Veteran's Affairs

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Veterans serving time in the Allegheny County Jail will now have their own specialized resources and residential section. The pod opened last month, and currently houses 34 inmates.

Several community partners are partnering with the jail to provide services such as support for post-traumatic stress disorder, resume building workshops and helping inmates enroll in the Veterans Affairs health care system.

"We're going to provide them with everything that we think they need to be successful once they leave here," Warden Orlando Harper said. 

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

You've seen them — homeless veterans living in large cardboard boxes or shabby tents under a bridges and underpasses. But the clearest image might come from the narratives of and photos taken by the homeless vets themselves.

The Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System found three water fixtures to be contaminated with the Legionella bacteria, shortly after a patient was diagnosed with Legionella pneumonia.

A patient’s shower, a staff sink and a public sink tested positive for the bacteria on Sept. 29 and October 1 at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthcare System’s University Drive campus following a test by a water safety team.

The three locations tested positive for Blue-white Legionella, a species which typically does not cause infection in humans, according to a VA press release.

The VA Backlog Working Group has released a new report that shows wait times for care in the VA system are decreasing.

But chairs of the group, Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Dean Heller (R-NV) said more needs to be done. To that end, they have introduced the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act, legislation aimed at ensuring the VA can handle disability claims in slow and busy times, and provide accountability. One provision would require the controller general to audit the regional offices of the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

  Bill Ward served in the army from 1974-76 and went into construction afterwards, but recent health issues forced him out of his job and into the path of potential homelessness.

But Ward is not homeless thanks to the “Pittsburgh Rapid Results Veterans’ Homeless Boot Camp.”

The Boot Camp “is effectively like a spark to really galvanize the community to end veterans’ homelessness by 2015 and really kind of bring everyone together for a common goal and a common cause,” Jesse Rodriguez, operations director of the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania, said.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) said when it comes to honoring veterans, speeches and parades are nice, but effective government services are vital.

He’s calling on his fellow lawmakers to pass the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act, introduced in March, which would modify guidelines concerning the fulfillment of disability claims.

According to Casey, the average wait time for a claim at the Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs Regional Office, or VARO, is 231 days. In Philadelphia, it’s 266 days, and the nationwide average is 240 days.