military

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Kansas doesn't usually rank high as an outdoor destination state. But, while there are no grand canyons, snowcapped peaks, or white sand beaches, it does have a subtle character all its own. Today, we meet two sisters-in-law who made a mission of visiting every state park in Kansas. They say outdoorsy-types might be giving the Sunflower State the short shrift. Then, only about 1 percent of Americans currently serve in the armed forces. While some see this as evidence of progress, others think it's a problem.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Author Whitney Terrell told the story of a female soldier in his novel, The Good Lieutenant. His consultant for that book, Angela Fitle, lived it in the Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom II. They share their thoughts on the female experience of war. Then children's author Brian Selznick reveals what it was like to condense his novel Wonderstruck​ into the screenplay for the just-released film version.

HuffPost

A federal judge on Monday partially blocked President Trump's ban on transgender recruits to the military.

In a 76-page opinion Monday, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia said parts of the president's ban are not supported by the evidence.

The judge's opinion reinstates Obama-era policy toward transgender service men and women, which lifted long-standing restrictions. For decades, the military identified gender non-conformity as a mental illness.  

Wikimedia Commons

During the Vietnam War, military conflict in Southeast Asia aggravated flaring social issues back home. Today, we discuss how activism during the war advanced the fight for civil rights on many fronts, and how mass protests then compare to today's resistance movements. Then, renowned biographer Walter Issacson takes us into the mind of Leonardo da Vinci.

Last month, at Milan Fashion Week, the models at the Missoni show walked the runway under a colorful fabric canopy that was created by a Blue Springs native. We chat with artist Rachel Hayes about her fabric sculptures.

How do Kansas Citians remember the Vietnam War? Two veterans and a conscientious objector look back. Have our memories of Vietnam shaped our responses to more recent conflicts?

Guests:

Cowboy music is not the same as country-western. A talk with some of the musicians of 3 Trails West — one of the few practitioners of true cowboy music in Kansas City.

Plus: the legendary history of the "Big Red One" (1st Infantry Division). Based at Fort Riley, Kansas, it's the longest continuously-serving division in the United States Army ... and it recently celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Guests:

Courtesy Todd Weiner Gallery

For years, Col. Doug Tystad (retired) regarded the little bronze statue as a cowboy. He’d walked by it countless times on his trips up and down the halls of the Command and General Staff College in Leavenworth, where he’s the CEO of CGSC Foundation.

Then one day he paused to look at the figure.

Courtesy of David Strange

American troops have been in Iraq for nearly three decades. From Operation Desert Storm under George H. W. Bush back in the 1990s, to a U.S.-led intervention that started in 2014 under Barack Obama and continues under our new administration. 

Three Kansas City veterans reflect on their service in the Middle Eastern country, and their lives before and after.

Senior Airman Kerry Steuart

Kerry Steuart joined the Air Force in 1991, a career move reflecting an economic depression in Oklahoma at the time, where Steuart was living.

Claire Tadokoro / KCUR 89.3

There have been some hits and some misses during President Donald Trump's first 100 days in office. One thing everyone agrees on is there has been no shortage of surprises. Today, we hear from a distinguished panel of political observers; ABC News analyst Matthew Dowd, Time magazine editor-at-large David Von Drehle, and Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer Colleen Nelson, of the Kansas City Star. They discuss the early days of the new executive administration.

Courtesy of David Strange

American troops have been in Iraq for three decades, from Operation Desert Storm in the 1990s to today, with civilians trapped in the ISIS-held city of Mosul.

A conversation with three local veterans who have served in Iraq at different times and under different administrations.

Guests:

The Pentagon

Kansas City leaders seemed unified Friday in supporting President Donald Trump’s decision to fire 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air base in response to that government’s deadly chemical weapons attack this week.

Wikimedia Commons

The Vietnam War didn't end silently, it went out to the loud riffs of rock n' roll. Revisit the songs that shaped the 1960s and '70s, and captured the moods of soldiers overseas and civilians at home. We also find out how the electric guitar became the international symbol of freedom, danger and rebellion.

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Great ideas may be hard to come by, but a new book has us thinking all that's needed is a change of scenery. We also remember the attack on Pearl Harbor, 75 years after it catapulted the nation into WWII. This week's Statehouse Blend Kansas features freshman Democrat Cindy Holscher.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Winston Churchill sure didn’t make it easy to become a seminal figure in world history.

