“Back Home: The Enduring Battles Facing Post-9/11 Veterans” is the 2013 project of the Carnegie-Knight News21 program, a national multimedia, investigative reporting project produced by the nation’s top journalism students.
Each year, students selected into the program report in-depth on a topic of national importance, traveling throughout the country and then presenting their findings in interactive and innovative ways on the Web. Previous projects have covered voting rights, food safety and transportation safety.
The 2013 project on post-9/11 veterans was produced by 26 students from 12 universities working under the direction of a team of editors led by Jacquee Petchel, executive editor of News21 at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
The work began in January 2013 with a video-conferenced seminar on Post-9/11 veterans taught by Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post and Weil Family Professor of Journalism at the Cronkite School. The students heard from multiple experts, conducted interviews and did extensive research on the country’s response to returning veterans and the challenges ahead.
Starting in May, they participated in an intensive 10-week investigative reporting fellowship based out of a newsroom at the Cronkite School in downtown Phoenix. The fellows traveled to more than 60 cities and 20 states, conducted hundreds of interviews and reviewed tens of thousands of public records and government reports. They also analyzed bonus payments and backlog data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, charitable financial data from the Internal Revenue Service and suicide and mortality data from across the country. Their most ambitious effort was to gather, organize and analyze all reported veterans suicides from health records in every state in the nation. Not even the VA has completed such an exhaustive analysis.
Fellows for the 2013 project came from 12 universities: ASU, Central Michigan University, Florida International University, University of Florida, Kent State University, University of Maryland, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri, University of Nebraska, University of Oklahoma, University of Oregon and University of Texas.
News21 is supported by grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as well as The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Hearst Foundations, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the Peter Kiewit Foundation of Omaha, Neb., and Women & Philanthropy, part of ASU’s Foundation for a New American University.
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Asha Anchan is a Peter Kiewit Foundation News 21 Fellow and a recent graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and concentrations in history, English and economics. She has interned as a news and features reporter at the Norfolk (Neb.) Daily News, the Omaha World-Herald and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. For News21, Anchan reported on women veterans’ issues with an emphasis on military sexual trauma and equine therapy.
Forrest Burnson graduated recently with a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. In 2011, he graduated from Sewanee: The University of the South, with a bachelor’s degree in political science and French studies. While at Sewanee, he was an editor on the staff of the student-run newspaper, the Sewanee Purple. Prior to News21, Burnson was an intern at the International Center for Journalists, the Austin Business Journal and the Texas Tribune. He also has written for Market News International and the Austin American-Statesman. For News21, Burnson focused on veterans’ suicides and substance abuse.
Bonnie Campo is an Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation News21 Fellow and a senior in the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma, where she is majoring in multimedia journalism and political science. She has worked for KTOK-AM, KGOU-FM, OETA-TV, the OU Daily, OU Nightly, Routes TV and the OCCC Pioneer as a multimedia reporter, radio show host, senior writer, columnist, in-depth and special topics correspondent, podcaster and editor. Campo has won two Hearst awards, four Oklahoma Broadcast Awards and two Society of Professional Journalists’ regional Mark of Excellence Awards. For News21, Campo reported on suicide among veterans and alternative medicine, created multimedia and video of Native American veterans and helped produce and report the first News21 documentary.
Anthony Cave is a junior studying journalism at Florida International University in Miami. He has written for The New York Times, USA TODAY College and CruiseCritic.com. Cave also completed internships at the Miami Herald, ABC News and Redbook Magazine. For News21, he investigated the effectiveness of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, examining topics such as annual costs and in-state college tuition. Cave also contributed graphics, photography, audio and video.
Chase Cook is an Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation News21 Fellow and a graduate of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in online journalism. Cook has reported for Oklahoma Watch and The Tulsa World and was a 2013 “Immigration in the Heartland” fellow for the Institute for Justice and Journalism. He also coordinated the Gaylord College centennial project, “Water: A National Crisis.” He was 2011 summer editor-in-chief for the Oklahoma Daily and was managing editor, campus reporter and assistant campus editor during his two years at The Daily.
