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.  

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.”

The unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans is 10.9 percent -- much higher than the national average. And that has inspired a group of retired local executives to help veterans to start their own businesses.

Pinellas SCORE, the organization of volunteer retired executives, is holding a free Veterans Business Expo Oct. 6, 2012 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Marriott Clearwater. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. at the door.

U.S. Paralympics website

A year to the day an improvised explosive device took his eyesight, Navy Lt. Brad Snyder won his second gold medal in his favorite event, the 400 freestyle, at the 2012 London Paralympic Games.

Snyder swam away from his competition, finishing with a time of 4:32:41, beating the next swimmer by almost a full 6 seconds. Snyder previously had earned another gold in the 100 freestyle and a silver medal in the 50 freestyle during the Games that run through Sept. 9, 2012.

USF Unveils a New, Student Veterans Lounge

Aug 31, 2012

The University of South Florida's new veterans lounge is a place where former service members can kick back and relax or get some studying done. / Department of Veterans Affairs

Outpatient appointments and elective surgery for veterans at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital are canceled Monday due to Tropical Storm Isaac.

Patients are being rescheduled by Haley hospital staff.

The Monday cancellations also  include these Haley facilities:


The 100th Anniversary of the Coast Guard Cutter TAMPA will be celebrated in Tampa with public tours of the vessel Saturday.

Photo Courtesy of Still Picture Branch (NNSP) of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Attention all veterans. The Library of Congress is asking you for one more patriotic act.  It’s calling on veterans from all branches and all eras to share their stories.

From harrowing moments to mundane reflections, all accounts are valued by the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

Col. Lenny Richoux was certainly a popular commander when running Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base. He started a friends of MacDill program to encourage civilian members of the community to visit the base and get to know its work and people.

Richoux also worked to expand services to military families, about 80 percent of them, living off base in communities such as Brandon. So, it’s no wonder that this billboard appeared in Brandon.

For one year, the voice of retired Senior Master Sergeant Rex Temple, brought comfort to the thousands of wives, husbands, parents and children of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now that voice will be preserved forever in a radio series called “My Last Tour” -- in the US Library of Congress as part of the Veteran's History Project.

MacDill AFB

Every two years MacDill Air Force Base gets a new commander. Col. Lenny Richoux will hand over control of the 6th Air Mobility Wing and Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base Friday at 9 a.m. in a Change of Command Ceremony.

Richoux said he’s leaving MacDill and the 2600 airmen of the 6th Air Mobility Wind in good hands. He knows his successor well, Col. Scott DeThomas.