Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Veterans issues: Backlog, PTS, job fairs, summit

"THE WAIT WE CARRY" proclaims a pop-up headline on Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America's website, "OVER 550,000 VETERANS ARE WAITING TOO LONG FOR THE DISABILITY BENEFITS THEY'VE EARNED." 

Clicking on it takes you to a powerful video presentation whose key moment may be asking the question: "How long should you have to wait before the country you served provides the help it promised?"

You can then explore the wait lists scandal by a variety of categories such as state and such year the claim began.  Information provided includes the four most frequent injury claims filed: 66%  Post-Trumatic Stress, 55% bad back, 53% mental illness, 48% hearing loss.

They also have a petition demanding US President Barack Obama end the VA backlog that you can sign here -- the petition is for veterans and non-veterans.

There is no "cure" for the backlog.  That's because it's not an illness.  And it's exists and, yes, grows because it's not a priority.  The VA will spend money on this and ask for money on that, but I've been in the hearings and I don't care if some technocrat you never heard of before, the 'beloved' (by Congress) Dr. Petzel, or the VA Secretary, it doesn't matter.  If they're asked about money for more employees to work the backlog, they always say "no."  More employees, they insist, would slow things down further.

Okay, well we've seen what the expertise has done over two administrations.

It's really past time that they were forced to take more employees until they can significantly reduce the backlog.  Clearly, they're not able to think of effective solutions for themselves.  Fine.  That's why there's oversight.  Barack's supposed to be overseeing the VA and so is Congress.  One of them needs to step up to the plate.  It'd be a win for Barack.  He could create, 50,000 or so new (temporary) jobs.

The VA officials love to waste money, they just get cheap about spending it on the things they're supposed to do.   This week, Aaron Glantz (Center for Investigative Reporting) reports on one example of how VA money was wasted:

A former Department of Veterans Affairs hospital director indicted on 36 corruption-related charges received thousands of dollars in bonuses during the same period he is accused of taking bribes and kickbacks from contractors who received lucrative contracts with the agency.  
VA data obtained by The Center for Investigative Reporting reveals that William Montague, head of the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center in Ohio, was awarded $73,000 in bonuses between 2007 and his retirement in 2010. 

As Jim Therrien (Berkshire Eagle) notes, the numbers represent people and the delays have consequences:

Citing progress, the VA has issued at least three press releases since early spring, when the outcry over backlogged claims among veterans, veterans organizations and elected leaders intensified. In one tragic case locally, former Marine Edward Passetto apparently committed suicide shortly after describing in an open letter to President Obama his attempts for more than two years to have his disability claim for post-traumatic stress disorder and other problems allowed by the Veterans Administration.
Passetto, 28, a Lee High School graduate who as a Marine sergeant served in Iraq and Afghanistan, died on May 11.

There's a new study on Post-Traumatic Stress. Anthony Rivas (Medical Daily) notes:

A new study says male twin veterans with PTSD who served during the Vietnam War are twice as likely to develop heart disease during a 13-year period, compared to those without PTSD.
The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, looked into the presence of heart disease in 340 identical twins and 222 fraternal twins from the Vietnam Era Twin Registry. They found that the incidence of heart disease was 22.6 percent in twins with PTSD (177 veterans) and 8.9 percent in those without PTSD (425 veterans).

That's only one study.  More would be needed.  But the study that will probably take several years to get to is the one that dives in deeper to find out what, if any PTS treatment, reduces this apparent risk of heart disease.  The study's intent was to find out if there was a link between heart disease and PTS and that's an important question.  But if you're a veteran with PTS or the loved one of a veteran with PTS, that study does nothing for you but worry you.  It provides nothing in terms of "Meditation reduces the risk . . ." or "a diet rich in Omega 3 eliminates . . ."

Another thing causing worries?  The continued lack of jobs nationwide.  That's causing worries for veterans and their families -- and for much of the general population.  Where are the jobs?

To assist veterans and their spouses in finding jobs, the Chamber of Commerce's Hiring Our Heroes job fairs are taking place across the country.  Today's it's Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Here's a list of the scheduled job fairs through the end of July:

June 26, 2013Tulsa, OK
June 27, 2013Lansing, MI
June 27, 2013Boston, MA
June 27, 2013Collinsville, IL
July 9, 2013Harrisburg, PA
July 9, 2013Biloxi, MS
July 10, 2013Sidney, OH
July 10, 2013Beckley, WV
July 11, 2013Louisville, KY
July 16, 2013Jackson, MS
July 16, 2013Detroit, MI
July 18, 2013Springfield, VA
July 18, 2013Springfield, OR
July 24, 2013Pasadena, TX
July 25, 2013Enterprise, AL
July 30, 2013Davenport, IA
July 30, 2013Montgomery, AL
July 30, 2013Reno, NV
July 31, 2013Butler County, PA

The job fairs do not end July 31st.  That's just all the space we have.  Click here to see the full list of  upcoming job fairs.

