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Air Force Academy graduates and friends Steve Berger (L) and Craig Anders (R) are co-founders of Project Road Warrior.

A Freedom Ride for Wounded Warriors

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There’s nothing quite like the freedom of the road and the adventure of discovering what’s around the next turn. That independence is what inspired two Air Force Academy buddies to plan a cross-country motorcycle ride in June. But the Project Road Warrior Ride is unique because most of the riders are military members from the Care Coalition, an organization that cares for wounded, ill and injured members of the U.S. Special Operations Command. Air Force Academy graduate Craig Anders now serves with the Care Coalition.  He’s a former pilot who as he put it “suffered one too many concussions” which led to a seizure and epilepsy. “That immediately disqualified me from ever again flying for the Air Force,” Anders said. “That was tough, that was really tough and being that it was a seizure it also disqualified me from driving a car for a while. My wife had to drive me to work and my friends had to drive me to work and for a long time you kind of feel you’re more of a burden than of use.  That’s a hard thing to get past for a lot of folks.” Anders said one day he’d had enough. To recapture a measure of independence, he bought a bicycle and began riding 15 miles each way to work. “Then, I went and found a friend to take me flying again and we went skiing again,” Anders said. “I’m lucky. I had my seizure. I got stabilized on medicine and eventually I was able to do many of the things, except for flying, that I used to be able to. For some folks, they’re not that lucky.” Now, his mission is to help other injured military members regain their sense of control. So, Anders teamed up with his Air Force Academy buddy Steve Berger. Their first idea was to ride in the Scooter Cannonball Run from Alaska to New Orleans. That idea morphed into a fund-raiser. Then, they decided to invite members of the Care Coalition to ride along. They finally decided on establishing their own ride that would start in Seattle and finish in the Tampa Bay area, home to the Care Coalition and two of their major sponsors, Barney’s Motorcycle and Marine and Quaker Steak & Lube in Clearwater. Anders and Berger co-founded the non-profit organization, Project Road Warrior. For their first event, they took eight riders from Care Coalition, traveled across 12 states, over two mountain ranges, touched two oceans and the Gulf and all  in 10 days. “People don’t really realize how rehabilitation can be in the form of adventure,” Berger said. “We’ve got some of these type-A personalities. They’re thrill seekers, they want to do something that’s extreme. They want to do something that is over the top. And riding 10 days across the United States, yeah it’s on Can-Am Spyders, but that’s still going to be a challenge.” Barney’s Motorcycle helped bring aboard the national company Can-Am that is providing the Spyders, three-wheel motorcycles. Berger is a civilian now who organizes auto shows for Motor Trend. But he’s looking forward to getting to know the eight coalition members on the ride. “I was a rescue pilot in the Air Force. So anytime I was doing work in combat it was because someone was having a really bad day. They got shot or they got hit by an IED and we’re flying them to get the care that they need,” Berger said. “So for me personally, I think I’ve seen a lot of these people on the worse part of their day. I want to leave that behind me and find them on some of the better parts of their day the better parts of their lives.” Beyond helping his fellow troops, Anders also hopes to dispel the impression held by some that injured members of the military are somehow broken. “These kinds of events help people see that they’re resilient. They’re capable,” Anders said pointing to the Project Road Warrior poster that features the eight riders. One is a soldier who lost both his legs to an IED but continues in active duty with the Army, another is partially paralyzed, still others have balance issues because of head injuries. “You have guys like Anthony (Radetic). He was hurt, he was injured. He’s in a wheelchair, but he’s also the first guy to land a back flip on a sit-ski,” Anders said. Project Road Warrior left Seattle June 5 and arrived in Tampa June 14, 2014. You can follow their route and adventures on their website. In between, the group took the back roads through Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana and made three stops in Florida. They concluded with a big fund-raiser and party at Quaker Steak and Lube. The trip was fully funded minus things like a communications system which Berger wanted for safety reasons. But they’re also looking to build funds for next year’s ride and other adventures like maybe a Jet Ski trip around Florida.

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.      

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.

Veteran Cheldyn Donovan has severe social phobia. But by learning to play guitar, he's been able to overcome some of his fears.

