Veterans Affairs

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald spoke at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School to students yesterday giving advice on leadership and sharing his experiences coming into the VA. Some of the recent changes implemented at the VA are in response to long wait times for medical care and are meant to improve veterans’ experiences.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson says they are improving operations at their crisis hotline in Canandaigua.

A report issued by the inspector general earlier this month documented almost two dozen cases of veterans calling the VA's crisis hotline and getting a voicemail message.

Deputy Secretary Sloan says the IG's data is outdated, that it does not include their most recent improvements and adjustments, and that it undermines the hard work of the center's staff.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Syracuse VA Medical Center is seeing more than nine in 10 patients in a timely fashion, according to a review of six months of patient appointment records, but an “anomaly” in one area of care shows veterans waiting more than three months to be seen by a doctor.



The Pentagon has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to help struggling soldiers, but numbers show these efforts have done little to stop the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day.

President Barack Obama has vowed to do more to stop what he has called "an epidemic" of suicides in our military.

There is a bill in Congress that aims to provide more mental health services to veterans, but some think it won't do much.

Julia Botero / WRVO


Since 2001, more active-duty American soldiers have killed themselves than were killed in Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama acknowledged the soaring suicide rate in the United States military in a speech in North Carolina last summer. Obama said, "We have to end this tragedy of suicide among our troops and veterans. As a country, we can't stand idly by on such tragedy, so we're doing even more.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

There’s a special place at Syracuse’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center for female military veterans.

The Syracuse VA has been offering a Women Veterans Wellness Center for over a decade now. The number of female veterans they see in that time has tripled, so earlier this year, they moved into a brand new suite on the hospital’s ninth floor.

A fireplace and serene furnishings offer a kind of spa-like environment for women needing a wide range of care from mental health consultations to gynecological exams.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

A rooftop garden at the top of the Syracuse Veterans Affairs Medical Center's new spinal injury wing does more than provide a nice view for visitors. It’s the site of a horticulture therapy program that the VA is hoping could spread to other hospitals in the system.

Bruce Nowakowski, 66, of Pennelville, has been in the residential unit of the VA for about a year now. He says he's got a dream.  

"Right now I’m trying to work on growing a giant pumpkin,” Nowakoski said.

He knows where he’s going to get the seeds, and expects to plant them in January.