Take a look at the latest veteran news from California and beyond.
MILITARY TIMES — After 16 years the Marine Corps War Memorial at last recognizes the sacrifices of Marines who have fought and died in Afghanistan and Iraq. On Tuesday, new engravings for Iraq and Afghanistan were dedicated to the 1,481 Marines killed in those conflicts.
THE ATLANTIC — I happen to be a woman. This is often inconvenient. It was inconvenient for the military and, now that I’m out of the military, it’s still inconvenient. In multiple surveys and anecdotes, both women who are serving and women who have served repeatedly list gender bias as an issue, though the way it manifests itself differs during and after their time in the military.
MILITARY.COM — A half a century after serving in Vietnam, hundreds of veterans have a new reason to believe they may be dying from a silent bullet — test results show some men may have been infected by a slow-killing parasite while fighting in the jungles of Southeast Asia.
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced a new grant opportunity to help military veterans pursue farming and ranching careers. Funding is made through NIFA’s Enhancing Agricultural Opportunities for Military Veterans Competitive Grants Program (AgVets).
CALAVERAS ENTERPRISE — Madison Becker has trained rescue dogs for the past two years to give to wounded veterans as service dogs. This year she made it her senior project at Mountain Oaks Charter School. “I’m a big animal lover,” explained Becker of her commitment to the training. When she was 15, a classmate brought a service dog to school that piqued Becker’s interest.
MILITARY TIMES — A Colorado lawmaker on Tuesday introduced legislation to create a veterans health insurance program to allow them to skip the Department of Veterans Affairs entirely and get private-sector medical care at taxpayers’ expense.
THE HILL — During more than a decade and a half of war, our all-volunteer force has never faltered. 2.7 million service members have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, and many bear the scars—both visible and invisible—of war. Because of their selfless dedication to completing the mission, these men and women spent months and years away from loved ones, missing holidays, anniversaries, their best friend’s wedding, and the birth of their child. They asked very little of our nation in return.
FOX 5 SAN DIEGO — UPS is assisting the Veterans Village of San Diego by providing full time jobs to a few previously homeless veterans. The jobs will help the company deliver millions of packages during the holiday shipping season.
THE UNION — Nevada County is gearing up to honor its fallen heroes next month as part of the Wreaths Across America ceremony taking place in communities around the country. Participants will place wreaths on veterans’ graves at the St. Patrick’s and Greenwood cemeteries in Grass Valley on Dec. 16. The event is hosted by the John Oldham Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
VENTURA COUNTY REPORTER — Helping others in need is a hallmark of the Thanksgiving season, giving local charities the opportunity to help many marginalized residents throughout Ventura County. This year, we are highlighting four special nonprofits that work year-round to make a difference, including an organization that strives to better the lives of veterans and their families, and an organization that specifically serves young homeless children.
KQED — Denise Berry remembers the day a mortar blew up part of the hospital in Iraq where she was working as a U.S. Army combat medic. The explosion claimed a person in a portable toilet next to her, blew up her truck, and made the ambulance she was working underneath, doing a maintenance check, bounce on top of her. “I am lucky to be alive,” Berry said.
SACRAMENTO BEE — For years, Medi-Cal patients’ access to doctors has been limited, especially for those who need specialty care or live in rural areas. California’s low physician reimbursement rates are partly to blame. The 2017-18 state budget includes a 2.5 percent increase in reimbursements – the first increase since 2001 and totally dependent on new tobacco tax revenues.
THE HILL — Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said Monday that he would like to see private sector providers play a larger role in veterans’ health care. “The direction I’m taking this is to give veterans more choice in their care, and be the decision maker for their care, which I fundamentally believe is a concept that has to be implemented,” Shulkin told The Wall Street Journal.
VANTAGE POINT — “Getting to Know You” is a song from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, “The King and I.” If you’ve ever wanted to get to know more about your VA health care providers, VA’s new “Our Providers” website is the place to find out! The website https://www.accesstocare.va.gov/ourproviders offers a directory of more than 40,000 full time and part time VA health care providers who are independently licensed to provide care to Veterans, and who may be a member of your treatment team.
MANTECA BULLETIN — It was a celebration of sorts Monday morning at the Manteca Veterans Center. California National Guard Commander Major General David Baldwin — along with Congressman Jeff Denham who fought for the return of re-enlistment bonuses for military personnel state-wide who had served in battle — where on hand at the Moffat Boulevard Veterans of Foreign Wars Post to update veterans on their efforts to make those who have served America whole.
