Military

A photo of Sontina and Reggie Barnes
Sontina Barnes

When Sontina Barnes joined the Army in 1993, she was looking for something new.

“I was a junior at N.C. State and I was burned out,” she recalled.

At the time, she was working three jobs on top of school.

The Marine Corps established Wounded Warrior Battalions to aid troops with the worst mental and physical injuries. But Marines in the battalions who are suicidal or suffer from PTSD can still be discharged for misconduct. 

James Dantzler poses with his sentry dog named Rip while working security along Highway 1 at the Esso refinery plan in Vietnam in 1969.
James Dantzler

When James Dantzler graduated high school in 1966, he found no one was hiring young men who were likely to be drafted for the Vietnam War. So he joined the Marine Corps. 

“I felt like they were the best, and if I’m going to go to war, I’m going to go with the best,” he said. 

Pentagon leaders were concerned about extremism in the military even before the Jan. 6 insurrection. But new Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he wants everyone in the ranks to understand it's a priority.

A photo of Doug and Helen Lovern
Doug Lovern

Doug and Helen Lovern met while serving in the Air Force in the early 1970s. They worked night shifts together in the intensive care unit while stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base near Bossier City, Louisiana.  

Though President Biden signed an executive order allowing transgender people to serve in the military, would-be recruits are waiting for the Pentagon to develop policies before they can enlist.

A photo of Mike Bressler in Al-Qa'im, Iraq in 2005.
Courtesy Mike Bressler

Mike Bressler and Raymond Mangelsdorf never served in the same unit, or even the same branch of the armed forces, but roughly a decade after deploying to Iraq, their shared experiences dealing with the aftermath of war brought them together.  

 

The pandemic has forced some veteran-owned businesses to close. But other veteran entrepreneurs say their military experience has helped them withstand hardship.

A photo of Daniel Lucas Elliott, who was was killed on July, 15, 2011 in Basra, Iraq, when a roadside bomb hit his vehicle.
Patti Elliott

Patti Elliott remembers her youngest son Lucas was always “kind of an adrenaline junky.”

An image of a sign for Fort Bragg
Fish Cop / Public Domain

The University of North Carolina System has signed a new collaborative agreement with the Army’s 18th Airborne Corps, which is based at Fort Bragg.

New federal laws seek to improve mental health care for veterans and their families. But advocates say it will take time for local communities to feel the effects.

A photo of David Englert with his son Logan
David Englert

Charlotte resident David Englert served 21 years in the military, first in the Marines, then in the Air Force. 

Just before his 18-year-old son Logan left for college, the two sat down to talk about their life together as a military family.

Retired Four-Star Army Gen. Lloyd Austin will be the first Black U.S. secretary of defense. Host Leoneda Inge talks about what this historic appointment might mean for troops and veterans of color with David Chrisinger, an expert on white supremacy in the military, and Mary Tobin of the West Point Women's alumni association who mentors young Black officers.


At a drive-through vaccination site in Elizabeth City, N.C., Tech Sgt. Steven Simpson of the North Carolina National Guard administers a COVID-19 vaccination as Maj. Hollis Guenther gives the next recipient instructions about the vaccine.
Jay Price / WUNC

North Carolina is among more than a dozen states that have called up the National Guard to help at vaccination sites, and Joe Biden may mobilize Guard units nationally.


NC Military Voices: Tarsha Burroughs

Jan 15, 2021
A photo of Tarsha Burroughs
Tarsha Burroughs

Raleigh resident and Purple Heart veteran Tarsha Burroughs decided to join the Army Reserves after studying education. She was in the middle of teaching a high school math class when she got the call to prepare for deployment.

A VA Inspector General's report has found that the agency improperly denied benefits to thousands of veterans who couldn't see a doctor during the pandemic.

A photo of Ted and Brittany Corcoran
Ted Corcoran

When Ted Corcoran joined the Army in 2000, he needed a steady job and a place to live.  

"I wish I had a noble reason for joining the military, but in reality, I was very poor, and I didn't have a whole lot of options," Corcoran said.

He trained to be a medic so he would have a skill set that he could immediately put to use in the civilian world. As he neared the end of his stint in the Army, he was working as an EMT and preparing to transition out of the reserves. He never expected to be sent to Iraq.

But in 2005, he got a letter in the mail telling him to prepare for deployment."It was a real simple choice, it was show up a Fort Jackson, or there will be a warrant put out for your arrest for desertion," Corcoran said.At first, he thought he'd just keep his head down and focus on the mission, but as his work roles changed during his deployment, his world view changed as well.  


An image of a sign for Fort Bragg
Fish Cop / Public Domain

Updated at 5:30 p.m.

The Army is investigating a psychological operations officer who led a group of people from North Carolina to the rally in Washington that led up to the deadly riot in the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump.

Months of physical distancing and pandemic anxiety has been especially tough on veterans who were already dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and other combat-related injuries.

Some of Los Angeles County's 3900 homeless veterans had been lined up to move into the complex under construction. After the fire, many will remain on the streets.

Native Americans join the military at a high rate, but some struggle with the military's role in displacing and subjugating Indigenous people throughout the nation's history.

The National Mall in Washington, D.C. is generally quiet these days, as the resurgent COVID-19 pandemic keeps people home and the Smithsonian museums shuttered.

President-elect Joe Biden's administration is poised to effect significant change to U.S. military culture.

The incoming commander-in-chief has announced his nomination for defense secretary: retired, four-star general Lloyd Austin. If confirmed, Austin would become the nation's first Black defense secretary. Biden has also pledged to lift a near-total ban on transgender people serving in the military when he takes office in 2021.

An image of a sign for Fort Bragg
Fish Cop / Public Domain

Officials at the Army’s largest base have identified the two men whose bodies were found in a training area this week.


Burnout is a common problem for family members who care for disabled veterans. And for many of them, the pandemic has made things even harder.

More than 50 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers are involved in trials to test vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, and the agency is calling on vets to volunteer.

Advocates say the Army is too quick to write off soldiers as deserters when they don't show up for duty. That can delay searches when a service member disappears because of an accident, suicide, or abduction.

President Roosevelt opened all branches of the military to Black troops in 1941, but for African-American service members like Luther Hendricks, racism still was prevalent.

Veterans traditionally are more likely to vote for Republican candidates. But polls suggest their support for President Trump has eroded.

Like many college classes, ROTC training is mostly online because of the pandemic. But some cadets have resumed limited in-person training.

Military personnel have been voting by mail since the Civil War. This year, some polls suggest that troops' political preferences may be changing.

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