FILE PHOTO: The Carl Vinson VA Medical Center iin Dublin, Georgia

RIVIERA BEACH — When a distraught patient opened fire at the VA Medical Center in February, Albert Gaines' long ago military training kicked into gear.

"When I saw the arm come up, I knew what was next, pow, pow, pow," said Gaines, who was doing his job, cleaning patient rooms, when gunfire erupted. "I hit the deck to minimize the target."

Now, three months after what his bosses at the hospital call "the active shooter incident," the 65-year-old Riviera Beach man still feels like a target is on him.

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Dr. Keita Franklin, Defense Suicide Prevention Office director, speaks to a crowd about the Department of Defense's plan to combat the issue of suicide among military members at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Jan. 30, 2017. The 15th Wing clinic was recognized for its superior efforts to prevent suicide in 2016. (Kaitlin Daddona/U.S. Air Force)

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

In the wake of a troubling trend of veteran suicides and at least one shooting on the premises of Department of Veterans Affairs facilities in recent weeks, VA leaders are preparing for congressional scrutiny and hearings on the matter.

What they're not doing, however, is planning to ramp up security at VA centers through the use of metal detectors. While incidents at individual VA facilities may prompt local reviews, the majority of security decisions are not made at the national level.

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The Trump administration is looking into offering grants to connect veterans who are not already getting care from the Department of Veterans Affairs with the outside support they need as part a new initiative to tackle veterans suicides, a senior administration official said on Tuesday.

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Remember Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson? He was President Donald Trump's doctor who said the president had "great genes" and was later nominated to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, although he withdrew his nomination in April 2018 over allegations that he overprescribed certain drugs and created a hostile working environment.

Well, he's up for his second star while still being investigated by the Defense Department Inspector General's Office, officials said on Friday.

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Some dank nugs. (Flickr/Creative Commons/Dank Depot)

The ranking Republican congressman responsible for veterans affairs has once again introduced legislation directing the Department of Veterans Affairs to research the potential applications of medical marijuana to treat issues like post-traumatic stress disorder.

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President Donald Trump hands a pen to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie during a spending bill signing ceremony at VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System, Friday, Sept. 21, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Associated Press/Evan Vucci)

The Trump administration wants to shift billions of dollars from government-run veterans' hospitals to private health care providers. That's true even though earlier this year the administration vehemently denied it would privatize any part of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The privatization of essential government services is nothing new, of course. Over the years, countries have privatized dozens of services and activities that were once the sole domain of governments, such as the provision of electricity and water, road operations and prisons and even health care, with the ostensible aim of making them more efficient.

But before going down that road, the question needs to be asked whether privatizing essential human services such as those for military veterans serves the public interest. New research we recently published suggests that privatization may come at a social cost.

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