veterans

WKU

Western Kentucky University is looking for military veterans who want to earn a college degree.

The Veterans Upward Bound program helps former service members enroll into any university, community college, and technical school throughout the country. Veterans Upward Bound helps prospective students fill out admission applications, apply for federal financial aid, and receive G.I. Bill benefits.

WKU coordinator Rick Wright says the program has assisted both young and old veterans gain college admission—including a World War Two veteran studying at Southern Kentucky Community and Technical College.

“The age range of our students is pretty broad—it ranges from 18 to 88, believe it or not. We have one man, a World War II veteran, who is 88 years old, and we got him admitted to SKyCTC here in Bowling Green because he wanted to study computers.”

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Donald Trump picked a military town — Virginia Beach, Va. — to give a speech Monday on how he would go about overhauling the Department of Veterans Affairs if elected.

He blamed the Obama administration for a string of scandals at the VA during the past two years, and claimed that his rival, Hillary Clinton, has downplayed the problems and won't fix them.

Trump outlined 10 ways he would change the department. In addition to creating a direct hotline to the White House for veterans having trouble with the VA — and promising not to select "a political hack" as head of the agency — he listed several ideas that have been pushed by Republicans recently: increasing the secretary's ability to quickly fire any incompetent or corrupt staff, stopping bonuses for poor performance, and — the big one — allowing veterans to choose a doctor outside the VA system.

Is Trump proposing privatization of the VA?

LRC Public Information

South-central Kentucky lawmakers are again pushing the state to provide matching funds for a veterans nursing home in Warren County.

A bi-partisan group of legislators from southern Kentucky tried and failed to get $10.5 million in state support during this year’s General Assembly. The federal government has pledged to kick in between $20 million and $30 million if Kentucky lawmakers provide money for the effort.

Warren County Republican Rep. Jim DeCesare is co-sponsoring a bill for next year’s legislature. He says a lot of pieces are already in place to make the veterans nursing home a reality.

"The property has been donated, the veterans groups have met with the folks in Washington D.C., they've met with the folks in Frankfort. So they've got broad support from not only the state entities, but also the federal entities."

U.S. Army

Veterans and their dependents are being encouraged to attend a military jobs fair this week at Fort Knox.

The Hardin County military post is hosting organizations that are looking to hire active duty military, veterans and their spouses.

Garrett Reed is with the group organizing the event, CivilianJobs.com

He says there will be companies at the Wednesday event from many industries, including aviation, law enforcement, management, and engineering.

“Just about every company is trying to hire military folks, in some shape, form, or fashion. So these events are really to help get in front of them face to face," Reed told WKU Public Radio.

The jobs fair is being held Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Saber and Quill officer’s club at Ft. Knox.

A link to the registration page for the fair is here.

Joe Corcoran / WKU Public Radio

The Screaming Eagles of Fort Campbell’s 101st Airborne Division Air Assault are once again in harm’s way on foreign soil. Five hundred soldiers are in Iraq and Kuwait on an advisory mission, called Operation Inherent Resolve, aimed at helping the Iraqis in their fight against the terrorist group ISIS.

The troops’ official departure ceremony was hard on their family members. It was also hard on the feelings of those off base who've seen it all before.

At a recent Casing the Colors ceremony, service members from Fort Campbell packed up the unit’s flags and pennants and prepared them for their journey to the Middle East. The symbols of unit pride and identity are then unfurled in foreign war zones to signify a new base of operations.

Speaking to soldiers and family members in attendance at the base, Staff Sergeant Cara Duda read from the ceremony's official history. "The very soul of a military unit is symbolized by the colors under which it fights," she said. "They record the glories of the past, stand guard over its present destiny and insure inspiration for its future. Today the colors serve as a binding symbol of continuity and a point of inspiration for the future. Commanders and soldiers come and go but the colors will remain steadfast."

Flickr/Creative Commons/Floyd Wilde

Bowling Green could be the latest area of the state to build a veterans nursing home. 

Funding for the project was included in the budget approved this week by the Kentucky House. 

Some 40,000 veterans in the region would be served by a Bowling Green nursing home.  The closest one to them now is more than 100 miles away. 

Roger Miller, commander of the American Legion Post in Bowling Green, told WKU Public Radio that the 90-bed nursing home would fulfill a real need.

"It would mean a whole lot.  I'm 77 years old," said Miller.  "It would be a blessing to me and a lot of other people who are really needing one right now."

About 20 acres of land has already been donated for the facility at the Kentucky Transpark in Warren County.

Radcliff Veterans Center

The new Radcliff Veterans Center that’s promising to be a national showplace for skilled nursing care is staffing up for its July opening.

Six members of the executive team are already working and the next phase of hiring was launched Feb. 22.

Administrator Israel Ray says five new leadership positions are posted.

“The director of nursing, which is called the nurse executive. And staff development, which will be listed as a registered nurse. The director of dining services. Our activities director and our housekeeping supervisor,” says Ray.

The veterans center is also looking for a medical director.

Construction is progressing at the new center, which is located on 192 park-like acres donated by Fort Knox.

A dance program is offering Kentucky veterans with mental health issues a way to ease back into civilian life.

The state’s Department of Veterans Affairs estimates thousands of Kentucky veterans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Traumatic Brain Injury. The program being offered in Louisville is called Dancing Well: The Solider Project.

Men, women and children are swirling in this demonstration of Dancing Well. It’s part of a Veterans Administration Health Expo in Louisville. 

Deborah Denenfeld is calling out the steps.  She’s a dance educator who created Dancing Well four years ago. 

"The psychiatrist who worked at Fort Knox contacted me thinking that perhaps I would come and call a couple of evenings of contra dancing for the soldiers," said Denenfeld.  "He thought that perhaps the movements and the music would help improve their memories.

Contra is similar to square dancing, but it’s done in two long lines. Denenfeld decided to adapt very basic community dances to meet the physical and emotional needs of soldiers with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI.  

"People have issues with balance and vertigo, and that affects what I teach," she said. "So if there's a swing, I will show them how to do a very simple, two hands, walk around, slow swing."

Denenfeld got advice from dance therapists. She got good feedback from the Fort Knox sessions, and then had a 10-week session in Louisville a couple of years ago. So far, about 20 veterans have taken part in Dancing Well. 

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.”

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

Basetrack began as a place for embedded journalists to post photos. Later it became a social media site where families could keep up with their troops in Afghanistan. Now it has transformed again, into a new way for the most recent generation of veterans to tell the story of their service and survival.

Vietnam War-era veterans and their families are being invited to Kentucky's first major event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the war.

The Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs says the event is set for Sept. 25 at the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Frankfort. The names of Kentucky's 1,103 fallen soldiers in Vietnam are carved into the base of the memorial.

Guests will include Gov. Steve Beshear, Medal of Honor recipient Don Jenkins and Joe Galloway, author of "We Were Soldiers Once."

The event is part of the national 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration, which runs through 2025.

Soldiers Biking for Health

Sep 17, 2014

About 20 soldiers from Fort Campbell and Fort Knox who've been wounded or injured or who are ill are riding bicycles from one post to the other this week.

Warrior Transition Battalion physical therapist Rebecca Murphy is one of the event coordinators. She says while the soldiers will be pedaling the 164 miles, their cadre and chain of command will be with them, pedaling alongside them.

Murphy says biking gives soldiers obvious health benefits of physical activity and positive social interaction with other riders. She says it also relieves stress.

U.S. Army

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.

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.”

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