Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The Veterans Health Administration has stepped up efforts to fight drug overdose deaths and prescription painkiller addiction.

Veterans are more likely to suffer from chronic pain than others, and opioid painkillers have been a mainstay of treatment.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

My friends Joe Labriola and Mike Skinner did the Walk for Hunger a few weeks back. They have done the walk before. They have done walks for Toys For Tots too. They have a problem with people going without in the richest country on earth.


The Providence VA is stepping up efforts to curb prescription painkiller abuse and overdose deaths. Now there are two new tools in the fight.

Nationwide, the VA rolled out its opioid safety initiative in 2013. Since then, VA systems around the country have begun tracking painkiller and other prescriptions better. That includes a new system to track whether a patient has also been prescribed a class of medication called benzodiazepines, which can be dangerous when combined with opioids.


Local veterans will gather at the Statehouse this Monday to remember troops who have died in combat. The ceremony is part of a national event with roots in New England.

Screenshot of live stream of hearing

In our ongoing series about hepatitis C, we look now at one of the hardest hit populations: veterans. Hep C is three times more prevalent among vets than in the general population. The Veterans Health Administration has the country’s largest hepatitis C screening and treatment program in the country. But that program is struggling to pay for new treatments – and the rising number of veterans who need them.


In late August, the power was shut off at the River United Methodist Church. The church, in the heart of downtown Woonsocket, was about a thousand bucks in arrears on its electric bill.  The guy from National Grid apologized for doing what he had to do.

Church members, who specialize in doing a whole lot with very little, scrambled to do what they always do.   They took food from freezers and refrigerators and headed to a nearby park to feed hungry people. 


Veterans are more complete citizens, I think.  We hold our country closer,  and we know our country better for having gotten on the bus and gone to boot camp and earned the right to train and fight, get scared and get drunk with the richest mix of Americans to be found anywhere.

I remember the farm kids and the ghetto kids and the kids gone to the Marines instead of prison.  I remember the kids like me who wanted to break from college-bred predictability and take a mad leap into the unknown.   Some of us were looking for our hard side and found we didn’t have one.

New Veterans' Home Project Hits Milestone

Oct 21, 2014

Rhode Island is steps closer to opening a new veterans’ home in Bristol. The state-of-the-art residence is to expected to break ground next year.

Providence VA Medical Center

Tonight, the VA hospital in Providence will hold a town hall meeting for veterans, their family, and the public. VAs around the country were directed to hold such public meetings by the end of this month. The aim: to regain trust after a widespread scheduling scandal.

RI Veterans Given Help Finding Work

Jul 1, 2014

Operation Stand Down Rhode Island has received a $225,000 dollar grant from the Homeless Veteran's Reintegration Program to help provide local veterans with job placements and career counseling. 

Operation Stand Down Rhode Island's Executive Director Erik Wallin says the Rhode Island National Guard has a very high redeployment rate and soldiers often have trouble holding on to their jobs.

file / RIPR

Several veteran-related bills made it through the General Assembly and are on their way to the governor’s desk. One of those bills gives disabled veterans waivers for classes at state colleges and universities.

Another bill lets honorably discharged veterans and National Guard reservists transfer skills they’ve learned during their service to fulfill requirements for trade apprenticeships.

Lawmakers also passed a resolution urging employers to give veterans who work for them time off on Veteran’s Day.


An audit released by the VA finds patients at the Providence VA Medical Center have some of the longest average waits in the nation to receive primary care. The Providence VA said that’s due to staff who retired and an increase in patients at its clinic in Hyannis, MA.

New patients receiving their first primary care appointments waited an average of about 74 days, according to the VA audit. Only seven other facilities across the country had longer waits.

Sen. Jack Reed is calling on Congress to address the systemic challenges plaguing the VA healthcare system.

Reed made the statement just hours after Veterans Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned amid a growing cover up of long wait times for healthcare. Reed said the next secretary needs to start the job with a top to bottom review of what’s causing the backlog.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has conducted audits of medical centers around the country after allegations emerged that some centers had concealed appointment wait times. The Providence VA was audited on Friday last week. 

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs secretary Eric Shinseki ordered the audits to uncover any other scheduling problems or misconduct. Providence VA spokeswoman Leslie Pierson says auditors spent all day Friday interviewing staff about scheduling practices.

Pawtucket Remembers A Veteran's Sacrifice

Nov 12, 2013
Flo Jonic / RIPR

There were wreath-laying ceremonies and parades all over Rhode Island Monday in honor of Veterans Day. But perhaps none was more poignant than one in Pawtucket.

About 200 people gathered in Pawtucket’s Slater Park for the dedication of a granite monument in memory of Army Specialist Dennis Poulin. Poulin, a native of Pawtucket, died in Afghanistan two-and-a-half years ago as the result of a rollover accident. He was 26.  His mother, Doris Poulin, said she’s overwhelmed by the honor bestowed on her son.