VA reforms removed from massive spending bill

Nikki Wentling Stars and Stripes WASHINGTON — A deal collapsed Wednesday to include multiple Department of Veterans Affairs reforms in a spending bill that Congress formulated to prevent a government shutdown. Earlier this week, the bill was set to contain a measure to overhaul the VA Choice program, which veterans use to access private-sector medical care. A deal reached between key House and Senate lawmakers on VA oversight also included an expansion of benefits for veteran caregivers, as well as a ... More

VA centers begin using genetic testing to treat depression

Catherine Ho San Francisco Chronicle Kewchang Lee, a psychiatrist who oversees mental health consultations at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, is not used to being studied. But in recent weeks, Lee signed up to be part of a first-of-its-kind experiment that is playing out in 21 VA health centers around the country, including San Francisco and Palo Alto. For the first time since he began practicing medicine in 1992, Lee is asking a small number of his patients to take a cheek swab for a ... More

4 VA employees accused in drug ring

James Halpin The Citizens' Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa. PLAINS TWP. — Four Department of Veterans Affairs employees have been hit with drug charges following what police say was a “large-scale investigation” into drug possession and dealing at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Michael Patrick Appel, 37, of 78 Zerby Ave., Edwardsville; Brian Harris, 47, of 1202 Four Seasons Court, Hazle Twp.; Robert Taffaro, 41, of 164 Hillside St., Trucksville; and David James Koechel Jr., ... More

Veterans' court case clears the road for higher ratings

By Douglas G. Jackson Military1 Columnist The Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims issued another major decision that is extremely helpful to veterans seeking higher disability ratings. The decision in the case King v. Shulkin is written by one of the newest judges, the Honorable Michael Allen. In this case, the Court specifically decided that a veteran may be entitled to what is called an “extraschedular” rating, even if the disability does not meet a higher rating ba ... More