Military

Medics in training at Fort Bragg
Sgt. April de Armas/82nd CAB, Fort Bragg

Fort Bragg is now using its own medical evacuation teams to move injured soldiers to major hospitals. 

The Army base used to rely on helicopters from Duke and UNC Hospitals to transport soldiers who were seriously injured during training exercises, but since the troop drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan, more of the 82nd Airborne's Medevac teams are on the base.

Veterans with denied disability claims wait an average of four to five years for appeals hearings. The VA predicts the delay will get worse if Congress doesn't streamline the process.

One of the last living World War II glider pilots lives in a modest home in Tampa, Florida, where he's developed a special bond with his neighbors.

An image of veteran farmer Alex Sutton
Courtesy Alix Blair

A new documentary explores the personal journey of North Carolina veteran and Purple Heart recipient, Alex Sutton. Sutton carves out a life as a farmer after three military combat tours in Iraq. But his path to healing is marked by stark contrasts between bucolic farm life with his wife and children, and the challenge of grappling with both post-traumatic stress disorder and his own post-war identity.

Three veterans stand before Judge Jacqueline L. Lee during their graduation ceremony from the Harnett County Veterans Treatment Court
Jay Price / American Homefront

The number of special courts for military veterans who get in trouble with the law is increasing rapidly.

The first veterans treatment court opened eight years ago in upstate New York. Now there more than 300 of them across the country, and hundreds more are expected to open in the next few years.

An image of a gavel
creative commons

More than 300 veteran treatment courts exist around the country to help former service members who have been charged with low-level crimes. The courts put veterans in counseling and rehabilitation programs for issues like post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse. 

The number of veteran treatment courts has grown in the last decade, and proponents argue that the system better serves veterans while also cutting court, jail and prison costs. However, in states like North Carolina, only three courts exist to treat a large veteran population. 

Traditionally, the military did little for departing troops except hand them discharge papers. But in recent years, it has enacted a mandatory program to help service members prepare for civilian jobs or go back to school.

New rules detail how military leaders must treat transgender service members. It's the latest step in the Pentagon's effort to integrate transgender people into the armed forces.

Military veterans were among the people most affected by this month's shutdown of ITT Technical Institutes. More than six-thousand former service members were enrolled at the for-profit college chain.

The Honor Was Mine: A Look Inside the Struggles of Military Veterans
Grand Harbor Press

 Therapist Elizabeth Heaney left her private practice to participate in a Defense Department initiative that offers free, confidential counseling to combat veterans and their families. Despite more than 30 years of counseling experience, she realized that her military clients were unlike any patients she’d met before. She learned to let go of preconceived notions of the military and to adopt new ways to forge relationships with her tight-lipped clients. Gradually the stories of war, loss and re-adjustment to civilian life came tumbling out.

St. Francis' satyr butterly
Jay Price / WUNC

The U.S. military has joined forces with environmental groups to preserve natural habitats. More than 400 threatened and endangered species are benefiting, and so is the Pentagon. 

An image of an NSCU biology professor holding a St. Francis satyr butterfly
Jay Price

For years, the Pentagon has partnered with conservation groups to protect hundreds of endangered and threatened species on military bases across the country.

The partnership started at Fort Bragg in North Carolina in the early 1990s after a rare woodpecker was found and halted training on parts of the base. Since then, the military and conservationists have worked together to manage the bases' rich ecosystems.

Photo of P.T. Deutermann
Cynthia Brann

For more than 20 years, P.T. Deutermann has channeled his experiences in the military into fiction writing. He has written 19 novels that have been inspired by his time as a Navy captain and an arms-control specialist in the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Jay Price / WUNC

It is a long-standing tradition for presidential candidates to address the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in election years.

This year, the event is in North Carolina, a key swing state. That is especially appealing to the candidates in this election because veterans regularly vote in larger numbers than other voters. 

But this year, veterans are not enthusiastic about their choice in either party.

This week, the major presidential candidates will continue a longstanding tradition of speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Performance Psychologist Meghan Halbrook of Fort Bragg’s Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Center shows a soldier how to use an ear sensor to monitor his stress level as he rests between sessions of machine gun training.
Jay Price / WUNC

With biofeedback, breath control, and other mindfulness techniques, an Army unit hopes to help turn its paratroopers into more effective fighters.

What does it mean to be a veteran in the 21st century?  For the more than two million former service members who've returned from Afghanistan and Iraq, it can be challenging to transition back into civilian life.

Soldier saluting
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The wait times for VA primary care patients in the Fayetteville area had been among the longest in the country, but have fallen sharply in recent months. VA officials say that a big reason is the massive outpatient health care center they opened in November.

So-called "burn pits" were common at U.S. military outposts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Legislation in the Senate would create a center to study the effects of breathing their smoke.

The V.A. is building columbariums at several veterans cemeteries, where there is no more space for traditional burials.

MLB's before and after images for the Fort Bragg Game
Major League Baseball / Fort Bragg

A few remaining tickets are available for a Major League Baseball game at Fort Bragg, but only to people holding military IDs.

Most of the tickets for the game between the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins have already been given away to troops and their families.

As the nation prepares to commemorate Memorial Day, more than 1600 service members remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. For the families of some of them, the search for answers has become a lifelong pursuit.

Contaminated water at the Camp Lejeune military base has been linked to adverse health effects.
Sanjay Parekh, via Flickr

Retired Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger says the Department of Veterans Affairs has done too little to help the more than one million servicemembers and their families exposed to tap water tainted by industrial dumping at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987.

While the Army and Marines are just now opening all combat jobs to female troops, women have been serving on -- and commanding -- Navy warships for years.

Beginning this month, tattoo enthusiasts who serve in the U.S. Navy can ink a lot more of their bodies. The new policy is designed to help recruit millennials, who sometimes have been turned away from military service because they have too much body art.

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