Veterans Administration

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.