TAMPA — Timothy Mendenall said his dog may have saved his life with its incessant barking.
He opened his bedroom door at 2 a.m. Saturday and saw a sofa in flames. A bed in his friend's room also was burning. Mendenall and the friend quickly filled pots with water from the sink to douse the flames. In seconds, neighbors jumped in to help. Someone sprayed flames with a garden hose.
They quickly put the fire out. But the friend who shares the 3001 E Ida St. house in east Tampa with Mendenall, and the friend's girlfriend, were critically injured in the fire early Saturday that investigators say may have been arson related to a domestic dispute....
TAMPA — A general who is rarely quoted in the media and has risen to the highest ranks of the military faster than almost any recent commander is the new chief of the nation's secretive commando forces.
Army Gen. Joseph Votel III, 56, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and an Army Ranger, took the helm Thursday of U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base during a ceremony at the Tampa Convention Center....
TAMPA — The documents with the Social Security numbers of veterans treated at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center were supposed to be shredded by a company whose website warns, "Don't become a victim of identity theft."
But the firm, federal prosecutors say, employed a 24-year-old with a criminal history who kept those records out of the shredder, instead selling them to individuals who used the documents to file fraudulent tax returns....
The company under fire for severe problems in a program that ships the personal vehicles of U.S. troops and civilian defense personnel says it is on track to deliver 90 percent of the cars it is handling on time.
The catch: That figure includes only vehicles shipped since Aug. 1.
And this percentage, released by International Auto Logistics of Brunswick, Ga., is still far short of the contractually required 98 percent on-time delivery rate mandated by U.S. Transportation Command....
The company hired to deliver the personal vehicles of troops and civilian defense workers around the world has successfully transported just 7,987 of the 27,358 vehicles it is shipping, and 70 percent of those still in transit will arrive late, according to an email by military officials released this week.
The figures show that an additional 2,250 vehicles are awaiting pickup by their owners. But many have complained that International Auto Logistics of Brunswick, Ga., does not notify them when vehicles arrive at processing centers....
SEMINOLE — With frequent media reports of long wait times at veterans hospitals, Melville "Mac" Gibbons didn't know what to expect when he called the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center and asked to see a cardiologist.
The answer the Navy veteran got surprised him: Come on down. Now.
The hospital, the fourth-busiest in the Department of Veterans Affairs system, recently launched a new Convenient Cardiology Consult Clinic, or the C-4 Clinic, that allows new cardiology patients to be seen by a heart specialist the same day they are referred by other physicians at the hospital. Such patients had waited an average of 42 days previously, Young VA leaders said....
TAMPA — Army veteran Paul Rivera said he was planning to sell his $10,000 customized motorcycle before it was stolen from outside his Tampa apartment on June 18. But he got it back. And he just might keep it forever.
"I'm never going to get rid of it now," Rivera said.
With the help of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and others, the Nam Knights Motorcycle Club, Westside Chapter, presented Rivera with his refurbished 2005 Honda CBR600 at the Veterans Memorial Park & Museum on Saturday....
Hundreds of U.S. troops and civilian defense workers complain that the company hired to ship their personal vehicles after they relocate is delivering them weeks, even months late.
The military blames litigation filed by the firm that formerly did the work for the government as the cause of the program's ills. That delayed the start of the new company's work from December to the height of the moving season on May 1, triggering shipping problems, says the U.S. Transportation Command....
Some U.S. troops joke that their missing cars are at the ocean bottom. Photos of absent automobiles are posted online like the images of missing children on milk cartons. A few threatened to file stolen vehicle claims with insurers when a shipping company could not locate their cars.
"Still missing my husband's truck," Tabitha Nelson Smith posted on Facebook. "They actually called him 2 weeks ago and said his truck was here. He went to pick it up and it wasn't his!!! They were actually going to give him someone else's vehicle. I guess some poor soul on the other side of the world has our truck!"...
The Department of Veterans Affairs apologized Thursday to the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee for providing it with inaccurate information in a fact sheet detailing delays in the diagnosis of gastrointestinal cancers.
The fact sheet, released to the committee in April, said 76 veterans had been seriously harmed, and 23 died, after delays in getting tests that confirmed a GI cancer. In a story earlier this month, the Tampa Bay Times reported the fact sheet erroneously suggested the review involved cases going back to 1999 when, in fact, only cases from fiscal 2010 and 2011 were counted....
A Department of Veterans Affairs review identified 2,078 veterans nationally who waited at least two months in fiscal 2010 and 2011 for tests that found gastrointestinal cancers, a number the agency did not disclose to Congress after it decided almost all were not seriously harmed by delays.
The figure was provided to the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee Monday and came after reports by the Tampa Bay Times that the VA had counted such cases but failed to tell Congress....
A Department of Veterans Affairs "fact sheet" told Congress and the public in April that the agency reviewed 250 million medical consultations, dating back to 1999, and found 76 veterans seriously harmed by treatment delays for gastrointestinal cancers. Of them, 23 died.
Here's what the VA didn't say: Its report included only cases involving veterans harmed in fiscal years 2010 and 2011, according to interviews and documents obtained by the Tampa Bay Times. Not one of those 23 deaths occurred before 2010....
The Department of Veterans Affairs gave Congress a "fact sheet" in April listing the number of patients seriously harmed by long delays in receiving a gastrointestinal cancer diagnosis at VA hospitals across the nation.
It said 76 veterans nationally were harmed by such delays. Of those, 23 died, the VA said.
At the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center in Seminole, two patients were harmed but survived, the fact sheet said....
TAMPA — A contractor fell to his death Monday from a catwalk at a Tampa Electric Co. power plant, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said.
Bryan Hagan, 31, of Mulberry, who worked for the Southeastern Construction and Maintenance Co., fell through a metal grate on the catwalk in the 1:15 p.m. accident at the Bayside Power Station, according to the Sheriff's Office and a TECO spokeswoman....
TAMPA — The second whistle-blower complaint in a month about the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center's gastroenterology clinic also accuses the facility of canceling more than 1,000 consultation referrals to the clinic last year without checking to see whether patients had a legitimate or urgent need to be seen by a doctor.
The anonymous complaint, faxed to the VA's Office of Inspector General on July 2, says gastrointestinal physicians at the Seminole hospital did not have a chance to review the cases before the cancellations and apparently had no input in the decision....