Editor's note: A combat wounded veteran, Ryan served in the U.S. Army as an armor officer assigned to 1st Battalion, 13th Armor Regiment. While deployed to Iraq in 2005, his vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device buried in the road. He works as the Wounded Warrior Project's national Combat Stress Recovery Program director.
On Nov. 29, 2005, my life changed forever. I was a 24-year-old U.S. Army armor captain deployed to Taji, Iraq, when my vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. On that day, I lost two of my soldiers, Sgts. Jerry Mills and Donald Hasse, and I lost my right arm and left leg.
An arm of the Veterans Affairs Department in Atlanta eliminated 208,272 applications from across the country for health care early this year amid efforts to shrink a massive backlog of requests, saying they were missing signatures or information about military service and income, according to records reviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Veterans groups say the VA should have done more to communicate with the veterans before closing their applications, some of which date back to 1998. Troops face additional challenges in applying for VA health care, they said, as they grapple with reentry into civilian life, change addresses following overseas deployments and suffer from combat stress.
In the middle of the controversy is the VA's Health Eligibility Center, the Atlanta office that oversees the process by which veterans seek access to the VA medical system. It and its parent agency have come under intense scrutiny in recent years for mismanagement and delays in providing medical care, presenting a thorny challenge for the administration of President Donald Trump, who focused on veterans' care during his presidential campaign.
Addressing an audience at a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing Thursday in Spanish, Committee Chairman Rep. Mark Takano, D-California, pressed for legislation that would require all VA fact sheets to be published in English and Spanish. A bill sponsored by Rep. Gil Cisneros, D-California, would do that.
Department of Veterans Affairs photo via Military.com
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 union representing 260,000 Department of Veterans Affairs employees recently won a "cease and desist" arbitration ruling against the department's posting of lengthy lists of firings, suspensions and other disciplinary actions in violation of the Privacy Act.
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.