91 veterans to travel on 26th Cedar Valley Honor Flight | Local News


The long day includes stops at the World War II, Lincoln, Vietnam, Korea, Women’s, Marine Corps War, and Air Force memorials, as well as Arlington National Cemetery. 

It was a decade ago when Waterloo Honor Flight board members Craig White and Frank Magsamen began to consider bringing a Honor Flight chapter to northeastern Iowa, but admittedly, White said Thursday evening that they had some reservations when finding out that each flight costs about $100,000.

Word got out about their efforts, and the right guy, Burk “Skeet” Miehe, who founded American Pattern, came forward to talk about helping get it off the ground.

White remembers talking with Miehe and him pointing out a photo on his wall of his father-in-law and dad who both served in World War II. 

“This is for them, Whitey. I’m going to do this for them,” he recalled Miehe saying, and then writing a check with lots of zeroes.

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“I’m like $1,000, that’s great. That’s a good start. And then he made that next zero,” he said. “$10,000. I’m going, ‘God that’s great Steve.’ And all of a sudden, his hands were shaking. He could hardly write… He goes: ‘I never wrote a damn check for $100,000.’ He got that last zero down, and that’s how we got started. Since then, with the help of all these guys and gals on the board, we’ve raised over $2.6 million to keep this thing going.”



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‘At the tip of the spear’: One veteran’s experience with the aftermath of 9/11 | News







2:15:54: 09-08-2021DanielLane

Naval First Class Petty Officer and UK senior business management major, Daniel Lane, poses for a portrait on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, at Erickson Hall in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff




The aircraft is perched on the edge of the ship, secured in the catapult shuttle, a short runway track ahead of it. Daniel Lane’s aviation mechanic team walks around the aircraft, double checking for leaks, popped open panels, locked wings and anything else that could possibly go wrong. 

There is no room for error. A normal aircraft, on shore, requires several thousand feet of runway just to get airborne. The naval aircraft has 300 feet until there’s nothing but ocean below. 

The pilot revs the engines to full power, taking the control stick to all four corners to make sure everything is moving properly. Lane and his team perform a final check. Right now, the 40,000-pound aircraft is sitting dead, inactive. But in just under 2.5 seconds, it will have shot off the front of the ship, reaching a supersonic speed of 140 knots, 161 miles per hour.   

It’s a feat of physics that seems miraculous, too good to be true. On a naval aircraft ship, though, it happens on a daily basis. And that’s the easy part. Landing is harder, because pilots must aim to place their aircraft’s tailhook in a three-foot square box, flying over 170 miles per hour. 

As the catapult does its job, the aircraft races past Lane at near-full speed, 60 feet away at most. It’s straight out of a young Lane’s dream. Heck, it’s a dream for full-grown Lane too.

When he heard that America had been attacked the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, a half-asleep Lane thought that was a dream, too. He came to his senses just in time to watch the second tower fall on the USS Enterprise’s TV, alongside members of his Navy squadron.






2:18:55: 09-08-2021DanielLane

Naval First Class Petty Officer and UK senior business management major, Daniel Lane, poses for a portrait on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, at Erickson Hall in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff




His ship was the first Navy aircraft to respond to the attack, launching the first strikes of the war on terror. 

From March 1998 to April 2018, Lane served in the Navy as an aviation maintenance officer. He enlisted right out of high school, leaving for boot camp two days after turning 19. His maternal grandfather and uncle had been in the military, and his dad served as a Naval flight officer. He was around Naval Air stations a lot as he grew up, which instilled in him a love for aviation and aircraft.  

As an aviation machinist’s mate, Lane was part of a team of jet engine mechanics that ensured that the Navy’s aircraft were functioning at the high levels necessary to successfully train, complete missions and provide combat air cover for the boots on the ground. 

After basic training, Lane lived in Sicily for two years, in the shadow of active volcano Mount Etna. He then worked on aircraft in Jacksonville, Florida; Brunswick, Maine; and Norfolk, Virginia. He then transitioned to F/A-18 aircraft from 2007 to 2015, with a stint as a naval instructor teaching new recruits in between. 

