Veterans News for Wednesday, April 4, 2012

by Ray Hyson on April 5, 2012

For Today:  In prosperity, our friends know us; in adversity, we know our friends. 
– John Churton Collins
VA Veterans News for Wednesday, April 4, 2012.  Thanks to Kevin Secor, VA VSO Liaison.

1.     NATO denies accelerating Afghanistan troop withdrawal

2.     First wave of US Marines bound for AustraliaAO23_Interim_Final_Rule_(FSS-GAO)_12-2-11[1]

3.     Walmart offers career suggestions for veterans

4.     Feds give vets home high marks

5.     Grants available for sports programs that serve disabled vets

6.     Homeless Veteran to Receive Military Funeral

7.     Boise man sentenced for cashing mother’s benefit checks

8.     Telemedicine Dilemma: Savings Or Healing Hands More Important

9.     Student veteran’s studies ease transition for others

10.  Vet friendly

11.  Southerland hosts town hall in Panama City

12.  Man Sentenced, Collected Dead Mother’s Benefits. 

13.  Utah Veterans Home Wins $150,000 In Home Depot Contest. 

14.  Alert Fatigue: Searching For A Cure. 

15.  Weight Loss And Fitness May Enhance Mobility In Diabetes. 

16.  Haphazard IT Implementation Increases Potential For Patient Risk. 

17.  Shinseki: VA On Track To Break Claims Backlog. 

18.  VA To Unplug Employees Who Skip Cybersecurity Training. 

19.  Australia To Lure More US Construction Workers. 

20.  Veterans Find Help With Transitioning Into Civilian Life. 

21.  Coast Guard Prepares To Roll Out HER. 

22.  Veterans Can Now Seek Compensation For Bad Foreclosures. 

23.  94K HUD Grant Targets Homeless Vets. 

24.  Servicewomen Laud Conn. Military Info Ruling. 

25.  Legion Hosts Luncheon For Women Veterans. 

26.  In Florida, Amputees Find Normal Life On The Golf Course. 

27.  WWII Veteran’s Artifacts Stolen From Ark. Estate. 

28.  Doctors:   PTSD Can Strike Anyone. 

29.  Veterans On Two-Wheeled Journey Across America. 

30.  Amarillo VA Patio Of Honor Bricklaying Ceremony Will Be On June 14. 

31.  Veterans Promised Assistance Finding Aid After Service. 

32.  Wounded Warriors Help Veterans To Cope. 

33.  VA / VSO-MSO Hearings as April 4, 2012: 

34.  Today in History:

1.    NATO denies accelerating Afghanistan troop withdrawalNATO’s chief denied that the alliance was speeding up the withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan as he sought to clear up “confusion” over the pullout planned for the end of 2014

2.    First wave of US Marines bound for AustraliaAustralian Defense Minister Stephen Smith is scheduled Wednesday to formally welcome the first contingent of U.S. Marines at a ceremony outside of Darwin.

3.    Walmart offers career suggestions for veterans.  Online career path tool shows where the corporate retail giant sees military skills translating into its operations.

4.    Feds give vets home high marks.  Desert Dispatch  The Veterans Home of Barstow was among half the state’s veterans homes to receive a zero-deficiency rating from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, officials said Monday. The zero-deficiency rating is given to veterans homes that meet …

5.    Grants available for sports programs that serve disabled vets.  Salt Lake Tribune  Community-based organizations that create or expand Paralympic sports and physical activities programs for disabled veterans are eligible for $1.6 million in grants from US Paralympics. Underwritten by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, …

6.    Homeless Veteran to Receive Military Funeral.  The Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program is a cooperative effort among Dignity Memorial funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers, the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Georgia National Cemetery, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, …

7.    Boise man sentenced for cashing mother’s benefit checks.  KIVI-TV  Paul Richard McLeod, 57 of Boise, was sentenced in United States District Court in Boise for receiving stolen government money. According to the plea agreement, from 2008 through July 2010, the VA paid monthly dependant compensation …

8.    Telemedicine Dilemma: Savings Or Healing Hands More Important?  InformationWeek
Last year, American Well teamed with the US Department of Veteran Affairs to provide online behavioral health services to patients in Minnesota and remote oncology consultations to patients in Nebraska. The company has numerous other partnerships with …

9.    Student veteran’s studies ease transition for others.  Tallahassee Democrat  In 2010, there were 7047 veterans enrolled in Florida’s State University System overall, part of a large college-age population of veterans in the state — 127000 veterans between the ages of 18-34, according to the state’s Department of Veteran …

10.Vet friendly.  Marietta Times  Federal agencies are also working to hire more veterans and work with private companies to hold job fairs. To Greg Mitchell, director of career services at Washington State, there are many good reasons to hire a veteran. “They’re trained from day one …

11.Southerland hosts town hall in Panama City.  The News Herald  The Department of Defense has said the suicide rate of recent veterans has skyrocketed. Tainsh said there is a lack of effort by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in helping returning veterans from the recent Middle East wars.

12.Man Sentenced, Collected Dead Mother’s Benefits.  AP  57-year-old Paul Richard McLeod, a resident of Boise, Montana, “has been sentenced to one month in prison and five months of home confinement for collecting his mother’s Department of Veterans Affairs dependent compensation payments for two years after she died.” The US Attorney’s Office “says…McLeod was sentenced” in Boise on Monday. The AP notes that McLeod has also been ordered “to pay nearly $36,000 in restitution and complete 60 hours of community service.”

