Military Families

FT. BRAGG STORIES: 'The Checkpoints Went Up Overnight'

Sep 9, 2018
Fort Bragg
Fort Bragg

Growing up on Fort Bragg as the son of an active duty service member, Josh Groll saw the military installation as his home, a small town insulated from the rest of the world.

FT. BRAGG STORIES: 'Time Stood Still'

Sep 2, 2018
Portrait of Shelli Altopp-Miller
Shelli Altopp-Miller

In the fall of 2001, Shelli Altopp-Miller was living with her husband and two small children at Pope Air Force Base. He was on active duty with the Air Force, she was a stay-at-home mother. 

FT. BRAGG STORIES: 'More Than Ink And Skin'

Aug 5, 2018
Lewis Hunt's tattoo commemorates his grandfather, his parents, and his own military service.
Matt Couch

Tattoos have long been a hallmark of military service. Memorial tattoos, in particular, have a special place in the armed forces. Images inked on flesh can pay tribute to those who have served, salute the fallen, and help soldiers and their families commemorate life changing events.

FT. BRAGG STORIES: 'It Made Me Understand'

Jul 22, 2018
Joe Garcia holds his infant daughter Joanna
Joanna Nunez

Joanna Nunez's father, Joe Garcia, served two tours in Vietnam before retiring from the Army in the early 80s. Growing up in Fayetteville, she recalls her father was often distant and irritable, with dark mood swings that were hard to predict.

FT. BRAGG STORIES: 'It Was A Hard Time'

Jun 24, 2018
Courtesy of Meg Miller

Lieutenant Colonel Frank Miller served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam before retiring to Fayetteville to run a grocery store in the late 60s and early 70s.

 The Boulevard Supermarket on Bragg Boulevard was a small mom-and-pop store catering to the many young G.I's who cycled through Fort Bragg on their way to the Vietnam war.

FT. BRAGG STORIES: Challenge Coins

Jun 10, 2018
Portrait of Steven Moore
Matt Couch / WUNC

Steven Moore has never served in the military, but for the past 16 years he's been serving the Fort Bragg community, specializing in the design of military challenge coins.

More than just collectible tokens, the coins are a concrete way to commemorate shared service and personal achievement. Commanders award them with a solemn handshake, and soldiers often treasure them as keepsakes.

“I’m told by the soldiers that they are highly coveted items, and gives them incentive to earn them,” Moore said.

FT. BRAGG STORIES: 'They Don't Tell You Much'

May 20, 2018

Debbie Crain and Laura Lauffer both grew up near Fort Bragg, both with fathers in the military. Crain's father fought in World War II, Lauffer's served in Vietnam. Like many who have seen combat, neither man talked much about their experiences. As adults, both women found themselves looking for answers about their fathers' military service.

FT. BRAGG STORIES: 'For Me, This Was Home'

May 13, 2018
Laura Monk holds a portrait of her husband Austin, who passed away in 2011 after battling leukemia.
Matt Couch / WUNC

Laura Monk was a newlywed when she moved to Fort Bragg with her husband Austin in 2009. He deployed to Iraq shortly after. While serving overseas, he was diagnosed with leukemia. They spent most of their two-and-a-half year marriage negotiating his illness and cancer treatments.

FT. BRAGG STORIES: 'You Could Get In Trouble'

Apr 13, 2018
Portrait of Josh Groll
Elizabeth Friend

The start of the Iraq War in 2003 divided the country and mobilized a new anti-war movement. Josh Groll was in middle school at the time. His parents were firmly opposed to the war, but unlike many other anti-war protestors, Groll's dad was on active duty, and his family was stationed at Fort Bragg.

FT. BRAGG STORIES: Bringing Shakespeare To Bragg

Mar 29, 2018
Joseph Henderson addresses a group of students enrolled at a summer arts enrichment program at Fort Bragg.
Rodrigo Dorfman

Joseph Henderson was inspired to use his training as an actor and children's educator to help military children and their families.  

FT. BRAGG STORIES: 'These Soldiers Are My Children'

Mar 5, 2018
Master Sergeat Judy Betancourt in 2009 with her six year old son Christian.
Courtesy Judy Betancourt

Master Sergeant Judy Betancourt found her calling in military service. A self-described female warrior, she's served 24 years in the Army, deploying overseas six times. But the job she loves has come at a personal cost. Her decision to remain on active duty after the birth of her son Christian meant months and years away from him.

FT. BRAGG STORIES: 'Not A Shrinking Violet'

Feb 18, 2018
Portrait of Christina Railey, circa 1975.
Courtesy Patrick Railey

Patrick Railey was nine years old in 1970 when his father was killed in Vietnam. On the same day Chief Warrant Officer George Railey was fatally wounded, Patrick, his sister, and his mother were moving from Florida to their new house near Fort Bragg.

"I remember the scene of a military vehicle pulling up, well-dressed soldiers getting out and coming up to the house," Railey recalled. "You always knew that was bad news. You didn't want that to be your family."

Portrait of CPT. Kenisha Wilkerson
Matt Couch / WUNC

Kenisha Wilkerson was drawn to military service, despite some initial uncertainty.

"I was a little confused at first," said Wilkerson. "I was going back and forth, like, 'uhh, I might not be built for the Army.' But I knew I wanted to serve."

courtesy of Daniel Bolger

In 1968, brothers Tom and Chuck Hagel volunteered for an infantry unit bound for Vietnam. One of them believed in the war; one was staunchly opposed to it. 

 

The Honor Was Mine: A Look Inside the Struggles of Military Veterans
Grand Harbor Press

 Note: this segment is a rebroadcast from September 7, 2016.

Scene from Downrange: Voices from the Homefront
Cape Fear Regional Theatre

For families in the military, a life of service can mean long periods of separation. While service members put themselves on the front lines, spouses must sustain a commitment to their country to persevere on the homefront.

The new play, Downrange: Voices From The Homefront, showcases the stories of the ones who wait at home for their loved ones to return and the challenges they face when service members come home.

A picture of a baby born prematurely.
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Jackson / US Navy via Wikipedia

A study from the Womack Army Medical Center shows a connection between deployments and premature delivery as well as postpartum depression.

Captain Christopher Tarney is an obstetrician and lead author of the report published in the Internet Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics. His team studied about 400 women who, throughout their pregnancies, had husbands deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

pugetsound.va.gov/

Combat veterans often struggle at the end of life with feelings of guilt, abandonment and regret. For some dying service members and their families, a military hospital is a place where they can make those last days meaningful.

Host Frank Stasio talks with KUOW reporter Patricia Murphy about end of life care for our nation’s soldiers.

As many as 40 percent of the approximately 2 million military children in the United States are under the age of 5.
Breaking Ground / WAMU

  

The United States has been at war for more than a decade and the men and women that protect our country overseas are not the only people making sacrifices. Tens of thousands of children have watched as their parents get deployed into dangerous conflict zones and have been dealing with the reality that they may never come back or that they may return as someone different.