Veterans news update for Sept. 25

Veterans news update for Sept. 25

Veterans news updateSuicide by veterans remains a daunting problem as VA struggles to improve care (Hartford Courant)
As with many suicides, nobody saw this one coming. Back from his service in Afghanistan, Matthew Melanson was part of a tightly knit group of students at Tunxis Community College. The 22-year-old National Guardsman from Simsbury was known as an avid snowboarder who also liked off-roading in his Jeep. He took his life on a spring day last year. Like many returning soldiers and sailors, Melanson suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. His suicide and the suicides of many veterans like him have alarmed the military and officials at U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs facilities all over the country, who are in a long-standing struggle with the problem.

SF backs project to house homeless veterans (San Francisco Chronicle)
More homeless veterans could have a roof over their heads in downtown San Francisco by the end of the year if a lease agreement announced by Mayor Ed Lee on Tuesday is approved by the Board of Supervisors next week. Lee announced legislation for The City to lease the privately owned 136-unit building in the Financial District. The project is expected to provide shelter as well as health and social services for the city’s homeless veteran population.

Minnesota receives $36 million federal grants for veterans homes (KTSP-TV)
The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs will receive $36 million to improve veterans’ lives, Gov. Mark Dayton announced. The money, which is coming from federal grants, will go toward the completion of the Minneapolis Veterans Home, and install new resident lift systems at state facilities in Silver Bay, Fergus Falls, Luverne, and Minneapolis. The project will also include a tunnel connecting all of the skilled nursing buildings on the Veterans Home campus.

What are the best colleges for veterans (USA Today)
There are several places that rank colleges based for veterans, but they don’t always take into account the quality of the college, or the value of the education students receive. College Factual’s ranking includes factors like veteran support services and programs, flexibility, affordability, and the success of graduates. The following list includes the top 10 best colleges for veterans as ranked by College Factual.

VA to unveil new standardized disability claim forms in 2015 (Navy Times)
The Veterans Affairs Department is introducing new, standardized disability claims forms that officials say will make it easier for veterans and their survivors to clearly state what benefits they’re seeking from VA and provide the right information to process their claims and appeals, officials said. The new forms will “eliminate applicant guesswork, which often leads to delays in decisions and ultimately delays in receiving benefits,” a VA press release stated. The regulations on the new forms will take effect in late March.

Former VA official sentenced to 15 months for receiving gratuity (Tulsa World)
A former U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs official was sentenced Wednesday to a 15-month federal prison term in connection with a scheme that involved asking a hospital vendor to pay for remodeling his private home. Jeffrey Reese Fisher received the prison term to be followed by one year of supervised release after pleading guilty in May to receiving a gratuity while a public official. Fisher was chief of prosthetics for the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Muskogee when he solicited a medical supply company that did business with the hospital. Fisher, in a May plea agreement, admitted to using his position with the hospital to “directly and indirectly demand, seek, receive, accept and agree to receive and accept” remodeling, fence and driveway work by Al’s Medical.