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"American Veteran"

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  • Ryan Bradford
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It’s that time of the year again. No, not Halloween. One about giving thanks? No, not that one either. I’m talking about Veterans Day. To celebrate those who served in the military, Arkansas PBS is airing a four-part series called “American Veteran.” The series begins Tuesday, Oct. 26, at 8 p.m., and it will culminate with the local special "Worth Fighting For" on Veterans Day Thursday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m.

"American Veteran" will feature different aspects of the journey servicemen and women take from their first day at basic training to reentering civilian life. Each episode will be hosted by a different guest, each with their own experiences on the topic at hand.

The first episode will be presented by television host Drew Carey, who is a former marine himself, and will air on Oct. 26. Called “The Crossing,” it focuses on the first steps one takes on the path to becoming a servicemember with an emphasis on the transition from civilian to soldier. Often a shocking transition in lifestyle, basic training in boot camp is a stunning difference from civilian life. Then, there are the many changes that come when those soldiers are in active duty.

The second episode, airing Nov. 2, focuses on how military life shapes those who serve. Aptly named “The Mission,” it will be hosted by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a former lieutenant colonel in the National Guard. After the transition phase, military life becomes natural, if not easy. This episode will get veterans’ opinions about how that time shaped them to this day.

“The Reckoning,” which will air on Nov. 9, highlights the experiences of veterans and the divide between those who have served and those who have not. It will be hosted by J.R. Martinez, an Army veteran and burn survivor who became an actor and motivational speaker. It can be hard to understand what others are going through, but this episode attempts to bridge the gap between civilian and soldier. Building off the former episodes, this will make it easier for civilians to understand the lives of servicemen and women.

The final episode airs on Nov. 16 and features a story on returning to civilian life, appropriately named “The Return.” It showcases the struggles of the transition back to normal life with stories from various individuals. It will be hosted by Wes Studi, a Cherokee American actor and film producer who served during the Vietnam War. Even after coming home, the journey is not yet over. The habits and lifestyle changes that came with the soldier life still linger and make this transition back even harder than the previous for many.

On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m., Arkansas PBS original program “Worth Fighting For: An Arkansas Veterans Special” will provide a local perspective and answer your questions as we explore the intensifying struggle surrounding veterans’ rising suicide rate.

With the sponsorship of AARP Arkansas, Arkansas PBS will delve into this issue with an hour-long program dedicated to suicide prevention for veterans. An experienced panel will answer audience questions about matters such as mental health resources, coping with the stress and other problems that lead to suicide ideation, the warning signs and symptoms you shouldn’t avoid, and things families and friends can do to help the veterans close to them.

Host Donna Terrell will lead the discussion with a group of experts, including Arkansas Veterans Services Assistant Director Gina Chandler; Arkansas Army National Guard Lead Behavioral Health Officer Dr. Mandy McCorkindale and Arkansas Veterans Coalition retired U.S. Air Force Col. Don Berry.

To have your question answered by the expert panel, they must be submitted early. Share them with us before 8 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2, at 1-501-682-0318,, via Facebook Messenger or tweet using #ARAsk.

We here at Arkansas PBS would like to thank veterans for their service and hope that this series will serve in that capacity as well as helping civilians understand the lives of servicemen and women.



“American Veteran”

Tuesdays at 8 p.m. through Nov. 16, 2021


“Worth Fighting For”

Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021

Our veterans’ lives are worth fighting for, and that struggle is intensifying as suicide rates rise.

Share your questions about veteran suicide prevention with our “Worth Fighting For” expert panel by Tuesday, Nov. 2, for a chance to hear them answered Veterans Day, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m.



• Message us on Facebook.

• Tweet using #ARAsk.

• 1-501-682-0318



“American Veteran: Keep It Close”

Biweekly episodes Sept. 7, 2021, - Jan. 11, 2022

Accompanying the “American Veteran” television specials is a 10-part digital video series produced by Blue Chalk. Called “American Veteran: Keep It Close,” it features veterans discussing items they brought with them during their service and those they brought back home. This series highlights the human tendency to have keepsakes and will help to bridge the gap between civilian and veteran. The series will be posted on the PBS Voices YouTube Channel bi-weekly from Sept. 7 through Jan. 11.


“American Veteran” Podcast

Tuesdays through Dec. 14

Another aspect of the “American Veteran” project is an accompanying podcast series. It will include nine episodes that each feature a different veteran discussing their time in the military. The series features a variety of stories, ranging from an Army nurse serving in Vietnam to a satellite technician serving as a gay man during the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” era. The podcasts are hosted by Phil Klay, a Marine Corps veteran featured in the “American Veteran” television series and can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Audible. A new podcast will be posted every Tuesday until Dec. 14.


Funding for "American Veteran" is provided by The Wexner Family Charitable Fund, Battelle Memorial Institute, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and Analog Devices.


Funding for “Worth Fighting For” is provided by AARP Arkansas. Additional funding for veteran-related programming on Arkansas PBS is provided by Wreaths Across America.



About the author: Ryan Bradford is a journalism and history major studying at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) and is currently interning with the Arkansas PBS marketing department. Ryan has traveled to and lived in many different states before coming back to his home state of Arkansas, where he hopes to pursue a career in history.