veterans outreach center

Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority

RTS has announced a plan that will allow military veterans to ride for free on its fixed-route buses starting July 15.

That free fare for veterans was actually first announced a year ago as a result of the public hearing process for Reimagine RTS. That is a redesign of the transit system that has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello says public transit is a necessity for many local veterans.

freeimages.com/Steven Bulhoes

Social distancing in the time of coronavirus has transformed daily life across the world. 

Isolation is especially challenging for military veterans who are already dealing with mental health problems. 

In the U.S., the suicide rate among veterans is about double that of the general population.


The Veterans Outreach Center is expanding its services with the opening of its Morale Center at its South Avenue headquarters Thursday. 

The nonprofit’s president, Laura Stradley, says they’ve been putting the project together piece by piece for about a year and have recruited certified professionals to offer free haircuts, massages, and even chiropractic care for veterans. They’re also offering laundry services. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the veteran unemployment rate has been on the decline, but veterans report hurdles in reentering the work force.

We talk with local veterans who discuss their experiences with the job market. Our guests:

  • Laura Stradley, veteran, and executive director of the Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester
  • Terry Winslow, veteran, and security manager for del Lago Resort and Casino
  • Blair Morgan, veteran, and vice president of human resources at del Lago Resort and Casino 

Veterans Outreach Center

Rochester’s Veterans Outreach Center has hired new staff and is stepping up its efforts to prevent suicides, executive director Laura Stradley said.

The center will find ways to connect veterans to a variety of health care and career services, even if they show no immediate signs of mental distress, said Stradley.

Some veterans end up disconnected from local or federal agencies, like the Department of Veterans Affairs, that are designed to support them, Stradley said.

James Brown WXXI

The Veterans Outreach Center is expanding in downtown Rochester. The local nonprofit broke ground Friday on Liberty Landing, a $10.4 million project.

The project will offer affordable housing units to 33 veterans and their families at Scio Street and University Avenue.

Veterans Outreach Center Executive Director Laura Stradley said this is Monroe County’s first supportive housing complex for veterans.

Emily Hunt / for WXXI News

Ken Moore served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, after being drafted in 1965. Like a lot of Vietnam veterans, he went through some tough times overseas, memories that stayed with him throughout his life.

But that didn’t stop him from wanting to help his fellow vets. When he retired from a 30-year career at Kodak, he worked for Monroe County in the Veterans Service Agency for a time. Laura Stradley used to head up that agency, now she is executive director of the Veterans Outreach Center where Moore was also active.

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.

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