Veterans

A picture of the fireworks yard sign.
militarywithptsd.org

Some combat veterans are posting signs in their yards, asking neighbors to be courteous with their fireworks this July Fourth weekend. The signs come from a non-profit called Military with PTSD, and it's sending them to vets across the country.

Christine Weber is a former Marine with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder who lives in Charlotte. She says sudden loud noises, including fireworks, remind her of gunfire and rocket launchers during her deployment in Iraq.

A student veterant leaning over his desk.
Carly Swain / UNC-Chapel Hill

Fifteen military veterans are wrapping up a week-long academic training bootcamp at UNC-Chapel Hill designed to help them transition easier into college. It's part of a national program called the Warrior-Scholar Project.

Lara Taylor, director of Carolina's orientation, says some vets come straight from service, while others have been out for a few years.

Jay Price/WUNC

Most people expect their eternal rest will be peaceful.

But not the ones who want to be buried in the Eastern Carolina State Veterans Cemetery now under construction in Goldsboro.

North Carolina’s newest veterans cemetery is right under the flight path of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. On some days, the roar of low-flying fighter jets and aerial tankers overwhelms the cemetery every few minutes.

A field of flags outside the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, NC.
Gerry Dincher / Flickr/Creative Commons

It's Memorial Day: A holiday when many residents gather to remember those who died while serving in the US Military.

Communities across the state have their own way to honor the fallen.

Thomasville

Joe Leonard organizes the annual parade in Thomasville. He says they take the event one step further.

Gloria Hoeppner and her husband Earl Kornbrekke at their home in Friday Harbor, Washington. Heoppner, a World War II veteran, is trying to use a new Veterans Administration program to seek medical care closer to home.
Patricia Murphy

A $15 billion federal program intended to improve veterans' health care is off to a rocky start, and some members of Congress are calling for significant reforms.

The Veterans Choice program is supposed to help vets get timely health care, sometimes closer to home. Nearly 9 million veterans received identification cards in the mail from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  About 460,000 have tried since it began in November.

'I'm Not Broken'

Feb 6, 2015
John and Cassie Rice
StoryCorps

John Rice graduated from East Chapel Hill High School and went to college but he dropped out to join the Marines Corps. Rice insisted on infantry, and was assigned to a special operations unit that deployed to Iraq in 2008. Three months into his tour, he was injured.

He told the story to his wife Cassie at the StoryCorps booth in Durham, North Carolina. 

A picture of the French Legion of Honor medal.
David Monniaux / Wikipedia

France is paying tribute to seven North Carolina veterans of World War II today in Raleigh.  The men will be presented with the French Legion of Honor.  

 Denis Barbet  is the Consul General of France in Atlanta.  He says the medal is his country's highest decoration. 

Tommy Rieman in his office at Charlotte Bridge Home, with the action figure that bears his likeness.
Carol Jackson

Under different circumstances, Tommy Rieman could have been charged with a DUI when he got drunk and drove into a tree. But because he's a veteran he was enrolled in the state's first Veterans Treatment Court, a program designed to give support rather than punishment.

This chapter of Rieman's story starts in Iraq, 2003.

"Before the war started we were in Iraq, calling in air strikes you know?" he remembers. "I was 21, 22 years old. You're on top of the world."

This is a story about two new Americans: Webton Webley, a 26-year-old active service member of the U.S. Army, and his wife 23-year-old Sherell Perry-Webley, an U.S. Army reservist.

Sherell's and Webton's lives in the U.S. have been closely intertwined. They went to the same high school in Jamaica, and Sherell eventually got a green card through her mom, who was living in Fort Lauderdale. Webton arrived to Florida on a visa to study at Miami-Dade College. Webton says that's actually the first place they spoke.

Gov. Pat McCrory
NC Governor's Office

This Veterans Day, Gov. Pat McCrory has high praise for the new U.S. Veterans Affairs secretary. He's also touting new programs to help former and active members of the Armed Forces in North Carolina. 

He tells Eric Hodge that showing gratitude to veterans is something he takes very personally.

McCrory's father was a Navy pilot and his father-in-law flew P-47s in the Army Air Corps. But his real role model was his cousin Paul. Paul was a Marine who trained at Camp Lejeune and served in the Vietnam War.

Soldier saluting
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

    

Nearly one in five veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

That’s a sobering statistic for the researchers and psychologists who are trying to understand and treat PTSD. It also means more veterans than ever are suffering from PTSD’s debilitating symptoms.

But the research is yielding new treatment strategies and veterans are finding new ways to fight the severe depression and anxiety that comes with the disorder.

Flag of the United States of America, backlit, windy day.
Jnn13 / Wikipedia

Communities across North Carolina are hosting events in honor of Veterans Day today. 

Airman First Class Fabiola Tan of Durham becomes an American citizen today. She is one of six U.S. military veterans and service members who naturalized in a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ceremony in Durham County this morning.

