Veterans news update for Sept. 17

Veterans news update for Sept. 17

Uber seeks to put veterans behind the wheel (CBS News)
Veterans face many challenges readjusting to civilian life. One of the toughest is getting a good-paying job. The ride-sharing service Uber is putting up a nationwide Help Wanted sign. Although national unemployment numbers for vets have improved lately, the rate for returning service members under the age of 25 is still higher than 20 percent — three times the national average. Uber now wants to bring on 50,000 more veterans by teaming up with Hiring Our Heroes, a non-profit veterans service organization.

Chicago mayor unveils plan to end veterans homelessness (Chicago Sun-Times)
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has set a goal of ending homelessness among veterans in Chicago by the end of 2015. The mayor committed $800,000 in city dollars to a $5 million-a-year plan that will be primarily funded by the federal government. The city’s share will bankroll 36 “permanent supportive housing units,” rent subsidies for 70 more veterans and provide case management services to match vets with the housing option that best fits their needs.

Fewer hospitalizations for diabetic veterans using VA’s home-based care (Reuters)
For older U.S. military veterans with multiple chronic conditions, including diabetes, taking advantage of home-based primary care from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was linked to fewer hospitalizations, in a recent study. Some VA medical centers in the U.S. offer home-based primary care, in which a physician supervises a health care team that provides services in the veteran’s home, rather than through regular clinic visits.

Congress approves COLA increase for disability benefits (Federal News Radio)
Millions of veterans and their dependents will get a fresh cost-of-living increase for their disability benefits beginning in December, according to legislation that Congress sent President Barack Obama. The bill does not set the boost that veterans will receive but requires that it equal next year’s inflation increase for Social Security recipients. The government will calculate next year’s Social Security increase in October.

Obama declines to attend memorial dedication for disabled veterans (Washington Free Beacon)
President Barack Obama has declined to attend a dedication ceremony in October for a new memorial honoring American veterans who have been disabled fighting for their country in wars, according to sources close to the event. The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial (AVDLM), the first such memorial of its kind, is set to be dedicated during a ceremony on Oct. 5 near the National Mall in downtown Washington, D.C. This would be among the first national memorials in recent history not to be formally accepted in person by a sitting U.S. president.

House passes bill to oversee construction of VA hospitals (Stars & Stripes)
The House has passed a bill to increase oversight of veterans’ hospitals under construction, following a report that some medical centers take three years longer to complete than estimated and cost an extra $366 million per project. The bill would require the VA to appoint a project manager from the Army Corps of Engineers to oversee construction projects that cost more than $60 million.

Survey: Financial concerns plague military families (Navy Times)
The active-duty community’s uncertainty about their future and concerns about their own financial stability are clear in the results of this year’s Blue Star Families annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey. More than two-thirds identified concerns about military pay and benefits, and possible changes in retirement, according to the report on the fifth annual survey, which will be publicly released today. Those issues were the top concerns regardless of demographic subgroups – active duty spouses, veterans and active duty service members.

Embattled VFW mulls image (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
Since its founding in 1914, the Veterans of Foreign Wars has worked to establish the Veterans Administration, forge the GI Bill after World War II, develop the national veterans cemetery system and update the GI Bill in 2008. Yet membership in the VFW has declined in recent years. Some younger members point to an image problem. “There is a stigma. Younger people think the VFW is a place where you can get cheap drinks and smoke inside,” said Matthew Hannan, president of the Pitt Vets and a Marine Corps veteran who served in Albania and Iraq.

Vets suffering from VA delays, witness tells hearing (Philadelphia Inquirer)
In January, Philadelphia’s veterans hospital sent Chris Diaz to a private doctor because the wait for knee surgery at its own facility was more than 10 months. But the hospital also sent Diaz a $9,000 bill. The Navy veteran, speaking Monday at a City Council hearing on the quality of VA care in Philadelphia, said he called the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in University City for eight months before the clerical error was fixed, while a collection agency hounded him for payment.

Doctor: VA downplayed link between wait times, deaths (Stars & Stripes)
Contrary to the findings of the VA’s inspector general, there is a link between wait times and patient deaths at veterans hospitals, according to prepared testimony from a VA doctor. “I believe the OIG case review overlooked actual and potential causal relationships between health care delays and veteran deaths,” Katherine Mitchell, medical director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System’s Iraq and Afghanistan Post-Deployment Center, said in a statement submitted for a House Committee on Veterans Affairs hearing.

Phoenix whistle-blower hits back, alleges IG report a cover-up (Arizona Republic)
The Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general minimized bad patient outcomes and deliberately confused readers of a recent investigative report to downplay the impact of delayed health care at Phoenix VA facilities, a key whistle-blower asserts in written testimony expected to be delivered today at a U.S. House hearing. “At its best, this report is a whitewash. At its worst, it is a feeble attempt at a cover-up,” Dr. Sam Foote, a retired VA physician, said of the inspector general’s report released Aug. 26.

Phoenix VA official may have broken privacy law (Arizona Republic)
The Department of Veterans Affairs is investigating whether a top employee in Phoenix violated patient-privacy law when he sent an e-mail to staffers about a veteran’s suicide highlighted in a political ad by U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. Glenn Costie, acting director of the Phoenix VA Healthcare System, sent the e-mail Sept. 4, defending the hospital’s role in caring for Daniel Somers, an Iraq war veteran who took his own life last summer.