Your morning veterans news update for Wednesday, 7/30:
Senate confirms Obama’s choice to lead VA (New York Times)
In picking Robert McDonald, who was confirmed by a vote of 97 to 0, President Obama is betting that the West Point graduate and business executive has the leadership, force of will and management savvy to overhaul a $154-billion-a-year department in a political environment where Congress may not be willing to provide the agency with all of the money its officials have said it needs.
VA chief spent a career seeking out tough tasks (New York Times)
It remains far from clear whether Robert McDonald’s lessons from the corporate world will translate to a government agency that must contend with Civil Service rules, intense congressional oversight, aging facilities and a management culture that even the Obama administration has described as “corrosive.”
VA manipulated appointment data, audit finds (USA Today)
Internal VA documents show the depth of fraudulent scheduling, manipulation of data and in some cases intimidation of staff to hide delays in medical care to veterans in the 6-million patient national system. Auditors found at least one appointment scheduler at 109 VA medical centers who said wait times for veterans had been falsified, according to a USA TODAY analysis of internal VA survey data made public. To keep evidence of delayed care out of the VA’s official electronic tracking system, secret lists were maintained at 110 facilities, the analysis shows.
Veterans bill on pathway for passage (The Hill)
A $17 billion bill to revamp the Veterans Affairs Department appears likely to clear both the House and Senate this week. While a handful of Republicans in both chambers have raised objections, lawmakers said the legislation is on a path for passage despite the fact that it would add $12 billion to the deficit.
Lottery ticket would aid Missouri veterans (Associated Press)
Sales from Missouri Lottery tickets have raised billions of dollars for education programs since proceeds were directed to education-only programs two decades ago. But next month, voters will be asked to change those rules so money can be shared with veterans groups. A Missouri state ballot amendment will ask voters to create a veterans lottery scratch-off ticket whose net proceeds would be used to improve veterans homes and cemeteries in Missouri.
Isolation can lead vets to take extreme measures (USC News)
Researchers at the University of Southern California believe they can now identify when veterans may be more prone to suicide, a first step in more effective prevention efforts.
Missouri woman faces sentencing for collecting dead mother’s VA benefits (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Victoria Jean Briley, 69, collected $138,000 in monthly payments made by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs after her mother’s death in 2006, according to prosecutors.