Veterans Coming Home Digital-First Series Premieres
Public Media Cross-Platform Project Veterans Coming Home Helps Bridge the Military-Civilian Divide and Strengthen Communities
Jun 02, 2016
MADISON, WIS./CHICAGO (June 2, 2016) – Kindling Group and Wisconsin Public Television, in partnership with PBS Stories of Service, premiered Veterans Coming Home, a 10-part digital-first series that aims to help veterans and communities understand the opportunities and challenges faced during the transition to civilian life and bridge the military-civilian divide, on June 1. Veterans Coming Home is made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), with additional funding from Got Your Six.
The series explores themes common to veterans reintegrating to civilian life, including how veterans continue to seek the close bonds of a military unit after transitioning, as well as the value of sharing and expressing their stories through art and comedy, and the notion of public and community service in civilian life. The first two episodes visit a recruiter in Kansas City who has found her new tribe in a women’s roller derby team, and an activist and artist in New Orleans who was inspired by his veteran father.
New episodes, each four to six minutes long, will premiere twice a week through the Fourth of July and will be available to watch on PBS.org and across all platforms and devices that support PBS video streaming apps, including Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire, and Chromecast, as well as Android, iOS, and Windows 10 mobile devices. In addition, the series will be available to all public media stations and featured across all partner networks and platforms, reaching more than 80 million Americans. The episodes will also be available as local broadcast interstitials and will air on the World channel this fall.
“CPB-funded Veterans Coming Home is digital first with the potential to connect and engage with this new generation of veterans and their civilian peers,” said CPB President and CEO Pat Harrison. “We are hopeful that this series will promote a greater understanding of both military service and reentry into civilian life.”
The Veterans Coming Home project kicked off in March, when a team of photographers, writers and filmmakers—both veteran and civilian—began traveling the country creating media across all formats in collaboration with local public media stations, sparking a dialogue about veterans’ lives and their communities and addressing the stereotypes that veterans and civilians hold about each other. Learn more about the team here.
Over the last few weeks, the team has shared highlights of their journey on social media ranging from visiting the Veterans Treatment Court in Phoenix, Ariz., that ensures that veterans who are convicted of crimes because of PTSD receive the proper treatment, to gathering surprising insights about war from middle school students in Sussex, Wis.
In local communities, Veterans Coming Home partnering stations are capturing compelling content for local broadcast and online delivery, as well as for the project’s 10-part digital series that explores the military civilian divide. Stations are also bringing veterans and civilians together through town halls, screenings and community-wide events to engage in meaningful conversation. Stations have already held numerous events and produced local content for social media, such as segments Twin Cities PBS released on Facebook profiling a civilian and a veteran who are both involved with national and local partner Team Red, White and Blue (Team RWB). Dru is a veteran who had trouble reconnecting with the community and now finds friendship and support as a member of Minnesota’s Team RWB chapter. Emily a non-veteran, participates in Team RWB to help surround herself with a caring community and narrow the gap between veterans and civilians.
Additional recent and upcoming station programming and events include:
- On May 25 at 7 p.m. local time, Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB) aired a special edition of Louisiana Public Square. The episode included a panel discussion about the challenges and opportunities for veterans in Louisiana.
- On May 25, Wisconsin Public Television, in partnership with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Veterans Museum and Memorial Union, hosted an event to preview Veterans Coming Home content and to preview Wisconsin Remembers, a traveling exhibit displaying photos of all 1,161 Wisconsinites listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
- Over Memorial Day weekend, Kansas City’s KCPT co-produced and broadcast a live outdoor Memorial Day Concert honoring veterans and those currently serving. The event, which draws about 50,000 attendees and is watched by thousands more at home, will incorporate media pieces about veterans and veteran story collection.
- Also Memorial Day weekend, Nashville Public Television released an online segment exploring how the military-civilian divide plays out among students at Middle Tennessee State University.
- On June 1, WUCF in Orlando released local content featuring Central Florida’s Michael Roggio, a former U.S. Navy rescue swimmer, as he prepared to participate in the Invictus Games.
