"Charlie Foxtrot" exposes a military policy that strips service members of their benefits and veteran status when they're suffering from medical conditions that were fueled by the trauma of war.
Over the course of this six month investigation, we profiled those struggling to live a productive life without needed medical care while facing the stigma of losing their veteran status.
Our team consulted more than fifty service members, military moms and dads, veterans service organizations, doctors, lawmakers, drill sergeants and two U.S. Presidents to investigate the problem and spotlight solutions.
We were told by VA Secretary Bob McDonald, "only Congress can modernize the archaic appeals process."
That's where our investigation took a different turn.
In addition to exposing a problem, we also investigated a solution: the Fairness for Veterans Act. The bi-partisan plan backed by 44 veterans service organizations requires mental health conditions like PTSD and TBI to be considered in the discharge review process. It offers service members a second chance at the benefits that were taken away.
On Veterans Day, our story aired in 38 cities company-wide. Each station took our investigation farther by localizing the problem with stories from their area.
To reach viewers on all platforms, "Charlie Foxtrot" premiered digitally on its own website, MissionCharlieFoxtrot.com. Our online reports and social media posts were viewed more 1.5 million times. We offered an explanation of how viewers could add their name to the list of people demanding Congress to act. Thousands chose to sign our petition to show their support.
We delivered those signatures to Capitol Hill. Just three days later, Congress passed "Fairness for Veterans" as part of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. On December 23, 2016, it was signed in to law, giving tens of thousands of former service members a chance at life-saving medical treatment.
Our investigation culminated with a screening inside the U.S. Capitol alongside members of the U.S. House and Senate. Later that week, the Bill passed. By year's end, the Act of Congress was signed in to law by the President.
In Congressional testimony the head of the VA referenced our work as the illuminating force that opened his eyes to the need for policy change.OW WE DID IT:
Fill out the form below and we'll work on connecting you to the entry creator!