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NEWS STORIES

Veterans Face Long Wait for Claims ProcessingSubmitted: 10/04/2012
Story By Lex Gray

RHINELANDER - Veterans served our country, but now it seems their claims aren't being served.

The Department of Veteran's Affairs has a backlog of 860,000 disability claims, and nearly 230,000 of those have been waiting a year or more.

Oneida County's veterans service officer Tammy Walters said part of the reason processing has slowed is positive.

The V.A. is getting the word out about more disabilities, and that means veterans can get help.


But that positive comes with a negative even more claims and a slower wait.

"When I first got here, I would say a long claim took six months, and now they take a year or more," said Walters, who started over six years ago.

Iraq war veteran Kelly Keating has also seen a slowdown.

"Everyone keeps telling me, just be patient with it, it takes time," Keating said. "You get sick of hearing it, but you have no choice."

No choice, but plenty of problems. After Keating came back, she drank a lot. She still has nightmares, spinal problems, and headaches.

"They never told us to document anything, and when you go back now to do your comp, they look for documentation. And half the time there isn't any," she said.

No documentation is just one reason things have slowed down. It's also because of our current war, and one that ended 37 years ago.

"Any veteran who stepped boot on ground in Vietnam is automatically presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange. And they're finding that Agent Orange has caused a multitude of disabilities," Walters said. "As time has gone on, they've added more disabilities to that list."

Whether the injuries are old or new, the effect is the same.

"A lot of people can't work because of their service-related disabilities, and they don't know when they're going to get paid, they're struggling to get by day-to-day," Walters said. "There's really nothing we can do, other than empathize, but that doesn't pay their bills."

"You just have to wait, wait, wait, that's what the military is about," Keating said.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
Second year of pumpkin display in RhinelanderSubmitted: 10/25/2014

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RHINELANDER - Rhinelander continued a Halloween tradition a week before the special day.

You could see pumpkins lined up in front of Trigs Saturday night. This is the second year Downtown Rhinelander Inc. held the pumpkin sighting.

They didn't have as many pumpkins as they did last year, but people still had the chance to judge which pumpkin had the best carving.

"We just wanted something that would be pizazz when people drove by or walked around. They would see all these lit pumpkins," said Downtown Rhinelander Inc. member/Sandy Bus, Joan Belongia.

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Wisconsin sex offenders must stay home HalloweenSubmitted: 10/25/2014

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MADISON - Police are teaming up with parole agents across Wisconsin to make sure sex offenders stay home on Halloween night.

All of Wisconsin's 5,000 registered sex offenders under active community supervision are subject to special restrictions on Halloween.

Grace Roberts, who heads the Department of Corrections sex offender program, says they began actively enforcing the rules under the Halloween Knock and Talk program about eight years ago.

Offenders are barred from putting up Halloween decorations that might attract children to knock on their doors.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke says his officers will be out both this weekend and next reminding registrants they're being watched.

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Pet Expo brings in dogs and ownersSubmitted: 10/25/2014

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EAGLE RIVER - Plenty of dogs and their owners took over a well known place in Eagle River Saturday.

More than 25 vendors filled the Eagle River Derby Track.

This is the first time WRJO of Eagle River held the Pet Expo. They wanted people to get good information about grooming, veterinarian services, dog treats and other aspects they might not have known about.

"The veterinarians and some of them are doing essentials oils that are good for their skin. There's dog nutrition," said WRJO Account Executive, Trish Keeley. "There's when they need to get shots; when they should be worried about ticks, flees and spay and neuter. All that type of information."

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Early Halloween celebrationsSubmitted: 10/25/2014

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RHINELANDER - Halloween won't be here until next week but the celebration has already begun in the Northwoods.

Hundreds of kids took over the streets of Rhinelander Saturday. They all had one goal in mind...candy!

For many of the kids, this was the second time they've gone trick or treating. Hundreds of people got candy at the YMCA's Not So Scary Halloween Trail.

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Teen building sugar shack to help school's science department, become Eagle ScoutSubmitted: 10/25/2014

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THREE LAKES - A Northwoods teen will build a sugar shack for his high school's science department. Will Starke put up the framework for the shack Saturday.

Starke is a boy scout with troop 601 of Eagle River. He wants to build the shack for his Eagle Project.

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Wisconsin insurers signing up same-sex couplesSubmitted: 10/25/2014

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MILWAUKEE - Several Wisconsin insurance companies are holding special sign-ups so same-sex couples can add spouses to their health plans.

The special enrollment period is needed because gays and lesbians who got married this summer were unable to add spouses to their coverage amid the uncertainty surrounding the legal status of their marriages.

People generally can make changes to a health plan during the year only after a ``life-changing'' event, such as a marriage, divorce, or birth or adoption of a child.

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Suspect sought in 2 stabbings near UW-OshkoshSubmitted: 10/25/2014

OSHKOSH - Police are seeking a suspect in the stabbings of two students near the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Authorities say the stabbings happened around 11 p.m. Friday in a neighborhood east of campus. A police statement says the suspect confronted the first victim and took his cellphone, then stabbed him in the ensuing struggle.

Police say the second victim chased the suspect, another struggle ensued, and he was also stabbed.

A university statement says both students were seriously injured but are recuperating at an area hospital.

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