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.

Partners in the project include WUSF, KPBS in San Diego and North Carolina Public Radio - WUNC.

The American Homefront project in Tampa builds on the success of 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.

American Homefront receives support from: The Bob Woodruff Foundation, dedicated to ensuring that post-9/11 injured service members, veterans, and their families make a successful transition.  

A “Smart Power Approach” is what U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the combined civilian and military partnership aimed at diminishing “the appeal” of terrorism for the next generation.

Secretary Clinton spoke for nearly half-an-hour Wednesday at the International Special Operations Forces Industry Gala Dinner held at the Tampa Convention Center.

Bobbie O'Brien

Special Operations Forces like to be known as the “Quiet Warriors.” Yet, it was anything but quiet Wednesday as special forces teams from several countries held a “hostage rescue” demonstration as part of the International Special Operations Forces Week in Tampa.

“Obviously getting to fire a 50 caliber was pretty cool, the ultimate boy-toy,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said after volunteering to be the “hostage” during a mock rescue by dozens of special operations forces.

Photo courtesy of US Consulate.gov

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is coming to Tampa next week. She will be the keynote speaker for a gathering of international military forces.

Military delegates from 96 countries have been invited to the Special Operations Forces Week conference organized by Adm. William McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command based at MacDill Air Force Base.

The conference focuses on “Building the Global SOF (Special Operations Forces) Partnerships.”

The Tampa Bay area is home to a large concentration of veterans and active duty military which prompted the  Stetson University College of Law to establish a Veterans Law Institute.

Part of the institute’s mission is setting up a Veterans Advocacy Clinic to help veterans seeking government benefits as well as assist those appealing decisions denying benefits. It will also partner with other organizations, including Legal Assistance for Warriors, to provide pro bono legal services for active duty personnel and their families.

A new program for military veterans interested in earning an MBA just received a $409,299 grant.

The College of Business at University of South Florida St. Petersburg is one of 12 organizations worldwide to win a grant from the Graduate Management Admission Council MET (Management Education for Tomorrow) fund.

The St. Petersburg program, “Leading in a Civilian Context: A Socially Responsible MBA for Returning Veterans,” begins in June with 20 openings for student veterans.

Military service is voluntary in the United States, but it’s a different story for the children born into military families. That’s an estimated 1.8 million children who face many unique challenges and stresses of military life not known by civilian kids.

“The frequent deployments often mom or dad is gone,” said Gail Mouse, director of MacDill’s Child Development Center 3. “As well as, they’re moving every two to three years. They don’t have the support systems that many of the civilian children have with having family right there.”

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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