veterans

Health
2:42 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Veterans' Concerns Addressed at Quarterly Town Hall at Pittsburgh VA

A few dozen veterans gathered at the VA Pittsburgh Hospital in Oakland Friday to discuss any and all concerns they may have about the system.

“It’s a really wide variety of subjects that come up,” said VA Pittsburgh spokesman Mike Marcus, “anything from changes to benefits, healthcare – different pieces that come up around that – as well as questions that come up around some of the controversies that have plagued the VA over the last year or so.”

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Community
3:09 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

United Way Announces Program Expansion for Families, Women and Veterans

More than 60 percent of Allegheny County’s impoverished residents live in suburban neighborhoods, according to a 2013 report by the Brookings Institution, and veterans make up about 33 percent of Pittsburgh’s homeless population.

Those are just two of the reasons why the United Way of Allegheny County announced Wednesday that the nonprofit will expand several programs over the next three years to improve the quality of life for struggling families, women and veterans in the region.

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Veterans' Stories: Project 412
11:47 am
Fri November 21, 2014

Ryan Ahl: 'You're in a War Zone ... Anything Could Happen, and It Normally Did'

Ryan Ahl during one of his two deployments to Iraq.
Credit Courtesy photo

Ryan Ahl enlisted in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 2002 and was eventually commissioned as a second lieutenant.

Ahl said his fondest memories from two deployments to Iraq were the days spent occupying observational posts and knowing he had the support of his fellow soldiers.

“You’re in a war zone and you’re with three of your closest buddies and anything could happen," he said. "And it normally did.”

Ahl said he feels part of something bigger than himself. He has gained a respect for freedom and understanding of other cultures through his service.

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Veterans Affairs
10:15 am
Thu November 13, 2014

VA Replaces Pittsburgh Hospital Network's Director

The Department of Veterans Affairs has fired the director of the Pittsburgh VA Healthcare System a month after the department says internal investigators determine she committed unspecified "conduct unbecoming a senior executive."

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:33 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Purple Hearts: the Legacy of an Historic Medal

Credit patries71 / Flickr

Purple Heart recipient Captain Zachariah Fike has been helping to return lost medals to the families of their rightful owners. Since 2012 this founder of Purple Hearts Reunited has devoted his spare time to researching and repairing the medals. He joins us to discuss his work and the history of the Purple Heart.

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Government & Politics
4:52 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Sen. Casey Calls on Lawmakers to Pass VA Disability Claims Reforms

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) said when it comes to honoring veterans, speeches and parades are nice, but effective government services are vital.

He’s calling on his fellow lawmakers to pass the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act, introduced in March, which would modify guidelines concerning the fulfillment of disability claims.

According to Casey, the average wait time for a claim at the Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs Regional Office, or VARO, is 231 days. In Philadelphia, it’s 266 days, and the nationwide average is 240 days.

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Veterans
3:20 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Allegheny Conference Launches Job Search Site For Veterans

The Allegheny Conference on Community Development launched a job search website Monday designed to connect veterans with energy and manufacturing opportunities in the region.

The Service to Opportunity initiative, which is free for veterans and employers, allows vets to upload their resumes and helps connect them with career opportunities based on their individual skill set.

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Health
6:35 am
Mon November 10, 2014

How Re-Imagining Dreams Can Help Those With PTSD

Sumner Bemis in Iraq.
Credit Courtesy photo

In 1999, Lisa and Sumner Bemis met at a bar during a Penguins hockey game. She was intrigued by his unusual name, “and the fact that he had a Camaro," recalled Lisa.

"I loved muscle cars, " she said, "so it worked.”

Less than three years later they were married. After the Sept. 11 terror attacks happened Sumner was deployed as part of the National Guard and was in Iraq from 2005-2006. When he returned, Lisa was overjoyed to have him back. But she said he was a different person.

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Behavioral Health
4:32 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Workshop Provides Mental Health Training For Those Working With Veterans

A workshop held in the North Hills on Friday provided mental health training to clergy and social workers who work with veterans.

Lt. Colonel Michele Papakie has been in the Air Force for 28 years. She’s the Inspector General at the 171st Air Refueling Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.

She spoke to clergy and social workers about her deployments and what she has seen in her colleagues as well as her grandfather, father and son who have all served in the military.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:18 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Veteran Stories: Project 4-1-2 Kicks Off This Week

Credit Courtesy photo

This week, in partnership with the Community Leadership Course for Veterans (CLCV), WESA begins airing Veterans’ Stories: Project 4-1-2. This is part of a community impact project created by Leadership Pittsburgh to expose post 9/11 veterans to networks and opportunities for service and enhancement of their leadership skills.

Joining us to discuss their role in this initiative are former U.S. Army Sergeant James Yauger, who works with VetAdvisor to help veterans transition to civilian life; and Lieutenant Ariana Pourmonir Mohnke, U.S. Coast Guard.

Essential Pittsburgh
5:08 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Project 22 Explores the Issue of Suicide Among Veterans

Credit Theo Collins

According to the Veteran’s Administration, it is estimated 22 veterans commit suicide every day. This sobering fact served as the impetus for the documentary Project 22.

