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Through compelling TV and radio programming, public media celebrates and honors
veterans' service and shares the stories of their challenges and triumphs.


In Our Community

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When Fishing Is About More Than Fish

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photo1The number of Gulf War era veterans is growing as is the list of non-profit organizations formed to help returning service members. Heroes on the Water is a top-rated, all-volunteer non-profit organization formed specifically to provide free therapeutic recreation to veterans of all eras, active-duty military and their families. Florida has seven chapters many of which offer events year round.

  1. Central Florida Chapter
  2. Emerald Coast Chapter
  3. Northeast Florida Chapter
  4. Sarasota/Bradenton Chapter
  5. Space Coast Chapter
  6. South Florida Chapter
  7. Southwest Florida Chapter
Just a week ago, the Central Florida Chapter hosted veterans and their families on Lake Jackson in Osceola County. While chapters like New Jersey's pack in a large number of fishing trips during the summer months. http://cpa.ds.npr.org/wusf/audio/2014/12/12-19_ONAIR_OTB-VCH_Heroes.mp3 The idea behind Heroes on the Water is simple in theory and application. It only requires a kayak, fishing gear and a volunteer fishing coach to get a wounded veteran or stressed-out service member on the water. “Putting them as close to nature as possible, there’s a tranquil effect,” said Tom Welgos, the Eastern United States operations coordinator for Heroes on the Water. “I like to use Henry David Thoreau’s comment on fishing that: ‘Men spend their whole life fishing only to find out it wasn’t about the fish.’ And by putting them into a peaceful, outdoor environment, we start to see that stress level drop by allowing them to go out and fish they kind of take their minds off day to day problems.” Welgos is a veteran who struggled with post-traumatic stress symptoms. He was actually a fishing guide that offered free trips to wounded service members, but had few takers. He says that’s because fishing tours on a motorboat do provide the peace offered by kayak fishing. The quiet solitude of his first kayak fishing trip was such a revelation for Welgos that he started volunteering for Heroes on the Water. “The realization was that when we put these guys in kayaks and they have to use their body to power this kayak and are selecting the fishing areas with the help of a coach and they’re determining when they come back in, that we’re actually knocking down the overall stress, avoidance behavior and hyper vigilance,” Welgos said. Their free outings get injured veterans out of their hospital settings and offer quiet retreats to returning active duty service members. Their events are open to veterans of all eras and as well as their families. He said the organization is all volunteer and many of them have never served in the military. Welgos said that’s the beauty of the program, it gives civilians a chance to give back to those who have served. “They (civilians) are passionate about this cause because it’s not a fishing club or a kayaking club it is a cause,” Welgos said. This January, Heroes on the Water will train 35 more volunteer, leadership teams that have already been selected and vetted. Welgos said by late spring, the organization will double in size to 70 chapters across the United States as well as affiliate chapters in the United Kingdom and in Australia.  

Photo courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs

A Way for Vets to Help Their Families

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Military service involves more than the person wearing the uniform – families are always a part of that equation. A team of three University of South Florida psychology doctoral students and a graduate of the School of Social Work are conducting a research study looking at how reintegration affects military veterans and their children. Their focus looks at how veterans are “reintegrating” to both civilian and academic life and also examines the student veterans’ well-being and that of their children. The USF Coming Home Project is an anonymous online survey for student veterans who qualify:

  • You must currently be enrolled as a student.
  • You must be a veteran of Iraq or Afghanistan.
  • You have children between the ages of 6 and 18.
The online survey only requires about 15-20 minutes and is anonymous. It examines the impact of deployments on children in military families. Information about the Coming Home Project survey is available here.

Rob Walker of Leave No Veteran Behind shows off a video promoting their Smart Bike project.

Leave No Veteran Behind Smart Bikes

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Bringing together veterans’ service organizations to share ideas and create networks was one of the goals of The Patterson Foundation’s Veterans Legacy Summit that concluded last weekend in Sarasota. It brought one veteran to Florida to share how he’s using his mechanical background to inspire kids on Chicago’s Southside. http://cpa.ds.npr.org/wusf/audio/2014/11/11-21_ONAIR_OTB-VCH_NoVetLeftBehind.mp3 Rob Walker was a mechanic on a nuclear submarine before he left the Navy and became a lawyer. He’d just finished a big case and was on hiatus when he heard an NPR story by David Schaper in March 2011. It detailed how the non-profit group, Leave No Veteran Behind, was providing safe passage to high school students on some of Chicago’s more menacing streets. “I thought, you know what, I’m a Southside vet. I want to make my neighborhood better. I want to be part of the solution,” Walker said. “So, I reached out to them (No Veteran Left Behind) and I started out on a ‘Safe Passage’ route just like everybody else.” Education is part of the Leave No Veteran Behind initiative as is using each veteran’s assets and training to benefit the community. So eventually, Walker developed a new program. “Now, we’re doing a program where we’re teaching STEM or we like to call it STEAM where it’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics,” Walker said. “We’re taking these kids and we’re giving them skills they’re not getting from their typical education.” And Walker’s teaching tool is not typical, but it is plentiful supply. “We’re showing them how to take these abandoned, rusty bikes that are still all over our city and turn them back into state of the art machines with brand new componentry(sic),” Walker said. The Smart Bike design has several high-tech features. One, the NuVinci N360, makes shifting gears as easy as “turning the dial on your stereo.” It’s also tricked-out with a generator hub that powers an LED headlight and taillight as well as a USB port on the handlebars. So, once the bike is up to speed, you can charge your cell phone. “While teaching these kids, we often heard they don’t have a place to plug in their cell phones,” Walker said. “So, the kids wanted a place to charge their phones.” http://youtu.be/_pQz7dw6GC8 The promotional YouTube video, produced by Walker, touts that they teach more than science. They teach recycling “Southside style” and find potential anywhere. Walker came to the Veterans Legacy Summit in Florida to network with other veterans’ organizations. He said the Leave No Veteran Behind Smart Bike program could be expanded beyond Chicago. The only drawback is money. He said it can be expensive. The first Smart Bike cost $4000 to develop. But now that they have the prototype, Walker said the cost should drop by half. He has started a crowd-source campaign and produced the 2-minute YouTube video to promote the program.

