Veterans News for December 15, 2016

Veterans News and Events for December 15, 2016


Defense News Early Bird Brief for Wednesday, December 14, 2016.



Defense News Early Bird Brief for Tuesday, December 13, 2016.



Federal Register – R.E. Veterans Affairs Issues.  Recommend you fellow Veterans visit this site should you want to stay abreast of what is what in terms of pending policy and changes to existing policy.  Please pass it along.



Stars and Stripes Donald Trump is under pressure to keep Obama’s VA secretary.  President-elect Donald Trump has come under intense pressure from powerful veterans organizations to keep current Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald in the job amid increasing opposition to the leading candidates to replace him in the new administration.



The Huffington Post: Donald Trump Under Pressure to Keep Obama’s VA Secretary, Veterans groups say the names Trump has put forward are non-starters.  Veterans groups are pressuring President-elect Donald Trump to keep President Barack Obama’s secretary of Veterans Affairs, saying there are serious concerns with the names he has put forward as his own choices. On Friday, six veterans organizations ― the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Vietnam Veterans of America and American Veterans, or Amvets…



The New York Times: Veterans Groups Urge Trump to Keep Obama’s VA Secretary.  The nation’s largest veterans groups are urging President-elect Donald J. Trump to keep President Obama’s secretary of veterans affairs, Robert A. McDonald, out of concern that his rumored candidates’ inexperience and ideological leanings could cripple the massive veterans health care system. On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump was relentless in his criticism of the Department of Veterans Affairs, calling it “the most corrupt agency in the United States.”



Stars and Stripes  Top veterans groups talk about seeking an in-person discussion with Trump.  The country’s six largest veterans service organizations discussed Tuesday making an appeal to President-elect Donald Trump for an in-person meeting to talk about veterans issues.



Reserve Officers Association (ROA) SmartBrief for Wednesday, December 14, 2016.



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



DOD Contracts Awarded on Wednesday, December 14, 2016.



DOD Contracts Awarded on Tuesday, December 13, 2016.



A Variety of Veterans News from a Variety of Sources.


AMSUS: How to care for warriors who used to be woundedFor many back home from the battlefield, the wounds are right there in the open: the amputated leg, the mangled hand. But some of those who were injured don’t still see themselves as wounded warriors.  “I was a warrior, and I was wounded, but I’m not continuing to be wounded,” said retired Army Col. Greg Gadson, who lost both legs to an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2007.


CNN   China’s defense spending to double to $233 billionThe call put to an end the long-running — and very public — courtship between two men who were at some points diametrically opposed, and at others harshly critical, of one another during the 2016 campaign.


The Hill   Dem senator seeks analysis of Pentagon waste reportDemocratic member of the Senate Armed Services Committee is calling on the Pentagon to develop a cost-savings plan following allegations that it tried to hide a study that identified $125 billion in waste.


Army Times   3-star: New ‘Ready Force X’ will help the Army Reserve deploy quickly when needed.  The Army Reserve is working to build a force that can deploy on short notice to respond to contingencies when needed, the top general for the component said.


Breaking Defense   MUX By 2026: Marines Want Armed Drone ASAP To Escort V-22When V-22 Ospreys full of Marines take to the skies 10 years from now, they could be escorted by armed high-speed drones called MUX.   Navy’s Top Doc Revamping Military MedicineNearly a year into his job as the Navy’s top doc, Vice Adm. C. Forrest Faison III wants to make wide-ranging reforms designed to better heal millions of sailors, Marines, military retirees and their families.


Flightglobal   Air Force study finds operational lasers for AC-130 demo.  Solid-state slab lasers have already evolved to a point of maturity where they could soon be demonstrated on an Air Force Special Operations AC-130 gunship, a US Air Force study finds.


Daily Caller   Agreeing On What’s Best For Veterans.  There’s a national consensus that veteran health care needs fixing. Now lawmakers have the chance to deliver the quality care and timely benefits our veterans deserve.


