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department of veterans affairs

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The U.S. Supreme Court rules the Veterans Affairs Administration should be doing more to award government contracts to veteran-owned businesses. 

In a ruling announced today, the Supreme Court unanimously decided that the VA had not properly used guidelines set by Congress to increase the number of disabled veteran run small businesses being considered for federal contracts.

Struggling with long wait times, the Veterans Affairs Health Care System is trying something new: a partnership with the CVS Pharmacy chain to offer urgent care services to more than 65,000 veterans.

The experiment began Tuesday at the VA's operations in Palo Alto, Calif.

The Obama administration says it wants to end veterans homelessness by the end of this year — but it's not going to happen. That's partly because, despite government support, many landlords remain reluctant to rent to homeless individuals.

At the end of October, almost 6,200 homeless military veterans had government vouchers to cover their rent, but they had yet to find landlords willing to accept them. Among those vets is Joseph Coles of Washington, D.C., where you're lucky to get a one-bedroom apartment for less than $1,400 a month.

Ryan E. Poppe

  As the sound from the parade leading up to the South Steps of the State Capitol fades away, veterans like former Army Capt. Sabino Rubio have time to reflect on what it means to be a veteran in Texas, where many soldiers still wait months to see a doctor at a VA clinic.

“I would like to see a little more improvement.  A little more staffing at the VA hospitals and medical systems and it would be nice if we could speed that up," Rubio said.

The concept of injured veterans as a group has only been around for 150 years, and has grown exponentially from the technological advances in life-saving battlefield medical attention.

From the Revolutionary War to Iraq and Afghanistan, a new documentary analyzes the stories of wounded warriors and the changing understanding of what is owed to our wounded. Beyond burns and amputations, the dramatic psychological scars have led to soaring suicide rates and the need for increased mental health care. 

How do we ensure our veterans get the care they need? 

Ryan E. Poppe

On the Westside of McAllen, members of VFW posts from across the Valley huddle around a table and sip coffee as they update each other on some of their long-standing injuries and swap stories about the struggles they face getting healthcare.   

“Why haven’t we got a hospital when the rest of the nation all the other districts have got one? Why isn’t there one here? They don’t planning on having one?”  Army Veteran Jose Vasquez asks, thinking a VA Hospital in the Valley would help.

And Army Veteran Richard Pena talks about the difficulty getting care. 

Eileen Pace

SAN ANTONIO — H.W. “Bill” Sparks never had trouble scheduling his annual physical at a Veterans Affairs clinic in El Paso until his doctor left early this year. Now he’s been left in limbo, waiting several months to be paired with a new physician.

Sparks, a retired Army warrant officer, said the clinic has tried to reduce wait times since an audit last summer revealed it had one of the nation’s worst backlogs. Yet it still struggles to attract staff and build enough capacity to treat a large veteran population. “They don’t have enough staff to do it,” he said. “So why promise something you can’t deliver?”

Eileen Pace

An Associated Press analysis has determined that Texas veterans spend more time waiting for medical care than the national average.

From September through February, 3.4 percent of appointments at the state’s 54 VA facilities were not within 30 days — the health system’s stated goal after a scandal last summer over lengthy wait times.

The national average during this span was 2.8 percent.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

TEMPLE — The family of a Central Texas veteran who committed suicide is suing the Department of Veterans Affairs, claiming a VA hospital should have involuntarily held him for treatment.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that a March 12 lawsuit alleges Kevin Lee Hartbarger committed suicide in 2012 hours after seeking help at the Olin E. Teague Veterans Medical Center in Temple.

The complaint alleges staffers at the hospital failed to “timely diagnose suicidal behavior and obtain involuntary hold to allow for treatment” through a court order.