One of the state’s leading veterans advocates is imploring state lawmakers to create a new position to connect the rising number of female veterans across the state with new services designed for them.
There are about 30,000 female veterans in Kentucky. But Margaret Plattner, a retired Lt. Col. with the National Guard and the deputy commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, says just under 2,000 of them have applied for benefits.
She says that the number of homeless female veterans in Kentucky, about 250, is growing faster than that of their male counterparts, and they suffer from domestic violence trauma in greater numbers than men.
Plattner implored a panel of lawmakers in Frankfort to create a position for the state to bridge the gap.
Kentucky lawmakers have been discussing the causes of post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans, and how sexual assault in the military plays a factor.
Dr. Mary Sweeney was among a team of physicians from the Robley Rex Veterans Affairs hospital in Louisville who recently testified before a joint Committee on the Military, Veterans Affairs and Public Safety about PTSD treatment efforts.
“Fifty percent of people who experience a rape go on to get PTSD. The numbers are lower for combat. Vietnam veterans, probably about 30 percent at some point in their life. Gulf War veterans, perhaps 10 percent. The numbers are still out in the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.”
Many veterans have lobbied Frankfort in support of medical marijuana as a treatment for their symptoms.
About 18,500 veterans in Kentucky suffer from PTSD. Nationwide, that number is 350,000.
Medical Marijuana for Veterans?
Kentucky lawmakers also heard testimony from those advocating for the legalization of medical marijuana as a way for veterans to cope with the impact of PTSD and physical ailments related to their military service.
Kentucky’s Veterans Affairs Commissioner is stepping down to oversee the construction of the state’s new long-term care facility for veterans in Hardin County.
Governor Steve Beshear announced Friday that Ken Lucas is leaving the post, and being replaced by Heather French Henry.
Lucas is a former U.S. Congressman from Kentucky’s Fourth House District and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard. Beshear appointed him head of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs in 2009.
He’ll now oversee the construction of what will be the state’s fourth veterans nursing home. The Radcliff Veterans Center is scheduled to open in September of 2015, and will provide 120 beds to veterans in the Hardin County region. Featuring a dozen ten-person homes, the facility will sit on 195 acres of land donated by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Taking over as head of the Veterans Affairs Department on July 1 will be Heather French Henry. She began the Heather French Foundation for Veterans in 1999, shortly after she was crowned Miss America.
Military veterans taking part in the 'Ride 2 Recovery' program take a moment to visit with WKU Public Radio during a lunch break in Cave City
The journey across Kentucky continues Thursday morning for 150 military veterans taking part in the Ride 2 Recovery Bluegrass Challenge.
Dan Wermuth was an avid cyclist growing up. But a broken back suffered during the Vietnam War kept him away from the bike for years. That was until a Ride 2 Recovery event came through the Florida town in which he was living. Since then, he’s taken part in 10 rides, but many of his fellow cyclists are much younger veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I have a lot of connection with them because…especially coming from the era that I did – they didn’t appreciate us so much when we came home. That’s an understatement. We will not let that happen for our young guys,” said Wermuth.
A new report says the number of homeless veterans in Kentucky has increased in recent years.
Numbers released by the Kentucky Housing Corporation show the number of homeless veterans jumped 37 percent in the last four years. The report indicates that the higher numbers are in part a result of troop withdrawals in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The proportion of veterans in the overall homeless population in Kentucky increased this year as well, to over 10 percent.
Among the litany of conscious-consumer labels like “certified organic” and “fair trade,” you might already be familiar with the Kentucky-specific “Homegrown by Heroes.” That logo tells you, for example, that the jar of Eastern Kentucky sorghum was produced by farmers who served in America’s armed forces.
Monday, the national Farmer Veteran Coalition adopted this marketing strategy, logo and all, from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture so that shoppers across the country can support veterans who work the land.
WKU is being recognized for its efforts in reaching out to military veterans.
The school was ranked seventh among all four-year schools in the 2014 "Best for Vets" report published by the Military Times. WKU was praised for having the state's only Veterans Upward Bound program, as well as a tuition discount for active duty military.
WKU Military Student Services Director Tonya Archey, a 10 year Navy veteran, says schools have to work to convince some veterans that they can succeed academically after being out of the classroom for many years.
"Speaking for myself, and many of my students, we can tell you that we've been out for a long time and we lack some of the confidence--do I have what it takes to make it through college? Many wonder since they've been out of high school so long, are they going to be really rusty on a lot of the basic stuff."
The "Best for Vets" rankings factored in a school's service member enrollment, percentage of tuition covered by the G.I. Bill, and the presence of programs designed to help active duty and former military personnel.
A new veterans center planned for Hardin County will be just the fourth such facility in the state, and will offer long-term care in a region known for its close ties to the military.
State and local leaders were in Radcliff Wednesday to honor the official groundbreaking for the center that has been seven years in the making. With a planned opening in June, 2015, the project will feature a dozen ten-person homes, and will provide full nursing services to 120 veterans.
Those who helped design the Hardin County facility say it will offer residents a degree of autonomy not often found in nursing homes.
“They will be able to design their own rooms as far as how they decorate the room,” said Gilda Hill, Executive Director of the Office of Kentucky Veterans Centers. “They are welcome to bring their own furniture if they like, if that will make them feel more at home. They will tell us when they want to eat breakfast, when they want to bathe, and when they want to go out of the building for visits.”
The Radcliff Veterans Center will sit on 195 acres of land donated by the Defense Department.
Speaking at Wednesday’s ceremony, Governor Steve Beshear pointed out there is a great need for the kinds of services that be provided at the Radcliff Veterans Center.
The remains of a Kentucky soldier who died in the Korean War in 1950 have been identified and are returning to Kentucky to be interred. Sgt. Stanley Wayne Bear was almost 19 years old when he died Sept. 4, 1950, in South Korea as a member of the 25th Infantry Division.