13.Utah Veterans Home Wins $150,000 In Home Depot Contest.  Salt Lake (UT) Tribune  ”The Utah State Veterans Home won $150,000 – second place – in a Home Depot Foundation contest that ended over the weekend. The money will allow the home to increase privacy for the 81 veterans and veterans’ spouses who live there, said Terry Schow, executive director of the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs.” The Tribune adds, “Supporters of the home, which is on the campus of the Veterans Affairs Salt Lake City Health Care System on the east bench, cast enough votes via Facebook since March 1 to put the home in second place” to the “Veterans Guest House in Reno, Nev.,” which “won the first-place prize of $250,000 in the foundation’s Aprons in Action contest.”

14.Alert Fatigue: Searching For A Cure.  Information Week  ”Clinicians and IT system designers” at the Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center “in Indianapolis are testing new models of electronic medication alerts as they look to combat alert fatigue, a condition that causes prescribers to tune out critical warnings.” The fatigue was noted in a study — conducted by Roudebush Veterans and the Regenstrief Institute — that is “said to be the first in-depth examination of how clinicians react to medication alerts generated by electronic health records (EHR) systems.” Alissa Russ, a VA research scientist is “leading a team at Roudebush to test out experimental designs for alerts based on findings in the study.”  iHealthBeat “Unless we improve medication alerts so they contain information that users need to make decisions, the problem of alert fatigue will grow as [EHR] systems expand beyond single hospitals and share more data.”

15.Weight Loss And Fitness May Enhance Mobility In Diabetes.   Medscape ”An intensive lifestyle intervention to lower weight and improve fitness appeared to improve mobility among overweight patients with type 2 diabetes, according to the findings of a multicenter, randomized, controlled trial.” Finings from the study were “published…in the March 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.” The study was supported by several organizations, including Veterans Affairs.

16.Haphazard IT Implementation Increases Potential For Patient Risk.  FierceHealthIT “There’s a greater potential for patient harm when hospitals do not plan technology implementation, according to research published in the March issue of the American Journal of Managed Care. Researchers analyzing 118 interviews at seven Veterans Affairs hospitals from June 2006 through September 2007 said that universal support from staff and executives is necessary during such rollouts, as is flexibility to work around potential setbacks.” The authors write, “Providers need a substantial amount of time to learn new methods of keeping patient records and administering medications. In general, this is a temporary requirement, and less time is spent on record keeping activities once the HIT system is established.”

17.Shinseki: VA On Track To Break Claims Backlog. American Forces Press Service “Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki says VA is on track toward meeting one of the top priorities he set on arrival at the department three years ago: breaking the back of the disability claims backlog. VA spent the last two years creating an automated tool to make claims determinations faster and more accurate, he said,” noting that a rollout of the new system will begin in September at 16 VA regional offices. Shinseki, who was interviewed by the AFPS, added, “Our intent is to have no claim over 125 days. And every claims decision that we put out the door [will be] at a 98-percent quality mark.” The AFPS points out that in order to reduce the claims backlog VA is also taking other steps, such as providing vets with a “checklist of what’s needed to file a claim.”

18.VA To Unplug Employees Who Skip Cybersecurity Training.  AOL Government The “Department of Veterans Affairs will lock employees out of its networks if they fail to take the required yearly cybersecurity and privacy training on time – 365 days after their last refresher course. VA CIO Roger Baker announced the policy last week to button down security and privacy on the VA’s internal and external internet sites that have been hit by security breaches and privacy violations — both internal and external — on a regular basis.” Eric Shinseki, VA’s secretary, has also commented on the importance of cybersecurity, stating, “The trust veterans have in us as a department and as individuals depends on our ability to constantly and consistently protect their information from exposure and ever-increasing cyber risks.”

19.Australia To Lure More US Construction Workers.  AP  “Australia is hoping to lure more American plumbers, electricians and construction workers to be employed on Outback projects in the burgeoning mining and gas industries by changing how their skills are assessed.” The Australian “government said Monday that the system will be overhauled this month so that their skills can be assessed in the United States, giving applicants certainty that they can work in their trade when they arrive.” The AP added, “US war veterans could be particularly suited for work in remote Australian mine sites…said” Jeffrey Bleich, the US ambassador to Australia.

20.Veterans Find Help With Transitioning Into Civilian Life.  Prescott (AZ) Daily Courier When Vietnam veteran Larry Webb “went to the Veterans Administration to ask for help, he said he didn’t want to see a counselor, but the woman doing his intake wouldn’t let him leave until he’d spoken with one.” The Daily Courier adds, “Creating people throughout the community who like that woman understand that what helped veterans survive the war can create problems as they transition to civilian life is critical in connecting veterans with the help they need and community resources that are available, said” veteran Cynthia Rasmussen, “keynote speaker at the ‘Homecoming: From Warrior to Citizen’ conference sponsored by MATForce on Monday at the Prescott Resort & Conference Center.” Webb, meanwhile, said that since he got counseling at VA, he has “taken two people who were suffering” as he was and that they both told him the “same thing — the VA saved their life.”

21.Coast Guard Prepares To Roll Out HER. Government Health IT   ”The US Coast Guard is preparing to roll out its integrated health information system and is looking for industry sources to supply service desk support for the IHiS, which is based on the Epic electronic health record.” Government Health IT adds, “The Coast Guard is working with the Veterans Affairs Department and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to join the nationwide health information network (NwHIN) Exchange to share its health records with VA and the Defense Department as part of the virtual lifetime electronic record (VLER) program, according to the announcement in the March 30 Federal Business Opportunities. Interested vendors have until April 13 to reply.”

22.Veterans Can Now Seek Compensation For Bad Foreclosures.  Newsday  “Four banks — Ally, Bank of America, Citi and Wells Fargo — have agreed to review the cases of every service member they’ve foreclosed on since 2006 under a deal struck with the federal government.” If it turns out that any of the banks a mistake was made in a foreclosure, the affected “service member will get $116,785 plus a payment equal to the home equity he or she lost, with interest.” The “banks also agreed” to pay “$10 million into a Veterans Affairs fund that guarantees loans on favorable terms for veterans.”

