CPB, PBS, local stations launch multiyear national veterans project

By Dru Sefton

A nationwide collaborative public media project announced today will focus on the experiences of military veterans during and after war.

Bobby Henline, a veteran who was injured by an explosive device on duty in Iraq, prepares to perform his comedy act in the documentary Coming Back with Wes Moore. It's airing as part of a national pubmedia veterans project. (Photo: Powderhouse Productions)

Bobby Henline, a veteran who was injured by an explosive device on duty in Iraq, prepares to perform his comedy act in the documentary Coming Back with Wes Moore, airing as part of a national pubmedia veterans project. (Photo: Powderhouse Productions)

PBS will roll out multiplatform content under the banner Stories of Service, including documentary programming through fall 2016. CPB will fund a related community engagement campaign, Veterans Coming Home. The corporation is also backing public radio content, including the StoryCorps Military Voices Initiative, a special episode of The Moth, and the pubradio project The Great War, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I.

“Americans will connect to these powerful stories of courage, commitment and sacrifice,” said CPB President Pat Harrison in the announcement. “They will see the veterans as people who have so much to contribute as they return to civilian life. And once they hear and see these stories, they will be compelled to respond through their local public media stations to work with local business and veterans organizations, faith based and community groups.”

CPB is providing station grants in 13 high-need communities for pubcasters to work with community partners to help facilitate veterans’ transitions to civilian life. Local station efforts will be led by Wisconsin Public Television, which produced the largest-ever “welcome home” for Vietnam Veterans in 2010 at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field. WPT Director Malcolm Brett said Charles Meyer, former head of the National Center for Media Engagement, is leading the work.

Receiving grants are Detroit Public Television; KAET, Phoenix; KLRN, San Antonio; WNPT, Nashville; Twin Cities Public Television, Minneapolis/St. Paul; Vegas PBS; WFYI, Indianapolis; WGBY, Springfield, Mass.; WHRO, Norfolk, Va.; WUSF, Tampa; WVAS-FM, Montgomery, Ala.; and WYSO-FM, Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Stations also will produce local projects with PBS Digital Studios. KLRN in San Antonio, whose hometown hosts one of the largest populations of active and retired service members, is launching a 10-part online series with PBSD, Coming Home San Antonio, looking at challenges facing veterans and their families. It premieres May 9.

The national on-air initiative begins May 13 with the three-part Coming Back with Wes Moore, a film tracing the best-selling author’s quest for answers after a longtime friend and fellow officer commits suicide.

Such stories “provide a deeper understanding of our nation’s military history,” said PBS President Paula Kerger in the announcement. PBS stations “hope to spark conversations in communities and give the public an opportunity to share their personal or family story of service through local events and programs.”

Other programming includes the National Memorial Day Concert May 25; the American Experience episode Death and the Civil War, May 26; Women & War, part of the “Makers: Women Who Make America” project, in September; Last Days in Vietnam in 2015; and Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War in fall 2016.

Questions, comments, tips? sefton@current.org

  • menacingphantom

    More coverage of Veterans is probably a good thing…as long as you get the facts right. Most media coverage of Veterans consist of hugely over-simplified stories.

  • Barrett Golding

    URL for the Great War Project: http://greatwarproject.org/

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