26 February 2009

President's 2010 Budget Request Strongly Supports VA Programs

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- President Obama's first proposed budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) expands eligibility for health care to an additional 500,000 deserving Veterans over the next five years, meets the need for continued growth in programs for the combat Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and provides the resources to deliver quality health care for the Nation's 5.5 million Veteran patients.

The 2010 budget request is a significant step toward realizing a vision shared by the President and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki to transform VA into an organization that is people-centric, results-driven and forward-looking.

"Our success must encompass cost-effectiveness," Shinseki said. "We are stewards of taxpayer dollars, and we will include appropriate metrics to accurately gauge the quality of our care and the effectiveness of our management processes."

If accepted by Congress, the President's budget proposal would increase VA's budget from $97.7 billion this fiscal year to $112.8 billion for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2009. This is in addition to the $1.4 billion provided for VA projects in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The 2010 budget represents the first step toward increasing discretionary funding for VA efforts by $25 billion over the next five years. The gradual expansion in health care enrollment that this would support will open hospital and clinic doors to more than 500,000 Veterans by 2013 who have been regrettably excluded from VA medical care benefits since 2003. The 2010 budget request provides the resources to achieve this level of service while maintaining high quality and timely care for lower-income and service-disabled Veterans who currently rely on VA medical care.

The new budget provides greater benefits for Veterans who are medically retired from active duty, allowing for the first time all military retirees to keep their full VA disability compensation along with their retired pay. The President's budget request also provides the resources for effective implementation of the post-9/11 GI Bill -- providing unprecedented levels of educational support to the men and women who have served our country through active military duty.

The new budget will support additional specialty care in such areas as prosthetics, vision and spinal cord injury, aging and women's health. New VA Centers of Excellence will focus on improving these critical services.

The proposed fiscal year 2010 budget also addresses the tragic fact of homelessness among Veterans. It expands VA's current services through a collaborative pilot program with non-profit organizations that is aimed at maintaining stable housing for vulnerable Veterans at risk of homelessness, while providing them with supportive services to help them get back on their feet through job training, preventive care and other critical services.

Finally, the President's budget request provides the necessary investments to carry VA services to rural communities that are too often unable to access VA care. The President's budget expands VA mental health screening and treatment with a focus on reaching Veterans in rural areas in part through an increase in Vet Centers and mobile health clinics. New outreach funding will help rural Veterans and their families stay informed of these resources and encourage them to pursue needed care.

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19 More Months in Iraq: How to Bring Immediate Relief

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement from Veterans for America on President Obama's Iraq announcement:

As President Obama finalizes his Iraq withdrawal plans, Veterans for America urges President Obama to address the dire conditions on military bases and in communities here at home. Multiple tours, inadequate dwell time between tours, the continued use of stop loss orders and the heavy use of the National Guard all risk further damaging our military and undermining the faith that service members and their families have in their civilian and military leaders. Many of our brave service members and their families need immediate relief.

At least a dozen Army Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) are scheduled to deploy to Iraq before the majority of troops are withdrawn. Virtually all units will be on at least their second tour and many will not have had adequate rest between their tours. Louisiana, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin will all send citizen soldier BCT's to Iraq over the next several months.

Oregon is scheduled to send the 41st BCT to war for a third time since 9/11. Many Oregon Guard members have not had the three years at home between tours that President Obama promised while campaigning.

As we continue to churn our troops for another 19 months, VFA urges civilian and military leaders to provide adequate dwell time for every service member and to cease our heavy reliance overseas on our National Guard. Our troops, their families and their communities deserve no less.

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Air Force Surgical Residency Returns to Navy Pensacola Teaching Hospital

The Air Force’s Keesler Medical Center surgical residency program in Mississippi has returned to the arena of joint military service with Navy Medicine in Northwest Florida since 2005 with the first of four, 6-week rotations having been completed at Naval Hospital Pensacola, Fla., in February.

