Community collaboration has turned out to be a new tool to enhancing mental health care and preventing any suicide cases among the New Hampshire's veterans, that is according to a statement released on Tuesday by the Manchester VA Medical Center officials. Daily about 20 veterans commit suicide nationwide, only six out of the 20 were able to access health care services through the VA in the year before their deaths. While speaking to those who attended the annual mental health summit, Dr. Brett Rusch made this shocking announcement, noting that the VA recently added two suicide prevention coordinators in Manchester, which is still not enough to deal with the number of suicidal cases among veterans. Rusch, who is the center's acting chief of staff, said it’s the work of the community to identify the other 14 veterans who are at risk of committing suicide. A work that has been going on for the past few years. Just two years ago the New Hampshire's Department of Health and Human Services started a unique program to create military liaison positions in all the community mental health centers that are in the state and a statewide campaign to motivate the health care providers, social service organizations and others to ask patients and clients if they have ever served in the military. Democratic U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan also said that she had started talking with her colleagues back in Washington on whether the "Ask the Question" initiative can be expanded to the other states. The Senator mentioned her other efforts, which included co-sponsoring a bill that had been signed by President Donald Trump last month that is aimed at reducing wait times and improving the process for veterans seeking benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The other bill that she co-sponsored was the one that saw VA services to female veterans was expanded. During a session that involved question-and-answer, one of the psychologists from the hospital inquired whether the mental health staffing levels will be increased so as to ensure that patients can get ongoing treatment.
According to a report released by a government watchdog, the Social Security Administration has spent close to $38 million in benefits to hundreds of dead veterans. The report also stated that the Department of Veterans Affairs is to be partially blamed for the inaccurate death records. The findings from the report were released late last week by the inspector general for the Social Security Administration. The report stated that the SSA has continued to pay people the VA listed as dead. While in some crazy instances, the VA had listed people as dead who were still alive. The SSA reported that to the inspectors that the VA had on several occasions failed to share with them, their monthly reports of the names of some veterans who had died. In case these issues that are arising between these two agencies are not resolved soon, the inspectors estimated that the SSA will be paying out more than $7 million to dead people come 2018. The office further gave a financial estimate of around $37.7 million made in payments by the Social Security which have been paid to 746 people who had already died. This was even worrying since it was unclear how long this has been going on. A VA spokesman responded on Tuesday, saying that it was crucial to appreciate that most of the records given by the VA to the SSA in the year 2016 were indeed accurate. Last year the Inspector General's Office was given 17 million death records by the VA, the office counter checked the records against the Social Security Administration's database. They found that there existed about 3,925 cases of people receiving Social Security payments even though they had been listed as deceased. The estimation of the amount related to improper payments was entirely based on a sample of 100 of those cases. These issues have dated back to more than 10 years. In 2006 SSA released a similar report that showed that payments were being sent to veterans who had been listed by the VA listed as dead. And by 2006 payments totaling to $11.7 million in payments had been made. The Social Security Administration in a response to the report decided to go through the 3,925 cases which the inspectors had uncovered of the people who had been receiving payments even though they had been listed by the VA listed as dead.
