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

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

It was six years ago when President Barack Obama vowed to end homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015. Nearly a year later, that hasn't happened.

But there have been successes. Two states, Virginia and Connecticut, and dozens of cities like Orlando are considered to be at “functional zero” having ended chronic homelessness among veterans. That means homeless veterans have an immediate system of housing and services at their disposal.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The two main economic drivers in Florida are tourism and agriculture, but you can’t ignore the military. From military bases and defense contractors to 1.6 million veterans living in the state, the military contributes nearly 10 percent to the Florida economy.

That’s why protecting those military assets has become the mission of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation, business leaders and elected officials.

Bobbie O'Brien

Many local schools and government offices are shut down today because of Tropical Storm Hermine. But Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is taking a different tack - he expanded hours at the city parks and recreation centers.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Floridians voted almost 20 years ago to open primary ballots and allow all voters to decide a race if the only candidates were from the same political party.

However, a loophole using write-in candidates is thwarting what many say is the spirit of that 1998 constitutional amendment. And some voters in Tuesday's primary election agreed.

Federal Voting Assistance Program

In 2000, the Florida ballots of overseas service members were a key point of controversy in the Bush vs. Gore election.  Now, 16 years later, little has changed for most overseas troops, who still have to vote absentee mostly through international mail.

FDVA

As Florida’s health care industry is growing, so too is the need for registered nurses and other medical personnel. The competition for qualified health care professionals is high which has one state agency banking on a nurse’s patriotism to attract new hires.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The military is big business in Florida. Business leaders estimate the state's 20 military installations, along with the defense industry and veterans,  account for 10 percent of Florida's economy.

So, it's no surprise that protecting Florida’s bases from realignment or closure is a top priority for elected officials and businesses alike.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

On the campaign trail in Florida, Donald Trump asserted that the presidential elections could be “rigged.” That’s a touchy subject for a state that was mired in controversy over the presidential ballot count in the 2000 election.

“Among all the offensive things he (Trump) said this week, that’s probably like number seven,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in response to Trump's claim.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

  Next month, it will have been 15 years since the United States went to war in Afghanistan and then later, into Iraq. It’s estimated 2.5 million men and women have served during that time and each has a story to tell.

Helping those service members and veterans shape and share their story is why Tampa brothers Matt and Mark Fetterman started the non-profit organization, The Homefront Foundation.

State of Florida

The State of Florida is holding a “garage sale” of sorts this Saturday in Tampa. Diamonds, rubies and pearls are among the more than 70,000 items that will be up for bid.

It’s the annual Unclaimed Property Auction and will include featured items like an 18-karat gold Rolex-brand watch, rare coins, vintage jewelry and collectibles like sports trading cards featuring Hank Aaron, Dan Marino and Larry Bird.

Ballpark Reimagined.com / Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays launched a new website, BallparkReimagined.com, to gather your ideas and vision on what a new stadium should look like and include.

Their theme is "Different By Design" and it urges contributors to get creative with ideas that will not only “enhance” the ballpark but make it a community gathering place for generations to come.

The goal is to create: “An icon as distinct as we are,” states the website video.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

At the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell today, Jasper G. Taylor, Jr. will be laid to rest.

Taylor was a World War II Army Air Corps radio operator who was captured by Imperial Japan in the Philippines in May 1942.

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

Veterans and their family members in the Tampa Bay region have an opportunity to help guide VA research at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital.

The Haley VA is looking for 10 volunteers to serve on a Veteran Engagement Council. The council will bring a veterans’ perspective and help shape VA research that studies things like the effectiveness of new technologies on veterans’ care.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

There’s a growing movement to help homeless veterans by providing tiny houses – structures of only a couple hundred square feet. The idea has taken root in Eugene, OR, Kansas City and Huntsville, AL. Now, you can add St. Petersburg to that list.

The interfaith group, Celebrate Outreach, is embracing the tiny house concept and building on it.

For a start, their tiny houses are custom designed by students at the University of South Florida School of Architecture and Community Design.

Bobbie O'Brien/WUSF / WUSF Public Media

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp started up this week. But before they opened their practices to the public, even before the players started working out in pads, the team invited active-duty military, veterans and their families for a special Military Appreciation Day.

Hundreds turned out Friday before 8:45 a.m.

A U.S. Army staff sergeant and assistant professor of military science at the University of South Florida ROTC, Jonathan Darm, said there are some similarities between the military and professional athletes.

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority

Bus riders in Hillsborough County have a new, smart phone feature that can help them find the most efficient route.

University of Florida

Scientists have yet to confirm whether Florida has its first “locally acquired” case of Zika. But Florida researchers are in hot pursuit for ways to eliminate the mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus.

U.S. Senate

Former U.S. Senator Bob Graham of Florida and his allies won a 13-year battle Friday when the federal government finally declassified 28 pages of the 2002 congressional inquiry into the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Wikipedia

The Tampa Bay Rays are looking to move out of Tropicana Field. So now, the question is what should the city of St. Petersburg move onto the 85 acres where the “Trop” sits?

Tech. Sgt. Krystie Martinez / U.S. Air Force

Commanding an Air Force Wing – like the 6th Air Mobility Wing in Tampa – is challenging enough.  Add to that being accountable for the security and daily operations of a high profile military base that is headquarters for U.S. Central Command, and those responsibilities grow "huge." That’s why the Air Force selected Col. April Vogel to take command at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa.

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