Trending Top Headlines

Post Date: August 14, 2018
Share This Article

Paralyzed Veterans is committed to sharing relevant and timely news and information that matters to #veterans, their families and caregivers. As we recognize the new year, we will be sharing the top stories of the day every morning. Make sure to check back in tomorrow for more! #1mission1pva


Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018, Designed to Protect Passengers with Disabilities 
U.S. Senate vote of 93 to 6 to passes the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 302). The legislation includes a ‘bill of rights’ and an advisory panel for passengers with disabilities, as well as revised training and procedures for TSA screenings of people with disabilities.

Senator Baldwin’s Reforms to Protect Rights of Disabled Airline Passengers Pass Congress 
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin worked to include a number of key measures from her Air Carrier Access Amendments Act in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 to protect the rights of disabled airplane passengers and close service gaps that passengers with disabilities frequently encounter in air travel. The reforms included in the legislation passed the House and the Senate and now head to the President for his signature.

NMEDA Honored at PVA’s 2018 Mission: ABLE Awards 
Last week, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Robert Wilkie, joined Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) in honoring three companies at the Mission: ABLE Awards for their leadership and efforts to expand the rights of individuals with disabilities. Over 400 guests attended the event that recognized those who painstakingly work to create an America where U.S. veterans are able to access everything they need to live full and rewarding lives. 
Robotic Wheelchair Promises Vets a Better Ride 
A new robotic wheelchair that shifts its shape and wheel configuration to match terrain could help restore independence for thousands of catastrophically disabled veterans. The chair, being developed by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, was one of several new mobility technologies the scientists shared on Monday with medical professionals at Clay Kaserne’s mission command center. 
Penske Logistics Manager Awarded Patriot Award for Military Support 
The call to deploy was an all-too-familiar one for Ken Berkley, one that would see him trade his role as a Penske Logistics load planner in Ohio for one as a Navy Reserves transportation specialist in Bahrain.  
‘I knew something was not right’: Mass Cancellations of Diagnostic Test Orders at VA Hospitals Draw Scrutiny 
Radiology technologist Jeff Dettbarn said he knew something was wrong at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Iowa City, Iowa, when a patient arrived in February 2017 for a CT scan, but the doctor’s order for it had been canceled.


Secretary promises VA will be more ‘welcoming’ to women veterans
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said his department “needs to be more welcoming to women veterans” and promised improvements at the bureaucracy in months to come. “We are on the cusp of a great change,” Wilkie told veterans attending the inaugural meeting of the Military Women’s Coalition in Georgia on Friday. “This is not my father’s or my grandfather’s VA. It is now your VA. We have to change how we do business, and that means making the institution more welcoming.”

VA Opens New Research Center Focused on Veteran Caregivers
A new Department of Veterans Affairs research hub will focus on veteran caregiver challenges and services, officials announced today. The Elizabeth Dole Center of Excellence will operate under the VA Health Services Research and Development program, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie announced today. The virtual center is named in honor of former Sen. Elizabeth Dole whose foundation focuses on caregiver issues, support and research.

VA Hospitals raise awareness about suicide prevention programs for Veterans
Recent reports show 20 veterans are dying each day by suicide. While that number seems high, it’s actually lower than years past. “The suicide rate for veterans has actually decreased from the last time we reported out those numbers,” Sharon Anastas, a Suicide Prevention Coordinator with Iron Mountain’s VA Hospital told TV6 News. “It used to be 22 veterans dying each day by suicide, now we’re reporting out 20 veterans dying a day by suicide. So we believe that some of the efforts that we are making in suicide prevention may be helping.”


Proposed SGLI Change Would Close Spouse Notification Loopholes
A new proposal on Capitol Hill is the latest in a long, ongoing battle to alter the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program to be friendlier to spouses and family members. SGLI offers an inexpensive life insurance option for troops of up to $400,000. The benefit costs seven cents per $1,000 of coverage and is purchased in $50,000 increments.

Some fear GI Bill changes could overwhelm VA
Upcoming changes to the GI Bill could help more veterans get a college degree but some politicians fear the alterations may cause more problems for the troubled Department of Veteran Affairs. The GI Bill is a benefits program that started after World War II and helps veterans cover the cost of getting a college education or job training.

VA wants to use AI to boost veteran experience
The Department of Veterans Affairs is looking to leverage artificial intelligence to improve the services it provides veterans. The agency called for industry input on how to apply the technology to its call centers and websites in a recent request for information.

The Decision Ready Claims (DRC) Program is the fastest way to get your VA claim processed.

The Decision Ready Claims (DRC) Program is the fastest way to get your VA claim processed. You can get a decision on your claim in 30 days or less by working with an accredited Veterans Service Organization (VSO). Paralyzed Veterans of America helps all veterans get their VA claims processed as quickly as possible. Learn more here

Coming Back From A ‘Free Fall’: Addressing Female Veteran Suicide

Female veterans are nearly 2 ½ times more likely to commit suicide than civilian women, according to data from the Veterans Administration Suicide Prevention Program. 

Veterans’ higher expectations for health care driving VA’s new tech approach

Veterans have higher expectations now for more convenience, a better experience and easy-to-use technology, and that’s changing the way the Veterans Affairs Department — and the military services — are approaching their health care missions in 2018.


VA’s nationwide baby shower for Veterans

Next month, VA will host baby showers across the country, celebrating over 2,400 Veteran mothers and fathers welcoming babies in 2018. VA’s Nationwide Baby Shower event will have all the trappings of a traditional baby shower—from baby-themed games to baby care packages—but behind the celebration is a bigger purpose. VA’s Nationwide Baby Shower plays a critical role in connecting Veterans with VA benefits, information, and resources as they begin their journey into parenthood. This gathering also extends the opportunity for Veterans to make meaningful connections with other new parents in their local community, as well as providing awareness of vital information like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome,  Women, Infants and Children Programs, and postpartum depression signs and symptoms.

Senator wants to cut down on veterans website confusion

Sen. Claire McCaskill wants to know whether, a federal website designed to give information about their benefits, is being undermined by, a wholly separate federal website designed to give information about their benefits.

One concussion could increase risk of Parkinson’s disease, study says

A diagnosis of traumatic brain injury — whether mild, moderate or severe — is associated with an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease as well as a two years younger age at diagnosis, new research in veterans says.


Former First Lady Barbara Bush Dies at 92​

Former first lady Barbara Bush died Tuesday after a long battle with congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She was 92. Bush was the wife of former President George H.W. Bush, and the mother of former President George W. Bush and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. She died after choosing over the weekend to pursue “comfort care” — focusing on symptom control and ceasing medical attention for her diseases.

Legendary Special Forces veteran ‘Iron Mike’ dies at 91

An icon of special operations and a man who at one time was the Army’s most battle-tested officer has died.
Maj. Gen. Michael D. Healy, 91, died Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla., according to officials. The general served in the military for 35 years, spending much of his career at Fort Bragg. When he retired in 1981, Healy was the nation’s most senior Special Forces soldier. He was a veteran of wars in Korea and Vietnam, with his service in the latter spanning a decade and ending with him overseeing the withdrawal of troops from the country. And he was the inspiration for John Wayne’s character, “Col. Iron Mike Kirby,” in the 1968 film “The Green Berets.”