To honor the deceased army veteran who died in a car crush, a Michigan man who resides just next to the site of the fatal motorcycle accident gave an American flag to the friends, family and relatives to the defunct family. James McCarter said to them that it is an honor and the right thing to do for a fellow Veteran by giving the flag to the deceased loved ones. Joshua VanBelzen, the victim Veteran was twenty six years of age when he faced his unfortunate death. He was leaving Cambridge Township, during a motorcycle gathering of Veterans in August 26th when he accidentally failed to make a curve on the road and non-hesitantly the pickup truck that was behind him got struck on him in his motorcycle. The Jackson Citizen reported that the veteran was pronounced dead by authorities at the scene where the accident happened. James McCarter had the crash impact of the accident when it happened because his house is around the environment near bent road, which is the scene of the accident. He continued to say that he brought the American flag to the loved ones of the deceased immediately after him learning that the victim, VanBelzen, was a Veteran. The flag used to be hanging in the front of his house. He insists that he did his part and is or was not seeking attention for what he did to the loved ones. He says what he did at the moment is what is expected of anyone like him. His obituary has it that VanBelzen had just completed his tour in Afghanistan while in the American Army and his recent post was an Army Reservist and drill sergeant and worked as a Federal Corrections Officer. McCarter also said that the pickup truck that hit VanBelzen had elderly couple that were stunned. Friends of the deceased, who left the same gathering of Veterans held a last- minute prayer session service to the corpse after the authorities pronounced him lifeless. It is after then that the authorities transported VanBelzen’s body from the accident scene. McCarter confirmed it was a sad day not only for him, but for the whole veteran community, friends and family of the deceased. The township Police Chief, Jeff Peterson, is looking forward to address many of the fatal injury and accidents at a biannual state highway summit in Lansing after reporting that the same curve road had been a site where many fatal accidents happen. McCarter is having high hopes that the veteran’s crash will inspire change on the routine designing of the highway or maybe how speeds on the highway are being monitored and enforced, hence reducing the rate of losing lives on the road.
At last there is a government approved study of marijuana’s effects on veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, the first of its kind after 7 years of waiting. The study is lead by researcher Sue Sisley. Her team had been granted permission to begin enrolling veterans to participate in the study back in February this year. Since then she and her team have screened thousands of veterans yet only 26 have been enrolled who meet the eligibility criteria – prompting concern the study’s parameters must change. Sisley notes that this could delay the study. The main issue being the researchers’ lack of access to the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix, which is just 20 miles from where the study is being conducted. Sisley has noted that there is plenty of potential in them finding many veterans at the hospital who might be resistant to other PTSD treatments and looking for an alternative. So far the Phoenix VA hospital has shown 0 cooperation. The Food and Drug Administration, Drug Enforcement Agency and Department of Health and Human Services offered their approval for the clinical trial. The clinical trial needs only 76 participants to be viable. Many veterans are not taking part in the study because they live far away from the location since those taking part in the study are needed to report at the Scottsdale Research Institute in Phoenix 10 times over 18 weeks, and then have a six-month follow-up. The study is being funded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and have granted a sum of $2.1 million, to cater for travel expenses for veterans who are out of state. Sisley noted that relocation to Arizona by veterans could also affect the results. The clinical study uses four potencies of marijuana and intends to replicate real-world use of the drug. Participants are given 1.8 grams daily, however they have the freedom to choose the quantity they smoke. They are also asked to keep a daily journal that should always be updated. The other organization sponsoring the study is the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies in Santa Cruz, Calif. In an effort to gain the 76 enrolled participants Sisley is fighting to gain access to more veterans at the Phoenix VA hospital.
The Local American legion post that is in Cameron MO has been assisting the local veterans in applying for their benefits and making a follow up that the veterans indeed receive their benefits. There being so many challenges that the veterans face when applying for their benefits not to mention filling out the benefits application forms. One of the big challenge is getting someone who can assist them instead of going through the many websites online or responding to the computer answering system on the telephone. The main goal is to create a pool of people who will provide these veterans with the information they need instead of them travelling long distances to seek help. Apart from that they help the veterans in dealing with crisis when they occur because it’s true the benefits might be available but then they can only be accessed after several weeks, months, or longer. When someone is in crisis, they need help now, not next week or month. So far several groups have come up that are willing to help the veterans in dealing with everything from “returning to civilian life” to “assisted living facilities” to prevention of Veteran Suicides. Though veterans should be cautious as there are some people who will take advantage of their lack of knowledge and end up scamming and take advantage of them, this also applies to the groups that are helping the veterans. The American Legion is planning on consolidating some of those efforts and provide a ready resource to help those who have trouble getting their benefits. Veterans who have had their benefits denied hare also being given advice on how they can appeal. To help with the whole process, the Legion has collaborated with the Disabled American Veterans of Missouri to schedule the Mobile Service Office van that will visit Cameron on Thursday Sept 14th from 10 AM until 5 PM. The van will be parked at the Cameron Market parking lot and help will be available for veterans and their dependents to come in and find answers to the benefits available. Many changes have been in placed in the Veterans Administration over the past couple of years. The Mobile Service Office will be able to provide the latest information about those changes to the local veterans.
