tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN July 1, 2014 6:00am-8:01am EDT
the interviewer looked stricken. her supervisor quickly looks down at her notes. shame wild and my throat and eyes. my humiliation was absolute. even the doctors were laughing at me. welcome to the office of veterans affairs psycho boy. [applause] thank you thank you very much. again, thank you so much for coming. i really honestly very, very much appreciated. we have some time for questions. michael and james are going to circulate with the microphone. any questions? i am happy to take them. about any part of the story, past, present, future. boy, that first one is always the hardest, isn't it?
someone is going to ask that first question. thank you. i say that before i hear the question. >> been to your story is a very personal one, something that is much larger and yourself. so stepping back from your disempowered act of witnessing, at least you were witnessing, do you have a broader conclusion about how international organizations can operate more effectively? >> i have a couple of things that i think are very important about the international community's work, which i don't think is going to completely answer your question, but i will take a stab at it. a few years ago there was an international norm accepted among the nations of the
international community that is called are to become an responsibility to protect. there are some experts here in the room on that. what it means basically is that the of any nation have a responsibility to respect their citizens. and if they fail to do so in the national community has a responsibility to step then. i am paraphrasing, of course. almost every nation has signed on to the spirit the north koreans are still outstanding summer. surprise there. we are faced with this question every day in syria. we are faced with this question in ukraine, all around the world why aren't we doing more? america, the united nations command every individual among us. the answer is that we cannot -- week, america, the one thing cannot fix a problem.
we do the best that we can. tough that's why u.s. policy was going to fail. did not need to be pressured. i was at least willing to say so . >> the hindsight of six or eight years, that was a really, really our problem. and to put millions of dollars worth of aid was a pretty big step to solve that problem. i don't know what might have done it other than a military intervention, and that is what i argued for. we were already engaged. to the engage militarily in a third muslim nation, this one in the middle of africa in a place that made logisticians go crazy because it was hard to get to
was too hard. and i was not thinking very clearly because i really felt strongly that is what we should do. it's hard to like ukraine. why are we doing that? the answer is it is just damn hard. giving them the money, giving them the support, giving them what they need to get then. we the government will not are cannot take on. beyond that i do not have the answers. i felt like i was beating my head against the wall. a lot smarter people and i had to come up with a shrug. i wish i had a better answer for you. i don't. man.
[inaudible question] >> yes, my wife is here. it is important to know the woman who called me in darfur was marine. this affair that i was seven was just the last drop. since before went back. [inaudible question] >> she did. absolutely. she is recognized for it. we still talk pretty regularly. any other questions? here comes the microphone. >> is this on? since you just went to the va,
have you seen -- what kind of progress have you seen on behalf of the va? also, perhaps in their willingness to work with nonprofits like the writing project i no there are signs of change across the country and new funding coming out of the va for nonprofits through supportive services programs and things like that. wonder if you get some small sense of hope there that this big dinosaur may be making some important changes. >> thank you for the question. i do see -- could you guys here that? could you hear the question? is the kaytoo getting better at what they do? the supervisor was laughing at me. the answer to the question is yes. remember, the va is not one organization. there is the benefits organization which takes care of people when they -- which gives
people a small pension, takes care of widows and orphans, the health administration which is hospital and the bed center where you get ptsd treatment and the cemeteries. then there is the over arching organization that controls it. the benefits organization is best of. there have been best of for a long time. but they are getting better. they had a huge backlog of 300,000 cases that were over 125 days from beginning to adjudication, and that is their target. they had 350,000 cases of something that were well beyond that. mike case, just 400 days. i filed until they call me from my -- it was three under 65 days until they call me to come and. a couple of months later the adjudication. north has been halved.
they are making huge progress. some hospitals are better than others. some offices are better than others. the joke is, if you have seen one, you have seen one. the stuff that has been going on in phoenix, seattle, that is limited to that hospital, i think. i have received excellent health care at the va. i use va education benefits to go back to graduate school and study writing. that is i came to fund the veterans writing friends and. up our work for me. getting into the system and getting our cases adjudicated which was up part of where that supervisor was laughing at me, about was health care, adjudication. and so that is getting better. the va had recently opened an office for complementary in alternative care looking at things like riding as therapy.
