November 10 Veterans News

November 10 Veterans News

Veterans news updateSurvey: Just 18% of vets feel they’ve gotten benefits promised to them (Wall Street Journal)
After leaving the Army in 2010 following a 13-year career, Armand Andrews has held several different jobs, giving up the most recent one in customer service this year after what he regarded as unfair treatment partly connected to his background as a veteran. “It’s the job sector,” said Mr. Andrews, a veteran of the Bosnian intervention, who stands ramrod straight and never breaks eye contact, after walking from table to table and picking up brochures at a veterans’ job fair. “There’s a stigmatization on veterans.” He is far from alone, according to a new survey set to be released Tuesday by Disabled American Veterans, one of the best-known advocacy groups for vets in the nation. It found that while a majority of veterans said they valued their service and would do it again, most don’t feel they have received adequate support after taking off their uniform and returning to civilian life. Only 48% of veterans feel that the promises made to them by the military and society as a whole have been kept, according to the survey. Only 22% feel the federal government treats them well, and only 18% feel they have gotten the benefits they were promised. The survey polled 1,701 vets and was compiled by German firm GfK, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. Nearly two-thirds of veterans from recent wars said their qualifications don’t translate well to the civilian job market, and 59% said civilians don’t understand what vets are dealing with when coming home from war, a number higher than the 45% of Vietnam-era vets who said the same thing.

VA can’t seem to fix computer glitch denying 29,000 vets health care (The Huffington Post)
It’s been seven months since top officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs learned that tens of thousands of combat vets were being denied VA health care enrollment because of a computer system error. Not much has changed. The Huffington Post first reported in August that more than 35,000 combat vets were missing out on health care because their applications had been mistakenly flagged as pending, simply because they didn’t complete a so-called means test, which assesses their household income. Many vets have to submit a means test to enroll in VA health care, but not combat vets, who are automatically eligible for free insurance for five years after they’re discharged. The problem is that the VA computer system isn’t set up to exempt combat vets from the means test requirement. So when a combat vet applies for VA care, unless he or she voluntarily fills out a means test, the application may end up in a backlog. Combat vets lose their eligibility for free health care after five years, so the longer the delay, the more it eats into their free coverage. VA management says they first learned about the computer glitch in April. But there are signs that some at the agency were aware of it as far back as 2012. In a “report of accomplishments” from the VA’s Chief Business Office sent out in the third quarter of that year, officials boasted of enrolling 10,163 combat vets who had been mistakenly listed as pending. All of the combat vets in a pending status served in Iraq or Afghanistan, and nearly half have been listed as pending for more than five years. The number is now at 29,000, and it hasn’t changed since September. VA spokeswoman Walinda West disputed the idea that senior officials could be moving faster to fix the problem. She said the agency conducted an initial review in August and, after reaching out through phone calls and letters, it was able to enroll 8,578 of these vets. But the problem runs far deeper, according to Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA’s Health Eligibility Center in Atlanta and a past whistleblower on VA mismanagement. Davis said VA officials are intentionally slow-walking the process because enrolling all of the combat vets at once would force them to admit they made a huge mistake. More significantly, it could expose the agency as liable for compensating thousands of vets and their families for health care costs that should have been covered, had those vets been enrolled when they first applied.

Report: 300 veterans, some with PTSD, are on death row (NBC News)
During Courtney Lockhart’s capital murder trial, the jury heard testimony that he had returned from a bloody 16-month deployment to Ramadi, Iraq, a changed man. His sweet nature was replaced by anger and paranoia, his ex-fiancee said. He hid in the closet at night, started living out of his car, drank too much and once put a gun to his own head. The defense argued that Lockhart, who was dishonorably discharged, was suffering from untreated PTSD and wasn’t in his right mind when he abducted, robbed and fatally shot college student Lauren Burk in 2008. The Alabama jury rejected the prosecution’s call for the death penalty and sentenced him to life. But in a rare move, a judge overrode the panel’s decision and put him on death row. The case of Lockhart — whose brigade had a dozen other men charged with murder or attempted murder after coming home from Iraq — is highlighted in a new report by the Death Penalty Information Center, a group that opposes capital punishment. “At a time in which the death penalty is being imposed less and less, it is disturbing that so many veterans who were mentally and emotionally scarred while serving their country are now facing execution,” said Robert Dunham, the center’s executive director. About 300 veterans are on death row nationwide, about 10 percent of all those condemned to die, the group estimates. It’s unclear how many have been diagnosed with PTSD or have symptoms, but Dunham says that in too many cases, a veteran’s mental scars are not examined closely enough by defense lawyers, prosecutors, judges, juries and governors who can commute death sentences.