From January to November 2001, he was deployed on the USS Enterprise. But as the ship sailed away from the Persian Gulf toward Cape Town, South Africa, its original mission complete, the events of 9/11 stopped it dead in its tracks.  

As the only aircraft carrier near the Middle East at the time, 100 miles north of the equator, Lane and his team quickly turned around. It was war, and everyone knew it. Training ramped up, the ship prepared munitions and officers awaited the call to launch the first air strikes of the fight.  

When the call came one October night, about two weeks after the attack, Lane’s S-3 aircraft was one of the first to launch off the ship, its job to support the strike package against Al-Qaeda. 

Lane said he feels a sense of pride about being “at the tip of the spear,” fighting on the frontlines of the war on terror until the USS Enterprise returned to U.S. soil in November 2001. 

Now, Lane attends school alongside younger students who don’t remember 9/11 or who weren’t even born yet. Just like in the Navy, with the rare diversity of his career, Lane is once again an anomaly.

Lane is a senior business management major at UK, and he’s often the oldest person in the classroom — professor included. Sometimes, he doesn’t get the lingo his peers and instructors are using. Despite being able to get along with anyone, there’s an obvious disconnect between him and the other students. 

The first day of a new semester, Lane knows he is the elephant in every classroom. He doesn’t mind the questions, though. He always informs the class of his military background, and said he’s never been met with anything but respect and a bit of curiosity. 

“Obviously I’m at a different point in life than most of my college classmates, and so with that I kind of try, I just keep myself a little reserved and a little pulled back, simply understanding and appreciating the difference of where we’re at,” Lane said. “I also fully understand that the average person that I’m sitting in class beside, I am not going to hang out with on Friday nights.” 

His inability to fully connect with his younger classmates doesn’t bother Lane much. He’s been able to cultivate his own social circle through the Veterans Resource Center (VRC), ever since a VRC member gave him a campus tour before his first year at UK even began.

The VRC, located in the basement of Erikson Hall, is a place where UK’s military veterans can hang out, study and feel comfortable around people with similar life experiences. While it’s been mostly empty during COVID times, Lane said that before, it was always busy. 

“We’re not necessarily as tight as a lot of traditional students because we have lives and families outside of here, but it definitely developed that kind of network and friendships and everything that is getting me through,” Lane said.

Family was the reason Lane retired from the Navy right after the required 20 years of service. As Lane’s children grew older, leaving for each six-to-nine-month deployment got more and more difficult. He knew he was missing out on key moments of development. While he was on base, Lane’s only communication with his wife and kids was through email; phone calls were expensive, sometimes up to a dollar per minute. 

He wasn’t entirely alone, though, what with his almost proxy family on the base. Each squadron had about 200 to 250 people whom Lane said became his extended family of sorts on a ship carrying over 4,000 people, plus a job specialty group of about 18 fellow Navy officers with whom he spent most of his days. 

“My wife could say, ‘Hey this is broken at the house,’ and you kind of want to be there to help out with it, but at the same time you’re on a ship halfway across the world,” Lane said. “We have the squadron, but there’s support groups through the squadron for the spouses and the families and everything back home.” 

The trust cultivated among Lane’s squadron members through months and years of travelling, training, eating and sleeping together in the surprisingly cramped living quarters would prove vital to the success of missions. Aircraft carriers may be massive, but most of the space is taken up by the aircraft.

The friendships also made exploring the various port stop locales much more enjoyable. While many hours were spent several hundred feet below sea level in a submarine, Lane got to spend time in Athens, Portugal and Portsmouth, England of Europe and Dubai, UAE and Bahrain of the Middle East, among others. Lane said world travel introduced him to many valuable microcosms of community and culture.

“So you grow up in America, and I mean, America is great, I’m never going to say anything less, but it opens your eyes to seeing the other cultures and just kind of understanding different people, different cultures,” Lane said. “I guess it increases the empathy you can have for others and for their situations.” 

In 2015, while still fully active duty, Lane began his transition out of the military. He became a Naval recruiter for three years to “demilitarize” himself, he said.