i hope there will call. i would love to talk to them about it. we are working with the department of defense at walter reed teaching writing there. we are not therapists. we are riders. but therapists there are using riding is the tool in a program that i wrote. so the department of defense gets it. i'm not sure that the va has yet, but hopefully they will. >> any other questions? >> first, i would like to think you for telling your story. recently a retired marine going through a lot of things the you have gone through every time the lead here i am not alone. so much more reassuring for me to go on the next. i would also like to thank you. i did not know that you were
part of -- you were heading up the writing program. definitely received a lot from that personally. thank you. we have a thing. it's all about getting some. from the day you go to boot camp to the day that you hit the beach, you are getting some. you are trying to get that combat action which really kind of reassures you as a marine. in the eyes of your colewort it makes you, you know, the warrior that you claim to the. but i know for me there was a point where it went from some to have enough. it was a point between joining,
you know, the last few seconds, all right. over, whatever. i know as an officer, maybe things are a little different. you already have stuff. my question is, did you have that moment where it kind of switch from the glorification of being in the military and the nobility of being in the military to, oh, my goodness, i am in the military, at combat, seeing people being killed, seeing, you know, people dying. it is partially my fault. >> absolutely. thank you for raising that question. i understand get some.
i was an unlisted. [silence] was an author. i was there, too. for me that moment you are talking about, that epiphanies that this is what i do came very, very late in my career. because i went back and forth between the military and the foreign service, i was so proud of myself and my was an american diplomat, the first member of my family to get a commission. my father was in the military. both my grandfathers were in the military, all my own goes to my cousin's. the did my surgeon put his arm around me, no, i can do this. i did. was proud of him. that moment for me and, everything changed. after our went home i got back to -- a couple days after that i was blown out and have a couple of weeks to close out my accounts.
remember physically taking my phone less. my phone and handing it to another officer who was 20 years and then i was. and they're really very much felt like i was passing through time to the next generation. and i was of terrifically smart and qualified officer may better choices than i did. and after his time took more traditional kind of assignment to give himself time to recover, rest. and so if i was able to not just pass on what i had learned in the fields, not just pass on the material so that he could carry on my job. i feel i have also passed on to him something and learned in the field which was, you have to take care of yourself as well. i'm glad they are taking care of yourself. i no you're not alone. there are a lot of us out there and we'll have to stay together.
then i answer your question? thank you very much. >> it almost follows that question. what i am thinking is with -- you are not alone. i mean, you are often the group, a small group, but it almost seemed to me as if any thinking, humanitarian person in that situation would have that response. and even if it was not the military way to discuss that with your colleagues, do you really think that -- do you not think that they will all kamal
of your colleagues were responding in much the same way, even if they did not have the wherewithal or the presence of mind to go home after writing the report of what happened to them talk about or think about. >> sure. one of the doctors that i worked with over the past few years has been a recurring theme. posttraumatic stress disorder, the disorder is not a term that a lot of people like. one thing that they have said to me over time is that what has happened to you is a perfectly normal reaction to a long chain of abnormal life events. and i have had a number of my colleagues come to me privately and say, i am so glad that you are taking care of yourself and you have inspired me to go get
some help. will also say i tried to reach out to some of the people i served with in afghanistan. i would send them e-mails. for a couple of reasons. hey, did you know that i was struggling? and also has a way of closing the loop on research because i wrote this book, and then i went back and looked all my notebooks to check dates into was actually on the call. it's always good to say, hey, what do you remember. a number of my colleagues in afghanistan have refused to be in contact with me. i don't know why. i worry that it is because they feel that maybe will ruboff. i was weak and there are embarrassed because i broke. i don't know why. the ones -- the people who are the most a danger to the cells
of the ones who won't get help because you cannot help them if they're one task. >> they too are waking up in the middle of the night. >> absolutely. >> i guess i just want to address a comment to what you just said which is. >> a lot of people deal with it and maybe deal with it is not the right word. the reason i say that this my father was a marine in the pacific theater in world war ii. he did not talk about it to anyone for 50 years. i mean, he wrote about it maybe two years before died. that was the first time any of us knew anything about anything we did. >> very typically of the world
war ii generation. and they were mostly men then, very small percentage of women in the military at that time. they came home from the war and immediately we are told thank you for your service. get back to work. by the way, now we have to fight the soviets, and we will fight them by being the best, have the best factories and the biggest cars and the fastest jets. the research i have seen shows us that it was 30 years after the war when these men were guys are starting to retire that they then started asking for help. that is when they needed it. just one last thing. a book written by an barack veteran. a young infantryman. and his book is called killing time. it is a really terrific work, but they're is a part in it or they come in off of a major fire
fight downtown. he is sitting by the side of his vehicle. but jen sergeant walks in and says, you're right? i don't know. he describes of as happened in the firefight. a platoon sergeant says, look my dad told me when he came on from vietnam the way you get through is is is you put all this stuff in a box and deal with that later. and if there is one lesson from my book, i hope that you're going to have to do with the stuff. it is better to deal with it on your own terms than deal with it when you can't. i have assigned to my office to assess either you control the memory of a memory controls you. my road home has been getting control of those memories. writing about them.
