(Please Note: The Veterans News compiled and transmitted by Wayne M. Gatewood, Jr., USMC (Ret), does not endorse the views and/or facts presented, or any commercial products that may be advertised or available on external links. The presence of a link to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring of that site, or the views or privacy policies contained therein).
Scoop from our fellow Veteran and the Editor /Publisher of “VetLikeMe,” Hardy Stone. Thanks Hardy! A flurry of activity surrounding the VA and veterans has hit the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives already this year. Here’s a rundown: H.Res.198 — 115th Congress (2017-2018) Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 1259) to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the removal or demotion of employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs based on performance or misconduct, and for other purposes; providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 1367) to improve the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to hire and retain physicians and other employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes; and providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 1181) to amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify the conditions under which certain persons may be treated as adjudicated mentally incompetent for certain purposes. http://www.executivegov.com/2017/06/house-bill-seeks-to-increase-govcon-participation-of-veteran-owned-small-businesses/
A Variety of Veterans News from a Variety of Sources
Military Times US forces shoot down another Iranian drone in Syria. U.S. forces shot down an Iranian drone in southern Syria on Tuesday, the second such air-to-air encounter this month as opposing forces converge around a key American training garrison near the border with Jordan and Iraq.
Washington Post Trump’s pick for the No. 2 Pentagon job faces tough questions during confirmation hearing. President Trump’s choice to take the No. 2 job at the Pentagon had a rocky confirmation hearing Tuesday, with Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) at one point threatening to withhold his nomination from a vote and other lawmakers questioning how he will overcome his lack of experience in the Defense Department.
Agence France-Presse Top U.S. Navy commander in Japan over destroyer crash. The U.S. Navy’s top commander visited Japan Tuesday to meet with the grieving families of seven sailors killed in a weekend accident, as investigators continue their probe into the cause of the collision with a cargo ship.
Navy Times Investigation into Fitzgerald collision begins. As investigations begin into the collision that killed seven sailors from the destroyer Fitzgerald off the Japanese coast last week, the remains of the fallen crew members were slated to land at Dover Air Force Base Tuesday, Navy officials said.
Washington Examiner House moves to boost aircraft carrier fleet. The Navy would be able to buy aircraft carriers more quickly and increase its carrier fleet from 11 to 12 under 2018 budget plans being written by the House Armed Services Committee.
Washington Post A ceremonial key unlocks a chapter in a U.S. Coast Guard family’s history. Last week, Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan Schafler, the Coast Guard’s liaison to the District of Columbia, got an email from Gary Thomas, executive director of the Foundation for Coast Guard History. Gary and a colleague, John Kauza, like to scour online auction sites looking for Coast Guard memorabilia. At ShopGoodwill.com — which assembles the best stuff from Goodwill stores across the country — they had found a key to the city of Washington along with a set of Coast Guard uniform ribbons. They were thinking of placing a bid on it.
CBS News (Connectingvets.com, Video): State of VA: Wait times at facilities, opioid abuse, accountability & more. It’s a critical time for the Department of Veterans Affairs. “Having gone through what was our crisis in 2014, in clinical terms, it was a near-death experience,” VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin told CBS Radio’s Connecting Vets in a recent interview. “We have to watch the system very closely,” Shulkin said.
The Christian Science Monitor: The man looking to make the VA work – In a Washington stalled by partisan gridlock. At a Monitor-hosted breakfast with reporters on Tuesday, Shulkin compared the VA under the two presidents he has served. When he worked with former President Obama’s final Veterans secretary, Robert A. McDonald, “What I saw was improvement,” Shulkin said. “I firmly believe he was taking the organization in the right direction, and I could actually measure it and he could measure it.”
The Washington Post (AP): Shulkin: VA plans quicker action to stem employee drug theft. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said Tuesday the department was taking immediate steps to remove employees found to have stolen opioid and other drugs from VA medical centers, citing a flawed accountability process that has delayed disciplinary action. Shulkin said 300 out of the VA’s 1,500 pending cases of employee misconduct involve drug theft.