In addition to job fairs, Washington state's Veterans Affairs Dept is holding an event Saturday for female veterans:

2013 Women Veteran Summit

Greater Tacoma Convention Center
1500 Broadway - Tacoma, WA 98402

June 29, 2013

Washington State Women Military Veterans are encouraged to plan on attending the Women Veterans Summit
to be held Saturday, June 29th from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center, in Tacoma, WA.

This free conference will provide women veterans with information about opportunities and challenges
women veterans face today, as well as information on benefits and services they might be entitled to.

Exibitor/Vendor | Sponsorship Packet
For more information Barb Logan 360-725-2227

Special Guests

Rebecca HalsteadBrigadier General Rebecca Halstead (US Army, Ret),sponsored by Standard Process, served 27 years with the U.S. Army and retired in 2008 as a General Officer. She culminated her career as the Commanding General of the Army’s Ordnance Center and Schools. BG Halstead graduated from West Point in 1981 as a U.S. Army Ordnance officer. She was the first female graduate of West Point to be promoted to General Officer. She was also the first female in U.S. history to command in combat at the strategic level by commanding the highest level organization for logistics (3rd Corps Support Command) in the Combat Theater of Iraq. BG Halstead also served in Europe as the Deputy Commanding General for the 21st Theater Support Command. Prior to Europe, she served as the Chief Advisor to the Combatant Commander responsible for military training and operations in Latin America. BG Halstead is the recipient of the 2007 National Women’s History Project, and her military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (one Oak Leaf cluster), and the Meritorious Service Medal with five Oak Leaf clusters.  BG Halstead, along with other distinguished guests, will be part of a panel presenting a lunch plenary session on health and wellness.

AlexQuadeAlex Quade, War Reporter.
Ms. Quade will be joining us again this year as our Master of Ceremonies for the day and will also be a part of the Networking area. 
War Reporter Alex Quade covers U.S. Special Operations Forces on combat missions downrange. She is the recipient of the national RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Award and the Congressional Medal Of Honor Society’s “Tex McCrary Award For Excellence In Journalism” for her war reportage.
The Medal of Honor recipients present the award to individuals who, through their life's work, have distinguished themselves by service or unbiased coverage of the United States Military through journalism. Prior recipients of this prestigious award include legendary broadcasters Tom Brokaw, Mike Wallace, Tim Russert, Paul Harvey, and author Joe Galloway.
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society recognized Ms.Quade, "for her courageous reporting and honest news coverage".
Quade worked at Fox News Channel before heading overseas in 1998 to cover war zones and hostile environments as a freelancer, mainly for CNN. Extreme storytelling and silent risk-taking lie at the heart of what she does. As a "one-man-band", she embeds with elite combat units several months at a time, producing exclusive, long-form, special series and documentaries.
Quade's commitment to providing viewers "ground truth" behind the world's conflict zones has kept her "boots on the ground". For her award-winning "Brothers In Arms" for CNN's "Paula Zahn Now", Quade followed an Army National Guard family for 18-months, from Idaho to Iraq, and back. Following the program's airing on CNN, President George W. Bush publicly recognized the family for their bravery.
Quade's dedication to giving voice to those in the fight is evident in "Hunting IEDs" for CNN's "The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer" and CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360". Her series gave viewers their first inside look at a dangerous Marine Platoon mission in Fallujah. The U.S. Department of Defense Joint IED Defeat Task Force has used her piece as a case study.
In "Combat Search And Rescue" for CNN's "The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer" and "The Glenn Beck Show" onHeadline News (HLN), Quade shared high-risk rescue missions from the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan with U.S. Special Operations Forces.
Alex Quade has been embedded with every branch of the U.S. military, and serves on the Board of Military Reporters and Editors, the Association of Military Journalists.

Yvonne Lucas
Yvonne Lucas, Yvonne Lucas Racing. 
Ms Lucas contacted us wanting to do something special for our state’s women veterans.  She will be on hand to draw the names of two lucky women veterans for a complimentary day at the Pacific Raceways track in Kent.  Says Yvonne, “Would you like to experience the thrill of drag racing up close and personal?  Here’s your chance as my personal guest inside the exciting world of motor sports and drag racing right here in Washington!  This “Racing Experience” will bring two lucky winners right to the heart of the sights and sounds at Pacific Raceways to live the action firsthand.  Your complimentary day at the racetrack will include a chance to talk with racers and crew members, take a tour of the pit areas, and watch some of the best side by side racing action in the Northwest.  Join me and experience the great sport of drag racing founded right here in the USA!”

The e-mail address for this site is

iraq iraq iraq iraq iraq iraq