Returning now to veterans on this Memorial Day weekend. Close to one out of two veterans who've served in Iraq or Afghanistan have now filed disability claims for service-related injuries - everything from hearing loss and back problems to mental health claims like PTSD. The percentage of vets making claims now is more than double the rate of previous wars. The total cost could eventually come to close to a trillion dollars.
Marilynn Marchione of the Associated Press reported on the staggering increase and what might explain it.
Let's turn to another story we've been following in recent weeks: African-Americans and same-sex marriage. When President Obama came out in support of gay marriage, some African-American religious leaders protested. But according to new polling data, African-Americans are no less supportive or, for that matter, opposed to gay marriage than any other group in the country.
Every few weeks on the program, we've been running an occasional series called Why Music Matters, where we bring you the stories of music fans in their own words, about how certain songs or even bands have changed their lives. Today's story comes from a young artist in Seattle. Her name is Vivi Perez, and she almost gave up on high school, that is until a community activist group called El Centro de la Raza introduced her to the music business.
VIVI PEREZ: I felt kind of, like, I didn't know where I was going a lot in high school.
Hotshot political consultant Matt Mackowiak is a rising star in the very lucrative world of political consulting. His firm, the Potomac Strategy Group, helps Republicans win elections, but he's not working with Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign this election year.
People who are part of Mackowiak's tribe — the strategists, the opposition researchers, the pollsters — are discovering that they can have a much bigger impact working for outside groups that can raise unlimited amounts of money, unencumbered by the rules that restrict what a presidential campaign can do.
Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray was elected to office on a platform of anti-corruption. But just two years into his term, a federal investigation has left two former aides pleading guilty to misdeeds during the 2010 election. Gray has denied any wrongdoing. Host Guy Raz talks about D.C. politics with Washington Post reporter Nikita Stewart.
The Denver folk group The Lumineers was founded in 2002 by Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites, who grew up together in the New Jersey suburb of Ramsey. In its early days, the band had its sights on nearby New York as the gateway to success.
When parents deploy to a war zone overseas, their absence can have ripple effects that are felt long after they return. Parents and their children often struggle to figure out how to be a family again after leading separate lives for months or years. Now, there's an effort to make the transition from combat life to home life less rocky.
From now until November, President Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will emphasize their differences. But the two men's lives actually coincide in a striking number of ways. In this installment of NPR's "Parallel Lives" series, a look at one of those similarities: They both signed health care overhaul laws based on an individual mandate.