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IAVA | March 18, 2021

IAVA Weekly SITREP

As the leading voice for the post-9/11 community, IAVA continues to create awareness on issues and topics impacting our community. Below are articles and news sources from the past week:

Thursday, March 18

IAVA NEWS COVERAGE 

MyChesCo: VA Fills Additional Leadership Posts

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) this week announced more key appointments. Melissa Bryant, deputy assistant secretary, Office of Public Affairs (OPA): A third-generation combat Veteran, she also served as national legislative director for The American Legion and as chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Bryant is widely recognized for championing causes impacting women, minority service members and Veterans.

VETERAN NEWS COVERAGE

The Dallas Morning News: Lack of data on female veterans makes seeking care challenging

By Kacie Kelly

Even before the pandemic, female veterans — the fastest-growing segment of the veteran population — were two times more likely to die by suicide than their civilian counterparts, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Throw the pandemic into the mix, and the challenges facing those veterans become even more worrying. 

Los Angeles Times: Child caregivers often go it alone, and their ranks have swelled during the pandemic

By Heidi De Marco 

Like most kids, Rhianna Alvarado has been stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic and attends school online. But unlike most other eighth-graders, Rhianna is a caregiver, tending to her dad between her virtual classes. Rhianna’s father, Brian Alvarado, is an Iraq War veteran and neck and throat cancer survivor. Rhianna’s dad, Brian, 40, never smoked and was healthy before joining the Marine Corps. He believes he got sick from inhaling smoke from burn pits during the Iraq War.

The Sydney Morning Herald: Senate ups pressure on PM to establish royal commission on veteran suicide

By Angus Livingston

A unanimous vote in the Senate calling for a royal commission on veteran suicide has heaped parliamentary pressure on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to establish one. On Thursday Coalition senators voted with Labor, the Greens and independents to call on Mr Morrison to establish the inquiry, and the motion will now go to the lower house.

VAntage Point: Secretary McDonough: VA is committed to diversity, equal opportunity; no room for harassment and discrimination

By Denis McDonough 

As a member of what will be the most diverse White House Cabinet in history, I am honored to lead VA. We are charged with caring for Veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors. We will accomplish our mission by always putting Veterans first. I take full responsibility to ensure that our employees have everything they need to carry out the important work before us and that we operate in a culture that celebrates and draws strength from our country’s great diversity.

Stars and Stripes: Senate passes bill allowing VA to vaccinate all veterans, spouses

By Nikki Wentling

The Senate unanimously passed a bill Wednesday evening that would order the Department of Veterans Affairs to offer vaccinations to any veteran who wants one, regardless of whether they are enrolled in VA health care. Under the Saves Lives Act, veterans’ spouses and caregivers would also become eligible for vaccines through the VA. The department is currently vaccinating only employees and veterans enrolled in VA health care, as well as some veteran caregivers.

Wednesday, March 17

IAVA NEWS COVERAGE 

ExecutiveGov: VA Names Five Leadership Appointees

By Matthew Nelson

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has appointed Melissa Bryant, Tanya Bradsher, Michael Parrish, Chriz Diaz and Shawn Turner to assume leadership positions with the VA. Bryant, a senior adviser at VA’s Office of Public Affairs, has elevated to the role of deputy assistant secretary, the department said Monday. She held leadership roles at the U.S. Military Academy, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Army’s intelligence unit and served as a chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

VETERAN NEWS COVERAGE

VAntage Point: More Veterans getting VA care than ever before – and they like it

No matter how you measure it, VA has dramatically improved access to health care for Veterans. The total amount of care delivered is up. Since VA implemented the MISSION Act in June 2019, the number of visits with providers in VA’s community care network is up. Veteran satisfaction is up. And average wait times for VA care are well under MISSION Act eligibility standards for community care in every category.

The Kansas City Star: Veterans push Kansas for medical marijuana to treat chronic pain, PTSD from active duty

By Sydney Hoover

On average, 22 veterans commit suicide every day, and thousands struggle with PTSD and debilitating chronic pain commonly treated with opioids. A study by the University of Michigan’s Department of Psychiatry estimates around 9% of veterans used marijuana in the last year. Almost half of them reported that they were treating medical issues. It’s been found to alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain, but research has been limited because it remains illegal at the federal level and is unregulated by the FDA.

