Off The Base

Off The Base
12:32 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

New VA Center Gives Active Veterans a Climbing Wall, Aquatic Center, Putting Green

Exterior of the new aquatic center with two therapy pools heated by solar panels at the James A. Haley VA Polytrauma and Rehabilitation Center.
Bobbie O'Brien WUSF Public Media

It’s not your father’s VA anymore as evidenced by just one look inside the Department of Veterans’ Affairs new Polytrauma and Rehabilitation Center at James A. Haley VA Hospital at 13000 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa.

There’s a putting green, a two-story climbing wall, and an aquatic center for recreational therapy. Each of the 56 new private rooms has large windows for natural light, lush wood paneling, wheelchair accessible bathrooms, a desk and a large-screen TV so veterans and active duty personnel have direct access to education programs and entertainment.

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Off The Base
4:54 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Gov. Scott vs. VA Over Patient Records

Tampa's James A. Haley VA Hospital, home to both a Spinal Cord Injury unit and a Polytrauma unit.
Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

State health care regulators showed up unannounced for a third time at a federal Veterans Administration Hospital in Florida and asked to view patient records.

That visit to James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa Wednesday appears to be part of a tug-of-war between Gov. Rick Scott and federal VA hospitals.

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Off The Base
2:48 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Fort Hood Sergeant to Come Home Friday

Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Ferguson
Credit Fort Hood Public Affairs Office via Reuters

The body of Mulberry High School graduate and Army Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Ferguson, 39, one of three killed in the recent Fort Hood shooting rampage, is expected to arrive home to the bay area Friday, according to a member of the Florida Patriot Guard Riders.

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Off The Base
6:38 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Free Exhibit Depicting 23 Marines Killed in Iraq Opens at USF

The artist gathered photographs from the Lima Company Marines killed in action and then painted the fallen during more happy times.
The Lima Company Memorial

Opening today and staying for only three days is an art exhibit that has become an iconic symbol for the men and women who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The Lima Company Memorial: The Eyes of Freedom exhibit features life-size paintings depicting 23 Marines from the small Ohio Reserves unit L 3/25 who were killed in action in 2005 in Iraq.

Mike Strahle served with Lima Company and now shepherds the exhibit around the U.S. He said the exhibit has a broader reach than just his generation.

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Off The Base
5:30 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

A Florida Memorial for Gold Star Families

The ceremonial ground-breaking for the Gold Star Family Monument Memorial planned outside Franklin Boys Preparatory Academy in East Tampa.
Bobbie O'Brien WUSF Public Media

A World War II veteran of Iwo Jima and recipient of the Medal of Honor is counting on hundreds of teenage boys at a Tampa public school to honor his dream.

Marine Corporal Hershel “Woody” Williams’ vision is to build a memorial in every state honoring Gold Star families, the spouses, parents, children and extended family members of military men and women who have been killed in combat.

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Off The Base
2:35 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

Two Victims of Fort Hood Shootings from Tampa Bay Area

Carlos Lazeny

Two of the victims of Wednesday's mass shooting at the Fort Hood military base in Texas apparently came from the Tampa Bay area.

Various news outlets are reporting that Sgt. Danny Ferguson is a graduate of Mulberry High School in Polk County. The other victim is Carlos Lazaney, whose family lives in Tampa.

WFLA-TV is reporting that Ferguson, 39, was originally from Mulberry and a 1993 graduate of Mulberry High School.

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Off The Base
11:59 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Bay Pines VA Hosting Stand Down for Homeless Vets

The Bay Pines VA Hospital in St. Petersburg is hosting its annual Stand Down for Homeless Veterans on Saturday, April 5 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Credit Bay Pines VA Healthcare System

Homeless veterans can find a hot shower, free food and sign up for health benefits at the Stand Down for Homeless Veterans event on Saturday at the Bay Pines VA Hospital in St. Petersburg.