The return of the surgical residency rotation to the Family Medicine teaching hospital in Northwest Florida follows a nearly 4-year absence following the 2005 destructive forces of Hurricane Katrina that shut down the Biloxi, Miss., Air Force facility and scattered surgical residents throughout the country.

“There are a number of advantages for both the surgical residents and general surgery staff here at the Navy hospital,” said Navy Surgeon, Capt. Joseph DeFeo, local program director for the Air Force residents.

“There’s lots of patients … as many as 10 (surgical cases) a week for a total of about 60 … which is probably more than they’d be getting at Keesler,” said the board certified general surgeon from Philadelphia, Pa., and it will “keep the surgical staff on our toes, too … having to think currently in a teaching role.”

NH Pensacola has been a Navy-renown Family Medicine Residency teaching hospital since 1972.

Brigadier General (Dr.) Dan Wyman, Keesler’s 81st Medical Group commander in Biloxi, Miss., said that “the return of Keesler Medical Center surgical residents to Naval Hospital Pensacola marks another milestone in Keesler’s come back to pre-Katrina operations.

“It also exemplified the spirit of cooperation between the two services,” he continued. “We look forward to continuing this partnership and the benefits it provides to both medical centers.”

The addition of the surgical residency will “upgrade the functions of training residents,” said Navy Surgeon, Capt. DeFeo, “from a camaraderie perspective, to giving both of us joint (military training) exposure.”

The first of the Air Force surgical residents, Capt. Charles Woodham, just completed his 6-week rotation at NH Pensacola.

“My rotation at Naval Hospital Pensacola has, to this point, been my best operative experience as a surgical resident. Due to the way the rotation is set up, I was able to perform more surgeries, in a shorter period of time, than any other rotation to this point in my program.

“I found that the surgical staff (was) all extremely open, and excited, about my being there,” the Fayetteville, Ga., native continued.

The entire hospital staff … “many (of whom) went out of their way to try and make my first rotation there a success … (and) took it upon themselves to provide multiple learning opportunities through oral examinations in an effort to help start my preparation for the oral boards that I will be required to take after I finish residency,” the St. Louis University School of Medicine graduate said.

“As an Air Force officer, I was greeted with respect and openness.”

The Air Force surgical residency program at Pensacola was started in 1995 and restarted – following a drought caused by Hurricane Katrina – in January 2009 with the assistance of recently retired Navy Surgeon, Capt. John Perciballi, a highly-respective combat surgeon from Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Major (Dr.) Valerie Pruitt, head of Keesler’s General Surgery Residency program since August 2008.

“We met with the people at Keesler to establish the program and it worked well … until Katrina,” Perciballi said. NH Pensacola is a “nice community-size hospital that can give plenty of ‘bread-and-butter’ surgeries to the residents they can’t get at larger military medical facilities.”

Maj. Pruitt, who was an Air Force surgical resident that did rotations at NH Pensacola between 1997 and 2002 is excited about the residents resuming the “tradition of working with the Navy attending surgeons” at Pensacola.

By re-engaging the Navy hospital into the Keesler Medical Center general surgery residency program, “we are creating a joint service training platform … (that) “truly promotes a joint environment and will lead to betterment of medical support to the war-fighter. It is imperative our residents learn early in their careers how to interact with all branch's of the service,” she continued.

“It was one of my favorite rotations as a resident and it seems like Capt. Woodham was happy with the experience he had 10 years after mine,” said the Louisville, Ky., native and UL medical school graduate.

The current Air Force surgical resident onboard the Pensacola hospital is Capt. Chad “Bulldog” Edwards – a former flight paramedic who earned his “call sign” not because of his connections to the University of Georgia and its mascot, but because of his short hair “and lumpy head … like a bulldog.”

The West Georgia native joined on the surgical residency program at Pensacola in February following completion of a clinical research fellowship at Keesler AFB last year in his General Surgery training.

“The experience has been outstanding, said the Mercer (Ga.) University School of Medical graduate.