Military Times: New solutions are needed to help with the military suicide stigma

By Brandon Alward

The unfortunate reality with having a tie with the United States military is the increased likelihood to have a tie with suicide. Service member and veteran suicide rates are nearly 50 percent higher than their civilian counterparts. Suicide has become the leading cause of death of service members and the rate at which members are committing suicide is drastically increasing. The Defense Suicide Prevention Office was established to investigate the rates and causes of suicide in the military and observed that the suicide rate has been on a steady incline. Suicide in the United States military has a massive impact on all parties involved and something desperately needs to be done to stop the rising numbers.

Connecting Vets: Navy veteran to honor Spc. Vanessa Guillen with a 76-mile run

By Julia LeDoux

Seventy-six miles. That’s how far Navy veteran Tina Casanova plans to run next month in honor of Spc. Vanessa Guillen, the Army soldier whose murder in Fort Hood, Texas last year sparked the military’s #MeToo movement.

Yahoo: VA Study Shows Service Dogs Impact Veterans with PTSD Canine Companions® applauds expansion of VA insurance benefits for Veterans

The results of an important research study completed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) shows significant benefits from service dogs for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The results are staggering: Veterans paired with service dogs showed less suicidal ideation and more improvement in mental health than those paired with emotional support dogs.

Tuesday, March 16

IAVA NEWS COVERAGE 

Associated Press: AdTechCares Partners with the Veterans Coalition for Vaccination and Venables Bell + Partners to Launch Vaccine Trust PSA Campaign

AdTechCares, co-founded in 2020 by Amobee and 50 partners from across the advertising ecosystem, has partnered with the Veterans Coalition for Vaccination (VCV) —formed earlier this year with six leading veterans organizations —and Venables Bell + Partners to launch a nationwide public service announcement (PSA) campaign to encourage full vaccination and help put an end to the Covid-19 crisis. The VCV’s founding members include Team Rubicon, Wounded Warrior Project, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Student Veterans of America (SVA), Team Red, White & Blue and The Mission Continues.

VETERAN NEWS COVERAGE

WCAX 3: New help for struggling service members in Vermont

By Kayla Martin

Veterans in Vermont have a new place to get the mental health and wellness support they may need thanks to the mother of a veteran who died by suicide. Valerie Pallottafounded Josh’s House in Colchester and made that her mission. She combined wellness and recreation into one space. There’s a gym, a computer lab, a lounge area and kitchen, where veterans and current military men and women can snack, chat or just watch a game on TV.

Insider NJ: Singer and Corrado Legislation to Honor Veterans and their Families Signed into Law

Legislation sponsored by Senator Robert Singer and Senator Kristin Corrado to aid and honor deceased military members and their families was signed into law today by Governor Murphy. The legislation signed today, A-2244/S-1770, would expand the eligibility of unclaimed veterans’ spouses and their dependents to be laid to rest in local, state, or national veterans’ memorial cemeteries.

North Carolina Health News: Marine veterans petition for medical health registry for Camp Lejeune toxic water victims

By Greg Barnes

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs now recognizes the toll the contamination of toxic water has caused and is providing benefits and compensation to some of the afflicted. But Partain and dozens of Marine Corps veterans continue to push back, fighting for more relief for themselves, their family members and everyone else who has been sickened by the toxic water and the government’s alleged attempts to cover it up.

EHR Intelligence: Department of Defense Launches COVID-19 Vaccine EHR Solution

By Christopher Jason

The Department of Defense (DoD) announced it has integrated a COVID-19 vaccine EHR solution into its new EHR system, MHS GENESIS, to help clinicians identify and register patients. The solution pre-populates EHR patient registration data in real-time to streamline the vaccination process. A patient can scan her identification card instead of filling out a traditional paper intake form. Then, the clinician can administer the shot at that exact time for increased documentation accuracy.

VAntage Point: How the American Rescue Plan aids VA in helping Veterans

The COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding economic crisis have had a tremendous impact on the health and economic wellbeing of millions of Veterans. Now, the American Rescue Plan will help them further recover. The ARP enhances VA’s ability to deliver world class services to Veterans and their families, but it will also ease thousands of Veterans’ worries by forgiving some accumulated debt, speed up VA compensation claims, and provide much need funding to retrain them in high-demand occupations.

Monday, March 15 

VETERAN NEWS COVERAGE

News Break: Veterans believe cancer cases linked to toxins at K2 base

By Alexandra Koehn

Veterans are getting diagnosed with cancer at an alarming rate after they were exposed to toxic chemicals at K2 base in Uzbekistan.

