Veterans

Screenshot from Skip Navigation LinksWisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Video

The Wisconsin’s Veterans Affairs secretary took the hot seat at the State Capital on Tuesday. He updated lawmakers on conditions at the Veterans Home in King, after an audit found widespread nursing shortages and worker dissatisfaction there. 

Some legislators are concerned that patient care at the nursing home could be threatened. The VA Secretary promised his department is working aggressively to tackle the problems.

photo courtesty of the Veterans Administration

Like most Veteran’s Administration hospitals and clinics around the country, the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee sees a majority of male patients. Women make up just a little over 15 percent of current active and reserve military members across all services and about 10 percent of the total US veteran population. But especially now that women can and do serve in combat, it’s crucial that the VA respond appropriately.

Photo courtesy of Christine Black

Lake Effect recently spoke with experts from the VA and the LGBT Resource Center at UW-Milwaukee.  They’re among those who are presenting the Zablocki VA Medical Center’s fifth annual mental health summit at UW-Milwaukee on Friday, with a focus on issues faced by LGBTQ+ veterans.

READ: VA Mental Health Summit Focuses on LGBT Veterans

psphotography / Fotolia

From physical ailments to post-traumatic stress disorder - the health issues facing veterans are getting much more attention than they used to. In the Milwaukee area, most of the care veterans of all ages receive happens through the Veterans Administration and the Clement Zablocki VA Medical Center. But the VA doesn’t always go it alone.

Veterans Health / Flickr

This week marks the 150th anniversary of the facility that is known today as the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center. It was established in the wake of the Civil War and was one of the first in the country to serve convalescing veterans.

"Folks in this country have always been very patriotic and very supportive of those who, candidly, we put in harms way to protect our freedoms," says Dr. Dan Zomcheck, the medical director of the Zablocki VA Medical Center. 

Martin Dowman / Flickr

For most of us in the US, Memorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial beginning of summer, but the holiday itself is one of solemnity. 

Shortly after the end of the American Civil War, a day in May was designated as Decoration Day: a day to honor and remember those who died in service to our country. After the first World War, the holiday has been known as Memorial Day. 

Although nearly a century has passed since the end of World War I, there are still some people who died in battle who haven't been identified. Waterford resident, Robert Laplander, is hoping to change that.

Audrey Nowakowski

Memorial Day observations started early for some in Milwaukee with the official dedication of the Captain Lance P. Sijan Memorial Plaza in front of the General Mitchell International Airport on May 26th.

Hundreds of Marines are reportedly under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, after a trove of photographs were shared online that show female service members and veterans in the nude. The images were spread via a closed Facebook group with thousands of members.

Tomah VA Medical Center, Facebook

In Wisconsin, problems have surfaced at the federal VA Medical Center in Tomah and at the state-run nursing home in King. Elected leaders are working to rein in the problems.

The Tomah VA Medical Center was in the news in recent years for dangerous, sometimes fatal, drug prescription practices.

Chris Coppock Photography / Flags of Valor

The number of veterans of World War II is dwindling quickly as many enter their 90s.  But there are still many left, and they are among the veterans that a unique company is honoring with a unique American flag.

Flags of Valor is a Virginia company that makes flags from wood, and they employ a workforce of injured veterans.

The company was founded by Brian Steorts, a veteran himself. Steorts served in the US Army as a paratrooper before he took time to attend college in Alabama.

Courtesy of Mark Miller

Veteran's Day is a time when we honor veterans, but it's also a time when veterans reflect on their time in the service. They’re not always pleasant memories.

Mark Miller is an associate professor of business at Carthage College. But there was a year he once said he’d never talk about – a year spent as a sergeant on the front lines in Vietnam.

Courtesy of Martin Hintz

Near the end of World War II, Army Air Corps Lt. Loren Hintz was based in Italy, when his plane was shot down. He was considered missing in action, until parts of the wreckage were found a while later and he was declared to have been killed. But the crash site was never found - before this year.

Milwaukee writer Martin Hintz was not yet born when his father died. This summer, a team of people helped him uncover his father’s crash site in Italy. 

Military veterans have to tailor their resumes in order to clearly link their experience to the qualifications of the civilian job they're seeking. They also face another challenge: living without the routine and fellowship they had grown accustomed to in military life.

Randy Jackson of South Milwaukee served in the Navy in Desert Storm and left the military in 1993. He says it took him years to adjust to life as a civilian.

Ann-Elise Henzl Reporter Milwaukee Public Radio

Many employers say they offer plenty of opportunities for new veterans just entering the civilian workforce. Yet some vets have to overcome hurdles as they begin their new careers.

When you hear glowing words like these about veterans, it seems like it should be a breeze for them to find jobs:

"They've had more experiences, they've been around the world, which certainly lends to the global environment that we have in our industry."

"They have the work ethic, the dependability, the maturity."

Bonnie Petrie

Rochelle Lopez lived in her car in the Milwaukee area for six months after serving two tours of duty in Iraq. Her story is not unique.  Female veterans are now the fastest-growing segment of America’s homeless population.

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