Veterans

Courtesy of Guitars for Vets

During World War I, soldiers coined the term "shell shock" to describe their post-traumatic reactions to war. "Battle fatigue" came along during World War II and Korea, and by Vietnam it was called "combat stress reaction." It was all post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Suzanne Gordon / https://suzannecgordon.com/books/wounds-of-war/

It’s Veterans Day — a national holiday to honor the service of the country’s more than 18 million living veterans. There will be parades, speeches and a lot of applause. But Suzanne Gordon says that one of the key players in veteran services and one that works well, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), is being slowly gutted.

Repurposed wood creates an American flag right at the entrance of Green Up Solutions.
Olivia Richardson

Updated Tuesday at 1 p.m. CT

For people who've served in the military, they say getting back into the swing of civilian life can be difficult. That's because the military trains members to be supportive and solutions-oriented, which is not always the case in civilian life. But some veterans are starting businesses as a means of working for purpose rather than money.

Screenshot / U.S. Army Research Laboratory

Three Milwaukee institutions — Marquette University, the Medical College of Wisconsin, and the VA Medical Center — are continuing their work on a "blast-test" dummy. The dummy could help reduce harm to U.S. armed forces caused by explosions under their military vehicles. 

Remembering The 1st Veterans Memorialized By Veterans Day

Nov 11, 2019

In the United Kingdom, Veterans Day is celebrated with red paper poppies pinned to lapels in remembrance of those who served in World War I. The practice caught on after the bloody battlefields of France bloomed with red poppies following the war. Every year, British people wear these red flower pins for about a month leading up to Nov. 11, and buying one of these paper flowers funds veterans groups. The U.K. memorializes the end of World War I with purpose and style.

Benjamin Slane / Milwaukee VA

Prescription painkillers have a notorious reputation in the veteran community. In response to an opioid scandal in 2016, Wisconsin's Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center has reformed the way they treat pain.  

"We were in the middle of a crisis," says U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Robert Wilkie, who recently visited the Tomah VA and Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center (Milwaukee VA Medical Center). "Traditionally [people use] pain medicine and go off on their own, into the shadows. Tomah broke the mold on how we think about that."

Audrey Nowakowski

Editor's note: This piece originally aired on May 29, 2017. We are revisiting it in honor of Memorial Day.

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.

Gene Russell / United States Department of Veterans Affairs

Robert Wilkie was appointed as the Secretary of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs last July. Wilkie grew up at Fort Bragg in a military family and still serves as an officer in the Air Force Reserve. As secretary of the cabinet level department, he’s responsible for ensuring the VA serves veterans’ physical, mental, and emotional needs to the best of its ability.

A Wisconsin combat veteran was driving down the highway in February when he suddenly found his name, license plate number and mental health information broadcast on the radio, on television and posted on electronic billboards across the state.

"It felt very violating. Because I didn't want everyone who doesn't know me to know I have problems. It made me want to crawl into a bigger hole," he told NPR.

But the "Green Alert" might have saved his life.

New Book Gathers Stories Of Wisconsin Veterans

Dec 6, 2018
courtesy Veterans Story Project

Dec. 7, 2018 marks the 77th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the event that tipped the scales and brought the United States into World War II. Sixteen million Americans served in World War II — more than 300, 000 from Wisconsin. 

But the youngest people who fought in World War II are already 90 years old, and their first-hand stories are fast disappearing. Milwaukee journalist Mark Concannon has been among a group of people working to make sure the stories of Wisconsin veterans — of all wars — are preserved. 

veterans-day-armistice-day-milwaukee
Chuck Quirmbach

Banks and post offices are closed Monday for the federal Veterans Day holiday. 

About 100 people gathered Sunday night at Milwaukee City Hall to remember that Veterans Day was previously known as Armistice Day and dedicated to peace. Another message was that world peace remains elusive.

It's been 100 years since the end of World War I, a conflict in which millions died. Paul Moriarty of the Milwaukee chapter of Veterans for Peace says the war was bloody through its last morning.

Maayan Silver

Post-traumatic stress disorder affects hundreds of thousands of veterans nationwide. Many find ways to cope through counseling and support services, but some are finding volunteering to be a useful tool in further healing. 

William Sims knows this first-hand. He's a Vietnam combat veteran and says he had, what would now be classified as, PTSD symptoms when he returned from battle.

Teran Powell

A fellowship program designed to match veterans with prospective employment opportunities could soon take root in Wisconsin. It’s called the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program.

A collaboration between the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation held an information session about the program at the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center on Monday.

Andrey Popov / Fotolia

The Zablocki VA Medical Center and UW-Milwaukee have discovered they make good partners in providing military veterans with a wide range of services. For the past few years, the Zablocki VA has teamed up with UWM's Military and Veterans Resource Center, or MAVRC, to hold a veterans mental health summit. The sixth annual summit takes place this Saturday, June 23 at UWM's student union.

Maayan Silver

Memorial Day is more than just a day off of work. 

Veterans living at the non-profit Vets Place Central on 33rd and Wells spoke about what the holiday means to them.

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