WBEZ | Veterans http://www.wbez.org/tags/veterans Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Vets' best friend: Two veterans trekking cross-country with the dogs that 'saved their lives' http://www.wbez.org/news/vets-best-friend-two-veterans-trekking-cross-country-dogs-saved-their-lives-112082 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/dan-and-spanky-l-joe-and-c-t 2_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Approximately 22 veterans lose their lives to suicide every day, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. That number didn&rsquo;t sit well with Chicagoan Joe Trainor Jr. and fellow veteran Dan Spangler.</p><p>So they drafted up a plan to walk across the nation with nothing more than 50 dollars, the shoes on their feet and their dogs. They&rsquo;ve dubbed the trip &ldquo;Operation Keep Your Spanky,&rdquo; in honor of Spangler&rsquo;s dog, who he says saved his life.</p><p>The two veterans left the gates of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina on April 26th and expect to complete their 6,000 mile trek on Memorial Day, May 25th.</p><p>WBEZ&rsquo;s Yun Tai, an Iraq War veteran himself, caught up with the two vets when they passed through Chicago.</p></p> Mon, 25 May 2015 09:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/vets-best-friend-two-veterans-trekking-cross-country-dogs-saved-their-lives-112082 Indiana's veterans service officers help vets get more benefits http://www.wbez.org/news/indianas-veterans-service-officers-help-vets-get-more-benefits-111398 <p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/indianavso016_custom-e39d107fe13df481bde64af40dd8510467f310ea-s1500-c85.jpg" style="height: 427px; width: 620px;" title="Grant County Veterans Service Officer Bob Kelley, right, works with World War II Army veteran Frederick Kern at the Grant County Government Building in Marion, Ind., on Monday. Aaron P. Bernstein for NPR" /></div><p><em>NPR &mdash; along with seven public radio stations around the country &mdash; is chronicling the lives of America&#39;s troops where they live. We&#39;re calling the project &quot;</em><em><a href="http://www.npr.org/series/363340041/back-at-base">Back at Base</a></em><em>.&quot; This story is Part 2 of a three-part&nbsp;</em><em><a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/01/13/376134776/va-data-show-disparities-in-veteran-benefits-spending" target="_blank">series</a></em><em>&nbsp;about veteran benefits.</em></p><p>The latest data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs show Indiana &mdash; which has the 35th highest number of veterans in the U.S. &mdash; receives $4,935 per veteran each year. If they received as much as Utah &mdash; which has the 35th highest return &mdash; Indiana vets would receive on average another $558. And if they received the national average of $6,088, that&#39;s another $1,153.</p><p>Retired Brig. Gen. Jim Bauerele has spent years working to match veterans with their benefits.</p><p>&quot;I think Indiana has neglected veterans,&quot; he says. &quot;I think veterans are uneducated as to what their benefits are, and there has been little effort undertaken to communicate and get that to veterans.&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/map-va-benefits-in.png" style="height: 462px; width: 320px; float: right; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="Source: NPR analysis of Department of Veterans Affairs data Credit: Robert Benincasa and Alyson Hurt/NPR" />Back in 2010, a VA survey found that nationwide&nbsp;<a href="http://www.va.gov/SURVIVORS/docs/NVSSurveyFinalWeightedReport.pdf" target="_blank">fewer than half of veterans</a>&nbsp;understood their benefits, whether it was medical care, college tuition or pension and disability payments.</p><p>There are all sorts of reasons why veterans in one area may not receive as many benefits as veterans in another. Veterans from different eras, such as Vietnam or Iraq, can receive different amounts. Older vets might receive more benefits.</p><p><a href="http://www.benefits.va.gov/benefits/Applying.asp" target="_blank">VA applications</a>&nbsp;are also notoriously difficult to complete. Vets don&#39;t always get the help and guidance they need.</p><p>Bauerele says one reason for the poor showing in Indiana can be traced to what are called&nbsp;<a href="http://nacvso.org/" target="_blank">veterans service officers</a>&nbsp;(VSOs). County-level VSOs are part of a system operating in 28 states, and they&#39;re supposed to help vets get the benefits they&#39;ve earned. Some VSOs operate on the state level, and veterans groups like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars have their own VSOs, which operate in most states.</p><p>Some county-level VSOs in Indiana operate on a shoestring.</p><p>&quot;Some counties have an officer who is part-time, works three days a week, part-time and doesn&#39;t even have an office or a computer,&quot; Bauerele says.</p><p>So depending on where they live, one vet might find an office with a full-time staff trained to file paperwork with the VA, while another might find a closed office, or a VSO who can&#39;t navigate the system.</p><p>And without help, filing a VA claim can be tough.