Serving Veterans in the Commonwealth

That is our mission, our job, and our privilege. We work every day to make sure Kentucky's 295,000 veterans and their families receive all the benefits and services they have earned. Here you will find information on benefits counseling, skilled long-term care at state veterans centers, dignified interment at state veterans cemeteries, health care, education, employment and special programs for women veterans, homeless veterans and others. 



 Veterans Day 2019

No holiday says “America” the way Veterans Day does.

On this day we celebrate not just our freedom, our independence, our democracy, but the sacrifices made to achieve them.

We honor those who fought on our behalf, in our defense, for our freedom.

We thank those who sacrificed their time, their health, their lives.

We pray for those who now serve at home, overseas, and in harm’s way.

Freedom isn’t free, independence isn’t forever, and democracy isn’t for the faint of heart.

The blessings of America have been brought to us by our veterans. Our thanks, our gratitude, our honor and our blessings to all of them.

100 years ago this past summer, the last Kentuckians who fought in World War I came home. Kentucky’s last World War I era veteran, Robley Rex, died nine years ago at the great age of 107. No one alive today remembers what we naively called the War to End All Wars. It was that terrible.

It was the needs of World War I veterans that prompted Congress to expand benefits for veterans, including insurance, disability compensation and vocational rehabilitation.

World War I set the standard for American valor and determination in battle and laid the foundation for the broad array of veterans benefits and services we are proud to provide today.

Veterans Day itself began as a result of World War I. Armistice Day marks the day the allies and Germany signed the document ceasing hostilities. It took effect at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, a moment we still commemorate on Veterans Day.

This year Kentucky is also keeping our promise to honor those Vietnam Veterans through the 50th Vietnam Anniversary Commemoration.

Here in the Commonwealth we have approximately 100,000 Vietnam Veterans. About 8,000 of those are women, and about 8,000 are African-American or Hispanic. They live and work in all 120 counties. They, like many groups of veterans we have honored, are worthy of the 12-year-long Commemoration Congress ordered the Secretary of Defense to implement.

This year we are also continuing our Year of the Woman Veteran – Kentucky Women Veterans Unite! – to reach out to the women who have served but do not always receive the recognition they have earned. According to the last census from the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs there are approximately 24,000 women veterans in Kentucky, nearly 10 percent of the total veteran population. They are veterans of every conflict and peacetime military effort of the United States since before World War II. They are of every race, every religion, every socio-economic background and every life experience. Women fly combat aircraft, serve on combat ships, guard convoys, and serve as military police, intelligence, civil affairs, signal, and medical troops. Female service members are expected to face the same risks as their male counterparts in today’s military operations.

Everyone who served is a veteran. There are 25 million of us, and we are of:

• both sexes

• every race

• every age

• every religion

• every ethnic background

• every political allegiance

• every educational level

• every kind of job

• every physical description

• every economic circumstance

• every city, town and rural county

There is not a demographic category in this nation, no matter how small, that does not include veterans.

We all served honorably, and we are all veterans. Stand tall, take pride in your service, and take comfort in knowing you are a member of the largest and most diverse family in America: Veterans of the U.S. Armed Services.

Reach out to the veterans in your community. They are all around you, serving honorably in civilian life as they served honorably in the military.

Benjamin F. Adams, III
Brigadier General, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA




 Columbus Day 2019

We may recall the first few lines from the iconic 1919 poem by Winifred Sackville Stoner, Jr. –

In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. He had three ships and left from Spain; he sailed through sunshine, wind and rain…
 

The first of two conspicuous celebrations and observances in October, Columbus Day marks the discovery of the Americas by a courageous sailor and his crew. When we consider that Christopher Columbus never set foot on what would become the United States, the scope of his accomplishment – and the resultant observances – takes on a scale that may only be measured in global hemispheres.

For our Veterans, and for those yet standing their watch, Columbus is someone to whom each may relate. With no working capital of his own, Columbus sought sponsorship for his voyage – the first of several. It wasn’t the dream of riches, nor the prospect of parcels of land stretching an entire continent that drove his passion. Rather, he felt the same tug at his soul and psyche that caused our entire nation to respond to the call of her 35th President just a few short centuries later; to stretch ourselves to set foot upon the moon. It is the call of our hearts to explore, and the human imperative to discover.

Columbus Day, then, is much about reaching for those goals which are just over the horizon. It is about stretching ourselves toward that which we are certain – but may only be proven once we’ve returned; and, of rising to the challenge – no matter how lofty the goal. That same challenge – and those same goals – undertaken by our brave Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines as each have taken up their rifles, manned their ships, and crewed their planes against unspeakably long odds in defending our Nation and the freedom of our allies. Each voyage could have been the last for Columbus and his crew; just as surely as each battle, and each mission, could have been the last for each of our Veterans.

That bravery, determination, and willingness to risk everything, has beat in the very chest of our Great Nation since before Lexington and Concord. And, it is that risk undertaken by each of our Veterans – and the debt to each we have incurred – that we may never fully repay.

So on behalf of the entire Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, I hope you’ll spend a few moments this second Monday in October visiting with a Veteran, and learning of their voyages and missions. Warmest wishes for a joyous and safe Columbus Day weekend.

