Quil Lawrence http://wkar.org en Veterans Kick The Prescription Pill Habit, Against Doctors' Orders http://wkar.org/post/veterans-kick-prescription-pill-habit-against-doctors-orders For many people with post-traumatic stress disorder, <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/01/16/144672190/ending-nightmares-caused-by-ptsd">sleeping can return you to the worst place</a> you've ever been, at the worst possible moment.<p>"I always see his face," says Will, who did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Army. "And in my dreams it's the same thing. ... I always walk over to him, and instead of this Afghani kid that's laying there, it's my little brother."<p>The memory that triggers Will's nightmare happened during his tour in Afghanistan. Fri, 11 Jul 2014 21:59:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 56583 at http://wkar.org Veterans Kick The Prescription Pill Habit, Against Doctors' Orders A Growing Number Of Veterans Struggles To Quit Powerful Painkillers http://wkar.org/post/veterans-face-another-battle-fighting-prescription-drug-addiction There are antlers everywhere on the walls of Bryan and Mike McDonel's place near Pine Bluff, Ark. The house is hardly big enough for all their hunting trophies. Both are good shots with their hunting bows; Bryan and Mike, his father, served in the Arkansas National Guard and deployed together to Iraq, twice.<p>The McDonel family has served in the military for generations. But Bryan, 35, is out of the service now. Thu, 10 Jul 2014 21:43:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 56530 at http://wkar.org A Growing Number Of Veterans Struggles To Quit Powerful Painkillers Obama Taps Former Procter & Gamble Chief To Helm VA http://wkar.org/post/obama-taps-former-procter-gamble-chief-helm-va President Obama has picked Robert McDonald, the former CEO of Procter & Gamble, to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. If confirmed by the Senate, McDonald will face a difficult task. The VA is is embroiled in a controversy over falsified and lengthy wait times for veterans. Mon, 30 Jun 2014 20:17:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 56010 at http://wkar.org How The Kurds Could Benefit From Iraq's Crisis http://wkar.org/post/how-kurds-could-benefit-iraqs-crisis The current crisis in Iraq has focused on the Sunni-Shiite conflict, but relatively little has been heard from the other major ethnic group in Iraq, the Kurds. And that's just the way the Kurds would like it.<p>The Kurds have been seeking an independent state for a century but have been stymied at every turn. Thu, 19 Jun 2014 18:07:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 55473 at http://wkar.org How The Kurds Could Benefit From Iraq's Crisis Senate Version Adds Costs To VA Overhaul Measure http://wkar.org/post/senate-version-adds-costs-va-overhaul-measure The Senate passed a bipartisan bill to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs. The measure is close enough to a version already passed by the House that it could reach the president's desk soon. Thu, 12 Jun 2014 09:12:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 55077 at http://wkar.org In A Rare Act Of Bipartisan Speed, Senate Passes VA Reforms http://wkar.org/post/rare-act-bipartisan-speed-senate-passes-va-reforms The Senate has passed a bill to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs. Like a similar bill in the House, the Senate bill gives veterans the option of seeking private care if the VA takes too long and makes it easier to fire VA employees. But the Senate version also spends a lot more money on doctors and hospitals than the House version. Wed, 11 Jun 2014 21:10:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 55063 at http://wkar.org With More Veterans Needing Health Care, What Will The Cost Be? http://wkar.org/post/more-veterans-needing-health-care-what-will-cost-be A new generation of American vets is home from war — about 2.6 million of them. And there are about 10 million older veterans, many from the Vietnam era, hitting their 60s, 70s or 80s. Taking care of both groups is getting expensive.<p>"If they can afford to pay for wars, they can afford to pay for the treatment after the wars," says Garry Augustine, with Disabled American Veterans. Tue, 10 Jun 2014 19:29:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 54980 at http://wkar.org With More Veterans Needing Health Care, What Will The Cost Be? Audit Reveals Vast Scale Of VA Waitlist Issues http://wkar.org/post/audit-reveals-vast-scale-va-waitlist-issues Before former Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki stepped down, he ordered an audit of the VA system, hoping to find how many hospitals were lying about wait times. The audit found that approximately 100,000 veterans are waiting too long for care at the VA. Mon, 09 Jun 2014 20:06:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 54921 at http://wkar.org VA Health Care's Chronic Ailments: Long Waits And Red Tape