“Prescribed to Death” opioid memorial raises awareness of prescription drug crisis

I’m Robert Wilkie. I’m visiting the National Safety Council’s “Prescribed to Death” opioid memorial. The memorial is currently located here at the White House. It’s part of President Trump’s Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand. Inside, 22,000 faces are engraved on small, white pills. Each symbolizes the tragic story of an American lost to prescription opioid overdose. Some are Veterans…Veterans who defended this nation with courage and honor.


Women Veterans team up to bring awareness to diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injury
Navy Veterans Bridget Dolan and Amanda Burrill, along with Army Veteran Elana Duffy, are among other Veterans who are sharing their experience with traumatic brain injury (TBI) at an upcoming #Not Alone Brain Injury Awareness event April 16 at VA’s Manhattan campus. The program will highlight these Veterans and members of New York VA Polytrauma/TBI team who treat them. Also, featured will be Monica Aksamit, who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic games in Rio, Brazil, as a member of the U.S. Fencing Team.

Veterans advocates honor fired VA secretary at private DC event

Leaders from the country’s largest veterans groups on Wednesday held a private event to honor fired Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, indicating a growing rift between the administration and some of the most prominent advocates for the veterans community. The event, held at the Disabled American Veterans headquarters in town, was a chance for the groups to thank Shulkin for his 13 months leading the department and praise his “bipartisan” approach to the job.

VA study: Ending long-term opioid use doesn’t affect chronic pain

Ending long-term use of opioids made no major difference to pain experienced by patients with chronic issues, according to a Veterans Administration study. Researchers based their conclusions on the examination of the electronic health records of 600 patients with chronic pain issues in a national database maintained by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Pain intensity fluctuated widely across time, the researchers report, but discontinuing opioids appeared to make no difference for patients’ pain levels on average.


Trump says veterans wait too long for health care. VA’s 33,000 vacancies might have something to do with that.
Most urgently, the agency’s health-care network needs thousands of primary care physicians, mental-health providers, physical therapists, social workers — even janitorial staff, Sen. Jon Tester (Mont.), ranking Democrat of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, told The Washington Post in an interview. Of equal concern, he said, VA lacks enough human resources personnel to vet candidates and make the hires. “It’s crippling our ability to deliver health care to our vets,” Tester said. “ . . . It’s effectively pushing veterans outside the system.”

VA rolls out telehealth program to address PTSD in veterans

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recently launched a pilot program to provide veterans suffering from PTSD with remote access to mental health services, the agency wrote in an April 5 blog post. To date, more than 500 rural veterans have enrolled in the pilot program, dubbed Telemedicine Outreach for PTSD. The program targets veterans living in rural areas who might otherwise have had to travel to an urban area to receive medical care. VA medical centers tend to be located in urban locations, the blog post notes.

Tomah VA breaks ground on new veterans ‘Small Homes’
The Tomah VA broke ground Tuesday on 2 new ‘Small Homes,’ able to house 20 veterans in total. They are being built in addition to the campus’ 2 current ‘Small Homes’ to create a community veterans can join.


Acting VA secretary wants Congress to act on Choice reform

Robert Wilkie wrote in a statement that the VA and Congress need to come together to overhaul the VA Choice program, which veterans use to receive private-sector medical care. Lawmakers and large veterans organizations agree the program is complex and difficult for veterans to use, and they’ve been working for more than a year to garner support to pass large-scale reforms.

Where are the veterans in the federal workforce?
31.1 percent of federal workers were veterans in fiscal 2016, only a slight bump from 2012 when veterans made up 29.7 percent of the workforce.

Sacrificing Veterans Health Care on the Altar of Privatization

With some seeking to further privatize veterans’ health care, and hundreds of billions of dollars at stake, sacrifices are going to have to be made. Let’s hope Ronny Jackson, Donald Trump’s nominee to be the new Veterans Affairs secretary, can ensure few of those fall on the veterans themselves.


The link between moral injury and veteran suicides

Veterans who have killed in war, according to a Department of Veterans Affairs study, are two to three times more likely to kill themselves as other veterans. And cumulative traumas from early life experiences, multiple deployments and/or unrelenting stress can break anyone.

New bus showcases ‘telehealth’ equipment offered at Kansas VA hospitals

The Telehealth Education Delivered, or TED Vehicle, is embarking on a nationwide tour to promote the use of telehealth. Telehealth tracks and accesses veterans’ health digitally, following areas like mental health, surgery and dermatology.

Veterans Journal: Vets need your help to support organ donation

Did you know you can sign up to be an organ donor — even donate organs while you are still alive? Donating is noble, selfless and lifesaving and many veterans and others need organs right now that could save their lives or vastly improve their quality of life.


Court ruling could extend disability benefits to thousands of injured veterans

Thousands of veterans previously denied disability benefits for pain issues related to their military service may now be eligible for that assistance, thanks to a federal court ruling this week. On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned a 19-year-old precedent used in more than 11,000 VA claims denials that stated veterans had to have a clear medical diagnosis connected to their pain in order to be eligible for those disability payouts.

Commentary: Six months after Maria, we can’t forget about the veterans who call Puerto Rico home
A shortage of doctors has impeded the recovery effort and care. Due to the island’s economic challenges, many doctors move away to seek better-paying opportunities. The storm has only exacerbated that problem.


The White House denied it was considering privatizing the VA, but questions about privatizing the agency have dogged President Donald Trump since the campaign trail, and it is sure to be a critical issue during the confirmation hearings for new VA secretary nominee Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, the White House physician.


VA Announces Changes to Improve Delivery of Specialty Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services

“The dedication and support of the multidisciplinary team of VA employees who are implementing these improvements demonstrate their commitment to do the right thing for our Veterans,” said Robert Wilkie, Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs. “We are focused on implementing the best solutions to modernize how we deliver rehabilitation and prosthetic services across all VA medical centers — ensuring Veterans nationwide are receiving timely and integrated health care and support.” 

New VA acting secretary shares his vision for the agency with employees

“We must have a bottom-up organization,” Wilkie said. “The energy must flow from you [who] are closest to those we are sworn to serve. It is from you that the ideas we carry to the Congress, the VSOs and to America’s veterans will come. Anyone who sits in this chair and tells you he has all the answers is in the wrong business.”

Roe: Congress not trying to privatize VA
“If we’re trying to privatize, we’re not doing a very good job,” the Johnson City Republican said. “We’ve gone from 250,000 employees in the VA in 2009 to 370,000 employees, and we’ve gone from a $93.5 billion budget to what the president’s asked this year is $198 billion. It sounds like we’ve been an utter failure if we’re trying to privatize.”


