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In This Issue June 6, 2014

 

Remembering the 70th Anniversary of D-Day

McCain, Sanders Announce Deal on VA Bill

"How to Fix the VA Mess" by Former VA Sec and VVA's Response

Message from the Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs

VVA To Hold National Leadership & Education Conference in Wichita

Problems Undo Years of Progress at VA

June is National PTSD Awareness Month

Mayors' Challenge to End Homelessness

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Veterans Crisis Line

VA Caregiver Hotline

WWII Anniversary
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Holiday Stress

Support Senate Bill 1602

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Remembering the 70th Anniversary of D-Day

D-Day

From the CNN library: The June 6, 1944, D-Day Invasion of World War II was a massive strategic mission involving nearly 250,000 from the U.S and its allies that took place along a 40-mile stretch of Normandy coast in northern France. The codename for the Allied invasion of north-west Europe was "Operation Overlord." The naval assault phase of the invasion was codenamed "Operation Neptune" and involved landing troops on the beachhead in France and establishing a stronghold. Roughly 195,700 personnel, 11,590 aircraft, 7,000 ships, landing craft, vessels, and merchant ships were assigned to "Operation Neptune" for landing on the beaches. Allied forces that participated in D-Day included the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Poland. Never before in the history of war had such a large-scale operation, including forces in the air, land, and sea, taken place. Had the mission failed, it could have resulted in "the most ghastly disaster of the whole war." D-Day's success marked the beginning of the end for Hitler's stronghold and genocide in western Europe. Within a year Hitler was dead.

According to one source, roughly 73,000 American forces, including 15,500 airborne troops, landed on Utah Beach and Omaha Beach. British, Canadian, and other allied forces landed on Gold Beach, Juno Beach, and Sword Beach. Approximately 4,413 troops died on D-Day—comparable to casualties of the First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) during the Civil War.

VA Healthcare Reform

McCain, Sanders Announce Deal on VA Bill

Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Bernard Sanders and Sen. John McCain worked together to achieve an agreement Thursday to reform the VA healthcare system. The legislation would provide $500 million to improve access to medical care at VA facilities and grant the VA Secretary authority to overhaul the VA’s health care delivery system, including the power to terminate senior executives. The proposed bill includes provisions from legislation the House passed in May. Included in the bill is a test project which would allow some veterans to seek care at non-VA providers. The plan could be ready for a floor vote next week. If approved by the full Senate, the new bill will then be merged with the House’s legislation. Details of the House and Senate combined bill will be available next week.

Rowan Responds to Principi

"How to Fix the VA Mess" by Former VA Sec and VVA's Response

Wichita VA

On May 29, former VA Secretary Anthony "Tony" Principi's letter, titled "How to Fix the Veterans Affairs Mess," appeared in the Wall Street Journal. In his letter, the former Secretary addresses a number of issues, including the "wait time" scandal, previous VA budgets, and healthcare vouchers, along with his view that the healthcare of Vietnam veterans "undermines public confidence in the system and derails funding and treatment for those who need more urgent medical care."

See Principi letter here

Almost immediately VVA National President John Rowan fired off a rebuttal to the Secretary's letter in which he directly challenged two of Principi's statements.

See Rowan's rebuttal here

VHC YouTube Video with Tom Berfer

And here to offer a response on behalf of VVA is Dr. Tom Berger, Executive Director of the Veterans Health Council. Watch the YouTube video