Military Times: Congress passes slimmed-down Veterans reform bill.  Lawmakers passed a veterans omnibus bill in the waning hours of Congress’ legislative session last week, but without many of the most sweeping and controversial provisions the two chambers had struggled with in recent months. Instead, the measure heading to the president’s desk is a collection of mostly non-controversial items, including small changes in the benefits appeals process, an extension of education benefits to some war widows and increased access to benefits for homeless veterans.


The Wall Street Journal: Veterans Groups Urge Donald Trump to Keep Current VA Secretary, Six groups send a letter seeking a meeting with the president-elect.  Several national veterans advocacy organizations are urging Donald Trump to reappoint Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald, while, separately, the six most prominent groups sent a letter Tuesday seeking a face-to-face meeting with the president-elect to discuss the future of veterans programs. The VA post is one of last cabinet positions still open in the incoming administration, and veterans groups are watching anxiously for signs of Mr. Trump’s policies on veterans affairs…


Task & Purpose: Trump Makes Time for Kanye West, But Not Veterans Groups.  President-elect Donald Trump met with rapper Kanye West, but hasn’t faced veterans yet.  Rapper and fashion designer Kanye West was seen entering Trump Tower in New York City on Dec. 13 for a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump. After a 15-minute encounter, the pair posed for a photo and West went on his way while Trump wished him well.


The New York Times (AP): FBI Looks Into Congress’ Claims VA Lied About Hospital Costs.  The Justice Department is considering whether to investigate allegations that Veterans Affairs Department executives lied to Congress to conceal massive cost overruns at a $1.7 billion VA hospital under construction outside Denver. The FBI’s Washington field office is reviewing the allegations, the Justice Department said in a letter to Congress. The letter was dated Dec. 9 and made public Tuesday.


KNXV (ABC-15, Video): VA working on lingering problems at Phoenix hospital.  The top 30 managers at Phoenix’s VA medical center hashed out lingering problems in a “working session” with the VA’s deputy secretary Tuesday. Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson has taken a personal interest in assisting the Phoenix hospital as it recovers from a patient wait time scandal. “We’re going to get a lot better here,” Gibson said.


KJZZ (NPR-91.5, Audio): VA Officials Hold Open House in Phoenix.  The Phoenix Veterans Affairs medical center hosted an open house for veterans and their families today help them get the word out about new agency initiatives and talk about challenges they’ve encountered at the facility. VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson and new Phoenix Medical Center director Rima Nelson were among those in attendance.


Forbes: Nurse Practitioners Win Direct Access to VA Patients.  In a victory for the nation’s nurse practitioners, the Department of Veterans Affairs is granting veterans direct access to advanced practice registered nurses. The final regulations come at a critical time for nurse practitioners, which have doubled to more than 200,000 in the last decade and are looking to expand their ability to care for patients across the country.


MedPage Today: Nurse Anesthetists Left Out of new Policy, NPs, other advance practice RNs given authority.  Nurse anesthetists will not be able to independently administer anesthesia — at least as of now — in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities under a final rule issued Tuesday that scaled back an earlier proposal. “The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is amending its medical regulations to permit full practice authority of three roles of VA advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) when they are acting within the scope of their VA employment…


Modern Healthcare: VA finalizes rule that expands scope of nurse practice.  The Veteran Affairs Department has finalized a rule that will allow advanced-practice registered nurses to practice to their full authority at VA facilities, however the new permission will not expand to certified registered nurse anesthetists following lobbying from anesthesiologists. The change has long been debated at the VA and in Congress but is opposed by the American Medical Association, which immediately slammed the rule after its release Tuesday.


Reuters: Telemedicine for PTSD no less effective than in-person therapy.  Veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who have difficulties making it to in-person therapy sessions may be able to get treatment that’s just as good by videoconference. Researchers compared home-delivered prolonged exposure therapy – which helps patients confront memories and situations that trigger their symptoms – to the same treatment given in U.S. Veterans Affairs clinics, and found no difference in effectiveness.


Tampa Bay Times: VA now says it fired two after Veteran’s body was left in shower nine hours.  Two staff members were fired, officials now say, for their role in leaving a veteran’s body unattended more than nine hours in a shower room at the hospice unit of the Bay Pines VA Health Care System. Last week, Bay Pines officials would not provide specifics of any disciplinary action taken as a result of their internal investigation into the Feb. 1 incident.


