A Variety of Veterans News from a Variety of Sources
The Hill Trump speaks with family of slain Navy SEAL. President Trump on Tuesday had a “very somber and lengthy” conversation with the family of a Navy SEAL recently killed during a raid of an al Qaeda facility in Yemen.
IHS Jane’s 360 North Korea’s plutonium-producing reactor likely reactivated, says report. Analysis of commercial satellite imagery from 22 January indicates that operations at the 5 MWe plutonium-producing reactor at North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear research facility is likely to have resumed.
IHS Jane’s 360 Trump reaffirms US ‘ironclad’ commitment to South Korea. US president Donald Trump reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to defending South Korea in a telephone conversation with that country’s acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, the White House said in a 29 January statement.
Stars and Stripes Trump taps executive power on military – with limits. President Donald Trump made the first move toward a major military buildup with a few strokes of his pen at the Pentagon on Friday, but the real work — authorizing money to pay for it — is up to Congress.
Reuters U.S. army seeks to cement Trump’s promise to stick by NATO. The United States deployed thousands of soldiers and heavy weaponry to Poland, the Baltic states and southeastern Europe on Monday in its biggest buildup since the Cold War, condemned by Russia as part of an aggressive strategy on its frontiers.
Associated Press Syria warns of setting up safe zones for civilians as unsafe. Syria warned Monday of safe zones for civilians that U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed interest in creating, saying it would have to come in coordination with the Syrian government, otherwise it would be unsafe and violate the Arab nation’s sovereignty.
Stars and Stripes US military botching online fight against Islamic State, investigation finds. An Associated Press probe found the management behind WebOps, a critical national security program that uses the internet as a devastating tool of propaganda is so beset with incompetence, cronyism and flawed data that it’s having little impact upon the fight against the Islamic State.
Army Times Soldiers cheer Army’s decision to authorize dreadlocks in uniform. The Army on Jan. 5 released a new grooming and appearance directive that authorized religious exemptions for turbans and beards for Sikh men and hijabs for Muslim women, but buried down in the document was a provision that changed everything for many black women in the service.
Marine Corps Times Marines seek to destroy enemy drones. It was only a matter of time until U.S. troops had to face the new sky threat: armed drones.
Military Times: Key Republican suggests VA budget may be big enough already. The days of ever-increasing budgets for the Department of Veterans Affairs may be over, according to comments from the new chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Tuesday. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., said after the committee’s first meeting of the new congressional session that he doesn’t think the problems facing the massive veterans bureaucracy stem from a lack of funding.
The Hill: Don’t doubt Trump when it comes to the VA. Many Americans were surprised that, in his first week in office, President Trump has done exactly what he said he would do, from negotiating a wall on the Mexican border to implementing a controversial immigration ban. However, with the nomination hearing for his Veterans Affairs secretary, Obama-appointee David Shulkin, set for this Wednesday, it remains to be seen whether Trump will deliver the same explicit execution of his campaign’s veterans affairs reform platform.
Stars and Stripes: Shulkin could face tough questions on VA reform during Senate hearing. David Shulkin, President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, could face some scrutiny about his plans to reform the agency Wednesday during his Senate confirmation hearing. So far, some lawmakers have signaled at a quick confirmation for Shulkin, who already worked at the VA under President Barack Obama as the agency’s undersecretary of health.
ABC News (AP): Trump’s Pick to Head VA Rejects Radical Change to Fix Agency. President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Veterans Affairs Department says wide-scale firings or dismantling the beleaguered agency isn’t the way to meet the health care needs of millions of veterans. Trump tapped David Shulkin, the VA’s current top health official, to be VA secretary after a presidential campaign in which the Republican described the agency as “probably the most incompetently run.”
Military Times: Trump’s pick to lead VA isn’t a Veterans, Does that matter? For the last 94 years, every permanent or acting head of the U.S. veterans benefits bureaucracy has served in the military. But that is expected change in coming days. President Donald Trump’s pick for the next Veterans Affairs Secretary, Dr. David Shulkin, is poised to become the first non-veteran to assume that post, a tradition-breaking move that has produced surprisingly little controversy within the military community.
