US, Cuba says they would like to see a changed relationship. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson said Friday that she hoped Cuba was sincere about wanting to improve relations with the United States.
Helping vets: ‘The system is broken’. Richmond Times Dispatch Complaints about the hoops that veterans have to jump through to get benefits they are due from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs are widespread, though vets generally say they are pleased with the benefits themselves. Kapinos has been working …
Gold Star Mothers continue the service of their fallen children. Baltimore Sun Soon after his death, the Owings Mills woman began volunteering with the Red Cross at Walter Reed and in the emergency room at the Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Chance is one of 50 Maryland mothers who are honoring the memory of their …
Veterans, others eye Alabama budget cuts warily. Anniston Star Ken Rollins, a board member of the State Board of Veterans Affairs, agreed with Farrow’s view on the effects of these possible cuts. “The more we get cut, the less we’re able to take care of a veteran,” Rollins said. Rollins said the Veterans Affairs …
Obama Names Former Missouri Green Beret To Veterans Affairs Post. AP A “36-year-old former Green Beret” and Iraq War veteran Tommy Sowers, who “lost a US House bid from southeast Missouri in 2010 could now be heading to Washington.” President Obama has nominated Sowers as “assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
Secretary Of Veterans Affairs Sides With Veteran In DOMA Case. New York Times “Just hours after President Obama announced on Wednesday that he supported same-sex marriage,” Veterans Affairs said it “would not defend the constitutionality of two federal laws that define marriage as between a man and a woman.” However, it is unclear whether the VA has “actually given up the fight against” giving Navy veteran Carmen Cardona “spousal benefits.” In a letter “explaining his decision” to House Speaker John A. Boehner, VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said the department would “remain a party to the case.” Meanwhile, the “Republican-controlled House has hired a private lawyer to handle the DOMA cases” that the Obama Administration has “decided not to defend.”
VA’s 7 Steps To Protect VLER Data. Government Health IT The VA has determined how it will protect veterans’ and service members’ records in the “virtual lifetime electronic record (VLER) program” and published a notice of Privacy Act System of Records in the May 11 Federal Register. The VA outlined seven steps, beginning with limiting access to databases. Government Health IT lists all seven steps and notes that VLER is “currently being road tested in a number of pilots around the country and subsequently will have a national roll-out.”
Pennsylvania Seminar Offers Information On PTSD. WJAC-TV “According to Veterans Affairs, between 11 percent and 20 percent of soldiers who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan have PTSD; 10 percent of soldiers from Desert Storm; and a shocking 30 percent of veterans from Vietnam came back home with a mental health issue. To combat the high number of veterans diagnosed with PTSD, more organizations are offering treatment. This seminar in Altoona is called ‘Healing Trauma’s Invisible Wounds.’ The idea is to supply the necessary tools and information to anyone and everyone. Organizers say help is available and agencies like these are ready, willing and able. They add that 90 percent of the population suffers from some type of traumatic event in their lifetime.”
Families Also Pay Price For Repeated War Tours. Bellingham (WA) Herald The US Army’s “No. 2 officer, Gen. Lloyd Austin, said on a visit to Joint Base Lewis-McChord this spring that the ‘high up-tempo’ of soldiers going on multiple overseas missions was challenging but had left the military with a ‘highly trained and incredibly resilient force.’ The same words apply to the spouses, children and other loved ones of oft-deployed troops.” In the South Sound, “thousands” of families are “coping with the absence of soldiers who have gone to do dangerous work” in Afghanistan. And the “perpetual cycle of coming and going also has exacted a hard toll on marriages.” According to the Pentagon’s most recent data, the “annual military divorce rate at 3.7 percent – its highest point since 1999 and greater than the 3.5 percent civilian rate.”
Caretakers Are Key To Successful PTSD Treatment. Digital Journal “One of the major complaints from caregivers is that they have no one to turn to and no real help. They become exhausted and display symptoms of Secondary Trauma Stress, or Secondary PTSD.” However, a new study released by researchers at the “University of Syracuse’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families suggests that treating the family members for their STS will make the living environment better for veterans and increase the chances of success in treatment.”
State Officials Say Tennessee Needs New State Veterans’ Cemetery Between Memphis And Nashville. AP “State officials are looking at sites in West Tennessee to build a new state veterans’ cemetery and hope to choose three finalists later this year.” Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs’ steering committee members “expressed a need for one in the 190-mile stretch between Nashville and Memphis” during their meeting May 10. State Rep. Steve McDaniel, who attended Thursday’s meeting, said the committee will “meet again in late June and have three final sites selected by the fall.”
Veterans Court Stalls For Lack Of Candidates. Augusta (GA) Chronicle A veteran’s accountability court put together by the local judiciary system lacks veterans willing to use it. “It’s a troubling situation for Superior Court Judge James Blanchard,” who said, “‘We stand ready, willing and able.” The Chronicle says a “‘one size fits all’ approach isn’t working with veterans” and “coordinators are also running into a lack of qualified veterans.” Compared to a judicial program for drug offenders that has worked, veterans don’t share the same problems and “there’s not the same level of commonality,” according to District Attorney Ashley Wright. “Each one has a different issue that needs attention.”
Fort Smith Shelter To Cater To Homeless Veterans With Goal Of Reintegrating Them To Society. AP “A home is opening in Fort Smith to care for homeless veterans and provide them the services they need to get back on their feet.” The Buddy Smith Home, which has “just over 5,000 square feet and 16 bedrooms,” is expected to be “full in about two weeks.” The home will offer “structured programs for veterans who need more than just a roof over their heads.”