Before becoming Great Britain’s prime minister and leading his empire through World War II, Churchill was an extremely ambitious youngster who saw military glory as a pathway to political power. But this type of thinking almost got him killed in the Second Boer War, a late 1890s military conflict in what’s now South Africa.

The creator and editor-in-chief of MuslimGirl.com talks about the challenges facing Muslim women in the wake of Donald Trump's election. Then we examine the soundtrack of the Vietnam War, and listen to some of the songs that helped American troops get through the conflict.

In this episode, Suzanne digs into the sacred geometry and mysterious happenings surrounding a giant octagon in Belton, Missouri. 

You probably think he turned his back on our nascent nation, but before all that Gen. Benedict Arnold was an ally of George Washington and a war hero to boot. Author Nathaniel Philbrick's latest book, Valiant Ambition, explores Arnold's motives for making the decision that ultimately became his legacy.

When it comes to our war on terrorism, boots on the ground and bombers in the air are only part of the struggle. What we know about the culture behind ISIS and how the United States portrays itself to the world makes for a different kind of weapon.

Guest:

The U.S. Secretary of Defense recently announced that as of January 2016, all gender-based restrictions on military service will be lifted. Despite this change, research by the Women's Foundation of Kansas City in conjunction with the University of Kansas and the Army Research Institute shows that females still face barriers within the military.

Guests:

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

A nonpartisan, nonprofit group of more than 500 retired generals and admirals see school nutrition as an important factor in military readiness.

The group, Mission: Readiness, on Wednesday released the Kansas version of a report drawing a connection between healthier school meals and the pool of potential recruits for America’s armed forces.

When you think of Iraq and Afghanistan, you think of American soldiers in uniform, but what may surprise you is how many private contractors are there too. In recent years, the ratio of contractors to  uniformed soldiers has been 10 to one.

On Wednesday's Up to Date, we talk with a journalist about the increase in these forces and why relying on them so much might not be a good idea.

Guest:

(Peggy Lowe/KCUR)

Among the many images that have emerged from Ferguson, Missouri, perhaps some of the most arresting are those of law enforcement personnel lined up in riot gear, helmets and vests on with batons at the ready.  And right behind them the sight of an officer atop a military-grade armored vehicle holding a sniper rifle.
 

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill visits Kansas City on Wednesday and Thursday as part of her 'McCaskill on Main Street' tour.  

She’s fresh off a big legislative win in the Senate where her version of a bill dealing with sexual assault in the military won out over a competing measure.

In the second part of Wednesday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with Sen. McCaskill about sexual assault in the military and her opinions on progress made as part of the Affordable Care Act.

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It's not easy to come out of the closet, but imagine doing that when you're in the Army.

On Tuesday's Up to Date, we talk with an African-American veteran about the challenges he faced and the added difficulties of navigating the now-defunct Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

Guest: 

Dan Verbeck / KCUR

People from the Kansas City area serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines have started arriving home for the holidays. The services don’t cover a trip like that, but lower-paid service men and women can put in for a ticket home from a group called Operation Homefront.

Corporal Robert Sanders landed at KCI Wednesday afternoon, met by his wife, and two young sons. Sanders and his wife Vicki Sanders both graduated from Shawnee Mission North High School.

VFW Adapts To Changing Veteran Needs

Nov 11, 2013
Pete Zarria/Flickr-CC

Today's recent veterans are finishing their service with different experiences than previous generations, and Veterans of Foreign Wars groups across the country are trying to figure out how to adapt.

On Monday's Up to Date, Adjutant General John Hamilton joins Steve Kraske to talk about the changing needs of veterans.

Guest:

  • Adjutant General John Hamilton recently finished his term as the commander-in-chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Women's Experiences In The Military

Feb 5, 2013

Although they’ve just recently been allowed in combat, women in the military have long faced a host of challenges, both on the battlefield and at home.

Looking Back At An American Sniper

Feb 4, 2013

Last February, Steve Kraske spoke with former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle about his book, American Sniper. Kyle is credited with more than 150 kills, but by his own account, he's killed closer to 250 people.

Chris Kyle had taken to assisting former soldiers deal with post-traumatic stress disorder by taking them to gun ranges. On Saturday, Kyle and a friend were killed at a gun range in Glen Rose, Texas by a man Kyle had been helping. 

A Life In The National Guard

Jan 8, 2013
The National Guard

We’ve all seen the war films of heroic soldiers fighting battles, but what does that battle look like for those left at home?

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