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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.  

Pentagon Channel

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter made a stop at Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base Thursday to plot strategy in the fight against ISIL, also known as the Islamic State.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The University of South Florida was listed as the most veteran friendly college in the nation by Money Magazine in 2015. But it’s not looking so “friendly” after refusing to re-admit a student veteran expelled because of a PTSD-related incident.

VA OIG

Brandishing a photograph of 1,600 boxes, stacked haphazardly in a storage room, Florida U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller of Pensacola opened a congressional hearing Tuesday into the backlog of veterans benefits claims.

At a warehouse near Dallas, a black Lab named Papi tugs on a rope to open a fridge and passes his trainer a plastic water bottle with his mouth.

Service dogs are often trained to help veterans with physical disabilities. Now, a growing number are being trained to meet the demand from vets with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues.

Those dogs learn extra tricks — how to sweep a house for intruders, for example, so a veteran feels safe.

  •   Oct. 3, 2015 -  A “Stand Down” is when soldiers get a temporary break from combat for a shower, hot meal and peaceful night’s sleep. Pasco County held a Stand Down for veterans in our community who are fighting a different kind of battle with homelessness, substance abuse or mental health issues.
  • Nov.

Mel Evans / Associated Press

Paralyzed Army veteran Gene Laureano cried when he first walked again with robotic legs at a New York clinic as part of research sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs. But when the study ended, so did his ability to walk.

Pasco Support Services for Veteran Families

The Department of Veterans Affairs has the goal of ending veterans’ homelessness by January 1. That means any homeless veteran wanting housing will get it within a month or less.

The less-developed nature of Pasco County has created additional challenges when it comes to finding, counting and serving homeless veterans.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Five years ago, then Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, set a rather lofty goal --- to eliminate homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015.

“If we don’t put a very ambitious target on the table so that all of us can go to work on it, we won’t get anywhere near close to eliminating homelessness amongst veterans,” Shinseki said in a YouTube video released in May 2010.

Tampa’s Athena House was founded specifically to help homeless women veterans.

Obama Orders Inquiry Into CENTCOM Intelligence on ISIS

Nov 23, 2015

President Obama said he expected the Pentagon’s inspector general to investigate allegations that significant changes were made to reports from analysts at the United States Central Command, known as Centcom. In recent weeks, the Pentagon has expanded its investigation into the allegations and has seized a large trove of emails and documents as it examines the claims. The president said altering reports to make them more optimistic would be contrary to his wishes. “One of the things I insisted on the day I walked into the Oval Office was that I don’t want intelligence shaded by politics. I don’t want it shaded by a desire to tell a feel-good story,” he said.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

A 2014 survey found that almost 20 percent of the households using the Feeding Tampa Bay food bank were either veterans or active duty military.

The Norman family is a military family recently arrived from Colorado and transitioning into civilian life in Tampa. Never in a million years did the parents imagine that they would need help feeding their children.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

A Hillsborough circuit judge is calling on the University of South Florida to live up to its recent ranking as a top "veteran friendly" university.

Judge Greg Holder has asked USF President Judy Genshaft to readmit a student veteran who was expelled after an off-campus incident in August 2014.

Special ceremonies throughout the Tampa Bay region, Florida and the nation will recognize the sacrifices of those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces and those who are currently serving.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

If you can’t attend a Veteran’s Day parade or ceremony this Wednesday, there is something else you can do to honor a veteran.

The Library of Congress is hoping civilians will help gather veterans’ stories and then submit their recordings to the Veterans’ History Project.

U.S. Department of State

Retired Rear Admiral John Kirby is featured at two free, public events today at the University of South Florida Tampa campus.

The current spokesperson for the Department of State, Kirby is the keynote speaker at the USF Veterans Day Ceremony at 10 a.m. in the Marshall Student Center Ballroom A.

Later at 1 p.m., Kirby will be part of a presentation, “U.S. Foreign Policy in a Turbulent World,” on campus at the Patel Center for Global Solutions, Room 138.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

There’s a military tradition called a “Stand Down.” It’s when soldiers get a temporary break from combat for a shower, hot meal and peaceful night’s sleep.

Recently, Pasco County held a Stand Down for veterans in our community who are fighting a different kind of battle with homelessness, substance abuse or mental health issues.

Lottie Watts / WUSF Public Media

Refueling air crews from Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base are flying daily support missions in the U.S. air campaign against the Islamic State.

