Local stories

Local Veterans Affairs officials met with reporters this week to talk about some of the steps they're taking to improve accessibility and quality of care for veterans. 

One of the Seattle VA's new initiatives is to help veterans deal with chronic pain -- a problem that can often lead to opiate dependence and addiction. Another critical initiative addresses the 11 percent growth in VA Puget Sound's patient load. 


Pentagon ends ban on transgender troops

Jun 30, 2016

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter Thursday announced an end to the ban on openly transgender people serving in the military. 

The policy takes effect immediately.

Carter said the new policy recognizes that there are already transgender troops.

"The Defense Department and the military need to avail ourselves of all talent possible in order to remain what we are now: the finest fighting force the world has ever known," he said.

This September the University of Southern California will open a new mental health care clinic aimed at filling gaps in services for military veterans and their families. 

The clinic, part of a $275 million grant from billionaire hedge fund manager Steven Cohen, is expected to open in September as one of 25 such sites planned nationwide. 

The network's director, Anthony Hassan, said the aim is to treat people who fall through the cracks of the Veterans Administration's care. 

Dozens of women who take care of military veteran spouses got to take a break Saturday morning at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall in downtown Los Angeles. The event offered day care, arts and crafts, mindfulness training, and free massages.
KPCC/John Ismay

Dozens of women who take care of military veteran spouses got to take a break Saturday morning at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall in downtown Los Angeles. The event offered day care, arts and crafts, mindfulness training, and free massages. KPCC/John Ismay

For many women in Los Angeles, taking care of a disabled spouse is a full-time job.

The wait times for VA primary care patients in the Fayetteville area had been among the longest in the country, but have fallen sharply in recent months. VA officials say that a big reason is the massive outpatient health care center they opened in November.

Seattle students create 'healing garden' for veterans

Jun 12, 2016
Marine veteran Jack Kegley and UW Assistant Professor Jeremy Watson enjoy the new healing garden built by UW students.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

A dull empty space outside Puget Sound VA’s emergency room has been transformed into a serene space for sitting.

County Speeds Up Rent Checks For Homeless Vets

Jun 9, 2016

L.A. County housing officials are crediting a new incentive program with getting previously reticent landlords to lease to homeless veterans in an incredibly tight rental market.

Emilio Salas, L.A. County Housing Authority's deputy executive director, said Wednesday the agency has successfully used up all of its 1,500 federal housing vouchers for homeless veterans.

The U.S. Senate passed a bill which included a provision to help injured veterans conceive children. It would cover the cost of fertility treatment under their VA benefits.    

US. Senator Patty Murray’s amendment would allow veterans with service-connected injuries that prevent them from conceiving naturally to pursue procedures like in vitro fertilization. The procedure combines harvested eggs and sperm outside the body.

Laura Herzog stands in front of a newly stuccoed wall that will soon become a memorial to all the Americans killed in action since 9/11.
KPCC/John Ismay

Laura Herzog stands in front of a newly stuccoed wall that will soon become a memorial to all the Americans killed in action since 9/11. KPCC/John Ismay

For two years, Laura Herzog has been on a mission to honor the nearly 7,000 military service members who've been killed in America's wars since 9/11.

A National Guard soldier from Seattle has died in Iraq. The Department of Defense says the officer's death was not combat related.

The Army says 1st Lt. David A. Bauders died Friday on Iraq's Al Asad Airbase.  He’d been deployed since April to Iraq and Kuwait with the 176th Engineer Company of Snohomish.

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