Off The Base

Off The Base
7:34 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Combat Vet to Commemorate Patriot Plaza

Army combat veteran Wes Moore is a New York Times bestselling author, executive producer for the PBS Series "Coming Back with Wes Moore," and the keynote speaker commemorating Sarasota's Patriot Plaza.
Credit 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.

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Off The Base
2:38 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

10 Ways to Celebrate Veterans Day

Credit 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:

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Off The Base
1:49 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Veterans' Day Events 2014

Credit 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.

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Off The Base
10:08 pm
Sat November 8, 2014

Medal of Honor Recipient on A New Mission

Army MSgt. Leroy Petry (right) poses for a photo with an unidentified veteran after his speech at USF in Tampa.
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.

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Off The Base
7:42 am
Fri November 7, 2014

Listen: Medal of Honor Recipient Leroy Petry

Army Ranger Master Sergeant (retired) Leroy Petry.
Credit 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:

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Off The Base
4:18 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Veterans Legacy Summit Registration

Credit 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.

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Off The Base
6:36 pm
Mon November 3, 2014

USF Veterans Hosts Medal of Honor Recipient

Master Sergeant Leroy Petry (US Army Ret.) is the keynote speaker at the USF Veterans Day Ceremony which is free and open to the public.
Credit 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.

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Off The Base
7:15 am
Fri October 31, 2014

VA Secretary Praises Sarasota's Patriot Plaza

An evening view of Patriot Plaza Amphitheater at Sarasota National Cemetery.
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.

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Off The Base
5:37 pm
Mon October 27, 2014

Seeking Solutions for Veteran Suicide

Credit 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.

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Off The Base
4:41 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

Aboard a KC-135 Stratotanker on a Refueling Mission

F-16 Thunderbirds fly near the wing of a KC-135 Stratotanker.
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.

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Off The Base
3:22 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Chili Cook-Off Connects Veterans on Campus

Naming your chili is half the fun of participating in the annual Chili Cook-Off, sponsored by the USF Office of Veterans Affairs.
Credit 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.

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Off The Base
9:50 am
Fri October 10, 2014

Military Suicide Survivors Gather in St. Pete Beach

Kim Ruoco is a Marine spouse and military suicide survivor who helped develop a program for families dealing with a loved one in the military who died by suicide.
Credit 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.

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Off The Base
7:25 am
Fri October 10, 2014

Tampa's Director to Help Troubled Phoenix VA

Youth volunteer Mairyn Harris, 14, and Kathleen Fogarty, director of James A. Haley VA Medical Center, summer 2014.
Credit 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.

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Off The Base
8:25 am
Fri October 3, 2014

Veterans Secretary Wants VA Whistleblowers

VA Secretary Bob McDonald (left) watches as paralyzed Navy Veteran Dwayne Scheuneman (right) demonstrates the Exoskeleton during the new leader's visit Wednesday at the James A. Haley VA Polytrauma Center.
Credit 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.

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Off The Base
6:52 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Full Impact of Wars on VA System Will Take 40 Years

On the left, U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller (FL-R) and at the podium is new, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Bob McDonald.
Credit 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.

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