But with one career behind him, Lane wasn’t at all sure what he wanted the rest of his life to look like. With the guidance of his division officer, he decided to pursue an engineering degree at UK — it seemed compatible with his aviation interests and as a Cincinnatian just across the Kentucky border, he’d always bled blue.

He later switched to a business management major — engineering didn’t turn out to be the right fit.

Lane said his experiences at VRC, including a stint in the lead work study position, have made his college experience worthwhile. However, he said he would like to see the university create a space in the student center where there is access to the amenities offered in the VRC, especially with the overwhelming majority of veteran students living off campus.  

While he knows and accepts that UK’s primary marketing and branding focus is toward traditional students, Lane said that adult students often get lost in the shuffle. 

“While I’m definitely a veteran, I can kind of connect to here [VRC] and build the network here. I’ve been in classes with other adult students that are not necessarily related to the military,” Lane said. “I can see where they don’t necessarily have a veteran center.”  

He said he hopes that the VRC is able to expand to capture more of the adult student population in the future.

Lane graduates in May 2022, once again poised to enter the “real world,” this time of business management. He said he hopes his path includes an element of aviation or aircraft, which are still his passions.

“I feel I’m on a path now to where I can leverage everything — all the skills I’ve built through the Navy and coming from junior enlisted and moving up the ranks and kind of taking on more leadership and responsibilities, to now try and do a lateral move as much as possible into the business world and kind of keep that progression going,” Lane said.





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‘At the tip of the spear’: One veteran’s experience with the aftermath of 9/11 | News







2:15:54: 09-08-2021DanielLane

Naval First Class Petty Officer and UK senior business management major, Daniel Lane, poses for a portrait on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, at Erickson Hall in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff




The aircraft is perched on the edge of the ship, secured in the catapult shuttle, a short runway track ahead of it. Daniel Lane’s aviation mechanic team walks around the aircraft, double checking for leaks, popped open panels, locked wings and anything else that could possibly go wrong. 

There is no room for error. A normal aircraft, on shore, requires several thousand feet of runway just to get airborne. The naval aircraft has 300 feet until there’s nothing but ocean below. 

The pilot revs the engines to full power, taking the control stick to all four corners to make sure everything is moving properly. Lane and his team perform a final check. Right now, the 40,000-pound aircraft is sitting dead, inactive. But in just under 2.5 seconds, it will have shot off the front of the ship, reaching a supersonic speed of 140 knots, 161 miles per hour.   

It’s a feat of physics that seems miraculous, too good to be true. On a naval aircraft ship, though, it happens on a daily basis. And that’s the easy part. Landing is harder, because pilots must aim to place their aircraft’s tailhook in a three-foot square box, flying over 170 miles per hour. 

As the catapult does its job, the aircraft races past Lane at near-full speed, 60 feet away at most. It’s straight out of a young Lane’s dream. Heck, it’s a dream for full-grown Lane too.

When he heard that America had been attacked the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, a half-asleep Lane thought that was a dream, too. He came to his senses just in time to watch the second tower fall on the USS Enterprise’s TV, alongside members of his Navy squadron.






2:18:55: 09-08-2021DanielLane

Naval First Class Petty Officer and UK senior business management major, Daniel Lane, poses for a portrait on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, at Erickson Hall in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff




His ship was the first Navy aircraft to respond to the attack, launching the first strikes of the war on terror. 

From March 1998 to April 2018, Lane served in the Navy as an aviation maintenance officer. He enlisted right out of high school, leaving for boot camp two days after turning 19. His maternal grandfather and uncle had been in the military, and his dad served as a Naval flight officer. He was around Naval Air stations a lot as he grew up, which instilled in him a love for aviation and aircraft.  

As an aviation machinist’s mate, Lane was part of a team of jet engine mechanics that ensured that the Navy’s aircraft were functioning at the high levels necessary to successfully train, complete missions and provide combat air cover for the boots on the ground. 

After basic training, Lane lived in Sicily for two years, in the shadow of active volcano Mount Etna. He then worked on aircraft in Jacksonville, Florida; Brunswick, Maine; and Norfolk, Virginia. He then transitioned to F/A-18 aircraft from 2007 to 2015, with a stint as a naval instructor teaching new recruits in between. 

