Veterans

(Bernt Rostad)

On day two of the government shutdown, it continues to cause headaches, including for a group of Missouri and Kansas veterans that flew to Washington. 

The nonprofit Heartland Honor Flight organized the trip and the closed National World War II Memorial was the first stop Wednesday. The group was met by many Missouri and Kansas lawmakers, who helped them get inside the memorial where barriers had been set up. 

(Flickr/807MDSC)

A 65-year-old Vietnam War veteran from St. Louis County received a Purple Heart medal more than 44 years after he was wounded overseas.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill's office says it helped secure the award for Walter Sitzwohl after his wife contacted the senator's office this summer. McCaskill is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Sitzwohl was first assigned to the A Company, 158th Assault Helicopter Battalion and deployed to Vietnam with that unit. He later transferred to D Company, 101st AHB in March 1969, based out of Phu Bai.

Jerry Tovo (Courtesy Missouri History Museum)

 During the Vietnam War, Jerry Tovo was a drill sergeant, training soldiers to go to war. After he left the military, Tovo became a professional photographer, specializing in advertising. But in 2011, he took his photography in a less commercial direction--photographing homeless veterans across the country.

Tovo's motivation for the project originated with an understanding of the problems that can lead to homelessness  among veterans.

(via Flickr/U.S. Army Garrison, Miami)

At first glance, veterans of the post 9/11 wars and St. Louis youth in high crime neighborhoods don't have much in common. But two things unite them: both are considered at-risk and both can have a tough time finding jobs.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Military veterans from across the nation are in St. Louis this weekend to receive training and take part in community improvement efforts.

The more than 80 veterans were joined by hundreds of community volunteers on Saturday to spruce up the Boys and Girls Club in north St. Louis City, building a picnic area, installing a new track and putting a fresh coat of paint on community areas. 

(via Flickr/KurtClark)

Memorial Day is one of just a couple days a year in which attention is brought specifically to veterans.

While the remembrance earlier this week is a reminder of veterans’ service to the country, the issues and needs associated with returning veterans is an ongoing issue.  Many veterans struggle with health and emotional issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), have difficulty finding jobs and trouble finding a new normalcy in civilian life.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, the wait time for veterans to receive benefits has skyrocketed from 116 days in 2009 to 330 days now. In response, US Representative Bill Enyart is sponsoring legislation to try to reduce that wait.

What the bill would do is pay partial, provisional benefits for veterans whose cases aren't handled within 125 days after they are submitted. Currently, that would apply to more than half a million veterans.

(via Flickr/KurtClark)

As of May 6, 2013, there were 19,900 veterans waiting to hear a response from the St. Louis Regional VA "about compensation for a disease, injury or illness linked to service in the military."

Where does that number, and classification of it, come from? The Center for Investigative Reporting has released a huge set of data (which is periodically updated) from the nation's Department of Veterans' Affairs and its local offices.  

U.S. VETS

Making the transition from the military to civilian life can be difficult. 

Many veterans come out of the military with combat trauma, a condition which must be dealt with before they can move on.  And many don’t admit their condition for fear their discharge will be delayed or they won’t be able to get jobs needing a security clearance or jobs in law enforcement. 

Only a fraction of those with combat trauma register with a VA hospital.

Jeff D. Corrigan

The Missouri Veterans History Project is a not-for-profit organization which seeks to capture the oral history of as many Missouri veterans as possible.

According to the group’s website, “Our nation’s veterans each have a unique perspective to share about our history. First-hand recollections of their service provide a richer and more personal context to historical accounts.”

Robert Peterson / St. Louis Public Radio

The transition from active military service to civilian life can challenge veterans and put a strain on a city’s homelessness resources.

Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio

In September 1944, just nine days before his 23rd birthday, 1st Lt. Don Nicholson boarded the B-17 bomber known as “Little Chum” for a run over Germany. It was his 26th mission navigating the plane referred to as the "flying fortress."

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Court upholds election for earnings tax

The Missouri Supreme Court has rejected a legal challenge to a law that requires residents in St. Louis and Kansas City to vote on their earnings tax every five years.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Fireworks cancelations climb as heat lingers

The list of communities canceling their fireworks displays this year is growing longer.

St. Louis County announced today that it's postponing Tuesday's concert and fireworks at Jefferson Barracks County Park in South County because officials could not secure a permit from Lemay.

Missouri veterans homes get casino money

May 31, 2012
Adam Allington / St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri veterans homes are getting a significant boost as a result of new legislation establishing a dedicated source of funding.

Governor Jay Nixon attended a ceremonial bill signing at the St. Louis Veterans Home on Thursday.

Missouri currently has seven nursing homes which serve some 1,300 veterans. The legislation will allocate $32 million to the Missouri Veterans Commission annually, up from just $6.6 million, and will be paid for through per-patron fees paid by casinos.

(Tim Lloyd for St. Louis Public Radio)

Veterans homelessness used to be an issue associated with men, but that’s rapidly changing.

According to the General Accountability Office the number of homeless female veterans more than doubled between 2006 and 2010.

That’s a problem because the Department of Veterans Affairs has historically built its programs for men.

In the second instalment of a two part series on veterans homelessness, Tim Lloyd reports on how the VA is trying to keep up with the growing number of homeless female veterans.

(Tim Lloyd for St. Louis Public Radio)

The Department of Veterans Affairs is almost halfway through its national push to end homelessness by 2015.

And even though the agency says it’s making progress, there are still more than 67,000 homeless veterans in America.

That has the VA reaching out more and more to community partners as key allies in its battle to end veterans homelessness.

In this first installment of a two-part series on veterans' homelessness, Tim Lloyd reports on how the national initiative is strengthening local partnerships in St. Louis.

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill says the budget proposal of House Republican Paul Ryan would only hurt veterans and help the wealthy. 

Speaking with veterans Sunday at Soldiers’ Memorial Military Museum downtown, McCaskill called the proposal a “non-starter.” 

“The Ryan budget calls for a 33 percent cut in mandatory domestic spending," McCaskill said. "Mandatory domestic spending includes veterans. Now that is the same budget that gives an additional six-figure tax cut for multi-millionaires." 

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

The state of Illinois is increasing the cost for military veterans to live in its nursing homes.

The Pantagraph in Bloomington reports the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs has notified residents of the increase. It's the first time the state has raised monthly fees for residents since 1979. Costs will rise starting July 1, going from about $930 per resident a month to about $1,430.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

The Missouri House has given first-round approval to a plan that would cut the amount of money available for state lottery prizes to increase funding for state-run veterans homes.

The legislation would reduce lottery prize funds by about 3.5 percent and put the money toward early childhood education programs that currently get funds from the Missouri Gaming Commission. Gaming Commission money now used for early childhood education would instead go to veterans' homes.

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