SOUTH DAKOTA LT. GOV MICHELS ANNOUNCES VETERANS ARTS INITIATIVE

The signing for the State Military and Veterans Arts Initiative.  Pictured: (rear l-r)Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Dan McKee (former chair), Lt. Gov. Matt Michels,  (front l-r)Montana Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney (vice chair) and Jay Dick with Americans for the Arts.

PIERRE – Last month, Lt. Gov. Matt Michels was selected to serve as chair of the National Lieutenant Governors Association during the organization’s annual meeting in Nashville, TN. As chair, Michels announced the group’s initiative for the year would be to focus on connecting veterans with opportunities in the arts.

Now, in partnership with the Michael J Fitzmaurice State Veterans Home, the South Dakota Arts Council and Arts South Dakota, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office is working to design comprehensive arts residency programming for the State Veterans Home and community of Hot Springs. The veterans arts program will be designed around a central storytelling component and include professional artists-in-residence from all arts disciplines.

“I’m excited to begin working on this program, as are all of our partners,” said Michels. “We’ve already developed a concept for the program, and it will take some time to get it designed and implemented. But this will be a wonderful investment to help our state’s honorable veterans share and celebrate their stories.”

Arts South Dakota, funded entirely by donor contributions and grants, is a non-profit, non-partisan corporation whose primary purpose is to advance the arts in South Dakota through service, education and advocacy.

An office of the South Dakota Department of Tourism, the South Dakota Arts Council’s mission is to provide grants and services to artists, arts organizations and schools across the state with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the state of South Dakota.

The South Dakota Department of Tourism is comprised of Tourism and the South Dakota Arts Council. The Department is led by Secretary James D. Hagen.

VA Secretary Announces Intention to Expand Mental Health Care to Former Service Members With Other-than-Honorable Discharges

March 8, 2017

 

WASHINGTON – Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin while testifying in a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on March 7, 2017, announced his intention to expand provisions for urgent mental health care needs to former service members with other-than-honorable (OTH) administrative discharges.  This move marks the first time a VA Secretary has implemented an initiative specifically focused on expanding access to assist former OTH service members who are in mental health distress and may be at risk for suicide or other adverse behaviors.

“The president and I have made it clear that suicide prevention is one or our top priorities,” Shulkin said. “We know the rate of death by suicide among Veterans who do not use VA care is increasing at a greater rate than Veterans who use VA care. This is a national emergency that requires bold action. We must and we will do all that we can to help former service members who may be at risk. When we say even one Veteran suicide is one too many, we mean it.”

It is estimated that there are a little more than 500,000 former service members with OTH discharges. As part of the proposal, former OTH service members would be able to seek treatment at a VA emergency department, Vet Center or contact the Veterans Crisis Line.

“Our goal is simple: to save lives,” Shulkin continued. “Veterans who are in crisis should receive help immediately. Far too many Veterans have fallen victim to suicide, roughly 20 every day. Far too many families are left behind asking themselves what more could have been done. The time for action is now.”

Before finalizing the plan in early summer, Shulkin will meet with Congress, Veterans Service Organizations, and Department of Defense officials to determine the best way forward to get these Veterans the care they need.

“I look forward to working with leaders like Congressman Mike Coffman from Colorado, who has been a champion for OTH service members,” Shulkin added. I am grateful for his commitment to our nation’s Veterans and for helping me better understand the urgency of getting this right.”

Veterans in crisis should call the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 (press 1), or text 838255.

2017 National Women Veterans Summit

By Kayla Williams
 January 13, 2017

Women Veterans account for approximately 10 percent of the U.S. Veteran population, which will grow to 15 percent by 2030. While many of their challenges and opportunities are similar to those of their male counterparts, some are unique or disproportionate to the women Veterans population—which is younger and more ethnically diverse than their male peers.   It is for this reason that VA is planning a national platform to discuss these issues—the 2017 National Women Veterans Summit.

