Indiana VA names its first women’s veterans coordinator (Air Force Times)
An Air Force reservist who’s served nearly 1,000 combat hours has been named Indiana’s first state coordinator for female veterans. The Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs named Senior Master Sgt. Laura J. McKee on Monday to the post that lawmakers created last year. McKee is an assistant chief inflight refueler with the 72nd Air Refueling Squadron at Grissom Air Reserve Base. She’s accummulated nearly 1,000 combat hours during multiple deployments in support of the war against terrorism. She’ll assume the VA’s new post Jan. 26. McKee’s duties will include outreach to boost female veterans’ awareness of federal and state services and benefits available to them.
Louisville mayor unveils campaign to end veteran homelessness (WLKY-Louisville)
Fifteen local Louisville agencies are banding together in an effort to end veteran homelessness. It is an unprecedented effort announced Tuesday morning. Mayor Greg Fischer and the Coalition for the Homeless unveiled the ambitious plan. It’s called RX – Housing Veterans. The goal is to find permanent housing for 360 homeless veterans by the end of the year. A coalition of 15 local agencies raised more than $9.6 million to fund the project. The plan comes just months after Fischer signed the national pledge to end veteran homelessness in the community. National research shows there are three distinctive types of homeless veterans: One-third need permanent supportive housing, one-third need short-term subsidy and one-third are transitional in need of community support and employment help.
At St. Joseph’s University, training disabled veterans to be entrepreneurs (Philly.com)
Tends of thousands of disabled GIs have returned home from war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan to face daunting challenges ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to lost limbs and other injuries. Getting help starting or growing a business should not be one of their challenges. Now, thanks to an anonymous donor, St. Joseph’s University is lending a helping hand. In March, the university’s Office of Veterans Services will launch the Veterans Entrepreneurial Jumpstart Program. Modeled after Syracuse University’s Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, the program is designed to provide the tools, education and mentorship necessary to enable qualified disabled vets to start and grow their own businesses. The donor has seeded the program for five years with $1 million. It will be provided at no cost to qualified disabled vets. “We’ve tried not to over-engineer this,” said Ralph Galati, a decorated Air Force veteran who flew on combat missions during the Vietnam War (he was a POW for 14 months) and now heads the Office of Veterans Services at St. Joseph’s. “The only criterion is you have a disability [as defined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs] and proof of an honorable discharge. And the other criterion is obviously you have the desire to start your own business.”
Veterans seize self-employment opportunities (WNDU-South Bend)
More military veterans are starting their own businesses. According to aging data from the Small Business Association, they are 45% more likely to be self-employed than people who never served. Matthew Pavelek, vice president of membership at the National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA), estimates that figure to be higher, since more men and women have returned from the Middle East. Re-immersing into civilian life, veterans, like Kacey Schlundt of Mishawaka, Ind., are applying military skills to self-starter opportunities. “It wasn’t anything I ever set out to do,” said Schlundt. Schlundt’s business, Bearded Warrior Company, opened last month. He makes all-natural beard oils, products he never used until growing a beard after his military contract ended two years ago. So far, business is strong. Schlundt made $800 in the first month. “There’s a lot of Amish community around here,”he said. “I’ve sold a large sum to some Amish fellas.” A roadside bomb hit Schlundt in Iraq, causing traumatic brain injury (TBI). He lives in a lot of pain, limiting career options. However, making oils — and owning a business — provide some peace of mind. “I think I’ve earned the right to find something that makes me happy again — and I’m willing to bet that’s why veterans are likely to be small business owners,” he said. “It’s a way to get some pride back after losing quite a bit.”
Public advocate pushes for veterans treatment court in Manhattan (New York Daily News)
Veterans should have their day in court — their own special court, according to Public Advocate Letitia James. The city’s elected watchdog is urging Court of Appeals Chief Justice Jonathan Lippman to create a Veterans Treatment Court in Manhattan. “Veterans Treatment Courts are designed to meet the particular needs of veterans involved in the criminal justice system with the goal of offering dedicated services to those who have served our country. These courts are modeled after drug courts, which in their more than 20 years of existence have proven to be extremely successful,” James writes. A Bronx veterans’ court was “modeled after specialty drug and mental health programs that work with defendants and the District Attorney’s office to find counseling and treatment alternatives.” In her new letter, James cites the case of the late Jerome Murdough, a former Marine who died last year while locked up in a sweltering cell at Rikers Island. The city ultimately issued an apology and reached a $2.25 million settlement with the family of Murdough, 56, who was homeless and suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and who essentially “baked to death” in temperatures that soared to 101 degrees. When it comes to veterans’ courts, “The overarching model is to seek treatment rather than prison for defendants,” James continued. “With high success rates for this model, one wonders what other services could have been provided to Jerome Murdough.”