Stars and Stripes (AP): 2 fired after body was left in shower at VA hospital in Florida.  Two staff members were fired for their role in leaving a veteran’s body unattended more than nine hours in a shower room at the hospice unit of the Bay Pines VA Health Care System. VA facility left dead veteran’s body unattended in shower for 9 hours, report says. The Tampa Bay Times reports Bay Pines released details of the firing and the incident on Tuesday.


Rapid City Journal: Congressional’ s meet with VA Sec. McDonald, encourage ‘careful consideration’.  South Dakota’s Congressional delegation – U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and John Thune (R-S.D.), and Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) – followed through with their promise to meet with Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald following his Nov. 30 visit to Hot Springs’s Battle Mountain VA facility.


Insider Higher Ed: Bill Aims to Improve Veterans’ Career Readiness, Spending bill contains provision aimed at blocking Veterans from attending institutions where path to a job isn’t assured.  Last week’s U.S. Senate-approved spending bill contained a provision that seeks to block student veterans from using their GI Bill benefits on career programs that won’t help them land a job. The Career Ready Student Veterans Act, which was attached to the continuing resolution to fund the government through April 28


KGWN (CBS-5, Video): Funding opportunity for partners working to end homelessness.  Building on President Obama’s commitment to end Veteran homelessness, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is announcing the availability of funding for non-profit organizations and other groups that serve Veterans through VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. The SSVF program assists very low-income Veteran families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. These SSVF grants are available to current grantees seeking renewals and make new funding available for eight high-need communities.


Orlando Sentinel: Man detained after shooting at VA clinic in the Villages.  A man was taken into custody this morning after a reported shooting at a Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic at The Villages, said an FBI spokeswoman. Stephen Cometa was charged with forcible assault of a federal employee and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence after walking into the building and firing his AR-15 rifle.


The Town Talk: Ball man guilty of stealing VA benefits.  A federal jury deliberated for 20 minutes before finding a Ball man guilty of stealing more than $100,000 in Veterans Affairs benefits, according to a release. Tracy Marler, 51, was found guilty of one count of theft of government property in the trial before U.S. District Judge Dee Drell that began Monday and ended Tuesday.


VA Deputy Secretary highlights successes, vision to improve care as AMSUS 2016 concludesDeputy Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) Sloan D. Gibson understands the challenges his department faces. Being the largest health care system in the U.S., the manner in which care is delivered is expected to be the very best. And if that doesn’t happen, scrutiny can be intense.


Stars and Stripes Trump’s criticism of Russia hacking claim could haunt him .  Donald Trump held firm Monday to his skepticism of the huge intelligence apparatus he’s about to inherit, doubting anew the CIA conclusion that Russia tried to hack its way into tipping the U.S. election his way.
The Hill   Trump transition team reviewing military rules of engagement.  President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team at the Pentagon is looking into loosening the rules of engagement for troops fighting overseas, according to a report.


Defense News   Trump Proposes Lifetime Ban on Defense Firms Hiring DoD Contracting OfficialsPresident-elect Donald Trump has put forth the idea of banning the defense industry from hiring former Pentagon contracting officials, just days after creating a stir in the defense industry by saying Boeing’s contract for an Air Force One replacement should be cancelled.


Stars and Stripes Trump takes aim at Pentagon’s ‘revolving door,’ $400B F-35 program.  President-elect Donald Trump is vowing to corral the “out of control” cost of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. But congressional Republicans and Democrats, aware of the tens of thousands of jobs the aircraft generates in 45 states, will be wary of any plans by Trump to cut the program.


The Hill Democrats unnerved by Trump’s reliance on generals.  Democrats are growing uneasy with the number of generals President-elect Donald Trump has tapped for his administration, citing concerns about the amount of sway the military will have in the government.


Military Times   Philippines curtails military exercises with U.S..  For the first time in 34 years, the U.S. and Philippines will not hold the annual amphibious joint exercise PHIBLEX in 2017, the latest sign of strain in the two countries’ relationship since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was elected in May.