>> thank you for writing about your vulnerabilities. aziz said, supposed to show the control. so i wanted just so you about my perspective than says, hiring in the basement, people like this in error over year and you may seem like saviors. and at no point we have seen u.s. these vulnerable people they are talking about. see the news. now the them thinking about it, i try to forget.
people who i know, you know, the same. something about the system that actually takes care. i know want to take too much of your time. this is so complex. undoubtedly it would make you feel if you are of low bit sensitive it will make you feel like you have. but now after recovering your struggles to you feel that it is worth it, whenever you have done ? the report, and a decision
making. >> thank you. i hope so. >> look, about three days out of ten years that i can look back and say i got that one right. there are some made as i look back. why didn't i work harder. why did not try harder. was wrong? of village in the middle of darfur exists today because i broke the chain of command, went behind my kernels back -- now my colonel, my generals back khar'kov washington and ask for intervention. it happened. the next day that village became a base for an african union peacekeeping team, and that village existed. riding a cable back to washington and saying, look, you are not doing it right. here's what is going to happen, nothing really changed. i felt like i got it right.
the fact that i know that reporting that i did, reporting that i collected went into the case against milosevic, will always be proud of that. i wish i could have been more successful more often i wasn't. >> do we have time for one more? is there one more? >> by grabbing a microphone. thank you very much for your contribution, being very open and sharing your story. as my friend, i am from coast of low as well. it is very interesting and revealing to hear this kind of story, this part of the story. i was also then 99. i was little at that point. definitely true that we saw anybody that helped albanians in that time and during those
troubles those being our friends so it was a very welcome change for our country. i did have one question pertaining to your career and the way your work unraveled. do you think it had anything to do with maybe they're wrong decisions or the lack of success, if you may raise it that way, the sense that international officials seem to offer a while, at least, feel very invincible and all-powerful? we witnessed on the other side of our glorifying the international a ministration in particular cause about and later on have been critical of their mission or lack of successful reform or maybe partnering to closely with political elites that were more harmful to the wrong people and beneficial.
would you consider this as sort of a misjudgment of individual internationalist issues are more weaknesses of the system? >> i think i would maybe try and stay away from characterizing the senior leaders. i came to goes of o very early in my political career, my diplomatic career as a political officer. my job for couple of days was to drive full birth around, you know, i was a driver. and to be a round hole broken crystal and the guys who were fighting every day, is try and stop that war, i learned a lot. what they said among themselves, if they had the self doubts, i don't know. i was not party to that. i would say it would be very, very hard not to have that kind of doubt, but i think among
people like colbert, he may not have had those doubts. he was camino, so much more senior than i will ever be. and he, you know, it does his job to stop the war, my job to drive the truck. i still feel like i failed because i did not stop the fighting. i don't know what he felt. asked him once. we had a chance to talk. and never really got a straight answer out of him. it is humbling to fail, to go somewhere like roosevelt, to go somewhere like that eastern congo, to go somewhere like to for and be told, your job is to stop the fighting and to fail over and over again and to see the lives of the civilian population disrupted the way we have, it is very humbling, and
it does change the way you feel the world, much different person than i was 15 years ago. i don't know if i am more hopeful, but lance certainly more empathetic. as far as how the echoes of low people view the americans that were there at the time in the birds there were there at the time to my good friends go back every summer to teach at the american university there. some of these stores have been translated into albanian and published. we're working to get this published right now. maybe an hour. working to get the book translated. we hope we get to it into the hands of a lot.
at think that is it. [applause] >> thank-you, all of you, for your thoughtful questions and insights. we are thrilled to have had here tonight. there is some much more to be experienced in the book. i hope you will grabber coffee -- copy. otherwise please come see us here. thanks again. have a good night. between
different perspectives. i am going to start out with, just reading the opening of the story about an artillery unit. so this large base. and and is this weird thing where you are in a combat zone, but there are large, secure, and they are like little miniature cities. workout facilities and the chou all. you know, there would be some who never left them who were referred to as bobbitt's. and this story is set on. some marine had recorded the song said to the chin of photo california, and the course was welcome to the hotel camphor loser. you're in a combat zone, garbage restaurant on.