Commentary: Treatment, not jail, for our veterans (Fox News)
By Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.): “The brave men and women of our Armed Forces never fail our nation in battle, and we have a duty not to fail them after they re-enter civilian life. In particular, we must not fail those who become involved with the criminal justice system. Many of these veterans need treatment, not incarceration. The good news is that a grassroots movement across America has given rise to more than 200 Veterans Treatment Courts designed to give veterans a better way forward. One defendant before a Veterans Treatment Court was “Alison,” an Afghanistan war veteran from New Hampshire. After leaving military service, she experienced acute onset of schizophrenia, which went undiagnosed and untreated. One day, her car veered off the road and became stuck in a snowbank. Police arrived to assist, but Alison flashed back to Afghanistan and, believing they were a threat to her, became belligerent. She was charged with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest. But instead of being tried, convicted and jailed, she was referred to a Veterans Treatment Court, where a specialist from the VA in White River Junction worked with the court to arrange an array of services, including psychiatric assistance, medication monitoring and employment assistance. Alison signed a contract, agreeing to receive mental health treatment for at least a year and to be monitored by the court. Nearly a year later, she has “graduated” from the program, continues to receive treatment and has not re-entered the criminal justice system.”

Vet advocates script plan for new president’s first 100 days (Military Times)
Veterans advocates have already scripted the first 100 days of the next president’s agenda, whoever he or she might be. In a new policy paper from the Center for a New American Security, analysts say swift engagement on veterans issues will be critical for the next administration as a signal not only to those who have already served, but also to those in uniform today and future potential recruits. “National security depends on the United States’ ability to recruit, retain, manage, and support its service members and their families,” the report states. “The nation benefits from the successful transition and future success of veterans in myriad ways, including … the example they set for future generations weighing whether to join the all-volunteer force.” The bipartisan document sets out a general blueprint for the top issues facing the Veterans Affairs Department now and in coming years, and outlines advice for President Barack Obama’s successor  to tackle in their first 100 days. Priorities include:

  • A more public commitment to veterans’ issues: “The next president must use his or her personal presence and participation to convey the importance of this support and its vitality to national security.”
  • A government-wide focus on veterans: “The next president should identify and nominate key leaders for (the Defense Department), VA, the Department of Labor and the Small Business Administration that work on veteran and military personnel issues.”
  • Including veterans in wider military planning: “Military personnel and veteran issues should be integrated into key strategic planning processes and documents, such as the National Security Strategy.”
  • Paying for it: “This includes, but is not limited to, adequate funding to fully resource the military compensation, defense health, defense operations and maintenance, veterans health, and veterans benefits accounts.”

Celebrating the 240th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps (VetsHQ)
VetsHQ celebrates the 240th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps with a page of historical photographs, plus the latest Marine videos and news.

Poll: Growing concern for treatment of veterans (WKXW-Trenton)
As we get set to officially recognize the service of veterans tomorrow, a new Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll finds that the vast majority of all Americans believe the United States is shortchanging its veterans. The nationwide survey finds that nearly half (48 percent) believe the country is doing a poor job on veteran care, with another third (32 percent) who believe their treatment can be best described as fair. “This means that a full 80 percent don’t even think that the U.S. offers good care when it comes to look after those who served,” said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind. In a rare occurrence, the survey did show similar viewpoints from supporters of both political parties, with 78 percent of Democrats and 87 percent of Republicans given the US a less than stellar grade. “Democrats and Republicans are pretty united on the question of how veterans are being taken care of, and the answer to that is not very good,” Jenkins said. The poor view of the government’s care for veterans was consistent across all categories surveyed.