The young lady who was charged with leaking classified U.S. documents has requested the federal judge ruling her case to rule that comments she had previously made to FBI agents before her arrest should not be used as evidence against her. Reality Winner, who was a former Air Force linguist and held a top-secret security clearance, had worked for the government as a contractor in Augusta, Georgia. This was until she was charged of making copies of classified report and sending the copies to an online news organization. According to a criminal complaint that was filed on the 5th of June in the U.S. District Court, Winner had admitted to leaking the documents during a questioning session by FBI agents serving a search warrant at her apartment. Winner's defense attorneys filed a court motion last Tuesday requesting the judge to suppress any comments that their client had made to the FBI during the questioning because apparently the FBI agents had forgotten to read Winner her Miranda rights. Winner’s attorneys said that, even though their client had not been formally arrested, she had every reason to assume she was in custody since she was questioned in a room of her apartment as two FBI agents stood in front of the door. The prosecutors have not responded or filed any legal reply to the defense motion and as per Wednesday the judge had not given any ruling concerning the motion. Nevertheless, U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian K. Epps agreed to postponing Winner’s trial during a status hearing last Wednesday, the trial had been scheduled to begin in October. Epps postponed the case until March after Winner's attorneys reported that newer members of the defense team had not obtained national security clearances and so were not able to examine classified documents that are related to the case. So far the authorities have not given any description of the classified report, which Winner is accused of leaking or named the news outlet that received it. However, the Justice Department announced Winner's arrest on the same day that The Intercept reported it had gotten hold of classified National Security Agency report that suggested that Russian hackers had attacked a U.S. voting software supplier before last year's presidential election. The NSA report was dated May 5, the same as the document Winner is charged with leaking. Winner on the other hand had pleaded not guilty to the charges. She is charged with illegal retention and transmission of national defense information. This federal crime carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if she's found guilty.
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Thousands of the US veterans who have been involved in fights in the America’s longest war said that it is very reassuring for the President of the United States, Donald Trump, to reverse the calls he made in the past for a speedy exit from the Afghanistan nation and the pulling out of troops won’t happen under a strict deadline. The troops will feel bad to see what they have worked for and sacrificed big deal go in vain. Some of them though worry that the strategy made by the administration is not enough for them to emerge victorious. In a national address Monday, the president recommitted the country to a sixteen year old war. He also announced a strategy that entailed the country sending a number of three thousand nine hundred additional US forces to join the rest of the eight thousand four hundred troops that are already at the moment in Afghanistan. The first set deployment is expected to take place in a matter of a few days. It is a plan to shift away from having what is referred to as “time-based” strategy approach and focusing instead on aid to the cooperation and to result from the beleaguered Pakistan, Afghanistan and other governments. Peter James Kiernan, the marine veteran could not be hesitant, but praised the president for being intelligent and not allowing the pinning of withdrawal to that enemy fighters’ timeline to wait upon. He also expressed his concerns about the war. He said that for the moment, he thinks the US partners in the Afghanistan should take it from the strategy that they are still together and committed to their aid, which makes them the biggest beneficiaries. He said that was a reaffirmation to the partners. He also said that he is not sure of the guarantee the duration it may last now that a lot of things may tend to change quickly in the presidential office. Mr. Peter James Kiernan had spent nine months in the Afghanistan and just graduated recently from the Columbia University. A former Marine Captain, a bronze star recipient and left paralyzed by a sniper’s bullet in Afghanistan, Derek Herrera agreed to the presidents act towards the new strategy of not having a deadline in withdrawal but he also expressed his urge to know how success would be like and how could it be achieved. In an email, he said that on a personal level, he thinks that they all need to start again the difficult conversation and plan on what to expect from the future holdings. He continued to say that although it is aimed to have everyone removed from Afghanistan, the plan and strategies should be well outlined. The retired Army Col. Raymond Denisewish was also happy about the news that the president, Donald Trump is also relying on the strategies to be carried out by the commanders. A former military reservist in Afghanistan, Thomas Porter was also encouraged and happy by the presidents doing.