Benjamin F. Adams, III
Brigadier General, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA




 Happy 244th Birthday to the U.S. Navy

"A good Navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guaranty of peace." - Theodore Roosevelt

"I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: 'I served in the United States Navy.'" - John F. Kennedy

October 13 marks the birthday of the U.S. Navy, which traces its roots back to the early days of the American Revolution. On October 13, 1775, the Continental Congress established a naval force, hoping that a small fleet of privateers could attack British commerce and offset British sea power.

The early Continental navy was designed to work with privateers to wage tactical raids against the transports that supplied British forces in North America. To accomplish this mission the Continental Congress purchased, converted, and constructed a fleet of small ships -- frigates, brigs, sloops, and schooners. These navy ships sailed independently or in pairs, hunting British commerce ships and transports.


Even states without any coastline have strong ties to the U.S. Navy. For example, look at the naval history and heritage of Kentucky, as seen in the life of Lt. jg. Richard Caswell Saufley.

Saufley was born on Sept. 1, 1884, in Stanford, KY, and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1908. He was designated Naval Aviator No. 14. Saufley set numerous records for altitude and endurance in a hydro-airplane before dying in a crash on June 9, 1916, attempting to beat his own record.

Other famous Kentuckians include Navy Cross recipient, Cmdr. Dudley W. Morton. Born in Owensboro, KY, Morton was commander of the submarine USS Wahoo (SS 238) during WWII and was responsible for sinking 19 ships, totaling 55,000 tons before it sank off the coast of Japan in 1943.

More than 30 ships have been named for Kentucky, its cities, places, and people. Two ships have been named after the state, including one battleship (BB 6) and an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN 737). Perhaps one of the most famous residents of “The Bluegrass” state was the namesake for USS Daniel Boone (SSBN 629).

Kentucky is also home to several naval installations. Naval Ordnance Station Louisville was commissioned in 1941 to design and manufacture ordnance for the U.S. Navy, continuing to do so throughout the Cold War. Additionally, Navy Operational Support Center Louisville provides administrative and training support for Navy Reserve personnel.
But for KDVA, our Navy hero is Carl Maxie Brashear, the Kentucky son of sharecroppers who overcame racism and bigotry to become a highly decorated United States Navy sailor. He was a U.S. Navy master diver, rising to the position in 1970 despite having an amputated left leg. The film Men of Honor was based on his life.

Brashear was born on January 19, 1931, in Tonieville, Kentucky, the sixth of eight children to sharecroppers McDonald and Gonzella Brashear.[1][2] In 1935, the family settled on a farm in Sonora, Kentucky. Brashear attended Sonora Grade School from 1937 to 1946.

Brashear enlisted in the U.S. Navy on February 25, 1948, shortly after the Navy had been desegregated by U.S. President Harry S. Truman. He graduated from the U.S. Navy Diving & Salvage School in 1954, becoming the first African-American to attend and graduate from the Diving & Salvage School and the first African-American U.S. Navy Diver.[1]

In 2018, KDVA proudly named our newest Veterans Center the Carl M. Brashear Radcliff Veterans Center in his honor.

Happy 244th Birthday to the U.S. Navy, and to all the men and women of all races, religions and backgrounds who have served in it.

Benjamin F. Adams, III
Brigadier General, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA



Kentucky's Korean War Veterans Receive Ambassador for Peace Medals 

Medals 12.JPG

70 Kentucky Korean War Veterans and 20 families of Korean War Veterans received Ambassador For Peace Medals from Korean Consul General Young Sok Kim Sept. 20 in Frankfort. 

This photo album contains pictures from the first half of the presentation. The second album will contain pictures from the second half of the presentation.

This photo album contains pictures from the second half of the ceremony.

This photo album contains pictures taken by Kelli Oakley of Honor Flight Bluegrass. Our great thanks to her for letting us post them.







 Labor Day Message 2019

Of all the Federal holidays, Labor Day seems to be one for which the significance too often escapes us. Let us consider, though, that Labor Day is to the might of American Industry, as Veterans Day is to those who have served – and who continue to serve. There is, in fact, a great nexus between the struggles that have shaped the conditions by which each payroll is earned in America, and those causes for which our GIs rolled up their sleeves, and shipped out to defend our Great Nation.

Ask any passer-by on a busy street corner of key events in our history, and they’d probably be able to tell you something about the Argonne Forest, Gettysburg, Iwo Jima, or even Fallujah. But ask those same passers-by of the Chicago policemen and workers who were killed in the Haymarket Riot of 1886, and the answers won’t come so easily. Ask them when the first Labor Day parade was held in America, and we’re likely to scratch our heads wondering in which century that even occurred. Or, what juggernaut industries were at the epicenter of the labor strikes that each required the attention of our sitting President at the time to remedy.

At its core, the causes that gave rise to labor strikes since the founding of America have a great deal in common with the overarching goals for every American worker today: Safe working- conditions, respect between all parties in the workplace, and a fair days’ wages for a fair days’ work. The balance between any or all of these factors is nothing short of Americans at their best.