Aside from enrolling for health benefits, VA Public Affairs Officer and Army veteran Jason Dangel said the stand down will connect veterans to resources and programs for things like employment, food, housing, and legal services.

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Off The Base
6:43 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Medal of Honor Marine Backs Gold Star Memorial at Tampa Boys Academy

Hershel "Woody" Williams, 90, a US Marine Corps corporal awarded the Medal of Honor for his solo attack on seven Japanese pillboxes on Iwo Jima, February 23, 1945.
Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

It took four hours, six flame-throwers and the lives of two fellow Marines before Cpl. Hershel "Woody" Williams knocked out seven Japanese pillboxes on Iwo Jima February 23, 1945.

It was his fourth day on the Pacific island.

Williams said six members of his original special weapons unit had been killed and he was the sole survivor.

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Off The Base
12:02 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

8 Benefits for Vets, Military in 'Florida GI Bill'

Credit VA.gov

With the stroke of a pen Monday, Gov. Rick Scott positioned Florida to attract more veterans - beyond the estimated 1.5 million already living here - to attend college, to work and to retire in the state.

The “Florida GI Bill,” crafted to resemble the post-WWII benefits, includes measures for veterans, active-duty families and military installations.

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Off The Base
4:52 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Bill Nelson Slams VA For Not Answering Reports of Vet's Deaths

James A. Haley VA Hospital

The Veterans Administration has been fending off reports that military veterans have died needlessly because of long waits and delayed care at veterans’ hospitals. Today, Florida Senator Bill Nelson came to Tampa - looking for answers.

Nelson got a couple of answers - but other bigger issues were still left hanging. Like whether it's true that least 19 veterans have died because of delays in simple medical screenings at various VA hospitals or clinics across the country.

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Off The Base
8:52 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Researching Military Sexual Trauma

Diane Price-Herndl, chair of the USF Department of Women and Gender Studies and the Women's Status Committee.
Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

One in every five women and one in every 100 men have told the Veteran's Administration that they experienced sexual trauma while serving in the military.

Those numbers have both the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs working on solutions for treatment and the prevention of Military Sexual Trauma (MST).

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Off The Base
3:28 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

New Study Debunks 88 Percent Dropout Rate for Student Veterans

D. Wayne Robinson, president of Student Veterans of America.
Credit SVA.org

Student veterans using their GI education benefits between 2002 and 2010 graduated from colleges and universities at the rate of 51.7 percent according to researchers with the Million Records Project.

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Off The Base
6:00 am
Fri March 21, 2014

A KC-135 Flight Through the Eyes of a Military Wife

The KC-135 Stratotanker being prepared to take Tampa Bay area journalists aloft for a ride-along prior to the MacDill Airfest this weekend.
Jasmine Thomas WUSF Public Media

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Off The Base
5:14 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Florida Veteran Awarded the Medal of Honor in White House Ceremony

Sgt. First Class Melvin Morris, a Florida veteran, listens as the citation of his valor in Vietnam is read during a White House Medal of Honor ceremony.
The White House online

Far from the Vietnam jungles where Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris,72, served two tours, the Army veteran stood on a stage at the White House today as he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

President Barack Obama noted to the room packed with family members and military that the Port St. John, Florida resident was one of the first Green Berets.

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Off The Base
12:52 pm
Sun March 16, 2014

FL Vietnam Vet to Receive Medal of Honor

Retired Army Vietnam veteran Melvin Morris will be awarded a delayed, Medal of Honor for his heroism.
Credit The Army News Service

Melvin Morris served two tours of duty in Vietnam, but because of his race he didn't receive the Medal of Honor. Morris talks to NPR's Rachel Martin about the award he'll receive from President Obama.

You can listen to the interview, which aired March 16, 2014, on WUSF 89.7 FM.

Morris told Martin that he has no regrets.

"I am never angry about it. You know war is war and we do what we're told to do and we don't determine the outcome," Morris said.

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