http://wkar.org/post/va-health-cares-chronic-ailments-long-waits-and-red-tape More than 2.5 million veterans served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they qualify for health care and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Wed, 04 Jun 2014 19:36:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 54710 at http://wkar.org VA Health Care's Chronic Ailments: Long Waits And Red Tape Can Civilian Health Care Help Fix The VA? Congress Weighs In http://wkar.org/post/can-civilian-health-care-help-fix-va-congress-weighs Veterans across the country are still waiting too long for medical care, a situation that drove the <a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/05/30/317372486/embattled-veterans-affairs-secretary-eric-shinseki-resigns">resignation</a> of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki last week.<p>Now Republicans and Democrats in Congress are competing to pass laws they think will fix the problem of medical wait times and other problems at the VA. Tue, 03 Jun 2014 21:45:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 54676 at http://wkar.org Can Civilian Health Care Help Fix The VA? Congress Weighs In Shinseki's Apology Punctuates A Long Career Of Service http://wkar.org/post/shinsekis-apology-punctuates-long-career-service Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki apologized for lengthy waits at VA facilities, saying he's ousting the leaders of a VA hospital in Phoenix, Ariz., after stories about delays in care there. Shinseki's decision to resign marks a muddy end to an illustrious career, which began when he joined the Army nearly five decades ago. Fri, 30 May 2014 21:04:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 54510 at http://wkar.org Embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki Resigns http://wkar.org/post/embattled-veterans-affairs-secretary-eric-shinseki-resigns Transcript <p>STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: <p>Good morning, let's hear more now about the resignation of Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. President Obama says he accepted that resignation a short time ago at the White House. He had just finished making a statement after the two men held a short private meeting. Fri, 30 May 2014 15:57:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 54488 at http://wkar.org VA Secretary Apologizes For 'Indefensible' Treatment Delays http://wkar.org/post/va-secretary-apologizes-indefensible-treatment-delays Transcript <p>DAVID GREENE, HOST: <p>This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.<p>STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: <p>And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. Eric Shinseki, the embattled secretary of Veterans Affairs, meets this hour with President Obama at the White House. Now, earlier today, Shinseki spoke at a conference on homeless veterans, and addressed what he called the elephant in the room. Fri, 30 May 2014 15:18:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 54485 at http://wkar.org Report Finds Systemic Problems With VA Wait Lists http://wkar.org/post/report-finds-systemic-problems-va-wait-lists Transcript <p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>A systemic problem nationwide - that's how the Inspector General for Veterans Affairs has described the problem of falsified wait times at VA medical centers. At one facility in Phoenix, veterans waited on average 115 days for an appointment.<p>Today's report confirms some of the allegations that have led many to call for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. Here to tell us more about this initial report is NPR's Quil Lawrence. And, Quil, 115 days, that's a very long time to wait for an appointment. Wed, 28 May 2014 20:06:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 54382 at http://wkar.org American Legion Calls For VA Secretary's Resignation http://wkar.org/post/american-legion-calls-va-secretarys-resignation Transcript <p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>The country's largest veteran's organization wants the secretary of Veterans Affairs to resign. The American Legion hasn't targeted a public official this way since 1941. And in the past, they've supported VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. But now, there are allegations that dozens of veterans died waiting for health care. And VA hospitals are accused of fixing the stats. Tue, 06 May 2014 21:34:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 53296 at http://wkar.org After A Long Wait, 24 Models In Heroism Get Their Due http://wkar.org/post/after-long-wait-24-models-heroism-get-their-due Transcript <p>ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: <p>This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.<p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>And I'm Audie Cornish.<p>On today's program, in interviews and stories from NPR reporters, we're following events in Crimea, as well as the continuing search for Malaysian Air Flight 370.