The 2017 summit will focus on the needs and issues important to women Veterans and provide training, information and guidance to assist women Veterans—and those who serve them—with navigating through VA and community resources.

womens Summit logoThis event, the first national-level women Veterans summit since 2011, will bring together key stakeholders from across a variety of sectors, to identify challenges and opportunities facing women Veterans and collaborate on identifying and diffusing best practices in serving them. It is designed to promote forward-thinking dialogue and innovative collaboration among private industry, nonprofit organizations, the federal government, innovators, researchers, caregivers, and women Veterans.

The target audience for the summit includes women Veterans; public sector partners, including military, federal, state, and local agencies; Veterans service organizations and other nonprofit partners; academics and others in the research community; representatives from the tech industry and corporations; other community partners; and VA employees, including women Veteran program managers and women Veteran coordinators. The summit will consist of lectures, discussion panels, an exhibit hall and an open forum. Discussion by all attendees will be encouraged throughout the event.

Attendees will have an opportunity to hear from VA leadership, and participate in breakout sessions focused on employment, mental health, entrepreneurship, military sexual trauma, reproductive health, culture change and more. Additionally, plenary sessions will focus on VA care and benefits, partner organizations, and a special “Voice of the Veteran” panel.  The event will also feature a women Veterans art exhibit, a display of artwork by select women Veteran artists from across the United States.

The event is tentatively scheduled for Friday, March 17, through Saturday, March 18 in Dallas, Texas. These dates and a location will be confirmed soon. Please check out the Center for Women Veterans website for updates and registration information. We hope to see you there.

Kayla Williams is the director of VA’s Center for Women Veterans.

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VA Study Finds EEG Can Help Tell Apart PTSD & Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

December 20,2016

WASHINGTON – A recent VA study points to a possible breakthrough in differentiating between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), otherwise known as a concussion.

The two disorders often carry similar symptoms, such as irritability, restlessness, hypersensitivity to stimulation, memory loss, fatigue and dizziness. Scientists have tried to distinguish between mTBI and PTSD in hopes of improving treatment options for Veterans, but many symptom-based studies have been inconclusive because the chronic effects of the two conditions are so similar. If someone is rating high on an mTBI scale, for example, that person may also rate high for PTSD symptoms.

The researchers used electroencephalogram, or EEG, a test that measures electrical activity in the brain. The size and direction of the brain waves can signal abnormalities.

Analyzing a large set of EEGs given to military personnel from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the researchers saw patterns of activity at different locations on the scalp for mTBI and PTSD. They saw brain waves moving slowly in opposite directions, likely coming from separate places in the brain.

The researchers emphasize that these effects don’t pinpoint a region in the brain where the disorders differ. Rather, they show a pattern that distinguishes the disorders when the EEG results are averaged among a large group.

“When you’re looking at an EEG, you can’t easily tell where in the brain signals associated with TBI and PTSD are coming from,” said Laura Manning Franke, Ph.D., the study’s lead researcher and research psychologist at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia. “You get kind of a coarse measure – left, right, anterior, posterior. We had a different distribution, which suggests that different parts of the brain are involved. In order to determine what patterns are tracking their TBI and PTSD, you need an average to do that,” Franke added.

The study linked mTBI with increases in low-frequency waves, especially in the prefrontal and right temporal regions of the brain, and PTSD with decreases in low-frequency waves, notably in the right temporoparietal region.

The differences in the levels of the waves may explain some of the symptoms of the two disorders, suggesting a decline in responsiveness for someone with mTBI, for example, and more anxiety for someone with PTSD.

Franke also noted that more low-frequency power has also been linked to cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and less low-frequency power to problems such as drug addiction. Additionally, spotting distinct patterns of mTBI and PTSD in separate parts of the brain is key for two reasons: the possibility these conditions can be confused with each other is reduced. That can help improve diagnosis and treatment and the patterns show that electrical activity appears to be affected long after combat-related mTBI, suggesting long-term changes in neural communication, the signaling between cells in the nervous system. “That could help, in part, explain the reason for persistent problems.”