Alabama State Veterans Cemetery’s Phase One To Open In Spring 2013. WKRG-TV “Construction continues on Alabama’s first state-operated veterans cemetery. The 120-acre cemetery is located on Highway 225, just north of Spanish Fort. Local veterans’ cemeteries in Mobile and Pensacola are no longer accepting new interments. Spanish Fort dentist and veterans’ advocate Dr. Barry Booth donated part of the land to build the cemetery. Booth says local veterans are honored to have the facility built in Baldwin County. Phase one is expected to open in spring 2013. A grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs is paying for the $7-million dollar project.”
Drop-In Center Handles Veterans’ Needs. Northwest (IL) Herald Workings of the Lake-McHenry Veterans Drop-In Center, where “veterans and their family members” can walk in “unannounced and receive help” immediately. It has been open for 13 months, has about 100 people use it each month, and is a joint venture between the two counties. The center “provides peer-to-peer support for veterans or family members.” It also links to “emergency housing services” and to “other agencies, counseling and case management” programs, among other services.
Brooklyn Launches New Veterans Court With Swearing-In Ceremony. NY1-TV “The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office and Court System held a swearing-in ceremony Friday for volunteers who are helping veterans overcome addiction. Health experts say some veterans deal with stress by turning to drugs and alcohol, which often leads to a life of crime.” Judge Jo Ann Ferdinand explained, “Veterans have very unique issues and the fore, they need other veterans who understand what they’ve been through.” NY1 added, “The veterans treatment court provides an alternative to jail for minor drug-related offenses.”
Woman Accused Of Posing As Vet Faces Additional Charges. Akron Beacon (OH) Journal A “Medina County woman accused of animal cruelty and posing as a veterinarian is facing her most serious charge in connection with causing the 2011 death of a Persian Gulf war veteran’s service dog.” In a “supplemental indictment a Summit County grand jury returned last week, Brandi Ann Tomko is charged with assaulting or harassing the assistance dog belonging to Bob McGee of Akron, resulting in its death last October.” That charge, which is a “third-degree felony,” is the “most serious in what has become a 39-count indictment, and carries a maximum prison sentence of three years in prison.”
Speech Will Promote Help For Women Veterans. Kansas City (MO) Star Deborah L. Frett, the “head of the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation will address a Kansas City audience Tuesday to promote a national initiative to help women veterans struggling to find work.”
Employment Fair For Charleston Veterans Produced Mixed Results For Jobseekers. Charleston (SC) Post and Courier “During a veterans job fair” in February, the Post and Courier interviewed several veterans. “Three months later, we revisited” some of them; and although “not all of those we interviewed called us back,” two of the six veterans did receive “calls back as a result of the job fair, but no job materialized” for any of them. Meanwhile, one “launched his own” business; another took temporary work, some decided to further their education and “all of them gave an opinion on why the job market is so tough” on veterans.
Disabled Veteran Discusses Plight From Homelessness To Entrepreneurship. WJRT-TV Reporter Ilse Lujan-Hayes interviewed Jennifer Kayden, a disabled veteran, who started her own business, Iam Unlimited, when she was homeless. Kayden said she received advice from VetBiz Central, which also offered training classes, conferences and networking opportunities. Lujan-Hayes asked Kayden, who served from 1987 to 1990, what advice she would give to new veterans trying to find employment. Kayden said, “The most important thing is not to give up: Reach out to business owners and ask them to direct you towards resources, such as VetBiz Central and similar programs.”
Coke Recruiting Veterans. Georgia Public Broadcasting Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Company “said this week it will focus recruitment efforts on military veterans, hiring at least 800 across the country this year.” Coke recruiters will receive “special training to help them target” veterans; and the company will “start posting jobs of interest to service members on a special website next month.”
Volunteers Needed At VA Hospital. WOWT-TV Officials at the VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Healthcare System, citing a “critical need for volunteers,” will offer a “new adult volunteer orientation class” on May 18 at the Omaha VA Medical Center.
North Carolina Homecoming Video Reveals Afghanistan Soldier’s “Proudest Moment.” NBC Nightly News When US Marine Staff Sergeant Jeremy Cooney left for Afghanistan, his “son Michael, who has cerebral palsy could not walk, but he learned how to while his dad was away and this is how he welcomed his dad back home.” CBS Evening News “Doctors once said Michael would never walk, but while the sergeant was away, his wife Melissa and their three other children taught him to stand up on his own and take his first steps. They kept it all secret from his dad until he returned” to North Carolina. Cooney’s wife recently posted the posted the video from December homecoming online. Sergeant Cooney was shown saying, “It’s just one of the most proudest moments of my life.”
GHSU Graduate, Iraq Veteran Earns Award For Compassion. Augusta (GA) Chronicle “As a soldier in Iraq, Dr. Catherine Mary ‘Katie’ Cook encountered death and oversaw the respectful handling of the remains of the fallen”; and it was her “dignified treatment of dying patients that helped her earn the top award for compassionate care” from Georgia Health Sciences University Friday during graduation ceremonies. Cook impressed Surgical Critical Care Fellow Steven B. Holsten and “others with her compassionate care during a surgery clerkship at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center and during a rotation in the Intensive Care Unit at Medical College of Georgia Hospital.” Cook was deployed to Iraq in “December 2002 and served in a combat support medical company, where she earned a Bronze Star.”
Congress To Consider Bill Adding FDR Prayer To WWII Memorial. Christian Post Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio introduced bill last week that would “add a display of the prayer that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued for the D-Day invasion of World War II” to the National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. A House version of the measure sponsored by Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio already passed 386 to 26.
Firm Teaches Employers How To Hire Veterans. Austin (TX) Business Journal