Batavia VA Medical Center employees and volunteers placed 2,977 U.S. Flags in the lawn of the lawn in front of the main medical center buildings to honor the 2,977 who perished in 9/11 attacks in 2001.
Patrick Hager, with American Legion Post 637 in Strykersville, helps deliver meals from the Original Red Osier Landmark Restaurant to residents and staff at the VA Hospital in Batavia on Thursday. Veterans in Wyoming County raised $2,100 to pay for 175 meals.
Five former residents of the Batavia PTSD Clinic who died within the past year were honored and remembered Friday in a ceremony that including reading their names (their names will be added to bricks in a path to the memorial flag pole) and laying a wreath in their honor.
The five veterans honored were:
- Daniel R. Criswell, Army
- Thomas R. Kintner, Marine Corps
- Haley M. Messer, Army
- Matthew J. Rizzo, Army
- Matthew M. Shaw, Army
Today, the 3rd Battalion, 19th Special Forces presented $6,400 and the unit's “Holy Grail” cup to Dr. Caryn Dilandro, a PTSD Program psychologist at Batavia VAMC.
The 3rd Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) once drilled as an Army National Guard Special Forces unit out of the Niagara Air Reserve Station. It later disbanded in 1975 as the Vietnam War was winding down. The special forces group recently raised $6,400 on Veterans Day specifically for the Jack. H. Wisby PTSD Center located at the VA WNY Healthcare Center in Batavia.
Submitted photos and information.
The 1460 Legion Riders, from Machias, stopped by the PTSD clinic at the VA Hospital in Batavia today with a $2,600 check for the clinic.
The members raised the money this year with a dice run and a 9/11 memorial service.
"We have members in the club who have PTSD and we know what they go through and we know what the other veterans go through so when we first became a club we wanted to make PTSD what our money would go to," said Director Tom Ploetz.
Danielle Bergman, assistant director at the VA in Batavia, said the money will be used for recreation therapy, such as the purchase of bikes and kayaks.
Photo: Danielle Bergman, assistant director at the VA in Batavia, Tom Ploetz, director 1460 Legion Riders, Amy Ploetz, secretary, Bob Ponton, member, David Ramsey, nurse manager for the PTSD program, Jim Perkins, treasurer, Joan Perkins, member.
A group of veterans being treated at the PTSD clinic in Batavia got a special Valentine this afternoon at the Holland Land Office Museum.
Students participating in a history class there presented each of the veterans with a patriotic Valentine's Day card that they made themselves.
Anne Marie Starowitz also presented a $250 check to the veterans, a donation to the clinic or however they want to use it. She said they could throw a party for themselves if that's what they wanted to do with the money.
The money comes from the sale of her book, “Back in the Day, Snapshots of Local History, the Way I See It!”
Starowitz said she was inspired to make the donation and support the veterans after a group from the PTSD clinic in Batavia visited the museum and she felt so moved to meet them and learn something about them.
Several of their veterans expressed their gratitude, including ones who said the gesture was so meaningful because they are currently separated from their own children while undergoing treatment and they miss their kids.
"One of the symptoms I deal with is kind of numbing everything out, but this really cracked through the ice," said one veteran. "This is special."
Carl, who served two terms in Iraq, said the cards meant a lot to him but wanted to remind the children that the word "hero" has a special meaning.
"To us, hero means the people who didn't come home," Carl said. "That's something that we hold dear to our hearts and I'm sure you do, too, but on the other hand, it's people like you guys who are willing to do this and support us and happy to do it that make it easy for us to go over there and fight."
Service dogs play a vital role in helping veterans deal with medical issues, including Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But when the dogs stay with veterans at the PTSD clinic at the VA Center in Batavia, there hasn't been a place for them to relax, play and run, which service dogs need to do when they're not working.
Until recently, veterans who entered in-patient care at the clinic weren't allowed to bring their dogs, but now that they can; there needs to be facilities to accommodate the canines.
The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association heard about the problem and raised more than $1,400 (mostly from their own members, but the Rotary Club and Home Depot also contributed) to build a dog run behind the clinic.
Today, that fenced-in dog run was built, giving the service dogs a place of their own when they're not working.
The work was made possible through the cooperation of the CVMA, led by Frank Grillo, of Buffalo, and Brian Stiller, Medical Center director for the WNY Medical Healthcare System.