“The willingness of the staff surgeons to help at every step has been amazing. Each attending surgeon takes time to help with every facet of surgical care,” he explained.

“Through their insight from years of practice, I feel that each case provides so much more than mere operative experience. My time here will have a positive and life-long influence on the way that I will practice surgery.”

Edwards completed his General Surgery internship at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and was commissioned into the Air Force this month (February) in 2001.

“I’m a civilian pilot (but) never really considered flying in the military,” the Bremen, Ga., native continued. “It’s through surgery that I support the (military) mission at home and abroad.”

By Rod Duren, Naval Hospital Pensacola, Fla.
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24 February 2009

The American Legion Applauds VA Settlement of Identity Theft Claims

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Legion is pleased to learn that veterans exposed to possible identity theft in 2006 are now the subjects of a $20-million court settlement from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Legion was an early and strong advocate for veterans in the incident that prompted the VA's action.

"Though three years down the road, it is encouraging to note that the VA is doing the right thing," said David K. Rehbein, National Commander of The American Legion.

In 2006, a VA data analyst admitted to taking home - without permission - a laptop computer and external data drive containing the names, birth dates and Social Security numbers of up to 26.5-million veterans and active duty members of the armed forces. The laptop and drive were then lost in a burglary of the analyst's home on May 3rd of that year. The VA employee reported the loss promptly and the computer and drive were subsequently recovered intact, but veterans were not notified of the incident until nearly three weeks after the fact.

Upon learning of the privacy breach, The American Legion set up a phone bank to answer queries from veterans who feared identity theft and urged members of Congress to seek redress for the wrongdoing.

Lawyers for the Department of Veterans Affairs and plaintiffs have now reached a settlement agreement. Under its terms, veterans who demonstrate that they have been harmed by the data theft will be entitled to payments ranging from $75 to $1,500 each from a $20-million U.S. Treasury Department fund. After all settlement payments are made, any surplus funds will be donated to veterans' charities.

"We fought hard on behalf of our vets and troops whose privacy could have been seriously comprised," concluded Commander Rehbein, "and we are very pleased with this outcome."

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23 February 2009

Japanese Prime Minister Cannot Leave Slave Labor and Torture Issues Home Say American WWII Vets

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being released by the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor:

As Americans grapple with the excesses of Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso visits Washington, unapologetic for his country's own long-unresolved issues of wartime human rights abuses.

In January, Mr. Aso acknowledged that his family-owned coal mine used Allied Prisoners of War as slave labor during World War II. However, he did not apologize for, nor admit to, the documented abuse of the POWs that violated the 1929 Geneva Convention.

Mr. Aso's admission is the first by any senior Japanese government or industry official that private Japanese companies used POWs during the War to produce war materials. More than 27,000 Americans were captured by Japan, most early in World War II. Held in brutal captivity, these POWs were forced to work for over 50 private war-related Japanese companies including Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Kawasaki, and Hitachi.

Lester Tenney, Commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor (ADBC) says: "the next step is to issue a national apology and offer outreach programs to the American POWs." Tenney adds that Japan has offered both to other Allied POWs. He finds it "incomprehensible and offensive that only American POWs have been excluded."

He is reminded of the end of the Bataan Death March. Starving, exhausted, and sick he stood at attention with other Death March survivors while a Japanese officer told them [the POWs] that they were "lower than dogs" and "they [the Japanese] would treat them that way for the rest of their lives." Then the Commandant said, "We will never be friends with the piggish Americans."

Tenney only asks for fairness for the American POWs. He calls for the inclusion of the POWs and their descendants in a new Japanese initiative to fund visits and research on the POW experience that can promote a spirit of reconciliation with Japan and the Japanese people. He says that Japan can "demonstrate its better values with concrete actions that can mend the damaging personal and political effects that come from dehumanizing POWs."

The American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor (ADBC) is a veteran's organization representing the survivors and families of those who were POWs of the Japanese.

