CalVet Newswatch brings you the latest veteran news from California and beyond, delivered weekly to your inbox and updated daily on CalVet Connect. Scroll down to view highlights of this week’s top articles, or click here to visit our site.
Southern California fire is ‘out of control,’ forcing thousands to evacuate
CNN — Howling Santa Ana winds pushed a wildfire from rural hills into parts of the Southern California city of Ventura overnight with explosive speed, destroying dozens of buildings and forcing thousands of people to evacuate. By Tuesday morning, the fire had burned about 45,000 acres in 13 hours, and some homes were ablaze in the northern part of Ventura — a city of more than 100,000 people along the Pacific coast.
Thomas Fire grows to 50,000 acres; Gov. Brown declares state of emergency
KPCC — Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Tuesday as a wind-driven wildfire continued to grow. The fire has burned 50,000 acres, according to Cal Fire — almost 80 square miles — and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents in Ventura County.
Number of homeless vets rises for first time in seven years
MILITARY TIMES — The number of homeless veterans across America increased in 2017 for the first time in seven years, when government officials began their nationwide push to help impoverished former service members. The increase reflects estimates from last January, before President Donald Trump took office and any of his new housing policies were put in place. The annual point-in-time count from Housing and Urban Development officials found roughly 40,000 homeless veterans at that time, an increase of nearly 600 individuals from the same mark in 2016.
New VA ID applications halted amid system problems
ARMY TIMES — After already waiting two years for promised new ID cards, veterans will have to wait a little longer. Less than a week after Veterans Affairs’ official rollout of new identification cards, the department’s online application process is down, with few details on when the system will be working again.
VA Choice reform becomes more complex as deadline looms
STARS AND STRIPES — Republican Sens. John McCain and Jerry Moran on Monday introduced a new plan to overhaul the program that veterans use to receive private-sector medical care – tossing another option into an already complex debate that’s about to reach a crucial deadline.
Veterans have an obligation to hold Congress accountable in an era of perpetual war
TASK & PURPOSE — For two administrations now, one Democratic and one Republican, America has witnessed a slow-motion ceding of constitutionally allocated war powers from Congress to the president during a time of conflict. Despite much hemming and hawing, countless hearings, and even a few floor votes on repealing the outdated post-9/11 Authorization for Use of Military Force, the legislative branch has demonstrated a collective, bipartisan determination that a de facto loss of constitutionally prescribed powers to another branch is preferable to taking a tough political vote.
A Purse With a Purpose initiative pays tribute to female veterans
THE UNDEFEATED — Ten years ago, when award-winning nonprofit organization Jackets for Jobs (JFJ) decided to honor Michigan female veterans, they teamed up with retail giant T.J. Maxx and devised “A Purse with a Purpose.” The charitable initiative distributed hundreds of purses as well as $25 gift cards to the veterans.
Ultrasound technology could improve use of prosthetics
MILITARY TIMES — New research may allow greater control of prosthetic limbs for those who need them. Researchers at George Mason University in Virginia are studying the use of ultrasound technology to help people with prosthetic limbs use them more accurately. The traditional method senses muscle activity using electrodes that pick up the electrical activity of muscles in the residual limb as the person works to move the prosthetic. The drawback with using electrodes is that they can’t differentiate between the signals from the muscles in the forearm that control the fingers.
Female diplomats and military service members say MeToo
KPCC — Since news broke last month of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged assault and intimidation of female employees and actresses, women have used the hashtag on Twitter and Facebook to discuss their own experiences of sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace. In an open letter published Tuesday, more than 220 state department diplomats, military service members, international development professionals, and others called out sexism in their field and asked for concrete reforms to improve reporting mechanisms and gender equity in the leadership of federal agencies.