Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse will get a nod from the White House on Wednesday. Syracuse is one of three new cities added to a list of cities that have ended Veteran homelessness. Las Vegas and Schenectady join 10 other cities that have eliminated Veteran homelessness. Syracuse’s Veterans Administration Medical Center points to two developments that are helping.

A program called HUD-VASH has been successful in finding housing for homeless veterans in part because it doesn’t expect vets to conquer all of their issues before finding a place to live.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The wars may have been decades ago, but Central New Yorkers who served in the Vietnam War and World War II got some long-awaited recognition this month. For decades, Gary Janis of Auburn didn’t talk about his tour of duty in Vietnam.  But, he says in the last five or six years, he’s been able to open up about the experience. Janis was part of a five- or six-man group that would gather information from behind enemy lines. "We would be dropped off by helicopter, infiltrate in, get our information," Janis said. Hopefully, we wouldn’t be compromised.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) is introducing legislation he hopes will unearth definitive answers about the effects of Agent Orange on U.S. veterans who served in Vietnam and Korea.

Central New Yorker Larry Hackett served for two years in Vietnam in the late 1960s.

“He survived the war, returned home to central New York, started a family with his wife Alice, and started a wonderful life here. Three decades later he discovered that the war had followed him home,” said Onondaga County Court Judge Joe Fahey, telling the story of his friend Hackett.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Veterans who’ve retired or left the Army sometimes have a difficult time transitioning back to their civilian lives. Many have trouble finding satisfying work. Others suffer from depression. In recent years, thousands of veterans have found a purpose in farming. The Cornell Cooperative Extension is introducing soldiers at Fort Drum to careers in agriculture through tours of North Country farms.

The first stop on the tour today is Windswept Farms, just outside Watertown. 

A group follows Delta Keeney past rows of her organically-grown vegetables.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County is among many communities across the country supporting the effort to “Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive.”  A new temporary display at the War Memorial in Syracuse is meant to preserve the legacy of those who fought during World War II.

Ninety-year-old Ed Zaluski remembers the battle of Iwo Jima like it was yesterday.

“Feb. 19, 1945,  normally is we had to bail out, we would fly at  15,000 feet but in this case, because of tunnels and the holes and everything else, we had to be accurate and you had to fly at 5,000 feet,” Zaluski says.

Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities

Disabled Veterans are getting a crash course in how to become entrepreneurs this week in Syracuse.

Dan Piston spent six years in the Navy.  When he got out two years ago, he realized he had a passion for the health and fitness field. And wanted to put that In action by doing something like owning a gym.

"I do not have much training in business. Right now my undergrad degree is in health and exercise science. And I’ve always had an interest in owning a business, but I didn’t know how to do it, or where to get started,” said Piston.

bdrogin / Flickr

A New York State senator wants to make sure that veterans discharged from the military because of their sexual orientation can qualify for state programs.

New York has 53 programs for veterans, according to State Sen. Brad Hoylman of Manhattan. Those include scholarships, health screenings, and reimbursements for burial costs.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Central New York Vietnam Veterans of America held their annual watchfire at the New York State Fairgrounds last night. Thousands of people came to honor the memory of those who have served.

Matt Zeller

For eight months in 2008, Matt Zeller was an Army Lieutenant acting as an embedded trainer with Afghan security forces in the Ghazni Province.  Following that, he was a CIA analyst, ran for Congress, and authored a book about his war experiences.  In this edition of the Campbell Conversations, he speaks in powerful and unvarnished terms about his time in Afghanistan, his struggles upon his return to the States, and the shortcomings of American foreign policy in the Middle East.

Note: This broadcast originally aired in February 2013.

Hospice program comforts dying veterans

May 2, 2015
Michelle Faust / WXXI

“I started out in Southern France and ended up in Belgium," is how Palmer Gaetano describes his army service in World War II. The 92-year old lives in a hospice facility in the Rochester-area village of Spencerport, near his daughter and her family.

