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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.  

The Roldan Family

Despite the growing number of women in the military, the Pentagon does not track how many deployed women are also mothers. It also doesn’t count the number of deployed fathers.

But being a parent and simultaneously serving your country can create challenges especially when deployed.

U.S. Air Force

Sonic booms surprised residents across central Florida  Sunday morning due to the landing of a top-secret military space plane at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

The X-37B is a classified, un-crewed Air Force space plane that touched down at Kennedy Space Center's shuttle landing facility. Not much is known about the 29 foot long robotic spacecraft, its space missions or what it delivered into space.

The debilitating effects of post traumatic stress are well documented. But studies suggest that surviving trauma might also lead to personal growth.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

A new administrator at the Bay Pines Healthcare System is being credited by veterans for resolving a paperwork snafu that had some low income VA clients being billed for medications they should have gotten for free.

Thousands of military households rely on government food assistance programs, but the Pentagon doesn't track how many service members have trouble feeding their families.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

A specialized institution of higher learning has opened a new, permanent home at Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base.

The Joint Special Operations University, or JSOU, has been educating special forces for 16 years, but it is now housed in an airy, glass and steel-framed building with a sunny courtyard.

U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs

The sunshine state was well represented at the White House Wednesday as President Trump signed a bill extending and improving the Veterans Choice Act which allows veterans to seek medical care outside the VA system under certain conditions.

A group of military veterans are calling on Florida Senate leaders to hear a bill that would increase penalties for defacing any Veterans memorial across the state.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have drafted more than a million family members into caring for returning wounded and injured troops. They've been called "Hidden Heroes" - the military caregivers of Post-9/11 veterans.

Improv comedy classes at Second City in Hollywood help veterans learn to perform, laugh, and build confidence.

The stores offer low prices for service members and retirees. But taxpayers pay more than a billion dollars a year to subsidize them.

HEP

A community leader and advocate for homeless people – especially veterans – has died. Bruce Fyfe served more than 23 years as chairman of the board at Clearwater’s Homeless Empowerment Program (HEP).

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The recent scandal over Marines sharing nude photos of female Marines online hasn’t demoralized some women veterans. Two female West Point graduates from Florida refuse to let it overshadow recent gains women have made in the military. And they have some ideas on how to prevent similar incidents.

Revelations that hundreds of Marines shared lewd photos of women come as military leaders fight an ongoing battle to change the culture of the Marines.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base put on an impressive show of skill and threw in a bit of fun for some 1200 school students who visited the base this month to check out military careers linked to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Never before in our nation’s history have we depended more on technology and the application of technology to win – not only in the air – but in space and in cyber space,” said MacDill Commander Col. April Vogel. “You know our mission is to fly, fight and win. So, we need to create people who can do that. And there are some amazing young minds here today which is why this is so special.”

The 43rd president appeared on national television, the Today Show, Monday to kick off his book tour and is followed that with an appearance at Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base in the afternoon for a book signing.

Farmer Veteran Coalition

A growing number of veterans are looking to agriculture for their next career and entrepreneurial opportunity.

Megan McCollumn / IBM

It’s estimated the high tech industry will create more than 200,000 "new collar” jobs in the next three years. To fill those positions, IBM is tapping into a workforce that’s already well trained - veterans.

“We need to get people to hit the ground running and be productive,” said Tampa IBM executive Stuart Bean. “And you just can’t fill them unless you have people who are already disciplined, already trained, mature enough, (and) can hit the ground running.”

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.

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