Bobbie O'Brien


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.


Off The Base
7:39 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Technology Assists Physically Impaired Veterans

Rick Archer, a member of the Haley VA assisted technology team of therapists, explains how the reflection of infrared light off his pupil can operate a laptop computer.
Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Have you ever taken a photograph and the camera flash turned the person’s eyes into red or white dots? That bane of amateur photographers is becoming a useful tool for physically impaired veterans.

Rick Archer, an assisted technology therapist at the James A. Haley VA Polytrauma and Rehabilitation Center, has  a typical laptop computer in front of him. Attached to it is a black device, the size of a toothbrush case, called Eyegaze.

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Off The Base
12:32 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

New VA Center Gives Active Veterans a Climbing Wall, Aquatic Center, Putting Green

Exterior of the new aquatic center with two therapy pools heated by solar panels at the James A. Haley VA Polytrauma and Rehabilitation Center.
Bobbie O'Brien WUSF Public Media

It’s not your father’s VA anymore as evidenced by just one look inside the Department of Veterans’ Affairs new Polytrauma and Rehabilitation Center at James A. Haley VA Hospital at 13000 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa.

There’s a putting green, a two-story climbing wall, and an aquatic center for recreational therapy. Each of the 56 new private rooms has large windows for natural light, lush wood paneling, wheelchair accessible bathrooms, a desk and a large-screen TV so veterans and active duty personnel have direct access to education programs and entertainment.

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Off The Base
4:54 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Gov. Scott vs. VA Over Patient Records

Tampa's James A. Haley VA Hospital, home to both a Spinal Cord Injury unit and a Polytrauma unit.
Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

State health care regulators showed up unannounced for a third time at a federal Veterans Administration Hospital in Florida and asked to view patient records.

That visit to James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa Wednesday appears to be part of a tug-of-war between Gov. Rick Scott and federal VA hospitals.

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Off The Base
2:48 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Fort Hood Sergeant to Come Home Friday

Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Ferguson
Credit Fort Hood Public Affairs Office via Reuters

The body of Mulberry High School graduate and Army Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Ferguson, 39, one of three killed in the recent Fort Hood shooting rampage, is expected to arrive home to the bay area Friday, according to a member of the Florida Patriot Guard Riders.

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Off The Base
6:38 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Free Exhibit Depicting 23 Marines Killed in Iraq Opens at USF

The artist gathered photographs from the Lima Company Marines killed in action and then painted the fallen during more happy times.
The Lima Company Memorial

Opening today and staying for only three days is an art exhibit that has become an iconic symbol for the men and women who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The Lima Company Memorial: The Eyes of Freedom exhibit features life-size paintings depicting 23 Marines from the small Ohio Reserves unit L 3/25 who were killed in action in 2005 in Iraq.

Mike Strahle served with Lima Company and now shepherds the exhibit around the U.S. He said the exhibit has a broader reach than just his generation.

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Off The Base
5:30 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

A Florida Memorial for Gold Star Families

The ceremonial ground-breaking for the Gold Star Family Monument Memorial planned outside Franklin Boys Preparatory Academy in East Tampa.
Bobbie O'Brien WUSF Public Media

A World War II veteran of Iwo Jima and recipient of the Medal of Honor is counting on hundreds of teenage boys at a Tampa public school to honor his dream.

Marine Corporal Hershel “Woody” Williams’ vision is to build a memorial in every state honoring Gold Star families, the spouses, parents, children and extended family members of military men and women who have been killed in combat.

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Off The Base
6:43 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Medal of Honor Marine Backs Gold Star Memorial at Tampa Boys Academy

Hershel "Woody" Williams, 90, a US Marine Corps corporal awarded the Medal of Honor for his solo attack on seven Japanese pillboxes on Iwo Jima, February 23, 1945.
Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

It took four hours, six flame-throwers and the lives of two fellow Marines before Cpl. Hershel "Woody" Williams knocked out seven Japanese pillboxes on Iwo Jima February 23, 1945.

It was his fourth day on the Pacific island.

Williams said six members of his original special weapons unit had been killed and he was the sole survivor.