Gaetano is one of more than 9 million American military veterans over the age of 65, according to 2013 census bureau figures.  With an aging population that includes vets from Vietnam, Korea, and World War II, there are 1,800 veteran deaths each day. One program strived to meet their increased need for end-of-life care.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Syracuse VA Medical Center is seeing more than nine in 10 patients in a timely fashion, according to a review of six months of patient appointment records, but an “anomaly” in one area of care shows veterans waiting more than three months to be seen by a doctor.

Colorado Army National Guard


The rate of suicide among military personnel has more than doubled since 2005. A new study released this week in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry found no connection between suicide and deployment.

The study looked at military members who served since the latest conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and found elevated rates of suicide for those with less than four years of service and had received an other-than-honorable discharge.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The secretary of defense says Syracuse University’s veterans and military families program is doing "path-breaking" work not being replicated anywhere in the country.

A visit to Syracuse University and its Institute for Veterans and Military Families was the final stop on Secretary Carter’s first domestic trip since taking over the Defense Department in February. He visited Fort Drum on Monday, where he said the base isn't going anywhere.

Ash Carter / via Flickr

The newly-appointed secretary of defense will visit Fort Drum and Syracuse University's veterans institute early next week, WRVO has confirmed.

It will be Secretary Ash Carter's first domestic trip since taking over at the Pentagon, according to Stars and Stripes, which first reported the trip.

Senate Democrats / Flickr

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) says there is a shortcoming in health insurance for disabled veterans that’s depriving their children of coverage.

Family members of disabled military service members are allowed to receive health coverage under a Veterans Administration program called CHAMPVA. But Schumer says that program needs to be amended to be in line with the rest of the health care world under the Affordable Care Act.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Syracuse University School of Law is the site of the first comprehensive veterans legal clinic in New York state. The impact of having an attorney present is incredible, especially when veterans apply for benefits or an upgrade in their military discharge, according to one of the founders of the new Veterans Legal Clinic at SU’s law school.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

One of the new laws going into effect in New York this year is targeted to employ more out of work veterans.

New York state now has a tax rebate program for companies that hire an unemployed veteran. It’s worth five percent of the vet’s salary – or 15 percent if the veteran has a service-related disability.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

There’s a special place at Syracuse’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center for female military veterans.

The Syracuse VA has been offering a Women Veterans Wellness Center for over a decade now. The number of female veterans they see in that time has tripled, so earlier this year, they moved into a brand new suite on the hospital’s ninth floor.

A fireplace and serene furnishings offer a kind of spa-like environment for women needing a wide range of care from mental health consultations to gynecological exams.

provided photo

Andrew Miller served two tours in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army. He's since returned and is studying writing at Syracuse University. Miller struggled with the praise he received when he finished active duty and has sought ways to sort out the memories

Coming home from war should be a more solemn experience than it often is, he told WRVO recently. It's about more than "blind flag waving and yellow ribbon hysteria," said Miller.

Here's an excerpt from him:

Dave Chanatry / New York Reporting Project at Utica College

On this Veterans’ Day, a reminder that recovery from war is often a long and difficult process. Some veterans have found help in the simple acts of tying a fly and dropping a hook.

This is a story that starts a long way from home.

"Stationed out in the central highlands, this is Vietnam, LZ center..."

"I was on a Medevac helicopter; I was a door gunner..."

"10th Mountain, 187th Infantry, at the beginning of the Afghan war."

Those are the stories of Charlie Chapman, Mike Martin and Dan Young.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

A rooftop garden at the top of the Syracuse Veterans Affairs Medical Center's new spinal injury wing does more than provide a nice view for visitors. It’s the site of a horticulture therapy program that the VA is hoping could spread to other hospitals in the system.

Bruce Nowakowski, 66, of Pennelville, has been in the residential unit of the VA for about a year now. He says he's got a dream.  

"Right now I’m trying to work on growing a giant pumpkin,” Nowakoski said.