While there have been a lot of complaints nationally about the VA, Grillo noted the VA in WNY seems pretty responsive to veterans and he praised Stiller for his cooperation.
"You hear a lot of people talking a lot of bad stuff about the VA, but then you get a guy who is a veteran himself leading a portion of the VA, and it's kind of inspirational to see somebody who cares actually stepping up and helping us do what we need to do to help our fellow veterans," Grillo said.
Stiller said he could help because the current secretary of the VA has said principles should come before rules.
"We can pull this off by having somebody who has a can-do attitude and this group of veterans," Stiller said. "This is something that has happened real quick and it shows how the community can come together and do a simple, real good thing right on time. It speaks volumes for the commitment and caring that is going on."
The VA Center in Batavia was host to a 50th anniversary commemoration of the Vietnam War.
The commemoration is being held in honor of Vietnam Veterans and their families including those held as prisoners of war or listed missing in action.
Guest Speaker Mr. Vincent Schollard served two tours of duty in Vietnam as a Navy Corpsman from 1966 to 1968.
In a stirring speech he described what those who served in Vietnam had to come home to, “There was a cardboard sign in the window of a house sometimes saying "Welcome home Vet John or Mike" and the other people were still outside the airports with thier picket signs calling us baby killers, and what war criminals we were, and waiting with bags of dog crap, but we persevered and it's because of the Vietnam Veteran that the VA system got a better understanding of what PTSD really is...”
Schollard went onto speak of the exclusive brotherhood that he joined called the Vietnam Vets and how they have persevered not only through the horrors of War but in making many improvements to the VA system.
Schollard received a standing ovation as he choked up delivering the last words of his speech, “We are a strong group of men and women and I'm deeply proud to be a part of that, and I thank you for your service, welcome home my brothers.”
St. Joe’s Brass Ensemble of Batavia played a service medley tribute as members of various military divisions arose for their tune to be be honored.
Frank Panepento and Tom Cecere led a haunting rendition of Silver Taps to close out the ceremony.
VA representatives were on hand to field questions about the VA system and many of the opportunities that a number of Veteran’s are underutilizing or completely unaware of. For more information on VA services visit www.va.gov
The VA Medical Center in Batavia is hosting a public meeting tonight to share information and solicit feedback on the planned veterans cemetery in Pembroke.
The meeting is scheduled from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in Building #4.
Speakers will include Joshua M. de Leon, National Cemetery Administration, Glenn Madderom, Department of Veterans Affairs Cemetary Development and Improvement Service, and Mark Tillotson, Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Construction and Facilities Management.
Officials will provide an update on the project and seek feedback on the master plan and design process.
The proposed 132-acre parcel will serve the burial needs of more than 96,000 veterans and eligible dependents for at least 70 years. The initial phase of construction will develop about 70 acres and provide for 10 years worth of interments.
The VA purchased the property at 1232 Indian Falls Road for $625,000 in May 2014.
Today staff from the Attica Correctional Facility made a $5,000 donation to the Men's and Women's Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Residential Program at the Batava VA Center.
Photo and info provided by the VA.
A local non-profit organization, Bunkers In Baghdad, is donating golf equipment to VA Western New York
Healthcare System, Recreational Therapy program, 3495 Bailey Avenue. The organization’s President, Joe Hanna, will present the equipment to Interim Director, David J. West and veterans, Wednesday, March 18 at 10 a.m. in Veterans Park; rain location room 301. In addition,
Veterans will have the opportunity to try the equipment during a lesson being presented at the donation site by local golf professional, Chuck Antonuccio.
Good nutrition and exercise is an integral part of good health. VA encourages Veterans to keep active for prevention of disease and maintaining optimal health.
From the VA Healthcare System:
Nationwide, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities use the creative arts as one form of rehabilitative treatment to help Veterans recover from and cope with physical and emotional disabilities. Across the country each year, Veterans treated at VA medical centers compete in local creative arts contests. This competition includes 50 art categories, ranging from oil painting to leatherwork to paint-by-number kits. In addition, there are 120 categories pertaining to all aspects of music, dance, drama and creative writing. The creative writing division is a more recent addition to the competition and includes original works in poetry, essay, short story, and personal experience writing.
VA Western New York Healthcare System’s Buffalo site, 3495 Bailey Avenue, will host the local Veterans Creative Arts Festival on Thursday, February 26 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Freedom Hall (Room 301). The public is invited to attend the local festival and enjoy a wide variety of creative art forms displayed by local Veterans.
