veterans

Peter Biello / NHPR

Flies have once again forced the closure of now all three of the Manchester VA's operating rooms. This comes just as Medical Center Director Al Montoya is preparing to leave the Manchester VA for a job leading the Connecticut VA system.

Montoya took the helm as director in July 2017 when the past director was removed from her position after 11 whistleblowers came forward with allegations of mismanagement of a variety of things, including how to remove flies from the operating room. 

THOMAS FEARON / NHPR

One of the operating rooms at the Manchester VA Medical Center has been closed again due to the presence of flies.

A spokesperson for the Manchester VA says the operating room was closed as soon as staff discovered the issue. The other two operating rooms remain open.

Peter Biello / NHPR

Serving up drinks at the American Legion post in Concord, Jeff Holland gets a little testy when the talk turns to smoking.

A Marine veteran who enjoys lighting up, the 44-year-old Holland fought unsuccessfully against a ban at the post that went into effect this month. And starting Tuesday, he will be prohibited from smoking when he visits the nearby Manchester VA Medical Center in New Hampshire.

It is part of a nationwide smoking ban outside all VA medical facilities that applies to visitors, patients and employees.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The director of the Manchester VA Medical Center is leaving to lead the Connecticut VA Healthcare System.

Al Montoya took the reins at the Manchester VA in July 2017, days after the Boston Globe reported on whistleblower allegations of mismanagement and harm to veterans seeking medical care at New Hampshire's only VA.

He had previously served as the director of the VA in White River Junction, Vermont.

On September 11th, we look at health care for veterans. It's been two years since whistleblowers at the Manchester VA alleged poor care and oversight, part of a string of similar cases nationally.  We ask where the veterans health care system is at today, what changes have occurred, and the role of politics in veteran healthcare. 

Manchester VAMC

Vice President Mike Pence weighed in on a First-Amendment lawsuit challenging a Bible on display at a New Hampshire veterans hospital, saying under the current administration, "VA hospitals will not be religion-free zones."

Daniela Allee / NHPR

Cindy Wells stood tall for her portrait, holding three photos from her 22 years in the Marine Corps.

There’s one from boot camp, another from meeting a running challenge, and the last from when she was Marine of the Year in Buffalo, New York.

Two years ago, VA employees blew the whistle on what they called bad care for veterans at the Manchester VA, kicking off a scandal that made national news. 

This week, we’re taking a look at what happened in New Hampshire’s only VA Medical Center after the scandal.

Peter Biello / NHPR

Ed Kois, leader of the Manchester VA whistleblowers who came forward two years ago, has died in a car accident. He was 62.

Police say Kois was driving on Interstate 95 in Hampton when his car went off the road and struck a guardrail. Police say he likely suffered a medical event. Kois had recently been hospitalized for health problems and had planned to return to work this week.

 

A program based in New Hampshire will offer training for military veterans who are small business owners.

The Veteran Owned Small Business Growth Training program will equip veterans with resources and networks to grow their businesses.

Applicants must be a current business owner with at least one year of operation and one employee, and annual revenues of $75,000 or more.

The 26-week program based in Portsmouth starts in September and will feature classroom and mentoring sessions.

NHPR

 

The Department of Veterans Affairs is holding a town hall meeting in New Hampshire to answer any questions about a new community care program that it will roll out next week.

The event takes place from Monday, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., at the Manchester VA Medical Center.

Manchester VA Medical Center

A U.S. Air Force veteran has sued the director of New Hampshire's veterans hospital over the display of a Bible.

The Christian Bible became part of a memorial table at the Manchester VA Medical Center. It was removed in January after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation said some patients complained.

Peter Biello / NHPR

Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie finished a tour of New England Friday with a stop at the Manchester VA.

The Manchester VA was selected recently as one of 18 VA hospitals nationwide to participate in a pilot program meant to boost patient safety.

NorthernStage.org

Stories of female veterans from Vermont and New Hampshire will be on stage Saturday at the White River Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Playwright Nicola Smith based the play, Deployed, on interviews with a diverse set of women, representing different generations and different branches of the military.

She was struck by the women’s spirit and determination, she said, despite experiencing incredible challenges and, in some cases, trauma in the service.

Ali Oshinskie/NHPR

Democratic Presidential candidate Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said ending regime-change wars is among her top priorities on NHPR's The Exchange hosted by Peter Biello. Rep. Gabbard, D-HI, currently serves as Major in the Hawaii National Guard and served two tours in the Middle East. 

Rep. Gabbard stayed after The Exchange to address veteran's health, the question of privatization and women's health care in the VA. She also answered a listener question: What does she do for fun?

JeffOnWire / Flickr

New research shows that, overall, VA hospitals compare well to nearby private hospitals.

