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
Senators call for quick confirmation of 6 VA appointees
“It’s very important we get these done now so they can get to work,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson, chairman of the Veterans' Affairs committee. “Every day they’re not working, our veterans are not being served, and that’s not good for our country.”
House lawmakers propose 6 months of funding for VA Choice
House lawmakers are looking to provide six months of emergency funding for a nearly bankrupt program that allows veterans to receive health care outside the Department of Veterans Affairs after negotiations stalled on a multibillion-dollar deal to fund the program for a full year and review VA buildings across the country.
House plans to pass 'Forever' GI Bill by August
The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will hold a hearing Monday about a large expansion of veterans' education benefits with a plan to vote on the measure Wednesday and have the bill sail through the House in just two weeks, ahead of a monthlong summer recess.
Senators begin negotiations on new VA Choice Program
Members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee gained feedback this week about three draft proposals to reform how and when veterans seek private-sector health care, setting the stage for negotiations between Democrats and Republicans on what might be the biggest task for the committee this year.
Expanded ‘forever’ GI Bill poised for quick action in Congress
House lawmakers will introduce legislation Thursday to secure college aid for reservists and reimburse veterans whose schools unexpectedly close, as well as do away with a 15-year time limit for veterans to use education benefits – changes that together create the largest expansion of veterans’ education benefits since the Post-9/11 GI Bill was created nearly a decade ago.
Senator calls for emergency funding for VA Choice Program
The bill responds to VA Secretary David Shulkin’s announcement to lawmakers in June that the program was quickly and unexpectedly in need of funds. The program pays for veterans, in certain instances, to receive health care from private sector medical facilities.
Lawmakers to take on veterans issues after weeklong recess
As they return this week from a July Fourth break, lawmakers are set to discuss Department of Veterans Affairs health care, its 2018 budget, how veterans are affected by the opioid crisis and how the VA handles claims for Gulf War Illness – all while facing a short timeframe to do something about quickly diminishing funds in the VA Choice program.
VA employee disciplinary actions are now public information
Veterans Affairs made public a list of employee terminations, demotions and suspensions that it will update weekly, which agency officials said is an attempt at transparency following action by Congress to give the VA secretary unprecedented disciplinary power.
Staffing shortages in Arkansas a 'snapshot' of VA hiring problems
Two dozen members of the medical staff at John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital in Little Rock gathered along the road outside the facility on Monday morning, holding up signs and chanting at passersby in protest of staffing shortages that they believe are severe and put patients at risk.
Senate committee moves to speed up yearslong VA appeals process
The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Wednesday unanimously passed on voice vote a bill that aims to speed up the process of getting veterans their earned benefits – a task that now takes between three and six years on average if a veteran is forced to appeal a benefits claim that is denied.
The VA plans to get rid of 430 buildings in the next two years
The facilities are either vacant or mostly vacant, according to a VA news release. Some of the buildings will be demolished, while others will be prepared for a different use. VA Secretary David Shulkin said the closures would come “as swiftly as possible.”
Veterans issues spotlighted in Congress this week
Several key veterans issues will be the focus of congressional hearings this week, with lawmakers set to address the firing of bad employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the agency’s 2018 budget and benefits reform.
Air Force veteran went from flight chief to marijuana cultivation
Inside his large corner office at the marijuana cultivation facility, U.S. Air Force veteran Ryan Reese kept a model U-2 on his desk and a copy of Time magazine – a special edition about the booming business of pot. In the past two years, he's traded one world for the other.
How veterans are helping advance marijuana-PTSD research
A new study is launching at a time when veterans have been at the center of a national conversation on medical marijuana. The American Legion is attempting to apply political pressure to support marijuana research, and just yesterday, VA Secretary David Shulkin said he was open to looking at – and learning from – any evidence marijuana could be used to treat veterans.
American Legion calls VA budget proposal ‘stealth privatization’
The country’s largest veterans service organization said Friday that it was “extremely disappointed” with President Donald Trump’s budget proposal for the Department of Veterans Affairs, which includes cuts to benefits for some of the country’s most disabled veterans.
Senate committee advances bill to speed up VA firing process
The Department of Veterans Affairs secretary would be able to dismiss poor-performing employees more easily under legislation approved Wednesday by a Senate committee, which sent the bill to a full Senate vote despite concerns from Democrats.
Democrats, veterans groups criticize tradeoffs in Trump’s VA budget
President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposes to inject $2.9 billion of new funding into a program that allows veterans to receive care outside the Department of Veterans Affairs, but comes at a cost to VA benefits programs – a move Democrats and veterans organizations criticized Wednesday.
House passes VA appeals bill and 5 other veterans measures
The House unanimously passed legislation Tuesday aiming to shorten the amount of time veterans wait for earned benefits, a process that takes an average of six years when a veteran is forced to appeal a claim with the Board of Veterans' Appeals.
House committee moves bill to prohibit smoking at VA facilities
The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs voted unanimously by voice vote Wednesday to move forward with legislation that would immediately ban smoking inside Department of Veterans Affairs facilities and require the agency to eliminate outdoor smoking areas by 2022.
Senators introduce VA accountability bill after 2-month stall
Nearly two months after the House passed legislation that would allow Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin to fire bad workers more quickly, the Senate on Thursday introduced its own version of the bill — one with bipartisan support.
VA hearing postponed amid fallout from FBI director firing
A Senate hearing regarding the future of the Veterans Choice Program was postponed Wednesday after Senate Democrats invoked a rule to prevent committees from meeting – a decision made in protest of the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Lawmakers again trying to reduce time that veterans wait for benefits
Congress is trying again to shorten the amount of time that veterans must wait to receive their government benefits, which has climbed to an average of three years if a veteran is forced to appeal a claim that is denied, a Department of Veterans Affairs official said Tuesday.
Trump signs extension of VA Choice Program, calls it a ‘good start’
President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a bill extending the often-criticized Veterans Choice Program beyond its August 2017 expiration date, a move that Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said would buy him time to work with Congress on program improvements.
VA smoking ban gets first hearing in House
The Department of Veterans Affairs has attempted for years to rally congressional support against a 25-year-old mandate that there must be smoking areas at its health care facilities. At a Wednesday hearing, a bill finally introduced to repeal that law was discussed publicly for the first time.
Advocates say the time is right for a War on Terror memorial
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial has long been the inspiration for Andrew Brennan to establish a national memorial to honor the men and women who served in the ongoing Global War on Terror, which he envisions as a place for veterans to gather and remember their friends and for others to learn about the war’s costs.