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Excellence in Media Awards 2013 Winners


Strike force teams to target VA backlogs
Mike Warren, My Fox Austin, Austin, TX

One of the biggest issues and struggles facing returning Veterans is the long wait to receive disability benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Warren reports on the TVC Strike Force Teams – an initiative that has impacted the wait times and the claims process in Texas. It is important for the public, including Veterans, to be informed of the status of the claims backlog and the strategies that Texans have come up with to alleviate it.

Link to Television Story



Uncounted Casualties
Jeremy Schwartz, Brenda Bell, Eric Pexheimer, Dave Harmon, Tony Plohetski, Christian McDonald, Jay Janner, Kelly West, Austin American Statesman, Austin, TX

This 5-part print news series profiles various Veterans, families and spouses who have dealt with the consequences and battles that come with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). The series connects the public, including Texas Veterans, to families and soldiers who have been through the long, painful journey that PTS brings. It publicly addresses the serious and rising issue of PTS, overdoses, suicides and vehicle crashes that many Veterans and their families have had to confront. Uncounted Casualties also shares the results of an investigation concerning the deaths of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, which were not being tracked prior to the article’s publication. Since then, the article and its findings have heightened awareness within the Federal Government and have led state and federal officials to call for further investigations and improved access to services for Veterans.

Link to Print Story



For ex-GIs, next battle is finding job
Beth Brown and Lisa Krantz, San Antonio Express-News, San Antonio, TX

12 photographs of Veterans attending a job fair accompany an article that profiles many of the Veterans in attendance. Brown’s article gives the public a closer look at what Veterans face when searching for jobs after leaving the military. The photographs show that although Veterans all have different walks of life, they mst still confront similar challenges after active duty, like finding a job. One photograph shows wounded warrior Sgt. First Class (Ret.) Michael Jenkins holding his sleeping daughter in his arms as he navigates the job fair, and another shows wounded warriors Sgt. Cody Winstead and Sgt. First Class Raymond Soto in full uniform, standing and talking together in the midst of the other job-seekers.

Link to Photojournalism Story



Texas Vets making noise over tuition benefits threat
Edel Howlin, Houston Public Radio/KUHF, Houston, TX

For Veterans in Texas, this piece covered a very important topic. The Hazlewood Act allows Veterans to get a graduate degree which, for the Veterans that don’t qualify for the GI Bill, is sometimes their only source of getting an education. While this piece covers what the Hazlewood Act is and the problems that arise due to the program’s cost, it also covers the feelings of the Veterans towards the Act. One Veteran felt it was an adequate reward for his service, and for having to see the pain on his family’s face when he left home. Under the Hazlewood Act, he was able to get his graduate degree, and because of the legacy part of the Act, his unused hours were transferred to his daughter. Howlin’s story helped bring to light the impact this Act has on the lives of Veterans and showed the public how crucial it is to fight to keep this Act going. Howlin’s report brought a great deal of attention to the issue, leading to the signing of 2,500 petition signatures of local Veterans. A local Veterans group, Lone Star Veterans Association, took those 2,500 signatures to the Texas Captiol and actively halted the Hazlewood Act from being changed adversely. Howlin’s story was crucial in spreading the word about this issue.

Link to Radio Story

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