Art in Action at Veterans’ Open Mic

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Beyond the battlefield and the barracks, some of Florida’s 1.5 million veterans have had trouble transitioning to civilian life. Yet, there are signs that poetry, art, music and performance are helping veterans adjust. With Veterans’ Day approaching, we bring you their stories this week in a special edition of Florida Matters. These are highlights from the October 2014 Veterans Open Mic Night at Tampa’s Sacred Grounds Coffee House. Military veterans meet there every first Sunday to share their talents and stories. The WUSF Veterans Coming Home project partnered with Art-2-Action Tampa Veterans to bring you this evening of poetry and music with military veterans. The emcees for the evening were Andrea Assaf, director of Art-2-Action, and guest playwright Linda Parris-Bailey who wrote the play, Speed Killed My Cousin, about returning veterans. The highlights feature veterans Charla  Gautierre, Cheldyn Donovan and Marc Reid. http://cpa.ds.npr.org/wusf/audio/2014/11/11-4_FM_Veterans_Open_Mic_WEB.MP3

Maria Vazquez, 18, won the Platform Art design competition with her sculpture depicting honor.

Lakeland Art Honors Those Who Serve

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http://cpa.ds.npr.org/wusf/audio/2014/05/5-9_OTB_Honor_Art_RECUT_pronunciation_change.mp3 The area’s newest tribute to military service members, veterans and first responders was unveiled May 9, 2014 in Lakeland, Florida. It’s a sculpture of steel and glass. Designed by a high school student and crafted by a local artisan. The non-profit group, Platform Art, is leading the collaboration behind the sculpture, the first of three pieces that will become part of Lakeland’s Veterans Memorial Park over the next three years. Executive director Cynthia Haffey said their partnerships with veterans associations and first responders will continue for the next two years. Each year, high school students will compete designing a work of art that encompasses a word like service or sacrifice. The winning sculptures will be placed in Lakeland's Veterans Memorial Park. This year’s word was “Honor.” This year’s winner was Maria Vazquez, 18, a senior at Lake Region High School. Initially, the young artist struggled with finding the best way to portray such a broad concept. “Most of the time, whenever I get my inspiration, it’s from a poem,” Vazquez said. “So, I looked up poems that had to do with honor. Nothing stuck. It was all kind of generic and then I came across Mr. McGehee’s poem.” In 2006 as a senior in high school, William McGehee wrote a poem titled “Honor” which Vazquez incorporated into her sculpture. She said the poem taught her that the true meaning of honor is trying to protect your loved ones, your friends and family. So, she translated that meaning into her sculpture which has three steel panels each with a separate silhouette. The first is the profile of a service member. In the middle is a silhouette of a couple. And the final panel has a cutout child. “Whenever you look directly into it, you’re seeing the soldier as who he is and then you’re seeing the family afterward and deeper in you see the child,” Vazquez said. “And that child could probably be their son or it could be them whenever they were a child and everything that their childhood represents.” In front of the three steel silhouettes is a glass panel inscribed with McGehee’s poem. Professional artist Tom Monaco of The Fourth Wall Studio was on the committee that selected the winning sculpture that he was commissioned to create. He worked with Vazquez to help her realize her vision. He let her do everything from try her hand at welding to picking out the script style for the poem. “I was like how do you visualize this being done and she’s like I want it to be handwritten,” Monaco said As a judge, he said several of the 60 student models in the competition showed real creativity. “They were beautiful to look at but they were so abstract that we couldn’t even include them,” Monaco said. “This could be honor, this could be a bologna sandwich. It could literally be everything you wanted to see in it.” Monaco said Vazquez’s sculpture” just nailed it” as being easy to understand yet visually complex enough to generate interest. And the focal point of her sculpture is McGehee’s poem. It took Haffey with Platform Art weeks to track down the poet for permission to use his poem to honor military service members and first responders. McGehee not only gave permission, his life story brings an even deeper meaning to the sculpture. The poet writing about honor is now a U.S. Army lieutenant leading patrols on his second tour in Afghanistan. He graduated college with a theater major. So, McGehee is thrilled that his poem inspired another high school student to create art. He sent a message from Afghanistan to be read at the sculpture’s unveiling that said in part “it serves as a reminder for all that art is still alive in American culture.”

Lt. McGehee while training in Colorado.

