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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
People got holiday shopping done at Christmas market in Minocqua Submitted: 12/20/2014

MINOCQUA - Many people might be finishing up their Christmas shopping this weekend.

Some people did that shopping at a Christmas market in Minocqua Saturday.

The market was held at Ann Marie's garden shop.

"We wanted to make something festive for the holiday so we set up Christmas market between our store and the Christmas Chalet next door and just for a festive occasion, we're sampling things, we're selling things, just Christmas items," says store owner Ann Marie.

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Rhinelander Railroad Association members put on Christmas train displaySubmitted: 12/20/2014

RHINELANDER - Members of the Rhinelander Railroad Association want more kids to get into model trains.

That's one of the reasons they have a train display in Rhinelander.

People had the chance to stop by and look at the display on Saturday.

"We do this to try to encourage the kids to get into model trains and later they can get into the bigger stuff that's a little bit more complicated," says the club's president Jim Brown.

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Police arrest Hamilton protesters blocking highwaySubmitted: 12/20/2014

MILWAUKEE - Dozens of demonstrators have been arrested while blocking traffic on Interstate 43 during a march to protest the death of a black man shot by Milwaukee police earlier this year.

Hundreds of protesters blocked traffic during rush hour Friday, calling for charges against officer who shot and killed 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton in April. Officer Christopher Manney shot Hamilton 14 times after a struggle in a downtown park, spurring weeks of protests. Manney was later fired for not following proper procedure.

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Off-duty bouncer severely beaten in MadisonSubmitted: 12/20/2014

MADISON - An off-duty bouncer at a Madison bar has severe injuries after he was beaten by two customers.

Police say the 21-year-old bouncer at The City Bar was entering the men's restroom early Saturday when he saw two men with a white powdery substance. Police say one of the men ingested the substance.

The bouncer told the men he was going to notify a manager, and he was attacked. The men left with three other males.

Police say the bouncer was taken to a hospital where he was treated for a broken nose, a fractured orbital socket and a facial laceration that required stitches.

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2014 brings legal gay marriage to WisconsinSubmitted: 12/20/2014

MILWAUKEE - Wisconsin's top story in 2014 was a historic one, as the state joined the ranks of those that allow gay marriage. But plenty of other headlines are worth remembering from the year that was, including Gov. Scott Walker demonstrating his resilience by winning his third election in four years, the theft of a 300-year-old violin and the disturbing case of the Slender Man stabbing.

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A federal judge in Madison uncorked same-sex marriage in June when she struck down the state's ban. Gay couples across the state rushed to wed over several days before opponents stopped it temporarily. Four months later, the U.S. Supreme Court re-started it when it rejected appeals from gay marriage opponents in five states including Wisconsin, and hundreds of couples rushed to courthouse to exercise their right to marry.

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Scientists from UW-Madison win 'Amazing Race'Submitted: 12/20/2014

MADISON - A team of ``Sweet Scientists'' from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has become the latest winner of ``The Amazing Race.''

Amy DeJong and Maya Warren won $1 million and beat out three other teams in the last leg of the race from Manila in the Philippines to Los Angeles.

The finale of the CBS show's 25th season was broadcast Friday night. In the show, Warren jumped from a window like a stunt actor, and DeJong competed in a grueling memorization challenge.

Warren says she wanted to inspire people and show others that she and DeJong were ``much more than lab coats and goggles.''

The ``Sweet Scientists'' team is named for DeJong and Warren's research topics of candy and ice cream.

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Humane Society blames lead bullets for bald eagle deathSubmitted: 12/20/2014

MILWAUKEE - One bald eagle has died and another is in serious condition in Wisconsin after ingesting lead from ammunition.

The Dane County Humane Society has treated two bald eagles with lead poisoning in the past two weeks. The birds likely swallowed lead while feeding on deer or other wildlife carcasses that had been shot, or by eating waterfowl that had ingested lead.

The first bald eagle survived only a day after it was brought into a Humane Society facility last week with acute lead poisoning. The Humane Society hopes a second bird found Friday will survive.

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