Veterans news update for Sept. 15

Veterans news update for Sept. 15

Obama push to hire veterans into federal jobs spurs resentment (Washington Post)
President Obama’s push to hire military veterans for jobs across the government is fueling resentment in federal offices, as longtime civil servants and former troops on the other side of the cubicle increasingly question each other’s competence and qualifications. With veterans moving to the head of the hiring queue in the biggest numbers in a generation, there’s growing bitterness on both sides, according to dozens of interviews with federal employees.

Veterans’ personal info found in restroom (KOAT-TV)
Albuquerque Veterans Affairs Hospital officials said veterans’ names and social security numbers were found in a folder in one of the hospital’s public bathrooms. About 2,600 veterans were on that same list. The folder was found July 30. The VA is offering victims free credit monitoring services for a year, and the VA employee who misplaced the folder has resigned.

Reps criticize VA handling of Waco brain research (Stars & Stripes)
Two members of the U.S. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee have expressed concern over the ability of the Department of Veterans Affairs to handle a costly brain research program in Waco. U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Florida, and U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, said in a statement that the VA is mismanaged and cannot successfully handle the project at the Waco Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans. “With Traumatic Brain Injury being the signature wound of our recent conflicts, every research resource must be used to its fullest potential,” Miller said. “VA must hold employees accountable if that potential is squandered. So far, VA has failed to do that.”

Veterans’ suicide rate on the rise in Tennessee (Maryville Daily Times)
September is National Suicide Prevention Month and the Tennessee Department Veterans Affairs is drawing attention to a grim fact: the number of suicides by military veterans rose from 197 in 2012 to 214 in 2013. Since 1990, more than 4,200 veterans have committed suicide in Tennessee, making up 21 percent of all suicide deaths in the state.

VA whistleblower claims retaliation for reporting arrest of high-ranking official (Washington Times)
Veterans Affairs officials say the days of retaliation are over as they encourage whistleblowers to come forward, but Joseph Colon-Christensen isn’t so sure. Last month, he reported to VA officials in Washington on the April arrest of a high-ranking official who oversees nearly a dozen medical centers in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. That same day, Mr. Colon-Christensen says he lost his credentialing privileges and was detailed to a new job. Later, after VA Caribbean director DeWayne Hamlin was contacted for a news story about his Florida arrest on drunken driving and drug possession charges, Mr. Colon-Christensen said he received a 21-day notice of possible termination.

Key players, issues in upcoming Phoenix VA hearing (Arizona Republic)
Did the inspector general for the Department of Veterans Affairs revise his investigative report on the Phoenix VA Health Care System to downplay the impact of delayed medical care on Arizona patients? That question is one of many likely to arise during a Wednesday hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where the list of invited witnesses includes VA Secretary Robert McDonald, Inspector General Richard Griffin and two Arizona whistle-blowers.

War veterans try yoga, hiking, horseback riding to treat PTSD (Wall Street Journal)
Veterans are experimenting with new ways to heal wounds left by their war experiences—and many are demanding the U.S. government do the same. Some are trying hikes on the Appalachian Trail, scuba diving and horseback riding. Their pursuit of alternative treatments has spawned a cottage industry of dance, drama, companion dogs, tai chi, fish-oil supplements and high-pressure oxygen treatments to treat brain injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder.

For ailing veterans, endless government delays (Los Angeles Times)
Wayne Scott, a World War II Navy veteran and Culver City schoolteacher, began falling apart after his wife died. First it was meningitis and then Parkinson’s and dementia. His daughter, Kim Richards, kept hoping she would be notified that a bed was finally available for her father at CalVet’s West Los Angeles Veterans Home, where Scott had been on a waiting list since early 2012. That never happened, and Scott — who spent his war years searching for enemy submarines off the coast of South America —died at home in March 2013 after his family had borrowed $125,000 to pay for his care. Then, in May, Richards got a call from the CalVet admissions office. “They said they were calling to see if my father still wanted to be on the waiting list to get into the home. I told them he had been deceased for over a year, and they could take him off the list,” Richards said. “I wonder how many other vets have died waiting to get in.”