Coming Home Project

Where We Live
9:00 am
Mon June 16, 2014

Iraq War Veterans Reflect on New Crisis

U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter flies over Baghdad, Iraq on June 15, 2007.
Tech. Sgt. Rick Sforza The U.S. Army

Throughout the U.S. occupation of Iraq, there was concern about what would happen to the country when combat forces left. Over the last year, militant extremists have slowly taken over the country and now President Barack Obama is weighing his options. "We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces," Obama said on Friday.

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The Things They Carried
11:48 am
Fri May 30, 2014

Captain Rich Evans: a Legacy of Fight and Defend

Jake Warga

"I joined the Army the day after September 11," said Captain Rich Evans, sharing his long legacy in fighting for the United States. He admits freely his changing emotion towards Afghanistan. 

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Veterans Affairs
8:02 am
Sun May 25, 2014

Should VA Secretary Shinseki Step Down?

Originally published on Sun May 25, 2014 11:51 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. This coming week, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is expected to update President Obama on a nationwide review on VA facilities. Many VA hospitals have been accused of covering up long wait times for veterans and cooking the books to hide these delays. Shinseki announced yesterday that some VA clinics would enhance their capacity and the administration would also make it easier for veterans to get more of their care from private facilities.

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The Things They Carried
11:53 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Staff Sergeant Christen Cohen on Memories of Afghanistan

Staff Sergeant Christen Cohen.
Credit Jake Warga

Staff Sergeant Christen Cohen speaks about her deployments in Afghanistan and on being the only woman in her unit.  She carries with her a reminder of her mortality.

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The Things They Carried
11:53 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Captain Jason Pace as Physician Assistant in Afghanistan

Captain Jason Pace
Credit Jake Warga

Captain Jason Pace tries to treat symptoms of depression and stress without medication. He believes that there are burdens a solider must carry inside that may never be lifted.

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The Things They Carried
11:45 am
Fri May 9, 2014

Corporal Dan Elenhof as a Medic in Afghanistan

Corporal Dan Elenhof
Jake Warga

In addition to the physical objects Corporal Elenhof carries on his person, he also says he brings with him a sense of hospitality. "You know, just working every day with a foreign culture," he said, "definitely that culture rubs off on you. In Afghan culture, hospitality is a huge part of it. I'm definitely going to be carrying home a lot of that."

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The Things They Carried
11:31 am
Fri May 2, 2014

Specialist Lackey on What He Carries in Afghanistan

Specialist Lackey
Jake Warga

Specialist Lackey carries with him the remains of his father in a small urn around his neck. 

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Fri May 2, 2014

"The Things They Carry" in Afghanistan; Wits' John Moe Is a Nerd

U.S. soldiers overlook the Chowkay Valley in Kunar Province, Afghanistan.
Credit U.S. Army / Creative Commons

Inspired by Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam War book The Things They Carried, journalist Jake Warga set out to document some of the physical objects and emotional memories carried by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Jake recently joins us to talk about the series, The Things They Carry: U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan, which will begin airing as part of our Coming Home Project on WNPR.

We also visit with John Moe, host of the public radio show Wits. He's in Hartford this weekend to moderate the Connecticut Forum’s season finale event, Nerd Fest: Why Nerds Rule the World.

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Coming Home Project
4:39 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

UConn Business School Recognized in Military Times

Credit Creative Commons

UConn's School of Business is included in a ranking of the top 60 business schools for veterans. This is the second year Military Times issued the ranking after surveying 140 colleges and universities. 

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Coming Home Project
4:37 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Connecticut Veterans Fired For Military Service Can Sue in State Court

Credit glegorly/iStock / Thinkstock

A recent decision by the Connecticut Appellate Court could help local veterans who have been wrongfully terminated because of their military service.

