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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 le.arn more about the Inova Health System program “Military for Medicine,” visit http://www.militarytomedicine.org
Community

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

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Entertainment

The Boathouse to open at Short Pump Town Center

The Boathouse restaurant will open at Short Pump Town Center in the spring, its third location in the region.

“People have asked us to come to the West End for years,” said owner Kevin Healy. “When the opportunity arose, we knew had to jump on it.”

The new restaurant will be located in a 5,800-square-foot space under the Hyatt House Hotel at the town center and will include a large outdoor patio. > Read more.

Getting a ‘mouf’-ful

Boka Kantina exceeds its strong food truck reputation
Already a fan of Boka fare from outdoor events with the Tako Truck, I was delighted to learn of the new restaurant, and eager to see if its reputation held up after putting down brick-and-mortar roots.

Would the food lose its zest if I wasn’t enjoying it in the great outdoors? Would it seem pedestrian served from an ordinary kitchen instead of a truck?

Would the tacos be less satisfying as an antidote to normal lunch hunger – instead of being ingested to stave off desperate hunger after a long afternoon of crowds, sun, and tedious lines? > Read more.

Lakeside microbrewery beginning to take shape

Original Gravity gets the green light to move forward with relocation, expansion into larger space

A Lakeside home-brewing shop has felt the gravitational pull toward the booming craft beer scene.

Original Gravity, a shop that sells beer and wine kits for homebrewers, has just been given the green light to start work on a microbrewery.

Owner Tony Ammendolia is expanding his 1,000-square-foot shop in Lakeside Town Center to 5,000-square-foot digs a few doors down to add a brewery and expand his supplies.

Ammendolia opened the home-brew supply store in November 2011 and since then he said business has taken off.

“I think I outgrew this place in the first year,” Ammendolia said. “We’ve seen steady growth and I’ve been looking for a place to expand to move the shop to get more square footage.” > Read more.

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Tour New Market Heights Battlefield in conjunction with Richmond National Battlefield on the 150th anniversary of the battle. A “real time” tour starts at 6:30 a.m. and a later tour… Full text

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