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.

The Irreverent Warriors, seen here holding a 2016 'silkies hike' in Jacksonville, N.C., has been forced to suspend its hikes and hangouts because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sean Berry / U.S. Marine Corps

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced most of us into social isolation. But for veterans with mental health issues, staying at home runs counter to advice they've long received to get out and interact with the world.

The VA informed student veterans they may become ineligible for GI Bill education and housing funds if their college transitions from in-person to online classes. Congress has quickly passed a fix.

RecruitMilitary

Kathryn Kuziel sees light at the end of the tunnel. With her husband Alex Kuziel getting out of the 82nd Airborne soon, she’s finally be able to look for a job as an IT project manager without worrying that potential employers will pass her over for someone with more staying power.

For military personnel at the U.S.-Mexico border, including National Guard troops, it's an unusual assignment. Many are quartered in hotels, and their families are allowed to visit.

The Las Vegas center is the VA's second inpatient treatment facility for veterans, who are at higher risk of gambling addiction.

The VA Aid and Attendance benefit can help some vets and spouses pay for nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home health care. But the application process is often long and complicated.

The peer-counseling programs, which have become common in many cities, may improve mental health, self esteem, and social functioning for veterans who are returning to civilian life.

The MAVNI program allowed non-U.S. citizens to enlist in the armed services if they had foreign language skills or other special expertise. But the program is now at a standstill.

The campaign, which launched in November, emphasizes Army careers in technology, medicine, and other non-combat jobs.

The VA pilot program places federally-backed volunteers in the homes of veterans to help with cooking, cleaning and other low-skill tasks.

A 2019 Department of Defense report concluded that the effects of a changing climate, including wildfires, threaten dozens of military bases.

The VA has eliminated the designated smoking areas at its hospitals, clinics, and other buildings. It's a difficult transition for some patients, visitors, and VA workers.

For an organization that's still strongly associated with entertainers of the past, like Bob Hope, it's a constant challenge to stay relevant to today's service members.

The University of California, Irvine study found that combat exposure is almost as likely to cause grief as it is to lead to PTSD.

National Guardsmen who respond to domestic missions - such as providing disaster assistance or working along the southern U.S. border - may not qualify for V-A benefits.

Military health officials say troops are engaging in more high-risk sexual behavior, and part of the reason might be the popularity of smartphone dating apps.

The Pentagon is preparing for potential missions in newly navigable Arctic seas, raising hopes the military will reinhabit a long-abandoned Navy base on an Alaskan island.

For the first time in decades, veterans and local military families have access to a final resting place alongside fellow servicemembers in the city of Los Angeles.

The famous structure and popular tourist site will undergo a renovation project that's expected to last almost four years.

Soldiers at Fort Benning, Ga. use immersion troughs filled with ice and water to cool off during training in this 2018 photo.
Patrick A. Albright / U.S. Army

The Pentagon says reported cases of heat exhaustion jumped nearly 50 percent between 2014 and 2018.

A growing number of programs try to treat PTSD by getting veterans into nature, even deep under the sea. But there's little scientific evidence that treatments like "scuba therapy" work.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is training clergy members around the country to look for signs of psychological disorders and other issues among veterans in their congregations.

In response to a string of suicides in the Air Force, every base is holding a one day stand down, where airmen can learn and talk about mental health issues.

Mold has long been a problem at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas. But when airmen started posting photos on Facebook, the Air Force stepped up its response.

Image of a nuclear bomb test explosion in the Pacific in 1958.
Nevada National Security Site

More than 500,000 American veterans were exposed to nuclear weapons tests from the 1940s to the early 1990s. These so-called "atomic veterans" were not permitted to speak about their participation in the tests until 1996 when the Nuclear Radiation and Secrecy Agreements Laws were repealed. Now the veterans who were exposed to the radiation from the weapons program will be offered a certificate marking their contribution.

The military is spending millions of dollars to clean up water contamination around bases throughout the country. But people living with the contamination say the money has not gone nearly far enough.

The new certificate recognizes as many as 550,000 veterans who were exposed to nuclear weapons tests between 1945 and 1992. But the certificates leave a lot of atomic veterans underwhelmed.

A thousand National Guard troops from Texas will try to address one of the unintended results of President Trump’s immigration crackdown -- traffic jams that are slowing international commerce.

The Government Accountability Office says the military isn't doing enough to deal with the effects of climate change, after more than $9 billion in hurricane and flood-related damage to three bases in less than a year.

Some VA medical centers have realized that helping vets get back in the game can also help with their recovery.

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