While the paths of our Armed Forces and Organized Labor have surely crossed, that Labor may organize in the first place is nothing less than a blessing of the liberty secured by each of our brave Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. So while we’re firing-up the grill on this first Monday in September and bidding farewell to another summer, let us not forget to include a nod of appreciation to each of our Veterans for their contributions in opening the door to make it all possible in the first place.

On behalf of the entire Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, warmest wishes for a safe and joyous Labor Day.

Benjamin F. Adams, III
Brigadier General, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA



 (Belated) Happy 229th Birthday to the U.S. Coast Guard

The United States Coast Guard is unique among the five units of the U.S. Armed Services, being a military force, a law enforcement agency and a first-responder lifesaving service all in one.

It is also one of the oldest organizations of the federal government. Established in 1790, the Coast Guard served as the nation's only armed force on the sea until Congress launched the Navy Department eight years later. Since then, the Coast Guard has protected the United States throughout its long history and served proudly in every one of the nation's conflicts.

On 4 August 1790, President George Washington signs the Tariff Act that authorizes the construction of ten vessels, referred to as "cutters," to enforce federal tariff and trade laws and to prevent smuggling. The Revenue Cutter Service expanded in size and responsibilities as the nation grew.

One hundred and twenty-five years later, the Revenue Cutter Service merged with the U.S. Life-Saving Service, and is officially renamed the Coast Guard, making it the only maritime service dedicated to saving life at sea and enforcing the nation's maritime laws. In 2003, the Coast Guard was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security, where it currently serves.

The Coast Guard is both a federal law enforcement agency and a military force, and therefore is a faithful protector of the United States in peacetime and war. In times of peace, the Coast Guard operates as part of the Department of Homeland Security, enforcing the nation's laws at sea, protecting the marine environment, guarding the nation's vast coastline and ports, and performing vital life saving missions. In times of war, or at the direction of the President, the Coast Guard serves under the Department of the Navy, defending the nation against terrorism and foreign threats.

On an average day, the Coast Guard: • conducts 45 search and rescue cases; • saves 10 lives; • saves over $1.2M in property; • seizes 874 pounds of cocaine and 214 pounds of marijuana; • conducts 57 waterborne patrols of critical maritime infrastructure; • interdicts 17 illegal migrants; • escorts 5 high-capacity passenger vessels; • conducts 24 security boardings in and around U.S. ports; • screens 360 merchant vessels for potential security threats prior to arrival in U.S. ports; • conducts 14 fisheries conservation boardings; • services 82 buoys and fixed aids to navigation; • investigates 35 pollution incidents; • completes 26 safety examinations on foreign vessels; • conducts 105 marine inspections; • investigates 14 marine casualties involving commercial vessels; • facilitates movement of $8.7B worth of goods and commodities through the Nation’s Maritime Transportation System. During August, take a moment to think about the quiet but essential service of all Coast Guard members.

Benjamin F. Adams, III
Brigadier General, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA



National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, 2019

By The President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

In 1953, the Korean Armistice Agreement ended more than 3 years of brutal fighting against communist expansionism and tyranny on the Korean Peninsula. On National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, we honor the brave patriots who secured freedom and democracy in the Republic of Korea, and we pay tribute to the more than 23,600 Americans who were killed in action and the more than 103,000 who were wounded in that conflict.

The dedication stone at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., bears the inscription: "Our Nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met." The memorial includes an honor roll of Americans killed in action and those missing in action, and its unique design features statues of a patrol crossing a Korean rice paddy. These figures represent the heroes of our Armed Forces who valiantly served in the Land of the Morning Calm and fought on battlefields such as Inchon, the Pusan Perimeter, and the Chosin Reservoir. Today, this hauntingly beautiful memorial stands as an enduring reminder of what it costs to defend and preserve the democratic principles we hold dear.

Our ironclad alliance with the Republic of Korea was cemented when the first American troops arrived on its soil to fight for liberty and human dignity. More than six decades after the ceasefire on the Korean Peninsula, the Republic of Korea is flourishing as a prosperous and peace-loving democracy. Since the signing of the armistice at Panmunjom, the United States has worked with the Republic of Korea to preserve peace through strength. Our military, together with our allies, stands vigilant, strong, and "ready to fight tonight" on the ground, in the air, and at sea. The phrase "katchi kapshida" -- "we go together" -- is on the lips of every service member in Korea, representing generations of Koreans and Americans united by shared sacrifice and a willingness to uphold the cause of freedom no matter the cost.

Last month, when I walked across the military demarcation line that runs through the Demilitarized Zone, it was the first time a sitting United States President has ever entered into the territory of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. I hope these steps will spur progress in the ongoing effort to achieve the complete and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea, establish a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula, and continue the recovery and repatriation of remains of fallen American soldiers.

Today, we honor our Korean War veterans for service rendered to both the United States and the Republic of Korea, and we remember their families who supported them throughout. Sometimes called "The Forgotten War," we will always remember the immeasurable cost incurred by those who fought on the Korean Peninsula. The bravery, tenacity, and selflessness of our veterans liberated the oppressed, brought peace and prosperity to a freedom-loving people, and helped forge our unshakable bonds with the Republic of Korea.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim July 27, 2019, as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities that honor and give thanks to our distinguished Korean War Veterans.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand nineteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fourth.

