veterans

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Earlier this month a report revealed that the Manchester VA Hospital, like many others around the country, had been fudging wait times for veterans’ care.

But the program designed to fix the backlog by allowing vets to get care closer to home is now having its own problems.

Brady Carlson / NHPR

The New Hampshire Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen has a new monument, thanks to a 95-year-old man in Bristol who wanted to honor the elite unit he served with in World War II. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

As part of our coverage of the 2016 elections, NHPR is broadcasting a series of conversations with candidates about the issues of the day.

All Things Considered host Peter Biello spoke with U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte on Friday. Ayotte, a Republican, is facing a challenge from Democrat and N.H. Governor Maggie Hassan in a race that's drawing national attention.

Courtesy VA Hospital

New reports from the Veterans Administration Office of Inspector General have revealed evidence of wait time record manipulation at the VA hospitals in Manchester, New Hampshire and White River Junction, Vermont.  Multiple sources involved in scheduling veterans for appointments reported fudging numbers by offering veterans the first available appointment, rather than allowing the veteran to determine how soon they need to be seen.

Thomas Fearon / NHPR

New reports show the Manchester, N.H. and White River Junction, Vt. Veterans Administration Medical Centers manipulated records to make wait times for appointments appear shorter than they actually were.

  The reports by the VA Office of Inspector General found that veterans at both hospitals were being scheduled according to appointment availability, not when the veteran wanted the appointment. 

KevinChang / Flickr

 

A New Hampshire foundation aims to donate hunting and fishing licenses to veterans facing financial struggles.

WMUR-TV reports that Deerfield state Rep. James Spillane started the foundation to ensure veterans can still afford to enjoy their outdoor sports.

The first recipient of a combined hunting and fishing license — Joe Brandl of Henniker — says he thinks it's a great idea and hopes it takes off.

Brandl, who served in the Navy from 1968 to 1972, says he gave up hunting and fishing last year to save money.

 

Gov. Maggie Hassan has introduced a new program that will place more of the state's veterans into permanent housing through a voucher system.

The Nashua Telegraph reports the Housing Choice Vouchers to Veterans Initiative, announced in Nashua on Tuesday, was established through a collaborative effort between the state, Harbor Homes and the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority.

Hassan said it's critical that the state's veterans "can live independently, and contribute to our civic and economic life."

Even though medical marijuana is legal in many states across the country, it’s still a federal offense, and a recently expired directive prohibited Veterans Administration doctors from recommending the treatment to veterans.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 The VA’s Veterans Choice Program has been in place for more than a year now. The federal program is meant to allow veterans who live too far from VA hospitals to receive care in their communities.

But some providers treating veterans under the program say they aren’t getting paid for their services. Recently several clinics in New Hampshire decided to drop Veterans Choice.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Congressman Frank Guinta has introduced legislation that denies bonuses to senior VA executives who fail to deliver timely care to veterans.
 Guinta says the Veterans Administration Bonus Elimination Act would provide an incentive for VA hospital executives to schedule appointments within thirty days of a veteran’s request for one.
 Thirty days is the VA benchmark spelled out in the Veterans Choice law passed in 2014. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is asking the secretary of veterans affairs to help speed up payments to health care providers through the Veterans Choice Program.

Shaheen wrote to Secretary Robert McDonald on Thursday after PainCare, which operates 11 clinics in New Hampshire, announced it will no longer participate in the program starting next month. The company cited administrative challenges and delays in reimbursements.

Hanibaael via Flickr Creative Commons

The Veterans Administration has been trying to end veteran homelessness by the end of this year. The goal was to achieve and sustain something called “functional zero,” which doesn’t eliminate homelessness, but rather ensures that it’s rare, brief and non-recurring.

Courtesy VA Hospital

The Manchester VA Medical Center has a new director. Danielle Ocker has assumed the position after serving as the acting director for seven months. She was appointed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. New Hampshire Congresswoman Annie Kuster, a member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, says Ocker has distinguished herself as a leader within the VA throughout her 30 years of service within the organization. Ocker began her career at White River Junction VA Medical Center as a student nurse in 1985.

Courtesy / Veterans Administration

A mobile clinic for veterans in the North Country has seen a few dozen patients since it opened in late October.  The clinic is set up in the parking lot of the Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin.  A doctor and nurse team there have been able to give out flu shots and other treatments. VA spokesman Rick Salgueiro says there are about 1,000 veterans in the Berlin area who could possibly avoid a long trip to the VA hospital in White River Junction, Vermont.  "We wanted to rapidly deploy primary care into the Berlin area based on what veterans are communicating they want," he says.

Courtesy VA

The Veterans Administration Hospital system in Phoenix was the epicenter of the VA scandal that surfaced in 2014.

The director of the Veterans Administration Hospital in White River Junction, Vermont is has been assigned to the Phoenix, Arizona VA Health Care System.

Deborah Amdur will take over as leader in Phoenix on December 13th.

Phoenix VA hospitals made headlines in 2014 when it was discovered that VA staff manipulated records to show that wait times for care were shorter than they actually were.

The Bookshelf is NHPR's series on authors and books with ties to the Granite State. All Things Considered features authors, covers literary events and publishing trends, and gets recommendations from each guest on what books listeners might want to add to their own bookshelves. 

If you have an author or book you think we should profile on The Bookshelf, send us an email. The address is books@nhpr.org.

Peter Biello / NHPR

Veterans’ justice programs are popping up all over the country, and just last year, New Hampshire got its first one, in Nashua. These alternative justice programs are courts that allow veterans to get a handle on problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and alcohol or drug abuse that put them at odds with the law.

11.11.15: Veterans Day

Nov 11, 2015
kataaca via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/t5FiQK

Since World War II, as many as 100,000 service members have been “less than honorably discharged” for being gay. Now, four years after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” gay vets look to change the record. Today, what goes into rewriting history. And prior to the Civil War, images of battle were the stuff of legends and mystery – then came the photographs of Alexander Gardner. Plus, other stories about our nation’s veterans. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Hillary Rodham Clinton outlined steps to improve the Department of Veterans Affairs today, casting herself as a protector against proposals to privatize the sprawling health care system for those who have served in the military.

In a pre-Veterans Day event in New Hampshire, the Democratic presidential candidate said she would seek to improve veterans' health care, modernize veterans' benefits system and address an unwieldy bureaucracy.

File Photo / NHPR

Senator Jeanne Shaheen has reintroduced a bill that requires random audits of Veterans Administration hospitals.

This follows reports released in October by the Inspector General that show VA hospitals in Alaska, California, and Illinois are still delaying veterans’ care. 

The bill is called the Veterans Scheduling Accountability Act. Shaheen says these audits are designed to make sure veterans receive care in a timely manner.

Hanibaael via Flickr Creative Commons

The Manchester Veterans Administration hospital and the not-for-profit Harbor Homes are teaming up for an event in Nashua Thursday that’ll help homeless veterans connect to services and prepare for winter.

The event at Harbor Homes is the seventh annual “Homeless Veteran Stand Down.” It’s a chance for homeless veterans to pick up donated winter clothes, eat a free breakfast and lunch, and get haircuts and flu shots.

Courtesy The University Of New Hampshire

A grant that helps veterans with disabilities through a program at the University of New Hampshire has been renewed.

The federal grant of $300,000 will go to Northeast Passage, which provides veterans with recreation therapy.

Courtroom One Gavel
Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons

Senator Jeanne Shaheen has introduced legislation that aims to help the Veterans Administration support veterans' courts.

The Veterans Justice Outreach Act would codify the support that the VA already gives to veterans' courts. That support comes in part in the form of case managers, who work as liaisons for veterans in the local courts and jails.

Through these courts, military veterans accused of non-violent crimes can be diverted away from jail and towards treatment programs.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

 

Three members of New Hampshire's congressional delegation are hosting a forum about the Veterans Choice program and two new veterans' health clinics in the North Country.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte and Rep. Ann McLane Kuster are being joined by Veterans Administration officials at the forum Friday at White Mountain Community College in Berlin.

Shaheen and Ayotte hosted a similar forum in May at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Manchester.

Peter Biello / NHPR

VA Hospitals across the country are beefing up their preventative medicine programs. At the VA hospital in White River Junction, Vermont, a variety of programs open to New Hampshire and Vermont veterans are tackling health problems like obesity, tobacco use, and stress. Some of these programs at VAs across New England are still underutilized.

In a small room at the ground floor of the VA hospital in White River Junction, a handful of veterans sit around a table and talk with a dietitian about a battle they all fight: a battle against body fat.

ronmerk / Morguefile

A Merrimack County Superior Court Judge has ordered the closure of the Veterans Museum of New Hampshire and ordered its president, Henry T. Pratte, to pay a $10,000 dollar fine.

Peter Biello / NHPR

Enrollment in a program that tracks the genes of military veterans has picked up the pace at a local VA hospital.

The Million Veteran Program, or MVP, is a nationwide effort to put into a database the genetic information of one million veterans. Researchers will use the database to find genes that affect conditions like diabetes or PTSD.

Thomas Fearon / NHPR

Veterans Administration hospitals have avoided a shutdown, thanks to legislation passed by Congress.

All the members of New Hampshire’s House and Senate delegations voted this week to authorize the use of $3.3 billion in Veterans Choice funds to plug a hole in the VA’s budget.

Michael Brindley / NHPR

President Obama signed into law Tuesday a bill that would make it easier for veterans to start businesses with loans from the Small Business Administration.

The bill would waive fees for veterans starting up new businesses with SBA loans—which New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen says will help veterans get started.

"This is bipartisan legislation," Shaheen says. "I introduced it in the last Congress and we reintroduced it. It got support in the House. And I’m very happy the President signed it quickly into law."

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