Veterans News for Friday, August 3, 2012

by Ray Hyson on August 4, 2012

Happy Friday good people. Weekend is here and no doubt everyone is ready for it. Hope you and yours are well.

For Today:     “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

–Theodore Roosevelt

 

NOVA MOAA BANG — Job Openings ( 3 Aug 12)  Tom Leney Testimony Aug 2, 2012

Scott Denniston Testimony, Aug 2, 2012   Rick Weidman Testimony, Aug 2, 2012

MCL News – AUG

 

VA Veterans News for Friday, August 3, 2012. Thanks to Kevin Secor, VA VSO Liaison

 

 

1. Justice Department sues Michigan for overseas ballot violations.

2. NATO awarding new medals for counter-piracy, Libya missions.

3. Lawmakers told failure to realign US Pacific forces would pose strategic risks.

4. Government Motors: Feds keep expanding fleet of cars.

5. Department of Housing & Urban Development News Briefs.

6. CalVet exceeds small business and disabled veteran enterprise contract goals.

7. VA eyes Yellowstone Veterans Cemetery for national designation.

8. Medicare Card ID Protections Overdue.

9. Congress Approves Bill To Address Backlog In VA Claims.

10. Bill Includes Veterans Sexual Assault Prevention and Health Care Enhancement Act.

11. Legislation Would Let VA Add Private Clinicians To Telemental Health Network.

12. Vets Say Bill Will Help Prevent Homelessness In Veteran Population.

13. VA Proposes National Prosthetics-Rehab Office.

14. High-Ranking US Marine Corps Official Tours Soon-To-Open VA Facility.

15. N.Y. Health Info Exchange Partners With VA.

16. DoD Sources iEHR Information From The Broader Health IT Market.

17. VA Providing New Care For Veterans Through Video Conferencing.

18. Q&A: VA’s Adam Darkins On Telemedicine,

19. EHRs And “An Internet For Healthcare.”

20. Natalie Dell, VA Researcher And Rower, Wins Olympic Bronze.

21. Army Reinstates Medical Chief In Washington State; New PTSD Rules.

22. NH Veterans Worker Receives Governor’s Award.

23. Pentagon, VA Release Mobile App For Service Members With PTSD.

24. SBA To Help Veteran Start-Ups.

25. San Luis Obispo County Vets Invited To Health-Care Meeting.

26. Senate Takes Up Veterans Job Measure Amid Stalemate On Cybersecurity.

27. VA Finds 3 Years Isn’t Enough To Reduce Health Costs Following Bariatric Surgery.

28. Recruiting Veterans, And Job Downgrades.

29. Combat Vet Cleared To Play Football At Clemson.

30. Hendricks County Young People Assist Veterans.

31. Author O’Brien Wins Ohio Peace Prize.

32. VA: Great Care For Me.

33. Military Mental Health Crisis Exposed With Camp Liberty Killings.

34. Vehicles For Veterans. Defense Contractors Rally Against Budget Cuts.

35. Boise Roofing Contractor Charged With Fraud In Federal Court.

36. Missing Soldier’s Remains Are Returned To Georgia.

37. Legislation Inspired By Frankfort Teen To Limit Military Funeral Protests Clears Congress.

38. From Combat To Corporate — And The New Stigma Blocking Some Veterans.

39. VA / VSO-MSO Hearings as August 3, 2012:

40. Today in History:

1. Justice Department sues Michigan for overseas ballot violations. The U.S. Justice Department is suing Michigan for failing to send ballots to overseas voters in time for the state’s Aug. 7 federal primary.

 

2. NATO awarding new medals for counter-piracy, Libya missions. Two NATO medals have been approved for wear by U.S. troops and civilian personnel who took part in a series of operations in Africa, according to the Defense Department.

 

3. Lawmakers told failure to realign US Pacific forces would pose strategic risks. The United States faces serious strategic risks if it does not push ahead with plans to shift military forces in the Pacific, experts told House lawmakers Wednesday.

4. Government Motors: Feds keep expanding fleet of cars. Washington Times (blog) Budgets may be tight, but the federal government has increased its fleet of cars to 449000 vehicles — or nearly one for every seven federal employees — according to the Government Accountability Office. The Department of Veterans Affairs saw the …

5. Department of Housing & Urban Development News Briefs. Novogradac Company LLP The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are working to improve data on the HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) …

6. CalVet exceeds small business and disabled veteran enterprise contract goals.

Lake County News The California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) has increased its support for California Small Business/Microbusiness (SB/MB) over the last three years, awarding more than $9.5 million in SB/MB contracts in FY 2011-12, according to a Wednesday report. That represents more than 28 percent of CalVet’s total contract … CalVet’s contracting performance has exceeded the State’s 25% SB/MB goal and more than doubled the State’s 3 percent DVBE goal. CalVet’s contracting efforts also exceeded its own more …

7. VA eyes Yellowstone Veterans Cemetery for national designation. Laurel Outlook The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced Tuesday that it is moving forward with a plan to provide burial services for veterans in rural areas where there are no available VA national cemeteries, state veterans’ cemeteries or tribal veteran’s …

8. Medicare Card ID Protections Overdue. AP “Five years after being told to look at taking Social Security numbers off Medicare cards, Medicare officials told lawmakers at a sometimes-tense House hearing Wednesday that they still need six more months to figure out how much it will cost.” Both Veterans Affairs and the Defense Department have already “stopped issuing ID cards and health authorization cards that show” veterans’ Social Security numbers. However, Medicare Chief Information Officer Tony Trenkle told lawmakers at Wednesday’s hearing that both agencies are set up differently than Medicare, so Medicare cannot just do what VA and the DOD did to stop showing such information on cards.

9. Congress Approves Bill To Address Backlog In VA Claims. Burlington County (NJ) Times “Legislation penned by Rep. Jon Runyan to help reduce the Department of Veterans Affairs’ backlog of more than 900,000 pending disability and pension claims is headed” to President Obama’s desk. The Veterans’ Benefit Bill of 2011 was “incorporated into an omnibus measure to provide health benefits to Marines and family members exposed to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune, N.C., as well as other improvements to veterans’ services and benefits.” The “Veterans’ Benefit Bill component of the legislation would create a four-year pilot program at five of the Veterans Administration’s regional offices to test the skills and proficiency of employees and managers who process claims and pension benefits, with the goal of determining where improvements can be made and if new training can speed the process.”

10.Bill Includes Veterans Sexual Assault Prevention and Health Care Enhancement Act. Greece (NY) Post “The House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday that aims to provide health care, housing, education, and memorial services to military families.” The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 “includes legislation called the Veterans Sexual Assault Prevention and Health Care Enhancement Act, which was first introduced by Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-Syracuse).” Buerkle said, “My legislation will correct a fundamental weakness in the VA system by setting in place the procedures and accountability measures necessary to ensure the protection of veterans and staff.”

11.Legislation Would Let VA Add Private Clinicians To Telemental Health Network. NextGov VA “will be able to use third-party practitioners to provide telemental health services to veterans with no co-payments required, thanks to language in a comprehensive veteran’s bill President Obama is expected to sign this week.”

12.Vets Say Bill Will Help Prevent Homelessness In Veteran Population. KJBR-TV A bipartisan bill “designed by US Senator Amy Klobuchar…improves homeless services outreach to rural and under-served urban veterans.” The bill also “strengthens an existing program that provides housing vouchers, and helps with accessing counseling and job training to veterans. According to veterans, the legislation will do just as much for homelessness prevention as it will for those already homeless.”