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Jobs for Veterans
7:25 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Hiring Our Heroes Comes to Groton

The Hiring Our Heroes fair took place at the Groton Inn and Suites.
Credit Harriet Jones / WNPR

More than 40 employers took part in a hiring fair in Groton Tuesday aimed specifically at veterans. It was part of the Hiring Our Heroes campaign run by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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Coming Home Project
9:42 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Senate Bill Would Restore COLA Benefit for Veterans

American Legion Post 96 Commander Ken Hungerford with Sen. Blumenthal and Linda Schwartz on Thursday.
Credit Jaki Lauper

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal promised to fight for a wide-reaching veterans' bill that includes restoring a cut to cost-of-living adjustments for military retirees.

The legislation, Senate bill 1950, is more than 300 pages. It includes money to help the federal VA eliminate its claims backlog, and extends the number of years that returning veterans can access VA health care. It also expands benefits for caregivers.

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Coming Home Project
2:01 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Grant Awarded to Study a Legal Partnership with the Veterans Administration

Margaret Middleton is the Executive Director of the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center
Credit Courtesy of CVLC

A legal services non-profit that assists veterans has received a sizable grant to study outcomes for those getting help through the federal VA.

New Haven-based Connecticut Veterans Legal Center and its project partners in New York City received a two-year $700,000 grant from the Bristol-Meyers Squibb Foundation. 

Margaret Middleton, CVLC's Executive Director, said the non-profit entered into a first-of-its-kind medical-legal partnership with the VA Connecticut health care system four and a half years ago. 

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Coming Home Project
12:32 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Iraq War Veterans Reflect on Fallujah

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Michael Zacchea in Fallujah, 2004.
Courtesy of Michael Zacchea

It’s been two years since the U.S. military left Iraq. Some of the deadliest fighting was in the western cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, where more than 1,400 Americans died battling Al Qaeda insurgents. This week, news broke that Al Qaeda has taken control of the cities. 

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Coming Home Project
2:36 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Special Visa Program For Iraqis Extended

During the Christmas holiday, President Barack Obama signed a bill into law that has the potential to help more than 2,000 Iraqis. It extends the special immigrant visa program for Iraqis. 

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Coming Home Project
11:43 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Veterans Reflect on Military Service Through Creative Writing

Veterans' Day event at Fairfield University
Jason Neely

Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the Cold War era gathered at Fairfield University Monday night, November 11, to read from their creative writing. 

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Coming Home Project
11:58 am
Thu November 7, 2013

A Marine Remembered

Justin Eldridge and his wife, Joanna Gallup Eldridge
Credit Photo provided by the Eldridge family

The VA estimates 22 veterans commit suicide each day. There’s a stigma that surrounds military suicides. When a loved one dies in this manner, grieving family and friends often don’t talk about it openly. But Joanna Gallup Eldridge of Waterford says their stories need to be heard. 

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Coming Home Project
9:43 am
Sat November 2, 2013

A New American Citizen

Falah Abdullatif and Tim Coon.
Credit Chion Wolf

A few months ago we told you the story of an Iraqi translator for the U.S. Army who moved to Connecticut under a special immigrant visa program.

WNPR caught up with 49-year-old Falah Abdullatif on Thursday, October 31, right before his U.S. citizenship ceremony.

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Coming Home Project
3:54 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Afghanistan War Veteran Takes Own Life

Joanna Gallup Eldridge and Justin Eldridge.

Early Wednesday morning, WNPR learned of the tragic death of 31-year-old Justin Eldridge of Waterford. He was a Marine who served 8.5 years in the military including a deployment to Afghanistan. 

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Coming Home Project
9:23 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Veterans Affairs Backlog Drops; Critics Urge More Progress

Senator Richard Blumenthal speaking at the VFW Post in East Hartford. Iraq War veteran Jordan Massa stands behind the Senator.
Credit Lucy Nalpathanchil / WNPR

Despite the federal government shutdown, there was a decrease this month in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs backlog to process veterans' disability claims. The VA said pending cases dropped by 10,000 since September 28. But this doesn't mean the pressure is off the federal department to do more.

