Military

Christina Westover / U.S. Army

Thousands of military personnel were deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border in the fall of last year. At the time President Donald Trump said their purpose was to bolster security and help reduce illegal border crossings.

98-year-old Normandy survivor Ray Lambert (left) accepts a plaque at a June 2018 ceremony. Fort Bragg paratroopers splashed down in his Moore County neighborhood as part of a salute to his service.
Ted Fitzgerald / The Pilot (Southern Pines, N.C.)

As he takes part in the 75th anniversary commemoration of the Normandy invasion, Ray Lambert of Moore County, N.C. worries that his generation's values have eroded.

Courtesy of Zachary Stauffer

Naval aviator Lt. Wes Van Dorn signed up to pilot MH-53E helicopters — big, heavy single-rotor aircraft — with assurances he’d be home on most days to have dinner with his family and tuck his son into bed at night.

But as the Greensboro native soon discovered, maintenance and supply issues often kept the choppers grounded, and maintainers and pilots like him at work. In 2014, Van Dorn was killed in a training exercise off the coast of Virginia along with two sailors, leaving his wife Nicole and two young boys behind.

Carissa Rogers / Flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/goodncrazy/14262072596/

When a Vietnam War veteran died Christmas Eve with no family nearby, a community of veterans, a friend and military supporters in North Carolina stepped up to make sure he was finally laid to rest with military honors.

5th graders from J.S. Waters Elementary School in Chatham County visit the USS North Carolina. The ship gets more than a quarter of a million visitors a year, many of them  with school groups who come to learn about its history.
Jay Price / WUNC

"Vulnerable" seems like the last word to describe a 70 million-pound armored ship that can fire shells weighing as much as a car. But now the USS North Carolina, one of the state's most iconic tourist attractions, has a new enemy … and a new battle plan.

To keep up with potential adversaries such as China, the Pentagon is teaming with civilian technological innovators and trying to adopt some of the practices of the private sector.

A Soldier from the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment clears a building in Afghanistan in this 2010 file photo. A unit from the Regiment will reunite in 2019 for mental health treatment.
Christine Jones / U.S. Army

The VA and a Charlotte-based non-profit have teamed up to try a new approach to mental health treatment for veterans. They're reuniting entire units for therapy in a pilot program called Operation Resiliency.

A VA cemetery crew lifts one of the steel caskets from the ground, more than six decades after it was buried.
Jay Price / WUNC

Using DNA and other new technology, scientists hope to identify the remains of more than 600 U.S. service members in a Hawaii veterans cemetery.

Retired Army combat medic Kelly Rodriguez talks about the mixed emotions she felt when her son joined the Army and left on his first deployment.
Elizabeth Friend / WUNC

As part of Fort Bragg's 100 anniversary commemoration, WUNC hosted an hour of storytelling about life on and around the nation's largest Army base.

Not all racially-motivated killings in the Jim Crow-era were classified as "lynchings." Activists are trying to document the rest.

Actors reenact a 1946 lynching in Walton County, Ga. in which a veteran, his wife, and another couple were killed. The reenactment is an annual event staged by actors and civil rights activists.
Jay Price / WUNC

As they returned home from war, proud of their service, black veterans in the south often encountered suspicion, resentment, and - in some cases - brutal violence.

U.S. Defense Department forensic anthropologists in Wonsan, North Korea examine the contents of boxes containing the possible remains of U.S. MIAs July 27, 2018.
David Marshall / U.S. Army

Families hope advances in DNA technology and thawing U.S./North Korean relations will help the government recover and identify long-missing remains of service members.

About 84,000 service members are married to another member of the military, and some find it hard to balance their marriages with their careers.

Gov. Roy Cooper announces a reduction in the number of homeless veterans. Seated are Secretary of the N.C. Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Larry D. Hall (left) and Terry Allebaugh of the N.C. Coalition to End Homelessness
Jay Price / WUNC

North Carolina is having more success in its long-running battle to reduce homelessness among veterans.

As the Senate considers Robert Wilkie's nomination for VA secretary, veterans groups worry that the agency's leadership gap has slowed its work.

Gabriella Bulgarelli / WUNC

For James Roy Gorham, growing up in the small farming community of Falkland, NC was full of tough lessons, and he learned many of them from his father.

Civilian contractor Terry Pullum of Evolving Resources Inc. gives young Marines their first hands-on lesson in flying the InstantEye quadcopter.
Jay Price / WUNC

One Marine in each rifle squad will be designated to fly small drones and run some of the Marines' expanding array of other digital devices.

A nuclear bomb and its parachute rest in a field near Goldsboro, N.C. after falling from a B-52 bomber in 1961.
U.S. Air Force

During the Cold War, U.S. planes accidentally dropped nuclear bombs on the east coast, in Europe, and elsewhere. "Dumb luck" prevented a historic catastrophe. 

The Bureau of Land Management has partnered with Team Rubicon - a veterans group - to train former service members to fight wildfires.

When veterans with war injuries need accessible housing, they often have few options.

U.S. advisors practice training “Afghan soldiers” — actually American troops  brought to Fort Polk to augment civilian role players actually from Afghanistan. Looking on are trainers who are evaluating the advisors’ performance
Jay Price / WUNC

The Army is creating a new kind of large unit for a mission that American troops have performed for decades: helping troops of friendly foreign nations train and fight.

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.

Photo of the Uncle Sam 'I want you for the U.S. Army' poster
Wikimedia Commons

Last spring, the Army told recruiters it expected them to enlist 6,000 new soldiers – the largest mid-year increase in its history. It recently also upped its yearly recruitment goal to an unexpected high of 80,000.

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.

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. 

 

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.

The TOWR Mobil Unit is currently used for testing and housed at RTI International’s facility in RTP.
Courtesy of RTI International

North Carolina-based RTI International is developing something that could reduce the number of troops injured while supporting forward operating bases: a new latrine system.

Four World War II veterans were honored with Legion of Honor awards at a Raleigh ceremony.  From left: Morton Jacobs of New Bern, John P. Irby, III of Raleigh, Robert C. Senter of Fuquay-Varina, and Salvatore Maiello of Fayetteville.
Jay Price / WUNC

The number of North Carolina veterans who fought in World War II is declining. But last week, four of them got an official thanks from a country they helped liberate.

 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.  

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