Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – May 22, 2014

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1.   Senate subcommittee backs lower pay raise for troops.  The Senate is so far backing the Pentagon’s proposed 1 percent cap on troop pay raises as it drafts the country’s 2015 defense budget, according to a subcommittee meeting Wednesday of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

2.   NATO defense chiefs to review alliance readiness.  As NATO defense chiefs convene Thursday for a second day of talks on the Ukraine crisis, reaching agreement on specific steps to counter a more assertive Russia will likely prove elusive as national interests sometimes diverge.
3.   Navy chief: Reducing carrier fleet would burn out sailors, ships.  Extending deployments to compensate for a smaller carrier fleet would result in burnout of ships and sailors, the Navy’s top officer said Wednesday.
4.   Financial dangers threaten servicemembers off the battlefield.  An era of back-to-back combat deployments and enlistment bonuses may be over, but the financial ramifications of a turbulent decade linger for many servicemembers.

5. House passes VA accountability billHyperlink to Article (Video):  The House on Wednesday approved a bill with bipartisan support in a 390-33 vote, granting VA Secretary Eric Shinseki the authority to fire career public employees in efforts to aggressively hold officials accountable… President Obama said he would not tolerate a scandal and that if the allegations were proven true, he would not hesitate to punish those involved… The stern warning was meant for Shinseki, too.

6.House passes bill to allow VA chief to more easily fire workersHyperlink to Article Los Angeles Times:  The House easily passed legislation Wednesday that would make it easier for the Veterans Affairs secretary to fire or demote senior employees, a proposal that gained support after allegations of mismanagement at the agency… Republicans called it an important first step to help the administration fix apparent widespread problems at the VA.

7. Transcript of Obama’s Remarks on Problems at the VAHyperlink to Article Wall Street Journal:  President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he expects to receive the preliminary results of an investigation into whistleblower allegations of misconduct at the Department of Veterans Affairs and promised to punish anyone found responsible for the problems. Here is a transcript of his remarks to reporters at the White House.
8. VA Secretary Rescinds Phoenix Director’s BonusHyperlink to Article Wall Street Journal: The head of the Department of Veterans Affairs on Wednesday “clawed back” a performance bonus from a senior official at the Phoenix VA amid allegations of improper scheduling procedures at the hospital…Secretary Eric Shinseki rescinded a performance bonus of approximately $9,000 that had been given to the director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System, Sharon Helman, according to a VA spokesman.
9. Shinseki rescinds bonus of Phoenix VA directorHyperlink to Article Seattle Post-Intelligencer (AP):  Phoenix VA Health Care System Director Sharon Helman’s nearly $9,400 bonus for last year has been rescinded… Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki exercised his authority Wednesday to rescind Helman’s performance award for fiscal year 2013, VA officials in Washington said… The bonus had been awarded through “an administrative error,” a VA spokesman said.

10. VA calculates war’s true cost, one disabled veteran at a timeHyperlink to Article Stars and Stripes:  “We’re not where we need to be,” President Barack Obama has said of the glut, which peaked last year at 611,000 claims. “But we’re making progress.” The backlog has become one of several issues that have drawn the ire of veterans and lawmakers, leading to calls for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.


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