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Thursday, 01 February 2018
Topic Started: Feb 1 2018, 07:16 AM (11 Views)
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Michael Isam
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Thanks to Kevin Secor

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- Thursday, 01 February 2018

- Did you know:

- Unity, fear and the anthem: Top takeaways from Trump’s State of the Union Address.
- VA backs Trump’s State of the Union comments about accountability law’s impact.
- VA reveals hundreds of additional firings following Trump’s State of the Union.
- Republican Lawmakers Applaud Trump’s Call to Fire More Feds, Pledge to Pass Reforms.
- 5 Federal Accountability Bills That Failed in Congress.
- Trump, Pentagon hope 2018 sees more foreign militaries buying American.
- Trump warns of growing threats from N. Korea, terrorist groups; promises to build up military.
- National security expert to Congress: US not ready for warfare’s future.
- Personal phones could be banned at Pentagon as result of Mattis-ordered review.
- US Army secretary holds Germany to its NATO spending promise.
- Marine colonel that was drugged, robbed in Bogota forced to retire.
- Navy officer pleads guilty to trading info for entertainment, sex in ‘Fat Leonard’ scandal.
- Air Force grounds all T-6 flights after multiple hypoxia-like problems.
- New Scott Air Force commander named after colonel ousted over alleged sexual misconduct.
- Angelina Jolie calls on NATO troops to confront sexual abuse.
- Half of Post-9/11 Vets Aren’t Getting Mental Health Care, Report Says.
- VA Health System Failing on Mental Health Care: Report.
- New report evaluates the VA’s mental health services, finds substantial unmet need.
- Study: Marriage, religious doubts can raise suicide risk among Veterans.
- VA criticized over eye care for Vets in rural areas.
- Alaska VA makes progress after taking over Choice referrals.
- Plans for $148 million housing tower finally approved for Haley VA hospital.
- Veterans Affairs Wasted Closer to $2 Billion On Failed IT Projects.
- Leominster woman charged in theft of $325K in US benefits .
- AMVETS Hires New Chief Medical Executive to Tackle Veteran Mental health Crisis.
- Guardians of the National Cemetery honored for their service.
- John Kelly: High school teacher ‘ought to go to hell’.
- Veterans group creates PSA to follow rejected Super Bowl ad.
- Veteran of the Day – Ken Spink.


Did you know:

February is National Recreation Therapy Recreation Month: Join the more than 860 recreation therapists and creative arts therapists, and the Veterans they serve, in celebrating national Recreation Therapy Recreation Month. Along with focusing on health promotion, disease prevention and improving quality of life, recreation therapy and creative arts therapy enhance or maintain motor, physical, social, and cognitive functioning. These therapies provide opportunities to build confidence, develop coping skills, and integrate the skills learned in treatment settings into community settings. The uniqueness of recreation therapy and creative arts therapy is they provide unconventional treatment methods for those individuals who resist other treatment approaches or who are unaware of their conditions or issues inhibiting their rehabilitation. Recreation therapy and creative arts therapy provide a spectrum of services, opportunities, and choice for Veterans across the continuum of care to maximize their rehabilitation potential, increase independence, and sustain a healthy and meaningful leisure lifestyle. For more about VA’s Recreation Therapy Service, visit http://www.rehab.va.gov/rectherapy.


USA Today Unity, fear and the anthem: Top takeaways from Trump’s State of the Union Address. President Trump delivered the third-longest State of the Union address Tuesday night -- and it was a pretty traditional presidential performance. He largely remained on script, and delivered on his aides' pre-speech promise that he would discuss a "safe, strong, and proud America," Here are a few key takeaways from the speech, which ran an hour and 20 minutes.

Military Times: VA backs Trump’s State of the Union comments about accountability law’s impact. — In his first State of the Union speech Tuesday, President Donald Trump boasted that his administration has begun cleaning up the Department of Veterans Affairs by getting rid of problematic workers thanks to new accountability legislation passed by Congress last summer. During the address, Trump said that his administration’s actions over the last year have shown that “we are serving our brave veterans, including giving our veterans choice in their health care decisions.”

Military Times VA reveals hundreds of additional firings following Trump’s State of the Union. Veterans Affairs revealed on Wednesday several hundred employee firings that had not been publicly reported.