From Afghanistan: A Soldier’s Poem

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http://cpa.ds.npr.org/wusf/audio/2014/05/5-9_web_Poem_Honor_mono.mp3 Army Lt. William McGehee was thrilled to learn that a poem he wrote in high school inspired another student’s work of art honoring members of the military and first responders. Currently on his second tour in Afghanistan, it’s difficult for him to get reliable access to the internet. However, he managed to record his poem to share with all involved with the Platform Art project. Listen to Lt. McGehee read his poem on honor which he recorded on a tablet while sitting in his quarters in Afghanistan. And he sent along the following words to be read at the unveiling of the “Honor Sculpture," May 9, 2014,  at Kryger Park, 108 S. Massachusetts Ave., Lakeland. McGehee’s message to Lakeland:

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to thank you for taking time out of your day to join us. This dedication serves as a reminder for all who ever will walk here that art is still alive in American culture, that inspiration can come from any source, and that we as a nation have not forgotten the sacrifices of those who keep this nation safe. It is easy in this world of mass media and visual overload, to lose sight of the meaning behind a piece of art. I believe that art goes beyond esthetics and possess a spiritual presence which speaks for the human condition. To put it simply art tells us stories.  The story in this sculpture is simple yet powerful. It is our story, the story of sacrifice, the story of anyone who has ever sweated and bleed for our safety, and the story of all those who gave their final full measure of devotion.  This is a story we must never lose sight of. This story told here today came about in a very unlikely way.  A young artist found an unpublished poem on the internet to use as the center piece for her prize winning work. Years ago a young high school student got the idea for that same poem… from a video game.  Please, when you feel that itch to write, to drawl, to sing, no matter where it came from, no matter how insignificant it may seem, do it. You can never know what great story your action could come tell the world. Thank you all for listening.

Artist Larry Kirkland uses photos, veterans words and sketches to illustrate words key to military service and veterans. Note one side of the marble column is rough. The artist left it like that because he believes nothing is perfect.

Patriot Plaza Honors Veterans’ Sacrifice

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The Sarasota community dedicated Patriot Plaza on June 28, 2014 as a way to honor the service and sacrifice of veterans and their families. The plaza is the first of its kind, a privately funded, fully shaded amphitheater and art installation at the public Sarasota National Cemetery. The 2,800 tickets to the dedication sold out weeks in advance. Sitting on almost two acres of land just north of the columbarium, Patriot Plaza can seat up to 2,800 people shaded by a space-frame glass structure that soars 50 feet high. The design is such that there are no columns obstructing views of the rostrum or stage which can hold a 55-piece orchestra. It cost an estimated $10 million to build and was paid for in full by the Patterson Foundation. The philanthropic group spent another $2 million on the art installations and established a $1 million endowment for maintenance and structural replacement. Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of the Patterson Foundation, said there’s a back-story on why the foundation wanted to partner with the federally run veterans’ cemetery. “We actually traced back the roots of the wealth that created the Patterson Foundation,” Jacobs said. “We traced back to the mid-1800s when Joseph Medill bought into the troubled Chicago Tribune for two reasons: one to make money and two to create Republican Party to get Lincoln elected.” It was under President Abraham Lincoln that Congress authorized buying land for the first national cemetery in 1862. But the connections don’t stop there. Two of Medill’s grandsons served in World War I and his great grandson, James J. Patterson, graduated from West Point. Patterson’s widow, Dorothy Clarke Patterson, created the foundation. Fast forward to 2008 and the groundbreaking ceremony for the Sarasota National Cemetery. “They anticipated 1,000 people going to the groundbreaking and 3,000 showed up in the middle of July, hot summer days, to turn a spade of dirt,” Jacobs said. “That speaks to the military service in the region with over 100,000 veterans living in this area.” Where there was no shade, Jacobs saw opportunity to honor those who have served the country and their families. Jacobs worked with Steve Muro, the Under Secretary of Memorial Affairs with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration, to create the private-public partnership that allowed the enhancement of the Sarasota National Cemetery. That included seven public art installations. “Public art sparks thinking, reflection. It helps you ponder what has happened, what could happen. So we thought let us bring art into Patriot Plaza and then it becomes a place of deep experience beyond any performance or exhibit,” Jacobs said. As the son of a veteran, the Sarasota National Cemetery director John Rosentrater is especially excited about the photographic  art installation. “I’m just hoping that the conversations that can get started by the artwork that takes place where children or grandchildren or spouses are asking their loved ones, ‘Do these pictures depict for you what happened?’” Rosentrater said. The former Sarasota National Cemetery director, Sandra Beckley, retired after 39 years with the VA. She served as the consultant on the project. She read a quote from President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address that is posted at the east entrance to Patriot Plaza. “Let us strive on … to care for him who shall have borne the battle for his widow and his orphan,” Beckley said. “That is part of the whole VA as well as NCA (National Cemetery Administrtaion). It’s their motto and their mission.” Beckley was part of the selection committee that chose four artists after a national search to help create the seven art installations define Patriot Plaza. Among the artworks are two spires and mosaics by Ellen Driscoll, bronze eagle sculptures at the east entrance by Ann Hirsch called “Home” and two “Guardian Eagles” at the west entrance by Pablo Eduardo. Larry Kirkland has two installations “Testimonies” and “Witness to Mission” where photographs are mounted in marble columns or plinths. “They cut a small frame out of the marble and inserted these pictures,” Beckley said. The “Witness to Mission” exhibit features 44 photographs Kirkland and Kenny Irby, founder of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies  photojournalism program, selected and paired for display along the northern perimeter sidewalk. On the plaza above is Kirkland’s other display which features photos pressed between glass  and suspended in a whole cut from the marble columns. Each column is inscribed with a word such as “Service” or “Conflict” and with a passage from a veteran or family member. “Larry Kirkland picked this marble because it’s the same marble used in the headstones that we see right adjacent to us,” Beckley said. “When he was here for the installation, he said there was no way to separate Patriot Plaza from Sarasota National Cemetery or Sarasota National Cemetery from Patriot Plaza. Now that they are together they are one.” The Sarasota National Cemetery and Patriot Plaza are open from sun up to sun down seven days a week and you don’t need to be a veteran or have someone interned there to visit, experience the art and contemplate the sacrifice of the veterans now at rest there.

