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.

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.

Homeless Female Veterans: Undercounted and Underserved

May 19, 2017

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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. 

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