Veterans Report - Week of May 12, 2014
WWII POW Survivors Honored
Nine U.S. Army Air Forces airmen who were interned at the Wauwillermoos Camp in Switzerland seventy years ago were recently honored with the Prisoner of War Medal. In 1943 and 1944, the Airmen were flying bombing missions into Nazi Germany when they were shot down over Switzerland. Switzerland's neutrality had rendered the internees ineligible for the POW Medal until recently. A list of the eight surviving POW Medal recipients is available on the (http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/t ... later.aspx) U.S. Air Force website. A video of the presentation ceremony is available on (http://www.af.mil/News/AirForceTV/tabid ... fault.aspx) Air Force TV. For more information on POWs interned in Switzerland during WWII, visit the (http://www.aifpow.com/part_3__the_raaf_ ... witzerland) ANZAC POW Free Men in Europe website.
Mental Health Awareness Month
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. For information on mental health resources available to Veterans, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Mental Health webpage at (http://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/Resources.asp) http://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/Resources.asp.
Save Up to 60% in TRICARE Costs
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American Legion Calls for Resignation
At a May 5 press conference, American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger called for the resignation of Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, as well as Robert Petzel and Allison Hickey, VA's under secretaries for health and benefits, respectively. It was a decision the Legion arrived at gradually, after years of support. What changed the Legion's mind was the accumulated effect of VA performance breakdowns across the country, coupled by the glaringly obvious failure to hold senior executives accountable for mounting numbers of preventable patient deaths, long-delayed medical care, and other critical management failures. For more information, read the article on the (http://www.legion.org/veteranshealthcar ... e-failures) American Legion website.
Senator Responds to Legion's Demands
U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has issued a statement in response to the American Legion's call for the resignation of Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. In his statement Sanders wrote that "While it might be temporarily satisfying to call for firing someone, it doesn't get us any closer to the truth or solve problems that may exist." The statement included the Senator's support for Secretary Shinseki's call for an immediate investigation of those allegations by the independent Office of Inspector General. Chairman Sanders promised to hold hearings on this issue as soon as the facts are determined.
The statement is available on the (http://www.veterans.senate.gov/newsroom ... ent-on-va-) U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs website.
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Legion to Host PTSD/TBI Symposium
Continuing its efforts to raise awareness about servicemembers and veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), The American Legion will conduct a symposium focusing on both injuries, as well as conventional and alternative treatments for each. The Legion's symposium will take place June 24 at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies in Washington, D.C. (http://www.legion.org/veteranshealthcar ... -symposium) Read more about the American Legion's upcoming symposium.
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Town Meeting in Phoenix
American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger will join members of the Legion's System Worth Saving (SWS) Task Force at a town hall meeting in Phoenix on May 13. The meeting, open to the public, will focus on the quality of health care veterans are receiving from the Phoenix VA Health Care System. The town hall meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. At the Tony F. Soza-Ray Martinez Thunderbird Post 41, 715 S. 2nd Ave., in Phoenix. Those who have served in the U.S. Military, especially veterans receiving health care at the Phoenix VA facility, are encouraged to attend. The SWS team will also conduct a site visit at the Phoenix VA facility May 14-15. For more information on the Legion's System Worth Saving, visit the American Legion website at (http://www.legion.org/systemworthsaving) http://www.legion.org/systemworthsaving.
VA Testimony on Alternative Therapies
With chronic pain affecting more than half of all veterans eligible for VA health care, the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs recently looked at efforts by the Department of Veterans Affairs to increase access to therapies like acupuncture and yoga as alternatives to addictive narcotics. Throughout VA's 151 medical centers and hundreds of clinics, the department has recognized a need to reduce a reliance on high-dose medications. The department's Opioid Safety Initiative launched last fall in Minneapolis already has begun to yield results. The facility has decreased its use of high-dose opioids by nearly 70 percent. Statements from and a video of the hearing are available on the (http://www.veterans.senate.gov/hearings ... -solutions) U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs website.
VA Releases Data
The Department of Veterans Affairs recently released data on its Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACTs), which offer a coordinated team approach squarely focused on veterans' wellness and disease prevention. Since implementing PACTs, the number of primary care patients has increased 12 percent, and the number of encounters with Veterans has increased 50 percent mostly due to telehealth, telephone and group encounters. Also, approximately 65 percent of Veterans requesting a same day primary care appointment with their personal provider are accommodated. Veteran access to primary care during extended hours (non-business hours) has increased 75 percent since January, 2013.
New Monument in Normandy
During the seventieth anniversary of the Normandy Invasion in June, 2014, Amis Des Veterans Americains (Friends of American Veterans) or AVA will unveil a monument on the town square of Ste. Mere-Eglise, dedicated to Allied troops who gave their lives fighting behind enemy lines in the invasion. The association recently developed a new website at (http://www.avanormandie.org/) www.avanormandie.org where photos, stories, calendars and information about the association and the new monument can be found. The AVA is also on (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amis-des ... 8714655064) Facebook. A major expansion of the Airborne Museum at (http://www.airborne-museum.org/en/) http://www.airborne-museum.org/en/ and a low-altitude parachute jump are planned for the anniversary.
