Veterans News for December 12, 2016

Veterans News for December 12, 2016 


Defense News Early Bird Brief for Friday, December 9, 2016.



Defense News Early Bird Brief for Thursday, December 8, 2016.



VA VHA National Center for PTSD Monthly Update for December 2016.



VA Response to USA TODAY Article of December 7.



Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs News and Announcements for December 9, 2016.



Reserve Officers Association (ROA) SmartBrief for Friday, December 9, 2016.



National Association for Uniformed Services (NAUS) Weekly Update for December 9, 2016.



December 2016, Military, Veterans and Patriotic Events in Central Florida.  Please see attached pdf.  Compiled and sent in by Ms. Cathy Haynes, a devoted Veterans Advocate.  Thanks Cathy!



Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) – “The Evening CSIS” – Presented by H. Andrew Schwartz, CSIS Chief Communication Officer.

Please take a close look at CSIS.   Great organization!



Piliero/Mazza, PLLC, Attorneys At Law – Weekly Report for December 9, 2016.  Relative information in here for we Veterans doing business with the U. S. federal government.



DOD Contracts Awarded on Friday, December 9, 2016.



DOD Contracts Awarded on Thursday, December 8, 2016.



A Variety of Veterans News from a Variety of Sources.


DOD Brain Injury Center Launches Podcast for Military Family Caregivers:   Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) launches a new podcast for family caregivers of service members and veterans with traumatic brain injuries today. The podcast, called “The TBI Family,” will focus on providing information about TBI, sharing resources for caregivers and telling caregiver stories.   According to a recent study by Rand Corp., there are 5.5 million military family caregivers in the United States and 29 percent of them are helping someone who experienced a TBI. The study found that the term “family caregiver” can be misleading as well. Nearly a quarter of military caregivers are friends and neighbors.   DVBIC serves active-duty military, their beneficiaries, and veterans with traumatic brain injury through state-of-the-science clinical care, innovative clinical research initiatives and educational programs, and support for force health protection services. Please visit the DVBIC website for more information.


Stars and Stripes John Glenn, 1st US astronaut to orbit Earth, remembered as all-American hero.  John Glenn, whose 1962 flight as the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth made him an all-American hero and propelled him to a long career in the U.S. Senate, died Thursday. The last survivor of the original Mercury 7 astronauts was 95.


Stars and Stripes  Defense bill with troop pay raise headed to Obama.  The Senate overwhelmingly passed the annual National Defense Authorization Act with the 2.1-percent raise and measures to add troops and halt an Army drawdown. Last week, the House passed the bill, which sets defense policy for 2017.


Military Times  Survey: High operational tempo still affecting military familiesThe high operational tempo continues to tear at the fabric of many military families’ lives despite the drawdowns from Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a new report based on a survey of active-duty service members, veterans and spouses.


Associated Press   Military to review how misconduct cases handled.   Military leaders are trying to fix the lengthy, inconsistent process for investigating senior officers accused of misconduct.


Navy Times   The Pentagon told the Navy to cut $17B from its budget; the Navy said no.  The Navy is digging in its heels and rejecting billions in cuts from its 2018 budget as infighting has hit a boiling point at the Pentagon.


Defense News  Army Chief Supports Continuing DIUx Into Next Administration.  The Army’s top officer believes the Pentagon’s reach out to the commercial tech community should continue, a major endorsement as the Pentagon prepares to transition to the administration of president-elect Donald Trump.


Defense News  Army Debating Suitable Aircraft For Future Attack Mission.  The Army has a long road ahead as it carves a path to buy a new family of helicopters in the 2030s, and much still needs to be decided including what type of aircraft it wants for the attack mission, according to the Army’s Future Vertical Lift program office director.


Marine Corps Times  Top Marine: Corps can add 12,000 Marines per Trump’s plan.  The Marine Corps’ top general said it is possible to increase the size of the Corps by nearly 12,000 Marines, as President-elect Donald Trump has called for, but he cautioned that the expansion shouldn’t happen too quickly.