From January to November 2001, he was deployed on the USS Enterprise. But as the ship sailed away from the Persian Gulf toward Cape Town, South Africa, its original mission complete, the events of 9/11 stopped it dead in its tracks.  

As the only aircraft carrier near the Middle East at the time, 100 miles north of the equator, Lane and his team quickly turned around. It was war, and everyone knew it. Training ramped up, the ship prepared munitions and officers awaited the call to launch the first air strikes of the fight.  

When the call came one October night, about two weeks after the attack, Lane’s S-3 aircraft was one of the first to launch off the ship, its job to support the strike package against Al-Qaeda. 

Lane said he feels a sense of pride about being “at the tip of the spear,” fighting on the frontlines of the war on terror until the USS Enterprise returned to U.S. soil in November 2001. 

Now, Lane attends school alongside younger students who don’t remember 9/11 or who weren’t even born yet. Just like in the Navy, with the rare diversity of his career, Lane is once again an anomaly.

Lane is a senior business management major at UK, and he’s often the oldest person in the classroom — professor included. Sometimes, he doesn’t get the lingo his peers and instructors are using. Despite being able to get along with anyone, there’s an obvious disconnect between him and the other students. 

The first day of a new semester, Lane knows he is the elephant in every classroom. He doesn’t mind the questions, though. He always informs the class of his military background, and said he’s never been met with anything but respect and a bit of curiosity. 

“Obviously I’m at a different point in life than most of my college classmates, and so with that I kind of try, I just keep myself a little reserved and a little pulled back, simply understanding and appreciating the difference of where we’re at,” Lane said. “I also fully understand that the average person that I’m sitting in class beside, I am not going to hang out with on Friday nights.” 

His inability to fully connect with his younger classmates doesn’t bother Lane much. He’s been able to cultivate his own social circle through the Veterans Resource Center (VRC), ever since a VRC member gave him a campus tour before his first year at UK even began.

The VRC, located in the basement of Erikson Hall, is a place where UK’s military veterans can hang out, study and feel comfortable around people with similar life experiences. While it’s been mostly empty during COVID times, Lane said that before, it was always busy. 

“We’re not necessarily as tight as a lot of traditional students because we have lives and families outside of here, but it definitely developed that kind of network and friendships and everything that is getting me through,” Lane said.

Family was the reason Lane retired from the Navy right after the required 20 years of service. As Lane’s children grew older, leaving for each six-to-nine-month deployment got more and more difficult. He knew he was missing out on key moments of development. While he was on base, Lane’s only communication with his wife and kids was through email; phone calls were expensive, sometimes up to a dollar per minute. 

He wasn’t entirely alone, though, what with his almost proxy family on the base. Each squadron had about 200 to 250 people whom Lane said became his extended family of sorts on a ship carrying over 4,000 people, plus a job specialty group of about 18 fellow Navy officers with whom he spent most of his days. 

“My wife could say, ‘Hey this is broken at the house,’ and you kind of want to be there to help out with it, but at the same time you’re on a ship halfway across the world,” Lane said. “We have the squadron, but there’s support groups through the squadron for the spouses and the families and everything back home.” 

The trust cultivated among Lane’s squadron members through months and years of travelling, training, eating and sleeping together in the surprisingly cramped living quarters would prove vital to the success of missions. Aircraft carriers may be massive, but most of the space is taken up by the aircraft.

The friendships also made exploring the various port stop locales much more enjoyable. While many hours were spent several hundred feet below sea level in a submarine, Lane got to spend time in Athens, Portugal and Portsmouth, England of Europe and Dubai, UAE and Bahrain of the Middle East, among others. Lane said world travel introduced him to many valuable microcosms of community and culture.

“So you grow up in America, and I mean, America is great, I’m never going to say anything less, but it opens your eyes to seeing the other cultures and just kind of understanding different people, different cultures,” Lane said. “I guess it increases the empathy you can have for others and for their situations.” 

In 2015, while still fully active duty, Lane began his transition out of the military. He became a Naval recruiter for three years to “demilitarize” himself, he said.

