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: firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: (202) 761-0865 | Twitter: @nikkiwentling
Veterans groups rally behind David Shulkin
The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans and Vietnam Veterans of America – groups that regularly advise VA leadership and lawmakers on veterans issues – backed VA Secretary David Shulkin on Monday and decried any attempt to undermine or replace him.
Amid turmoil, VA names new permanent chief of staff
Peter O’Rourke, a Navy and Air Force veteran, has headed the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection since it was created in May. He was previously a member of President Donald Trump’s transition team.
Marines: Slight increase in end strength proposed
The Marine Corps would get a 1 percent boost in end strength under the Pentagon’s budget proposal released Monday, accounting for 1,100 of about 15,000 active-duty servicemembers that would be added in fiscal year 2019 if Congress approves the plan.
VA budget would climb to nearly $200 billion under Trump proposal
The Department of Veterans Affairs would get another multibillion-dollar increase in 2019 under President Donald Trump’s new budget proposal, which includes cuts to domestic agencies and social programs while boosting spending for defense, homeland security and the VA.
House VA committee chairman announces re-election bid
Republican Phil Roe, who represents Tennessee’s first district in Congress and is the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, made the announcement amid speculation he would retire. He cited his work on veterans’ issues as a reason he will run for a sixth term.
Ginnie Mae penalizes 9 lenders for targeting veterans
The U.S. government sent notices to nine lenders this week, warning them that they would be penalized for pressuring veterans into costly home loan refinancing. The action could be just the first step in removing predatory lenders that target the VA program, which offers veterans a low-cost mortgage option.
VA considers restricting eligibility for caregivers program
Shulkin wants to restrict a program that provides monthly stipends and other assistance to family caregivers of post-9/11 veterans to individuals who need help with at least three activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing and dressing.
VA resumes online applications for new ID cards
Veterans can again submit online applications for new identification cards through the Department of Veterans Affairs website after the system was taken down in December following rollout problems.
White House weighs in on stalled VA Choice reform
The guidance calls for clearer rules about when veterans can go into the private sector for health care and asks senators to remove proposals to implement a hiring quota at VA facilities and expand caregiver benefits that are only available now to veterans injured after 9/11.
VA promises action to protect veterans from predatory lenders
The Department of Veterans Affairs will soon propose rule changes to its home loan guarantee program that aim to stop lenders from aggressively targeting and pressuring veterans to refinance their home loans, a VA official told congressmen Wednesday.
Trump signs order to improve mental health care for new vets
President Donald Trump signed an executive order paving the way for servicemembers to be enrolled automatically with Veterans Affairs for mental health care when they leave the military -- an attempt to eliminate barriers for transitioning troops to get treatment during their first year after service.
VA Choice reform becomes more complex as deadline looms
Republican Sens. John McCain and Jerry Moran on Monday introduced a new plan to overhaul the program that veterans use to receive private-sector medical care – tossing another option into an already complex debate that’s about to reach a crucial deadline.
VA to offer unproven hyperbaric oxygen therapy to vets with PTSD
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced this week that it would begin offering hyperbaric oxygen therapy to some veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, despite a lack of evidence that it works or being approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for PTSD.
Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient Wesley Fox dies at 86
Marine Corps Col. Wesley Fox, who received the Medal of Honor for successfully leading his company through an enemy attack during the Vietnam War and retired decades later at the mandatory age of 62, died the evening of Nov. 24 in Blacksburg, Va. He was 86.
Legislation allowing vets to bypass VA draws ire of VFW
The Veterans Empowerment Act, introduced by Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., would allow veterans to bypass Veterans Affairs and receive treatment from private-sector doctors with taxpayers money. The VFW criticized the legislation.
House Veterans committee chairman takes oversight on the road
Members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs have conducted 23 visits between January and September — many of them to VA facilities accused of wrongdoing. Rep. Phil Roe has been part of about a dozen of those visits, including a three-state trip that began Friday.
Lawmakers: Stop deporting noncitizen veterans
After months of little response from the departments of Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other lawmakers renewed efforts Thursday to stop the deportation of veterans from the U.S. and secure more protections for them.
Veterans lobby Sessions to ease restrictions on marijuana
Just down the hall from where Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee he would maintain current marijuana policies, a retired Navy SEAL, NFL lineman and two Republican lawmakers urged him and President Donald Trump to ease up.
Cost estimate delays VA Choice overhaul
Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, postponed the vote until members receive a cost estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. “I was not comfortable asking members to vote on final passage of a bill of this significance without some idea of cost,” he said.
House passes bill taking VA telehealth across state lines
The VA introduced telehealth more than a decade ago. In 2016, the agency reported about 677,000 patients – 12 percent of the veterans enrolled in VA health care – used telehealth in some form. Under legislation the House passed Tuesday, that could expand significantly.
Poll: Marijuana research widely supported among veterans
Most veteran households, regardless of state, age or political affiliation, support researching and legalizing medical marijuana, according to a poll commissioned by the American Legion released Thursday. The poll found 92 percent of veterans support research into medical cannabis.
Iraq and Afghanistan vets call VA motto ‘sexist’
A group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is demanding the Department of Veterans Affairs change its motto, which they argue is sexist, outdated and exclusionary. Since 1959, the motto has been a quote from former President Abraham Lincoln: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.”