Clinton to release plan to address VA scandal (The New York Times)
On Monday, just after she officially registered as a Democratic candidate in New Hampshire, Hillary Rodham Clinton declared, “This election is about our veterans.” It’s a line she will most likely repeat on Tuesday when she rolls out her proposals to help veterans and to improve the treatment they receive at the Department of Veterans Affairs while also criticizing Republicans for their proposals to privatize the department. The policy rollout will take place in Derry at a town-hall-style event with men and women who served in the military, and it comes as Mrs. Clinton is fielding Republican attacks on her previous comments about the problems that have plagued the department. In an interview with MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” last month, Mrs. Clinton said the scandal over manipulated wait times at department hospitals had been overblown by Republicans for political gain…. At a town hall-style event in Coralville, Iowa, last week, Mrs. Clinton said the country had a “mess” in dealing with veterans applying for disability, and she called for a “top to bottom” review of the Veterans Affairs Department. But, she added, “I am, however, concerned about Republican plans to privatize.” On Monday, at a town-hall-style event at a high school here, Mrs. Clinton reiterated that message, vowing to “work hard to fix the V.A., but I will defend it against those who wish to privatize it.”

A simple solution to the VA’s many problems (The Hill)
Commentary by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.): “More than 18 months after Americans were shocked and appalled by revelations of veterans dying while waiting to receive much–needed medical care from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the VA’s problems are still far from fixed. A steady stream of independent audits, media reports and congressional investigations prove this is the case. At the epicenter of the VA scandal in Phoenix, an Oct. 15 government report details how seven more veterans died after delays and lapses in care at the Phoenix VA Health Care System. “Veterans still facing major medical delays at VA hospitals,” reads an Oct. 20 CNN headline. And after receiving information from the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, the VA Office of Inspector General recently made criminal referrals for two senior executives it says gamed the VA’s hiring system, enabling them to benefit from a total of more than $400,000 in taxpayer-funded relocation expenses. … In order to field a winning team, the VA has to be prepared to cut its worst players. But time and again VA leaders and Obama seem unable and unwilling to do that. As a result, the department — forced to tolerate corruption, malfeasance and incompetence within its ranks — remains under the shadow of perpetual scandal. The millions of American veterans who depend on the VA and the hundreds of thousands of VA employees who are dedicated professionals deserve better than this broken status quo. But until VA leaders and Obama make a commitment to supporting real accountability at the department, efforts to reform the VA are doomed to fail.”

VA has more work to do to eliminate homelessness, claims backlog (Newser)
Six years ago, the Obama administration set the ambitious goal of ending veteran homelessness in 2015 and ending the backlog in disability claims. It appears likely the Department of Veterans Affairs will miss both targets even though it has made progress. The latest count available showed about 50,000 homeless veterans on a single night in January 2014. That’s a decline of 33 percent from January 2010. Results from the January 2015 count are expected later this month. The disability and pension claims backlog also is on a downward path, although not before the claims processing system became so overwhelmed that lawmakers and veterans groups demanded changes at the VA. The number of claims pending for more than 125 days soared from about 180,000 at the start of 2010 to more than 611,000 by March of 2013. It now stands at about 76,000. Those are the kind of trends that politicians would surely like to cite during election season. Yet, as one crisis began to fade at the VA, another blossomed. Reports of thousands of veterans waiting months and sometimes years for health care have taken priority and colored the way all other issues are viewed.

