Military and Veterans Initiatives

Dialogue toward Bridging the Military-Civilian Divide

CPB supports compelling, multiplatform content and community engagement projects on military and veterans issues. Veterans-focused programs supported by CPB harness the power of public media to illuminate authentic perspectives of diverse men and women from all generations. Through individual stories of active duty, reserves and National Guard, or transitioning back to civilian life, public media delivers local content of universal importance to a national audience.

Local public media stations are trusted community conveners, bringing individuals and families together to discuss and address shared concerns such as the military-civilian divide, civic duty and civil service. Through the framework of a national public media effort, stations organize local initiatives, town hall meetings, and multimedia digital campaigns. Stations do this work with established, community-based partners and local service organizations to engage and inform citizens from all walks of life, while highlighting opportunities and resources for veterans transitioning back to civilian life.

Veterans Coming Home

Veterans Coming Home is a multimedia effort supported by CPB and aimed at bridging the gap of understanding between America's military and civilians. The initiative has been led by Wisconsin Public Television under the guidance of a national advisory committee. Launched in 2013 with the CPB-funded PBS film, Coming Back with Wes Moore, participating stations produced over 150 broadcast, radio, and online stories. On the ground, stations worked with more than 130 organizations to reach thousands of veterans and their families through job fairs, summits, sponsored events, screenings and other outreach.

Coming Back
Photo courtesy of Powderhouse Productions, 2013. “Coming Back With Wes Moore.” Star Lopez reunited with her husband, Chris Phelan and daughter, River.

Kindling Group as executive producer worked with stations to strengthen the local-national content collaboration and engagement. This culminated in a digital docuseries by stations in communities across the country. A diverse team of media-makers and journalists - two post-9/11 veterans and two civilians - travelled to different stations to co-produce these local stories. The project explored the many ways communities support veterans and empowered veterans to tell their own stories on-air and online.  

All the content is shared through PBS’ Stories of Service and a host of national partners, extending the visibility and reach of this crucial dialogue about America’s veterans to new and diverse public media audiences. Stations across the country continue to work through partnerships to sustain work through Veterans Coming Home in their communities.

participating Veterans
Courtesy of Kindling Group and participating public media stations

Recent CPB-Funded Veterans Programs and Projects

Lidia Celebrates America: Holiday for Heroes – internationally-acclaimed chef and food ambassador Lidia Bastianich pays homage to the men and women of our military and the truly life-saving sacrifices they make daily for our freedom, as she meets veterans who share their inspiring stories, delving into the unique cultures and food traditions that remained with them during the most challenging moments overseas. The program culminates in a celebratory dinner at Naval Station Norfolk, where Lidia cooks for 250 active duty Navy troops aboard the USS George Washington. Learn more.

Military Medicine: Beyond the Battlefield - hosted and reported by ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff, this film covers military medical advances and technology - from the battlefield to the return home. The personal stories of physicians, scientists, active duty troops, veterans, and military families come together in this one hour documentary to show how these advances are both saving and changing the lives of America's service members.

Local USA: Veterans Coming Home – a three-part series on WORLD Channel features the personal stories of Americans who have served in the U.S. military and cover contemporary issues such as recruitment, post-traumatic stress disorder and LGBT rights in the military. The segments are produced in partnership with public media stations in New York, Orlando, San Diego, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, Kansas City, Norfolk, Madison, and Nashville.

The Vietnam War –this film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick is a 10-part documentary that sheds new light on the military, political, cultural, social, and human dimensions of a tragedy that took the lives of 58,000 Americans and as many as three million Vietnamese, polarizing American society in the process as nothing has since the Civil War. Premiere: September 2017

The Great War: Television Mini Series - a six-hour mini-series, The Great War by American Experience broadcasts on public media to coincide with the 100th anniversary of America’s entrance into the World War I. The project highlights important themes including the emergence of American power in world affairs; women’s changing roles and expectations during wartime; and the heroism of African American soldiers on the battlefield despite deep-seated discrimination at home and abroad. Premiere: April 2017

Homefront: Fort Druma CPB-funded multimedia project produced by AIR and 15 local stations committed to discovering stories from rural, urban, high-poverty communities. Based at North Country Public Radio in upstate New York, Homefront: Fort Drum has built a body of work and a network of connections across the region it serves. Finding America producer Meredith Turk has made connections and shared work with other producers at stations around the country who are also examining the culture of our military communities and the lives of military members and their families.

TED Talks Live: War and Peace – hosted by author and comedian Baratunde Thurston, this performance features the war-time experiences of soldiers, journalists, psychologists, doctors and others and aired on PBS. Among the speakers are veteran-turned-actor Adam Driver and award-winning journalist and filmmaker Sebastian Junger. The program also features music from Rufus Wainwright and short films from award-winning independent documentarians. 

On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnamthis film tells the story of shifting priorities in America’s barrios. From the mines of Arizona to the streets of East LA, Latino youths faced the push and pull of military service during the Vietnam War. Military draft policies and economic inequality combined with the allure of war and a proud tradition of military service to place a heavy burden on Latino youth. But as the conflict wore on and Latinos learned they were dying in disproportionate numbers, the allure faded and many Latinos decided their real battle — for equality — was at home.

American Homefront – is a journalism collaboration between WUNC, Chapel Hill, NC; KUOW, Seattle, WA; and KPCC, Pasadena, CA, through which the stations provide stories focused on veterans issues for national radio distribution.  A story by American Homefront’s Jay Price was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, in which Jay visited a government laboratory in Hawaii where forensic scientists attempt to identify service members’ remains. Learn more.

StoryCorps’ Military Voices – In partnership with POV, stories from the Peabody Award-winning oral history nonprofit StoryCorps help to bridge the gap in understanding between veterans and civilians.  Military Voices provides post-9/11 veterans, service members, and their families the opportunity to record and share their stories with the public – through broadcasts on NPR and animated short films on PBS.

National Memorial Day Concert – The CPB-supported National Memorial Day Concert honors the service of our military men and women. PBS broadcasts the concert live for radio, television and online from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

Veterans Coming Home participating stations: