Quil Lawrence

David Aquila ("Quil") Lawrence is an award-winning correspondent for NPR News, covering the millions of Americans who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as they transition to life back at home.

Previously, Lawrence served as NPR's Bureau Chief in Kabul. He joined NPR in 2009 as Baghdad Bureau Chief – capping off ten years of reporting in Iraq and all the bordering countries. That experience made the foundation for his first book Invisible Nation: How the Kurds' Quest for Statehood is Shaping Iraq and the Middle East, published in 2008.

Before coming to NPR, Lawrence was based in Jerusalem, as Middle East correspondent for The World, a BBC/PRI co-production. For the BBC he covered the fall of the Taliban in December 2001 and returned to Afghanistan periodically to report on development, the drug trade and insurgency.

Lawrence began his career as a freelancer for NPR and various newspapers while based in Bogota, Colombia, covering Latin America. Other reporting trips took him to Sudan, Morocco, Cuba, Pakistan and Iran.

A native of Maine, Lawrence studied history at Brandeis University, with concentrations in the Middle East and Latin America. He is fluent in Spanish and conversant in Arabic.

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National Security
4:07 pm
Tue June 9, 2015

The Unfinished VA Hospital That's More Than $1 Billion Over Budget

Sloan Gibson, deputy secretary of Veterans Affairs, speaks in April at the construction site of the VA hospital in Aurora, Colo. The unfinished hospital is more than $1 billion over its original budget and congressional funding runs out this week.
David Zalubowski AP

Originally published on Tue June 9, 2015 6:57 pm

A decade ago, plans were drawn up for a huge Veterans Affairs hospital near Denver intended to replace old and crowded facilities for nearly 400,000 vets in Colorado and neighboring states.

The original budget was $328 million, but that was totally unrealistic, the VA now acknowledges. So how much did it finally cost?

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Law
1:34 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

When Civilians Accuse Troops Of Rape, Military Courts Often Decide

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 6:42 pm

Brittany Bentz was 16 years old in 2012, living near Edwards Air Force Base in California. She went to the same martial arts studio as a family friend, who was 25 and in the Air Force.

"He was like a brother so I felt comfortable talking with him, hanging out with him," Bentz says.

It's NPR policy to name plaintiffs in sexual assault cases only if they want to tell their story — and Bentz does.

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Politics
6:05 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

President Obama Visits Phoenix Hospital At Center Of VA Crisis

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 8:00 pm

President Obama and Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald visit the veterans hospital in Phoenix Friday to announce a new outside advisory committee to help the VA with customer service. A scandal last year at the Phoenix facility led to revelations of long wait times for veterans throughout the VA medical system.

U.S.
4:16 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

VA Secretary Apologies For Exaggerating Military Service

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 7:16 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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U.S.
4:25 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

End Of Life Care Can Be Different For Veterans

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 6:20 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Shots - Health News
3:27 am
Wed January 28, 2015

VA Steps Up Programs As More Veterans Enter Hospice Care

A hospital bed is draped with a flag after a veteran died in the hospice ward at St. Albans VA in Queens, N.Y.
Quil Lawrence NPR

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 4:32 pm

Ask Americans if someone in their family served in the military, and the answer is probably no. After all, fewer than 1 percent of Americans serve these days.

But ask if one of their grandfathers served, and you'll likely get a different answer. Between World War II and the wars in Korea and Vietnam, millions of men were drafted into service — and both men and women volunteered.

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Back At Base
3:35 am
Tue January 13, 2015

VA Data Show Disparities In Veteran Benefits Spending

George Murray, who served in Vietnam, was able to access his medical benefits from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs relatively easily while living in Boston. But veterans living in other parts of Massachusetts, like Cape Cod, have more difficulty. Across the U.S., VA data show the unevenness in its benefit spending.
Jesse Costa WBUR

Originally published on Thu May 28, 2015 1:08 pm

NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're calling the project "Back at Base." This is the first of a three-part series about veteran benefits (Part 2 / Part 3).

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Law
4:54 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Lawyers Try To Fight Death Penalty With New PTSD Understanding

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 6:36 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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National Security
4:26 pm
Fri December 26, 2014

Military Policy Impedes Research On Traumatic Brain Injuries

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

U.S.
3:35 am
Tue November 11, 2014

Veterans Voices Multitracked, Overdubbed, Amplified Through An Actor

BASETRACK Live incorporates photographs, videos and interviews to tell the story of warfare, both at home and abroad.
Courtesy of En Garde Arts

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 8:16 am

Basetrack began as a place for embedded journalists to post photos. Later it became a social media site where families could keep up with their troops in Afghanistan. Now it has transformed again, into a new way for the most recent generation of veterans to tell the story of their service and survival.