The Wall Street Journal: Report Finds VA’s Choice Program Lacking in its First Year, Only 13% of eligible Veterans chose private-sector care. The multibillion-dollar Department of Veterans Affairs’ program to reduce patient wait times by outsourcing appointments to the private sector was used by only a fraction of those eligible during the program’s roll-out, the department’s watchdog said in a report released late Monday. The Veterans Choice Act, established by Congress in 2014 the wake of a VA wait-time scandal, outsourced to the private sector just 13% of eligible appointments in its first year…
NPR (Audio):VA Hospitals Still Struggling With Adding Staff Despite Billions From Choice Act. Before they get to work on reforming the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Congress and the White House might want to take a closer look at the last time they tried it — a $16 billion fix called the Veterans Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, designed to get veterans medical care more quickly. NPR and local member stations have been following that money, including the $10 billion for vets to get care outside the VA system.
The Gazette: VA Watchdog says bureaucratic bungling bogged private care program. The Choice program, an insurance option implemented in 2014 to send veterans to civilian doctors, was bogged down by paperwork, scheduling problems and a small network of doctors. While Congress approved $10 billion to send veterans to private doctors outside the VA system, the agency has only spent $306 million on actual care for veterans, with another $206 million paid for administrative costs to implement the troubled program, the report found.
NPR (Audio): VA: Competition With Private Sector Is An Obstacle To Hiring More Medical Staff. The Veterans Administration got $2.5 billion to add more doctors, nurses and other staff. An NPR investigation finds that total staff didn’t rise much more than it might have without that money. We examine reasons why it’s hard to bring new medical personnel into the VA, including a cumbersome hiring process.
NPR (Audio): Lung Cancer Screening Program Finds A Lot That’s Not Cancer. Screening for lung cancer using low-dose CT scans can save lives, but at a cost: Tests frequently produce anxiety-producing false alarms and prompt unnecessary procedures. A study from the Veterans Health Administration lays out the considerable effort required by both patients and doctors to undertake screening.
Military Times: VA is studying gut bacteria in PTSD, TBI patients following success in mice. Veterans Affairs researchers want to know if an over-the-counter probiotic given to colicky babies could help patients with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. VA staff in Denver have just begun to recruit 40 VA-eligible patients who have “mild TBI,” or concussion, along with PTSD. Levels of inflammation, composition of gut bacteria, and quality of stress responses will be tracked, said Lisa Brenner…
ExecutiveBiz: VA Taps CGI for Healthcare Claims Auditing, Recovery Services. The Department of Veterans Affairs has chosen CGI to provide healthcare claims auditing and recovery services via the company’s set of financial waste, fraud and abuse identification and tracking system. CGI said Mondaythe Veterans Health Administration‘s Office of Community Care will oversee the company’s utilization of the ProperPay platform to help VA identify improper payments for recoupment…
Military Times What percentage of federal workers are veterans? Overall, 30.9 percent of all federal employees in fiscal 2015 were veterans, according to the Office of Personnel Management, potentially making veterans one of the largest groups affected by the federal employee hiring freeze. The proportion of veterans who make up the workforce at each department and federal agency, however, varies widely.
KevinMD: Stop bashing the VA: The culture of respect at our VA. Bashing the Veterans Administration (VA) health care system has become a familiar pursuit following the 2014 expose regarding concealed wait times and concerns for substandard care. In the aftermath of the ensuing national scandal, Congress passed reformative legislation, and President Obama appointed Robert McDonald Secretary of the VA. A 2016 report from the Harvard Business School indicates that the Secretary has “made impressive progress over the past year.”
Stars and Stripes Vietnam veterans recall bloody fight of 50 years ago. Marines who fought for nine straight hours in longest sustained firefight during the Vietnam War visited Tuscaloosa on Thursday, the 50th anniversary of the battle dubbed Operation Tuscaloosa.
