Veterans Affairs

In an agency that was "built for men," VA leaders are working to add health care services for female veterans.

Soldier saluting
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

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.

Dorothy Managan, 93, served as an Army nurse in Tacoma, Wa. after World War II. She recently added her life story to her medical record at the Asheville, N.C. VA Medical Center.
Jay Price / American Homefront


For many health professionals, treating patients is a matter of assessing their ailments, making a diagnosis and prescribing treatment where it is required. Then it is on to the next patient. But a new program in VA medical centers aims to make connections between medical professionals and their patients through narratives.

Soldier saluting
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

People across the state are honoring those who served in the military on this Veterans Day.  There are parades and ceremonies in many communities and other events where veterans get to tell their stories of service. 

Cornell Wilson, Jr. is the Secretary for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs for North Carolina.  He says it is always important to thank veterans for their service.

"We have roughly 800,000 veterans in this state, a combination of retirees and those that just got off active duty and they are a very vital part of our community," says Wilson.

Image of Tommy Sowers
Duke University

Tommy Sowers served two tours in Iraq as a green beret. The Duke graduate earned a Ph.D. at the London School of Economics, and he taught at West Point and at Duke.

Sowers ran as the Democratic Party's nominee for Missouri’s 8th Congressional District in 2010 and later became an assistant secretary for the Veterans Affairs. He worked to help veterans gain access to benefits.

A student veterant leaning over his desk.
Carly Swain / UNC-Chapel Hill

Fifteen military veterans are wrapping up a week-long academic training bootcamp at UNC-Chapel Hill designed to help them transition easier into college. It's part of a national program called the Warrior-Scholar Project.

Lara Taylor, director of Carolina's orientation, says some vets come straight from service, while others have been out for a few years.

Soldier saluting
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The North Carolina Department of Veterans Affairs is working with experts at Duke University to overhaul its strategy to connect vets with the right resources.

State VA Director Ilario Pantano says Duke's Evidence Based Practice Implementation Center will help the VA train its service personnel to better understand how to assess a veteran's needs.

Pantano says the experts will help create better customer management software. They'll also help improve intake questions, follow-up guidelines, and messaging.

A picture of a syringe.
Zaldylmg / Creative Commons

Nurses gathered outside the VA Hospital in Durham Wednesday to raise awareness about the risk Ebola poses to healthcare workers. It was part of an international effort, urging hospitals to adopt the highest preparedness standards for staff who might potentially treat a patient with Ebola. 

Gov. Pat McCrory
NC Governor's Office

This Veterans Day, Gov. Pat McCrory has high praise for the new U.S. Veterans Affairs secretary. He's also touting new programs to help former and active members of the Armed Forces in North Carolina. 

He tells Eric Hodge that showing gratitude to veterans is something he takes very personally.

McCrory's father was a Navy pilot and his father-in-law flew P-47s in the Army Air Corps. But his real role model was his cousin Paul. Paul was a Marine who trained at Camp Lejeune and served in the Vietnam War.

Flag of the United States of America, backlit, windy day.
Jnn13 / Wikipedia

Communities across North Carolina are hosting events in honor of Veterans Day today. 

Airman First Class Fabiola Tan of Durham becomes an American citizen today. She is one of six U.S. military veterans and service members who naturalized in a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ceremony in Durham County this morning.

Tan came to the United States from the Dominican Republic before she turned four.

Fayetteville VA building

The Fayetteville VA is closing its emergency room  as of 8:00 a.m. Friday.  The emergency room will be converted to an urgent care clinic until further notice.

The hospital says a lack of doctors is to blame for the cut back.

"If there's a veteran out there in the community, or a family member of a veteran who is experiencing a life-threatening emergency, they should not, and I repeat, should not come to the Fayetteville VA emergency room," said Public Affairs officer Jeffery Melvin.  "They should dial 9-1-1 and ask them to take them to the nearest emergency department."

