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
Mission Act gets funding under historically high VA budget agreement
After a dispute delayed negotiations on the Department of Veterans Affairs budget for fiscal 2019, lawmakers came to an agreement Monday for more than $200 billion for the agency that includes funding for the new VA Mission Act – legislation that expands private-sector medical care for veterans.
Wilkie opposes bill that would extend Agent Orange benefits to 'Blue Water' veterans
New Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie urged senators in a letter Friday to reject legislation that would make health care and disability compensation available to approximately 90,000 “Blue Water” Navy veterans – those sailors aboard aircraft carriers, destroyers and other ships who contend they were exposed to Agent Orange.
Inspector general finds VA claims backlog greater than reported
The VA considers backlogged claims to be veterans’ claims for benefits that take longer than 125 days to approve or deny. The VA Inspector General’s Office reported officials omitted 63,600 backlogged claims from its count during the first half of 2016, creating a misrepresentation of how many claims were delayed.
Pence: Trump is a 'champion,' 'ally' to veterans
Speaking to hundreds of American Legion members on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence lauded President Donald Trump as a champion to veterans and listed off a series of what he described as major achievements under his administration.
VA considers ending ban on transgender surgeries for disabled vets
Since 1999, the VA has excluded “gender alterations” from its medical benefits package. For another two weeks, the VA is taking comments about a proposal to remove that ban for veterans who have a high enough disability rating to qualify them for comprehensive medical care from the VA.
Forging ahead: Bladesmithing gives troops, vets and caregivers a chance to bond, heal
“If these men and women are having a bad day, they can come in here, rant, rave, curse, scream, holler – you name it – and we all understand,” Donna Porras said. “We might not have been in their shoes, but we understand.”
Veterans group sues VA over ‘Mar-a-Lago Crowd’
VoteVets, a liberal advocacy group, filed a lawsuit Thursday aimed at preventing three wealthy members of President Donald Trump’s private club in Florida from influencing decisions at Veterans Affairs. The suit is a response to a news report that revealed the three were exerting major influence over the VA and secretly shaping Trump’s veterans policies.
VA secretary to announce new leader for DC hospital
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, who’s been on the job for one week, visited the Washington DC VA Medical Center on Monday to meet with hospital leaders. In a statement after his visit, the VA announced it found a new leader for the facility who will begin work “in the near future.”
Trump's VFW remarks go from praise to politics
President Donald Trump spoke to about 4,000 veterans gathered in Kansas City, Mo., for the VFW’s annual national convention, telling the crowd about his commitment to rebuild the military and improve care for veterans.
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.