Bobbie O'Brien

Reporter

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.

Bobbie also produces the blog, Off the Base, and covers military affairs, veterans’ issues and military families. She was named a Rosalyn Carter Fellow in 2010-2011. She supervises WUSF’s news interns and frequently contributes to NPR programs.

Prior to joining WUSF, she worked at WTVT- TV as a researcher/segment producer, at the Tampa Tribune and at WFLA-TV. She attended Kent State University and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications from the University of South Florida in 1980.

Her work has been honored by the Society of Professional Journalists, the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Public Radio News Directors Inc., American Women in Radio & Television, the Florida Associated Press and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Ways to Connect

Staff Sgt. Shane Hughes / U.S. Air National Guard

You can expect to hear the increased roar of fighter jets across Tampa Bay’s skies for the next week as MacDill Air Force Base hosts the 180th Fighter Squadron.

The Air National Guard unit out of Toledo, Ohio has brought down 10 F-16 fighter aircraft to conduct deployment exercises over residential and commercial areas.

Air Force officials issued a release about the increased noise and activity adding that there’s "no reason for alarm," it’s only an exercise.

Florida National Guard

Florida sent hundreds of National Guardsmen to assist with security in Washington D.C. for the Inauguration of President Donald Trump.

Approximately 340 soldiers and airmen have been sleeping on cots set up in a gymnasium and going through outdoor chow lines while on assignment to support the 58th Presidential Inauguration.

Bobbie O'Brien/WUSF

It was one week ago today when a man pulled a semi-automatic weapon from his luggage and killed five people and injured six others at the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport.

The suspect, Esteban Santiago, 26, is an Army veteran who served in Iraq. And that has an impact that reaches far beyond the airport.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Veterans Affairs is not a veteran himself. And as the VA Undersecretary of Health, Dr. David Shulkin is, so far, the only holdover from the Obama Administration.

That means Shulkin is known to veterans groups like the American Legion.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

You can hear the National Championship Fanfest before you ever get a glimpse of the flashing lights, huge video screens and brightly colored banners.

It’s just a ride up the escalator to second floor of the Tampa Convention Center and then a step into the cavernous hall where your instantly blasted by the musical rhythms coming from the Dance Off stage.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

From a sit-in Tuesday in Alabama to sign-waving protestors Wednesday outside Tampa's federal courthouse, there appears to be a ground swell of people objecting to President-Elect Donald Trump's nominee for Attorney General, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans' Hospital / va.gov

With the New Year comes a new women veterans’ coordinator for the state of Florida, Army veteran Darlene Scully, and an ambitious agenda for 2017.

In addition to her job reviewing veterans’ claims, Scully took on the position two months ago to be a voice for women vets who currently make up 10 percent of the 1.6 million veterans in Florida.

FDVA

By its own analysis, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs calculates that Florida only has 20 percent of the VA-sponsored nursing home beds it needs to serve aging veterans. And it’s put the state on a “critical” list when it comes to building VA nursing homes.

WLRN.org

The end of the year is a popular time for charitable giving thanks to the “holiday spirit” and possibly to get a tax deduction. But Florida’s consumer protection agency cautions that it’s also a time of year to be wary of scams.

Any charitable organization asking Floridians for money – with a few exceptions like religious, political and educational groups – must register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. And thousands are registered.

Ileana Morales Valentine

Cookbooks can be both inspirational and useful, making them exceptionally good gifts, according to Tampa Bay Times cookbook reviewer Ileana Morales Valentine.

Stetson

For a fifth year, the Stetson University College of Law is offering free will services to older veterans and their spouses who need to draft a will or end-of-life directives.

Even if you’re a veteran of modest means, you should still have a will according to Stetson’s Elder Consumer Protection Fellow, Brandon Robinson.

NPS Photo

The “day that will live in infamy” – December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor Day – will be commemorated during an 11 a.m. service today at the Hillsborough Veterans Memorial Park and Museum, 3602 U.S. Highway 301 N. in Tampa.

The 75th Anniversary Remembrance will honor U.S. military service members who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The event will include presentations by:

·        LeRoy Collins, III, son of Rear Adm. LeRoy Collins, Jr.

·        Gen. James Dozior, U.S. Army, Retired

President Barack Obama arrives in Tampa this afternoon to meet with the men and women who have been on the front-lines enforcing his policies in the fight against terrorism. And he plans to deliver his last major counter-terrorism speech.

U.S. Department of Defense - Defenseimagery.mil / U.S. Department of Defense

President-Elect Donald Trump has named a former leader of U.S. Central Command to become the next Secretary of Defense.

Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis led U.S. Central Command, which is based at Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base before relinquishing command in March 2013.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

There’s a small but growing legal community in the U.S. that’s helping veterans with their benefits claims while working to improve the VA system. And their work continues even as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to name a new VA Secretary to “make the VA great again,” as promised during his campaign.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Former Army Sgt. Justin Lansford will be home – truly home - for the holidays this year. The Iraq and Afghanistan combat veteran and his wife were handed the keys to a brand new, three bedroom bungalow in Tampa’s Seminole Heights thanks to the Gramatica Family Foundation.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

You have today and Wednesday to catch a free ride on the new Cross-Bay Ferry. The “Test the Waters” promotion is taking passengers on a first come basis with no reservations needed.

Organizers are hoping the free 60-minute cruise will attract passengers willing to pay for the ferry service. in the future. The one-way fare between Tampa and St. Petersburg will be $10 for adults.

U.S. Department of Defense - Defenseimagery.mil / U.S. Department of Defense

Retired U.S. Marine Gen. James Mattis, who was part of the military leadership based at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base, is being considered for a cabinet post in the new Trump Administration.

On March 22, 2013, Gen. Mattis handed over command of U.S. Central Command to Army Gen. Lloyd Austin III. In tribute to Mattis’ leadership, several high ranking officers including then-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, attended the ceremony at MacDill AFB.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

You can't hear the story of combat veteran Leonard (Mr. Steve) Stevens without learning about the woman he calls his body guard. Their stories are now deeply connected.

As connected as the 95-year-old is to his blue ball cap that reads: "WWII Combat Glider Pilot."

Benedictine Sisters of Florida

If you’ve not yet bought your turkey and want to share the day with others, there’s an opportunity in San Antonio. The Benedictine Sisters of Florida are hosting a free Thanksgiving meal and fellowship for the 21st year in a row.

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