But with one career behind him, Lane wasn’t at all sure what he wanted the rest of his life to look like. With the guidance of his division officer, he decided to pursue an engineering degree at UK — it seemed compatible with his aviation interests and as a Cincinnatian just across the Kentucky border, he’d always bled blue.

He later switched to a business management major — engineering didn’t turn out to be the right fit.

Lane said his experiences at VRC, including a stint in the lead work study position, have made his college experience worthwhile. However, he said he would like to see the university create a space in the student center where there is access to the amenities offered in the VRC, especially with the overwhelming majority of veteran students living off campus.  

While he knows and accepts that UK’s primary marketing and branding focus is toward traditional students, Lane said that adult students often get lost in the shuffle. 

“While I’m definitely a veteran, I can kind of connect to here [VRC] and build the network here. I’ve been in classes with other adult students that are not necessarily related to the military,” Lane said. “I can see where they don’t necessarily have a veteran center.”  

He said he hopes that the VRC is able to expand to capture more of the adult student population in the future.

Lane graduates in May 2022, once again poised to enter the “real world,” this time of business management. He said he hopes his path includes an element of aviation or aircraft, which are still his passions.

“I feel I’m on a path now to where I can leverage everything — all the skills I’ve built through the Navy and coming from junior enlisted and moving up the ranks and kind of taking on more leadership and responsibilities, to now try and do a lateral move as much as possible into the business world and kind of keep that progression going,” Lane said.





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New Travel Reimbursement System Available To Veterans And Beneficiaries | VA Hudson Valley Health Care


Montrose
, NY — New travel reimbursement system available to Veterans and beneficiaries

News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October  23, 2020

 

Contact:       Cullen Lyons, VA Hudson Valley Public Affairs Officer

Phone:          914-737-4400 ext. 2255

Cell:              914-475-7633

Email:           Cullen.Lyons@va.gov

 

 

New travel reimbursement system available to Veterans and beneficiaries

 

Montrose NY — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced on October 22, 2020 that the VA Hudson Valley Health Care System will now use the new Beneficiary Travel Self-Service System (BTSSS) to reimburse eligible Veterans and beneficiaries for travel to and from VA medical appointments.

 

The new system will allow users to submit and track transportation reimbursement claims using a secure web-based portal on the Access VA, available 24/7, 365 days a year.

 

“Thanks to the important innovations and dedication to information technology, we are proud to say we have streamlined this process making it easier for users,” said Dawn Schaal, Medical Center Director. “The BTSSS replaces the need for older, manual tracking methods, bringing this process in line with many of our other web applications.”

 

BTSSS has many advantages, for example, it:

  • Reduces the need for completing hard copy claim submissions in-person at the facility by replacing and eliminating the previous kiosk method.
     
  • Provides an easy to use web-based application that allows you to enter your claim over the internet via AccessVA.
     
  • Ensures timely processing and payment of travel reimbursements and reduces manual intervention and improper claim payments through automated features
     
  • Authenticates the Veteran or Beneficiary by: 1.) VA PIV card; or 2.) A DS Logon Level 2 account.

 

BTSSS will be available at the VA Hudson Valley Health Care System beginning in October, 2020. As BTSSS goes live, the need for kiosk will be discontinued, however, in person and hard-copy claims submission will still be available. For information on eligibility, visit VA’s Travel Pay Reimbursement site.



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Vietnam Veterans Traveling Wall returns to Rockingham County | News


When the wall was last in Rockingham County in 2013, the replica of the wall represented only 50 percent of the original, Turner said. This time, however, the structure will include 80% of the details of the original wall, he said.

The traveling exhibit honors the more than three million Americans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War and bears the names of the 58,281 men and women who lost their lives in Vietnam. That grim tally climbs as more remains are recovered over the years, organizers said.

The wall allows people who may not be able to see the original monument in Washington, D.C. to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the war. It also gives veterans here in Rockingham County an opportunity to reflect on their service, Turner said.

To herald the arrival of the wall, organizers have scheduled an Oct. 13 parade of veterans and supporters to escort the wall as it’s transported from Reidsville along N.C. 14 to Eden’s Freedom Park.

