Veterans Administration

Deana Martorella Orellana's mother, Laurel Martorella (left), and Orellana's sister, Robin Jewell, hold her Marine Corps photo. Orellana killed herself a year after leaving the Marines. She had agreed to undergo counseling the day she died.
Jay Price / American Homefront

Female veterans are nearly 2 1/2 times more likely to commit suicide than civilian women, according to data from the Veterans Administration Suicide Prevention Program. The same data show male veterans are 18 percent more likely to kill themselves than civilian men. Why are female veterans struggling? The advocacy group Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) released six recommendations on the mental health needs of women service members and veterans based on a poll of veterans in the civilian world and women on active duty.

Veterans with denied disability claims wait an average of four to five years for appeals hearings. The VA predicts the delay will get worse if Congress doesn't streamline the process.

Edwin Cottrell holds an illustration of the P-47D fighter plane he flew in World War II.
Jay Price / WUNC

Edwin Cottrell, a World War II pilot with the 48th Fighter Group, told his story as part of the "My Life, My Story" project at the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville, N.C.  He talked to VA interviewer Melanie McConnell about his life in and after the military.  Later, he spoke with WUNC reporter Jay Price.

93-year-old Dorothy Managan is among the patients who participated in the "My Life, My Story" project at the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville, N.C.  She talked to the VA interviewer about her experiences as a nurse during and after World War II.  She repeated some of those stories for WUNC reporter Jay Price.

Thor Ringler of the Department of Veterans Affairs interviews Korean War veteran Darrell Krenz for the 'My Life, My Story' project.
Department of Veterans Affairs

An initiative at several veterans hospitals adds something new to patients' medical records: their life stories.