The study included 147 active-duty service members or Veterans who had been exposed to blasts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of those, 115 had mTBI, which accounts for nearly 80 percent of all traumatic brain injuries. Forty of the participants had PTSD, and 35 had both conditions.

Despite the new findings, Franke and her team believe more work is needed to better explain the differences in the patterns of both conditions in the brain’s electrical activity. Researchers need to analyze the differences in scans from larger numbers of patients.

Meanwhile, though, she said she hopes the research will play a role in helping medical professionals better diagnose someone’s condition through an individual EEG—whether that person has PTSD, a brain injury, or a combination of the two.

“That’s the holy grail,” said Franke. “We want to use the EEG to differentiate the problems, but also to predict recovery and be able to measure how people are doing in a more biological way than just measuring symptoms, although those are still relevant. But symptoms are also problematic because they’re influenced by so many things that aren’t the disease that we’re interested in.”

For more information about VA research on PTSD and TBI, visit Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. Information about Franke’s study may be found at the International Journal of Psychophysiology

State of Women Veterans Social Media Campaign Launched

 

Washington – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is partnering with Women Veterans Interactive (WVI) to launch a State of Women Veterans’ social media campaign. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness of women Veterans’ military and societal contributions and provide an avenue for informing women Veterans about the VA benefits they have earned.

“This campaign is a collaborative effort to establish partnerships with nonprofit organizations that advocate and provide assistance on behalf of women Veterans,” said Kayla Williams, Director of VA’s Center for Women Veterans. “We are elated to be partnering with WVI in this important initiative. The new State of Women Veterans’ social media campaign offers another way to connect with women Veterans to raise awareness about VA care and benefits and to encourage collaborative partnerships.”

The campaign will conclude over the Veterans Day weekend and will be recognized and featured during a WVI- sponsored event in November. For more information or to join in the conversation, follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter, like the Department of Veterans Affairs Facebook page and use the hashtag State of #WomenVets. #

NEARLY 50-PERCENT DECLINE IN VETERAN HOMELESSNESS

 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) today announced the number of veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States has been cut nearly in half since 2010.  The data revealed a 17-percent decrease in veteran homelessness between January 2015 and January 2016—quadruple the previous year’s annual decline—and a 47-percent decrease since 2010.

Through HUD’s annual Point-in-Time (PIT) estimate of America’s homeless population, communities across the country reported that fewer than 40,000 veterans were experiencing homelessness on a given night in January 2016. The January 2016 estimate found just over 13,000 unsheltered homeless veterans living on their streets, a 56-percent decrease since 2010. View local estimates of veteran homelessness.

This significant progress is a result of the partnership among HUD, VA, USICH, and other federal, state and local partners. These critical partnerships were sparked by the 2010 launch of Opening Doors, the first-ever strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. The initiative’s success among veterans can also be attributed to the effectiveness of the HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program, which combines HUD rental assistance with case management and clinical services provided by the VA. Since 2008, more than 85,000 vouchers have been awarded and more than 114,000 homeless veterans have been served through the HUD-VASH program.

“We have an absolute duty to ensure those who’ve worn our nation’s uniform have a place to call home,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro.  “While we’ve made remarkable progress toward ending veteran homelessness, we still have work to do to make certain we answer the call of our veterans just as they answered the call of our nation.”

“The dramatic decline in Veteran homelessness is the result of the Obama administration’s investments in permanent supportive housing solutions such as HUD-VASH and Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) programs, extensive community partnerships, coordinated data and outreach, and other proven strategies that put Veterans first,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. “Although this achievement is noteworthy, we will not rest until every Veteran in need is permanently housed.”

“Together, we are proving that it is possible to solve one of the most complex challenges our country faces,” said Matthew Doherty, Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. “This progress should give us confidence that when we find new ways to work together and when we set bold goals and hold ourselves accountable, nothing is unsolvable.”

