U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

In 2011, Alex Randolph was in Iraq, in the middle of a tour of duty with the Army. What happened one evening would haunt him for years, and change the way his friends back home saw him. Those memories eventually led Randolph to think about killing himself.

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) was named chairman of a subcommittee created to lead the update of electronic health records for veterans.  The $15.8 billion project was announced last summer by the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Steve Burns / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Following reports of falsified appointment books at a Peru, Indiana Veterans’ Affairs clinic, two of the state’s U.S. House members want answers.

Former Veterans’ Affairs committee member Jackie Walorski (R-2nd) and current member Jim Banks (R-3rd) signed a letter wanting to know why one medical professional at the Peru clinic reported serving many more patients than she actually saw.

Department of Veterans Affairs / http://www.va.gov/

U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald says his department is making progress in rebuilding trust lost in last year’s scandal involving manipulated wait times and falsified waiting lists. 

In a visit to Indiana Thursday, McDonald said the disability claims backlog has been reduced by 80-percent in the last couple of years, and the VA has completed more than seven million more appointments this year than last year. 

Department of Veterans Affairs / http://www.va.gov/

When an internal audit of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs last month marked Indianapolis’ VA hospital for further review, it didn’t give a reason for doing so.  

As Indiana Public Broadcasting's Gretchen Frazee reports, officials at the Roudebush VA Medical Center  now say it’s because of accusations that the hospital manipulated wait times.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is expected to brief Congressional leaders this week on the facilities it marked for further review.

Speaker of the House John Boehner's office / https://www.flickr.com/photos/speakerboehner/13607898585

The first member of Congress to call for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation says Shinseki's exit needs to be the start of reform efforts, not the end.

Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-2nd) says the lengthy wait times at VA hospitals and cooked books to conceal them should lead to criminal charges against those directly responsible, and a fresh set of eyes at the top to order a comprehensive review.

Terry Ross / https://www.flickr.com/photos/qnr/3336138633

Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Dan Coats (R-IN) aren’t yet joining the ranks of those calling on Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. 

Controversy has swirled around the Veterans Affairs head for weeks amid allegations that VA hospitals around the country manipulated wait lists, leading to treatment delays and even patient deaths. 

Federal benefits to veterans delayed

Jul 8, 2013

Hoosier veterans may still have to wait months or years before receiving federal benefits despite a state effort to get them into the federal system more quickly.

A law that went into effect this month focuses on training and paying city and county veteran’s service officers to ensure that Indiana veteran’s claims are filed correctly and promptly in the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs system.  The problem is that the Veteran’s Affairs office in Indiana has a back log of about 10,000 claims. 

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana) says he wants greater focus on preventing suicide among active-duty military service members and veterans, including an increase in outreach to vets.

Last year, more troops took their own life than died in combat in Afghanistan.  And Donnelly says 43% of service members who committed suicide never sought help.  He says trying to combat the problem of military and veteran suicide needs to involve erasing the stigma of seeking help.