Combat correspondent uses her experiences in school

By Anthony Cave, News21


Post-9/11 veteran Jennifer Brofer films a news story at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Georgia in 2007. (Courtesy of Jennifer Brofer)

Jennifer Brofer served in the Marines, on the frontlines in Afghanistan, but she wielded a camera instead of a rifle.

Brofer, 30, a combat correspondent for more than 10 years, served in Afghanistan during 2010-11. She worked across media, using the printed word as well as video. When logistic Marines built bridges, she was there. Redeploy missions? She was there too.

“It was inherently dangerous,” Brofer, an Arlington, Texas, native, said.

Since her discharge in 2012, Brofer has used the Montgomery GI Bill to study radio-television-film at the University of Texas at Austin.

Other than a few canceled appointments for non-emergency care at the Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Austin, her experiences have been positive, she said.

“I’m a happy gal, mentally unscathed,” Brofer said.

Still, her experience led her down the military path once again in a class she took last semester. Brofer completed a nine-minute video titled “Girls With Guns,” which chronicles the experiences of post-9/11 veteran Mary Hegar, whose helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan in 2009.

She survived and returned fire, but Hegar came home to fight again, this time the military’s ban on women in combat. She sued the U.S. Department of Defense and the Combat Exclusion Policy was eventually lifted in January 2013.

Brofer said her experiences overseas helped her share Hegar’s narrative.

“I learned how to tell a story in very adverse conditions,” she said. “I don’t take for granted what the reporters do here in America. If it wasn’t for the skill, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

The video also highlights teenage girls in a high school Junior ROTC program. Brofer said that it is important to advocate gender equality.

Brofer wants to be a producer or director; she already has a resume start. When Christina Aguilera sang the National Anthem before the 2011 Super Bowl, the NFL Network showed a montage. Her three-second shot of a group of Marines standing in a tent made the worldwide broadcast.

Brofer, who was posted in Afghanistan at the time, had spent the night before the Super Bowl, editing film for the spot. She said that “luckily” she was behind the camera.

For one veteran, distance learning outlasts post-war complications

By Anthony Cave, News21

The “compact” feeling of a classroom can be overwhelming for students who are military veterans.

Post-9/11 veteran Stephen Michael DeMoss, 27, said that he “burned out” during the fall 2012 semester at Florida International University. He struggled with Post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism.

“I had to be hospitalized, I almost had to drop my classes,” said DeMoss, who served in Iraq in 2005-2006.

The classroom setting troubled DeMoss so much he took evening classes, which met when the campus was less crowded.

“A lot of people can sometimes be a little stressful, you don’t get there early enough and you have to squeeze between a lot of people,” said DeMoss, an international relations major.

Despite a flurry of emails and invitations from the FIU veterans group, DeMoss said he did not seek help. However, change came in the form of an internship.

In spring 2013, he moved to California for a semester to join his wife, who was an intern with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

That move meant that DeMoss had to take all his classes virtually. He improved academically.

“I guess I had the mindset of being very independent. Online is a lot easier,” DeMoss said.

DeMoss still has a few classes that he must take on campus in Miami before he graduates, but a government job is already in his sights.  DeMoss has an internship scheduled this summer with the U.S. Department of the Treasury in West Virginia.

He hopes to work for the U.S. Department of State some day, but Treasury has a plan too.

“This internship with the Treasury Department; they train me up,” DeMoss said. “Once I graduate, I have a job, if I want it.”

What We’re Reading: Week 9

By Chad Garland, News21

What We’re Reading, Week 9:

Photo Exhibit Spanning Decades Reveals Our Collective War Story (Kainaz Amaria, 7/15, NPR) The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington exhibit “War/Photography,” consists of 309 photographs from 25 nationalities with conflicts that span 165 years. “It’s organized in the order of war,” said Anne Tucker, curator of photography for the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. Her team spent 10 years scanning more than 1 million photographs from more than 17 countries to come up with a different approach to presenting the images of war, even some images not typically associated with war.

Shooting the messengers (Ed Caesar, 7/9, GQ Magazine, UK edition) A few high profile cases of war correspondents killed in the course of duty underscores the danger of reporting in war zones, Ed Caesar said. As deaths and kidnappings mount – 2012 was among the worst years for journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists – Caesar wonders what has changed to make journalists increasingly vulnerable to, if not targets of, the violence they cover.

Woman’s work (Francesca Borri, 7/1, Columbia Journalism Review) “The only story to tell in war is how to live without fear,” writes Francesca Borri, an Italian freelancer working in Syria. Contrary to the romantic notions of freelance journalists as free, Borri said they are trapped at the frontline, where the competition to report on “the blood, the bang-bang” is cutthroat.

For Veterans, a Fight for College Credit (Jody Serrano, 7/17, The Texas Tribune) A pilot program that helps veterans in Texas get college credit for their military experience won’t be made permanent; it failed to reach the full House during this year’s legislative session, but the Texas Workforce Commission will be able to expand the program thanks to federal grants. On average, veterans have received about a year of credits based on military experience, allowing them to complete their degree and enter the workforce more quickly. The program sponsor might re-file to make it permanent in 2015.

How the Pentagon’s payroll quagmire traps soldiers (Scot J. Paltrow and Kelly Carr, 7/2, Reuters) The Defense Finance and Accounting Service, or DFAS, a Pentagon agency responsible for accurately paying America’s 2.7 million active-duty and reserve service members, has a problem – costly failures. A variety of factors, from technology decades out of date, to systems that can’t communicate and military leaders who shirk responsibilities, all contribute to errors that harm some military personnel, while benefiting others.