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.

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Off The Base
10:22 am
Fri September 26, 2014

Saint Leo Takes on Transitioning Veterans

Standing next to the 'teacher statue at Saint Leo Unviersity is Tedd "Gunny" Weiser, a retired Marine gunnery sergeant and interim director of Veteran Student Services.
Bobbie O'Brien WUSF Public Media

It’s difficult to define today’s military veteran. But there is one thing they have in common - they don’t like being painted with the same broad brush.

“Just because I’m a veteran, particularly me because I’m a Marine, a combat Marine, don’t think you know my political affiliation, my beliefs, my values,” said Tedd “Gunny” Weiser, short for Gunnery Sergeant. “There is a label and we want to shed that, we want people to know that we are our own person.”

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Off The Base
2:09 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Video: Air Strike Against ISIL Refinery

The Jeribe West Refinery being run by ISIL is targeted for bombing Sept. 24, 2014.
Credit U.S. Central Command

The United States Central Command has released unclassified video of an air strike Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014, on the Jeribe West Modular Refinery in Syria.

The Islamic State militants (ISIL) reportedly earn an estimated $2 million daily from several oil fields and refineries in the region.

The Associated Press reports:

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Off The Base
12:24 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Army Ranger Cory Remsburg 'Leads the Way'

Dr. Steven Scott, director of the Polytrauma Center at James A. Haley VA Hospital, talks with his former patient, Army Ranger Cory Remsburg.
Bobbie O'Brien WUSF Public Media

Army Ranger Cory Remsburg returns each year to James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa to show the staff his progress. He was severely injured in 2009 and spent two years recovering at Haley’s Polytrauma Center.

Remsburg was on his tenth deployment when he was injured by an IED in Afghanistan. His teammates found him face down in a water-filled canal with shrapnel in his brain.

He was in a coma when he arrived at the Haley.

More than 800 patients have come through the polytrauma system according to Haley Chief of Staff Dr. Edward Cutolo, but he remembers Remsburg.

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Off The Base
7:30 am
Thu September 18, 2014

MacDill Gives President Rousing Response

President Barack Obama addressing service members at MacDill Air Force Base, home to US Central Command, US Special Operations Command and the 6th Air Mobility Wing.
Marine Sgt. Fredrick Coleman CENTCOM

The pride of “wearing the uniform” was clear and present inside the MacDill Air Force Base sports center Wednesday where 1,200 service members from all branches crowded together to hear President Barack Obama.

Most were dressed in the everyday, camo uniform. They greeted the president with an enthusiasm that belied the rainy, gray skies outside.

President Obama talked directly to the men and women. He said he came to thank them for their sacrifice and for their commitment to the country.

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Off The Base
11:05 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

President Obama Arrives at MacDill, Stops by Military Spouse Appreciation Event

A map of U.S. Central Command's AOR, area of responsibility.
Credit CENTCOM / U.S. Department of Defense

President Barack Obama landed at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base shortly before 7  p.m. Tuesday, following a flight from Atlanta where he announced a major U.S. response to  the Ebola crisis in Africa.

The President was greeted by the Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Lloyd Austin, the newly installed Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command Gen. Joseph Votel, Commander of MacDill and the 6th Air Mobility Wing Col. Daniel Tulley, and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL-D).

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Off The Base
7:30 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Deployed Troops at Risk for Accidents Back Home

A U.S. military cargo truck bypasses a charred vehicle destroyed by a roadside bomb while moving building materials to Forward Operating Base Leatherneck in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, Nov. 24, 2009.
Credit U.S. Army photo by Spc. Elisebet Freeburg / Department of Defense

Evasive driving maneuvers like speeding and sudden lane changes are a must for troops driving in dangerous environments where there may be roadside bombs, like Afghanistan.

But the driving habits that can save a soldier’s life when deployed can cause an accident and maybe death when the soldier returns home.

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Off The Base
6:28 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Finding Jobs for Vets with 'Urgent' Need

Russ Barnes, a retired Air Force colonel with 27 years of service, designed the USF Student Veterans Employment Project.
Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Despite the improving economy, finding a job or establishing a career remains a challenge and will be especially so for the million or more military service members expected to transition to civilian life in the next few years.

So, the University of South Florida Office of Veteran Services created the Veterans Employment Project, thanks to a grant from the JP Morgan & Chase Company, to prepare USF student veterans for the competitive civilian market.

