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Bryan McDonel and his father, Mike, both served multiple tours in Iraq with the National Guard. Bryan was first prescribed painkillers before his deployment, and his dependence on medication prompted a downward spiral. Quil Lawrence/NPR hide caption

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National Guardsman Andrew Sullens (left) climbs Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, Calif., with Pat Warren, lead climber from Paradox Sports. Sullens, who lost his leg below the knee while serving in Kapisa province, Afghanistan, participated in the three day climb with other veterans to honor the anniversary of September 11th. David P. Gilkey/NPR hide caption

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The Kurdish areas of northern Iraq have remained peaceful despite the recent surge in fighting. Here, a member of the Kurdish peshmerga forces directs traffic at a checkpoint in Kalak, in northern Iraq. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images hide caption

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Sloan Gibson, acting secretary of Veterans Affairs, spoke in Phoenix last week. After a visit to a VA hospital, he said additional resources were likely needed in the area. Nationwide, the number of veterans seeking health care has risen dramatically in recent years. Matt York/AP hide caption

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Soldiers returning from the Pacific wave from the deck of the USS General Mitchell on Dec. 11, 1945. Much of the health care demand in the VA system is from veterans of earlier wars. AP hide caption

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Sen. John McCain discussed the Veterans Choice Act at a news conference on Tuesday, with fellow Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake. Mark Wilson/Getty Images hide caption

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