Defense News Defense, Navy Secretaries Spar Over BudgetThe terms in office of Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus might be nearing their ends, but the two are exchanging a final series of pot shots as the federal budget preparation season reaches its climax. Carter, in the view of many, is preparing a fiscal 2018 defense budget built around cost restrictions imposed by the Budget Control Act — commonly known as sequestration — while Mabus is defiantly submitting a Navy budget anticipating the lifting of those restrictions as the Trump administration takes over in January.


Nextbigfuture   US Congressional report warns that China is getting even better at stealing US military technology and secrets. US intelligence agencies determined that several years ago China stole secrets relating to the F-35 jet fighter from a US contractor. The design secrets were detected in China’s new J-20 stealth fighter and the J-31.


Army Times   New Army rules set the stage for NCO promotions surgeNoncommissioned officers across the Army can expect a surge in promotions over the next few years as the Army’s new NCO professional development system falls into place.


Breaking Defense The Marine Corps Is Looking For A Few Good Nerds: Gen. Neller What’s on General Robert Neller‘s Christmas list? Cyber specialists, electronic warfare troops, intelligence analysts, targeteers, engineers, anti-aircraft troops, and artillerymen with anti-ship missiles.


Navy Times   Navy’s top officer admits he misjudged backlash before dumping ratings The Navy’s leaders underestimated the backlash from eliminating job titles, the service’s top officer acknowledged recently, but vowed to learn from the error as the service implements wide ranging changes to the training and advancement system.


Defense News   Air Force Eyes Congressional Waiver From Fixed-Price Deal on JSTARSThe Air Force hopes to release a final request for proposals for JSTARS replacement aircraft by the end of the year, but that is becoming increasingly unlikely as the service weighs whether to move forward with changes to its contract strategy that could push fielding further into the future, the service’s top civilian said.


WFED (AM-1500): 5 Federal workforce bills the Senate passed this weekend.  Though a far cry from the omnibus that the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee pushed, the chamber passed a series of bills that make small changes to veterans health care and benefits. The Jeff Miller and Richard Blumenthal Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act streamlines portions of the disability compensation and benefits process and adds two more judges who can make decisions in the often archaic and lengthy appeals process. 5 Things to Start Your Week.  Will President-elect Donald Trump keep VA Secretary Bob McDonald on the job? The biggest vets groups hope so, according to an article by Leo Shane, a reporter for Military Times. He reported the idea surfaced during a Fridaymeeting between officials from the Trump transition team and the “big six” veterans service organizations, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and American Veterans.


ExecutiveGov: Bob McDonald Expects Next VA Secretary to Build on His Work.  Bob McDonald, outgoing secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, has said he expects the next VA chief to build on his current work at the department, Military Times reported Monday. Leo Shane III writes President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to revamp the way VA operates in an effort to make the department behave more like a private business under his administration.


USA Today: The VA is consistently looking to improve: Robert McDonald & Sloan Gibson.  For more than a month we have been working with USA TODAY on a story looking at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ internal quality improvement tool called Strategic Analytics for Improvement and Learning (SAIL) and the rankings it uses to help our facilities improve. The story “Internal documents detail secret VA quality ratings” completely missed the point of this improvement process and serves only to mislead veterans and all Americans.


KVOA (NBC-4, Video): VA Deputy Secretary visits Tucson.  Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson took a tour of the Tucson VA on Monday. During the tour he promised that his office would continue to try and reduce wait times by adding new staff, standardizing scheduling and implementing a new same day care program. “We just need have to make sure that we can do that consistently every single time and not have veterans fall through the cracks,” said Gibson.


Tucson News Now (Video): VA leader visits Tucson VA to see what works and what still needs work.  The new Veterans Affairs leadership has been addressing the national scandal that rocked the VA. In line with that, the number-two man at the VA paid a visit to Tucson Monday to hear from patients and staff. Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson said he was impressed with some things here at the Tucson VA…


Tucson Daily Star: Hospital services in Tucson will improve, VA deputy chief says.  The second in command at the Department of Veterans Affairs says he’ll hold staffers at the Southern VA Health Care System in Tucson accountable for alleged falsification of patient wait-time records that surfaced in a recent report. But the broader remedy is to improve scheduling and staffing issues, Deputy Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson said during a visit to the Tucson VA hospital on Monday. VA Secretary: No VA Hospital is Bad.  The past couple of years have exposed horror after horror in our nation’s Veterans Affairs clinics. Most recently, we learned that a dentist in the Tomah, Wisconsin VA accidentally infected hundreds of patients with HIV. Katie wrote up another disturbing piece of news today that VA employees left the body of a deceased veteran in a shower for 9 hours.


