Posted 04 May 2018
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) has announced a grant of $25,000 to the Arkansas Educational Television Network for "Veterans Coming Home: Finding What Works," a digital-first content and engagement project. AETN will focus on successful examples of veterans "finding what works" as they transition to civilian life: advancing their education, furthering their careers and contributing to their communities.
"Veteran reentry into civilian life presents a unique set of challenges, especially in a rural state like Arkansas," AETN Executive Director Courtney Pledger said. "We are proud to have the opportunity to support these citizens and communities throughout the state with local programming and resources.
This generous grant will allow us to develop original content and tell the unique, personal stories of our Arkansas veterans.
Rising veteran homelessness is one of the major challenges facing the Department of Veterans Affairs in Arkansas as it seeks to provide health care and related services to the estimated 214,000 veterans in Arkansas. A team of University of Arkansas journalism students and professors who examined veterans' health care issues also found a disturbing spike in veteran suicide. Arkansas veterans die by suicide 25 percent more often than national averages; many of them are young veterans, a trend blamed on the blend of the state's rural isolation, veteran mental health challenges and gun availability.
"I applaud AETN for their focus on what our service men and women experience when they return home," U.S. Rep. French Hill said. "It is crucial that we talk about the struggles our veteran community faces, and it is just as important to highlight the programs that are working in Arkansas.
"As the state's only statewide television network, AETN is in a unique position to continue the conversation we are having in Congress. I am proud to know that Arkansas was selected, along with 13 other stations, to show what we are doing to serve our veterans and to talk about the areas where we can grow to ensure that those who have served our country have access to the services they deserve."
The new grants are the third phase of public media's Veterans Coming Home project, which has featured nearly 200 new, digital veteran-related stories, shared across public media, partner organizations and social media since 2016. The videos, including locally-produced stories, have been viewed more than 4.5 million times as part of a cohesive national digital series and innovative campaign to help bridge the military-civilian divide.
"One of the most important ways public media honors and supports those who serve our country is telling their stories of commitment, courage and perseverance," Pat Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, said. "As veterans return to civilian life, public media is connecting these men and women and their talents to a productive future through jobs and careers."
AETN is one of 14 stations receiving these "Veterans Coming Home: Finding What Works" grants as part of the national effort. These stations will produce local digital content as part of a co-production and social media campaign with national producer The Kindling Group and Wisconsin Public Broadcasting.
"This is an important tool that demonstrates the challenges our men and women who served in uniform face in their transition to civilian life," U.S. Sen. John Boozman said. "Empowering our veterans to tell their stories will help shape policy and allow us to better meet the needs of those who defend our nation.
I look forward to continue working with AETN to share the stories of Arkansas veterans and improve the lives of our veterans and their families.
AETN will convene local organizations, community leaders and engaged citizens to increase dialogue around "what works" for post 9/11 veterans' reintegration. The events and social media engagement will launch over the summer and culminate in a digital series to premiere on Veterans Day, November 11, 2018.
"As a 30-year veteran of the United States Army National Guard, I have seen firsthand the many challenges our veterans face when returning home," U.S. Rep. Steve Womack said. "'Veterans Coming Home' provides a unique platform to highlight our country's determination to address them.
I congratulate AETN for being granted participation in this project showcasing Arkansas's veterans as they tell their powerful stories about successfully transitioning to civilian life.
"Veterans Coming Home" is a collaborative, multiplatform effort to highlight innovative, effective programs and individuals that are leading the way to better outcomes for veterans transitioning to civilian life. Combining public media storytelling, local station convenings, deep local partnerships and innovative digital distribution and dialogue, "Veterans Coming Home" is moving the narrative beyond traditional veteran stereotypes to build understanding of veterans' value to their communities and ease their transitions to civilian life.
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 nearly 1,500 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. Additional information is available at cpb.org.
The Arkansas Educational Television Network is Arkansas's only statewide public media network, which enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers through the distinct channels AETN PBS, AETN Create, AETN PBS KIDS, AETN World and AETN AIRS on SAP. Audiences can also watch on several digital platforms, and members with AETN Passport have extended on-demand access to a rich library of public television programming. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. Additional information is available at aetn.org. AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro) and KETZ (El Dorado).