Herald-Mail: Ex-Chief of staff at Martinsburg VA center faces drug charges. The former chief of staff at the Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center is accused of fraudulently using patient information to acquire fentanyl. Dr. Daniel J. Bochicchio, 59, of Monkton, Md., was charged with 15 counts of acquiring fentanyl by misrepresentation, fraud, deception and subterfuge, according to court records. The June 6 indictment and Tuesday’s arrest of the anesthesiologist were announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Betsy Steinfeld Jividen.
The Washington Post (PowerPost): New VA law sets stage for government-wide cut in civil-service protections. Veterans have been on the vanguard protecting the nation — waging war and securing the peace. Now those who assist them are on the forefront, serving as guinea pigs testing major changes in civil-service procedures that protect federal employees and taxpayers. Coupled with earlier revisions in the Defense Department layoff process, the new legislation portends significant and across-the-board civil service changes for the federal workforce.
WFED (AM-1500): Why Shulkin believes new VA accountability law will ‘dramatically improve’ morale, recruitment. Within the first few months of David Shulkin’s tenure as the secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department, he’s made several big plays: the plan to redesign the Veterans Choice Program, the decision to abandon VistA and adopt the same commercial, off-the-shelf electronic health record as the Defense Department and a promise to close underutilized or vacant VA buildings.
Washington Examiner: VA Secretary Shulkin says reform needed for union official time. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said Tuesday that he wants to roll back his department’s widespread use of “official time,” the practice of paying workers to handle union matters instead of government work. But he said that reform will have to wait until existing union-management contracts with the VA run out.
The Hill: VA pledges action on 1,200 vacant, underused buildings. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin pledged on Tuesday that the department will demolish, hand off or properly assess more than 1,200 vacant or underused VA buildings within two years. Speaking to reporters at a roundtable, Shulkin said he has already made a decision on 142 buildings and will either destroy them or hand them back to the General Services Administration, an independent agency that helps manage and support the basic functions of government.
Military Times: VA plans to close 430 buildings, freeze VBA office space. Veterans Affairs officials plan to close at least 430 vacant buildings over the next two years and freeze new office space for Veterans Benefits Administration efforts as part of an effort to reduce the department’s footprint and save millions annually. The plan, previewed by VA Secretary David Shulkin at a reporter roundtable Tuesday morning, comes after two years of complaints from department officials…
Stars and Stripes: The VA plans to get rid of 430 buildings in the next two years. The Department of Veterans Affairs has started the process of disposing of or reusing 71 buildings nationwide, and the department plans to cut another 359 from its inventory in the next two years, the VA announced Tuesday. The facilities are either vacant or mostly vacant, according to a VA news release. Some of the buildings will be demolished, while others will be prepared for a different use.
Military Times: Vision for VA: Fewer maternity services and cancer docs, moe private care options. Future Veterans Affairs clinics could feature fewer maternity services, fewer cancer specialists and more reliance on private-sector clinics for routine or non-military care, under Secretary David Shulkin’s vision for the department. But he insists that doesn’t amount to privatization of VA’s responsibilities. “I am interested in building world-class services in things I know the veterans of this country must rely upon us for,” he told reporters at a roundtable event Tuesday morning.
Los Angeles Times: Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin plans integration for VA, private health sector services. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin said Tuesday he plans to evaluate ways the VA can integrate services with private health sectors based on geographic region. Shulkin, who served as the VA’s undersecretary during the Obama administration, said he does not support privatization of the department but wants to “build an integrated system” that minimizes overlap of services.