Army combat veteran Wes Moore is a New York Times bestselling author, executive producer for the PBS Series "Coming Back with Wes Moore," and the keynote speaker commemorating Sarasota's Patriot Plaza.
Credit Courtesy of Wes Moore

Veteran Commemorates Patriot Plaza

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Saturday in Sarasota they’re holding the national commemoration of Patriot Plaza. It’s the 2800 seat amphitheater and art installation built to honor veterans and their families at Sarasota National Cemetery. The keynote speaker for the capstone event is best-selling author Wes Moore – a former paratrooper and veteran of the Afghanistan War. His book is titled “The Other Wes Moore.” He wrote it after discovering another young man by the same name, from the same city, with a similar background and about the same age. But instead of receiving a Rhodes Scholarship like he did, the other Wes Moore was sentenced to life in prison for murder. He wanted to know why their similar lives were so divergent. http://cpa.ds.npr.org/wusf/audio/2014/11/11-14_OTB-VCH_wesmoore_ONAIR.MP3 “The military for me was a remarkable experience. I grew in the military. It helped to change me, shape me and help me immeasurably,” Moore said. “Some of my fondest memories in my life thus far happened not when I was in a suit, or wearing jeans, but when I was wearing the uniform of the United States of America.” Curiosity led the decorated combat veteran and White House Fellow to reach out to his Doppelganger. Their correspondence became the backbone for his book. And he said the best way to honor veterans is to do the same thing, reach out and ask about their individual stories. “Often times what ends up happening in the fear of saying something incorrect, you end up saying nothing. No conversation takes place but the interpretation in the veterans’ community is that you don’t care,” Moore said. That’s why he became executive producer of the PBS series “Coming Back with Wes Moore” – to tell some of the stories of struggle and success as wounded veterans work to find a new mission in civilian life. The three part series, currently being broadcast on WUSF-TV, Channel 16, at 10 p.m. Sundays, shows how some veterans fight through physical pain and emotional setbacks. “That’s what warriors do,” Moore said in the series. “It is what makes us different.” And he told WUSF that veterans want to make a difference. “We believe we have a lot to contribute. We believe that often times people look at the veteran community as if we’re challenges or as if we’re things that have to be solved,” Moore said. “We view ourselves very differently. We really do look at ourselves as assets that need to be leveraged.” That’s the message that Moore will deliver Saturday at Patriot Plaza. He’s excited about revisiting the artwork there because it triggers an emotional response – that’s different for every individual. The Patriot Plaza Celebrate Service & Sacrifice ceremony is scheduled at 2 p.m. and includes a speech by Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, the West Point Band and Moore. It’s free and open to the public, however, registration is required. The WUSF Veterans Coming Home project also will be there as part of the Veterans Legacy Summit “Legacy Zone” at Patriot Plaza from 12:30-4:30 p.m. No registration is required. Stop by and see us. WUSF Veterans Coming Home is made possible by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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10 Ways to Celebrate Veterans Day

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flag_homeHave you missed the Veterans Day parade or the ceremony at your local VA National Cemetery? Well, there’s still time to show your appreciation for the men and women who have served or are currently serving in the Armed Forces. Here are a few suggestions you can practice year-round:

  1. Fly the American Flag outside your home.
  2. Teach your children or grandchildren a patriotic song like America the Beautiful.
  3. Volunteer at your local VA facility.
  4. Write a letter or make a card to be delivered by Operation Gratitude which sends messages to active-duty deployed troops as well as veterans.
  5. Accompany a veteran on an Honor Flight, or be there to greet the veterans when they return.
  6. Participate in the Veterans History Project – the Library of Congress makes it easy with a step-by-step process.
  7. Visit Arlington National Cemetery, the Vietnam Veterans Wall, or any of the other War Memorials or spend a quiet hour at your nearest National Cemetery.
  8. Sponsor a wreath for a veteran’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery for its 150th Anniversary or at your local VA cemetery through Wreaths Across America.
  9. Post a message of appreciation or photo from your Veterans’ Day on the WUSF Veterans Coming Home Welcome Wall.
  10. Spend 18 minutes and listen to a speech from Medal of Honor recipient Army Ranger MSgt. (Retired) Leroy Petry as he addresses student veterans at the University of South Florida, Tampa, on Nov. 4, 2014.
  11. Check out the Military Avenue link on 101 Ways to Thank a Veteran.
A bonus suggestion: if you live with a veteran like I do, give him or her a hug and make their favorite meal for dinner.

