WXXI AM News

veterans

On Wednesday, NFL owners voted in a new national anthem policy. The policy states that if players kneel on the field or sidelines, their teams will be fined, but players are allowed to remain in the locker room while the anthem is played.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is pleased with the decision, saying the protests created a “false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic.” President Trump is also applauding the policy, but says it doesn’t go far enough. He says he doesn’t think players should be staying in locker rooms to protest, and if a player is not standing for the anthem, “Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”

This hour, our guests discuss the new policy and what it means in the context of free speech. Our guests:

  • Simeon Banister, interim vice president of community programs at the Community Foundation
  • Chris Thomas, partner with Nixon Peabody
  • Matthew McGee, U.S. Coast Guard (retired), and marketing, events, and development manager for the Veterans Outreach Center
  • Paul Vosburgh, head coach of the St. John Fisher Football team

Mary Gauthier is a country musician who recently said that she wasn't sober until she was 27, and couldn't write until she was 30. Twenty-five years later, she's an unlikely voice for veterans. Gauthier's newest album includes songs co-written with veterans. The songs explore a range of subjects, including the service of women in uniform, and the pain of loss.

Gauthier will perform in Rochester Tuesday night, but first she's our guest on Connections.

Canandaigua VA

The Canandaigua VA Medical Center held a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday to launch the construction of a new outpatient clinic space.

The project was awarded in January and will be managed by the United States Army Corp of Engineers.

David Price, Major Project Manager at the Medical Center says phase one is a revamp of outpatient services.

"Specifically primary care and specialty care, and will include new space for radiology and our dental programs, as well as some administrative spaces."

Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

The County of Monroe is urging local veterans to visit the Veterans Service Agency to make sure they’re receiving the entirety of their benefits earned during service.

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo announced that the county VSA filed 986 claims approved by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs in 2017. That’s an increase from 716 filed in 2016.

Those are record numbers for the county, and those over 900 claims brought $4.24 million to local veterans, on average about $5,000 per claim.

President Trump is moving forward with plans for a national military parade this coming November. The parade, estimated to cost between $3 million and $50 million, will celebrate the American military and its achievements throughout history.

Our panel consists of veterans who discuss the meaning of such a parade, and whether they think it should happen. In studio:

  • Todd Baxter, Monroe County Sheriff who has 22 years of service with the U.S. Army
  • Dominick Annese, U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War
  • Gary Beikirch, Medal of Honor recipient for his actions in the Vietnam War
  • Matt Barnes, Fairport Police Sgt and veteran of the U.S. Army

photo courtesy of Lindsay Cray

Members of the Rochester community say local veterans owe a debt a gratitude to Tom Cray, founder of the Veterans Outreach Center.

Cray died of brain cancer last Friday at the age of 67.

He served two tours in Vietnam and then returned home and worked to get veterans access to the services they needed.  Former VOC board member Fred Elliott said Vietnam veterans didn't always get a warm homecoming, but Cray said you had to separate the warrior from the war.

photo courtesty of Lindsay Cray

A key figure in local efforts to help Vietnam and other veterans has died. Tom Cray died Friday at the age of 67.

It was disclosed in January that he was suffering from brain cancer.  His daughter Lindsay had noted at the time that her father served two tours in Vietnam and when he came home to Rochester he worked with government agencies to establish services for veterans.

U.S. Amy captain Sam Brown is in Rochester to share his story of recovery and resilience. While responding to an ambushed patrol in Afghanistan in 2008, he was set on fire when his vehicle drove over a bomb. He now uses his experience to helped wounded soldiers and returning veterans.

Captain Brown is a guest of CDS Life Transitions for its “Salute: A Toast to Our Veterans," event, but first, he joins us in studio to share his remarkable survival story. Our guests:

  • Captain Sam Brown, U.S. Army (retired)
  • Sankar Sewnauth, president and CEO of CDS Life Transitions
  • Wendy Dettmer, Warrior Salute program manager at CDS Life Transitions

www.veteransoutreachcenter.org

The federal government has cut millions of dollars in funding for veteran programs, and Rochester’s Veterans Outreach Center is one of those affected.  

The Center received an annual $2 million grant to help local veterans secure and search for housing. It's a grant they've received for the past six years but they're now one of 36 grantees to see funding loss as the Veteran Affairs’ Supportive Services for Veteran Families program was down-scaled dramatically. 

Since ancient times, combat veterans have suffered from war stress, PTSD, and suicidal urges. The Veterans Outreach Center is bringing Theater of War to Rochester to examine those issues. The classic Greek story of Ajax depicts the warrior, struggling with pride, reputation, family, and ultimately suicide. Centuries ago, as today, it was difficult to talk about these issues. Theater of War aims to open the door to discussion and to healing. Our guests:

  • Nick Stefanovic, veteran and board vice president for the Veterans Outreach Center 
  • Melissa Fitzgerald, actor in Theater of War
  • Zach Grenier, actor in Theater of War

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