Veterans news update for Sept. 16

Veterans news update for Sept. 16

VA lacks understanding of civilian adjustment, finds GAO (Fierce Government)
Although the Veterans Affairs Department lists veteran wellness and economic security as a strategic objective, the department lacks information to assess its ability to meet that goal, finds a Sept. 10 Government Accountability Office report. Veterans readjusting to civilian life often face employment challenges, relationship difficulties, homelessness or substance abuse, say auditors who drew their conclusions from interviews, discussion groups and studies. But the VA has limited and incomplete data on these challenges.

House GOP: VA interfered with with IG’s report (Politico)
Congressional Republicans are accusing the Department of Veterans Affairs of influencing an independent review of whether delayed health care resulted in the deaths of nearly three dozen patients. The VA’s inspector general released a report last month that said investigators could not “conclusively” link the deaths of 40 veterans to long wait times plaguing the agency. That shocked many Republican lawmakers, who say there’s no question that the two issues are connected.

VA supervisor made her employees renovate her house, used government money to do it (Daily Caller)
A former Veterans Affairs supervisor has been sentenced for stealing up to $20,000 of government property, a recent Justice Department release announced. From 2010 to 2013, 48-year-old Venita Godfrey-Scott directed her employees to use materials and supplies intended for VA medical center upkeep on her own house. These taxpayer-funded home improvement projects included “a deck in her backyard, carpet installation, and various kitchen, bathroom and basement improvements.” She also instructed employees to buy other necessary materials with her government-issued credit card, and had them work on these projects during normal work hours, when they were being paid by the VA.

Two U.S. soldiers receive Medal of Honor, decades after heroism (Washington Post)
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins stood ramrod straight as President Obama draped the Medal of Honor around his neck at the White House. It had been nearly five decades since he led Special Forces soldiers through a bloody ordeal that spanned a week in March 1966, but he still wore a crisp Army uniform, and saluted after receiving the nation’s top award for combat valor. Adkins, 80, was one of two Vietnam War soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor in a ceremony at the White House. The other went to the family of Spec. Donald P. Sloat, who was killed on Jan. 17, 1970, while shielding a grenade to protect his fellow soldiers. He was just short of his 21st birthday. The decision to award the medal to the soldiers so many years after the fact required special congressional approval.

A healing house for hurting veterans (Philadelphia Daily News)
Twenty male vets and five female vets currently call Snyder House their home. What makes this place notable is the way it operates: Each resident tells physicians, nurses, psychologists and other staffers what he or she wants from the stay, which could last up to 45 days. No matter what a veteran is trying to do — cope with post-traumatic stress disorder, find a job or beat a substance-abuse problem – Snyder House caters its programs and services to individual needs.

Oil and gas companies court military veterans as shale boom grows (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
John MacZura, an Army infantry veteran, started work a week after graduation. Before receiving his petroleum engineering degree from Penn State in 2013, Mr. MacZura, 30, had already piqued the interest of five or six oil and gas companies. He had job offers from three. He eventually joined Houston-based Cabot Oil and Gas, where he now works as a completions engineer. Finding work in the energy sector isn’t a new concept for veterans, but there has been an increased interest in recent years due to the shale gas boom.

VA secretary vows more changes, higher rates of pay for doctors, nurses (Stars & Stripes)
As part of the effort to eliminate the VA appointment backlog by the end of next year, Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald said Monday that he plans to increase the range of pay for VA doctors and nurses, among other changes. McDonald has recently started going to medical schools to recruit doctors and nurses himself.