Story feed

Story feed: Veterans wait in line on disability claims

Story feed: Veterans wait in line on disability claims

American troops are returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan only to wait in line, joining a growing queue of veterans seeking compensation — payments and other support — from the Department of Veterans Affairs for service-related disabilities.

Across the country, local VA offices are struggling to process the backlog of more than 800,000 disability benefits claims. It can take months — sometimes more than a year — for veterans to find out how much, if at all, they’ll be compensated for health issues related to their service.

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The copy, audio and multimedia in these packages have been reported and edited by the journalists on the national editorial team of the Public Insight Network and are ready for air, print and online publication.

Please feel free to use any elements of the materials in the weekly feed on the air, on your website or in print — in their current state, or in part. If you do use this content, we'd appreciate it if you let us know.

Questions? Want to suggest a topic for coverage? Contact editor Kate Moos.

facebook politics map screen shot

Story feed: Politics, relationships and our strained social fabric

Every two years — and especially every four — Americans are confronted with a red-blue divide that polarizes the candidates and the public. The stories we’ve heard from more than 500 people paint a picture of a social fabric under tremendous strain from the pressures of the political season.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York (Photo by Andrew Burton | Getty Images)

Story feed: Student loans

Unlike most other forms of debt, student loans generally can’t be eliminated in bankruptcy. Some older borrowers face the reality of taking their debt to the grave.

Members of the U.S. military train with ReconRobotics' Throwbot XT. ReconRobotics has just been awarded a nearly $14 million dollar contract by the U.S. Army for 1,000 of the Throwbot. (Photo courtesy of ReconRobotics)

Weekly feed: Defense spending

Looming cuts to the Department of Defense’s budget could leave deep scars on communities and small businesses that depend on defense dollars.

SHARMINA ZAIDI (Richardson, Texas) -- "When I was a child, Ramadan was pretty simple. My parents prepared sehri (breakfast) which consisted of items typically eaten at dinnertime. The reasoning was that we had to stay full. I would have rather had a bowl of froot loops. Then we usually broke our fasts at a friend's 'iftar party'. We waited for Eid, as that's when we got to wear our new clothes and get 'eidi' (monetary gifts) from everyone. … Now that they are old enough, my eldest son (he's 10 1/2) fasts with me, and my daughter does so on weekends (she's almost 8). Sehri is very different now. I grew up in a family who liked to eat sehri. My husband just wants a date and some water - unless he smells something good in the kitchen. ... This picture is from Ramadan 2011. It's my four children on the night the moon was sighted. We had invited their friends over for a playdate/welcome Ramadan activity and made that banner." (Photo shared by Sharmina Zaidi)

Weekly feed: Ramadan

Parents are finding ways to integrate their childhood traditions with those of their friends, neighbors and communities to create a wholly American Ramadan for their kids: one that reflects the cultures, tastes and melding of experiences within their own lives.

Leif Schenimann on the football field in Saint Joe, Ind. Photo shared by his mother Carly Wiggins.

Weekly feed: Contact sports

Parents are making some tough choices about whether to let their kids participate in sports. And there are no set rules about how young is too young to play contact sports, what kind of game play is too dangerous, or how many concussions are too many.

Cindy Hakala of Grand Marais, Minn., said she spent about $7,000 on her wedding at a historic lodge that cost $250 to rent. "I think many people worry too much about the appearances of the reception when no one remembers the expensive little details anyway. Most importantly, I don't hear much about the ceremony," she wrote. "No matter what your beliefs, if you are marrying someone you are agreeing to spend your life loving and supporting them. That is what matters most in a wedding." (Photo shared by Cindy Hakala)

Weekly feed: The $27k wedding

The cost of an average wedding in the U.S. is reportedly over $27,000, according to an annual survey conducted by popular wedding websites and We wanted to know what’s driving that cost and what impact it’s having, especially on young people who may be carrying heavy debt loads from their education and struggling to… Read more »

Idalia Reyna-Reyna (center) talks to Dr. Amanda Murchison (left) about her pregnancy with the help of medical interpreter Lucia Driscoll in Roanoke, Va. The number of people with limited English proficiency living in Virginia increased by 165% between 1990 and 2010, according to census data. (Photo by Jeanna Duerscherl, The Roanoke Times | AP)

Weekly feed: Medical interpreters

Because of a rapid increase in the need for medical interpreters and no comprehensive national legislation on interpreters or oversight of the work, health care providers are not always willing or able to meet the need.

Addison (left) and Beth Jones of Lakeville, Minn., chat about bullying. It's pervasive in Addison's middle school, which has led Beth to consider moving her to a new school next fall. (Photo by Anna Weggel | Public Insight Network)

Weekly feed: Bullying

We asked about people’s experiences with bullying. The voices we heard told a collective story of bullying as a universal: among siblings, in the classroom, at the office; consciously and unconsciously; through passive silence and aggressive participation.

Conservative Moments timeline

Weekly feed: Conservative moments

We’re now past the presidential primary season, where a wide field of contenders forced the diversity of the Republican Party into the spotlight, at a time when Democratic energies are united behind the party incumbent. One might say the spotlight has created something of a ‘conservative moment’ in America. This interactive timeline of political and… Read more »