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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
Fewer people at Merrill's Labor Day Car Show because of weather Submitted: 09/01/2014

MERRILL - You wouldn't find as many people at this year's car show in Merrill compared to years past.

The car show usually gets about 2,000 people each year.

Organizers say they got about half of that this year because of the weather.

The Merrill Lions Club organizes the event.

This is one of the group's biggest fundraisers of the year.

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State seeks feedback on unemployment insurance systemSubmitted: 09/01/2014

RHINELANDER - More than 50,000 people in Wisconsin apply for unemployment benefits every week.

Now, the state Department of Workforce Development wants to know how it can improve the unemployment insurance system.

"Our Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council really likes to get out there and hear firsthand from those who deal with that system directly. We're looking for their suggestions and their ideas on what we might do to make the system even better," said Dave Anderson, the Assistant Deputy Secretary for the state Department of Workforce Development.

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A local girl earns her Girl Scout Silver AwardSubmitted: 09/01/2014

RHINELANDER - Shandi Peitsch will receive her Girl Scout Silver Award.

The fourteen-year-old will get the award because she finished a service project at the Rhinelander Ice Arena.

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Two photographic exhibits to open next week at ArtStartSubmitted: 09/01/2014

RHINELANDER - The artists paired together in ArtStart's next exhibition couldn't have much different backgrounds.

Next Friday, the Rhinelander gallery will open with two very diverse displays.

"We have two photographic exhibitions opening. One is a solo artist, so the whole gallery will be their work, and the other is an artist who worked with teens as a kind of therapy program, photography and art as therapy," said ArtStart Development Director Melinda Childs.

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Kids enjoy candy at Merrill's Labor Day ParadeSubmitted: 09/01/2014

MERRILL - The rainy weather didn't stop some dedicated people from coming out to Merrill's Labor Day Parade.

People showed up with rain coats and umbrellas to enjoy their favorite floats.

The kids at the parade were looking forward to the candy.

"If there's no candy I'm not coming," says Nicholas Kriegel.

Leila Linnell got a lot of candy at the parade.

"There's a lot of people who just like throw out all this candy. I got three of these gigantic suckers. And it's like awesome," says Linnell.

Click on watch video to see the rest of the story.

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Merrill businesses find counterfeit billsSubmitted: 09/01/2014

MERRILL - Someone might be making counterfeit bills in the Merrill area.

Several businesses told Merrill Police they were paid with counterfeit money in the last few weeks.

There are many simple ways to tell if a bill is real or fake.

We have a guide, and you can access it by clicking below.

Within the past year, businesses in Antigo and bars in Rhinelander have had problems with counterfeit money.

Contact the Merrill Police Department if you have any information.

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Obama speaks of economic opportunity at LaborFestSubmitted: 09/01/2014

MILWAUKEE - President Barack Obama was back in Milwaukee for Labor Day, where he spoke of economic opportunity at LaborFest 2014.

Obama touched on topics of equal pay for women and a higher minimum wage. He says, ``I'm not asking for the moon, I just want a good deal for American workers.''

Obama arrived at the airport Monday at 1 p.m. He was greeted by Gov. Scott Walker, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and others.

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