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ND Veterans Affairs News

Military veterans who served since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are more likely to be unemployed than their peers involved in earlier conflicts. The jobless rate for the most recent group of veterans was 7.2% in 2014, the Labor Department said this week. The figure is down from 9% in 2013—matching with steady improvement in the overall labor market—but remains elevated compared with other jobless measures. The jobless rate for all veterans was 5.3% last year.

The Senate passed two amendments to the Republican budget Tuesday aimed at helping veterans.

Senators passed by voice vote an amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would create a deficit neutral fund to bolster the Veterans Affairs Department (VA), allow for the VA to hire additional mental health care workers and ensure veterans get timely access to care.

NEW YORK — The first stair-climb race at One World Trade Center - the nation's tallest building - will raise money for military veterans struggling with combat-linked disabilities, two foundations formed after the 9/11 attacks announced Monday.

Officials of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Captain Billy Burke Foundation detailed plans for the athletic event at Burke's firehouse, Engine Company 21 in midtown Manhattan. Burke lost his life on 9/11 along with Firefighter Stephen Siller from Squad 1 in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

The number of Vietnam veterans affected by the chemical Agent Orange is astonishing. Roughly 300-thousand veterans have died from Agent Orange exposure -- that's almost five times as many as the 58-thousand who died in combat.

“Did it save lives? No doubt. Over there it did, but nobody knew it was going to be taking them later,” said Dan Stenvold, President of the North Dakota branch of the VVA.

The Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) define Agent Orange as a highly toxic herbicide used by the U.S. military to kill vegetation during the Vietnam War.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is updating the way it determines eligibility for VA health care, a change that will result in more Veterans having access to the health care benefits they’ve earned and deserve.

A year after the Veterans Affairs Department was rocked by findings of hidden patient wait lists and manipulated records, House Republicans are accusing the department's new leadership of doing little to fix the transparency problems.

In a rare evening hearing on Monday, conservatives on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee accused VA officials and investigators at the independent VA Inspector General's office of withholding information from Congress, evading elected officials' requests and obstructing lawmakers' efforts to uncover problems.

Senator Delivered Speech on Senate Floor Last Week Kicking-Off Series to Recognize & Honor the Lives of 198 KIA/MIA Vietnam Servicemembers from ND

BISMARCK, N.D. – As part of her push to recognize North Dakota servicemembers who gave their lives in the Vietnam War, U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today met with Bismarck High School students to discuss their new collaborative effort to gather information and stories of these fallen men in efforts to honor their sacrifice and service to our nation.

Some troubled Los Angeles veterans are getting help through an unlikely source: orphaned parrots.

The West L.A. campus of the Department of Veterans Affairs has an exotic-bird rescue facility on its sprawling 387-acre campus. It houses 21 aviaries with nearly 40 parrots that are part of a unique animal-assisted therapy program for veterans coping with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, alcoholism and other ailments.

The Feathered Friends program at the VA Medical Center gives veterans a chance to work through their issues by caring for orphaned exotic birds.

WASHINGTON — President Obama will visit the Arizona veterans' hospital that prompted an overhaul of veterans' health care and led to the resignation of the VA secretary.

The White House says Obama will travel to Phoenix on Friday to discuss veterans' issues. He will be joined by VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who filled the post following the ouster of Eric Shinseki.

The VA came under scrutiny last year following reports that dozens of veterans died awaiting treatment at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Medical Center and that records were manipulated to hide delays.

Thanks to a new bill veterans won’t have to worry about paying out-of-state tuition at any public university. Provisions in the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 will require all public universities to offer in-state tuition to veterans making use of their GI Bill.

The unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans dropped to 6.7 percent in February, government data show, mirroring a drop in the nation's unemployment rate.

The country added 295,000 jobs overall, as unemployment fell from 5.7 percent in January to 5.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For the newest generation of veterans, the unemployment rate was down more than 1 point from January's 7.9 percent mark. Large month-to-month changes are common in this measure, which has a small sample size that is prone to fluctuation.

A fifth of all service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered concussions, mainly from being close to explosive blasts from roadside bombs. Doctors often refer to sports injuries to seek treatment options for the so-called signature wound of the long wars.

But new research signals that war-zone concussions are much different from concussions than happen playing football or hockey. Most athletes quickly recover brain function. Most soldiers and Marines do not, according to a study released Wednesday in Brain: A Journal of Neurology.

Veterans can now track the status of most of their prescriptions online, thanks to an innovative idea by a Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) employee. The new 24/7 service allows online tracking for most prescriptions mailed from the VA Mail Order Pharmacy.

The Prescription Tracker was recommended by VA employee Kenneth Siehr, a winner of the President’s 2013 Securing Americans Value and Efficiency (SAVE) Award. Siehr’s idea focused on the use of technology as a way to save money and improve the services VA provides to its patients.

The debut novel by Silver Star recipient Elliot Ackerman might be one of the first works of fiction about the Afghan war to be published by a veteran who fought in it — but he expects more will follow.

By Kathleen Curthoys
Army Times
Published: February 27, 2015


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