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Chuck Rotenberry

Veterans Coming Home: Chuck Rotenberry | WHRO

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzIrmJj0ldU Chuck Rotenberry's scars are invisible to the average person, but they are very real to Chuck and his family. Like millions of veterans, Chuck suffers with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Chuck was serving in Afghanistan as a military working dog handler in 2011. During a clearance operation his fellow Marine misstepped, causing a hidden IED to explode. The Marine’s legs were blown off and Chuck suffered shrapnel in his neck, face and eardrum. Liz, his wife, knew something was wrong when she’d find her husband in a back room having an emotional breakdown and frustration filling his face as he tried to interact with his four children. Debilitating headaches made it difficult to complete small tasks, and sudden noises were almost unbearable. One day his kids were playing with balloons when one popped. ‘I immediately had to throw up. I couldn’t help it,’ Chuck recalls. Chuck came home with PTSD. Chuck had been to specialists on base and they prescribed an array of pills that had helped.  But he still felt like he was ‘carrying a refrigerator on his head and shoulders.’ After hearing about HBOT Treatments provided by Harch Hyperbarics in New Orleans, Liz felt this may be the answer.  A scan of his brain confirmed that there were spots that did not have ANY blood flow. The areas where all your emotions and short term memory live were completely dark. HBOT treatments have completely turned things around for Chuck and his family. Chuck was hoping to just get off of at least one pill but now no longer needs any for his headaches.  It has brought him back to life. With PTSD there aren’t always visible scars. People don’t understand – invisible wounds are just as serious. Chuck's story is one of many you'll see in the coming months as WHRO and the Center for Public Broadcasting explore "Veterans Coming Home." This project is a public media effort to support veterans in their successful transition to civilian life. For more details on the organizations mentioned in the video: Harch Hyperbarics in New Orleans 5216 LaPalco Blvd | Marrero, LA 70072 504-309-4948 | Online Hampton Roads Hyperbaric Therapy 129 W. Virginia Beach Blvd | Norfolk, VA 23510 757-452-3934 | Email | Online   Production Credits Executive Producer: Lisa Godley Producer: Lisa Godley Camera: Eric Simon Editor: Brandon Nance, Robert Pitman

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Vet to Vet: Jenn

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National Guard veteran and therapist Jennifer confronts military sexual trauma.

