American Homefront

In early 2017, WUSF joined the national American Homefront project, a national collaborative covering military life and veterans issues.

We're visiting bases to chronicle how American troops are working and living. We're meeting military families. We're talking with veterans -- in their homes, on their jobs, at school, at VA hospitals -- to learn about the challenges they face.

Partners in the project include WUSF, KPBS in San Diego and North Carolina Public Radio - WUNC.

The American Homefront project in Tampa builds on the success of WUSF's Off The Base project, which 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.

American Homefront receives support from: The Bob Woodruff Foundation, dedicated to ensuring that post-9/11 injured service members, veterans, and their families make a successful transition.  

Terri Thompson

Amateur athletes compete for the personal satisfaction of accomplishment. They don't do it for the money or for fame. It's purely for the love of the sport.

During the week of July 13th, Tampa will show some love to a group of amateur athletes who will arrive from around the nation for the 33rd Annual National Veterans Wheelchair Games.


It happened in a big way at the end of World War II - soldiers headed home from the frontlines and into the classroom.

Again, the number of veterans on college campuses around the nation is expected to increase as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down. 

Some 2,200 students are currently using their VA education benefits to attend the University of South Florida said Ray Mollison, president of the USF Student Veterans Association (SVA). Of those, 1,700 are active veteran students and 1,200 are on the Tampa campus.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

In just a few weeks, Tampa will host more than 500 veterans in town to compete in the 33rd National Veterans Wheelchair Games.

And 3,000 volunteers are needed to help with setting up equipment at the venues, serving meals, monitoring buses and to cheer on the athletes as “Fans in the Stands.”

Among the handful of veterans’ bills considered by Florida lawmakers this year was legislation that would have granted in-state tuition rates to all veterans using the Post 9-11 GI Bill.

The lower, in-state tuition waiver was a top priority for Florida student veterans.

State Rep. Kathleen Peters of South Pasadena sponsored the House bill.

“The senate wouldn’t hear it,” Peters said. “I’m extremely disappointed about it. The veterans’ organizations are upset about it. The veterans’ school organizations are upset about it.”

Annie Pace video

There are apparently all sorts of traditions and tips when cycling coast to coast across the USA.

One tradition is to dip your rear wheel in the ocean at your starting point and your front tire in the other ocean when you complete your cross-country journey.

So far, more than 700 veterans from Central Florida, many from World War II, have been treated to a day in Washington D.C. touring the memorials.

The 11th Honor Flight for West Central Florida returns tonight (Tuesday) at 8:30 at the St. Petersburg Clearwater Airport carrying some 80 WWII veterans.

The public is invited to come out and give the honorees a true "hero's welcome home." The celebration is planned at the baggage claim facility.

Kiersten Downs

Saturday, on the streets of San Francisco, University of South Florida doctoral student and Air Force veteran Kiersten Downs will begin a journey of 3,800 miles with a push of a single pedal.

The applied anthropology doctoral student is biking across America this summer to heighten awareness and to raise money for the organization Student Veterans of America.

Downs fell in love with cycling with the gift of her first two-wheeler, a little pink bike with streamers and training wheels.

Memorial Day is an opportunity to remember all  those who died while serving the United States of America in all wars.

An easy reference for all Memorial Day ceremonies at National Cemeteries throughout the United States is available HERE. This listing is in alphabetic order by state. Note that there is not a VA national cemetery in every state.

Tampa VA Doctor Wins Award for Type 2 Diabetes Research

May 24, 2013

The top medical researcher in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs works at Tampa’s James A. Haley VA Hospital.

Dr. Robert Farese won the 2012 William Middleton Award, which is given for outstanding biomedical research, for his investigation into the causes and possible cure of Type 2 diabetes.

Farese’s “breakthrough” work is important to veterans because 25 percent of all vets discharged from the VA have a diabetes diagnosis, usually Type 2 diabetes.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The hospitalized veterans at Tampa's James A. Haley VA, like many Americans on this Memorial Day, will be able to munch on burgers and hotdogs  at a good old-fashioned barbecue thanks to members of the Tampa law firm of Foley & Lardner LLP.