In 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness with the goal of accelerating progress toward the ambitious national goal of ending veteran homelessness. More than 880 mayors, governors, and other local officials have joined the challenge and committed to ending veteran homelessness in their communities. To date, 27 communities and two states have effectively ended veteran homelessness, serving as models for others across the nation.

HUD and VA have a wide range of programs that prevent and end homelessness among veterans, including health care, housing solutions, job training and education. In FY 2015, these programs helped more than 157,000 people—including 99,000 veterans and 34,000 children—secure or remain in permanent housing. Since 2010, more than 360,000 veterans and their families have been permanently housed, rapidly rehoused or prevented from becoming homeless through programs administered by HUD and VA.

More information about VA’s homeless programs is available at www.va.gov/homeless. More information about HUD’s programs is available here or by calling the HUDVET National Hotline at (877) 424-3838. Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless should contact their local VA Medical Center and ask to speak to a homeless coordinator or call 1-877-4AID-VET.

VA Schedules 2 Million Appointments Using Veterans Choice Program

Improvements made in increasing access to Community Care, but more work to be done

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Veterans Choice Program (VCP) has reached a key milestone in improving access to health care for Veterans. More than two million appointments have been scheduled through the program.

“While two million appointments have been scheduled using the Choice Program and we are making progress, we will not rest until all Veterans who choose VA to be their healthcare provider are receiving the care they need, when they need it,” said VA Secretary Robert McDonald.  “We will continue to make strides towards an integrated care network, and I urge Congress to enact our Plan to Consolidate Community Care so we can continue to build upon our progress.”

The Choice Act, which included the VCP, was passed in August 2014 to help Veterans access timely health care both within VA and the community. VA was required to implement a new, national program in just 90 days, with new requirements that complicated the way VA provides community care. VA recognized many of these challenges very early in the implementation of the program and VA and all our stakeholders have been working together to make needed changes while implementing this new nationwide program.

VA has outlined a path to improve community care and create a program that is easy to understand, simple to administer, and meets the needs of Veterans, community providers, and VA staff. VA submitted this plan to Congress in October 2015.

Within the Plan are several legislative proposals that VA and Congress need to work on together to improve the experiences for Veterans and community providers.

  • The first proposal would increase Veterans’ access to community care providers by allowing VA to enter into agreements with local community providers.
  • The second would streamline when and how much VA pays for health care services by having VA be the primary payer.
  • The third fix would allow VA to more accurately account for healthcare purchased in the community.
  • Finally, the last request is for funding and funding flexibility to improve access to care, reimburse the cost of emergency treatment, and create value-based payment models to best serve Veterans that need community care.

“VA is developing innovative ideas and solutions to enhance the Veterans experience and strengthen partnerships with community providers” said Dr. Baligh Yehia, Assistant Deputy Undersecretary for Health, Community Care.  “The Choice Program of today is a very different program than the one rolled out in November 2014. Many improvements have been made and we continue to work to deliver care to Veterans where and when they need it.”

VCP PROGRESS TO DATE

  • Over 2 million appointments scheduled using the VCP significantly increases Veterans access to care.
  • Since the start of VCP we have seen a dramatic increase in utilization.  From October 2015 to March 2016 VCP authorizations for care have increased 103 percent.
  • Over the course of the last 12 months, the Choice Provider Network has grown by 85 percent. The network now has over 350,000 providers and facilities.
  • Improved timeliness of payments to community providers by removing the requirement that VA receive the Veteran’s entire medical record prior to payment.
  • Reduced administrative burden for medical record submission for community providers by streamlining the documentation required.
  • To enhance care coordination for Veterans, we have embedded contractor staff with VA staff at select locations.
  • Created dedicated teams from across the county to deliver community care improvements.
  • VA has also partnered with Congress to change laws to improve the community care experience by:
    • Removing the enrollment date requirement for Choice, allowing more Veterans to receive community care.
    • Implementing criteria of 40-mile driving distance from medical facility with primary care physician to increase number of Veterans accessing the program
    • Implementing the unusual or excessive burden criteria to increase access for Veterans that do not meet other eligibility criteria.
    • Expanding the episode of care authorization from 60 days to up to one year to reduce the administrative burdens of Veterans, community providers, and VA staff.