Some military veterans struggle to find civilian jobs (The Washington Times)
Ask Decatur veteran Chris Dutton about his business skills and he will proudly give you a verbal resume of how he helped manage the military business for 24 years. As a U.S. Navy chief petty officer who specialized as a gunner’s mate, Dutton maintained, operated and tinkered with multi-billion dollar weapons systems and small arms. He exercised his diplomatic skills after learning about different religions, languages and customs while also fighting the Gulf War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Dutton, 48, wasn’t prepared for the battles he would face getting jobs at home after retiring from the military in February 2014. With more than two decades worth of project, personnel and mission management experience, starting a career in the civilian world should be easy, he thought. A year and nine months later, he still struggles to translate the skills that earned him medals into the workforce. “You feel a little betrayed,” Dutton said. “You go from everyone slapping you on the back, telling you how good you are, then you think, ‘Maybe I’m not so good.’ “ Dutton can relate to the 573,000 U.S. veterans who, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are adjusting to the world of unemployment. The experiences that taught him teamwork, discipline and how to handle assignments in tough situations have become words on a resume that get overlooked during job interviews, he said.

California launches voting program to honor veterans (Sacramento Bee)
Just in time for Veterans Day, California is introducing a program that will allow voters to cast their ballots in recognition of a current or former member of the military. Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced on Monday the “Honor Veterans. Vote.” campaign, encouraging Californians to pay tribute to veterans and active-duty service members “by participating in the democracy that they’re fighting to preserve.” The initiative is based on similar arrangements in Louisiana, where Padilla heard about it on a trip to New Orleans earlier this year, and fifteen other states. Voters can submit dedications for family and friends at honorveterans.sos.ca.gov, then choose to receive a custom certificate or a lapel pin to display while voting. Padilla, sporting one of the California-shaped pins, said he was dedicating his vote to David M. Gonzales, a soldier from his hometown of Pacoima who was killed in action during World War II and posthumously received the Medal of Honor. After championing a law last year to automatically register Californians to vote through the Department of Motor Vehicles, Padilla said he hoped “Honor Veterans. Vote.” would help boost turnout above the record lows the state saw in last year’s elections.

PBS documentary follows the history of disabled veterans (Stars & Stripes)
When Ric Burns set out to tell the story of wounded veterans in his documentary, Debt of Honor, he found their journey was part of a much bigger narrative. “The history of America can be seen through this very specific lens,” the acclaimed documentary director said in a phone interview with Stars and Stripes ahead of Debt of Honor’s PBS premiere Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET. The documentary follows the lives of several disabled veterans, including former Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga., a veteran who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam, and Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., an Army veteran who lost both legs after her helicopter was shot down in Iraq. It also tracks the changing experience of disabled American veterans through the history of U.S. wars, from the Revolutionary War to today. Advances in medicine mean more troops survive injuries now, which creates a greater need for care that often lasts a lifetime. During America’s most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the signature wounds have been psychological injuries, such as post traumatic stress disorder, and unseen traumatic brain injuries, which the military and Department of Veterans Affairs were slow to recognize and have struggled to treat adequately. “It is immoral not to be able to take care of the men and women who suffer with this,” Burns said, noting “debt” in the program’s title is one that the government, in this time of scandal at the VA, is failing to pay. Cleland, who was injured by a grenade and went on to a long political career, said he hopes the film increases understanding between civilians and wounded veterans and reduces the stigma that disabled veterans face, especially from unseen injuries such as post traumatic stress disorder. “The real story is that wars are not over when the shooting stops,” he said. “They live on in the lives of the people who fight them.”

Whistleblowers: Lawmakers dismissed evidence of VA hospital abuse (Washington Free Beacon)
Medical workers at an Illinois VA hospital say two prominent lawmakers were aware that veterans were at risk due to rampant medical neglect at the facility, but neglected to seriously address the problems despite multiple requests. The employees at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital said they were forced to go to the media with evidence of hospital negligence after they had a string of fruitless meetings with Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D., Ill.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) in 2013 and 2014. Officials at the Hines VA reportedly kept sick patients waiting months for appointments and maintained yearlong backlogs of unread heart test evaluations, according to Dr. Lisa Nee and Germaine Clarno, two former employees. The hospital is now at the center of a national scandal over patient mistreatment at the VA, which has prompted a string of internal investigations and an ongoing Senate probe led by Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.). The hospital’s head resigned last year amid a national outcry. However, the whistleblowers said the lack of response from Duckworth and Durbin was troubling and raises questions about whether political pressure in Illinois has delayed an impartial investigation into the practices at Hines VA. Clarno, a Democrat and union leader, said she met with Duckworth three times between 2013 and 2014 to report on “secret waiting lists” at the hospital, which hid the fact that patients were going months before seeing a doctor after calling to schedule an appointment. Nee also provided evidence that heart tests were going unread for months or years. The doctor said that when she began working at the Hines facility she was given boxes full of year-old cardiology tests that had never been examined. After she started reviewing them, she realized many of the patients had already died from heart conditions.