</p><p>Tom Nichols, a 29-year-old Indiana National Guard veteran, has struggled to file his disability claim. After returning from Iraq in 2010, he became addicted to drugs and alcohol. Eventually, he landed in treatment for PTSD.</p><p>Not only does Nichols not understand his benefits &mdash; he doesn&#39;t really know the best way to get them, either. He hasn&#39;t tried a VSO because he says it&#39;s too much trouble.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;ve got to go to some VFW to track down this guy, and it&#39;s only the first Thursday of every month,&quot; Nichols says.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/indianavso014_custom-2468c15859245a2a7f6c60de83e60d06824a0531-s1500-c85.jpg" style="height: 405px; width: 620px;" title="Pamphlets detailing services available to veterans are displayed in VSO Bob Kelley's office in Marion, Ind. Aaron P. Bernstein for NPR" /></div><p>So he filled out the paperwork himself. To some of the medical questions, he just wrote &quot;ask my doctor,&quot; which could be part of the reason his claim didn&#39;t go through. Advocates say the VA rejects claims for reasons as simple as using an outdated version of the form.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s basically on me to go out there and receive this,&quot; Nichols says.</p><p>But a trained VSO can cut months and years off the time it takes veterans to receive benefits from the VA.</p><p>&quot;You never want to apply for benefits on your own, unless you have some experience with it,&quot; says Bob Kelley, the VSO for Grant County, one of the Indiana counties receiving the most from the VA.</p><p>The VA&#39;s own data show&nbsp;<a href="http://www.va.gov/vetdata/docs/surveysandstudies/state_variance_study-volumes_1_2.pdf" target="_blank">vets who give VSOs power of attorney</a>&nbsp;receive more than double the disability benefits of vets who file their own claims.</p><p>David McLenachen, acting deputy undersecretary for disability assistance for the VA, agrees that VSOs routinely help the system work.</p><p>&quot;It can be overwhelming for somebody to prepare a claim and submit it,&quot; he says. &quot;The VSOs can be very successful at helping with the claim process.&quot;</p><p>Kelley also goes to nursing homes and Veterans of Foreign Wars halls to tell veterans about their benefits, often on his own time. He would do more, but his county won&#39;t pay for an assistant until January.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s not a career,&quot; Kelley says. &quot;In the state of Indiana, it&#39;s not a career. When I retired from the military after 25 years, I was hired on at $28,000, and that&#39;s the average salary.&quot;</p><p>But the state is trying to give VSOs more resources in order to ensure all veterans have access to them.</p><p>In the past year, the state paid for software and training so county VSOs could file claims electronically. And for the first time, the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs set up workshops to explain federal benefits to vets.</p><p>Bauerele is part of the Military Veterans Coalition of Indiana, which is pushing to reform the system in Indiana. He&#39;d like to see better pay for county officers, and he wants the state to offer more help. VSOs like the American Legion already process thousands of VA claims.</p><p>&quot;Every dollar you give a veteran is new money from outside the state coming into the state,&quot; Bauerele says. &quot;That&#39;ll pay for a lot of Cadillacs, a lot of homes.&quot;</p><p><em>NPR&#39;s Robert Benincasa contributed to this report.</em></p><p>-<em><a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/01/14/374055310/indiana-s-veterans-service-officers-operate-on-a-shoe-string">via NPR News</a></em></p></p> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 08:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/indianas-veterans-service-officers-help-vets-get-more-benefits-111398 Veteran takes on Veterans Day http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-11-11/veteran-takes-veterans-day-111088 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP315713251574.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Veteran Rory Fanning says on Veterans Day, instead of thanking our troops we should be finding ways to truly support their needs. He joins us to tell us why he thinks we should abolish the holiday.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-how-to-really-support-our-troops-on-vete/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-how-to-really-support-our-troops-on-vete.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-how-to-really-support-our-troops-on-vete" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Veteran takes on Veterans Day" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Tue, 11 Nov 2014 11:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-11-11/veteran-takes-veterans-day-111088 Morning Shift: School resegregation in the 21st century http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-05-19/morning-shift-school-resegregation-21st-century <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cover Flickr ECU Digital Collections.