Coming Home Project

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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. 

Returning Home

Nov 11, 2011
HarshLight / Creative Commons

Last month, President Barack Obama announced the U.S. will withdraw troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. 100,000 troops have already been removed and the latest withdrawal will bring the last 40,000 home. Today, where we live, as we celebrate Veterans Day a conversation about the transition from military life to civilian life for the thousands of Veterans who have and will return from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Courtesy of South Park Inn

After a decade of wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, more young veterans are back from combat with nowhere to live. New numbers just released from the federal VA and HUD find in the last year, 13,000 homeless veterans were between the ages of 18 and 30.

They make up nine percent of homeless veterans nationwide but their numbers are only expected to rise as troop drawdowns continue.  In Connecticut, there are anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 veterans who are homeless each day.

Courtesy of Friends of Fisher House Connecticut

Most people have heard of Ronald McDonald houses that provide a place for sick children and their families to stay while seeking medical treatment. But chances are you haven't heard of a Fisher House. Now there's an effort to build one in West Haven.

Courtesy of Flickr CC by Ars Electronica

Airdate: October 17, 2011 A recent Pew Center study of U.S military in the post 9-11 era found 37 percent of veterans suffer from post traumatic stress. For those diagnosed with PTSD and who are getting care at a VA facility, one of the treatments used is Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing or EMDR. It's therapy to resolve trauma related disorders.

Veterans who have served in the last decade are eligible for benefits under the Post 9-11 GI bill. As WNPRs Lucy Nalpathanchil reports, recent changes to the bill will help veterans pay for vocational training.

Under the current GI bill, veterans can get all or part of their college tuition paid for depending on years of military service. But not all veterans chose four-year schools.

There are several thousand veterans in the community college system in Connecticut. David Welsh is a Veterans Advisor at Tunxis Community College in Farmington.

US Navy photo by (SCW) F. Julian Carroll

A briefing with a three star Army General was the first order of business Tuesday at the journalists conference at Ft Leavenworth. Lieutenant General William B Caldwell was all set to appear before us via video teleconference from Afghanistan but technology got in the way. The link up didn't work properly so he spoke with reporters using the old fashioned telephone conference.

Lucy Nalpathanchil

It's Military 101 on the first official day of the journalists conference at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Inside Lewis and Clark Hall, men and some women stream through wearing the Army combat uniforms: tan, grey and green camouflage that blends well in the desert. Occasionally, you see officers from other countries like Brazil, Botswana, and Singapore, who are also here to study at the Command and General Staff College.

Jeremy Pollack.

Recent college graduates are finding it difficult to get a job at a time when the national unemployment rate remains stagnant at nine percent. But imagine if you're a veteran just back from serving overseas. You're trying to find employment while carrying the physical and mental effects of war. A consortium of schools including the University of Connecticut are helping turn disabled veterans into small business-owners. As part of WNPR's Coming Home Project, Lucy Nalpathanchil introduces us to a entrepreneurship 'bootcamp'.

Photo by Lucy Nalpathanchil

Bridging the gap between the media and the military: that's the goal of a week-long conference hosted by the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Fort Leavenworth Combined Arms Center. Seventeen journalists including myself were accepted into the program because of our interest and backgrounds covering military issues.

More than 1,000 veterans from all over Connecticut were expected in Rocky Hill Friday for an annual event called Stand Down; it's an outreach event hosted by the state Department of Veteran Affairs to help veterans in need. Stand Down is in its 16th year, an event VA Commissioner Linda Schwartz looks forward to every year. Here, she is welcoming nursing students who volunteered at the event. "Hey, hey!' 'Hi Commish.' 'It's the Yale School of Nursing!"

Veterans are among college students heading back to class this fall. At the University of Connecticut, more than 400 students have military experience. They're considered non-traditional students given the fact many enroll after multiple deployments. WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil reports on one way campuses are working to accommodate their needs. 

The U.S Department of Labor says nearly 12 percent of veterans who've served since 9-11 were unemployed last year. Twenty-five percent of them have service-related disabilities. The number of unemployed is expected to grow now that more veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are returning to a country trying to recover from the recession.  A small program by Congress aims to help veterans get back into the workforce. 

Many veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered some type of brain injury. In 2009, the U.S Department of Defense found up to 90,000 troops had traumatic brain injuries. They require specialized care to regain such skills as concentration and memory. As WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil reports, the VA hospital in Connecticut is one of several in the country that will participate in a clinical trial to help these veterans.

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