veterans

The new secretary of veterans affairs pledged to the American Legion on Wednesday that he won't privatize his agency's health care services even as it increases options for veterans to seek care in the private sector.

Charles Claybaker spent five tours in Afghanistan, kicking in doors and taking out terrorists. But an aircraft crash in 2010 left the Army Ranger with a crushed leg, hip and spine and a traumatic brain injury.

Army doctors loaded him up with a dozen prescriptions to numb the pain and keep his PTSD in check.

President Trump's second VA secretary, Robert Wilkie, was confirmed 86-9 by the Senate on Monday. He takes the helm of the second largest department in the U.S. government, with more than 350,000 employees, a nearly $200 billion budget and almost 20 million American veterans depending on it for care and benefits.

That may sound like a herculean task. Now add that the department has been in turmoil since Trump sacked his first VA secretary, David Shulkin, with dozens of senior staff, subject matter experts and career officials quitting or being pushed out.

Most new laws approved during Florida's recent legislative session took effect Sunday with the start of the state's fiscal year.

The new statutes have an effect on Floridians of all ages, from bullying in schools to providing further protections against seniors.

Updated at 1:45 p.m. ET

The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian has announced the winning concept for the National Native American Veterans Memorial: Multimedia artist Harvey Pratt's Warriors' Circle of Honor will incorporate a large, upright stainless steel circle set above a stone drum in the center of a circular walkway with intricate carvings of the five military seals.

News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE --- More than 100 bills that Gov. Rick Scott signed into law from the 2018 legislative session will take effect Sunday, including a new state budget that tops $88 billion.

Lawmakers sent 195 bills to Scott from the session that ended in March. The governor vetoed two, while signing the rest.

Of the signed measures, 105 will hit the books Sunday. Of the remainder, 54 went into effect upon Scott’s signature, with the rest effective in October or in 2019.

Among the measures slated to take effect Sunday:

It's nightfall in Washington, D.C., at the end of the evening shift, when the throngs of students on school field trips have slowed to a trickle at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

With a flashlight in one hand and a clear plastic bag in the other, Bob Herendeen walks the length of the austere, black granite wall. The National Park Service ranger surveys the things visitors have left at the memorial: American flags, wreaths, flowers.

It happens hundreds, if not thousands, of times a year nationwide. A veteran dies, but there’s no family nearby. So, the Department of Veterans Affairs steps up to handle the burial.

This Memorial Day weekend, American flags wave in quiet reverence at cemeteries across the country. Family members, friends and volunteers plant the flags in front of headstones for service people who died in conflict. The Rolling Thunder rally in Washington, D.C. gathers those who want to remember prisoners of war and those considered missing in action (POW/MIA) in a louder way.

The USS Arizona Memorial off Honolulu's coast is closed for repairs. Jay Blount, a spokesman for the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, told Hawaii News Now that the edge where the visitor ramp meets the memorial has fissures on its exterior and the loading ramp is not being properly supported.

Visitors to the National Mall on Memorial Day weekend will encounter a wall of bright red poppies, installed to commemorate the men and women who have died in uniform in the century since World War I.

Retired Navy Vice Adm. John Bird tells NPR the project uses 645,000 synthetic flowers — one for each American killed in an international conflict since the start of World War I — pressed against acrylic panels, which are backlit for dramatic effect.

In a surprise announcement that caught the candidate off-guard, President Donald Trump said he'll nominate acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie to permanently lead the beleaguered department.

Updated at 10:46 a.m. ET

Dr. Ronny Jackson, a Navy rear admiral who abandoned his nomination to be secretary of Veterans Affairs amid numerous allegations, will not return to the job of President Trump's personal physician, according to Politico.

White House doctor Ronny Jackson withdrew from consideration as Veterans Affairs secretary on Thursday, saying "false allegations" against him have become a distraction.

Updated at 5:53 p.m. ET

Detailed new allegations surfaced Wednesday against President Trump's nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, including charges that Dr. Ronny Jackson improperly dispensed pain medication and once wrecked a government vehicle while driving drunk.

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