First Of Its Kind Veteran's Resource Opens In Missoula

Sep 29, 2016
Denise Juneau, right, cuts the ribbon Ed Lesofski holds up at the grand opening ceremony for the Rural Institute for Veterans Education and Research in Missoula Thursday, Sept. 29. RIVER is considered a first-of-its kind program for veterans.
Edward O'Brien

A first-of-its-kind training and intervention program for veterans celebrated its grand opening in Missoula Thursday, Sept. 29.

The Rural Institute for Veterans Education and Research – “RIVER” for short – helps vets reintegrate back into civilian life after their military service ends.

10th annual Vets for Vets Stand Down in Great Falls
St. Vincent de Paul of North Central Montana

Vietnam veterans probably remember "stand downs" - those safe retreats for units returning from combat duty.

Ben Wight,  American Red Cross Armed Forces Coordinator in Great Falls, says stand downs, "represented a time in which you brought the troops back to get them showered up, resupplied and gave them a couple of days off to regroup until they put them back in the field.”

Wight is helping organize The 10th annual Vets for Vets Stand Down this week in Great Falls. It will bring together people and groups who want to give aid and comfort to Montana veterans who’ve fallen on tough times.

From left to right: Sgt. Josh Manning, who served in Iraq with Capt. Humayun Khan; Diane Carlson-Evans, a combat nurse in Vietnam; Retired Lt. Col. Jim Gillison; John Hollow, a Navy SEAL during Vietnam
Corin Cates-Carney

Four military veterans, organized by the Democratic party stood in front of the state capitol today condemning U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke’s support of Donald Trump.

Iraq war veteran Josh Manning stood behind a wooden podium on the capitol steps Thursday as he called on Montana’s lone U.S. Representative  to denounce the Republican Party’s candidate for president.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ new veterans healthcare representative says she brings a unique perspective to the job.

Vet centers help combat veterans readjust to civilian life after what can be intense deployments overseas.
Courtesy Montana Vet Centers

Missoula-area veterans now have a new and improved Vet Center at their disposal. These centers help combat veterans readjust to civilian life after what can be intense deployments overseas.


Last month we reported on problems with a health care program called Veterans Choice. It was supposed to help veterans across the country get health care appointments more quickly, in the wake of the scandal at the VA in Phoenix that exposed veterans waiting months just to be seen.

There are now five and a half weeks until Congress takes its two-month summer recess. One bill that Senator Jon Tester had hoped there would be action on by now still hasn’t advanced out of committee. It’s the proposed bi-partisan fix to the troubled Veterans Choice health care program.

Iraq Veteran Dustin Monroe speaks at the Memorial Day ceremony on the University of Montana campus.
Eric Whitney

Among the many Memorial Day ceremonies in Montana was one at the Fallen Soldier Memorial on the University of Montana campus in Missoula.

"If you’re ever looking for a hero, and you’re walking around the Missoula community, come look here, we have heroes right here," said Dustin Monroe, a veterans advocate who served in the Army in Iraq. 

Mineral County Hospital representatives say the hospital has not been paid for services delivered under the Veterans Choice program.
Courtesy Mineral County Hospital

Congressman Ryan Zinke says the nation can’t just throw more money at a widely criticized veterans’ health care program.

Rep. Ryan Zinke (right), a U.S. Navy SEAL veteran, handed out the lapel pins to local veterans who served on active duty during the Vietnam War years.
Edward O'Brien

Montana Representative Ryan Zinke told Vietnam war veterans in Missoula today that theirs was America’s "unsettled" war. Zinke presented 50th Anniversary Commemorative Vietnam Veteran lapel pins to dozens of vets at Rose Park's memorial.