military

U.S. Army

Obesity is the leading medical reason why nearly three-quarters of young Kentuckians are not eligible to join the armed forces.

A report from the group Mission: Readiness is based on U.S. Defense Department data, and shows nearly 33 percent of Kentucky teens are overweight or obese.

Read the report here.

Retired U.S. Marine Major General Jerry Humble of Russellville is a member of the group, and says other factors disqualifying young Kentuckians from military service are criminal records and a lack of high school diploma.

“We’re really worried about the future—the next 10 to 12 years—of our military armed forces. And the world isn’t becoming a kinder, gentler place, either,” Humble said.

The report, entitled Retreat Is Not An Option for Kentucky, also finds:

* 78 percent of Kentucky adolescents do not get the recommended hour of daily exercise.

*The military currently spends $1.5 billion annually on obesity-related medical costs and to replace those discharged because they are physically unfit.

The head of Kentucky’s Department of Veterans Affairs is hoping to hear soon on whether Bowling Green will be the site of a 90-bed long-term care facility for veterans.

Commissioner Heather French Henry says the state has submitted to the federal government a needs assessment for veterans in the southern Kentucky region.

Speaking after an address to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club Wednesday, Henry said  if the federal VA  gives its approval, she would then lobby state lawmakers to support the project in the next two-year budget.

“There is a grant matching fund process that takes place, so if they see the need and they give us a favorable outcome to the needs assessment that we’ve given, we’ll go to our state legislature and we will try to get the match for the money we’ve asked for.

Commissioner Henry says she’s hopeful the state will get the go-ahead soon.

“I have not gotten an official response, though they have called several times and we’ve been able to answer any questions they have. So hopefully, to me, that shows they have interest.”

David Monniaux, Wikimedia Commons

Fort Campbell is closer to breaking ground on an alternative energy project that will build the largest solar array in the state. 

Last week, project coordinators received the green light to break ground in two weeks’ time which will see installation of 5,814 solar modules on 25 acres generating over 2,466 megawatt-hours of electricity annually.  

Ft. Campbell Resource Efficiency Manager Dewayne Smith says the base’s electric utility, Pennyrile Rural Electric Co-op, is fronting the capital costs which will be paid back through the energy savings.  The array will generate a 5 megawatts capacity, alleviating some of the base’s 31 megawatt average monthly demand.

It's also part of a initiative under the American Renewable Energy Act requiring 25 percent of government installations’ power to be produced by renewables by 2025.  For Fort Campbell, those renewables include the solar array as well as a 20 megawatt biomass-burning plant.

A traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall is coming to Hardin County this week as part of a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the war.

The traveling wall contains all of the names of U.S. military personnel killed during the war, and will arrive in Radcliff on Thursday. Event organizer and Vietnam veteran David Cowherd says the replica wall offers a chance for those who haven’t seen the Washington memorial to pay tribute to those who died, as well POWs and MIAs.

“They served there with us, and they are in some case family members and really close friends. So it helps with some of the healing, in my view,” said Cowherd, who served in the Navy during the war in southeast Asia.

The replica wall will be on display in Radcliff from Thursday through Sunday. Area schools are bringing students to see the wall, and a candlelight service honoring Hardin County natives killed in the Vietnam War is being held Saturday night.

Vietnam War veterans are invited to a Sunday afternoon group photo shoot in front of the traveling wall.

A Daviess County roadway is being renamed in honor of the county’s first Vietnam War casualty.

The state is designating ten miles of Kentucky 144 as the SP5 Charles Francis Millay Memorial Highway.

The Messenger-Inquirer reports a ceremony will be held Saturday morning at St. William Catholic Church in Millay’s hometown of Knottsville.

Millay was 23 and on his second tour of Vietnam when the helicopter he was in was shot down over the southern providence of Binh Dinh in 1965. He died along with eight others aboard the helicopter.

Millay served as a crew chief and door gunner with the 145th Airlift Platoon.

A motorcycle escort will ride through St. William Cemetery, where Millay is buried, to pay tribute to him. A 21-gun military salute and the playing of taps will conclude the ceremony.

Ft. Campbell

A two-state coalition of local governments and chambers of commerce is planning to lobby against looming personnel cuts at Fort Campbell.

The sprawling military base on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line is facing a potential reduction of half its 32,000 payroll as part of sequestration in the Department of Defense’s budget. The Fort Campbell cuts were one of the possible scenarios outlined in a June 2014 Army report.

The reduction would also have a strong negative economic impact on surrounding communities.  

In January, Hopkinsville's city council sent a letter urging Congress to block the possible reduction at the base.

The joint partnership includes the governments of Montgomery and Christian County, Clarksville and Hopkinsville city governments, the Hopkinsville Chamber of Commerce and the privately-funded Aspire Clarksville Foundation. The group has hired Cassidy & Associates to maximize Fort Campbell's exposure in Washington ahead of the DoD's decision.

A WKU graduate believed to have been held as a prisoner of war longer than any other Kentuckian has died at the age of 85.

The Courier-Journal reports Col. Dewey Lee Smith of Louisville passed away this week while on vacation in Alabama.

Smith served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. The plane he was flying was shot down June 2, 1967, over North Vietnam.  Smith was captured and held as a P.O.W. for nearly six years until his release on March 4, 1973.

He was awarded the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Purple Heart.

Smith was commissioned a second lieutenant through the WKU Air Force ROTC program in 1953, and joined active duty later that year. He also played on the WKU football team.

More than 1,500 western Kentucky and northwestern Tennessee residents gathered at Fort Campbell Tuesday night to share concerns about potential cuts.

NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live.

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