Then organizers will begin the process of setting up the wall, an endeavor that will take most of Oct. 14, they said. Volunteers are needed to help with the set up and stand watch over the exhibit around the clock, Turner said, noting the exhibit will be open to the public 24-hours a day.

Spectators are welcome to watch the assembly process, but will not be able to touch the wall until it is in place and officially open to the public.



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Memorial Day traditions, veterans; masks, more travel


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From vaccination rates to case counts, here are some important COVID-19 statistics you should know from May 2021.

USA TODAY

As the U.S. honors its veterans Monday on Memorial Day, restrictions have been lifted for vaccinated individuals at the nation’s cemeteries dedicated to vets, another step on the path back to normalcy after more than a year under pandemic limitations.

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced last week that it is relaxing rules at the nation’s 155 veteran cemeteries.

The move comes as the VA reported last Monday that there were no new COVID deaths at its medical centers throughout the country, a first since March 18, 2020. VA data shows more than 12,000 have died and more than 2.5 million have been inoculated against COVID-19 out of the roughly 9 million veterans enrolled in the agency’s programs.

The isolation of the pandemic has also been particularly hard on veterans, many of whom depend on kinship with fellow service members to cope with wartime trauma, Jeremy Butler told the Associated Press. Butler, a 47-year-old Navy Reserve officer in New York, heads the advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

“We’re reuniting now, but it’s been an extremely challenging year,” he said. 

For others, especially the families of veterans who survived the horrors of war only to die from COVID, Memorial Day can reopen barely healed wounds. In Massachusetts, Susan Kenney told AP the death of her 78-year-old father from the virus in April 2020 still remains raw.

Charles Lowell, an Air Force veteran who served during the Vietnam War, was among 76 residents of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home who died in one of America’s deadliest coronavirus outbreaks last year in a long-term care facility.

“I’ve been reliving this for a whole year,” she said. “At every milestone. Veterans Day. His birthday. His death anniversary. Everything is a constant reminder of what happened. It’s so painful to think about.”

Also in the news:

►A Tennessee hat seller removed an Instagram post after fueling social media controversy by selling a patch that looks like the Jewish Star of David. HatWRKS, run by hatmaker Gigi Gaskins, posted a photo of a woman wearing a bright yellow star sticker with the words: “Not Vaccinated.”

►In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers studied antibody levels of solid organ transplant recipients who had gotten two shots of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and hadn’t previously had COVID-19. Of the 658 participants in the study, 46% had no detectable antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19 after both shots. Read more here.

► About half of U.S. adults are completely vaccinated against COVID-19 and cases are going down across the nation. However, The Washington Post found that the rate of hospitalizations for those who are unvaccinated is the same as it was three months ago, and the rate of infections for those who are unvaccinated is the same as it was in December.

►New York’s seven-day coronavirus positivity rate has dropped to a record low of 0.71%, following 55 straight days of decline, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday.

►Businesses can require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and offer incentives to do so without violating federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission laws, the agency said. The updated EEOC guidance also indicates that employers must make “reasonable accommodations” for employees who don’t get vaccinated because of a disability, religious beliefs or pregnancy.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 33.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 594,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: Over 170.4 million cases and 3.54 million deaths. More than 135 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – 40.7% of the population, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: The pandemic – and the political battles and economic  devastation that have accompanied it – have inflicted unique forms of torment on mourners, making it harder to move ahead with their lives than with a typical loss.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates. Want more? Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Memorial Day weekend brings signs of normalcy: More travel, fewer masks

Much like the Memorial Day weekend is known as the unofficial start of summer, this year the holiday marks a return to a semblance of normalcy, a release from the grip of the year-plus-long pandemic for Americans.

The Transportation Security Administration reports the number of passengers screened at U.S. airports Friday through Sunday topped 1.6 million each day; Friday had a high of 1.96 million. That’s the biggest figure since March 8, 2020, just before the pandemic was starting to take hold in this country. Last Memorial Day weekend, the total for the first three days was 861,000.

The travel surge is directly related to the success of the U.S. vaccination program – more than half of the nation’s population has had at least one dose – and the ensuing drastic drop in infections. On Saturday, the U.S. reported just under 12,000 new coronavirus cases, the lowest number since March 23, 2020.