The winning entries will be sent to be judged by a national selection committee, which chooses first, second and third place winners among all of the entries. Select winners are invited to attend the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, taking place in San Antonio, Texas, October 5-11.
In 2008, 3100 Veterans from 113 VA facilities entered the contest nationwide, with nearly 150 of the medal-winning Veterans earning an invitation to participate. The National Veterans Creative Arts Festival is a week of learning, exploring, fellowship and celebration of the healing power of the arts.
From the VA Healthcare System:
On Wednesday, February 25, 2009, veterans with disabilities will be treated to a day of skiing hosted by the Lounsbury Adaptive Ski Program at Holiday Valley Ski Resort in Ellicottville, New York. Several local veterans will use this opportunity to warm up for the 23rd National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, taking place March 29 – April 3, 2009 at Snowmass, Colorado.
At the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, veterans who have spinal cord injuries, amputations, are visually impaired, or have other physical disabilities are given instruction in adaptive Alpine and Nordic skiing, and introduced to a number of other adaptive recreational activities and sports. For many newly injured Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom military service men and women, the Clinic offers their first experience in winter sports and gives them the inspiration to take their rehabilitation to a higher level.
Each year, The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) sponsors six national events for U.S. military veterans served by VA medical facilities nationwide. Each program enhances the physical, social, and emotional well-being of the veterans who participate. Other events include the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, National Veterans Golden Age Games, and National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, National Veterans Tee Tournament and National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic. Anyone interested in donating to this worthy cause for our nation’s local heroes should contact the Voluntary Service Office at VA Western New York Healthcare System at 862-8667.
From the VA Healthcare System:
Beginning Monday, March 2, 2009, VA Western New York Healthcare System’s Jamestown community based out-patient clinic will be moving to a new location; 610 3rd Street. The clinic, under a new contract with Sterling Medical Corporation will be serving Veterans only at this location. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. with free parking. Veterans have had the opportunity to get VA health care in Jamestown since 1995, the first of seven community based outpatient clinics under VA Western New York Healthcare System.
Primary care, behavioral health services and on-site laboratory services will continue to be available at the new site. In addition, nutritional counseling, social work, and urgent care services will be available with prescriptions to be mailed directly to Veterans’ homes. “We want Veterans to stay healthy and encourage them to receive VA care available in Chautauqua county. It is an opportunity to be a provider of choice for almost 2,000 Veterans in Jamestown last year and we look forward to serving more,“ said Dr. Bradford Mersereau, Primary Care Service Chief.
To enroll in VA health care call 1-888-823-9656 and to make an appointment at the Jamestown clinic, call 716-338-1511 after February 23.
Last year VA Western New York Healthcare System provided care to more than 40,000 veterans at medical centers in Buffalo and Batavia as well as community-based outpatient clinics in Niagara Falls, Lockport, Lackawanna, Dunkirk, Jamestown, Olean, and Warsaw.
From the VA Healthcare System:
Over twenty different sponsors that included several Veteran organizations, community businesses, as well as individual Veterans throughout Western New York helped to purchase new vans for the Disabled American Veterans Volunteer Transportation Network at VA Western New York Healthcare System. The vans will be put into use after a ceremony at the medical center, 3495 Bailey Avenue, Tuesday, February 24 at 9 a.m. in Freedom Hall, room 301.
Overall, $15,000 were raised along with matching contributions from Colorado Trust in cooperation with the National Disabled American Veterans Organization to purchase the two new vans. “These donations allow us to continue to expand and replace vans to transport our Veterans to necessary medical appointments. Without this support, this would not be possible,” stated Richard Kloc, DAV Van Transportation Coordinator. During the last reporting period, 62 volunteer van drivers donated over 22,800 hours of their time. Volunteer drivers and donations are always needed; call the VA Volunteer Program Office at 862-8667.
Last year VA Western New York Healthcare System provided care to more than 40,000 Veterans at medical centers in Buffalo and Batavia as well as community-based outpatient clinics in Niagara Falls, Lockport, Lackawanna, Dunkirk, Jamestown, Olean, and Warsaw.