Military.com: VA Detail Proposed Changes to Caregiver Program. The Department of Veterans Affairs on Wednesday will unveil to a select group of veteran and military support organizations changes to a highly scrutinized program that pays family members to provide at-home care to severely injured troops after a review of the system was ordered in mid-April. The Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers currently pays a monthly stipend of up to $2,500 to caregivers of qualifying post-9/11 veterans…
Stars and Stripes: Advocates: ‘Unfair’ Veteran caregiver program should be expanded to older Vets. Jason Courneen was 23 years old when he became the primary caregiver for his wife, Alexis, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in the Coast Guard. At the time, he had a background in construction and no ties to the military, other than Alexis. With no outside help, he learned to navigate the Department of Veterans Affairs and coordinate Alexis’ medications and health care.
Health Data Management: Clinicians see conflicts in patient access to mental health notes. OpenNotes, the effort to provide patients with online access to their clinical notes through a portal, has gotten mixed reviews from Veterans Health Administration mental health clinicians who perceive it as both challenging and beneficial. Some clinicians view OpenNotes as an opportunity to better partner with patients, while others say they believe that it has the potential to undo their therapeutic relationships with patients, according to results of a recent study.
Task & Purpose: New report finds lack of Privacy in Female Veteran Health Care. In 2014, a study by the VA Inspector General found that 20.4% of community-based outpatient clinics run by the Veterans Health Administration failed to provide adequate privacy for female veterans. That number dropped to 14.3% in 2015, but still has a ways to go, according to a new report released June 19.
The American Journal of Managed Care: VA Pharmacy System Requires New Capabilities to Better Serve Veterans. A new report from the United States Government Accountability Office is calling for pharmacy systems to better serve veterans through additional capabilities for viewing, exchanging, and using data. According to the report, the Department of Veteran Affairs’ (VA) medical sites lack the capability for pharmacists to transfer prescriptions to other VA pharmacies, and does not allow the processing of prescription refills from other VA sites.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: VA Secretary: I believe World War II Vets’ claims of mustard gas exposure. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said Tuesday that he believes veterans who say they were harmed by mustard gas exposure during World War II but have had claims denied by the VA, and that he will work with Sen. Claire McCaskill on a remedy. “I think the government can and should do better than it has done on this issue,” said Shulkin…
Defense News McCain urges Trump administration for Afghanistan strategy. As the U.S. readies to send 4,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, Senate Armed Services Committee Chair John McCain hammered the Trump administration for failing to produce a strategy for America’s longest war.
Associated Press Witnesses describe Jordan shooting that killed 3 US troops. Three gate guards at a Jordanian air base told a military court Monday that they held their fire when they heard an apparent gunshot from the direction of a nearby U.S. troop convoy because they couldn’t identify the source of the sound.
WFED (AM-1500, Audio): Pentagon official: DoD will be audit ready by end of September. President Donald Trump has nominated former aerospace executive John Gibson to be the Defense Department’s Chief Management Officer. He also named Peter Shelby to fill the role of Assistant VA Secretary for Human Resources. Shelby is the founder of an HR consultancy firm. Also, James Clinger was nominated to chair the FDIC.
KFSM (CBS-5, Video); Secretary of Veterans Affairs Tours Fayetteville VA System. The Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs toured the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville on Monday (June 19). Secretary David Shulkin made the visit to the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks after Congressman Steve Womack suggested it was important to see some of the well-functioning VA’s like the one in Fayetteville.
40/29 News: Secretary of Veterans Affairs visits Northwest Arkansas, meets with Veterans. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin visited Northwest Arkansas with congressional members to discuss the Fayetteville VA and best practices. Congressman Steve Womack invited the secretary to see the 5-star VA facility, and meet with Walmart executives to discuss best practices. 40/29 News spoke with one veteran, Derl Horn, a combat veteran who is very happy with his services at the VA.
Washington Examiner: Veterans Affairs official files FOIA request to spy on whistle-blower. A Department of Veterans Affairs official has taken the novel step of filing a Freedom of Information Act request against her own VA department in order to learn what a whistleblower has been saying about her. The whistleblower is Scott Davis, a well-known VA official who has testified in Congress and has made several TV appearances about the troubled VA.
