CalVet Newswatch brings you the latest veteran news from California and beyond, delivered to your inbox and updated daily on CalVet Connect. Scroll down to view highlights of the most recent top articles, or click here to visit our site.
MILITARY CONNECTION — For most Americans, we have a strong recollection of where we were and what we were doing on September 11, 2001 when the first plane flew into the Twin Towers in NYC. As the horrific events of the day unfolded, we knew that our world had changed forever. With every passing year, I am increasingly concerned by the number of people in my world who fail to remember the devastation of 9/11/2001 and the unification of our country that followed. The day is forever etched in my mind – as an American, a New Yorker and as a daughter.
NEW YORK TIMES — It has taken me a while to realize something. Seventeen years ago, I saw a picture of Mohamed Atta for the first time, and my blood boiled from the sound of his voice emanating from the television, as he said over the airplane’s intercom system: “We have some planes, just stay quiet and you’ll be O.K. We are returning to the airport.” Instead, he crashed it between the 93rd and 99th floors of the World Trade Center’s north tower. My 23-year-old brother, James, was on the 102nd floor.
MILITARY TIMES — Congress could finalize the Veterans Affairs and military construction budgets in coming days after a conference committee released a compromise funding plan late Monday night, following two months of halting negotiations. The plan calls for nearly $209 billion in total VA spending in fiscal 2019, a more than 6 percent boost for the department’s budget and the first time it has topped $200 billion. The VA budget has nearly quadrupled over the last 17 years, pushed higher not only by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but also expanded benefits for those who served in earlier conflicts.
STARS AND STRIPES — After a dispute delayed negotiations on the Department of Veterans Affairs budget for fiscal 2019, lawmakers came to an agreement Monday for more than $200 billion for the agency that includes funding for the new VA Mission Act – legislation that expands private-sector medical care for veterans. The Office of Management and Budget estimated that implementing the Mission Act would create a $1.6 billion shortfall in 2019 in the account used to pay for veterans’ private-sector treatment. The Mission Act was signed into law with fanfare this summer, though President Donald Trump’s administration asked Congress not to break spending caps to pay for it.
STARS AND STRIPES — A measure to allow doctors at the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend marijuana in states where it’s medically legal failed to make it into the final version of a VA funding bill for the third consecutive year. Lawmakers on Monday released their VA funding agreement for fiscal 2019 following more than a month of debate between House and Senate negotiators. An amendment to expand veterans’ access to marijuana was removed from the annual budget bill during those negotiations.
TASK & PURPOSE — The term ‘combat veteran’ has led to some heated vet-on-vet action, as recent political candidates have attacked each other’s service in the Global War on Terror in ways that are at best confusing to the outside public and at worst damaging to the civil-military divide overall. All of this verbal sparring makes the question of what really defines a “combat veteran” more relevant than ever.
MILITARY TIMES — More than one in 10 Veterans Affairs jobs is currently unfilled, a vacancy rate being downplayed by department officials but likely to raise serious worries among lawmakers who have already voiced concerns about a lack of medical professionals for veterans programs. More than 45,000 department posts are currently unfilled, with about 40,000 in the Veterans Health Administration alone, according to new data released by the department last week. The rate was even higher among VA staff offices, with more than 2,500 vacancies, nearly 17 percent of the budgeted management posts.
ABC 30 NEWS — A dirt lot on the northeast corner of Herndon and Armstrong is the future home of the Veterans Affairs Central California Health Care System’s newest campus. The VA plans to transform the empty nine-acre space into their new ambulatory care center. “We know that that facility will help decompress our VA facility here in Fresno and that will ultimately turn and help our veterans,” said spokesperson Cameron Porter.
TASK & PURPOSE — Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus urged Congress in an interview with Fox News on Monday to make good on its “sacred obligation” to support the growing number of veterans sickened by exposure to burn pits at U.S military bases abroad. “By and large, our country does an extraordinary amount for our veterans and for those who are serving in uniform, and for their families,” Petreaus, currently a board member for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told Fox News.
MILITARY.COM — Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie pledged Wednesday to usher in a new era of “customer service” at the government’s second-largest bureaucracy that will give veterans the care they’ve earned without having to resort to a “cauldron of lawyers.” In an address to the 100th national convention of the two-million-member American Legion, Wilkie also said he has the commitment of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to work together on developing a new electronic “patient-centered health care system” to allow for smooth transitions from active-duty to veteran status.
MILITARY TIMES — Nearly 40 military and veteran service organizations have launched a $250,000 advertising campaign urging the Defense Department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to continue strong enforcement of a law that protects service members and families against predatory lenders. Titled “Don’t Abandon Military Families,” the ad features a letter sent by the organizations on Aug. 23 to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Mick Mulvaney.
LAKE COUNTY NEWS — To mark Suicide Prevention Month this September, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is shining a light on effective ways to prevent veteran suicide with its Be There campaign. The campaign highlights the risk factors and warning signs for suicide, provides information about VA mental health and suicide prevention resources, and helps individuals and organizations start the conversation around veteran mental health in their communities.
MILITARY TIMES REBOOT CAMP — Earlier this year, the Department of Defense rolled out a change to its GI Bill transfer policy that would keep long-serving troops from passing those benefits on to their dependents. But that won’t apply to service members who have been wounded in combat, Pentagon officials announced today. Purple Heart recipients will be able to transfer their benefits, regardless of how many years they have served in the military or whether they are able to commit to a longer period of service.
INLAND EMPIRE COMMUNITY NEWS — On Thursday, September 6th, Governor Brown signed AB 2568 by Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-San Bernardino), a bill that requires county jails to determine a veteran’s status or previous military service when they are processed after an arrest. The change in processing at jails will connect veterans to Veteran Treatment Courts and other services at the soonest available time. Veteran Treatment Courts are a means of diversion for veterans entering into the criminal justice system and to avoid unnecessary incarceration of Veterans who have developed PTSD and other mental health issues as a result of their service.
STOCKTON RECORD NET — Jovito Osorio carries the dubious distinction of being the sole surviving veteran of World War II within his small community. And until this week, the sprightly 94-year-old was completely unaware of that fact until he was informed by Frank Gatdula, social services coordinator for Stockton’s Filipino Center Plaza where once more than two dozen veterans resided.