Nikki Wentling covers veterans for Stars and Stripes and is based in Washington, D.C. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor of science in news and information.
Wentling previously covered local government for the Lawrence Journal-World in Lawrence, Kan. and military and veterans for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, Ark.
Email: email@example.com | Phone: (202) 761-0865 | Twitter: @nikkiwentling
White House reaffirms its commitment to jobs for military spouses
The unemployment rate for military spouses is about 16 percent – quadruple the overall unemployment rate in the U.S. Experts cite challenges such as frequent moves, often with little notice, as well as barriers created by differences in professional licensing requirements state to state.
VA secretary nominee Robert Wilkie is headed for confirmation
If confirmed by the Senate, Robert Wilkie will take over the second-largest federal agency, with a nearly $200 billion budget and 375,000 employees. He’ll be tasked with leading implementation of a massive VA reform bill Congress passed this month to overhaul the VA’s private-sector care programs.
House approves benefits for Blue Water Navy veterans
The House unanimously passed legislation Monday that would extend Department of Veterans Affairs benefits to approximately 90,000 sailors who served off the coast during the Vietnam War, some of whom have been fighting for years to prove their illnesses were caused by exposure to Agent Orange.
VA discloses rankings of 133 nursing homes
Of the 133 VA nursing homes listed, 34 earned five-star ratings overall, the highest given. Eleven had 1-star ratings, the lowest. The VA posted the performance ratings onto its website Tuesday and said it would update the information annually.
Lawmakers, veterans ask VA for urgency in addressing burn pit exposure
Ralph Erickson, the VA’s chief consultant for post-deployment health, told members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs that the VA is working on six studies and is trying to grow a registry to gather data from servicemembers exposed to burn pits. “The VA is getting out in front of this as best we can,” he said.
VA says money for Choice program will last until Trump signs funding bill
The Department of Veterans Affairs has long claimed a key health care program could run out of money by May 31 if lawmakers did not rush to pass new legislation to fund the VA. But the date came and went this week without President Donald Trump signing the new VA Mission Act and the Veterans Choice Program is still solvent.
Retiring VA deputy Bowman says agency is 'not broken'
The retiring deputy secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs on Friday reassured homeless veteran advocates about the agency’s future in his final public speech, trying to dispel worries about the leadership changes the VA has recently undergone.
Trump picks Wilkie to lead VA in surprise announcement
President Donald Trump made the surprise announcement during a public speech Friday morning at the White House about prisons and the criminal justice system. He said Robert Wilkie, currently serving on an interim basis, has done an “incredible job.”
VA inks $10 billion contract with Cerner for new electronic health record
The Department of Veterans Affairs signed a multibillion-dollar contract on Thursday to replace its antiquated electronic health record system – an action that comes as a relief to veterans and lawmakers who worried it was indefinitely stalled after former VA Secretary David Shulkin was fired in March.
Trump donates 1st quarter salary to VA caregivers program
President Donald Trump donated his salary from the first quarter of 2018 to the Department of Veterans Affairs for a program that benefits veteran caregivers. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders handed a check for $100,000 to acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on Thursday.
VA mails new veteran ID cards with Office Depot logo
The Department of Veterans Affairs has finally mailed thousands of new, free identification cards to veterans after months of setbacks and delays. Each card is adorned with an Office Depot logo – a symbol of the company’s new partnership with the VA.
Lawmakers advance bill pushing VA to research marijuana
The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs voted unanimously to advance the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act – a bipartisan attempt to encourage the VA to study the drug as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain and other ailments that disproportionately affect veterans.
House committee approves extensive VA reform deal
The bill, titled the VA Mission Act, would alter eligibility criteria for veterans to access private-sector health care, extend benefits for veteran caregivers and initiate a review of VA infrastructure, among other changes.
US Border Patrol eyes murals painted by deported veterans on Mexico border wall
Navy veteran Amos Gregory, a muralist working in San Francisco, was inspired in 2013 to paint an upside-down flag on the border wall dividing San Diego and Tijuana — a distress signal that Gregory described as the perfect symbol to represent the plight of deported veterans. Over the years, the mural has become a backdrop for their fight to return to the U.S.
Lawmakers try again for major Veterans Affairs reforms
Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, introduced legislation Thursday that’s similar to a deal that failed in March to be included in a massive spending bill that Congress passed to avoid a government shutdown.
Who’s next? Possible picks for VA secretary
Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, a White House physician, withdrew Thursday from consideration as secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, leaving the big question: Who’s next?
Veterans seek an end to ‘tumultuous chapter’ at the VA
To prevent any more damage to the Department of Veterans Affairs' reputation and delay in selecting a new VA secretary, lawmakers and veterans groups are calling on President Donald Trump to accept their input before naming his next nominee.
Ronny Jackson withdraws from nomination as VA Secretary
The decision came after details emerged late Wednesday of allegations made by 23 of Jackson’s current and former coworkers. They said he drank on duty and handed out prescription medication without keeping records of it. Jackson denies the claims.
DC VA hospital gets another temporary director
The Department of Veterans Affairs appointed Adam Robinson on Monday to lead its D.C. hospital for about four months, making him the third temporary leader of the facility since its director was fired last year.
Larry Connell is out as director of DC VA hospital
The director of the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Washington was reassigned Monday amid ongoing problems at the hospital and an investigation into whether his appointment broke federal protocols.
VA rejects Shulkin's warning of privatization threat
The Department of Veterans Affairs issued an official news release Thursday afternoon, attempting to debunk warnings of any effort in President Donald Trump’s administration to privatize the agency’s vast health care system.
Communication breakdown adds to VA woes
Several hospitals in the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system have been the subject of scandal in the past year, ranging from unsanitary conditions in Washington to misconduct in Roseburg, Ore., and poor patient care in Manchester, N.H.
TriWest CEO warns of looming financial catastrophe if VA Choice runs out of money
TriWest Healthcare Alliance, which contracts with the Department of Veterans Affairs to arrange private-sector care for veterans through the VA Choice program, warned Tuesday in an apocalyptic letter to lawmakers that another funding shortfall could lead to restricted care for veterans, as well as layoffs and financial ruin for the alliance.
Veterans join March For Our Lives to push for gun reforms
A few dozen veterans gathered at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Saturday in support of March for Our Lives. Many more veterans were likely dispersed through the large crowd, said Air Force veteran Pam Campos, who organized the veteran contingent at the Washington march.