Posts Tagged: Department of Veterans Affairs

Chicago to have most patriotic hospital ever

A federal health center that will open in North Chicago Oct. 1 will be the first of its kind to combine services for both the Dept. of Defense and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. The Chicago Tribune’s Peter Cameron reports that the DOD/VA project has taken eight years to complete and required the transfer of 530 civilian employees from DOD to VA, the assimilation of medical records, and the construction of a 290,000 foot ambulatory care center. (more…)

Shinseki Walks the Walk at Veterans Affairs

General Eric Shinseki gained a reputation as a straight shooter way back in 2003, when he told the Senate Armed Services Committee that controlling Iraq after an invasion would require hundreds of thousands of troops.  Then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had a different view on the subject, and before long, Shinseki was gone from the upper reaches of the U.S. military.

Barack Obama brought Shinseki back to official Washington as secretary of veterans affairs.  According to this overview by Ed O’Keefe and Garance Frank-Ruta of the Washington Post, Shinseki is taking a no-nonsense approach to a major problem for post-combat veterans: homelessness.   It’s estimated that more than 130,000 veterans are homeless, and with higher rates of foreclosures around military bases than the rest of the country, the problem may be accelerating.  The VA is planning to

expand partnerships with the Small Business Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other federal, state, and community veterans programs.

Shinseki’s words to veterans and vet organizations at a meeting in Washington this week were encouraging.  He told “thousands of government, nonprofit, and faith-based homelessness experts and advocates” that “this is not a summit on homeless veterans, it’s a summit to end homelessness among veterans.”


It’s, unfortunately, not surprising, but the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had a huge mental health toll on U.S. troops.The New York Times’ James Dao looks at a study that 37 percent of all Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers that entered the Dept. of Veterans Affairs health system suffer from a mental health condition. According to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs medical center in San Francisco and the University of California San Francisco, the most commonly diagnosed conditions are post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

The study’s authors say that key reasons so many of the 290,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have mental health problems are repeat deployments and the non-traditional nature of both wars. These causes for mental health problems may exacerbate as the U.S. brings in at least 21,000 more troops to fight insurgents in the hilly terrain of Afghanistan. If and when these troops return, they will be treated by a VA system that’s already under-staffed and over capacity.-MB


James Dao of the New York Times investigates the rapidly growing number of benefit claims unprocessed by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs — 400,000 in the past year compared with 253,000 six years ago. And the number could swell to one million if minor claims and denied benefits (like money for education) are included.

The problem is actually not the number of new veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, it’s a combination of Vietnam veterans with new or worsening ailments and the fact that 13,000 claims processors left the VA last year. In other words, not even including the care they’ll eventually have to provide Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, the VA is overburdened.-MB