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21 February 2009

Stimulus Bill Provides $198 Million for Filipino Veterans

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced a new benefit for Filipino Veterans who aided American troops in World War II -- a cash payment authorized through the newly enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Claims are now being accepted from Filipino Veterans eligible for one-time payments of $9,000 for non-U.S. citizens and $15,000 for Filipino Veterans with U.S. citizenship. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is working to begin making payments as soon as possible.

VA and the Embassy of the United States in Manila have announced locations in the Philippines where Veterans can apply immediately. The list has been posted at http://manila.usembassy.gov/.

To receive information by mail, United States residents may call 1-800-827-1000. Philippine residents may call 632-528-2500 (within Metro Manila) or from outside Manila at 1-800-1888-5252. In addition, Filipino Veterans may request information via email at https://iris.va.gov/.

The VA Regional Office in Manila will process all claims for this benefit. Therefore, U.S. residents should mail the application to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Regional Office, PSC 501, FPO AP 96515-100.

Extensive outreach is planned to alert World War II Veterans throughout the Philippines. Claims must be submitted by Feb. 16, 2010, a year after the bill's signing.

The payments do not affect other benefits Veterans may be receiving. The VA regional office in Manila currently provides approximately $15 million monthly in monetary benefits to Veterans residing in the Philippines. About $8 million of this goes to Filipino World War II Veterans or their survivors each month.

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20 February 2009

Statement by Congressman Chet Edwards in Response to Criticism of Veterans Funding in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- U.S. Representative Chet Edwards released the following statement in response to criticism of veterans funding in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"It has been said that it is easier to kick down a barn than to build one. That appears to be the case regarding criticisms of veterans funding in this bill.

Regarding Congressman Buyer's criticism of the bill, let me point out that the Democratic Congress has increased veterans health care and benefits funding by more in two years than the Republican-led House did in 12 years, including his years as Chairman of the VA Committee.

In 2007 and 2008 alone, the Democratic-led Congress increased veterans funding by $16.3 billion, which is more than House Republicans did collectively from 1995 through 2004.

In addition to the $16.3 billion increase by Democrats in just two years, we also passed a historic 21st Century GI Education bill, which matched the education benefits of the World War II GI Bill.

Having passed a new GI Education bill and $16.3 billion in new funding in 2007 and 2008 for veterans, the 2009 stimulus bill adds $1.4 billion in additional funding to modernize our VA hospitals and $2.98 billion to modernize DOD hospitals, barracks and day care centers.

For Republicans such as Mr. Buyer to vote against and criticize the additional $1.4 billion for veterans after underfunding VA programs for over a decade makes his criticisms look more partisan than substantive.

The difference is clear. Democrats in just over two years have provided unprecedented increases in funding for VA programs, and Republicans' record for veterans never matched their rhetoric. That's a fact."

Military Construction Funding in H.R.1 Conference Report:

Hospitals: $1.33 billion to recapitalize our aging military hospitals and ambulatory centers. Many of these facilities are 40 or even 50 years old, and are not suited to current medical standards and practices.

Troop and family housing: $335 million to build new barracks and dormitories for our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen as well as further investments in quality family housing.

Child Care: $240 million for new child development centers on base. These facilities will help military spouses hold down jobs, and provide employment opportunities for caregivers.

National Guard: $100 million for the Army and Air National Guard. This will support our reservists who have been heavily deployed in recent years, as well as States who need Guard units for disaster assistance and homeland security.

Homeowners Assistance Fund: $555 million for assistance to military homeowners, including wounded warriors and surviving spouses, who have been impacted by the housing crisis.

Wounded Warriors: $100 million for warrior transition complexes to provide services to wounded warriors and their families.

Energy Conservation Investment Program: $120 million to make military facilities more energy efficient and save taxpayers money.

Veterans Affairs Funding in H.R. 1 Conference Report:

Medical Facilities: $1.0 billion for non-recurring maintenance, including energy projects, to address deficiencies and avoid serious maintenance problems at the 153 VA hospitals.

