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
8:31 am
Sun March 8, 2015

It's Military Appreciation Today at Art Museum

It’s hard to find anything more quintessentially American than the artwork of Norman Rockwell.

The Tampa Museum of Art has.

It’s offering free admission to Rockwell’s art today to military, veterans and their families. The exhibit, American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell, is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Read more
Off The Base
11:51 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Winning Appeals for Veterans Denied Benefits

Veterans Advocacy Clinic director and Stetson Associate Professor of Law Stacey-Rae Simcox (left) works on a case with clinic paralegal Shirley Wells. Both women are Army veterans.
Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

There’s no shortage of stories about veterans who have had their disability benefit claims denied by the Veterans Administration, or their appeals paperwork lost.

The VA claims process can be complex, time consuming and downright frustrating.

But there’s help for veterans who have hit a roadblock in their quest for benefits they earned while serving in the military.

Read more
Off The Base
7:46 am
Fri February 27, 2015

Meet the 53rd Brigade NCO of the Year

SSG Aidana Baez with the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
Bobbie O'Brien WUSF Public Media

The top Non-Commissioned Officers from the Florida Army National Guard this weekend are at Camp Blanding vying for the title of “Florida NCO of the year.”

It is two days of physical competitions, weapons and skills contests, a six-mile “ruck” march and tests on Army regulations.

Representing the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Pinellas Park, is Staff Sergeant Aidana Baez. She won NCO competitions at the company level and  battalion level to earn the top brigade honor.

Read more
Off The Base
3:31 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

Veterans Suicide Prevention Act Passes

Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, US Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), during a committee hearing.
Credit House Committee on Veterans Affairs

A bill aimed at improving veteran accessibility to mental  health care has passed the US Senate and now only needs President Obama's signature to become law.

The US House passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act on January 12, 2015 for a second time.

Read more
Off The Base
7:46 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Making Strides for Paralyzed Veterans

(April 2014) Lead therapist Michael Firestone adjusts the Exoskeleton computer backpack for veteran Josh Baker, paralyzed after a motorcycle accident.
Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Tampa’s James A. Haley VA Hospital is using cutting edge technology to help injured veterans rehabilitate.

One of the devices, at the Spinal Cord Injury Center, helping paralyzed veterans stand and walk again is the Exoskeleton.

Using a computer backpack, robotic leg braces and a walker, veteran Josh Baker demonstrated the Exoskeleton during the April 2014 ceremonial opening of Haley’s new Polytrauma Center.

Read more
Off The Base
9:19 am
Fri January 23, 2015

Lessons Learned as Director at Tampa's VA

After close to four years overseeing one of the busiest VA medical centers in the nation, Kathleen Fogarty is leaving for a less hectic post in Kansas City.
Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Tampa’s James A. Haley VA Medical Center will soon have a new director. Marjorie Hedstrom, the medical center director at the VA in Popular Bluff, Mo., will take over in just over a week.

The current director, Kathleen Fogarty, is leaving Haley by choice.

She’s taken the same position at a smaller, less hectic VA hospital in Kansas City. That’s after almost four years at one of the nation’s busiest veteran medical centers serving some 200,000 veterans living in the Tampa Bay region.

Read more
Off The Base
10:37 am
Fri January 16, 2015

Navy Pilots Train at Tampa's Air Base

Navy AM3 Jessica Clayton is an airframe structural mechanic 3rd class.
Bobbie O'Brien WUSF Public Media

A hush will fall over Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, when 14 Navy Hornets and Super Hornets take off for a final time.

Flying the F-18 aircraft will be Navy pilots who just finished two weeks of daily exercises at the Avon Park Air Force Range. The Navy contingent from Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia includes 14 pilots in training, 22 instructors and 150 maintainers - or maintenance crew.

Navy Lt. Nate Miller said MacDill and the nearby bombing range are ideal for the 14 pilots he’s in charge of.

