Department of Veterans Affairs en 'Project 22' Releases Official Trailer <p>The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs released a report last year stating that an estimated 22 veterans commit suicide every day.</p><p>That number hit home for Marine Sgt. Daniel Egbert and Army Sgt. Matt King; both of whom served in Iraq. The two set out on a 22-day road trip from Los Angeles to Ground Zero in New York, producing a documentary focused on raising awareness about veteran suicide.</p><p>That documentary is "Project 22."</p> Mon, 17 Mar 2014 07:30:00 +0000 Michael Lynch 25856 at Legislation to Shrink VA Backlog Introduced; No Cost Estimate Filed <p>On average, a veteran in the Pittsburgh areas has to wait one day shy of a year between the time they apply for disability benefits and the day they are approved.</p><p>Though the backlog has been shrinking, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey says it is not falling fast enough, and in an effort to fix the situation, he and bipartisan group of six senators have introduced legislation aimed at fixing the system.</p><p>The Veterans Administration deems a claim to be backlogged after it has been in the system for more than 125 days. By its own admission, there are nearly 400,000 cases on that list.</p> Fri, 07 Mar 2014 13:01:51 +0000 Mark Nootbaar 25447 at American Legion Recommends Prevention Plan for Legionella Outbreaks <p>A new report issued by the American Legion’s System Worth Saving Task Force has <a href="">made recommendations </a>to prevent future Legionella outbreaks at the city’s VA medical center. This is in response to the death of 5 patients in 2011-2012.</p><p>Jacob Gadd, deputy director for health care and manager of the <a href="">System Worth Saving</a> program for the American Legion, discusses what measures need to be taken in order to prevent future outbreaks.</p><p>He says the report finds the Veterans Administration needs to empower its 152 hospitals to better communicate during a crisis. Fri, 24 Jan 2014 20:33:45 +0000 Essential Pittsburgh 23302 at American Legion Recommends Prevention Plan for Legionella Outbreaks Report Finds Poor Communications During VA Legionella Outbreak <p>A report released Thursday by the American Legion finds that the VA Pittsburgh Health System has responded well to the outbreak of Legionella in 2011 and 2012 that took the lives of at least five veterans.&nbsp;</p><p>However, the report finds the Veterans Administration needs to empower the 152 hospitals in the system to better communicate during a crisis.</p><p>Jacob Gadd, American Legion deputy director for healthcare, said that since the outbreak the Pittsburgh VA has formed a water safety committee, which had made important recommendations that have been implemented.</p> Thu, 23 Jan 2014 21:11:11 +0000 Mark Nootbaar 23252 at PA Lawmakers Want Accountability for Preventable Deaths at Pittsburgh VA <p>It has been a little more than a week since the United States Justice Department <a href="">completed its investigation</a> of a rash of preventable deaths at the Pittsburgh Veteran’s Affairs Healthcare System.</p><p>Five veterans died of Legionnaires’ disease at the Pittsburgh VA in 2011 and 2012, while more than 20 other patients were sickened. The Justice Department has concluded that no VA employees are criminally liable for the deaths.</p> Thu, 28 Nov 2013 08:30:00 +0000 Liz Reid 20512 at U.S. Attorney: No Federal Charges Warranted in Legionella Outbreak <p>The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania says he does not think charges are warranted in relation to the deadly Legionella out break at the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System.</p><p>Twenty-two veterans who were treated in 2011 and 2012 at the Pittsburgh VA were sickened by Legionella.&nbsp; Five of them died.</p><p>U.S. Attorney David Hickton called the situation “tragic” but feels no charges should be filed by his office.</p> Thu, 21 Nov 2013 18:51:24 +0000 Mark Nootbaar 20194 at Father and Son Go to War <p>It has been twelve years since the US war in Afghanistan began, and for some families the conflict spans two generations.</p><p>Army Colonel Tom Stokes, and Air Force Reservist Brenden Stokes, a father and son duo, both served in Afghanistan within months of each other.