Veterans

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.

WWII veteran Paul Tell shows a couple of volunteers with Greater St. Louis Honor Flight a book of photographs he took as a young soldier in Europe, after a special film screening hosted by the organization.
Karl Lund | Greater St. Louis Honor Flight

The Greater St. Louis Honor Flight closed out its year of veteran visits to the war memorials in Washington, D.C., by taking them on one more special trip – to a Chesterfield movie theater.

Mustard Seed Theatre

When you think of World War I heroes, you likely picture generals and fighter pilots. But a playwright who penned Mustard Seed Theatre’s upcoming production wanted to salute a group of men in the trenches.

Amanda Honigfort

During World War II, thousands of B-17 Flying Fortress bombers took to the skies daily. The planes were a crucial part of campaigns, from the bombing of Dresden to D-Day, and were flown by the likes of Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart and Lt. Col. Basil Hackleman.

Hackleman, who now lives in Springfield, Mo., was the original pilot of the Nine-o-Nine, a celebrated B-17 that is said to have never lost a crew member or abort a mission because of mechanical failure. The plane was scrapped after the war.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

People often call Todd Nicely a hero, but the 30-year-old Marine combat veteran would prefer that they didn’t.

Nicely, who lost his arms and legs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan four years ago, says the heroes of the 13-year war on terror are the 6,841 U.S. service members who have died while serving their country since Sept. 11.

“If they want to call me an inspiration because of the things I have to do on a daily basis, fine. I’ll take that,’’ says Nicely. “But hero? No. I have friends who are heroes. The guys who aren’t coming home -- those are the heroes.”

Wayne Pratt / St. Louis Public Radio

Elmer Boehm's life is a story about war, survival, love and life-saving luck.

The World War II veteran is headed to Washington, D.C., on Veterans Day as part of the final Greater St. Louis Honor Flight of 2014.

“I just hope I can … I’m strong enough to make it. I’ll be 92 in January, but I’m still pumping around,” said Boehm during a recent interview at his home in Town and Country.

“It’s kind of an honor to go. It will be nice to see all these memorials that they put up for the various servicemen that have done a lot for their country.”

Parade grand marshalls Velma Jesse, Army WAC, Alice Anderson, Navy WAVES, and Major General Susan Davidson, commander of SDDC at Scott Air Force Base.
Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis held its annual Veterans Day Observance downtown Saturday. For the first time in 31 years, all of the parade marshals were women.

The celebration began on a solemn note with a formal ceremony in front of the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum. Bells rang and bugle taps played in memory of POWs and soldiers who went missing in action.

August Jennewein

“When you go to a networking interview and a hiring manager asks you what you want to do, ‘What do you need done?’ is not a good answer,” Jim Craig explains.  But “that’s the military mentality,” he says from experience.

Craig is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army and is currently an associate teaching professor and chair of the Department of Military and Veterans Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

For the typical college freshman, heading for campus means a welcome chance to leave behind all those pesky rules that had to be followed at home and to enter a new environment of freedom and choice.

For the military veteran trying to re-enter civilian society and signing up for college classes, that lack of structure may be far less attractive and more than a little intimidating.

Ryan Barrett, who is studying for his doctorate at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, went through that tough transition when he left the Air Force after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Vietnam veteran, Chester Chunn, stands to speak at a veteran's town hall meeting in downtown St. Louis.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

Exceptionally long wait times, missing records and doctors who failed to diagnose serious conditions were among the complaints aired at a veteran’s town hall meeting in St. Louis Friday.

Veterans Affairs officials in St. Louis have been required to hold two forums following federal investigations of hospitals and the mishandling of veteran’s benefit claims. While providing a public venue for people to speak about their experiences with the system, representatives were also on hand to answer individual questions about benefits and vocational rehabilitation.

Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

The VA St. Louis Health Care System hosted a veterans’ resource fair Saturday in downtown St. Louis. Several hundred people attended the event, which expanded on the St. Louis VA’s fall Homeless Veterans Stand Down event to provide employment, education, health and legal services in addition to resources to help veterans find housing.                    

Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

If the latest counts are accurate, the population of homeless veterans in the City of St. Louis is now zero. The city gave 51 veterans the keys to their own apartments Wednesday, providing housing for the last group of known homeless vets in the city.

At an event announcing Operation Reveille, St. Louis Department of Human Services Director Bill Siedhoff said homeless veterans have been a focus for his office.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

The American Legion is looking for St. Louis-area veterans who need help getting medical services from the VA Health Care System.

The Legion has sent members from its “System Worth Saving Task Force” in Washington, D.C., to relay concerns directly from St. Louis-area veterans.

The three-person task force is meeting with the director of the local VA system today to bring up problems raised by veterans at a town hall-style meeting that it hosted Monday night, said Verna Jones, director of the Legion's Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Division in Washington.

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