Army recruits arriving at Fort Benning for basic training
Raymond McCrea Jones

What makes someone want to become a soldier? What does it look like to transition from a civilian to a soldier? How does it affect individuality?

Raymond McCrea Jones, who used to be on staff at the New York Times, wanted to answer those questions. He embedded himself in a company of 162 Army recruits at Fort Benning in Georgia for 10 weeks. His fly-on-the-wall photos show the experience of basic training, from 4 a.m. wakeup calls to grueling field exercises.

There are signs that transgender people could serve openly in the United States military within the next year.
The U.S. Army / Flickr Creative Commons

The American military permits people to serve regardless of sexual orientation, but there are still policies precluding military service based on gender identity.

About 15,000 transgender people currently serve in the American military in violation of the rules. The United States lags behind many other Western nations that allow transgender people to serve openly, but Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is pushing for change.

U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl faces a hearing Thursday to determine whether he’ll be court-martialed on a desertion charge.

A picture of a baby born prematurely.
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Jackson / US Navy via Wikipedia

A study from the Womack Army Medical Center shows a connection between deployments and premature delivery as well as postpartum depression.

Captain Christopher Tarney is an obstetrician and lead author of the report published in the Internet Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics. His team studied about 400 women who, throughout their pregnancies, had husbands deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A federal program provides housing vouchers to help veterans pay their rent. But in cities with expensive housing markets, many landlords won't accept them.

The Huntsville Times/Steve Doyle

Veterans advocates, protesters, and even President Obama have cited the statistic that 22 veterans a day kill themselves. But the reality is complex, and the number can be misleading.

Cold Frame

Jul 31, 2015
Image of PT Deutermann, who is a former captain in the Navy and arms control specialist with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Cynthia Brann

P.T. Deutermann spent 26 years in the Navy and working for the government. As a captain in the Navy and an arms control specialist on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Deutermann developed many skills.

When that career ended, he began writing military fiction and has published 18 novels.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Deutermann, a North Carolina resident, about his latest title “Cold Frame” (St. Martin’s Press/2015), a government drama in the age of counterterrorism.

A picture of the NCNG logo.
North Carolina National Guard

The N.C. National Guard will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II with a ceremony Friday honoring 16 members of the 30th Infantry Division.

Six soldiers from the division were awarded the Medal of Honor for their service in World War II. Then-General Dwight Eisenhower's staff ranked the 30th as the top infantry division in the European theater.

Its contemporaries still honor the division.

Image of Kathleen DuVal. Kathleen DuVal is a professor of history at UNC-Chapel Hill and author of 'Independence Lost.'
Mary Lide Parker

Stories of the American Revolution often engender images of Paul Revere on horseback, George Washington crossing the Delaware or Red Coats firing during the Boston Massacre.

But down along the Gulf Coast, there were others involved in the revolution, many of whom changed American history.

Image of a drone being launched. The U.S. Navy launches an aeriel drone during a weapons firing exercise off the coast of Brazil in 2011.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Stuart Phillips / Flickr Creative Commons

Have you ever wondered why seemingly successful wars never seem to end?

Author and intelligence expert William M. Arkin tries to answer the question of unending wars in his new book Unmanned: Drones, Data, and the Illusion of Perfect Warfare (Little, Brown and Company/ 2015). Arkin argues the digital revolution’s creation of drones and a reluctance to put boots on the ground yields seemingly endless warfare.

Image of Tommy Sowers
Duke University

Tommy Sowers served two tours in Iraq as a green beret. The Duke graduate earned a Ph.D. at the London School of Economics, and he taught at West Point and at Duke.

Sowers ran as the Democratic Party's nominee for Missouri’s 8th Congressional District in 2010 and later became an assistant secretary for the Veterans Affairs. He worked to help veterans gain access to benefits.

An image of a sign for Fort Bragg
Fish Cop / Public Domain


The U.S. Army announced Thursday it is cutting about 40,000 soldiers nationwide. Fort Bragg is home to more than 50,000 troops in Fayetteville. The base will largely be spared deep cuts in the latest round of military downsizing.

A picture of the fireworks yard sign.

Some combat veterans are posting signs in their yards, asking neighbors to be courteous with their fireworks this July Fourth weekend. The signs come from a non-profit called Military with PTSD, and it's sending them to vets across the country.