13.VA Proposes National Prosthetics-Rehab Office. Military.com “The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to create a new office that will oversee all prosthetics and rehabilitation programs, department officials told Congress on Tuesday.” But US Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), chairwoman of the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health, “asked why it made sense to open this office when Congress is focused on cutting costs.” Military.com points out that Lucille Beck, the Veterans Health Administration’s acting chief consultant for prosthetics services, and Dr. Robert A. Petzel, VA under secretary for health, did not offer “details on the size and costs of the new office.”

14.High-Ranking US Marine Corps Official Tours Soon-To-Open VA Facility. Las Vegas Review-Journal Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, the highest-ranking enlisted man in the US Marine Corps, recently visited a Veterans Affairs hospital that will soon open in Las Vegas. Battaglia, who praised Eric Shinseki for what he has done as the VA secretary, said, “My boss is the chairman (of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), and I also advise the Secretary of Defense as well. We’re very excited about this facility opening up.” Battaglia added, “I really hope this will become the modern facility that other states will look at.”

15.N.Y. Health Info Exchange Partners With VA. Modern Healthcare The Buffalo, New York-based HEALTHeLINK “regional health information exchange organization has linked up with the Veterans Affairs Western New York Healthcare System to facilitate interoperability of patient medical records between private-sector providers” and VA. Modern Healthcare adds, “The exchange and…VA will use federally developed standards for the proposed nationwide health information network to create two-way communication between VA providers at the VA and regional private-sector providers, according to Dan Porreca,” HEALTHeLINK’s executive director. The partnership with HealtheLink is part of the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) Health Communities Program. The “VLER program is aimed at creating a more convenient and comprehensive medical, personnel and benefits record for all veterans, in addition to creating a seamless transition from military to civilian life,” said Brian Stiller, director of VA Western New York Healthcare System.

16.DoD Sources iEHR Information From The Broader Health IT Market. FierceGovernmentIT “The Defense and Veterans Affairs departments are investigating what capabilities should be included in the forthcoming integrated electronic health record, or iEHR, by asking about the qualifications of EHRs currently on the market.” Last Month, the “iEHR Joint Program Office posted…a request for information on FedBizOpps. In targeting the broader health information technology market, the departments hope to ‘gain better insight into the adequacy, availability and experience of potential vendors and their products with respect to supporting’ the iEHR environment, says the RFI.”

17.VA Providing New Care For Veterans Through Video Conferencing. HealthTechZone “In its on-going effort to provide the best care possible for our nation’s veterans, the Department of Veteran Affairs has put in place a new program to increase access to specialty care services for veterans in rural and medically under-served areas through the use of videoconferencing equipment. Called the Specialty Care Access Network-Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes,” or SCAN-ECHO, the initiative “enables specialty care teams in diabetes, pain management and hepatitis C, to use videoconferencing equipment to connect with primary care providers and ‘patient-aligned care teams for veterans.’”

18.Q&A: VA’s Adam Darkins On Telemedicine, EHRs And “An Internet For Healthcare.” Healthcare IT News Dr. Adam Darkins, “chief consultant of care coordination services at the Department of Veterans Affairs, about the ways VA is deploying technology to deliver care to service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.” Darkins said VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is “determined” to increase veterans’ access to VA services. Darkins touted VA’s use of electronic health records and telehealth. Darkins added, “New technology makes it possible to provide services by bringing services effectively to the patient, in instances where that’s appropriate, rather than the patient having to travel all the way to the services.”

19.Natalie Dell, VA Researcher And Rower, Wins Olympic Bronze. Boston Globe Natalie Dell, a researcher at the Bedford Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Massachusetts, “won an Olympic bronze Wednesday as part of the quadruple scull team. The medal ended a longstanding US drought in the sport, National Public Radio reports” in “The Torch”, a blog on its website. Dell is a “project coordinator for mental health studies focusing on depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans.” In a statement, Dell said, “My job with the VA was the biggest determining factor in my rowing success.”

20.Army Reinstates Medical Chief In Washington State; New PTSD Rules. McClatchy On Tuesday, the US Army reinstated Col. Dallas Homas as the commander of Madigan Army Medical Center and “announced major changes in how the hospital will evaluate soldiers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.” Hamas was “placed on leave in February as the Army investigated complaints that, to save money, a 3-year-old forensic psychiatry team at Madigan reversed initial PTSD diagnoses of soldiers in line for a medical discharge. Gen. Lloyd Austin, the Army’s vice chief of staff, announced the service no longer will use forensic psychiatrists, who applied a strict interpretation of the nationally accepted manual for mental disorders, to conduct the reviews and make the most accurate diagnosis possible.”

21.NH Veterans Worker Receives Governor’s Award. AP A “New Hampshire state worker who heads a commission that helps improve services for veterans has received a special honor.” Jo Moncher, the bureau chief of community-based military programs for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, “received a Governor’s Accessibility Award, which recognizes the accomplishments of people who support independence, inclusive environments and services for people with disabilities. She has developed military and civilian partnerships to improve education, outreach and services.”

22.Pentagon, VA Release Mobile App For Service Members With PTSD. iHealthBeat “The departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have released a mobile application to provide support for service members and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, Healthcare IT News reports. The no-cost app — called Prolonged Exposure Coach, or PE Coach — was designed by psychologists at DOD’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology and VA’s National Center for PTSD.” The “app is available for iOS and Android mobile devices.” HealthTechZone (8/2, Gatto) says the app is available for iDevices made by Apple, including the iPhone.

23.SBA To Help Veteran Start-Ups. Billings (MT) Gazette The US Small Business Administration “has joined with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense to launch a training program for transitioning service members and veterans to help them become entrepreneurs and create jobs. ‘Operation Boots to Business: From Service to Startup’ is a national initiative that will be piloted” with the US Marine Corps. The Gazette added, “Nine percent of small businesses are veteran-owned.”

24.San Luis Obispo County Vets Invited To Health-Care Meeting. San Luis Obispo (CA) Tribune “Veterans from San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties and their family members can learn about health care benefits and meet with local employers at an Aug. 2 open house in Santa Maria.” The event, sponsored by the VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System, “will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Community-based Outpatients Clinic, 1550 East Main St. This is the third year the organization is holding the event in Santa Maria.”

25.Senate Takes Up Veterans Job Measure Amid Stalemate On Cybersecurity. CQ “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid moved to proceed to a veterans jobs bill early Wednesday while criticizing Republicans for blocking a cybersecurity bill.” Reid (D-NV) “blamed the negotiations impasse on the cybersecurity bill on the demands of Senate Republicans for a vote on a GOP amendment aimed at repealing the 2010 health care overhaul (PL 111-148, 111-152).” In commenting on the vets measure, US Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) “said the bill was likely to face GOP opposition over the administrative costs of initiatives in the measure and its focus on giving veterans government jobs rather than private sector positions.”

26.VA Finds 3 Years Isn’t Enough To Reduce Health Costs Following Bariatric Surgery. American Medical News “The possibility of decreased medical expenditures after bariatric surgery is commonly used to persuade insurers to pay for it, but the procedure may take more time to realize savings in patients who are older and have significant obesity-related medical issues than those who are younger and healthier, according to a study published in the July Archives of Surgery.” Researchers who conducted the study “compared data on 847 veterans who underwent the procedure at a Dept. of Veterans Affairs medical center and veterans of a similar age and health cohort who did not, but received most of their health care at these facilities for a wide array of ailments.” American Medical News adds, “The number of bariatric surgery procedures has plateaued in recent years because of the economy and difficulties with insurance payment.”

27.Recruiting Veterans, And Job Downgrades. Government Executive In June, “more than 1,300 jobs” were offered to veterans at a Veterans Affairs-hosted hiring fair in Detroit. While Government Executive said VA has many initiatives to help veterans find work, it also pointed out that not long before the Detroit fair, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) organized a protest that “aimed to call attention to the hundreds or thousands of Veterans Health Administration employees facing changes in job grades that could affect take-home pay, or at least advancement and benefit opportunities.” John Sepúlveda, VA’s chief human capital officer, defended VA, saying it had many positions “which are obsolete or are relatively unique to a specific position or individual, and we needed to reform all that.”