He knows where he’s going to get the seeds, and expects to plant them in January.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

New York’s senior senator wants members of the military screened for mental health problems more often in an effort to stem the military’s high suicide rate.

Right now, members of the armed services are screened for mental health problems before and immediately after deployment to combat zones.

"The screenings are better than nothing and they’re an important component in the military’s efforts to lower the suicide rate," Sen. Charles Schumer said. "But it’s not enough, and it fails to address some of the mental health issues in a large group of members."

Through pen and paper, veterans find a way to cope

Oct 27, 2014
Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Andrew Miller had finished his second tour in Afghanistan for the U.S. Army, but he didn’t have a lot of time to think about it before being thrown back into the world, now labeled a veteran.

"Nobody gave us the time or the room to figure out what it meant to us," he said. "We caught planes, hipped and hopped and skipped and jumped. And the next thing we do, we were having a parade shoved down our throat."

Miller had a bad experience being asked to headline a Veterans Day parade he didn’t feel he earned for the right reasons.

Yi Chen

This week, we bring you Breaking Ground: Military Children. During more than a decade of war, tens of thousands of military children have watched and waited as a parent was deployed to conflict zones overseas. 

Now, with the Department of Defense confronting budget cuts, these children face an uncertain future. What will they do if the military chooses to shut down their schools? Will they have the support they need as their parents reintegrate into civilian life? What can we learn from these children, and what duty do we as a society owe them? 

Concerns over care from veterans toward Syracuse VA

Sep 19, 2014
Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Syracuse Veterans Affairs Medical Center got an invited earful from veterans about their care. The hospital hosted a town hall on Thursday.

The first question at a town hall-style meeting in the basement of the V.A. came from Navy veteran Bob Stewart. It was not in high praise of the V.A.

Stewart was denied coverage for surgery on his knee, so he had to pay out of pocket at a private hospital.

"I could afford to do that. There are so many veterans out there that can’t afford to do things like that. And something needs to be done about it," he said.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Today is Purple Heart Day -- the annual, nationwide commemoration of the thousands of American soldiers either killed or wounded while serving in the military who have received the medal. And it is an extra special day for one central New Yorker.

Dan Hunnicutt is an acting chaplain in Oswego County who runs a ministry with his family meant to help veterans. He often wears his medals when he goes to meet troubled vets as a kind of conversation starter. He now has a new one to share.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO file photo

John Katko, the Republican candidate for the 24th Congressional District, outlined his five-point plan for veterans Wednesday.

Katko says most people don’t have a problem with the Veterans Affairs system in Syracuse, but emphasized that’s not the case nationwide. Katko said his experience as a federal prosecutor gives him the ability to hold accountable those responsible for falsifying VA records, as seen throughout the country. Katko also emphasized his willingness to reach across the aisle.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Rep. Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) has introduced a new bill to compensate Vietnam War veterans sickened by the chemical Agent Orange he says is more comprehensive than previous efforts.

Maffei's bill is named by Larry Hackett, who died in 2006, more than three decades after his service in the army.

Hackett was exposed to Agent Orange while serving in 1968-69. He died from a cancer likely caused by the exposure, at the age of 58. 

"Department of Veterans Affairs" by Adam Fagen / via Flickr

Central New York’s two congressmen have joined in the calls for the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs to resign.

Pressure on VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is growing over long wait times for patients at VA hospitals. Rep. Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) and Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld) have both called for Shinseki to step down as the secretary of Veterans Affairs.

They're part of a growing list of congressmen to do so.

Vietnam War veteran honored, 45 years later

May 26, 2014
Ryan Delaney / WRVO

A Vietnam War veteran from central New York finally has the combat medals he earned 45 years ago.

It was November 11, 1968 when Lauren Dates earned a dozen combat medals as an Army sergeant. He would have been fine if those awards, including a Purple Heart and bronze star, had showed up at his Cayuga County home in the mail. His wife thought otherwise.