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July 31, 2014

Posts in "Veterans"

July 28, 2014

Africa, Korea, Gaza in the Week Ahead

With the United States-Africa Leaders Summit starting Aug. 4, there is a preponderance of events about the continent this week in advance. President Barack Obama himself will kick off some of the pre-Summit activities. Africa has been a growing national security concern, given events in Nigeria, Libya and elsewhere.

It’s also the last week Congress is in town for a while. The schedule is a bit ambiguous, but before everyone leaves, there could be action at various levels on a new secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs; legislation addressing the VA’s health care backlog; a bill overhauling the National Security Agency’s bulk record collection programs; and declassification of a report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation and detention practices under President George W. Bush. Full story

July 22, 2014

VA Secretary Hearing Won’t Be ‘Sexy’

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McDonald, left, meets with Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., on July 8 on Capitol Hill. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“I don’t think it’ll be particularly sexy,” says Republican Sen. Richard M. Burr of North Carolina about this afternoon’s confirmation hearing on Robert McDonald to be secretary of Veterans Affairs, according to CQ Roll Call’s Connor O’Brien.

Full story

July 17, 2014

War Is Hell: Skin Cancer, Epilepsy, Sleep Disorders on Rise for U.S. Troops

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Brad Schwarz, with his service dog Panzer, attends a Cubs game with a group of veterans at Wrigley Field in 2012. Schwarz uses Panzer to help him cope with post-traumatic stress disorder issues related to his 2008 tour in Iraq. In addition to suffering from PTSD, Schwarz has memory loss related to traumatic brain injury and he must walk with a cane because of vertebrae and nerve damage in his back and legs. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Each war brings with it unique injuries and health afflictions for those who fight. For Iraq and Afghanistan, improvised explosive devices have led to extensive traumatic brain injuries and loss of limbs.

But those wounds aren’t the beginning and end of the kind of health problems this generation of the military is facing. Among those singled out by a Senate report: skin cancer, epilepsy, sleep disorders, hydrocephalus and chronic pain disorders. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 9:08 a.m.
Budget, Personnel, Veterans, War

July 14, 2014

Killer Robots, Outer Space and Defense Spending Bill in Week Ahead

There are three hearings this week on the president’s war-related spending account budget request and two committee votes on the fiscal 2015 defense spending bill. But, yes, killer robots and outer space are also on the agenda. Full story

July 7, 2014

Defense Globalization, Acquisition, Nominations in the Week Ahead

Congress is back in town after the July Fourth holiday, and not entirely coincidentally there’s a great deal of Afghanistan on the schedule this week, from nominations to hearings to events off the Hill. Full story

June 30, 2014

Supreme Court Makes Call on Another Religious Matter: A 43-Foot Cross on Pentagon Land

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View of the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial on July 3, 2006. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

The Hobby Lobby decision wasn’t the only call the Supreme Court made Monday on a religion-related case. The top court in the land also decided to stay out of a long-running dispute over a 43-foot cross on Department of Defense-controlled land — at least, for now. Full story

June 23, 2014

When the Word ‘Hero’ Gets in the Way

Army Capt. Benjamin Summers says that calling everyone in the armed services a “hero” is hardening the military-civilian gap and impeding “a more nuanced appreciation of service and to produce better policy in Washington.”

Full story

Cybersecurity, Drones and the Marines in the Week Ahead

The schedule is too jam-packed to just highlight one or two events each day. Full story

June 17, 2014

Troubled Phoenix VA Branch Gave Out $10 Million in Bonuses

Friday’s hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Committee on bonuses at the Department of Veterans Affairs just got some ammunition in the form of the Arizona Republic‘s story Monday evening that the Phoenix VA Health Care System paid $10 million in bonuses over the last three years, which coincides with when staffers were manipulating patient wait records. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 9:40 a.m.
Budget, Veterans

June 15, 2014

Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq, Afghanistan in the Week Ahead

Anyone who wanted to could visit multiple congressional hearings or think tank events related to Iraq, Afghanistan or both every day this week. The headline event? House floor consideration of the annual defense spending bill. Oh, and on Friday, President Barack Obama meets with the prime minister of New Zealand, land of Flight of the Conchords, although they’re not expected to join forces with the United States on … Iraq. Full story

June 10, 2014

Congress Tells DARPA: Conduct Research Into Preventing Amputations From the Start

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Kapil Katyal, a senior engineer at John Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, demonstrates a robotic hand and arm that responds to brain impulses during a briefing in April on DARPA-sponsored inventions at the Pentagon. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Only last month, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s super-advanced robotic arm won approval from the Food and Drug Administration. But a House report released this week asks the Pentagon’s futuristic R&D division to go one step backward: figuring out how not to amputate at all. Full story

June 9, 2014

Security Technology, Defense Spending Bill and Air Force Contracting in the Week Ahead

It will be another busy week on Capitol Hill for the defense world: The House Appropriations Committee takes up the fiscal 2015 defense spending bill, and veterans will again be at the forefront as the Senate is likely to give floor consideration to a bill written in response to the Department of Veterans Affairs scandal, while two committees will examine the Bowe Berdahl prisoner trade. But around Washington, D.C., there are plenty of other events on the calendar.

Full story

June 6, 2014

Did President Obama Break the Law in Prisoner Swap?

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A promotion for petitions by Change.org calling on the closing of the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay are pictured during a briefing in May 2013 with Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., in the Rayburn Building on Capitol Hill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans in Congress, and even some Democrats, have heard the Obama administration’s explanation for why it didn’t need to notify Congress 30 days in advance of the Guantánamo Bay Taliban prisoner swap for Bowe Bergdahl and found it lacking. The Senate Armed Services Committee has a briefing this coming Tuesday, and the House panel has a hearing the next day.

But what do the legal experts say?

Full story

June 3, 2014

Veterans Affairs Department Scheduling Woes Extend from Care to Leases

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Former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki takes his seat to testify for the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing on “The State of VA Health Care” on Thursday, May 15, 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Department of Veterans Affairs is already in plenty of hot water over its patient backlog, and a Government Accountability Office report released this week on a similar brand of mismanagement elsewhere in the department isn’t going to help turn down the temperature.

The GAO report on department management of leasing for outpatient clinics was overshadowed by the department’s other woes, but found some significant problems. Of the 41 projects the GAO examined, 39 were behind schedule — one of them by more than 13 years.

Full story

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