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Ileana Najarro - Military Affairs and General Assignment Reporter

Military Affairs and General Assignment Reporter

I’m a journalist because I believe in the power of stories. My own story begins with my Salvadoran parents fleeing the violence of war. There are chapters of joy, tragedy, hope and perseverance in my hometown of Los Angeles. There are scenes in Washington D.C., New York and Mexico City. There’s a whole adventure in Houston. My story now continues in Tampa where I hope to find and share the stories of those serving and who have served in the military, their families, their communities, as well as the tales of the bay’s diverse residents.

  1. A homeless Vietnam War veteran in Clearwater answers questions for a Pinellas County homeless survey. A shortage of affordable housing is considered a major cause of homelessness among vets in the Tampa Bay area. [Times files]
    Local agency leaders called on members of Congress to increase national affordable housing options as a solution to veteran homelessness
  2. MacDill Air Force Base will observe a full-day, "resilience tactical pause'' Friday to address a growing number of suicides in the Air Force. Airmen will participate in team-building activities and small-group discussions on mental health. This is happening at military bases across the U.S.  [Times files].
    An estimated 78 airmen nationwide have taken their lives this year, prompting leaders to boost prevention efforts
  3. Hurricane Dorian's projected path, as of 2 p.m. Saturday.
    But much of Florida remains in the “cone of uncertainty” after the latest forecast.
  4. Workers cover stained glass windows with plywood sections at the Santa Maria del Mar Catholic Church in preparation for Hurricane Dorian, Friday, Aug. 30, 2019, in Flagler Beach, Fla. [John Raoux | Associated Press]
    New forecasts show an earlier northern turn that may keep it from making landfall in Florida.
  5. The National Hurricane Center's projected track for Hurricane Dorian as of 11 a.m. Friday.
    Meanwhile, a tropical wave is spotted moving westward off the coast of Africa.
  6. KC-135 Stratotankers will be evacuated from MacDill Air Force Case to McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas ahead of Hurricane Dorian.  [Times]
    The aircraft are being sent to McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas as a precaution with high winds projected during the storm
  7. A bulldozer dumps a load of trash into a burn pit 300 yards from the runway at Afghanistan's Bagram Airfield in this 2012 photo. The Pentagon later built a trash disposal plant at the busy military base but a number of crude burn pits, still spewing toxic fumes, remain in operation. [Mark Rankin]
    A number of veterans have been locked out of VA medical care and disability benefits for illnesses that often are terminal.
  8. Medal of Honor recipient Ryan Pitts, right, speaks while Clinic Director Karen Blanchette, left, Michael Sullivan, a Cohen Veterans Network Board Member, center, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, look on during a ceremony Monday marking the opening of the Florida Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Aspire Health Partners in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
    The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Aspire Health Partners will fill mental health service gaps for veterans and their family members.
  9. The Veterans Resurgence Program inside the Falkenburg Road Jail houses up to 60 veterans who can receive resources and counseling while serving time.
    Sheriff Chad Chronister’s Veterans Resurgence Program offers resources, counseling to incarcerated vets
  10. Congressman Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-Palm Harbor) recite the Pledge of Allegiance during a Bipartisan Congressional Veterans Advisory Board meeting at the Dunedin Public Library on Monday. [MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE   |   Times]