Life in the fast lane

Chris header webChris Clayton grew up with two passions in life: military aviation and racing. The first was from listening to his grandfather’s stories of working on P-51 Mustangs during World War II, and the latter from spending countless summer nights at racetracks with his father.

He recalls his father giving him a choice between attending other sporting events or going to the local speedway. There was never a question in the young boy’s mind — Chris always picked racing.

“If it went fast, I loved it,” he said with a smile.

But the dream of somehow being involved in racing would have to take a temporary backseat to make room for another calling… Read More »

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Navy Veteran, LGBT advocate, named “Local Hero”

In celebration of LGBT Pride Month, KCET-Link and Union Bank featured Navy Veteran Chaplain Tom Carpenter as one of its Local Heroes.  Carpenter advocates for members of the LGBT community serving in the military.  The Local Heroes videos honor people making a difference in their communities and neighborhoods.

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I Was Trying to Protect Her

In observance of PTSD Awareness Month: June 2014, VAntage Point, in collaboration with VA’s National Center for PTSD, presents the following profile of a Veteran who is living with PTSD and has turned his life around with treatment.

Army Veteran Arthur Jefferson witnessed his friend being fatally shot in the barracks. He tried to hide his pain from his only child. But that only drove them apart.

Army Veteran Arthur Jefferson witnessed his friend being fatally shot in the barracks. He tried to hide his pain from his only child. But that only drove them apart.

Years after he was discharged from the Army, Arthur Jefferson knew there was still something wrong with him.

“I was just—I just shut down,” he said. “I didn’t want to be around people and even to a point when I always have to make sure that no one is behind me, that my back was to a wall, that I always have an avenue of escape. I was just, just, just hurting.”

His hurt came from memories of the horror of watching his friend being shot to death in the barracks. “Just looking at him looking at me with his eyes—because when he got shot, I mean, when he died, his eyes were wide open, so he was looking at me. So that really, really tore me up,” Arthur recalled. Read More »

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Veteran receives Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan

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Retired Marine Corporal William “Kyle” Carpenter received the Medal of Honor today at the White House for his courageous actions Nov. 21, 2010,  while serving as an automatic rifleman with Company F, 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 1, 1st Marine Diviaion (Forward), I Marine Expeditionary Force in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Corporal Carpenter is the eighth living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Visit this site for more about Corporal Carpenter.

 

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GI Bill changes lives


It was 1975 and Bill Gunning had retired from the U.S. Air Force after more than 20 years of service. The senior master sergeant, who had deployed during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, wondered what he would do next with his life as he moved his family back to his hometown of Carlinville, Illinois.

One night, while sweeping the local high school basketball court after a game, he asked himself out loud, “What the heck am I doing here?”

The next day he set out to find a new career path and learn more about his benefits. Read More »

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Acting VA Secretary Gibson directs monthly in-person scheduling practice reviews

Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson speaks to staff members of the Washington D.C. VA Medical Center during a June 18 'town hall' meeting. (VA photo/Robert Turtil)

Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson speaks to staff members of the Washington, D.C. VA Medical Center during a June 18 visit. (VA photo/Robert Turtil)

Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan D. Gibson today directed all VA Medical Center and Health Care System directors to conduct monthly in-person reviews of scheduling practices in every clinic within their jurisdiction.

“Our top priority is getting Veterans off of wait lists and into clinics,” said Acting Secretary Gibson. “Veterans must trust their health care system, and these reviews are an important step towards restoring integrity in all our scheduling activities.”

Read the full press release here.

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I Was Hit by Eight IEDs

Army Veteran Josh Hansen, an “IED Hunter,” recovers from a traumatic brain injury only to be hit with PTSD. Treatment helps him reclaim his life.

Army Veteran Josh Hansen, an “IED Hunter,” recovers from a traumatic brain injury only to be hit with PTSD. Treatment helps him reclaim his life.

In observance of PTSD Awareness Month: June 2014, VAntage Point, in collaboration with VA’s National Center for PTSD, presents the following profile of a Veteran who is living with PTSD and turning his life around with treatment.

Josh Hansen had always been into motocross. “I always thought…If I can’t beat the guys racing, then I’ll join them by being a mechanic for the guys that were beating me,” he said. So he started his own motorcycle repair business. But for Josh, 9/11 changed everything. He enlisted in the Army, went off to basic training and then deployed to Iraq.

“They called us ‘IED hunters’ or ‘Route Clearance,” Josh explained. “I worked out of Fallujah, and I’d go ahead of the Marines in a lead vehicle, and I’d look for IEDs (improvised explosive devices) in the road, find the bombs, and disarm them.  Unfortunately, sometimes we’d get hit by the bombs and get our truck blown up. It’s a very stressful way to live when you never know when your time is going to be. I’ve been hit directly by eight IEDs. One of the last times I got hit, I was hit by two IEDs, one right after the other.”

Josh spent three months in the hospital recovering from back and neck injuries and traumatic brain injury. “It was probably four months after being home, as the brain injury started healing a little bit better, when the PTSD really took over,” he recalled.

PTSD changed Josh and affected his ability to cope. “I got to where I couldn’t really sleep at home, didn’t want to get out of the house, didn’t want to be around people,” he said. “Everything made me angry. Just being around my own kids was really difficult when they would argue, fight or be loud. I ended up spending 60 grand … so I could add extra rooms just for me that I could lock myself in and be away from the family.” Read More »

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Old Glory Gets Special Attention at VA

FlagsThe nation celebrates Flag Day on June 14, but every day is Flag Day at VA.

“VA is to flags as veterans are to the military.  You can’t have one without the other,” said then-VA Deputy Assistant Secretary Gary Krump.

In 2001, Krump was chief of the Office of Acquisition and Materiel Management which oversees the purchase, manufacture and distribution of more U.S. flags than anyone. Since 1962, when VA began providing burial flags to families of deceased veterans in recognition of honorable service to the nation, the department has distributed at least 11.5 million flags, and that is estimated from the annual average of about 225,000 flags from 1962 to 2001.

No other organization comes close to distributing that many flags.  The Architect of the Capitol, which provides an average of 100,000 per year to Congressional offices to honor constituent requests, comes closest. Read More »

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Acting Sec. Gibson continues national tour of medical facilities

Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson visited the Fayetteville, N.C. VA Medical Center yesterday and met with VA employees, Veterans Service Organizations and the media. It was the third medical facility Gibson visited since taking over as head of VA.

Gibson talked about his plan for VA to move forward and continue to serve Veterans. While fixes won’t come easy, according to Gibson, he is set on restoring the trust of all Veterans.

“We have to work to earn back the trust of each veteran and we’ll do that one veteran at a time,” Gibson said.

He said VA Central Office will continue to monitor information regarding wait times and appointments for all VA medical facilities, and will hold anyone who “gamed the system” accountable.

“As has become painfully obvious, we have systemic issues around scheduling,” Gibson said. “We also have instances where very serious allegations of improper behavior, breaches of integrity (and) violations of our core values that we have to deal with across our organization. … That willful misconduct will not be tolerated, and I will use whatever authority I have at my disposal to hold people accountable.”

 

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VA News #578

#578
June 16 & 23, 2014

Hosts: Genevieve Bilia & Jerome Mapp
Excutive Producer: Ken McKinnon
Run Time: 13:55

VA News is a weekly program designed to provide timely news and information about the Department of Veterans Affairs. The newscast is co-sponsored by the VHA Employee Education System and the Office of Public Affairs in partnership with other headquarters and field offices.
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