Chuck Quirmbach

It happened during the first week of September in 1945: Japan signed formal surrender papers aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, bringing an end to World War II.

This week, Milwaukee's War Memorial Center marked the 75th anniversary of the signing with a ceremony that included World War II veterans and advice about what it takes to keep nations out of wars.

Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images

When the U.S. first invaded Afghanistan in 2001, no one imagined the conflict would last nearly two decades. But 19 years later, there are still U.S. troops on the ground. Although the U.S. government is currently withdrawing some troops from the war-torn country, the landmark peace agreement signed in late February by the U.S. and the Taliban is now in question. Intel suggests the Taliban has no intention of sticking to the agreement.

Chuck Quirmbach

The quality of health care for veterans may be closely watched this election year due to frequent presidential promises to take care of those who served in the military.

Some doctors at the Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Milwaukee say they're proud of the cancer treatment they're able to offer, and satisfaction at Zablocki apparently remains high. But a nurses union says a recent announcement threatens to weaken services for vets who may be in crisis.

Teran Powell

African American men and women in the armed forces, past and present, are being honored in a new mural at the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center. It’s the first work dedicated to black veterans in the war memorial’s 62-year history.

Dozens of veterans, military families, and others gathered for the mural’s unveiling on Monday.

Chuck Quirmbach

The Trump administration is moving ahead with an effort to help more military veterans receive health care services away from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Milwaukee labor and vets groups have been arguing against the change for months, even holding a snowy protest on Veterans Day outside the VA hospital in West Milwaukee. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie weighed in on the dispute Wednesday from Washington.

Milwaukee's 'Guitars For Vets' Helps Veterans With PTSD One Guitar At A Time

Nov 11, 2019
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 /

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. 

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.