The film chronicles the journey of two combat-wounded veterans across America. They traveled the country to speak with veterans who had contemplated, or attempted suicide, as well as researchers and healthcare providers. Joining us to discuss the film is Theo Collins, a law student at Duquesne University, a Marine Corps veteran and an associate producer of the film.

Essential Pittsburgh
5:01 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Short Film 'Home Range' Follows a Veteran's Troubled Homecoming

Inspired by 1978’s “The Deer Hunter,” writer/director Natalia Kaniasty shot the short film “Home Range” in her hometown of Indiana, PA.

The narrative follows Bobby Novak, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who returns home to Western Pennsylvania while his best friend from childhood does not. Bobby must struggle to adjust to civilian life and re-assimilate into his community. Kaniasty joins us to discuss the process of crafting an emotional narrative in her own backyard. 

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Station News
6:00 am
Mon October 6, 2014

Veterans' Stories: Project 412 Debuts Tuesday, October 7

Created, Produced by Area Veterans, Series Spotlights Military Experience

A unique series of broadcast interviews created and produced by a group of Pittsburgh-area active-duty military personnel and veterans will air on 90.5 WESA every Tuesday starting October 7 through Veterans Day (November 11). Segments will air during Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:53 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

VFW Celebrates 100 Years In Pittsburgh

VFW historical marker outside of the William Pitt Union
Credit Marcus Charleston

In September of 1914, 250 veterans from across the U.S. and its territories gathered at the Schenley Hotel in Pittsburgh to form what would become the largest veterans’ advocacy group in the nation, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).

The hotel is now the William Pitt Union, but former military members and public officials are assembling there once again to mark the organization's centennial.

“The people can feel that the community supports veterans around here,” Matt Hannan, president of Pitt-Vets, said, “but they don’t understand the legacy of what the veterans have committed to the community and contributed and that that legacy continues.”

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Veterans
7:48 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Plan For Statewide Veterans Courts Met With Some Skepticism

Veterans who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder or substance abuse could ping-pong through the criminal justice system for years without a support system that recognizes common problems facing former members of the military.

That’s the premise of Pennsylvania’s veterans treatment courts, which started as county initiatives several years ago to help the state’s veteran population — the fifth largest in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:34 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Checkpoint - Where Military Meets Community

Credit TeamSaintLouis / Flickr

    

Southwest Pennsylvania is home to 220,000 Veterans, with 97,000 alone living in Allegheny County. After returning from active duty, all Veterans, whether injured or uninjured, are in need of resources such as employment, physical and mental health care, job training, and housing.

Until recently, Pittsburgh-area veterans did not have a centralized, dedicated place to find these kinds of resources. This problem was solved when Pittsburgh resident and Iraq War veteran Jared Souder founded Checkpoint, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Veterans find the resources they need to help resume their lives as civilians.

Checkpoint was created out of necessity, said Souder.

“I’m supposed to be a subject matter expert, and I would still run into walls, I would run into sort of confusing things, and just see the complexity of it and really saw the need for some way to help vets navigate and reduce complexity and just get better information into their hands so they can make more informed decisions to what they can connect with and what they can benefit from.”

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Veterans
12:54 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Rep. Murphy: Disciplinary Action at Pittsburgh VA Doesn't Go Far Enough

U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy said placing Terry Wolf, the head of the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, on leave is a "far cry from what needs to be done."
Credit Office of Congressman Tim Murphy

More than 10 months after U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy wrote to former Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs Eric Shinseki asking what disciplinary action would be taken in the wake a Legionella outbreak at a Pittsburgh hospital, he has gotten an answer of sorts.

On Friday, the VA announced that Pittsburgh Healthcare System director and CEO Terry Wolf was placed on administrative leave, “pending the completion of administrative actions related to the Legionella outbreak.”

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Veterans Affairs
11:22 am
Sun June 15, 2014

Head of Pittsburgh VA Hospitals Placed on Administrative Leave

The head of the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System has been put on administrative leave, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

System Director Terry Gerigk Wolf oversaw the healthcare facilities during the Legionella outbreak of 2011 and 2012, which resulted in the deaths of at least six people and sickened more than twenty others.

Community
2:34 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Funding Helps Veteran Homeowners With Costly Repairs

Air Force Veteran John Malloy's home is getting needed repairs thanks to funding from the Home Depot Foundation, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said meeting the needs of veterans is critical, and home repairs helps then stay in their homes.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Home Depot Foundation has given $200,000  toward repairing the homes of 28 veterans in the Pittsburgh region. Without the repairs, some of the vets could end up homeless.

There are currently tens of thousands of homeless veterans in the U.S. and thousands more are at risk of becoming homeless. For those who are homeowners, security is not always a guarantee — many are one stop from becoming homeless.

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D-Day Veterans
8:00 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Pittsburgh Area Vets Honored for Their D-Day Service

“All I know is we wanted to get off that beach which we did because there was a lot of casualties,” recalls Ralph Russo of New Castle about the D-Day landing at Normandy 70 years ago today.