President Obama in Charlotte, 8/26/14
Tasnim Shamma / WFAE

President Barack Obama spoke today to hundreds of American Legion veterans who had gathered in Charlotte, NC, for their national convention. His remarks come just months after a health care scandal and leadership change at the top of the Veterans Administration. The President announced 19 new executive actions to improve veterans' care -- one of which focuses on the rising rate of suicides among former soldiers.

President Obama To Speak To Veterans In Charlotte Today

Aug 26, 2014
Obama speaking in Mooresville, NC.
The White House

President Barack Obama is coming to North Carolina to speak to the American Legion convention, where Sen. Kay Hagan says she will talk to him about Washington's commitment to the state's military veterans.

The official statement might be the most passive aggressive technique in politics. And right now, there's a lot of passive aggression in the world of veterans affairs.

The Durham VA Medical Center
Durham VA Medical Center

The Department of Veterans Affairs is investigating allegations of improper scheduling at VA medical centers across the country. 

Leaked emails from VA offices in Arizona and Wyoming suggest employees changed records to falsely show that veterans were getting prompt appointments. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is testifying about those allegations today on Capitol Hill.

This week, two employees at the Durham VA Medical Center were put on administrative leave amid similar allegations.

Soldier saluting
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Veterans returning from deployment face a quickly-changing job market. Many have a difficult time explaining how their military experience has prepared them for the civilian work force. The unemployment rate for veterans is about 7-percent, on par with the national average.

The North Carolina National Guard Education and Employment Center helps guard members look for civilian jobs.

Manager and fellow veteran Austin Walther says they also help vets translate their military experience into civilian job skills.

The weight of paper files at the VA's Winston-Salem office threatened to collapse the floor.
Office of the Inspector General/Department of Veterans Affairs

U.S. Senator Kay Hagan says the Veterans Affairs office in Winston-Salem is cutting down on its backlog of claims. 

The Democrat from North Carolina says the office has processed all claims that have been waiting for two years or more.  Hagan says the average claim now takes 200 days, compared to more than 300 days a year ago.  The Winston-Salem VA processes nearly all claims filed in North Carolina. 

The Durham VA Medical Center
Durham VA Medical Center

The latest research suggests that for veterans, social support is just as important as medical care.

Host Frank Stasio talks with UNC Chapel Hill Associate Professor of Psychiatry Eric Elbogen, about his study showing that vets lacking social and financial stability are more likely to engage in violent behavior than those with posttraumatic stress disorder. Joining the conversation are Pete Tillman, public affairs officer for the Durham VA Medical Center, and Jason Hansman of Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America.

The weight of paper files at the VA's Winston-Salem office threatened to collapse the floor.
Office of the Inspector General/Department of Veterans Affairs

Hundreds of thousands of veterans have been waiting months - sometimes years - for their disability claims to be processed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Recently, piled up claims threatened to buckle the floor at the Winston-Salem office. 

Eric Shinseki
Dept. of Veteran's Affairs

The UNC System hosted the federal government’s top Veterans Affairs official yesterday. V.A. Secretary Eric Shinseki met with UNC leaders to discuss expanding higher education opportunities for military veterans. 

Several UNC system schools have long and proud histories of educating military veterans. And as General Shinseki pointed out, veterans have a lot to offer the universities and the state of North Carolina as students and employees.

Soldier saluting
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

North Carolina will open its newest full-service State Veterans Home Thursday in Kinston.  Residents there can have on-site registered nurses, therapists and service officers to assist with VA benefits to deal with their physical injuries.  They will also be either next to, or a short drive from, a local hospital should they need more intensive medical care. 

The Veterans Affairs office in Fayetteville is looking for ways to help homeless veterans there. The VA says the number of homeless female veterans is rising as more women serve in the military. Stephanie Felder is the homeless program coordinator at the VA in Fayetteville. She says the meeting attracted nonprofit groups and employment agencies to help put male and female veterans back to work.

Wake County is hosting a networking fair today for organizations that support military personnel and their families. County leaders say the event is designed to develop stronger ties between local military groups. Randy Marsh is chair of the Wake County Military and Veterans Resource Coalition.