Metro-East News

VA to hold town hall meeting in Edwardsville June 14

The U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs is hosting a town hall meeting for military veterans, active duty military, National Guard, Reservist and family members set for June. 14, 5 p.m. at the Madison County Courthouse, 157 N. Main St., Edwardsville.

The town hall will serve as an open forum for all service members and as a listening session for VA leadership, with the goal of ensuring veterans, their families, and beneficiaries can be heard and have their concerns addressed by senior VA officials.

The town hall is free, open to the public; no registration is required. Also invited to attend are Congressional stakeholders, veterans service groups, non-government organizations and community groups. The VA will hold a concurrent resource fair with peope on site to answer questions about healthcare eligibility, applying for benefits, information on mental health services, burial benefits and much more.

For more information, visit the VA Facebook page at


In other VA news, VA Secretary Robert McDonald has granted equitable relief to more than 24,000 veterans following a national review of Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, medical examinations conducted in connection with disability compensation claims processed between 2007 and 2015, according to a VA announcement.

The action by the VA secretary allows the health care agency to offer new TBI examinations to veterans whose initial examination for TBI was not conducted by one of four designated medical specialists and provides them with the opportunity to have their claims re-processed. Equitable relief is a unique legal remedy that allows the VA secretary to correct an injustice to a claimant where the VA is not otherwise authorized to do so within the scope of the law.

“Traumatic Brain Injury is a signature injury in veterans returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and VA is proud to be an organization that sets the bar high for supporting these, and all,” McDonald said. “Providing support for veterans suffering from a TBI is a priority and a privilege, and we must make certain they receive a just and fair rating for their disabilities.”

To ensure that TBI is properly evaluated for disability compensation purposes, the VA developed a policy in 2007 requiring that one of four specialists – a psychiatrist, physiatrist, neurosurgeon or neurologist – complete TBI exams when the VA applicant does not have a prior diagnosis.


Defense Secretary Ash Carter is pushing back on reports that the Pentagon misled Congress on its handling of sexual assault cases, blaming misunderstandings and a lack of access to some information, according to The Hill.

“The review that was conducted pursuant to your concerns, which I have enclosed, shows that the central issues raised in the report and article on based on certain misunderstandings of how the military justice system works, lack of access to information contained in the full case files or a disagreement on what ‘counts’ as a sexual assault,” Carter wrote in a letter to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

Gillibrand’s office on Tuesday released the letter, which was dated May 26.Gillibrand, who is hoping the reports will buttress her proposal to change the military justice system, remains unsatisfied with the Pentagon’s response and is renewing her call for President Obama to open an independent investigation into the issue.

“The secretary’s letter is an eight-page list of excuses when all he should be doing now is giving a simple apology and making a plan to hold whomever prepared the misleading testimony accountable,” Gillibrand said in a written statement.


The military blog Task and Purpose is reporting that in just a few years, American soldiers might have the ability to see what’s inside a room before they enter it. That ability could transform the way combat operations are conducted in urban environments, where hidden enemies and explosives abound. More importantly: it could save countless American lives.

During an event at the Pentagon in May, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, showed off its newVirtualEye program, which allows its user to create an on-the-spot 3D image of a room. Rather than kicking in a door with a limited sense of who or what lies behind it — a dangerous scenario soldiers face all too often when clearing rooms —VirtualEye will allow them to virtually explore a live 3D rendering of a room or building from a remote location and pinpoint the exact locations of enemy personnel and booby traps within seconds.

Here’s how it works: VirtualEye takes images from multiple cameras and patches them together into one clear, cohesive map. These cameras can be attached to any type of small roving device, allowing them to explore and map every inch of a building or room. This allows users to take a virtual tour of the room, checking under furniture and behind doors for hidden assailants or threats. The program doesn’t require much hardware, either — only a tablet, some roving devices, and a few basic cameras.