Over the years, studies have shown that VA healthcare is as good as or better than private sector care. In this new study, researchers wanted to look at how a given VA hospital compared to private hospitals nearby.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR News

Veterans and families who lived and worked at the former Pease Air Force Base want the government to begin collecting data about their disease rates and possible ties to chemical exposures on the installation.   

At a forum in an aircraft hangar Friday, dozens of people stood at a microphone and told an Air National Guard colonel about their health problems and their experiences at the base.

Peter Biello / NHPR

Congresswoman Annie Kuster is joining a handful of colleagues in demanding answers from the VA on how it will overcome problems implementing the Forever GI Bill.

The bill, signed by President Trump last year, sought to provide enhanced benefits to veterans seeking higher education.

VA Courtesy

The Manchester VA is planning a groundbreaking ceremony next week for a new veterans clinic in Somersworth.

The new clinic will be right across the parking lot from the current clinic on Route 108. Senator Maggie Hassan, Congressman-Elect Chris Pappas and Somersworth Mayor Dana Hilliard are among those scheduled to attend.

The new clinic will be more than twice the size of the current space and will offer more primary care, mental health, and telehealth services.

Southern New Hampshire University is partnering with Walgreens to expand higher education for veterans.

SNHU and Walgreens will work together to help up to 5,000 U.S. veterans who work at Walgreens earn discounted masters or bachelor's degrees from the school.

GoFundMe / Courtesy

A few months ago, San Diego, California resident Jane Williams and her husband were vacationing in Weare, New Hampshire, on Mount William Pond. The place they rented was near a road that followed the edge of the pond, and on that road was small dilapidated house.

"And there was this cute little elderly man sitting in the window," she says. "And every time we went by the house, I'd always wave, and he would just always reflexively wave."

Peter Biello

Complaints lodged by a dozen whistleblowers last year about the quality of care at the Manchester VA had consequences. At least four VA leaders lost their jobs and the government poured millions of dollars into improvements at the medical center.

But in an internal draft VA report obtained by NHPR, investigators say nearly all of those complaints were unfounded. (Scroll down to read the draft report.)

New Hampshire Gets Grant to Help Homeless Veterans

Sep 16, 2018
Google

 

The state's Democratic congressional delegation says that New Hampshire is getting more than $2.8 million in federal grants to help homeless veterans.

The funding will go toward two New Hampshire nonprofit organizations, Veterans Inc. in Concord and Harbor Homes in Nashua. The organizations provide housing, employment, and supportive services for veterans and their families.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster welcomed the grant money for service members who have done so much to protect the country.

DPAA

 

An American airman is being buried more than 70 years after he crashed on a Pacific island during World War II.

Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Roy Davis, of Peterborough, New Hampshire, was a gunner. He and a pilot were aboard an A-20G Havoc bomber on March 12, 1944, that failed to return after attacking enemy targets in New Guinea.

Attempts to find the aircraft and crew were unsuccessful. Davis and 2nd Lt. Vernal Bird were declared dead in 1949.

Peter Biello/NHPR

Acting Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Peter O'Rourke, has signed off on all 29 recommendations made by the task force looking at the future of the Manchester VA Medical Center.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The Department of Veterans Affairs says its Somersworth clinic will be moving to a larger space.

The Somersworth VA clinic is about 4,000 square feet.

The new clinic would be about 8,000 square feet and offer more primary care, mental health, and telehealth services, says Manchester VA Medical Center director Al Montoya.

Peter Biello/NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu has signed into law a bill that allows doctors at the Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center to treat veterans at private hospitals.

 

A flood at the Manchester VA Medical Center last year destroyed clinic space. In response, Sununu signed an executive order suspending state licensing requirements so VA doctors could use space at private hospitals like Catholic Medical Center. 

Courtesy

The Manchester VA Medical Center and the Nashua YMCA are partnering to expand yoga, tai chi, nutrition, reiki meditation and other whole health programs to veterans.

The partnership is funded by a $360,000 grant from the VA Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation.

Dr. Romy Valdez is a VA Clinical Psychologist. He says it's part of an effort to change the way doctors think bout treating the whole veteran, "not just the parts of them that are diseased and in pain, but looking at how we can service the veteran so that they can feel self-empowered."

A new documentary explores what it means to be a female veteran of the military through the lens of a pageant known as Miss Veteran America.

The participants are veterans, and they help raise awareness of homelessness among female veterans. The film is called "Served Like a Girl," and tomorrow at Red River Theatres in Concord, a screening of the film will be followed by a panel discussion of the issues women veterans face.

AP

Ronny Jackson, the White House doctor President Donald Trump nominated for secretary of Veterans Affairs, has withdrawn as the nominee. He issued a statement calling the allegations against him "false and fabricated."

The White House defended the pick, while the President earlier this week seemed to signal that Jackson could step aside, given the scrutiny.

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