Medal of Honor recipient Michael Novosel saved more than 5,000 in Vietnam ― including his son
On Oct. 2, 1969, a large enemy force pinned down South Vietnamese soldiers in Kien Tuong province in the Mekong Delta. The South Vietnamese suffered heavy casualties, and medevacs were called in. Novosel, in the 82nd Medical Detachment, flew his Huey in low-level circuits over the battlefield to locate casualties. Six times intense enemy fire forced him out of the area, but not for long. He performed 15 extractions, saving 29 soldiers. 

What does the Shulkin ouster mean for expansion of VA Choice?

The sudden Twitter firing of Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. David Shulkin reignited the politics around VA Choice—even as lawmakers and stakeholders said they hope the leadership shakeup won’t further stall long-awaited expansion of the program.

Female veterans say it’s their time to write the memory of war

Women are now the fastest-growing group in the military, and there are nearly 2 million female veterans in the country.


Discover how the Center for Women Veterans is transforming care at VA
As one of the fastest-growing subgroups of U.S. Veterans, women are accessing VA care and benefits at record-high rates, making our Center for Women Veterans (CWV) and other women’s health services more essential now than ever before. The CWV’s mission is to coordinate and monitor VA’s administration of health care and benefits programs for women Veterans throughout the country. Among the core components of this mission is advocating for a cultural transformation in recognizing the service and contributions of these women. That’s the primary purpose of Messages from the Center, where information is regularly posted to raise awareness of women Veterans, the sacrifices they’ve made, and the challenges they face today.

What’s In Store For The Next VA Chief? Let’s Break It Down

9,000,000 veterans.. That’s the number who receive medical care from VA, andmany of these patients are older and suffer from multiple traumas and injuries that require specialized care: amputations, traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma, and as of 2013, half of all VA patients suffer from chronic pain, to name just a few. And as many as 2 million patients receive in-facility care, according to an American Legion statement.

Newly discovered brain injury in vets linked to PTSD

Scar tissue found in the brains of combat veterans who suffered from PTSD could mean that many cases of the disorder are caused by physical trauma


Trump Pentagon pick literally wrote the book on missile defense

U.S. President Donald Trump has tapped a new assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans and capabilities – Marine Corps University’s James Anderson — the White House announced late Wednesday. Anderson, the school’s vice president of academic affairs, has been outspoken in favor of America’s missile defense. He authored the 1999 book “America at Risk: The Citizen’s Guide to Missile Defense,” which details the risk of an attack from Russia, China or a “third-world” power.

Paralyzed Veterans of America Responds to Removal of VA Secretary​

“Paralyzed Veterans of America is deeply disappointed by the departure of Dr. David Shulkin as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Given the vacuum that already exists in the senior leadership positions at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), this decision will only exacerbate the challenges VA faces as it works to implement meaningful reforms. 

Can a Mobile App Stop Veteran Suicides?

The Veterans Affairs Department is calling on the private sector to share ideas for developing a smartphone application that can intervene when veterans are considering taking their own lives.


For military Veterans suffering from PTSD, are service dogs good therapy?
Yet even as success stories allow these groups to briskly expand their work, their approach faces growing scrutiny from researchers and debate among veterans groups, politicians and the Department of Veterans Affairs. At issue is whether the dogs truly help, what they should be trained to do and who should pay for them.

VA Video Telemedicine mHealth App to Provide Easy Care Access​
The telemedicine mHealth application makes it easy for veterans to access real-time telemedicine from any location while reducing travel and wait times.

Neuroscientists investigate brain mechanisms of altruistic behavior
There are two war veterans, both with penetrating traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a gunshot. One of them tends to donate his own money to societal entities he believes in, and the other one punishes institutions that don’t represent him. The answer for these behavioral differences rely on brain areas, that after being damaged during the Vietnam War are no longer working as they are supposed to. In order to elucidate these mechanisms, neuroscientists investigated altruistic behavior – actions that benefit others – in Vietnam veterans. The study was published in Brain.


E-Donate, a secure donation service, is making it easier to support homeless Veterans
E-Donate is an online service that enables concerned citizens and organizations to donate funds to support VA programs for our nation’s Veterans. Administered by VA, E-Donate accepts financial contributions for VA programs, services and activities that increase the comfort and welfare of Veteran patients, including homeless Veterans.

White House: No change ‘at this time’ to Shulkin’s VA job
“Secretary Shulkin’s singular focus is on finding the best ways to provide care and benefits to our country’s heroes,” said Shulkin’s strategic adviser, Ashleigh Barry, in response to questions about his public plans in the coming days.

Recognizing American Diabetes Association Alert Day
March 27, serves as an annual reminder that diabetes is one of the most prevalent health risks today. In fact, more than 29 million Americans have diabetes and 86 million more are at risk to develop the disease. Veterans, especially those who were exposed to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam, are especially vulnerable.


Vets Choice, Caregiver Programs Left out of Final Spending Bill.
The $1.3 trillion spending bill signed Friday by President Donald Trump left the Veterans Choice Program in limbo and rejected a major expansion of the caregivers program that provides stipends to family members of severely disabled vets.

VA recognizes female Veterans, anticipates future needs, as more women serve, more need care post-service.
Beltran Steele joined the U.S. Marine Corps at a time when women were just starting to be recognized as a permanent part of the military service. It was 1950, only two years after Congress passed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act. The law permitted women to serve as full members of the U.S. armed forces. The positions open to them, however, were severely limited.

Spinal Cord Injury Research: Making Progress
Emergency care, surgical intervention and rehabilitation treatment continue to improve and have resulted in a significant increase in those who see recovery after injuries and are considered incomplete. According to the federally funded National Spinal Cord Injury Database, over half of all SCIs are now determined to be incomplete. Technology, including exoskeletons, allow individuals with severe but incomplete injuries to optimize function, including walking. Over the past decade we have learned that even those who were injured many years ago (chronic spinal cord injuries) may benefit from these treatments.


Senate passes $1.3 trillion spending bill, averting another government shutdown

In a vote just after midnight Friday, the Senate passed a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, averting a government shutdown while paving the way for the next funding fight ahead of the midterm elections.

Budget omnibus includes new mental health care for other-than-honorable vets

Tucked into the $1.3 trillion omnibus budget deal released late Wednesday are provisions to expand mental health care access for veterans with other-than-honorable discharges, in an effort to prevent more veteran suicides.

Veteran healthcare changes explained during budget hearing

Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-MT) is very forceful with his concerns of privatization of VA’s healthcare. VA spends $370 million each month to pay for veteran healthcare outside of the VA system. 


Expanding Traumatic Brain Injury treatment options for Veterans
Light-emitting diode therapy, also known as LED therapy, is an emerging treatment for TBI that aims to help the brain heal.  It is a non-invasive and painless treatment modality that directly targets the repair of injured brain cells without disrupting healthy cells. LEDs have the lighting intensity of incandescent and fluorescent light, but without the heat.

Congress races to pass $1.3T defense-friendly omnibus and avoid shutdown
The sweeping $1.3 trillion spending bill that congressional leaders unveiled Wednesday includes $654.6 billion for the Pentagon. But it’s unclear whether Congress can pass the proposal without shutting down the government.