The U.S. and Coalition their mission got more complicated this week when the Russians started flying airstrikes in the same Syrian air space.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

It was only a few years ago that the Florida legislature gave counties permission to create Veterans Treatment Courts as an alternative to criminal prosecution of former military members charged with misdemeanors and third-degree felonies.

Since, 23 courts have been created, but only nine have received state money, including Pinellas and Pasco Counties.

Others, such as the Veterans Treatment Court in Hillsborough County, get none.

As the senior Iraq analyst at Central Command, the military headquarters in Tampa that oversees American military operations across the Middle East and Central Asia, Gregory Hooker is the leader of a group of analysts that is accusing senior commanders of changing intelligence reports to paint an overly optimistic portrait of the American bombing campaign against the Islamic State. The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating.

Marine Families

Whether you hold a candle at a vigil, wave a flag along the route, or ride your bike in memory, Marine Families (formerly known as the Tampa Area Marine Parents Assoc., Inc.) is looking for help for its 8th Annual Run for the Fallen.

The two-day memorial event September 19-20 recognizes the nearly 400 “Fallen Heroes” from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and pays tribute to the Gold Star Families.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

A new medical director is at the helm of Tampa’s James A. Haley VA Medical Center. Joe D. Battle has only been on the job seven weeks but already has a long “to do” list.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The war on terror in Afghanistan is now the nation’s longest running war. But the United States has been involved in many more conflicts over the centuries.

Operation Neptune Spear. Operation Deny Flight. Operation Praying Mantis. The Invasion of Grenada. The Berlin Blockade. These lesser-known names are among the 26 conflicts noted on the Committed Forces Memorial, a collection of granite pedestals surrounding a bronze globe just inside the entrance to the Hillsborough County Veteran’s Memorial Park in Tampa.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Tampa’s James A. Haley VA Hospital is using cutting edge technology to help injured veterans rehabilitate.

One of the devices, at the Spinal Cord Injury Center, helping paralyzed veterans stand and walk again is the Exoskeleton.

Using a computer backpack, robotic leg braces and a walker, veteran Josh Baker demonstrated the Exoskeleton during the April 2014 ceremonial opening of Haley’s new Polytrauma Center.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

This week, the Tampa Bay region lost one of its more notable World War II veterans, retired Judge John Germany. He served as an Army tank commander at age 22 and helped liberate a concentration camp on the German-Austrian border before being sent to the Pacific theater.

Saint Leo University

This week, Saint Leo University in northeastern Pasco County welcomed more than new college students to campus. The 126-year-old Benedictine bastion of learning has a new president after 18 years.

Retired U.S. Army Lt. General Dr. William Lennox Jr. stepped up July 1, 2015 to become the ninth Saint Leo president.

Lennox has a distinguished resume. A 35 year military career, a PhD in literature from Princeton, he served as West Point Superintendent from 2001-2006, and as a senior vice president at a Fortune 500 aerospace company for more than six years.

Kiersten Downs

Women are the fastest growing group within the veteran population according to the Veterans Health Administration. Yet female vets may not identify themselves as a veteran or use their VA benefits.

Why women vets avoid mentioning their military service is one of several questions being explored by University of South Florida doctoral student Kiersten Downs.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. And, the Florida Department of State is commemorating the end of the war effort this week with a campaign called “Victory Florida.”

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Take the single word – sacrifice – and turn it into a three dimensional sculpture that represents veterans, military service members and first responders like police and firefighters.

It’s a tall order. But a challenge that more than 50 Polk County high school art students took on for this year’s Platform Art competition.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Studies show that only about half of the veterans who need mental health care seek treatment. And of those who get care – many drop-out before treatment is complete.

“So, we’re only reaching a third of people ultimately who need the treatment,” said retired Army Col. Dr. Charles Hoge. He works as a civilian at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where he used to head up PTSD research.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

This week women veterans from throughout Florida will meet in Tampa for the 2nd Annual Women Veterans’ Conference. The goal is to sign them up for available benefits and resources.

This is the second year the state is reaching out to women veterans. The conference has expanded to two days, July 30-31, 2015, at the University of South Florida Tampa campus to accommodate demand.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

More than 70 years after being exposed to mustard gas at boot camp – a World War II veteran’s claim for VA benefits is being reconsidered.

It was not until 1991 that the Department of Defense declassified information on its mustard gas experiments using U.S. soldiers and sailors in training.

Veteran John Tedesco was exposed to mustard gas in January 1944 at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station along with some of his buddies from his hometown of Erie, PA.

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