Female Veterans in Iraq. A New Resource for Female Vets. Female Veterans have a new resource for information on VA health care and benefits: 1-855-VA-WOMEN.
Credit Department of Veterans Affairs

Reaching Women Vets Is A Challenge

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What happens if you plan an event to honor women veterans and none of them come? That’s a real concern at the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 97 in Sarasota. The organization is planning a free event August 30th for the area’s women veterans, but so far, they’re having a tough time generating interest. http://cpa.ds.npr.org/wusf/audio/2014/08/8-15_on-air_OTB_Veterans_Outreach.mp3 “Our response, so far, has been lackluster,” said Michael Lannan, commander of DAV Chapter 97. “I’ll be honest with you, we’ve had only one person RSVP and we put out flyers and posters. The team that’s been putting this together has been going around to the different colleges. They’ve gone to the Vet Center. They’ve pretty much hit everywhere where there’s going to be women veterans.” The chapter’s treasurer, Iris Johnson, is part of that team. She said a church group offering free school supplies to children of women veterans had the same problem. “And they couldn’t find one single veteran woman with children and they had 25 slots that they couldn’t fill,” Johnson said. “They (women veterans) have to be somewhere. Somehow, we have to identify them.” The chapter commander is adjusting to reach the younger, female veterans. They recently started a Facebook page and is learning about social media. Getting messages out to veterans is the job of Karen Collins, communications director at Tampa’s James A. Haley Veterans Hospital. “You have to use social media. You have to come at them in multiple avenues,” Collins said. The Haley VA has a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Youtube channel and Collins routinely posts photos on Flickr. But there are other issues at work too. Capturing the attention of women veterans is one of the biggest challenges for Pam Smith-Beatty, the women’s program manager at Haley. “Part of the problem is that women don’t often think of themselves as veterans,” Smith-Beatty said. “I served for 22 years in the Air Force. But when I think of a veteran, I think of my dad, a Korean War Vet. I don’t necessarily think of myself.” National statistics show that women make up 15 percent of active-duty and 18 percent of the Guard and Reserves but only 6 percent of the VA population. “We’re finding that for the OEF/OIF/OND veterans, they’re actually doing a good job at capturing them. About 68% of those veterans are actually using the VA,” Smith-Beatty said. Yet overall, she said the VA is serving  only about 40 percent of eligible women veterans. “So how do you get the other 60 percent? We look at any kind of  recognition event,” Smith-Beatty said. She started up educational sessions every other month called Pink Bag Lunch and Learns.  Only 17 attended the first Pink Bag event, but as many as 120 have attended. So, Smith-Beatty offered some advice to the Sarasota chapter of the DAV. “If you only get 15 people, then be happy because you’re reaching that 15 people,” Smith-Beatty said. The Honoring Women Veterans in Sarasota event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the DAV Chapter building, 7177 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota. Veteran women from the Sarasota region can register for the event and day care by calling 941/580-0999.      

Children from the TAPS Good Grief Camp participating in workshops to help heal wounds from the suicide of a loved one who served in the Armed Forces.

Vets Voices: It’s Okay to Talk About It

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By Kiersten Downs WUSF Veterans Coming Home Outreach Coordinator Over time, the sharp and jagged pieces of a broken green bottle have been transformed into a smooth and beautiful beach gem that we call sea glass. While sitting in a circle with fellow mentors and mentees, we were asked by our group leader what was special about the sea glass. My nine-year-old mentee raised her little hand and in a sweet and shaky voice said, “that it changed over time”. This was the theme for the National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp for Young Survivors held this past weekend in St. Pete Beach, Florida by the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). For those who are unfamiliar with the work of this incredible organization, TAPS provides immediate and long-term emotional help, hope, and healing to all who are grieving the death of a loved one in military service to America. The 170 children who participated in the Good Grief Camp have lost a military loved one to suicide. I am not alone in saying that participating in the Good Grief Camp, as a mentor was one of the most powerful volunteer efforts I have ever experienced. A resounding theme repeated throughout the weekend that needs to be replicated not just at a suicide seminar but on our military bases is that “suicide is talked about here”. The existing stigma surrounding suicide gravely impacts those who have lost a loved one and silence on the subject also silences the living memories of those who have died, complicating grief even further. We understand that not everyone is at the point where they can talk openly about what brought them to the camp, but by stating that “suicide is talked about here” we are letting them know that this is a safe place where they can honor the memories of their loved ones with people who care and often times share similar life experiences. What I witnessed was a community of people coming together to help heal open wounds, some new and some long-standing. We painted together, we talked together, we cried together. We watched as kids were allowed to be kids. My mentee left footprints on my heart and taught me one of the most important lessons of all time. On Sunday afternoon, after we watched as the ocean waves washed away the words that we drew in the sand - “bad thoughts” and “nightmares” - I asked her what she was going to take home from camp. Her reply was, “that things change with time and it’s okay to talk about it.” For more information go to www.taps.org. If you or a loved one are in crisis, Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1chat online, or send a text