23.94K HUD Grant Targets Homeless Vets.  Independent Weekly  “The Department of Housing and Urban Development – VA Supportive Housing Program, a joint effort between HUD and VA to move veterans and their families out of homelessness and into permanent housing, has awarded the Lafayette Housing Authority $94,000 to help area vets.” The “‘funding will directly benefit homeless veterans in South Louisiana by providing rental assistance under a supportive housing program for them,’ says” US Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA). The Weekly adds, “From fiscal year 2008 through fiscal year 2011, HUD has allocated funding to local public housing authorities to provide more than 37,000 Housing Choice Vouchers to homeless veterans, while VA has hired case managers to assist them in securing and maintaining permanent housing through intensive case management.”

24.Servicewomen Laud Conn. Military Info Ruling.  AP  In Hartford, Connecticut, on Friday, US District Judge Mark R. Kravitz “ruled Friday that several US agencies failed to respond sufficiently” to Freedom of Information Act requests (FOIA) about sexual harassment complaints against the US military. The “Service Women’s Action Network, the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut” had submitted “requests to several agencies in the Department of Veterans Affairs seeking information about benefit claims related to sexual trauma and other issues.” According to the AP, a US Justice Department spokesman “said it was reviewing the ruling.” Anu Bhagwati, the executive director of the Service Women’s Action Network praised the ruling, saying information can lead to “meaningful reform.”

25.Legion Hosts Luncheon For Women Veterans.  American Legion  “A group of women veterans gathered for the Women Serving Women luncheon on March 30 at The American Legion’s Washington office to celebrate the service and sacrifice of women in America’s armed forces, and to discuss key issues that affect women while on active duty and after they have returned to civilian life. Terrie Fuller, assistant director for women veterans outreach in the Legion’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation (VA&R) Division, addressed the group.” Recently, she “attended a meeting of VA’s Advisory Commission on Women Veterans where information was shared about” healthcare programs that assist women vets. Fuller discussed that meeting at the luncheon, stating, “A lot of the commission’s recommendations were directed toward medical care, making sure that we take care of ourselves.”

26.In Florida, Amputees Find Normal Life On The Golf Course.  Atlantic  “For a game that has been historically important for returning amputee war veterans” golf “continues to be a crucial rehab tool, a refuge for the recent wave of 20-something veterans and active-duty soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan looking to regain some semblance of regular civilian life.” Disabled veterans from James A. Haley Veterans Hospital have played golf in Florida, with the help of the Adaptive Golf Academy. According to US Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), Veterans Affairs’ 2013 budget request “sets aside nearly $2.6 million in obligations for prosthetics–an increase of 11 percent from 2011.” Filner, who is the ranking Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, “says these figures are being reviewed carefully, and that the committee will do what it can to fully support amputee veterans with the appropriate resources.”

27.WWII Veteran’s Artifacts Stolen From Ark. Estate.  AP

28.Doctors:   PTSD Can Strike Anyone.  Johnstown (PA) Tribune Democrat

29.Veterans On Two-Wheeled Journey Across America. The Salinas Californian (4/2, Hesser, 10K).

30.Amarillo VA Patio Of Honor Bricklaying Ceremony Will Be On June 14.  Amarillo (TX) Globe News

31.Veterans Promised Assistance Finding Aid After Service. Toms River (NJ) Patch

32.Wounded Warriors Help Veterans To Cope.  WUFT-FM

33.VA / VSO-MSO Hearings as April 4, 2012:

               April 5, 2012.  HVAC, Subcommittee on Health, will hold a hearing on “Vets Centers and the Veterans Health Administration:  Opportunities and Challenges.” 2:00 P.M.; American Legion Hall, 1001 S. Santa Cruz Avenue, Modesto, CA

            April 10, 2012.  Senator Daniel K. Akaka is planning to hold a Senate Veterans Affairs Field Hearing in Hawaii.  Hearing will be entitled “VA Healthcare and Services for Hawaii Veterans”.  10:00 A.M.; Oahu Veterans Center, 1298 Kukila Street. Honolulu, HI

            April 16, 2012. HVAC-Health will hold a legislative hearing on the following bills:                                    

HR 1460, to provide for automatic enrollment of Veterans returning from combat zones into the VA medical system;

HR 2619, the Veterans Affairs Active Shooter Training Act of 2011;

HR 3016, to direct the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to jointly operate the Federal recovery Coordination Program;

HR 3245, the Efficient Service for Veterans Act;

HR 3279, to amend Title 38, to clarify that caregivers for Veterans with serious illnesses are eligible for assistance and support services provided by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs;

HR 3337, the Open Burn Pit Registry Act of 2011;

HR 3723, the Enhanced Veteran Healthcare Experience Act of 2011

HR 4079, the Safe Housing for Homeless Veterans Act. 4:00 P.M.; 334 Cannon

34.Today in History:


Is this the Beginning of the End of the Fight for Veterans First ahead of GSA FSS at VA? Please see the attached VA Interim Final Rule Regarding our SDVOSB Program and Veterans First at VA under PL 109-461.  Please submit your comments as directed in the attached. Fact is, VA states that we do have Vets First at VA in the order established, i.e., SDVOSBs, VOSBs, 8(a), HUB Zone….but NOT ahead of the following:

(1) Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act participating non-profit agencies for the blind or severely disabled (commonly referred to as AbilityOne) (see FAR Subpart 8.7);

(2) Orders against Federal Supply Schedules (see Subpart 8.4 and VAAR 808.4);

(3) Acquisition of Government printing and related supplies by or through the Government Printing Office (See FAR Subpart 8.8); or

(4) Orders under indefinite delivery contracts (see Subpart 16.5).