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Shots - Health News
3:21 am
Mon October 13, 2014

A Benefit For Rural Vets: Getting Health Care Close To Home

For some rural vets who live far from a VA hospital, getting medical care has meant driving a day or two from home, and missing work.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu October 16, 2014 7:12 pm

Army veteran Randy Michaud had to make a 200-mile trip to the Veterans Affairs hospital in Aroostook County, Maine, near the Canadian border, every time he had a medical appointment.

Michaud, who was medically retired after a jeep accident in Germany 25 years ago, moved home to Maine in 1991. He was eligible for VA medical care, but the long drive was a problem.

He's one of millions of veterans living in rural America who must travel hundreds of miles round-trip for care.

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The Impact of War
5:13 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Homeless Vet's Story Illustrates Challenge In Getting Off The Street

David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Thu September 25, 2014 4:42 pm

The White House has vowed to end chronic homelessness among veterans by 2015. We profile one vet in San Diego whose odyssey illustrates why it's so hard to get vets off the street.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Around the Nation
10:38 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Homeless Vets: They're Not Just Single Men Anymore

Alexander Morales, who served in the Army in the 1970s, with his family: wife Roberta; Elvia, 7, Elena, 8, and Elvira, 7 (in front), and Ruben Verdugo, 13, and Aaron D. Huerta, 17 (in back). Morales' family has been going for years to the Stand Down event in San Diego, where veterans receive assistance.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Thu September 25, 2014 4:49 pm

Every summer for 27 years, a small tent city has popped up in San Diego. "Stand Down" is a three-day oasis for homeless veterans, with showers, new clothes, hot meals, medical help, legal aid and a booth set up for every housing program in the city.

Increasingly, the event needs ways to keep children entertained.

"They've got the kids zone and everything. My kids live out here very happy. They're looking forward to it from last year," says Alex Morales, who served in the Army in the 1970s.

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Health Care
5:07 am
Wed August 27, 2014

After Inspector General Report, Veterans Want More Than Promises

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 7:15 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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News
5:37 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

VA's Inspector General Finds Faked Data At Hospitals Across U.S.

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 8:07 pm

President Obama addressed the annual convention of the American Legion in North Carolina with a raft of new proposals for vets. The speech comes as the inspector general at the Veterans Affairs Department is releasing a report on the scandal over phony wait times at the Phoenix VA hospital.

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National Security
2:33 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

First Rule Of This Fight Club: You Must Be A Veteran

Vance, who serves as a coach, founded the group after his own struggle with PTSD. He says it helped him get out of a dark place. He now has a degree in social work.
David Gilkey/NPR

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 8:09 pm

About a dozen military veterans have locked themselves inside a caged boxing ring, in a rough part of San Diego, and they're starting to throw punches. It's therapeutic, they say.

"A lot of people say, 'You guys are punching each other in the face. How is that helpful?' " says Aaron Espinoza, a former Marine. "But it's a respect thing, it's mutual. I have to push him, he has to push me to get better."

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Politics
4:25 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

After 5 Weeks Of Haggling, Congress Inks Bipartisan VA Bill

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 7:40 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Health
6:29 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Veterans Kick The Prescription Pill Habit, Against Doctors' Orders

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Sun July 13, 2014 6:28 am

For many people with post-traumatic stress disorder, sleeping can return you to the worst place you've ever been, at the worst possible moment.

"I always see his face," says Will, who did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Army. "And in my dreams it's the same thing. ... I always walk over to him, and instead of this Afghani kid that's laying there, it's my little brother."

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Shots - Health News
6:33 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

A Growing Number Of Veterans Struggles To Quit Powerful Painkillers

Bryan McDonel and his father, Mike, both served multiple tours in Iraq with the National Guard. Bryan was first prescribed painkillers before his deployment, and his dependence on medication prompted a downward spiral.
Quil Lawrence NPR

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 7:20 pm

There are antlers everywhere on the walls of Bryan and Mike McDonel's place near Pine Bluff, Ark. The house is hardly big enough for all their hunting trophies. Both are good shots with their hunting bows; Bryan and Mike, his father, served in the Arkansas National Guard and deployed together to Iraq, twice.

The McDonel family has served in the military for generations. But Bryan, 35, is out of the service now. He is one of thousands of troops and veterans who struggle with addiction to prescription drugs.

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National Security
4:17 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Obama Taps Former Procter & Gamble Chief To Helm VA

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 7:01 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

President Obama has decided on his choice to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. He has nominated Robert McDonald, the former CEO of Procter & Gamble. This afternoon the president introduced him at the VA, here in Washington.

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