KCRA — Keith Lozier has called Placerville home for most of his life. The 66-year-old was born in Shingle Springs and served in the Navy until 1977. But for nearly five years, Lozier slept in the parking lot of a grocery store. A chance encounter earlier this year was the first step toward a fresh start. El Dorado County Sheriff’s deputies saw Lozier picking up trash to be a good Samaritan and learned he was homeless.
THE HILL — Our service members and their families deserve our untiring gratitude and support for their service to our country. After 16 years of war, most Americans recognize the unprecedented challenge of caring for our military service members and veterans. However, the personal sacrifices of spouses and families are often overlooked. As a member of Congress who represents a constituency with over 60,000 veterans and a strong presence of active duty Soldiers, Marines, and Airmen along with their families, I remain committed to providing a voice for military and veteran spouses.
WALL STREET JOURNAL — The top official at the Department of Veterans Affairs said he wants private-sector providers to play a larger role in veterans’ health care, a view likely to draw opposition for a Trump cabinet member who has enjoyed rare bipartisan support.
MILITARY TIMES — The Pentagon is weighing a policy change that would limit certain service members from transferring their education benefits to dependents, a Defense Department official said in a written statement this week. In response to questions from the Senate Armed Service Committee about military retention, Anthony Kurta said the Department of Defense “intends to issue a policy change to the Post-9/11 GI Bill,” prohibiting service members with 16 or more years in uniform from transferring the benefit to their dependents.
MILITARY.COM — The Post 9/11 GI Bill is one of the most popular benefits of military service, and many families find that they get maximum benefit by transferring those benefits to the service member’s spouse. The process to transfer and use the benefits can seem overwhelming, but it’s not really that hard. You can get personalized assistance from the Education Counselors on your base and/or the person at your school who handles Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, but it is good to know the basics (and where to find the details) yourself.
TASK & PURPOSE — Over the last few decades, while the rigors and requirements of military life have changed, the government has continued to provide a fairly encompassing set of benefits such as health insurance, housing, and other allowances to service members and their families. Unfortunately, today’s veterans find that few civilian employers will take care of them in the same paternal fashion as Uncle Sam.
WASHINGTON REPORT — The Muslim American Veterans Association (MAVA) commemorated its 20th anniversary Nov. 10 at the African American Civil War Museum in Washington, DC. Recognizing that during war “we created widows and orphans,” MAVA co-founder Talib-Din reminded his audience that “As Muslims we cannot turn our backs on our responsibilities to restore a healthy relationship with people we were sent to destroy. Let us help, not hurt.”
MILITARY.COM — If your family is anything like mine, the holiday season is a time of gatherings. Usually, there’s a heck of a lot of food and fun, but also some serious discussions about what’s happening with everyone and our plans. Last year, we tackled the implications of Alzheimer’s and the year before that, my son shared his decision to join the Army with the extended family. Good or bad, exciting or frightening, at our house the holidays provide an opportunity to dive into some deep issues.
ABC NEWS 10 — During National Veterans and Military Families Month, we honor the contributions by the men and women who’ve served our country. One of those veterans is World War II Veteran Catherine Polli, from Auburn, California. Polli goes by ‘Kay’, and was one of the first 500 women to join the Women’s Army Corps in the early 1940s.
SAN BERNARDINO SUN — Last Saturday as the nation celebrated Veterans Day, the Liberty Lane veterans housing complex in the city of Redlands was once again under attack — this time in a lawsuit aimed at stopping the development before it starts. After months of delay, the 80-unit housing complex was finally approved by the Redlands City Council in late September over the objections of some in the community. The project will provide much needed affordable housing and services to area veterans.
THE STAR NEWS — With the holidays just around the corner, we enter the season of giving. From Turkey giveaways to holiday toy drives local service clubs are already in holiday mode. In addition to the Ronald McDonald’s House Charities, the Rotary Club of Chula Vista will deck out a housing unit in the Chula Vista Veterans Home. To spread the holiday cheer the club hands out retail gift cards to residents at the home so they can get something for themselves.
FRESNO BEE — It was during a four-month stint in the hospital that 84-year-old Korean War veteran Felix Lopez learned his home was burglarized. “They took everything, I mean everything,” the Visalia man says. “My pillow, my shoes, my stereo system – they took everything.” Burglars even took his two dogs – German shepherds that neighbors were feeding while he was away. Since he got hospitalized in April, more than 100 volunteers from Habitat for Humanity, The Home Depot Foundation, AMVETS, Rotary, and Naval Air Station Lemoore have rallied to fix up the veteran’s one-bedroom home and replace his stolen appliances.