Excerpt from attached Interim Rule:   ”Moreover, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs finds good cause to issue this interim final rule prior to notice and comment procedures.  This interim final rule provides clarification of the VA Acquisition Regulation (VAAR) at 48 CFR Part 819 that the service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs) and veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) set-aside authority established by sections 502 and 503 of Public Law 109-461 (codified at 38 U.S.C. 8127 and 8128) and implemented in VAAR Part 819, Subpart 819.70, does not apply to certain priority sources of supply set forth in the FAR Part 8, specifically, (1) Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act participating non-profit agencies for the blind or severely disabled (commonly referred to as AbilityOne) (see FAR Subpart 8.7); (2) Orders against Federal Supply Schedules (see Subpart 8.4 and VAAR 808.4); (3) Acquisition of Government printing and related supplies by or through the Government Printing Office (See FAR Subpart 8.8); or (4) Orders under indefinite delivery contracts (see Subpart 16.5).  This is a longstanding government-wide interpretation of the Federal Acquisition Regulation governing priority for the AbilityOne program, the GPO for Government printing and related supplies, and the non-application of small business set aside programs to FSS acquisitions.  Lastly, case law establishes that only orders against multiple award indefinite delivery contracts are subject to small business set-aside procedures.  The implementation of the statute required extensive consultation with particular stakeholders, including the General Services Administration, the AbilityOne Program, the Government Printing Office, the Small Business Administration, and the Office of Management and Budget.  In implementing the Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act (the Act) of 2006, the VA assured stakeholders that the program would not impact AbilityOne, GPO, or the FSS.”

Input from a reader regarding the VA’s actions to amend the VAAR as stated above. “Wayne, what VA is saying is that GAO only ruled against VA based on the way VA implemented the Law. Since GAO’s ruling says VA’s regulations got it wrong in implementing the Law, which is what GAO based its decision on, VA will now modify its regulations to correct the deficiencies GAO found in its Rules to prevent future rulings of this type.  In essence, VA is changing is its Rules by now adding/including what GAO said was not there.  So, if it had been there originally, presumably GAO would have not sustained Aldevra’s protest. This is VA’s legal strategy…to correct (change) the Implementing Rule so GAO can’t cite that in future rulings. In my opinion, the only way this will ever be resolved is through a legislative fix or the courts. Wayne, the other thing I’d have to ask is, “where is the corrective Legislation to fix the problem?”   H.R. 4048 surely isn’t that, and I like many, do not believe it will get through the Senate. Seems like more red meat served up to the community, knowing it isn’t going anywhere. Folks should be ashamed of themselves when they create false hope and expectations. Any wonder why folks are as angry as they are on these issues!” 

For Mr. Tom Leney, a Reader says we need OSDBU’s (your) help to put an immediate stop to Cascading Set-asides at VA, as this activity is counter to SDVOSB/VOSB Vets First mandate.

What is a Cascading Set-aside Folks?  A Cascading Set-aside is an acquisition technique that involves soliciting bids from all kinds of companies and then considering the submissions in order of legal preference, which means starting with small businesses from every category and moving to big companies. As soon as the agency has enough proposals for a competition among small businesses or other preferred firms, it makes an award and never opens (supposedly), the remaining envelopes.

Mr. Leney, can you help us in this matter…you are our Advocate….Thanks!    Here is the letter that was sent to me to forward to you through the Veterans News:

“Dear Mr. Leney/VA OSDBU:

I am writing to you concerning the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) use of “Cascading Set-Asides.”

Notwithstanding VA’s “Veterans First Contracting Program,” and the unique and unprecedented contracting authorities granted VA in Section 8127 of 38 U.S.C., it appears VA’s use of cascading set-aside is on the increase. We are hearing increasing concern from members in the Veterans business community who find this practice unacceptable.

The most recent examples of this occurred April 3 and April 4, 2012. VA posted solicitations each day to the Federal Business Opportunities System (FEDBIZOPPS) which use cascading set-asides. The VA Caribbean Healthcare System, San Juan, PR, issued VA Solicitation Number VA24812R1175 for Replacement Electrical Transformers as a cascading set-aside. The VA Medical Center, Spokane, WA, issued VA Solicitation Number VA26012Q0700 for Furniture Movers/Relocation Services, also using a cascading set-aside. There are numerous other solicitations issued in this manner.

Many acquisition professionals and small business advocates believe cascading set-asides are little more than a proxy for no or poor market research. Given your office is ultimately responsible for VA’s small business programs, and as VA’s Chief Advocate for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses and Veteran-Owned Small Businesses, what is your position on this issue? What is VA’s official position on this issue? What action do you contemplate taking in this matter? Also, since your office must concur in procurement strategies from VA field elements with estimated values of $500,000 or more ($100,000 or more for VA Central Office procurements), has your office concurred in acquisition strategies which use cascading set-asides? If so, why?

Although in each of the cascading set-asides, the “tiered” approach used places SDVOSBs and VOSBs, first and second, respectively, but this cannot be considered as “Veterans First.”

Please look into this unsatisfactory practice, and as the VA OSDBU, bring it to the Secretary’s attention so it may be immediately stopped.     Thank you…….”

Tom, we Vets in business anticipate action will be taken in this matter and hopefully you can get back to us and let us know where we stand with this concern.  Thanks……….Wayne Gatewood and all of our SDVOSB and VOSB Readers and friends.

National Veterans Small Business Conference Seeking Speakers.  Please go to the following Link to get detailed information.  The deadline for your application to be a Speaker at this event has been extended to Friday, April 6, 2012.