Upon learning that the Haley VA had to cancel the barbecue for about 150 veterans because their sponsor dropped out, the firm agreed to step up and cover the cost.

Memorial Day is a time to remember military members who lost their lives while serving their country.

It’s also a three-day weekend at Tampa’s James A. Haley VA Hospital that staff try to make special for the hospitalized veterans who also sacrificed for their country.

Yet, Memorial Day for Haley veterans had to be scaled back this year.

For want of $500, the 150 veterans at the Haley VA Hospital will not have a Memorial Day barbecue according to Cathy Williams, head of recreational therapy.

US House of Representatives

Army records from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are missing. And it appears to be more than just a misplaced file or two according to a report in ProPublica.

Cong. Jeff Miller, R-Florida, sent Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel a letter requesting a detailed accounting of how many files are missing:

screen shot

Some things turn us to mush every time: Cute animals. Sappy Publix commercials. And most of all, surprise military reunions.

Nine-year-old Alayna Adams was chosen to throw out the first pitch at Thursday night's Rays game. What the Dunedin girl didn't know was that the catcher wasn't a pro ball player. It was her dad, Lt. Col. Will Adams, just home from Afghanistan.

After Alayna threw the ball, her father caught it. Then he lifted his catcher's mask. Alayna raced toward him and leaped into his arms.

And yes, the crowd went wild.

Department of Defense

Florida has an estimated 142,000 women veterans and many likely had their eyes on the Pentagon this week.

First, there was the deadline for the services to submit plans on how to integrate women into combat units or explain why women should remain banned. Many women already are serving in units exposed to combat but aren’t officially acknowledged.

And there is more news related to the growing problem of military sexual trauma.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The sun was up, the coffee shop next door was doing a brisk business, and a steady stream of cars and trucks were rumbling south on Tampa Street in downtown Tampa when Tom Casey ended his children's rowing marathon.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

This morning on the sidewalk on Tampa Street just south of Cass in downtown Tampa, a brother and sister team are attempting to set a record by rowing more than 26 hours straight.

Shannon and Matthew Casey started their fund-raising marathon Wednesday at 11 a.m. with plans to trade off rowing - one hour each - until 1:12 p.m. Thursday, May 16, 2013.

As of 6:30 a.m. Thursday, their father, Tom Casey, reported that the duo made it through the night. Their pace slowed but they kept rowing. Shannon was on the Erg machine at the time.

Bay Pines VA Researches Military Sexual Trauma and PTSD

May 13, 2013

Post-traumatic stress disorder and military sexual trauma are the top two mental health issues for today’s military and veterans.

And both are the focus of ongoing research at the Bay Pines VA Health Care System in St. Petersburg where Dr. Carol O’Brien established the first residential treatment program in the nation for women who developed PTSD as a result of military sexual trauma.

Stanley Leary

Sunday is Mother’s Day -- normally a time for celebration.  But it's sometimes tough to celebrate when mom is home and the kids are serving overseas in the military.

So here are some suggestions on how to support a military mom from Dorie Griggs, a proud mother of a Citadel graduate currently serving in Afghanistan:

MacDill AFB

The bay waters that lap on the southern shores of MacDill Air Force Base are typically off limits to civilian fishing boats, but not this Saturday, May 11, 2013.

Col. Scott DeThomas, 6th Air Mobility Wing commander, has opened two miles of the base coastline to recreational fishermen starting at 7 a.m. and ending at 6 p.m.

Guest anglers must be registered. You can register and get full details by calling the outdoor recreation office at 813-828-4982.

We told you yesterday about an 80 foot by 30 foot American flag mural that artist Scott LoBaido is painting on the north wall of the Tampa Firefighters Museum in downtown Tampa. It's a ''thank you" message to our troops, particularly Sergeant Mike Nicholson, who lost both his legs and his left arm during an improvised explosive device (IED) attack in Afghanistan almost two years ago. The Tampa Bay Times has a stop-action video showing LoBaido's creation, from the initial brushstrokes to completion of Old Glory.