Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – December 04, 2012

Veterans! Here’s your Top 10 News stories of the day compiled from the latest sources


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1.   Vietnam veterans file suit over lack of PTSD diagnosis, loss of benefitsThe class-action lawsuit raises two issues that could affect thousands of Vietnam veterans: whether they can retroactively be given a diagnosis of PTSD though the disorder was not identified until 1980; if so, whether recent policies intended to protect troops with PTSD should be applied retroactively to their cases.
2.   VA trademarks “GI Bill” in effort to crack down on misuseThe Department of Veterans Affairs now owns the words “GI Bill” as part of a yearlong effort to crack down on misuse and misrepresentation of veterans’ education benefits.
3.   Afghan government: Coalition cannot arrest, detain AfghansThe Afghan National Security Council announced Sunday that foreigners are forbidden from arresting Afghans or operating prisons in the country, potentially complicating NATO’s war effort in Afghanistan.
4.   Experts: Restricting troops’ access to firearms is necessary to reduce rate of suicidesWhy hasn’t the Army or Defense Department been able to reduce the number of suicides? Experts say it’s because efforts have ignored the most evidence-backed, proven prevention method: making suicide harder by restricting access to lethal means.
5.   Capturing the oral history of today’s vets.  A new project is starting to record the stories of those who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan
6.   113th Congress House Chairmen.  CQ Weekly  “With one retirement as well as term limits on several chairmen, the House will have at least eight new panel heads in January.” CQ Weekly points out that US Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) will chair the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

7.   Final Action On Authorization Delayed.  CQ Weekly “Although the Senate plowed through dozens of amendments in its Pentagon policy bill, lawmakers were left without a final passage vote on the bill itself as the week ended. Hampering efforts to wrap up the legislation, both the House and Senate versions now face veto threats because of provisions with which the White House takes issue, including language barring the transfer of military detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.” Among approved amendments to the Senate fiscal 2013 defense authorization was one that “would require the Defense secretary to establish a comprehensive suicide-prevention program,” would “ensure funding for aid to homeless veterans,” and would “establish a registry for servicemembers in Iraq or Afghanistan who might have been exposed to toxic fumes from open burn pits.

8.   Vital Assistance For Ailing Vets.  Washington Post  “The public needs to keep in mind that as politicians look for ways to reduce government spending, vital programs such as HUD-VASH are often the first to be put on the chopping block.” But, argues Sahagún, as “more veterans experience mental illness, these programs become even more crucial.”
9.   Federal Facilities Get Off The Grid.  Federal Times  “For many federal managers, October’s megastorm Sandy was simply the latest reminder of how vulnerable their operations are to power outages.” But some agencies are “investing hundreds of millions of dollars building and maintaining their own backup ‘microgrids’ – miniature replicas of larger commercial power grids that generate and transmit energy from multiple sources.” The Times adds, “VA hospitals are already required to have backup diesel generators, but new facilities will be able to generate their own power to run longer independent of the commercial grid, according to VA spokeswoman Josephine Schuda.”
10.  Vietnam Veterans, Discharged Under Cloud, File Suit Saying Trauma Was The Cause.  New York Times  A class-action lawsuit filed in Federal District Court argues that Vietnam veterans who were issued other-than-honorable discharges had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when the discharges were issued. The suit, which seeks to have the discharges upgraded, “raises two thorny issues that could affect thousands of Vietnam veterans: Can they be given a diagnosis of PTSD retroactively, to their time in service, though the disorder was not identified until 1980? And if they can, should recently instituted policies intended to protect troops with PTSD be applied retroactively to their cases?” An Army spokesperson “said the military has a policy of not discussing pending litigation.”



VA Trademarks ‘GI Bill’ to Shield Vets from Deceptive Marketing

December 3, 2012 by Alex Horton

For about two years, VA’s online communications team has been closely tracking the advertising and recruitment efforts of for-profit schools looking to bring in GI Bill tuition dollars. In some cases, these schools have ensnared Veterans looking for info by using official-looking websites, which funneled potential recruits to those schools without any balanced, objective information. We aimed to get the word out in order to help Veterans make the best decision possible.

This all came to a head earlier this year, when a group of state attorneys general led an effort to sue the company that owned, a particularly deceptive site. The company settled, and the website was turned over to VA and now redirects to our GI Bill page.

Today, VA announced the next step in the fight against misleading info campaign waged by schools after your hard-earned benefits. The term ‘GI Bill’ has been trademarked by VA with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. VA is the sole owner of the mark, and in the coming months, it will issue terms of use for the phrase. This move goes a long way to enforce accountability to those who would deceive student Veterans for financial gain.

Of course, with millions of dollars up for grabs, schools and marketing firms won’t lie down because of the trademark, so we’ll remain vigilant to ensure Veterans aren’t victims of deceptive recruitment when they decide to make the most out of their education benefits.

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