Monday, January 8, 2018
More than 1 million members of the military will start 2018 needing to make an important financial decision, as the government rolls out the biggest change to military retirement since World War II.
Members of the US Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard with fewer than 12 years of service will have to choose whether to stay on an all-or-nothing path toward a traditional pension after 20 years of service or to opt for a new "blended" retirement system that Congress approved as part of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced Tuesday that Octavia Harris, a San Antonio-area veteran, is the new chairwoman of the National Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, a panel that advises the VA secretary on issues important to women veterans, their families and their caregivers.
MADISON, Wis. -- An Atlanta family says it was negligence that led to the death of their father, an Army veteran.
Vance Perry was found dead on New Year's Eve in a freezing-cold parking garage in Madison, Wis.
Erika Perry hasn't seen her father in five years. Now, she and her siblings are trying to figure out how to see him one last time --- for his funeral.
SAGINAW, MI -- A national veterans organization that has been around for more than 100 years installed the first black woman commander in Michigan over the weekend.
On Saturday, Dec. 9, at the Wallace C. Schultz/Dwight A. McKinney Jr. Post 9931, Kimberly Napoleon was installed as a commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Bridgeport. Some describe Napoleon's accomplishment as historic and a trailblazer for other women.
WASHINGTON — Thanks to a new Air Force policy announced Tuesday, enlisted recruits can now experience the joys of basic training in their late 30s.
The Air Force raised the maximum age for enlisted accession from 27 to 39, meaning it may now be the best choice for those who feel the call to military service later in life.
A young man who was brutally raped by two men after a guys’ night out has revealed he was left traumatized and “wanted to jump off a bridge.”
Sam Thompson was subjected to a horrific attack which lasted several hours after a night partying with a friend in Manchester, England in September 2016.
Just before Veterans Day, and slightly over seven years after leaving the service, I finally had my first doctor’s appointment with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Like most vets, I’d heard both positive and negative stories about VA health care and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’d have to say my experience was somewhere in the middle and, perhaps most importantly, very informative.
During the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War, then-Navy corpsman David Ridenhour often browbeat troops in 1st Battalion, 5th Marines to take their medications — the anti-nerve agent pyridostigmine bromide and another pill, new to the market, to prevent anthrax.
Ridenhour took them. And while he doesn't completely blame his Gulf War illness symptoms on the drugs, he was interested to learn that last summer the Food and Drug Administration toughened its warnings for Ciprofloxacin, or Cipro, saying the potent antibiotic can cause severe and sometimes permanent nerve damage.
New York (CNN)Private Emmanuel Mensah went off to serve in the Army National Guard, but it was back home where he made the ultimate sacrifice.
Mensah died trying to rescue people from his burning apartment building this week in the Bronx, New York, in the city's deadliest fire in more than 25 years, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
As Mensah's father tells it, he went back into the building twice to rescue neighbors. But he did not make it out alive.
A fifth generation military veteran, Vonetta Daniels 02C completed her time in the United States Air Force and headed to Emory to complete her undergraduate degree. In late 2001, Daniels, a senior at the time, accidentally crashed the Caucus of Emory Black Alumni (CEBA) holiday party at Justin’s downtown. She was a non-traditional student, just out to celebrate her birthday. But soon after, Daniels went to a CEBA meeting, was pegged to be the service chair, and that is where it all began.
WASHINGTON – Researchers have discovered two areas of brain atrophy in Gulf War veterans who responded differently to a heart-rate test, leading scientists to believe that even those with the same Gulf War Illness symptoms may need different kinds of treatments.
"It was shocking to us," said Rakib Rayhan, lead author of the study and a researcher at Georgetown University Medical Center. "We were just floored."
The much-anticipated life-size, one-of-a-kind bronze statues representing women veterans of the United States Armed Forces who have served since WWI were installed at the newly-constructed Women Veterans Monument at Veterans Memorial Park in Las Cruces, NM on Dec. 20, 2017.
The realistic figures, which took more than one-year to create, represent branches of the military during various eras and are the focal point of the monument. The Women Veterans Monument will be officially unveiled at a formal dedication tentatively scheduled for March 10, 2018.
“I hope I’m wrong, but there’s a war coming,” Gen. Robert Neller told the Marines on Thursday, according to Military.com. “You’re in a fight here, an informational fight, a political fight, by your presence.”
