Mismatch between veteran job seekers and employers' needs

WASHINGTON - On one of the largest job sites right now there’s a distinct gap between what employers are looking for and what veterans bring to the table.

A Monster.com survey of 900 veterans and 900 employers suggests that the experience and education level of veterans doesn’t match the positions posted to the website - and that's reflected in the confidence level veterans have in finding a job that suits them. The survey, conducted in April and released Wednesday, found that only 29 percent felt good about their prospects.

Poll: Veterans favor Romney by wide margin

WASHINGTON – A new poll from Gallup this week shows solid support among veterans for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, especially among older, male veterans. According to the researchers, 58 percent of veterans say they’d vote for Romney if the election were held today, while only 34 percent said they would back President Barack Obama.

The bad news for the Romney campaign? That’s almost exactly the same margin veterans backed Sen. John McCain in the 2008 election (56 percent to 34 percent), and their support ended up being inconsequential in that contest.

Commemoration of Vietnam War (and its veterans) begins Monday

WASHINGTON – The White House just released its proclamation officially launching the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Vietnam War, beginning on Memorial Day. Here’s the full text from the announcement:

As we observe the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, we reflect with solemn reverence upon the valor of a generation that served with honor. We pay tribute to the more than 3 million servicemen and women who left their families to serve bravely, a world away from everything they knew and everyone they loved.

White House honors 11 for veterans efforts

WASHINGTON — With Memorial Day approaching, White House officials this week honored 11 veterans advocates for their efforts to help troops back from the current wars and earlier conflicts.

The focus this week has been on Vietnam veterans, with the Defense Department marking the 50th anniversary of the start of that conflict next week. Those honored said older veterans still face significant challenges and need the assistance to recover from their decades-old struggles.

Veteran wins chance to rock and roll all night

WASHINGTON – The one thing the Kiss Army has lacked in recent years is personnel with actual combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thankfully, members of the hard rock band have now fixed that problem.

During an appearance on the “Today” show Wednesday morning, Kiss frontman Gene Simmons announced the winner of the band’s “Hiring Our Heroes” contest: Army veteran Paul Jordan, a wounded warrior who served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan before retiring two years ago.

Recap of the Twitter town hall on female veterans

Officials from the Departments of Labor and Veterans Affairs hosted a Twitter town hall Tuesday to solicit questions surrounding care and resources for female veterans.Topics included new health care initiatives, resources for homeless families, and military sexual trauma.

Here's a look at some of the conversation, and the resources they provided:

VA, DOD promise online, lifelong military medical records by 2017

WASHINGTON – The departments of defense and veterans affairs plan to fully merge their health care records systems in the next five years, with the goal of giving troops and veterans a single, seamless system to track medical care throughout their lifetime.

President Barack Obama touted the idea of a lifelong electronic military medical record in April 2009, as part of dramatic improvements to veterans health care. But during a joint appearance in Illinois on Monday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki announced they hope to put the single system in place in 2017, creating what would be the world’s largest electronic health record system.

VA teams up with heart experts on women’s health

WASHINGTON – Veterans Affairs officials this week announced a new partnership with the American Heart Association to help bring new prevention and treatment information to female veterans, who face an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease.

The collaboration, which has already begun, includes providing information for patients on programs to help with host of heart-related issues, and training for physicians within the VA on new treatments and practices to reduce those health risks. In coming months, it will also include screening patients more frequently for cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure or diabetes.

Obama to speak at Vietnam wall on Memorial Day

WASHINGTON – During the Medal of Honor ceremony for Spc. Leslie Sabo on Wednesday, President Barack Obama announced he’ll speak at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Memorial Day, as part of the Defense Department’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of that war.

“Instead of being celebrated, our Vietnam veterans were often shunned,” Obama said. “They were called many things, when there was only one thing that they deserved to be called: American patriots.

Vets retraining program accepting applications

WASHINGTON — Department of Veterans Affairs officials this week began accepting applications for the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program, part of Congress’ effort last year to help unemployed veterans back into the workforce.

The program , which will begin July 1, is aimed at veterans aged 35 to 60 who need new or updated work skills in today’s tough job market. It offers a $1,473 stipend to participants enrolled in college or technical school classes, as a way to help them make ends meet while they are retrained.

Task force offers plan to make VA more female friendly

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs’ task force on women veterans this month offered its plans for making the health and benefits system more female friendly. The report offers 23 suggestions spanning facility setup, research and treatment priorities, and better data collection, all with the goal of “continuously improving services for women veterans.”

Now, the department is looking for feedback from the public. Veterans and their advocates have until June 14 to offer their comments and criticism of the plan. Officials said a revised strategy report will be developed in the following weeks.

Want to help vets with PTSD? Treat families too

WASHINGTON — Spouses of veterans suffering mental health war wounds know the stresses those illnesses can bring to the entire family. Now, a new study from University of Missouri (highlighted by Syracuse’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families this week) suggests that treating that “secondary traumatization” can be an important step in helping cure the veterans’ issues.

The study notes that research on those family issues so far have “largely focused on improving relationships and reducing veterans’ symptoms, rather than targeting improvements in the psychological well-being of the spouse and children.”

Jobless rate drops to 9.2 percent for recent vets

The unemployment rate for recent veterans dropped by more than a percentage point in April, rebounding after a sharp spike the previous month, according to figures released late last week by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

In April, 9.2 percent of post-9/11-era veterans were jobless. That figure is less than the 10.3 percent unemployed in March, but still higher than the 7.6 percent reported in February. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ VAntage Point blog pointed out that unemployment figures from January to April represent the lowest rates for any four-month period since 2008.

New VA hires to include marriage therapists, professional counselors

WASHINGTON – The 1,900 new mental health staffers to be added to the Department of Veterans Affairs workforce in coming months will include two new types of specialists: marriage and family therapists, and licensed professional mental health counselors.

That’s worth noting because for years those professionals and therapists have been largely shut out of the VA system, which they say only hurts veterans’ health care. Their complaints stem from local VA facilities’ preference to hire licensed social workers in lieu of developing new standards for other specialists.