The severely backlogged benefits office of the federal VA is about to slow down again. That's because the VA announced its furloughing nearly 10,000 VBA workers including its IT department. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal issued a statement today in response to the news. He said many of the employees are veterans themselves.
The national unemployment rate for veterans has improved in recent years, hovering around the civilian rate of seven percent. At the height of the recession, returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans were unemployed at nearly double the rate of non-veterans. A host of programs have been created to help former servicemembers support themselves after their military service ended.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has supplied some veterans, like Tim Fazio, pictured, with a large amount of oxycodone pills since he returning home after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Fazio told reporter Aaron Glantz he was never in acute physical pain, but used the pills to blot out feelings of guilt for surviving when many of his friends did not.
Credit Adithya Sambamurthy / The Center for Investigative Reporting
Homeless veterans have told the VA that one of their top needs is finding legal assistance. The Connecticut Veterans Legal Center in New Haven is one organization that fills this need. Now the non-profit is working to build a network of similar legal service providers.
Last July, an American Legion Post in Jewett City renovated its building to provide permanent supportive housing to chronically homeless veterans. The project in Jewett City created fifteen apartments solely for veterans. It's rural communities like Jewett City where the VA has had a hard time connecting with veterans nationwide.
Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 3:49 pm
It’s estimated that more than 20 veterans kill themselves every day. A new survey of men and women who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan shows that mental health is the most important issue they face.
Pressure is building on the military to change its culture from within after an alarming Pentagon report estimates 26,000 servicemembers were sexually assaulted last year-- President Obama calls these crimes “shameful and disgraceful.” Another layer to this problem is that very few of these assaults are actually reported. Now federal lawmakers including Connecticut’s Senator Richard Blumenthal are supporting bills to change how the military prosecutes these cases so victims no longer fear retaliation
On Thursday, May 23, the photo of U.S Army Captain Andrew Pedersen-Keel will be added to the State of Connecticut's Wall of Honor, a tribute to servicemembers who died while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Some veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are closely watching the immigration reform bill as it moves to the U.S Senate for a vote. The bill calls on extending a visa program for the people servicemembers often relied upon while in combat.
Forty men and women from Connecticut died in the Iraq War. Trumbull resident Mike Mastroni created the Connecticut Fallen Heroes Foundation to remember veterans killed after 9-11 and to honor their families.
WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil spoke with him in Hartford about his decision to get involved in this way.
More about the Connecticut Fallen Heroes Foundation can be found here. The state of Connecticut has also created a website to remember local veterans who died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Today marks the 10-year anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. Throughout the day, we're looking back at what has changed over the last 10 years both there and here at home. It was a war that cost trillions of dollars and more importantly, thousands of lives.
On Tuesday, March 19, WNPR is focusing its coverage on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War including remembering those who were killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Forty men and women from Connecticut died between 2003 and 2010.
Every day an estimated 22 veterans kill themselves in the U.S. and most of them use a gun to do so, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. This trend mirrors the general population where more people kill themselves with guns than by all other methods combined.
The VA is trying to help with a program that offers gun locks to veterans for free. The thinking is that if they lock their guns up they might not reach for them in the spur of the moment.
Every day an estimated twenty-two veterans kill themselves in the U.S. and most of them will use a gun to do so according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs. This trend mirrors the general population where more people kill themselves with guns than with all other methods combined. The VA is trying to help with a program that offers gun locks to veterans for free. The thinking is that if they lock their guns up they might not reach for them in the spur of the moment.
The state's Commissioner of Veterans Affairs is applauding news that the military is ending its ban on women serving in the infantry and other ground combat. WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil has more from Vietnam veteran Linda Schwartz.
It's been five months since 16 homeless veterans moved into permanent supportive housing thanks to the American Legion Post in southeastern Connecticut. The Jewett City Post renovated its own building to create the apartments. The project was funding by the federal VA with help from private donations, Second district Congressman Joe Courtney, and the state of Connecticut.
This past summer, WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil introduced us to one of the new tenants, an Army veteran. She visited him recently as he prepares for his first Christmas inside his own place.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has called on military leaders to explore a "epidemic" of suicide among active duty servicemembers and veterans. Each day, 18 veterans kill themselves according to the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. In Connecticut, 30 veterans have died this way since 2009, but those are only the suicides that the VA knows about.
Today, we’ll officially kick off a monthly visit from Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy. Here at Where We Live, we made a big deal about how the last governor didn’t like to come on the show and answer questions from listeners.
This governor, despite news of a growing budget gap and facing pretty low approval ratings, says “bring on the questions!” So we will and we’ll give you a chance to call in as well to talk about the state budget, about recovery from Sandy, about economic development and the just-completed elections.
Yellow ribbons are back on the town green in Litchfield after being taken down recently by a group that oversees the historic district. The ribbons, which show support of the military, were removed in late summer by the borough warden and burgesses. The members voted to take four of them down without telling town residents who have maintained the ribbons, specifically the families of servicemembers. No reason was given.
To date, 63 men and women from Connecticut have died while serving in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. A small group of Connecticut residents are working to create a living memorial to these service members. It will be called the Connecticut Trees of Honor, and the planned site is in Middletown's Veterans Memorial Park.
Congressman Joe Courtney has sponsored a bill that could help veterans who are in school or planning to enroll using the Post 9-11 GI bill. The legislation would change how education funding is classified from the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
In the Civil War, it was called soldiers heart or nostalgia. In WWI, it was known as shell shock. These days, it's known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Talk to any veteran and they'll tell you: war changes you.
This month, more than a dozen homeless veterans will finally have a place to call their own thanks to the American Legion. A local Post in a small Connecticut town has been working for a decade on a unique project to create not transitional, but permanent supportive housing in their rural community.
A Workforce Development Board in Connecticut has received almosts $450,000 from the U.S. Labor Department. The Workplace, Inc. will use the grants to help homeless veterans and those who've been incarcerated.
WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil spoke to Joe Carbone, the President and CEO of The Workplace, Inc about the programs to help veterans. The Workplace, Inc is sharing in more than 20 million in grants from the U.S. Labor Department that were awarded nationwide.
An American Legion post in Jewett City has dedicated the last decade to raising money so it could help homeless veterans. On Monday, hundreds of Griswold residents turned out to celebrate the project's completion. Post 15 renovated its building so to provide 18 apartments to veterans who need housing.
On Monday, The Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education in Stamford hosted a viewing of "Invisible War," an award-winning documentary about sexual assault in the military. More servicemembers who have experienced this trauma are starting to file claims with the VA.