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

U.S. Department of Defense - Defenseimagery.mil / U.S. Department of Defense

President-Elect Donald Trump has named a former leader of U.S. Central Command to become the next Secretary of Defense.

Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis led U.S. Central Command, which is based at Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base before relinquishing command in March 2013.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

There’s a small but growing legal community in the U.S. that’s helping veterans with their benefits claims while working to improve the VA system. And their work continues even as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to name a new VA Secretary to “make the VA great again,” as promised during his campaign.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Former Army Sgt. Justin Lansford will be home – truly home - for the holidays this year. The Iraq and Afghanistan combat veteran and his wife were handed the keys to a brand new, three bedroom bungalow in Tampa’s Seminole Heights thanks to the Gramatica Family Foundation.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

You have today and Wednesday to catch a free ride on the new Cross-Bay Ferry. The “Test the Waters” promotion is taking passengers on a first come basis with no reservations needed.

Organizers are hoping the free 60-minute cruise will attract passengers willing to pay for the ferry service. in the future. The one-way fare between Tampa and St. Petersburg will be $10 for adults.

U.S. Department of Defense - Defenseimagery.mil / U.S. Department of Defense

Retired U.S. Marine Gen. James Mattis, who was part of the military leadership based at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base, is being considered for a cabinet post in the new Trump Administration.

On March 22, 2013, Gen. Mattis handed over command of U.S. Central Command to Army Gen. Lloyd Austin III. In tribute to Mattis’ leadership, several high ranking officers including then-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, attended the ceremony at MacDill AFB.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

You can't hear the story of combat veteran Leonard (Mr. Steve) Stevens without learning about the woman he calls his body guard. Their stories are now deeply connected.

As connected as the 95-year-old is to his blue ball cap that reads: "WWII Combat Glider Pilot."

Benedictine Sisters of Florida

If you’ve not yet bought your turkey and want to share the day with others, there’s an opportunity in San Antonio. The Benedictine Sisters of Florida are hosting a free Thanksgiving meal and fellowship for the 21st year in a row.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Friday is Veterans Day - a time set aside for Americans to pay tribute to those who have served in uniform.

But if you’re unsure what to do or how to reach out, The Military Times suggests 8 Ways to Express Appreciation on Veterans Day and United We Serve, the National Service Blog, posted 10 Ways to Support and Honor Veterans.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

To get past this week's divisive presidential election – some people are choosing to move forward and work together as a community. So, WUSF News reached out to an expert in conflict resolution for some ideas.

Holy Name Monastery is nestled in the rolling hills of Pasco County. It was founded by the Benedictine Sisters  of Florida 127 years ago, and has a tradition of offering a “welcoming hand, kind heart and listening ear” to those who seek harmony with others.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The Department of Veterans Affairs is struggling with another huge backlog and this time it is not veterans waiting for medical appointments.

Currently, a veteran who has had a disability claim denied must wait - on average four to five years - for an appeals hearing. VA Secretary Bob McDonald predicts that will grow to a 10-year backlog if laws aren’t changed.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Vice President Joe Biden describes himself as a "Middle Class Joe.” And during a campaign swing through Tampa on Wednesday, he called on other "middle class folks" to vote for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

About 150 supporters greeted Biden under a blazing sun outside the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa. He took the stage just before noon, noting Florida is seeing another razor-thin race for president.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Ever since Tony Jannus flew the first scheduled airline flight from St. Petersburg to Tampa in 1914, people have looked for ways to “bridge” the bay.

Now, for $10 and 50 minutes of your time, the Cross-Bay Ferry can transport you between St. Petersburg and Tampa. Public service starts Friday.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

As Nov. 8 draws closer -- more and more ads, polls, and political pundits are defining what the election means. WUSF News is turning to you to learn the issues that will decide your vote.

So,we set up "Listening Posts" around the Bay Area.

Courtesy of the American Dental Association

A one-day, free dental clinic for military veterans will open its doors Friday to provide urgent care from root canals to tooth fillings. And there are no empty chairs.

That’s because the second annual “Stars, Stripes and Smiles” event, organized by U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and the West Pasco Dental Association, has already filled its allotted 75 slots. But veterans’ names are still being taken for a waiting list.

Tampa Bay Lightning TV

The Tampa Bay Lightning won their season opener Thursday night against the Detroit Red Wings at Tampa's Amalie Arena. The final score was 6-4 with the Lightning scoring four goals in the third period.

Before the game, Lightning Captain Steven Stamkos warned against getting "caught up in predictions" that have the Lightning as a Stanley Cup favorite. The team has gone deep in the playoffs the last two seasons.

wbur.org

Tampa's Uber and Lyft drivers won't know for another month if local regulators are going to authorize them to operate, legally, in Hillsborough County.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

A Tampa nonprofit that has partnered with a national organization to build homes for wounded veterans in Tampa is now going solo.

The Gramatica Family Foundation is building its fourth home for an injured soldier, using all-local donations.

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.

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