Tom Bowman

If you ask NPR reporter Tom Bowman about his career aspirations, he'd probably tell you he already has the best job possible: covering the Pentagon for NPR. For Bowman, coming to NPR was an "excellent opportunity to work at a great organization with a world-wide reputation, a huge listenership, and stability" and to work closely with "some of the best journalists around."

Bowman's nuanced NPR coverage reflects his years of experience on his current beat. Before coming to NPR in April 2006, Bowman spent nine years as a Pentagon reporter at the Baltimore Sun. His familiarity and knowledge of the people and issues connected with the Pentagon, he says, are great assets to his coverage.

During his 19 years at the Baltimore Sun, Bowman also covered the Maryland Statehouse, the United States Congress, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the National Security Agency (NSA). His coverage of racial and gender discrimination at NSA led to a Pentagon investigation in 1994.

Bowman says he has been groomed for journalism since a young age, recalling his years at a parochial school just outside of Boston. The strict Catholic nuns and scholarly Xaverian brothers were "good preparation for covering the Pentagon," he reflects. "You are taught how to hone your questions and develop a thick skin." Bowman also recognizes that the "training under lots of Irish relatives – and friends – who can charm their way into a situation and talk a dog off a meat truck," have been assets to his career.

Bowman initially imagined his career path would take him into academia as a history, government, or journalism professor. However, after graduation he landed a job at the Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Mass., and thrived amid "the deadlines, the competition, and the personalities both at a newspaper and in the political realm." Bowman also worked for the Daily Transcript in Dedham, Mass., and then as a reporter at States News Service, writing for the Miami Herald and the Anniston (Ala.) Star.

Over his career, Bowman as been honored with several awards for news writing and features, from the New England Press Association and the Maryland Press Association. He is also a co-winner of a 2006 National Headliners' Award for stories on the lack of advanced tourniquets for U.S. troops in Iraq.

NPR's White House Correspondent David Greene says of Bowman, "Tom is so well-sourced. Anytime I would talk to someone at the Pentagon or in the military, they would not only know Tom, but would compliment his reporting and pass on a hello. And what a team player — Tom is always willing to pitch in and share his expertise in any way that makes our stories better."

Bowman earned a B.A. in history from St. Michael's College in Winooski, Vt., and a master's degree in American Studies at Boston College.

If he had his choice of locales, Bowman's geographic inclinations would take him far from the DC area; he'd prefer to spend summers on Monhegan Island, Maine, and pass the winters skiing in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Till then, you'll find him on NPR.

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2:09pm

Wed October 5, 2011
National Security

Gap Grows Between Military, Civilians On War

Originally published on Fri October 7, 2011 2:42 pm

A new poll by the Pew Research Center shows a significant divergence on attitudes toward war and military service between members of the military and civilians.

David Gilkey NPR

As the U.S. marks the 10th anniversary of its involvement in the Afghan war this week, a Pew Research Center report shows some wide differences between the way military members and the general public view the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Pew researchers talked to nearly 4,000 people, split almost evenly between military veterans and civilians. Paul Taylor, the editor of the study, said he wanted to explore this unique moment in American history.

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10:01pm

Wed September 14, 2011
National Security

For A Marine Hero, A Medal Of Honor

Marine Dakota Meyer poses during his deployment in Kunar province, Afghanistan. President Obama is awarding him the Medal of Honor on Thursday, making him the first living Marine to receive the honor since the Vietnam War.
Anonymous AP

Shortly after dawn on a September morning in 2009, American and Afghan troops set out on patrol along a rocky mile-long stretch in eastern Afghanistan. They were heading to a small village for a routine meeting with tribal elders.

Suddenly, everything went wrong.

Cpl. Dakota Meyer and Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez, who had stayed behind with the vehicles, heard small arms fire in the distance and knew instantly it was an ambush. Rodriguez-Chavez then heard an officer yelling for help on the radio.

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2:00am

Thu September 1, 2011
Governing

Panel Finds Widespread Waste By Wartime Contractors

A report by a congressional commission says the U.S. has lost tens of billions of dollars during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because of waste and fraud in government contracts. The panel offered 15 recommendations to tackle the contracting mess. But one suggested fix — hire more government workers — might not be too popular right now.

10:01pm

Tue August 30, 2011
Closing Walter Reed

In 2007, Walter Reed Was The Army's Wakeup Call

At Walter Reed, Oscar Olguin and his family were visited by President Bush and first lady Laura Bush. But Olguin says that when he left the hospital, he had to fend for himself.
Courtesy of Oscar Olguin

For more than a century, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center was known as the hospital that catered to presidents and generals. Eisenhower was treated and died there. So too did Generals "Black Jack" Pershing, Douglas MacArthur and George Marshall.

But in recent years, Walter Reed was shorthand for scandal.

A 2007 series that dominated the front page of The Washington Post told of decrepit housing and wounded soldiers left to fend for themselves.

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9:09am

Mon August 15, 2011
Closing Walter Reed

When Will Closing Walter Reed Pay Off? Maybe 2018

Originally published on Wed August 31, 2011 4:08 pm

BRAC Commission Chairman Anthony J. Principi, and other member of the commission raise their hands in favor of closing Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington during a base closing hearing Aug. 25, 2005 in Arlington, Va.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

When the Walter Reed Army Medical Center was slated for closure back in 1995, the goals were to improve care for wounded soldiers, and to save money. The final patients left this past week.

But with closing Walter Reed now estimated to cost more than $1 billion more than originally predicted, it could take many years before the military will realize any savings.

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