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.

Deana Martorella Orellana's mother, Laurel Martorella (left), and Orellana's sister, Robin Jewell, hold her Marine Corps photo. Orellana killed herself a year after leaving the Marines. She had agreed to undergo counseling the day she died.
Jay Price / American Homefront

Female veterans are nearly 2 1/2 times more likely to commit suicide than civilian women, according to data from the Veterans Administration Suicide Prevention Program. The same data show male veterans are 18 percent more likely to kill themselves than civilian men. Why are female veterans struggling? The advocacy group Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) released six recommendations on the mental health needs of women service members and veterans based on a poll of veterans in the civilian world and women on active duty.

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 app uses music and audio to help amputees lessen the pain and discomfort of walking with a prosthetic leg.

Since last year, the Army has required a fitness test before recruits start basic training.

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

Some veterans say they contracted hepatitis from the "jet gun" that was used to immunize them in the Vietnam era, but researchers haven't proven that link.

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.

 Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin speaks during a press briefing in Bridgewater, N.J.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo

When service members are discharged from the military, the degree to which they can receive benefits from Veterans Affairs depends largely on their characterization of service.

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.  

During a San Diego training exercise, the Marine Corps tried out some new tools to enhance its amphibious landings.

The National Geographic mini-series depicts the true story of an ambush that killed eight Americans and hundreds of Iraqis.

A month and a half after hurricane Maria, the VA Caribbean Healthcare system is delivering care in unconventional ways. And it's helping veterans whose PTSD was triggered by the storm.

Removing pythons helps the ecology of the Everglades - and helps veterans transition from the battlefield to civilian life.

Many residents are making daily visits to distribution sites, where the Army has set up portable water purification systems.

1st Lt. Erin Graham of the North Carolina National Guard inspects a washed out bridge in the small Puerto Rico community of Vallaja.
Jay Price / WUNC

A North Carolina-based engineering battalion is making slow progress repairing roads that were blocked or damaged in Hurricane Maria. But months of work lies ahead.

Kevin Ziober says he was illegally fired because he served in Afghanistan. His employer is forcing him to take his complaint to binding arbitration, rather than to court.

Human error is likely to be among the causes of two separate collisions involving Navy destroyers. The accidents killed 17 sailors.

President Trump's directive prohibits transgender people from joining the military and bans the military from paying for gender reassignment surgery. But it doesn't address what will happen to transgender people currently serving.

More than a week after Hurricane Maria, the Air Force continues daily medical evacuation flights from St. Croix. Patients are heading to South Carolina, Georgia, and elsewhere.

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