NEWS STORIES

Veterans Face Long Wait for Claims ProcessingSubmitted: 10/04/2012
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.

Story By: Lex Gray

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 IN OTHER NEWS
Fire does $1.5 million in damage in Marathon CountySubmitted: 04/18/2014

EDGAR - Fire did $1.5 million dollars in damage at a Marathon County Highway Department garage overnight.

Someone driving by shortly before three this morning saw smoke coming from the building along State Highway 97 near Edgar.

One of the garages was on fire at the Marathon County Highway Department's location in the town of Wien.

Firefighters from Edgar and Stratford rushed to the scene.

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That could save the department more than $295,000 over the next 5 years.

The department started converting the cars last November.

A company in Michigan installed 20-gallon propane tanks in the trunks of the cars.

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Asian Lady Beetles come out after winteringSubmitted: 04/17/2014

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ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - Do bugs seem to be everywhere in your home, even though there's snow outside? One type of bug in Wisconsin spends the winter inside our houses! They look like Lady Bugs, but they are actually not native to this country.

"They're actually called a multi-colored Asian Lady Beetle. They can be anywhere from a pale yellow to a darker orange and they have black spots on them but you'll see some that don't have spots," says Kerri Ison, UW Oneida County Extension.

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Street to be named after Rhinelander soldier killed in AfghanistanSubmitted: 04/17/2014

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RHINELANDER - Enemy forces killed Rhinelander's Ryan Adams in Afghanistan five years ago.

Now, the Northwoods community will name a street in his honor.

Adams was a graduate of Rhinelander High School.

He served in the Rhinelander-based 951st Sapper Company of the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

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Vandals, thieves sack old Sacred Heart Hospital building in TomahawkSubmitted: 04/17/2014

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TOMAHAWK - The old Sacred Heart Hospital building in Tomahawk will be knocked down soon.

Milestone Senior Living will build a new home for seniors on the site.

The old building has been vacant since 2003.

But now, the vandalism and theft in the old hospital has gotten so bad, people there call the situation "disgusting" and "disappointing".

Ernie Winker did plenty of carpentry work inside the hospital.

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Record breaking snowfall knocks the power out Submitted: 04/17/2014

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RHINELANDER - Our record breaking snow storm left more than 6,000 people across the Northwoods without power.

WPS had to rely on 20 extra crews from Green Bay, Wausau and Menominee to restore power.

But getting to the outages was a challenge.

A representative for WPS says workers are expecting even more outages to be reported.

"Not all of the back roads are plowed yet and that's where a lot of outages are located," said Leah Van Zile, WPS Community Relations leader. "Throughout the day as the temperatures warm, we expect to receive additional calls due to the unloading of snow off of the tree branches."

Eagle River had one of the highest number of customers affected by the outages.

Representatives for WPS say this was one of the hardest winters they've had to deal with.

"We've had some really, really severe wind chills which has really made the temperatures below zero. Typically, only in emergencies do we work in those conditions," said Van Zile. "But pretty much any other time, whether it's a rain storm, a snow storm, a wind storm, our guys are out there working, getting that power back on."

The number of outages dropped below 4,000 since earlier today.

If you're still without power to call 1800-450-7240.

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