Vets rally at Phoenix VA to protest lack of progress (Cronkite News)
Veterans rallied on Monday outside the Carl T. Hayden Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Phoenix to protest what they say is a lack of progress in improving care at the hospital despite a visit from President Barack Obama in March. “What today the protest is about, is still to reiterate the issues that still remain in the [Phoenix] VA system,” said Ricky Barnes, 54, a medically disabled and retired U.S. Air Force veteran who is the founder of EnvincibleVets. Barnes said those issues range from abuse, retaliation against veterans and lower level employees, he also said, “they are still denying appointments and they are still delaying appointments; those things never left the VA system.” The suicide rate for veterans is significantly higher than the general population, according to studies. One study by Department of Veterans Affairs put the rate as high as 18-22 per day, though the study cautioned that the number is difficult to pull from available data. Patient care quality and timeliness of appointments became an issue at the Phoenix medical center early 2012 and has garnered national headlines. Obama toured the facility in March, meeting with patients and officials. “Today’s teachable moment is human empathy,” said Joan Lewis, secretary for State Sen. Kelli Ward R-Lake Havasu City, “I support anyone that will help a veteran, and I am tired of veterans being ignored.” Lewis said she has worked in the healthcare system for almost 30 years and she said she feels ashamed by the treatment from the Phoenix VA Center. Joel Lewis, her brother and a U.S. Army disabled veteran, was with her at the rally. Her father is also retired U.S. Army veteran. She said it is time for the Phoenix VA Center to improve its care and communication to patients.

How patriotic pageantry at sporting events lost its meaning (The Washington Post)
Commentary by veteran Will Bardenwerper:“Ladies and Gentlemen, please take a moment to stand and honor our service members and veterans in tonight’s ‘Salute to the Troops.’” I am a veteran. I served as an infantry officer in Iraq, and therefore I should appreciate these moments at professional sporting events. I did once, but not so much anymore. Neither do a surprising number of the men with whom I served. Don’t get us wrong. We do appreciate those who stand and sincerely applaud. And we are not embittered grumps, cursing into our beers. We enjoy the games with the most passionate of fans. But these moments, after a decade and a half of continuous war, have become rote and perfunctory, unintentionally trivializing what began with the best of intentions. I did not always feel this way. I was living in Manhattan on 9/11 – and though I’m a Mets fan — I remember being genuinely moved by Ronan Tynan singing “God Bless America” at Yankee Stadium on those brisk October nights following the attack. It was raw, viscerally patriotic, and welcome. Indeed, those first sporting events in the days after the attack helped lift the spirits of many New Yorkers because of those displays of raw love of this country. But after more than 5,000 days of American troops in combat overseas, the pageantry has gone as stale as the calcified debate over the utility and execution of these wars. A report released last week by Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake described the Department of Defense paying professional sports teams $6.8 million since fiscal year 2012 for “paid patriotism,” including surprise troop homecomings and re-enlistment ceremonies – displays that have now become ubiquitous. It notes that these staged events, in which billionaire owners have pocketed taxpayer money to host patriotic pageantry, “cast an unfortunate shadow over genuine patriotic partnerships” in which some sports franchises do valuable good for service members and veterans.”

