UPDATED 7:36 AM EDT, May 20, 2013 | KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 85,000 veterans were treated last year for injuries or illness stemming from sexual abuse in the military, and 4,000 sought disability benefits, underscoring the staggering long-term impact of a crisis that has roiled the Pentagon and been condemned by President Barack Obama as "''shameful and disgraceful."
A House committee chairman renewed his criticism Thursday of the bonuses paid to senior executives at the Veterans Affairs Department and called on the VA to recoup a nearly $63,000 bonus given to an official who oversaw a Pittsburgh hospital where an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease killed five veterans.
The Veterans Affairs Department is withholding bonuses for senior officials who oversee disability claims, citing a failure to meet performance goals for reducing a sizable backlog in claims processing.
The backlog has increased dramatically over the past three years, and the department has come under intense criticism from veterans' groups and members of Congress.
VA spokesman Josh Taylor said Monday that the savings would be used to help reduce the backlog. He could provide no specifics nor say how many people would be affected.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal auditors say a job-training program designed to help veterans re-enter the workforce has more than 60,000 empty slots, left unfilled despite efforts to reduce the jobless rate among veterans.
The program is geared toward unemployed veterans between the ages of 35 and 60. It covers up to one year of tuition for training in high-demand jobs at local community or technical colleges.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's budget proposal will include nearly a 14 percent spending increase for that part of the VA responsible for attacking a growing backlog of veterans' disability claims — a problem that officials warned is likely to worsen in coming months.
All told, the Department of Veterans Affairs would see a 4 percent increase, to $63.5 billion, for such items as medical care and research, technology and new construction. That does not include disability, pension and education benefits.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Veterans groups are rallying to fight any proposal to change disability payments as the federal government attempts to address its long-term debt problem. They say they've sacrificed already.
Government benefits are adjusted according to inflation, and President Barack Obama has endorsed using a slightly different measure of inflation to calculate Social Security benefits. Benefits would still grow but at a slower rate.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal investigative agency says employees at a Veterans Administration hospital in Jackson, Miss., disclosed "serious wrongdoing" that raises questions about the facility's ability to care for the veterans it serves.
In a letter sent Monday to the White House, the Office of Special Counsel said an initial report by a whistleblower employee at the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center alleged in 2009 that the staff routinely failed to properly clean and sterilize reusable medical equipment such as scalpels.
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The federal Department of Veterans Affairs said Monday its mental health professionals won't comply with a new gun law in New York that requires reporting the names of patients they believe likely to hurt themselves or others.
That provision is set to take effect Saturday. Several veterans and their advocates warned it would deter many from seeking counseling and medications to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder or other psychological issues. Veterans fear their rights would be taken away.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The military's new medal for cyber warriors should get a demotion, according to veterans groups and lawmakers who say it shouldn't outrank such revered honors as the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Federal officials are blaming unsafe working conditions for the death of a San Francisco Veterans Affairs medical center researcher who died after he handled a rare strain of bacteria
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Wednesday issued a notice of "serious violations" to the medical center for the death last year of 25-year-old Richard Din.
OSHA says the VA failed to properly supervise and protect Din while he was developing a vaccine for the particular strain of meningitis that killed him.