VAA Dispatch
Jul. 7, 2015

Pentagon increases small-business contracts to disabled veterans
The Defense Department finally met its goal in 2014 for awarding contracts to small businesses run by disabled veterans, improving on what was admittedly an "atrocious" record. Steering contracts to disabled vets "was an area in which we have made a lot of progress, but I think we still have some ways to go, and that one is obviously of particular concern to the Department," Frank Kendall, the Under Secretary of Defense for acquisition, said at a Pentagon briefing with Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.More

More than 10,000 veterans used the CDL skills test waiver
More than 10,000 veterans and active duty personnel have taken advantage of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Military Skills Test Waiver Program, the FMCSA announced. The Military Skills Test Waiver Program allows state licensing agencies to waive the skills test portion of the CDL application for veterans or active duty members who have at least two-years of safe driving experience operating a military truck or bus.More

Transitioning troops may plug into utility jobs
Military Times
Four federal agencies and five utility trade associations have launched an initiative aimed at increasing job opportunities in the utility industry for transitioning troops, veterans and military spouses. Partners in the Utility Industry Workforce Initiative include the departments of Energy, Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs.More

For veterans to prosper in STEM workforce, employers need to help with post-military transition
U.S. News & World Report
After serving for Uncle Sam, veterans often have skills that would make them ideal employees in a range of industries, but four words can keep them in the unemployment line: post-traumatic stress disorder.More

Vets snared in for-profit college collapse want GI Bill money back
The collapse of for-profit Corinthian Colleges has been a calamity for Afghanistan and Iraq veterans who not only lost their chance at a college degree from the shuttered schools but also can't get back tens of thousands in tuition covered by the GI Bill. Now there's a movement in Congress to bail out the veterans and give them a second chance at a degree. More

Vet2RN program offers bridge for military medics
Education Dive
Army, Navy and Air Force medics receive hundreds of hours of training. Then, they spend hundreds more hours treating patients wounded while serving in the United States Armed Forces. This clinical experience, however, is rarely recognized once they return to civilian life. If former medics want to become nurses, they almost always have to start from scratch. Not at Herzing University in Madison, Wisconsin.More

University of Phoenix sidesteps Obama order on recruiting veterans
The Center for Investigative Reporting
Hundreds of soldiers and their families spread lawn chairs and blankets across the grassy parade ground at Fort Campbell, which straddles the state line between Tennessee and Kentucky. They came to see Big Smo, the reality TV star who calls himself "The King of Hick Hop." This is not just any concert. It's a recruitment event for the University of Phoenix, the proprietary college that is far and away the largest recipient of taxpayer money under the post-9/11 GI Bill. More

VA to extend benefits to same-sex spouses
The Hill
Same-sex married couples will now share veterans' pensions, home loans and other benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs said recently. The new policy comes after the recent Supreme Court ruling that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all states. "We are thrilled the VA is acting so quickly to implement the Supreme Court's ruling and are ready to do right by ALL our nation's veterans," American Military Partner Association President Ashley Broadway-Mack said in a statement. "These are important benefits our nation's veterans have earned." More

Veterans hotline tries to survive without Pentagon funds
The New York Times (tiered subscription model)
In a row of beige cubicles in a suburban office park, a hulking former Army sergeant hunched over his phone next to a photo taken in Afghanistan, a few days before he was hurt by a roadside bomb. On the other end of the line was a combat veteran, also wounded in Afghanistan, who had called a peer hotline, Vets4Warriors, that connects troops and former service members seeking help with veterans. Since 2011, Vets4Warriors has fielded more than 130,000 calls from military personnel stationed around the world. More