VAA Dispatch
Aug. 25, 2015

Survey: Most Americans think government is failing vets
Military Times
A majority of Americans don't think the U.S. government or American businesses are doing enough to help veterans, and few believe that charities are doing enough to help cover those unmet needs, according to a recent survey.More

Healthy Base Initiative ends, but concept continues
Military Times
The Healthy Base Initiative, a DoD demonstration project at 14 installations that tested ways to improve the health and wellness of troops, civilians and their families, is ending this month. Base officials are submitting final data and completing an assessment survey by the end of August. They're measuring factors, such as changes in the rates of obesity and overweight; change in the usage of tobacco; change in the percentage of total sales at commissaries that is fresh produce; the percentage change in designated tobacco areas; and the percentage of schools that have made positive changes. More

Prescription tracker gives 24/7 online access
Veterans can now track the status of most of their prescriptions online thanks to an innovative idea by a Department of Veterans Affairs employee. The new 24/7 service allows online tracking for most prescriptions mailed from the VA mail order pharmacy.More

VA planned to ration drugs for sick veterans
Veterans Today
Although the VA knew since at least January it was facing an enormous budget shortfall due to the rising cost of the medications, agency officials led Congress to believe it was a sudden development that required swift action, asking for the additional funding only weeks before the budget holes would have forced them to close hospitals around the country.More

Service dogs for veterans with PTSD get closer look
Star Tribune
The use of service dogs has been well-established for people with visual, hearing or physical disabilities, but there are hurdles to overcome for vets. More

Academic accommodations can aid troubled veterans
Relocated to an empty clinic in the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System after going public about dangerous patient care problems, Dr. Katherine Mitchell needed a project to stay busy. With the rate of suicides increasing within the Phoenix system, she started studying victims' case files and found a pattern that seemed tragically easy to address: of four who reported struggling in college, three had not received widely available, but little-known, academic accommodations for mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.More

For-profit college chains recruit veterans to keep GI Bill money flowing
La Crosse Tribune
Many of the nation's largest for-profit college chains have seen enrollments plummet amid investigations into questionable job placement rates and deceptive marketing practices. One crucial source of revenue, however, has remained a constant: military veterans.More

Thousands of vacant VA jobs costing taxpayers billions
The Veterans Health Administration says it has 41,500 vacant medical staff positions throughout its network of 139 hospitals and clinics. Critics blame the complex hiring process, poor recruitment and low wages compared to the private sector. But according an analysis by USA Today, even a 1 percent increase in job vacancies contributes to more appointments being pushed past a month-long wait.More

Veteran helps others navigate complex VA benefit system
Independent Mail
Ken Lewallen always travels with a plastic filing cabinet in his car. He never knows when he might run into a veteran who needs help filling out paperwork for benefits. In that filing cabinet, he keeps his forms, a dictionary of medical terms, a book detailing the rules for federal benefits for veterans, their dependents and for survivors and plenty of business cards so that veterans always know how to reach him if they have questions.More