28.Combat Vet Cleared To Play Football At Clemson. AP Veteran Daniel Rodriguez, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, recently learned he has “been cleared by the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference to join Clemson’s football team as a walk-on receiver.” Prior to a difficult battle in Afghanistan in 2009, Rodriguez promised fellow soldier Kevin Thompson that he would try to play college football. Thompson was killed in the aforementioned battle while Rodriguez was hurt. For his part in the battle, Rodriguez received a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal of Valor.

29.Hendricks County Young People Assist Veterans. Indianapolis Star Brownsburg High School graduate Krystal Shirrell and one other young Hendricks County resident “have set an example of selflessness and caring by helping raise money to improve the lives of military veterans.” Shirrell was “among the eight Girl Scout Gold Award recipients from across the country who recently met with President Barack Obama at the White House.” Shirrell’s “Gold Award was presented for a VET Support project – an initiative that contributes to the White House’s support of military service members and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs’ plan to end homelessness among veterans.” Cascade Middle School eighth-grader Madeline Sappenfield, meanwhile, recently raised $500 for a program flies World War II vets to their national memorial in Washington, DC.

30.Author O’Brien Wins Ohio Peace Prize. AP “Vietnam veteran and author Tim O’Brien, whose writings have shown war and its long-term impacts through a regular soldier’s eyes, on Wednesday was named the winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize’s lifetime achievement award.” The author “wrote about his Vietnam experience as an Army infantryman in the 1973 memoir: ‘If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home.’ Subsequent works have combined fiction with real details from his service.”

31.VA: Great Care For Me. Windham County (VT) Commons “The White River Junction VA is exceptional in the care they give our veterans.”

32.Military Mental Health Crisis Exposed With Camp Liberty Killings. Bloomberg News

33.Vehicles For Veterans. AutoWeek

34.Defense Contractors Rally Against Budget Cuts. Military Times

35.Boise Roofing Contractor Charged With Fraud In Federal Court. Idaho Statesman

36.Missing Soldier’s Remains Are Returned To Georgia. Macon (GA) Telegraph “After 62 Years, Sugar Boy Comes Home.”

37.Legislation Inspired By Frankfort Teen To Limit Military Funeral Protests Clears Congress. Bangor (ME) Daily News

38.From Combat To Corporate — And The New Stigma Blocking Some Veterans. NBC News

39.VA / VSO-MSO Hearings as August 3, 2012: None

 

40.Today in History:

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August 2, 2012, House Veterans Affairs, Subcommittees for O&I and EO Hearing, “The Odyssey of The CVE.”  Folks, attached are the Written Testimonies of Rick Weidman, VVA and Chairman of Vet Force, Scott Denniston, Executive Director, National Veterans Small Business Coalition, and the Director of VA OSDBU heading up the CVE SDVOSB and VOSB Verification Program, Tom Leney.  If you are a Veteran in business, then this is important stuff for you to read.  Both Rick and Scott provided  accurate, focused, honest, and compelling Testimony.  Well done Gents!  You can go to this link to find and click on the video of the entire Hearing: http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/odyssey-of-the-cve  While at the site, consider “getting in the know”, by signing up to receive updates of what is going on at the HCVA!

NOVA MOAA BANG — Job Openings as of August 3, 2012. Please see attached sent in by our good friend and a great Veterans Advocate, Frank Wickersham, USMC Vietnam Vet (Ret), now at VSE Corporation. Thanks Frank for all you do for so many.

 

Post 9-11 Veteran Unemployment Rate Still Falling – At 8.9% In July. http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/7817/post-911-veteran-unemployment-rate-still-falling-at-8-9-percent-in-july/

Association of The United States Navy (ausn) E-News for Friday, August 3, 2012. http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=4f7cdeba96d116bf638ba67b2&id=f6575f6768&e=9b27824cad

VA Employee and Medal Winning Olympian Natalie Dell on Veterans and Never Giving Up.

http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/7824/va-employee-and-medal-winning-olympian-natalie-dell-on-veterans-and-never-giving-up/

Reserve Officers Association (ROA) SmartBrief for Friday, August 3, 2012. http://www.smartbrief.com/servlet/wireless?issueid=7964C0C4-3C3C-49C1-BDB4-69F8BBDC9CF8&sid=22cbe9eb%2d3ef0%2d4eca%2d8105%2def9f466dc32d

Westchester County, New York, Marine Corps League Newsletter. Please see attached August 2012 Newsletter sent in by Marine Lu Caldera.   Thanks Lu!

From VA – HAVE YOU HEARD?  On June 28, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The court’s decision has generated considerable news coverage and interest among the public who will want to understand the associated impact of this legal decision on their personal situation, “The provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court will not affect the current role the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has in the lives of America’s Veterans. We will continue to provide Veterans with high quality, comprehensive health care and benefits they have earned through their service. VA health care does not change as a result of the ACA.”

VA Research Inspires Students To Make A Difference. http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/7790/va-research-inspires-students-to-make-a-difference/

Prayers and blessings for you and your loved ones and for our Dear Troops and their loved ones everywhere.

Best…….Wayne

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Another Bloomberg Article on Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE) and the CVE SDVOSB/VOSB Verification Process

Your Wait Time Is 4,116 Minutes, Agency Hot Line Tells Veteran
2012-08-03 04:00:05.0 GMT
By Kathleen Miller and Nick Taborek

Aug. 3 (Bloomberg) — Neeson Levinson says the letter he received from the Department of Veteran Affairs on June 21 placed the future of his 30-employee construction company in
jeopardy.

The letter denied his firm, Harbor Services Inc., eligibility to bid on VA contracts reserved for disabled veterans. His company in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, relies on the awards for almost all its $15 million in annual revenue. Levinson, a 17-year Navy veteran, said he placed eight phone calls to the department’s help desk to find out what was going on. He was greeted each time by an automated message saying his wait time was at least 1,000 minutes, he said. The number he remembers best: 4,116 minutes, or 2.86 days. “It was comical, but at the same it really bothered me because my business is at stake,” Levinson, who said he’s certified as 50 percent disabled, said in a phone interview.

Levinson’s experience is an example of the problems that lawmakers and advocates say veteran business owners face navigating a new certification system meant to prevent fraud. They say the program isn’t weeding out potential abuse or helping veterans as Congress intended. Almost 40 percent of the companies listed as owned by veterans in a VA registry haven’t met the eligibility
requirements of a 2010 law, the head of the VA office that certifies businesses said during a congressional hearing yesterday.
Fraud Risk
The lack of verification puts the agency at risk of fraud, according to a Government Accountability Office report released this week. At the same time, owners seeking certification are complaining about rejections and bureaucratic delays.

“It makes no sense operationally and it’s not weeding out the real crooks,” Rick Weidman, executive director of policy and government affairs for the Vietnam Veterans of America, told lawmakers. He called the verification process the “apotheosis of bureaucracy running amok.” As for Levinson’s calls, Jo Schuda, a VA spokeswoman, said it’s “very likely” he was given the wait time of 4,116 minutes.

“However, that was due to an IT glitch and not the actual waiting time,” Schuda said in an e-mail. “Call volume has been heavy, but not like that.” About 2,330, or 38 percent, of the 6,150 companies in the VA’s database of veteran-owned contractors haven’t been verified as being owned, controlled and managed by veterans as required by a 2010 law, Tom Leney, agency director of the verification office, said during the joint hearing of two House of
Representatives subcommittees.
Fraud Reports
The law, which followed reports of fraud in the program, requires the agency to do more to ensure small businesses receiving the bidding preference are in control of their companies and manage the day to day operations. While the legislation doesn’t set a deadline for when all companies in the directory must be verified, VA officials have said since last September that the department had reviewed almost all companies listed.

