VA

Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet approved Danny Burgess Jr. Thursday as the Department of Veterans' Affairs Director. Burgess is a former Pasco County Republican Representative who in November defeated his opponent by a nearly 2-1 margin. 

Chris Kurtz is trying to keep his sense of humor. Even after the VA told him last summer that he no longer needs a caregiver.

"Apparently my legs grew back, I dunno," he says with a laugh, and sinks into his couch in Clarksville, Tenn. And then he mentions that he probably can't get out of the couch without help from his wife.

After finding herself in and out of homelessness for three years and receiving very little help, petty naval officer 3rd class, Ashley Esposito was at the end of her ropes when she met her “guardian angel” Seth Eisenberg.

Eisenberg is the president and founder of Operation Sacred Trust, a non profit organization that helps veterans like Ashley transition out of homelessness. Esposito is now pursuing a business degree at Florida International University, while working to help single parent veterans transition successfully into civilian life.

There are plenty of veterans needing help with their denied VA benefits claims and a good supply of law student volunteers to help them. But what is in short supply at the Stetson Veterans Law Institute and Advocacy Clinic is space.

A few years ago, the institute opened in a small home across the street from the Gulfport campus with three law students helping on cases. Now, there are 15 law students in the same cramped quarters.

According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, one in five veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

But a newer form of psychotherapy is picking up traction in the veteran community.

It took more than 10 minutes for paramedics to arrive after a housekeeper found a man collapsed on the floor of a bathroom in a Boston Veteran Affairs building.

The paramedics immediately administered naloxone, often known by its brand name Narcan, to reverse the man's opioid overdose. But brain damage can begin after just a few minutes without oxygen.

The VA has opened more call centers and hired hundreds of additional responders after complaints that some callers experienced long hold times or were sent to voicemail.

More than 20 veterans take their own lives every day in the U.S. and the majority never sought the help that was available to them.

Daylina Miller/Health News Florida

Sen. Bill Nelson filed a bill last week that would provide veterans with access to medical marijuana at the VA and open doors for more research on the drug.

Department of Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie was President Trump's second choice to replace fired Secretary David Shulkin.

But the former Pentagon official is now running the VA said he's promised to protect the VA from politics and total privatization.

Military veterans in Clay County are getting a new Veterans Administration outpatient health clinic.

Daniel, a Marine Corps veteran, used to fire a rocket launcher called the shoulder-launched multipurpose assault weapon. Two decades later, he still experiences dizzy spells and disorientation. But the Department of Veterans Affairs doesn't have a category for vets like him, who may have sustained traumatic brain injuries from training rather than combat.

Read Daniel's full story on NPR's health blog, Shots.

U.S. Department of Defense

The Senate on Monday confirmed Pentagon official Robert Wilkie to be secretary of Veterans Affairs, charged with delivering on President Donald Trump's campaign promises to fire bad VA employees and steer more patients to the private sector.

U.S. Department of Defense

After months of tumult, Pentagon official Robert Wilkie is expected to become secretary of Veterans Affairs when the Senate votes Monday to confirm him, taking on the task of fulfilling President Donald Trump's promises to fire bad VA employees and steer more patients to the private sector.

The VA is now mailing identification cards to veterans who want tangible proof that they served in the military. But after waiting almost three years for the new government-issued I.D., some veterans are not happy that the card contains an advertisement.

WMFE

A key program being expanded by the Trump administration to give veterans greater access to private doctors has failed to provide care within 30 days as promised due to faulty data and poor record-keeping that could take years to remedy, according to a government investigation released Monday.

mast.house.gov

President Donald Trump is considering Rep. Brain Mast of Florida for the position of Veterans Affairs secretary, part of a lengthening search for a nominee following the abrupt firing of David Shulkin in March.

WMFE

White House doctor Ronny Jackson withdrew from consideration as Veterans Affairs secretary on Thursday, saying "false allegations" against him have become a distraction.

His nomination in peril, Veterans Affairs nominee Ronny Jackson fought to convince lawmakers of his leadership abilities as more details of accusations against him emerged, ranging from repeated drunkenness to a toxic work environment as he served as a top White House doctor.

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As President Donald Trump's pick to lead Veterans Affairs skids to a halt, senators from both parties are voicing frustration that the White House is skipping crucial vetting of nominees and leaving lawmakers to clean up the mess.

Gage Skidmore (Flickr)

A White House spokesman says the president still has confidence in embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin.

Gage Skidmore (Flickr)

President Donald Trump is considering ousting embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who has faced an insurgency within his department and fresh allegations that he used a member of his security detail to run personal errands.

"Don't ask, don't tell" is how many veterans have approached health care conversations about marijuana use with the doctors they see from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Worried that owning up to using the drug could jeopardize their VA benefits — even if they're participating in a medical marijuana program approved by their state — veterans have often kept mum. That may be changing under a new directive from the Veterans Health Administration urging vets and their physicians to open up on the subject.

A new program in Los Angeles is trying to provide female veterans with health care outside the VA, which some consider a male dominated environment.

Libby Denkmann reports on a new effort to provide services to female veterans.

A bill that would create a Florida system parallel to the existing federal Veterans Health Administration passed its first committee hearing Tuesday.

It would allow veterans to opt into the state’s Medicaid system in addition to or even instead of the VA.


This week the Department of Veterans Affairs expanded emergency mental health care to vets with other-than-honorable discharges. It's part of an effort to curb the recent increase in veteran suicide.


Despite recent efforts by Congress to improve the performance of the Veterans Administration, some Tallahassee vets and even a local caregiver say their situation hasn’t improved.

One day in February, Salvatore Pelegrino, a cancer patient at the Veterans Administration hospital in Miami, was peeling an apple at a table on a patio outside the hospital when a police officer approached and confiscated his knife. Pelegrino, who uses a walker and breathes with the help of an oxygen tank, was handcuffed and detained at a facility on the hospital campus, then issued a ticket for carrying a knife with a blade longer than 3 inches.

“How would you like to deal with [the ticket], sir?” the judge asked Pelegrino in court, in April.

A new administrator at the Bay Pines Healthcare System is being credited by veterans for resolving a paperwork snafu that had some low income VA clients being billed for medications they should have gotten for free.

It's a fix that hasn't fixed much, but the troubled Veterans Choice program has been extended anyway.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed a bill extending the program intended to speed veterans' access to health care beyond its original August end point.

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