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.  

House Committee on Veterans Affairs

It’s been a transformative year for veterans and those serving in the military. We’ve seen the resignations of both the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of the Department of Defense.

And there have been changes at the state and local levels too. Here are some of the major stories from 2014:

Heroes on the Water Central Florida Chapter / Facebook

The number of Gulf War era veterans is growing as is the list of non-profit organizations formed to help returning service members.

Heroes on the Water is a top-rated, all-volunteer non-profit organization formed specifically to provide free therapeutic recreation to veterans of all eras, active-duty military and their families.

Florida has seven chapters many of which offer events year round.

Department of Veterans Affairs

Military service involves more than the person wearing the uniform – families are always a part of that equation.

A team of three University of South Florida psychology doctoral students and a graduate of the School of Social Work are conducting a research study looking at how reintegration affects military veterans and their children.

Their focus looks at how veterans are “reintegrating” to both civilian and academic life and also examines the student veterans’ well-being and that of their children.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Bringing together veterans’ service organizations to share ideas and create networks was one of the goals of The Patterson Foundation’s Veterans Legacy Summit that concluded last weekend in Sarasota.

It brought one veteran to Florida to share how he’s using his mechanical background to inspire kids on Chicago’s Southside.

Courtesy of Wes Moore

Saturday in Sarasota they’re holding the national commemoration of Patriot Plaza. It’s the 2800 seat amphitheater and art installation built to honor veterans and their families at Sarasota National Cemetery.

The keynote speaker for the capstone event is best-selling author Wes Moore – a former paratrooper and veteran of the Afghanistan War.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Have you missed the Veterans’ Day parade or the ceremony at your local VA National Cemetery?

Well, there’s still time to show your appreciation for the men and women who have served or are currently serving in the Armed Forces. Here are a few suggestions you can practice year-round:

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Throughout Florida and the nation, events, special shows and business discounts are scheduled to recognize veterans, their families and those who are currently serving. Keep checking back for updates.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Living Medal of Honor recipients are somewhat rare. There are only 79 living out of nearly 3,500 recipients since the highest military honor was created during the Civil War.

So, it was no surprise that 200 students, veterans and members of the public came out to hear Medal of Honor recipient Master Sergeant (Ret.) Leroy Petry deliver the keynote address at the University of South Florida Veterans Day Ceremony in Tampa.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Recently retired Army Ranger and Medal of Honor recipient Master Sergeant Leroy Petry delivered the main address Tuesday at a ceremony honoring student veterans at the University of South Florida. Petry, like many of the student veterans in the audience,  is taking on a new mission, college, starting a business and spending more time with family.

You can hear his full speech to the USF audience of about 200 people here:

The Patterson Foundation

The WUSF Veterans Coming Home project is partnering with The Veterans Legacy Summit hosted by the Patterson Foundation. The multi-day summit offers a wealth of events from art walks and a free concert with the West Point Band to the keynote address by best-selling author Wes Moore.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Student veterans at the University of South Florida will celebrate Veterans’ Day a week early with a Veterans Expo and Ceremony on Tuesday followed by a Chili Cook-Off Wednesday at the Tampa campus.

A Medal of Honor recipient who did six tours in Afghanistan is the keynote speaker at the USF Veterans Day ceremony scheduled for Nov. 4 at 11 a.m. at the amphitheater outside the Marshall Center.

The USF Office of Veterans Services and Student Veterans Association will honor Army Ranger Master Sergeant (Ret.) Leroy Petry.

Steven Brooke / The Patterson Foundation

Problems with veterans’ health care and benefits have dominated recent headlines. But there is one section at the Department of Veterans Affairs that ranks first in customer satisfaction over both private-sector companies and other federal agencies.

That’s a point VA Secretary Bob McDonald was quick to point out when he visited Florida earlier this month. The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) is ranked first in the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Veteran suicide is a real and present problem in the community. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that on average 22 veterans die by suicide every day.

That’s a straightforward statistic for a very complex problem.

Calling it a growing and troublesome trend, U.S. Representative Kathy Castor of Tampa organized a roundtable to discuss what is being done in the Tampa Bay area to prevent veteran suicide.

Aboard a KC-135 Stratotanker on a Refueling Mission

Oct 24, 2014
Lottie Watts / WUSF 89.7

When you're about to run out of gas in your car, you don't think too much about pulling into the closest station to fill up.  The process is a bit more complicated if you're a pilot flying an F-16 Thunderbird with the United States Air Force. That requires an airborne filling station. 

For our series Off The Base, we went on a refueling mission in a KC-135 Stratotanker out of Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base.

Office of Veterans Affairs / USF

Over the last five years the University of South Florida Office of Veterans Services has worked to raise its visibility among the estimated 1,400 student veterans on campus and provide them resources.

One way USF Veterans Services has gained a lot of notice is its annual Chili Cook-Off.

This year, the Office of Veterans Services 5th Annual Chili Cook-Off is scheduled 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Nov. 5th at the Marshall Center Amphitheater on the Tampa Campus, 4202 E. Fowler Ave.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

This weekend marks the 6th annual National Military Suicide Survivors Seminar and Good Grief Camp for Young Survivors organized by TAPS, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. About 500 adults and 170 children will participate in workshops, art therapy and outdoor activities learning skills to cope with the suicide of a loved one who served in the military.

Tessa Wiseman / WUSF Public Media

The new Secretary of Veterans Affairs has temporarily assigned Kathleen Fogarty, the director of Tampa's James A. Haley VA Medical Center, to help restore trust and transparency at one of the most troubled VA networks that oversees the Phoenix VA hospital.

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

Secret patient waiting lists, delayed medical care, retaliation against whistleblowers  are all reasons why trust in the VA hit an all-time low this spring especially on Capitol Hill.

The new Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert “Bob” McDonald is trying to restore that trust. He’s started by visiting as many VA facilities as possible during his first 90 days in office.

McDonald toured several Florida VA facilities this week and he invited U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee of Veterans Affairs, to come along.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Looking for suggestions on how to improve service and shorten wait times throughout the VA system, the new Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs visited Florida this week to hear directly from veterans, VA employees, veteran service organizations and VA administrators.

Secretary Robert McDonald- who likes to be called Bob - said progress is being made on speeding up medical appointments and decreasing the wait for benefit claims. As an example, McDonald said the national backlog of disability claims has been reduced 57 percent from its peak in March 2013.

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

The new Secretary of Veteran Affairs is in Florida today to hear from veterans and talk to VA employees about his initiative to restore trust in the VA and eliminate the backlog of claims and long waits for health care.

Robert McDonald, the former CEO of Procter & Gamble, is spending his first 90 days in office visiting VA facilities nationwide to explain his reform plan dubbed Road to Veterans Day 2014.

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