Bobbie O'Brien

Reporter/Producer

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

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Stories about veterans waiting years - decades even - to resolve a disability claim are not uncommon.

“I have a claim from 2003 that’s still not found yet. Nobody knows where it’s at,” said Gustavo Nunez, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq. “I actually gave up on it a long time ago. I was so frustrated with the system.”

AP

Florida’s “brand” and $10-billion economic driver, the citrus industry, could be headed for collapse if stop-gap measures aren’t found to slow citrus greening, said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

“What we don’t want to see is this catastrophic collapse of a 300,000 acre industry where you have fire sale real estate prices and you end up with a sprawl,” Putnam said.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The 112th Florida State Fair with its corn dogs, midway rides and life-stock shows opened Thursday on grounds just east of Tampa.

Flanked by law enforcement officers and in front of several TV news cameras, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Attorney General Pam Bondi flipped a ceremonial  lever as a profusion of multi-colored hues lit up the midway.

Wikimedia Commons

There appears to be early backing by lawmakers to let voters - and not the governor - decide who should run Florida’s Department of Education.

On Tuesday, a Senate committee unanimously approved the bill (SJR942) that returns the Florida Commissioner of Education to an elected, cabinet level position – if approved by 60 percent of voters.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

There are some things that veterans just don’t feel comfortable talking about, except possibly with another veteran.

That sacred bond, shared between veterans, can transcend time and generations - especially among those wounded, disabled or experienced in combat.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Tampa Bay veterans, 60 and older, and their spouses can get free legal help drafting a will and related documents like advanced medical directives.

The Stetson University College of Law has joined with volunteer attorneys from the area to offer the "Wills for Warriors" program for a fourth year.

Veterans must meet some income guidelines and can’t own property outside Florida because it makes the will too complicated.

Pentagon Channel

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter made a stop at Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base Thursday to plot strategy in the fight against ISIL, also known as the Islamic State.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The University of South Florida was listed as the most veteran friendly college in the nation by Money Magazine in 2015. But it’s not looking so “friendly” after refusing to re-admit a student veteran expelled because of a PTSD-related incident.

VA OIG

Brandishing a photograph of 1,600 boxes, stacked haphazardly in a storage room, Florida U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller of Pensacola opened a congressional hearing Tuesday into the backlog of veterans benefits claims.

AP

The 2016 Florida Legislative session starts Jan. 12, and this week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, Jan. 5 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 10 at 7:30 a.m.), we are previewing some of the bills lawmakers are proposing.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Commuters between Tampa and St. Petersburg might soon have a new way to cross Tampa Bay that does not involve a bridge.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman are discussing how to pay for a ferry that would connect the two cities by water.

Kriseman said it'll take $350,000 from each city and their two counties, Pinellas and Hillsborough, to get things started.  A trial ferry could begin operating this coming October.

Florida House of Representatives

Right now, Florida’s top educator is two steps removed from voters. The state education commissioner is appointed by a board and that board is appointed by the governor.

But lawmakers are considering legislation that would change the Florida Commissioner of Education into a statewide, elected position and add the post to the Florida Cabinet.

The idea has been proposed before, but this time, it’s gaining traction according to State Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach. She said parents, local school boards and other lawmakers are interested.

  •   Oct. 3, 2015 -  A “Stand Down” is when soldiers get a temporary break from combat for a shower, hot meal and peaceful night’s sleep. Pasco County held a Stand Down for veterans in our community who are fighting a different kind of battle with homelessness, substance abuse or mental health issues.
  • Nov.
Pasco Support Services for Veteran Families

The Department of Veterans Affairs has the goal of ending veterans’ homelessness by January 1. That means any homeless veteran wanting housing will get it within a month or less.

The less-developed nature of Pasco County has created additional challenges when it comes to finding, counting and serving homeless veterans.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

There is a renewed call to make Florida’s Education Secretary an elected position – again.

The state’s top educator used to be elected statewide and served as a member of the Florida Cabinet. The cabinet also served as the Florida Board of Education.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Five years ago, then Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, set a rather lofty goal --- to eliminate homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015.

“If we don’t put a very ambitious target on the table so that all of us can go to work on it, we won’t get anywhere near close to eliminating homelessness amongst veterans,” Shinseki said in a YouTube video released in May 2010.

Tampa’s Athena House was founded specifically to help homeless women veterans.

Keep Me In Stiches

Three Tampa Bay stores are looking for volunteers this week to help make crate quilts and bandanas for homeless dogs and cats and you don’t have to know how to sew to help.

During this Thanksgiving week, we're taking a second listen to our show on  food, family and traditions. From passing on the recipe for French Canadian meat pie, to making the perfect rice and meeting the bakers who make award-winning pies in Lakeland, our reporters are taking you into the kitchen. 

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

A 2014 survey found that almost 20 percent of the households using the Feeding Tampa Bay food bank were either veterans or active duty military.

The Norman family is a military family recently arrived from Colorado and transitioning into civilian life in Tampa. Never in a million years did the parents imagine that they would need help feeding their children.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

A Hillsborough circuit judge is calling on the University of South Florida to live up to its recent ranking as a top "veteran friendly" university.

Judge Greg Holder has asked USF President Judy Genshaft to readmit a student veteran who was expelled after an off-campus incident in August 2014.

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