PBS, The Kindling Group, Wisconsin Public Television, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Public Media Cross-Platform Project, Veterans Coming Home, to Help Bridge the Military-Civilian Divide and Strengthen Communities

– Veterans Coming Home Digital-First Series to Premiere Memorial Day Weekend on PBS.org –

MADISON, WIS/CHICAGO, IL (EMBARGOED: March 30, 2016) – Kindling Group and Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) launched the second phase of the public media project, Veterans Coming Home. Co-produced with 13 local public media stations nationwide, Veterans Coming Home aims to help veterans and communities understand the opportunities and challenges faced during the transition to civilian life and bridge the military-civilian divide. Featuring a digital-first series available for streaming within PBS Stories of Service and other partner sites, the project will explore military and civilian relationships, and values of service and citizenship as powerful connectors for all Americans. Veterans Coming Home is made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), with additional funding from Got Your Six.

"This innovative collaboration with diverse filmmakers, local stations, independent producers and national partners reflects public media's unique role – a public-private partnership serving all Americans with content for free and commercial free," said Pat Harrison, President and CEO, Corporation for Public Broadcasting. "We are connecting with a new young generation of veterans who have given so much to this country.  Veterans Coming Home, offering dynamic digital first content, will reach new audiences and offer an unprecedented opportunity for participation in an important national dialogue."

Throughout this spring, a team of photographers, writers, and filmmakers—both veteran and civilian—will crisscross the country creating media across all formats in collaboration with local public media stations, to spark a dialogue about veterans' lives, their home communities, and address the stereotypes that veterans and civilians hold about each other.  

On the ground, local stations will invite veterans and civilians to come together through town halls, screenings, community-wide events, and field production. Nationally, the project will engage the public by inviting perspectives and sharing stories through social media about the experiences of post-9/11 veterans, their families and their communities. Starting today, audiences can follow the story and the team's journey while participating in the conversation using the hashtag #VetsComingHome and by following Veterans Coming Home on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@vetscominghome), or visiting VeteransComingHome.org.  

The conversations and stories will culminate in a digital-first series that will premiere beginning Memorial Day Weekend with new episodes premiering twice a week through the Fourth of July on PBS.org as part of Stories of Service. Episodes from Veterans Coming Home will also be featured on partner sites, public media's worldchannel.org, and broadcast on World Channel in fall 2016, with the potential to reach more than 80 million Americans across all of these online networks.

"Veterans Coming Home is a compelling expression of public broadcasting's mission to serve local communities," said Malcolm Brett, who oversees Wisconsin Public Television in his role as Director of Broadcast and Media Innovations, University of Wisconsin – Extension. "We owe it to our veterans and their families to understand their experiences and embrace what they bring to our communities."

Veteran populations are becoming more geographically concentrated and culturally isolated.  Many feel that they are not understood, nor are their experiences appreciated. Stereotypes of veterans dominate the media and focus on post-traumatic stress, homelessness, and suicide or extraordinary sacrifice and heroism. According to PEW Research Center, many civilians don't personally know any veterans or understand how to engage with the experiences they've had.1

"There is enormous potential with public media to leverage the trust of local stations and power of storytelling across all platforms and media and open up this critical conversation for our country," said Danny Alpert, Executive Director of Chicago-based Kindling Group. "We are excited about this robust partnership with CPB, WPT, PBS, national organizations, and other local stations. We've assembled a remarkable traveling team who are eager to participate in this conversation that is missing from the national dialogue."

The team of veterans and civilian media-makers who will travel the country together to produce stories and spark conversations with local stations include:

  • Garrett Combs, a U.S. Army veteran who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as light infantry, now a photographer and filmmaker from Ventura, California.
  • Ramon Garcia, a U.S. Army veteran who served in counter-intelligence in Iraq and Afghanistan, now a writer and editor, and volunteer with a Veterans wellness center from Miami.
  • Kathleen Flynn, an award-winning photographer and video journalist from New Orleans.
  • Michael Premo, an award-winning transmedia storyteller from New York.
  • Viviana Rivera, a Marine who served in Iraq, now a photographer and filmmaker from Los Angeles, who will field produce for the road team.

"We know firsthand that storytelling can be a healing experience for our audiences, including members of the military community who have been impacted by the content seen on air and through the PBS Stories of Service platform," said Ira Rubenstein, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Digital and Marketing for PBS.   "We are honored to be a partner that can bring this important digital-first series to local communities as a means to help bridge the military-civilian divide that still exists nationwide."

In addition to WPT, participating stations include Arizona PBS; CET in Cincinnati, Ohio; KCPT in Kansas City, Kansas; KPBS in San Diego and KQED in San Francisco, California; Louisiana Public Broadcasting; Mountain Lake PBS in Plattsburgh, New York; Nashville Public Television; Twin Cities Public Television in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota; WHRO in Norfolk, Virginia; WHYY in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; WNET in New York City; and WUCF in Orlando, Florida.

Activating its extensive network of partners, Got Your 6 is the lead veteran's organizational partner through Veteran Artist Program. Additional national distribution partners include VOX, The Mission Continues, Service Year Alliance, Team Rubicon, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, The YMCA, Veteran Artists Program, National Peace Corps Association, Service Women's Action Network, Intersections International, Volunteers of America, Corporation for National and Community Service, Points of Light, Team Red, White & Blue, Veterans in Film and TV, Make the Connection and Veterans Crisis Line at U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University; USC Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families.

About Wisconsin Public Television
Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) enriches, educates and entertains diverse audiences through the innovative use of television, other communication technologies and community engagement. Over the last twelve years, WPT developed deep experience working with the veterans' community through robust engagement with key audiences and constituents.  Those efforts yielded exceptional programming, including the Wisconsin War Stories series of documentaries and LZ Lambeau, which drew 70,000 veterans and their families to a three-day event in 2010 that recognized Wisconsin's Vietnam Veterans. WPT is a service of the Educational Communications Board and University of Wisconsin-Extension.

About Kindling Group
Kindling Group (KG) crafts powerful documentaries and engagement campaigns that ignite change.  KG's filmmakers, digital strategists and activists are dedicated to creating films and media for all screens, from large to small, that promote inquiry and connect viewers to critical social issues.

Veterans Coming Home is executive produced by Danny Alpert, an award-winning producer and director, whose films have aired on HBO, PBS, and around the world and have been nominated for Emmy and Academy Awards. Story Producer is Whitney Dow, whose films have premiered at Sundance, Tribeca and IDFA and recognized with the George Foster Peabody Award; Alfred I. duPont Award and many film festival honors.

About CPB
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government's investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,400 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services. For more information, visit www.cpb.org and follow us on Twitter @CPBmediaFacebook and LinkedIn.

About PBS Stories of Service
PBS Stories of Service is a multi-platform initiative that explores veterans' experiences and provides a deeper understanding of our country's military history.  Stories of Service was announced in May 2014 as part of an initiative with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to share veterans' stories, provide a deeper understanding of our nation's military history, and increase dialogue as our nation's veterans transition to civilian life.  
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Whitney Kuhn/Charlie Guadano
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1PEW Research Center, The Military-Civilian Gap: Fewer Family Connections http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2011/11/23/the-military-civilian-gap-fewer-family-connections/, (Nov 23, 2011)