For suicide hotline workers, pranks are an unfortunate reality

CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. — In the last three years working at the Veterans Crisis Line, responder Christina Tallie says she has had fewer than 10 exchanges with callers that have traumatized her. But she still gets anxious recalling them.

The worst involved a lengthy, frustrating phone call with a frantic veteran that ended with a sudden gunshot. She was so upset, she couldn’t work the rest of the day, and though about quitting.

What’s a security clearance worth to employers?

WASHINGTON – Even in a stagnant job market, companies appear to be willing to pay top-dollar for veterans with a security clearance.

A new study from the website ClearanceJobs.com puts the 2011 annual salary for individuals with some level of security clearance at more than $76,000, and increase of 5 percent from the previous year. When overtime, bonuses and other specialty pays are factored in, it translates into nearly $91,000 in annual compensation.


Wounded vets pedal for fellowship, awareness

ASHBURN, VA — Leaving behind her guide dog with a bone, retired Army Capt. Leslie Smith embraced a different kind of escort as she climbed aboard the back seat of a tandem bike in the rain Wednesday.

She adjusted her prosthetic left leg and with a “3, 2, 1”, the nearly blind Smith rode off laughing on a 10-mile bike ride with a volunteer rider leading the way in the front seat.

Study: Vet transition services face 'leadership gap'

WASHINGTON — Researchers at the Center for a New American Security offered a scathing report this week on that status of veterans care in America, calling the current systems inefficient, full of gaps and unfriendly to community groups looking to lend a hand.

The report, Veteran Reintegration and American Communities, states that only a few troops leave the service with enough information to handle critical employment, education, and health care questions. “Inevitably – but too often at a point at which the veteran has fallen through society’s cracks – the burden of care is placed on under-resourced community-based providers that are neither familiar with service-related needs nor knowledgeable about how to address them effectively,” the report states.

Nursing groups promise PTSD, TBI training

WASHINGTON — A coalition of nursing schools and medical organizations will train more than 3 million nurses in coming years on how to recognize and respond to post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and other unseen war wounds in veterans, White House officials announced Tuesday.

The news comes three months after officials from the nation’s leading medical colleges announced they’d work similar lessons on war wounds into their curricula.

Vet Affairs not a money-making assignment

WASHINGTON — The Sunlight Foundation earlier this month released a list of which House committees are the most profitable for lawmakers looking to raise campaign funds. The effort, done in conjunction with the NPR program “This American Life,” was designed to show why some committees are considered premium assignments by money-conscious House members, and why others are “duds.”

The top of the list is no surprise – Members of the Ways and Means, Financial Services and Energy and Commerce committees rake in tens of thousands more than their colleagues in part due to their area of focus. And, in predictable news to veterans advocates, the bottom of the list includes the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

Jobless rate hits 10.3 percent among recent vets

WASHINGTON — Unemployment among recent veterans ticked up in March, a month after hitting its lowest point in nearly four years.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics report shows 10.3 percent of post-9/11-era veterans were jobless in March, up from 7.6 percent in February. For all veterans, the unemployment rate increased only slightly, to 7.5 percent from 7 percent.

Walmart offers career suggestions for veterans

WASHINGTON —Gary Profit remains unimpressed with the military-to-civilian skills translators available to veterans looking for jobs. So he convinced his company to build its own.

“The ones I’ve seen out there tend to focus on hard technical skills, rather than the huge investment the nation makes in developing these people into leaders,” said Profit, senior director of military programs at Walmart. “Our career path tool is designed to demonstrate to candidates some possible careers, what kinds of things would interest you.”