Encourages Veterans to Visit VA Website to Learn More
WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is reaching out to inform Veterans of recent changes made by Congress to the Post 9/11 GI Bill that take effect in 2011.
General Allison Hickey, Under Secretary for Benefits, said “The Post 9/11 GI Bill is incredibly important because it reduces the financial burdens of higher education so that Veterans have an opportunity to achieve their education goals. VA believes it is important for Veterans to be aware of changes to the GI Bill this year and learn more about how these changes may affect them.”
“It’s hard to believe how far we have all come with the Post-9/11 GI Bill the past two years,” stated General Hickey. “Today, more than 537,000 students have received over $11.5 billion in GI Bill benefits to help them take charge of their future.”
Upcoming changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill effective August 1, 2011 include paying the actual net cost of all public in-state tuition and fees, rather than basing payments upon the highest in-state tuition and fee rates for every state; capping private and foreign tuition at $17,500 per academic year; and ending payments during certain school breaks, to preserve Veterans’ entitlement for future academic semesters. Also, certain students attending private schools in select states can now continue to receive benefits at the same rate payable during the previous academic year.
As a U.S. Army veteran who has seen many fellow veterans suffer from the physical and psychological consequences of war, it is disheartening to observe an absence of discussion within the renewable energy community on the connection between the United States' oil dependency and its ongoing military engagements. Those who profess to support our troops cannot fail to learn the lessons they offer to the nation.
While Americans will no doubt continue to debate our military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, what is clear is that the antagonistic dynamics of the U.S. relationship with the Muslim world are not likely to change significantly in the near term, in large part because of oil.
This unfortunate reality, viewed in light of the history of dysfunctional relationships between the Muslim world and the United States, leads to the conclusion that if the renewable energy community does not broaden its political base in order to accelerate our nation’s diversification away from oil, the potential for future conflicts and regional instability in the Middle East and Central Asia will likely increase.
July 12, 2011 By Jeff Norman Thanks to Robert Corsini and his wife Lisa for hosting our fundraising party Saturday night at their beautiful home. Three compelling speakers helped us connect somewhat different stories, all of which involve allegations that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) habitually deprives veterans of services to which they are entitled.
CBS News sent a crew to shoot footage of Michael Needham for an upcoming 48 Hoursepisode about his son, John, who died after overdosing on drugs administered by a VA nurse. John, at the time, was staying at a relative’s home, but probably should have been an inpatient.
Mark Rosenbaum, Chief Counsel for the ACLU of Southern California, spoke about a recently filed lawsuit against the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, and the Director of the Greater Los Angeles VA, Donna Beiter, for their failure to provide housing for homeless veterans at the West Los Angeles VA facility. Homelessness in the veteran population is a national scourge, but the situation in Los Angeles is unique because the original property owners who donated the land on which the VA campus now sits, stipulated that it was to be used exclusively for the care and permanent housing of disabled veterans. In apparent violation of the deed, the VA provides no permanent housing there, and leases about 30 percent of the property to various corporations and schools. Nobody knows how much the leaseholders pay, or where the money goes.
If you want more explanation about the military’s troubles in treating troops with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress, read no further than two recent but largely unnoticed reports from the Government Accountability Office.
It turns out the Pentagon’s solution to the problems is an organization plagued by weak leadership, uncertain priorities and a money trail so tangled that even the GAO’s investigators couldn’t sort it out. The GAO findings on the Pentagon’s Defense Centers of Excellence (DCOE) echo our own series  on the military’s difficulty in handling the so-called invisible wounds of war.“
We have an organization that exists, but we have considerable concern about what it is that it’s actually accomplishing,” said Denise Fantone, a GAO director who supervised research on one of the reports. She added: “I can’t say with any certainty that I know what DCOE does, and I think that’s a concern.”
First, some background. After the 2007 scandal over poor care delivered to soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Congress ordered the Pentagon to do a better job treating soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. The Pentagon’s answer was to create DCOE . The new organization was supposed to be a clearinghouse to foster cutting-edge research in treatments.
DCOE was rushed into existence in late 2007. Since then, it has churned through three leaders, including one let go after alleged sexual harassment of subordinates . It takes more than five months to hire each employee because of the federal government’s glacial process. As a result, private contractors make up much of the center’s staff.
RUSS REPORT - A press release issued by Senator Dianne Feinstein on June 30 trumpeted being “one step closer” to securing $35.5 Million for homeless veteran housing at the West Los Angeles Veteran Property (WLAVA).
According to her statement, Feinstein, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, included an amendment to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs (VA) and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The bill would authorize the VA to renovate one building- Building 209.
“The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee favorably reported language for this project on Wednesday. Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee followed by passing legislation endorsing the swift approval of this project,” Feinstein said.
In 2004, Santa Monica Councilman Bobby Shriver proposed that buildings 205, 208 and 209 on the WLAVA property be used for permanent housing but it was not until 2007 that the buildings were designated as such.
In 2008, the first hint of a project came when Ralph Tillman, Director Asset Management at the WLAVA announced renovations to Building 209 would cost $7,211,090.00 and would house approximately 80 veterans.
As a part of a five-year plan to end veteran homelessness Shinseki, along with President Obama, in November 2009, allocated $3.2 Billion for FY 2010 of which $20M was supposedly earmarked for the renovation of building 209William Daniels, Chief of Mental Health for the Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (GLAHS) confirmed this (August 2010- Strawberry Gazette).