veterans

File photo

Millions of veterans nationwide now have a card that’s supposed to improve their access to health care. But a Kansas senator and some other members of Congress doubt the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is really serious about the new Veterans Choice Program.

The program is meant to let veterans get care from private providers if they live at least 40 miles from a VA health care facility or if they face a wait of more than 30 days for an appointment.

John Wendle / for Harvest Public Media

Sara Creech has grown dependent on farming. She started out planting an orchard of fruit trees - apples, peaches, cherries and pears. She added berry bushes and rows of vegetables.

And then she bought her first chickens.

“A lot of people call chickens the gateway animal,” she said. “Like once you have a chicken on the farm, then you end up getting sheep on the farm, and then you end up getting horses, and cows, and then it just explodes from there.”

Two Kansas soldiers treated for post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan say a bill signed this week by President Barack Obama is a good start in preventing veterans’ suicides.

The Clay Hunt SAV Act, signed into law Thursday, is named for a Texas Marine Corps veteran who took his life after returning from Afghanistan with PTSD.

Suzanne Opton / The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

In the photograph, a young soldier with a downy blond buzz-cut lies perfectly still, face down on the ground. On stage, an ancient Greek warrior goes through the four stages of events that lead to post-traumatic stress.

The arts community is asking big questions about the life of the soldier. What role does art play in public discourse around combat?

Guests: 

Andy Marso / KHI News Service

This is the third installment of a three-part series on veterans’ health. The first part, which you can find here, deals with the military medical system. The second part, which you can find here, deals with mental health.

Four months ago, U.S. Army veteran Brandon Garrison played in an all-day softball tournament, a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project.

Andy Marso / KHI News Service

This is the second installment of a three-part series on veterans’ health. The first part, which you can find here, deals with the military medical system. The third part, which you can find here, deals with environmental exposures.

Esther Klay

This is the first installment of a three-part series on veterans’ health. The second part, which you can find here, deals with mental health. The third part, which you can find here, deals with environmental exposures.

Frank Morris / KCUR

Tomas Young, an Iraq War veteran from Kansas City, Mo., who became a symbol of the anti-war movement, died peacefully in his sleep early Monday morning. He was 34.

Young joined the Army right after 9/11, wanting to take revenge on the Taliban in Afghanistan. He was shipped instead to Iraq, and within a week of landing there, he was shot in the spine and paralyzed below the chest. 

Elle Moxley / KCUR

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill offered her condolences to an Iraq war veteran who died this week while speaking at a Veterans Day event at the National World War I Museum Tuesday morning.

Tomas Young, 34, who was paralyzed after being shot by a sniper in 2004, died from health complications Monday. He was an anti-war activist and  former Kansas City resident.

"He, along with many others who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, are certainly deserving of our affection and  respect and deference on this day and every other day of the year," McCaskill says.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Richard Gibson, 33, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps just after high school and was stationed in Iraq. When his service ended in 2003, and he returned to Kansas City, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. 

With a love for singing and performance, Gibson turned to opera. For the past eight years, he's been a member of the Lyric Opera of Kansas City chorus. He's also taking on a new role, as conductor of a Veteran's Chorus

via Flickr/MBK (Marjie)

Missouri  Constitutional Amendment 8 is on the ballot Aug. 5 and would create a new lottery ticket that would allocate 25 cents of every dollar spent to fund the Missouri Veterans Commission.

Ballot language:
 

“A "yes" vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to create a "Veterans Lottery Ticket." This amendment further provides that the revenue from the sale of these tickets will be used for projects and services related to veterans.
A "no" vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution to create a "Veterans Lottery Ticket."

1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs/US Army

The death last month of 26-year old Army veteran Isaac Sims in a confrontation with Kansas City, Missouri police raised many questions including whether this loss of life could have been prevented.

On this edition of Up to Date Steve Kraske brings together a panel to look at the events leading up to Sims' death, the special municipal court that works with veterans facing criminal charges, and a therapy program treating military PTSD sufferers while they are still on active duty.

Guests:

Wikimedia -- CC

 

A pilot program in Kansas allowing veterans who live far from Veterans Affairs hospitals to get care from local doctors may end, threatening veterans like Hugh Steadman with the cutoff of needed medical care.

Steadman, who flew combat missions over Germany as a bombardier during World War II, lives in Great Bend. He used to have to drive two hours to the VA medical center in Wichita, a trip that was getting more difficult for him to make.

Jonathan Greenwald / Flickr-CC

It's difficult to go from living on the street to living in what most of us consider to be normal housing. That's a real challenge many homeless vets face.

On Wednesday's Up to Date, we talk about the St. Michael Center and how it's helping veterans make that difficult life transition.

Guests:

  • Eric Verzola, director of Veterans Services Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph
  • Art Fillmore, St. Michael’s Veterans Center Board Member

Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran says a Veterans Administration pilot program offering timely quality health care to rural veterans is being allowed to expire in a few months, even though VA officials tell members of Congress no decision has been made.

Moran and four of his colleagues sent a letter to the VA Secretary seeking an explanation. 