North Carolina Welcomes Vietnam Veterans Home. On March 31, the North Carolina USO organized a welcome home celebration for Vietnam Veterans at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The event drew over 60,000 Vets and their families. Learn more
Prayers and blessings for you and your loved ones and for our glorious Troops and their loved ones everywhere.
Below announcement on Camp Pendleton, CA Hiring Heroes Career Fair sent in by Max Wix, USMC (Ret), President, Marine Executive Association.  Thanks Max!

Subj: Hot! Registration is Open - DoD Hiring Heroes Career Fair at Camp Pendleton, CA June 6, 2012

Dear Hiring Heroes Employers/Recruiters,

You are cordially invited to participate in the Department of Defense (DoD) Hiring Heroes Career Fair for wounded, ill, injured and transitioning service members, Veterans, their spouses, family members and primary caregivers on Wednesday, June 6, 2012, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the South Mesa Staff Noncommissioned Officers’ Club, Camp Pendleton, CA.

The official registration website for this Hiring Heroes Career Fair is now open! Booth space is limited, so it is important to register early.

PARTICIPATION REQUIREMENT…To offer the best possible service to our wounded warriors, Veterans and spouses participating organizations must have actual jobs to offer or provide individualized support services (examples: Veteran Service Organizations, DoD Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program).

*** Please click on the link below to register****

(Note: some systems will break the link onto two separate lines. Therefore, if link does not work, make sure the link ends with .html, and it should work.)

The online registration also includes an agenda, travel directions and important parking information.

Thank you for all you do to support our Nation’s wounded, ill, injured and transitioning service members, Veterans, their spouses, family members and primary caregivers. We hope you can join us at this exciting and important event.

If you have any questions about the event or require additional information, please contact Ty Redmon, Project Manager, at or (703)-696-6243.


Karen S. Hannah
Hiring Heroes Program Manager
Department of Defense, OSD, DCPAS
Recruitment Assistance Programs
Veterans Employment Program Office


From:  Mitchell, Amy []
Sent:   Wednesday, April 04, 2012 4:11 PM

Subj: MEDIA ADVISORY: Field Hearing: Modesto, California

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 4, 2012 CONTACT: Amy Mitchell (202) 225-3527

***** MEDIA ADVISORY *****

Field Hearing: Modesto, California

WASHINGTON, D.C.—On Thursday, April 5, 2012, at 2:30 p.m., the Subcommittee on Health will hold a field hearing entitled, “Vet Centers and the Veterans Health Administration: Opportunities and Challenges.” The hearing, held in Modesto, California, will focus on the needs of returning veterans from Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, along with the role of Vet Centers in the larger VA health care system.

WHO: Subcommittee on Health

WHAT: “Vet Centers and the Veterans Health Administration: Opportunities and Challenges”

WHEN: Thursday, April 5, 2012, 2:30 p.m., American Legion Hall, 1001 South Santa Cruz Avenue, Modesto, California.



Panel 1

Chris Lambert, Veteran

Citrus Heights, California

Ryan Lundeby, Veteran

Modesto, California

Phillip White, Veteran

Modesto, California

Bruce Thiesen, Veteran

Fresno, California


Panel 2

Carolyn S. Hebenstreich, Veterans Service Officer

Stanislaus County Department of Veterans Affairs

Ron Green, Service Officer

San Joaquin County

Roger Duke, Readjustment Counseling Therapist, Modesto Vet Center

Veterans Health Administration

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Randall Reyes, Outreach Coordinator, Modesto Vet Center

Veterans Health Administration

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Lisa Freeman, Director, VA Palo Alto Health Care System

Veterans Health Administration

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs


Statement for the Record

Veterans Health Administration Central Office

For more news from the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, please visit:


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FYI For our Virginia Veterans – Sent in By John Bonnell, Marine Corps League,  Thanks John!

Donald Howell hired as Region1 coordinator for Virginia Wounded Warrior Program

RICHMOND—Donald Howell has been hired as regional coordinator for the Virginia Wounded Warrior (VWWP) Program northwestern region (Region 1). The Virginia Wounded Warrior program provides a network of community-based services designed to help veterans and their families overcome the challenges of stress-related and traumatic brain injuries resulting from their service. It helps ensure that they receive timely assessment, treatment, and support.

Howell served more than 25 years on active duty in the U.S. Army. He retired as an 0-6 after deployments in Operation Desert Storm, Korea, Saudi Arabia, and the Balkans, and 16 years of overseas duty. His military service areas included intelligence, special operations, human resources, and deployment operations including managing Return to Duty personnel and Rear Operations at Fort Hood during the peak of forces rotation in OIF and OEF.

Howell received both a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He resides in Nokesville with his wife Sarah and two sons. He holds a master’s degree in family counseling from Boston University and a masters in strategic planning from the Army War College.

As regional coordinator, Howell will oversee VWWP peer specialists who coordinate combat support groups. He will also coordinate family support, housing, employment, and financial assistance services as well as connections with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Virginia Wounded Warrior Program draws on services already available through localities, such as the community services boards and brain injury service providers along with federal resources such as the VA and military treatment facilities. Other services, such as financial assistance, housing, and transportation, may be made available via regional partners. Through outreach activities, Howell will identify veterans and their families who need assistance and connect them with agencies that can give them the help they need.

The VWWP northwestern region stretches from Frederick County to as far south as Bedford and Campbell counties, and as far west as Highland and Bath counties over to King George and Caroline counties. The region, however, does not include Loudon, Fairfax, and Prince William Counties.

To learn more about VWWP, visit


News from Al Bunting, Col, USAF (Ret), in N.J.  Thanks as usual Al for some great scoop!

