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veterans

Secretary of the Veterans Administration David Shulkin at an event in Helena, MT August 21, 2017.
Eric Whitney

The Secretary of the Veterans Administration visited Montana today, and made an announcement that many veterans will welcome.

At an event in Helena, Senator Jon Tester let the news slip before Secretary David Shulkin had a chance to.

"The VA Secretary is going to announce at some point in time today — I don't want to take away any of your thunder – some rules that he is going to modify to allow rest homes to be built in rural areas. The Butte boys that are here ..."

The Veterans Health Administration is holding an open house at the Ft. Harrison VA hospital in Helena tomorrow evening, from 5:30 to 7 PM.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

President Trump signed a bill today to temporarily extend a troubled program designed to allow veterans to get medical care in the private sector.

Veterans Choice, file photo.
Courtesy Veterans Administration

Senator Jon Tester says he'll push for an extension of the troubled Veterans Choice healthcare program on the Senate floor Thursday.

Tester is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs committee. He co-sponsored the original, bi-partisan Veterans Choice bill in 2014. It was a $10 billion response to revelations that some veterans were being harmed by having to wait for long periods to get healthcare through the VA.

Tester Bills Gives VA Bigger Role Veterans Choice Program
Courtesy Sen. Jon Tester

Three years after Congress created the Veterans Choice healthcare program, it continues to flounder.

Here’s Montana Senator Jon Tester, who helped create Veterans Choice:

Sen. Jon Tester
U.S. Senate

Montana Senator Jon Tester met with President Donald Trump at the White House today. Tester, a Democrat, characterized the meeting as a ‘productive conversation’.

Montana Hall, MSU Campus, Bozeman, MT
Flickr User Tim Evanson (CC-BY-2)

As Montana lawmakers debate which infrastructure projects outlined in the bonding bill should get state funding, the presidents of two of Montana’s public universities asked state lawmakers to invest in public education.

Time is Running Out to Build a SW MT Veterans Home

Jan 27, 2017

Veterans lined up to deliver emotional testimony in support of a Southwest Montana Veterans home.  They’re seeking a so-called “bridge loan” to begin construction before time runs out.

“We’re at a point where if we don’t get it done this (Legislative) session all of the work to get this built is wasted,” said Navy Veteran and registered nurse Tom Goyette. He said if construction doesn’t start by 2019 the land donated by Don Harrington will revert back to the family.


Dan Gallagher speaks at the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center in 2011.
Jeannette Rankin Peace Center/Betsy Mulligan-Dague

Montana lost a strong voice for Veterans with the death of Dan Gallagher in Missoula on Monday.

After high school, Kipp McGuire joined the Marine Corps and served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He earned a college degree in political science, worked as a bouncer and a congressional aide. Now he's pursuing a graduate degree in international relations.

From Real Life To Fiction: Novels By Gwen Florio

Nov 16, 2016

When former foreign correspondent Lola Wicks heads to Wyoming for a Yellowstone vacation, she comes across a story that hits close to her past. One Wyoming soldier returning from Afghanistan commits suicide, two others spark a near-fatal brawl, and a woman is terrorized. Lola, accompanied by her young daughter, senses a story about whatever happened on the far side of the world that these troops have brought so disastrously home. But she soon realizes that getting the story must take second place to getting herself—and her little girl—out of Wyoming alive.

The Montana Department of Veterans Affairs is hosting a town hall-style meeting Thursday night in Helena. 

"The event is open to the public, so any veteran or family member, or member of the general public that just wants to learn a little more about what the VA provides are welcome to join us that evening,” said Mike Garcia, Public Affairs Officer for the Montana VA.

Montana VA Appoints New Permanent Director

Oct 28, 2016
New Permanent VA Director Dr. Kathy Berger
Courtesy of Veterans Administration

The woman who has been interim director of the Montana Veterans Administration Health Care System since June was named permanent director Friday.

First Of Its Kind Veteran's Resource Opens In Missoula

Sep 29, 2016
Denise Juneau, right, cuts the ribbon Ed Lesofski holds up at the grand opening ceremony for the Rural Institute for Veterans Education and Research in Missoula Thursday, Sept. 29. RIVER is considered a first-of-its kind program for veterans.
Edward O'Brien

A first-of-its-kind training and intervention program for veterans celebrated its grand opening in Missoula Thursday, Sept. 29.

The Rural Institute for Veterans Education and Research – “RIVER” for short – helps vets reintegrate back into civilian life after their military service ends.