Doctors and pharmacists at the Veterans Affairs Department have been cleared to talk about the pluses and minuses of medical marijuana use with vets who ask about the drug.
The doctors will still be barred from recommending or prescribing marijuana, but under a new VA directive they will be able to "discuss with the veteran marijuana use, due to its clinical relevance to patient care, and discuss marijuana use with any veterans requesting information about marijuana."
Department of Veterans Affairs IT contract is riddled with “uncertainty” after it failed to provide adequate oversight and properly manage information security risks, a watchdog reported.
VA’s inspector general found in a recent audit that the department obligated $431 million to HP Enterprise Services — which since merged with CSC to become DXC Technology in April — since 2013 for development of the Real Time Location System “without a Government acceptance of a functional RTLS solution.” The system is supposed digitally track medical equipment and devices so that “medical staff have optimal equipment and supplies to treat Veterans” in a safe manner, according to the VA.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed legislation allowing for more and faster investigations of Department of Veterans Affairs facilities by permitting nongovernment groups to inspect them.
The bill, titled the Enhancing Veteran Care Act, would allow regional VA officials to enter into contracts with accredited nonprofits to identify and report deficiencies at VA hospitals. It’s the latest move this year in a larger effort by the VA and Congress to bring accountability to VA workers
After their service in the Gulf War conflict from 1990-1991, hundreds of thousands of our country’s veterans began suffering from multiple and diverse debilitating symptoms including neurological and respiratory disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, psychological problems, skin conditions and gastrointestinal issues.
This cluster of symptoms came to be known as Gulf War syndrome. Independent investigations, including those conducted by many of the Gulf War veterans themselves, showed multiple causes behind Gulf War syndrome, including experimental vaccines and medications; exposure to depleted uranium (DU); toxicity from biological and chemical weapons, oil fires, and other environmental contaminants.
Friday, December 22, 2017
“If you’re brave enough to serve, you’re brave enough to heal.”
That’s Stephanie’s message to her fellow #Veterans. You can find support and move forward like she did.
Funding for the Veterans Choice Program could run out as early as Jan. 2, 2018, and as late as Jan. 16, 2018, according to a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) notice.
A new program in Los Angeles is trying to provide female veterans with health care outside the VA, which some consider a male dominated environment.
Libby Denkmann reports on a new effort to provide services to female veterans
There has always been some disconnect between veterans and medical marijuana.
Although there has been plenty of evidence to suggest cannabis would be beneficial to veterans for a wide array of ailments, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been reluctant to allow their doctors to formally recommend it as a treatment option. However, as the VA rolls out a new medical marijuana policy tor vets, it appears doctors are now permitted to at least discuss potential use with their patients.
Legislation pending in Congress would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide short term child care for veterans receiving mental health care at its medical facilities.
The bill, the Veterans Access to Child Care Act, passed the House but is awaiting action in the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Two veterans groups have filed a lawsuit against the Defense Department and Department of Homeland Security, alleging that the government is illegally denying records requests involving sexual assault and harassment cases.
The two veterans advocate groups — Protect Our Defenders and the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center — filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court Wednesday.
After their service in the Gulf War conflict from 1990-1991, hundreds of thousands of our country’s veterans began suffering from multiple and diverse debilitating symptoms including neurological and respiratory disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, psychological problems, skin conditions and gastrointestinal issues
Toxic Command: US Army Ignores Nurse’s Yearlong Pleas for Help; 1LT Survives Attempted Murder by Deranged Civilian
At approximately 5:10 p.m. on September 7, 2016, a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (NP) at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, heard screaming from an office adjacent to hers at Munson Army Health Center. The civilian NP ran into the hallway and found 26-year-old 1LT Katie Ann Blanchard, an active duty Registered Nurse (RN) and mother of three, on fire from the waist up. (Details of the attack from the FBI Criminal Complaint, dated 8SEP16 can be found here.)
For military women, before #MeToo there was #NotInvisible, our attempt to draw attention to the epidemic of sexual assault in the military which continues to be largely ignored by the American public. Now as the #MeToo reckoning sweeps other industries, from Hollywood to politics, America is once again leaving service women behind
False complaints of sexual abuse in the military are rising at a faster rate than overall reports of sexual assault, a trend that could harm combat readiness, analysts say.
Virtually all media attention on a Pentagon report last week focused on an increase in service members’ claims of sexual abuse in an anonymous survey, but unmentioned were statistics showing that a significant percentage of such actually investigated cases were baseless.
