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.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

It was six years ago when President Barack Obama vowed to end homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015. Nearly a year later, that hasn't happened.

But there have been successes. Two states, Virginia and Connecticut, and dozens of cities like Orlando are considered to be at “functional zero” having ended chronic homelessness among veterans. That means homeless veterans have an immediate system of housing and services at their disposal.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The two main economic drivers in Florida are tourism and agriculture, but you can’t ignore the military. From military bases and defense contractors to 1.6 million veterans living in the state, the military contributes nearly 10 percent to the Florida economy.

That’s why protecting those military assets has become the mission of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation, business leaders and elected officials.

Federal Voting Assistance Program

In 2000, the Florida ballots of overseas service members were a key point of controversy in the Bush vs. Gore election.  Now, 16 years later, little has changed for most overseas troops, who still have to vote absentee mostly through international mail.

FDVA

As Florida’s health care industry is growing, so too is the need for registered nurses and other medical personnel. The competition for qualified health care professionals is high which has one state agency banking on a nurse’s patriotism to attract new hires.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The military is big business in Florida. Business leaders estimate the state's 20 military installations, along with the defense industry and veterans,  account for 10 percent of Florida's economy.

So, it's no surprise that protecting Florida’s bases from realignment or closure is a top priority for elected officials and businesses alike.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

  Next month, it will have been 15 years since the United States went to war in Afghanistan and then later, into Iraq. It’s estimated 2.5 million men and women have served during that time and each has a story to tell.

Helping those service members and veterans shape and share their story is why Tampa brothers Matt and Mark Fetterman started the non-profit organization, The Homefront Foundation.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

At the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell today, Jasper G. Taylor, Jr. will be laid to rest.

Taylor was a World War II Army Air Corps radio operator who was captured by Imperial Japan in the Philippines in May 1942.

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

Veterans and their family members in the Tampa Bay region have an opportunity to help guide VA research at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital.

The Haley VA is looking for 10 volunteers to serve on a Veteran Engagement Council. The council will bring a veterans’ perspective and help shape VA research that studies things like the effectiveness of new technologies on veterans’ care.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

There’s a growing movement to help homeless veterans by providing tiny houses – structures of only a couple hundred square feet. The idea has taken root in Eugene, OR, Kansas City and Huntsville, AL. Now, you can add St. Petersburg to that list.

The interfaith group, Celebrate Outreach, is embracing the tiny house concept and building on it.

For a start, their tiny houses are custom designed by students at the University of South Florida School of Architecture and Community Design.

Bobbie O'Brien/WUSF / WUSF Public Media

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp started up this week. But before they opened their practices to the public, even before the players started working out in pads, the team invited active-duty military, veterans and their families for a special Military Appreciation Day.

Hundreds turned out Friday before 8:45 a.m.

A U.S. Army staff sergeant and assistant professor of military science at the University of South Florida ROTC, Jonathan Darm, said there are some similarities between the military and professional athletes.

Florida’s military installations face more flooding and hurricane damage as the seas rise.

Tech. Sgt. Krystie Martinez / U.S. Air Force

Commanding an Air Force Wing – like the 6th Air Mobility Wing in Tampa – is challenging enough.  Add to that being accountable for the security and daily operations of a high profile military base that is headquarters for U.S. Central Command, and those responsibilities grow "huge." That’s why the Air Force selected Col. April Vogel to take command at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa.

MacDill AFB

The official MacDill Air Force Base Change of Command ceremony and transfer of power for the 6th Air Mobility Wing is scheduled today at 9 a.m. As a farewell to the men and women of MacDill and residents of Tampa Bay, Colonel Daniel H. Tulley, 6th Air Mobility Wing Commander, wrote the following:

Illustration by Corey Hook / Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force

A new, more in-depth analysis of veteran records from all states from 1979 to 2014  indicates “that in 2014, an average of 20 Veterans a day died from suicide.”

An estimated 22 veterans a day – on average – committed suicide according to a Department of Veterans Affairs report in 2010. But that analysis was limited to data from only 20 states.

Largo High School senior Konner Ross was one of 15 students selected for “The Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom Albert H. Small Student & Teacher Institute silent hero project.” Fifteen teams of high school students and their teachers from around the country researched a soldier, sailor or airman from their home state, who is buried in Normandy.

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.

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