veterans | KUOW News and Information

veterans

A single number has shaped the way that Americans think about young military veterans.

It's the number 22, as in, 22 vets take their lives each day.

The number has become a rallying cry for advocates trying to call attention to suicide among vets, especially those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Twenty-two, not some vague, rounded-off number. Not 30, not 20. Twenty-two.

A number so specific it inspires action. Speeches, fundraisers, marches and even walks clear across the country.

But 22 doesn't quite add up.

Olympic College in Bremerton will receive money that will help to pay for a veteran center for students.
Olympic College

Lake Washington Institute of Technology in Kirkland and Olympic College in Bremerton will get a little more than $100,000 for the next three years to help student veterans.

The grants from the Department of Education will help create centers for student veterans. 

Henry Chamberlain looks at mementos from World War II. He spent three and a half years as a prisoner of the Japanese.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

In 1945 President Harry Truman declared Sept. 2 as Victory Over Japan Day. Japan surrendered aboard the USS Missouri. It was the official end of World War II.

But the suffering wasn't over for Henry Chamberlain, who had been captured on the Philippines' Bataan Peninsula more than three years before.

This is a tale of two cities. In New Orleans, there are signs of hope that veteran homelessness can be solved. But Los Angeles presents a very different picture.

Under the deafening highway noise of the Pontchartrain Expressway in central city New Orleans, Ronald Engberson, 54, beds down for the night. Engberson got out of the Marines in 1979, plagued even back then by problems with drugs and alcohol. He says that's mostly the reason he's been homeless the past 10 years.

Courtesy of George Patterson and Dave Cable

Lt. James Patterson, better known as Kelly, is missing in action.

Patterson went MIA 48 years ago, after his plane was shot down near Hanoi during the Vietnam War.

Department of Veterans Affairs
Department of Veterans Affairs

VA Puget Sound broke ground on a new mental health and research facility Wednesday.

It’s the first new structure on the VA's Seattle campus since 1988.

File photo of Joint Base Lewis-McChord headquarters.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

The suicide rate among recent veterans is about 50 percent higher than non-veterans with similar demographics. But a study published Wednesday found that deploying to a war zone didn't necessarily increase a service members’ suicide risk.

Gloria Hoeppner holds her VA choice card with her husband Earl Kornbrekke at their home in Friday Harbor, Washington.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Twice as many veterans in rural areas will be able to go to a doctor near their home after a policy change made Tuesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The change follows a scathing report less than 24 hours earlier on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," which featured a KUOW story.

Gloria Hoeppner holds her VA choice card with husband Earl Kornbrekke at their home in Friday Harbor, Washington.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Gloria Hoeppner, 89, is a Navy veteran who lives with her husband in the San Juan Islands. To see a doctor, she usually has to take a ferry from her home on Friday Harbor. It can take hours.

Our guest on this episode of Speakers Forum is David J. Morris, a war correspondent, former Marine and PTSD sufferer.

Morris served as a lieutenant in the Marine Corps in the 1990s, but did not see combat then. He went on to work as an embedded journalist in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2004 he was nearly killed when a Humvee he was riding in hit an IED.

Veterans Affairs Puget Sound will get $22 million over the next two years and plans to hire more than 120 additional medical personnel for specialties like mental health and geriatric care. 

The money is part of more than $15 billion set aside by Congress to fund the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act. The bill is designed to help veterans access health care more quickly. 

The ferry pulls in to Friday Harbor, the only incorporated city in San Juan County, Wash. Veterans will often travel the hour-long ferry ride to reach VA services here.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're calling the project "Back at Base." This story is part of a three-part series about veteran benefits (Part 1 / Part 2).

For veterans in San Juan County, getting health care from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs almost always begins with an hour-long ferry ride.

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

NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're calling the project "Back at Base." This is the first of a three-part series about veteran benefits (Part 2 / Part 3).

Officer Andy Gould of Auburn, Washington. Gould, a veteran, says his military experience sometimes helps him establish rapport with other veterans
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

The computer screen in Officer Andy Gould’s patrol car rhythmically ticks off details of emergencies from dispatch.

Gould, a 25-year veteran of the Auburn Police Department, wraps up a burglary and gets called to a suspicious subject nearby. A 13-year-old has threatened to kill two people in the house with a baseball bat.

As Gould drives, text from the dispatchers scrolls up the screen. It tells him where to go for his next call, what the problem is — and whether the people involved have ever been in the military.