Washington Examiner: VA whistleblower who testified in Congress stripped of job duties in Atlanta. The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday stripped away a key job responsibility from a whistleblower who has received national attention for his efforts to point out flaws within the troubled VA system, leading the whistleblower to predict he would soon be fired. Scott Davis is a public affairs officer for Member Services in Atlanta who has appeared on national television and testified several times in Congress.
Military.com: Proposal Extends IVF, Adoption Help for Injured Veterans. Veterans with reproductive injuries will be able to access fertility help and have some adoption expenses covered after 2018 if a funding proposal goes forward. The funding bill for the Department of Veterans Affairs approved by a House committee last week gives the agency approval to continue funding in-vitro fertilization after the current 2018 expiration. A 2016 law lifted a longtime ban on the coverage but is set to expire at the end of 2018 if Congress takes no further action.
KFVS (CBS-12): US Senators offer legislation to help wounded warriors and their families. U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) have teamed up to help families of wounded warriors. On Monday, June 19 they introduced bipartisan legislation that aims to help wounded warriors and their families are fully aware of the services available to them through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) caregiver program.
Military Times: Survey: Veteran caregivers feel isolated, need more support. Most caregivers of injured veterans feel isolated from friends, unsupported by the government and less healthy because of the demands of their responsibilities, according to a new survey released by Disabled American Veterans on Monday. But the vast majority are also overwhelmingly proud of the service they provide to their loved ones.
The Washington Post (PowerPost): Law makes VA treat some family caregivers better than others. In the case of veterans injured on duty, Uncle Sam pays more attention to some of their caregivers than others. The law allows the government to provide caregiver services for vets injured on Sept. 11, 2001, or after, but not those injured before that like Dennis Joyner and Alexis Courneen.
Task & Purpose: Millions of Disabled veterans Don’t Have Access to VA Caregiver Support. For veterans injured after Sept. 11, 2001, and in need of at-home care, they have access to caregiver support through the VA — from stipends to travel expenses, and training in addition to other support and benefits. However, for veterans who were severely injured prior to 2001 and their caregivers, like Dennis Joyner and his wife and caregiver Donna, this support remains out of reach.
Task and PurposeTo Improve Awareness We Must Call PTSD What it is: A Disorder. June is National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month. Well, at least according to the National Center for PTSD. According to lawmakers, however, June is National Post-Traumatic Stress Awareness Month. And while dropping the letter “D” may seem trivial, doing so could have far-reaching implications, and not the positive ones that Congress has in mind. One year ago this month, two U.S. senators put forth a bill to remove the “D” in PTSD in declaring June’s awareness campaign. The move marked the fourth year in a row that the senators had proposed the bill and that the Senate had unanimously passed it. The logic behind the change, according to Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat from North Dakota, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, is that the word “disorder” carries a stigma that may dissuade those with symptoms from seeking treatment. Many organizations, treatment centers, public forums, and individual advocates have followed suit, and have begun referring to the condition as PTS instead of PTSD.
Wadena Pioneer Journal: CBO proposes to eliminate seven VA compensable disabilities. Not all service-connected medical conditions and injuries are incurred or exacerbated in the performance of military duties. For example, a qualifying injury can occur when a service member was at home or on leave and a qualifying medical condition, such as multiple sclerosis, can develop independently of a service member’s military duties.
WBUR (NPR-90.9, Here & Now, Audio): Homeless Vets Program Fills Gap in Service for Women. Women are the fastest growing demographic of homeless veterans. Many of the more than 2 million women vets in the U.S. are coping with mental health issues, substance abuse and physical and sexual trauma, and are at risk of becoming homeless.