<p>SIEGEL: Right now, a story about honor delayed but, in the end, not denied. This afternoon, President Barack Obama awarded 24 Americans the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest decoration for valor. And this is a unique group. Tue, 18 Mar 2014 20:03:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 50850 at http://wkar.org Military Training Gives U.S. Paralympic Biathletes An Edge http://wkar.org/post/military-training-gives-us-paralympic-biathletes-edge Biathlon may be the toughest endurance sport in the Olympics. After grueling circuits of Nordic skiing, athletes have to calm their breathing, steady their tired legs and shoot tiny targets with a rifle.<p>Andy Soule does it all with only his arms.<p>"It's a steep learning curve, learning to sit-ski," says Soule, a member of the U.S. Paralympic team. He's strapped into a seat attached to two fixed cross-country skis. Fri, 07 Mar 2014 22:06:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 50343 at http://wkar.org Military Training Gives U.S. Paralympic Biathletes An Edge From War In The Desert To 'Murder Ball On Ice' http://wkar.org/post/war-desert-murder-ball-ice <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wULh4froE7k</p> Fri, 07 Mar 2014 08:15:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 50300 at http://wkar.org From War In The Desert To 'Murder Ball On Ice' Among Soldiers, Risk Of Suicide May Have Surprising Roots http://wkar.org/post/among-soldiers-risk-suicide-may-have-surprising-roots Transcript <p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.<p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>And I'm Melissa Block.<p>For years, people in the military had a lower rate of suicide than their civilian counterparts. About 10 years ago that started to change and now the rate is worse for soldiers than civilians. That prompted the largest-ever study of suicide among soldiers, in cooperation with the National Institutes of Health. The study is on-going, but three initial articles have been published.<p>And NPR's Quil Lawrence joins us to talk about the findings. Tue, 04 Mar 2014 21:05:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 50182 at http://wkar.org Yale Law Students Raise Case For Discharged Vets http://wkar.org/post/yale-law-students-raise-case-discharged-vets Transcript <p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>In the U.S., posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD has become part of our national vocabulary. During the Vietnam War, though, it wasn't yet a medical diagnosis, nor was it accepted as an explanation for erratic behavior. Mon, 03 Mar 2014 21:29:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 50131 at http://wkar.org Fallujah Veterans Ask Hard Questions About Their Sacrifices http://wkar.org/post/fallujah-veterans-ask-hard-questions-about-their-sacrifices Will Walsh got to know the Iraqi city of Fallujah while running across its bridges in the middle of the night, under fire, looking for IEDs. That was nearly 10 years ago.<p>Last weekend, the former Army captain heard the news that Fallujah had fallen, again, to al-Qaida-linked groups.<p>"The question I have to ask myself is was that effort in vain?" he says now. "Was all the work that we did, all the sacrifice that we had, what is the benefit?"<p>Walsh's platoon lost one man in Fallujah. Hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded there. It was 2004. Tue, 07 Jan 2014 22:39:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 47682 at http://wkar.org Fallujah Veterans Ask Hard Questions About Their Sacrifices An Honorable Last Wish For A Dying Marine http://wkar.org/post/honorable-last-wish-dying-marine Hal Faulkner is 79 years old and he's already lived months longer than his doctors predicted.<p>"I don't know what to say, it's just incredible that I'm still here," Faulkner says in a halting voice made gruff by age and cancer.<p>Faulkner joined the Marines in 1953, and served in the Philippines. In 1956, he got kicked out with an "undesirable discharge" for being gay. Mon, 06 Jan 2014 08:01:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 47577 at http://wkar.org An Honorable Last Wish For A Dying Marine For Veterans, 'Bad Paper' Is A Catch-22 For Treatment http://wkar.org/post/veterans-bad-paper-catch-22-treatment Transcript <p>RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: <p>In many ways, military veterans hold a privileged place in American society, but not all vets have access to what goes along with that privilege. In the past decade of war, more than 100,000 men and women left the military with less than honorable discharges, many due to bad conduct related to post traumatic stress disorder. Tue, 10 Dec 2013 10:12:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 46444 at http://wkar.org Other-Than-Honorable Discharge Burdens Like A Scarlet Letter http://wkar.org/post/other-honorable-discharge-burdens-scarlet-letter Eric Highfill spent five years in the Navy, fixing airplanes for special operations forces. His discharge papers show an Iraq campaign medal and an Afghanistan campaign medal, a good-conduct medal, and that he's a marksman with a pistol and sharpshooter with a rifle.