Navy Times   Surgeon general: Navy Medicine ready to assist transgender sailors, Marines The top medical officer for the Navy and Marine Corps said his organization is poised to help service members navigate gender transition.


Stars and Stripes  Navy: ‘Midshipman’ title at US Naval Academy will not change.  “Midshipman” will not change because it’s a rank according to U.S. law, Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter said this week. He added that officials only looked at changing the name “very briefly.”


Air Force Times   Five Guard bases in the running to house F-35As.  The Air Force has whittled its list of potential Air National Guard bases that could host F-35A operations from 18 down to five.


Military Times   California Guard officials acknowledge bonus scandal hurt military’s reputation.  California National Guard officials acknowledged their moves to recoup decade-old bonuses from troops has hurt public faith in their operations, but they believe military leaders are on the right path to fixing the problem.


Omaha World-Herald   Offutt is ground zero in effort to identify 429 who died aboard USS Oklahoma.  One by one, the boys of the ill-fated battleship USS Oklahoma finally are coming home.


WXIA (NBC-11, Video): Congress passes Fairness for Veterans Act.  Inside the massive defense spending bill Congress passed Thursday, is small provision that could change the fate of tens-of-thousands of service men and women currently denied access to medical care. The Fairness for Veterans Act is featured in the TEGNA investigative docu-series, Charlie Foxtrot. The bill requires military discharge review boards to consider post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.


Forbes: For VA Secretary, Pete Hegseth Would Be A Grand Slam Pick By Donald Trump.  Last week, Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg reported that Pete Hegseth, the founder of Concerned Veterans for America, was being considered by President-Elect Donald Trump for the cabinet position of Secretary of Veterans Affairs. While Trump’s cabinet picks have routinely exceeded expectations, picking Hegseth would achieve something rarer: the nomination of the single best qualified person to lead the VA.


ExecutiveGov: Thomas Murphy to Be Nominated VA Under Secretary for Benefits.  President Barack Obama intends to nominate Thomas Murphy, principal deputy undersecretary for benefits at the Department of Veteran Affairs, as VA undersecretary for benefits, the White House announced Tuesday. Murphy concurrently performs the duties of the undersecretary for benefits and oversees more than 20,000 Veterans Benefits Administration employees who provide non-medical benefits services to former military personnel.


ExecutiveBiz: Helps Implement Online Veterans Healthcare Management Tools.  The Department of Veterans Affairs has implemented tools from small business in the agency’s online portal designed to help veterans manage their healthcare and benefits electronically. VA said Wednesday that has met the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Level of Assurance 3 standard for information assurance to provide additional features on a single site.


FedScoop: Veterans get secure single sign-on for benefits, the VA says it’s the first federal agency with NIST’s Level of Assurance 3.  Veterans can now access and manage their health care and benefits more easily and securely online through a single sign-on on the website, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced this week. The portal, operated through an API from veteran-owned digital identity-management company, meets the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Level of Assurance 3…


MeriTalk: VA Launches New Site for Digital Health Platform.  The Department of Veterans Affairs this week launched a new website to raise awareness of the agency’s Digital Health Platform–a cloud-based approach to integrating veterans health data to produce what the agency calls real-time, analytics-driven, personalized care. The new site provides a detailed overview of how the DHP will work, the emerging technologies it will leverage, and provides user case studies to show how veterans will benefit from a comprehensive dashboard that can enable customized care.


The Arizona Republic (Video, Audio): Sen Jeff Flake pushes bill to fire VA employees with felony convictions.  Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., announced Thursday that he has introduced legislation that would force the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire employees with felony convictions. The bill, dubbed the Clean Up the Department of Veterans Affairs Act, also would mandate termination for VA employees whose medical licenses have been suspended or revoked.