Caitlin Cruz, a Women & Philanthropy News21 Fellow, is a senior in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, where she is completing concurrent bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism. She is executive editor of The State Press, the ASU independent student newspaper, where she previously served as editor-in-chief and worked in other editing and reporting roles. She also interned at the New Orleans Times-Picayune. For News21, Cruz reported on issues affecting women, particularly military sexual trauma, and the impact of the military and veterans on the community of Leesville, La.
Chad Garland, a Donald W. Reynolds Foundation Business Journalism News21 Fellow, is a graduate student in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He has a bachelor’s degree in Russian Language & Literature and Rhetoric from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was president and co-founder of the campus veterans’ group and a reporter for the student newspaper. From 1997 until 2002, Garland served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Russian linguist. He will report for the Cronkite News Service in Washington, D.C., this fall. For News21, Garland reported on veterans’ service organizations and nonprofits that support veterans.
Peter Haden, an Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation News21 Fellow, is a graduate student in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He has bachelor’s degrees in geography and Latin American studies from the University of Iowa. Prior to News 21, he reported on development issues from India, Eastern Europe and the Americas and worked as an English-language broadcaster in Ukraine. For News21, he investigated the effectiveness of National Guard reintegration and initiatives in addressing veterans’ homelessness.
Jeff Hargarten is a senior at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he is majoring in journalism and minoring in new media. He is a three-year veteran of the Minnesota Daily, the university’s award-winning independent student-run newspaper. He was a staff reporter and the paper’s first Web editor. He has reported in depth for MinnPost on payday loans and about health for the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis. For News21, Hargarten helped compile the national veteran suicide database and helped write the overview story on veterans’ suicides.
Kelsey Hightower is an Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation News21 Fellow and a recent graduate of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in film. She was the senior producer for the student newscast, OU Nightly, where she also reported and anchored. She created and produced the television series “Twenty-Somethings” for OUTV. For News21, she reported on women veterans and the health of veterans, with an emphasis on physical injuries.
Riley Johnson is a Peter Kiewit Foundation News21 Fellow and a senior journalism and political science major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He was managing editor of the Daily Nebraskan student newspaper and interned at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the Omaha World-Herald. For News21, Johnson reported on veteran employment and hiring initiatives as well as the effectiveness of the system designed to protect re-employment rights for National Guard members and reservists.
Trahern Wallace Jones is a fourth-year medical student at Mayo Medical School and a Mayo-Cronkite Fellow, completing his master’s degree at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He has an undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the University of Arizona. For News21, Jones reported health articles that focused on Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.
Andrew Knochel, a Hearst Foundations News21 Fellow, is a graduate student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He has a bachelor’s degree in urban planning from ASU. For News21, Knochel created and analyzed a database of charities that serve veterans across the country. Knochel also interviewed Shaun Donovan, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Gregory Kohn has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. He was the first Baltimore Sun interactive graphics intern, a position he took after producing interactives for the Capital News Service in College Park, Md. For News21, he continued in this role by working with several teams of News21 fellows to develop concepts and build interactive graphics. He also assisted with the design of the project’s website.
Rachel Leingang, an Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation News21 Fellow, is a graduate student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She has a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and international studies from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. She was editor-in-chief of her undergraduate student newspaper and has reported on border issues related to Mexico and Canada. She will be an investigative reporter for Cronkite NewsWatch at ASU in the fall. For News21, Leingang investigated National Guard reintegration and employment law violations for Guard members and reservists. She also reported on how the military and veterans affect Leesville, La.
Kay Miller is a graduate student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She has an undergraduate degree in biology from Augustana (Ill.) College and a medical degree from the University of South Dakota School of Medicine. Having practiced primary care medicine for nearly 30 years, she is board certified in internal medicine, pediatrics and hospice-palliative care. For News21, Miller reported on health issues confronting Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.
Daniel Moore is a Kent State University senior in multimedia journalism with a focus on long-form storytelling and narrative nonfiction. He was a beat reporter and an editor for the Daily Kent Stater student newspaper and a feature writer for the student-produced magazine The Burr. He has written in-depth stories on topics ranging from coal towns and gas fields in southwestern Pennsylvania to an abandoned African-American cemetery in Tennessee. For News21, Moore investigated the performance of the federal government in addressing the backlog of veterans’ disability claims.