Some of those companies in the registry had been verified under a less stringent 2006 law’s requirements, Leney said. The agency can’t remove those companies until their eligibility
expires and they aren’t re-verified, he said. In addition, some firms still appear in the registry that
are going through the recertification process, he said. Those companies are not eligible for awards, Leney said. “Bottom line, the program works,” he said. “So far this year, 20 percent of VA procurements went to veteran-owned businesses. That’s real money to real veterans.”
Disabled Veterans
Levinson said 97 percent of his company’s revenue comes from VA construction projects. He asked the agency to overturn his rejection on June 25 and is awaiting a response. Without certification, he said he’ll miss the opportunity to bid on more than $35 million in VA work this month. He traveled to Washington to attend yesterday’s hearing after he was unable to get useful information from the agency’s help desk, Levinson said.

GCCTechnologiesLLC, a McHenry, Maryland-based consulting firm, has a VA contract to staff the help desk and works under the supervision of a VA employee, Schuda said. The disabled veteran-owned company also has a contract to examine applications from veterans seeking bidding preference, Schuda said. GCC provides recommendations to a VA employee who then decides whether the application should be approved or denied, she said.

Vicki Moyer, GCC’s director of administration and contracts, declined to comment. The company has received VA contract awards valued at $2.36 million since October 2011,
according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
VA Rejections
More than 4,000 veteran-owned businesses, or almost two-thirds of all those that have applied, have been rejected by the VA since it stepped up efforts last year to prevent fraud, according to March data from the department. More than 1,000 companies rejected for certification have
appealed the decisions, according to the VA. The department didn’t make a more recent figure available. “The ad hoc processes to verify and re-verify businesses are not working,” Bill Johnson, an Ohio Republican who chairs the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and investigations, said during the hearing. “Veteran business owners are losing patience, this subcommittee is losing patience and the American people are losing patience.”
Navy SEAL
The VA doesn’t adequately communicate with veterans to help them navigate the verification process, said Scott Denniston, executive director of the National Veteran Small Business
Coalition. “When an application is submitted, it basically goes into a black hole,” he testified.
Veterans have complained that the agency is being overly aggressive in its interpretation of the law.

One veteran, Kevin Treiber, was rejected this year because he had been paid by the Department of Health and Human Services for two weeks of relief work in Haiti. The VA said that made him
ineligible as a special government employee. His rejection was overturned after Bloomberg reported on his case.

Mark Lilly, a Navy SEAL rejected three times for the contracting preference, says the VA is reviewing applications in a piecemeal process instead of identifying all potential problems at the beginning. This leads to costly delays, he said. The agency’s rejection of veterans is drawing scrutiny from lawmakers. VA employees seem to “base decisions on a suspicion that an applicant’s documentation does not qualify, rather than clear evidence of disqualification,” Johnson and Marlin Stutzman, an Indiana Republican, said in a July 11 letter to Shinseki. Shinseki has yet to reply to the letter, Johnson said yesterday.

Still, there are concerns that ineligible companies are winning contracts. The GAO, Congress’s investigative arm, said 134 companies that hadn’t met the 2010 law’s requirements received $90 million in VA contracts reserved for disabled veterans from Nov. 30, 2011, to April 1. “The VA’s program still remains vulnerable to fraud and abuse,” Richard Hillman, the GAO’s managing director of forensic audits and investigative service, told the committee.

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NAUS News for Week Ending Friday, August 3, 2012. JOIN NAUS Folks, JOIN NAUS!

 

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National Association
for Uniformed Services®

Weekly Update

August 3, 2012

Send this NAUS Weekly Update to a friend.

“Military families and retirees would be adversely affected by sequestration. . . . Funds for the Defense Health Program, which provides health care for retirees and military dependents, would be sequestered, resulting in delays in payments to service providers and, potentially, some denial of service.”

~ Defense Deputy Secretary Ashton Carter ~

Happy 222nd Birthday to the US Coast Guard on Saturday, August 4

Semper Paratus!!


WASHINGTON REPORT

HASC Hearing on Possible Sequestration Consequences

On Wednesday, House Armed Services Committee Chairman, Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, called Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Jeffrey Zients to offer some insights on what and where cuts to DoD might occur if Sequestration does happen.

Acting Director Zeints, while being extremely confrontational, told the Committee that the major problem the failure of Republicans to raise taxes on the top two percent of taxpayers. Instead of discussing potential defense cuts under sequestration, the Acting Director took Armed Services members down a partisan path of bickering about whose to blame for the potential sequester. As you can imagine this set off many of the committee members and at times it was very hard to understand questions, accusations and answers flying back and forth.

One of the most telling comments on possible consequences came from Deputy Secretary Carter when he said, “Military families and retirees would be adversely affected by sequestration. For example, we could be forced to cut back on base support services, facility maintenance, and maintenance of government owned family housing. Commissary hours might have to be reduced. Funds for the Defense Health Program, which provides health care for retirees and military dependents, would be sequestered, resulting in delays in payments to service providers and, potentially, some denial of service.” All these dire predictions would be devastating to retirees on fixed incomes.

NAUS Note: We urge Congress and the Administration to come together and find a workable solution to avoid Sequestration. Nearly all members of Congress agree it would be a disaster if sequester happens. But the question remains, how to find an agreement to avoid it.

 

DoD Responds to Wilson Letter

As our regular readers know, last week, House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) and 24 other members sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Panetta asking for an explanation of the request to move DoD funds from TRICARE to other priorities in light of the continued Pentagon calls to increase TRICARE premiums and pharmacy copays. Chairman Wilson also asked why “excess” Health Account funds were not used to further research into cures for TBI, PTSD and related battlefield medicine.

Defense Department Comptroller Robert Hale responded this week by letter (see link below). Hale’s letter lays out as Pentagon rational the exact reasons the House and Senate rejected the DoD demand in each of their pending Defense authorization and appropriations bills.

Hale claims the “excess” TRICARE funds results from a two-year old projection on how much TRICARE would spend in the current fiscal year. The Comptroller writes that the budgetary predictions were 98 percent accurate and that “98% was always an A when he was in school.” Hale also claims that a small portion of the “excess” TRICARE funds were directed to research areas as called for in Chairman Wilson’s original letter (see link below).

The clear fact is that the Pentagon wants to strip $708 million from TRICARE to pay for $26 a gallon biofuels and related “higher priorities.”

Click on this link to read the entire letter from Comptroller Hale.

Agreement on Continuing Resolution (CR)

 

Leaders in the House, Senate and the White House announced on Tuesday they had reached an agreement on a six-month extension for a continuing resolution to avoid a spending showdown before the November elections. They have agreed to pursue legislation to keep the federal government funded from October to March.

House Speaker Rep. John Boeher (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said that both chambers will vote in September on a CR for the first half of FY 2013 using the $1.047 trillion discretionary spending limit agreed to in last year’s deficit reduction law (PL 112-25).

In related news this week, the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee agreed to a $604.5 billion appropriations measure which largely meets the Budget request. It does shift about $5 billion from the base defense budget to war fighting bringing that total to $93.2 billion.

In light of the announced CR agreement the hard work of the Senate appropriations committee just may be largely voided.

Veterans Bill Sent to President

 

 

The House passed legislation Wednesday to provide medical care to Navy and Marine Corps personnel and family members who may have been exposed to highly toxic drinking water from 1957 through 1985 at Camp Lejeune. The Senate approved the bill earlier.