New York Times White House to Dissenting U.S. Diplomats: ‘Get With the Program’ or Leave. The White House on Monday warned State Department officials that they should leave their jobs if they did not agree with President Trump’s agenda, an extraordinary effort to stamp out a wave of internal dissent against Mr. Trump’s temporary ban on entry visas for people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Associated Press Veterans protest travel ban, saying it hurts interpreters. U.S. combat veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan say they are outraged at the temporary ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries and the suspension of the U.S. refugee program that has blocked visas for interpreters who risked their lives to help American troops on the battlefield.
Politico McCain blasts Bannon placement on National Security Council. John McCain is harshly criticizing the elevation of White House strategist Steve Bannon to President Donald Trump’s National Security Council, calling the move “radical” because it minimizes the role of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Military Times Trump’s call for ‘safe zones’ in Syria is met with skepticism at the Pentagon. The Pentagon has more questions than answers about President Donald Trump’s plan to establish “safe zones” inside Syria and surrounding countries for potentially millions of refugees uprooted by the endless bloodshed there, an initiative that could require the deployment of tens of thousands of U.S. military personnel.
Stars & Stripes North Korea at the top of the agenda as Mattis heads to Seoul. Plans to deploy an American anti-missile battery to South Korea and the growing North Korean threat will be at the top of Jim Mattis’s agenda this week when the new defense secretary visits South Korea and Japan on his first foreign trip.
The Hill: Week ahead: VA nominee faces questions on Trump’s plans. Congress gets back to work after a shortened week that saw Republicans head to Philadelphia for their annual retreat. On the top of lawmakers’ docket will be picking up their work on President Trump’s Cabinet nominations. The defense community will be paying close attention to the hearing for David Shulkin, Trump’s nominee to be Veterans Affairs secretary.
Military.com: 5 Things to Start Your Week. The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, headed by Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Republican from Georgia, is set to hold a hearing on Wednesday as part of the confirmation process for Dr. David Shulkin, the undersecretary for health at the Veterans Affairs Department, to become VA secretary. If Shulkin is confirmed, he would be the first VA secretary without prior military service and Trump’s first cabinet member who served in the Obama administration.
New Hampshire Public Radio: White River Junction, Vt. VA Hospital Faced Unusually Large Budget Deficit. The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction, Vt. experienced one of the worst budget deficits among New England VA hospitals last year. The hospital needed an additional $8.5 million to meet expenses at the end of the last fiscal year, roughly four percent of its total budget. The VA regional office in Massachusetts, known as VISN
FierceHealthcare: VA exempts nearly 75 healthcare positions from Trump’s federal hiring freeze. The Department of Veterans Affairs will exempt close to 75 positions from the temporary federal hiring freeze and most of them are healthcare jobs, ranging from clinicians to food service workers. Acting VA Secretary Robert Snyder issued a memorandum (PDF) on Friday that identifies all the positions that he considers vital to the VA’s public safety responsibilities.
ExecutiveGov: VA Exempts Contracting, Healthcare Positions from Trump’s Federal Hiring Freeze. The Department of Veterans Affairs has exempted contracting, construction and project management professionals from the federal hiring freeze as VA starts construction projects and leases at over 20 medical centers and health facilities, Federal News Radio reported Friday. Nicole Ogrysko writes President Donald Trump issued a Jan. 23 memo that would bar federal agencies from hiring new employees until the Office of Management and Budget…
Fedscoop: How the hiring freeze could impact the federal IT and cybersecurity workforce. One of Donald Trump’s first actions as president was to sign an executive order implementing an across-the-board hiring freeze in federal government. The specific details of that freeze and its immediate impacts on IT are still being worked out — particularly whether any of those positions might be granted exemptions for national security and public safety purposes.
Military Times: Veterans: Consider using your GI Bill for a psychology degree. The expansion of the Post-9/11 GI Bill has made it possible for tens of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to enter the classroom and build new careers. To meet this burgeoning need, universities, colleges and technical schools are creating new educational opportunities for specially geared toward veterans in the fields of science, technology, education and business — and the same is true for psychology.