Veterans Healthcare

Message from the Acting
Secretary of Veterans Affairs

“Not all veterans are getting the timely access to the healthcare that they have earned. Systemic problems in scheduling processes have been exacerbated by leadership failures and ethical lapses. I will use all available authority to swiftly and decisively address issues of willful misconduct or mismanagement. VA’s first priority is to get all veterans off waiting lists and into clinics while we address the underlying issues that have been impeding veterans’ access to healthcare. The President has made clear that this is his expectation. Even as we implement these immediate actions, we will work with Veterans Service Organizations, members of Congress, academia, public and private organizations, and with all other agencies and institutions that can help us move forward. We will also continue to depend on the faithful service of VA employees and leaders who place the interests of veterans above their own, those who serve veterans with dignity, compassion, and dedication, and who live by VA’s core values: Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence. Finally, as we accelerate our access to care, we will not lose sight of the fact that the quality of VA healthcare remains strong. Ten years of external validations have consistently shown that, on average, veterans who use VA healthcare rate our hospitals and clinics as high or higher in customer satisfaction than patients give most of the Nation’s private-sector hospitals. On behalf of all veterans, I express my appreciation to Secretary Shinseki for his leadership of VA. For decades to come, veterans will benefit from the transformation begun in the past five years.Thank you for your support and dedication to veterans and our mission to serve them.”

—Sloan D. Gibson, Acting Secretary

VVA Press Release

VVA To Hold National Leadership & Education Conference in Wichita

Leadership Conference Logo

(Washington, D.C.) – Vietnam Veterans of America will hold its Biennial National Leadership & Education Conference in Wichita, Kansas, August 5-9, 2014. Hundreds of Vietnam veteran leaders will come together at the Hyatt Regency in Wichita to take part in seminars, meetings, and other activities, including the Saturday Awards Banquet. The Opening Ceremonies will be held Wednesday morning, August 6. Army veteran and Basketball Hall-of-Famer Pat Williams, the co-founder and senior vice president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, will deliver the Keynote Speech.

VVA’s supporting organization, the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America (AVVA), is co-sponsoring the conference. “We’re very pleased that AVVA and VVA are working together on this always stimulating event,” said VVA President John Rowan. “All members of both organizations are now able to take part in all of the Leadership Conference activities, something that greatly benefit all of us.”

Read Entire Press Release

As Reported on the McClatchy DC Website

Problems Undo Years of Progress at VA

Phoenix VA

In a June 2 article posted on the McClatchy DC website, reporter Chris Adams presents a brief historical overview of VA healthcare and its problems. 

Read complete story here

From the Veterans Health Council

June is National PTSD Awareness Month

PTSD Awareness Month

Many people ask how they can decide for themselves whether they have PTSD. It is natural to want to know why you are feeling or acting a certain way. However, figuring out on your own whether or not you have PTSD is difficult. Even skilled professionals can find it hard to know which tool to use when trying to assess whether a patient has PTSD.  Providers who have been trained to understand the thoughts and behaviors that go along with PTSD are best able to make that decision. A provider must use his or her training and judgment to select the best test or set of questions to use. Then he or she must interpret the results of the test. The American Psychological Association, the National Center for PTSD, and the VVA Veterans Health Council all suggest that only trained professionals give tests to assess for PTSD. If you think you may have PTSD, talk to your doctor or a mental health provider. If possible, find a professional who has had training focused on PTSD assessment. Such providers are preferred over those trained only in general assessment.

From HUD

Mayors' Challenge to End Homelessness

Michelle Obama

From a June 4 press release from The White House, Office of the First Lady:  Over the last three years, the Administration and our partners in states and communities across the country have achieved a 24 percent decrease in homelessness among veterans (as measured in the January 2013 Annual Point In Time Count), during a time when our country was facing the worst recession since the Great Depression. In 2010, the Administration set the goal of preventing and ending homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015; today, as part of the Joining Forces initiative, First Lady Michelle Obama announced the commitment of 77 mayors, 4 governors, and 4 county officials to meet that goal, and called on additional mayors and local leaders to commit to ending veteran homelessness in their communities by the end of 2015. Through the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, mayors and other state and local leaders across the country will marshal federal, local, and non-profit efforts to end veteran homelessness in their communities. Ending veteran homelessness means reaching the point where there are no veterans sleeping on our streets, and every veteran has access to permanent housing. Should veterans become homeless or be at risk of becoming homeless, communities will have the capacity to quickly connect them to the help they need to achieve housing stability. When those things are accomplished, our nation will achieve its goal. 

For more details about the Mayors Challenge, and the list of elected officials who have signed on, visit HUD’s webpage

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