that sort of gives you the feel for them. they are actually engaged. all right. this morning 275 pounds of lyceum on a checkpoint. a group of insurgents and then went to the child of a launch. i got fish and lima beans. i try to a healthy. all nine of us are smiling and laughing. still jittery. a big plate of ravioli and pop types. before digging in, the persian gulf, the they have pumped cuts everywhere? >> another better, too. >> weird. he looks up and down the table. i cannot believe we finally had
a mission. it's about time we kill someone. even i chuckle little. we had been in iraq two months when the artillery units actually doing artillery, except so far we have only shot elimination missions. they usually don't want to risk collateral damage. not us, not until today. today the old and battery fires and we know we hit our target. religion until the so. pretty quiet. how many insurgents to you think we killed? platoon size elements. what? platoon size? hq i don't have platoons. why do you think we need the old and battery. we didn't? each gun only fired two rounds. they just wanted us all to have gone time on an actual target. even one round would be enough to take out a platoon in the open desert. it was fun.
he shakes his head slowly. platoon sized element he says again. that is what it was. two rounds per gun was what we need to take it out. i didn't mean a whole battery, are gone. how many did our gun, just our gun kill? , i suppose to know? platoon sizes like 40. figure 6 pounds, devise six, i don't know, and just over six people per gun. yap. we killed exactly six and have people. sanchez takes out a notebook as those doing the math and a stretching out his numbers. / nine marines on the gun and you personally have killed zero. seven something people to date. just like a torso and head columbia torso and head. that's not funny. we definitely got more. we are the best shots in the battery. just firing on the quarter
deflections they give us. i mean, we are better shots. put our round down a rabbit hole at 18 miles. but even if we are on target, we are on target. okay. we are on target. the other guys, their rounds could have it first. i could see that. shrapnel, the force of a jerking lenses when that. look to my even if the rounds hit first does not mean everyone is that necessarily. maybe some insured to of insurgent has shrapnel in the chest. he sticks his tongue out the clutch is is just dramatically. then around comes down and blows his stocking had off. he was dying already, but the cause of death would be blown the hell up, not shrapnel to the chest. i guess. i don't feel like a killed anybody. i think our know if i had. no, you would not know until you have seen the bodies.
the table clients for a second. it is better this way. doesn't it feel weird to you? after our first real mission to just be eating lunch. he takes a big bite of his sows barry stake in grants, you have to eat with a mouthful of food. it feels good. we just killed some bad guys. i cannot. it is good. i don't think i killed anybody. technically i am the one that pull the lynyrd. i fired the thing. you just loaded. like i could pull a lanyard. yeah, but you didn't. drop it. it is a crew-served weapons. it takes a crew. >> if we used a howitzer to kill someone back in the states to wonder what kind of crime there were charges with. murder. what, are you in india's? yak, murder, sure. but for each of us? and what degree? we loaded. by loaded an m-16 and handed it to him by would not say i have
killed anyone. it is a crew-served weapon. crew-served weapons. takes a group. and i loaded the we get the hamel from the afb. shouldn't they be responsible, to? yap. one of the a happy? one of the factory workers to make them more the taxpayers to pay for it. you know why not? because of retarded. the lieutenant gave the order. you believe that? you think officers would take it? how long you been in the military? he bounces fest on the table. listen to me jack we are gone six starts responsible for that gun. we just kill some bad guys. that's a good day's work. i still don't feel like a killed anybody, sergeant. it is quiet for a second. he shakes his head and starts laughing. yeah, well, all of us except you, he says.
[applause] >> i am happy to be here tonight. asked me to do something with them in the york, and i was not able to. i was happy when he asked about this gate. and i think we agree that if the short story thing does not work out a gun start a career based on that. come back to town. >> there are reporting this. >> that was such an error. no, my god. >> are their record in this? >> well over a year ago. veterans' issues. and so, you know, one of the first, maybe even the first person i spoke to. the kind of nervously asked me if i would read his book. i said of course. i was blown away by it.
over the last decade i read a lot of the work that has come out of the wars. i always said -- you know, there were some great books. a number of others, but i kept saying that it was going to take a decade or so for one of those books that really grabs you, grant me, at least, and really kind of took the war and took it apart and reassembled it in a piece of literature and a piece of art. and, of course, was right. and it was -- fills book was the first part that really, all the pieces were working for me at once. and i didn't come and tell we were handed out this afternoon and didn't really hit me as to why. i think there's something in this collection that is very stereoscopic in terms of how we see the war. those were just artillery guys.