An evening view of Patriot Plaza Amphitheater at Sarasota National Cemetery.
Steven Brooke The Patterson Foundation

Patriot Plaza Is a First at VA Cemeteries

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Problems with veterans’ health care and benefits have dominated recent headlines. But there is one section at the Department of Veterans Affairs that ranks first in customer satisfaction over both private-sector companies and other federal agencies. That’s a point VA Secretary Bob McDonald was quick to point out when he visited Florida earlier this month. The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) is ranked first in the American Customer Satisfaction Index. “We want our national cemeteries to be shrines,” McDonald said, “Shrines that really demonstrate the care of our American people for our veterans.” http://cpa.ds.npr.org/wusf/audio/2014/10/10-31_ONAIR_otb-vch_vets_cemeteries.mp3 McDonald believes the Sarasota National Cemetery is such a showcase, or shrine, with its Patriot Plaza Amphitheater and numerous art installations worth $12 million, all privately funded by the Patterson Foundation based in Sarasota. “They have done an outstanding job choosing the artwork in that facility,” McDonald said. “There are photographs- for me as veteran, an airborne ranger, that capture many of the situations I’ve been in.” The Patterson Foundation funded Patriot Plaza and the public art to create a place for “deep experience” at the Sarasota National Cemetery, said Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of the Patterson Foundation. “By having Patriot Plaza, those who come to visit family, those who come now to visit the art, they will each have their own private time and space for reflection and experiencing and affirming why we live in the greatest country on the globe,” Jacobs said. The Patterson Foundation partnership with NCA is the first of its kind among the 131 cemeteries run by the VA. Jacobs hopes Sarasota’s Patriot Plaza will serve as a model for others to follow. U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller (FL-R), chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, called it a “perfect partnership.” “That facility down there from start to finish was magnificently designed. And then, to have an organization to come in and put the money behind it, a private organization,” Miller said. “Public-private partnerships work.” Miller added that Patriot Plaza gives people an opportunity to learn about freedom and the sacrifice of those who serve to defend the country. To celebrate Patriot Plaza and in honor of Veterans Day, the Patterson Foundation is sponsoring a national, Veterans Legacy Summit Nov. 14-15 which is designed to build connections for veterans and military families. All the summit events are free from the film festival and discussion panels to performances by the West Point Band and the keynote address by best-selling author Wes Moore. However, registration is required for the Veterans Legacy Summit. Reporting for the WUSF Veterans Coming Home project is made possible by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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A Capitol Fourth

A Capital Fourth

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America's favorite Independence Day celebration will feature unrivaled performances from some of the country's best-known musical artists, topped off by the greatest display of fireworks anywhere in the nation.    

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U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Matt Smith and Capt. John Ed Auer

A Salute to Troops: In Performance at the White House

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President and Mrs. Obama will host a PBS music special from the White House on Thursday, November 6, 2014 in advance of Veterans Day and as part of The White House "Joining Forces" initiative, with an all-star tribute to the men and women who serve the United States.

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Wes Moore

Coming Back with Wes Moore

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Three-part limited series about challenges facing Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans and some of the organizations working to help them.

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Eric Alva

Coming Home San Antonio: Eric Alva

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Staff Sergeant Eric Alva served in the Marine Corps for 13 years. In March of 2003, he stepped on a land mine and lost his right leg, making him the first Marine injured in the Iraq war. Despite dealing with PTSD and losing his leg, Eric continues being an active person, living life and looking forward to the future. Video courtesy of KLRN. Watch and listen to more public media stories about veterans.

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Eugene Burks, Craft in America: SERVICE

Craft in America: SERVICE

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Craft In America: Service honors military men and women through an unexpected prism: craft.  From the origins of the Army Arts and Crafts Program and the G.I. Bill to contemporary artists and veterans, the series celebrate the artists and techniques of American craft, documenting the power of the handmade to inspire, motivate and heal.

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Ice Warriors

ICE WARRIORS: USA SLED HOCKEY

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Coming in Nov 2014: Fighting for Gold at the Games

Tough competition. Spiritual uplift. Sled hockey: a game of force, speed, and strategy, played by top athletes with sticks, sharp sled runners, and the serrated ice picks used to propel their sleds. Last winter, ICE WARRIORS: USA SLED HOCKEY introduced viewers to the seventeen players of the U.S. sled hockey team with a behind-the-scenes look at the team's training and preparations. Now watch Team USA’s record-breaking performance at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in a new, expanded ICE WARRIORS documentary, premiering November 2014 on PBS. (03:17)

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Garcia Doctors

Latino Americans part 3 – War and Peace

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Episode 3 of Latino Americans traces the World War II years and those that follow, as Latino Americans serve their new country by the hundreds of thousands — yet still face discrimination and a fight for civil rights in the United States.      

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MHegar, Courtesy of MAKERS

MAKERS: Women in War

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Track American women's increasing participation in war — from Vietnam to the present — as nurses, soldiers, journalists, diplomats and spies. Among those featured are Linda Bray, the first woman to lead troops into battle, and Valerie Plame Wilson, whose career was sabotaged after she was "outed" as a high-level spy. Viewers hear from war correspondents Molly Moore, Clarissa Ward and Christiane Amanpour about life on the battlefield. The film shares the stories of military leaders who have broken through gender barriers, like General Angela Salinas, at her retirement the highest ranking woman serving in the USMC, and Vice Admiral Michelle Howard, the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. Navy.