CourageBeyond_FI

Courage Beyond

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Zachary Bell shares his experience getting out of the military and adjusting to civilian life. He talks about what lead him to work for other veterans facing similar challenges.   CourageBeyondLogo   Courage Beyond provides confidential, no-cost or low-cost programs and services to warriors and their loved ones facing PTSD and other invisible wounds of military service. If you are in crisis or would like to make an appointment, call 1.866.781.8010 or visit www.couragebeyond.org. Available 24/7  

Brian Posten

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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DwayneParker

Veterans Coming Home: Dwayne Parker Learning to Adapt | WHRO

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While serving his country in Saudi  Arabia, Airman Dwayne Parker lost vision in his right eye. Like thousands of  our servicemen and women wounded in action in Iraq and Afghanistan, Dwayne returned home to a life filled with challenges. For Dwayne, frustration and depression soon followed.  It wasn't until he got involved with Adaptive Sports that things started to turn around.  Now he has his own non-profit to help other wounded warriors learn new skills and gear up for competition. For more information about the groups listed in this video: Wounded Warrior Adaptive Sports Online Production Credits: Executive Producer: Lisa Godley Producer: Lisa Godley, Eric Simon Camera: Eric Simon, Chip Johnson Editor: Eric Simon

april jones

The Mission Continues

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When April Jones left the military, she lost the sense of mission and purpose provided by her service. Now, through Nashville’s 1st Service Platoon of The Mission Continues, April Jones encourages other veterans to join her in finding camaderie on the home front through community service. Find out how you can reclaim the mission. www.missioncontinues.org

Coming Home San Antonio | Eric Alva

Coming Home San Antonio | Eric Alva

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Staff Sergeant Eric Alva served in the Marine Corps for 13 years. On 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 loosing his leg Eric continues to be an active person, live life and looking forward to the future.

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Mary Beth_Vietnam Vet_Women Serving in War

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 MN Dept of Veterans Affairs. Original Broadcast: 11/9/2014 Length: 26 minutes, 40 seconds  

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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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Last Days in Vietnam

Last Days in Vietnam

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April, 1975. During the chaotic final days of the American involvement in the Vietnam War, as the North Vietnamese Army closed in on Saigon, South Vietnamese resistance crumbled. City after city and village after village fell to the North while the U.S. diplomats and military operatives still in the country contemplated withdrawal. With the lives of thousands of South Vietnamese hanging in the balance, those in control faced an impossible decision—who would go and who would be left behind to face brutality, imprisonment, or even death.

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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

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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NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT (2015)

National Memorial Day Concert

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  Each year, the National Memorial Day Concert presents a unique program honoring the valor and patriotism of Americans who have served our country. The show pays tribute to their sacrifices, as well as those of their families and loved ones. The 2015 National Memorial Day Concert will showcase courageous American heroes disabled for life; shine a spotlight on Gold Star Children, who have lost a parent to war; and commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. The concert's all-star lineup includes distinguished American leader General Colin L. Powell USA (Ret.); seven-time Grammy Award winner and international superstar Gloria Estefan; acclaimed film and television actress Stefanie Scott; The Voice season five winner Tessanne Chin; the world's most prolific classical cross-over artist, Katherine Jenkins; and world-renowned tenor Russell Watson, in performance with the National Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of top pops conductor Jack Everly (additional performers to be announced). This year's concert will be co-hosted by Tony Award winner Joe Mantegna and Emmy Award winner Gary Sinise. The broadcast marks the tenth year that these acclaimed actors, who have dedicated themselves to veterans' causes and supporting our troops in active service, have hosted the event.

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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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Captain Lancaster giving the oath of enlistment at Ft. Hamilton, Brooklyn. Credit: Courtesy of Partisan Pictures

The Draft

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Race, class, culture — the draft in the 1960s and 1970s was a lightning rod that lit up every schism in American society. But ending the draft has produced unintended consequences, creating a citizenry completely disconnected from the soldiers who bear the entire burden of endless wars. The Draft tells the story of how a single, controversial issue continues to define a nation.

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The Homefront

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View intimate portraits of America's military families, with unprecedented access to soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen and women in the all-volunteer military. The revealing documentary tells stories of pride and patriotism, sacrifice and resilience.