we see ground spirited getting his picture of the war, the different perspectives, is systemic look at it. and i wonder if a collection store being put together, i was befuddled the process of pulling the collection together. those stories, how did you come up with the story in this collection. very important. >> i start out by writing really bad poetry. >> had started the first story a few months when i got back from iraq. the first or is about in rain. they're reading courses.
something that happened. i guess that was -- its about him coming home. the weirdness of that reentry into american life. i was working on a novel, precisely for that reason that, you know, you come back for more especially now because there is less than 1 percent served. i am from new york. you go back to new york. i am one of the few veterans of people need. and they would ask, so, how is iraq going? and you feel like you can actually explain, sort of pontificate to them what iraq is even know, you know, everybody on the seas that this little
small piece of it, and everyone interprets their experience differently. so i wanted to half stories that would tell mob just kind of the stories of the grounds or the artillery year or whenever, but the experiences of support staff, what it was like to be a chaplain to mortuary affairs specialist. have those people dealt with both what happened overseas and then what happened when they came back. it felt like with the collection i could hit the same themes. kill people up close. the act of killing is pretty central to the military. but his relationship could not be more different than the artillerymen in that piece that just read. or some of the other characters in the book. i was able to talk about the same thing from different angles, which was useful for me just from -- so i sort of slowly
worked until i had what felt like a cohesive piece of work even though none of those stories, there are no characters that crossover. >> especially in this story, guys are breaking down and killed. the artillery guy, always hit every but there seems, people are trying to make sense of what happened. these guys are using numbers and other stories, how these veterans or their friends are attempting to make sense of this thing. >> in no, we sometimes think of wars as this other experience. you know, you sort of a journey to the heart of darkness and give into the abyss.
this inexpressible knowledge that you can never tell. but it is also, military is a job. and you go into the job with all the stories about the military you have been told. and then you come back home and tell the stories about the military that people believe about you. and so there is a great bit in the book what it's like to go to war. and he says, as the 20 year-old combat veteran what it feels like to kill someone. and his possible angry answer if he is being honest, you might say not of shocking thing, doesn't feel like if shocking thing. if you have the same guys 20 years later, 40 years later, his answer might be different depending upon the people who have been around him into the is and what is ben through. and -- so it is this slow way that the characters need to
navigate. you know, some of them are dealing with things in theater. one of the stories is about to marines, one who kills a teenage combatants and then asked his friend to tell everyone else in the unit that he is the one who did it. we got actually kill. taine's combatant does not want to think about it. >> come back into the american society and deal with the kind of protections that people put on the man the way in which they can present themselves as veterans and know what a lot of americans don't pay that much attention to. >> in terms of presenting what is fiction allow you to do and what do you think fiction allows the cohort, what does it allow
them or what do they react to think positively or against? >> well, fiction invites the reader to think about that experience from the inside which was really, really important to me. is important to me to bring in and have narrators who would not necessarily agree with each other so you can start making valued of judgments about the sort of claims that they're making. it also lets you pressurize things. questions about not just what i have been through but people that i had known have been through. i could not have explored those things throughout memoir. i like it more. can't talk shed about memoir.
but, you know, for me personally and think i find it hard because there are stories you want to tell yourself about what you've been through. but if you put it into fiction, take those ideas you have about the world and put them into a story and make the characters real. invariably those characters in the process of making and real just destroy all the notions that you have about what you were originally writing. and i guess that is one of the things that is really valuable for me. if you do it well caught, memoir essays, you can do the same thing when you are getting your own experience, but i find it hard. >> to you want to read a little bit more? >> so, this is the opening story it is a vow a mortuary service
marine. for a long time was angry. that did not want to talk about iraq, but would not tell anyone i have been. people knew, if they pressed i would tell them lies. there was this corpse, i would say, lying in the sun. been there for days, swollen with gases. the eyes were socked its commander had to clean it off the streets. now look at my audience and massage them up, see if it wanted me to keep going. you would be surprised how many do. that's what i did a my sake. collected moraines. u.s. forces mostly, but sometimes iraqis, even insurgence. there are two ways to tell the story. funny or sad. guys like it funny with lots of gore and a grin on your face when you to the end. grows like it's sad with a thousand yards tear out to the distance as you gaze upon the
if i'm telling the story said i'm going to stop there. if i'm telling it funny though there's one more crucial bit which corporal g attorney told the story for me for the first time back in 2004 before either of us had collected remains or knew what we were talking about. i don't know where gee heard the story. the colonel screamed g had said and then a weird high-pitched noise deep in his throat like a wheezing dog. this was to show us precisely how they scream when covered in human fluids. if you get the noise right you get a laugh. what i liked about the story was even if it happened more or less it was still total bull ship. after deployment there wasn't anybody not even corporal gee who talk about their mutilated some of the mortuary affairs marines felt the spirits of the dead hung about the bodies.