WWBT (NBC-12, Video): Union president calls for federal investigation of McGuire VA.  A Union president is calling for a federal investigation of McGuire VA Medical Center. She says the hospital did not immediately fire its Assistant Chief of Pharmacy even though his license was suspended for fraudulently filling prescriptions. Did the delay jeopardize the care of the veterans it serves? Your Move, Senate: House Already Passed Legislation Allowing for Swift Firing of Bad VA Employees.  We’ve seen infinite wait times result in thousands of veteran deaths, bodies left in morgues for months, roaches crawling across hospital room floors and suicide hotlines going unanswered. Just last week we learned a VA dentist in Wisconsin allegedly infected nearly 600 veterans with HIV and other deadly diseases after repeatedly ignoring protocol and using dirty utensils. Instead of being fired, the dentist was moved into an administrative position.


Stars and Stripes: Vets group blasts ‘secret’ VA ratings system.  A veterans group has blasted the Department of Veterans Affairs over leaked internal documents showing dozens of medical facilities performing at below-average levels. USA Today obtained the documents and published them Wednesday, revealing the secret system. The VA had previously refused to make the ratings public, claiming the system is for internal use only. It rates each of the VA’s medical centers on a scale of one to five, with one being the worst. (Under the Radar): Sound Off: Should the US Privatize the VA?  Everyone knows that Department of Veterans Affairs medical care needs a lot of improvement. Thousands of veterans can’t get care as quickly as they need it and then there are the really disheartening administrative disasters at VA hospitals like the recent one at the Tomah VA Hospital in Wisconsin or the 2014 scandal at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Phoenix.


Courier-Journal: VA extends comment period, cites ‘controversy’.  Responding to citizens’ requests, Veterans Affairs officials have extended the public comment period for 30 days until Jan. 11 on a controversial Draft Environmental Impact Statement about possible sites for a new Louisville VA medical center. A petition had been submitted requesting a 60-day extension of the deadline, which had been Monday, Dec. 12.  But a VA statement emailed Thursday cited “controversy surrounding the preferred alternative” site…


U.S. News & World Report: More Veterans Use GI Bill Benefits to Study Overseas, Post-9/11 Bill benefits help pay for Veterans or their family members to study at global universities.  From the Philippines to Iceland, an increasing number of U.S. military veterans are heading overseas to complete degrees at global universities, thanks to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Many veterans say appealing aspects of studying at an overseas college include learning another language and receiving cheaper tuition, thanks in part to the exchange rate.


The Baltimore Sun: VA delays leave Maryland on the hook for $2.7M to bury Veterans, audit finds.  Delays in dispersing money at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs left Maryland on the hook for $2.7 million in costs for burying veterans, state auditors found. Some of the federal payouts were delayed more than three years, the Office of Legislative Audits said in a report published Thursday. The VA is in the process of paying the state back.


The Times-Picayune: Mandeville man sentenced to 9 months for theft of VA benefits.  A Mandeville man was sentenced Thursday(Dec. 8) to nine months in prison for his involvement in a scheme to fraudulently obtain benefits from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. Ricky P. Templet, 54, was also ordered to pay $16,760 in restitution to the VA and must report to Northlake Behavioral Hospital for drug treatment within 24 hours of his release from prison, authorities said.


Muskogee Phoenix: Muskogee man sentenced for theft of government funds.  A Muskogee man was sentenced in federal court for theft of government funds, states a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Enrique Gonzalez, also known as Henry Gonzalez, 44, was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $39,606.76 restitution to the Department of Veterans Affairs.


WLUC (NBC-6): American Legion Auxiliary hosts holiday gift shop for VA patients.  Santa’s helpers from the American Legion Auxiliary chapters from Iron Mountain, Iron River, Menominee, and Pawpaw, Mich. and Wausaukee and Loomis, Wis. joined together to host their annual Holiday Gift Shop for Veterans at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain.


myVA: Vet Centers  Vet Centers provide a wide range of counseling services to Veterans across the country at one of over 300 locations or a mobile unit near you.