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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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The THIS OLD HOUSE crew with the DeWitt family.

This Old House Veteran’s Special House Project

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THIS OLD HOUSE partners with Homes for Our Troops (HFOT) to build a house for an Army veteran and his family. A specially adapted home for SSG Matt DeWitt, whose injuries in Iraq resulted in the amputation of both arms, will be life-changing. Pictured: The THIS OLD HOUSE crew with the DeWitt family.

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Military Children from WAMU's Breaking Ground project sheds light on the challenges of being the child of soldiers. Kavitha Cardoza/WAMU

‘Military Children': Coping With The Loss Of A Parent

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Military Children from WAMU's Breaking Ground project sheds light on the challenges of being the child of soldiers. Kavitha Cardoza/WAMU

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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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George Murray, Vietnam Veteran

Back At Base | NPR Series

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NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're calling the project "Back at Base." This is the first of a three-part series about veteran benefits. Hear more at Back at Base.

VA Data Show Disparities In Veteran Benefits Spending WBUR

Nationwide veteran benefits data show a huge variation in coverage from state to state, and even within states. In Massachusetts, access to VA services changes dramatically from Boston to Cape Cod.

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Alexander Morales and family

Homeless Vets: They’re Not Just Single Men Anymore

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Overall, there are fewer homeless veterans these days. But that good news is tempered by the growing number of homeless vets with families, including many women. Read more at NPR.org.

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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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Sebastian Junger

NPR | How Does War Teach Soldiers About Love?

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About Sebastian Junger's TED Talk Journalist Sebastian Junger was embedded with soldiers in the Korengal Valley during the war in Afghanistan. One of the reasons some veterans miss war, he says, is because it fulfills a deep human need to belong to a trusted group.

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Christopher Avilagrado

NPR | National Guard Members Struggle To Keep Civilian Careers

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NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're calling the project "Back at Base." This is the third of four reports this week about the National Guard. A version of this story has appeared on KPBS.org. The National Guard is a reserve force that can be mobilized in a crisis, but soldiers in the Guard have to support themselves with a civilian job. Many veterans find it challenging to transition from military to civilian life, but those in the National Guard have to balance the two worlds simultaneously. North County Bureau Editor Alison St John tells us how that’s playing out for two National Guardsmen in San Diego.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Who’s really benefiting from the GI Bill?

Is GI Bill benefiting for-profit colleges instead of helping veterans? | PBS Newshour

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How funds from the federal G.I. Bill are flowing to for-profit schools, even though, all too frequently, veterans' prospects are not appreciably better after attending them.

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On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnam

On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnam

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On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnam examines the Latino experience during a war that placed its heaviest burden on working class youth. Framing the documentary are memoirs of two siblings, Everett and Delia Alvarez, who stood on opposite sides of the Vietnam War, one as a POW and the other protesting at home.

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Sebastian Junger

Sebastian Junger on PTSD: ‘It’s coming home that’s actually the trauma’

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We might think we have a basic understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD: Soldiers in battle see things they'd like to forget, but years later combat memories come back to haunt them. That's the received wisdom. But perhaps we have it all wrong. Maybe it's not the reminders of the fighting that cause post-traumatic stress so much as the void ex-combatants face when they leave the community of soldiers behind.

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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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The things they carried: War photographer marks last steps of vets at home

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After decades of war reporting, photojournalist David Guttenfelder came home and realized that he had only covered one side of the story. "I spent pretty much my entire adult life living outside of the United States and I was a combat photographer," Guttenfelder says. "I spent the entire Afghanistan war working in Afghanistan, working in Iraq, working with servicemen and women." But he wondered what was happening when those men and women came back to an entirely different life at home. After years of life on the battlefield, how were they adjusting to their lives after war?

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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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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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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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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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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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Richard Bennett

StoryCorps – Richard Bennett

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Iraq War veteran Richard Bennett (R) talks with Craig Williams (L) about how they became unlikely business partners.

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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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Talana Banks

StoryCorps – Felicia Banks

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Nine-year-old Talana Banks, and her older brother, Willie, are Army children. In 2005, their mother, Chief Warrant Officer Felicia Banks, deployed to Iraq and had to leave them behind, in care of their grandmother. When they sat down for StoryCorps, Talana, Willie and Felicia looked back on that year.

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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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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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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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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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