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Medal Quest

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ICE WARRIORS follows the U.S sled hockey team on their road to the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. The team includes military veterans wounded in action.      

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Navy Seals

Navy SEALs – Their Untold Story

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This program recounts the ticking-clock missions of the "Commandos of the Deep" through firsthand accounts - including that of a D-Day demolition team member — and through never-before-seen footage, home movies and personal mementoes. Admirals, master chiefs, clandestine operators, demolitioneers and snipers reveal how US Navy SEALs morphed into the world's most admired commandos.

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U.S. soldiers prepare to exit their watercraft on D-Day.

NOVA: D-Day’s Sunken Secrets

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Join NOVA as dive teams, submersibles, and robots explore a massive underwater WWII archeological site.    

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Image from Invisible War

The Invisible War

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The Invisible War exposes one of the United States's most shameful and best-kept secrets: the epidemic of rape within the military. Today, a female soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire.      

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Amputees Get Their Shot At Competitive Boxing

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In San Antonio amputees who aspire to be serious boxers are getting in the ring and competing. Texas became the first state to sanction competitive amputee boxing.

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American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial

Monument Honors Vets Left With Scars, Physical Or Mental

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Released on Oct. 5th. The Department of Veterans Affairs says there are more than 3 million veterans living with disabilities today. A new memorial pays tribute to servicemen and women permanently wounded in the line of duty. Visit the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial website.

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Photo credit Adam Ferguson/National Geographic.

NPR – Civilian Life Taught This Military Dog Some New Tricks

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As a dog handler in the Marines, it was Jose Armenta's job to walk ahead of his platoon and search for roadside bombs with his dog, Zenit, a German shepherd trained for explosives detection. In 2011, while searching for IEDs planted by the Taliban in Afghanistan, a bomb they didn't detect exploded. Armenta narrowly survived, but both his legs had to be amputated above the knee. Zenit was uninjured and redeployed with a new handler.  

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Other Than Honorable Discharges

NPR – Veterans and Other-Than-Honorable Discharges

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NPR Special Series on Veterans in no man's land of benefits and resource after an "other-than-honorable-discharge."

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NPR America's Women Warriors

NPR Series – America’s Women Warriors

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A six-part NPR series on women in the military; from MST to combat to transitioning home. This series specifically focuses on the unique challenges women face in the military.

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NPR Series – Home Front: Soldiers Learn to Live After War

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Weekend Edition is spending a year with the men of the National Guard's 182nd Infantry Regiment as they make the transition from soldiers to civilians.

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US Paralympic sled hockey team celebrating.

NPR-From War in The Desert To ‘Murder Ball On Ice’

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An NPR broadcast highlighting the US paralympic sled hockey team and the disabled veterans that compete on it.

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portraits by David Gilkey at NPR

What Do Homeless Vets look like?

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Homeless veterans, though, may not see themselves as "homeless veterans" at all. If you passed one on the street, you might not even know it. Read 9 conversations from a pop-up photo studio in San Diego by Claire O’Neill and portraits by David Gilkey at NPR.

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Crossing the Threshold

Crossing the Threshold

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Everyone can support returning veterans as they integrate back into the community and work...it starts with listening. Learn from veterans helping other veterans find their place back home.

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Women Come Marching Home

Service: When Women Come Marching Home

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Service: When Women Come Marching Home portrays the courage of women in service and when they have left the military; the horrific traumas they faced, the inadequate care they often receive on return, and the accomplishments the women work mightily to achieve. Through compelling portraits, watch these women wrestle with prosthetics, homelessness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Military Sexual Trauma. The documentary takes the audience on a journey from Afghanistan and Iraq to Tennessee and New York City, from coping with the loss of two legs, to flashbacks, triggers and depression to ways to support other vets. The journey ends in Washington D.C. where vets meet with Congressional leaders to voice their concerns. Service honors the resilience of an amazing group of women who have overcome physical and emotional traumas with an unbroken spirit.

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World Channel Honors Veterans

WORLD Channel Veterans Coming Home

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In honor of the men and women who have served in all branches of the United States armed forces, WORLD Channel commemorates Veterans' Day with twenty-two films by and about veterans. Listen to stories of those who served from the Civil War to the Vietnam War to the front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq today. Understand what returning to civilian life was and is like for vet.

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Choctaw Code Talkers

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In 1918, not yet citizens of the United States, Choctaw members of the American Expeditionary Forces were asked to use their Native language as a powerful tool against the German Forces in World War I -- setting a precedent for code talking as an effective military weapon and establishing them as America's original code talkers. Choctaw Code Talkers will transport viewers back to World War I for an intimate and engaging look into the lives of these brave men, their families, their dreams and their patriotism to a country who would remember them as heroes, but not until after their death.

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Women Serving in War

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From the war zone to life back home: Three generations of Minnesota's military women share their stories of service from World War II to Vietnam to Afghanistan. Produced with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs.

