military

While VA hospitals are dealing with long wait times, Fort Campbell’s health system has excess capacity. Blanchfield Army Community Hospital has reopened its facilities to a limited number of retirees for the first time in a decade. Enrollment was cut off to veterans in 2004 because so many doctors and nurses were deployed to the Middle East.

81st Regional Support Command, Ft. Campbell

A Meade County native who died while serving in Iraq is being honored this weekend at Fort Campbell.

The U.S. Army Reserve Center at the southern Kentucky post is being renamed Sunday in honor of Major Michael L. Mundell, who died in 2007 from injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device was detonated in Fallujah.

Mundell, who was 47 when he was killed, had volunteered to deploy to Iraq, and was survived by a wife, Audrey, and four children; Erica, Ryan, Zachary, and Dale.

Michael Mascari, Public Affairs Director with the 81st Regional Support Command, says Mundell  served in an 11-man unit in Fallujah that was training Iraqi soldiers. Several of Mundell’s former comrades will be at Sunday’s ceremony.

“And one of the things that was unique about that unit was how small it is and how specialized the staff were,” Mascari told WKU Public Radio. “They took soldiers from all over, from all different types of units to assemble them for this. And out of 11 people, six soldiers from his unit are actually going to be there.”

This post was updated at 3 p.m. ET:

House and Senate negotiators unveiled a $17 billion plan Monday to address the crisis in care for veterans.

The agreement would provide $10 billion to allow veterans to be treated outside the Veterans Affairs system, if they've had trouble getting appointments within it. More than two dozen clinics would be leased around the country, with $5 billion spent to hire additional doctors, nurses and other medical personnel at the VA.

Soldiers Deploying From Ft. Campbell

Jul 24, 2014

Soldiers from two 101st Airborne Division Brigades from Fort Campbell and from the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, will deploy to Afghanistan. The deployment will include about 3,600 personnel.

The Defense Department said the deployment involves about 1,000 soldiers from the 1st Brigade and about 900 from the 3rd Brigade from Fort Campbell and about 1,725 from the 82nd Airborne Division.

The military said the deployments are to take place in the fall.

Kevin Willis

Some retired military veterans are asking Kentucky lawmakers to commit funding for a new long-term care facility for veterans that would be located in Bowling Green.

The commonwealth currently has only three such facilities, with a fourth veterans nursing home scheduled to open next summer in Hardin County.

Dr. Ray Biggerstaff served in Vietnam as a Captain with the 101st Airborne Division, based in Fort Campbell. He told state lawmakers in Frankfort that the number of veterans in the south-central Kentucky region makes Warren County a logical location for a long-term care operation.

“When we take a look at the demographic data for Bowling Green and the Barren River Area Development District, we’re looking at a total of 20,000 veterans in that particular area. Surrounding the area, we have an additional 22,000 veterans that are in the perimeter,” said Biggerstaff.

Biggerstaff said he also thought a long-term care facility for veterans in southern Kentucky could attract veterans who live in northern Tennessee.

In testimony before a joint committee on State Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection, Biggerstaff said backers of the proposed veteran’s nursing home in Warren County have identified a 30-acre site off I-65 near the Kentucky Transpark as a possible location for the facility.

The nursing home being built in Hardin County will sit on 195 acres of land donated by the Defense Department, and feature a dozen ten-person homes providing full nursing services to 120 veterans. It’s scheduled to open next June.

Kentucky’s three nursing homes for veterans currently in operation are in Hopkins, Jessamine, and Perry counties.

Ft. Campbell

The Army has analyzed the impact of cutting 16,000 personnel from Fort Campbell, which would be about half of its current population.

This analysis was part of the Army’s Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment 2020 Force Structure Realignment,(SPEA) which studied the impacts of reducing the force from around 500,000 to between 440,000 to 450,000. The draft study found there would be no significant impact from the Army’s force reductions, though there are many factors to be assessed before reduction numbers are finalized for the 30 individual locations, including Fort Campbell.

The assessment indicates Fort Campbell is a major economic influence in Christian County, Kentucky, and Montgomery County, Tennessee, where the Armed Forces accounts for 23 percent and 14 percent of the workforce respectively. Hopkinsville Mayor Dan Kemp says the SPEA is only a study and has not affected Hopkinsville’s planning. He says there was no impact on Fort Campbell after a similar evaluation was done two years ago.

“We don’t know if anything will happen but we expect that there would not be a significant reduction at Fort Campbell because Fort Campbell is one of the most strategic military posts in the country,” Kemp said. “We’ve been briefed at Fort Campbell by the command down there and we’ve endeavored to obtain as much information as we can.”

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.

Updated at 2:33 p.m. ET

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki told a Senate panel today [Thursday] that he hoped to have a preliminary report within three weeks on the problem of delayed treatment and preventable deaths at VA facilities across the nation.

His testimony came amid allegations that such conditions persisted at a VA hospital in Phoenix. Shinseki said he was "mad as hell" about the reports.

Injured military veterans, troops, and supporters are cycling through our region this week to benefit programs that aid in physical and mental rehabilitation.

Over 200 cyclists departed Covington, Kentucky, on Sunday, in honor of a program called Riding 2 Recovery, which helps injured veterans improve their health and wellness through individual and group cycling.

Cyclists are scheduled to bike from Elizabethtown to Bowling Green Wednesday and eventually make their way to Nashville by Saturday.

Some of the bicycles used by participants have been custom-fitted to the physical needs of the rider.

Over the course of the seven-day event, Ride 2 Recovery participants will bike over 450 miles between northern Kentucky and the Tennessee capital.

Ft. Campbell Unit to Case Colors Before Deployment

Jan 8, 2014

A Fort Campbell-based battalion is set to case its colors before deploying to Afghanistan later this year.

The 2nd Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment will conduct the ceremony Jan. 10 at the sprawling military post on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line.

The unit colors are a flag that represents the unit on the battlefield, and casing it symbolizes the unit is prepared for movement.

Once in Afghanistan, the battalion will provide protection for coalition forces across Afghanistan against the threat of indirect fire.

The "Strike Fear" battalion deployed to Afghanistan in 2013, when its members worked to protect Forward Operating Base Shank in the Logar province of eastern Afghanistan, in the north of the city of Gardez.

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