait. We completed that mission. But it certainly was not easy. The relatively low casualty rate should not determine the worth of this memorial.”



WHY THE ZIKA FILIBUSTER IS A MAJOR SETBACK FOR WOUNDED VETERANS — TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE — WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — Sen. Patty Murray felt compelled Tuesday to vote against one of her top priorities for veterans — a plan that she’s pursued for four years.

Her decision to join a Democratic filibuster that blocked the Republican Zika-funding bill also dealt a setback to her plan to pay for in-vitro fertilization services for veterans whose fertility was damaged or destroyed while in the military.

Murray, D-Wash., won a big vote in May, when the Senate agreed to require the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department to spend $88 million over the next two years to pay for the treatment. The House of Representatives followed suit last week.

But just when it appeared the measure might actually get signed by President Barack Obama this year, Murray helped stop it when it got tangled in a partisan dispute over how much to spend on fighting Zika.



JUDGE ORDERS ILLINOIS TO ADD PTSD TO MEDICAL MARIJUANA LIST — AP — CHICAGO — Illinois must add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of diseases eligible for medical marijuana treatment, a Cook County judge ordered Tuesday in a sternly worded ruling that also said the state’s public health director engaged in a “private investigation” that was “constitutionally inappropriate.”

In a lawsuit filed by an Iraq war veteran, Judge Neil Cohen ordered Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah to add PTSD within 30 days. It’s the first decision among eight lawsuits filed by patients disappointed with across-the-board rejections by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration of recommendations from an advisory board on medical marijuana.

The health department is reviewing the judge’s order, department spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said.



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