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Coming Home Project
9:56 am
Thu October 10, 2013

Interactive Feature: House Veterans Affairs Hearing on VA Opiate Prescriptions

VA’s opiate overload feeds veterans’ addictions, overdose deaths
Credit Center for Investigative Reporting

The House Veterans Affairs Committee is holding a hearing to find out more about a shocking trend of opiate prescriptions in VA hospitals nationwide.  A report by the Center for Investigative Reporting found that since 9/11, the number of opiate prescriptions has grown 270 percent. CIR says this has contributed to the rate of overdose deaths among veterans that is double the national average.

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Coming Home Project
4:44 am
Thu October 10, 2013

Foundation To Pay Military Death Benefits During Shutdown

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 7:39 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

On a Thursday, this is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

The remains of four American service members were returned yesterday to Dover Air Force Base. They were killed in Afghanistan.

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Coming Home Project
1:38 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Shinseki: Shutdown Means Veterans Will Not Get Benefits

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki testifies on Capitol Hill in April.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 2:40 pm

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki warned lawmakers on Wednesday that the partial government shutdown means that about 3.8 million veterans will not receive disability compensation next month.

Shinseki, in testimony before the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, said pensions to more than half a million vets or surviving spouses will also be derailed if the stalemate over a temporary spending measure drags on into late October.

The Associated Press reports:

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Government Shutdown
3:46 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

VA Furloughs Thousands of Workers

The severely backlogged benefits office of the federal VA is about to slow down again. That's because the VA announced its furloughing nearly 10,000 VBA workers including its IT department. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal  issued a statement today in response to the news. He said many of the employees are veterans themselves.

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Coming Home Project
3:38 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

UConn Business Program for Veterans Begins Fourth Year

Michael Zacchea, Director of UConn's Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities program.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

The national unemployment rate for veterans has improved in recent years, hovering around the civilian rate of seven percent. At the height of the recession, returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans were unemployed at nearly double the rate of non-veterans. A host of programs have been created to help former servicemembers support themselves after their military service ended. 

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Coming Home Project
8:51 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Alarming Rate of Opiates Prescribed by VA

The Department of Veterans Affairs has supplied some veterans, like Tim Fazio, pictured, with a large amount of oxycodone pills since he returning home after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Fazio told reporter Aaron Glantz he was never in acute physical pain, but used the pills to blot out feelings of guilt for surviving when many of his friends did not.
Credit Adithya Sambamurthy / The Center for Investigative Reporting

A new report by the Center for Investigative Reporting found that since 9/11, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has prescribed opiates at an alarming rate. Between 2001 and 2012, the number of opiate prescriptions has grown 270 percent. CIR says this has contributed to the rate of overdose deaths among veterans that is double the national average.

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Coming Home Project
3:19 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Meeting the Legal Needs of Veterans

Margaret Middleton is the Executive Director of the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Homeless veterans have told the VA  that one of their top needs is finding legal assistance. The Connecticut Veterans Legal Center in New Haven is one organization that fills this need.  Now the non-profit is working to build a network of similar legal service providers.

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Coming Home Project
5:12 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

18 Veterans Found a Home in Jewett City's American Legion Post

Photo by the Women's Institute

Last July, an American Legion Post in Jewett City renovated its building to provide permanent supportive housing to chronically homeless veterans. The project in Jewett City created fifteen apartments solely for veterans. It's rural communities like Jewett City where the VA has had a hard time connecting with veterans nationwide.

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Coming Home Project
2:16 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Suicide Haunts New Generation Of Veterans

(sjbresnahan/Flickr)

Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 3:49 pm

It’s estimated that more than 20 veterans kill themselves every day. A new survey of men and women who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan shows that mental health is the most important issue they face.

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Coming Home Project
5:25 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

Amendment Would Help Military Families Insured by Tricare

Courtesy of Flickr CC by BLW Photography

An amendment to the defense budget bill before Congress could help military families who have children with developmental disabilities including autism.

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