HR 1627, the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act, was sent to the President for his signature. It is expected that he will sign it soon.

As many as 750,000 troops and family members, proven to have been there, could now be eligible for VA medical care for a variety of illnesses connected to the contamination.

Other significant items in the bill include certain benefits for troops returning from war with severe brain injuries, homeless veterans, and those seeking sexual assault treatment. The measure also requires VA to admit service dogs into facilities that it owns or funds; authorizes VA to establish rural health resource centers and requires VA to improve the identification of billable claims and make collections in its healthcare system.

 


 

Welcome to the NAUS Weekly Update. Please email us any feedback, corrections or tips. You can join NAUS online here.

 


 

More DoD Waste

 

According to Bob Brewin, a NextGov Newsletter IT reporter, the Pentagon quietly shut down the Joint Tactical Radio System program office earlier this month and transferred its acquisition functions to the Army after struggling since 1997, 15 years, to develop a software-based radio for all four services at a cost of $15 billion.

After numerous and repeated failures of the radios, Frank Kendall, undersecretary of Defense for technology, canceled the JTRS radio program in October 2011 rather than spend another $15 billion to acquire radios that did not work.

Kendall disbanded the San Diego-based JTRS Program, previously run by Boeing, effective Sept. 30, and authorized establishment of an Army-run Joint Tactical Networking Center to manage future JTRS radio acquisitions.

Since the Boeing JTRS could not field working radios, according to an article in the July issue of National Defense magazine by Air Force Lt. Col. Dan Ward (currently serving in Afghanistan), the Pentagon spent an additional $11 billion over the past decade to acquire commercial radios that did work.

NAUS Note: With DoD bumbles like this, it’s no wonder the Pentagon is seeking higher TRICARE costs and copays. But then again, why should military retirees and veterans pay the bills for DoD incompetence?

 

NAUS Joins Military Voting Lawsuit in Ohio

 

NAUS joins 10 military and veterans organizations to file a brief defending State of Ohio election law that offers extra time for military and overseas voters to cast absentee ballots. Under Ohio law, military and overseas voters have three more days to cast absent voting ballots than domestic civilian voters.

NAUS agrees with and supports filing a Motion to Intervene in the Ohio case and to oppose a motion for a preliminary injunction that would prohibit the time allowance available for military and overseas absentee ballots.

Our brief makes the point that it is neither arbitrary nor unconstitutional to give special accommodations, flexibility, or consideration to military voters. Opposition to Ohio’s decision to afford them an extra three days to make it easier for them to vote is not only offensive, but flatly wrong as a matter of law.

To read the actual court filing, there are four, click here.

 

 

HEALTH CARE NEWS

 

HHS to Help Veterans Wanting to Become Physician Assistants

 

This week Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius announced establishment of a $2.3 million grant program for veterans who want civilian jobs in health care or want to study to become physician assistants.

Secretary Sebelius said, “If you can save a life on the battlefield in Afghanistan, you can save a life here at home. These grants will help ensure veterans who served our country can use their military medical training and get good jobs serving patients.”

Express Scripts, Walgreens and TRICARE

There has been no further news on the availability of Walgreen Pharmacies to participate in the Express Scripts network for TRICARE beneficiaries. Last word we had was that the TRICARE Management Activity was talking with both Walgreens and Express Scripts. The new agreement does not go into effect until Sept. 15. We will monitor the situation and when a final decision is made we will pass it on.

 

ACTIVE DUTY NEWS

 

 

Senate Confirms New Air Force Chief of Staff

 

On Thursday, satisfied with the Air Force’s commitment to crack down on sexual assault, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) removed his objection to the appointment of Gen. Mark Welsh to be come the new Air Force Chief of Staff. When the block was removed the Senate quickly voted on the confirmation.

Welsh will assume command of the Air Force from the retiring Gen. Norton Schwartz in a change of command ceremony Aug. 10.

 


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Troops to Teachers Update

 

If you are thinking about becoming a teacher when you leave service, the Troops to Teachers program provides funds to recruit, prepare, and support former members of the military services as teachers in high-poverty schools.

Servicemembers with a baccalaureate degree or higher are eligible to begin the teaching certification process to become a teacher. However, many servicemembers may already qualify to become a vocational/technical teacher.

Military members from all of the Armed Forces can use tuition assistance for their teaching certification while on active duty. For more information, visit the Troops-to-Teachers Program webpage and the Department of Education Teachers-Teachers.com website, which lists teaching vacancies for each State.

 

VETERANS NEWS

 

2012 Federal Benefits Book Available

 

The 2012 Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents book is now available at the VA website. To link up, click here. NAUS is not aware of any plans for VA to distribute hard copies of this always very useful booklet. Please pass the link to any and all veterans you know.

 

VA Expanding Burial Options in Rural Area

(VA Press Release)

The VA announced this week that it is moving forward with a plan to provide burial services for veterans in rural areas where there are no available VA national cemeteries, State veterans cemeteries or tribal veterans cemeteries.

Under the Rural Initiative plan, VA will build small National Veterans Burial Grounds within existing public or private cemeteries in rural areas where the un-served veteran population is 25,000 or less within a 75-mile radius.

VA plans to open eight National Veterans Burial Grounds in Fargo, N.D.; Rhinelander, Wis.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; Laurel, Mont.; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Cedar City, Utah; St. Stephen, Maine; and Elko, Nev.

VA officials will announce further details about the eight new burial grounds as information becomes available. This new initiative will make VA burial options available to more than 136,000 additional veterans and their eligible dependents.

A National Veterans Burial Ground will be a small, VA-managed section of three to five acres within an existing public or private cemetery. VA will provide a full range of burial options and control the operation and maintenance of these lots. These sections will be held to the same “national shrine” standards as VA-run national cemeteries.

VA is still evaluating suitable sites for its Rural Initiative in other areas. In Laurel, Mont., VA is exploring with local officials the feasibility of acquiring a portion of the Yellowstone County Veterans Cemetery to establish as a National Veterans Burial Ground.

 

Hiring our Heroes

 

The local job fairs sponsored by the US Chamber of Congress continue their good work all over the country. Below are listed the next set of fairs. For more information on one or more you might like to attend just click on the city

August 3, 2012 – Sugar Grove, IL

August 3, 2012 – Utica, NY

August 7, 2012 – Lake Charles, LA

August 9, 2012 – Rollinsford, NH

August 9, 2012 – Camp Lejeune – Miltary Spouse Event

August 9, 2012 – Houston, TX

August 11, 2012 – Great Falls, MT

August 13, 2012 – Quantico, VA

August 14, 2012 – Albuquerque, NM

August 15, 2012 – Sioux Falls, SD

August 16, 2012 – Richmond, VA

August 16, 2012 – Palm Desert/Indio, CA

August 16, 2012 – Dover, DE

August 16, 2012 – San Diego, CA

NAUS NEWS

 

NAUS Annual Meeting Week – October

In a little more than two months, the NAUS Annual Membership Meeting will be held at the Hilton Hotel in Old Town Alexandria, VA, on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. This year’s keynote speaker is Vietnam War veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Paul Bucha.

The week’s events kick-off Wednesday with the NAUS Regional Vice Presidents workshop at NAUS HQ. On Thursday, Oct. 17, your Board of Directors and legislative staff will “Storm the Hill,” followed by the Board of Directors meeting on Friday at the hotel.

Events for members start Friday and include a Potomac River lunch cruise, and a “Meet the NAUS Board” reception at the hotel Friday evening. The Annual Meeting and luncheon is scheduled for Saturday.

More details, including costs and registration information are found online here, or you may contact Ms. Vicki Sumner, NAUS Director of Administration. Please plan to attend and help make this annual event a memorable and effective one as we continue to serve as The Servicemember’s Voice in Government.