Temporary Replacement Named For Guard Official Accused Of Rape
(Boston Globe) Governor Deval Patrick on Tuesday named the chief of staff of the Massachusetts Air National Guard to temporarily replace Massachusetts National Guard Adjutant General Joseph C. Carter, placed on leave after revelations he faced rape allegations 28 years ago.

Canada?s Plan To Buy F-35 Jets Is In Doubt As Auditor General Cites ?Significant Problems?
Check Your W-2: Some 30,000 Active Duty airmen spread across the service received Form W-2s for their 2011 taxes that contain errors. “The bottom line is everyone needs to check their W-2 through MyPay and see if they’ve been identified as someone who has been affected by the discrepancy,” said Capt. Tracy Busmann, comptroller for the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia. Wing officials said changes in state-level tax laws caused the errors in the Defense Finance and Accounting Service-issued W-2s. According to Busman, DFAS has identified “most of the accounts” with the bad W-2s and is notifying the major commands and the affected airmen. Those airmen will be issued a corrected Form W-2, designated W-2C, said Busmann. If an airman has already filed his taxes with the bogus W-2, he’ll need to file an amended tax return, said Busmann. (380th AEW report by SSgt. J.G. Buzanowski)

Cybersecurity Entangled In Turf Wars
( The White House is scrambling to influence cybersecurity legislation thats been tangled in a web of policy, politics and parochialism even reaching out to Republican leaders as the House prepares to act on the issue later this month.

Russia: Colonel Is Charged With Spying, Accused Of Selling Map To U.S. Agent
(New York Times) Russia charged a reserve colonel with espionage on Tuesday for selling what officials said were classified topographical maps to the Pentagon.

Wake Up And Adapt, Incoming War College Chief Tells Army
(AOL Defense ( Rebuilding the Army as a general-purpose force capable of combat and non-combat operations across the board will be a hell of a challenge, Cucolo acknowledged. But with the current budget crisis forcing real change, he said, “I believe we have an opportunity” as well.

DOD Sees ‘Emerging Stability’ On F-35, Despite Recent Difficulties
(DEFCON Hill ( Despite yet another spike in costs and an international coalition that seems to be fraying at the seams, there is an sense of ‘emerging stability’ within the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, according to the Pentagon.

Pentagon, Industry Brace For Big Cuts
(Wall Street Journal) The Pentagon has told congressional leaders it will start planning this summer to make the sharp reductions in military spending set to begin in January if lawmakers don’t reach a broad deal to reduce the federal budget deficit.

Deal Close On Night Raids, U.S. And Afghan Officials Say
(New York Times) After years of insisting that American forces end covert nighttime raids on Afghan homes, President Hamid Karzais government was close to completing a deal that would give the Afghan authorities legal oversight of the raids, while allowing American forces to retain a guiding role in conducting them, officials from both countries said Tuesday.

‘All They’ve Seen Is Turmoil’
(Belleville (IL) News-Democrat) A retired general who led U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan says rebuilding a country is a challenge of major proportions.

Nuke agency cautious on North Korea visit
VIENNA — As international tensions rise over a planned North Korean rocket launch, the U.N. nuclear agency is taking a wait-and-see attitude on an offer from the North to allow agency experts back into the country, according to a letter shared Tuesday with The Associated Press.In the March 30 letter, circulated internally among the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35 member-nations, IAEA head Yukiya Amano expresses thanks for the March 16 overture by North Korean Atomic Energy head Ri Je Son and says “the IAEA will follow up on your invitation in a constructive spirit.” [ Read More ]


Separate and unequal in post-U.S. Iraq
BAGHDAD — Now that U.S. forces are gone, Iraq’s ruling Shiites are moving quickly to keep the two Muslim sects separate — and unequal.

. [ Read More ]


Rep.: Drop charges against anti-Obama Marine
Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-Calif., is taking his support for Sgt. Gary Stein all the way to the Tea Party Marine’s command. [ Read More ]


Error dubs ‘Sexual Awareness Month’ at Langley
In case you are wondering, April is not “Sexual Awareness Month.” [ Read More ]


· DoD ordered to produce more sex assault data


· Bill would strengthen child custody protections


· Images show North Korea rocket launch work


· GAO calls tanker testing pace too aggressive


· Hill Air Force Base defends handling of mercury


· Ryan says he misspoke on military generals

Dempsey: Fewer programs, more leadership. When it comes to efforts for combat stress reduction, suicide prevention and building resiliency, the nation’s top military leader said each service branch should be free to do its own thing.

Marine Landing Party Starts Top End PR Offensive
(The Australian) US marines who begin their deployment in Darwin today bring with them a proud ethos of discipline and professionalism, First Lieutenant Jeremy Croft says.

‘AFP Still Banking On US To Secure Phl From Threats’
(Philippine Star) The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), despite its modernization program, will have to rely on its allies, particularly the United States, to secure and protect the country from external threats.

Iran’s Spymaster Counters U.S. Moves In The Mideast
(Wall Street Journal) In the smoldering geopolitical feud between the U.S. and Iran, spymaster Major-General Qasem Soleimani is emerging as director of the Islamic Republic’s effort to spread its influence abroad and bedevil the West.

U.S. Offers $10 Million Reward For Pakistani Militant Tied To Mumbai Attacks
(New York Times) The United States has announced a $10 million reward for information leading to the capture of Hafiz Saeed, a Pakistani militant leader accused of orchestrating the 2008 Mumbai attacks, who in recent months has emerged at the vanguard of a prominent anti-American lobbying group.

