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In This Issue February 28, 2014

24 Soldiers to Receive Medal of Honor

Previously Withheld Records Reveal Widespread Illegality
in U.S. Coast Guard Mental Health Discharges

New VA ID Card

DoD to Cut Commissary Budget and Raise Prices

VVA Commendation Medal

VA Data Breach "Practically Unavoidable"

VA Initiative: Reducing Use of Opioids for Chronic Pain

AK Nat'l Guard Faces Accusations of Sexual Misconduct

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As Reported by Army Times
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24 Soldiers to Receive Medal of Honor

According to a White House announcement appearing in the February 21 issue of Army Times, the Medal of Honor will be awarded to 24 people, three of them living, who served in wars of past decades.

Read complete article here

VVA Press Release

Previously Withheld Records Reveal Widespread Illegality in U.S. Coast Guard Mental Health Discharges

(Washington, D.C.) – Today Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) released a report confirming that the U.S. Coast Guard routinely violates its own procedures and regulations intended to protect service members from erroneous discharges for alleged personality disorder (PD) and adjustment disorder (AD). These violations create huge numbers of illegal discharges and operate to deny benefits to many veterans.

"Disorder in the Coast Guard: The United States Coast Guard's Illegal Personality and Adjustment Disorder Discharges" analyzes thousands of pages of previously withheld individual service records that VVA obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) after years of litigation. Law students of the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School conducted the analysis for VVA.

VVA's white paper updates and extends a 2008 Government Accountability Office report that found widespread illegality in PD discharges at four military installations. Using records obtained in settlement of its FOIA litigation, VVA examined discharge practices service-wide, analyzing AD and PD discharges. The report concludes that illegal PD discharges continue in the Coast Guard. It also presents evidence that AD discharges in the Coast Guard are rising and that most AD discharges are unlawful.

Read Complete Press Release

The report is available at
http://www.vva.org/PPD-Documents/14.02.26-VVA-CG-WP.pdf

For more information visit: http://www.vva.org/ppd.html

VHIC replaces VIC 

New VA ID Card

Skate Free Video

According to a February 24 article by Hans Petersen posted on the VA website, the VA is introducing a new, secure identification card, called the Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC). VHIC replaces the Veteran Identification Card (VIC), which was introduced in 2004.

For more information go here 

As Reported by MilitaryTimes

DoD to Cut Commissary Budget and Raise Prices

In a February 24 MilitaryTimes article by Karen Jowers, the often-touted 30 percent average savings that troops and families enjoy in military commissaries would shrink considerably under the Pentagon’s plan to slash taxpayer subsidies for the stores by two-thirds. 

Read complete story here

Alaska State Council President, Ric Davidge

VVA Commendation Medal

Half of Nevada’s disability claims sent out of state

Former VVA Alaska State Council President Ric Davidge, who served as the VVA Government Affairs Committee chair (2011-2013), is presented with the VVA Commendation Medal by VVA National President John Rowan at the Council of State Presidents Meeting, February 27, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska.

As Reported by CNBC

VA Data Breach "Practically Unavoidable"

Half of Nevada’s disability claims sent out of state

As reported February 20 by CNBC’s Dina Gusovsky, the online privacy of veterans and Veterans Affairs employees—including their health-care and financial information—is at risk, according to an internal draft of a VA report obtained by CNBC. 

Read complete article here

VA Press Release 

VA Initiative: Reducing Use of Opioids for Chronic Pain

On February 25, the VA reported it has initiated a multi-faceted approach to reduce the use of opioids among America’s veterans using VA health care. The Opioid Safety Initiative (OSI) is a comprehensive effort to improve the quality of life for the hundreds of thousands of veterans suffering from chronic pain. Launched in October 2013 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, OSI is already demonstrating success in lowering dependency on this class of drugs. At eight sites of care in Minnesota, OSI practices have decreased high-dose opioid use by more than 50 percent. OSI incorporates the team approach with the goal of reducing opioid use by alleviating a veteran’s pain using non-prescription methods. There is an emphasis on patient education, close patient monitoring with frequent feedback, and Complementary and Alternative Medicine practices like acupuncture.

“We have developed and implemented joint pain management guidelines which encourage the use of other medications and therapies in lieu of habit forming opiates,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “Early results give us hope that we can reduce the use of opioids for veterans suffering with chronic pain and share these best practices across our healthcare networks.” VA has developed patient management initiatives, including Pain Coach, which is a pain management app available for download by patients receiving pain management treatments; a Veterans’ Health Library, including a Patient/Family Management Toolkit; and resources for Pain Management on My HealtheVet. All of these applications allow veterans to better manage their pain without the use of opioids. VA‘s measurement-based pain care includes the “Pain Scale,” which reduces uncertainty and helps veterans by discussing the potential benefits of a medication and possible side-effects. For further information, veterans should contact their primary care health team.

As Reported by Stars and Stripes 

AK Nat'l Guard Faces Accusations of Sexual Misconduct

National Intrepid Center of Excellence

In a February 24 article by Sean Cockerham of the McClatchey Washington Bureau, published in Stars and Stripes, a dozen members of the Alaska National Guard face charges of sexual misconduct in what members of the guard call a severe problem in the ranks. 

Read complete story here

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