This was also the first holiday weekend since the CDC announced on May 13 that those who are vaccinated don’t need to wear a mask indoors or outdoors or keep social distance, adding to the sense that life as we knew it is coming back. Some masking requirements remain in place depending on the jurisdiction or business, but more states are dropping them, including New Jersey on Friday and Massachusetts on Saturday.

In New York City and Chicago, officials reopened public beaches. “Welcome back, Chicago,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a video announcement. “The lakefront is open.”

So is most of the country now.

Base built to launch U-boats now a vaccination site

A decommissioned World War II submarine base in Lorient, France, has become the latest vaccination site for the country, according to the New York Times.

The structure, built in 1941, was initially used to launch German U-boats. Now revamped with chairs, tents and an art exhibit, the base-turned-vaccination-center has administered more than 6,000 doses over the past week, the Times reported.

The first person to get a vaccine at the site was a Frenchman involved in the war who worked on the reassembly of submarines, vaccination center chief Jean-Michel Pasquet told the paper.

“He told us it was a beautiful symbol of resilience,” Pasquet said. “This bunker that used to build warships to kill people now embodies a comeback to life.”

Colleges hope students get COVID vaccines for fall semester — but can they require it?

As colleges plan for a potential re-opening in fall 2021, some question whether vaccination will be required to take classes in person.

Although half of American adults are fully vaccinated, only about 30% of college-age adults make up the group, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Considering college towns and counties home to universities experienced some of the worst outbreaks of COVID-19, vaccination has become a priority to resuming in-person classes.

Over 400 colleges across the United States are requiring at least some students and employees to be vaccinated before returning to campus, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Controversy on the colleges’ decision to make it a requirement stems from the vaccine being cleared by the FDA under an emergency authorization order. The University of California and the California State University systems, for example, said they will require vaccinations once it is fully approved.

Unvaccinated staffers at Houston hospital file lawsuit

One hundred and seventeen unvaccinated staffers at Houston Methodist Hospital filed a lawsuit against the hospital on Friday saying it is unlawful to require them to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The claim says the mandate violates the Nuremberg Code, which prevents experimentation on human subjects without consent.

The code was developed after World War II as a response to atrocious medical practices conducted in concentration camps. The lead plaintiff, Houston Methodist nurse Jennifer Bridges, said there needs to be further study on the COVID-19 vaccines.

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Contributing: The Associated Press.

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2021/05/31/covid-memorial-day-veterans-cases-vaccine-masks/5274665001/



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Air Force veterans open travel agency | News


Air Force veterans Karen Esaias and Richard Von Schlichten have, throughout the decades, gone to locations all across the world for both professional work and personal enjoyment – Europe, Asia, South America, the Caribbean.

So, when looking for a retirement business to start, becoming travel agents felt like a natural fit. That led to the Cambria County couple recently completing training and opening a local Dream Vacations franchise.

“I think, over the years, I’ve often thought, ‘Oh man, it would be cool to be a travel agent,’ because we like to travel, and then you kind of live vicariously when you’re planning travel for other people, too,” Von Schlichten said. “So that’s fun.”

Dream Vacations encourages veteran ownership, so Esaias and Von Schlichten talked to several franchise owners who spent time in the military before making their decision.

“To a person, they were really pleased with the company itself and the support that they got,” Esaias said. “They loved it.”

Their training took place during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Now’s a good time,” Von Schlichten said.

“While nobody’s really traveling, we can get all this learning done, we can attend all these webinars and videos with different cruise lines and the different suppliers around the world, and then, when people are ready to start traveling, we will have learned a lot.”

Von Schlichten and Esaias can book trips and cruises at locations all across the world.

But, along with helping clients go to far-off destinations, they also want to use their business to support the local community. Twenty percent of their earnings will go to nonprofits.

Clients will be able to direct the donation to St. Clement Food Pantry, Johnstown Free Medical Clinic or Veteran Community Initiatives.

“We’re doing what we love, and we’re happy to give some of that money back to the community,” Von Schlichten said.

More information about the business is available at OnVacationToday.com or by calling 814-961-2075. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.





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