Lawyer To Examine Bales’ Medications At Time Of Afghan Killings
( John Henry Browne, the attorney for the U.S. soldier charged with killing 17 Afghan civilians on March 11, told the NewsHour in a telephone interview that he was interested in learning what medications his client, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, was taking at the time of the shootings.

Top Naval Officer Wants To Speed Up Mayport Timeline
(Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)) The Navys highest-ranking officer said Tuesday he wants to speed up transferring a three-ship group with 2,000 sailors to Jacksonville, but its not clear yet whether that is doable.

Rocket With Top-Secret Cargo Lifts Off
(USA Today) A rocket carrying a top-secret payload blasted off Tuesday from the California coast. The Delta IV rocket lifted off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Lawyers Ask To Block Marine Discharge Hearing
( Lawyers for a Marine who made critical statements about President Barack Obama on Facebook are seeking a federal court order to block a discharge hearing slated for Thursday at Camp Pendleton.

Clinton In Norfolk: NATO Key To Stopping Aggressors
(Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) The NATO alliance, which played a pivotal role protecting and rebuilding Europe after World War II, needs to be part of a modern-day effort to support emerging democracies and stem the growth of aggressors, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday.

Impact Of Ending Military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Law ‘Negligible’
(McClatchy Newspapers ( For 13 years, Marine Maj. Darrel Choat didn’t tell. That meant 13 years of demurring when the wives of fellow officers tried to set him up with women they knew. It meant sneaking away to attend the funeral of a friend who’d died of AIDS. It meant staying silent when fellow Marines ranted about “fags.”

A Prosecutor Makes The Case For Military Trials
(NPR) The chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba will speak at Harvard Law School later today. Brigadier General Mark Martins will be arguing a difficult case. He wants to persuade Americans that military commissions – the courts that try high-profile terror suspects – are fair – so fair, he argues, that they should have a place alongside the civilian criminal justice system.

Mohamed Merah And The New Breed Of ‘Nike Terrorists’
(Wall Street Journal) Mohamed Merah, the 23-year-old Frenchman who killed four Jewish civilians and three soldiers in murder spree last month, is a textbook example of what Western intelligence officials refer to as a “Nike terrorist.” When it comes to committing acts of terrorism, their mind-set is simple: Just do it.

Can Brazil Stop Iran?
(New York Times) But there is one area where it has an opportunity to lead and has failed to: preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. Brazil should take the bold step of voluntarily ending its uranium enrichment program and calling on other nations, including Iran, to follow its example.

Terror’s ‘Invisible Women’
(Los Angeles Times) Women are becoming more lethal. In jihadist organizations — including even Al Qaeda, which had long banned females from violent roles — women are increasingly taking part in terrorist actions.

Why We Must Strike Iran
(Washington Times) The Islamic fundamentalist regime in Iran has been at war with the United States for more than 30 years, but every administration from President Jimmy Carter’s to the current one has tried to ignore it. Currently, the Obama administration is wrestling with the issue of Iran’s drive to achieve nuclear weapons capability. The question of what we should do about it really becomes moot, since we now have clear evidence of Iran’s direct involvement and support of al Qaeda before and after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Evidence indicates Iran, Hezbollah and al Qaeda made an alliance in the 1990s.

Don’t Fear A Nuclear Arms Race In The Middle East
( The conventional wisdom has it wrong: Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon won’t spur its neighbors to get the bomb.

The Questions Pakistan Hasn’t Answered
(Washington Post) Let’s see if we’ve got the numbers straight: Osama bin Laden lived in five houses in Pakistan, fathered four children there, kept three wives who took dictation for his rambling directives to his terror network, had two children born in public hospitals – and through it all, the Pakistani government did not know one single thing about his whereabouts?

Say G?day To A Marine
(Northern Territory News (Darwin, Australia)) The overwhelming majority of Territorians will welcome the Americans. Australia and America have been mates for a long time. And for very good reasons. We share the same core democratic values.

Program Costs Ups and Downs: The projected program costs of the Air Force’s extended-range Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile have decreased from $4.4 billion to $3.8 billion, according to the Pentagon’s latest selected acquisition reports. The cost drop is due primarily to the Air Force accelerating its planned buy of 2,531 JASSM-ERs, which shortened the program by five years to Fiscal 2023, state the SARs, which run through December 2011 and supersede the previous set of estimates through December 2010.

Panetta Urged to Support Parental Custody Rights: House lawmakers sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta calling on him to throw his support behind legislation that would protect the custody rights of deployed military personnel. In the past, some parents—mostly mothers—have sought to use the courts to strip or amend the child custody rights of their military ex-spouses—predominantly fathers—while the latter were deployed. “Our men and women in uniform sacrifice much in the service of our nation. They shouldn’t also have to live with the constant fear that their custody rights as parents could be in jeopardy due to their service,” stated Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) in a release Monday. Turner and Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) penned the letter to Panetta urging him to support the Service Member Family Protection Act (H.R. 4201). Every House Armed Services Committee member co-signed the missive. “This legislation would ensure that being deployed, or the possibility of deployed, is not used against [service members] when child custody decisions are made by the courts,” said Turner. “The parental rights of our men and women in uniform should not be jeopardized simply because they made the meaningful and courageous decision to protect our freedoms,” said Andrews.

Mulling MALD: Air Combat Command officials are preparing an information package so that the command’s leadership can make the call whether the Raytheon-built Miniature Air Launched Decoy is ready for combat, an ACC spokeswoman told the Daily Report. ACC “has not yet officially declared” that MALD is cleared for real-world operations, MALD is a small jet-powered decoy designed to deceive enemy air defenses by making them think they are tracking an opposing strike aircraft.

