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Uncertainties swirl as VA 'Choice Card' deadline nears
Stars and Stripes
In August, Congress gave the Department of Veteran Affairs 90 days to issue medical "Choice Cards" to 9.1 million veterans enrolled in VA care. The tight deadline of Nov. 5 won't be met, say representatives of major veteran organizations who attend periodic VA briefings on plans for rollout of the Choice Card. The card will ensure veterans have access to private sector health care if they reside more than 40 miles from a VA clinic or hospital, or if they face unacceptable waits, usually longer than 30 days, to access VA health care. The simple guarantee, centerpiece of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, is not so simple to deliver, at least in 90 days.
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Veterans Association of America wants to know...

Thinking about your physical health now compared to before your involvement in the war(s), would you say your physical health now is better, worse or about the same?
  • Better
  • Worse
  • About the same
  • Not well at all
  • Don't know/refused

Click here to give Veterans Association of America your answer.

Respond today — survey results revealed in next week's VAA Dispatch.

Last week's survey results: Are veterans' mental health needs being met?


These federal contractors are hiring vets now
Army Times
Companies that do business with the federal government employ a big chunk of the U.S. workforce — and if you're a veteran looking to join their ranks, federal law requires that they give you a leg up. How can you take advantage? The One-Stop Career Center should be one of your first stops, according to government and private-sector officials.
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Obama to federal agencies: Hire more unemployed people, debtors
Government Executive
President Barack Obama wants to help unemployed Americans find jobs, and he wants to ensure federal agencies are open to hiring them. The White House rolled out a series of actions to follow up on a January executive order aimed at helping the long-term unemployed back into the economy. The announcement included $170 million in grants from the Labor Department to train unemployed individuals and match them to jobs, partnerships with private companies aimed at hiring job seekers and a memorandum from the Office of Personnel Management instructing agencies on how they can recruit the long-term unemployed.
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Troops need to start job hunting before they leave the military
Defense One
When it comes to veterans' employment, it is time to do more than asking companies to step up and hire. It is time for senior military leaders to start telling service members they need to get serious about their job searches before leaving the military. According to two recent studies, nearly half of veterans stayed in their first post-separation position for 12 months or less and 8 in 10 veterans did not have a job when they left the military.
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App using avatars to help out troubled vets
The Record
Hector hasn't left his house in weeks, and he's been drinking alone. Hector is a veteran who needs help. Hector also is an avatar, a virtual character, featured in one of the scenarios presented in a new online and mobile application called Together Strong. The app is an interactive game designed to aid those who are close to a veteran — to sharpen skills to notice warning signs and guide troubled vets to seek help. It allows users to role-play situations involving troubled military veterans with virtual characters, and to choose responses that might help them.
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Yoga helps war veterans get a handle on their PTSD
The Washington Post
It's no secret that yoga can aid mental well-being. What is more, it can help soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to new research. Some of the most damaging consequences of seeing combat can happen in the mind. Of the 2.3 million American veterans who returned from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, up to 20 percent go on to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder at some point. In a new study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, researchers say that yoga can be used to bring better mental balance.
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Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Congress should pass veterans suicide prevention bill (The Hill)
How 3 police and military veterans built a career after retirement (
Opinion: Not all returning veterans find a home (The Daily Beacon)
Suicides by veterans expose holes in mental health system (Voice of OC)
Best for vets: Career and technical colleges 2015 (Army Times)

Don't be left behind. Click here to see what else you missed.

VA explores alternative therapies
The Washington Post via Stars and Stripes
The acupuncturist in his glow-in-the-dark yellow Crocs gently leaned over the burly and bearded Army Special Operations officer, who was stretched across a bed in the "zen den" of the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center. Like hundreds of veterans from across the country who have come to this VA hospital for treatment of chronic pain, panic attacks, traumatic injuries and other ailments, he said he was so fed up with taking heavy-duty painkillers that he was willing to try anything.
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US must do more to reduce homelessness among female veterans
Los Angeles Times
The Department of Housing and Urban Development's most recent "point in time" count of homeless veterans found roughly 50,000 on the night in January that it conducted its spot survey. Based on previous full-year estimates, we can safely conclude that there probably are more than 100,000 homeless veterans across America. Of these, an estimated 10,000 of them are female.
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Colby Horton, Vice President of Publishing, 469.420.2601
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Rebecca Eberhardt, Content Editor, 469.420.2608   
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