Focus

WILL - Focus - April 04, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Going to college on the G.I. Bill today

Thousands of soldiers who’ve served in the military in the last decade in Iraq and Afghanistan are using the G.I. Bill to finish a college degree, but it’s not easy. 

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(Duration: 40:06)

Colorado soldiers returning home from Afghanistan

Johnny Watts started school at the University of Illinois after serving in the Army for six years. He says returning to the life of a student after serving in the military was a little daunting. He worried he wouldn’t be classroom ready, that other students would be far ahead of him in terms of coursework. But once he found a community of veterans to hang out with, he says it got easier. “It was nice when I found other vets to talk to. You kind of have your own language after being in the service,” he said. “And, then I had someone else besides my wife to talk to about school.”

Watts graduates this spring from the University of Illinois with a degree in electrical engineering, and is moving to southern California with his wife. She’s also a veteran who has been attending the University of Illinois. And, according to a new study from the Student Veterans of America, the Watts’ are among a large group of veterans who’ve taken advantage of the education benefits in the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Categories: Government, Military

WILL - Focus - December 10, 2013 ~ Comment (0)

Speaking military slang

Have you ever been a part of a conversation that you didn’t quite understand because you were unfamiliar with some of the vocabulary?

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(Duration: 51:53)

Eric (pictured on the far right) with friends in Kuwait in 2006 shortly before going to Iraq.

Eric Swenson says that when he first enlisted in the US Army, there were several occasions when superior officers would correct his word usage. He gun was a “weapon,” not a firearm, and if something was gone, it wasn’t out, it was “black.” Swenson says that learning to use this sort of lingo was a rite of passage when he first went through basic training, but now that he’s a veteran living stateside, it was just as much of a process to stop speaking military as it was to start.

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Swenson and dictionary editor and co-host of public radio’s “A Way with Words,” Grant Barrett about how slang and jargon are vital communication tools even though they work to alienate or include certain groups of people. We’ll learn more about certain words and phrases that are now commonplace in American speech that are relics of military culture, and Swenson will tell us more about some new military slang that’s developed as a product of US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Are you from a military family? Are there words from the military that were used in everyday speech? We’d love to hear from you this hour on Focus!


WILL - Focus - November 11, 2013 ~ Comment (0)

From the Frontlines to the Home Front: Inside Views of the Military 1940-2012

This hour on Focus, we’ll hear a documentary produced by University Laboratory High School and WILL, “From the Frontlines to the Home Front: Inside View of the Military 1940-2012.”

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(Duration: 59:30)

Students interview Vietnam veteran Steve Allen

Culture within and surrounding the United States Military has changed dramatically over the course of the half a century. If you’ve never served in the armed forces, have you wondered what that change looks like from an insider’s perspective?  This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from men and women who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq about their experiences.

“From the Frontlines to the Home Front: Inside Views of the Military 1940-2012” is part of an oral history project that students from University High School produce with WILL.

Categories: Military

WILL - Focus - November 04, 2013 ~ Comment (0)

Until Tuesday and the UNI High Documentary Project

If you own a pet, you understand the emotional bond that can form between a dog and its owner. This hour on focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Capt. Luis Carlos Montalván about his book “Until Tuesday.”

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(Duration: 51:12)

Captain Luis Carlos Montalván and Tuesday

US Army Captain Luis Montalván was a highly decorated member of the US military when he returned home from two tours of duty in Iraq. The trauma he encountered overseas, however, started to take its toll as he settled back into his life stateside. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Montalván about his struggle to return to civilian life after his time in the service and how Capt. Montalván’s relationship with his service dog “Tuesday,” restored him both psychologically and spiritually.


WILL - Focus - May 27, 2013

Women in Combat and the Transition to Civilian Life after the Military

This hour on Focus, we listen back to a conversation we had with Illinois Department of Veteran's Affairs Director Erica Borggren and a local veteran about the transition back to civilian life after serving in the armed forces. 

Elizabeth Ambros is pictured above at the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina after she returned home from Iraq in 2009.

Even though the ban on women serving in combat was only officially lifted earlier this year, women were already serving on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan. This hour on Focus, we'll listen back to a conversation Craig Cohen had with Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Erica Borggren about the ban being lifted and about her experiences serving in Iraq.

Then, during the second half of the hour, we'll listen back to a conversation with Elizabeth Ambros, a 26 year old veteran Navy corpsman. She’ll tell us about what it was like to serve as a young woman overseas and about the challenges she’s faced as a veteran transitioning to civilian life. Nicholas Osborne, Assistant Dean of Students in the Office of Veteran Student Affairs at the UIUC and a veteran member of the US Coast Guard also joins us.

Categories: Military

WILL - Focus - January 30, 2013

Women in Combat and the Transition to Civilian Life after the Military

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(Duration: 50:38)

Elizabeth Ambros at the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina, with unidentified male

Even though the ban on women serving in combat was only officially lifted last week, women have already been serving on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan. This hour host Craig Cohen talks with Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Erica Borggren about what the ban means for women in the military and about her experiences serving in Iraq.

Categories: Gender issues, Military


WILL - Focus - October 12, 2012

The Cuban Missile Crisis, 50 Years Later

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(Duration: 51:32)

Timothy McKeown, Professor of Political Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Sheldon Stern, Author of The Cuban Missile Crisis in American Memory: Myths versus Reality and The Week the World Stood Still: Inside the Secret Cuban Missile Crisis

Host: Craig Cohen

Fifty years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, and after exhaustive analysis of the events that transpired during a tense 13 day period in the fall of 1962, questions linger about precisely how those events played out. We have the published accounts of many key players, including then Attorney General Robert Kennedy, brother of the President, who recounted his experience in the book Thirteen Days. And a narrative has been woven from that and other accounts – one that presents the Kennedy White House and the military alternately working together and – at times – battling one another, as they sought to address the Cuban and Soviet governments’ secret development of nuclear missile bases in Cuba, which could have been used to strike much of the continental U.S.

We’ll review the events of October 1962 with Political Science Professor Timothy McKeown from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Sheldon Stern, author of The Cuban Missile Crisis in American Memory: Myths versus Reality.

Categories: History, Military

WILL - Focus - July 03, 2012

Current Events in Burma/Myanmar

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(Duration: 52:22)

Burma is one of the poorest countries in Asia. A long period of military rule has kept the country from developing either politically or economically. But that may be starting to change. One sign of that change was the recent election to Parliament of the country’s leading opposition figure Aung San Suu Kyi. Next time on Focus our morning talk show we will review recent events in Burma as we talk with Christina Fink, from the Elliot School of International Affairs at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

This is a repeat broadcast from Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 10 am


WILL - Focus - May 28, 2012

Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I

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(Duration: 55:01)

Two hundred thousand black soldiers were sent to Europe to fight in World War I. Historian Adriane Lentz-Smith says that experience gave many black people their first taste of life outside of the American racial system. She says it led them to imagine a different world, one that they worked to make real when they returned home. In a program from the archives, we’ll look at the ways that World War I shaped the civil rights movement in the United States. That’s the subject of Adriane Lentz-Smith’s book "Freedom Struggles."

This is a repeat broadcast from Thursday, January 14, 2010, 10 am


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