Dempsey: Military Must Keep ‘Bond of Trust’ With Troops, Families

03/30/2012 11:38 AM CDT

Service Members Must Prepare For Transition, Dempsey Says

03/30/2012 02:16 PM CDT

Official: Holistic Care Builds Troop, Family Resilience

03/30/2012 02:51 PM CDT

Shinseki Vows to Support Military Members, Vets

03/30/2012 03:18 PM CDT

Panetta Blasts Congress for Failure to Avert Sequestration

03/31/2012 06:34 PM CDT

DOD Implements New Changes to Sexual Assault Response

04/02/2012 08:10 AM CDT

Shinseki: VA on Track to Break Claims Backlog

04/02/2012 08:37 AM CDT

VA Makes Progress on Pledge to End Veteran Homelessness

04/03/2012 08:09 AM CDT

– The Air Force’s goal is to retain injured Airmen on active duty. But when this is no longer an option, wounded warriors may explore new opportunities to serve through the Air Force Wounded Warrior Civil Service Employment Program.  The program helps all combat or hostile-related ill, injured and medically separated Airmen transition into Air Force federal civilian employment. It’s also one way the Air Force supports wounded warriors throughout the entire reintegration process and journey to a new ‘normal.’

“Helping wounded warriors get back on their feet and into the workforce again means a lot to them,” said Amelia Ruiz, a human resources specialist at the Air Force Personnel Center here. “Since 2009, more than 150 warriors have requested placement into federal service.”

AF officials complete IT consolidation across manpower, personnel and services
by Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever
Air Force Personnel, Services and Manpower Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas – Air Force officials have completed consolidating information technology assets and resources in the Air Force’s manpower, personnel and services community into the Air Force Personnel Operations Agency.

About 450 positions from IT divisions across the Air Force Personnel Center, Air Force Manpower Agency, AFPOA, Air Force Services Agency and Headquarters Air Force, Deputy Chief of Staff Manpower, Personnel and Services were merged into AFPOA’s organizational infrastructure.

AFPOA conducted several business process reviews to create standardized processes for completing IT requirements, recommending technical solutions, providing computer support and maintenance and managing other IT-related functions.

“We had 22 business process reviews that evaluated all the major business processes we perform in AFPOA,” said Joe Gallahan, AFPOA’s customer support division chief. “The work accomplished in these BPRs allows us to absorb reductions in manpower and continue to provide IT services to our customers.”

In the future, AFPOA will continue to expand their IT services portfolio and build a robust service catalog for customers to find approved IT software and hardware to meet new mission requirements. They are also developing virtual desktop and cloud computing initiatives to streamline how customers use and receive IT services. The virtual desktop project is currently underway and will start initial testing this month.

Senior panel: leadership isn’t gender dependent
by Jon Hanson
Air Force Personnel, Services and Manpower Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas – Six female leaders shared their perspective on Air Force life and careers during a March 28 Air Force Personnel Center’s professional development council seminar, illustrating that leadership isn’t gender dependent.

The seminar highlighted the success of women in the Air Force as Women’s History Month ended March 31. Panel members gave their point of views on the challenges and benefits of pushing yourself to excel.

Panel members were Barbara Sisson, Air Education and Training Command director of logistics, installations and mission support; Cynthia Garcia, AFPC deputy director of operations and civilian integration; Col. Lori LaVezzi, AFPC chief of sustainment division; Col. Deborah Landry, AFPC chief of Airmen assignments; Chief Master Sgt. Shannon Parker, AFPC chief of skills management branch; and Chief Master Sgt. Teresa Denton-Price, senior enlisted advisor to instructional delivery division of medical education and training campus at Fort Sam Houston.

Army reservist who endorsed Ron Paul receives reprimand. An Army reservist who gave a public endorsement of presidential candidate Ron Paul during a televised rally in January will receive only a letter of reprimand for violating military politicking rules.

Congress’ message to DOD: No BRAC for now, but cut more in Europe. Overcoming stiff opposition on Capitol Hill to any new round of U.S. base closures and realignments could hinge on how ambitious Pentagon plans are for closing more military facilities in Europe.

The argument for keeping the Feres doctrine. Victims’ rights groups for decades have blasted the Feres doctrine as misguided and unjust. But from the military’s perspective, the legal precedent is essential to making sure all troops are treated fairly.

Summit brings together ARC, active component to shape air force’s future (18th Air Force Public Affairs)

Mobile Surgical Team builds relationships, hones skills one surgery at a time (JTF-Bravo Public Affairs)

USAFCENT command chief delivers front line news (49th Wing Public Affairs )

AFMC commander talks warfighter input, tactical refinements after AOR trip (Gen. Donald Hoffman, Air Force Materiel Command commander)

Understand Your Military Pay

Deal of the Week: Military Discounts

Gulf War Study Seeking Volunteers

State Veteran’s Benefits Directory

Drawings of Proposed Museum Displayed

U.S.S. Constitution Joins Navy Week

Internships for Wounded Warriors

Military Warriors Support Foundation

Kit Up!: Custom Paracord Slings

Cyber Attack may Have Taken Al-Qaida Offline

Rep. Ryan Apologizes to Joint Chiefs Chairman

US to Provide Night Goggles to Syrian Rebels

DoD Buzz: Pentagon’s Self-Inflicted Wound

Def Tech: Another Chinese Stealth Fighter?

Wingie D: Online Crush Disappeared

Letters found during Iwo Jima battle tell an uncle’s story. Naoko Tomioka’s childhood curiosity about her uncle was greeted with quiet muttering by her father and grandparents, who held tight to the grief for their lost brother and son. In 2007 that shrouded past came alive for Tomioka, when her family received more than 100 letters that had belonged to her uncle on the day he died during the 36-day battle of Iwo Jima.

(News and comments provided by Wayne Gatewood)

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