Your daily veterans news update for Friday, August 8:
Combat stress among veterans is found to persist since Vietnam (New York Times)
Most veterans who had persistent post-traumatic stress a decade or more after serving in the Vietnam War have shown surprisingly little improvement since then, and a large percentage have died, a new study finds, updating landmark research that began a generation ago. Members of minorities who enlisted before finishing high school were especially likely to develop such war-related trauma, as were those veterans who had killed multiple times in combat, the study found.
Lawmakers’ plan to fix Veterans Affairs is temporary, or not (Los Angeles Times)
When it passed legislation to fix the troubled Veterans Affairs Department, Congress managed to do two things lawmakers have often vowed to avoid: create a new benefit program and fail to pay for it. Creating that new benefit would allow many more veterans to get care, but would increase spending by $10 billion, added to the deficit. Congress limited the upfront cost of the new private-care option by creating it as a stop-gap — a temporary fix for three years or until the money runs out, whichever comes first. But temporary has a way of becoming permanent in Washington.
Bill would provide disabled veterans who are federal employees with extra sick leave (The Hill)
Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) has introduced legislation that would offer disabled veterans who serve as federal employees with extra time off to seek medical care. The measure would offer veterans with 13 days, or 104 hours, of “Wounded Warrior leave” during their first year as federal workers.
Obama met just once with Shinseki during VA scandal (Fox News)
President Obama touted the newly passed Veterans Affairs reform bill Thursday as he signed the measure into law and lamented the scandal that triggered it. But a review of records by shows the president – despite the urgency he placed publicly on the crisis – only met one-on-one with then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki once during the scandal — May 30, the day Shinseki resigned.
Did leadership by ‘bold goals’ spark VA wait times crisis? (Stars & Stripes)
Until he resigned in May, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki led his department of more than 350,000 employees for five years by setting “bold goals” that looked impossible to achieve but that he knew, from his Army years, could inspire better performance and, from Congress, bigger budgets. But did a goal to cut wait times in half for patients seeking care finally put VA administrators under such pressure that many chose to manipulate performance data, compromise their integrity and even put patients at risk?
New VA law tackles agency problems, but also hurts employee rights (Washington Post)
The many good points in the VA reform billcould stand strong without the gratuitous and punitive hit on the civil service rights of Senior Executive Service (SES) members in the department. The law singles them out for vindictive action by seriously eroding the appeal rights of senior executives the VA wants to fire or demote.
VA apologizes for giving Congress inaccurate info (Tampa Bay Times)
The Department of Veterans Affairs apologized Thursday to the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee for providing it with inaccurate information in a fact sheet detailing delays in the diagnosis of gastrointestinal cancers. The fact sheet, released to the committee in April, said 76 veterans had been seriously harmed, and 23 died, after delays in getting tests that confirmed a GI cancer. In a story earlier this month, the Tampa Bay Times reported the fact sheet erroneously suggested the review involved cases going back to 1999 when, in fact, only cases from fiscal 2010 and 2011 were counted. The incorrect information was repeated by VA officials testifying before Congress and in briefings before committee staff.