National Cemetery Administration: $50 million for memorial maintenance, including those identified in the 2002 Millennium Act report to Congress, for the National Cemetery Administration. These funds will enable the National Cemetery Administration to work toward an established set of cemetery standards of appearance throughout the system.

Claims Processors: $150 million for a temporary increase in claims processing staff.

Information Technology Systems: $50 million to improve automation of benefits processing.

State Extended Care Facilities: $150 million for grants to States for extended care facilities.

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18 February 2009

Boehner Statement on the President’s Decision to Send Additional Troops to Afghanistan

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement last night regarding the decision by President Obama to send additional troops to Afghanistan:

“I support the President’s decision to send additional troops to Afghanistan to help root out terrorism and stabilize the country on behalf of its people. Republicans agree that a strategic review of the current situation in Afghanistan is warranted, and we will work to ensure that our commanders on the ground have all the additional troops they have requested.

“Afghanistan represents a complex challenge, and it will take time to achieve real, sustained results there. Republicans are committed to supporting our men and women in uniform and giving them all the resources they need to succeed in their mission there.”

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Humana Military Healthcare Services’ Commitment to Ethics and Compliance Recognized by Defense Industry Initiative

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Humana Military Healthcare Services (HMHS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM), has announced their new designation as a signatory member to the Defense Industry Initiative on Business Ethics and Conduct (DII). The DII is a voluntary, non-profit organization seeking to ensure that its members conduct business with the highest degree of integrity and honesty, while meeting special compliance risks established in contracting with the Department of Defense (DoD). Humana Military joins more than 80 defense contractors as a signatory.

“We are proud to be accepted into the Defense Industry Initiative as it is another measure to ensure our military customer, Congress and the Department of Defense that we conduct business with a high level of integrity,” said Dave Baker, president and CEO of Humana Military. “It is our responsibility to do business ethically.”

DII ensures consistent compliance with their principles of business ethics and conduct of signatory companies by requiring them to respond to an annual questionnaire and attending a best practices forum.

About HMHS

HMHS, headquartered in Louisville, KY., has been a Department of Defense contractor for the administration of the TRICARE program since July 1, 1996. In August 2003, HMHS was awarded the contract to provide health benefits support and services to approximately 2.8 million active duty and retired military and their eligible family members in the 10-state South Region. HMHS was also awarded the Department of Defense’s contract to provide health care services and support for active duty service members and their families located in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, in February 2004.

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17 February 2009

The American Legion Strongly Opposes Lifting of Ban on Photography of Flag-Draped Caskets

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Legion opposes a proposed lifting of the long-standing ban on the photography of flag-draped caskets arriving home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates indicated recently that he is not opposed to a review of the 18-year old policy that generally restricts media coverage of the military caskets offloaded at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. Secretary Gates also says he is "pretty open to...whatever the results of this review may be."

The American Legion has reacted strongly. "From our point of view," said National Commander David K. Rehbein, "there is nothing to discuss. Photographing the caskets containing the remains of men and women who have made the supreme sacrifice on behalf of our country and its freedoms is little short of sacrilege. The practice would be intrusive and hurtful to the warriors' families. The return of fallen heroes is also a sacred moment for our armed forces, and should be respected.

"In The American Legion's opinion, our fallen warriors deserve to be honored without compromise and not made the object of a media event or be made vulnerable to exploitation for propagandistic purposes," said Commander Rehbein. "Unless a warrior's family expressly wishes media coverage of the return of their son or daughter in this fashion, and respectful accommodations can be made, we can see no good reason to allow it."

Secretary Gates ordered a review of the controversial policy after President Barack Obama said during a February 9th news conference that the White House is "in the process of reviewing those policies."

Media coverage of military remains arriving at ports of entry was once permitted but was banned by Pentagon decree during the 1991 Gulf War. "That policy should continue to be upheld," concluded Commander Rehbein.