The pilot program, called Access Received Closer to Home, or ARCH, is offered through five pilot sites across the country, including one in Pratt, Kan.

file photo

The Topeka Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Center has not been implicated in the waiting-list scandal unfolding across the country.

But on Friday, two Republican members of the Kansas congressional delegation, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, said their offices have fielded numerous complaints from veterans in recent months about long-standing appointments being canceled or rescheduled at the last minute.

Kansas Hospital Association

The chief executives of  the Missouri and Kansas hospital associations say thousands of uninsured veterans would be eligible for coverage if Medicaid were expanded in those states. 

In an opinion piece that ran in The Kansas City Star on Tuesday, they estimated that more than 37,000 veterans in Missouri and Kansas would qualify for Medicaid coverage under expansion.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

For months, Kansas City resident Cherie Fishback has been writing letters to the Department of Veterans Affairs on behalf of her boyfriend, Lee Murphy, who last year had to have emergency gallbladder surgery.

File / U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Update, 4:45 p.m.:

The Kansas City Veterans Affairs Medical Center says its cardiology clinic never kept a secret waiting list, but "a serious clerical mistake" delayed several veterans waiting for follow-up care.

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt flagged the facility Thursday in a growing scandal over long wait times for veterans. He told reporters he planned to press the hospital for more information "based on my firm belief the Kansas City Medical Center is likely to be found to be one of those hospitals that has a secret waiting list."

Jeffery Beall / CC

Despite assurances to the contrary, the VA hospital in Wichita kept a secret waiting list for patients. The hospital's director revealed that information Friday in a message to Kansas Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran.

Roberts told the Wichita Eagle he was not happy to see that message just hours after he’d met with officials of the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center, who assured him the hospital was doing just fine. But one patient of the Wichita VA facility says the news is no surprise.

Mike Sherry / The Hale Center for Journalism

The weekend shooting death of a former Army paratrooper in Kansas City highlights deficiencies in the care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, said during a visit to to Kansas City on Thursday.

Dave Ranney / KHI News Service

The father of a combat veteran who says that mental illness played a role in his son’s bad conduct discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps is asking Kansas legislators to introduce a bill aimed at reducing the likelihood that a mentally ill veteran would spend time in jail or prison instead of being treated.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder says it's time for a change in national leadership at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Yoder, an Overland Park Republican, visited the VA Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday amid growing concern over long wait times for veterans. 

"Many of my constituents are lacking confidence in the response to what's occurred in Phoenix and across the nation," says Yoder. "They would like to see a new secretary and new leadership."

Gov. Sam Brownback has a plan to beef up veterans' services in Kansas. The proposal would include improvements at two facilities and new workers aimed at helping veterans.

The plan would include a $1.4 million renovation of a veterans' home in southwest Kansas. It would also add 40 new beds for long-term care services to a veterans' facility in Winfield.

Gregg Burden, executive director of the Kansas Commission on Veterans' Affairs, says under the proposal they'll also be looking to hire four new staff members to help veterans access the benefits they've earned.

Pete Zarria/Flickr-CC

Today's recent veterans are finishing their service with different experiences than previous generations, and Veterans of Foreign Wars groups across the country are trying to figure out how to adapt.

On Monday's Up to Date, Adjutant General John Hamilton joins Steve Kraske to talk about the changing needs of veterans.

Guest:

  • Adjutant General John Hamilton recently finished his term as the commander-in-chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Beth Lipoff / KCUR

Although veterans are commonly remembered and celebrated on Veterans Day, there’s a post office in Overland Park, Kan., that honors them all year long.

The Brookridge Post Office at 97th and Antioch Road has displayed photos of veterans from local families on its walls for years. The photos show members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard  and go back to the Civil War.

"This is a good kind of picture to have in a post office," says retired postal worker Shirley Worley. "You know they used to have the wanted ones, years ago. They don’t do that anymore."

Marshall Griffin / St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed several pieces of legislation on Wednesday aimed to benefit veterans and their families on a tour that included stops at Cape Giardeau and Springfield.  

"Veteran in transition" Cailey McClurken / veteransinstem.org

They've mastered advanced battlefield operations planning. They’ve navigated years of overseas intricacies and family complexities. But now, can they master trigonometry?

The Veteran in STEM program seeks to support veterans in acquiring the education they need to pursue jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields.  While the process of retooling your education to focus on math or science might seem daunting to anybody, only half of STEM jobs require a bachelors degree or higher level of education, the other half typically require associate degrees or specific trade training.  Dean Kevin Truman of the School of Computing and Engineering and Alexis Petri, Co-Principal Investigator and Project Director of the KC BANCS program guide us through the unique supports and programing they've put together to help veterans advance their education and careers.

Frank Morris / KCUR

Nearly two million active duty U.S. servicemen and women are due back home by the end of this year. Many have struggled to reintegrate, but few more profoundly, or more publicly, than Tomas Young of Kansas City.   Young now says he’s ready to take his own life, but not before making one more stand against the war that wrecked his body. 

Atecia Robinson

Arthur Fillmore has spent more than thirty years closing the deal in corporate mergers and acquisitions in his professional life as an attorney. But for two decades he’s been unsuccessful in realizing the wish he’s held as a military veteran . . . until now.

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