The San Diego Union-Tribune: Veterans Affairs’ defense of secrecy is no defense at all.  USA Today’s report last week that the Department of Veterans Affairs had a secret internal evaluation program in which various facets of VA health networks were graded on a 1-to-5 scale drew strong pushback from the department. It said the newspaper’s coverage didn’t acknowledge that the grades were “relative” and didn’t make clear that hospitals with scores of 1 weren’t “bad or failing.” VA Drug Price to Change Jan 1.  Prescription drugs received through the Department of Veterans Affairs for non-service connected conditions could cost many veterans less under a new rule that kicks in Jan. 1. Currently, the VA charges veterans who do not qualify for free health care $8 or $9 for a 30-day or less drug supply, depending on their category. Those costs were set to increase over time based on a Medical Consumer Price Index calculation.


American Journal of Managed Care: What We’re Reading: Risk of Unsafe Prescribing for Dual Users of VA and Medicare.  A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine examined the risk of unsafe medication prescribing for veterans with dementia receiving care from the Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system, some of whom also used Medicare Part D. The dual VA-Medicare users had more than double the odds of exposure to any potentially unsafe medication, with an adjusted average of 44.1 additional days of exposure compared to the VA-only users.


Military Times   Sleep problems persist after PTSD treatment, study of active troops finds.   Sleep disturbance is one of the most common issues individuals with PTSD face. Specifically, insomnia and nightmares plague the vast majority of those struggling with the disorder.


Federal Computer Week: IG: VA wasted more than $7M in poorly-planned tech refresh.  Technology buyers at the Department of Veterans Affairs wasted more than $7 million in hardware and software licenses in an uncoordinated tech refresh, according to the agency’s internal watchdog. The finding grew out of a 2015 complaint alleging that the VA’s Office of Information and Technology was paying for redundant Windows enterprise licenses.



POLITICO Morning Defense for Wednesday, December 14, 2016. A Daily Briefing from Inside Washington’s National Security.



POLITICO Morning Defense for Tuesday, December 13, 2016. A Daily Briefing from Inside Washington’s National Security.



Your 6:00 am GovConWire – Top News from Executive Mosaic.



Your 12:00 pm Daily ExecutiveBiz Headlines.



Your 5:00 pm Daily ExecutiveBiz Headlines.







American Legion Post 328, Southfield, Michigan Listing of Current Events in and around the Metro Detroit Area for and about Veterans, for the period December 15, 2016 – January 15, 2017



Schedule of Training Events for Virginia Department of Veterans Services, Virginia Values Veterans V3 Program for the period December 15, 2016 to January 6, 2017.



Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation – List of Job Fairs. Updated every quarter.  Sent in by our fellow Veteran,  Jorge Cruz, Maryland, DLLR, U.S. Army (Ret).



Updated List of 2016-2017 Job ZONE Job Fairs for DC, MD, VA area.  Sent in by our friend Janet Giles, President/CEO, Job ZONE.



Updated Federal Business Council (FBC) List of Conferences and Events for Period November 2016 to May 2017:  Lot of events going on.



National Veteran Small Business Coalition (NVSBC) Wednesday, December 14, 2016, DC Metro Chapter Dinner Meeting.   4:00 PM to 8:30 PM, Arlington, VA.   For more information and to register please go here:



Student Veterans of America National Conference. January 5 through 7, 2017. Join your peers in January 2017, when more than 1,500 leaders in the student veteran  community convene at the beautiful Disneyland® Hotel and Resort in Anaheim, California.  Register today:    SVA was founded in 2008, as a grassroots, chapter-based organization that unites veterans, military family members, and civilians to support veterans’ success in higher education and beyond.