John Ismay

John Ismay is KPCC's Veterans And Military Issues Reporter.

Ismay spent a decade in the U.S. Navy as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician and Special Operations Officer. He completed multiple overseas deployments, including a combat tour to Iraq in 2007.

His work as a writer began that same year. He became a specialist on different kinds of weapons used by insurgents, created hundreds of reports on their use, and developed countermeasures that saved American lives.

When he left the Navy four years ago as a Lieutenant Commander, he turned to journalism. The choice was inspired, in part, by the work he did with the New York Times on an award-winning investigative series about the discovery of chemical weapons in Iraq.

John continued his work at the Times, writing for the At War Blog, while attending Columbia Journalism School, where he focused on long term investigative projects and data analysis.

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.

In an agency that was "built for men," VA leaders are working to add health care services for female veterans.

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.

More than four years after the military’s discriminatory policies against gay and lesbian service members ended, veterans advocates say the Pentagon has not done enough to help the roughly 80,000 troops kicked out of the services for being gay since World War II.

Service members with Other-Than-Honorable discharges receive no veterans benefits and are much more likely to become homeless. But the military has no consistent standards about who gets a dreaded "OTH."

One of the most intense episodes of the U.S.-Iraq conflict is the subject of a new opera premiering in Long Beach, California.

The nation's veterans are being asked to contribute DNA for the largest genetic research project in history.

Los Angeles officials say they're housing more than 300 veterans a month. Still, the city's homeless veteran population continues to grow.

To commemorate Veterans Day, the American Homefront Project talks with former service members about their time in the armed forces.

Groups like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars have served former service members for a century. But declining membership threatens to lessen their influence.


As more military jobs are opened to women, Congress may face the question of whether to require women to register for the Selective Service.


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 recent hack of data held by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has raised concerns that the identities of undercover intelligence officers working abroad could be exposed.

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