 “VA needs Congress’s continued support to keep driving progress forward,” added VA Secretary Robert McDonald. “Several legislative barriers remain which inhibit improvements outlined in ourPlan to Consolidate Community Care Programs.

VA Conducts Nation’s Largest Analysis of Veteran Suicide

VA Conducts Nation’s Largest Analysis of Veteran Suicide

WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has undertaken the most comprehensive analysis of Veteran suicide rates in the U.S., examining over 55 million Veteran records from 1979 to 2014 from every state in the nation. The effort extends VA’s knowledge from the previous report issued in 2010, which examined  three million  Veteran records from 20 states were available.  Based on the data from 2010, VA estimated the number of Veteran deaths by suicide averaged 22 per day.  The current analysis indicates that in 2014, an average of 20 Veterans a day died from suicide.

“One Veteran suicide is one too many, and this collaborative effort provides both updated and comprehensive data that allows us to make better informed decisions on how to prevent this national tragedy,” said VA Under Secretary for Health, Dr. David J. Shulkin. “We as a nation must focus on bringing the number of Veteran suicides to zero.”

The  final report will be publicly released later this month.  Key findings of the analysis will include:

  • 65% of all Veterans who died from suicide in 2014 were 50 years of age or older.
  • Veterans accounted for 18% of all deaths from suicide among U.S. adults. This is a decrease from 22% in 2010.
  • Since 2001, U.S. adult civilian suicides increased 23%, while Veteran suicides increased 32% in the same time period.  After controlling for age and gender, this makes the risk of suicide 21% greater for Veterans.
  • Since 2001, the rate of suicide among US Veterans who use VA services increased by 8.8%, while the rate of suicide among Veterans who do not use VA services increased by 38.6%.
    • In the same time period, the rate of suicide among male Veterans who use VA services increased 11%, while the rate of suicide increased 35% among male Veterans who do not use VA services.
    • In the same time period, the rate of suicide among female Veterans who use VA services increased 4.6%, while the rate of suicide increased 98% among female Veterans who do not use VA services.

Please also see our Suicide Prevention Fact Sheet at the following link:http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/factsheets/Suicide_Prevention_FactSheet_New_VA_Stats_070616_1400.pdf

VA is aggressively undertaking a number of new measures to prevent suicide, including:

  • Ensuring same-day access for Veterans with urgent mental health needs at over 1,000 points of care by the end of calendar year 2016. In fiscal year 2015, more than 1.6 million Veterans received mental health treatment from VA, including at over 150 medical centers, 820 community-based outpatient clinics and  300 Vet Centers that provide readjustment counseling.  Veterans also enter VA health care through the Veterans Crisis Line, VA staff on college and university campuses, or other outreach points.

Using predictive modeling to determine which Veterans may be at highest risk of suicide, so providers can intervene early. Veterans in the top 0.1% of risk, who have a 43-fold increased risk of death from suicide within a month, can be identified before clinical signs of suicide are evident in order to save lives before a crisis occurs.

  • Expanding telemental health care by establishing four new regional telemental health hubs across the VA healthcare system.
  • Hiring over 60 new crisis intervention responders for the Veterans Crisis Line. Each responder receives intensive training on a wide variety of topics in crisis intervention, substance use disorders, screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment.
  • Building new collaborations between Veteran programs in VA and those working in community settings, such as Give an Hour, Psych Armor Institute, University of Michigan’s Peer Advisors for Veterans Education Program (PAVE), and the Cohen Veterans Network.
  • Creating stronger inter-agency (e.g. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Department of Defense, National Institutes of Health) and new public-private partnerships (e.g., Johnson & Johnson Healthcare System, Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, Walgreen’s, and many more) focused on preventing suicide among Veterans.

