John Ismay

Veterans and Military Issues Reporter, Southern California Public Radio - KPCC

John Ismay spent a decade in the U.S. Navy as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician and Special Operations Officer. He completed multiple overseas deployments, including a combat tour to Iraq in 2007.

His work as a writer began that same year. He became a specialist on different kinds of weapons used by insurgents, created hundreds of reports on their use, and developed countermeasures that saved American lives.

When he left the Navy four years ago as a Lieutenant Commander, he turned to journalism. The choice was inspired, in part, by the work he did with the New York Times on an award-winning investigative series about the discovery of chemical weapons in Iraq.

John continued his work at the Times, writing for the At War Blog, while attending Columbia Journalism School, where he focused on long term investigative projects and data analysis.

He was among the writers of a pair of stories in the New York Times that won a George Polk Award, one of the most distinguished awards in journalism. The stories investigated the tactics of the Navy SEALs, the elite special operations force best known for the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The New York Times reporting raised concerns about excessive killing and civilian deaths by SEAL personnel.

Ways to Connect

Cpl. Fabian Purvis is leaving the Marines, and he's looking to land a job with the San Diego Sheriff's Department.
John Ismay / American Homefront

Traditionally, the military did little for departing troops except hand them discharge papers. But in recent years, it has enacted a mandatory program to help service members prepare for civilian jobs or go back to school.

Despite what the sign on the fenceline says, hundreds of cars belonging to Santa Monica Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram sit on veterans' land in Westwood.
John Ismay / American Homefront

More than three years after a Federal judge said leasing land to for-profit companies on the West Los Angeles V.A. campus violated the rules under which the land was donated, a car dealership and school bus company continue to park hundreds of vehicles on three lots at the 388-acre campus.

Veterans of the Korean War stand on the red carpet outside American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood. They gathered for the first screening in North America of the new movie 'Operation Chromite.'
John Ismay / American Homefront

In Hollywood, the Korean War is almost forgotten.  While U.S. movie studios have turned out hundreds of films about World War II and several dozen about Vietnam, movies about Korea are far less common.

Dr. Fatma Batuman, medical director of the women's health program, holds 1-month-old Nyia Yvette Cavanagh at the VA West Los Angeles Medical Center. Both of Cavanagh's parents are former Marines.
Maya Sugarman / KPCC

In an agency that was "built for men," VA leaders are working to add health care services for female veterans.

Cdr. Mary Katey Hays (right) listens as the Officer of the Deck and the Junior Officer of the Deck run through the "underway checklist" on the USS Decatur.
John Ismay / American Homefront

While the Army and Marines are just now opening all combat jobs to female troops, women have been serving on -- and commanding -- Navy warships for years.

Homelessness in Los Angeles County rose by nearly 6 percent to 46,874 people over the past year, according to the results of a new homeless census released Wednesday morning.

Just six percent of California legislators have served in the military, one of the lowest percentages in the U.S.
David Monniaux / Wikipedia

A new report from the American Enterprise Institute shows there aren't many military veterans in California's state legislature, even though more vets live in the state than anywhere else.

Christopher Yates(left) and  Jerry Tullos, unveil a new sign commemorating the Seal Beach weapons station’s 60th anniversary in 2004.
Eleno Cortez / U.S. Navy

As the U.S. Navy pivots its resources to the West Coast in an attempt to counter Chinese ambitions in the Pacific Ocean, an increasingly relevant weapons outpost in Orange County could get a major overhaul.

Michael Bullers at his new home in El Monte, Calif. Prior to moving in, Bullers had been homeless since being kicked out the Navy for drug use in 1993.
John Ismay / American Homefront

Service members with Other-Than-Honorable discharges receive no veterans benefits and are much more likely to become homeless. But the military has no consistent standards about who gets a dreaded "OTH."

LaMarcus Miller (right) stars in 'Fallujah' as a young Marine who attempts suicide. Todd Strange portrays a fellow Marine who died in combat.
Keith Ian Polakoff / Long Beach Opera

One of the most intense episodes of the U.S.-Iraq conflict is the subject of a new opera premiering in Long Beach, California.

Pages