Veterans

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.

One of the last living World War II glider pilots lives in a modest home in Tampa, Florida, where he's developed a special bond with his neighbors.

An image of veteran farmer Alex Sutton
Courtesy Alix Blair

A new documentary explores the personal journey of North Carolina veteran and Purple Heart recipient, Alex Sutton. Sutton carves out a life as a farmer after three military combat tours in Iraq. But his path to healing is marked by stark contrasts between bucolic farm life with his wife and children, and the challenge of grappling with both post-traumatic stress disorder and his own post-war identity.

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.

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.

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.

Jay Price / WUNC

It is a long-standing tradition for presidential candidates to address the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in election years.

This year, the event is in North Carolina, a key swing state. That is especially appealing to the candidates in this election because veterans regularly vote in larger numbers than other voters. 

But this year, veterans are not enthusiastic about their choice in either party.

Hillary Clinton speaks in Raleigh
Elizabeth Baier / WUNC

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton spoke to several thousand veterans gathered at the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Charlotte Monday morning.

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

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.

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

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.

Dorothy Managan, 93, served as an Army nurse in Tacoma, Wa. after World War II. She recently added her life story to her medical record at the Asheville, N.C. VA Medical Center.
Jay Price / American Homefront

 

For many health professionals, treating patients is a matter of assessing their ailments, making a diagnosis and prescribing treatment where it is required. Then it is on to the next patient. But a new program in VA medical centers aims to make connections between medical professionals and their patients through narratives.
 

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."

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

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.

The leadership of the American Legion and VFW is seeking younger, more diverse members. But they face a challenge changing their public image.


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

Soldier saluting
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

People across the state are honoring those who served in the military on this Veterans Day.  There are parades and ceremonies in many communities and other events where veterans get to tell their stories of service. 

Cornell Wilson, Jr. is the Secretary for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs for North Carolina.  He says it is always important to thank veterans for their service.

"We have roughly 800,000 veterans in this state, a combination of retirees and those that just got off active duty and they are a very vital part of our community," says Wilson.

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.


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