VAA Dispatch
Apr. 14, 2015

Veterans Affairs makes little headway to shorten waiting times for care
The Associated Press via The Huffington Post
The chronic delays plaguing the Veterans Affairs health system are concentrated in a fraction of its hospitals and clinics — many of them in the South — that have done far worse than others in delivering prompt care, according to government data reviewed by The Associated Press.More

Military families: Does the government owe you a bunch of money?
Surviving spouses or children of deceased military members could be owed benefits. After a veteran dies, he or she technically no longer has a claim to disability benefits. However, there are certain circumstances in which a widow, widower or surviving child may be entitled to accrued benefits — or money — from the Department of Veterans Affairs. More

VA officials' $288,000 'relocation payment' tied to little-known house buyout program
The Daily Caller
A high-ranking Veterans Affairs official who was paid nearly $300,000 to relocate from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia last year was issued that hefty payout as part of a little-known program used to incentivize "highly qualified candidates," TheDC has learned.More

Penn State Law starts new legal clinic for veterans, service members
Penn State News
Penn State Law has launched a new legal clinic designed to provide hands-on practice experience for law students as they represent veterans and current service members in the unique legal issues they encounter. The Penn State Law Veterans and Service members Legal Clinic is designed to fill a critical gap that exists between the demand for specialized legal assistance and the limited supply of such services in Pennsylvania and across the nation. More

North Carolina vets organize to put medical marijuana use on state GOP platform
Military veterans in North Carolina, especially around Fayetteville, a center of both active military personnel and vets, are now organizing to put marijuana legalization on the state's GOP platform. More

Pittsburgh suicide brings to light issues tormenting female veterans
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A recent veteran suicide in the parking lot at the Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs' H.J. Heinz facility was tragic because she was a young woman who seemed to have much to look forward to. Former Army Staff Sgt. Michelle R. Langhorst, 31, served nine years in the Army, mostly as a member of the military police, before an honorable discharge in 2012. She had graduated from Point Park University last year and recently got a job as a security supervisor at UPMC Shadyside. But Langhorst's death stood out for two main reasons: she was female and she had been receiving behavioral health treatment at the VA for at least a couple of years.More

Support groups help veterans heal emotionally after return
The Associated Press via WSBT-TV
An Indiana support group designed to help veterans recover from the stresses of combat has a new leader and is looking to expand. The Indiana Vet to Vet support group meets at 18 sites in central Indiana and gives veterans a place to discuss their war experiences and tips on how to readjust to life back home.More

One way to help veterans with PTSD? Lots of yoga
The Washington Post
Army Lt. Col. John Thurman lost 26 co-workers in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the Pentagon. He suffered severe smoke inhalation while trapped in the building for 25 minutes. He spent a week in the hospital recovering. In the months after the attacks, Thurman found he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Thurman's PTSD meant he wasn't sleeping for months after the attack, even with the prescription drugs he was taking. And his pulmonary function hadn't returned to full capacity. But when Thurman started doing yoga, it "made all the difference in the world in my ability to deal with the stress and my injury from that day."More

Veterans help 8,000 Chicago students get to school safely each day
The Huffington Post
A team of veterans is going above the call of duty to keep young students safe. The Safe Passage Program, founded in 2011 by nonprofit Leave No Veteran Behind, deploys vets to monitor unsafe Chicago neighborhoods as students walk to school. More