</p><p>Colonel Stokes was deployed to Afghanistan as a behavioral health social worker whose job is to provide behavioral prevention and outreach to soldiers in the most harsh locations. Mon, 11 Nov 2013 20:27:59 +0000 Katie Martin 19621 at Father and Son Go to War American Legion to Explore Pittsburgh VA Hospital <p>The local media, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and members of congress have all tried to dig into the outbreak of Legionella at the Pittsburgh VA hospital and now the American Legion is getting involved.</p><p>The group tours fifteen hospitals each year to gather information for an annual report from its System Worth Saving Task Force, which assesses the facilities on several criteria.&nbsp; The Task force chose Pittsburgh to be among those reviewed this year.</p> Mon, 04 Nov 2013 08:35:00 +0000 Mark Nootbaar 19132 at Legionnaires' Hearing Will Explore Regulation, Bonuses, Prevention <p>The U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs Monday will hold its second hearing on the 2011 Legionnaires' disease outbreak. The outbreak killed at least five patients and sickened 21 at Pittsburgh’s Veterans Affairs hospitals.</p><p>The hearing will take place in the Allegheny County Courthouse downtown and will be attended by committee members, other members of Congress, VA officials and relatives of those killed from Legionnaires'.&nbsp;</p> Mon, 09 Sep 2013 07:30:00 +0000 Tim Camerato 16106 at Congressman Murphy Wants Veterans Affairs to Rescind PA Staff Bonuses <p>Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy wants Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shineski to rescind more than $100,000 in bonuses given to VA leaders in the wake of a Legionnaire's disease outbreak at Pittsburgh's Veterans Affairs hospitals.</p><p>At least five patients died and 21 were sickened from water that wasn't properly treated between February 2011 and November. The family of a sixth veteran who died last year claim in a lawsuit that he was a victim, too, and Murphy included his name among the victims in Thursday's letter to Shineski, asking that the bonuses be rescinded.</p> Fri, 09 Aug 2013 13:28:36 +0000 The Associated Press 14580 at VA Backlog Still Too Long for Sen. Casey <p>A pair of U.S. senators is hoping their staffs will have more success than the Department of Veterans Affairs has had in its efforts to reduce the backlog the VA faces in processing disability claims.</p><p>In some instances it takes more than two years for the government to process those claims.</p><p>“We (in Washington) all hope that we are working every day to pay tribute to our veterans and their families,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA). “How can we be true to that promise when you have this kind of a backlog.”</p> Thu, 11 Jul 2013 20:21:21 +0000 Mark Nootbaar 12955 at VA Research Week Highlights Local Robotic Technology <p>The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is celebrating “VA Research Week,” highlighting the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System’s Human Engineering Research Laboratories at Bakery Square, where robotic technology is being used to improve the mobility and function of people with disabilities. &nbsp;</p> Mon, 13 May 2013 18:19:58 +0000 Charlee Song 9449 at Investigation Reveals Failures of Pittsburgh VA Hospital in Legionnaires' Outbreak <p>Southwestern Pennsylvania officials are expressing outrage after learning the details of a Veterans Affairs investigation into the deadly Legionnaires' disease outbreak at the VA’s Pittsburgh facilities.</p><p>According to VA Office of Inspector General, the VA Pittsburgh Health System failed to follow its own rules during an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease that left five veterans dead from early 2011 to late 2012.</p> Tue, 23 Apr 2013 16:26:20 +0000 Noah Brode 8322 at Sen. Casey Urges Feds to Speed Up Efforts to Fix VA Backlog <p>U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is calling on the federal government to get regional offices that assist military veterans into shape.<br><br>The Democrat says the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs have been too slow in responding to the concerns of the VA’s own inspector general, as well as veterans who have had to wait for months to receive disability benefits. &nbsp;<br> Thu, 11 Apr 2013 20:44:20 +0000 Mary Wilson & WESA Staff 7702 at