veterans outreach center

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

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.

Actors from popular television dramas of the past and present are coming to  Rochester on Friday, September 22. However, they’ll be performing a different type of drama -  live reading of the Greek Tragedy Ajax. The ancient play describes the visible and invisible wounds of war. The play is part of an innovative public health project intended to create an open dialogue and understanding about the impact of war on veterans, their families and communities. We discuss the importance of Theater of War and how it can serve as a bridge to understanding.

The Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester has named an interim executive director.

Retired Monroe County Court Judge Patricia Marks will fill that role, after Todd Baxter steps down. Baxter announced recently he’s leaving April 14 after three years in the job to look at some future possibilities.

Marks previously served in 2012 and 2014 as an interim executive director, and has been on the board of the VOC since 2011. 

The board has formed a search committee to find a permanent replacement

Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

Hundreds of local veterans got a chance to get referrals to much-needed services on Wednesday.

The event is sponsored by the Veterans Outreach Center once a year, and it’s what Executive Director Todd Baxter says really provides a one-stop shop for local veterans who may be in need of a variety of services, everything from counseling, to housing, employment, health care and others.

The event held in the Harro East ballroom attracted a variety of men and women who served their country in different wars, including Vietnam.

Karen Shakerdge/WXXI

A new program called NYServes Upstate promises veterans they'll have an easier time with access to resources. The initiative will be housed at the Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester but will focus on 14 counties in upstate NY. 

The focus on poverty in Rochester has highlighted the struggle that many families have in simply getting around: to work, to child care, to school. Now we shift the focus to veterans living not in Rochester, but in rural parts of our area. They are in real trouble when it comes to transportation.

We hear some tough stories, while looking at how local organizations are working to change that. Our guests:

We preview the upcoming Valor Day.

More than seventy thousand veterans reside in the Rochester metro area, which is one of the highest per capita concentrations of veterans in the country and the highest in New York State.

Valor Day is a one-stop event bringing together the military community and those dedicated to assisting them. Valor Day offers all veterans, active duty, or reserve service members and their immediate families access to a wide array of free services, including one-on-one legal counseling with attorneys from numerous legal fields, employment counseling and workshops, credit/financial counseling, GI Bill benefits counseling, and more. Our guests:

Valor Day Event Details & Flyer