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Warriors Return

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Diné (Navajo) warriors serve in the military to defend their land since, in their view, the United States is still Indian land. They have served proudly and bravely, from the Code talkers in WWII, to the Army Rangers in Vietnam, to the Army and Reserves who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. But their dedication and courage in battle does not protect them when they return home. Many were afraid of losing limbs; they did not anticipate the psychological damage from Post Traumatic Stress. Healing from PTSD is compounded for Navajo and many rural veterans by the problems of traveling long distances to receive care, unemployment, lack of housing, and alcohol abuse. Fortunately, many find help through strong women, traditional healing and western talk therapy to create a new normal.

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Local, USA | PTSD: Bringing the War Home

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An examination of what has become all too common among U.S. veterans returning home from combat zones. PTSD: Bringing the War Home spotlights those affected by war-related post-traumatic stress disorder: a devastating injury pushes one former soldier into the dark; the family of a Navy Seal tells his tragic story; a woman rebuilds her post-war life; and a program at the City College of San Francisco committed to rehabbing veterans.

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America ReFramed | Reserved To Fight

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In May 2003, Fox Company of Marine Reserve Unit 2/23 returned home from combat on the front line in Iraq. Reserved To Fight follows four Marines of Fox Company through their post-war minefield of social and psychological reintegration into civilian life. The return home and into their communities proves as formidable a battle as the more literal firefights of previous months. They live among loved ones who don't yet understand them and how they have changed. They contend with a media focused on the politics rather than the human experience of war. And they suffer from a psychological disorder that is difficult to acknowledge. These young veterans grapple to find purpose and healing.

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America By The Numbers with Maria Hinojosa | Island of Warriors

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Pacific Islanders serve in the U.S. military in disproportionally high numbers, and have suffered the highest casualty rates in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "America By The Numbers with Maria Hinojosa" visits Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific, to speak to some of the island’s veterans. The men and women here are American citizens and serve in our country’s military at a rate three times higher than the rest of the country. We explore why Guam’s returning veterans say they can’t get the health care they need.

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Bad Voodoo's War

FRONTLINE – Bad Voodoo’s War

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FRONTLINE goes to war with a platoon of National Guard soldiers to see the war through their eyes, filmed with their own video cameras.    

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Brain Wars

FRONTLINE – Brain Wars

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How the Military is Failing Its Wounded - an ongoing investigation into soldiers' traumatic brain injuries. (Partnership with NPR and ProPublica)

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Educating Sergeant Pantske

FRONTLINE – Educating Sergeant Pantske

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For-profit colleges promise veterans a high quality degree -- but do they deliver?    

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FRONTLINE Losing Iraq

FRONTLINE – Losing Iraq

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FRONTLINE examines the unfolding chaos in Iraq: What went wrong? How did we get here? And what happens now?

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The Soldier's Heart

FRONTLINE – The Soldier’s Heart

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The military teaches soldiers how to fight, hot to kill, how to survive. But who teaches them how to live with themselves? Examining an under-reported story of the Iraq war: the psychological cost on those who fight it.

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The Wounded Platoon

FRONTLINE – The Wounded Platoon

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Third Platoon, Charlie Company. What happened to them in Iraq, and what happened when they came home…        

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More Veterans Stories

Breaking Ground: Military Children

Breaking Ground: Military Children

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Nearly 2 million children have parents currently serving in the military, and that number doubles when you include the children of veterans post-9/11. They’ve had to say goodbye to their parents multiple times during what has been the largest sustained deployment in the history of our all-volunteer force. These young people live in every zip code of this country and on military bases across the globe. And yet their everyday lives are mostly invisible to the rest of us.

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State of the ReUnion logo

Coming Home: Stories of Veterans Returning from War

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More than two million veterans have come home so far from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. For returning veterans, reintegrating into society can be a challenge. How do you find your place, when you’ve changed and the people you love don’t recognize you? When that old life is gone and you have to start a new one from scratch. In this hour State of the Re:Union explores reintegration and asks the question: how do you come back home from war?    

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veteran homelessness

Connecting Point: Veteran Homelessness | WGBY

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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) states that the nation’s homeless veterans are predominantly male, with roughly 8% being female. The majority are single; live in urban areas; and suffer from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders. About 12% of the adult homeless population are veterans. Produce Dave Fraser talks with several local Veterans and shares their stories of transitioning out of the US military and the challenges they faced. Soldier On Soldier On on Facebook @WeSoldierOn

US Army veteran Jason Allen

Connecting Point: Veteran Housing | WGBY

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Connecting Point’s Jim Madigan discusses homeless veterans & veteran housing with Jim Seney, a Social Work Executive and Program Manager for Community Reintegration Services at the VA Central Western Massachusetts Health Care System. He will also be joined by US Army veteran Jason Allen.

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Nathan talks with Afghani man

Hell and Back Again

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What does it mean to lead men in war? What does it mean to come home — injured physically and psychologically — and build a life anew? U.S. Marine Sergeant Nathan Harris, 25, leads his unit to fight a ghostlike enemy in Afghanistan. Wounded in battle, Harris returns to North Carolina and his devoted wife to fight pain, addiction, and the terrifying normalcy of life at home.