it creeps them out. you could feel it they would say especially when he looked at the faces. but i got to be more than that. midway through the deployment guy started swearing they could feel spirits everywhere not just around the bodies and not just marine dead, sunni dead, shia dead come occurred dead even the dead of all an iraqi history and the mongols and the invasion. i never felt that he said. leave a body in the sun the outer layer of skin detaches from the lower and you feel it slide around in your hands. leave the body in water, everything swells in the skin feels waxy infix that recognizably human. except for me and corporal gee everybody mortuary affairs talked about goes. we never said any different. [applause] >> throughout every story a lot of these are told in the first
person that you seem to be occasionally celebrating the marshal and even the masculine and also interrogating it. you are kind of working every story above levels. did you plan on that or did these stories for instance mortuary affairs and you are a public affairs officer. you talk to some of these guys. did you come home and when you started that story, and did you know how you are going to work back? did you know how they have -- you were going to use them? >> i never had any idea. i knew there were things that interested me. i had heard that story that i just told but i also, the way the mortuary affairs guys talked about the job and there's a good
memoir about the mortuary affairs marine called shade of black which was very different and i usually have a couple of different pieces than a new kind of comment that's the opening of the story and then there is four or five more significant scenes that happened along the pro-am. and i knew that those things talk to each other. at least they stayed in my mind and he seems to fit together. some of them are not stories about work. one of them is a story about going out to a club, right? but it seemed to resonate and i would write the story and i would send it to friends until i sort of had a good feel for why it does different things talk to each other and what they meant. yeah. >> you also seem to be indicting
storytellers too and sort of the nature of war stories, how they are told, why they are told, kind of who gets to tell them. >> there's a lot of a lot of. >> du on the stories now or who owns the story's? >> do i own the story's? corporal gee. the i. there is a lot of room for story time. it doesn't have to be this. you know, the story my drunken night in what happened. you tell the story in the first time you see where you get the laughs and the next time the story gets to aipac recitation of what happened. ..
spent the guys are getting wasted. [laughter] it confuses me for a minute and thinking about this talk and looking forward to it it, is there any solid ground to tell war stories? and if not, why? it is a process to go back to what i mentioned earlier we don't figure anything out especially on our own.
>> with the vietnam vet he spent 35 years writing it? >> agreed but. >> also writes about men at war. >> so sometimes the notion you cannot communicate which is ultimately harmful because you need other people to help what you have been through and the example that i use it does not have to be bored but a bad relationship. oh my girlfriend is the psychopath in thin it's like you sound like the asshole. [laughter] maybe you are the dick.
may be more deeply or emotionally invested with the war is you would be it is hard to figure that out on your own. so it is extremely important in the narrative is the way that they work or can work he manipulates them because he does not open himself up to that type of questions. >> they are all fairly sophisticated story tellers. between fact and fiction should we open it up to the crowd? >> we take insults also.
>> one of the things i was thinking about is my father was in every major battle of the pacific but i did not hear about -- about it to until he was in his 80s and dying but maybe we can try to understand some parts of it at least? >> people talk about the road work to generation may be memoirs and self published as they were dying and then realized they did want to talk about it. and a sam hines road and a say in the '60s going to
college john the gi bill there and put a picture housing for all the veterans and they walk around working with planes you would wear one thing and they would have the beef with each other and then they go to afghanistan they are alone. they cannot discuss it with each other. also with a world war ii is some of the most insane or career fed war stories that i have heard i think it is weird if you have this experience it is ugly. the industrial scale killing. it is odd with the things that stay in your mind is
the rabil fucked up type of thing to beat called a hero for what you have done faugh. the services is a complicated. and then of course, the vietnam's generation had a different reception so that colors the way the veterans talk about what they have been through. i have heard that from a lot of people and then realized they really did want to tell the story.
the best advice is a cliche but it is true don't go out to try and be a hero of those who want to be heroes die and also those on the chow line so he knew in the best circumstances i am not sure i answered your question. >> caddy's cents red those books. >> yes i read that when i got out of the marine corps in my 20s i think it came out while the war was happening.
the a little bit of wisdom. some of the stories i was reading and reading what of the stories in here as i was reading the book that was reading things to inform me about technical matters to get the details right but also stuff to get the emotional things right sometimes that was more literature or the diary of a country priest like the brilliant the egyptian novel
>> earlier talking about individuals that were tiny mine was especially tiny and when i first started writing after having been in the marine corps i read dozens and dozens of the books i read the rand reports but i did not know what was happening outside of very small area of operations so you were an officer. >> but i did the exact same thing i was reading construction reports and a lot of memoirs and i talked to a lot of marines who might know something about the subject. i had to do a lot of research to try to get it is right as possibleyíc.
