LA Veterans Project

 

While America is fighting two wars, the 1.8 million veterans of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are perhaps the under-covered story of our time. That is especially so in sprawling and diverse Los Angeles, with nearly 400,000 veterans, tens of thousands of whom fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The statistical portrait of these veterans nationally and regionally is horrifying, given high rates of suicide, homelessness, unemployment or under-employment. For all those who “support the troops,” the reality is that the men and women who went to war have too often returned with severe medical and psychological problems and to economic distress.

Sadly, this story is barely covered as mainstream media has dramatically reduced staffing and coverage/

In its commitment to ethnic and communities of color and to developing new coverage models, New America Media, supported by the McCormick Foundation, is using Los Angeles to tell the emotional and often wrenching stories of what happened when veterans came home and found no jobs, red tape and their own demons and inner turmoil.

As a pioneer in forging ethnic-mainstream media partnerships, NAM brought together reporters for three ethnic media -- Singtao Daily, La Opinion and Our Weekly -- and the Los Angeles Daily News. Their stories so far tell of struggle, courage and sacrifice.

  • A Latino serves honorably in the Navy in the Persian Gulf but can't find a job in Southern California.
  • An African-American soldier in the Iraqi desert learns that her son has been killed in a gang shooting in South Los Angeles.
  • A Chinese-American sergeant loses his legs to a roadside bomb in Iraq and comes home to try to succeed at Cal State Fullerton.
  • A Latino solder has to fight for his veteran benefits after the Army fails to provide a copy of his discharge papers.

In 2008, Los Angeles County ranked third in the nation in new U.S. Army recruits. The new soldiers are as diverse as Southern California -- 14 percent black, 15 percent Asian Pacific Islander and 34 percent Hispanic.

Maricopa County, Ariz., which includes Phoenix, was first in new recruits, and the NAM Veterans Project will expand in scope and journalistic model later this year when an Arizona State University in-depth reporting class, led by Prof. Rick Rodriguez, begins a semester-long project on Native-American veterans.

All of these stories are of flesh and blood people.

News > LA Veterans Project

The Saga of Sgt. Anita Shaw

New America Media/Our Weekly , News feature, Shirley Hawkins, Jun 12, 2009

A year has passed since the death of 17-year-old Jamiel Shaw Jr., the promising high school athlete who was gunned down by a gang member in South Los Angeles. For Sgt. Anita Shaw, the irony of serving her country in war torn Iraq while her son was killed on the streets of Los Angeles is still a painful memory.

Disabled Vet Standing on His Own New Feet

New America Media/Sing Tao Daily, News feature, Charles Ding, Video Cliff Parker, Jun 09, 2009

Chang Wong is currently a student at the California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) majoring in business. He is a disabled veteran who served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army. While fighting on the Iraqi battlefield in 2005, a tank mine exploded; as a result, both his feet were amputated.

The Saga of Sgt. Anita Shaw

New America Media/Our Weekly , News feature, Shirley Hawkins, Jun 05, 2009

A year has passed since the death of 17-year-old Jamiel Shaw Jr., the promising high school athlete who was gunned down by a gang member in South Los Angeles. For Sgt. Anita Shaw, the irony of serving her country in war torn Iraq while her son was killed on the streets of Los Angeles is still a painful memory.

Disabled Vet Chang Wong Standing on His Own, New Feet

New America Media/Sing Tao Daily, News feature, Charles Ding , Jun 05, 2009

Chang Wong is currently a student at the California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) majoring in business. He is a disabled veteran who served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army. While fighting on the Iraqi battlefield in 2005, a tank mine exploded; as a result, both his feet were amputated.

Female Vet Survives Sexual Assault, Looks to Future

New America Media/Sing Tao Daily, News feature, Charles Ding, Jun 05, 2009

Fonda Fan joined the Army to pay for college, like many recruits, and was deployed to Iraq. She was attacked -- not by hostile forces, but a U.S. contractor. She survived the sexual assault and later training injuries and is now focused on a future in education.

Iraq War Veterans Struggle to Find Jobs

New America Media/Our Weekly , News Report, Shirley Hawkins, Jun 05, 2009

They’ve weathered war, devastation and death, but African-American Iraq war veterans face a new battle when returning home: finding employment.

At War with Unemployment

New America Media/La Opinion, News Report, Isaías Alvarado, Translated by Elena Shore, Jun 05, 2009

The majority of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are young men who finished high school, enrolled in the armed forces and came back with no work experience, with military skills that don’t easily translate to civilian life, or who have physical and psychological illnesses.

One Veteran's Trauma Leads to Activism

New America Media/Los Angeles Daily News, Tony Castro, Jun 05, 2009

Two tours in Iraq, watching real rocket fire at night, had done their damage to Rick Reyes. Statistically, he was not among the military casualties. He had not been wounded in action, and he had returned home to his wife Yvette and their young family in one piece physically. But he was not well.

Former Marine's New Mission: Helping Iraq War Vets

New America Media/Los Angeles Daily News, News feature, Tony Castro, Jun 05, 2009

Marine veteran Christopher Duarte found his mission: helping returning Iraq war veterans navigate through the seemingly endless red tape of a vast government bureaucracy to get the benefits they were promised for serving their country.

News > LA Veterans Project






Advertisement