- On June 6, Mountain Lake PBS will host a community forum in the station studio, featuring live audience and a diverse guest panel of experts, veterans and civilians. The forum will be live streamed and recorded for broadcast on June 10.
- On June 7, LGBT veterans in San Francisco will tell their stories through drag, music, dancing and storytelling at “Ask/Tell” at SF Oasis. Partners include KQED, SF Oasis, Swords to Plowshares and San Francisco Veterans Equity Center. And, on July 4, Veterans’ Family Day, will invite military families with young children to enjoy a day of fun at Children’s Fairy Land to celebrate children and the power of storytelling.
- On June 17, Arizona PBS will host Arizona Roadmap to Veteran Employment, a live town hall event in their studio that will convene local experts with key stakeholders and veterans in Phoenix to discuss the needs and issues facing veterans and service members.
- On June 29, Twin Cities PBS will host a casual celebration for veterans and civilians to come together for a brief video screening and panel discussion with Team RWB, followed by a one-mile walk to forge bonds while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
- On August 16, in collaboration with local partners, CET will host a studio-based town hall with diverse speakers and audience participation inspired by project media pieces.
“Veterans Coming Home takes advantage of public media’s traditional strengths to convene community partners, engage veterans, chronicle their stories and reach significant audiences. These strengths are enhanced by the opportunity for stations to create a prominent online presence around veterans’ issues through local stories that reflect how national themes play out in our communities,” said Malcolm Brett, who oversees Wisconsin Public Television in his role as director of Broadcast and Media Innovations, University of Wisconsin – Extension.
“Veterans Coming Home is exciting for us because it really stretches the boundaries of documentary storytelling and PBS programming,” said Danny Alpert, executive director of Chicago-based Kindling Group and Executive Producer of the digital series. “Already we are seeing the incredible power of being able to engage with audiences directly online and let their feedback inform our work so that our content gets stronger each week.”
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 Connection and Veterans Crisis Line at 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, Student Veterans of America, Justice for Vets and GI Film Festival.
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.
Veterans Coming Home is a part of a pipeline of programming offered by PBS with funding from CPB to celebrate our country’s military and veterans exploring the complex, authentic experiences of those who serve and have served. PBS programming for Memorial Day weekend included the NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT (May 29), TED TALKS: WAR & PEACE (May 30), and POV OF MEN AND WAR (May 30).
“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.”
About Wisconsin Public Television
Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) enriches, educates and entertains diverse audiences through the innovative use of television, other communication technologies and community engagement. Over the last twelve years, WPT developed deep experience working with the veterans’ community through robust engagement with key audiences and constituents. Those efforts yielded exceptional programming, including the Wisconsin War Stories series of documentaries and LZ Lambeau, which drew 70,000 veterans and their families to a three-day event in 2010 that recognized Wisconsin’s Vietnam Veterans. WPT is a service of the Educational Communications Board and University of Wisconsin-Extension.
About Kindling Group
Kindling Group (KG) crafts powerful documentaries and engagement campaigns that ignite change. KG's filmmakers, digital strategists and activists are dedicated to creating films and media for all screens, from large to small, that promote inquiry and connect viewers to critical social issues. Veterans Coming Home is executive produced by Danny Alpert, an award-winning producer and director, whose films have aired on HBO, PBS, and around the world and have been nominated for Emmy and Academy Awards. Story Producer is Whitney Dow, whose films have premiered at Sundance, Tribeca and IDFA and been recognized with the George Foster Peabody Award; Alfred I. duPont Award and many film festival honors.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government's investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,400 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services. For more information, visit www.cpb.org and follow us on Twitter @CPBmedia, Facebook and LinkedIn.
About PBS Stories of Service
PBS Stories of Service is a multi-platform initiative that explores veterans’ experiences and provides a deeper understanding of our country’s military history. Stories of Service was announced in May 2014 as part of an initiative with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to share veterans’ stories, provide a deeper understanding of our nation’s military history, and increase dialogue as our nation’s veterans transition to civilian life.
Kayla Keller/Charlie Guadano