A federal audit of a 24-hour national hotline for homeless veterans found that callers didn’t always receive assistance or access to needed services.

The Office of the Inspector General said lapses in management and oversight at the call center led to more than 40,000 missed opportunities to help.

The imprint Ron Riveira's grandparents made on his life has been indelible. Ron, a hospice nurse in California, served as a Navy corpsman and a medic in the Marines. His grandmother and grandfather — a Korean War vet — helped raise him.

Ron remembers that his grandfather may not have said much, but his love for his wife was obvious. "They were a phenomenal couple," Ron tells his friend Jason Deitch at StoryCorps in Concord, Calif.

YouTube

Ross Reynolds speaks with author and filmmaker Sebastian Junger about his latest project, “Last Patrol,” an HBO documentary about two soldiers and two war journalists hiking along 300 miles of  railroad tracks from Washington, D.C. to Pennsylvania.

Junger is an American journalist and author of the best-selling book "The Perfect Storm." In recent years he has chronicled stories of men at war in award-winning documentary films including "Restrepo."

Courtesy of David Tucker

When Major David Tucker deployed to Iraq – his third mission since he joined the Army Reserves in 1982 – he told his soldiers to take the doors off the Humvees.

Wounded In Afghanistan, But Still Running

Nov 11, 2014
AP Photo/Mary Schwalm

On Edward Lychik's 21st birthday, his fellow troops gave him a gift.

The Army combat engineer normally rode in the first truck in his convoy. Lychik's job was to ensure the road his battalion traveled in Afghanistan was bomb-free.

To celebrate Lychik's big day, his comrades let him ride in the rear — the convoy's last truck.

KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

The city of Auburn  hosted its 49th annual Veterans Day parade last Saturday. The event has grown significantly over the years. This year’s parade was a tribute to The Military Order of The Purple Heart. With 200 entries the parade stretched for more than a mile. Reporter Patricia Murphy was on scene to capture this audio postcard from the event. 

Hundreds of service members and civilians from various nations lined the road to the landing zone at NATO headquarters in Kabul. They had gathered to salute the two U.S. Marines and two U.S. Army soldiers participating in Operation Proper Exit.

Moments later, two Blackhawk helicopters swooped in, kicking up dust and debris. The four service members disembarked and walk past the cheering audience. One soldier walks with a subtle limp. One Marine has a prosthetic right arm, and the left is missing below the elbow.

(Stephen Brashear/AP Images for U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Thousands of veterans and service members preparing to leave the military are expected at Joint Base Lewis-McChord this week for a three-day summit.

More than a hundred veterans turned out for a town hall style meeting hosted by Veterans Administration Puget Sound as an effort to improve care at regional hospitals.

Ross Reynolds talks to Tacoma News Tribune military reporter Adam Ashton about an audit done on the Veteran Affairs medical centers that revealed schedulers manipulated wait times so it seemed that patients were not having to wait as long for health services.

Also, Rep. Denny Heck (D-Olympia) explains the new bill Congress passed to overhaul the VA.

Marcie Sillman talks with Joint Base Lewis-McChord's transition services manager, Robin Baker, about the programs the base offers to help veterans transition to civilian life. Also, we hear from Sgt. Richard Larimer about his upcoming entrance into the civilian sector for the first time.

The response to Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release from the Taliban on Saturday was jubilant at first. Then the story took a dramatically different turn. 

Courtesy of Kurt Erickson

For some soldiers, learning to live with physical injuries or post-deployment stress in a clinical setting is a less than conducive atmosphere for making progress.

Rivers of Recovery, a Minnesota based nonprofit group, uses a different approach:  They take soldiers out into the woods and teach them to fly fish. The aim is to provide counseling, camaraderie and self-care tools that soldiers can build on.

KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Memorial Day is just one of many days throughout the year when the American flag is lowered to half-staff. The President of the United States and state governors can also order flags lowered during times of mourning.

In Washington state, flags have flown at half-staff three times so far in 2014 to honor local soldiers who died on active duty. In April, Governor Jay Inslee also ordered to lower the flags for a week in memory of the victims of the tragic Oso landslide.

For Some Vets, Growing Old Triggers PTSD

Apr 25, 2014

As veterans from World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam age and enter hospice, we’re learning that some of them, who seemed totally fine all their lives, are experiencing late in life post-traumatic stress disorder.

One study shows that as many as one in three vets have experienced Late Onset Stress Symptology (LOSS).

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