Airman 1st Class Jack Pepper (with goggles) attempts a maneuver on a simulator while Lt. Col. Paul Vicars looks on. Pepper is among the first participants in Pilot Training Next, which uses off-the-shelf virtual reality technology.
Carson Frame / American Homefront

These Air Force Trainees Spend Less Time In the Cockpit, More Time In Flight Simulators

Facing a shortage of pilots, the Air Force is experimenting with ways to make training programs faster and less expensive.

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Artwork in the office of Dr. Greg Serpa at the West Los Angeles VA includes toy army men in yoga poses.
Libby Denkmann / American Homefront

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.

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.

Army veteran Phillip Faustman sifts through his belongings at a San Diego homeless shelter.  Faustman says he attempted suicide three times in two and a half years.
Christopher Maue / KPBS

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.

Movers unpack a van at Sarah Taranto's house in May 2017. Many of the Tarantos' possessions arrived damaged, while other had been stolen during the moving process.
Sarah Taranto

The average military family moves every two to three years. Their household goods are supposed to move with them, but that doesn’t always happen ... and some families say the military doesn't do much to help.

Mary Junell / U.S. Army National Guard

The Trump Administration wants to grow the Army substantially, even as potential recruits get harder to find. That's putting more pressure on recruiters than they've seen in years.

Navy Lt. Commander Jeff Raunig, a physician, weighs his options under the new military retirement system. 'Med school doesn't teach you that much about economics,' he said.
Libby Denkmann / American Homefront

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.

California has become the eighth state to legalize recreational marijuana.  But using the drug can still end a military career.

Artist Dru Blair shows his painting of a 1952 CIA operation in China that killed two pilots.
Jay Price / American Homefront

"The Secret Ops of the CIA" calendars spotlight an unusual art genre: meticulous paintings of spy missions.

San Antonio's VFW Post 76 is a popular hangout for veterans, who often prefer to socialize with each other rather than with non-veterans.
Tim Hipps / U.S. Army

Fewer than one percent of Americans are in the military, compared with about nine percent during World War II. Researchers say that's helped create a divide between veterans and non-veterans.

Homeless veterans and other homless people live in this encampment near the Saratoga Springs, New York train station.
Sarah Harris / American Homefront

Homelessness often looks different for veterans living in rural communities: Rather than living in the streets, they may be couch-surfacing, sleeping in their cars, or camping in the woods.

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