VA Reaches Out To Growing Number Of Women Veterans
Over a quarter of a million young women have served in the post 9-11 conflicts, so the VA is adapting to meet their needs.


DARPA wants to connect human brains and machines
As unmanned platforms, cyber systems and human-machine partnering become more prevalent in 21st century war fighting, the effectiveness of combat units will be determined by how quickly information can be processed and transmitted between air-breathers and machines. To achieve the high levels of brain-system communication that will be required on future battlefields, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has launched a new program to develop a noninvasive neural interface that will connect soldiers with technology.

Plan could add multiple sweeping veterans reform measures to must-pass omnibus budget bill
Lawmakers are hoping to attach a year’s worth of Veterans Affairs reform measures to the omnibus federal budget bill due early this week, in the hopes of adding another round of wins on veterans policies to the must-pass spending legislation. See Paralyzed Veterans’ press release on the omnibus bill here:

Wounded Combat Vets Face Increased Risk for High Blood Pressure​​
U.S. war veterans who sustained severe combat wounds and have chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are at increased risk for high blood pressure, a new study says.


Military providers seek tailored approach to treating PTSD
A new reporting tool developed by the Defense Health Agency’s Pharmacy Operations Division is helping ensure Military Health System providers follow best practices in prescribing medications for patients diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Veterans’ role in Trump’s military parade remains unclear​
Planners for this fall’s national military parade here have promised to make former service members a key focus of the event, to include heavy involvement from veterans groups and integration with the annual Washington D.C. Veterans Day parade.

Mailing of New Veteran ID Cards Delayed
Veterans waiting for their new ID card to arrive by mail won’t see it until at least April, officials announced in an email this week.


VA facing another shortfall in Choice funding.
As of March 6, about $1.1 billion remained of the $2.1 billion in emergency funding that Congress approved for the Veterans Choice program in late December, Shulkin told lawmakers during a House budget hearing. If Congress doesn’t authorize more funding soon, the approximately one million veterans who use the program could be affected, he said.
Senators call on VA to fix problems with contractor paying for Vets’ health care.
Days after a Gazette story exposed shortcomings in the federal Veterans Affairs Choice program, 11 senators have fired off a letter to VA leaders calling for a fix to the system that provides private health care to veterans. The senators, including Colorado’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, said the VA must do more to fix Colorado’s Choice contractor Health Net, which they charge with “frustrating and completely avoidable” customer service problems…
Bill to Expand Mental Health Care For Veterans.
Veterans may get expanded access to mental health care. Senator John Cornyn is sponsoring a bill that would help veterans to get such care outside the Veterans Affairs system. Veterans are only eligible for VA health care if they received an honorable discharge. Cornyn’s bill would change that.


This Inspiring Organization Builds tiny Houses for Homeless Veterans.​
While veterans often put their lives on the line to serve their country and their fellow citizens while in service, it doesn’t mean that they don’t face challenges when they return to civilian life. Readjusting to society and being able to find the proper medical support and employment can prove to be a struggle for many veterans after leaving the service…

Here’s What the Services Want from Congress This Year​
After lawmakers pass the budget promised by February’s bipartisan deal, the three secretaries have other priorities for legislative action.

Opioids are addictive –  what alternatives are the VA offering and are they effective?
Wavey Walker Alston used to take morphine three times a day for chronic back pain. Now he is down to once a day, and, with the help of doctors at the Durham Veterans Affairs Health Care System, plans to be off his pain medication soon. “We’re close, man. Next time, we were going to stop it,” said Ann Miller Maxwell in a recent session with Alston. “We’re going to see if everything is going fine,” said Miller Maxwell, a physician at the VA who treats chronic pain patients.


Trump and the Veterans Choice Program
Q: Did President Donald Trump sign an order allowing veterans to get full medical bills paid at hospitals outside the VA? A: No, but Trump has continued a program that allows some veterans to seek outside care.

There’s a nationwide nursing shortage – including in Louisiana
Nursing students shouldn’t have any trouble finding a job after they graduate. That’s because nurses are in high demand right now across the nation. “It’s projected that by 2024, we’re going to need over another million nurses added to the work force,” said LSU Health New Orleans Nursing Dean Demetrius Porche, DNS, Ph.D. Porche said in Louisiana, there’s an increased request to produce more graduates in the schools of nursing because of the workforce need at nearby hospitals.

VA promises full review of all medical testing on dogs, with a goal of ending the practice
Veterans Affairs officials on Tuesday launched an internal review of all canine testing within the department with the goal of future reductions in the research, a reversal of the administration’s strong stance defending the practice last fall. The “rapid, in-depth” review will look at the practices of and justification for existing medical research on dogs, which has come under fire from advocates and lawmakers in the past year.


VA unveils claims submission option that promises to complete claims within 30 days
As part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) continued efforts to improve timeliness of services for veterans and their families, VA unveiled the Decision Ready Claims (DRC) initiative, a disability claims submission option with accredited Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) that promises to deliver faster claims decisions to veterans and their families.

Dedication of ‘Helicopter War’ memorial at Arlington set for April  Space is in short supply at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, but officials have managed to carve out a few square feet for a special memorial to pay tribute to the nearly 5,000 American helicopter pilots who died in the Vietnam War.

VA official says it’s his mission to re-centralize HR officers
The Veterans Affairs Department has more than 170 human resources offices and more than 200 learning management systems. One VA official said that’s a bit excessive. He’s made it his goal to re-centralize the agency and whittle down the number of offices across the country performing the exact same functions, but differently.


Ways you can stamp out Veterans homelessness
While Veteran homelessness declined nationally by 46 percent since 2010, there was nearly a 2 percent increase in 2017. That has led VA leaders to call on Americans for help in ending veteran homelessness in their communities.  About 40,000 Veterans are homeless in the U.S. and any sign of an increase means the VA needs to rethink its approach to combating the problem, VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin told members of Congress last month. The key, he said, is getting veterans employed and into sustainable housing. 

Shulkin promises reorganization plan for VA central office after troubling IG report
A recent inspector general report on the Veterans Affairs Department’s systematic failure to address problems at the Washington, D.C. medical center is prompting a broader reorganization at the agency. “The issues that have happened here in Washington and these systems failures are impacting other facilities across the country,” Secretary David Shulkin said Wednesday at a press conference on the findings of the VA IG report.

Don’t let a few bad facilities lead to privatization of the VA system
Recent articles detailing the history of mismanagement at the Roseburg VA paint a sorry picture of our local facility. It’s a story that must be told, but it’s important to put the facts into context. Generalizing from the problems of individual facilities without providing context gives the impression that the system is broken, as some claim.


Groundbreaking blood study aims to detect PTSD, TBI Faster 
The Waco VA’s Center of Excellence is working on groundbreaking research to help detect Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury faster, based on blood samples from veterans. Scientists at the facility said they are the only lab searching for more clues about a particular steroid produced naturally in the blood after a traumatic event and they are hoping it can save lives in the future.