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16 February 2009

Honor Your World War II Veteran with a "Trip to Remember"


Are you looking for a way to honor or remember a World War II veteran in a very special way? If so, Honor Flight Fayette has a suggestion. Send a veteran to Washington D.C. on one of their upcoming trips or, if that's not possible, make a donation in honor or memory of a veteran so that another veteran can have this experience of a lifetime.

This past year the greater Fayette community opened their hearts and pockets to pay for over 200 WWII veterans to go to Washington, D. C. to see their memorial. Honor Flight Fayette plans to continue this quest during 2009, and time is of the essence because we are losing these brave men and women at the rate of over 1,400 each day. And, obviously, we owe members of the Greatest Generation a great debt of gratitude that cannot be delayed.

After each of the previous 3 trips to the memorial, veterans could not believe how generous people had been to send them to D.C. and were overwhelmed during the day when total strangers would clap, wave flags and approach them to say "thank you for the life I have today". Tears were often running down cheeks because these men and women are a humble group who felt they simply did the job Uncle Sam called them to do. There were few parades when they returned to find civilian jobs and begin new lives, and they truly do not understand the "fuss" that is made over them for the entire day everywhere they went, but they were so very grateful.

Honor Flight Fayette is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation which is staffed only by volunteers, and has a board of directors to guide it, keep it on track and be good stewards of the donations which are made for the veterans so they can take as many veterans as possible to D.C.

If you would like to know more about Honor Flight Fayette (HFF), be a guardian or volunteer, or wish to make a donation please check honorflightfayette.org or call 770-719-1024.

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09 February 2009

VA Implementing National Safety 'Step-Up'

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is calling for a special training campaign on safety -- called a "Step-Up" -- from March 8 to 14 at all medical centers and outpatient clinics to ensure VA staff follow the highest standards for patient safety.

"The safety of our patients is our foremost concern at VA," said Dr. Michael J. Kussman, VA's Under Secretary for Health. "Therefore, I am ordering all of our centers and clinics to re-examine their procedures and safeguards so we know that Veterans will not be put at risk by the people they have come to trust."

The nationwide Step-Up is the culmination of a VA education program to implement stronger procedures and better accountability at VA health care facilities. The training was triggered by VA inspections that found reprocessing of endoscopic equipment did not follow the manufacturer's exact instructions at two VA medical centers. The facilities -- located in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Augusta, Ga. -- have already taken corrective action.

VA officials are not aware of any patients having been harmed by improperly reprocessed equipment. Although risks are small, the department is being very conservative and notifying patients who might have been treated by the affected equipment.

Normal activities will continue during the Step-Up at all VA facilities, but with extra emphasis on safety and proper processing protocols. Specific efforts will include retraining on reprocessing endoscopes, establishment of easily tracked accountability for instrument processing, and training on standard operating procedures by facility leadership.

Patient appointments should not be affected, but individual facilities will notify patients if schedule changes are necessary.

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03 February 2009

U.S. Army Reserve and Business School Group Ink Agreement to Encourage Soldiers to Pursue Graduate Management Education

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Graduate Management Admission Council(R) (GMAC(R)), an association of the world's top business schools, and the U.S. Army Reserve yesterday signed an agreement to work together to encourage Army Reserve officers and senior enlisted Soldiers to consider pursuing a graduate business degree.

A major goal of the pact is to inform members of the Army Reserve about the value of a graduate business degree combined with military experience. With an advanced degree, Army Reserve Soldiers can propel both their military and civilian careers, and maintain their edge when competing against other job seekers in the business world.

"We are excited and honored to join with the U.S. Army Reserve in this effort," said David A. Wilson, president of GMAC. "Education can change someone's life. No one deserves that opportunity more than those who serve our country. Moreover, officers and other leaders are among the very best candidates for business school. Their experience in managing resources and developing strategy enrich the dialogue in the classroom, a cornerstone of the MBA program. Their discipline prepares them well for the rigors of the program and for management upon graduation."

