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ARIZONA

Evacuation orders lifted in two towns

SPRINGERVILLE — Firefighters on Sunday expressed the first real sense of hope that they were making progress in their battle against a huge eastern Arizona wildfire burning since May, as officials began allowing roughly 7,000 residents to return home to two towns that had been threatened by the blaze.

“We’ve been praying every day to come home,” Valarina Walker said Sunday while chatting with other returning locals outside a convenience store in Springerville. The bed of her red pickup truck was overflowing with boxes of photo albums and family heirlooms.

“Just took what couldn’t be replaced, left the rest behind,” Ms. Walker said crying. “I’m just so happy and excited to be home. We thank God for those firefighters.”

Fire crews remained in Springerville and the nearby town of Eagar, guarding against flare-ups, but Apache County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Webb Hogle said residents could return home because the blaze was “no longer a threat to the citizens.” About 2,700 other people who live in several resort communities in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest remained under an evacuation order.

CALIFORNIA

VA issued directive on care for transgender vets

SAN FRANCISCO — The Veterans Healthcare Administration is letting its hospitals and clinics know that transgender veterans are eligible for hormones, care before and after gender surgery, and mental health counseling as part of their regular benefits.

In a directive issued Thursday, the VA reiterated that its facilities are not permitted to perform genital surgeries on veterans in the process of changing genders.

But the agency confirmed that transgender patients are entitled to routine health care and to transgender-specific treatments such as hormone therapy and “long-term care following sex reassignment surgery.”

Transgender activists have been pressuring the VA for years to make such a statement. They maintain care of transgender veterans varies too much from facility to facility.

The VA quietly posted the directive but has not commented on it.

ILLINOIS

Weight-loss surgery doesn’t help older men

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