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We find out how to prepare for an emergency in Chicago. And, we examine the legacy of Brown vs. The Board of Education and the face of school segregation today.<br />&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-school-segregation-for-the-21st-cent/embed?header=false&border=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-school-segregation-for-the-21st-cent.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-school-segregation-for-the-21st-cent" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: School resegregation in the 21st century" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 19 May 2014 08:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-05-19/morning-shift-school-resegregation-21st-century Morning Shift: School resegregation in the 21st century http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-05-19/morning-shift-school-resegregation-21st-century <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cover Flickr ECU Digital Collections.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We find out how to prepare for an emergency in Chicago. And, we examine the legacy of Brown vs. The Board of Education and the face of school segregation today.<br />&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-school-segregation-for-the-21st-cent/embed?header=false&border=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-school-segregation-for-the-21st-cent.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-school-segregation-for-the-21st-cent" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: School resegregation in the 21st century" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 19 May 2014 08:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-05-19/morning-shift-school-resegregation-21st-century Morning Shift: Learning from the past and looking for the future of Black History Month http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-02-26/morning-shift-learning-past-and-looking-future-black <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/by tartetatin1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We get a glimpse of the man behind African American History Month. And, we celebrate the music of Johnny Cash with music from Chicago actor Kent M. Lewis.</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-learning-from-the-past-and-looking-f/embed?header=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-learning-from-the-past-and-looking-f.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-learning-from-the-past-and-looking-f" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Learning from the past and looking for the future of Black History Month" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 26 Feb 2014 09:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-02-26/morning-shift-learning-past-and-looking-future-black Morning Shift: The stories and voices of those who served http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-11-11/morning-shift-stories-and-voices-those-who-served <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/by USAG-Humphreys.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&#39;s Veterans Day and Morning Shift is taking a look at an arts organization that helps vets cope with mental health issues, and examining the issues that recent veterans and older veterans face.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-stories-and-voices-of-those-who/embed?header=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-stories-and-voices-of-those-who.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-stories-and-voices-of-those-who" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: The stories and voices of those who served" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 11 Nov 2013 08:25:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-11-11/morning-shift-stories-and-voices-those-who-served 'Valor Games' for disabled veterans to begin http://www.wbez.org/news/valor-games-disabled-veterans-begin-108375 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Vets 130812 AY.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Hundreds of veterans and service members are set to compete in the annual Valor Games Midwest.</p><p dir="ltr">The event for the disabled begins Monday and ends Wednesday. Competitions include cycling, archery, powerlifting and indoor rowing.</p><p dir="ltr">The event is geared toward veterans or active service members who have been wounded or are ill. The first Valor Games started in Chicago two years ago, with events spreading to San Francisco, San Antonio and Durham, North Carolina.</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s sponsors include the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Chicago Park District. Organizers say about 220 participants have registered for this year&rsquo;s games. Among those participating is Air Force Sergeant Israel Del Toro, or DT.</p><p>A bomb exploded under his truck eight years ago in Afghanistan. Del Toro lost fingers on both hands, had over 130 surgeries, got skin grafts for most of his body and wears a brace on his right leg. But for the next few days, he&rsquo;s cycling, powerlifting, and competing in the discus and shotput contests.