Chatter | Talk about veterans from around the web

Ed center wins preliminary approval

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall has won initial approval from the National Capital Planning Commission for an underground education center facility at the iconic site.

According to the Associated Press, the center will hold exhibits ranging from Bunker Hill to Iraq and Afghanistan.

GI pays $2.5 MILLION for ‘deception’

A website that many say preyed on veterans seeking education agreed to turn over the URL to the Department of Veterans Affairs and $2.5 million to states that sued over the issue. said the announcement of the settlement with QuinStreet, the company using the site, came from Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway.

QuinStreet was alleged to have driven veterans into its client schools, for-profit institutions, by deceptive information that led veterans to believe only those schools would take the GI Bill.

GI BILL protection act moves through Congress

The GI Bill Protection Act of 2012 is moving through Congress on the heels of accusations that for profit colleges are preying on veterans looking to use their GI Bill education benefits.

The act, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer [D-CA], Sen. Thomas Harkin [D-IA] and Sen. Mark Begich [D-AK] seeks to keep non-VA offices, officials and people from using the terms GI Bill and Post 9/11 GI Bill under enforcement of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office.

Iraq veteran arrested at his own wedding

A 32-year-old Iraq War veteran was arrested during his own wedding reception held at the VFW hall in Lawrence, Ma. last month.

The former National Guard medic was held without bail for a short time after he allegedly attacked three people at his reception, including a 62-year-old veteran and 79-year-old veteran sipping a beer at the bar.

According to press reports Philip Brooks was heard saying that older veterans did not appreciate Iraq veterans.

Pit registry needed

A veteran disability lawyer says it’s time to form a registry of veterans that were exposed to chemicals and toxic fumes from the open burn pits used to dispose of human waste, garbage and old equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jim Fousone said the registry would monitor the health of those exposed to the pits.

A House panel last month voted to create the registry over the objection of the Department of Veterans Affairs, which said they saw no need for the registry, according to the Army Times.

Thank you parade

The City of Austin, Tx. threw a thank you parade and veteran jobs fair last month in what the Austin-America Statesmen called a first of a kind event.

Austin is the last American city to hold a parade for Iraq War veterans.

“We wanted to make it a tangible service to veterans, not just a symbolic thing,” Connor Kenny, chairman of the Welcome Home Iraq Veterans Committee said, according to the Statesmen.

Lt. Dan at it again

Actor, producer and musician Gary Sinese and his Lt. Dan Band held a concert in Center Town, Mo. on July 27 to raise money for the construction of a “smart house” for Marine Lance CPL. Tyler Huffman and his family.

A sniper’s shot paralyzed Huffman during a tour in Afghanistan in 2010.

The Lt. Dan Band features the guitar work of Chicago music instructor and Vietnam veteran Kimo Williams.

“We all remember what happened to our Vietnam veterans when they came home from the war. It was a shameful period in our history,” Sinise told NPR. “We treated our Vietnam veterans very badly. So the idea of that happening again to today’s returning veterans was just very troubling to me.”

Vets take advantage of training

The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program is a part of a larger legislative package to get veterans into the workplace and was created through a joint effort between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Labor.

The Community College Times reported that VRAP will eventually train more than 99,000 veterans for high-demand jobs through programs at technical schools and community colleges over the next few years.

The program will initially target 45,000 vets between July 1 and September 30, 2012. Another 54,000 vets are scheduled to receive the benefits of VRAP between October 1, 2012, and March 31, 2014.

According to the Huffington Post, more than 27,000 vets signed up for VRAP in the first seven weeks after the program was announced in May, with more than 12,000 coming onboard in just the first two weeks alone.

Claims backlog

Last month, VA Under Secretary Allison Hickey invited media to discuss training initiatives for VA employees that the department claims yield faster and more accurate decisions on pending compensation and pension claims.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will join the Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations to seek more details from Hickey about the changes, according to a statement from the Oversight committee.

“It is far too early to make judgments about whether it will succeed, and there are many challenges remaining, but there are some reasons to be optimistic that it could succeed,” Joseph A. Violante, national legislative director for the Disabled American Veterans, said in his prepared testimony for the hearing.

GI Bill Checks late for some

Facing a 13 percent increase in veterans using the GI Bill this year, the Department of Veterans Affairs delayed some June payments to veteran students after becoming overwhelmed with claims.

According to the Army Times, Veterans Affairs Department spokesman Josh Taylor said, “At this point, there do not appear to be technical or system-wide issues causing payment delays.”

The VA said 3.4 million veterans were using their GI Bill as of 2011. The VA dispelled rumors that the agency was offering $3,000 in emergency benefits to cover the gap.

VA officials are working on the problems and said most should be resolved by the beginning of August, according to the Times.

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