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.  

New U.S. Central Command Leader Nominated

Dec 6, 2012
U.S. Department of Defense

President Obama today nominated a new leader for one of Tampa’s most visible military institutions, U.S. Central Command, based MacDill Air Force Base.

The nominee: Gen. Lloyd Austin, who currently serves as vice chief of staff of the Army. He is one of the military’s most seasoned combat leaders according to a statement from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta:

Simon & Schuster, Inc.

The Special Forces Qualifications Course - known as the Q Course - is demanding training that turns traditional fighters into unconventional warriors - Green Berets.

Special Forces prize wit and stamina as much as physical strength. The Q Course also tests leadership - it's an atmosphere that demands improvisation to respond to unstable surroundings.

Here, author Tony Schwalm reads a section of his book from when he moved into the second part of the Q Course that focused on team building.

Tony Schwalm

Tony Schwalm commanded a tank company in Desert Storm, but it left him with a gnawing feeling that the mission was incomplete. So, he gave up the status he’d earned in the conventional Army to forge a new path as an “unconventional warrior” - a Green Beret.

Schwalm not only made it through the Special Forces Qualifications Course – known as the Q Course - he was later brought back to help redesign the test of physical strength, stamina and wits.

VA National Cemeteries Administration

Florida veterans will soon have two more options for burial at VA National Cemeteries in the state. Currently, there are seven national cemeteries, but large populations of veterans in north and east central Florida are still not served.

So, the Department of Veterans Affairs purchased land for two new cemeteries to accommodate about 247,000 veterans living more than 75 miles from any of the current cemeteries.

The annual holiday party held by U.S. Central Command at Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base appears to have been cancelled according to the Tampa Tribune.

Amy Scherzer / Tampa Bay Times

The Petraeus sex scandal not only cost the CIA director his job, it has generated a lot of interest in the general’s time as commander at U.S. Central Command in Tampa. And it spawned an investigation of a second general, John Allen, over email exchanges with a Tampa woman.

Many outside the Tampa community are questioning how two four-star generals like Petraeus and Allen could have become friends with a socialite like Jill Kelley.

A broader look at Tampa’s military and civilian communities gives some insight.

Prosecuting Adultery in the Armed Forces

Nov 16, 2012

The high-profile scandals involving Generals David Petraeus and John Allen revolve around questions of infidelity. If either is proven to be an adulterer during their time in the military, they could face serious consequences. But why would their jobs be at risk over something many consider a personal issue?

If you are a banker and have an extramarital affair, you probably won't face criminal charges. But the same isn't true for service men and woman.

Tampa Is Seen as Social Link for Unfolding Scandal

Nov 14, 2012

TAMPA, Fla. — Jill and Scott Kelley moved here about a decade ago, taking up residence in a huge redbrick home with a spectacular view of the water on Bayshore Boulevard, the city’s most fashionable street. They quickly established themselves as social hosts to the powerful four-star officers who run two of the nation’s most important military commands.

Anyone who lives in the Tampa area for long is sure to become familiar with MacDill Avenue.

And the large airbase and economic engine at the tip of South Tampa is named MacDill AFB. But who is the man behind these names? 

Colonel Leslie MacDill was killed in a plane crash in Washington, D. C., on November 9, 1938.

Courtesy of the Quintero family.

On this upcoming Veteran's Day, we celebrate servicemembers who fought on the battlefield and all those who supported them like Christian Quintero.

The 25-year-old Navy Reservist and University of South Florida student talked with WUSF about his five years on active-duty as a Navy corpsman.

He was only 19 when he began his work assisting on surgeries of the most severely injured like amputees at Bethesda Naval Medical Center - now known as the Walter Reed National Medical Center.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Members of the military usually deploy into hazardous situations and their families remain safe at home. This week, it was reversed. Blame Hurricane Sandy.

Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base became the temporary home to military aircraft and critical mission units moved out of Sandy’s path. But, many of the military families stayed behind. That was the case for members of the 621st Contingency Response Wing from joint base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in central New Jersey.

TSgt. E. Parker Gyokeres / 621st Contingency Response Wing

Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base has become a temporary home for several military aircraft and crews moved out of the path of Hurricane Sandy.

The New Jersey-based 621st Contingency Response Wing is one of the readiness groups responsible for assessments and opening up air bases and landing strips after a disaster anywhere in the world.

New Housing for OIF/OEF Homeless Veterans

Oct 26, 2012
Courtesy of the Fyfe family.

Almost 25 percent of homeless people are military veterans. Transitioning from the battlefield to a civilian job or school can be challenging -- especially if the veteran has unresolved problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Bruce Fyfe, chairman of the board at Clearwater’s Homeless Emergency Project, understands the plight of homeless veterans at several levels. Fyfe and his wife, Wanda, helped raise more than $1.6 million to build a 32-unit complex specifically for homeless veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Stetson University College of Law

Stetson University College of Law opened its Veterans Law Institute on the Gulfport campus less than five months ago. The Veterans Advocacy Clinic already has 20 cases pending or in the pipeline and more than 60 inquiries from veterans looking for help.

Director Michael Allen said this fall semester four law students are working in the clinic helping veterans file for VA benefits or appeal rulings. He hopes to have eight law students working by spring semester.

Associated Press

The  hidden bomb that killed St. Petersburg's Army Spc. Brittany Gordon on Saturday is being linked to the revenge killing of a 9-year-old Afghan child according to the New York Times.

Tampa native Sam Gibbons was 24 years old the night before D-Day when he dropped into German-occupied France as a young captain of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division “Screaming Eagles.”

The former Florida lawmaker and 16-term member of the U.S. Congress died at age 92, peacefully, in his sleep.

In Gibbons' memoir I Was There - he described his experiences in WWII. It is peppered with details like how he replaced his gas mask with two cans of Schlitz beer before the D-Day drop.

Bobbie O'Brien

Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are encountering a different mindset at area VA hospitals. The younger, post-9/11 veterans are used to X-Games and high-velocity sports.

So, therapists and doctors are adapting. One wet and wild example was sponsored recently by the James A. Haley VA Hospital.

A Veterans Adaptive Water Skiing Expo showed veterans the ropes recently at Seminole Lake Park in Pinellas County.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF

A recent survey showed that up to 40 percent of veterans have thought about starting their own business. But, many don’t know where to begin and are unaware that free help is available.

So, Pinellas SCORE is sponsoring a Veterans Business Expo Saturday, Oct. 6, from  9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Marriott Clearwater, 12600 Roosevelt Blvd., St. Petersburg, Florida.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Are you a military spouse looking for work or a veteran hoping to land a good job? The national campaign, Hiring Our Heroes, is holding a job fair Thursday, Oct. 4, at Raymond James Stadium, 4201 N. Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa.

Registration is available at and walk-in job seekers are welcomed as long as they provide military identification.

Potential employers are welcomed too.

Bobbie O'Brien

Putting injured veterans back into sports they played prior to their injury or getting them to try new sports is Jamie Kaplan’s goal. He is a recreational therapist at Tampa’s James A. Haley VA Hospital and coordinates the adaptive sports programs.

“You’re looking at a group of ultra-competitive men and women,” Kaplan said. “They got into the military because they like being outdoors, they like being active, they like doing sports and we want to show them that post-injury they can continue to do those things.”