<p>None of that matters, because at the bottom of the page it reads "Discharged: under other than honorable conditions."<p>Highfill, a 27-year-old Michigan native, says he got addicted to the painkillers he was taking for a knee injury. In the Navy's eyes, Highfill screwed up. Mon, 09 Dec 2013 11:49:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 46385 at http://wkar.org Other-Than-Honorable Discharge Burdens Like A Scarlet Letter Vets-Turned-Firefighters Find Brotherhood, Purpose http://wkar.org/post/vets-turned-firefighters-find-brotherhood-purpose Veteran Chris Delplato wanted to be a firefighter for a long time.<p>"Ever since I was a little kid — [toy] truck and everything," Delplato says. But he only just got his dream job, after first joining the Navy and serving in the Persian Gulf.<p>He was hired by New Jersey's North Hudson Fire Department, which has brought on 43 veterans this year.<p>Employment for veterans of recent wars remains a stubborn problem, with the jobless rate for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan sometimes reaching double the national rate. Mon, 11 Nov 2013 08:21:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 45091 at http://wkar.org Vets-Turned-Firefighters Find Brotherhood, Purpose U.S. Soldier Fights For Afghan Interpreter Who Saved His Life http://wkar.org/post/us-soldier-crusading-afghan-interpreter-who-saved-his-life Army Capt. Matt Zeller had been told that his Afghan comrades would make a big show of hospitality. He'd read that the Afghan code of honor would mean protecting his life with their own. Sure enough, that's what his interpreter, Janis Shinwari, pledged to him when they met in April of 2008.<p>"I expected him to say it. I didn't think he'd make good on his promise within two weeks of my arrival," Zeller says. "Literally pick up a weapon and ... save my life," says Zeller.<p>Now, Zeller says he's got to repay the favor in kind. Wed, 25 Sep 2013 07:40:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 42829 at http://wkar.org U.S. Soldier Fights For Afghan Interpreter Who Saved His Life For Wounded Vets, Climbing Half Dome Only Half The Mission http://wkar.org/post/wounded-vets-climbing-half-dome-only-half-mission Timmy O'Neill is guiding Steve Baskis through ancient yellow pines that almost touch the sky. They're hiking all day to base camp in California's Yosemite National Park, 2,000 feet up in Little Yosemite Valley.<p>Taking Baskis by the hand, O'Neill traces the distant ridge of Half Dome, a bald rock rising almost a mile from the valley floor. That's tomorrow's challenge.<p>Baskis can't actually see the peak. Four years ago, a bomb blast in Iraq took his eyesight. So O'Neill is guiding Baskis along the trail, providing directions and warning him away from steep drops. Sat, 14 Sep 2013 08:53:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 42302 at http://wkar.org For Wounded Vets, Climbing Half Dome Only Half The Mission VA Still Under Pressure To Reduce Disability Claim Backlog http://wkar.org/post/va-still-under-pressure-reduce-disability-claim-backlog Transcript <p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.<p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>And I'm Audie Cornish.<p>For years, the backlog of disability claims for veterans has been fodder for politicians, pundits and even comedians, like Jon Stewart.<p>(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")<p>JON STEWART: And paper disability records still undigitized and piled up so high that the floor of one VA field office is going to collapse.<p>CORNISH: That load has gotten a little lighter recently. Wed, 21 Aug 2013 21:38:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 41122 at http://wkar.org A Veteran's Piercing True Story Leaps From Page To Stage http://wkar.org/post/veterans-piercing-true-story-leaps-page-stage <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiFLmSS83Ag</p> Sat, 20 Jul 2013 09:02:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 39458 at http://wkar.org A Veteran's Piercing True Story Leaps From Page To Stage At A Texas Base, Battling Army's Top Threat: Suicide http://wkar.org/post/texas-base-battling-armys-top-threat-suicide Suicide killed more American troops last year than combat in Afghanistan, and that is likely to be the case again this year.<p>According to the Pentagon, there were <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/01/14/169364733/u-s-militarys-suicide-rate-surpassed-combat-deaths-in-2012">at least 349 confirmed suicides</a> in 2012, compared with <a href="http://icasualties.org/oef/">310 U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan</a> in the same period.<p>Historically, the suicide rate in the military has hovered around half the civilian rate. Thu, 20 Jun 2013 16:13:00 +0000 Quil Lawrence 37925 at http://wkar.org At A Texas Base, Battling Army's Top Threat: Suicide