DONALD J. TRUMP


New Korean War Veteran Medallion Available

Medal and certificate.jpgThe Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs and the Republic of South Korea are issuing Korean War Veterans “Ambassador for Peace” Medallions and Certificates.

To receive the Medallion and Certificate, you must submit this application before August 15, 2019. See eligibility criteria here.

KDVA will issue this medallion and certificate to Kentucky Korean War Veterans upon mailing the completed application with a copy of your DD214, to:

Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs
1111 Louisville Road, Suite B
Frankfort, KY 40601
Or fax the application to KDVA at 502-564-9240

To honor the service of our Korean War Veterans, the KDVA will sponsor a Korean War Commemoration ceremony at 11:00am on September 20, 2019, at the Wellman Armory, Boone National Guard Center, in Frankfort, KY. This event will pay tribute to our Korean War Veterans and their families.

The Ambassador of Peace medallion and certificate will be presented to Korean War Veterans (or next of kin) making application prior to August 15, 2019. Applications received after August 15, 2019, or applicants unable to attend the commemoration, will receive their Ambassador of Peace Medallion and certificate at a later date by mail.

If you have any questions, please contact April Brown at our office: 502-564-9203 or kyvets@ky.gov


 America's 243rd Birthday

Most of the nations around the globe celebrate the day upon which they declared independence from their parent country, some colonial power, or both. This severance of ties was sometimes civil, but often times a precursor to bloodshed.

What makes Independence Day – celebrated each year on the 4th of July – so special for we Americans, is that the document upon which that declaration was tendered also served to unite thirteen independent entities into a single body. The world could not want for a better living example of what it means that the whole is greater than just the sum of its parts; the very sentiment which is stamped on every coin in our pockets: E Pluribus Unum – Out of Many, One.

We may find cause to celebrate our Great Nation nearly every day of the year, but it is that single document – that Declaration of Independence – that compels our annual pause, and praise.

Those living National treasures from our Greatest Generation, may yet tell us of their grammar school days, when they were required to memorize the names of the 56 Signers of the Declaration. And, they’re sure to admonish us to not take a single thing from those 56 original patriots, but to consider that the hard part would be in not only preserving that Liberty, but in preserving the Union itself.

Amidst the celebration of the day, I hope you’ll join many across our Commonwealth in taking a few minutes to learn the names of just a few more patriots, who mean so much to the Bluegrass State, and to every American. Names like Command Sergeant Major Gary L. Littrell, from Henderson, who was presented our Nation’s highest honor for his bravery in Viet Nam. Or, Sergeant Dakota L. Meyer, of Columbia, likewise presented the Medal of Honor for his service in Fallujah, Iraq.

These names, too, are American Patriots, to whom we owe an unpayable debt of gratitude for their service in the preservation of our Freedom. And, for lending their shoulders upon which the next generation may stand in perpetuating our Liberties to yet the next. Amidst the fireworks, hamburgers, and celebration of the day, I hope you’ll join the men and women of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, in wishing every American, and every American Veteran, a safe and joyous Independence Day.

Benjamin F. Adams, III
Brigadier General, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA



 June is Flag Month

We may trace the origins of Flag Day to some of the earliest actions of the Continental Congress, before our Nation had even declared its independence from colonial tyranny. Or, we may give a nod to its roots as city and state celebrations took shape at the end of the 19th century. Then again, we may remember President Truman for having formalized Flag Day as a specific day to celebrate our National Colors in 1949. But few remember – or even associate – any of these events with a truly grand articulation of the love we Americans have for Old Glory.

Those same Colors beneath which Soldiers have arrived home in their caskets, and beneath which the rubble of the World Trade Center lay in ruins. Those same Colors that draped the Pentagon by the evening of 9/11, and those same Colors that were raised on a remote dormant volcano at Iwo Jima.

For others, though, the celebration of our Flag is anchored in the events that unfurled on the evening of 13 September, 1814. As the British pummeled Ft. McHenry – an open-air fort from which no shelter was afforded from the shells being lobbed across the harbor – a Baltimore attorney watched from the deck of a ship. The end of our young Nation was surely at hand, and this battle was certain to be the coup d grâs of the war that would end our independence

Francis Scott Key, in his iconic poem that would later become our National Anthem, asked two questions. In the first verse, he asked those who may still be alive in the morning, “O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?” The British didn’t so much care about the fort, as the Flag itself. So every shell came to be aimed at the massive staff that held the giant banner aloft. To fell the Flag, would be to end the Nation. And Key simply wanted to know if it survived the night.

His second question for us, more than two centuries later, is worthy of our shouted response each and every day. Key asks us, “O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

Flag Day - the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 - was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916. While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson's proclamation, it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.

While many paeans to Old Glory have been written over the centuries, few surpass “I am the Flag” by Ruth Apperson Rous.

Benjamin F. Adams, III
Brigadier General, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA



 May Is Military Appreciation Month

In the calendar month of May each year, there are more days than in any other month upon which we recognize the contributions our Armed Forces for their dedication and sacrifices. Memorial Day stands tall as the gateway to summer, and V-E Day calls us to celebrate the end of the Second World War in Europe. Military Spouse Appreciation Day, and Armed Forces Day, are but two others. So, in 1999, Congress took it one step further, and designated May as Military Appreciation Month, as a time during which we may remember each who has served – and are continuing to serve.