Nov. 20 Women veterans don’t use VA health care services as much as men. Many say they delay getting care. A pilot program in L.A. County is trying to change that.
VOICE OF OC — The location of Orange County’s first veterans cemetery may be decided in Superior Court as the result of a lawsuit filed by former Irvine Mayor Larry Agran. Agran’s suit against the city, filed Nov. 9, challenges the City Council’s decision to move the cemetery from the heart of the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station to 125 acres of strawberry fields near the 5 and 405 freeways that was on the edge of the base. The move is the result of a land swap with developer FivePoint Communities.
LOS ANGELES TIMES — Officials at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs decided in September to put local VA officials in charge of $264 million that had previously been set aside for specific programs to help homeless veterans. VA officials in Washington say the directive will help the agency’s medical directors around the country respond to the changing needs of veterans as it seeks to improve medical care and prevent suicides … Authored by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Janice Hahn, the motion also authorized the board to send a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown and Vito Imbasciani, California’s secretary of veterans affairs, urging action “to protect funding for supportive services for homeless and formerly homeless veterans.”
SF GATE — As part of its effort to expand private health care, the Department of Veterans Affairs is exploring the possibility of merging its health system with the Pentagon’s, a cost-saving measure that veterans groups say could threaten the viability of VA hospitals and clinics. VA spokesman Curt Cashour called the plan a potential “game-changer” that would “provide better care for veterans at a lower cost to taxpayers,” but he provided no specific details.
WASHINGTON POST — As part of its effort to expand private health care, the Department of Veterans Affairs is exploring the possibility of merging its health system with the Pentagon’s, a cost-saving measure that veterans groups say could threaten the viability of VA hospitals and clinics.
FOX NEWS — Congress should act swiftly to approve long overdue legislation introduced Thursday to strengthen the prosecution of sexual assault in the military. The Defense Department estimates that about 8,600 women and 6,300 men were sexually assaulted in our armed forces last year. Most victims were attacked more than once, resulting in over 70,000 sexual assaults in 2016 alone.
MILITARY TIMES — Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, it’s expected that about a half-million will be alive at the end of 2017. Many veterans of this and other conflicts will take with them stories of service that can’t be replaced. Some will have earned commendations they mentioned only in passing, or ignored out of modesty, or locked away alongside painful memories.
MILITARY TIMES — A Gulf War veteran who set himself on fire outside a Veterans Affairs clinic and later died went nearly a year without a mental health appointment or medication, one of several serious problems government investigators found with the clinic in a report released Thursday. The Veterans Affairs Department’s inspector general found Charles Ingram III went almost a year without seeing a counselor or taking medications for his mental health problems before his death in March 2016.
THE HILL — Congress is considering numerous bills that would defund and ultimately privatize the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). One of the things many political representatives seem to have forgotten is the role the VHA plays in responding to emergencies like wildfires, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and other natural disasters that occur all too frequently throughout the United States.
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE — At a recent dinner party, I fell into conversation with a Navy SEAL. One might wonder what a history professor has in common with a member of one of the armed services’ most elite forces. But our discussion revealed that we share a great deal in common, including pride in our mission and our service, as well as a deep sense of responsibility to the people in our charge.
SGVT — As El Monte broke ground on its next affordable veterans housing project, city leaders said they wanted to see surrounding cities do their part to help house both veterans and other homeless people. El Monte leaders attended a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday for the Baldwin Rose Family Veteran Housing facility, a 55-unit affordable veterans housing project set to be built by nonprofit affordable housing developer Mercy Housing.
MILITARY TIMES — A new documentary commemorating the multi-purpose canines fighting alongside U.S. Special Operations forces downrange is now airing on HBO’s online service at hbogo.com. The film — “War Dog: A Soldier’s Best Friend” — chronicles the bonds between special operations troops and the canines they train and handle downrange.
SAN LUIS OBISPO TRIBUNE — Three cheers — and a bunch of bouquets — for the Old Town Orcutt American Legion Post. Thanks to its persistence, an absurd prohibition on flying the U.S. flag at monuments located on state right-of-ways has been overturned. The Legion had a big assist from local Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, who sponsored legislation allowing American and California flags to be flown at gateway monuments throughout the state. (Gateway monuments are those “welcome” signs located at entrances to many communities.)
KEYT 3 — In May, NewsChannel 3’s investigative unit exposed a potential problem at the Veterans Administration that even the V.A. apparently didn’t know about until the top brass in Washington, D.C. saw our story. Harold Boons greeted us near the boat he’s been living on in Ventura Harbor since his problems with the V.A. started in 2016.
