Women vets still don’t call themselves veterans

WASHINGTON – Even after 11 years of war where female troops have handled unprecedented battlefield responsibilities, many women leaving the service still don’t see themselves as “veterans,” according to the Department of Veterans Affairs top female vet.

While men are generally open about their service, many women are reserved about sharing that information or resistant to seeing themselves in the same category, said Retired Brig. Gen. Allison Hickey, VA’s undersecretary for benefits.

VA processing claims at record pace, but still can’t keep up

WASHINGTON – Veterans Benefits Administration processors completed more benefits claims than ever before last month, wrapping up work on a record 107,462 cases. The agency also announced that it topped 1 million completed claims for the third fiscal year in a row, another historic mark.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the record pace of work barely made a dent in the massive benefits backlog which has plagued the system for years.

VA launches next round of retraining program

WASHINGTON – Veterans Affairs officials announced last week that they filled all 45,000 slots for the fiscal 2012 phase of the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program, and are now opening applications for the 54,000 openings available for next fiscal year.

The program, created by Congress late last year, awards unemployed veterans one year of GI Bill benefits to learn new, high-demand skills. Lawmakers designed the program to be a safety net mainly for mid-career veterans who find themselves in financial trouble, but do not have military education benefits to fall back on like their younger peers.

DOD, VA launch $100M TBI and PTSD effort

WASHINGTON – Defense and Veterans Affairs officials will invest more than $100 million in studies to improve diagnosis and treatment of mild Traumatic Brain Injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, the signature wounds of the most recent wars.

The announcement comes on the heels of President Barack Obama’s executive order last month calling for better access to mental health services for veterans and active-duty military. Defense studies have shown that about 15 percent of troops who served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer “impaired functioning” as a result of PTSD.

Best jobs for vets? Systems analysts and admins

WASHINGTON – What’s the best profession for recently separated troops looking for work? A new data analysis by an occupations expert says that the computer systems analyst and network systems administrator fields offer the best mix of high salary, ample openings and “Veteran friendly” hiring practices.

In his new book “the 150 best jobs for the military-to-civilian transition,” author Laurence Shatkin complied data on veterans employment trends and median salaries from the American Community Survey to rank the jobs. He said the best jobs have nationwide openings and “involve skills that are most likely to be learned through military training.”

Guest column: Wife set on holding together husband damaged by war

The night started off well enough.

The young couple ate, mingled with friends and posed for pictures at the Marine Corps Ball in Hilton Head, S.C. Then the videos began. They showed the heroic actions of Marines overseas. They were meant to honor them, to remember them, because they had died there.

Mixed jobs news for veterans in August

WASHINGTON – The unemployment rate for young veterans took a significant step backwards last month, rising to 10.9 percent and countering what had been positive post-military jobs news for most of 2012.

Administration officials and veterans advocates have warned about putting too much emphasis on the monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, stating that the overall trend among Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans looking for work is still encouraging.

VA: Battle buddies can help fight obesity in vets

WASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs researchers are finding that battle buddies can help save lives, even when it comes to fighting obesity.

Dr. Michele Heisler, a VA physician and director at the Michigan Center for Diabetes Translation Research, said officials have found that veterans struggling with obesity and diabetes are more likely to follow physicians’ advice, stick to their diets and stay on their medications if they engage in support groups with other veterans. Now outside researchers are looking to see if the same lessons can be applied to civilian populations.

Triumphing over the lingering wounds of war

A year earlier, Matthew Brown was a Marine fighting in Iraq.

Now he sat at home, a veteran with an endless prescription for pain pills and a new habit of crushing the pills and snorting them as he drank one beer after another. He’d started to cut his forearms with a serrated pocket knife. Feeling otherwise numb, he cut himself to feel something. Anything. 

NFL research grant could help veterans, troops with brain injuries

WASHINGTON – Officials at the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health announced Wednesday that the National Football League has donated $30 million to study the long-term effects of head injuries and other blunt-force trauma, with the goal of finding helping both athletes and the general population.

That includes military personnel and veterans, many of whom suffer the same concussive brain injuries and resulting mental disorders as professional football players.