The names of our American heroes dot our history, from our earliest days as a Nation. Patton, Pershing, Jackson, Grant, Schwartzkopf, and Nimitz are but a few. But our brave military – as a collective – seeks only to secure blessings of our Liberty, before returning to their own homes and families. Not to occupy nations, but to rid oppressed people of the despots who would starve their own people of their freedom. And, for a few, we’ve asked in return only a few feet of ground in which to bury our fallen.

For the few Americans who have donned the uniform of our Armed Forces, and stood their watch, we look forward to a page of the calendar which reminds us to say thank you for that sacrifice. This spirit of selfless service, and of always preferring peace, comes as nothing new to America and her Veterans. When the battle for our Independence was won, George Washington tendered his sabre to the civilian leadership of our young Nation. And the first human to set foot upon the moon was – quite by design – a civilian. The door to each of these great examples held open by a Soldier, standing their watch quite nearby.

So to our Kentucky Veterans, a bit of a warning: Don’t be surprised by the unexpected handshake at a street corner in Louisville; or the clerk at the Diner counter in Pikeville who tells you to put your wallet away – this burger is on the house. They’re all modest – and richly deserved – articulations of gratitude from America, for the service you so selflessly rendered. And, for the freedom we enjoy throughout May, and every day of the year.

On behalf of the entire Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, we thank each and every Veteran for their service during this Military Appreciation Month.

Benjamin F. Adams, III
Brigadier General, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA



 KDVA Easter Message 2019

Spring arrives on the calendar each year, as winter recedes, and our world seems to suddenly erupt in fresh bloom. Those autumn leaves we didn’t quite put a rake to were hiding daffodils, as they poke through the soil overnight; and every bird seems to have found their voice.

For many, the crown jewel of the entire season – if not the year – is Easter. For Christians the world over, the days surrounding this sacred event are each Holy; and each unfolds with special meaning.

No matter our faith, or relationship with our God, the message of service – of selfless service to others – seems to resonate. It is this spirit of service, coincident with a fresh bloom of our beloved Bluegrass, which seems to reinvigorate each of us in the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, to renew our commitment to serve our Veterans.

Each of those who have answered our Nation’s call to duty, and stood their watch in the uniform of our armed forces, understands what it means to have put their lives on hold so they may serve others. This is not merely selfless service – it is servant leadership, personified. And, when their tours of duty are complete, each of these servant-leaders return home to continue that spirit of service in their homes and communities.

I hope you’ll take the opportunity to thank a veteran for their selfless service – for their servant leadership – this Easter; and, to perhaps visit an aging veteran who stood their watch so many years before. Each are worthy of the pause in our day, and will surely be quick with the reply that it was their honor to have served.

On behalf of the entire Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, warmest wishes for a safe and joyous Easter.

Benjamin F. Adams, III
Brigadier General, US Army (Ret.)
Commissioner, KDVA



 Month of the Military Child

Month of the Military Child is observed to recognize and honor military children for their contributions and support to Soldiers and the Army mission. The observance reiterates the Army's commitment to Soldier and Family readiness and resilience, to excellence in Child and Youth Services and to a supportive environment where children and youth can thrive.

“Military.com defined the term "military brat" as a badge of pride worn by generations of kids who traveled the world with their parents, moving into adulthood with the knowledge that they have the strength to handle anything. Military children deal with separations, deployments, frequent moves and even their parents' injuries as part of the life they were born into or entered with their families. Their strength and resiliency is inspirational.” Let us celebrate that strength and resiliency and let our military children remind us that service members do not serve alone. Their families serve with them.

The annual Young Lives, Big Stories Contest has officially started and will run through 30 April. The essay and artwork contest is for children in preschool through grade 12. Children are encouraged to answer the question: What does it mean to you to be a military child? Entries will be judged for content, form, presentation of the main idea and creativity. Prizes are given for the winners of each of the age categories and one overall winner.

On Sunday, April 28, Veterans Service Organizations and community groups will celebrate the Fifth Annual Military Children Appreciation Day in Jeffersontown. The event is free and open to all veteran, military and first responder families.


Benjamin F. Adams, III
Brigadier General, Retired, US Army
Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs



 Kentucky Women Veterans Continue to Make History

“For the first time since World War II, a Kentucky Army National Guard female Soldier was awarded the Silver Star for valor. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, SGT Leigh Ann Hester of the 617th Military Police Company, “Raven 42” was shadowing a supply convoy March 20, 2005, when anti-Iraqi fighters ambushed the convoy. The squad moved to the side of the road, flanking the insurgents and cutting off their escape route. SGT Hester led her team through the "kill zone" and into a flanking position, where she assaulted a trench line with grenades and M203 grenade-launcher rounds. She and Staff Sgt. Timothy Nein, her squad leader, then cleared two trenches, at which time she killed three insurgents. 