</p><p>&ldquo;I thought all throughout my therapy, I could never work out at free weights, and when they encouraged me, &lsquo;Come on DT, try it, try it,&rsquo; I ended up winning gold in it,&rdquo; &nbsp;Del Toro says. &ldquo;That first Valor Games, I always say, that was the first time I actually got under a bench and started working out again.&rdquo;</p><p>Four years ago, Del Toro was the first disabled airman to re-enlist. For veterans who have left the military, he says the games can help them regain part of that experience.</p><p>&ldquo;They can start acting like they&rsquo;re back in the military, tell the same jokes they used to, pick on each other, &lsquo;cause that&rsquo;s just the camaraderie you don&rsquo;t get anywhere else,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Howard Wilson, a retired Marine Corps veteran, agrees. After leaving the Marine Corps, he lost most of his vision through glaucoma, a disease that damages the optic nerve. He has competed at all three Valor Games in Chicago, and says despite the competition, everyone was working together at his first competition.</p><p>&ldquo;You had competitors, but everybody was still on the same side. We egged each other on, we made such each other do our best,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;The disability just opened up a new chapter in my life. I knew my vision was getting worse, I got depressed, started thinking about what I couldn&rsquo;t do. You see things slipping away: driving, your independence, you don&rsquo;t have to stop yourself from doing what you were doing initially, you just have to find other ways of doing it.&rdquo;</p><p>He says he is reinventing himself through sport, and hopes to qualify for the US Paralympic wrestling team.</p><p>Sport makes it easier to cope with injuries and depression, says retired Army Sergeant Noah Galloway. He was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq and lost his left arm above the elbow and his left leg above the knee. He has since run two marathons and a series of races, including two <a href="http://toughmudder.com/">&ldquo;Tough Mudder&rdquo;</a> obstacle course races. He gets sponsored to run, but doesn&rsquo;t call himself a professional athlete. He says veterans just need to start participating.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been at the bottom. I&rsquo;ve suffered the depression. I wanted nothing more than to have my arm and leg back, but when I accepted the fact that this is who I am, and I got up, and I got back in shape, and I started taking care of myself, everything turned around,&rdquo; Galloway says. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re not looking for Paralympian athletes, we&rsquo;re looking to take care of our veterans.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alan Yu is a WBEZ metro desk intern. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/Alan_Yu039">@Alan_Yu039</a></em></p></p> Mon, 12 Aug 2013 08:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/valor-games-disabled-veterans-begin-108375 Updated benefits guide for service members, veterans http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/updated-benefits-guide-service-members-veterans-107373 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-05-27 at 8.03.01 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p>The Illinois Attorney General&#39;s office has updated a guide to federal and state benefits for service members and veterans.</p><p>Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan&#39;s office says the 2013 edition of Benefits for Illinois Veterans is available in time for Memorial Day.</p><p>It features updates for veterans retraining programs and services for homeless veterans. The more than 150-page book also has information for military families and survivors.</p><p>Residents who want a paper copy of the guide can contact the attorney general&#39;s Military and Veterans&#39; Rights Bureau.</p><p>Digital copies are available <a href="http://illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/rights/Benefits%20for%20IL%20Veterans_2013.pdf">online</a>.</p></p> Mon, 27 May 2013 08:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/updated-benefits-guide-service-members-veterans-107373 Afternoon Shift: Immigration as women's issue, Urlacher's retirement and insurance for vets http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-05-23/afternoon-shift-immigration-womens-issue-urlachers-retirement <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/immigration.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Is immigration a women&#39;s issue? Maria Pesqueira of advocacy group Mujeres Latinas en Acción says it is. Niala looks at why 1.3 veterans are uninsured. Finally, a national look at the Chicago public school closings.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-immigration-reform-retired-athlete.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-immigration-reform-retired-athlete" target="_blank">View the story "Afternoon Shift: Immigration as women's issue, Urlacher's retirement and insurance for vets" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Thu, 23 May 2013 12:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-05-23/afternoon-shift-immigration-womens-issue-urlachers-retirement