WASHINGTON — Pressurized oxygen chambers, light-emitting helmets and neck injections are all treatments the Department of Veterans Affairs is using to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
Following an announcement last week that the VA would offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy to some veterans with PTSD, the agency said Thursday that the move is part of an effort to explore alternatives to the traditional therapies for PTSD and TBI, VA Secretary David Shulkin said in a statement.
My post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) requires so much energy and planning to manage on a daily basis. But who am I kidding? It’s often hourly and sometimes minute by minute. For me, it’s basically a full-time job with no benefits, lousy hours and no overtime pay — but plenty of overtime, and an asshole for a boss.
Imagine surviving two deployments in Iraq, constantly dodging bombs and enemy gunfire, only to realize that the air you were once thankful to be able to breathe was making you sick. This is what happened to Sergeant Major Rob Bowman, who passed away from cholangiocarcinoma, a rare form of bile duct cancer, at the age of 44.
Unfortunately, as many military families know all too well, Sergeant Major Bowman’s situation is not unique. “Of the 30 men in Rob’s platoon who returned home, nearly one-third of them developed uncommon cancers and medical conditions,” said Coleen Bowman, Rob’s surviving spouse, “and the first doctor we saw confirmed immediately that the cause of Rob’s cancer was environmental, not genetic.”
Pentagon prepares to accept transgender recruits beginning in January, as Trump’s ban hangs in the balance
The Navy and Army fail to report violent offenders at rates higher than the Air Force and Marine Corps
WASHINGTON - A Defense Department review released Tuesday found significant failures throughout the military to report violent offenders to federal law enforcement, a breakdown that allowed Air Force veteran Devin Kelley to purchase the firearms he used to commit a massacre in Texas last month.
Yet while the focus in that case has been the Air Force’s failure to submit Kelley’s criminal history to the FBI’s background-check database, the other military services mostly performed far worse.
Donald Trump, from the outset, cast himself as a champion of veterans, and promised that he would improve veterans care as president.
But the toxic right-wing ideology of Trump and his administration has nonetheless seeped into the way they take care of and prioritize veterans.
Veterans discharged under conditions other than dishonorable who served in the Southwest Asia theater of military operations, which includes the areas specified by regulation, but not Afghanistan, may be entitled to disability compensation for certain undiagnosed illnesses, certain diagnosable chronic disability patterns, and certain presumptive diseases ( as described below) even though these disorders did not become manifest during qualifying service. Veterans who served in Afghanistan on or after September 19, 2001, may be entitled to disability compensation for certain presumptive diseases.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has reversed course on a plan to essentially end a $460 million program that helps provide housing to homeless veterans after facing blowback when news of the decision broke.
VA Secretary David Shulkin said in a statement that “there will be absolutely no change in the funding to support our homeless programs,” and the department “will not be shifting any homeless program money to the Choice program,” which allows veterans to seek health care at facilities outside the VA
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
The Friday before Thanksgiving, the Pentagon quietly and for the first time released raw figures on the number of reports of sexual assault across all U.S. military installations at home and abroad, by base. The release of this data generated a certain momentary buzz in headlines across the U.S., but failed to provide context in terms of rates by population.
Large bases with greater numbers of personnel could be expected to generate larger numbers of reports; but without a sense of rate by population size of the base it continues to be impossible to compare bases with one another. But never fear, not-so-gentle Internet. Those missing context-providing rates can be generated from verified population figures, and we’ve done that work.
The US military that won Desert Storm or Gulf War I in 1991 was a spectacular military, a gargantuan industrial age military with high tech weaponry and well trained personnel, that when called upon, achieved victory with the speed of Patton and the elan of Teddy Roosevelt.
Overlooking the vast eight mile carnage on the Highway of Death in Kuwait, destruction that was caused by a US Air Force and Navy that bore almost no resemblance to the two services now, a sergeant in the 7th US Cavalry remarked, “America sure got its money’s worth from those Joes.”
USA TODAY Investigation: VA knowingly hires doctors with past malpractice claims, discipline for poor care
Neurosurgeon John Henry Schneider racked up more than a dozen malpractice claims and settlements in two states, including cases alleging he made surgical mistakes that left patients maimed, paralyzed or dead.
Watch VIDEO more...
GARFIELD — Not enough doctors focused on their needs. Poor access to mammograms. A hospital that feels more like a strip club than a medical center.