Three-digit national suicide hotline moves a step closer  
The bill would require the Federal Communications Commission to work with the Health and Human Services Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs to study the existing system, suggest ways to improve it — and recommend a new three-digit number. The bill passed the Senate unanimously in November, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee is considering an identical bill with strong bipartisan support, according to its sponsors.

Washington State Attorney General: Housing Discrimination Against Veterans Is Evident
Homelessness among veterans rose slightly last year despite a nationwide effort to get them off the streets. One reason the problem is so hard to solve is the lack of affordable housing in many big cities. There was anecdotal evidence that landlords in tight markets were turning veterans away. Now there’s solid proof of that, as NPR’s Quil Lawrence reports.


VA created the Women Veterans Health Care Program
In order to streamline services for this patient population and provide more cost-effective medical and psychosocial care. Back then, only 4.4% of U.S. Veterans were women. Now, nearly 10% are women, indicating an ever-increasing need for our support.

Half of Veterans Who Need Mental Health Care May Not Get It
About half of veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who need mental health care don’t get it, according to a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Additionally, about half of veterans who need mental health care do not realize they need it. The report says veterans face many barriers to treatment.

Phoenix launching interagency initiative to prevent Veteran suicide
Phoenix officials are launching an interagency push to reduce suicide among military service personnel, veterans and their families. Mayor Greg Stanton’s office said the initiative aims to increase support and develop a response plan for detection of warning signs and timely intervention.


Writing Women Back Into History​
March is National Women’s History Month.  Meet the 2018 Honorees and discover the 2018 theme.

2 women commanding vets’ groups say their historic roles haven’t meant big challenges​
This week, for the first time ever, two women are testifying before Congress as the top officials at major veterans organizations, helping to set the national agenda on a host of care and program issues.

Pentagon’s $1 Billion Cloud Deal May Signal New Era in Government Buying​
Congress wants the Defense Department to buy technology faster. Now it’s beginning to do just that.


Vets Groups Want a Meeting with Trump to Sort Out VA Choice Impasse
An ongoing political fight over funding of the Veterans Choice Program drove the agenda Tuesday in the first of a series of congressional hearings with the major veterans service organizations. A joint session of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees, with testimony from the leadership of Disabled American Veterans, followed a meeting Monday at the White House with Chief of Staff John Kelly.

The Submarines of the Future Will Be Robotic
Imagine a future in which nuclear attack submarines – SSNs – can deploy undersea drones (UUVs) to hunt, and possibly kill, enemy subs. The U.S. Navy, at least, is taking steps to make this a reality. What impact could this have?

Choice Program Expansion Jeopardizes high-Quality VHA Mental Health Services
Last summer, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) published the most comprehensive analysis of veteran suicide in our nation’s history. That study examined 55 million records from every state and revealed that in 2014, an average of 20 veterans died by suicide each day.1 Six of the 20 were recent users of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) services; the other 14 had not used VHA services in the prior 2 years.


VA shifts its policy regarding dog research
8News has uncovered a shift in policy at the Department of Veterans Affairs when it comes to canine research. For the first time since 8News broke the story of deadly dog experiments at McGuire, it appears the VA is taking a closer look it use of dogs in research. In addition, Secretary David Shulkin is admitting that he is not a supporter of the research.

Op-Ed; The Time For Caregiver Expansion Is Now
Linda Bailey is wife and caregiver to a disabled Air Force veteran of Desert Storm, a current DAV (Disabled American Veterans) Department Service Officer and a DAV Auxiliary Past Department Commander for Tennessee. In 1991, my husband Albert suffered several massive strokes while serving in the Air Force. Although I was just shy of crossing the 20-year mark with my employer and qualifying for retirement benefits…

VA taps Google’s DeepMind to predict patient deterioration
The Department of Veterans Affairs has launched a partnership with Google’s DeepMind to analyze patient records and build a model that can predict when a patient is deteriorating. The VA said it will allow DeepMind’s algorithm to parse through 700,000 depersonalized health records, allowing the company’s algorithm to initially focus on predicting the onset of acute kidney injuries.


New initiative aims to raise awareness of women as Veterans
In March — Women’s History Month — 10 VA medical centers around the country will display an exhibit featuring 10 women Veteran athletes, with an expanded exhibit also available online.

VA privatization ‘is a very real issue right now,’ American Legion says
Recent reports of internal squabbles between top leaders at the Veterans Affairs Department and White House appointees have the nation’s largest veterans service organization actively reinforcing its message about the Veterans Choice Program.

Congressman on VA caregiver benefits: ‘We can do this right’
Congress is now working on a way to give more help to caregivers of veterans injured before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It took seven years of pressure from advocates to get to this point. Groups pushing lawmakers to end what they call an unfair discrepancy between veterans injured before and after 9/11 contend negotiations – stalled for years because of the high cost of expanding benefits to more families – are coming to a critical point.


VA launches Concierge for Care program to connect with recently separated service members​
“Our goal is to give transitioning service members one less thing to worry about,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “We know that more than a third of Veterans who haven’t yet visited our facilities indicated they are not aware of VA health care benefits, while a quarter reported they do not know how to apply.”

Trump plans to nominate Army Veteran Paul Lawrence as Under Secretary for VA Benefits
President Donald Trump announced plans Wednesday night to nominate a longtime management consultant to fill a top spot at the Department of Veterans Affairs that’s remained unfilled for nearly three years. Paul Lawrence, vice president of the consulting firm Kaiser Associates in Washington, will be the VA’s new undersecretary for benefits if he’s confirmed by the Senate.

VA, Roe Tie Caregiver Benefit Expansion to Tightened Eligibility
In drafting legislation that would expand comprehensive caregiver benefits to severely injured veterans of all past wars, Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, directed staff this month to start with the proposal announced by VA Secretary David Shulkin at a Feb. 6 committee hearing.
Read more about how Paralyzed Veterans’ helps veterans and their families receive the caregiver benefits they are entitled to:


Tom Hanks signs on to produce, act in veteran-supported D-Day film
An Oscar-winning actor is giving a major boost to a former Marine’s efforts to make a film about a World War II infantry battle that’s been called one of the bloodiest in modern history.

Everything You Need to Know About Trump’s 2019 Budget Request

President Donald Trump on Monday released his budget request for fiscal 2019, marking the first step in a months-long process in which lawmakers from both chambers of Congress debate and ultimately decide on its funding levels and policy provisions.

Leading veterans groups commend President’s VA budget submission, highlighting critical boosts for health care, construction and IT funding
Read the full release at 


VA study shows that rocking chairs can help Veterans overcome addiction:<>  Who says therapy has to be complicated? Perhaps an effective tool for treatment and recovery could be something as simple as, say … a rocking chair.  Just ask a Marine Veteran who participated in a rocking chair study through the Robley Rex VA Medical Center<> in Louisville, Kentucky. At the time, he was in recovery from a serious addiction to alcohol and drugs, including recreational and pain-killing substances. “If it was a pill, I was popping it,” he says.  Plus, he had been homeless for about a year, “bouncing around from home to home, couch to couch,” as he put it. 