Many of these efforts were catalyzed by VA’s February 2016 Preventing Veteran Suicide—A Call to Action summit, which focused on improving mental health care access for Veterans across the nation and increasing resources for the VA Suicide Prevention Program.

Suicide is an issue that affects all Americans.  Recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data reported in April 2016  that from 1999 through 2014 (the most recent year with data available from CDC), suicide rates increased 24 % in the general population for both males and females.

VA has implemented comprehensive, broad ranging suicide prevention initiatives, including a toll-free Veterans Crisis Line, placement of Suicide Prevention Coordinators at all VA Medical Centers and large outpatient facilities, and improvements in case management and tracking.  Immediate help is available at www.VeteransCrisisLine.net or by calling the Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1) or texting 838255.

SD Army National Guard 155th Engineer Company Returns From Kuwait

By Herb Ryan

A welcome home ceremony was held for over 150 Soldiers of the South Dakota Army National Guard’s 155th Engineer Company on Saturday, July 2, at 4:00 p.m. MDT at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center’s Barnett Arena in Rapid City. The Rapid City and Wagner-based returned home after a 10-month deployment to Kuwait. Speakers for the ceremony were Gov. Dennis Daugaard, U.S. Senators John Thune, U.S. Representative Kristi Noem, Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender and Major General Tim Reisch, the adjutant-general of the SDNG.

The first plane load of troops arrived in time for the original ceremony at 2:00 PM, that was pushed forward because of a delay in Texas of the second flight. After a flight delay of 90 minutes, the second group of  SD Army National Guard 155th Engineer Company troops arrived at the eight street entrance to the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center around 3:30 PM. Escorted by police vehicles and a veterans motorcycle group. Much to the delight of the waiting group of friends and family, the two charted buses pulled into the curb and started discharging  their passengers.

There was a solid, controlled movement towards the buses to search for a loved one, no pushing or shoving. Some were greeted by one or two people, others were encircled by groups of extended family and friends. After a long flight and delay, fatigue was a burden but not enough to smother the joy of a welcome home for all.

 

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Members of the returning SDNG 115th Engineers Company arrive at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Eight Street entrance Saturday July 2, 2016. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press

 

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Friends and Family wait for the arriving buses to come to a complete stop at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Eight Street entrance Saturday July 2, 2016. Photo: Photo:Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press

 

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A trooper greets his new baby at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Eight Street entrance Saturday July 2, 2016. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press

 

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Major General Tim Reisch, Adjutant General , South Dakota National Guard comments on Kuwait mission and the safe return of the troops of the SDNG 155th Engineer Company at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center’s Barnett Arena in Rapid City, SD. Photo: Herb Ryan/ Custer Free Press

 

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SD Governor Dennis Daugaard welcomes the SDNG 155th Engineer Company back from their 10 month tour in Kuwait at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center’s Barnett Arena in Rapid City, SD. Photo: Herb Ryan/ Custer Free Press

 

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SDNG 155th Engineer Company at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center’s Barnett Arena in Rapid City, SD. Photo: Herb Ryan/ Custer Free Press

 

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Photo:Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press

 

 

Custer SD Mayor Jared Carson Presents 50th Anniversary of Vietnam War Proclamation

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City of Custer City Council Members. L-R Public Works Director Bob Morrison , Council Person Larry Maciejewski, Council Person Alfred Heinrich, Council Person Nina Nielsen, Mayor Jared Carson, Council Person Jeannie Fischer, Council Person Corbin Herman, Council Person Karen Schleining, Finance Officer Laurie Woodward and City Attorney Chris Beasley.Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press

At the May 2nd, 2016 City of Custer Council Meeting , Mayor Jared Carson presented an executive proclamation to Robin Fansler, Daughters of The American Revolution representative that stated, I, Jared Carson Mayor of the City of Custer City, do hereby proclaim in Custer City, South Dakota, May 5, 2016 as the day to begin the two-year commemoration of The 50th Anniversary of The Vietnam War.