People.com: Navy Veteran Launches Organization to Provide Suicide Intervention Training for Families

By Joelle Goldstein

A Navy veteran who struggled with her own mental health has launched a suicide prevention organization to help others who may be experiencing the same challenges. Porsche Williams tells PEOPLE she started Restore Life Global in 2018 after experiencing her own mental health challenges stemming from her time serving in the Navy during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom war.

AP: Wounded Warrior Project Research Uncovers Women Veterans’ Needs

New research from Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) shows that women veterans face additional challenges to their male counterparts in transitioning to civilian life, accessing care, and receiving quality care that meets their needs. In addition, they are more likely to feel isolated in the veteran community, a factor that often exacerbates mental health challenges like anxiety.

*Also published in Yahoo

AARP: What Does the COVID Relief Package Provide Veterans?

By Aaron Kassraie

The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package will assist hundreds of thousands of veterans across the country who lost their jobs during the pandemic. It includes $17 billion in health care, retraining and other assistance programs offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Military.com: Retired Two-Star Opens Up About Mental Health Crisis That Ended His Career

By Matthew Cox

In 2014, Army Maj. Gen. Gregg Martin was at the top of his game until an undiagnosed bipolar disorder suddenly cost him his 36-year career and plunged the Iraq War veteran into the battle of his life.

Stars and Stripes: VA’s whole health program for veterans shows drop in opioid use

By Caitlin Kenney

Health care professionals for the Department of Veterans Affairs saw a large decrease in opioid use among veterans with chronic pain who participated in a pilot wellness program, a VA doctor told House lawmakers Friday.

Friday, March 12

IAVA NEWS COVERAGE

CNN: Fox News host Tucker Carlson blasted for mocking women in military

CNN’s Brianna Keilar speaks with Navy veteran Kaitlynne Hetrick and Sergeant Major of the Army Michael A. Grinston about why Tucker Carlson’s comments about women in the military are so divisive.

WTVA: Pentagon and senior members of military call out Tucker Carlson for mocking women serving in armed forces: His words ‘don’t reflect our values’

In an extraordinary rebuke, the Pentagon and several senior members of the US military called out Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Thursday for a sexist segment in which he mocked women serving in the armed forces.

VETERAN NEWS COVERAGE

The New York Times: The Pentagon condemns Tucker Carlson’s sexist remarks about women in the military.

By John Ismay

The Pentagon’s press secretary, John F. Kirby, on Thursday publicly rebuked Tucker Carlson for sexist comments made by the Fox News host, in which Mr. Carlson ridiculed recent changes the military had made to be more accommodating to women.

The New York TImes: Congress Closes Loophole That Made Veterans a Target of For-Profit Schools

By Stacy Cowley

Military veterans have long been prized recruits at for-profit schools. The $1.9 trillion stimulus bill signed by President Biden on Thursday may change that. For more than a decade, former service members who were defrauded by predatory institutions have pushed to close a loophole that gave an incentive to for-profit schools to enroll veterans. After a bipartisan deal last week, Congress included that change in the stimulus bill, handing veterans’ groups a major legislative victory.

Military.com: Biden Announces Deployment of 4,000 More Troops to Help Reach Vaccination Target

One year after the nation was brought to a near-standstill by the coronavirus, President Joe Biden used his first prime-time address to outline his plan Thursday night to make all adults vaccine-eligible by May 1 and get the country “closer to normal” by the Fourth of July. Biden announced that he is deploying an additional 4,000 active-duty troops to support vaccination efforts and will allow more people — such as medical students, veterinarians and dentists — to deliver shots. 

The Hill: Veteran PAC slams Tucker Carlson for comments on female service members

By Cameron Jenkins

A prominent veterans political action committee (PAC) on Thursday released a new ad slamming Fox News host Tucker Carlson for his complaints about recent changes in the military meant to attract and retain more female service members. 

IAVA is the voice for the post-9/11 veteran generation. With over 400,000 veterans and allies nationwide, IAVA is the leader in non-partisan veteran advocacy and public awareness. We drive historic impacts for veterans and IAVA’s programs are second to none. Any veteran or family member in need can reach out to IAVA’s Quick Reaction Force at quickreactionforce.org or 855-91RAPID (855-917-2743) to be connected promptly with a veteran care manager who will assist. IAVA’s The Vote Hub is a free tool to register to vote and find polling information. IAVA’s membership is always growing. Join the movement at iava.org/membership.

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