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
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.”
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.
VA reforms removed from massive spending bill
Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., leaders on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, predicted earlier Wednesday that the reforms would not be included in the final version of the spending bill.
VA delays distribution of veteran ID cards
Thousands of veterans who started applying for new identification cards through the Department of Veterans Affairs in November won’t see them until April, according to the agency.
VA facing another shortfall in Choice funding
Funds could be depleted by late May for a Department of Veterans Affairs program that allows veterans to receive private-sector medical care, VA Secretary David Shulkin said Thursday.
Inspector General: Poor leadership led to widespread problems at DC VA
A culture of complacency at the Department of Veterans Affairs medical center in Washington D.C. allowed widespread failures to persist for years, putting veterans at risk and weakening core functions of the hospital, according to new findings from the VA Inspector General’s Office.
Veterans with PTSD sue Navy over claims of biased discharges
By the age of 21, Marine Corps Cpl. Tyson Manker led infantrymen into battle in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. His actions as a Marine garnered him the Presidential Unit Citation and other awards, yet the military doesn’t consider his service as honorable.
IG finds no evidence of email hacking related to travel scandal
The former Department of Veterans Affairs chief of staff was the subject of email “spoofing,” investigators determined, but the incident was not related to findings that she misled an ethics official in an email last summer – a connection that was implied by the VA secretary.
Combat veterans push for gun reform: ‘This isn’t right’
Army veteran Dennis Magnasco used to get frustrated with friends who called for gun reform. They weren’t experts on weapons, he thought. They didn’t understand the nuances. That changed in October when a shooter killed dozens in Las Vegas with semiautomatic rifles, modified with bump fire stocks. Listening to audio of the shooting transported Magnasco back to Afghanistan, shaking him to the core.
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.