Some local veterans are finding a sense of purpose and peace as they ride horses, plant and harvest crops, and learn about agriculture at the EquiCenter in Mendon.

"I could feel the weight of the world lifting off my shoulders, saying ' this might be something that could help, ' " said Luanne VanPeursem, a 33-year Air Force veteran who said she was having trouble re-integrating into civilian life until her counselor recommended therapeutic riding.

Many American soldiers who attempt suicide have no prior mental health diagnosis, according to the most recent study to make use of data collected by the U.S. Army and the National Institute of Mental Health.  

The study, published Wednesday in the psychiatry journal of the American Medical Association, looked at anonymized records of more than 9,000 American soldiers who attempted suicide while on active duty. More than a third of them had not been diagnosed with a mental illness.

Veterans from across the Rochester area were in Perinton on Friday for a ceremony marking the 65th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. This was just hours after 55 cases of what are believed to be the remains of American service members who died in the war were handed over to the U.S.

"I'm just overwhelmed that they're doing this. It means so much to us to have our brothers back," said Roger Hill, president of the local Korean War Veterans Association.

Soaring Valor Program shares the stories of WWII

Jul 25, 2018
Alex Crichton

29 Rochester-area World War II veterans boarded a plane Wednesday morning to New Orleans, where they will receive a hero's welcome, then visit the National World War II Museum to share their memories of the American experience of that war.

The trip is part of the Gary Sinise Foundation's Soaring Valor Program, in conjunction with American Airlines.

Bobby George with the Sinese Foundation says these local veterans of World War II will share their memories which will be archived at the museum, which tells the stories of the war that changed the world.

Vintage airplanes will be in the skies over Geneseo this weekend for the 38th annual airshow put on by the National Warplane Museum.

The theme of this year’s airshow is “Wings of Western New York,” and a spokesman for the show, Dave Cooper, says it will highly the contributions to aviation that came from this part of the state.

BrettDahlberg / WXXI News

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer introduced a bill Monday that would compel the U.S. Postal Service to allow veterans’ groups to solicit donations on post office property.

Joe Jakus, commander of a local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter, the Rice-Hallock Post in Henrietta, said he had not seen a need for the legislation until the postal service started enforcing a decades-old rule that bars any solicitation on post office property.

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.