There where thousands of casualties—9,000 Allied troops were killed or wounded including 6,600 Americans.

96-year old Mike Vernillo of Pittsburgh served with the US 227th Field Artillery Battalion on June 6, 1944.

“It was very difficult; you can’t stop to help nobody, you have to just keep running.”

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Community
5:13 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Peduto Part of Group of Mayors Battling Homelessness Among Veterans

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is one of a group of more than 75 Mayors and county officials who’ve signed on to a nation-wide plan to end homelessness among those who’ve served in the military. First Lady Michelle Obama this week kicked off the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.

“It really is a call to mayors and other elected officials to focus their attention on veterans who are homeless in our communities,” said Jane Vincent, regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Philadelphia.

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Community
12:32 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Pittsburgh To Host 'Navy Week'

The U.S. Navy is coming to the Steel City, but don’t expect to see any aircraft carriers floating in the Mon.

During Navy Week (June 2 – June 8) sailors will be stationed throughout the city hosting events, providing musical entertainment and answering any questions about Navy life.

Navy spokesman Gary Ross said Navy Week is not a recruitment effort, but an educational event.

“We are not there to recruit,” he said. “We are there to create awareness and understanding about what our Navy does for our nation.”

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Community
3:30 am
Mon May 26, 2014

Soldiers and Sailors Hosts Memorial Day Celebration

At Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum, Memorial Day is more than just hotdogs and hamburgers.

“Over the years, as we had more and more conflicts, the building became a symbol representative of a memorial for all veterans of all branches of service. The only one like it of its kind in the nation,” said Soldiers and Sailors President and CEO John McCabe.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are more than 995,000 veterans living in Pennsylvania.

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Community
2:56 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

New Housing Units For Women Veterans Open In Millvale

Khrystal Brown (right) and another veteran cut the ribbon on the newest housing units for women vets.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

There are about 1,200 veterans in Allegheny County who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Over the last year or so there has been an increase in the number of women and women with children who are in need of emergency housing.

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Veterans
2:00 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Proposed Property Tax Break for Disabled Veterans

A Pennsylvania state lawmaker is pushing for legislation that would allow disabled veterans to receive a real estate tax exemption regardless of the severity of their disability.

Currently, Pennsylvania offers an “all-or-nothing” program, where veterans who are 100 percent disabled receive a complete property tax exemption and those who are 80 or 90 percent disabled get nothing.

State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) said the tax exemption should be proportional to the percentage of disability.

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Health
3:30 am
Mon March 17, 2014

'Project 22' Releases Official Trailer

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs released a report last year stating that an estimated 22 veterans commit suicide every day.

That number hit home for Marine Sgt. Daniel Egbert and Army Sgt. Matt King; both of whom served in Iraq. The two set out on a 22-day road trip from Los Angeles to Ground Zero in New York, producing a documentary focused on raising awareness about veteran suicide.

That documentary is "Project 22."

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Pennsylvania
12:26 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Under the Keystone: A Veteran's Progress

Earl Granville and his twin brother Joseph enlisted in the National Guard in 2000 and were deployed to Bosnia and Iraq together. In 2008, on Earl's third deployment to Afghanistan, a truck he was riding in hit a roadside bomb. His legs were blown apart.
Jake Danna Stevens Scranton Times-Tribune, via PublicSource

Earl Granville, of Scranton, Pa., is the second person featured in Under the Keystone, a new collaborative series from our content partner PublicSource. A veteran who lost his leg in Afghanistan and lost a brother to PTSD, Granville is now studying mental health counseling so he can help veterans and others who have come through difficult situations.

Government & Politics
8:01 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Legislation to Shrink VA Backlog Introduced; No Cost Estimate Filed

On average, a veteran in the Pittsburgh areas has to wait one day shy of a year between the time they apply for disability benefits and the day they are approved.

Though the backlog has been shrinking, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey says it is not falling fast enough, and in an effort to fix the situation, he and bipartisan group of six senators have introduced legislation aimed at fixing the system.

The Veterans Administration deems a claim to be backlogged after it has been in the system for more than 125 days. By its own admission, there are nearly 400,000 cases on that list.

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Government & Politics
7:57 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Veterans Marker Now Available on Driver’s Licenses

Pennsylvania’s military veterans can now have their service noted on their driver’s licenses.

The new designation is free, though the costs of renewing the license apply.

At a roll-out news conference Tuesday, Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) said the designation helps identify veterans so people can simply show respect.

“And it will come in handy in the worst of times when a veteran may find him or herself in a dangerous situation,” Baker said. “This designation is something our veterans have asked for, and worked for, for a very long time.”

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Veterans
3:30 am
Mon February 10, 2014

VA Honors Veteran Patients with 'National Salute' Events

The VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System is celebrating its annual "National Salute to Veteran Patients," a week-long series of events that applaud veterans' sacrifices and draws attention to those receiving medical care.

In Pittsburgh, the VA will hold events at both its University Drive campus in Oakland and H.J. Heinz campus in O'Hara Township.

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