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WUCF Joins Public Media Cross-Platform Project, Veterans Coming Home

Last Updated by Jennifer Cook on

Kindling Group and Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) launched the second phase of the public media project, Veterans Coming Home. Co-produced with 13 local public media stations nationwide, including WUCF TV, Veterans Coming Home aims to help veterans and communities understand the opportunities and challenges faced during the transition to civilian life and bridge the military-civilian divide. Featuring a digital-first series available for streaming within PBS Stories of Service and other partner sites, the project will explore military and civilian relationships, and values of service and citizenship as powerful connectors for all Americans. Veterans Coming Home is made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), with additional funding from Got Your Six.

“This innovative collaboration with diverse filmmakers, local stations, independent producers and national partners reflects public media’s unique role – a public-private partnership serving all Americans with content for free and commercial free,” said Pat Harrison, President and CEO, Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “We are connecting with a new young generation of veterans who have given so much to this country.  Veterans Coming Home, offering dynamic digital first content, will reach new audiences and offer an unprecedented opportunity for participation in an important national dialogue.”

Throughout this spring, a team of photographers, writers, and filmmakers—both veteran and civilian—will crisscross the country creating media across all formats in collaboration with local public media stations, to spark a dialogue about veterans’ lives, their home communities, and address the stereotypes that veterans and civilians hold about each other.  

On the ground, local stations will invite veterans and civilians to come together through town halls, screenings, community-wide events, and field production. Nationally, the project will engage the public by inviting perspectives and sharing stories through social media about the experiences of post-9/11 veterans, their families and their communities. Starting today, audiences can follow the story and the team’s journey while participating in the conversation using the hashtag #VetsComingHome and by following Veterans Coming Home on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@vetscominghome), or visiting VeteransComingHome.org.  

The conversations and stories will culminate in a digital-first series that will premiere beginning Memorial Day Weekend with new episodes premiering twice a week through the Fourth of July on PBS.org as part of Stories of Service. Episodes from Veterans Coming Home will also be featured on partner sites, public media’s worldchannel.org, and broadcast on World Channel in fall 2016, with the potential to reach more than 80 million Americans across all of these online networks.

Veterans Coming Home is a compelling expression of public broadcasting’s mission to serve local communities,” said Malcolm Brett, who oversees Wisconsin Public Television in his role as Director of Broadcast and Media Innovations, University of Wisconsin – Extension. “We owe it to our veterans and their families to understand their experiences and embrace what they bring to our communities.”

Veteran populations are becoming more geographically concentrated and culturally isolated.  Many feel that they are not understood, nor are their experiences appreciated. Stereotypes of veterans dominate the media and focus on post-traumatic stress, homelessness, and suicide or extraordinary sacrifice and heroism. According to PEW Research Center, many civilians don’t personally know any veterans or understand how to engage with the experiences they’ve had.

“There is enormous potential with public media to leverage the trust of local stations and power of storytelling across all platforms and media and open up this critical conversation for our country,” said Danny Alpert, Executive Director of Chicago-based Kindling Group. “We are excited about this robust partnership with CPB, WPT, PBS, national organizations, and other local stations. We’ve assembled a remarkable traveling team who are eager to participate in this conversation that is missing from the national dialogue.”

The team of veterans and civilian media-makers who will travel the country together to produce stories and spark conversations with local stations include:

  • Garrett Combs, a U.S. Army veteran who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as light infantry, now a photographer and filmmaker from Ventura, California.
  • Ramon Garcia, a U.S. Army veteran who served in counter-intelligence in Iraq and Afghanistan, now a writer and editor, and volunteer with a Veterans wellness center from Miami.
  • Kathleen Flynn, an award-winning photographer and video journalist from New Orleans.
  • Michael Premo, an award-winning transmedia storyteller from New York.
  • Viviana Rivera, a Marine who served in Iraq, now a photographer and filmmaker from Los Angeles, who will field produce for the road team.

“We know firsthand that storytelling can be a healing experience for our audiences, including members of the military community who have been impacted by the content seen on air and through the PBS Stories of Service platform,” said Ira Rubenstein, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Digital and Marketing for PBS.   “We are honored to be a partner that can bring this important digital-first series to local communities as a means to help bridge the military-civilian divide that still exists nationwide.”

In addition to WPT, participating stations include Arizona PBS; CET in Cincinnati, Ohio; KCPT in Kansas City, Kansas; KPBS in San Diego and KQED in San Francisco, California; Louisiana Public Broadcasting; Mountain Lake PBS in Plattsburgh, New York; Nashville Public Television; Twin Cities Public Television in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota; WHRO in Norfolk, Virginia; WHYY in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; WNET in New York City; and WUCF in Orlando, Florida.

Activating its extensive network of partners, Got Your 6 is the lead veteran’s organizational partner through Veteran Artist Program. Additional national distribution partners include VOX, The Mission Continues, Service Year Alliance, Team Rubicon, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, The YMCA, Veteran Artists Program, National Peace Corps Association, Service Women's Action Network, Intersections International, Volunteers of America, Corporation for National and Community Service, Points of Light, Team Red, White & Blue, Veterans in Film and TV, Make the Connectionand Veterans Crisis Lineat U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University; USC Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families.

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