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.

Last year, the VA began offering mental health treatment to vets who don't normally qualify for V-A care. Since then, fewer than 200 people have used the program.

The number of veterans in the VA healthcare system who are 70 or older is expected to grow 30 percent in the next eight years.

Veterans now make up less than 20 percent of Congress, compared with about 75 percent in the 1960s. Some high-profile candidates are trying to reverse that trend.

U.S. Defense Department forensic anthropologists in Wonsan, North Korea examine the contents of boxes containing the possible remains of U.S. MIAs July 27, 2018.
David Marshall / U.S. Army

Families hope advances in DNA technology and thawing U.S./North Korean relations will help the government recover and identify long-missing remains of service members.

The Navy is rolling out its latest plan to manage wildlife in its ocean training grounds from Southern California to Hawaii. But environmentalists worry the Navy is backsliding in its efforts to protect marine life.

During World War II, more than a quarter million Filipinos fought alongside American soldiers. Many are still awaiting the recognition promised to them.

From 2009 to 2016, the Defense Department recruited more than 10,000 non-citizens into the armed forces. Now some say they're being discharged without explanation.

Under the Trump administration, the military is shifting its strategy back towards more traditional warfare.

About 84,000 service members are married to another member of the military, and some find it hard to balance their marriages with their careers.

Congress mandated the card in 2015, but provided no funding. So the VA struck a deal with Office Depot.

As the Senate considers Robert Wilkie's nomination for VA secretary, veterans groups worry that the agency's leadership gap has slowed its work.

Civilian contractor Terry Pullum of Evolving Resources Inc. gives young Marines their first hands-on lesson in flying the InstantEye quadcopter.
Jay Price / WUNC

One Marine in each rifle squad will be designated to fly small drones and run some of the Marines' expanding array of other digital devices.

A nuclear bomb and its parachute rest in a field near Goldsboro, N.C. after falling from a B-52 bomber in 1961.
U.S. Air Force

During the Cold War, U.S. planes accidentally dropped nuclear bombs on the east coast, in Europe, and elsewhere. "Dumb luck" prevented a historic catastrophe. 

The military has made progress diversifying its chaplain corps. But it faces a shortage of chaplains of all faiths.

Hundreds of troops have arrived to assist Border Patrol agents.  But National Guard operations are not yet fully underway.

Female veterans are nearly 2 1/2 times more likely than their civilian counterparts to kill themselves. Advocates say women's mental health challenges are different from those of men.

The Bureau of Land Management has partnered with Team Rubicon - a veterans group - to train former service members to fight wildfires.

Kids in military families average six to nine moves before they graduate high school. That means navigating new schools, finding new friends, and catching up in classes ... over and over again.

As the Navy plans to increase the number of ships, it's looking for new ways to keep sailors in the service, even allowing them to leave for a year and come back.

The Navy blames cost-cutting for the elimination of its two Combat Camera units, which take photos and videos of naval operations.

BMW, Microsoft, and CVS are among the companies that conduct on-base job training for service members who will soon leave the military.

Top secret Army experiments exposed thousands of veterans to potential chemical and biological weapons. Some are still waiting for follow up medical care.

As part of a recently released plan, the Trump Administration is proposing an increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. 

When veterans with war injuries need accessible housing, they often have few options.

The VA hopes to roll out a national "whole health" program for veterans, offering them acupuncture, tai chi, yoga,and other alternative mental health therapies.

The Veterans Health Administration is planning to make mental health care more available to help reduce veteran suicide. But veterans advocates worry about the impact on the already strained VA health system.

The average military family moves every two to three years. Their household goods are supposed to move with them, but that doesn’t always happen ... and some families say the military doesn't do much to help.

About 1.7 million troops are eligible to switch from a traditional pension plan to a blended plan that works more like a 401(k). But some lack the financial skills to evaluate their options.

Homelessness often looks different for veterans living in rural communities: Rather than living in the streets, they may be couch-surfacing, sleeping in their cars, or camping in the woods.

This month’s mass shooting at a Texas church has raised questions of whether the military does enough to help former service members with bad conduct discharges. They're not eligible for veterans' mental health care.  

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