“Being the first female Soldier since World War II to receive the medal is significant to Hester. But, she said, she doesn't dwell on that fact. "It really doesn't have anything to do with being a female," she said. "It's about the duties I performed that day as a Soldier." “ As it has been for all of the Kentucky women who performed their duties as Soldiers since before Kentucky was a state, and long before they were recognized for their service. 

Kentucky is continuing its recognition and outreach to Women Veterans, begun with the 2015 Year of the Woman Veteran. There are approximately 24,000 women veterans in Kentucky, about eight percent of the total veteran population. These women of service have and will continue to provide inspiration to all of us. 

Today female service members are expected to face the same risks as their male counterparts in today’s military operations. As of January 2016, all positions within the United States Military have become available to females opening up more than 220,000 additional jobs protecting our country. 

Unfortunately, they are also far less likely than their male counterpoints to seek and receive the veteran benefits and services they have earned. The Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs is determined to end that discrepancy. Reaching those veterans and helping them obtain those benefits is one of our highest priorities. We are reaching out to both women veterans and the general public to honor and recognize women veterans and connect them to veteran benefits and services. 

In planning community and patriotic events this year, please reach out to the Women Veterans in your community to recognize and honor them. And if you know any veterans who need benefits and services, please send them to us. 

If you have served honorably in the military, you may have earned benefits and services for veterans. KDVA will help you obtain those benefits and services, and we will do it at no cost to you. Call 502-595-4447 or go to www.veterans.ky.gov. 

Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs



 Honoring Kentucky African-American Veterans

Kentucky is proud to be the home of the most decorated African-American veteran of the U.S. military. 

Colonel Charles Young was a 19th-century military officer and diplomat. He was the third African-American graduate of the United States Military Academy, the first black US national park superintendent, first black military attaché, first black man to achieve the rank of colonel in the United States Army, and highest-ranking black officer in the regular army until his death in 1922. 

Young was born into slavery at the end of the Civil War in Mays Lick, Kentucky, near Maysville. He entered West Point on competitive examination in 1884, and quickly showed a flair for languages. He graduated in 1889 as a 2nd Lieutenant after enduring years of extreme hazing and harassment because of the color of his skin.

He volunteered for service in the Spanish American War and was given command of an all-black regiment, but the war ended before they deployed. Nevertheless, he was the first African-American to command such a large unit of soldiers. 

He served at posts in the West and became the first African-American Superintendent of a National Park. He served overseas in Mexico, Haiti, Liberia and the Philippines, reaching the rank of Colonel by 1917 – the first African-American to do so. He taught military science at colleges and wrote a prescient book about how Democratic societies affect the military service of minorities. 

Nevertheless, his deserved deployment in World War I and promotion to Brigadier General was denied to him because of his race. While he always commanded black troops, as Brigadier General he would have had white officers under his command. Southern officers vociferously objected, and the military denied Young his final service. 

Young’s story reflects both the obstacles faced by African-American service members and veterans, and how through extraordinary efforts and determination they achieved respect and overcome bigotry. 

On Nov. 11, 2018, Veterans Day, city and state leaders unveiled the Colonel Charles Young Veterans Memorial in the Russell neighborhood of Louisville. It stands at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage at 18th Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard. 

In this Black History Month, it is appropriate that we honor Colonel Charles Young by honoring our African-American veterans still serving their nation today. 

During February, take a moment every day to consider the achievements of African-American veterans and the extraordinary effort and sacrifices it took to succeed. 

Find out more from the National Association of Black Veterans. 


Benjamin F. Adams, III
Brigadier General, Retired, US Army
Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs



 Presidents' Day Message

On this third Monday in February, Americans all across our great nation will celebrate and remember those who have occupied the highest office in the land. It was not very long ago that we celebrated George Washington’s birthday on an entirely different day from that of Abraham Lincoln. Perhaps that’s why so few Americans can only name one or two Presidents who lived before their own lifetime. 

We have so many institutions and traditions worthy of celebration – not the least of which is the Office of the President. No matter one’s own political party, each of us may certainly agree that the peaceful transition of power – each time we vote-in a new President – is a magnificent example of how our Democratic Republic strives to be a more perfect Union. It is likely for that very reason, and countless others, that we will pause on February 18th this year to reflect on the service of each of our Presidents. This is, by any measure, a rare club. Numerically, our current Commander in Chief may be “45,” but he’s only the 44th American to be able to boast of having been at the helm of the Greatest Nation on Earth. With news of our contemporary Presidents to be found punctuating the 24-hours news cycle, it is easy to forget those others who served. For instance, what of our ninth President, William Henry Harrison. The first president to have died in office, after having been there for only a month. What would he have accomplished for our Nation? Or, his successor, John Tyler, who arrived in office as a Whig, yet was expelled from his political party only six months into his term for opposing its agenda. Millard Fillmore succeeded Zachary Taylor – our twelfth president – when he also died in office. It seems, though, that he got along with his party better than Tyler. Not counting Democratic Republicans, our fourth Democratic president was Franklin Pierce; it seems being a retired member of the military was a great bona fide to indicate on one’s resume. And, Grover Cleveland, our 22nd President, must have done something right: The American people brought him back for an encore just four years after he vacated the White House.

