Veterans news update for Oct. 2

Veterans news update for Oct. 2

Veterans news updateIn effort to end veteran homelessness by 2015, this $270 million doesn’t hurt (Washington Post)
The Obama administration has announced a new round of funding to help meet its goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015, pumping nearly $270 million into programs aimed at addressing the problem. The Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Veterans Affairs on Wednesday said they would dedicate $62 million toward a rental-assistance program that could bring more than 9,000 chronically homeless veterans off the streets. The move came one day after VA Secretary Robert McDonald announced an additional $207 million in funding for rapid-assistance grants to help up to 70,000 veterans and their families keep their homes or return to permanent housing.
Related: See the communities that will benefit from $207 million from the VA

Failing our veterans: We cannot leave Marine Tahmooressi behind in Mexico (Fox News)
Commentary: “The [Concerned Veterans for America] has fought like hell—aggressively and professionally—to ensure that America’s veterans are no longer treated like second-class citizens in their own system, and by the country we proudly serve. We have made some progress, but as evidenced by today’s hearing, there is still so much work to be done. The ongoing situation with Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi, a decorated combat veteran now held for 184 days by the Mexican government, is yet another example of our federal government failing this nation’s veterans. A core military value is “leave no man behind”—yet in his case, as is the case for so many seeking physical and mental health care from our government, he has been left behind.”

Marine vet’s release from a Mexican jail coming, lawmakers say (Navy Times)
The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said he is “confident” that Mexican authorities will release Marine veteran Andrew Tahmooressi, potentially ending the ongoing saga of his imprisonment. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., said his recent discussions with Mexican officials, including that country’s attorney general, have left him optimistic that Tahmooressi will be released on humanitarian grounds in the near future, although he could not offer a specific date. Other committee members expressed similar positive progress on the case, but family members of Tahmooressi said they’ve heard similar hope in the past, but are still despondent over his detention.

Veterans say drinking, fighting, drugs ruining their new $11.5 million home in Syracuse (Syracuse Post-Standard)
Al Salinas, 59, a disabled veteran, and his wife were living in their car before they moved in May into VanKeuren Square, a new $11.5 million apartment project for homeless veterans in Syracuse. “At first it was beautiful and wonderful,” Salinas said. But before long some tenants began urinating and vomiting in the hallways, fighting, bringing prostitutes into the building and openly buying drugs on the property, he said. Salinas said his wife is afraid to leave their apartment because she doesn’t know who she will encounter in the hallway. “Now she’s saying, ‘Maybe we were better off in the car,'” Salinas said. VanKeuren Square, which opened in February and was dedicated in May with much fanfare, was built by Housing Visions, a nonprofit that has revitalized housing on the city’s East Side, in cooperation with the VA Medical Center.

Why do young veterans have so much trouble finding jobs? (Wall Street Journal)
Given the huge sacrifices veterans have made for our country, it is deeply disturbing that the unemployment rate among veterans ages 25 to 34, at 9.1%, was higher on average in 2013 than the rate among non-veterans of a similar age: 7.4%. That’s a key finding of a new Brookings study by one of its researchers, Jonathan Rothwell. Mr. Rothwell reported on some of the reasons for the discrepancy: Young veterans are not as educated as their peers, and when they do enroll in college it is more frequently at for-profit schools whose graduates fare relatively more poorly than graduates of traditional colleges.

Louisiana VA hospital lacks pajamas, sheets, but spends money on new furniture, TVs, solar (Fox News)
Veterans at the Shreveport, La., Veterans Affairs hospital have been going without toothbrushes, toothpaste, pajamas, sheets and blankets while department officials spend money on new Canadian-made furniture, televisions to run public service announcements and solar panels, a Watchdog investigation has revealed. Sources inside the hospital told that patients also have had to contend with substandard care, as many nurses spend less time on work than on cell phones, iPods or accessing personal data on hospital computers. “It shouldn’t be like this. These are our veterans,” one employee said. “When I saw those solar panels out there and they waste money on things like new TVs that just play (public service) announcements, it really made me angry.”

VA secretary announces progress, promises more change (Tampa Bay Times)
After just two months in office, the man in charge of the nation’s troubled VA system says he is working hard to “change the culture.” As evidence Wednesday, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald said Florida veterans now wait 162 days for a decision on a claim. In February 2013, the wait was 250 days. He said the agency has reached out to more than 2,470 veterans in Tampa to get them off wait lists and into clinics, and has provided almost $1.7 million to get veterans into non-VA care in the community. “We know that trust has been compromised, and we’re working hard to re-earn that trust among the American people,” he said at a news conference at Tampa’s James A. Haley VA Medical Center.

U.S. military hospitals ordered to improve care, access, and safety (New York Times)Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the military on Wednesday to improve access to treatment, quality of care and patient safety at its hospitals and clinics, giving underperforming hospitals four to six weeks to show how they will address shortcomings. Mr. Hagel’s directives hew to the findings of a 645-page report that a panel of military and civilian experts produced after the secretary ordered a comprehensive review of a system that serves 1.35 million active-duty service members, as well as millions of family members and others.

VA to look into wrong name on Civil War gravestone (Military Times)
The National Cemetery Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs is going to look into whether the gravestone of a Confederate soldier buried in Elmira, N.Y., has the wrong name on it. Pvt. Franklin Cauble, who died in Elmira’s Civil War prison camp, was mistakenly buried at Woodlawn National Cemetery under the name of Pvt. Franklin Cooper, according to his great-great grandson, Tom Fagart of Concord, N.C. Fagart, 71, said he has documentation proving the gravestone is incorrect. He has posted online military records from the prison camp for both men: Cauble’s record indicates he died of dysentery on Oct. 28, 1864, while Cooper’s record shows he was released July 3, 1865. Cauble was about 39 years old when captured on June 3, 1864, and sent to Point Lookout, Md., he said. He was moved July 12, 1864, to the Elmira prison camp and subsequently died there. He is buried in plot No. 718 in the cemetery’s Confederate section, he said.

Survey: 65% of vets likely to leave 1st civilian job within two years (Military Times)
Roughly two-thirds of veterans are likely to leave their first post-military job within two years because of problems like low job satisfaction and limited opportunities for advancement, according to a new survey by employment specialists. The report, from VetAdvisor and Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families, confirms concerns from many veterans groups that post-military employment problems don’t end when troops land their first civilian job. According to the research, roughly 44 percent of veterans who responded to the survey left their first civilian job within a year of employment. Another 21 percent left after one to two years on the job.