"I am pleased to officially begin an enduring partnership with GMAC," said Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, Chief, Army Reserve, and Commanding General, U.S. Army Reserve Command. "Operation MBA will enhance opportunities for Army Reserve Soldiers who wish to contribute their talents and skills to the Nation's business communities."

By tapping into the Council's Operation MBA program, Army Reserve Soldiers will have easier access to tailored information and tools that will help them prepare for the Graduate Management Admission Test(R) (GMAT(R)) and for applying to graduate business schools.

They will also have access to a list of military-friendly business schools that have agreed to do such things as waive the admissions fee for military personnel, make financial aid available and grant deferments if Soldier's plans are delayed by their service branch.

As part of the agreement, GMAC will post material, including presentations and other multimedia content on its website, www.mba.com. The Army Reserve will also post links to the Council's content on its website, www.ArmyReserve.Army.mil.

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02 February 2009

SBA Holding Veterans Seminar on February 19th At Fort McPherson U.S. Army Base in South Atlanta

The U.S. Small Business Administration will present a seminar for veterans on February 19th at Fort McPherson which will cover agency programs and services for active and retired military personnel who are starting or expanding small businesses.

The free seminar will run from 11:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at the Army Community Service Building, 1350 Troop Row S.W., Fort McPherson, GA 30330-1069. The forum will focus on loan programs and other assistance available from the SBA and its resource partners including the agency’s SCORE Program, the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network and the Georgia Institute of Technology Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC).

Attendees will also be given information on the SBA Patriot Express Loan Initiative. This program offers guaranteed business loans of up to $500,000. It can be used by:

- Veterans, service-connected disabled veterans, active duty military personnel within 24 months of retirement or 12 months to transition into civilian society,

- National Guard and Reservists and the current spouse of all the aforementioned,

- The widowed spouse of a service member or veteran who died during service, or from a service-connected disability.

The seminar will also discuss service-connected disabled veteran-owned small business concerns and unique contracting opportunities with the Federal Government. The seminar will be repeated every third Thursday of the month through 2009.

Pre-registration is mandatory. To register, contact Alfonso Lewis, Employment Readiness Program manager at Alfonso.lewis@forscom.army.mil. Lewis can also be reached at 404/464-3266 or by fax at 404/464-2979.

For additional information on SBA programs for veterans, go to www.sba.gov/vets.
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MOPH: America’s Wounded Warriors March on Washington, DC

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Responding to President Obama’s call for all Americans to get more involved, America’s Wounded Warriors from across the country will converge on Washington, D.C. the second week of February, 2009 to meet with their Senators and Members of Congress. Their purpose will be to educate their Representatives on the issues of greatest importance to all Veterans, not just those who have been wounded in combat.

Coming by twos and threes from almost every State and Territory, Capitol Hill will be awash in a sea of color as some 100 members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart travel the halls of Congress, their distinctive blue blazers adorned with the medals they were awarded for defending our National freedoms. The most prominent of these will be the Purple Heart Medal worn on their lapel, the symbol of dedicated service to the country.

According to Hershel Gober, National Legislative Director for the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), “It is important that Members of Congress hear directly from their own MOPH constituents about issues of importance to Veterans in their respective states and nationally.“

This annual “March on the Hill” by MOPH produces real results for the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Veterans it serves. In 2008, for example, Congress passed legislation that recognizes the seriousness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but much remains to be done. Other legislation recognized the severity of the homeless Veteran problem, but significant improvements are still required in the way that the VA addresses the homeless issue.

This year, MOPH National Commander Jeff Roy has asked the Order’s Members to address five top priority issues with their Representatives in the Congress. Each of these issues is consistent with the President’s philosophy and direction for economic recovery:

1) Provide assured/advanced funding for the Department of Veteran Affairs Health Care Administration. 2008 was the first time in 22 years that the VA received its operating funds on time. Without timely funding, the VA cannot provide all the health care, hire new medical personnel, or fully operate the clinics and hospitals needed for our Veterans. MOPH was pleased when President Obama voiced support for advanced funding and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Shinseki has also urged Congress to set the VA funding a year in advance to minimize political pressures. MOPH Members will urge their Representatives to reform the VA’s Medical Care Appropriation to give it an advanced appropriation status.

