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.  

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.

(PHOTO/Chase Anz, Viewer Bay News 9)

An Air Force C-17 Globemaster cargo plane carrying 23 passengers and19 crew made an unscheduled landing at Tampa's general aviation airfield, Peter O. Knight Airport on Davis Islands just south of downtown.

Video of the landing courtesy of Ryan Gucwa can be seen on the website Aviation News in the Raw.

The runway at Peter O. Knight is much shorter than most military landing strips, at only 3,400 feet, and used mostly by small private aircraft and helicopters. The runway at MacDill AFB is 14,000 feet long by comparison.

Efforts to reduce the national deficit could mean massive job losses for Florida if the Department of Defense has to comply with the automatic spend cuts scheduled at the end of 2012.

People lined up the streets in Downtown Tampa today to honor fallen army Staff Sergeant Ricardo Seija who died in Afghanistan earlier this month.

One of the more than 50 people who lined up on the corner of Bayshore Boulevard and Bay to Bay Boulevard was Stuart Taijeron.

He calls himself a military brat and says today's escort was personal to him.

"So I left work and brought my family out to show them some of the aspects of where we should have pride and who we should appreciate," he said, " I mean our true heroes versus some of the things we see on TV."

Sarah Curran / WUSF

On the corner of Bayshore Boulevard and Bay to Bay Boulevard, more than fifty people watched today as the escort for Army Staff Sgt. Ricardo Seija made its way through Tampa.  He is one of two fallen Bay area heroes, both killed by the same roadside bomb in Afghanistan on July 8th. 

The supporters included about a dozen Red Cross members.  Tampa Bay chapter CEO Linda Carbone says the organization offers an emergency calls service for military serving overseas.  She says the calls keep servicemen informed of any medical emergency back home.

Over the next two days, MacDill Air Force Base will serve as the transfer point for two Tampa Bay Area fallen soldiers killed in a bomb blast two Sundays ago in Afghanistan.

Arriving Today

The transfer for Army Staff Sgt. Ricardo Seija is scheduled today, Tuesday at 11 a.m. under the care of the Air Force 6th Air Mobility Wing and with Seija's family on the flightline to welcome him home.

Three of MacDill Air Force Base's finest retired today -- after serving a combined total of 217 years.

Dog years--that is.

After a fulfilling career of multiple deployments and secret service missions, German Shepherds Conny, Jago, and Haris were honored in a ceremony at the Tampa base.

K-9 Conny had the most accomplished career. Deployed to Afghanistan twice and Iraq three times, she is credited with supporting 12 secret service missions.