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Brian Posten

KLRN | Coming Home San Antonio | Brian Posten

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Brian and Kim Posten have been through a lot. For Brian, an accident in Iraq left him with a traumatic brain injury. For his wife Kim, the accident left her with a husband who needed help finding a new purpose and direction in his post-military life. Brian’s challenge to adapt to civilian life are mirrored by the 1.5 million of other veterans who will soon be transitioning out of the military.

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The prototype of the Smart Bike.

Leave No Veteran Behind Smart Bikes | WUSF

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Bringing together veterans’ service organizations to share ideas and create networks was one of the goals of The Patterson Foundation’s Veterans Legacy Summit that concluded last weekend in Sarasota. It brought one veteran to Florida to share how he’s using his mechanical background to inspire kids on Chicago’s Southside. http://cpa.ds.npr.org/wusf/audio/2014/11/11-21_ONAIR_OTB-VCH_NoVetLeftBehind.mp3 Rob Walker was a mechanic on a nuclear submarine before he left the Navy and became a lawyer. He’d just finished a big case and was on hiatus when he heard an NPR story by David Schaper in March 2011. It detailed how the non-profit group, Leave No Veteran Behind, was providing safe passage to high school students on some of Chicago's more menacing streets. "I thought, you know what, I'm a Southside vet. I want to make my neighborhood better. I want to be part of the solution," Walker said. “So, I reached out to them (No Veteran Left Behind) and I started out on a 'Safe Passage' route just like everybody else." Education is part of the Leave No Veteran Behind initiative as is using each veteran’s assets and training to benefit the community. So eventually, Walker developed a new program. “Now, we’re doing a program where we’re teaching STEM or we like to call it STEAM where it’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics,” Walker said. “We’re taking these kids and we’re giving them skills they’re not getting from their typical education.” And Walker’s teaching tool is not typical, but it is plentiful supply. “We’re showing them how to take these abandoned, rusty bikes that are still all over our city and turn them back into state of the art machines with brand new componentry(sic),” Walker said. The Smart Bike design has several high-tech features. One, the NuVinci N360, makes shifting gears as easy as “turning the dial on your stereo.” It’s also tricked-out with a generator hub that powers an LED headlight and taillight as well as a USB port on the handlebars. So, once the bike is up to speed, you can charge your cell phone. “While teaching these kids, we often heard they don’t have a place to plug in their cell phones,” Walker said. “So, the kids wanted a place to charge their phones.” The promotional YouTube video, produced by Walker, touts that they teach more than science. They teach recycling “Southside style” and find potential anywhere. Walker came to the Veterans Legacy Summit in Florida to network with other veterans' organizations. He said the Leave No Veteran Behind Smart Bike program could be expanded beyond Chicago. The only drawback is money. He said it can be expensive. The first Smart Bike cost $4000 to develop. But now that they have the prototype, Walker said the cost should drop by half. He has started a crowd-source campaign and produced the 2-minute YouTube video to promote the program.          

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Telling: San Antonio

Telling: San Antonio | KLRN

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In Telling: San Antonio, a performance piece organized by playwright Jonathan Wei, veterans and their families were given a voice to share their experiences. A dozen local vets from all walks of life practiced their monologues for weeks and presented their stories at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. What they said will make you laugh, and make you cry.

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The Moth Radio Hour

The Moth Radio Hour: Veterans Day Special 2014

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A special Veterans Day edition of The Moth Radio Hour. After returning from active duty in the Middle East, a marine searches for new meaning; a 97 year old woman describes training young men for WWII combat as a WASP; a father being deployed to Iraq must find a way to explain it to his children; and a WWII soldier from Wisconsin serves with the segregated 93rd Infantry Division in the South Pacific. This special hour is hosted by The Moth's Producing Director, Sarah Austin Jenness. The Moth Radio Hour is produced by The Moth and Jay Allison of Atlantic Public Media. Do you have a personal veterans' story to share? Tell it to the Moth. Visit us here for more information: http://themoth.org/tell-a-story

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Vet to Vet: Jenn | Wisconsin Public Television

Vet to Vet: Jenn | Wisconsin Public Television

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"I think part of the reason why I wanted to be a therapist was because I wanted answers. I wanted to fix myself and I wanted to fix everybody else but I needed the answers. And I wanted the quick-fix way of how to do it and I just thought maybe if I read enough books I could find the answers. And that’s not true at all."

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Vet to Vet: Yvette

Vet-to-Vet: Yvette | Wisconsin Public Television

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"I was a Fellow with The Mission Continues. They gave me something to do. They didn't just say, 'Take it easy. Decompress.' No, they said, 'You still have work to do. You don't have to wear stripes on your arms to go out and motivate people, to lead people, to make a change, to do something different."

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wpt vietnam war stories

Vietnam War Stories

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A documentary series in which Wisconsin's men and women in uniform share personal accounts of courage and sacrifice from America's historic battles.

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where soldiers come from

Where Soldiers Come From

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A four-year journey that takes teenagers from rural northern Michigan to the battlefields of Afghanistan and back, WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM follows five high school friends who join the National Guard to pay for college. The film is an intimate look at the young men who fight America's wars.

