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.

It builds on 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. 

CENTCOM / U.S. Department of Defense

President Barack Obama landed at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base shortly before 7  p.m. Tuesday, following a flight from Atlanta where he announced a major U.S. response to  the Ebola crisis in Africa.

The President was greeted by the Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Lloyd Austin, the newly installed Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command Gen. Joseph Votel, Commander of MacDill and the 6th Air Mobility Wing Col. Daniel Tulley, and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL-D).

U.S. Army photo by Spc. Elisebet Freeburg / Department of Defense

Evasive driving maneuvers like speeding and sudden lane changes are a must for troops driving in dangerous environments where there may be roadside bombs, like Afghanistan.

But the driving habits that can save a soldier’s life when deployed can cause an accident and maybe death when the soldier returns home.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Despite the improving economy, finding a job or establishing a career remains a challenge and will be especially so for the million or more military service members expected to transition to civilian life in the next few years.

So, the University of South Florida Office of Veteran Services created the Veterans Employment Project, thanks to a grant from the JP Morgan & Chase Company, to prepare USF student veterans for the competitive civilian market.

VA.gov / Department of Veterans Affairs

Tampa's James A. Haley VA Medical Center, 13000 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., is inviting veterans and their families to voice their concerns about service and share their ideas on how to improve at a town hall today, Sept. 4, 2014, at 3:30 p.m.

It is the second such veterans' town hall held in as many days in the Tampa Bay region.

Bay Pines VA Healthcare System

Here’s an opportunity for veterans and their family members who want to share ideas, compliments and complaints with the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System and St. Petersburg VA Regional Office.

It’s a town hall, scheduled Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014 as part of the “improved communication” called for by new VA Secretary Robert McDonald.

The goal is to hear directly from veterans.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Hurt / Department of Defense

The significance of the U.S. Special Operations Command, based at MacDill Air Force Base, can be measured by the fact that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel came to Tampa for the change of command ceremony.

“As a testament to the growing demand for special operators, SOCOM has grown by almost 8,000 people over the last three years,” Hagel told an invited audience of hundreds, most in military uniform. “And its growth will continue even as other parts of our military drawdown.”

Bay Pines VA

Veterans mental health experts at Bay Pines VA Healthcare System admit the VA "can't do everything alone."

So, the Bay Pines VA is holding a mental health summit today, looking to community partners to help provide veteran services both inside and outside the VA System. Local mental health agencies, private health care organizations and some hospitals are expected to attend the invitation-only event.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

UPDATE: Law enforcement provided an incomplete name for the Iraq veteran. His full name is Paul Badillo Rivera following the Hispanic tradition with two surnames. So, he is known as Paul Badillo.

When is a motorcycle more than just a ride? For Iraq veteran Paul Badillo, tinkering with the mechanics was a kind of therapy. It calmed him as much as a ride on the open road.

But his peace of mind was stolen from his apartment parking lot June 18, 2014.

Department of Veterans Affairs

What happens if you plan an event to honor women veterans and none of them come? That’s a real concern at the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 97 in Sarasota. The organization is planning a free event August 30th for the area’s women veterans, but so far, they’re having a tough time generating interest.

U.S. House of Representatives

Reform within the VA medical system is one step closer as the U.S. House of Representatives passed a compromise VA reform bill Wednesday afternoon.

The joint House and Senate legislation provides $10 Billion so veterans on waiting lists can seek care from private doctors. It also authorizes leases for 27 new medical facilities, including one in New Port Richey, and budgets $5 Billion to hire more VA doctors and medical staff.

Photo by SSG Lorie Jewell, US Army. / Consumer Finance Protection Bureau

Some 17,000 service members nationwide and other consumers who were targeted by Rome Finance through unfair lending practices will not have to payoff their outstanding finance agreements according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and several state attorney generals.

Disabled Veterans Find their Freedom on Horseback

Jul 24, 2014
Tessa Wiseman / WUSF News

It has been said that in riding a horse, we borrow freedom. This is especially true for riders at an Odessa farm that uses gentle giants to foster physical and emotional growth.  For our series Off the Base, WUSF intern Tessa Wiseman took a trip to the farm to meet the team of humans and horses behind the healing.

Tessa Wiseman / WUSF Public Media

When teachers ask this fall, “What did you do on your summer vacation?”  nearly four dozen Tampa teenagers will answer, “I spent it at the James A. Haley VA Hospital.”

For more than a decade, Haley has been operating a summer Youth Volunteer program that gives teenagers insight into health care careers while at the same time helping veterans.

Veterans and military family members looking for a job or a new career – today is your day. Several Florida state agencies are sponsoring Paychecks for Patriots.

There are 18 hiring events planned throughout Florida Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. organized by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), and the Florida National Guard.

Bobbie O'Brien / w

At times, being a reporter can be fun, especially when you get to cover life-changing events like the final flight of an Air Force pilot.

Someday I'll know what it's like to leave behind a profession that I'm passionate about and have invested much of my life to. That's what Col. Scott DeThomas is preparing to do as commander of the 6th Air Mobility Wing and MacDill Air Force Base.

After 32 years in the military, 23 of them as an Air Force pilot, DeThomas is retiring.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The most visible face of Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base, 6th Air Mobility Wing Commander Col. Scott DeThomas, is retiring in August.

His final flight as an Air Force pilot was today when he brought a KC-135 Stratotanker in for a landing shortly after 1 p.m. It is one of nine different aircraft he's piloted for more than 3,000 hours flight time in the Air Force.

NPR

What better way for veterans to celebrate Independence Day weekend than with an Open Mic Event?

It's a chance to tell stories, recite poetry, share reflections and music.

Sponsored by the Art2Action Inc. and Sacred Grounds Coffee House, the monthly Veterans & Community Open Mic is this Sunday, July 6, 2014 from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Sacred Grounds Coffee House, 4819 E. Busch Blvd., Tampa, FL.

USMC

There are a lot of patriotic messages on July 4th. Here are some words of encouragement specifically for those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This comes from a portion of the talk delivered by Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos at the June 18, 2014, Change of Command at MARCENT – the Marine Command at U.S. Central Command based at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, FL.

Gen. James Amos:

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Recent months have shown that there is no shortage of veterans who have had problems with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

More than two dozen of them brought their issues to the Temple Terrace City Hall for a veterans’ intake event on Wednesday organized by Congressman Dennis Ross (R- Lakeland).

Ross said his office has received complaints about delays getting VA medical appointments, but they’re also hearing a lot about problems with VA benefit claims.

USO Day Room Opens at Haley VA Hospital

Jul 1, 2014
WUSF

Tampa's James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital officially opened a USO Day Room today, located next to the Spinal Cord Injury Center where there are many long-term patients.

This is the first time a USO center has been built inside of a veterans' hospital. Senior Vice President of the USO John Hanson said that although the 1,900-square foot space is not the largest USO center, its impact will be "profound."

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