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.