Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

On the heels of allegations that VA clinics across the country manipulated wait times, a state senate hearing will ask veterans whether they've struggled to get a timely doctor’s appointment.

Lieutenant Governor candidate and state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, says she’s especially troubled by allegations of misrepresented wait times at clinics in San Antonio and Austin. The chair of the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee, Van de Putte says an independent investigation should take place.

"People responsible need to be held accountable," she says. "These scheduling clerks didn’t just decide to falsify reports all over the country at the same time."

Liang Shi for KUT News

Improving mental health practices for Texas and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness is the goal of a new statewide institute. Its focus will be on children, veterans and criminal justice policies.

The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute opened its doors today. Tom Luce, its chief executive officer, says the nonprofit will do research to improve access to mental health care in Texas – and not just after emergencies like the recent Fort Hood shooting.

Matthew Alvarez for KUT News

new study reported by the military news outlet Stars and Stripes ranks Houston as the number one city in the country for job-seeking veterans. Dallas and Austin rank second and fifth among major metropolitan cities.

The rankings, put together by the USAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are the sunnier side of an issue affecting many veterans: finding employment after service ends. 

Reuters /Kevin Lamarque /Landov

America’s oldest living World War II veteran lives in Austin. And today, he was the guest of honor for a very notable host: President Barack Obama.

Today wasn’t the first time 107-year-old Richard Overton made the trek to Washington D.C. For this May’s Armed Forces Day, Overton was part of an Honor Flight to the nation’s capital. Nonprofit group Honor Flight Austin flies World War II veterans to D.C. to show them the national memorial built in their honor.

As USA Today reports, when Overton visited the capital this spring, he expressed a wish to meet President Barack Obama. “The president was out of town that day,” the paper writes, but Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell’s office facilitated a return visit to D.C. this weekend. And this time, Overton’s request came true.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Veterans Day Parade:

Travis County and the City of Austin are holding the annual Veterans Day Parade on Monday to honor service men and women.

The Grand Marshal of this year’s commemoration and parade is Austinite Richard Arvine Overton, who, at age 107, is the oldest living World War II veteran in the United States.

William Higgins and Yvonne Martinez-Higgins

Agriculture is big business in Texas. Statewide, it has a $100 billion dollar economic impact.

But the industry may be at risk. The average age of a Texas farmer or rancher is 59. And fewer young people are taking over the labor-intensive work.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has set up a program to assist aging agricultural workers in Texas. They’ve also identified a population that may be well-suited for taking over the work – veterans.

KUT News

According to a new report, the number of prescriptions veterans received for powerful opiates has surged since the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Central Texas veterans' prescriptions have jumped by nearly 340 percent, leading to increased risk of abuse, drug overdose and death, according to a report from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the agency charged with helping veterans recover from war [the Department of Veterans Affairs]instead masks their pain with potent drugs, feeding addictions and contributing to a fatal overdose rate among VA patients that is nearly double the national average.

Mark Gwin for KUT News

A diverse group of volunteers braved the heat Thursday to upgrade the residence of 107-year-old World War II veteran Richard Overton – the country’s oldest living World War II veteran.

The East Austin house has been Overton's home since he built it in 1945, when he returned from war. And though he’s done some upgrades over the years, it was beginning to have some serious issues: broken windows, a failing refrigerator and more.

But then a team of several dozen volunteers came to fix it all.

Matthew Alvarez for KUT News

The Texas State Preservation Board voted Friday to move forward with a proposed Vietnam War veterans' monument at the Texas Capitol. The final design features American combat troops – and not a South Vietnamese solider as initially proposed.

In 2005, the Texas Legislature authorized a Vietnam War memorial for the Texas Capitol grounds. The proposed design featured several combat-weary soldiers – one of them a South Vietnamese solider. But the backers of the memorial, the Texas Capitol Vietnam Monument Committee, chose to remove that figure. The preservation board approved the final design Friday. 

Central Texas Veterans Healthcare System

Austin’s new VA clinic opened this week, becoming the largest free-standing VA outpatient clinic in the U.S. The new, state-of-the-art clinic will to help accommodate Central Texas’s fast growing veteran population across 39 counties.

The clinic currently serves 23,000 veterans. The VA hopes to increase that number to 30,000 by 2025 with the expanded facilities, according to Central Texas Veterans Healthcare System spokeswoman Deborah Meyer.

The Texas Workforce Commission is awarding Austin Community College over $90,000 as part of its College Credit for Heroes program.

ACC is one of six colleges joining the program, which is designed to translate veterans’ military experience into college credit hours.

KUT News

Texas was given a $750,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to help U.S. veterans find jobs when they come home.

Along with Georgia, Illinois and North Carolina, the grant will reach out to active-duty soldiers within 90 days of their return from the Army, Texas Army National Guard and the Army Reserve.

Marissa Barnett, KUT News

35 Central Texas World War II veterans, including Texas’ oldest living veteran, are flying to Washington D.C. today as part of the Honor Flight program.

The flight leaves Austin Bergstrom International Airport at 12:30 p.m. after a ceremonial send off from Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell. Honor Flight Austin Chairman Allen Bergeron, a flight nurse and one guardian per veteran will also be on the flight. The trip is just one day, but the itinerary is packed with memorial visits and a trip to Arlington National Cemetery.

Missing in America Project

Funeral homes across the country face a challenge that might surprise you. They’re storing thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of unclaimed cremated human remains.

A bill before the Texas Senate today would address part of the problem – at least for deceased veterans.

Cherie A. Thurlby

The Texas Veterans Commission gave out $3 million in grants today to more than two dozen organizations across the state that help veterans readjust to civilian life.

About $800,000 of it will go to programs that assist veterans here in Central Texas.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News.

Unemployment among U.S. veterans fell in 2012 but is still higher than the rest of the workforce. Two bills dealing with vets and employment are before the Texas Senate Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee. One would help veterans find work in Texas agencies; the other would ensure they could take time off from work.

Both bills are aimed at reintegrating veterans into civilian life and jobs.

Teresa Vieira for KUT News

Colleges and universities in Texas are struggling to pay for the tuition benefits they give to qualifying veterans and their dependents as part of a program called the Hazlewood Act.

As the number of veterans rises, higher education leaders say their institutions need help tackling the costs.

“We continuously get pulled at not to increase tuition. We don’t want to increase tuition. But those are the issues that we follow," Kenth Hance, Texas Tech University Systems Chancellor, says.

Update: The council gave preliminary approval to an independent Austin Energy board Thursday night. You can read more here.

Original Post:The Austin City Council has made short work of today’s agenda, passing most items early.

One agenda item is still outstanding, and should create some sparks: a resolution calling for an independent governance board to oversee operations at Austin Energy.

KUT News

The theme of this year's Texas Veterans' Expo was simple: Answering the call.

But meeting that call has been difficult.

The Texas Veterans Commission's job is to connect veterans with benefits. But the TVC's Executive Director Thomas Palladino said disabled veterans in this state have had a hard time getting their requests answered.

KUT News

Good morning. Austin’s in for a sunny and mild day according to the National Weather Service, with highs in the low to mid-60s.

Lead Story: Despite crowded conditions and a longer-than-expected “kitten season,” the Austin Animal Center finished 2012 with its “no-kill” record intact.

The city shelter ended the fourth quarter of 2012 with a 91 percent live outcome rate. The no-kill benchmark is a 90 percent live outcome rate.