CalVet Newswatch

CalVet Newswatch brings you the latest veteran news from California and beyond, delivered to your inbox and updated daily on CalVet Connect. Scroll down to view highlights of the most recent top articles, or click here to visit our site.

Watchdog: VA cuts opioid prescription rate by 41 percent in past 5 years

STARS AND STRIPES — A government watchdog reported Tuesday that the Department of Veterans Affairs has slashed its opioid prescription rate, concluding roughly 267,000 fewer veterans receive opioids in 2018 than did five years ago. The report confirms recent assertions from the VA that amid a nationwide opioid epidemic in which veterans are disproportionately affected, its initiatives are producing positive results.

Trump and WilkieBig changes for VA’s leadership

MILITARY TIMES — The White House named Peter O’Rourke as acting Veterans Affairs secretary after Robert Wilkie stepped down from the post to begin his formal confirmation process for the department’s permanent top job. The move had been expected since President Donald Trump announced on May 18 that he was nominating Wilkie, the Pentagon’s top personnel and readiness official, for the vacant VA secretary job.

A day of gratitude and heaviness at Yountville veterans home

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT — Outside the black iron gates and white columns that border the hillside cemetery, they gathered to remember. Beneath white canopies and outstretched oaks, residents, family and friends met Monday at the Veterans Home of California at Yountville, sharing a Memorial Day ceremony featuring expressions of gratitude, music and military solemnity. The day honored those who had given their lives in military service to their country. But speakers also urged listeners to remember veterans still living for their sacrifices.

Memorial Day 2018 in Yountville 2Photos: Memorial Day in Yountville

NAPA VALLEY REGISTER — The Veterans Home of California remembered America’s deceased service members during its annual Memorial Day ceremony at its Yountville cemetery. C.J. Bertagna played taps at the gate of the Veterans Home of California cemetery in Yountville, toward the end of the home’s annual observance of Memorial day to honor America’s war dead.

VA leadership shuffle: Secretary steps down, chief of staff moves up, deputy retires

STARS AND STRIPES — Robert Wilkie, who served as acting secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs for two months and is the expected nominee for the full-time job, will step down from his temporary post during his Senate confirmation process, the VA announced Wednesday. VA Chief of Staff Peter O’Rourke was chosen to lead the agency in the interim. Deputy Secretary Thomas Bowman, the second in command at the VA who was previously bypassed for the job of acting secretary, will retire effective June 15. Bowman will continue to serve as a “consultant,” the VA said.

Veterans honored with flower drop in Palm Springs

KESQ NEWS 3 — This afternoon, a B-25 Bomber in the sky above Palm Springs showered the valley floor with thousands of red and white carnations as a salute to our fallen heroes.  “To see the flowers come down that puts a thing in your heart when you see those come down,” said Tom McNunn, a local veteran. Hundreds of people braved triple-digit temps. Veterans we talked to said it’s worth it to come out and be honored.

Veterans Art - LA TimesArt gives a lifeline to help veterans cope with traumatic memories

LA TIMES — As part of a Marine Corps K team sent to the front lines since Vietnam, Sgt. Mike Dowling and his military dog, Rex, ventured into Baghdad streets to sniff out suicide bombers, improvised explosive devices and weapons caches. In 2010, he was given a new assignment: working with wounded veterans at the Naval Medical Center San Diego who had lost limbs, suffered severe burns or had lost their sight. He also tracked down veterans who had lapsed into substance abuse or were suicidal.

A day of remembrance in the nation’s capital

STARS AND STRIPES — As dawn broke over the nation’s capital, hundreds of men and women, from all walks of life, were readying monuments to wars past and present scattered across the city. On this day – Memorial Day – ceremonies held by and hosted for veterans from every major American conflict are held. Some are somber, like the wreath-laying ceremony at the National World War II Memorial. Others, like the raucous parade that runs down the street that separates the White House and the Washington Monument, are more joyous affairs.

Trump on troop payTrump just presented this retired Navy SEAL with the Medal of Honor for his 2002 actions in Afghanistan

NAVY TIMES — Retired Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Britt Slabinski was awarded the nation’s highest military honor 16 years, 2 months, 20 days after the action that prompted the award, one that President Donald Trump dubbed “The Battle of Robert’s Ridge.” Trump placed the medal around Slabinski’s neck at a White House ceremony May 24 in front of a packed room full of guests, which included other of Medal of Honor recipients, as well as seven teammates of Slabinski’s who were with him in Afghanistan in the early morning hours of March 4, 2002.

Annual Memorial Day ceremony at Veteran’s Cemetery

KRCR TV — People gathered at the Northern California Veterans Cemetery Monday night to remember those who paid the ultimate price in service of the country. The keynote speaker for the event was retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Jerry Ellis. KRCR’s Chief Photographer Adam McAllister was there and spoke with U.S., Navy “Seabee” veteran, Rob Burroughs.

Memorial Day at CCCVCCalifornia Central Coast Veterans Cemetery holds inaugural Memorial Day ceremony

MONTEREY HERALD — The Epic Flag rode across the country on the back of a motorcycle, flew over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery and at last has made it back home. The large U.S. flag flew over the California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery in its inaugural Memorial Day ceremony Monday morning. “We had to fight a lot of battles to make this happen,” state Assemblymember Anna Caballero said of the cemetery.

The California military cemetery that became a national shame

SACRAMENTO BEE — As on every Memorial Day, small flags will be placed next to neat, respectful rows of headstones at military cemeteries across America. Neat and respectful is not how you would describe Mare Island Naval Cemetery – a forsaken plot of hallowed ground that fell between the cracks of Pentagon base closings and the city of Vallejo’s bankruptcy.

ecstasy-mdmaSupport grows for ecstasy-assisted psychotherapy to treat PTSD

MILITARY.COM — Study results published Tuesday show MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, was effective in reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder for some veterans — boosting evidence to make the psychedelic drug an approved treatment. The study, conducted by clinical investigator Michael Mithoefer and sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, was published in The Lancet, a peer-reviewed journal. It was one of six MAPS-sponsored studies during their Phase 2 trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.

Trump issues orders aimed at weakening civil-service protections

STARS AND STRIPES — President Donald Trump is using recent changes at the Department of Veterans Affairs as a blueprint to make it easier to fire employees across the federal government. Trump signed three executive orders Friday afternoon that aim to limit union activity, shorten the amount of time it takes to fire federal workers and encourage agencies to fire employees, instead of merely disciplining them.


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