Stars and Stripes   Ceremony bids hearty thanks to the few remaining survivors from Pearl Harbor attack.  For some of these veterans, it was their first time to return to Hawaii in 75 years. For many – the youngest in their mid-90s, a few more than a century old – it will likely be the last time they return to Pearl Harbor, the scene of one of America’s greatest military disasters.


Defense News   Trump Taps Mattis for Defense Secretary and GOP Eases His Path to ConfirmationPresident-elect Donald Trump, vowing to rebuild a “depleted” military and exercise restraint in using it, officially announced retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as his pick for defense secretary on Tuesday evening.


Military Times    Democrats like Mattis, but they won’t rubber stamp him to be Trump’s defense secretary.  James Mattis, a popular former Marine Corps four-star general tapped by President-elect Donald Trump to lead his Pentagon, needs a congressional waiver to get around federal rules mandating a seven-year gap between military service and taking over the defense secretary post.


Stars and Stripes   Retired Marine Gen. John Kelly picked to head Homeland Security.  President-elect Donald Trump has chosen retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly to run the Department of Homeland Security, turning to a blunt-spoken border security hawk who clashed with the Obama administration over women in combat and plans to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, according to people familiar with the decision.


Associated Press  Trump plans to attend Army-Navy game.   Transition officials said that Trump will sit on Navy’s side of the field for one half of the game, and on Army’s side for the other.


Military Times   In farewell to troops, Obama urges restraint in using military force.  In what was effectively his farewell speech as commander in chief, President Barack Obama had a simple message for troops assembled at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida: Thank you, your sacrifice made a difference.


Military Times   Lawmakers oppose request to pardon POW Bowe BergdahlMembers of Congress are pushing back against a presidential pardon request by controversial former prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl, calling it the wrong message to send to the military and the country.


Associated Press   Carter: U.S. to return Okinawa land to Japanese government.  The giveback, to be completed by Dec. 22, has been in the works for 20 years and is the largest by U.S. forces in Japan since the U.S. returned control of Okinawa in 1972.


Military Times   Pilot program will put military medical clinics in commissaries.  Troops might be able to combine grocery shopping with medical treatment, if the Navy’s planned test of putting medical clinics in some commissaries is successful.


Associated Press  Court filing: In Army’s eyes, Chelsea Manning is still a man.   A military prison psychologist is refusing to recommend that Chelsea Manning’s gender be officially changed to female in her Army employee-benefits file.


Marine Corps Times   Marine major who warned of danger before insider attack wins court caseA federal judge has overturned a Marine Corps decision to discharge Marine Maj. Jason Brezler, who was accused of mishandling classified information after he warned Marines in Afghanistan about an Afghan police chief days before a deadly insider attack in August 2012.


Stars and Stripes   Neller: Marines will review women-in-combat integration if requested by Trump.  The Pentagon’s decision to integrate women into combat positions will be reviewed if requested by President-elect Donald Trump, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said Wednesday.


San Diego Union-Tribune   Navy’s high-tech destroyer Zumwalt arrives Thursday.   The Navy’s $4 billion guided-missile destroyer Zumwalt is slated to dock in San Diego on Thursday morning, following a slew of mechanical glitches that sidelined it for weeks in Virginia and Panama.


Air Force Times   Nearly 500 tapped to become squadron commandersThe Air Force announced Tuesday it has selected 492 officers from more than 20 career fields to become squadron commanders in 2017.


Stars and Stripes   Survey: Demands on troops, families ‘unsustainable’.  Financial issues remain the top priority for military members and their families, but high operational tempo, increased time away from home and the impact on families have grown into key concerns — highlighting the changing nature of the U.S. military and the fight it faces, according to a survey released Wednesday.


The Hill: Senate is choosing bureaucrats over Veterans.  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are standing in the way of improving customer service for our nation’s veterans.  We introduced WINGMAN (H.R. 5166) in May of this year with broad bipartisan support – 137 of our colleagues in the House signed on as co-sponsors. The bill allows trained congressional caseworkers to check the status of a veteran’s claim and view relevant files within the VA’s claims system.