2) Improve the VA claims process. The VA claims process is burdensome, extremely complex and often misunderstood, not only by Veterans, but many VA employees as well. The VA must invest more funds for training adjudicators and decision makers and, should hold them accountable for higher standards of accuracy. Congress still needs to focus on the claims process from beginning to end with a goal of eliminating or reducing delays caused by superfluous procedures, poor training and lack of accountability. Veterans should not have to wait for months or years for a final decision to be made on a completed and filed claim.

3) Fund research and treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We will ask Congress to fund continued VA research and treatment of PTSD and to direct the VA to expend the funds necessary to ensure that our military and Veterans receive the best possible treatment that our Government can provide. The issue of PTSD surfaced prior to Vietnam, while Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) have become more prominent in the current ongoing conflicts. Unlike our failure to recognize PTSD during Vietnam, we must not wait to recognize that TBI is a serious problem and must be dealt with immediately. Those afflicted with these conditions deserve the best care that a grateful Nation can provide.

4) Address further the homeless issue among Veterans and their families.

MOPH appreciates and applauds Congress for passing beneficial legislation for homeless Veterans and their families that increased funding of comprehensive service programs, authorized domiciliary services for homeless Veterans, enhanced the capacity of domiciliary care programs for female Veterans, and provided supportive services for very low-income Veteran’s families. It also addressed and provided more support for those Veterans who have substance abuse and mental health disorders “a principle factor leading to homelessness.”

MOPH believes it is imperative that we, as a Nation, continue to address the issue of calling our Veterans “homeless.” Instead, we declare “these Veterans who served in uniform have a home, and it is called AMERICA.” It is our Nation’s duty and obligation to honor their service and to provide them with every means at our disposal to help them reclaim their lives and be productive U. S. Citizens.

5) Allow concurrent receipt of military retired pay and VA disability compensation. Currently, only those Veterans rated 50 percent or higher and who are military retirees, may receive both their full military retirement and VA disability compensation. MOPH believes this to be a gross injustice. Nearly 550,000 disabled retirees with disabilities rated below 50 percent continue to pay their own disability compensation by sacrificing, dollar-for-dollar, their retirement pay. MOPH Members will urge their Representatives to support two recently introduced Bills, H.R. 303 “The Retired Pay Restoration Act” (Rep. Gus Bilirakis, FL-9), and H. R. 333 “Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act” (Rep. Jim Marshall, GA-8) which would correct this issue and recognize that all military retirees with disabilities deserve to receive their fully earned retired pay and VA compensation without financial penalty.

In addition to personal meetings on Capitol Hill, MOPH Members not able to travel to Washington, DC will call or write their Representatives in their District offices to press their case for Veteran’s issues.

The Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) is unique among all Veteran service organizations (VSO’s) in that its membership is comprised entirely of Veterans who were wounded in combat while serving their country. For this sacrifice, they were awarded the Purple Heart Medal.

With grants from the MOPH Service Foundation, the MOPH and its Ladies Auxiliary, promote Patriotism, Fraternalism, and the Preservation of America’s Military History. Most importantly, they provide comfort and assistance to all Veterans and their families, especially those requiring claims assistance with the VA, those who are homeless, and those requiring employment assistance.

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01 February 2009

Upcoming Screening for GPTV Documentary Features Clayton State Professor Catherine Deering

Clayton State University Professor of Psychology Dr. Catherine Deering appears in an upcoming documentary titled, “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, The Invisible Wounds of War,” for Georgia Public Television (GPTV). A viewing of the documentary will be held at the Push Push Theater, Decatur, Ga., on Tuesday, Feb. 3 from 7:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. The screening is open to the public... Click to read: Upcoming Screening for GPTV Documentary Features Clayton State Professor Catherine Deering
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