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Off The Base
8:24 am
Thu September 4, 2014

Another Veterans' Town Hall Seeks Input

James A. Haley VA Medical Center, Tampa, FL.
Credit VA.gov / Department of Veterans Affairs

Tampa's James A. Haley VA Medical Center, 13000 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., is inviting veterans and their families to voice their concerns about service and share their ideas on how to improve at a town hall today, Sept. 4, 2014, at 3:30 p.m.

It is the second such veterans' town hall held in as many days in the Tampa Bay region.

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Off The Base
5:34 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Veterans Town Hall for Bay Pines VA

Credit Bay Pines VA Healthcare System

Here’s an opportunity for veterans and their family members who want to share ideas, compliments and complaints with the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System and St. Petersburg VA Regional Office.

It’s a town hall, scheduled Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014 as part of the “improved communication” called for by new VA Secretary Robert McDonald.

The goal is to hear directly from veterans.

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Off The Base
9:18 am
Fri August 29, 2014

A 'Golden Age' and New Leader for SOCOM

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, passes the U.S. Special Operations Command flag to incoming commander Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel III during a change-of-command ceremony in Tampa on Aug. 28.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Hurt Department of Defense

The significance of the U.S. Special Operations Command, based at MacDill Air Force Base, can be measured by the fact that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel came to Tampa for the change of command ceremony.

“As a testament to the growing demand for special operators, SOCOM has grown by almost 8,000 people over the last three years,” Hagel told an invited audience of hundreds, most in military uniform. “And its growth will continue even as other parts of our military drawdown.”

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Culture
8:30 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Comedy to Break Down Myths About Muslims

Comedian Negen Farsad is scheduled to appear at USF Thursday as part of the Building Bridges Project.
Credit Courtesy of Negin Farsad

A female Muslim comic is the opening act followed by a humorous documentary titled “The Muslims Are Coming” this week at the University of South Florida Tampa campus.

Are you smiling yet?

The dual events kick-off the two-year grant project, Building Bridges, that has the goal of using art to span the gap between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds.

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Off The Base
7:22 am
Fri August 22, 2014

Bay Pines VA Summit on Mental Health

Bay Pines VA Healthcare System
Credit Bay Pines VA

Veterans mental health experts at Bay Pines VA Healthcare System admit the VA "can't do everything alone."

So, the Bay Pines VA is holding a mental health summit today, looking to community partners to help provide veteran services both inside and outside the VA System. Local mental health agencies, private health care organizations and some hospitals are expected to attend the invitation-only event.

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Off The Base
4:34 pm
Sat August 16, 2014

Stolen Motorcycle Returned to Iraq Veteran

Iraq veteran Paul Badillo, holding his daughter Mila, examines his rebuilt motorcycle presented to him by the Nam Knights Westside Motorcycle Club.
Bobbie O'Brien WUSF Public Media

UPDATE: Law enforcement provided an incomplete name for the Iraq veteran. His full name is Paul Badillo Rivera following the Hispanic tradition with two surnames. So, he is known as Paul Badillo.

When is a motorcycle more than just a ride? For Iraq veteran Paul Badillo, tinkering with the mechanics was a kind of therapy. It calmed him as much as a ride on the open road.

But his peace of mind was stolen from his apartment parking lot June 18, 2014.

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Off The Base
7:54 am
Fri August 15, 2014

Reaching Women Vets Is A Challenge

Female Veterans in Iraq. A New Resource for Female Vet on VA health care and benefits: 1-855-VA-WOMEN.
Credit Department of Veterans Affairs

What happens if you plan an event to honor women veterans and none of them come? That’s a real concern at the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 97 in Sarasota. The organization is planning a free event August 30th for the area’s women veterans, but so far, they’re having a tough time generating interest.

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Culture
8:25 am
Wed August 13, 2014

Emergency Director Recalls Hurricane Charley

An ariel photograph from FEMA showing the destruction of homes in Charlotte County.
FEMA

Many in the Tampa Bay area braced for what they thought would be a direct hit from Hurricane Charley ten years ago. But, the category 4 storm took a right turn and made a direct hit on Punta Gorda, Friday, August 13, 2004 at about 4:45 p.m. at least that’s when the town clock stopped according to Wayne Sallade, director of emergency operations for Charlotte County.

Back then, Sallade had 17 years of experience on the job, but nothing can really prepare one for the kind of destruction that Charley wrought.

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