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12
Aug
10

210. Secretary Shinseki’s Message to Gulf War Veterans.

August 2010 marks the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the Gulf War, launched with Operation Desert Shield and followed by Operation Desert Storm. VA honors this milestone with a renewed commitment to improving our responsiveness to the challenges facing Gulf War Veterans.

First and foremost, VA is an advocate for Veterans – we are committed to finding innovative solutions to long standing issues and to empowering Veterans and other stakeholders to be a part of the solution.

VA recognizes and values the selfless service and sacrifice of Gulf War Veterans and their families, and continues our efforts to address the unique health needs of Gulf War Veterans.

Today, more than 250,000 Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield Veterans receive disability benefits from VA. VA has treated nearly 150,000 Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield Veterans for illnesses associated with their military service. We vow to reach more of these Veterans and have taken steps to do so. Earlier this year, VA proposed a new rule to make it easier for Gulf War-era Veterans to obtain disability compensation and related health care. This rule, once it takes effect, will grant presumptive service-connection for nine infectious diseases associated with military service in Southwest Asia and Afghanistan.

In addition, VA’s ongoing Gulf War research and Task Force efforts continue to examine multisymptom illnesses, and other conditions associated with service in this conflict. VA continues to participate in Federal research efforts on Gulf War illnesses, contributing more than $158 million of the $406 million in total Federal commitment.

VA is taking bold steps forward in how we consider and address the challenges facing Gulf War Veterans as well as the challenges facing all Veterans. Our commitment to the Nation’s Veterans is unwavering.

As your Secretary and fellow Veteran, I pay tribute to all of you who so bravely served and thank all Gulf War Veterans for their heroic efforts. Our Nation owes you a debt of gratitude. We acknowledge and honor the contributions of your service. Thank you.
–Eric K. Shinseki

15
Oct
09

208. New Era of Responsibility?

A transformed VA will be a high-performing 21st century department, a different organization from the one that exists today. Beyond the next five years, we’re looking for new ways of thinking and acting. We are asking why, 40 years after Agent Orange was last used in Vietnam, this Secretary had to adjudicate claims for service-connected disabilities that have now been determined presumptive. And why, 20 years after Desert Storm, we are still debating the debilitating effects of whatever causes Gulf War Illness. If we do not stay attuned to the health needs of our returning veterans, 20 or 40 years from now, some future Secretary could be adjudicating presumptive disabilities from our ongoing conflicts. We must do better, and we will.

General Eric Shimseki,

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Back in January Wanderingvets posted news of retired General Eric Shinseki taking the office as Secretary of Veterans Affairs .(Real Changes Ahead for Veterans Affairs?) With the confirmation of General Shinseki there was great hope that the VA would be revamped to better serve the needs of our growing veteran population. This week General Shinseki addressed Congress with a “State of the VA Message” that is the result of 9 months of assessments within the VA.

Out of my discussions with Veterans, three concerns keep coming through — access, the backlog, and homeless Veterans.

It would seem that General Shimseki has a very accurate pulse on the shortcomings that have been demonstrated with the current VA system.
From medical negligence to a long backlog of disability claims for veterans,the layers of improvements needed for treating our veterans with the services they deserve seems to have been identified.

It’s very encouraging to see the needs of our homeless veterans being acknowledged and addressed by the VA. With 25% of all homeless Americans being veterans this is an area that has been put on the back burner for too long. The current VA system does little to reduce the burden of homelessness for veterans and historically has let community organization bear the burden of providing for homeless veterans. Sadly, in this current economic climate community resources aren’t able to meet the growing needs of all homeless citizens and many of our veterans remain on the streets without shelter.A survey by the National Coalition for The Homeless shows that shelters for the homeless only provide shelter for less than 40% of people in need of basic services.  A previous statistic by the VA estimated 154,000 veterans (male and female) are homeless on any given night and perhaps twice as many experince homelessness at some point during the course of a year. The VA claims this number is being reduced despite the overall rise in the homeless population in the US and the need for expanded VA services due to returning military from Iraq.

Veterans lead the Nation in homelessness, depression, substance abuse, and suicides. We now estimate that 131,000 Veterans live on the streets of this wealthiest and most powerful Nation in the world, down from 195,000 six years ago. Some of those homeless are here in Washington, D.C. — men and women, young and old, fully functioning and disabled, from every war generation, even the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will invest $3.2 billion next year to prevent and reduce homelessness among Veterans — $2.7 billion on medical services and $500 million on specific homeless housing programs. With 85 percent of homelessness funding going to health care, it means that homelessness is a significant health care issue, heavily burdened with depression and substance abuse. We think we have the right partners, the right plans, and the right programs in place on safe housing. We’ll monitor and adjust the balance as required to continue increasing our gains in eliminating Veteran homelessness. We are moving in the right direction to remove this blot on our consciences, but we have more work to do.