From the VA Healthcare System:
In observance of Black History month, VA Western New York Healthcare System will celebrate events in Freedom Hall, room 301. African American Business Day will take place at 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Wednesday, February 11. Cultural wares will be available. “Taste of Soul” will take place on Friday, February 20 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. African American dishes such as collard greens, sweet potatoes, pig’s feet, and much more will be served.
Take the journey of “Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad” with Joy O’Banion and Yvonne Harris, where they will share the struggles of Tubman’s journey to free the slaves scheduled Friday, February 27 at noon. All events are open to the public.
From the VA Medical Center:
Veterans in Lockport and surrounding areas can learn about their VA health care and other veterans benefits at an event being held at the VA clinic in Lockport, 5883 Snyder Drive, Saturday, February 21 from 10am to 1pm. Staff and veterans benefits counselors will assist veterans with eligibility for VA health care, and other state and federal benefits that veterans may have coming to them that often go unused. Benefits have recently been extended for veterans returning from combat that includes five years of free medical care for most conditions from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The five year window is also open to activated Reservists and members of the National Guard, if they served in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998 and were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. The five year limit has no effect upon veterans with medical conditions related to their military service. Veterans may apply at any time after their discharge from the military, even decades later for medical care for service-connected health problems.
Representatives from the VA Lockport Clinic, NY State Division of Veterans Affairs, Niagara County Veterans Service Office and VA Western New York Healthcare System will be available to answer questions. Bring discharge papers and financial records for accurate benefits counseling. For more information, you may contact the VA clinic in Lockport at 438-3890.
From the VA Medical Center:
VA Western New York Healthcare System invites the public to participate in open-house activities Feb. 8-14 during the National Salute to Veterans.
"The National Salute to Veterans gives everyone a chance to let those who have given so much to our nation know that they are not forgotten," said David J. West Interim Medical Center Director "We've invited local celebrities, elected officials, school children and other groups to visit during the week. We want people of all ages to bring Valentine’s Day cheer to our patients.” West said he hopes visitors will also learn more about the important roles volunteers play at the medical center throughout the year and perhaps pursue volunteer opportunities. "Over 600 volunteers are an important part of our health care team in Buffalo and Batavia, and the National Salute program is a great way for people to learn more about helping the Veterans we serve," West said. “Visitors are often surprised at how varied our volunteer opportunities are.” Citizens, young and old, are once again sending Valentine’s Day cards and letters to VA medical centers simply addressed “Dear Veteran.” West said they are being distributed to patients throughout the medical center.
VA Western New York Healthcare System’s National Salute Week schedule includes an open house Friday, February 13 at 1:00 p.m. in Freedom Hall, room 301. Additional activities are included below.
Individuals or groups wishing to participate in the medical center program should call the Voluntary Service office, in Buffalo at 716-862-8671 and in Batavia at 585-297-1196.
From the Batavia VA Medical Center:
Veterans in Dunkirk and surrounding areas can learn about their VA health care and other veterans benefits at an event being held at the VA clinic in Dunkirk, 166 East Fourth Street, Saturday, January 24 from 10am to 1pm. Staff and veterans benefits counselors will assist veterans with eligibility for VA health care, and other state and federal benefits that veterans may have coming to them that often go unused. Benefits have recently been extended for veterans returning from combat that includes five years of free medical care for most conditions from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The five year window is also open to activated Reservists and members of the National Guard, if they served in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998 and were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. The five year limit has no effect upon veterans with medical conditions related to their military service. Veterans may apply at any time after their discharge from the military, even decades later for medical care for service-connected health problems.
Representatives from the VA Dunkirk Clinic, NY State Division of Veterans Affairs, Chautauqua County Veterans Service Office and VA Western New York Healthcare System will be available to answer questions. Photo identification cards will be provided to eligible veterans. Bring discharge papers and financial records for accurate benefits counseling. For more information, you may contact the VA clinic in Dunkirk at 203-6474.
From the VA Medical Center:
Local Hispanic business owner, Santiago Masferrer will speak about this year’s National Hispanic Heritage Month theme, “Getting Involved; Our Family, Our Community, Our Nation” to veterans, employees and the community, Thursday, October 9 at VA Western New York Healthcare System, 3495 Bailey Avenue in Buffalo. The presentation will begin at noon in Freedom Hall/room 301 with wares displayed until 4 p.m. The presentation will also take place at the Batavia facility, 222 Richmond Avenue in the Auditorium on Friday, October 10, at 10 a.m. and wares displayed until 2 p.m.