Steven Rich has a master’s degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech. He has interned with The Washington Post’s investigative unit, USA Today’s data team and The New York Times’ investigative unit. He was a White House Correspondents Scholar in 2013 and the recipient of several awards from the Missouri Press Association for government reporting and public service. For News21, Rich reported on the relationship between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs and examined how they have served post-9/11 veterans.
Mary Shinn is a Women & Philanthropy News21 Fellow and a recent graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She has interned for The Arizona Republic, the Phoenix Business Journal, the Colorado Springs Gazette and Virgo Publishing in Phoenix. For News21, she reported on the disability claims’ backlog in the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Jake Stein, a Hearst Foundations News21 Fellow, is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He co-founded the National Press Photographers’ Association ASU chapter and is the assistant photo editor of The State Press, the ASU independent student newspaper. Stein has interned at Know99 Television and CNN iReport. In 2012, he reported on an international food science and technology conference in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil. Stein is the director of Scholarslip, a long-form documentary about the student debt crisis that won second place in the Broadcast Education Association’s 2013 Festival of Media Arts. Stein produced the first News21 documentary, investigating the VA medical model for treating combat-related traumas, including multimillion-dollar spending for research into complementary and alternative medicine.
Colton Totland is a recent graduate of the University of Oregon with a major in journalism and political science. He was news editor for the Oregon Daily Emerald, the university’s independent student newspaper, and interned with the Eugene Register-Guard newspaper. In 2011, he worked for six months in Guatemala on a human rights magazine, and in summer 2012, he reported national politics for The Washington Times. For News21, Totland investigated government initiatives to reduce unemployment among post-9/11 veterans.
Catey Traylor is a senior at Central Michigan University, where she is an honors student majoring in online journalism with minors in media design and leadership. She was food and beverage editor for the school e-zine, Grand Central Magazine, and university news editor for the independent student newspaper, Central Michigan Life. She reported as part of the New York University Hyperlocal Newsroom during summer 2011. In the fall, Traylor will be editor-in-chief of Central Michigan Life. For News21, Traylor reported on homeless veterans and contributed to an article on education.
Meg Wagner is a recent graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a certificate in political campaigning. She worked for NBC News as an editor for BreakingNews.com and as a multimedia producer for ABCNews.com. Her work has appeared in the Tampa Tribune, the Gainesville (Fla.) Sun and the Independent Florida Alligator, the student-run newspaper at the University of Florida. For News21, Wagner coordinated social media and reported on the post-9/11 GI Bill and student veterans.
Mauro Whiteman, an Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation News21 Fellow, is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, where he is completing a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in mass communication concurrently. He also is pursuing certificates in International Studies and Religion and Conflict. He has reported for Reuters News Service in San Francisco and is executive editor of the Downtown Devil, a student-run news website in Phoenix. For News21, Whiteman reported on post-9/11 veteran demographics and worked on website design and user interface.
Jessica Wilde has a master’s degree in multi-platform journalism with emphasis on video storytelling from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. She won a regional Emmy Award for her photography in the pilot video series, ViewFinder, while a student. From a Navy family, Wilde graduated in 2008 from George Washington University with a degree in English and Creative Writing. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post and The American Scholar as well as on Voice of America. For News21, she investigated the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ service to veterans in disability claims and medical care.
Hannah Winston is a senior at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications with a focus in print and online journalism. She has worked as a multimedia journalist for student and local newspapers as well as for a National Public Radio affiliate and ABC News in Washington, D.C. For News21, Winston investigated the relationship between the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the congressional oversight committees in regard to the VA claims backlog. She also investigated aspects of the post-9/11 G.I. Bill in relation to for-profit schools.
