veterans

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.

Peter Biello/NHPR

Allegations of substandard care at the Manchester VA have largely gone unchallenged, at least publicly, since whistleblowers came forward last summer. And now we are learning why. 

Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith was the leader of the VA new England Health Care System until last month, when he abruptly retired. He says the VA chose to take a no-response approach and wait for public interest in the allegations to wane. Now that he's retired, he's able to speak publicly about what happened behind the scenes from his perspective.

Allegra Boverman, NHPR

The New Hampshire Senate on Thursday passed a bill that would give a tax exemption to businesses that focus on generating human organs. The measure comes after Manchester was chosen by the U.S. Department of Defense for an $80-million grant focused on manufacturing tissues and organs.

The project, which is called the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute, or ARMI, is led by inventor Dean Kamen.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The director of the New England VA Healthcare system announced his retirement Wednesday.

Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith's departure comes a day after New Hampshire's two congresswomen, Annie Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter, called for his removal.

Allegations of mismangement at New England VA facilities have dogged Mayo-Smith over much of the past year. Last summer, a dozen whistleblowers at the Manchester VA came forward with allegations of substandard care that caused some patients lasting harm. They were vocal opponents of Mayo-Smith and called for his removal then.

Peter Biello / NHPR

Congresswoman Annie Kuster is calling for the removal of a high-ranking VA official who she says needs to be held accountable for problems at New England's VA medical centers.

In a letter sent last month to VA Secretary David Shulkin, Kuster requests that Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith be removed from his position as director of the New England VA Healthcare System.

VA whistleblowers have been calling for his removal for months, saying that he knew about deficiencies at the Manchester VA but didn't do enough to help. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

We’ve heard a lot of stories this election cycle about political newcomers who have been inspired to run for office. But there are often many obstacles between making that big personal decision and actually running a campaign.

A Boston-based group called New Politics is trying to help veterans and other public servants break into politics. This election cycle, they’re working with Maura Sullivan, a New Hampshire congressional candidate and a Marine veteran.

Peter Biello / NHPR

  Sean Carrier is an Army veteran. He's 44 years old, and while serving in Iraq he survived seven IED blasts.

"And then I was in a hard landing in a C-130."

Peter Biello/NHPR

The task force looking at the future of health care for New Hampshire's veterans has drafted some suggestions for improvements at the Manchester VA, and those suggestions do not include the construction of a new full-service VA hospital.

This task force was put together last year after whistleblowers came forward with allegations of mismanagement at the VA. Dr. Erik Funk was the sole whistleblower to be named to the task force. He joins NHPR's Peter Biello to talk about these preliminary findings.

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