ABC 30 FRESNO — In the South Valley, a Korean War veteran’s home was vandalized while a Visalia man was in the hospital. Home Depot and AMVETS teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to do repair work. Here’s a look at how this work is making sure the man has a home to return to.
BAY AREA REPORTER — As the Nuns and Atlas wildfires bore down on Napa County in early October, Dr. Vito Imbasciani received word that the Veterans Home of California-Yountville was in the path of the blazes. The facility run by the California Department of Veterans Affairs houses 900 residents, some with various forms of dementia and others who require round-the-clock care due to their ailing health.
EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE — CalVet Secretary Dr. Vito Imbasciani has issued a statement warning veterans about the impacts of the tax proposal in Congress. He says, “Former service members living in California could end up on the streets if Congress passes its draft tax proposal. This hasty plan would eliminate tax-exempt bonds, which help us fight homelessness and find affordable housing for California veterans.”
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER — Just weeks after California passed sweeping housing legislation to finally jumpstart affordable housing production, the federal GOP tax plan would take a wrecking ball to the new foundation California has put in place. It’s up to California’s 14 GOP Congress members to protect crucial federal housing bonds that engage the private sector in building safe, affordable homes for thousands of Californians, or be responsible for pushing struggling families, seniors and veterans into homelessness.
LAKE COUNTY NEWS — In the two years since Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr. signed legislation authorizing a veteran designation on California driver licenses and identification cards, more than 64,000 veterans have visited their county Veterans Service Office to apply and the California Department of Motor Vehicles has issued more than 55,000.
HUFF POST — William Allen convinced his mother to sign the age waiver allowing him to join the Marine Corps at 17. He served four years in Japan and California, teaching classes of up to 300 Marines how to survive a chemical attack. When he separated from the military in 2011, he found himself stuck cleaning cars, working in kitchens and struggling to find a sense of purpose. After a couple years, William enrolled in school. It was during a summer break in Washington that he had a realization.
STARS AND STRIPES — After months of little response from the departments of Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other lawmakers renewed efforts Thursday to stop the deportation of veterans from the U.S. and secure more protections for them. The lawmakers visited a refuge for deported veterans in Tijuana, Mexico, this year, where they met with veterans who were deported after being convicted of crimes in the U.S. The veterans were separated from their families and unable to access federal benefits, such as health care, guaranteed to those who serve in the U.S. military.
NOLA.COM — The moving Veterans Day Victory Ball at the National World War II Museum on Friday, Nov. 10 evoked feelings of patriotism and pride. A local man with Hispanic heritage was the center of attention. Retired United States Marine Corps Colonel Jay R. Vargas, who was born in Winslow, Ariz. to an Hispanic father and an Italian mother, was the guest of honor … After almost 30 years of service, Vargas retired from the Marine Corps in 1992 as a colonel. From 1993 to 1998, he served as the Secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs and in 2001, he was appointed to the position of Regional Veterans Liaison for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, serving on that position until 2009.
STARS AND STRIPES — The U.S. military’s restrictive abortion policy has had negative effects on female servicemembers’ health, careers, finances and emotional well-being, according to a study released this week. The study — published Wednesday in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health — conducted in-depth interviews in 2015 and 2016 with 21 women who had abortions while on active duty within the previous two years. The women, both officers and enlisted personnel, ranged from ages 19 to 34 and were in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.
CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION — Ashford University on Tuesday suspended enrollment of students using GI Bill benefits, according to a corporate disclosure filed on Wednesday. The for-profit institution, based in San Diego, made the decision days after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs notified Ashford that it is not in compliance with federal standards.
ELK GROVE CITIZEN — About 50 people crammed inside Dave’s Barbershop in Old Town Elk Grove on Nov. 10, to watch U.S. Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, hold a ceremony to honor World War II and Korean War veteran Glen Stout. Bera pinned three medals and two buttons on Stout’s suit jacket. This event was a long time coming for the 89-year-old Stout, who had completed his military service without receiving any of the medals and buttons that he earned.
THE CALIFORNIAN — It was a spectacularly sunny morning. Maybe a bit on the cool side by local standards, for motorcyclists it promised to be a perfect day for hitting the local back roads. A small group of riders from the El Cajon Harley Owners Group (HOG) met up at El Cajon Harley-Davidson with the plan of rolling along some of those roads … On this day, these riders were going to give their time to visit individuals at the Veterans Home in Chula Vista.