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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.

Now, that generation of veterans is getting older. And as many of them near the end of their lives, aging into their 80s and 90s, the demand for hospice care has been growing with them. 

VA Steps Up Programs As More Veterans Enter Hospice Care

Photo credit: Quil Lawrence/NPR 

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It might not exactly be doctor’s orders, but it made perfect sense to Josh Sweeney.

“If you hit somebody, you feel a lot better,” he says, making his way off the ice from a grueling practice with the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey team – a sport also known as “murder-ball on ice.”

Sled hockey might be the fastest sport in the Paralympics; players strap on to a tiny sled perched a few inches off the ice, balanced on one double-runner skate. They use two short sticks like ski poles to fly across the ice. Then the sticks flip around, with a hockey blade on the tip. Players can switch the puck quickly between left and right, and shoot from either side.

The Paralympic movement started with disabled veterans after World War II. Today, there are many veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan in Sochi with the U.S. team; Sweeney is one of them.

From War In The Desert To ‘Murder Ball On Ice’

Photo Credit: David Gilkey/NPR

Thirteen years ago, just as the United States began what was to become its longest war, a futuristic wheelchair hit the market.

The iBOT allowed paralyzed people, including many veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, to stand up by rising to eye level. It also did something no wheelchair ever had: climb stairs.

But even though users loved it, the iBOT went out of production in 2009 when Johnson & Johnson discontinued it.

“I was very disappointed,” says disabled veteran Gary Linfoot, a former Army helicopter pilot. “I knew my tent was up, I had one, but I knew there were other people out there who could use this device, this technology and it would not be available to them.”

Now, however, the iBOT could be coming back.

A Reboot For Wheelchair That Can Stand Up And Climb Stairs

Photos: Quil Lawrence/NPR

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Afghans Divided On When U.S. Troops Should Leave”. Watching a city kid practicing his baseball moves again and again. 

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Afghan City May Be Test Case For U.S. Withdrawal”. Drinking wine at Pour.