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.

Army leaders concede that a program designed to eliminate sexual harassment and abuse has not achieved its goal. So the 18th Airborne Corps held a "Shark Tank" type event for soldiers to present ideas to fix it.

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. 

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.

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

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

Medical facilities run by the Department of Veterans Affairs are reopening at a slower pace than many civilian health systems. But the VA has recently started to expand in-person care.

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

Following Guillen's killing, the Army launched an independent investigation into the climate of Fort Hood, but critics say the problems are systemic.

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.

The 159-year-old military newspaper, which is published by the Department of Defense, has been targeted for elimination by some Pentagon leaders.

U.S. Navy Mess Attendant First Class Doris Miller speaking during his war bond tour stop at the Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, Ill. on Jan. 7, 1943.
U.S. Navy photo courtesy of the National Archives

Henry Kissinger called supercarriers "100,000 tons of diplomacy," and that power has long been reflected in the Navy's conventions for naming them. Most are named for U.S. presidents. The USS John F. Kennedy. The Reagan. The Lincoln.The Navy now is quietly charting a new course.

A supercarrier now on the drawing boards will be christened the USS Doris Miller.

The newly introduced bill would make sexual harassment a crime under military law. The measure is a response to the killing of Fort Hood Army soldier Vanessa Guillen this summer.

The One Navy Task Force is looking at why only a handful of African Americans reach top jobs. It's also examining discrimination in all aspects of Navy life.

A group of VA psychologists across the country have formed race-based stress and trauma support groups for veterans of color.

"Top Gun: Maverick" is scheduled for release next year. But perceptions of the military and warfare have changed since the original iconic movie premiered in 1986.

The military issued a "stop movement" order in March in response to the pandemic. While the ban has been loosened, some service members and their families still can't relocate to new bases.

The pandemic is posing challenges for the more than 460 veterans treatment courts across the country. The courts seek to rehabilitate veterans charged with nonviolent crimes, rather than put them behind bars.

As overwhelmed health departments call for help, National Guard members have been deployed to help run COVID19 testing sites and assist nursing homes.

Advocates are calling attention to statistics that show Black airmen are brought up for punishment more often than their white counterparts. The Air Force says it's trying to figure out why.

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