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Kentucky Awarded Grant to Create Veteran Transportation Call Center

Gov. Steve Beshear says a federal grant has been approved that will help veterans find local, affordable transportation services, but it may be a year before the program is in place.

“So many veterans that are struggling to get their bills paid and just making ends meet, transportation often goes first,” said Pat McKiernan, Kentucky’s Department of Veterans Affairs homeless outreach coordinator.

“They can’t afford to pay their car. They can’t afford to get their insurance. So therefore they’re focusing on just keeping the lights on, keeping the rent paid, and this kind of transportation is essential,” he said.

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Louisville Receives Funding to Help Homeless Veterans

Louisville has received $120,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help its homeless veterans.

Since 2008, HUD has provided vouchers through its Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program to help subsidize housing for homeless veterans in all 50 states. In Louisville they’ve partnered with the Louisville Metro Housing Authority.

This will allow 25 veterans who currently receive services at the Robley Rex V.A. to receive vouchers to help pay for cheap housing. Veterans will be asked to contribute up to 30 percent of their paycheck for rent, depending on their income.

“It’s a heck of a good program because along with getting the vouchers, the V.A. will provide case management,” said Tim Barry, executive director for the Louisville Metro Housing Authority.

In the Louisville area, 225 veterans have had the chance to be part of this program since it began, he said.

The Housing Authority of Lexington and the Kentucky Housing Corporation each received 25 vouchers as well. Kentucky was granted a total of $349,062.

This is the first round of vouchers distributed for 2011. Another round is expected at the end of summer.

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Ali Center To Host Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit Through February

An exhibit honoring the Tuskegee Airmen opens in Louisville Friday.

The traveling display was put together by Nicholasville resident Ron Spriggs. The Air Force veteran thought the Air Force Museum’s Tuskegee Airmen display did not do the troops justice. He began building a collection of artifacts for his own display, and Margaret Plattner with the Department of Veterans Affairs says most of them have been brought to Louisville.

“It’s a vast collection,” she says. “In fact, the whole exhibit—all the items he has, the memorabilia that he has—he couldn’t display it. So he had to pick and choose what to display that would fit in the space we were given.”

Plattner says there are other Kentucky ties in the display.

“There were, I believe, twelve Kentnuckians who served with the Tuskegee Airmen. So the exhibit does have a focus that deals with the Kentuckians who served,” she says.

The exhibit will be at the Muhammad Ali Center through the end of the month.

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Grayson Applauds VA Decision on Voter Registration

Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson is commending a decision this week from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to change its policy regarding voter registration drives at its hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities. Earlier this year, the department had issued a directive disallowing such drives.

Grayson’s spokesperson, Les Fugate, says that’s because requests for the drives were overwhelming at some sites and some organizations were taking advantage of vets.

“They were trying to avoid the politics there on the VA campuses,” says Fugate. “And sometimes there are voter registration groups that pretend to be very non-partisan, but in actuality can be quite partisan when they show up.”

Grayson and 19 of his colleagues asked the department this summer to change its policy. This week they learned a new directive was issued, allowing voter registration drives only conducted by non-partisan groups.