Tan came to the United States from the Dominican Republic before she turned four.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jessica Keith and other members of the 17th Training Wing at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, render a salute as the American flag passes by during the Veterans Day parade in San Angelo, Texas, Nov. 6, 2010. Airman Keith p
Staff Sgt. Heather L. Rodgers / U.S. Air Force via Flickr/Creative Commons

Computer giant Lenovo is teaming up with the non-profit Dress for Success to help get female veterans into the civilian workforce.

Numbers from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show the unemployment rate among female veterans is nearly double what it is for male vets.

Beth Briggs is Executive Director of Dress for Success Triangle.  The organization trains women to get them back in the workforce and provides them with a wardrobe. 

Intrepid Life Coffee and Spirits owner and Marine veteran Matt Victoriano
Carol Jackson

Update 9/6/14:

Today is the last day of business for Durham's Intrepid Life Coffee and Spirits. Owner Matt Victoriano, who opened the shop earlier this year, was behind in rent after a lackluster summer. But area business owners and customers rallied behind Victoriano, a former Marine sniper. His Indiegogo campaign, and an auction, raised enough money to cover his immediate needs. Even so, the business will close, and open at a later date in a new location.

From Intrepid Life's Facebook page:

President Obama in Charlotte, 8/26/14
Tasnim Shamma / WFAE

President Barack Obama spoke today to hundreds of American Legion veterans who had gathered in Charlotte, NC, for their national convention. His remarks come just months after a health care scandal and leadership change at the top of the Veterans Administration. The President announced 19 new executive actions to improve veterans' care -- one of which focuses on the rising rate of suicides among former soldiers.

President Obama To Speak To Veterans In Charlotte Today

Aug 26, 2014
Obama speaking in Mooresville, NC.
The White House

President Barack Obama is coming to North Carolina to speak to the American Legion convention, where Sen. Kay Hagan says she will talk to him about Washington's commitment to the state's military veterans.

Soldier saluting
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Fort Bragg is hosting a Transition Summit today and tomorrow to help out-going soldiers find jobs outside the military.

The federal unemployment rate for veterans is about six percent.  That's according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics' July numbers.

Creative Commons

Islamic militants are slowly gaining more control of Iraq. 

The group known as the Islamic State is asserting its will in the northern part of the country. It has made Mosul its de facto capital, and has driven thousands of Christians out of the city.

But the battle is not just sectarian, it is political.

The U.S. has been unsuccessful in its push for the Shiite majority to be more inclusive toward Sunnis and Kurds, and some say a one-state solution cannot work.

The official statement might be the most passive aggressive technique in politics. And right now, there's a lot of passive aggression in the world of veterans affairs.

A picture of lights on a police car.
Alejandro Mejía Greene/JubiloHaku / Flickr Creative Commons

Police and community leaders in Fayetteville are working on a local incarnation of the Silent Siren program to help veterans in an emergency.

Fayetteville police responded last week to a call from a woman whose husband, a soldier, was parked outside a Walmart threatening to kill himself. Police approached the stand off without lights, sirens and shouting.  They were able get the soldier help.

Fayetteville wants to expand that gentle approach for emergencies involving veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or traumatic brain injury.

map, states, veteran education assistants
Student Veterans of America / StudentVeterans.org

North Carolina is one of only eight states in the country where none of the state's schools offer in-state tuition or residency exemptions for veterans. With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, the number of veterans living in the state is expected to balloon by as much as 60,000.

This presents an opportunity for the state to change course and join the rest of the country in training service members who have called North Carolina home while in the military, though are technically residents of the states from which they enlisted.

Veteran Job Fair
Leoneda Inge

Hundreds of military veterans from across the Triangle region and beyond packed a special job fair Thursday in Raleigh. 

This job fair at Carter-Finley Stadium was for veterans like Jimmy Hicks of Cameron, near Ft. Bragg.

“Usually I get at least one or two calls back when I attend a job fair," said Hicks.  “Hey, if you get one, I think that’s a good thing."

Hicks retired from the Army in 2000.  He's looking for a career in telecommunications.  His job with Verizon was outsourced some years ago.

Veterans learning to fly fish.
Justin Lubke http://www.notyetbeguntofightfilm.com/?page_id=46

Retired Marine Colonel Eric Hastings used to dream about fly-fishing when he was in Vietnam. In 1969, he returned home to Montana and went quickly to the water. "I came back from combat and found I needed relief. And the more I was out there fly-fishing, the more I knew I needed more of it.  You know, this ... this river healed me," he says.

Marine Corps Vet Finally Opens His Own Business

Jan 24, 2014

Here & Now’s Robin Young first met Matt Victoriano at the 2012 Democratic Convention in Charlotte. He was struggling with PTSD and also struggling to open his own business. We’ve been following him ever since (hear Robin’s October interview with him here).

Soldier saluting
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Veterans returning from deployment face a quickly-changing job market. Many have a difficult time explaining how their military experience has prepared them for the civilian work force. The unemployment rate for veterans is about 7-percent, on par with the national average.

The North Carolina National Guard Education and Employment Center helps guard members look for civilian jobs.

Manager and fellow veteran Austin Walther says they also help vets translate their military experience into civilian job skills.

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