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American Homefront

Members of the 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill Air Force Base will be taking a break from their normal duties Friday in order to focus on mental health and suicide prevention.
Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Airmen at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa are taking a break from their normal duties Friday. Instead, they will reflect on mental health.

In response to a string of suicides in the Air Force, every base is holding a one day stand down, where airmen can learn and talk about mental health issues.

Federal law protects the civilian jobs of National Guard and Reserve troops when they deploy. But federal employees allege the government itself doesn't always follow the law.

Many airmen at Tyndall are living in dorms, some that survived the storm and others built afterwards so that service members no longer had to sleep in tents.
Airman 1st Class Monica Roybal / U.S. Air Force

Tyndall Air Force in the Panhandle is making progress in a massive effort to rebuild after it was devastated by Hurricane Michael last fall. But the need for housing and sufficient funds to complete the repairs are still critical issues.

The military is spending millions of dollars to clean up water contamination around bases throughout the country. But people living with the contamination say the money has not gone nearly far enough.

The legislation requires the government to expand fertility coverage for service members and veterans who've suffered war-related reproductive injuries.

Observers watch an explosion during Operation Hardtack in 1958. 35 nuclear tests were conducted in the Pacific, exposing troops to radiation.
NEVADA NATIONAL SECURITY SITE

The new certificate recognizes as many as 550,000 veterans who were exposed to nuclear weapons tests between 1945 and 1992. But the certificates leave a lot of atomic veterans underwhelmed.

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Camp Lejeune, N.C. was the first of several bases to experience racial violence during the Vietnam War. It led to major reforms in military racial policies.

A thousand National Guard troops from Texas will try to address one of the unintended results of President Trump’s immigration crackdown -- traffic jams that are slowing international commerce.

The Government Accountability Office says the military isn't doing enough to deal with the effects of climate change, after more than $9 billion in hurricane and flood-related damage to three bases in less than a year.

Athletes take part in the archery competition at the 2019 Warrior Games at the Tampa Convention Center.
Carrie Pinkard / WUSF Public Media

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jimmy Covas stood with his eyes closed, pointing an air rifle at a target. He took three deep breaths, opened his eyes, and then pulled the trigger.

Covas is one of the 300 athletes competing in the 2019 Warrior Games.

Christina Westover / U.S. Army

During the eight months they've been deployed at the Mexican border, U.S. military personnel have had little direct contact with the people at the center of the mission -- migrants trying to enter the United States. The American Homefront Project visited El Paso, where soldiers said they're trying to keep their distance.

Appearing at U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Secretary Pompeo addressed the recent decision to send 1,000 more troops to the Middle East amid growing tensions with Iran.
Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed growing tensions with Iran Tuesday. He spoke to reporters after a closed meeting with military leaders at U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa.


Last week marked the anniversary of D-Day, when American troops stormed the beaches at Normandy during World War II. The organization Honor Flight flies veterans to Washington, D.C. at no cost to them to visit war memorials. With each passing year there are fewer WWII vets to participate.

Congress is considering legislation to encourage "outdoor therapy" for veterans with injuries or post-traumatic stress. Volunteer groups are already running similar programs in national parks.

 

A cooking program in upstate New York helps veterans find camaraderie in the kitchen.

Lt. Gerald Berry of Clearwater flew one of the planes that transported paratroopers behind enemy lines on D-Day. He was honored with eight other WWII vets during a ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base.
Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

Nine World War II veterans were honored Thursday in a ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.


Raul Guerra was adopted, so his DNA couldn't be matched to blood relatives. Scientists instead turned to an emerging technique that linked his bones to the drinking water in the places he grew up.

Under a law now taking effect, the military branches are issuing American-made running shoes, instead of giving recruits an allowance to buy whatever sneakers they want.

Similar debates have played out elsewhere, as sports stadiums that were originally built as memorials to veterans take on new corporate names.

While President Trump pushes Congress to create a new military branch called the Space Force, the Pentagon is about to choose a permanent home for its existing Space Command.

The Pentagon is planning to hire a single private company to oversee the moving process for military families. The current system is plagued by delays, lost shipments, theft, and a lack of accountability.

President Trump is considering sending a new round of troops to the southern border. The military withdrew some service members from the border in December, after they laid miles of concertina wire – large steel coils with razor-sharp teeth.

The VA Mission Act hopes to improve upon the Choice program, which ran over budget and didn't do much to reduce wait times for many veterans.

The policy bans transgender recruits and prevents current troops from transitioning to another sex unless they were diagnosed with gender dysphoria before April 12.

From 2009 to 2016, the Defense Department recruited more than 10,000 non-citizens into the armed forces. Now some say they're being discharged without explanation.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis receives a plaque from veterans after speaking at the launch of the "Forward March" initiative Friday at USF in Tampa.
Mark Schreiner / WUSF Public Media

Florida is reaching out to the 1.5 million military veterans who call the state home with a new initiative.

"Forward March" brings together state and federal agencies, service organizations like the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs and private partners to help support veterans.

Robert Wilkie
Department of Veterans Affairs

The James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa is undergoing a $148 million dollar expansion to meet the growing demand for health care in Florida. 

WUSF's Stephanie Colombini recently spoke with Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie about the expansion and other ways the VA is trying to increase access to care.


The settlement with earplug manufacturer 3M has focused attention on service-related hearing loss, one of the most common health problems among veterans.

Wildlife biologist Kory McLellan shoots off pyrotechnics to scare birds away from the airfield at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.
Mariette Adams / U.S. Air Force

Fireworks, drones, and habitat relocation projects are among the ways that Air Force biologists are fighting the expensive and potentially deadly problem of bird strikes.


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