News Roundup

Obama Announces Virtual Records System for Veterans

President Barack Obama announced a virtual records system Thursday that should ease delays in healthcare for wounded veterans.  The electronic record keeping system, will handle service members’ administrative and medical records from the day they enter service. Those files will be transferred to the Department of Veterans Affairs when they leave active duty.

“Currently, there is no comprehensive system in place that allows for a streamlined transition of health records” between the Department of Defense and the Veteran Affairs Department, said Obama. “That results in extraordinary hardship for an awful lot of veterans, who end up finding their records lost, unable to get their benefits processed in a timely fashion.”

Because the two agencies have different medical systems, veterans have complained about bureaucratic hurdles and long waits as they enter the VA system.  Both departments will work together to define and build a system that will ultimately contain administrative and medical information, from the day an individual enters military service, throughout their military career, and after they leave the military.  There is a six-month backlog in disability claims at the VA.

More than 1.6 million troops have deployed in support of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Of those, more than 33,000 have been wounded, according to the Associated Press.  There are more than 23 million veterans in the United States, and nearly 5.5. million people sought health care at a VA facility last year.

— Deborah Creighton Skinner

Black Athletes Graduating at Higher Rate

(Source: NCAA)

The Graduation Success Rate (GSR) for black college athletes has increased compared with three years ago, according to a new report.

The report, issued by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, also found that black athletes are graduating at higher rates than black college students as a whole.

The GSR, which the NCAA uses to measure graduation rates, is 62% this year, up from 59% in 2006. For black football players in the top division, the GSR rose from 54% to 58%. The rate rose from 49% to 54% for male basketball players and from 71% to 76% for female basketball players.

“These results reflect what we’ve been saying for a long time – the opportunities available through intercollegiate athletics and the hard work of many have led to academic improvement for African-American student-athletes, especially African-American male student-athletes,” NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said in an e-mail. “We hope and expect this progress will continue.”

— Marcia A. Wade