Reminder: Online registration is encouraged – It’s easy and saves you and the NAUS staff time. When you register, be sure you indicate which functions you want to attend. If you need hotel accommodations, you will need to make those reservations separately with the hotel directly.

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Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen stand in harm’s way around the globe to defend our nation and our cherished liberties. NAUS asks you to please pray for their continued strength and protection—and pray as well for their families, who daily stand in support of their spouses, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters.
GODBLESSAMERICA

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Warrior & Family Support News – “Keeping Faith with the Military Family”

Friday, 3 August 2012

Office of the Chairman Warrior & Family Support

COMMUNITIES IN ACTION

New Veterans Officer Joins Melrose Community
Patch.com
There’s a new veterans affairs officer in town, and he says to “expect big things.” Andrew Biggio, a veteran of the Marine Corps who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, started last week as the joint veterans affairs officer for both Melrose and Wakefield

The Home Depot Foundation Awards Swords to Plowshares $545540 to Rehab …
Virtual-Strategy Magazine
Swords to Plowshares, a San Francisco-based veteran service agency, is one of many community-based organizations nationwide to receive a grant from The Home Depot Foundation to repair and rehab properties serving veterans and their families. “We are

Community steps up for veterans
The Columbian
Photos by Steven Lane/The Columbian Homeless veteran Danny Archila, 28, tries on a new pair of boots at Wednesday’s stand-down event at the Armed Forces Reserve Center near Sifton. Archila served in the Marines from 2002-2006 and was deployed

“The Fight Doesn’t End When They Get Home”
TIME
And it’s growing: the Department of Veterans Affairs gave Soldier On nearly $3 million last month to help fight veteran homelessness in New Jersey and New York. “The fight doesn’t end when they get home,” declares Jack Downing, Soldier On’s voluble

WELLNESS

New study compares health of vets, civilians
NavyTimes.com
Male veterans are more likely than civilians to have two or more chronic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or asthma, according to a Centers for Disease Control report released Wednesday. But male veterans are only slightly more

Veterans rave about PTSD service dogs, but research lags
NBCNews.com (blog)
Galmiche, who retired from the Army in 1986 after 20 years of service, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2002. Though he attended counseling sessions and took medication during the following years, he says he did not find profound

Dogs Help US Veterans Beat Stress Disorders
Voice of America
WASHINGTON – According to a Rand Corporation study, more than 26 percent of American troops deployed overseas have returned to the US with traumatic brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD since 2001. Experimental programs that

Finding comfort in training service dogs for other wounded vets
Stars and Stripes
The dogs will be trained by war veterans, like Gordon, suffering from traumatic brain injury or PTSD, and the training is expected to be therapy in and of itself for the veteran trainers.

EDUCATION

New office at UNLV stands ready to serve veterans enrolled at school
Las Vegas Sun
UNLV isn’t blazing a trail with its Office of Veterans Services. The College of Southern Nevada, the largest higher education institution in the state serving one of its largest veteran student populations, opened its Veteran Education Center two years

EMPLOYMENT

Nonprofit Offers Unemployed Veterans Paid Job Training
Patch.com
The Community Action Partnership of Riverside County is welcoming former service men and women who are struggling to find permanent employment to apply for a place in the nonprofit’s “Veterans Employment Training” — or VET — program. By City News

Milwaukee Company Makes Hiring Veterans a Priority
WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio
The number of post-9/11 vets who are out of work is noticeably higher than the civilian population, although the veteran jobless rate has improved over a year ago. Today, WUWM’s Erin Toner visits a Milwaukee company that has made hiring veterans a

Veterans learn agricultural, farming skills in Vancouver job training program
OregonLive.com
Sham Sykes, a former Marine, weeds around vegetables he helped grow. “This is exactly what I needed,” the Iraq veteran says of a job training program that is teaching

Randall E. “Smitty” Smith, Lt Col, USAF

Deputy Director, Warrior & Family Support, Office of the Chairman

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From: VetJobs Employment Report [info@vetjobs.com]
Sent: Friday, August 03, 2012 2:17 PM

 

Subj:  VetJobs Veteran Employment Situation Report – July 2012   -  Issue 12-07
Welcome to the VetJobs Veteran Employment Situation Report covering July 2012. This report will be in three parts. The first will summarize the Bureau of Labor Statistics report on the labor market, the second covers where the jobs were created, meaning where the best chance of finding employment may be, and the third covers the employment situation in the veteran market.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
EMPLOYMENT SUMMARY

Total nonfarm payroll employment in the United States rose by 163,000 in July. The economy needs to create a minimum of 250,000 net new jobs a month to start growth. Unfortunately, there have been no new net jobs created in the United States in nearly four years.
Although the number of unemployed persons rose in July, it was a relatively small number. At the same time the labor force contracted but the number of unemployed persons declined as well.
The private sector added 172,000 jobs in July, which was better than either May’s increase of 116,000 or June’s growth of 73,000. When the decline in government jobs are factored in, the overall job growth in July was 163,000.
The official CES (Current Employer Survey) unemployment rate rose from 8.2% to 8.3%. This is the second month in a row that unemployment has raised. The United States has experienced 42 continuous months of an unemployment rate in excess of 8.0%. The billions of dollars spent on the various stimulus packages and the two “Summers of Recovery” have not produced job growth. The reality is fewer people are working today than four years ago.
Officially DOL reports 12.8 million people are unemployed. However, when one considers people who have been on the sidelines who could start to look for work, or they have run out of savings and/or unemployment benefits thus must look for work, the drop outs and the underemployed, the real unemployment rate is 15%. This unemployment rate is frequently referred to as the U-6 unemployment rate. Some economists say the real U-6 unemployment rate is closer to 20%.
The labor force participation rate continued down to 63.7%, and the employment-population ratio continued down and is now at 58.4%.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from September to December 2011 gross job gains from opening and expanding private sector establishments were 6.9 million, a decrease of 204,000 from the previous quarter. Over this period, gross job losses from closing and contracting private sector establishments were 6.5 million, an increase of 181,000 from the previous quarter. For more data please visit http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/cewbd.pdf.
These are not good numbers. Coupled with a low GDP growth of 1.5%, the country may be going back into another recession. The last recession officially ended in June 2009. However, with the national unemployment rate having stayed above 8.0% for 42 months, for many the recession is still very much a real thing.
There is a dichotomy in the economy today. While there are 12 to 18 million unemployed (depending on how you count the numbers), there are severe shortages of labor in pockets of the country. In northeast Nevada the mining industry is exploding and has a severe shortage of labor. Nationally there are shortages of technicians, nurses, healthcare professionals, maintenance, millwrights, plumbers and other trade craft people. These huge shortages exist due to the school systems not preparing people for work in the economy. Many, if not most, high schools have eliminated shop classes due to the thought that everyone needs to go to college. The result is there are not enough qualified candidates for the jobs that are available.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
WHERE THE NEW JOBS WERE CREATED