>> the things they said that war is the enemy and also on the forefront submerging with this technology with the quest for world dominance? >> well, i don't know. i think have you answer that question depends on what were you talk about for the iraq war thomas certainly s huge majority of the cost is borne by the iraqi people. bright? which is, there is a lot of
things you could say about that but it is very strange to me and continues to be strange with that disconnect as a citizenry when you join the military you entrust yourself to politics that you are fighting for reason that your lives and efforts are well spent to the greatest degree possible and for that regard it is strange to come back from iraq where there is a lot of brutal things happening to feel like a country or to get out of the military to go back to new york you don't have to think about it if you don't want to put
friends are in afghanistan the contributions are hugely important but a very small percentage that service but with the technology of warfare to have drone strikes and special operations a fraction of a fraction and whenever we employ violent force which sometimes we should come up we as citizens should keep a watchful eye on how our government and to do so with as much foresight as possible and seriousness and intent as possible. >> anyone else? >> thanks for coming out.
iraq and afghanistan were the first fought by the volunteer army how did that change the nature of service if any? >> it changes in a lot of ways we are much more disconnected the divide between civilian and military is pretty wide. and remember -- veterans remember that it q lee. we come back to a positive reception but there is that degree of apathy but also
extremely professional military. so when you read about the things that went on late in world war ii for example, course you think about, it is a highly professional military it is all volunteer so that changes the common cause it changes the dynamic of the unit greatly. >>. >> is there is a growing poli5
over there and invaded the wrong country? that growing creeping sense of that one of the stories from the perspective of the foreign service officer there is discussion that story about the things that went on it is in a bizarre space we invaded by iraq with very little planning for the aftermath with the notion that we would be a good as liberators rate -- to transition over the state department basically predicted it would not happen as general shinseki
had a more robust presence and pushed aside aggressively and the consequences of that with the early policy decisions played out over the years. so certainly there is details with that at the policy level we want people to think about what it meant to be one of those marines or us state department guy to build the society up and what that was like and how that was affected by the past but on a day-to-day basis. >> for use thinking of
trading when you were deployed or were you taking notes when you were deployed ? >> i took a lot of notes a was right thing but not about war mostly very, very bad short stories and i've learned anthony powell had quit writing during world war ii i felt like that excuse me for all the things i had written them were awful. but i did come back with notes and a lot of memories but the source material that i had with the nature of my
job by which travel lot and it's been time with units so that certainly affected what it was like because is you talk with industry guys to get a different picture of the '04 even just from people. ahead to friends named madge both of the save area, the same calvary and the same translator but one was 2006 the other was two years later and could not have been more different. but it gave me a subject that felt vitally important to me. i had to do a lot of work as i was routine the collection.
-- riding the collection but i was scared to get the wrong. >> en telling things that might upset people. >> wars make raiders sent for you they began to fade not on the front pages anymore but in terms of an understanding of the men and women who servedw$n and what should we continue to know? >> i don't know.
[laughter] but that somebody would take away one thing they're other veterans there is mower literature coming out about the words on ashley war but what i want people to do instead there is a beltway with the feelings about the of war and what that feels like on a human level is extremely important and not falling into a false myth about the war.