Vote for America's Most Beloved Veterans
During the month of May, The American Legion -- the nation's largest wartime veteran's organization, numbering 2.4 million -- invites all Americans to pick who they believe to be the country's most beloved veterans, choosing from 100 names online at (http://www.legion.org/belovedveterans) www.legion.org/belovedveterans. Individuals can cast up to 25 votes, and if you don't see your favorites on the list, submit a name or two. Veterans receiving the most votes will be featured in the November issue of The American Legion Magazine and online.
(http://www.legion.org/honor/221267/vote ... d-veterans) Visit the American Legion website for more information.
Chairman Miller on Veteran Deaths
After media reports that officials at the Phoenix VA Health Care System may have been (http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/inv ... s/8595863/) intentionally destroying possible evidence related to the federal investigation of the Phoenix VA Health Care System, the department's (http://www.military.com/daily-news/2014 ... -list.html) delayed actions to preserve possible evidence, and (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/02/us/va ... .html?_r=0) VA's admitted destruction of a waiting list, Representative Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, has issued a statement. The statement is available on the (http://veterans.house.gov/press-release ... estigation) U.S. House Committee on Veterans' Affairs website. The letter from Chairman Miller to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is available (http://veterans.house.gov/sites/republi ... 20VAMC.PDF) online.
New Jersey Vet Hiring Fair
Honorably discharged veterans are being given a rare opportunity to land a job with the Port of New York and New Jersey. On May 28, the port authority will participate in the Port Jobs for Veterans Job Fair, held at the Maher Terminal Building, 1210 Corbin St., Elizabeth, N.J., from 10 a.m. To 2 p.m. The event specifically targets veterans who are looking for employment as electricians, managers, engineers, port authority police officers and many other employment fields. Veterans interested in attending are encouraged to pre-register by Emailing an RSVP to (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) email@example.com. Attendees should bring copies of a valid driver's license, DD-214 (or equivalent) showing type of discharge and resume. Attendees should also be prepared to complete a job application. On the day of the event, when arriving at Maher Terminal, attendees should follow the direction signs for parking and enter the building on the first floor.
New Boss Picked for Phoenix VA
An interim director will take over the embattled Phoenix VA Health Care System on Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced. Steve Young will oversee delivery of health care to an estimated 85,000 veterans and an operating budget of about $500 million.The move comes as the Phoenix VA tries to restore its reputation while it is under investigation for possible patient deaths. In recent weeks, critics of the VA system have alleged that administrators in Phoenix kept an off-the-books list to conceal long wait times as 40 veterans died waiting to get an appointment. (http://www.military.com/daily-news/2014 ... ystem.html) Read the full article on Military.com.
VA Secretary Addresses Phoenix VA Issues
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki has issued a statement on the allegations regarding the Phoenix VA Health Care System. The statement if available on the (http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2541) Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) website.
Support Our Troops - Donate to Operation Supply Drop
Operation Supply Drop will be hosting its 3rd Annual 8-Bit Salute, a 24 hour gaming event to support troops and raise money for deployed combat zone and wounded service members. Military.com's green berets gaming team needs your help raising money. Your donations will provide our troops with video game care packages, so they can make fun where there is none! Why Gaming Care Packages? (http://www.military.com/benefits/2014/0 ... erapy.html) Many veterans claim gaming helps ease the PTSD symptoms.
Get Involved Now:
1. Donate to Military.com's 10 man squad of green berets players.
2. Tell your friends and family about this fun gaming event that supports our troops!
3. Watch the live-streaming 24 hour marathon, May 17-18th and see the funds for our troops rack up!
Your donations, no matter the size, make a difference and provide video game packages to combat zone deployed and wounded service members.
(http://www.operationsupplydrop.org/inde ... eamID=5075) Donate Now and Help Bring Fun where there is none!
PTSD Treatment Options
Every Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility has post-traumatic stress disorder specialists and programs to provide treatment for veterans. PTSD treatment services are available for veterans who: (1) Completed active military service in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard (or Merchant Marines during WWII); (2) Were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions; and (3) were National Guard members or reservists who completed a federal deployment to a combat zone. VA PTSD services offered include education, evaluation and treatment, as well as outpatient and inpatient care. Find a specialized PTSD program at the VA PTSD Program Locator at (http://www.va.gov/directory/guide/ptsd_flsh.asp) www.va.gov/directory/guide/ptsd_flsh.asp.
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Joint Chiefs Divide Over Commissary Cuts
All seven members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff testified recently on the need to slow growth in military compensation. But their united front for easing current budget burdens cracked over the notion of slashing savings for commissary shoppers. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos called the proposal to cut commissary appropriations by $1 billion, "a sore point for me." But Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, defended lowering the appropriation for the Defense Commissary Agency in increments, starting with $200 million next year, and suggesting the initial impact at least would be modest. (http://militaryadvantage.military.com/2 ... y-savings/) Read the full story on this week's Military Update.
Hertz Committed to Hiring Veterans
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The Clash Over Pay/Benefits Reductions
The Joint Chiefs of Staff made a last minute, side-by-side pitch in support of the Pentagon's FY 2015 budget proposals May 6 to "slow the growth" in personnel costs in pay and benefits before the full Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC). However, MOAA Chairman of the Board, GEN John Tilelli, Jr., USA (Ret) provided the counter-argument opposing the Pentagon's proposals during the second panel made up of representatives from the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), the Association of the United States Navy (AUSN), and the Air Force Association (AFA).
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