At the end of the day, each American President was one of us. They were – and are – Americans; each with their own frailties. And, each arrived to the office with the honorable intent to serve their employer: The American People. It is that measure of honorable service that each of us in the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs strives to fulfill in our serving each of those who have served our Nation – every day of the year. On behalf of our Governor, and each member of our Department, I hope you’ll set aside a bit of this third Monday in February to remember all of those who have served our Nation: From the Commander in Chief, to the new recruit standing their watch for the first time. 

Fondest wishes for a safe and joyous President’s Day weekend. 

Benjamin F. Adams, III
Brigadier General, Retired, US Army
Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs



 A Day of Service on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Virtually every Federal Holiday is associated with some commercial symbol: Decorated Easter eggs, cornucopia, fireworks, or jack-o-lanterns all conjure some image of the underpinning occasion. One American holiday, though, doesn’t so much reflect on service, as to beckon us to service. 

In what started as a series of local celebrations, then State recognitions, the third Monday in January is now reserved on our American calendars as a day of reflection on how each of us may rise to our best potential. What makes this particular day upon which we celebrate the birth of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., so special is that we now enjoy a reflective lens more than a half-century deep since his assassination. The words of this world-renowned minister and civil rights leader ring no less true today, than they did when he walked the Earth. Many of us remember this giant among men for a single speech rendered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, when he shared his dream that his children would one day live in a world where they would be measured by the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin.

But for those who serve and served in our Armed Forces, this clarion call to service is nothing new. In fact, Kentuckians are renowned for their hospitality, and their willingness to roll up their sleeves when called upon. Where these two concepts intersect of treating one another with dignity, and doing our best for a cause greater than ourselves you’ll find a Kentucky Veteran. And while many Americans will go out of their way to render some service to their communities on this January 21st, our Veterans are involved and engaged every day of the year. Whether cleaning up a city park, camping with some Troop of Scouts, or coaching a little league team, our Veterans are likely there, right in the mix. The celebration of the life of this one Civil Rights icon presents a unique opportunity for service rendered by countless others. 

To that end, I hope you’ll join many of us in the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs in taking the day to serve in your community and across the Commonwealth. Perhaps, even visiting with an aging Veteran or a Wounded Warrior, and learning of their remarkable lives.
Warmest wishes for a joyous MLK Birthday celebration, and hoping you take the opportunity to thank a Veteran for their service – to our Great Nation, to our Commonwealth, and in our communities. 

Benjamin F. Adams, III
Brigadier General, Retired, US Army
Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs



 Kentucky in the Great War

This is the 100th Anniversary of the Great War, the one they called the War to End All Wars.  There are no more World War I veterans alive to tell us about it themselves, but the United States World War I Centennial Commemoration ​is making sure the rest of us don't forget them and what they did. 

Learn about Kentucky in World War 1 here andhere.



 KYVets Employment Program

KYVets is the Kentucky Veterans Employment Training and Support Program. KYVets provides resources and support to assist veterans across the commonwealth in gainful employment and training services. 
Call or email Dean Stoops at 502-564-9203,KYVets@ky.gov.


small CommemorativePartnerLogo_Final_10-3-12 ai.png Spotlight: Veterans Benefits and Services
KDVA proudly offers FREE benefits assistance, including filing claims and appeals, by our 18 Veterans Benefits Field Representatives to veterans in every county of the Commonwealth. Our benefits experts are fully accredited by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and take pride in obtaining every benefit and service veterans have earned.


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Two Ways to Stay Informed:


Sign up for text alerts.  We send these no more than two or three times per week, always to call attention to imminent events of interest to veterans.  Text Follow kyveterans to 40404.

Join the KDVA listserve. We send no more than two or three emails per day about events and issues importatnt to veterans. If you wish to be added to the listserve, please email lisa.aug@ky.gov.

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​News & Events




Become a Vietnam War Commemorative Partner 
Join more than 100 Kentucky communities and organizations.
Find out how your town, country, group, business or club can honor local Vietnam Veterans and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

Agent Orange Town Hall Meeting
May 10, 6:00 PM Jackson Energy Cooperative, 177 Barbourville Road, London. Attendees will learn more about the effects of Agent Orange onveterans who served in Vietnam and the possible effects on their children. For more information, contact Mr. David Cowherd, President VVA Chapter 1051 at herd437@gmail.com.


Veterans Memorial Park of Kentucky Annual Program
May 11, 11:00 AM South Oldham High School, 5901 Veterans Memorial Parkway, Crestwood. Join with other patriotic Kentuckians to honor our nation’s finest--veterans and those still serving in America’s Armed
Forces. Keynote speakers include BG (Ret.) Benjamin Adams Jr., Commissioner, Kentucky
Department of Veterans Affairs and former Miss America Heather French Henry. The event will
recognize and honor Gold Star Families. For more information, contact Mrs. Ann Helton,
Secretary, Board of Directors, VMPKY at 502-243-9998 or via email at chair@VMPKY.org.


Veterans Resources United of Central/Southeastern Kentucky (VRUCK) Meeting
May 16 3:00 PM  Eastside Library, 3000 Blake James Drive, Lexington. Meeting is open to
anyone interested in attending. VSO’s, veterans, and friends are welcomed to attend! VRUCK’s
purpose is to bridge the gap between veterans and the many different programs and resources
that support them to ensure veterans and their families know what services are available to them!
For more information, contact Phyllis Abbott at 859-806-4297 or via email at
pabbott@ladyveteransconnect.org. 