Government Executive: Republican Lawmakers Applaud Trump’s Call to Fire More Feds, Pledge to Pass Reforms. VA Secretary David Shulkin has praised the new authority he received under the new law, saying it has enabled him to vastly improve accountability at the department. The effectiveness of the measure that Shulkin has consistently promoted and which Trump touted on Tuesday is questionable, however, if the goal was to simply fire more workers. In his speech, Trump boasted that VA has more than 1,500 employees “who failed to give our veterans the care they deserve.”

WFED (AM-1500): 5 Federal Accountability Bills That Failed in Congress. President Donald Trump on Tuesday asked Congress to help the executive branch tackle an issue that isn’t often mentioned during an annual State of the Union address. Citing success with a new accountability law at the Veterans Affairs Department, Trump called on lawmakers to give “every cabinet secretary … the authority to reward good workers — and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.”

Fox News Trump, Pentagon hope 2018 sees more foreign militaries buying American. The Defense Department has a new target -- making 2018 a record year for selling U.S. arms to foreign militaries.

Stars and Stripes Trump warns of growing threats from N. Korea, terrorist groups; promises to build up military. President Donald Trump praised a North Korean defector and the parents of an American university student who died of injuries suffered while in North Korean custody Tuesday evening as he warned that the communist state “could very soon threaten our homeland.”

Defense News National security expert to Congress: US not ready for warfare’s future. Witnesses stressed throughout a House Armed Services Committee hearing that the military is currently ill-prepared to compete with rivals on the world stage.

Stars and Stripes Personal phones could be banned at Pentagon as result of Mattis-ordered review. An ongoing review of policies governing the use of personal electronics – ranging from small fitness trackers to smartphones and tablets – at military sites around the world could lead to a ban on the use of non-government cellphones at the Pentagon, according to defense officials.

Defense News US Army secretary holds Germany to its NATO spending promise. It’s important we all live up to our commitments because if not, it weakens the alliance,” the Army's top civilian said.

Stars and Stripes Marine colonel that was drugged, robbed in Bogota forced to retire. A military board has recommended forced retirement for a Marine colonel who was slipped a tranquilizer during a night on the town in Bogota, robbed and led around like a zombie before winding up in a Colombian hospital along with two other drugged Marine officers

Stars and Stripes Navy officer pleads guilty to trading info for entertainment, sex in ‘Fat Leonard’ scandal. Former Cmdr. Troy Amundson is the 20th of 29 defendants to plead guilty in the ever-growing fraud and corruption scandal.

Air Force Times Air Force grounds all T-6 flights after multiple hypoxia-like problems. The 19th Air Force has halted all T-6 Texan II operations after a “cluster” of unexplained physiological events — a term used to describe conditions such as hypoxia — at three bases over the last week.

The Associated Press New Scott Air Force commander named after colonel ousted over alleged sexual misconduct. A colonel has been named to take over command of 375th Air Mobility Wing at Scott Air Force weeks after the previous commander lost the job amid sexual misconduct allegations.

Stars and Stripes Angelina Jolie calls on NATO troops to confront sexual abuse. Angelina Jolie, who serves as the United Nations’ special envoy on refugees, said she would be working closely with NATO in the months ahead in a push to get the military alliance more involved in stemming violence against women and children.

Bloomberg: Half of Post-9/11 Vets Aren’t Getting Mental Health Care, Report Says. About half of U.S. veterans who served during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq don’t get the mental health care they need, according to a new report that recommends changes to improve the care delivered by the Veterans Affairs health system. While many veterans receive good mental health care through the VA, it’s inconsistent across the system, according to the report from the National Academies of Sciences…

U.S. News & World Report (HealthDay): VA Health System Failing on Mental Health Care: Report. Many U.S. veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars aren't getting needed mental health treatment for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or substance abuse, a national panel of experts says. Female vets may be at special risk of missing out on services, the report found. The survey found that about half of all veterans of the Iraq/Afghanistan conflicts who may require mental health care do not use U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs…

MedicalXpress: New report evaluates the VA’s mental health services, finds substantial unmet need. While the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides mental health care of comparable or superior quality to care provided in private and non-VA public sectors, accessibility and quality of services vary across the VA health system, leaving a substantial unmet need for mental health services among veterans of the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

New Haven Register (Connecticut Health I-Team): Study: Marriage, religious doubts can raise suicide risk among Veterans. Marriage and struggles with religion and spirituality significantly raise the suicide risk for veterans, according to a study funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “Transitioning back into a domestic home environment may prove exceedingly difficult,” resulting in an increased suicide risk for veterans who are married or living with a partner, the study states.

