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
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.”
House lawmakers urge VA secretary to research medical marijuana
In a letter Thursday to VA Secretary David Shulkin, lawmakers cited the country’s opioid crisis and the growing demand from veterans and major veterans service organizations that want cannabis available as a treatment option for chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Facebook shuts down ‘imposter’ veterans page
Facebook Inc. disabled a page on its social media platform Tuesday after determining it violated the intellectual property of a congressionally chartered veterans service organization.
Soldier behind ‘Thank You’ opens up to help others
Ten years ago, when journalist David Finkel approached Army Staff Sgt. Adam Schumann on his last day in Iraq, Schumann didn’t anticipate his life would be chronicled in two books, and he couldn’t imagine the story would play out in a major motion picture.
House considers major changes to VA health care
Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin argued Tuesday that a House plan for veterans’ health care was too restrictive and wouldn’t offer enough veterans the choice of private-sector care.
VA secretary promises in writing not to cut benefit program for disabled vets
Months after President Donald Trump’s administration backed off a proposal to slash benefits for the country’s most disabled veterans, organizations such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars were still receiving calls and emails from panicked vets. That’s why the organizations were relieved Thursday, when VA Secretary David Shulkin put the promise in writing.
Democrats want to help deported vets get VA care
When five members of Congress traveled to Tijuana, Mexico, on Friday, they met U.S. veterans, many of them with mental illness or physical issues — all deported and unable to access their federal benefits.
Senators call for more oversight of VA spending
A group of senators led by Arizona Republican John McCain are seeking assurances that money spent on private health care for veterans is well-managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Chief of VA health system steps down
The leader of the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system unexpectedly stepped down from her position effective Saturday, leaving three top VA positions unfilled by permanent undersecretaries.
Union warns of VA privatization ahead of Choice reform debate
A coalition of people opposed to the Department of Veterans Affairs providing more private care for veterans described their fears Thursday about an effort by President Donald Trump’s administration to shift more public funds to private entities and undermine VA health care.
Stage set in Congress for debate on Choice program reform
VA Secretary David Shulkin had told lawmakers in June that the account was quickly and unexpectedly running out of money because of increased demand. Now, the money – originally estimated to last until February 2018 – is again being spent faster than predicted.
Veterans crisis line to open third call center
The Department of Veterans Affairs will open a third call center in the fall to handle an anticipated increase in calls to the veterans crisis hotline. The announcement comes just nine months after a second call center was opened in Atlanta.