Department of Veterans Affairs

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Veterans' Health-Care Delays Get Even Worse

The VA is also facing a $3B shortfall

(Newser) - The number of veterans seeking health care but ending up on waiting lists of one month or more is 50% higher now than it was a year ago when a scandal over false records and long wait times wracked the Department of Veterans Affairs, the New York Times reports. The... More »

Feds to Help Vets Exposed to Contaminated Planes

They'll provide disability benefits for those exposed to Agent Orange residue

(Newser) - Ending years of wait, the government has agreed to provide disability benefits to as many as 2,100 Air Force reservists and active-duty forces exposed to Agent Orange residue on airplanes used in the Vietnam War. The new federal rule, approved by the White House Office of Management and Budget,... More »

Bomb Blasts May Be Aging Soldiers' Brains

Even if they were far from the blasts

(Newser) - American soldiers exposed to bomb blasts in Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering early brain degeneration and aging—even if they were far from detonation, USA Today reports. In all, 256 veterans and service members between the ages of 19 and 62 were analyzed in a study published today in Brain:... More »

VA Chief Lied, Said He Was in Special Forces

Robert McDonald apologizes for remark: 'I have no excuse'

(Newser) - Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald last year took over a department facing no small amount of scandal—and now he's stirred up controversy of his own. It started when he was being taped by CBS while speaking with a homeless veteran in Los Angeles, the Huffington Post reports. The... More »

Gunman Kills Doctor, Self at VA Hospital

FBI investigating El Paso shooting

(Newser) - A gunman opened fire at the El Paso VA Health Care System in Texas yesterday afternoon, with a Pentagon official telling CNN that he killed a doctor and then himself. Authorities confirmed that the shooter and one other person were dead, but they provided no details, nor did they speculate... More »

Vietnam Vets Still Battle PTSD Decades Later

New VA study shows it can last a lifetime

(Newser) - Post-traumatic stress doesn't fizzle away after a few years—or perhaps even a lifetime. About 11% of Vietnam War veterans still suffer from the disorder today, according to a new VA study, reports USA Today . It builds off landmark PTSD research conducted in the 1980s and finds that about... More »

Lawmakers Strike Deal to Overhaul VA

Announcement today comes ahead of recess

(Newser) - Congressional negotiators have hit on a deal to address the serious issues reportedly plaguing Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals. The agreement in negotiations led by independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and Republican Rep. Jeff Miller comes in the wake of disagreements over dueling Senate and House plans, the Washington Post notes.... More »

Lowe's Workers Fix Vet's Wheelchair (After VA Wouldn't)

It broke down in store, and 3 employees stayed late to repair

(Newser) - A public thank-you by a Vietnam vet to three workers at Lowe's is providing yet more ammo for critics of the VA . As he explains in a letter to the Staten Island Advance , Michael Sulsona lost both his legs to a landmine during the war. He'd been trying... More »

Vet Dies Waiting for Ambulance... in VA Hospital

He collapsed in Albuquerque VA center cafeteria

(Newser) - Another black eye for the Veterans Health Administration? A 71-year-old veteran died on Monday after waiting up to 30 minutes for an ambulance—while already at a Veteran Affairs hospital. Officials say the man collapsed in the Albuquerque hospital's cafeteria, which is around 1,500 feet from the emergency... More »

Ex-Proctor & Gamble Exec Tapped to Lead VA

Robert McDonald graduated near top of class at West Point

(Newser) - President Obama plans to nominate former Proctor & Gamble executive Robert McDonald as the next Veterans Affairs secretary, as the White House seeks to shore up an agency beset by treatment delays and struggling to deal with an influx of new veterans returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. An... More »

Whistleblower: VA Covered Up 7 Deaths

Scheduler steps forward in CNN interview

(Newser) - The woman who actually managed the Phoenix VA hospital's secret waiting list has come forward alleging that the facility has covered up the deaths of veterans who died awaiting care. In an interview with CNN , Pauline DeWenter says that in at least seven cases, someone else at the hospital... More »

Veteran Ignored for 8 Years in Psych Facility

Scathing letter reveals VA gets 25% of government's whistleblower complaints

(Newser) - The VA's Office of the Medical Inspector routinely dismisses the agency's deficiencies as harmless to patients' health—even though that is patently and obviously untrue, according to a new report from the Office of Special Counsel that turned up a host of disturbing new allegations against the VA.... More »

VA Manages to Treat Only Half of PTSD Sufferers

Report says military unprepared for coming 'wave' of mental illness

(Newser) - The Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs are ill-prepared to handle a looming PTSD epidemic—or even the cases they already have, according to a 300-page study released today. Experts from the Institute of Medicine, under direction from Congress, found that just 53% of veterans whose primary diagnosis was PTSD... More »

House Passes Bill 421-0 to Let Veterans Ditch VA

Unanimous vote a rarity for Congress

(Newser) - Are you sitting down? Good. Because the House just passed a high-profile bill unanimously. The bill allows veterans to seek treatment outside the Veterans Affairs system using government funds, Politico reports. It closely resembles a bipartisan Senate deal struck between Bernie Sanders and John McCain. The final vote tally was... More »

57K Veterans Still Waiting for Care, Audit Finds

And another 64K have never seen a doctor

(Newser) - The Department of Veterans Affairs' problems extend far beyond its much-maligned Phoenix facility, a new audit has confirmed. In a review of 731 hospitals, investigators found that more than 57,000 patients have been waiting up to 90 days for an appointment, and that another 64,000 had enrolled for... More »

Senators Strike Deal to Get Sick Vets Health Care

Those who have to wait too long could go outside system

(Newser) - Senior senators reached agreement today on the framework for a bipartisan bill that would help veterans' get health care outside the government's Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics. The bill would allow veterans who experience waits of 30 days or more for VA appointments or who live at least 40... More »

VA Accused of Retaliating Against Whistleblowers

Meanwhile, Obama's pick for health undersecretary backs out

(Newser) - As if the cloud over the Department of Veterans Affairs wasn't dark enough, the Office of Special Counsel has now launched an investigation into allegations that it retaliated against 37 whistleblowers—including some that tried to bring the waiting list scandal to light, the Washington Post reports. Employees in... More »

Obama: Shinseki Is Out at VA

Says embattled department chief offered his resignation

(Newser) - Eric Shinseki is out as leader of the VA. President Obama today said he accepted the Cabinet secretary's resignation "with regret" in the wake of the scandal over shoddy medical care for the nation's veterans, reports CNN . Obama said Shinseki told him he didn't want to... More »

Shinseki: VA Has 'Systemic' Problems

He moves to fire senior leaders of Phoenix hospital

(Newser) - Eric Shinseki has begun the process to fire the senior leaders of the infamous Phoenix VA medical center, he announced today, as he apologized for his department's lapses. When the crisis broke, Shinseki said he believed the problem was isolated. "I no longer believe that. It is systemic,... More »

VA Boss Writes Op-Ed Amidst Howls for His Head

Democrats join in bashing Shinseki

(Newser) - The calls for Eric Shinseki to resign are getting deafening, but the Veterans Affairs secretary doesn't sound like a man on the edge in an op-ed posted this morning at USA Today . Shinseki writes that yesterday's revelations "are reprehensible to me and to this department, and we... More »

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