The Oregonian: Veterans home loan program a model of stability in mortgage industry. Veterans in Oregon and across the country are turning to their hard-earned home loan benefits like never before. The historic Veterans Administration home loan program had its biggest year ever in 2016, fueled by a surge of millennial veterans and service members. The VA backed more than 707,000 loans last fiscal year, nearly double the program’s volume from five years ago.
The Washington Times (AP): VA buys land for Wyoming’s first Veterans National Cemetery. Wyoming will soon have it first veterans national cemetery. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced Monday that it purchased about five acres near Cheyenne for a VA National Cemetery. The agency paid the city of Cheyenne about $64,000 for the land. Interim Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Ronald E. Walters says the Cheyenne cemetery will help reach veterans in rural parts of Wyoming without reasonable access to a national or state veterans cemetery.
Stars and Stripes: 200 acres sought for new Veterans’ cemetery in New Mexico. A new burial site for those who served in the armed forces is needed before the Santa Fe National Cemetery reaches capacity by the mid-2020s. The Department of Veteran Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration has started a search for 200 acres or more near the northern edge of Albuquerque, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
WOOD (NBC-8): 33 plead guilty to defrauding IRS out of $22M. Thirty-three people have pleaded guilty to federal charges surrounding a tax fraud scheme that targeted Michigan veterans and inmates. Federal authorities say the group filed false income tax returns after stealing personal information — including from patients and employees at the Battle Creek Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Michigan prison inmates — ending up collecting some $22 million in ill-gotten tax refunds.
Batavia Daily News: Veterans to take part in Creative Arts Festival. Veterans can enter their work in any of the visual arts division categories such as oil painting and leatherwork, and/or performing arts categories, to include music, drama, dance, comedy and creative writing. The competition is open to veterans who are enrolled at a VA Medical Center or Outpatient Clinic and must submit work by Feb. 1.
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
National 8(a) Association Small Business Conference, February 6 – 8, 2017, Orlando, FL. Open for all small businesses, and for you Vets that are also SBA (8) a Certified, this is particularly for you. General Registration ends January 31, 2017. For details and to register to attend, read here….
Commonwealth of Virginia Veterans – Healthy Relationships workshop in Charlottesville, February 17-19, 2017. The Mission: Healthy Relationships workshop is a relationship-building workshop for Veterans and their partners who have experienced deployments, family separation, and other common challenges today’s modern military presents. It’s free for all Virginia Veterans and their partners, all food/lodging included (the exception being dinner Saturday, which is “date night”). It is also free for active duty servicemembers/partners approaching discharge (roughly 6 months or less…..read more
Day Full of Unlimited Opportunities with Remarkable Veterans. Thursday, February 23, 2017, 110 S. Union Street, Suite 200, Alexandria, VA, 1:00 PM – 5:30 PM (followed by reception until 7:30 pm). The Muster DC is a one-day celebration designed to showcase veteran entrepreneurs, empower the D.C. entrepreneurial ecosystem, connect veterans with each other, and foster growth, knowledge, and success. For more details and to register, go here: http://us11.campaign-archive2.com/?u=d907c28bbc61151e5a473deee&id=91eff80ae8&e=36c6058233
U.S. Commerce Department’s “Veterans-only” Trade Mission to Vietnam & Singapore scheduled for March 6 through 10, 2017. Please pass along. Thanks to our good friend Colonel Ray Jardine, U.S. Army (Ret) in Hawaii, and amazing Veterans Advocate for getting this word to us. Aloha Ray and thanks! Go here to learn more and to register: https://build.export.gov/main/trademissions/ictasean/index.asp
Women Veterans Alliance 3-day Spring Unconference “Nourish Your Soul” March 24 – 26, 2017, Sacramento, California. For more information:http://www.womenveteransalliance.org/events/unconference/ Women Veterans Alliance in partnership with our nonprofit partner California Capital Financial Development Corporation will be hosting the Women Veterans Alliance Unconference. These 3 day events are the largest outreach to women Veterans in California that will provide resources and an amazing experience for all women that served from WWII to current, representing all branches. Our goal is to equip, empower, and encourage participants by providing opportunities to connect with service providers, fellow women Veterans, employers, and through interactive workshops.