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Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country

Find out What’s Inside Today’s Local News for Veterans

  1. VA IG Says Hospitals Need To Give Disability Exams Sooner.
  2. Duckworth Inducted Into US Army Women Foundation Hall Of Fame.
  3. Louisiana VA Secretary Praises Veterans Service Officers.
  4. Professor: Study Questions Ethical Objections To Organ Donation.
  5. Vet Center Opens In California.
  6. VA Rep To Speak At Conference On How To Help Returning Vets.
  7. VA Hospital Fined $227,500 For Prostate Cancer Dosage Mistakes.
  8. Report: Despite Improvement, VA Still Facing “Significant” Cybersecurity Obstacles.
  9. White House, VA Holding Public Forum On Responsible Fatherhood And Healthy Families.
  10. VA Rules Contaminated Water At Camp Lejeune Caused Veteran’s Cancer.

Have You Heard
Has a veteran ever asked you about a rumor that VA’s Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) or Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) won’t pay if a policy holder dies in a car accident and wasn’t wearing your seat belt? Or it won’t pay if the covered veteran was in a motorcycle accident and wasn’t wearing a helmet? That’s all they are, rumors… they are completely false! SGLI and VGLI coverage will pay insurance benefits to a covered veteran’s beneficiaries regardless of whether he or she was wearing a seat belt or a helmet. While wearing a seat belt and a helmet are important precautions to prevent serious injuries in car and motorcycle accidents, they will not affect payment of SGLI or VGLI benefits. Check it out for yourself and learn about other SGLI and VGLI rumors and myths here.

1.      VA IG Says Hospitals Need To Give Disability Exams Sooner. In a story published by at least 113 news sources, the AP (3/18) reports the Office of Inspector General, the “internal watchdog” for the Veterans Affairs Department, “says VA medical centers need to give compensation and pension medical exams to veterans sooner in order to expedite disability claims.” The AP notes that Sen. Daniel Akaka, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, “says the VA needs to devote more resources to fixing the problem. The VA has told the inspector general it will do that.” KHQ-TV Spokane, WA (3/17, 11:06 p.m. PT) aired a similar report.
Akaka, Shinseki Agree On Importance Of Disability Claims Reform. The last story in the Washington Times (3/17, Fales, 77K) “Sgt. Shaft” column said that a recent hearing on the VA budget, Akaka and VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki “agreed that reforming the VA disability claims system must be a top priority.” The Times noted that in commenting on the matter, Akaka said, “It will take years and significant resources to fully train new VA claims staff on the complex existing procedures. We need to bring systemic change to the current process if VA is to provide veterans with the timeliness and accuracy they deserve.”
Grassley: More Money Not The Answer To Improving VA’s Record On Evaluating Claims. KLJB-TV Davenport, IA (3/17, 9:00 p.m. CT) broadcast, “The Federal government says between 50 and 70 percent of benefit claims to Veterans Affairs are being unjustly denied.” Congress “recently approved additional” VA funding, but in a letter he sent to Shinseki, Sen. Grassley (R-IA) “said it’s clear that devoting more taxpayer dollars is not the answer” to solving the problem of claims being wrongly denied. Grassley “hopes to have a response from the Department of Veterans Affairs by next Friday.”

2.      Duckworth Inducted Into US Army Women Foundation Hall Of Fame. The Honolulu Advertiser (3/18, 130K) reports, “Veteran Affairs Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth was inducted” Wednesday “into the US Army Women Foundation Hall of Fame at a ceremony” in Washington, DC. Duckworth, “a McKinley High and University of Hawaii graduate who lost both legs when the helicopter she was piloting was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq, was cited for her ‘dedication, valor, patriotism and service.’ She was joined by retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught, a highly decorated veteran who was cited for paving the way for women in the military.” KITV-TV Honolulu, HI (3/17, 6:03 a.m. HT) aired a similar report.

