U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Kasey Zickmund

Last year, President Donald Trump signed the Appeals Modernization Act of 2017 into law — a policy meant to jump-start appeals reform within the Department of Veterans Affairs, with an eye toward ending the backlog of appeals for veterans benefit claims, which is sitting at around 470,000.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Scott M. Schmidt

Yesterday, in his first “state of the VA” address, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin promised reporters that the White House’s planned veterans’ complaint hotline would be up and running June 1. Indeed, the number — 855-948-2311 — went live this morning, and as a journalist and Marine veteran, I figured I’d give it a ring.

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Associated Press photo by Evan Vucci

For the first time in its history the Department of Veterans Affairs will be headed by a non-veteran. While speaking at a press conference on Jan. 11, President-elect Donald Trump announced that David Shulkin, the current Under Secretary for Health at the VA, will take over as the department’s head if confirmed.

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