Bill Harding, Veterans Service Officer

Bill Harding, Veterans Service Officer

Veterans Hotline: Looking for WWII citation recipients

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— While cleaning out the files for my departure, I relocated the citations made for World War II veterans that were passed out by Veterans of Foreign War Post 4265 in 2004.

Before I leave this office, I would like to see them get to the veteran, the veteran's family or their closest kin.

The awards I still have belong to: Ray Brennise, Raymond Green, Cecil Baker, Robert A. Alvarez, Jack Benson, Gerald Brown, Charles Gray, Edgar Lindley, Benton Pollok, Merle Rogers, Frank Roy, Chet Solace, and John and Cora Eilts.

Please call my office or stop in if you are related to these heroes. I want to see these certificates get to these people.

Gould sworn in as Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs

WASHINGTON (April 9, 2009) -- W. Scott Gould, a retired naval reservist and senior executive with experience in the federal government and the private sector, has taken the oath of office as the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"As a veteran, as a corporate and government leader known for his transformation management skills and now as VA's Chief Operating Officer, Scott Gould will help me advance President Obama's vision for transforming the Department of Veterans Affairs," said Eric K. Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. "Together with the men and women of the VA, we will work with Veterans, VSOs, the Congress and other stakeholders to serve those who have sacrificed for our country and their families."

Michael J. Kussman, VA Under Secretary for Health, to Retire

(April 7, 2009) - Dr. Michael J. Kussman, the Under Secretary for Health for the Department of Veterans Affairs, today announced his intention to retire from federal service by May 9, ending a 37-year government career.

Dr. Kussman, who attained the rank of brigadier general while in the U.S. Army, has been with VA since 2000.

As Under Secretary for Health since 2007, Dr. Kussman has directed a health care system with an annual budget of approximately $40.2 billion, overseeing the delivery of care to more than 5.6 million Veterans.

VA, the nation's largest health care system, employs more than 231,000 health care professionals and support staff at more than 1,400 sites of care, including hospitals, community and facility-based clinics, nursing homes, domiciliaries, readjustment counseling centers and various other facilities.

VA patient tests HIV-positive after clinic mistake

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - (AP) The Veterans Affairs Department is investigating whether there's a link between a patient's positive HIV test and unsterilized equipment that may have exposed thousands of veterans to infectious diseases.

The positive test was the first reported since the department warned veterans treated at three clinics that they might be at risk. The VA previously reported that hepatitis was found in 16 patients, but the agency cautioned there was no way to prove that the patients contracted the illnesses because of treatment at their facilities. In an e-mail late Friday, the agency said it was investigating "the possibility of such a relationship."

The VA earlier this year warned more than 10,000 veterans to get blood tests because they could have been exposed to contamination while getting colonoscopies in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Miami.

The endoscopic equipment in question was also used at an ear, nose and throat facility in Augusta, Ga. All three sites failed to properly sterilize the equipment between treatments. The VA has said it does not know whether veterans who were treated with the same kind of equipment at its other 150 hospitals may have been exposed to the same mistake before the department had a nationwide safety training campaign.

An agency spokeswoman has said the VA is certain the mistake with the equipment was corrected nationwide by March 14. The problems dated back for more than five years at the Murfreesboro and Miami hospitals. So far, less than a third - 3,174 - have been notified of their test results. The agency also is trying to locate patients whose warning letters were returned. The statement Friday did not say where the patient who tested positive for HIV was treated, and the agency did not return telephone and e-mail messages Monday. In all, at least five veterans have tested positive for hepatitis B and 11 for hepatitis C, which is potentially life-threatening.

No infections have been reported from Miami. All three sites used endoscopic equipment made by Olympus American, which said in a statement it is helping the VA address problems with "inadvertently neglecting to appropriately reprocess a specific auxiliary water tube."

The problem put patients at risk of being exposed to other patients' body fluids.

For information on these programs and/or other veterans' benefits, call or stop in the Moffat County VSO office at 480 Barclay St. (west of the Bank of Colorado parking lot). Call 970-824-3246 or use the fax 970-824-7108. Our e-mail address is veterans@moffatcounty.net. The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Other times can be arranged by appointment only. Bring a copy of your separation papers (DD-214) for application for VA programs and for filing at our office.

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