American Homefront

The American Homefront Project is reporting on military life and veterans issues. We're visiting bases to chronicle how troops are working and living. We're meeting military families. We're talking with veterans  to learn about the challenges they face.

We cover major policy issues at the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs, and we report on the family issues that service members and veterans experience in their daily lives. From the youngest military recruits to the veterans of World War II, we're reporting in-depth stories about Americans who serve.

Funding for WUNC's American Homefront Project comes from:

For more information, visit the American Homefront website.

The ten-part documentary by filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick is at times graphic, and people who work with veterans say it may trigger traumatic memories for those who fought in Vietnam.

The speedy, high-tech Littoral Combat Ship has been plagued with delays, mechanical problems and cost overruns.

Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division wait after being fitted with parachutes for an upcoming training jump at Fort Bragg, N.C. on July 26, 2017.
Matt Couch / WUNC

The 82nd Airborne Division celebrates its 100th year this week. The Fort Bragg-based division is known best for its parachute jumps during World War II, and now specializes in rapid deployments - with or without parachutes.

Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division jump from a C-17 aircraft during a July training exercise at Fort Bragg.
Matt Couch / WUNC

The Fort Bragg division is best known for its parachute jumps in World War II. Today, its specialty is rapid deployments - with or without parachutes.

Military families move a lot, and that makes it hard for service members’ spouses to hold steady jobs. About half of military spouses are either unemployed or underemployed – and that can take a toll on their families, their earning power, and the economy. 

28 people have been charged so far in the so-called "Fat Leonard" bribery scandal. While the Navy has beefed up its ethics training, it also faces longstanding cultural challenges.

For U.S. troops in Vietnam, the "China Beach" surfing spot provided a rare recreational outlet during the war. Some still seek healing from the waves.

13,000 Afghans who helped American troops are waiting for special visas to come to the U.S. Their lives could be in danger as they wait.

Christian Wade of the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune shoots a suppressed carbine. The surpressor is the canister on the end of the barrel.
Timothy Lutz and Clarence Wimberly / U.S. Marine Corps

The Marine Corps is experimenting with suppressors and high-tech headsets to quiet some battlefield noises, while making it easier for troops to hear other sounds.

A growing number of veterans are acquiring service dogs to help cope with PTSD. But the VA won’t pay for them and says their effectiveness hasn’t been scientifically proven.

Hundreds of veterans - who served in the U.S. military as non-citizens - were later deported for committing civilian crimes. 

Non-citizens are eligible to serve in the U.S. military. But even as veterans, they can still be deported if they commit crimes after they leave the service.

Since 2011, more than 30,000 service members have filed federal complaints about consumer scams. Regulators say troops are frequent targets of predatory lending schemes.

PHOTOS: The 82nd Airborne Division Turns 100

Jun 1, 2017

As the Army's 82nd Airborne Division commemorates its 100th anniversary this year, its annual homecoming event was an opportunity to show off some of its capabilities.

A west coast group is using youth theater to tell the stories of an often forgotten group of children -- kids who grow up in military families.

The American Homefront Project talks with service members and veterans about who they're remembering this Memorial Day.

To prepare for sophisticated enemies, soldiers are learning to use and defend themselves against cyber weapons.

A growing number of homeless veterans are women. But there are few places that specialize in helping them get back on their feet.

The Pentagon doesn't track how many deployed service members are mothers (or fathers). But being a parent while serving the country creates unique challenges.

Construction projects at the Durham VA hospital include a 10-bed hospice wing, a radiation oncology wing, and expanded space for primary and dental care.
Jay Price / WUNC

New Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities in Fayetteville, Charlotte, and elsewhere have reduced wait times. But the VA concedes it must do more.

The debilitating effects of post traumatic stress are well documented. But studies suggest that surviving trauma might also lead to personal growth.

When service members return from the battlefield with lifetime disabilities, their spouses often become full-time caregivers.

Thousands of military households rely on government food assistance programs, but the Pentagon doesn't track how many service members have trouble feeding their families.

Rashmi Patel is at the wheel of an electric-powered shuttle, one of the Army's two first autonomous vehicles, at Fort Bragg.
Jay Price / WUNC

Rashmi Patel is at the wheel of an electric-powered shuttle, but not for long. The vehicle is one of two shuttles making history at Fort Bragg as one of the Army’s first autonomous vehicles.

Improv comedy classes at Second City in Hollywood help veterans learn to perform, laugh, and build confidence.

The Marine Corps photo scandal has disappointed some veterans who helped break down barriers for women in the military, but they say it shouldn't overshadow the progress of female service members.

Capt. Dean VanderLey, commanding officer of Naval Facilities Engineering Command for the Mid-Atlantic region, standing in front of NOAA's Sewell's Point tidal gauge, which measures the sea level at Naval Station Norfolk, the world's largest naval base.
Jay Price / WUNC

When President Donald Trump visited a shipyard at Newport News, Va. this month, he told an audience of sailors and shipbuilders that the United States would defeat any danger and handle any threat.

But one of the biggest threats to the military is one that Trump didn't mention: sea level rise.  

Researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs say that raising food or animals has therapeutic value for former service members.

The interpreters, who were caught up in the Trump Administration's travel ban, aided U.S. troops during the Iraq war.

An image of service members at Camp Lejeune in NC
Public domain

Veterans stationed at Camp Lejeune who were exposed to contaminated drinking water now have a chance to receive additional compensation.

The Obama administration will provide more than $2 billion in disability benefits to veterans assigned to Lejeune when the camp's water was tainted between August 1953 and December 1987. 

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that up to 900,000 service members might have been exposed to the contaminated water.

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