‘We are women, but we are Marines for life,’ say veterans now in their 90s
Three female veterans, now in their 90s, were honored Tuesday as part of a celebration of the U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reserve’s 75th anniversary at the Armed Forces Retirement home in Washington, D.C.

White House budget director: Military parade would cost between $10 million and $30 million
President Donald Trump’s military parade would cost between $10 million and $30 million, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said on Wednesday, during questioning at the House Budget Committee.


How the VA is improving patient care through connected tech, telehealth
Since his appointment in early 2017, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, MD, has made modernizing the agency a top priority. Shulkin has taken a number of steps to accomplish this, including the launch of the Anywhere to Anywhere initiative with President Trump in August 2017. The VA aims to use the program to allow agency medical providers to practice telehealth across state lines, regardless of their location.

New app will target Veterans in cardiac rehab​

Trump earmarks $1.2 billion for VA-Cerner EHR project in proposed budget
<>.  In the proposed budget from the Trump administration, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs would get 11.7 percent more in funding or $4.2 billion — including $1.2 billion for the first year of its Cerner EHR project. Calling the $1.2 billion “substantive investment for this critical initiative,” the administration said the funds would help to “facilitate a seamless transition for service members as they leave the armed forces.”


President Trump Seeks $12B Increase in FY2019 VA Budget to Support Nation’s Veterans

In the fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget, President Trump is proposing a total of $198.6 billion for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This request, an increase of $12.1 billion over 2018, will ensure the nation’s Veterans receive high-quality health care and timely access to benefits and services. Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans’ no cost benefits provided to veterans and their families at

VA Careers Facebook Chat:  Mental Health
<>:   On Valentine’s Day, we’re hosting a Facebook Chat<> for mental health professionals interested in caring for America’s Veterans. It’s another part of our Mental Health Hiring Initiative<>, which aims to add 1,000 new providers to our team this year, including psychologists, psychiatrists and more.

Teaching Veterans Kindness: VA Embraces Mindfulness, Whole Health
The VA hopes to roll out a national “whole health” program for veterans, offering them acupuncture, tai chi, yoga, and other alternative mental health therapies. Seated on a garden bench next to a gurgling fountain in the warm Southern California sunshine, Greg Serpa leads a mindfulness meditation, encouraging his audience to focus solely on breathing.


Stars and Stripes:  Navy Program Aiming For Intelligence In Prosthetics<>.  Two years ago, two Iraq War amputees received the first implantable prosthetic legs through a Food and Drug Administration trial at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Salt Lake City. The trial is ongoing and has been expanded to include more veteran amputees.

Secretary Shulkin and three other VA employees named to HillVets 100 List<>:   HillVets released their list for HillVets 100 2017<> Friday morning that included Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David Shulkin, Senior White House Adviser Jake Leinenkugel,  Relationship Manager Theodore Wong of the Veterans Experience Office and Vantage Point’s own Timothy Lawson, host of VA’s Borne the Battle podcast. The list also included Paralyzed Veterans’ Executive Director, Carl Blake

Stars and Stripes  Trump administration wants to turn International Space Station into commercially run venture<>.  The White House plans to stop funding for the station after 2024, ending direct federal support of the orbiting laboratory, and is working on a transition plan that could turn the station over to the private sector.


Feud over service dog ends after American Airlines settles lawsuit with Army veteran
<>. American Airlines has settled a 2016 lawsuit filed by an Army veteran who complained that the company had mistreated her because of her service dog. 

Paralyzed Veterans advocates for the rights of air travelers with disabilities. See more at

Common drug for PTSD doesn’t stem nightmares, sleep problems in Veterans
<>.  The blood pressure drug prazosin, widely prescribed to relieve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), has failed to show it can reduce distressing dreams or improve sleep quality in a trial of 304 military veterans at 13 Veterans Affairs medical centers. After 10 weeks of therapy with the generic drug, which costs about a nickel per pill, recipients had no significant reduction in recurrent nightmares or easier sleep compared to veterans receiving placebo.

African American History Month and the Bonds of Patriotism​
The special focus of this year’s African American History Month on military contributions is a solemn reminder of the bonds of patriotism. 


VA considers restricting eligibility for caregivers program
<>.  Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is considering new restrictions to a program that provides monthly stipends and other assistance to family caregivers of post-9/11 veterans. Testifying before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on Tuesday, Shulkin said he wanted to limit eligibility for the program to the most severely injured and ill veterans in order to expand benefits to veterans of all eras without inflating costs.

More firing may not lead to better results
During the president’s State of the Union address last week he said: “I call on the Congress to empower every cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers – and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.” Reactions to the president’s remarks ranged from high praise to condemnation. Either he wants to politicize the federal workforce or he wants to “drain the swamp.”


VA Leadership change a necessary step to improve Veteran care 
Doug Paxton’s stepping down as director of the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center is a step “aimed at improving care for veterans,” according to the VA. The official announcement came Thursday afternoon, a few hours after The News-Review first reported on Paxton’s reassignment to a West Virginia VA.

Veteran unemployment hit record low in 2017
Veteran unemployment hit a record low in 2017, creeping below 4 percent for the first time on record, federal statistics show.

Heart Health Month: Stopping the number-one killer
As a cardiologist, the overall health of my patients is my priority and heart health a major focus. Cardiovascular disease, commonly known as heart disease, is often misunderstood to be a disease that only affects those in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. The alarming truth is it can also impact fit and healthy service members in their 30s and 40s. When I treated a young service member for chest discomfort after he had passed physical tests with ease, I witnessed his dismay as he was told he’d have to have a stent placed in an artery.

VA Dietitian Offers Five Super Bowl Party Eating Tips
The Super Bowl is almost here, but what does the big game mean for our health?  We can’t let a single event derail our healthy eating habits and lifestyle of the new year, but we can still enjoy ourselves. Luckily, it is possible to have a good time and stay on track to achieve our health goals. 

Are you a paralyzed veteran or caregiver with a health-related question about spinal cord injury or disease (SCI/D)? Paralyzed Veterans has a team of experienced registered nurses, physicians, and support staff are available to monitor and respond to all of your questions via our Healthcare Helpline: 1-800-232-1782.

Senate approves VA doctors working in outside hospitals
The New Hampshire Senate has passed legislation allowing physicians from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center to continue treating patients at outside facilities while the flood-damaged VA hospital is being renovated. Other hospitals agreed to let VA providers use their facilities after a burst pipe in July caused severe flooding at the VA hospital in Manchester. But under New Hampshire licensing rules, doctors with out-of-state medical licenses can only practice at the VA hospital.

Congress must act to bring civil legal aid to every homeless and struggling Veteran who needs it in 2018
President Trump recently signed an executive order designed to ease military service members’ transition to civilian life, including automatic enrollment to receive Department of Veterans Affairs medical and mental health care. While the executive branch figures out how to implement this plan, another opportunity to help veterans is lying dormant in Congress, awaiting a vote.

