Coming Home Project

Credit c_vincent/iStock / Thinkstock

WNPR's Coming Home Project tells the stories of Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans in transition and the issues that matter to them and their families. Host and Correspondent Lucy Nalpathanchil launched the project in 2011.

Are you a veteran in transition? We want to hear from you. Email lucy@wnpr.org.  

 

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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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Where We Live
3:04 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Sexual Assault in the Military

creative commons

Pressure is building on the military to change its culture from within after an alarming Pentagon report estimates 26,000 servicemembers were sexually assaulted last year-- President Obama calls these crimes “shameful and disgraceful.”  Another layer to this problem is that very few of these assaults are actually reported. Now federal lawmakers including Connecticut’s Senator Richard Blumenthal are supporting bills to change how the military prosecutes these cases so victims no longer fear retaliation

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Coming Home Project
3:45 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Army Captain Andrew Pedersen-Keel: A Remembrance

Courtesy of Helen Pedersen Keiser

On Thursday, May 23, the photo of U.S Army Captain Andrew Pedersen-Keel will be added to the State of Connecticut's Wall of Honor, a tribute to servicemembers who died while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

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Coming Home Project
11:05 am
Wed May 22, 2013

Special Visas for Iraqis Who Worked for the U.S. Could Expire

Courtesy of Timothy Coon

Some veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are closely watching the immigration reform bill as it moves to the U.S Senate for a vote. The bill calls on extending a visa program for the people servicemembers often relied upon while in combat.

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Coming Home Project
2:28 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Trumbull Resident Honors Veterans and Their Families

Photo by Lucy Nalpathanchil

Forty men and women from Connecticut died in the Iraq War. Trumbull resident Mike Mastroni created the Connecticut Fallen Heroes Foundation to remember veterans killed after 9-11 and to honor their families.

WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil spoke with him in Hartford about his decision to get involved in this way.

More about the Connecticut Fallen Heroes Foundation can be found here. The state of Connecticut has also created a website to remember local veterans who died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

 

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Where We Live
10:57 am
Tue March 19, 2013

The Iraq War: Ten Years Later

U.S. Air Force photo - Tech. Sgt. Rick Sforza (Creative Commons)

Today marks the 10-year anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. Throughout the day, we're looking back at what has changed over the last 10 years both there and here at home. It was a war that cost trillions of dollars and more importantly, thousands of lives.

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Coming Home Project
5:18 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Remembering Marine Sgt. David Coullard of East Hartford

Photo Courtesy of the Coullard family

On Tuesday, March 19,  WNPR is focusing its coverage on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War including remembering those who were killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Forty men and women from Connecticut died between 2003 and 2010.

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Coming Home Project
6:13 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

VA Offers Free Gun Locks To Help Prevent Vet Suicides

The Department of Veterans Affairs began giving out gun locks in 2008, modeling a national gun safety program called Project ChildSafe
Sue Ogrocki AP

Every day an estimated 22 veterans kill themselves in the U.S. and most of them use a gun to do so, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. This trend mirrors the general population where more people kill themselves with guns than by all other methods combined.

The VA is trying to help with a program that offers gun locks to veterans for free. The thinking is that if they lock their guns up they might not reach for them in the spur of the moment.

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Coming Home Project
4:58 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

VA Gives Gun Locks To Veterans To Prevent Suicides

Lucy Nalpathanchil

Every day an estimated twenty-two veterans kill themselves in the U.S. and most of them will use a gun to do so according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs. This trend mirrors the general population where more people kill themselves with guns than with all other methods combined. The VA is trying to help with a program that offers gun locks to veterans for free. The thinking is that if they lock their guns up they might not reach for them in the spur of the moment. 

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