WXXI AM News

veterans 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.

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.

As Veterans Day approaches, Compeer Rochester is reminding local veterans that a program it offers can help them ease back into civilian life.

CompeerCORPS has been around for five years.  It brings veterans together for group and community activities with the ultimate goal of establishing one-to-one connections.  Program manager Mike Buckpitt, who is a U.S. Army veteran himself, says it's all about the personal connections.

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

Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn announced a new housing area in the downtown Monroe County Jail specifically designated for incarcerated military veterans.

Laura Stradley, Executive Director of the Veterans Outreach Center says it’s important to focus on these defendants because they once put their lives on the line for our country.

"They spend possibly years away from home, time away from family and situations in circumstances that many Americans can’t even fathom."

freeimages.com/Thomas Pate

The Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary "The Vietnam War", which debuted on WXXI-TV this week, could trigger symptoms for some veterans who suffer from PTSD, depression, or other conditions.

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