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…

February is National Recreation Therapy Recreation Month.
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.<>.

VA Now Offers Rural Veterans’ More Local ICU Services

More than 133,000 Vets may qualify for this tax refund windfall
More than 133,000 veterans may qualify for a refund of federal taxes they paid on disability severance pay dating back to 1991 — taxes that shouldn’t have been collected in the first place. Within the next month, Defense Department officials will send notification letters to veterans that they may be eligible for the refund, said Army Lt. Col. David Dulaney, executive director of the Armed Forces Tax Council.

Trump wants to give every cabinet secretary authority to remove employees
President Donald Trump is calling on Congress to expand the Veterans Affairs Department Accountability Act to all of the government and end the Defense sequester. In his first State of the Union, Trump said he wants to make agencies and the government more accountable to the taxpayers.

Fact-checking Trump’s first State of the Union Address
“Last year, Congress also passed, and I signed, the landmark VA Accountability Act. Since its passage, my administration has already removed more than 1,500 VA employees who failed to give our veterans the care they deserve. And we are hiring talented people who love our vets as much as we do.”

Brain resetting treatment shows promise with Veterans experiencing PTSD
An acoustic brain-resetting therapy demonstrating success with helping student athletes recover from a concussion is also showing promise with military veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Wake Forest School of Medicine researchers say a pilot study is significantly reducing PTSD symptoms.

VA Expands Program to Target Suicide
The Veterans Health Administration has tried a number of ideas to drive down the suicide rate among veterans. The VA is about to start automatically enrolling most new veterans in mental health care, starting in March. People who work with veterans say the program, mandated by an executive order from the White House, is a great idea, but they worry about the impact on an already strained system.

VA Proposed Rule Aims to Improve Health Data Exchange Consent
A new proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) seeks to streamline health data exchange of veterans’ medical records by enabling health information exchanges (HIEs) to more easily obtain patient consent. The proposed rule would allow VA to amend current consent regulations so that partnering HIEs can obtain permission to share EHRs without a hardcopy of a patient’s written consent form.

VA’s National Veterans Small Business Engagement
<>:   For the seventh year, VA hosted the National Veterans Small Business Engagement, the largest procurement event for the Veteran small business community. The event was held from Dec. 5-7 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The engagement is VA’s signature event where Veteran-owned and other small businesses have an opportunity to meet face-to-face with government and commercial acquisitions professionals during three full days of learning, networking, and matchmaking sessions as well as plenary luncheons, executive round tables and other scheduled activities.

Trump’s State of the Union speech will reiterate promises to ‘rebuild the military’
<>.  President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday will repeat his promises to “rebuild our military” and defeat terrorism around the globe, with specific reprimands directed at North Korea for aggressive military moves in recent months.

Isakson: Shulkin ‘catalytic force for more accountability’ at VA
<>.  Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has been on a mission to reform the VA. His efforts range from increasing accountability and authority to fire bad actors and poor performers to moving toward interoperability of health care records with the Defense Department, among various other initiatives. But he wouldn’t be able to get near as much done without some key allies in Congress.

Wide-Ranging Changes to VA Could Reach Senate Vote Soon
The Senate could vote at any time on a committee-passed bill (S-2193) to make wide-ranging changes in VA operations and personnel policies, including authority for more treatment of veterans by outside providers and higher pay in high-demand medical care positions. The measure would increase the use of community health care and long-term care by broadening eligibility for such care and giving VA more leeway to enter into agreements with health care providers in the private sector.

VA Secretary, other federal officials participate in national homeless count
For Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, practicing medicine gives him a better understanding about the health care needs of the veterans he serves. On Wednesday, he tried that same hands-on approach for another daunting problem facing the VA — veteran homelessness.

Congress wants reports. But Congress’s own budget challenges means they can’t get them.<>   
Congress’s use of repeated continuing resolutions rather than a full budget authorization to fund the government damages the Congressional Budget Office’s ability to effectively produce reports, director Keith Hall told members of the Senate Budget Committee on Wednesday.


Military Times:  White House wants clearer rules, no caregiver benefits expansion in VA medical overhaul plan
White House officials want Senate lawmakers to set clearer eligibility guidelines for veterans considering private-sector care and to drop their current plans for an expansion of veteran caregiver benefits, according to a memos sent to congressional leaders this week. They also want a plan to pay for the massive health care overhaul.

Bloomberg:  Disabled Veterans Deserve Richer, More Productive Lives – The system should do more to help wounded warriors integrate into the workforce and society
About 20 U.S. military veterans kill themselves each day. It’s an alarming statistic — the military suicide rate is 22 percent higher than among civilians — and President Donald Trump deserves credit for addressing it. But his administration needs to do more. Trump signed an executive order earlier this month aimed at giving veterans better access to mental-health care by plugging a gap in coverage that affected those newly released from service. The larger problem is how to better integrate veterans with impairments…

Tribune-Review:  Female Veterans being recruited to donate brains for injury research
Female military veterans are being encouraged to donate their brains for research, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced Wednesday in a collaborative effort. The National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and nonprofit PINK Concussions are partnering to research the effects of traumatic brain injury and PTSD on female brains.

Military, Veterans issues in spotlight with State of the Union looming
American security and security for our veterans are two priorities highlighted by the Trump administration throughout its first year in the White House. President Trump has promised he will rebuild our military and improve services for veterans. Coming up on his first State of the Union Address, how well has he kept these promises?

Transcendental Meditation eases Veterans’ PTSD symptoms<>.  
Research published in Military Medicine demonstrated that practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique helped relieve symptoms of PTSD among veterans. “Recent reports on PTSD have suggested that additional research is needed to identify more effective methods for treating this disorder,” Robert E. Herron, PhD, from the Center for Health Systems Analysis, and Col. Brian Rees…

VA announces ‘Tele-Benefits’ program to assist local Veterans
Local veterans with questions about their benefits can now have face-to-face meetings with experts without having to travel all the way to St. Louis. The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) St. Louis Regional Office and John J. Pershing VA Medical Center in Poplar Bluff announced Tuesday a new “telebenefits” partnership. Learn more about how Paralyzed Veterans works helps veterans with benefits here: 

Senate reaches deal to end government shutdown
<>.  The new deal keeps the government funded through Feb. 8, and ends the federal shutdown after three contentious days.
After impasse, senators to restart negotiations on VA Choice reform
<>.  With an assist from the White House, senators are expected to restart negotiations about how to overhaul the flawed program veterans use to receive medical care in the private sector. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said President Donald Trump and White House officials would soon send guidance to the committee on what they wanted in a reform bill…
VA Releases Data Visualization of Opioid Prescribing Rates
<>.  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is allowing public access to data on opioid prescribing rates at each of its facilities through on an online data visualization. The interactive map provides comparisons between prescribing rates in 2012 and 2017, allowing users to explore improvements in the distribution of opioid medications.

