TWO years ago, then-Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin decided to add three health conditions to the list of diseases eligible for Agent Orange benefits, but White House officials challenged his authority and impeded enactment, according to internal documents obtained by a veteran through the Freedom of Information Act.

Shulkin decided to add three health conditions – bladder cancer, Parkinson’s-like symptoms and hypothyroidism to the list of diseases eligible for Agent Orange benefits.

Tens of thousands of veterans are still waiting.

• Investigators say the office within the Department of Veterans Affairs that is responsible for protecting whistleblowers and investigating misconduct failed in its mission. They took “troubling” actions, was confused about its mission and retaliated against those it was tasked to protect.

• Marijuana was found at an Air Force nuclear missile facility in North Dakota. The drug, which was found Oct. 9 at the alert facility controlled by Minot Air Force Base, was above ground and not near missile operators.

As a former Air Force security policeman, providing security for such sensitive resources was part of my duty. This report is troubling to me.

• More than 50,000 veterans were mistakenly charged additional fees when seeking home loans through the VA department. The affected veterans have received refunds totaling more than $400 million, department officials announced this week.

• Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein had a message for commanders on their physical condition. “Get on a fitness program or your job is at risk. If you are a commander in the U.S. Air Force, you are fit. There is no other discussion.”

According to Defense Department data, the Air Force has the second-highest percentage of obese troops, trailing only the Navy.

• A federal court ruled that the VA department wrongly denied reimbursements for some veterans who received emergency medical treatment at non-VA facilities — a ruling that could cost the agency billions of dollars. The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims ruled as a class action and ordered the department to reimburse affected veterans.

VA estimates indicate the agency would be responsible for paying anywhere up to $6.5 billion to hundreds of thousands of veterans.

• A big thank you to Leesburg Presbyterian Church for its veterans appreciation lunch. The church provided 113 free lunches to veterans and their guests. Leesburg Presbyterian Church also will begin hosting a Disabled American Veteran service officer on the first Thursday of each month. Call 724-748-4670 for details.

• Many businesses are offering free meals, and other items and services on Monday, Nov. 11. 

VINCENT Darcangelo is a retired disabled veterans’ employment representative. For more information, call the PACareerLink of Mercer County veterans’ unit at 724-347-9257.

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