The number of jobs in the private Goods-producing sector grew by 24,000 in July, which was a marked improvement from May’s decline of 15,000 as well as from June’s gain of 13,000.
In July the total jobs declined by 1,000 due to a drop in the number of Specialty trade contractor jobs; in May, Construction was down 32,000 but rose by 4,000 in June.
Manufacturers added 25,000 jobs in July, which was about the same as the total of the previous two months (May was up 13,000 and June gained 10,000).
Mining and logging was flat in July after rising by 4,000 jobs in May but declining by 1,000 in June. However, in some mining areas, notably northeast Nevada, there is a severe shortage of labor to work in the mines.
The private Service-providing sector added 148,000 jobs in July, which was an improvement from May’s increase of 131,000 and June’s gain of 60,000.
The Retail trade sector added 6,700 jobs, which was an improvement from June’s decline of 3,200.
Wholesale trade continued to add jobs, but still at a slowing pace. After adding 13,600 jobs in May and 10,800 in June, it was only able to find space for 9,200 new jobs in July.
The transportation and warehousing sector added 6,900 jobs in July which is an improvement from the 3,400 decline in June.
Only 1,000 financial jobs were created in July.
The Professional and business services sector added 49,000 new jobs in July, which was marginally better than the 44,000 added in June.
Computer systems design and related services added jobs with a gain of 7,000 in July, down from the 8,500 added in June.
Management and technical consulting services added 6,300 jobs in July down from 7,200 in June.
The education and health services sector added a total of 38,000 jobs in July with the highly seasonal educational services sub-sector marking 18,200 new jobs. This means that the health care and social assistance portion actually was up by 19,100 jobs; home health care services grew by 1,800 in July, which was not as healthy as the 3,700 it was up in June.
The leisure and hospitality sector added 27,000 new jobs with the food services and drinking places creating 29,400 new jobs. The arts, entertainment, and recreation sub-sector declined.
The total number of Government jobs declined last month by 9,000. In July, the Federal government was down 2,000; state government was down by 6,000; and local government was down 1,000 but that was a result of local education decreasing by 7,000; local government, excluding education, actually added 6,400 jobs
The bottom line here is the economy is not growing to reduce unemployment.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
VETERAN UNEMPLOYMENT REPORT

The BLS CPS (Current Population Survey, also referred to as the Household Survey) reports there were 21,163,000 veterans alive in July, down from 21,224,000 in June, a loss of 61,000 veterans. There were 10,173,000 veterans in the workforce in July, down from 10,348,000 in June. This is a decrease of 175,000 veterans in the workforce.
The CPS overall veteran unemployment rate for July is 6.9%, down from the June rate of 7.7%, a decrease of .8%. There were 752,000 unemployed veterans in July, down from the 880,000 unemployed veterans in April. This is a decrease of 128,000.
The fact that the veteran overall unemployment rate is lower than the national unemployment rate continues to indicate that as a class they are still having better success finding employment than non-veterans.
The unemployment rate for the 18 to 24 year old veterans fell in July to 19.9% (49,000 unemployed ) from 23.3% in June (53,000 unemployed). This is a decrease of 4,000. A substantial number of the unemployed 18 to 24 year olds are in the National Guard and Reserve.
The overall unemployment rate for all 18 to 24 year olds (veterans and nonveterans) in July was 15.5% (3,214,000) which is down from 16.3% in June with 3,354,000 unemployed.
VetJobsanticipates the unemployment rate for the young veterans will increase more as DOD continues to furlough 140,000 active duty troops and more of the National Guard and Reserve brigades start returning from their mustering stations in Kuwait.
There is new complicating factor that will affect younger veterans. Over the next year, the unemployment rate in the Army National Guard and Reserve (NG&R) may go up if a new Army policy is implemented in 2013. Yesterday USA Today ran an article quoting General Odierno, the Chief Staff Officer of the Army, proposal to go to seven weeks of mandatory Active Duty for Training per year from the current two weeks. I see this as a poison pill for employing members of the NG&R. I understand some of his reasoning, but this move will basically cause employers to not want to hire a member of the NG&R!
More importantly, DOD’s credibility among employers is already at an all-time low due to the way the NG&R has been used the last ten years. This move will guarantee that many employers will not only NOT hire active NG&R component members, many employers will start finding ways to get rid of their workforce who are in the NG&R.
Put yourself in the shoes of an employer. Would you hire a person knowing upfront that the individual will be gone for nearly two months every year, AND be subject to a 12 to 24 month call up? I have talked with several employers since the USA Today article was published and each one has told me they would be reluctant to hire an active member of the NG&R with this situation. General Odierno needs to understand that employers cannot run their businesses with their most critical asset, their employees, being taken away so frequently. This especially affects small to mid-size businesses.
Historically, every time that DOD has downsized, the use of the NG&R has gone up. Currently, the active duty brigades in Germany and South Korea are now being replaced by Army Reserve and Army NG brigades. AFRICOM is quickly becoming an NG&R command. The use of the NG&R is only increasing, not decreasing post AF/Iraq.
The bottom line is this move by General Odierno will mean a higher veteran unemployment rate in the future, particularly in the Army National Guard & Reserve.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
If you have any questions, please contact Ted Daywalt at info@vetjobs.com or call 877-838-5627 (877-Vet-Jobs).
Thank you for reading the Veteran Employment Situation Report. Should you know of others who may want this information, they can sign up for the report by sending an email request to contact@vetjobs.com

Ted Daywalt, Captain, USNR (Ret), President
VetJobs   -   P. O. Box 71445 – Marietta, GA 30007-1445
o 877.838.5627 (877-Vet-Jobs) – o 770-993-5117 -f 770-993-2875

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News from our good friend Al Bunting, Col., USAF, (Ret) in NJ

 

Senate Panel OKs Budget That Likely Keeps C-130s In Fort Worth
(Fort Worth Star-Telegram) Congress continued waging its fight against the Air Force Thursday when the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved next year’s defense budget with wording that halts the service’s cuts and realignments for at least one year.

After Delay, Senate OKs Pick For Air Force Chief
(Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) The White House pick for Air Force chief of staff was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday as members of Congress continued to press the service for answers about the widening sex scandal at a Texas air base.

Congress Halts Posting Of Civilian, Military Officials’ Assets
(Reuters.com) In a last-minute act before skipping out on a five-week vacation, the Congress on Thursday temporarily spared thousands of top military officers and civilian government officials from having their financial assets publicly posted — and exposed to hackers and spies.

Jordan: King And Panetta Discuss Syria
(New York Times) King Abdullah II met with Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta on Thursday to discuss the flood of refugees crossing the border from Syria and their concerns about securing Syria’s large stockpiles of chemical weapons.

As Conflict Continues, Assad’s Arms Under Strain
(New York Times) With diplomatic efforts dead and the future of Syria playing out on the battlefield, many of the Syrian government’s most powerful weapons, including helicopter gunships, fighter jets and tanks, are looking less potent and in some cases like a liability for the military of President Bashar al-Assad.

Annan Will Step Down As U.N.-Arab League Envoy To Syria
(Washington Post) Kofi Annan, the U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria, said Thursday that he will step down from his post at the end of the month, departing with a stinging criticism of the international community and warring parties for not stopping the violence in the war-torn country.

Missile Defense Staff Warned To Stop Surfing Porn Sites
(Bloomberg.com) The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency warned its employees and contractors last week to stop using their government computers to surf the Internet for pornographic sites, according to the agency’s executive director.

DoD Explains, Defends Health Care Surplus
(ArmyTimes.com) The Defense Department’s top budget officer Wednesday defended Pentagon efforts to shift $708 million in health funding to other military budget accounts, saying the surplus money the result of conservative cost projections made two years ago cannot go to new initiatives or be saved for the future.

Incoming Air Force Chief Says Eliminating Sexual Assault A Priority
(Stripes.com) The incoming Air Force chief of staff says eliminating sexual assault is a priority, tied to readiness and strengthening the Air Force.

Victory For The Drones
(London Times) More US Air Force crews are being trained to kill with drones remotely from the “office” in America than from the cockpit of conventional aircraft for the first time.

More Pilots Waging War From Afar
(LA Times) Strapped into the cockpit of an F-16 jet fighter, Air Force Col. Scott Brenton has dropped bombs over Bosnia

Cybersecurity Bill Falls Short In Senate
(Washington Post) A bill that would establish security standards to prevent large-scale cyberattacks on the nation’s critical infrastructure including water supplies and the electrical grid failed in the Senate on Thursday despite strong endorsements from top military and national security officials.