Stars and Stripes: VA criticized over eye care for Vets in rural areas. A Department of Veterans Affairs program aimed at increasing access to eye exams for rural and homeless veterans utilizes a technique that some optometrists consider subpar care. Through the program, veterans receive eye screenings using technology called auto-refraction to check for vision problems and disease. The results are used as the basis for eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions.

Alaska Journal of Commerce: Alaska VA makes progress after taking over Choice referrals. Alaska’s 72,000 veterans will continue to receive care under a program that the state office of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs took pains to reconfigure over the past 18 months. The Veterans Choice Program received an additional $2.1 billion in December, just weeks prior to the three-day government shutdown.

Tampa Bay Times: Plans for $148 million housing tower finally approved for Haley VA hospital. Long-delayed plans for a new $148.6 million medical housing unit at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center have finally been approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The 245,000-square-building will be designed to provide 96 medical surgical single-patient rooms, 40 intensive care unit beds and room for office space, said Shayna Rodriguez, a Haley spokeswoman.

NextGov: Veterans Affairs Wasted Closer to $2 Billion On Failed IT Projects. The Veterans Affairs Department blew almost $2 billion over three attempts to modernize the electronic health records system it uses to provide care to 9 million veterans. A recent audit by the Government Accountability Office identified $1.1 billion in wasted spending on two VA projects from 2011 to 2016, the Integrated Electronic Health Record and Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture.

Worcester Telegram Leominster woman charged in theft of $325K in US benefits . According to the indictment, from November 2009 through March 2017, Ms. Progin stole approximately $55,267 in Social Security benefits, and from November 2009 through November 2017 she stole approximately $269,978 in benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The indictment did not ...

AMVETS AMVETS Hires New Chief Medical Executive to Tackle Veteran Mental health Crisis. In a move that signals the organization’s effort to take the lead in veteran healthcare advocacy, American Veterans (AmVets) announced the hiring of Lana N. McKenzie as Chief Medical Executive. In her role, she will focus on shaping and improving upon VA policies related to mental health, traumatic brain injury, and polytrauma care for veterans.

The Intelligencer: Guardians of the National Cemetery honored for their service. The non-profit guardians group is the official support committee of Washington Crossing National Cemetery in Upper Makefield. A gift of appreciation was presented to Vietnam War veteran Joe Hogan during a recent banquet to recognize his more than 12 years of volunteer service as president and vice-president of the Guardians of the National Cemetery. Hogan, a retired U.S. Marine and Bristol Township resident, recently stepped down from his president’s post.

Military Times John Kelly: High school teacher ‘ought to go to hell’. A lot of people have weighed in on high school teacher Gregory Salcido’s anti-military rant apparently captured on video earlier this month.

Military Times Veterans group creates PSA to follow rejected Super Bowl ad. AMVETS has created a 30-second public service announcement to elaborate on their print ad that was rejected by the NFL for including the message “#PleaseStand.”

Dept of Veterans Affairs Veteran of the Day – Ken Spink. Army Veteran Ken Spink. Ken served from 1966 to 1979. Ken was born in Watertown, New York. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from The Citadel in 1966 and was commissioned in the Army Adjutant General Corps. During his military career, Ken served at Fort Rucker and Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, Vietnam, Fort Totten in New York, and in Frankfurt, Germany. His last active duty assignment was as the commander of the Army’s largest postal unit.

Ken earned a master’s degree in personnel psychology from Columbia University in 1978. He later served as deputy director of personnel and community activities and director of community activities at Bremerhaven, Heidelberg and Darmstadt, Germany; Camp Zama, Japan; and Fort Drum, New York. In the 1980s, Ken taught industrial and organizational psychology for the University of Maryland.

In 1998 Ken was working as a civilian at Fort Drum in upstate New York during an infamous ice storm in January. He served as director of morale, welfare and recreation and played a role in the response and recovery to the storm. Ken’s last assignment was as garrison manager of the US Army installations in Okinawa, Japan, from 2002 to 2007. He retired in December 2007 after more than 40 years of military and civilian service with the Army, which included 22 years overseas. He now lives in Summerville, South Carolina, with his wife Alice. They have two children and six grandchildren. Thank you for your service, Ken!

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