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Robin Fansler, Daughters of The American Revolution is presented an Executive Proclamation -50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. Also present but not pictured were Veterans Tony Gosnor, Commander of Custer VFW Post 3442  and Mark Mills, Custer American Legion Post #46 Photo:Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press.

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An executive proclamation “Arbor Day” from the desk of the mayor urged all citizens to celebrate Arbor Day and to suppor efforts to protect our trees and woodlands, and care for trees to gladden the heart and promote the well-being of this and future generations. Arbor Day is May 9th. 2016.

The council approved a request by Brock Hogland to hold Wreaths Across America at the city cemetery on the second Saturday of December 2016.

Also approved was a request for Golden West Telecommunications to use Way Park on Saturday, June 18 for the Tour of Independence Exhibit. Melinda Poyourow marketing coordinator for Golden West said: “Hopefully we will have plenty of food for everyone as we anticipate a large crowd and have planned in advance for the event”. Food will be served from 11:00am – 2:00pm. Farmers Market manager Gordon Cleveland will be sharing the space at Way Park with the Tour of Independence Exhibit.

Grace Masonry And Concrete was awarded the contract to demolish the Old Youth House Site for a sum of $3,878.00. Council Person Corbin Herman suggested the City of Custer do the demo and site work. Bob Morrison Public Works Director said: ” If we did that work. we would probably need a large excavator for the wall and concrete demo, our backhoe could not do that kind of work” Other bids on the project were, Moss Rock Landscaping Inc. $4,620.00 and Nielsen Ent. $4,375.00.

The council approved the City of Custer, South Dakota County of Custer Law Enforcement Agreement.

The council approved Resolution No. 5-02-16A. a resolution to sell certain surplus city property at a Public County Auction, June 23, 2016

The council approved Resolution No.05-02-16B to loan a Colt Commando .38 Special serial#38466 and leather case to the 1881 Museum to compliment it’s Law Enforcement display.

The council approved an estimate by Harvey’s Lock and Security for $3,329.46 to install a ADA wire free door opener at the Chamber of Commerce building at 615 Washington Street.

The council approved the 2015 Audit presented by Traci Hanson CPA, from Ketel Thorstenson, Rapid City.

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Traci Hanson, CPA with Ketel Thorstenson in Rapid City answers a question about the City of Custer City 2015 Audit Presentation.Sitting next to Hanson are Bob Morrison Public works Director, Council Person Larry Maciejewski and Council Person Alfred Heinrich. Photo:Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press.

Michael Bekaert, Constituent Services Representative for Senator Mike Rounds talks about a veteran who had been treated in Japan, Hawaii and Colorado. On July 12, 1973, a disastrous fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) destroyed approximately 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF). The records affected: Army Personnel discharged November 1, 1912 to January 1, 1960 80% destroyed,Air Force Personnel discharged September 25, 1947 to January 1, 1964 (with names alphabetically after Hubbard, James E) 75%.
No duplicate copies of these records were ever maintained, nor were microfilm copies produced. Neither were any indexes created prior to the fire. In addition, millions of documents had been lent to the Department of Veterans Affairs before the fire occurred. Therefore, a complete listing of the records that were lost is not available. However, in the years following the fire, the NPRC collected numerous series of records (referred to as Auxiliary Records) that are used to reconstruct basic service information.
Because the veteran had no record of his medical history, he was unable to be treated at a VA Hospital. A constituent services representative  with the help of a RA Nurse in St. Lewis found military medical records in a depository . With that information, the veteran was approved for VA medical services. The Rounds Constituent Service can help you understand and responsibilities relative to various federal programs and provide assistance as you work through a problem you may have with an agency. Michael Bekaert plans to meet again with the city council to set up monthly constituent meetings in the Custer area. Contact Local Constituent Services Representatives

 

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Michael Bekaert, Constituent Services Representative for Senator Mike Rounds.Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press