Veterans

Wendy Rigby/Texas Public Radio

From Texas Standard:

In this installment of our "Spotlight on Health" series, we're looking at access to health care – something that can be a problem for many military veterans. 

Robert Wilkie, secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, says wait times at VA clinics have shown "marked improvement" since 2014 when the agency was embroiled in controversy. In one example from that time, a Phoenix VA facility was criticized for having extremely long wait times. 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Texas is one of just three states that did not sign onto a letter sent Friday to Secretary Betsy DeVos asking the U.S. Department of Education to automatically forgive student loans for eligible disabled veterans. 

Updated at 12 p.m. ET, Jan. 30

Scores of people turned up for Joseph Walker's funeral Monday in Texas — not because they knew him, but because they knew the Vietnam-era veteran was at risk of being buried without anyone in attendance.

Walker served in the U.S. Air Force, and he died of natural causes in November at the age of 72. When the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery announced funeral plans for him last week, the facility said it didn't expect anyone other than staff members to be present.

Courtesy of the Alvarado family

Francisco Chapa Alvarado was living in northern Mexico in 1943 when he received a draft notice from his native U.S. Alvarado, who had moved to Mexico with his young family a few years earlier, came home and took up arms.

His 75-year-old son, Felix Alvarado, wonders why his father returned.

USAG- Humphreys (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

For those leaving the military, readjusting to civilian life can be a rocky transition. For veterans or families of veterans, trying to juggle college classes and homework assignments on top of that can be frustrating.

 

That's the reality for more than 800,000 college students across the nation. The number of ex-military students at universities is rising thanks to expanded GI Bill, which have increased the number of veterans who qualify for full tuition at state schools in Texas and elsewhere.

Heather Cortright for Army ROTC/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Every year thousands of veterans benefit from the so-called post-9/11 GI bill, which pays for tuition to help vets afford college.

The original GI bill was credited with lifting many families into the middle class after World War II. Texas has a similar version of the bill, called the Hazlewood Act and the Texas Comptroller – Glenn Hegar, the man with the state's check book – says the act is too pricey.

The act goes back to 1943 and Hegar says three factors have contributed to the rise in expenses in providing this service to Texans.

 


Flickr/Jin (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Maybe you’ve heard Texas Rep. Pete Sessions wants magic to be recognized as an official national treasure – the proposal made headlines, many of them a little snarky. But how could magic solve some of the state’s most pressing needs?

Hundreds of veterans and their supporters marched up Congress Avenue Wednesday to the state capitol, where a commemoration ceremony took place for Veterans Day. Among those attending were Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

Image credit Joy Diaz/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Part of the mission at Dress for Success is to help women achieve financial independence. That includes women veterans. A higher percentage of female vets are unemployed than male vets.

"I have an interview this afternoon," Julia Hill says.

 


flickr/jstephenconn

Veterans Day is a week away. And, as they have for more than a decade, veterans will take part in a parade around the Texas State Capitol. It also looks like the Confederate flag will be there, as it has been in the past, but this time the flag's appearance comes despite efforts from Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt to ban it from the parade.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon for KUT News

From the Texas Tribune: With more than 90 percent of all precincts counted, statewide measures aimed at cutting property taxes, boosting funding for road projects and reiterating Texans' right to hunt and fish appeared headed toward easy passage Tuesday evening.

John Shapley/KUT

Austin Mayor Steve Adler has set a goal to end veteran homelessness in the city by Veterans Day. This year, that’s Nov. 11. Despite reports that have said the mayor has had to push back that date, Adler says he’s sticking to his deadline.


Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

We're just over a month away from Election Day in Texas and, while it's an election not everyone even knows is coming up, there are seven statewide constitutional amendments are on the ballot. Of those seven, Proposition 2 seeks to retroactively amend a state law allowing veterans’ spouses to collect benefits.

Texas Academy Helps Veterans Launch Small Businesses

Sep 15, 2015
U.S. Army, flickr.com/soldiersmediacenter

The unemployment rate for veterans dropped a bit in 2014, but still, veterans are more likely to be unemployed than non-veterans.

The unemployment rate among women veterans, for example, was 8.5 percent in 2014, compared to 6.2 percent among non-veteran women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

A program from the Texas Veterans Commission is trying to change that, by teaching veterans and their spouses how to be small business owners — something Duncan McGhee loves to do.


John Shapley/KUT

Austin Mayor Steve Adler has announced a plan for ending homelessness among military veterans in Austin by Veterans Day this year.

Screenshot courtesy of Bunker Labs Austin

Coming to Austin Tuesday: Shark Tank, the television show wherein small business owners pitch their ideas to wealthy investors. The show's searching Central Texas this week for a particular kind of businessperson: veterans.

Today is an important anniversary in the history of World War II. It's the 70th anniversary of VE Day, when Allies celebrated victory in Europe. Of 16 million Americans who served in the war, just about a million are still alive. 

Austinite Richard Overton is 108, and he's been identified by the White House as the oldest living veteran of World War II. He was in his 30s when he joined forces commanded by General Douglas MacArthur. 

