Veterans

Mike Wattle’s “Student – Veteran – Identity" arrives on campus.
Dale SInger | St. Louis Public Radio

The Student Veterans Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis is designed to help ease the transition from the military to campus and eventually to life in the greater community.

Now, the center has a new mural to help show the way.

Mike Michaud, assistant secretary of labor for veterans employment
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

The declining jobless rate for U.S. veterans is a good sign, but the need for training and employment services will continue to grow, said Mike Michaud, assistant secretary of labor for veterans employment, who was in St. Louis Wednesday to visit the St. Patrick Center.

Artists First executive director Sheila Suderwalla helps Vietnam veteran Mike David with a charcoal project.
Artists First

Mike David came home from Vietnam in the early 1970s with two Purple Hearts and a feeling of doom after spending a year in combat on a squad known as a “killer team.”

“All six of us were in constant fear for our lives, every moment of the day,” he said.

It took David a decade to start dealing with his PTSD with the help of friends and meditation. He wishes he’d had more creative opportunities to heal, like a new program offered by a Maplewood organization called Artists First.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Lou Baczewski joined “St. Louis on the Air” last year to discuss his plans to document his grandfather’s World War II service to benefit veterans’ organizations. Now, he’s returned from a bicycle tour in Europe, where he retraced the route of his grandfather’s division during the war. He biked over 400 miles and raised $5000 for veterans’ organizations during the process.

Photo by Nassim Benchaabane for St. Louis Public Radio

The VA St. Louis Health Care System has cut the waiting time for appointments in recent months, but the improvement is “fragile,” says Patricia Ten Haaf, who is leaving the agency after serving as its acting director since May. 

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

This past June, 33 Veterans Court Technology Clinic students and supporters watched as seven of their colleagues took part in the clinic’s first formal graduation ceremony. The clinic is part of a special drug court in St. Louis that provides an alternative to incarceration for veterans. It provides job skills for participants in the program.

St. Louis International Film Festival

Journalism movies are making a big splash this Oscars season. From “Truth,” the Robert Redford film about the Dan Rather controversy, to “Spotlight,” which follows the Boston Globe investigation of child abuse by Catholic clergy, journalists are once again the center of their own stories.

Missouri History Museum

Updated 1:24, Nov. 11 with agreement  -

This Veteran’s Day, the Missouri History Museum takes over as official custodian of Soldiers Memorial Military Museum. The city and history museum formalized the agreement outside Soldier’s Memorial.

Army veteran Horace Montgomery practices in the pool at the Jefferson Barracks VA Medical Center. He says kayaking has been motivating as he recovers from open-heart surgery and a hip replacement.
Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

Veterans Day 2015 finds Jason Pilarksi among the thousands of U.S. veterans who are still battling physical and emotional wounds from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Pilarksi, who served three tours of duty with the Army in Iraq, says he finds peace some days while paddling a kayak on a quiet Missouri lake.

“I just like to get out on the water and go,” he says.

The west wing of Soldiers Memorial Museum
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The person in charge of the Soldiers Memorial Museum is excited about management shifting from the city to the Missouri History Museum. A bill to do just that is now before the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. And   Superintendent Lynnea Magnuson says she's hopeful that the building may now receive the care it deserves.

“This is something that when I started, I would never have dreamed of it happening,” said Magnuson.

Judge Patricia Riehl presides over Jefferson County Veterans Treatment Court
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Robert Brummel’s troubles began even before he left the Army in 2010. Then things went downhill when he became a civilian.

“It was all alcohol and drug abuse because of certain things that were going on,” he recalls. “Marriage issues. Divorce. Yeah, homeless.”

Dr. Anupam Agarwal, (with microphone), responds to a patient advocate during a roundtable discussion in St. Louis. She serves as acting chief of staff for the St. Louis VA health system.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio

Regional officials from the health and benefits system that serves veterans crowed over the gains they’ve made in the past few years. On the other side of a room at Soldier's Memorial Monday, members of veteran’s organizations brought up their clients’ latest challenges, but said the conditions have noticeably improved.

The discussion was part of a roundtable meeting that touched on issues related to each of the three branches of the Veterans Administration: the Veterans Health Administration, the Veterans Benefits Administration and the Cemetery Administration.  

After meeting with female veterans and healthcare providers, Blunt walks to the VA Women's Clinic in St. Louis.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

After stopping at the VA medical center in Jefferson Barracks, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said he continues to be concerned about the long waiting lists of veterans seeking treatment. 

Blunt says he’s particularly worried about growing delays in treating combat-related mental illness and emotional problems. He says the VA should be responding quickly to help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders and should be committed to offering the nation’s best treatments.

The John Cochran veterans facility on North Grand Boulevard.
Donna Korando | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 5:05 p.m. July 29 with House vote - Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have voted to keep the federal Highway Trust Fund operating until at least Oct. 29. In the same bill, lawmakers also approved an additional $3.4 billion to help the Department of Veterans Affairs fill a budget gap.  

The Senate is expected to approve the extension, even as it continues to work on its six-year highway bill. Leaders in both chambers say they will use this extension to work toward a multi-year bill when they return from break.

The Mission Continues is helping launch an effort to help veterans reintegrate into communities and improve their economic opportunities. Here, members of the St. Louis chapter participate in a service project.
The Mission Continues St. Louis | Facebook

St. Louis is one of the first 25 cities where a new U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' initiative to give veterans more educational and employment opportunities launches this summer. 

Surrounded by her father's military mementos on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, Elsie Shemin-Roth speaks about how much it means for her father to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

A World War I veteran with ties to St. Louis will posthumously receive the Medal of Honor, almost a hundred years after he risked his life to save three fellow soldiers on a French battlefield.

Elsie Shemin-Roth of Webster Groves has been fighting for her father, William Shemin, to receive the medal since 2002, when Congress called for a review of past awards to correct possible discrimination.

In 1919 Shemin was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery during a three-day battle in France. He ran out into heavy gunfire to rescue three wounded soldiers, took command of his platoon after the officers fell, and eventually succumbed to wounds himself.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay (center) signs into law the Veterans Preference Bill, giving veterans extra points on applications for city jobs. The bill was sponsored by 22nd Ward Alderman Jeffrey Boyd (right).
Katelyn Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Veterans now will get preference when they apply to work for the City of St. Louis, after Mayor Francis Slay signed the measure into law Monday.

After passing a civil service exam, veterans will be given an additional five points on their applications. Disabled veterans will get another five points on top of that, for a total of 10 points.

Michael "Sonny" Trimble directs the archives and artifacts collection of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

These days, Marine veteran Ryan Schatz works a quiet job, painstakingly photographing Native American arrowheads and shards of ceramic pottery unearthed decades ago during construction projects by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Roger Denly, 43, is still learning the fine points of bowling while seated in a wheelchair, but last Thursday afternoon he was enjoying "tenpin therapy" at the little six-lane bowling alley at the Jefferson Barracks VA Medical Center.

“It’s freedom. It gets me out doing something I enjoy,’’ said Denly, an Air Force veteran who lives in Farmington, Iowa.

A little St. Louis nonprofit continues to plug away at its goal of creating a memorial to about 150 U.S. servicemen and servicewomen from Missouri who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Pages