veterans

Nicole Erwin

Napoleon famously said that an army marches on its stomach; troops must be fed in order to fight. But what happens when that army faces hunger after marching back home?  

Federal statistics show tens of thousands of U.S. military veterans struggle with homelessness, hunger and food insecurity. As the holiday season approaches, a pilot program in the Ohio Valley aims to serve those who served their country.


The Carl Brashear Foundation

The new Radcliff Veterans Center will be named for a U.S. Navy deep sea diver who overcame social and physical challenges during his 30-year military career.

A dedication ceremony will be held Thursday to name the facility the ‘Carl M. Brashear Radcliff Veterans Center.’

Brashear was the son of sharecroppers and grew up on a farm in Sonora in Hardin County. He joined the Navy 1948 and became the first African-American master deep sea diver.

Brashear overcame racial discrimination and the physical challenge of losing half of his left leg in a shipboard accident. He became the Navy’s first amputee diver.

Brashear retired in 1979 with the top enlisted rank of master chief petty officer. He died in 2006 at the age of 75.

Veterans Upward Bound at WKU

It’s a week before the official Veterans Day holiday, but Bowling Green will honor those who have served in the military with a parade on Saturday, Nov. 4. The parade is scheduled so it doesn’t interfere with other activities by local veterans groups on Nov. 11.

One group coming out in force for the parade is Veteran’s Upward Bound. The organization is based at Western Kentucky University and helps veterans get into college and succeed in their studies.

Davy Stone is director of Veterans Upward Bound at WKU. He said the parade might inspire some veterans to go back to school.

Cave City is hosting the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall this Saturday through Monday. 

The three-fifths scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. will be located on the grounds of the Cave City Convention Center. 

Sharon Tabor, executive director of the Cave City Tourist and Convention Commission,  says the 350 foot structure brings the wall home for veterans and their loved ones.

"Twenty-four hours a day there will be people that will show up at one and two o’clock in the morning, and there will be someone on-site that can talk to you that can show you around, or just leave you alone if that’s what you want.”


Rhonda J Miller

President Donald Trump’s sudden announcement - on Twitter - that transgender men and women will no longer be allowed to serve in the armed forces has ignited a firestorm of controversy.

U.S. Air Force Veteran Dennis Cain of Bowling Green says the president’s decision signals a step backward - to more of the type of discrimination he experienced as a gay man in the military.

Cain served for eight years during the 1980s. He was  a medic and with an F-16 fighter squadron for four of those years.  Cain says he had to keep his personal life as a gay man hidden, and it discouraged him from having a longer career in the Air Force. 

U.S. Army

One of the latest scams making the rounds in Kentucky involves a caller who claims to be raising money to cover Veterans Affairs medical bills and aid homeless veterans.

The caller claims to represent a bogus charity called “Coalition for Veterans of America.”

The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office says its received multiple reports from Kentuckians—including one from state police—who say they’ve been contacted by the scammers.

Rhonda J Miller

Dignitaries from state and local government, and the military, will officially open the new Radcliff Veterans Center on July 21.

The center is a bright, comfortable skilled nursing facility that has the feeling of a lodge. It’s located on 200 peaceful acres donated by Fort Knox.

The first residents began arriving in May. One of residents of the first "household" of 10 veterans is William Wester.

When you get to  Wester’s room, it’s clear that this slim man with a twinkle in his eye is looking toward the future, beyond his current 101 years.

"I’m going on 102," he said.

Lisa Autry

Veterans advocates say the hard part has just begun as Bowling Green seeks to open the state’s fifth veterans nursing home. 

Officials from the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs offered a sobering update Tuesday to area lawmakers and veterans at the American Legion Post in Bowling Green. 

During this year’s General Assembly session, lawmakers authorized $10 million in state funding for a 90-bed skilled nursing facility, but the money hasn’t actually been appropriated.

Creative Commons

Military veterans from throughout the region are being encouraged to share their stories. 

In cooperation with the Library of Congress, the Warren County Public Library is offering the Veteran’s Oral History Project.  Branch Manager Ashley Fowlkes says military personnel both active and those who served in peacetime are encouraged to make an appointment to preserve their stories.

Once the oral histories are recorded they are uploaded to the Warren County Public Libraries You Tube channel.  Those stories that meet the criteria of the Library of Congress model will be sent there for preservation.


Louisville VA Medical Center

A new veterans medical center in Louisville is another step closer to becoming a reality.  The U.S. Veterans Affairs Administration released its final environmental impact study on Friday.

According to the study, property near Brownsboro Road and the Watterson Expressway is the preferred site to build the hospital that will replace the outdated one on Zorn Avenue.  The study also looked at a location on Factory Lane near I-265. 

The report says there could be negative effects on air quality, noise, utilities, and traffic, but adds that measures can be taken to minimize the environmental impact.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Floyd Wilde

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin has vetoed a portion of a bill that will help fund a veterans nursing home in Bowling Green. 

Part of the bill would have required the state to pay back bonds supporting the project before it spends money on another debt.  Bevin vetoed that language, saying it sets a bad precedent. 

The bill was co-sponsored by State Representative Michael Meredith.  The Brownsville Republican says the vetoed portion contained language added by a Senate committee.

City of Radcliff

Radcliff Mayor Mike Weaver is working with some local entrepreneurs to put together a proposal to build a new veterans hospital in Hardin County. 

Weaver says a new law allowing public-private partnerships would reduce the cost and expedite the construction schedule. 

The Department of Veterans Affairs has estimated its preferred location in Louisville would cost around $900 million and construction would take ten years.  Weaver says some veterans don’t have that long to wait.

"The youngest World War Two veteran is 90, the youngest Korean War veteran is 80, and the youngest Vietnam veteran is 62," Weaver told WKU Public Radio.  "You know and I know that those people can't wait ten years for a hospital."                

Weaver says investment groups would build the hospital under budget and within four years. 

kytourism.org

The Kentucky Veterans Cemetery in Radcliff has reached a milestone.

The Hardin County facility held its 5,000th interment Friday.

Louisville native Gisela Nagel was laid to rest at the 49-acre cemetery. She’s the wife of Specialist First Class Willard Nagel, a 20-year Army veteran who is also buriedthere.

Norman Arflack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, says it's a bittersweet occasion.

“Clearly, this is the least pleasant of our obligations to do—is provide a burial service for any service. But clearly we want to provide them the opportunity to be buried with the dignity they so richly deserve.”

Kentucky LRC

A Bowling Green nursing home for military veterans is one step closer to getting state funding.

The Kentucky House Thursday unanimously passed a bill providing 10-and-a-half million dollars in state support for the proposed facility.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has already approved the project, and committed
federal funding for its construction.

The bill passed the House on a vote of 99-0.

It now goes to the Senate. If passed there, it’s expected to be signed into law by Governor Bevin.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Floyd Wilde

Supporters of building a veterans nursing home in Bowling Green hope a new feasibility study will help make the project a reality.

The study identified south central Kentucky as the region most in need of a long-term care facility for veterans.  The two closest facilities are in Radcliff and Hanson, each more than 60 miles away from Bowling Green. 

The study looked at the projected veteran population through 2043.  Kentucky is currently home to around 330,000 veterans.  While the number of veterans is expected to decrease by about 80,000 by 2043, Kentucky is expected to see an increase in retired female service members.  Commissioner Norman Arflack in the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs says the need reflects the changing military dynamic.

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