Marine Corps veteran Judi Robinson 'loves' VA care, but had an unpleasant experience waiting for a referral to the Choice program last year.
Libby Denkmann / American Homefront

The VA Is Again Expanding Its Private Healthcare Options, But Many Veterans Remain Skeptical

The VA Mission Act hopes to improve upon the Choice program, which ran over budget and didn't do much to reduce wait times for many veterans.

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Therapist Keith Smith demonstrates virtual reality equipment at the University of Central Florida. Smith uses virtual reality to help treat veterans' post traumatic stress disorder.
Stephanie Colombini / American Homefront

The University of Central Florida is using virtual reality to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. It's worked well enough that the Pentagon will fund similar programs elsewhere.

Wildlife biologist Kory McLellan shoots off pyrotechnics to scare birds away from the airfield at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.
Mariette Adams / U.S. Air Force

Fireworks, drones, and habitat relocation projects are among the ways that Air Force biologists are fighting the expensive and potentially deadly problem of bird strikes.

Gen. William J. Gothard (right) receives a spent shell casing as part of his 2014 retirement ceremony at Fort Jackson, S.C.  Gothard says his 36 years of service left him with hearing loss and tinnitus.
Shantelle Campbell / U.S. Army

The settlement with earplug manufacturer 3M has focused attention on service-related hearing loss, one of the most common health problems among veterans.

New Air Force recruits try on shoes from San Antonio Shoemakers, Propper Footwear, and New Balance. Since January, the Defense Department has been issuing the shoes free of charge.
Ruth A. Medina-Villanueva / U.S. Air Force

Under a law now taking effect, the military branches are issuing American-made running shoes, instead of giving recruits an allowance to buy whatever sneakers they want.

Dave McLenachen, the director of the VA's Appeals Management Office, testifies at a December Congressional hearing on wait times for veterans' benefit appeals.
C-SPAN

The VA fully implemented the new law in February, hoping to clear up a backlog of appeals claims that numbers in the hundreds of thousands.

Duke University graduate engineering student Matt Hawkins volunteers for a demonstration of a nasal ventilation tube during a class called "Hacking for Defense."
Jay Price / American Homefront

To keep up with potential adversaries such as China, the Pentagon is teaming with civilian technological innovators and trying to adopt some of the practices of the private sector.

Mike Bernicchi (left), who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, records his oral history with interviewer Martin Medart at the Military Heritage Museum in Punta Gorda, Fla.
Cathy Carter / American Homefront

Encouraged by a Library of Congress initiative, volunteers and non-profit groups around the country are recording and preserving veterans' voices.

High school educators take part in a virtual firing range exercise as they tour Fort Carson, Col. Army leaders hope these tours will result in educators steering more students toward military service.
Dan Boyce / American Homefront

To increase interest in military service among teenagers, the Army is reaching out to some of the people who know them best: high school teachers and guidance counselors.

Charlotte Blackwell with a photo of her son, Air Force veteran Jermaine Petit. Petit was helped by a new program in Long Beach, Cal. that pairs law enforcement officers with VA counselors to help veterans in crisis.
Libby Denkmann / American Homefront

In a first of its kind program, the VA in Long Beach, Cal. is partnering with law enforcement to proactively reach military veterans with mental health issues.

In 1976, 13 Marines were jailed after they burst into a room at Camp Pendleton and attacked the men inside. The attackers thought they were confronting Ku Klux Klan members. But they had mistakenly entered the wrong room.

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