Veterans

Pacific Lutheran University

Money for education, health care and job training are services that most veterans have access to. But figuring out online who to talk to and where to go can be overwhelming. Picking up the phone can mean waiting and waiting on hold.

Veterans in the Puget Sound region are invited to attend a summit this Saturday at Pacific Lutheran University that will help them walk through the sometimes complicated web of programs that are available to them.

Ron Doke / Flickr

In recent years, corporate America has made a big push to hire veterans that seems to be paying off. Statistics show that veterans have a lower unemployment rate now than the overall population.

But that’s not the case for women veterans who have served since 9/11. Their unemployment rate of 11.2 percent is almost double the national rate of 5.8 percent. For men who have served since 9/11, the unemployment rate is 6.2 percent.

But when you start to try to figure out why women who served in the past decade or so are lagging in the job market, it quickly becomes apparent there are no easy answers.

The head of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Michael Murphy, says the agency is making progress in getting veterans in to see a primary care doctor, but he says there’s still a lot more work to do to improve care for veterans in this region. 

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Norma Strecker’s birthday comes just three days before Veterans Day, and this year, she’s turning 92.

Seven decades have passed since she was serving in the U.S. Army, drawing maps of France to be used by Allied troops in the coming invasion. She spent five months in London, under nightly bombing by the Germans during the so-called “Little Blitz.”

“We would put an overcoat on and go down one block to the Mayflower Hotel, down in their basement. And we’d come up and see blocks burning. But as long as ours was there, well, we went back,” Strecker said.

In recent years, companies ranging from JPMorgan Chase to Walmart to Boeing have announced special hiring programs for veterans. Seattle coffee giant Starbucks is the latest.

All of these companies are trying to bring down a stubbornly high unemployment rate for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. But to succeed, companies have to take the time to understand the skills of service members.

Paula Wissel

The state attorney general has compiled a new Military and Veteran Legal Resource Guide aimed at helping active-duty soldiers and veterans learn about their legal rights.

Military personnel and veterans have a number of special legal rights when it comes to such things as interest rates on home loans or getting out of rental agreements. The problem, according to Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, is too many people are unaware of these protections.

Editor’s Note: This is the last installment in a three-part series exploring the benefits of service dogs for combat veterans. Reporter Samantha Wright began working on this series three years ago. The previous two parts are posted online (read part 1 / read part 2).

In the three years since Awescar entered Dan Sperry’s life, a lot has changed.

Editor’s Note: This is the second story in a three-part series exploring the benefits of service dogs for combat veterans. Reporter Samantha Wright began working on this series three years ago. The first installment ran on Friday, and the last story will follow on Sunday.

A veteran of the Persian Gulf War, Dan Sperry came home with headaches, panic attacks, and flashbacks of the war.

Living with PTSD: 'I completely lose control'

May 31, 2013

Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in a three-part series exploring the benefits of service dogs for combat veterans. Reporter Samantha Wright began working on this series three years ago. The next two parts will run on Saturday and Sunday.

Dan Sperry sits in the backyard of his home in Meridian, Idaho, sipping lemonade. But he doesn’t sit very long; Sperry is constantly on the move. He fidgets. And he might suddenly spring up form his chair and disappear into the house.

“I just stay home. I avoid society all together, which now I’ve gotten to a point where I hardly even return phone calls. I don’t go out. I don’t go anywhere by myself,” he said.

Two Vietnam veterans are celebrating a milestone in Seattle today: They’re the first graduates of a special treatment court set up for veterans.

Associated Press

If history is any judge, the U.S. government will be paying for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for the next century as service members and their families grapple with the sacrifices of combat.

An Associated Press analysis of federal payment records found that the government is still making monthly payments to relatives of Civil War veterans — 148 years after the conflict ended.

KETCHUM, Idaho - A ceremony in Sochi, Russia a few days ago started the one year countdown to the 2014 Winter Games. Here in the Northwest, the Sun Valley, Idaho ski team has set a goal to get at least six of its skiers or snowboarders on Team USA in Sochi.

The Paralympic Games for physically disabled athletes follow right after the Olympics. That U.S. team will also likely have lots of Northwest ties. Sun Valley is developing a reputation for uncovering exceptional paraplegic and amputee athletes through programs geared toward injured veterans.

KETCHUM, Idaho - A winter's worth of racing and training for the best disabled skiers and shooters culminates later this month at the Paralympic Nordic World Championships in Sweden. For the first time, the U.S. team headed to the competition is made up entirely of disabled veterans. It's a good example of how some wounded soldiers are finding a new mission and purpose.

Sun Valley, Idaho has become a hub for healing veterans through sports and one ex-soldier went from infantryman to badly wounded warrior to pro athlete.

Monica Spain / KPLU

Advocates for the mentally ill say the federal government isn’t going far enough to help veterans who return from war with psychological wounds. They’re in Seattle this week, demanding a change in military culture and better mental health care for veterans.

Substance abuse. Violence. Even thoughts of suicide. These are some of the problems that many veterans returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are struggling with.

Today it's called post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, but it has affected veterans going back much farther. While doctors and researchers put enormous efforts into developing new treatments, one group of veterans in Salt Lake City is finding relief in a very old tradition: a Native American sweat lodge.

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