veterans

Keiko Sagami

As veterans get older, expenses start to add up. Especially nursing home care, when all they really need is some help at home. So now, one Missoula pilot program that does that is expanding to other parts of Montana.

It helps people like Eugene Hertz. He’s an 83-year-old Korean War veteran. He’s got a bad back, and his doctors don’t want him doing very much because of it. That really gets on his nerves, and means that his wife Joann has to do a lot of the housework. 

U.S. Senator Jon Tester and Veteran’s Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald are on a two-day tour of the state, visiting VA facilities in Helena, Missoula, and Billings.

Tuesday morning they were at Fort Harrison in Helena. McDonald says it’s the 120th VA facility he’s toured since taking over the troubled agency last July. 

McDonald and Tester sat down with about one hundred veterans and active service members, along with representatives of a range of interest groups, for a round-table discussion.

Veterans' Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald is hearing a range of concerns about his agency’s performance on a two-day tour of VA facilities in Montana.

With Senator Jon Tester at his side, VA secretary McDonald listened to representatives of various groups, from mental health advocates to the American Legion, spell out what the VA needs to do to better serve the thousands of veterans across the state. He said the fact that Montana’s VA Health Care System went without a permanent director for eight months is a symptom of the problems his agency is facing.

CC-BY-2.0

The acting director of veterans health care in Montana is on the defensive after Senator Jon Tester said the VA health center in Helena is temporarily closing its inpatient mental health unit.

In a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald in Washington, Tester said, “staffing levels at the VA in Montana are at the point where it can no longer safely staff the eight bed acute inpatient section of the mental health facility at Ft. Harrison” in Helena.

Johnny Ginnity, acting director at Ft. Harrison says, that doesn’t mean the mental health ward is being closed.

Jon Tester

It's been eight months since the Montana VA had a permanent director and Senator Jon Tester says he's fed up with the delay.

Tester fired-off a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald this week calling it "completely unacceptable".

The Democrat says he only recently found out that a hire was imminent about three months ago. However,  the Office of Management and Budget found a "screw-up" that scuttled the process.

Montana University System Requests $53 Million In Bonds For Infrastructure

Jan 27, 2015

The Montana University System is asking lawmakers for permission to issue just over $53 million in bonds.

The money would be used to renovate existing buildings to protect the life and safety of students, faculty and staff;  bring the buildings up to code; and for improvements to classrooms and laboratories.

Among the projects: the library building at Montana State Billings. It has the largest lecture classrooms on campus, but it doesn’t comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Christopher Allen

Over 100 veterans met with Montana VA Health Care leaders in Missoula Wednesday night, some to ask, “Why can’t I get care?

The leaders came to Missoula at the direction of VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who’s called for town hall meetings to get feedback from veterans to try to rebuild their trust in the wake of national criticism for long delays in treatment and cover-ups about false scheduling records at VA facilities in Phoenix.

The vets at the meeting in Missoula sounded happy with their VA doctors, but it’s the agency’s bureaucracy that has some frustrated and worried.

Senator John Walsh used his last speech on the Senate floor this morning to talk about money in politics, protecting Montana public lands and veteran suicides.

In August, Walsh dropped out of his Senate reelection bid amid a plagiarism scandal.

Walsh said 22 veterans commit suicide every day.

"If this country were losing 22 service members a day on the battlefield, Americans would be in the streets protesting."

On Tuesday, the House unanimously passed a bill to reduce vet suicides, it’s now before the Senate.

Over the weekend, Montana Republicans held their platform convention in Billings.  Chuck Johnson of Lee Newspapers reports that Republicans, "Irked at what they believe is Democrats interfering in their primary elections. . . called for closing their primaries and allowing only registered Republicans to vote in them."  Delegates also supported a resolution to turn over federal public lands to the state.

Veteran's Viewpoint

Jun 18, 2014

This is Dan Gallagher with Veteran’s Viewpoint.

There’s a lot to talk about in the veterans’ world these days.  For example, on May 30th VA Secretary Shinseki resigned that position--but I find neither pleasure nor optimism in that action, mostly because of the way it came to be.