Reaffirm commitment to caring for veterans (Army Times)
Commentary by Col. Charles D. Allen (ret.): “As Veterans’ Day 2015 approaches, our active-duty, reserve-component, and former service members are closely watching the ongoing Capitol Hill budget debates. For the fourth successive year, the U.S. government is operating under another continuing resolution. This CR for fiscal year 2016 pushes the next funding crisis to early December and could trigger government shutdown. We remember vividly the October 2013 shutdown resulting from sequestration measures required by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Once again, not only are health care and entitlement programs in jeopardy, but so is the readiness of our force charged with securing U.S. national interests. Uniformed and civilian employees of the Defense Department fear that manpower cuts in the defense budget will leave them in the ranks of the unemployed. One can understand their apprehensions about joining the ranks of our older veterans. While our society continues to hold the military in high regard, veterans remain at greater risk than their non-serving counterparts for unemployment, homelessness and suicide. Those leaving military service return to a society that is continuing to recover from the economic recession of 2008-2009. As the national unemployment rate for 2014 averaged 6.0 percent, post-9/11 veterans were holding at 7.2 percent. Many of them are from the junior ranks. They bring fewer skills and less non-military experience to the competition for civilian jobs. Their disadvantages will be more evident during the coming force reductions. And the unemployment rate for all veterans is higher than the national average. Even more distressing, the jobless rates for women and African-American post-9/11 veterans are 8.5 percent and 9.5 percent respectively.”

‘Medical ecstasy’ helping war veterans with PTSD (WMBF-Myrtle Beach)
It’s known as ‘ecstasy’ or ‘molly,’ an illegal ‘club drug’ once popular at all-night dance parties, but researchers are finding MDMA could help war veterans and others suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The treatment, which involves intense psychotherapy, is currently the focus of four studies approved by the FDA, including one in Charleston, S.C.  The drug is one step away from becoming legal, according to an investigation by WMBF News’s Julie Martin. “I got to Ft. Campbell Kentucky, and they said don’t unpack you’re on the plane. I was repair on Apache aircraft and I worked on avionics and armament systems,” said James Hardin, who did three tours in Iraq from 2003 to 2010. “There was a lot of incoming mortar rounds, rocket rounds, what we’re combating today known as ISIS, was al-Qaeda back then. Those are the same people we were fighting back then, pretty much daily we saw casualties, explosions, just war.” Hardin was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder while still serving overseas. “Essentially you just gave up on the idea that you’re safe at any time, day or night, 24-7, 365. Unfortunately that switch never got shut off when I got back to the states.” After seeing a snippet on the news, Hardin’s girlfriend pushed him to reach out about an experimental treatment being studied for PTSD, one that involved MDMA – the pure form of a party drug known as ecstasy or ‘molly’ that has been illegal since the 1980s. In 2010, under federal approval, Dr. Michael Mithoefer, a Charleston psychiatrist, began testing MDMA on two dozen cops, firefighters, and war veterans, including Hardin. ”Most of them had lots of different medications from the VA – some had therapy also.” His approach: one dose of MDMA, a 125-milligram pill, along with 8 to 10 hours of intense psychotherapy and overnight monitoring.  The drug, which has stimulant and hallucinogenic properties, is known to release serotonin and other ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters and hormones that promote feelings of euphoria and increased trust.  The process is normally carried out for just three sessions, one month apart. That’s three pills total. Dr. Mithoefer had seen results before. In his first clinical trial, which began in 2004, he tested the treatment on women who had suffered sexual abuse and had PTSD  for an average 19 and a half years; 83 percent of the women overcame their trauma and remained PTSD-free three years later.

O’Malley wants to expunge records of vets discharged for being gay (VICE News)
Martin O’Malley may not have a “Veterans for O’Malley” support group on Twitter like the one backing his presidential race rival Bernie Sanders, but the former Maryland governor is working to corner more of the veteran voting market, releasing one of the most comprehensive plans for former service members from any candidate ahead of Veterans Day Wednesday. The plan, released by O’Malley’s campaign Monday, puts veterans health, justice, employment, and homelessness center stage, with several policies aimed at female and LBGTQ service members, including expunging records for veterans who were discharged for being gay. “Governor O’Malley will provide long-overdue justice for LGBT veterans whose only transgression was being true to who they are,” his policy proposal states. “He will commit his administration to passing legislation automatically upgrading the service records of troops discharged solely because of their sexual orientation.” Since World War II, the US government has discharged an estimated 100,000 members of the armed forces for being gay, some honorably and some dishonorably. Even after the military’s controversial “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy was repealed in 2011, these gay veterans have continued to feel the fallout of the military’s anti-gay policies, with some treated as felons, barred from receiving benefits, shut out of employment opportunities, and even prevented from voting.

