Coming Home Project

Credit c_vincent/iStock / Thinkstock

The Coming Home Project was launched by WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil in 2011 to tell the stories of veterans in transition and the issues that matter to them and their families. 

Lucy Nalpathanchil

Sean Connolly is the new Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs. He's also a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve who says he wants the state to do even more to serve all veterans.

Lucy Nalpathanchil / WNPR

The federal VA is trying to cut down the amount of time veterans are left waiting for care by hiring more health care professionals. For former service members, working at the VA may not be a tough sell.

Office of Richard Blumenthal

A Vietnam veteran from New Haven has filed a lawsuit that seeks to force the government to quickly decide veterans' appeals for disability compensation. 

New York National Guard

The Governor's proposal to cut state funding for honor guard details at veterans' funerals has drawn criticism. Now some legislative leaders have quickly stepped in to address the controversy. 

U.S. VA

Dr. Linda Schwartz was a long-time Commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Veterans Affairs. Six months ago, she left to begin a new career at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs after being confirmed last fall as Assistant Secretary for the VA's Office of Policy and Planning. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Governor Dannel Malloy's working group that's examining how to improve the Connecticut Veterans Home has hired an architect.

The advisory group has met almost monthly since October to evaluate the programs and services given to veterans at the sprawling campus in Rocky Hill. 

Senate Democrats

The U.S. Senate approved the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act by a vote of 99-0 Tuesday afternoon. The bill seeks to improve mental health care and suicide prevention resources for veterans. 

The federal VA estimates 22 veterans die by suicide each day.

Marine Clay Hunt has become the face of the suicide epidemic. Hunt killed himself in 2011 after deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. His family and veteran advocates say he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and received inadequate care from the VA before taking his own life.

Chion Wolf

There's 13 months to go in the federal VA's five year plan to end veteran homelessness.

VA staff and community partners in Connecticut met this week at a summit to discuss how they plan to reach the goal by the end of 2015.

U.S. Army

On Veteran's Day, Connecticut's U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal called on the Department of Defense to explain why it covered up instances when Iraq War veterans were exposed to chemical weapons. The Senator is also asking for the DOD to assist these veterans in seeking benefit claims for their injuries.

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The nation’s highest-ranking military officer delivered the keynote address at this year’s Geno Auriemma Leadership Conference organized by UConn School of Business. U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke about the tenets of leadership that exist in both the military and civilian world. 

Lucy Nalpathanchil

Over the last three years, a volunteer effort has grown to build a unique memorial in Middletown. The first phase of the Connecticut Trees of Honor Memorial is near completion.

Lucy Nalpathanchil / WNPR

The state Veterans' Home sits on a sprawling campus in Rocky Hill but most of the buildings were built more than 70 years ago. In August, Governor Dannel Malloy asked for the creation of an advisory group to examine how the property--which offers several types of residential care-- can be transformed to serve more veterans.

Lucy Nalpathanchil / WNPR

Over the last 13 years, the media has focused on the sacrifices of the thousands of service-members who have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. But behind these men and women are their families. We talk to author, Sarah Smiley who writes about her life as a Navy wife. Her latest book is a memoir about how she and her children invited members of their community to dinner as a way to fill the void in their home during her husband’s 13-month deployment.

Lucy Nalpathanchil

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is holding town hall meetings as part of a nationwide effort to hear from the public. It comes after months of bad press about some VA systems hiding the actual amount of time veterans are waiting for care. 

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.

Captain Rich Evans: a Legacy of Fight and Defend

May 30, 2014
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. 

Should VA Secretary Shinseki Step Down?

May 25, 2014

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.

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.

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.

Corporal Dan Elenhof as a Medic in Afghanistan

May 9, 2014
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."

Jake Warga

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

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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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