Veterans

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin wants to expand benefits for injured veterans' caregivers. Currently, caregivers of those who served on or after September 11, 2001 can receive a stipend. Durbin wants to allow veterans who served before 9/11 to have the same eligibility.

The Family Caregivers Program costs about $36,000 a year per veteran, but Durbin says it's worth the price.

"It isn't just a matter of dollars and cents, it's a matter of doing the right thing," he said. "Our obligations to our vets don't end after they come home, our obligations continue."

Photo by Dan LoGrasso / A Feral Gentleman Productions

December visitors to downtown Springfield's Café Andiamo will be greeted by the photography of artist and Springfield native Dan LoGrasso. A veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, LoGrasso has honed his camera skills as a military journalist on multiple international and domestic deployments.

WUIS Veteran's Day special airs at noon and 7 p.m.

The Takeaway is teaming up with the Center for Investigative Reporting to collect advice from veterans, for veterans, and by veterans.

We want to hear from you: veterans, what advice do you have for those who have recently returned? What advice do you wish you’d been given after your service?

We also want to hear from vets who have recently returned: what questions do you have? What advice are you seeking?

Give us a call at 877-8-MY-TAKE or tweet us at @TheTakeaway using the hashtag #vetadvice.

Flickr/U.S. Military Academy at West Point

The economy has proven difficult for many.  But one group in particular, returning veterans, is finding it especially hard to locate work.  Meredith Colias of Illinois Issues magazine wrote about the problem in the latest edition. 

Brian Clauss, director of The John Marshall Law School Veterans Legal Support Center, trains pro bono attorneys.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

In a sluggish Illinois economy, one group is finding it surprisingly difficult to find work: veterans of post-9/11 conflicts.

Because the federal government invested millions of dollars into their training, one would think experienced combat veterans would be ideal candidates to fill jobs. But when they leave the military, many find themselves struggling to find work, taking lesser paying jobs or any menial work where they can find it.

Patrick O'Keefe served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War era and lives at the Manteno Veterans' Home.
Patrick O'Brien / WUIS/Illinois Issues

For 87-year-old Frances Staszewski, the Manteno Veterans' Home near Kankakee is nothing less than a lifeline and a salute to the service he gave as a member of the U.S. Merchant Marine in World War II. 

“Thank the State of Illinois for giving us a home. We have no place else to go. We have all we need to take care of ourselves,” he says. 

Staszewski says he has more freedom at the Manteno facility than he would at home, where he had limited mobility without a wheelchair. 

Meanwhile, 173 more veterans have registered for a chance to stay at Manteno. 

Bethany Jaeger
WUIS/Illinois Issues

This Christmas season marks the third anniversary of the moment when life drastically changed for Marine Corps Sgt. Tyler Ziegel and his family.

"Ty" Ziegel of Washington in north central Illinois was burned beyond recognition, suffered skull and brain damage and lost one of his hands as the result of a suicide bomber attack in Iraq December 22, 2004.

The first time Staff Sgt. David Winkel returned from a year in Iraq, he was 30 pounds lighter and used to sleeping a handful of hours, a gun by his side. 

The 23-year-old says he re-enlisted in the U.S. Army because he loves the feeling of being a part of something that makes a difference. But coming home to Champaign after that first tour of duty threw him into a period of adjustment. He would wake up two or three times a night searching for his weapon. And he found it difficult to reconnect with some of his family and friends.