For the first time in over a decade, the United States will not have an active Army preparing to either enter or continue to hold the ground of a war. With conflicts in both Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, many questions have been raised as to the future of returning veterans. According to an article recently completed by The Washington Post, PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting have made it their initiative to create and broadcast more programming addressing these very concerns.
Beth Hoppe, chief programming officer for PBS, believes the particularly unique reach of the network and the deep, compassionate nature of their employees and their individual stations will allow for outreach on their part for veterans. Hoppe, after the recent event to premier their first attempt at a veteran focused miniseries, was overjoyed by the reception of the veterans in attendance. However, most veterans did express that, although the gratitude they receive for their service is fulfilling, they often wish the conversation could continue past this mark.
As a result, Hoppe has made it her initiative to increase veteran programming on her broadcasts. She has two target audiences in mind with her programming—veterans leaving behind the support system of their combat units and civilians with a bit of a knowledge gap about military experiences. Coming Back with Wes Moore will jumpstart this process; the documentary, which is a three part miniseries, focuses around Moore, an Army captain, who looks to answer the question of “what now?” for those returning from the service. In Coming Back, several issues with be addressed, including unemployment issues for veterans that are a result of a still struggling recessive job market and social media’s impact on the traditional meeting places of vets, such as American Legion halls. Injuries will also be a focus, as medical marvels allow veterans to survive attacks that would’ve killed them in the past, resulting in a heavy reliance on spousal and medical professional assistance.
After the debut of Coming Back, PBS has already commissioned a Vietnam series by Ken Burns which will be entitled Stories of Service. In addition to this new and increasing list of programming, the corporation is providing grants to their specific stations in thirteen cities that statistically have high concentrations of veterans, as a means of reaching out and connecting more directly with veteran organizations.