Dave Philipps, an investigative reporter for the Gazette in Colorado Springs, just won the Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting for "Other Than Honorable," his three-day investigative series that examined how soldiers injured during war were being discharged without benefits.
Philipps wasn't in the newsroom when the announcement of the Pulitzers came down yesterday afternoon: His paper reports that he was at the airport in Washington, D.C., where he was one of four finalists for the Michael Kelly Award. He didn't win that one.
But he won journalism's big award, which comes with a $10,000 award and endless accolades.
The Gazette published "Other than Honorable" from May 19-21, 2013 in print and on gazette.com. Using Army data, Philipps showed that the number of soldiers being discharged for misconduct annually had skyrocketed at posts with the most combat troops. "Some of those soldiers who were discharged had come home from combat with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries, then committed offenses that likely were linked to those 'invisible injuries,'" the Gazette notes. "They then were denied benefits because their misconduct resulted in them receiving 'other-than-honorable' discharges."
Pulitzer judges lauded "Other than Honorable" for "expanding the examination of how wounded combat veterans are mistreated, focusing on loss of benefits for life after discharge by the Army for minor offenses, stories augmented with digital tools and stirring congressional action."
Although Philipps, a native of Colorado Springs, has done many stories on the military in the Pikes Peak region -- and was a finalist for the Pulitzer in 2010 for his coverage of violent vets based at Fort Carson -- he's covered many other issues. In December, he broke the story about the Air Force Academy using cadet informants in a program designed to end cheating. In March, he revealed that the El Paso County sheriff wasn't following his own rules. And two years ago, then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar threatened to punch Philipps in the nose over his questions about the federal wild-horse program.
Here's some required reading from Dave Philipps:
"Other Than Honorable," the May 2013 series that just won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting.
"Casualties of War," the series that made Philipps a Pulitzer finalist in 2010.
"Honor and Deception," about the secret Air Force program that recruited academy students to inform on fellow cadets.
"Sheriff Maketa: 'You know who I am? The sheriff. You know who wrote those policies? Me. I can do with them whatever I want,'" his piece on how Sheriff Terry Maketa wasn't following his own rules.
"All the Missing Horses: What happened to the Wild Horses Tom Davis Bought From the Gov't?," a September 2012 special report for ProPublica.
Not by Philipps, but about him: "Salazar says he 'regrets' threatening to punch a Gazette reporter."
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