The Washington Times: Trump, Kushner welcome technology executives to White House. Mr. Kushner pointed to the example of the announcement earlier this month that the Department of Veterans Affairs will switch to the same software system used by the Pentagon for its electronic health records. That move is expected to cost well over $5 billion and will take several years to implement, and is aimed at making veterans’ services more seamless and faster.
CBS News (Video): Jared Kushner delivers remarks at White House tech summit. Kushner applauded the work already done by some agencies to modernize decades-old federal systems by making the government “more transparent and responsive to citizens needs,” including Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin’s work in moving the agency to electronic health records. Shulkin said the VA would adopt a commercial product used by the Pentagon, part of an effort to improve care for veterans and reduce wait times for medical appointments.
Task & Purpose: VA Nurse Who Stole $22K From A Vet Won’t Face Any Jail Time. An unnamed veteran in the care of a Department of Veterans Affairs nurse at the Wilmington VA Medical Center lost $$22,320. The cause? His nurse, Alexander Kudla, was stealing from him. According to public records and statements made in court, Kudla, a New Jersey resident, was tasked with helping withdraw funds from an ATM due to the veteran’s physical disabilities. Between February 2015 and July 2015…
Task and PurposeCivil War-Era Submarine Revealed to Public After Years of Restoration. Even as the public gets its first sneak peek at the interior of the Civil War-era Hunley, the world’s first successful combat submarine continues to hold onto its chief mysteries. Nearly 17 years after researchers began working to unravel why the Confederate sub went down off the Charleston coast, questions linger about why it sank and precisely how the eight-man crew perished. “We have 90 percent of (the evidence),” project archaeologist Michael Scafuri said June 7 during a media tour to advertise the new views inside the 40-foot by 4 1/2 -foot submersible. “But we still can’t say conclusively.”
Upcoming Veteran Events
American Legion Post 328, Southfield, Michigan Listing of Current Events in and around the Metro Detroit Area for and about Veterans, for the period June 15 -30, 2017. http://www.legionpost328.org/events.html Sent in by our fellow Veteran Tim Wirkus. Thanks Tim!
Federal Business Council, Inc. (FBC) List of remaining Industry Outreach Events for CY 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).http://www.dllr.maryland.gov/employment/jobfairs.shtml
Objective Rally Point (ORP). Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 7:15 AM – 9:00 AM, Army-Navy Country Club, 1700 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, VA 22202. You are invited to join us for our monthly Veteran networking breakfast on Tuesday, June 27, 2017. ORP is a forum for military Veterans in business and those who support them, or wish to team with them, to meet and connect. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to network with other Veterans committed to success in business. Although the focus of ORP is on the connections made between and with Veterans, we do have a presentation each month. This month we have as our speaker Mark Amtower. Mark is a consultant, speaker, industry spokesperson, business best-selling author, columnist and radio host. He is among the most recognized and quoted professionals in the government market. His LinkedIn profile was selected as one of the seven best (out of 50 million) in the 2009 contest, Rock the World with Your Online Presence. He advises small, medium and large companies on all facets of marketing to the government. He specializes in helping companies develop thought leadership positions in a defined niche and leveraging social media to gain targeted visibility in the government contracting market. Cost is $35.00. Full Breakfast provided. For more information and to register:
Non Commissioned Officers Association Annual Conference – July 11 -14, 2017. The Golden Nugget, Las Vegas, NV. Go here for more information and to register for this event: https://www.ncoaconference.org/
Mount Vernon Celebrates Purple Heart Day – Monday, August 7, 2017. You are cordially invited to celebrate National Purple Heart Day at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. It is our honor to have you join us as we commemorate the oldest military decoration in the United States at the beloved home of its founder. Here is information you might find helpful in planning your visit. http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=2313d2141f19dbc004908589e&id=04795fbcf8&e=
14th Annual Elite SDVOB National Conference, August 16 – 18, 2017, Orlando, FL. Convention website here: http://www.sdvobconference.com/ Go here for Hotel Information and Reservations: