veterans

Peter Biello / NHPR

The Manchester VA has partnered with Rochester's Frisbie Memorial Hospital to provide gastrointestinal procedures to veterans on New Hampshire's seacoast.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter made the announcement Thursday, calling it an important step toward making sure veterans can get the care they need locally.

Appointments will still be handled through the Manchester VA.

The decision comes as a special task force looks at the future of the Manchester VA, the state's only VA medical center.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The task force looking at the future of VA health care for New Hampshire veterans wrapped up two days of meetings Thursday. For the most part, these meetings are calm deliberations. Task force members listen to presentations, ask questions, and discuss VA issues.

But a heated exchange at yesterday's meeting highlights the simmering tensions between VA whistleblowers, who went public with their concerns, and VA leadership.

Peter Biello / NHPR

 

A top regional official at the Department of Veterans Affairs remains involved with a task force looking at the future of the Manchester VA - despite having been removed from his role as co-chair and member of that task force.

Regional VA director Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith was removed because of concerns raised by the state's congressional delegation and VA whistleblowers, who say he bears some responsibility for what they're calling harmful delays in care to veterans.

Some members of the New Hampshire Democratic Party are forming a caucus for military veterans and their families. 

About fifty people have expressed interest in joining, says Amelia Keane. She's a Democratic representative from Nashua and a combat medic in the Army Reserves.

Keane is also a member of the caucus, and she says its goal is to advocate for legislation that would improve the lives of veterans and their family members. She says right now the caucus is just getting started.

In the past few months, the Manchester VA Medical Center met with scandal, disaster, and a full helping of public outcry. Today on Word of Mouth, NHPR's Peter Biello looks back on the summer's news and tells the story of one woman's effort to improve hospital facilities for survivors of military sexual trauma. 

Courtesy of the N.H. State Veterans Cemetry

Top New Hampshire officials will be at the state’s Veterans Cemetery Saturday in honor of Veterans Day.

Peter Biello / NHPR

All this week, we're honoring military veterans by sharing their stories of service. Today, we hear from Army Veteran Michael F. Richmond of Claremont, New Hampshire. When he was in the Army in the 1980s, he witnessed history in the making in Berlin. But the Army wasn't his plan "A" or even plan "B."  

Peter Biello / NHPR

All this week, we're honoring military veterans by sharing their stories of service. Today, former Marine  Tim McLaughlin talks about a transformative day for him and for the U.S.: September 11, 2001. 

Peter Biello / NHPR

All this week, we're honoring military veterans by sharing their stories of service. Today, Donna Nobrega tells us about her experiences as a sailor in the 80s and early 90s, when the country was at peace. 

Peter Biello / NHPR

This week, in honor of Veterans Day, we're hearing from New Hampshire veterans about their time in the service. To kick off this series, a story of caring and deep rewards, from veteran Ginny Timmons of Boscawen.

Timmons was assigned to an evacuation hospital in Vietnam and cared for young men in intensive care. It was difficult, but she was committed to the role. "I loved the service," she says.

 

(Editor's note: We recommend listening to Timmons recall her time as an Army nurse.)

 

Peter Biello / NHPR

A task force looking at the future of healthcare for military veterans in New Hampshire kicked off the first part of a two-day meeting Tuesday with a look at mental health, surgery, women vets, and a VA culture change. That meeting continued Wednesday with examinations of primary care, rehabilitation, and geriatric and extended care services. 

Peter Biello / NHPR

The task force looking at the future of the Manchester VA Medical Center has a new co-chair.

Dr. Jennifer Lee is Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the VA. She replaces Michael Mayo-Smith as co-chair. Initially on Monday, the VA removed him as only from his role as co-chair. A statement released by the VA late Tuesday indicated he is no longer a member of the task force.

Rodrigo Buendia/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg captured 2 percent in a preference poll ahead (way, way, way ahead) of the 2020 New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary.

The UNH Survey Center asked people to pick from a list of "potential candidates" that the pollster provided.  By the way, Zuckerberg has repeatedly said he is not running. 

Moving on.

Other N.H. notables and stories this week:

Peter Biello / NHPR

The Manchester VA is responding to criticism about the medical center's women's clinic. The clinic is currently on the 6th floor, accessible by a flight of stairs or an elevator.

A report on NHPR described how women who have suffered military sexual trauma can find riding in that elevator with men stressful.

Liberty House in Manchester has a new leader. Jeff Nelson took the reins as Executive Director of the nonprofit two months ago. Liberty House helps up to ten veterans at a time transition from homelessness to permanent housing. Nelson spoke with NHPR’s Peter Biello about how Liberty House does its work and where he thinks it's going.

The Liberty House provides transitional housing for veterans, helping them out of homelessness. How great is the need for a service like this in New Hampshire?

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: September 22, 2017

Sep 22, 2017

The Graham-Cassidy healthcare proposal receives mixed response in the Granite State. Community college officials are grilled by New Hampshire lawmakers concerned about a recent audit.  And V.A. whistle blowers raise concerns about continued problems at the facility.


Peter Biello / NHPR

Lawmakers questioned officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs and a VA whistleblower today at a congressional hearing in Pembroke.

Convened by Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster of New Hampshire and Republican Rep. Jack Bergman of Michigan, the field hearing was an attempt to understand the allegations of leadership failure behind the mismanagement of patient care at the Manchester VA.

Peter Biello / NHPR

Earlier this year, Keith Howard stepped down as executive director of Liberty House, a transitional living facility for formerly homeless veterans.  And he started something new.

Howard now lives at a converted hunting camp in northern New Hampshire, on the grounds of Warriors at 45 North, where he's going to run writing retreats for veterans.  Howard himself lives in what he calls the Tiny White Box. I went to visit him there. 

The Department of Veterans Affairs has released a list of the twelve people who will serve on a task force looking at the future of health care for New Hampshire veterans.

Since July, a dozen whistleblowers have come forward with allegations of substandard care at the Manchester VA.  One of those whistleblowers, cardiologist Erik Funk, will serve on the task force.

The list also includes four people who are not VA employees and five who are not New Hampshire residents.

Ed Kois, a VA doctor and leader of the whistleblowers, said that's a problem.

 

The Manchester VA Medical Center has appointed a 12-member task force to make recommendations on the future of New Hampshire’s only veterans hospital.

The appointments were the latest step toward reform since the Boston Globe reported in July on a whistleblower complaint, which described a fly-infested operating room, surgical instruments that weren’t always sterilized and patients whose conditions were ignored.

AR MCLIN / FLICKR

The New Hampshire District Court has struck down Manchester's anti-panhandling ordinance, concluding the law violated the First Amendment. Under the ordinance, people were not allowed to accept charitable contributions from motor vehicles, even if they stayed out of the roadway.

  

Elliot Berry, from New Hampshire Legal Assistance, was a representing attorney in the case.

Berry says the federal court decision calls into question the constitutionality of similar ordinances in Concord, Somersworth and Rochester.    

Peter Biello / NHPR

A report by the Department of Veterans Affairs concludes that stroke patients at its Manchester facility received substandard care, including a failure to transfer them to another facility that could provide the necessary tests and treatment.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

Democratic New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan is planning to discuss her efforts to strengthen the state's community-based mental health system at this year's Manchester VA Medical Center's mental health summit.

Attendees also will be spending Tuesday discussing the eradication of veteran suicides while addressing access to health care in specialty populations.

Specialty topics will include substance abuse, aging, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and women veterans.

The summit is being held at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester.

Peter Biello / NHPR

As the Manchester VA Medical Center continues to recover from catastrophic flooding, allegations of dangerous delays in veterans’ care, and unsanitary conditions, VA officials and a dozen whistleblowers are trying to chart the future of veterans’ healthcare in New Hampshire. It’s not clear what that will look like.

Peter Biello / NHPR

An employee of the Manchester VA Medical Center says his bosses have retaliated against him for speaking to investigators about problems with veterans' dental care and the Veterans Choice Program.

Gary Von George worked as the Business Office Manager at the Manchester VA. He says he tried to resolve several issues internally.

But he says after Manchester VA leaders learned he'd spoken to the VA's Office of Medical Inspector, he was moved to a different role.

Officials with the VA hospital in White River Junction are stressing this week that veterans are welcome at the hospital regardless of gender or sexual identity.

Details of new White House guidelines for the Pentagon emerged Wednesday and were confirmed by NPR. Under those guidelines, transgender people will be banned from enlisting and those in active service will be subject to removal at the discretion of Defense Secretary James Mattis.

NH DOJ's Charitable Trust Unit

An Upper Valley non-profit that serves veterans is being shut down after an investigation by the Attorney General’s office found evidence of fraud.

Project VetCare provides housing and support to military veterans, as well as a meeting place for students at Dartmouth College who are veterans. The non-profit, which was formed in 2012, owns two houses in Hanover.

Peter Biello / NHPR

A task force created to look at the future of the Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center is taking shape. 

The task force was formed in response to whistleblower allegations of unsanitary and unsafe conditions at the medical center. Whistleblower Erik Funk, a cardiologist, was invited to serve on the task force - but he is the only one.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The Manchester VA Medical Center will hold a town hall meeting Wednesday in Rochester.

The meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. at Frisbie Memorial Hospital, is a chance for veterans to ask questions of administrators tasked with managing significant challenges at the medical center.

The Manchester VA has been recovering from flooding caused by a burst pipe. It's also being investigated for widely-publicized allegations of substandard care and unsanitary conditions.

The interim director of the Manchester VA, Al Montoya, is scheduled to attend the meeting.

Peter Biello / NHPR

Two high-ranking officials removed from the Manchester VA medical center last month  have been reassigned to positions at the VA New England Healthcare System in Bedford, Massachusetts. 

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