Your Veterans News Update for Sept. 8

Your Veterans News Update for Sept. 8

Veterans groups among the most vicious 2014 campaign attack dogs (Time)
In the 2014 campaign cycle veterans groups are painting a worrying picture of candidates support for our nation’s service members.

VA director plans to outline priorities to fix veterans’ health care (Wall Street Journal)
The secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs said he plans to announce Monday an outline of his key priorities to improve veterans’ health care and rehabilitate the image of the beleaguered department, which he took control of more than a month ago.

Nashville VA employee resigned before receiving disciplinary measures (The Tennessean)
A Veterans Benefits Administration employee from Nashville was allowed to resign before he could be disciplined for wasting government time and money, the VA has told Congress. The employee, Richard Moore, resigned July 25, four months after the inspector general for the Department of Veterans Affairs found he had spent more than $109,000 on travel “without proper authorization or any supervisory oversight,” and used his government computer for sexually explicit video communications to friends.

Seniors boost number of veterans deemed unemployable (Los Angeles Times)
Jack Behunin received welcome news last year from the Department of Veterans Affairs: Due to war-related medical conditions, he was being declared unfit to work, boosting his tax-free monthly disability compensation from $1,850 to $3,000. Not that he had any interest in a job. A World War II veteran in Burbank, he is 90 years old. His case is not an aberration. Senior citizens have helped make the benefit — known as individual unemployability — one of the fastest-growing expenditures in the VA disability system. The number of “unemployable” veterans has nearly tripled since 2000, to 321,451, with the majority at ages when most people have already stopped working.

Some veterans find peace thanks to scuba gear, quiet waters (NPR)
Marine veteran Tim Maynard: “That first time I got in the water, it was just — it was like everything stopped. Everything. I was just mind-blown at how alone yet safe I felt. I just felt like nothing else mattered except for me swimming around right there. And then when I came up, I just couldn’t even express the amount of joy. It was an overwhelming sense of emotion.”

Veteran calls town hall meeting on VA hospitals a ‘whitewash’ (The Tennessean)
Vietnam War veteran John Copeland of Nashville is calling the meetings a “whitewash” because he says officials could do a better job of letting people know about them. Copeland said veterans should be directly notified about the meetings, but a public affairs officer for Tennessee Valley Healthcare System said contacting all 90,000 veterans it serves would be very difficult.

Veterans frustrated with VA’s ‘shell game’ (Winston-Salem Journal)
Across town, in a house he shares with his ailing mother, sat a Gulf War vet named Steve Boggs. He’d opted not to attend a VA town hall meeting on health care and benefits, and who could blame him? His claim, supported by records from his service in the Navy, has been sitting in limbo for nearly two years. “It feels like they’re playing a shell game with me,” he said, “just moving my claim from one place to the other.”

Veteran’s suicide draws attention to VA’s use of painkillers (Roanoke Times)
VA officials declined to talk about this veteran’s case, but friends of the 52-year-old said he had spoken to them many times about the suffering he endured after doctors and nurses at the VA clinic in Wytheville began to wean him off painkillers. “The medications were the only thing that was helping him, and when they took that away from him, his life just went downhill,” one friend said. This veteran’s suicide comes as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs seeks to reduce the amount of opioid painkillers prescribed to patients at veterans hospitals and clinics across the country.