3.      Louisiana VA Secretary Praises Veterans Service Officers. The Monroe (LA) News Star (3/18, Gunter, 30K) reports, “Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Lane Carson made a quick stop Wednesday in Monroe to recognize veterans service officers in northeastern Louisiana. Statewide, some 37,000 veterans receive more than $640 million in benefits from the federal government because of the efforts of the veterans service officers, who have a presence in Louisiana’s 64 parishes, Carson said.” The News Star adds, “Several veterans from the Northeast Louisiana War Veterans Home met with Carson, asking him to meet Gov. Bobby Jindal to discuss restoring funds taken from the state’s veterans homes in 2009, and once again proposed for 2010, so they can once again have their own doctors and pharmacists.”

4.      Professor: Study Questions Ethical Objections To Organ Donation. In continuing coverage, the WHYY-FM Philadelphia, PA (3/17, English) website said a new study by the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of Pennsylvania “seems to knock down some of the ethical objections to paying people to donate an organ,” including a kidney. WHYY offered a quote from Penn assistant professor Scott Halpern, who said, “We allow people to get paid to play” in risky sports “or to be workers in a coal mine,” and the “risks of kidney donation are relatively small by comparison.”

5. Vet Center Opens In California. The Riverside (CA) Press Enterprise (3/18, Horseman) reports “many southwest Riverside County veterans home from war struggle with trauma from combat.” However, the Vet Center, which is new to Temecula, “is designed to help those veterans and their families.” The facility “had its grand opening Saturday.”

6.      VA Rep To Speak At Conference On How To Help Returning Vets. The Whittier (CA) Daily News (3/17, 14K) noted that “Manual Martinez, a Veterans Administration team leader,” is scheduled to speak when “St. Matthias Episcopal Church, 7056 Washington Ave., presents ‘Transition From Active Duty to Civilian Life,’ a Stephen Ministry conference, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.” Martinez “will discuss the transition from active duty to civilian life for returning troops and veterans. The discussion will educate the families and friends of returning veterans about their” experiences, “how to work with them, and what resources are available.”

7.      VA Hospital Fined $227,500 For Prostate Cancer Dosage Mistakes. In a story run by at least 116 news publications, the AP (3/18, Loviglio) reports, “The Department of Veterans Affairs was fined $227,500 after incorrect radiation doses were given to 97 veterans with prostate cancer at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, a federal agency announced Wednesday.” The

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) levied the fine against VA, which “was cited for lacking procedures to ensure and verify the treatments were done correctly, failing to properly train staff and neglecting to immediately report mistakes.” The AP notes, however, that Richard Citron, director of the medical center, said “issues” with the prostate cancer treatment “do not reflect the high level of health care offered in Philadelphia or throughout the VA system.” The Washington Post (3/18, 684K) publishes a shorter version of this AP story, making it the lead “Nation Digest” item.

8.      Report: Despite Improvement, VA Still Facing “Significant” Cybersecurity Obstacles. Federal Computer Week (3/18, Lipowicz, 90K) reports, “Despite a major improvement in cybersecurity, the Veterans Affairs Department still has ‘significant’ obstacles to overcome to meet federal cybersecurity standards, according to a new report released by the VA’s Office of Inspector General.” The “new fiscal 2009 report is a summary of the VA’s compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and was prepared by the Deloitte & Touche LLP independent accounting firm.” After noting that the IG released a summary of the report earlier this month, Federal Computer Week adds, “The report summary did not include a response to the criticism from VA officials.”

9.      White House, VA Holding Public Forum On Responsible Fatherhood And Healthy Families. The lead item for “Need To Know” in the Fayetteville (NC) Observer (3/18, Allen) reports, “1The White House and the Department of Veterans Affairs are holding a public forum” Thursday “on Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families.” The “event is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. at the John D. Fuller Sr. Recreational/Athletic Complex on Bunce Road and is open to the public.”

10.    VA Rules Contaminated Water At Camp Lejeune Caused Veteran’s Cancer. The Quincy (MA) Patriot Ledger (3/18, Hanson, 48K) reports, “The federal Department of Veterans Affairs has ruled that chemical contamination at a Marine Corps base caused a rare cancer in a local veteran. The decision grants a full service-related disability pension” to 46-year-old Paul Buckley, “who has multiple myeloma, an incurable form of cancer that attacks blood plasma. It links the cancer to drinking water that was polluted by a fuel spill at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.”

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