How a Government Shutdown Would Impact Pay, Benefits

<>.  If Congress does not pass a spending bill by midnight Friday, the U.S. government will once again shut down until a deal is reached. President Donald Trump has expressed support for a Republican-backed continuing resolution that would extend government funding through Feb. 16, but it hasn’t passed yet.

Paralyzed Veterans helps veterans and their family members who are seeking benefits from the VA. Find out more here:

VA Secretary David Shulkin says he’s committed to filling top vacancies at the agency

<>.  Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said Thursday that while he’s concerned about some of the vacancies in his department, he wants to make sure the right people fill the jobs. “Getting the right leadership in place is one of our most important tasks right now,” Mr. Shulkin said on Fox News. “We know what it takes, in terms of the amount the time and energy, to do public service jobs,” he added.

Written exposure therapy non-inferior to cognitive processing therapy for PTSD

<>.  Written exposure therapy showed noninferiority to the more time-intensive cognitive processing therapy in reducing PTSD symptoms, according to findings published in JAMA Psychiatry. “Prior research has shown [written exposure therapy] to significantly reduce the severity of PTSD symptoms in a variety of trauma survivors, with effect sizes similar to those associated with [cognitive processing therapy] and prolonged exposure, and to have substantially fewer treatment dropouts than these other treatments,” Denise M. Sloan…

Stars and Stripes: Former senator, WWII veteran Bob Dole gets Congressional Gold Medal <> .  
Read about how Bob Dole was also awarded Paralyzed Veterans’ prestigious Speedy award here:
ABC News (AP):   AP Explains: What happens when the government shuts down<>.  The rules for who works and who doesn’t date back to the early 1980s and haven’t been significantly modified since. The Trump administration is relying mostly on guidance left over from Obama. The air traffic control system, food inspection, Medicare, veterans’ health care and many other essential government programs would run as usual.
Military Times: VA promises faster action on unpaid bills from outside health providers
Veterans Affairs officials are promising a host of reforms in coming months to more quickly pay community providers for care they deliver to veterans.


Lowering the suicide rates of those who serve

President Donald Trump last week signed an executive order which seeks to lower suicides rates among our nation’s veterans. The order, which would take effect in March, expands mental health services for transitioning veterans upon their return home to civilian life. Mr. Trump hailed the order as a “historic step to make sure that our incredible veterans are taken care of in a proper manner.”

It’s Unclear Whether New Law and Push from Trump Have Increased VA Firings

In June, President Trump said a new measure to ease the firing of employees at the Veterans Affairs Department that he was signing into law marked a “transformative change.” One year into his presidency, however, and six months after the enactment of the law, the administration that made firing more employees at VA a cornerstone of its veterans policy agenda has yet to fully realize Trump’s promise.

Cold and influenza season is underway – and it’s nothing to ‘shake off

The holiday season is a wrap, but cold and influenza season is well underway. These viral illnesses can be picked up anywhere, anytime. Military Health System experts work hard to help prevent them – especially during the critical winter months.

Servicemembers should start navigating new tax law now
<>.  The new U.S. tax law is not even a month old, but financial experts say it’s not too soon for military servicemembers, veterans and retirees to dig into how the massive policy change will impact their pocketbooks for years to come.

Veterans Journal: Recipients of US benefits get 2% increase this year <>. COLA adjustments will go to retired military veterans, disabled veterans, veterans’ pension benefits, survivor benefit annuitants and surviving families of veterans and all others receiving Social Security benefits. The Social Security cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, is 2 percent in 2018, the first substantial increase in years.

The Hill: Reforming Veterans health care for all generations of Veterans
<>.  Among the New Year’s resolutions Congress most needs to fulfill early in 2018 is reform of the VA health care system, including the Veterans Choice Program, to ensure that the men and women who wore our nation’s uniform get the care they need and have earned. Fortunately, both the Senate and House made major strides last year moving legislation to expand access, coordination and quality of care for America’s veterans…

mHealth Intelligence:   VA Puts Telehealth to Work in ‘Anywhere to Anywhere’ Care <>.  With Congressional approval in hand, the Department of Veterans Affairs is moving forward with plans for a national telehealth network for veterans. The VA recently awarded a $260 million contract to 1Vision LLC, a subsidiary of HMS Technologies, to deliver home-based telehealth solutions to veterans.

MedPage Today:  Tobacco Use Common in U.S. Vets – Smoking rate among younger double that of older Veterans
<>.  Tobacco use among veterans of the U.S. military remains higher than among the general adult population, with three in 10 veterans using some form of tobacco product, according to CDC researchers. In an analysis of National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) data from 2010-2015, 29.2% of military veterans reported current tobacco use, Satomi Odani, MPH, of the CDC, and colleagues reported in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

VA Secretary David Shulkin: We’ve reduced opioid use by 36% since 2010.
FOX Business (Video): VA Secretary David Shulkin: We’ve reduced opioid use by 36% since 2010<>. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin on Wednesday said the VA is taking actions to reduce the rates of suicides and opioid use among veterans. “Since 2010, we’ve reduced the opioid use rates by 36%,” he told FOX Business’ Charles Payne on “Making Money with Charles Payne.” Shulkin explained how the VA has been able to make strides in reducing opioid use rates with veterans.

“So Many Of Us Come Back Broken” – Homeless Veterans talk About Why This Happens. 
NET News (Audio): “So Many Of Us Come Back Broken” – Homeless Veterans talk About Why This Happens<>. On a Friday before Thanksgiving a large gym at a small college in Omaha is loud and crowded. There are men and women, 30-year-olds and 60-year-olds. Black and white. Some with little education, some with college degrees. About a hundred people who don’t have a lot in common, except they served in our military. And they’ve been homeless.

Paralyzed Veterans offers employment placement services free of charge to all veterans who may be facing homelessness. To learn more please visit

VA offers higher quality end-of-life care than Medicare: 5 things to know.
Patient EngagementHIT: VA Delivers Positive Patient Experience with End-of-Life Care<>. The patient experience for end-of-life care may be better for veterans treated by the VA rather than for patients covered by fee-for-service Medicare, according to a group of researchers from Stanford Medicine. The study, published recently in Health Affairs, investigated the quality of end-of-life care delivered in VA healthcare facilities and by Medicare providers.

Reuters: Trump orders mental health aid for military Veterans to prevent suicide. President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order directing government departments to try to prevent suicide among military veterans by treating mental health problems before they become more serious.

HealthPayer Intelligence: IT Investment to Help VA Speed Claims Administration, Payments<>. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced new goals for claims administration and a significant investment in health IT tools that will help coordinate payment for community providers. The VA has set the goal of increasing the number of claims processed by 300 percent in January of 2018, and aims to double that number to 600 percent by April.

VA dieticians are here to make your resolutions stick<>: If you’re interested in improving the health of Veterans all year long, VA has several career opportunities to help you give back. VA’s Nutrition and Food Services (NFS) delivers safe and high quality patient food services to our Veterans and their families. Nutrition professionals promote wellness and disease prevention by ensuring effective nutrition education and counseling.