The men and women of the armed forces have been made a promise that if they defend our country in military service, we will provide them with the benefits they have earned. Sadly, the VA has fallen short on this promise to our Veterans on many accounts. Does this recent report to Congress mark a new era of responsibility  to our Veterans or will we continue to have the “blot” of  unkept promises on our consciences? Only time will tell.

14
Sep
09

207. Mobile VA Clinics for Tampa Veterans

mobile-outreach-clinic
Wanderingvets recently received this notification of mobile health services within the Tampa area:

James A. Haley Veterans hospital in Tampa Florida is pleased to announce the release of our new Mobile Outreach Clinic, It will be in our community delivering flu shots, homeless assistance, and so much more.

More information about services of this mobile clinic for the Tampa area can be found at The Department of Veterans’s Affairs/

29
Jun
09

205.Health Care Reform & The VA System:Here We Go Again?

reformAmerica is on the brink of making some very important decisions as relates to healthcare in this country. Currently, our politicians are bouncing around various proposals for the future of healthcare in America. Most recently Congress reported “trimming” this healthcare bill to $1 trillion .The facts about our current healthcare system support the need for some serious realignment in order to cover the healthcare needs of more Americans.

FACT: One-third of adults (31 percent) and more than half of all children (54 percent) do not have a primary care doctor (National Medical Expenditure Panel Survey) Continue reading ‘205.Health Care Reform & The VA System:Here We Go Again?’

24
May
09

202. Memorial Day 2009

LoganLike many Americans, I intend on enjoying this Memorial Day weekend as a holiday that welcomes in the summer season. It’s easy to forget what this national holiday actually is about. While we enjoy a day off on Memorial Day we should all give thought to the real spirit of this day and what it represents for our country and each of us .


Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan(pictured above), national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

During this Memorial Day week the theme of the Presidential address is “Sacrifice” which pays tribute to American’s veterans,service men and women. Indeed, the sacrifices of our military should never go without sincere and enduring appreciation by all Americans. While we celebrate this Memorial Day of 2009,let us all remember that this appreciation extends not just on this holiday weekend but throughout each and every day of the year.

The “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that on Memorial Day at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence.

Wanderingvets extends our thanks to all our veterans & members of the military on this Memorial Day of 2009.


20
Apr
09

195. Female Veterans Struggle with PTSD Treatment

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The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are the most sustained combat operations since the Vietnam War. A wealth of research has shown convincingly that the frequency and intensity of exposure to combat experiences is strongly associated with the risk of chronic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; APA, 1994) and related impairment (Kaylor, King, & King, 1987). As a result, there is good reason to be more concerned about the long-term mental health toll associated with these new wars than with the toll of other post-Vietnam War operations, such as the mission to Somalia (Litz, Orsillo, Friedman, Ehlich, & Batres, 1997) and the 1991 Persian Gulf War (Wolfe, Erickson, Sharkansky, King, & King, 1999). Only one comprehensive study has examined the mental health impact of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (Hoge et al., 2004). This study evaluated active-duty soldiers’ reports of various war-zone experiences and the rates of mental health problems; the estimated risk for PTSD from service in the Iraq War was much higher than from service in the Afghanistan mission (18% vs. 11%, respectively). In both contexts, reports of combat exposure were highly associated with the risk of PTSD.  (National Center for PTSD)

Females make up about 20% of today’s military personnel.  There are also almost 2 million women veterans in the United States.  However, the Iraq war marks the first time in our country’s history when woman have been widely exposed to the front lines of combat.  The statistics support the fact that PTSD is a real and all too common consequence of combat for all our military~both male and females alike. Unfortunately, our VA services have yet to keep up with the needs of our female veterans when it comes to providing services for PTSD. Continue reading ‘195. Female Veterans Struggle with PTSD Treatment’

06
Apr
09

194. Taking Notice of Our Veterans…At Long Last!

military

“I have started to meet with, in veterans hospitals, homeless veterans” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, . “And they are every bit as homeless and every bit as tragic as any homeless vet we’ve ever had. We as a country should not allow that to happen.”
Navy Admiral Mike Mullen,Chariman Joint Cheif of Staffs

These were the words of Admiral Mullen as he voiced his concern about the population of our homeless veterans. I was actually delighted to read Admiral Mullen’s statement because it means that homeless veterans are receiving long overdue attention. Actually, there has been quite a bit of government activity lateley regarding our homeless veterans in the media .

Let’s start with some potentially good news regarding homeless veterans. There are several bills that have passed in Congress over the past weeks that will benefit homeless veterans if passed in the Senate:

H.R. 1171, Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP) Act
, would reauthorize the HVRP program for five years through Fiscal Year 2014. HVRP provides grants to assist homeless veterans in job placement through services such as classroom training, job preparation, and vocational counseling. Continue reading ‘194. Taking Notice of Our Veterans…At Long Last!’




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Wanderingvet@wanderingvets.com AnAmerican@wanderingvets.com

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