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Physician Shortage Drives Wait Times At VA San Diego

The VA San Diego is trying to cope with the longest wait times for patients seeking mental health care of any Veterans Affairs office in the country.

For one physician, it feels like the problem has been getting worse.

Dr. Hoang Nguyen has worked as a psychiatrist for the VA San Diego for nearly 19 years. San Diego has seen the demand for mental health appointments increase 9 percent a ...

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VA Report: Vet Attempted Suicide Waiting For Mental Health Care In San Diego

A new report from the inspector general for Veterans Affairs accuses staffers at the VA San Diego of falsifying the time it took veterans to see a mental health specialist in 2014. Investigators found one veteran attempted suicide after his doctor canceled several appointments.

The report released last week said the unnamed veteran’s provider canceled four appointments in a row. The local VA concedes the report is true.

“We ...

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Marines, Sailors Adjust To New Maternity Leave Policy

After years of giving women in the military six weeks of maternity leave, the Defense Department has changed the policy and will allow them to take off up to 12 weeks when they have a baby. The aim is to retain more women in the military.

For women in the Navy and Marines, 12 weeks is a step back. Last July, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, recognizing the retention problem, decided ...

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Volunteers Make A Home For Disabled Vet In Fallbrook

One disabled veteran will be able to live on his own, after receiving a little help from a lot of volunteers in Fallbrook.

Just over four years ago, Nick Kimmel was a Marine sergeant serving in Afghanistan. He lost his legs and most of his left arm to a roadside bomb explosion near the Kajaki Dam. It changed his life forever, and so did having a home of his own ...

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Injured Marine Veteran Rolls To Finish Line At Washington, D.C., Marathon

Riding a handcycle almost 4,000 miles from San Diego to Washington, D.C., would seem like a lofty goal for even the most adventurous. Ret. Marine Sgt. Toran Gaal, who accomplished that feat last summer, didn’t stop there. He returned to the nation’s capital this month to tack on another 26.2 miles in the 40th annual Marine Corps Marathon.

“(This race is) special to me — we ...

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Point Loma Event Aims To Help Veterans With PTSD

Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury may find support and resources at a Liberty Station event in Point Loma Saturday.

Organizers of the event, Operation Engage America, hope to bring together veterans who need help and their families with the resources available from health and military organizations in San Diego County.

Jean and Howard Somers founded the event after their son Daniel, an Iraq war veteran, committed ...

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Pentagon Grapples With Retaliation In Sex Assault Cases

It's not against the law or military regulations to choose not to sit with someone in the dining hall or to unfriend them on Facebook, but in the traumatic aftermath of a sexual assault, a victim could interpret those moves as retaliation.

In these days when a tweet or Instagram photo can be wielded as weapons, the Pentagon is struggling to define retaliation and rein in bullying or other ...

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Even The Devil Can't Fool A Dog - Part 12

Carlos had also to come to terms with the fact that his life after the Marine Corps looked nothing like he thought it would when he enlisted as a kid.

“In Chicago I was a punk teenager, and I needed change. The Marine Corps was a way out. Where I was headed in my life, it was a bad route. I joined the Marine Corps to stay alive. I was ...

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Even The Devil Can't Fool A Dog - Part 11

Our sleepy, overcast Sunday morning eased into a sunny afternoon, and Carlos and Logan were headed off to see a Padres baseball game in downtown San Diego - an invitation from a fellow Marine.

Carlos told me he and Logan had been to only one public sporting event since he returned from Iraq. It was another Padres game, and the experience drained him.

“It’s not easy. I don’t go ...

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Even The Devil Can't Fool A Dog - Part 10

As our conversation at the Carlsbad coffee house winded down, a palm frond fell from a tree onto a nearby table.

The loud bang quieted the patio of voices, until the embarrassed laughter of diners being scared over nothing broke the silence.

I turned back to face Carlos. He was looking down at his hands. Logan had moved from his comfortable position beneath the table, and was now resting his ...

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Even The Devil Can't Fool A Dog - Part 9

Meribeth Russell sited a statistic about Freedom Dogs of which she is most proud.

“Nothing is guaranteed, and there are always people you wish you could’ve done a little more for. They’re like family and we follow them for life. But I can tell you we’re 100 percent in one regard- not one of our participants has committed suicide.”

I found this statistic particularly impressive, considering the ...

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Even The Devil Can't Fool A Dog - Part 8

When Carlos first started attending training sessions at Freedom Dogs, he felt he didn’t fit in. Big reason: Carlos was afraid of dogs. He didn’t like them, and he believed they didn’t like him. In the tough, gang-infested Chicago streets where Carlos grew up, dogs were treated more as weapons than pets.

A big part of Freedom Dogs is getting a shell-shocked troop to trust him or ...

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Even The Devil Can't Fool A Dog - Part 7

A critical care nurse and veteran’s daughter named Meribeth Russell started Freedom Dogs in 2006.

Russell got the idea when she participated in a hospital study that found obese children who were able to bond with a therapy dog had an easier time losing weight.

Russell decided to translate that study into something that could help the disabled veterans returning from Iraq. She pleaded with the leadership at Camp ...

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