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Tech Sgt. MaCherie Dunbar (R) and her girlfriend, Barb Maglaqui (L)

StoryCorps – Tech Sgt. MaCherie Dunbar

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Tech Sgt. MaCherie Dunbar (R) was deployed twice to Iraq in 2007-2008. At StoryCorps, MaCherie told her girlfriend, Barb Maglaqui (L), about one of the hardest things she had to do while overseas. MaCherie is an Air Force reservist and lives in Fairbanks, Alaska. She is hoping to retire from the Air Force this year because of PTSD.

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StoryCorps - The Last Viewing

StoryCorps Shorts: The Last Viewing

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Allen Hoe served as a combat medic during the Vietnam War, and his two sons continued his legacy of service. His oldest son, Nainoa, eventually became a first lieutenant infantry officer with the Army's 3rd Battalion. In January 2005, while leading his men through Mosul, Iraq, Nainoa was killed by sniper fire. He was 27. On Memorial Day that same year, Allen traveled to Washington to honor Nainoa's memory, and it was there that he had a chance encounter a stranger that brought them both unforeseen comfort. StoryCorps is proud to present "The Last Viewing" alongside "1st Squad, 3rd Platoon" and "The Nature of War" to honor Veterans Day 2014. The stories come from StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative, which aims to bridge the gap between veterans and civilians. Told in the voices of veterans and their family members, these films honor the service and sacrifice of the military community and tells them that we—as a nation—are listening.

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StoryCorps - The Nature of War

StoryCorps Shorts: The Nature of War

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In 2005, Specialist Justin Cliburn deployed to Iraq with the Oklahoma Army National Guard. While serving in Baghdad, Justin formed an unlikely friendship with two Iraqi boys who lived nearby. At StoryCorps, Justin speaks with his wife, Deanne, about the lasting impression the boys left on his life. StoryCorps is proud to present "The Nature of War" alongside "1st Squad, 3rd Platoon" and "The Last Viewing" to honor Veterans Day 2014. The stories come from StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative, which aims to bridge the gap between veterans and civilians. Told in the voices of veterans and their family members, these films honor the service and sacrifice of the military community and tells them that we—as a nation—are listening.

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StoryCorps -1st Squad 3rd Platoon

StoryCorps Shorts: 1st Squad, 3rd Platoon

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In August 2005, Marine Lance Cpl. Travis Williams and his squad were sent on a rescue mission in Barwanah, Iraq. En route, their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. Of Travis' entire 12-person team, he alone survived. Here, Travis reflects on the hours and days after the explosion, as well as his life now, and pays tribute to the men he left behind.

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Paul Wayman and Nathanael Roberti

StoryCorps – Nathanael Roberti

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Marine Corporal Paul Wayman (L) talks with his friend Nathanael Roberti, (R) a former Navy Seal, about their trouble readjusting to civilian life after their combat deployments.

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Army National Guard Staff Sergeant Jon Meadows and his wife, Melissa

StoryCorps – Army National Guard Staff Sergeant Jon Meadows

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Army National Guard Staff Sergeant Jon Meadows has served two tours of duty, first to Iraq in 2006, then to Afghanistan in 2012. Over the course of his service, he suffered multiple head injuries–which he didn’t report because he wanted to keep on serving. Then, in an examination during his last tour, doctors found polyps in Jon’s throat. He was sent to a hospital in the States–and that’s when the brain damage was discovered. Jon and his wife, Melissa, came to the White House for a day StoryCorps spent recording with Joining Forces–the national effort to support service members and their families, which is spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. In Washington, Jon told his wife about his life now, and remembered a friend and fallen soldier who served with him in Iraq.

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Army Captain Drew Pham and his wife, Molly Pearl

StoryCorps – Army Captain Drew Pham

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Army Captain Drew Pham was 24 years old when he completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan in October 2011. Since returning, Drew has had a hard time making sense of what he saw at war and adjusting to life at home. At StoryCorps, he spoke with his wife, Molly Pearl, about that transition and some of his most difficult combat memories.

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Marine Corporal Anthony Villarreal and his wife, Jessica

StoryCorps – Marine Corporal Anthony Villarreal

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In June 2008, Marine Corporal Anthony Villarreal was driving back from a mission in Afghanistan when his truck hit a roadside bomb. Anthony suffered third-degree burns over most of his body. His right arm and the fingers on his left hand had to be amputated. Anthony was 22 at the time, and newlywed to Jessica who was just 21. When the couple sat down for StoryCorps, Anthony remembered the moments just after the explosion.

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Justin Cliburn

StoryCorps – Justin Cliburn

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Specialist Justin Cliburn deployed to Iraq in 2005 with the Oklahoma Army National Guard. His job was to train the Iraqi police in Baghdad. When he sat down for StoryCorps with his wife, Deanne, he told her about his friendship with a young Iraqi boy named Ali.

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Elizabeth Olson

StoryCorps – Veterans Crisis Line

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Elizabeth Olson and her colleagues at the Veterans Crisis Line talk about helping callers through their darkest hours.

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Mark and Luke Radlinski

StoryCorps – Navy Lieutenant Mark Radlinski

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Navy Lieutenant Mark Radlinski speaks with his brother, Lieutenant Luke Radlinski, about Mark's deployment to Iraq and his homecoming.

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