Veterans Affairs

Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

The VA St. Louis Health Care System hosted a veterans’ resource fair Saturday in downtown St. Louis. Several hundred people attended the event, which expanded on the St. Louis VA’s fall Homeless Veterans Stand Down event to provide employment, education, health and legal services in addition to resources to help veterans find housing.                    

Jim Howard/St. Louis Public Radio

Imagine two schoolboys scrambling to their feet after tussling in the dirt, both trying to convince a teacher that their fight wasn’t all that bad, and each vouching for the other that they really do get along just fine. That image may give you an idea of how hard-fought negotiations over a compromise bill to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs, turned into the kind of jovial news conference conducted Monday by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

The American Legion is looking for St. Louis-area veterans who need help getting medical services from the VA Health Care System.

The Legion has sent members from its “System Worth Saving Task Force” in Washington, D.C., to relay concerns directly from St. Louis-area veterans.

The three-person task force is meeting with the director of the local VA system today to bring up problems raised by veterans at a town hall-style meeting that it hosted Monday night, said Verna Jones, director of the Legion's Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Division in Washington.

St. Louis VA hospital
Jess Jiang / St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., calls it "outrageous" that the the Department of Veterans Affairs hasn't answered questions about quality and timeliness of mental health care in the VA St. Louis Health Care System. The senator met with hospital officials in St. Louis Wednesday, after allegations from the former chief of psychiatry, Dr. Jose Mathews, that mental health doctors weren't seeing enough patients and veterans were waiting a month or more to see a psychiatrist. 

Nora Ibrahim

Veterans, families and other citizens commemorated fallen soldiers and loved ones who served in war Monday at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay was among the elected officials who gathered for the 55th annual ceremony at the cemetery, which is the fifth largest under the Department of Veterans Affairs. Slay said Memorial Day marks one of the most important days of every summer.

(via Wikimedia Commons/ United States Department of State)

The two Republican members of Congress who represent the St. Louis area – Ann Wagner and Blaine Luetkemeyer – are calling for the resignation of  U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

Their declarations come as several of the nation’s VA facilities, including Cochran Medical Center in St. Louis, have been accused of improper or delayed care to military veterans.

Wagner, R-Ballwin, said that Shinseki – in office since 2009 -- had “failed to provide timely services and care for our veterans.  Secretary Shinseki has failed to fulfill his mission at the VA.”

Missouri’s U.S. Senators are seeking answers from the Department of Veterans Affairs  about reports of lax mental health services in St. Louis’s VA hospital system.

The inquiry stems from allegations by the system’s former Chief of Psychiatry, Dr. Jose Mathews, regarding an “artificial backlog” of patient care created by staff who treat veterans for only a fraction of the workday.

According to the Associated Press, Mathews claims in a federal whistleblower complaint filed last year that he was demoted after his efforts to make employees work harder and more efficiently.

(By Minesweeper [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Updated after today’s show.

Backlogs in disability claims.  Over-prescription of opiate narcotics. Exposure to blood-borne pathogens. Loose spending habits. In the last few years, the VA health care system has received a lot of negative media attention.

But according to Lynn Welling, that doesn’t mean veterans are receiving poor quality care. He is the chief of staff for the St. Louis VA Health Care System and a former Navy doctor.

(Courtesy Center for Investigative Reporting)

An investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting has found that the Department of Veterans Affairs has increased the number of prescriptions for opiates by about 270 percent nationwide in the past twelve years.

While the number of prescriptions varies widely in different regions of the country, St. Louis reflects the national average with an approximate 300 percent increase, said the author of the article, Aaron Glantz.

(via Flickr/Georgia National Guard)

New jobs await veterans and their spouses Tuesday. Over one hundred employers will meet with veterans and their spouses during a job fair at America’s Center

in downtown St. Louis.

The fair is a part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s small business conference for veterans, which lasts until Thursday.

The Hiring Our Heroes fair begins with an 8 a.m. workshop for mentoring, interview skills, resume help, and job search techniques.

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