Off The Base

Off the Base 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. There are stories of success and stress from military families living through deployment to World War II veterans seeking benefits. Check out our stories below or on the wordpress blog.

Military with PTSD

Traditional Fourth of July neighborhood celebrations --- like backyard rockets and cherry bombs -- can be problematic for those who fought to keep the country independent. The red-white-and-blue yard signs say it all: “Combat Veteran Lives Here, Please be courteous with fireworks.”

So-called "burn pits" were common at U.S. military outposts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Legislation in the Senate would create a center to study the effects of breathing their smoke.

USAF

Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base will welcome a new commander next week. Air Force Col. April D. Vogel will take over July 8, 2016 as leader of the 6th Air Mobility Wing and assume command of the base, which is home to U.S. Central Command as well as U.S. Special Operations Command.

Wounded Warrior Project Gets New Leader After Troubles

Jun 17, 2016
Associated Press

The head of the military agency that searches for and identifies the remains of missing servicemen is resigning after just one year to take over a troubled nonprofit that cares for wounded troops.

Michael Linnington became the director of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency last summer. He plans to leave next month to become the CEO of the Jacksonville-based Wounded Warrior Project.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Veterans who end up in jail or prison face a lot of problems when they get out – the lack of health care – finding employment - possible homelessness. To address those needs, the Department of Veterans Affairs has created several programs over the past decade.

The Health Care for Reentry Veterans program reaches out to veterans before they walk out of prison.

Updated 3:15 a.m. ET

David Gilkey, an NPR photojournalist who chronicled pain and beauty in war and conflict, was killed in Afghanistan on Sunday along with NPR's Afghan interpreter Zabihullah Tamanna.

Konner Ross / Courtesy of the Chalcraft Family

Army Private Leo Kenneth Chalcraft was a green-eyed, brown-haired teen from St. Petersburg, FL when he was killed in action in World War II.  

It happened just six days after his 19th birthday.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

 The nation will remember those killed while serving their country on Memorial Day in just over a week. But a local group called Veterans Counseling Veterans wants people to think about another kind of Memorial Day – one honoring those who served in uniform and died by suicide -- and is planning such as service this Sunday in Tampa at American Legion Post 5.

The Chalcraft Family

The toughest writing assignment 16-year-old Konner Ross will have this year is to write a eulogy for a young man she’s never met. But there’s a part of him the Largo High School junior never forget – his green eyes.

“They have his wallet from when they found it on the beach and on his identification card, it says (he has) green eyes and brown hair,” Ross said. “I didn't know he had green eyes until then. So, that seems like something small, but it was really cool to learn for some reason.”

Hillsborough County

It was supposed to be “The War To End All Wars.” But World War I  lasted more than four years: July 1914 to November 1918. More than 20 million soldiers died, either killed in action or by disease, and another 21 million were wounded.

Nearly 83,000 U.S. service members are still listed as missing in action from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and other conflicts. Many of their families still hope their remains will be identified and returned home.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Many endured starvation, torture, forced labor, and others died unable to return home. They are the former POWs who will be honored Saturday during the National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day.

U.S. Department of Defense / Pentagon Channel

The U.S. Secretary of Defense joined other top military leaders in Tampa Wednesday to mark the change of leadership at two major, joint military commands at MacDill Air Force Base.

Army Gen. Raymond "Tony" Thomas III is the new leader at U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM).

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

It may seem counterintuitive – but a military medic or corpsman, trained to save lives in combat and provide health care at home, does not qualify for most civilian medical jobs.

What’s worse – many veterans are at a competitive disadvantage when seeking admittance into nursing colleges.

MacDill AFB

You can expect crowd skies and streets this weekend in south Tampa as the MacDill Air Fest takes off. Admission is free and so is the parking, so, it's expected to draw 100,000 people.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

After a delay of 65 years and an Act of Congress, a Polk County soldier has finally been acknowledged for his heroism and sacrifice while a prisoner of war in Korea.

More than 100 friends and family crammed into the Medulla Community Center in Lakeland last week to watch as Edward “Grady” Halcomb was presented the Army’s Distinguished Service Cross, an award for valor second only to the Medal of Honor.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

As the number of veterans grows after 15 years of war, so do the number of veteran- and military-related charities. Today, there are an estimated 40,000 charities listed as serving vets and active duty military. But not all are legitimate.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Stories about veterans waiting years - decades even - to resolve a disability claim are not uncommon.

“I have a claim from 2003 that’s still not found yet. Nobody knows where it’s at,” said Gustavo Nunez, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq. “I actually gave up on it a long time ago. I was so frustrated with the system.”

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

There are some things that veterans just don’t feel comfortable talking about, except possibly with another veteran.

That sacred bond, shared between veterans, can transcend time and generations - especially among those wounded, disabled or experienced in combat.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Tampa Bay veterans, 60 and older, and their spouses can get free legal help drafting a will and related documents like advanced medical directives.

The Stetson University College of Law has joined with volunteer attorneys from the area to offer the "Wills for Warriors" program for a fourth year.

Veterans must meet some income guidelines and can’t own property outside Florida because it makes the will too complicated.

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