Bill By Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn Increases Pressure For Pentagon Audit
(Oklahoma City Oklahoman) Stepping up pressure on the Pentagon to get its financial books in order, Sen. Tom Coburn introduced a bill Thursday that would stall the production of new weapons systems until the Defense Department can perform an audit.

Democrats Reject GOP Move To Force Defense Contractors To Send Out Layoff Notices
(Fayetteville (NC) Observer) Senate Democrats rejected a Republican effort to force defense contractors to send out notices of possible job layoffs four days before the election, calling the move politically driven and purely speculative based on looming spending cuts.

‘Israel Can Rely On Obama To Stop Tehran’
(Jerusalem Post) Israel can rely on the US to take the necessary steps including possible military action one day to stop Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon, Michele Flournoy, former undersecretary of defense for policy, has told The Jerusalem Post.

Court Lets Suspect In Deaths Of U.S. GIs Go Free
(Washington Times) Daqduq acquitted, extradition denied.

US Strategy ‘Not About China’
(China Daily) Fresh from a visit with allies in Asia, a top Pentagon official on Wednesday dismissed concerns that the US strategic rebalance of the Asia-Pacific region is intended to counter a rising China.

Senate Confirms Ambassador To Afghanistan
(Yahoo.com) The Senate has confirmed career diplomat James B. Cunningham to be the next ambassador to Afghanistan, replacing Ryan Crocker.

Top 3 Lessons The US Military Has Learned In Afghanistan War
(Christian Science Monitor (csmonitor.com)) Put more sharply, what has America received for the $443 billion it has spent so far on the war? (That’s the latest estimate from the Congressional Budget Office covering 2001-2011.) At the Pentagon and in testimony on Capitol Hill, the US military is taking part in its own cost-benefit analysis. Here are three top lessons the US military has learned in Afghanistan.

Top Gun Is The Wrong Stuff For The Drone Age
(London Times) The sun is setting on the fighter pilot. Now they must make decisions thousands of miles from the roar of battle.

Beach Assault Wraps Up RIMPAC Exercises
(Honolulu Star-Advertiser) Rim of the Pacific exercises went out with a bang.

Media, ACLU To Argue Against Censorship At Guantanamo
(Miami Herald) The chief war court judge has agreed to let media and civil liberties lawyers argue for openness at the start of a pre-trial hearing at Guantnamo in the death-penalty case of five alleged conspirators in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Hospital Adjusts Combat-Stress Policy
(Los Angeles Times) Officials at the largest Army medical center in the West said Thursday that they had eliminated second-tier psychiatric reviews for soldiers diagnosed with combat stress. The change, they said, is part of a new effort to eliminate disparities in diagnoses and remove the stigma for service members looking for psychological help.

Ruling Opposes Court-Martial
(Los Angeles Times) An Army sergeant facing a charge of negligent homicide in the fatal shooting of a popular Afghan physician should not have to face court-martial, a military hearing officer concluded Thursday.

Fort Bragg Officials Say Verdict In Holcomb Court-Martial Won’t Affect Next Cases
(Fayetteville (NC) Observer) Army prosecutors failed to convince a jury that Sgt. Adam Holcomb drove Danny Chen to suicide last fall in Afghanistan.

and strafed Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. But on a recent morning, Brenton flew his combat mission from a leather easy chair in a low-slung cinder-block building on the edge of Syracuse.

AF Trainer Given 30 Days Behind Bars, Loss Of Rank

 

Afghan Troops Find It’s Tough Going It Alone
(Washington Post) After U.S. soldiers left Combat Outpost Conlon in February packing up weapons, generators and portable toilets their Afghan successors rushed to the American barracks and command center, eager to inspect their inheritance.

Top US Commander In Afghanistan Visits Pakistan To Discuss Border Co-Ordination
(Yahoo.com) The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan discussed border co-ordination with Pakistan’s army chief Thursday during his first visit since Islamabad ended its seven-month blockade of NATO troop supplies.

Egypt Seats Government
(Los Angeles Times) Key ministers in the Cabinet are holdovers from the much-criticized military-backed interim government. They include Finance Minister Mumtaz Saeed and Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the military council that ruled the country after last year’s overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.

Osprey Issue On Agenda At Japan, U.S. Defense Chiefs’ Meeting
(Kyodo News) Japanese Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto and his U.S. counterpart Leon Panetta will meet on Friday in Washington, with a U.S. plan to deploy the MV-22 Osprey military aircraft high on their agenda.

Who Foots Bill For Marines?
(Northern Territory News (Australia)) THE Federal Government is unsure who will foot the bill to house up to 2500 US Marines in the NT.

US Strategists Wanted To Push Firepower Limits In Perth Plan
(Sydney Morning Herald) A PROPOSAL to host an entire US carrier battle group of up to 10 warships in Perth was part of an exercise to establish exactly how far the US could ramp up its firepower in the Asia-Pacific, the plan’s authors say.

No US Military Bases Here, Says Smith, But Washington Confirms Plan As Part Of Asia-Pacific Pivot
(The Australian) DESPITE strong denials from Defence Minister Stephen Smith, a senior American official has confirmed that the US wants to establish a powerful military taskforce in Australia.

More Military Aid To Africa As Terrorism Increases
(Yahoo.com) Growing concerns about persistent terrorist threats from splintered al-Qaida groups across Africa have triggered an increase in U.S. military funding and more focus on a handful of African nations.

It’s Time To Cancel The Blank Check On Defense Spending
(USA Today) As troops come home and the fighting ends, it’s time to cancel the post-9/11 blank check and think seriously about how big a military the nation can afford. Defense contractors and their allies in Congress argue that the Pentagon is already absorbing significant cuts under the same agreement that spawned the supercommittee. True, but in the context of out-of-control deficits and a dangerous rise in the national debt, defense can do more.

Cuts Threaten Security, Economy
(USA Today) Requiring defense, which takes up 20% of the federal budget, to absorb 50% of $1.2 trillion in “sequestration” cuts to the federal budget is a bad idea that would harm vital national interests.

Panetta Counts The Ways
(ForeignPolicy.com) It was a public display of affection even a hard-liner could love. Standing in front of a rocket-busting Iron Dome battery paid for by American tax dollars, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak posed side-by-side for cameras in the middle of a hot and dusty farmer’s field just five miles from the Gaza border. Then they gushed.

Avoiding Another Syria
(Washington Post) Despite all the predictions at South Sudan’s birth that it would become a failed state, the much more vexing problem lies across its border what to do about Sudan, whose government is responsible for more death and destruction than all of its neighboring Middle Eastern and North African dictatorships combined.

Israeli Rhetoric Not Seen Leading To Iran War — Yet
(Reuters.com) For all its recent tough talk, Israel looks highly unlikely to launch an attack against Iran ahead of U.S. presidential elections in November, hoping that Washington will ultimately do the heavy lifting.

A Pernicious Drive Toward Secrecy
(New York Times) In response to recent news media disclosures about the so-called kill list of terrorist suspects designated for drone strikes and other intelligence matters, the Senate Intelligence Committee has approved misguided legislation that would severely chill news coverage of national security issues.

When Diplomacy Fails
(Washington Post) KOFI ANNAN TURNED in his resignation as United Nations special envoy to Syria on Thursday, but his mission was over months ago. It was doomed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who was never serious about peace and determined to crush the opposition, and by his chief backer, Russian President Vladimir Putin. The five months that Mr. Annan devoted to talk, with the ill-considered backing of the Obama administration, simply gave Mr. Assad more time to wage war.

(News and comments provided by Wayne Gatewood)

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