Overton was deployed to the Pacific in the fight against Japan. He served in the all-black 188th Aviation Engineer Battalion, building airfields on various islands.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

A team of researchers, led by a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, has been studying characteristics of memory among World War II veterans.

The team is finding that these seniors have an unusual ability to remember their life stories, which may be a result of serving in that particular war.

Today is Veterans Day, and with that in mind we've got a rundown of all the parades, speeches and other events to honor Central Texas veterans in Austin, Georgetown and San Marcos.

In addition, we've got the full list of city office closures as employees observe Veterans Day. Check out the full list of events and closures below.

"That Which I Love Destroys Me"

KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

Austin-based filmmaker Ric Roman Waugh got his start in the stunt business. His film credits include "Gone in 60 Seconds," "Total Recall," and "Hook." He then went on to work with tough guys including Val Kilmer and Dwayne Johnson as a director and screenwriter.

"That Which I Love Destroys Me" is Waugh's first documentary. It follows two special operations soldiers as they explore the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It screened at the Austin Film Festival.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Yesterday, veterans of the Vietnam War came from around the state to commemorate the arrival of 3,417 dog tags at the Bullock Texas State History Museum for the forthcoming "Texas Vietnam Heroes Exhibit," which will honor Texans that perished in the war.

The procession of the tags paused under the museum's iconic bronze star and concluded in the lobby for a ceremonial presentation of an American flag to Linda Kaplon, the widow of fallen Vietnam serviceman Cpl. Phillip Felix Kaplon, Jr.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

The Texas Raiders have descended upon Austin. No, it's not a football team. It's the codename for a group of  B-17 pilots who have brought four renovated World War II-era planes to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport this weekend to celebrate the Fourth of July.

The exhibition of rare planes including the P-51, a C-47 and a B-25. Tours and low-altitude flights over Austin are open to the public all weekend from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.at Atlantic Aviation

Check out our gallery above for a view from KUT's flight on the "Flying Fortress."

U.S. Army, flickr.com/soldiersmediacenter

Last week, the Obama administration announced their response to the unraveling situation in Iraq. The U.S. is sending 300 military advisors to help government forces battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. The Al-Qaeda augmented militants have recently taken control of much of northern Iraq. 

The White House has not ruled out air strikes, and the possibility of further military action is the talk of Washington. But what about the men and women who served in Iraq? The Texas Standard's David Brown recently sat down with three veterans for a roundtable discussion of recent events.

Why Veterans Could Influence Texas Medical Marijuana Laws

Jun 3, 2014
flickr.com/eggrole

Can more than 1.5 million Texas veterans change the minds of state lawmakers opposed to legalizing medical marijuana?

William Martin, director of the Drug Policy Program at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, poses that question in the June issue of Texas Monthly. In his article “War Without End,” Martin talks with veterans using pot to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

"The story that’s most illustrative is a woman who uses the name Myst," Martin says. 

Embattled Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has resigned his position, hours after saying he would work to fix "systemic" problems in the VA's health care system.

President Obama said Friday that the decision was made so Shinseki wouldn't be a "distraction" from efforts to address the agency's wide-ranging problems.

The inspector general of the Department of Veterans Affairs has affirmed that some 1,700 patients at the Phoenix VA hospital were put on unofficial wait lists and subjected to treatment delays of up to 115 days.

In an interim report released Wednesday, the inspector general's office reported it had "substantiated that significant delays in access to care negatively impacted the quality of care" at Phoenix HCS.

Jon Shapley for KUT News

Across the country and here in Texas, counties have been setting up special courts specifically for veterans in recent years.

Those veterans that go through the court have to stick with a series of commitments to avoid jail time.

Travis County has had a veterans court since 2010. Two more Central Texas counties will open their own courts in the coming months.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

On the heels of allegations that VA clinics across the country manipulated wait times, a state senate hearing will ask veterans whether they've struggled to get a timely doctor’s appointment.

Lieutenant Governor candidate and state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, says she’s especially troubled by allegations of misrepresented wait times at clinics in San Antonio and Austin. The chair of the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee, Van de Putte says an independent investigation should take place.

"People responsible need to be held accountable," she says. "These scheduling clerks didn’t just decide to falsify reports all over the country at the same time."

Fighting Stigma of Mental Illness Goal of New Texas Nonprofit

Apr 16, 2014
Liang Shi for KUT News

Improving mental health practices for Texas and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness is the goal of a new statewide institute. Its focus will be on children, veterans and criminal justice policies.

The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute opened its doors today. Tom Luce, its chief executive officer, says the nonprofit will do research to improve access to mental health care in Texas – and not just after emergencies like the recent Fort Hood shooting.

Matthew Alvarez for KUT News

new study reported by the military news outlet Stars and Stripes ranks Houston as the number one city in the country for job-seeking veterans. Dallas and Austin rank second and fifth among major metropolitan cities.

The rankings, put together by the USAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are the sunnier side of an issue affecting many veterans: finding employment after service ends. 

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