Navy veteran Donald Lollis said he's been sleeping on the streets for six months. 'They give you an honorable discharge and you just do the best you can. And that's how I've been living.'
KUOW Photo/Posey Gruener

It's 3 a.m. on the first day of a massive free clinic at Seattle Center. Anyone who needs medical, dental or vision care can find help here today — first come, first served. 

An Iraq vet named Ryan Mielcarek addressed the crowd: “By a quick show of hands, do we have any veterans in the audience here today?”

Mielcarek is the South Sound platoon leader with the veteran volunteer group, The Mission Continues. Their goal is to connect with veterans experiencing homelessness, more than 600 in King County according to official estimates.

Note: This story is an update to a story first reported in 2012 in collaboration with the Seattle Times.

Between 2008 and 2011, more than 20,000 soldiers and Marines were given “other than honorable” discharges from the military. Now, one soldier from Salem, Oregon, has learned his discharge will be upgraded.

Speaking from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, President Obama said on Thursday that slowing down the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is "the right thing to do."

"Afghan forces are still not as strong as they need to be," Obama said, so the United States will leave 9,800 troops in the country through most of 2016. By 2017, about 5,500 troops will remain in a few bases across the country.

Obama said that the U.S. mission in Afghanistan will remain focused on two non-combat objectives: to train Afghan forces and carry out counterterrorism operations against al-Qaida.

U.S. Will Keep More Troops In Afghanistan Than Planned

Oct 15, 2015

Senior administration officials say President Obama will announce Thursday that he will keep a larger military presence in Afghanistan than he had planned. The president had hoped to whittle the U.S. forces down to just 1,000 by the time he left office.

The officials say 9,800 troops will stay in Afghanistan through most of 2016, and 5,500 in 2017.

NPR's Mara Liasson reports the decision was driven by recent successes by anti-government Taliban fighters:

U.S. Army Capt. Jennifer Peace (right) and her wife, Debbie, with their youngest daughter at their home in Spanaway, Wash.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Capt. Jennifer Peace walks into the room, a tall, thin woman in crisp uniform, with minimal makeup and trim brown hair.

But when soldiers call her ma’am, she has orders to correct them. They must call her sir.

U.S. troops in Afghanistan lowered the flag and boxed up their gear at the end of last year as President Obama declared the formal end to 13 years of U.S. combat operations.

File photo of Bowe Bergdahl at his graduation from basic training with the Army.
Bergdahl family

There’s a recommendation on whether Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will face a court martial, but it’s not being released to the public yet.

Bergdahl’s attorney says the hearing officer overseeing the Army’s case sent his recommendations Monday to the U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The international aid group Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) is calling for an international investigation into what it calls a war crime in Afghanistan — Saturday's U.S. airstrikes that killed 22 people, including medical staff and patients at the organization's hospital in Kunduz.

Department of Veterans Affairs
Department of Veterans Affairs

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray is calling for disciplinary action after a Veterans Affairs investigation found that staffers in Seattle dumped mail about vets’ benefits in a yellow bucket and left it for months. 

A single number has shaped the way that Americans think about young military veterans.

It's the number 22, as in, 22 vets take their lives each day.

The number has become a rallying cry for advocates trying to call attention to suicide among vets, especially those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Twenty-two, not some vague, rounded-off number. Not 30, not 20. Twenty-two.

A number so specific it inspires action. Speeches, fundraisers, marches and even walks clear across the country.

But 22 doesn't quite add up.

Reporter Ashley Ahearn dug into the Northwest history of the B-17 bomber with her father, Joe Ahearn, Jr.
EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

There’s an old photograph in my father’s office that I’ve always wondered about. In it my grandfather and nine other young airmen stand in front of their B-17 plane, shoulders squared, staring proudly at the camera. They were probably in England at the time, getting ready to fly bombing raids over Germany in 1943.

Share Your Family Connection To World War II

Sep 27, 2015

In a recent story, KUOW Ashley Ahearn reports on the making of the B-17 bomber in Seattle – and the women who moved here to work on Boeing’s production lines.

We want to hear from you. How was your family affected by World War II? Share your memories and photos with us. Write to If you send photos, please be sure to describe what's pictured.

Submissions may be published at and our social media accounts.

File photo of Joint Base Lewis-McChord headquarters.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Outrage is growing over the potential discharge of a Special Forces soldier from Joint Base Lewis McCord who beat an Afghan police commander accused of raping a young boy.

The practice of bacha bazi – an Afghan term for powerful men using adolescent boys for sex – and just what American troops have or haven’t done about it is getting renewed attention now, but the debate isn't new.

File photo of Bowe Bergdahl at his graduation from basic training with the Army.
Bergdahl family

U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl faces a hearing Thursday to determine whether he’ll be court-martialed on a desertion charge.

Olympic College in Bremerton will receive money that will help to pay for a veteran center for students.
Olympic College

Lake Washington Institute of Technology in Kirkland and Olympic College in Bremerton will get a little more than $100,000 for the next three years to help student veterans.

The grants from the Department of Education will help create centers for student veterans.