These were just some of the concerns shared by female veterans Friday, when they spoke at a round table hosted by Rep. Bill Pascrell and Sen. Cory Booker, both Democrats, at Garfield VFW Post 2867.
About 20 veterans commit suicide every day. The primary enemy most veterans face after service is not war-related trauma but loneliness, according to a new study by researchers at Yale and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The study, scheduled to be published Oct. 1 in the journal World Psychiatry, followed 2,000 veterans over a period of four years to help explain why studies have shown that vets are more than twice as likely to kill themselves as their civilian counterparts. At enrollment, the participants never had suicidal thoughts and were representative of U.S. military veterans as a whole: They were predominantly older, with an average age of 62, and two-thirds had never seen combat.
There were an estimated 15,000 sexual assaults in the U.S. military last year.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has reintroduced her Military Justice Improvement Act that would put military sex assault prosecutions in the hands of trained prosecutors. She spoke on CBS This Morning.
Congress should act swiftly to approve long overdue legislation introduced Thursday to strengthen the prosecution of sexual assault in the military.
The Defense Department estimates that about 8,600 women and 6,300 men were sexually assaulted in our armed forces last year. Most victims were attacked more than once, resulting in over 70,000 sexual assaults in 2016 alone.
Thursday, November 16, 2017
Preserving the past: 9 tips on obtaining missing military records (and awards) for you or a loved one
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, it’s expected that about a half-million will be alive at the end of 2017.
Many veterans of this and other conflicts will take with them stories of service that can’t be replaced. Some will have earned commendations they mentioned only in passing, or ignored out of modesty, or locked away alongside painful memories.
WASHINGTON — A veteran committed suicide by setting himself on fire in front of a New Jersey VA clinic after staff at the clinic repeatedly failed to ensure he received adequate mental health care, an investigation of the death found.
Department of Veterans Affairs staff canceled an appointment Charles Ingram had in fall 2015 because a provider was unavailable, didn’t follow up to reschedule, and when he walked into the clinic to ask for an appointment, they didn’t schedule it until three months later, the VA inspector general found.
Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET Wednesday
After thousands of U.S. veterans won a class action suit against the military over being used in chemical and biological testing, the Army says it will pay for their medical care. But the group's attorneys say the service is falling short of meeting its obligations and that it's withholding details veterans are seeking about what agents they were exposed to.
The Army says veterans can be treated for any injuries or diseases caused after the service used the soldiers as research subjects in the period from 1942 to 1975.
In recent years, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), has been taken a lot more seriously. But, the general public is often not aware of the struggles returning veterans have with the disorder.
Stephanie Shannon is a veteran of Desert Storm and Desert Shield operations during the first Gulf War. She’s the founder and CEO of Michigan Women Veterans Empowerment and she joined Stateside to talk about how women who fight for our country deserve more recognition for their service.
This report provides a national baseline and comparative portrait of the health of women who have served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and those who have not. Findings highlight the positive health experiences as well as health challenges affecting women who have served. In particular, key findings from the most recent period, 2014-2015, indicate that as compared to women who have not served, those who have served have:
- Significantly higher overall rates of mental illness including lifetime depression, any mental illness in the past year, and suicidal thoughts in the past year.
- Better overall self-reported health status, yet significantly higher rates of chronic disease such as cardiovascular disease, COPD, cancer, and arthritis.
- Significantly higher overall rates of health insurance coverage, access to primary care, and utilization of preventive services such as cancer screenings.
- Significantly lower overall rates of physical inactivity and obesity, yet higher rates of insufficient sleep.
WASHINGTON – People with a history of “self-mutilation,” bipolar disorder, depression and drug and alcohol abuse can now seek waivers to join the Army under an unannounced policy enacted in August, according to documents obtained by USA TODAY.
The decision to open Army recruiting to those with mental health conditions comes as the service faces the challenging goal of recruiting 80,000 new soldiers through September 2018. To meet last year's goal of 69,000, the Army accepted more recruits who fared poorly on aptitude tests, increased the number of waivers granted for marijuana use and offered hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses.
Patients with Gulf War Illness, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Show Distinct Molecular Changes After Exercise
A new study reveals distinct molecular mechanisms underlying two long-misunderstood brain disorders: chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and Gulf War Illness (GWI). These two illnesses, which were long thought to be psychological in nature, share significant commonalities such as pain, fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, and exhaustion after exercise.
