Rick Callahan, The Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Feb. 24, 2015 file photo, Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald speaks to reporters outside VA Headquarters in Washington. The Department of Veterans Affairs faces a serious numbers problem _ multiple in fact. It can't count how many veterans died while waiting to sign up for health care. It says some VA hospitals may have to close if the agency can't get $2.5 billion. And a year after scandal rocked the department, congressional Republicans want to know why the number of employees fired is so low. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
    McDonald optimistic Congress will plug VA's budget gap

    Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald said Thursday he's confident that Congress will act soon to address a looming budget crisis that could force his agency to shut down some VA hospitals, freeze hiring and take other belt-tightening steps.

  • This undated photo provided by the Kassig Family shows Peter Kassig delivering supplies for Syrian refugees. A new graphic video purportedly produced by Islamic State militants in Syria released Sunday Nov. 16, 2014 claims U.S. aid worker Kassig was beheaded. (AP Photo/Courtesy Kassig Family)
    Islamic State beheading of American draws condemnation

    Peter Kassig first experienced the Middle East as a soldier, then returned as a student and, finally, as a humanitarian intent on helping those whose lives were upended by the brutal civil war in Syria, whatever their allegiance.