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
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.
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and Afghanistan veterans is demanding the Department of Veterans Affairs change its motto, which they argue is sexist, outdated and exclusionary.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.
House looks to increase funding for veteran treatment courts
A measure to increase funding for veteran treatment courts by $3 million was added to a House spending bill Tuesday, signaling early support in Congress for diversion, rather than incarceration, for veterans struggling with mental health and substance abuse disorders.
Women take helm of two major veterans organizations
The American Legion, a 99-year-old organization representing 2 million veterans, elected its first female national commander at the conclusion of its annual convention. Disabled American Veterans elected its first female commander, Army veteran Delphine Metcalf-Foster, on Aug. 1.
In Reno, Trump signs bill to overhaul VA appeals process
Under a bill President Donald Trump signed Wednesday, veterans will have more options to appeal denied claims for Department of Veterans Affairs benefits – a process that now leaves veterans waiting an average of five years.
Trump signs ‘Forever GI Bill,’ boosting aid to student vets
The bill immediately eliminates the 15-year limit veterans currently have to tap into their education benefits. That restriction will no longer apply to veterans discharged on or after Jan. 1, 2013, or to current and future servicemembers.
VA whistleblower gets job in Trump’s new accountability office
Two years ago, Brandon Coleman was placed on paid leave from his job with the Department of Veterans Affairs as an addiction therapist after he reported poor care for mental-health patients at the Phoenix VA hospital — the epicenter of the agency’s wait-time scandal.
Senate sends ‘Forever GI Bill’ to Trump’s desk
The Senate passed legislation Wednesday that veteran advocates are describing as the largest expansion of veterans education benefits in a decade. The measure passed through committees and cleared the House and Senate just 20 days after it was introduced.
Senate passes VA appeals reform bill
The Senate unanimously passed legislation Tuesday evening to reform the process veterans use to appeal claims for benefits – a system that now leaves veterans waiting years to receive earned disability compensation and health care.
Senate passes VA Choice funding deal, sends bill to White House
The bill, a bipartisan compromise negotiated between House and Senate lawmakers last week, would avert the threat of interrupted medical care for thousands of veterans and inject enough money into the Choice program to keep it going for the next six months.
VA fires DC hospital director as watchdog reveals more findings
The director of the Washington VA Medical Center — removed from his position in April after a government watchdog found the hospital was putting veterans at risk — had also broken VA policy by sending sensitive information to private email accounts belonging to him and to his wife, according to a report.
House to vote again Friday on urgent VA funding
Friday is the last day for House lawmakers to pass a funding measure before leaving for August recess. The Veterans Choice Program is expected to run dry in mid-August, putting thousands of veterans at risk for interrupted medical care.
Former secretary McDonald: Keep politics out of VA
As the long-standing debate about whether the Department of Veterans Affairs is sliding too far into the private sector reignited this week, former VA Secretary Bob McDonald had a message for the VA: find Find the right balance and keep political ideologies out of it.