Bills seek health care jobs for veterans

Legislation headed toward approval in the General Assembly would allow veterans to count their military health-care training and experience toward certification as nurses and other medical professionals in Virginia.

House Bill 2279, proposed by Delegate Mark Keam, D-Vienna, would let clinical education and practical experience in the armed services fulfill some of the qualification requirements for emergency medical services personnel in Virginia.

HB 1535, proposed by Delegate Donald Merricks, R-Chatham, would do the same for veterans seeking licensure or certification as occupational therapists, radiologist assistants, nurses and certain other health-care professionals.

Under the bills, state licensing authorities would determine whether “relevant practical experience and didactic and clinical components of education and training completed by an applicant during his service as a member of any branch of the armed forces of the United States” can substitute for other certification requirements.

Both measures have won unanimous approval in the House of Delegates and been assigned to the health licensing subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Education and Health.

Keam said the legislation will help veterans land health-care jobs.

“I’ve met many veterans over the past year or so who’ve come back from Iraq, and even older folks, who are having a really hard time getting jobs in Virginia and elsewhere,” he said.

“I want people in the civilian world, those that don’t have military background and those that don’t think about our veterans in the military, to start thinking about them. … What can we do to make a veteran’s life better? What can we do in society to make them welcomed when they come back?”

The legislation’s supporters include the American Legion and the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.

“We believe that the veteran’s military training is a plus to any employer that is looking for help,” said Dale D. Chapman of the American Legion, the nation’s largest service organization for veterans.

He said military men and women are highly trained in their respective fields.

“These veterans come back to their homes and are experienced in nursing and other related health-care fields,” Chapman said. “There should be provisions for them to be able to receive credit for their work experiences while serving.”

Some health-care employers actively recruit veterans. For example, Inova Health System in Northern Virginia offers a program called “Military to Medicine” for training and hiring veterans, military spouses and recovering wounded service members.

But Keam said such programs have run into problems when the military training and experience veterans receive aren’t applied toward state certification in health-care professions.

HB 2799, Keam’s bill specifically targeting EMS personnel, is co-sponsored by Merricks and four other delegates: Republican Richard Bell of Staunton and Democrats David Englin of Alexandria, Kaye Kory of Falls Church and Vivian Watts of Annandale.

Keam is co-sponsoring Merricks’ broader measure, HB 1535. The other co-sponsors include a bipartisan mix of 15 delegates and seven senators.

Keam says that he hopes such bills will inspire creative ways to help veterans.

“You might have a great idea as well. And if you have good ideas, come talk to me because I want to put it in law,” he said.

To track or comment House Bills 1535 and 2799, visit http://RichmondSunlight.com. To learn more about the Inova Health System program “Military for Medicine,” visit http://www.militarytomedicine.org
Bail Bonds Chesterfield VA

Democrat VanValkenburg kicks off Gen. Assembly campaign


Senior students at Glen Allen High School will get a personal touch when studying elections with their AP government teacher.

That teacher, Schuyler VanValkenburg, recently announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for the 72nd District seat in the House of Delegates. If he earns the nomination, he will run against Del. Jimmie Massie, R-Henrico, who has been unopposed for 10 years.

VanValkenburg, a 2004 University of Richmond alumnus who majored in history, is running for office for the first time. Although he has lived in Richmond since he began his undergraduate studies, aside from one year spent in Seattle, he said he never felt it was his time to run. > Read more.

Construction begins on JA Finance Park at Libbie Mill


School and business leaders from around the region, including (pictured, from left) Simon Hodges of Dominion Resources, Daphne Swanso(president of Junior Achievement of Central Virginia) and Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas, gathered at Libbie Mill Library Feb. 23 for the Junior Achievement Finance Park construction kickoff. > Read more.

Assembly poised to OK state budget on Friday


Finishing a day early, House and Senate negotiators agreed on a budget Wednesday that includes employee pay raises and more money for K-12 education and mental health.

The negotiators presented their budget to their fellow lawmakers in time for the required 48-hour review, which could be completed by Friday night with a chance to adjourn their 2017 session before Saturday’s target date.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate praised the spending plan’s conservative fiscal policies. > Read more.

Section of Charles City Road to close beginning Feb. 26


A section of Charles City Road, from Lewis Road to South Airport Drive, will be closed beginning Sunday, Feb. 26 as part of a project to widen and improve the road.

The Henrico County Department of Public Works expects the closure to last for a few weeks.

Westbound traffic on Charles City will be detoured around the work zone by way of South Airport, Seven Hills Boulevard and Laburnum Avenue. > Read more.

ACLU urges McAuliffe to veto anti-immigration bills


Officials with the American Civil Liberties Union called on Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday to veto Republican-backed legislation banning local governments in Virginia from designating themselves as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. They also said they plan to fight federal and state policies that they believe violate immigrants’ rights.

At a news conference, representatives of the ACLU of Virginia and other civil rights organizations criticized anti-immigrant measures passed by the General Assembly. They also condemned the recent spike in deportation raids on immigrant communities in Virginia by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as President Donald Trump’s recent executive order banning immigrants from seven mostly Muslim countries. > Read more.
Community

Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.

Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.

RIR’s Christmas tree lighting rescheduled for Dec. 12


Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.

Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Given the warm weather lately, Saturday’s RVA Polar Plunge Winter Fest, benefiting Special Olympics Virginia, might actually be enjoyable! Other weekend events you’re sure to enjoy include the 14th annual Richmond Kids Expo at the Richmond Raceway Complex, the Richmond Symphony and The Taters in concert at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, and the Richmond Ballet Minds in Motion Team XXL performing at the Henrico Theatre. This is also the last weekend to check out HATTheatre’s production of “Bill W. and Dr. Bob.” For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

 

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Bremo Pharmacy, 2002 Staples Mill Rd., will host Healthy Leg Day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Anyone experiencing tired, achy, swollen feet and ankles, unsightly veins or foot pain are invited. There will be free lower leg ultrasounds by Vein Solutions, compression fittings by Sigvaris, foot scans for Lynco Orthotics and balance screening by The Gait Center PT staff. To schedule an appointment, call 288-8361 ext. 132. Walk-ins welcome. Full text

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