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Off The Base
12:02 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

8 Benefits for Vets, Military in 'Florida GI Bill'


With the stroke of a pen Monday, Gov. Rick Scott positioned Florida to attract more veterans - beyond the estimated 1.5 million already living here - to attend college, to work and to retire in the state.

The “Florida GI Bill,” crafted to resemble the post-WWII benefits, includes measures for veterans, active-duty families and military installations.

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Off The Base
8:52 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Researching Military Sexual Trauma

Diane Price-Herndl, chair of the USF Department of Women and Gender Studies and the Women's Status Committee.
Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

One in every five women and one in every 100 men have told the Veteran's Administration that they experienced sexual trauma while serving in the military.

Those numbers have both the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs working on solutions for treatment and the prevention of Military Sexual Trauma (MST).

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Law & Order
5:44 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

'Redneck' Road Rage Video Leads to Arrest

A screen capture from the video that Florida law officers identified as Jeffrey White.
Credit Florida Highway Patrol

A video shot by an unidentified female driver who was being tailgated by a driver in a black Ford pickup truck led Florida State Troopers to arrest Jeffrey Travis White, 33, of Tampa for careless driving, failing to wear a seat belt and for leaving the scene of a crash.

The You Tube video, released by the Florida Highway Patrol, is titled, "Redneck Road Rage/Instant Karma." It captures the driver tailgating and eventually passing the unidentified car as they traveled southbound on US Highway 41, just north of Gibsonton Drive.

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Off The Base
3:28 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

New Study Debunks 88 Percent Dropout Rate for Student Veterans

D. Wayne Robinson, president of Student Veterans of America.

Student veterans using their GI education benefits between 2002 and 2010 graduated from colleges and universities at the rate of 51.7 percent according to researchers with the Million Records Project.

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5:18 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Tampa Mayor Calls for Rail Referendum

With the downtown skyline and Hillsborough River as a backdrop, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn delivered his 2014 "State of the City" address at the old brick building that used to house Tampa's trolleys.
Bobbie O'Brien WUSF Public Media

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn staged his 2014 “State of the City” address inside the old Tampa Armature Works building on the east banks of the Hillsborough River. The one-story brick structure is where they used to store the trolleys that once connected Tampa’s neighborhoods to downtown.

The significance of the old trolley building was not lost on the 500 people watching as Buckhorn used his “bully pulpit” to call for a funding referendum to support expanded bus service and light rail in Tampa.

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Off The Base
5:14 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Florida Veteran Awarded the Medal of Honor in White House Ceremony

Sgt. First Class Melvin Morris, a Florida veteran, listens as the citation of his valor in Vietnam is read during a White House Medal of Honor ceremony.
The White House online

Far from the Vietnam jungles where Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris,72, served two tours, the Army veteran stood on a stage at the White House today as he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

President Barack Obama noted to the room packed with family members and military that the Port St. John, Florida resident was one of the first Green Berets.

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Off The Base
12:52 pm
Sun March 16, 2014

FL Vietnam Vet to Receive Medal of Honor

Retired Army Vietnam veteran Melvin Morris will be awarded a delayed, Medal of Honor for his heroism.
Credit The Army News Service

Melvin Morris served two tours of duty in Vietnam, but because of his race he didn't receive the Medal of Honor. Morris talks to NPR's Rachel Martin about the award he'll receive from President Obama.

You can listen to the interview, which aired March 16, 2014, on WUSF 89.7 FM.

Morris told Martin that he has no regrets.

"I am never angry about it. You know war is war and we do what we're told to do and we don't determine the outcome," Morris said.

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Off The Base
7:45 am
Fri March 14, 2014

A Photo Tribute to the American Soldier

Exhibit curator Cyma Rubin next to the Civil War photo showing a family at a Union campsite.
Bobbie O'Brien WUSF Public Media

A powerful, photographic tribute to American soldiers and Marines from the Civil War to the Iraq War opens Tuesday at the St. Petersburg Museum of History.

From the opening panel of the American Soldier exhibit – you immediately see the difference. The photo of the Union soldier from Civil War is staged in a photographer’s studio. He poses with his rifle. The Iraq War soldier is in an urban warfare setting, his finger poised on the trigger of his AK-47.

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