veterans

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."

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? 

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

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.

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.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Military veterans bring a unique skill set when starting their own businesses, but they also face many of the same challenges as non-veteran entrepreneurs.

There are more than 900,000 vets in New York state and the unemployment rate among those who served in the last decade is consistently higher than state and national levels.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO

Rep. Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) awarded a World War II veteran the Purple Heart on Saturday. Staff Sergeant Richard Faulkner turned down the award 70 years ago, but recently had a change of heart.

When 89-year-old Richard Faulkner was 18, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps as a ball turret gunner. In March of 1944, he was wounded after parachuting out of an airplane that crashed in France. Faulkner says it was the scariest time of his life, he spent 29 days behind enemy lines. He was awarded the Purple Heart, but he turned it down.  

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Fifth and sixth graders at Granby Elementary School in Fulton got the chance to meet and ask questions to several current and former service members Monday morning, during the school's "Take a Vet to School Day" event. Members of the Army and Navy gave students a look into their lives in the military, including what they did overseas, where they've been stationed, and in one case, what their favorite gun is to shoot.
 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

For the sixth year in a row, State Sen. John DeFransisco is asking central New Yorkers to go through their junk drawers to help someone in the military.

“You got some old cellphones," DeFransisco said Monday, "don’t let them gather dust.”

Instead DeFransisco is asking people to turn them in to locations across central New York bearing the "Cellphones for Soldiers" logo.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer wants to integrate the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs health records to reduce benefit backlogs and save money.

Schumer is proposing a two-part plan, the first aimed at creating a compatible health record system between the two departments.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Sen. Charles Schumer is calling for more coordination between police and Veterans Affairs medical centers to treat veterans with mental health problems.

Schumer, a Democrat from New York, wants the VA to investigate its handling of mentally ill veterans in the wake of a veteran’s shooting spree. Police say Navy veteran Aaron Alexis killed 12 people on a base in Washington D.C. last week.

Schumer says ineffective communication between police and military allowed Alexis to not be treated.

On air: health care for veterans & the military

Sep 19, 2013

This health forum broadcast on WRVO Sunday, November 17 at 7 p.m.

Gino Geruntino/WRVO

Auburn Community Hospital has renewed its contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs for another five years. The contract, which was signed in July, allows the hospital to continue providing health care and specialty referral services to more than 1,400 veterans in and around Cayuga County through its VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

It's strawberry season in central New York, and one strawberry patch in Chittenango  lets you pick fresh fruit, while helping veterans. The patch at Clear Path for Veterans works as both a fundraiser, and an opportunity for vets to get closer to nature.


 

Joanna Richards / WRVO

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki was in Syracuse last week, to mark the 60th anniversary of the city's VA Medical Center. He also helped to formally open a new Spinal Cord Injury and Disorder Center. 

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is in Syracuse today to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the city's VA Medical Center.

Yesterday, he met with Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and other community leaders who advocate for veterans for a round table discussion at Fowler High school about how to improve veterans' employment prospects.

Shinseki says veterans need to boost their job-seeking skills, but employers need to develop a better understanding of the value veterans can offer their businesses.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Thousands of central New Yorkers lined streets to watch parades, visited memorials and waved American flags today to commemorate Memorial Day.

It's a day to remember those who served in the military and made the ultimate sacrifice.

Here are a few of the sights and sounds from the Memorial Day parade this morning in Fayetteville, N.Y.

There could be changes coming to the human services agencies and departments in Onondaga County government.  County Executive Joanie Mahoney says there's a two-fold reason for a proposed realignment.

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.

Onondaga County lawmakers this month approved a new staff member for the Veterans Service Agency. an increase of returning veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan is putting more stress on the agency.

Rep. Buerkle says serving in Congress was an honor

Jan 7, 2013
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Last week, the Syracuse area saw returning Democrat Congressman Dan Maffei sworn-in and Republican Representative Ann Marie Buerkle leave office. WRVO's Catherine Loper spoke with Buerkle about the ups and downs of her time in Washington, D.C.

Vets Peer-to-Peer Outreach Center opens in Watertown

Dec 12, 2012
Joanna Richards/WRVO

A new center to help veterans through mental health problems opened Friday in Watertown. Veteran volunteers will help their peers get the services they need.

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