American Homefront

In early 2017, WUSF joined the national American Homefront project, a national collaborative covering military life and veterans issues. We're visiting bases to chronicle how American troops are working and living. We're meeting military families. We're talking with veterans -- in their homes, on their jobs, at school, at VA hospitals -- to learn about the challenges they face.

It builds on WUSF's Off the Base project, which was created through a 2010-2011 Rosalynn Carter Fellowship to build a bridge between the civilian community and active-duty military, veterans and their families. 

Photo courtesy of the Dept. of Veterans Affairs.

Florida is home to more than 1.6 million veterans. So, it’s no surprise that Florida lawmakers passed several bills this session that benefit military veterans and active duty service members.

Among the bills agreed upon was the “T. Patt Maney Veterans Treatment Intervention Act.”

Named in honor of Okaloosa County Judge Maney, the bill authorizes each judicial circuit to set up a Veterans’ Court or program to handle the cases of veterans with psychological problems like substance abuse and PTSD or traumatic brain injury as a result of their military service.

The Florida Legislature has approved three veteran related bills this session including one that sets aside August 7th each year as Purple Heart Day.

The legislation does not establish an official government holiday, so state agencies, offices and the courts will remain open. What Purple Heart Day is meant to do: raise awareness and honor veterans who are wounded or have been killed in battle.

U. S. Department of Defense

The United States Air Force is considering budget cuts that could mean moving a squadron of National Guard C-130s from Texas to Montana.

Why does Florida Governor Rick Scott care?  He and other Gulf Coast governors say the plan would hinder rescue and recovery efforts following hurricanes.

Governor Scott -- along with Rick Perry of Texas, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and Robert Bentley of Alabama -- sent a letter this week to President Obama asking that he intervene.

Recent news out of Afghanistan has focused mainly on protests and killings linked to the incident when U.S. forces burned some Korans allegedly used to pass messages among prisoners. But there is different news from outlying provinces far removed from Kabul.

For our ongoing series, Off the Base, WUSF’s Bobbie O’Brien talked with former MacDill Air Force 1st Lt. Mark Graff who has spent the last 9 months as a member of a Provincial Reconstruction Team or PRT in the western province of Farah.

BOBBIE O’BRIEN: This was the first deployment of your military career, can you sum up what the experience has been like as a PRT member serving with civilians and members of the Army and Navy?

1st LT. MARK GRAFF: Our goal was to work with the Afghan government, the provincial government, on improving the economy, development and security for Farah Province.

St. Petersburg native Brad Snyder has earned an invitation to swim with the U.S. Paralympic Team in the London 2012 Games.

Snyder, a 2006 U.S. Naval Academy graduate and swim team captain, competed in his first swim meet this past weekend since being blinded by an explosive six months ago in Afghanistan. Swimming the 50 free at the Bobby Flowers Swim Meet in Colorado Springs, Snyder finished just 1.8 seconds off the paralympic blind division world record.

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