The Kansas City Star (Video): VA Medical Center employees comment on potential jobs cuts.  A retiring nurse and chief of staff at the V.A. Medical Center say job cuts could hurt patient care if president-elect Donald Trumps proposed hiring freeze were to be implemented.


USA Today (Video): Exclusive: Internal documents detail secret VA quality ratings.  The Department of Veterans Affairs has for years assigned star ratings for each of its medical centers based on the quality of care and service they provide, but the agency has repeatedly refused to make them public, saying they are meant for internal use only. USA TODAY has obtained internal documents detailing the ratings, and they show the lowest-performing medical centers are clustered in Texas and Tennessee.


The Hill: Docs revel secret VA facility ratings: report.  Internal documents from the Department of Veterans Affairs obtained by USA Today reveal secret quality ratings of 146 medical centers across the country, with some being ranked one out of five stars. According to a report published on Wednesday, the documents show that, as of June 30, some of the lowest-quality VA centers are located in Texas and Tennessee…


USA Today (Video): Has the VA improved? Internal data show it’s a mixed bag.  Since the 2014 crisis when President Obama tapped former Procter & Gamble CEO Bob McDonald to take over as Veterans Affairs secretary and overhaul the agency, there have been mixed results, according to internal documents obtained by USA TODAY. The VA provided additional statistics showing areas of improvement and decline during McDonald’s tenure.


Stars and Stripes   This vet couldn’t work without his service dog. So Lowe’s hired them both.  Clay Luthy’s bad knees have been operated on five times over the years, and they kept him from re-enlisting in the Air Force. But that’s why he has Charlotte, a 10-year-old golden retriever who also happens to be his co-worker at a Lowe’s store   VA Whistleblowers Credited With Preventing Patient Suicides.  Two counselors at the Phoenix, Ariz., veterans hospital who blew the whistle on lapsed suicide-prevention procedures prompted changes that are saving lives, the Office of Special Counsel said in letters to the White House and Congress.


Stars and Stripes   Vet, best-selling author and advocate found dead in Texas.  An Army veteran who overcame a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder to become a best-selling author and veterans advocate died over the weekend in El Paso.


KCCI (CBS-8, Video): VA launches same-day primary, mental health care.  A new program will offer same-day care to veterans across the country. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs said it is rolling out a new program called “MyVA Access” that will give veterans same-day access to primary care and mental health care when they need it. Veteran Curtis Gearhart, 32, committed suicide last month. Gearhart’s family said the father of two was seeking mental health services at the central Iowa VA.


Indianapolis Star: Environmentalists sure VA to save old forest.  A group of environmentalists filed an injunction and a temporary restraining order Wednesday against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in a last-ditch effort to preserve about 15 acres of old-growth forest slated to be razed for a national cemetery. The legal action, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, says the VA violated the National Environmental Policy Act by not looking for alternative locations…


Indianapolis Business Journal: Forest Alliance sues to stop Crown Hill cemetery project.  The controversy over the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ plans to develop a military cemetery with a series of above-ground columbariums on 15 wooded acres north of Crown Hill Cemetery has ended up in court. The Indiana Forest Alliance and several other plaintiffs on Wednesday morning filed a preliminary injunction in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Indiana to block progress on the project, citing violations of federal environmental law.


The Washington Times (AP): Lynn man sentenced for stealing dead neighbor’s VA benefits.  A Lynn man has been sentenced to a year of probation for stealing nearly $80,000 in federal veterans’ benefits that were erroneously sent to his dead neighbor. Prosecutors say 73-year-old John Ladd was sentenced Tuesday to spend the first six months of the probationary period in home confinement and was ordered to pay full restitution to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He pleaded guilty in August to stealing public money.


Entertainment Weekly (Video): Michelle Obama spotlights Veteran homelessness on Viceland’d Balls Deep.  During her time in the White House, Michelle Obama has been no stranger to TV appearances, having popped up on shows such as Billy on the Street and Parks and Recreation.