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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.  

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

A ceremonial seed planting will be part of today's official opening of the Veterans' Garden, 918 W. Sligh Avenue in Tampa,  across from Lowry Park Zoo.

The event is set for 10:30 a.m. and will include recognition of USAA, which provided  a grant to expand the sustainable garden for veterans.

Thousands of veterans have suffered combat injures that left them infertile. For the first time, the VA will pay for treatments to help them have children.

A Southern California project is transforming steel shipping containers into apartments for homeless veterans. They're inexpensive, durable, and surprisingly attractive.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

There’s a growing movement to help veterans transition from the battlefield to a more bucolic setting. Whether it’s a community agriculture initiative or a functioning farm – researchers are finding that raising food can offer veterans both a therapeutic and an economic value.

Staff Sgt. Shane Hughes / U.S. Air National Guard

You can expect to hear the increased roar of fighter jets across Tampa Bay’s skies for the next week as MacDill Air Force Base hosts the 180th Fighter Squadron.

Florida National Guard

Florida sent hundreds of National Guardsmen to assist with security in Washington D.C. for the Inauguration of President Donald Trump.

Approximately 340 soldiers and airmen have been sleeping on cots set up in a gymnasium and going through outdoor chow lines while on assignment to support the 58th Presidential Inauguration.

Bobbie O'Brien/WUSF

It was one week ago today when a man pulled a semi-automatic weapon from his luggage and killed five people and injured six others at the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport.

The suspect, Esteban Santiago, 26, is an Army veteran who served in Iraq. And that has an impact that reaches far beyond the airport.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Veterans Affairs is not a veteran himself. And as the VA Undersecretary of Health, Dr. David Shulkin is, so far, the only holdover from the Obama Administration.

That means Shulkin is known to veterans groups like the American Legion.

Traditionally, the military did little for departing troops except hand them discharge papers. But in recent years, it has enacted a mandatory program to help service members prepare for civilian jobs or go back to school.

Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans' Hospital / va.gov

With the New Year comes a new women veterans’ coordinator for the state of Florida, Army veteran Darlene Scully, and an ambitious agenda for 2017.

In addition to her job reviewing veterans’ claims, Scully took on the position two months ago to be a voice for women vets who currently make up 10 percent of the 1.6 million veterans in Florida.

FDVA

By its own analysis, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs calculates that Florida only has 20 percent of the VA-sponsored nursing home beds it needs to serve aging veterans. And it’s put the state on a “critical” list when it comes to building VA nursing homes.

A new study will test an unusual approach to treating symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder: injecting a local anesthetic into nerve tissue in the neck.

A Florida Air National Guard unit is in the running for a squadron of F-35 fighter jets.  Mark Oglesby from the Florida Department of Military Affairs says his agency is pushing to bring the planes to Jacksonville.

Stetson

For a fifth year, the Stetson University College of Law is offering free will services to older veterans and their spouses who need to draft a will or end-of-life directives.

Even if you’re a veteran of modest means, you should still have a will according to Stetson’s Elder Consumer Protection Fellow, Brandon Robinson.

NPS Photo

The “day that will live in infamy” – December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor Day – will be commemorated during an 11 a.m. service today at the Hillsborough Veterans Memorial Park and Museum, 3602 U.S. Highway 301 N. in Tampa.

The 75th Anniversary Remembrance will honor U.S. military service members who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The event will include presentations by:

·        LeRoy Collins, III, son of Rear Adm. LeRoy Collins, Jr.

·        Gen. James Dozior, U.S. Army, Retired

President Barack Obama arrives in Tampa this afternoon to meet with the men and women who have been on the front-lines enforcing his policies in the fight against terrorism. And he plans to deliver his last major counter-terrorism speech.

U.S. Department of Defense - Defenseimagery.mil / U.S. Department of Defense

President-Elect Donald Trump has named a former leader of U.S. Central Command to become the next Secretary of Defense.

Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis led U.S. Central Command, which is based at Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base before relinquishing command in March 2013.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

There’s a small but growing legal community in the U.S. that’s helping veterans with their benefits claims while working to improve the VA system. And their work continues even as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to name a new VA Secretary to “make the VA great again,” as promised during his campaign.

An Army review concludes that commanders did nothing wrong when they kicked out more than 22,000 soldiers for misconduct after they came back from Iraq or Afghanistan – even though all of those troops had been diagnosed with mental health problems or brain injuries.

The Army's report, ordered by Secretary Eric Fanning, seeks to reassure members of Congress that it's treating wounded soldiers fairly. But senators and military specialists say the report troubles them.

President Barack Obama will travel to Tampa next week to give his final speech about U.S. counterterrorism strategy.

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