Warrior to Soul Mate Workshop
May 17-18 6:00PM-9:00PM Warrior to Soul Mate Workshop. Robley Rex VA Medical
Center, Room E005, 800 Zorn Avenue, Louisville. Day 2 will be from 9:00AM-4:00PM. This 9-
hour workshop is available for any veteran couple to attend. One of the partners needs to be a
veteran enrolled in VA care. They do not need to be involved in MH to attend. Warrior to Soul
Mate offers practical tools to create, nurture, restore and rekindle relationships in a safe, fun,
friendly environment. Research shows that often veterans experience relationship problems and
many of them decide to divorce before they even talk with a therapist. Divorce can be
devastating for the veteran and family members. These VA workshops provide education about
practical skills to strengthen marriages and families. The workshop will take place in a group
setting, with instructors, over a Friday evening and during the day on Saturday. Instructors are
skilled, perceptive, effective facilitators from different disciplines. They will teach communication skills, relationship skills, and emotional literacy skills to couples. Facilitators have been trained and certified. To register or obtain more information, contact Brittany Priddy at Brittany.priddy@va.gov or 502-287-4913. 


2019 Memorial Day Vigil
May 25 12:00 Noon Waterfront Park, Louisville. Hosted by Flags4Vets. Adult and children volunteers are needed to place 15,000 veteran grave flags on the Great Lawn at Waterfront Park. For more information, contact Mr. Fred Moore, Executive Director at email moore@theUSflag.com or call 502-931-0374.


24-Hour VA Crisis Hotline

1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Read More


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    Recent Events


    New VAMC Lexington Director Inducted

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    KDVA Commissioner Ben Adams congratulates new VAMC Lexington Director Greg Goins after his induction ceremony August 5, 2019.

    Nursing Tuition Bill Signed

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    At Governor Bevin's officials signing of HB296 June 3, 2019, KDVA Commissioner Ben Adams spoke of how the new law will allow KDVA to recruit and retain needed nurses at our veterans long-term care centers.

    We Don't Have to Look Away Anymore

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    At a press conference April 25 celebrating Lexington effectively eliminating veteran homelessness, KDVA Commissioner Ben Adams spoke of the coalition teamwork of many agencies, the importance of working together to solve a difficult problem, and the hope that this achievement gives to veterans throughout Kentucky. Read more here.


    Gold Star Mothers

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    On Saturday, April 6, KDVA Commissioner Ben Adams spoke to the National Convention of American Gold Star Mothers in Owensboro. He closed his remarks by saying “I want to personally thank you for turning your grief into action, and staying in the public eye. It is so easy for Americans today to ignore the wars our sons, daughters, spouses, and siblings, are still fighting. Gold Star Mothers remind people of the price others pay to keep us safe.” Photos: Medal of Honor recipient Woody Williams and Adams, and Gold Star Mothers lighting candles for their fallen loved ones.

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    See video here.

    Students Show BeneVets for the Brave

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    On Friday, Feb. 8, award-winning students from Ashland Middle School demonstrated the BeneVets for the Brave website and app to KDVA Commissioner Benjamin Adams and other KDVA staff.

    See more photos here.

    Capitol Wreaths

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    KDVA Commissioner Benjamin Adams was the guest speaker at the Wreaths Across America Statehouse Ceremony on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018.

    See more photos here.

    Medal of Honor Plaque With Garlin Murl Conner Unveiled

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    On Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, Governor Matt Bevin and Pauline Conner, widow of Lt. Garlin Murl Conner, unveiled the updated plaque, with Lt. Conner's name engraved among the other WWII MOH recipients from Kentucky. Gov. Bevin also presented Mrs. Conner with a proclamation and a Kentucky state flag that has flown over the Capitol. Before the unveiling, Mrs. Conner and her family, friends and supporters gathered at the Berry Hill Mansion for a reception and luncheon.

    See more photos here.

    Kentucky Veterans of the Year

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    On Monday, Nov. 5, the Epilepsy Foundation named its Kentucky Veterans of the Year at its annual banquet. Army and Coast Guard veteran Megan Karr is active in Team RWB, which works to connect veterans with their community through physical and social activity. Retired Army Sergeant Jeremy Harrell founded Veterans Club for “veterans who want to join together to share resources, rebuild camaraderie with one another and provide cost-free equine therapy to vets.” KDVA Commissioner Ben Adams spoke of the lifelong service to community exemplified by the 2018 Veterans of the Year and all the nominees.

    See more photos here.

    Vietnam War Monument Dedicated at Camp Nelson

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    On Saturday, Oct. 6, KDVA Commissioner Adams along with Vietnam Veterans, friends, family and supporters dedicated the Vietnam War Memorial at Camp Nelson in Jessamine County.

    See morephotos here.

    KDVA Headquarters

    1111B Louisville Rd
    Frankfort, KY 40601
     Get Directions
     Phone: (502) 564-9203
     Toll-free: (800) 572-6245
     Fax: (502) 564-9240
     
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