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

US Navy Photo by Johans Chavarro via Wikimedia Commons

Decades after Japanese bombs rained down on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government is still working to bury those killed in the attacks — and provide closure for those who survived. 

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has announced that he will end all remaining barriers to women serving in any role within the armed forces.
Department of Defence photo by Glenn Fawcett via Wikimedia Commons

For more than thirty years, men have been required to register for the Selective Service. Now, there's growing sentiment that women should be included, too.

Capt. Florent Groberg with Southern California high school students.
John Ismay/KPCC

Florent Groberg is in one of the smallest clubs in the military: he's a recipient of the Medal of Honor, a distinction earned by only ten living veterans of the war in Afghanistan.

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich says providing more county-funded work opportunities to veterans makes economic sense.
Andres Aguila/KPCC

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors is considering asking all vendors bidding on major county construction contracts to hire more military veterans.

Men pose outside American Legion Post 177 in Venice, California in this undated photo. The post remains in operation today.
University of Southern California, on behalf of the USC Libraries Special Collections

Groups like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars have served former service members for a century. But declining membership threatens to lessen their influence.


Navy veteran Dick Oliver lives in Westchester, California.
John Ismay/American Homefront Project

To commemorate Veterans Day, the American Homefront Project talks with former service members about their time in the armed forces.

The Selective Service System promotes registration through these transit billboards, as well as TV and radio public service announcements.
Selective Service System

As more military jobs are opened to women, Congress may face the question of whether to require women to register for the Selective Service.


A rendering of the West LA veterans campus as proposed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs would build hundreds of units of temporary and permanent housing for homeless on its West L.A. campus under a draft master plan.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs discussed ways to kickstart redevelopment of the West Los Angeles veterans campus in Brentwood.

Jonathan Greenwald/Flickr

Hundreds of thousands of service members leave the military each year — some with a black mark on their records that'll prevent them from getting the benefits veterans usually receive.


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