SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge on Wednesday refused to order an overhaul of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care system, saying veterans groups who had sued for the changes should take their case elsewhere.

U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti ruled that the lawsuit was "misdirected" and that the retired warriors should instead ask Congress, the head of Veterans Affairs and the federal court in Washington, D.C., to improve the system.

Veterans groups had sued the VA, alleging that its mental health care and benefits award systems were flawed. The groups wanted Conti to order the agency to dramatically improve how fast it processes applications and how it delivers mental health care, especially for preventing suicides and treating post-traumatic stress disorder.

Leader of 82nd to be Gates’ senior assistantMaj. Gen. David Rodriguez, commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division, has been nominated to become the senior military assistant to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the Defense Department announced on Wednesday.

If confirmed by the Senate, Rodriguez would get his third star and replace Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who served in the position from early 2007 until being confirmed as the Army Vice Chief of Staff this month.

Rodriguez recently returned from Afghanistan, where he commanded U.S. troops in the eastern part of the country. Two other commanders who have excelled at counterinsurgency have also been promoted to top positions recently: Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. Raymond Odierno.

Army probes death of pregnant soldierWILMINGTON, N.C. — Officials at Fort Bragg are investigating why a pregnant soldier who was found dead this week in a local motel wasn’t reported missing after she was absent from a formation. The body of Spc. Megan Lynn Touma, 23, was identified Tuesday, two days after she was found dead. Police in Fayetteville have called the death suspicious, but few details have been released.

Maj. Angela Funaro, a Fort Bragg spokeswoman, said Wednesday that Army regulations would have required that Touma be reported as absent without leave 24 hours after missing a formation on June 16.

"We’re shocked, first and foremost. It’s always sad when you lose a soldier. And on top of that, here’s a beautiful young woman who is seven-months pregnant. It’s sad, and deeply troubling," Funaro said. Funaro said Touma arrived at Fort Bragg from Germany, where she had been assigned for the past three years.

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