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In This Issue March 14, 2014
Is This VA Accountability?

Navajo Veterans Struggle with Housing

Report Says VA Didn't Pay Some Vets Health Costs

Pfizer Issues Nationwide Recall of Antidepressant

Federal Court Allows Burn Pit Lawsuit to Advance

Senate Blocks Change to MST Cases

General Tries to Plea Bargain in MST Case

Congresswoman Calls on SecDef to Screen DoD's MST Personnel

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As Reported by The Augusta Chronicle
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Is This VA Accountability?

Dr. Michael Luke StapletonDr. Michael Luke Stapleton

In a March 11 The Augusta Chronicle article by Wesley Brown, the Augusta VA chief of staff remains on payroll after his resignation. The former chief of staff at the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center voluntarily resigned in 2013 under the threat of being disciplined over the deaths of three cancer patients in the hospital’s embattled gastrointestinal clinic, the VA confirmed this week.

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As Reported by the Los Angeles Times

Navajo Veterans Struggle with Housing

Navajo Veteran

In a March 8 Los Angeles Times article by Cindy Carcamo, nearly 9,000 former service members live on the New Mexico-Arizona reservation, more than half of them in substandard conditions.

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As Reported by USA Today

Report Says VA Didn't Pay Some Vets Health Costs

VA Medical Center, White River Junction

In a March 7 article by Greg Zoroya in USA Today, dozens of uninsured and disabled veterans owed compensation for emergency health care costs were erroneously turned down by the Department of Veterans Affairs, federal investigators say. 

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3 Lots of Effexor Recalled 

Pfizer Issues Nationwide Recall of Antidepressant

Effexor Recall

From a March 7 Medscape bulletin: “A voluntary nationwide recall of 3 different lots of the antidepressant venlafaxine (Effexor, Pfizer Inc.) has been issued by the drug's manufacturer owing to possible contamination with a heart drug and subsequent potentially fatal consequences. As a precaution, Pfizer Inc. is recalling 1 lot of 30-count Effexor XR (venlafaxine HCI) 150 mg extended-release capsules, 1 lot of 90-count Effexor XR (venlafaxine HCl) 150 mg extended-release capsules, and 1 lot of 90-count Greenstone LLC-branded venlafaxine HCl 150 mg extended-release capsules. According to Pfizer, the action is being taken because 1 bottle of Effexor XR contained a single capsule of dofetilide (Tikosyn, Pfizer Inc) 0.25 mg, an antiarrhythmic medication used to treat atrial fibrillation/atrial flutter and maintain normal sinus rhythm.”

As Reported by Military Times

Federal Court Allows Burn Pit Lawsuit to Advance

In a March 7 Military Times article by Patricia Kime, a federal appeals court has ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a collection of lawsuits over the use of open-air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, a decision that allows the litigation against contracting giant KBR to continue. 

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As Reported by AP

Senate Blocks Change to MST Cases

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, center, talks with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. on Capitol Hill

In an AP article by Donna Cassata posted on the March 6 Yahoo! News website, in a bow to the Pentagon, the Senate agreed after impassioned debate last Thursday to leave the authority to prosecute rapes and other serious crimes with military commanders in a struggle that highlighted the growing role of women in Congress. The vote was 55-45 in favor of stripping commanders of that authority, but that was short of the 60 necessary to move ahead on the legislation sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Her bill would have given the decision to take serious crimes to courts-martial to seasoned military trial lawyers, independent of the chain of command.

For complete story, click: https://news.yahoo.com/senate-blocks-change-military-sex-assault-cases-192951694--politics.html

As Reported by The Washington Post

General Tries to Plea Bargain in MST Case

In a March 11 Washington Post article by M. Biesecker and E.P. Delesio, attorneys for an Army general charged with sexual assault said Tuesday that they have decided to try to renegotiate a plea bargain with a new set of military officials after the judge determined that the case may have been improperly influenced by political concerns.  

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As Reported by USA Today

Congresswoman Calls on SecDef to Screen DoD's MST Personnel

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif.

In a March 12 USA Today article, reporter Tom Vanden Brook writes that Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, late Tuesday called on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to direct the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy to re-examine troops in sensitive posts in light of an Army review that disqualified 588 soldiers serving as sexual assault counselors, recruiters, and instructors.

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