Poling is an Iraq War veteran and it is only in his 44Th year that he finally had a place he can call his own home. Medication complications got him discharged in 2014 from the Army and for the same reasons, he had to leave his trucking job. The little he had could only manage him to live out of his pickup in the Orange County, up to the end days of last year. The Orange County is a sprawling location of the southern California that is mostly known for beaches, high and costly houses, and not to forget, Disneyland. Before the former veteran found a temporary home in the area, he lived on the streets, homeless for an approximate of seven months. Potter’s Lane was his rescue from sleeping in the streets. This apartment complex is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States of America because it is designed from recycled shipping container material as a home for the homeless veterans. Poling explained his life, stating that he has never in his whole life owned a home. After his high school, he tried having errands here and there, while still staying with the parents. He later joined the Army while he was 23 years of age as an active duty. While in the army, he stayed with the uncle, Sam, in the soldiers barracks. He felt really happy and nice to finally have a home in the Orange County. Among the last fifteen veterans to relocate to the Potter’s lane with Polling, a sum of $6.7 million project was paid for with federal, local and state dollars. Money and donations from the nonprofit organizations behind the supporting homeless veteran project, not to forget the American Family Housing among other sources. The group’s president said that it was a wish for the American Family Housing to confirm that the apartment complex was designed with the strength of the United States military. The 350 homeless veterans around the Orange County can now comfortably say they have a home. The American Civil Liberties Union’s Orange County office has a homelessness policy analyst, Eve Garrow, who was positive and determinedly said that the potter’s lane project was a big step forward. She continued to state that the statistic of the people living in the streets and being homeless is 54%. The Director of the Washington DC- based National Coalition for the Homeless, Megan Hustlings, said that she was never aware that shipping containers were used to make permanent houses for people, especially the homeless. She continued to say that the country needs more project that would involve more tiny houses like the Potter’s Lane. With his two months of stay in his new house, he was excited and feels settled. He has even made friends, especially to Dale Dollar, his next door neighbor who was also homeless for an approximate of fourteen years. He is thankful to the company because he can now have peaceful sleep in the bed, which is the best part of his new home.
Just like an army of ants, Reno-Sparks Convention Center this week has been swarming with thousands of veterans. The veterans included different age groups from young boys to older men, making it an approximate sum of nine thousand members of the America Legion for the national convention in town. Statistic has it that a rough estimate of two million members from all over the nation are members of the American Legion. Part of the responsibility of membership is to work whole heartedly all through the year to give providence of support services for the veterans, just in case the government services are dropped off. The American Legion Member, Mr. John Rupe, addressed the congregation by recognizing their efforts and saying that the government and the veterans’ administration were to so much in appreciation for the members because they deserved even more. He noted that the work done by the members is influential and life changing at the same time. It is the responsibility of the American Legion Funds program to be in charge of the members getting employment, securing good homes and furnishing them, getting the families (spouses and children) get fed and insuring the college fees for the children in case of loss of a military parent. Charles Schmidt, the National Commander of the American Legion talked about the culture of the veterans taking care of each other as buddies. He said that in the military, they take it upon themselves to look for each other and take care of each other in both peace times and war times. This sense of responsibility among the militants, watch my back and I will watch yours, promotes unity and peace. Lobbying on their behalf is sometimes part of their responsibility. Representatives, who are part of the group, in DC work on their behalf to make and pass policies that are helpful to veterans. Victor Moss, who is also an American Legion member confirmed that there is strength in numbers, referring to the representatives of the two million members in The DC. He said that the chances of the congress giving ears to them is high because the number of the members is very high. This year’s American Legion National Convention is expected to run till 24th August.