10th annual Vets for Vets Stand Down in Great Falls
St. Vincent de Paul of North Central Montana

Vietnam veterans probably remember "stand downs" - those safe retreats for units returning from combat duty.

Ben Wight,  American Red Cross Armed Forces Coordinator in Great Falls, says stand downs, "represented a time in which you brought the troops back to get them showered up, resupplied and gave them a couple of days off to regroup until they put them back in the field.”

Wight is helping organize The 10th annual Vets for Vets Stand Down this week in Great Falls. It will bring together people and groups who want to give aid and comfort to Montana veterans who’ve fallen on tough times.

From left to right: Sgt. Josh Manning, who served in Iraq with Capt. Humayun Khan; Diane Carlson-Evans, a combat nurse in Vietnam; Retired Lt. Col. Jim Gillison; John Hollow, a Navy SEAL during Vietnam
Corin Cates-Carney

Four military veterans, organized by the Democratic party stood in front of the state capitol today condemning U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke’s support of Donald Trump.

Iraq war veteran Josh Manning stood behind a wooden podium on the capitol steps Thursday as he called on Montana’s lone U.S. Representative  to denounce the Republican Party’s candidate for president.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ new veterans healthcare representative says she brings a unique perspective to the job.

Vet centers help combat veterans readjust to civilian life after what can be intense deployments overseas.
Courtesy Montana Vet Centers

Missoula-area veterans now have a new and improved Vet Center at their disposal. These centers help combat veterans readjust to civilian life after what can be intense deployments overseas.

HealthNet

Last month we reported on problems with a health care program called Veterans Choice. It was supposed to help veterans across the country get health care appointments more quickly, in the wake of the scandal at the VA in Phoenix that exposed veterans waiting months just to be seen.

There are now five and a half weeks until Congress takes its two-month summer recess. One bill that Senator Jon Tester had hoped there would be action on by now still hasn’t advanced out of committee. It’s the proposed bi-partisan fix to the troubled Veterans Choice health care program.

Iraq Veteran Dustin Monroe speaks at the Memorial Day ceremony on the University of Montana campus.
Eric Whitney

Among the many Memorial Day ceremonies in Montana was one at the Fallen Soldier Memorial on the University of Montana campus in Missoula.

"If you’re ever looking for a hero, and you’re walking around the Missoula community, come look here, we have heroes right here," said Dustin Monroe, a veterans advocate who served in the Army in Iraq. 

Mineral County Hospital representatives say the hospital has not been paid for services delivered under the Veterans Choice program.
Courtesy Mineral County Hospital

Congressman Ryan Zinke says the nation can’t just throw more money at a widely criticized veterans’ health care program.

Rep. Ryan Zinke (right), a U.S. Navy SEAL veteran, handed out the lapel pins to local veterans who served on active duty during the Vietnam War years.
Edward O'Brien

Montana Representative Ryan Zinke told Vietnam war veterans in Missoula today that theirs was America’s "unsettled" war. Zinke presented 50th Anniversary Commemorative Vietnam Veteran lapel pins to dozens of vets at Rose Park's memorial.

Many veterans are still waiting to see a doctor.

Montana Senator Jon Tester.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Legislation aiming to fix the troubled Veterans Choice healthcare program made progress in the Senate today.

Mineral County Hospital representatives say the hospital has not been paid for services delivered under the Veterans Choice program.
Courtesy Mineral County Hospital

This week we’re reporting on a year-old program for veterans that’s supposed to make it easier for them to get health care. It’s called Veterans Choice, and yesterday we heard widespread agreement that it’s not working as Congress intended. Frustration with Veterans Choice in Montana became evident in February, when Senator Jon Tester held 28 meetings across the state to get vets' feedback on it.

Veterans Choice, file photo.
Courtesy Veterans Administration

Two years ago news broke about a scandal at the Veterans Administration hospital in Phoenix. Congressional investigators found that the hospital was covering up the lengthy waiting times that veterans faced trying to see doctors. There’s evidence that 40 veterans, maybe more, died while waiting for medical appointments.

Veterans Affairs logo
CC-BY-2.0

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is opening a Vet Center this fall in Helena. Unlike larger VA medical clinics, Vet Centers only counsel returning combat veterans and military sexual trauma victims.

Veterans Choice, file photo.
Courtesy Veterans Administration

A year-old program intended to reform veterans' health care and help veterans get medical appointments more quickly isn’t working. That’s the conclusion of Montana Senator Jon Tester, who helped push the reform through Congress in the first place.

Sen. Jon Tester’s staff is on tour around Montana this month to get feedback on the $10 billion Veterans' Choice program.

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