Why women vets are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs (Inc.)
We already know that women business owners are driving the growth in small business, and that within that group, it’s women of color who are making the most progress. But if slice the data slightly differently, and you’ll find an unexpected trend: The group of business owners that really putting stakes in the ground are women veterans. That’s right — women who have served in the armed forces, and now are returning to civilian life to build businesses and jobs. Between 2007 and 2012, according to preliminary data from the Survey of Business Owners, the number of businesses owned by women veterans increased by an astonishing 296 percent, to reach a total of 384,548 businesses, up from about 130,000. “The growth of veteran women entrepreneurship has been higher than any other segment of the entrepreneurship economy,” says Carla Harris, the Chair of the National Women’s Business Council. During that same time period, by comparison, the number of businesses owned by male veterans actually decreased by seven percent. And the total number of businesses, nationwide, grew by about two percent. Part of the rise is no doubt due to the fact that the number of female veterans has increased dramatically in the past few years: In 2013 there were an estimated 2.2 million female veterans, compared to 1.5 million in 2009. Male and female veterans have also faced different challenges in finding civilian work. Changes in government contracting guidelines, and an awareness of those changes, has made it more attractive for women to own businesses; and there have been an increasing number of resources available to women and veterans who want to become entrepreneurs.

The best places to live if you’re a veteran (Fortune)
The challenges facing military veterans as they reenter civilian life has been well documented, drawing additional attention to mental health issues such as the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder and the inadequate resources of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. On Monday, personal finance site WalletHub released a report ranking the U.S. cities where veterans may find it easier to reacclimate. The site narrowed down its list by considering only the 100 most-populated cities in the U.S. and then scored them based on characteristics relevant to veterans, such as percentage of military skill-related jobs, veteran unemployment rate, veteran population, and number of VA-benefits administration facilities. Irvine, Calif., a city of 240,000 that’s 40 miles south of Los Angeles came out on top, thanks in part to its high veteran income growth and its low percentage of veterans living below the poverty line. At the bottom of the list, was Detroit, with one of the highest percentages of veterans living below the poverty line. The top 10:

1. Irvine, Calif.
2. Scottsdale, Ariz.
3. Raleigh, N.C.
4. Orlando, Fla.
5. Gilbert, Ariz.
6. San Diego, Calif.
7. El Paso, Texas
8. Sacramento, Calif.
9. Austin, Texas
10. Lubbock, Texas

 

‘Jeopardy!’ and ‘Wheel of Fortune’ to honor veterans (Fox News)
“Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune” aren’t playing around when it comes to marking Veterans Day. The game shows, in cooperation with the veterans’ support campaign Got Your 6, are using this week’s episodes to spotlight those who have served. On “Wheel of Fortune,” all of the contestants have been in a branch of the U.S. military. And host Pat Sajak, an Army veteran, joined with other vets and show presenter Vanna White to tape a series of public service announcements. The PSAs that will air during “Wheel of Fortune” aim to counter stereotypes and myths about veterans, said Army vet and Got Your 6 spokeswoman Kate Hoit. Sajak said he was thrilled to “honor others who have served their country.” “Particularly in this all-volunteer era, it’s easy to forget about the sacrifices made by them and their families,” he said. Sajak joined the Army in 1968 and served for three years. That included an 18-month stint in Saigon that he said was largely spent as a U.S. Armed Forces radio DJ. On the “Jeopardy!” episode airing Wednesday, Veterans Day, “Modern Family” star Eric Stonestreet will present a veterans-related category for the quiz show’s contestants. Sajak and “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek, who has participated in more than a dozen USO trips over the years, also taped a PSA for Got Your 6 “Storytellers” events, one held in New York last week and one set for Tuesday in Los Angeles.

↓