In this May 22, 2014, file photo, Kurt Busch, left, stands with Patricia Driscoll before qualifying for a NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. Driscoll, the former girlfriend of Busch, has been charged with stealing from a military charity she led. She was indicted on two counts each of wire fraud, mail fraud, and tax evasion, and one count of attempts to interfere with administration of Internal Revenue laws. (Associated Press/Terry Renna)
A federal judge denied a motion for acquittal or a new trial for the former president of a veterans charity who was convicted last year of crimes related to spending the nonprofit's money on jewelry, shopping and other personal expenses.
Patricia Driscoll, 41, of Ellicott City, Maryland, was found guilty in November on two counts each of wire fraud and tax evasion and on one count of first-degree fraud, according to court records.
Driscoll led the nonprofit Armed Forces Foundation for 12 years. The charity was established in 2001 to promote veterans' emotional and physical health through outdoor activities and to give small grants to needy families.
Its co-founders included former California Rep. Duncan L. Hunter, who helped recruit Driscoll to run the nonprofit's day-to-day operations.
Driscoll resigned from it in July 2015 amid a scandal involving misuse of its funds.
The Department of Veterans Affairs opposes three legislative proposals that would expand research on medical marijuana at the VA and give veterans access to the drug in states where it is legal.
During a hearing Tuesday on eight VA health-related bills under consideration by Congress, VA officials told House lawmakers that as long as marijuana is illegal under federal law, the department cannot support legislation that promotes its role at the VA.
A child carries roses through Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015. (U.S. Army/Rachel Larue)
For some, tax season brings a small boon in the form of a refund. For others it can be a source of stress.
But Theresa Jones sees it as an annual reminder of her husband, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Landon Jones, who was killed in a helicopter crash on Sept. 22, 2013.
Since then, Jones and her two sons, ages 5 and 11, have received monthly compensation in the form of survivor benefits — one allotment through the Department of Defense is taxable, and another through the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is not taxed.
For the past several years she's had to pay roughly $1,150 in taxes on her sons' benefits. This year, it was $5,400.
"My kids are owing the government back money, that the government gave them, because their dad died, and my kids have to pay it back," Jones told Task & Purpose. "And every year this comes around and it's just this reminder of this tragedy, and it's literally like throwing salt in the wound."
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.
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert L. Wilkie on Nov. 11, 2018. (DoD/Lisa Ferdinando)
The Department of Veterans Affairs office created to protect whistleblowers from retaliation is itself under investigation for — wait for it, wait for it — retaliation against whistleblowers.
According to Eric Katz of Government Executive, the nascent Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection has come under investigation by the VA Inspector General by employees who feel "betrayed or neglected by an office they believed was going to help them but ended up doing the opposite."