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.

Soldier saluting
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Today's segment is a rebroadcast of Understanding And Treating PTSD In The Military.


Nearly one in five veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

That’s a sobering statistic for the researchers and psychologists who are trying to understand and treat PTSD. It also means more veterans than ever are suffering from PTSD’s debilitating symptoms.

Gloria Hoeppner and her husband Earl Kornbrekke at their home in Friday Harbor, Washington. Heoppner, a World War II veteran, is trying to use a new Veterans Administration program to seek medical care closer to home.
Patricia Murphy

A $15 billion federal program intended to improve veterans' health care is off to a rocky start, and some members of Congress are calling for significant reforms.

The Veterans Choice program is supposed to help vets get timely health care, sometimes closer to home. Nearly 9 million veterans received identification cards in the mail from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  About 460,000 have tried since it began in November.

A memorial to the first African Americans in the U.S. Marine Corps is going up in Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, NC. More than 20,000 black recruits trained at Montford Point between 1942 and 1949.  

"Integration was an experiment that was tried in the military," says  Gina Francis.  

She's president of the Montford Point Marine Association Camp Lejeune Chapter 10 Ladies Auxiliary.