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.

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. 

This week, the major presidential candidates will continue a longstanding tradition of speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Performance Psychologist Meghan Halbrook of Fort Bragg’s Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Center shows a soldier how to use an ear sensor to monitor his stress level as he rests between sessions of machine gun training.
Jay Price / WUNC

With biofeedback, breath control, and other mindfulness techniques, an Army unit hopes to help turn its paratroopers into more effective fighters.

The new center in Tacoma, Washington comes after years of complaints from service members that it’s nearly impossible to find autism therapy for their children.

The University of Southern California is doing something unique -- offering a college degree called an MBV – a Masters of Business for Veterans.

So-called "burn pits" were common at U.S. military outposts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Legislation in the Senate would create a center to study the effects of breathing their smoke.

To commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the D-Day Invasion, some American high school students are traveling to Normandy, France to make sure the victims of World War II aren't forgotten.

The V.A. is building columbariums at several veterans cemeteries, where there is no more space for traditional burials.

As the nation prepares to commemorate Memorial Day, more than 1600 service members remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. For the families of some of them, the search for answers has become a lifelong pursuit.

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.

Beginning this month, tattoo enthusiasts who serve in the U.S. Navy can ink a lot more of their bodies. The new policy is designed to help recruit millennials, who sometimes have been turned away from military service because they have too much body art.

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.

Edwin Cottrell holds an illustration of the P-47D fighter plane he flew in World War II.
Jay Price / WUNC

Edwin Cottrell, a World War II pilot with the 48th Fighter Group, told his story as part of the "My Life, My Story" project at the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville, N.C.  He talked to VA interviewer Melanie McConnell about his life in and after the military.  Later, he spoke with WUNC reporter Jay Price.

93-year-old Dorothy Managan is among the patients who participated in the "My Life, My Story" project at the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville, N.C.  She talked to the VA interviewer about her experiences as a nurse during and after World War II.  She repeated some of those stories for WUNC reporter Jay Price.

Thor Ringler of the Department of Veterans Affairs interviews Korean War veteran Darrell Krenz for the 'My Life, My Story' project.
Department of Veterans Affairs

An initiative at several veterans hospitals adds something new to patients' medical records: their life stories.

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."

Nearly 83,000 U.S. service members are still listed as missing in action from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and other conflicts. Many of their families still hope their remains will be identified and returned home.

Harold Ivey holds the military medals of his brother Charles, who died in the Korean War.
Jay Price / American Homefront

63 years after the Korean War ended, remains of U.S. service members are being identified and returned to their families -- thanks to advances in DNA technology.

The Army's first ever "Health of the Force" report found that about a third of all soldiers use tobacco, and many have other health issues that affect their performance.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attracted thousands of supporters to a rally in Fayetteville.
Jay Price / WUNC

Days ahead of North Carolina's primary, Republican front-runner Donald Trump led a boisterous rally in Fayetteville.

Thousands of service members suffer from anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders. At greatest risk: those who are young, female, and under combat stress.

Airmen from the 440th Airlift Wing conduct aeromedical evacuation training on a C-130 in this 2014 photo.
Lewis Perkins / Fort Bragg Paraglide

North Carolina’s Congressional delegation is vowing to continue its two-year fight to save Fort Bragg's 440th Airlift Wing.

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

William Kerby was exposed to repeated blasts when he was deployed to Iraq as a Marine infantryman.

“For instance, we were setting off a charge on a door or a gate to blow it open, and there’s nowhere really to go, so you basically turn away from it within a few feet,” Kerby said. “You can feel that kind of concussion, that shockwave, as it goes through your body.”

Jamie Jones hugs her husband, Army veteran James Wallace, as they move into their new Winston-Salem duplex apartment.
Jay Price/WUNC

Winston-Salem is among a group of cities nationwide that say they've met the White House goal to end veteran homelessness.

Shortly after Barack Obama became President in 2009, he announced an ambitious goal -- to end homelessness among military veterans by the end of 2015. Now, at the deadline, results are mixed.

Sgt. Earl Lendore, a food service specialist in the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, prepares a meal in the Ft. Bragg DFAC.
Staff Sgt. Christopher Freeman/82nd Combat Aviation Brigade PAO

The Army hopes changes in its dining facilities will simultaneously save money, make meals more nutritious, and persuade more soldiers to eat there.

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

Note: This is a rebroadcast from earlier this year.

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.

As traditional veterans organizations like the American Legion and VFW lose members, younger vets are gravitating toward dozens of smaller, more specialized groups that offer a social outlet and opportunity to serve.

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