Read more
8:33 am
Thu January 15, 2015

Final Word Before USF Graduate Moves On

Noor Shakfeh (center) with Syrian children in one of the refugee camps. (March 2013)
Photo courtesy of Jihad Saadeh

We first met University of South Florida student Noor Shakfeh after she spent her spring break in Syria helping at a refugee camp along the Turkish border almost two years ago.

Read more
Off The Base
1:34 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Haley VA Director Leaves 'To Go Home'

(July 2014) Youth volunteer Mairyn Harris, 14, and James A. Haley VA Medical Center Director Kathleen Fogarty inside the new USO Day Room.
Credit Tessa Wiseman

Tampa's VA hospital director Kathleen Fogarty is leaving her post permanently to take a similar position with the Kansas City VA Medical Center.

She made the announcement, she said, so that VA could begin hunting for Haley's new leader.

Fogarty has been absent from James A. Haley VA Medical Center since November. That's when she was tapped to temporarily take over as the acting network director responsible for the Phoenix VA which had documented cases of delayed veterans care and long claims waiting lists. That assignment was going to last at least three months.

Read more
Off The Base
2:11 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

CENTCOM Twitter and YouTube Hacked


Either a group or an individual claiming to be a part of the Islamic State, hacked the two social media accounts belonging to US Central Command, which oversees Department of Defense operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and the rest of the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, according to Politico.

Read more
Off The Base
7:02 am
Fri January 9, 2015

Veteran Suicide: Beyond the Numbers

Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

There’s a statistic on veteran suicide that is repeated often: VA officials say an average of 22 veterans commit suicide every day. But what is not widely known about that statistic is that a majority of veterans committing suicide are older and did not serve in combat.

For our series Off the Base, WUSF reporter Bobbie O’Brien talked with Dr. Larry Schonfeld,  a professor in the Department of Mental Health Law and Policy at the University of South Florida’s Florida Mental Health Institute.

Read more
Law & Order
6:57 am
Tue January 6, 2015

How Well Are Florida's Courts Working?

Florida Supreme Court building in Tallahassee.

Every six years the Florida court system assesses everything from public access to court independence and looks for suggestions on ways to improve. That assessment includes six public meetings that start this week where folks can share their compliments, air complaints and recommend changes.

Florida’s judicial system handles more than 4 million cases a year with only about 1,000 judges according to Joanne Snair with the Office of the State Courts administrator.

Read more
Off The Base
3:25 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

Will Veteran Homelessness End in 2015?

Bob McDonald’s first visit as VA Secretary was to the Phoenix VAMC where he met with veterans and employees like Medical Support Assistant Michael Logie. He also visited the Las Vegas VAMC during the trip
Credit VAntage blog /

The year 2015 could bring about some momentous changes for veterans.

First, it is the year that the Department of Veterans Affairs set as the deadline for ending veteran homelessness according to a 5-year plan adopted in 2009.

“As that deadline fast approaches, I’m pleased to report that the VA has succeeded in reducing veteran homelessness by approximately 33 percent,” said US Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL).

Read more
Florida Matters
5:12 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

2014 Best Use of Sound

The finished tourtiere, a French-Canadian meat pie, traditionally made for New Years Day and Christmas.
Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

For Thanksgiving  week -- Florida Matters takes a look at food, family and cooking traditions.

Reporter Bobbie O’Brien has an Irish heritage among other ancestors.

Her husband is 100 percent French Canadian. And marrying into his clan meant that she learned how to make the traditional French Canadian meat pie, tourtiere, from a family recipe that had been passed down for generations.

She makes the traditional pie for our listeners and shares a few of their family stories and recipe secrets along the way.

Read more
Off The Base
4:22 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

The VA Scandal Played Out in Florida

U.S. Rep. David Jolly talks with a "Tin-Can" sailor about the VA refusing to give his shipmates coverage for Agent Orange exposure during the Vietnam War.
Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The audio is a compilation of six stories that exemplify coverage of the VA scandal over delayed veterans’ health care and benefits claims as it unfolded nationally and in Florida.

Read more