Of Note


Golden Age Games Set for Des Moines


More than 600 veterans will compete in this year’s National Veterans Golden Age Games to be held May 26-31 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Athletes 55 years and over who receive care through VA, either as inpatients or on an outpatient basis, are eligible to participate in a maximum of four and a minimum of two events. They include such activities as air rifle, cycling, bowling (ambulatory, wheelchair, and visually impaired), checkers, croquet, discus, dominoes, visually impaired golf, nine-ball, shot put, shuffleboard, swimming, and table tennis.

Each event will have seven age divisions for participation.

“The Golden Age Games are the pinnacle opportunity for veterans to demonstrate improvement in their quality of life through both recreation and competition,” said Boise, Idaho, VA Medical Center VIST Coordinator Valerie Duffy, who accompanies a group of veterans each year. “We hope that more blinded veterans and specifically BVA members will be able to participate in the future since this event has three specific activities for visually impaired veterans: bowling, shuffleboard, and horseshoes.”

Although the application process for 2010 was complete at press time, the games are now an annual event with sponsorship provided by VA Central Office, Veterans Canteen Service, Help Hospitalized Veterans, and various corporate sponsors and individual donors.

Last year, one of the Boise blinded veterans entered two swimming events and took home a silver!” said Val. “As a double amputee, he also competed in the wheelchair division.”

Val and her Boise veterans are especially looking forward to participating in an exhibition sport that they have never tried before.

“What is most exciting this year for our guys is that they hope to enter in the Petanque event, which is a game something like Bocce Ball but easier for the blind and wheelchair-bound to participate in.”

Petzel Sworn in as New Under Secretary


Dr. Robert A. Petzel took the oath of office on February 18 as VA’s new Under Secretary for Health, stepping up to lead the nation's largest integrated health care system.

"Dr. Petzel brings to this position a strong leadership background in caring for veterans as a longtime health system manager within VA," said Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. "His commitment to outstanding medical quality and access for veterans will be critical to leading VA in its 21st century transformation."

Petzel had been Acting Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health since May 2009. Previously, he directed one of VA's 21 geographic health care networks covering eight medical centers and 42 community based outpatient clinics serving veterans in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, western Illinois and western Wisconsin.

“BVA has already been working with Dr. Petzel as the Acting Undersecretary and we look forward to working with him on a permanent basis within VHA,” said Tom Zampieri.

Petzel graduated from Northwestern University Medical School in 1969 and has served on the faculty of the University of Minnesota Medical School. During his decades of service to veterans within the VA system, he has served on numerous advisory committees that guided development of new and improved health care programs. Board certified in internal medicine, Petzel also has served previously as Chief of Staff for the Minneapolis VA Medical Center.

More than 8 million veterans are enrolled in VA's health care system, which is growing in the wake of its eligibility expansion. This year, VA expects to treat nearly 6 million patients during 78 million outpatient visits and 906,000 inpatient admissions.

IRS Talking Forms Now Available


Approximately 650 “talking” 2009 IRS tax forms are now fully accessible and Section 508 compliant using the Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF) as a means of distributing them.

The forms work with screen readers as well as Dragon Naturally Speaking Voice Recognition Softtware. They have been tested with JAWS for Windows (Version 9.0) and Window Eyes.

In addition to the speech reader software requirement, users of “talking tax forms” must also have installed Adobe Acrobat 8.0 or higher. Users can save and print completed forms.

For more information, visit www.irs.gov/formspubs and locate the links to both accessible documents and talking forms.

VSO Data Available


Updated organizational and contact information for major VSOs is now accessible through a single online source. The information includes dates of Congressional charter issuance where relevant. 

For access to the document, go to http://www1.va.gov/vso/rpt_chartered.cfm