The number of homeless veterans in the United States has declined by just over 50 percent in the last decade, according to government data.

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(Department of Veterans Affairs)

David Shulkin ran the nation's largest health system under two presidents. As secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, he oversaw a hospital empire that served nine million veterans and employed 135,000 people.

Under Shulkin's leadership, the VA reduced wait times for health care, improved the appeals process for veterans seeking disability benefits, focused on reducing the number of veteran suicides by providing more mental health services, and helped to reduce unemployment among veterans.

Shulkin, 59, who still lives in Gladwyne, made his then boss, Donald Trump, look good. Shulkin delivered some bipartisan wins while other federal departments were roiled with controversy. But for some political appointees, Shulkin didn't move quickly enough. He wouldn't support their proposal to put all of veterans' health care into the hands of private interests. And according to Shulkin, that sank his career.

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A special Veterans Affairs office created in 2017 to protect whistleblowers and punish incompetent or corrupt VA employees has been a colossal failure, according to a blistering investigation released Thursday by the VA's inspector general.

The report comes as the VA district that includes Georgia replaced top leadership last month and the main regional hospital in Decatur for military veterans undergoes an investigation of medical practices amid widespread problems. Regional VA employees lodged close to 300 complaints with the inspector general in the last two years, ranging from retaliation against employees by superiors to abuse of authority.

The inspector general said the nationwide Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OAWP) failed from top to bottom. Investigations were incompetently carried out and biased. The office also failed to protect whistleblowers' identities and allowed their information to get back to the people or offices being investigated, letting whistleblowers become the subjects of retaliatory investigations.

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The former Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs thinks that the VA needs to start researching medical marijuana. Not in a bit. Not soon. Right goddamn now.

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(U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Airman 1st Class Corey Hook)

Editor's Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The Department of Veterans Affairs released an alarming report Friday showing that at least 60,000 veterans died by suicide between 2008 and 2017, with little sign that the crisis is abating despite suicide prevention being the VA's top priority.

Although the total population of veterans declined by 18% during that span of years, more than 6,000 veterans died by suicide annually, according to the VA's 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report.

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The Topeka Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Public domain)

The Kansas City VA Medical Center is still dealing with the fallout of a violent confrontation last year between one of its police officers and a patient, with the Kansas City Police Department launching a homicide investigation.

And now Topeka's VA hospital is dealing with an internal dispute between leaders of its Veterans Affairs police force that raises new questions about how the agency nationwide treats patients — and the officers who report misconduct by colleagues.

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