Combat in the Gulf War of 1990-91 lasted less than two months, but it’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of the troops who served in the Middle East during that time may still experience symptoms of Gulf War Illness (GWI). Thought to be caused by exposure to chemical and biological weapons or other hazardous chemicals, GWI’s symptoms include difficulties with memory and speech, mood swings, and chronic pain.
Two studies presented at the annual Society for Neuroscience Meeting on November 11 and 14 provide some clues to GWI’s biological basis. The first, described by Anika Patil of Drexel University College of Medicine, treated cultured rat neurons with a sarin gas analogue, and found it led to the deacetylation—and destabilization—of the cells’ microtubules, which are needed to transport mitochondria and other cellular components. Pretreating the cells with corticosterone to mimic the effects of stress exacerbated the effect. For deployed service members, “there is an ongoing stress from the moment you leave until the moment you return,” commented Col. Deborah Whitmer of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, who moderated a press conference about the findings.
While the Harvey Weinstein scandal has focused the attention of the public on sexual assault in the workplace, it is important to note that one highly regarded American institution, the U.S. military, has been struggling with the issue for more than 25 years.
Each time new scandals involving the services become public, the uniformed military leaders force some service members to retire early, promise to increase training and announce a zero tolerance policy. But what they and their supporters will not do is remove the cases from the chain of command, that is, place sexual assault accusations in the hands of military lawyers free of influence or impact by the commanders where sexual assault incidents are alleged to have occurred.
Are America’s best days behind us? And if so, what can we do about it?
For years, Americans have been losing faith in our institutions, and many are asking questions like this about our country’s future.
No national institution is suffering a crisis of trust more than Congress. Public confidence in Congress hovers slightly above 10%, down 30 points since 1986.
Every single day, one of the 2.2 million women veterans in our country walks into her local Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital. When she enters the building, she will likely be met with a sign on the door that reads: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and his widow and his orphan,” the motto of the VA. Perhaps she’ll even think twice about going in.
Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center have found distinct molecular signatures in two brain disorders long thought to be psychological in origin—chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and Gulf War Illness (GWI).
Veterans Day is an occasion to recall the service of our troops. But women’s stories have often been absent from those recollections. Works of fiction and nonfiction, memoirs (such as Mary Jennings Hegar’s), documentaries (including “The Invisible War”) and dramas (such as “Blood Stripe”) have helped show this side of the armed forces.
Still, myths about female veterans endure. Kayla Williams, who wrote a memoir about serving as an Army linguist in Iraq, remembers an infantryman who was “sure that women troops would be flown by helicopter to shower every three days.” Here are some of the most persistent misconceptions.
On this Veterans Day, let’s take an opportunity to dispel a few misconceptions about veterans.
First off, veterans tend to look different than the “all-American hero” stereotype some people might imagine. Indeed, the military is in many ways as diverse as the rest of the nation.
A full 30% of the active military and selected reserve force identifies as black or Latino, which is about the same as the percentage nationwide.
In 2012 the American Public Health Association, (APHA), one of the country’s foremost health organizations and publisher of the influential American Journal of Public Health, adopted a policy statement calling for the cessation of military recruiting in public elementary and secondary schools.
APHA demands the elimination of the No Child Left Behind Act requirement that high schools both be open to military recruiters and turn over contact information on all students to recruiters and eliminating practices that encourage military recruiters to approach adolescents in US public high schools to enlist in the military services.1
“Every morning when I wake up, a memory of what happened to me in Iraq lingers in my mind,” retired Marine Sgt. Carlos Villasenor recounts in a new PBS documentary. “They didn't really prepare us on how to feel or how to react coming home.”
And when Villasenor turned to the VA for help, the agency canceled a scheduled appointment with him and promised to call back soon to reschedule.
I n the 1980s, around the time of the massive deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill, I was working toward my degree in clinical psychology by training at a psychiatric hospital in Washington, D.C. One sweet, diminutive, elderly patient sometimes wandered the halls. She had been committed to the hospital after she stabbed someone in a supermarket. She was what is sometimes referred to as a revolving-door patient: She was schizophrenic and heard frightening voices in her head, and when she became psychotic enough, she would be hospitalized, stabilized on medication, and then released back to the community. There she would soon go off her medication, become psychotic, be rehospitalized, stabilized again on medication, released, etc.