Jacqueline Petchel, a longtime investigative reporter, editor and producer in newspapers and broadcast, is a professor of practice at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and executive editor of News21. She previously served as senior editor for investigations and enterprise at The Houston Chronicle. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and editor at The Miami Herald, the Arizona Republic and the Indianapolis Star/News and produced investigative journalism for CBS television stations in Minneapolis and Miami. She is a graduate of Arizona State University and a member of Cronkite School Hall of Fame.
Leonard Downie is the Cronkite School’s Weil Family Professor of Journalism and vice president-at-large for The Washington Post, where he served as executive editor from 1991 to 2008. He is a founder and board member of Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc. and chairman of the board of advisers of Kaiser Health News. During his 44 years at the Post, Downie was an investigative reporter, editor on the local and national news staffs, London correspondent and managing editor and helped supervise the newspaper’s Watergate coverage. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Ohio State University. At the Cronkite School, Downie teaches the News21 seminar and an accountability journalism class.
Gerald Jordan is associate professor in the Walter J. Lemke Department of Journalism at the University of Arkansas. Before joining the university in 1995, he worked at The Philadelphia Inquirer, first as a reporter and later as an assigning editor and editor of a suburban edition. He also served as a Washington correspondent for the newspaper. Jordan also worked at The Kansas City Star and The Boston Globe, covering features and sports, writing editorials and serving as television and radio critic. This was his second News21 project.
Nic Lindh is the Cronkite School Web master and instructional technology analyst. He built the school’s website and the site for Cronkite News, the school’s daily news website, and helps faculty and students use technology. He also has taught graphic design at the school. Prior to coming to ASU, he worked as a writer, programmer and system administrator.
Brandon Quester is the co-founder and executive editor of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit accountability journalism organization based in Phoenix. He is a multimedia and investigative journalist whose work has focused on children living along the U.S.-Mexico Border, U.S. soldiers serving in Kuwait and Iraq, and the impact of immigration in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Quester also is the owner of a photo slide show software company and teaches photojournalism at the Cronkite School.
Andrew Long is a self-employed journalist, geographer and educator who specializes in spatial analysis, cartography and data visualization. His work has appeared in a variety of news organizations including ProPublica and MSNBC.com. He was previously a news artist for The Arizona Republic and the East Valley Tribune. Long teaches online media as an associate faculty member at the Cronkite School. He is a graduate of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at ASU.
Steve Doig holds the Knight Chair in Journalism at the Cronkite School, specializing in computer-assisted reporting. He had a 23-year career as a newspaper journalist, including 19 years at the Miami Herald. His investigative projects have won major journalism prizes, including the 1993 Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service. Doig is a political science graduate of Dartmouth College. He also graduated from, and later taught at, the Defense Information School and spent a year as a combat correspondent for the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
Retha Hill joined the Cronkite faculty in 2007 after nearly eight years at BET, where she was vice president for content for BET Interactive, the online unit of Black Entertainment Television and the most visited site specializing in African-American content on the Internet. Before joining BET, Hill was executive producer for special projects at washingtonpost.com. At the New Media Innovation Lab, Hill works with students from multiple disciplines, including journalism, to research and develop new media products for media companies. She also works with Cronkite entrepreneurs who want to create digital media businesses. She is a graduate of Wayne State University and has a master’s degree from Arizona State University.
Micah Jamison is the lead developer for the New Media Innovation Lab at the Cronkite School, working with students to develop digital products and enterprises. He has 12 years of experience working in the technology field, starting with eCommerce at Bank of America. He also wrote simulations to forecast wholesale energy market prices for a small analytics company. He is especially interested in new and emerging technologies.
Steve Crane directs the Cronkite School’s Washington operations, running the year-round bureau of Cronkite News Service and developing programs for D.C.-area professionals. A former Washington Times political reporter and editor, he previously ran the Capital News Service at the University of Maryland, where he was assistant dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
Kristin Gilger is associate dean in charge of professional programs for the Cronkite School and is the chief administrator of News21, which is headquartered at the school. She was previously director of Student Media at ASU, deputy managing editor for news at The Arizona Republic, managing editor of The Statesman Journal in Salem, Ore., and served in various editing positions at the Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans. Gilger holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from the University of Nebraska. This is her fourth national News21 project.