Christine Weber is a former Marine with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder who lives in Charlotte. She says sudden loud noises, including fireworks, remind her of gunfire and rocket launchers during her deployment in Iraq.

Only four Iraq veterans have received the Medal of Honor, and some service members say the Pentagon has become stingy in recognizing valor.

A student veterant leaning over his desk.
Carly Swain / UNC-Chapel Hill

Fifteen military veterans are wrapping up a week-long academic training bootcamp at UNC-Chapel Hill designed to help them transition easier into college. It's part of a national program called the Warrior-Scholar Project.

Lara Taylor, director of Carolina's orientation, says some vets come straight from service, while others have been out for a few years.

Jay Price/WUNC

The discipline of military service, as it does for many young men, changed John Blackjack’s life.

"He was a wild child with us," said Roseanne Wray, whose family adopted and raised Staff Sgt. Blackjack.  "The Army did something wonderful for him. They turned him into a soldier."

Blackjack, who died  May 31 of a respiratory illness, was a miniature mule. Since 1983, he had served as the mascot for a major supply unit, the 1st Theater Sustainment Command.  An estimated 25,000 soldiers had contact with him while serving at Ft. Bragg since the Wrays donated him to the Army.

Jay Price/WUNC

Most people expect their eternal rest will be peaceful.

But not the ones who want to be buried in the Eastern Carolina State Veterans Cemetery now under construction in Goldsboro.

North Carolina’s newest veterans cemetery is right under the flight path of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. On some days, the roar of low-flying fighter jets and aerial tankers overwhelms the cemetery every few minutes.

A massive data breach at the federal Office of Personnel Management has exposed the Social Security numbers and personnel records of nearly every federal worker. The implications for federal employees, military service members and the intelligence community could be extraordinary.  

But at a very basic level U.S. service members have been at high risk for identity theft for decades.

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."

Caring for the nation's veterans at the end of their lives can be a complex task. Service members — especially combat veterans — can struggle with guilt, abandonment and regret.

Image of Duke Professor Missy Cummings, drone advocate and expert.
Missy Cummings

This is a rebroadcast from November 3, 2014. To visit the original post click here.


Although the word drone may at first evoke an image of a stealth killing machine, the work of Mary 'Missy' Cummings proves drones are much more than that initial thought. 

A field of flags outside the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, NC.
Gerry Dincher / Flickr/Creative Commons

It's Memorial Day: A holiday when many residents gather to remember those who died while serving in the US Military.

Communities across the state have their own way to honor the fallen.


Joe Leonard organizes the annual parade in Thomasville. He says they take the event one step further.

Combat veterans often struggle at the end of life with feelings of guilt, abandonment and regret. For some dying service members and their families, a military hospital is a place where they can make those last days meaningful.

Host Frank Stasio talks with KUOW reporter Patricia Murphy about end of life care for our nation’s soldiers.

Jay Price

Almost 1,000 British paratroopers are now packing up at Fort Bragg after nearly two months of training with their U.S. counterparts in the 82nd Airborne Division.

Multinational coalitions are a hallmark of modern conflict, in part because they give political legitimacy to military actions and spread the costs in both money and lives. But shrinking military budgets in both countries have made the ability to join forces more important.

Spc. Crisma Albarran, of Orland, Calif., detaches an ammunition case from its mount after a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter flight over Iraq, March 14, 2010.
The U.S. Army / Flickr

This month, 19 women began the course to become Army Rangers at Ft. Benning, Ga.

It marks the first time females have been permitted to train for the special operations team. 

Under current military policy, women are still not allowed to serve in the Ranger regiment. The Pentagon is trying to determine whether women can handle the Army's toughest training. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC military reporter Jay Price about the Army's newest assessment of female soldiers.

Soldier saluting
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The North Carolina Department of Veterans Affairs is working with experts at Duke University to overhaul its strategy to connect vets with the right resources.

State VA Director Ilario Pantano says Duke's Evidence Based Practice Implementation Center will help the VA train its service personnel to better understand how to assess a veteran's needs.

Pantano says the experts will help create better customer management software. They'll also help improve intake questions, follow-up guidelines, and messaging.