>> thanks everyone. [applause] thanks for coming out if anyone wants the book signed we have copies just outside the door you can get it personalized and pay after i still trust most >> now you can keep in touch with current events using any phone any time with c-span radio on our you know. simply call (202)626-8888. and every week to listen to to recap of today's events at 5 p.m. eastern on washington today. you can hear audio of the five networks beginning sundays at an eastern. c-span radio on audio now here
call (202)626-8888. long distance or phone charges may apply. >> next on booktv, from the "los angeles times" festival of books, a forum on the realities of the war. this is one hour. >> [inaudible conversations] >> so i think we're ready to start. welcome to the festival of books and realities of war. please turn off your cell
phones. we will be on c-span today so this will be recorded. i'm chris goffard, staff writer for the "l.a. times" and we're talking about the realities of war with three distinguished writers who have attacked the subject of very different angles. america has been a worn-out for 13 years and the statistics are the 20 veterans they are killing themselves and that of the 2 million u.s. events who have been to iraq or afghanistan, some 20-30% conflict by post-traumatic stress disorder. is happily people are entering the country psychologically wounded. a word about my background but last year i did a series on veterans for the "l.a. times" called invisible wars, and i followed iraq veterans and their families as they coped with homecomings and getting to know these families and to develop a strong interest in the subject so i'm particularly eager to hear what our panel has to say today. i'll introduce our guests, ask
them a couple specific questions, questions specific to the work and there will be some general questions and open it up to the audience. david finkel is a journalist and author who since 2007 has been documenting the effects of war on the human psyche. his most recent book, critically acclaimed "thank you for your service" chronicles the challenges faced by american soldiers and their families in wars aftermath. it has received numerous awards. his previous book, the good soldiers, a best selling account of u.s. infantry battalion during the iraq war surge won multiple awards and was named a top 10 book of the year by "the new york times." he is an editor and writer for the "washington post." he has reported from africa, asia, central america, europe and across the united states. he has covered wars in kosovo, afghanistan and iraq.
to his right is david morris, david is a former marine infantry officer, the author of storm on the horizon. he covered the wars in iraq and afghanistan for slate, salon and the "virginia quarterly review." his first dispatch for the "virginia quarterly review" from iraq titled the big stock notes from the jar head underground was included in the best american nonrequired reading 2007. his work has appeared in "the new yorker," foreign policy, and the surfer's journal. in january 2015, he will release his book "the evil hours: a biography of post-traumatic stress disorder." and to my left is janet burroway, the author of eight novels including the pulitzer nominated the buzzard. or textbook writing fiction is the most widely used creative writing textbook in america. her children's book, a giant jam
sandwich has been translated into 20 like which is. her poems, stories and essays appear in atlantic monthly, mademoiselle, new statesman, our den, and other publications. her memoir, "losing tim," which is about her son, will come out in april 2014. please welcome our guests applau.[applause] >> in your first book you follow the to 16 army battalion during the surge and in turn can you follow a handful of them as they try to cope with life back on. one of the central characters is sergeant adam schuman. would you tell us the story of sergeant schuman? >> sure. first of all, thanks for coming today.
adam schuman might have been one of the 22 a day that chris was referring to. actually the quick thing about that number. the "l.a. times" advanced reporting on this, team a run of the "washington post" has done some reporting on this. just to be clear, it's not 20 to iraq and afghanistan veterans today. it's all veterans. when you examine that 20 to come if you look at two on a particular day, i mean, the suicides are happening but most of these folks have gone on from there service and done many other things. the great number are folks who are over 60. so there've been other life expenses. it's just worth point out that it's not, the assumption is this age a direct line from the war experience the suicide. while i'm not saying it's not, it's not that it necessarily is. the other part of the 22 is when
we look at the 2011 numbers, the most recent, there is a spike in the number of young people who have taken their lives. adam schuman, i'm happy to say, is not one of them, but might have been. i met him i was reporting my first book, the good soldiers, when during a period i was asking around one day, so as a great soldier i need to meet? one young officer said, this guy, adam schuman. is about the best. a little time went by. i get busy again and did some reporting, it got quite against one day i went to schuman, walked into his room and the great soldier who is waiting in the room was by himself. he was gaunt, haunted looking, sitting alone on his bulk. i introduced myself and said i
hear you're a great soldier. he kind of shrugged and said maybe so, but i'm leaving. and what it happened happens so often after three deployments, about a thousand days in rather intense combat, this great soldier just couldn't do it anymore. so i stayed with them until he left the war. i can never it is that day or the next of it basically to the helicopter, a man we can quarrel all day about the policies of these wars, but this was a guy who by every measure had been a great soldier. as we walked to the helicopter, he wasn't feeling any sense of published in our success but this was a man in his mid '20s looked into it and shame were having to leave, that he couldn't do it. waiting for the helicopter, maybe six guys in line, helicopters come in. this loud clattering, noise and dust, blah, blah, blah, and the
whole i for. when he gets to the front of the line the guy running the line stops him. he yells, next one is yours. so everyone please. now it's just schuman by himself waiting for the next helicopter. here it comes eventually and its helicopter with a big red cross on the side and in that moment he gets it. it's the helicopter for the injured and the dead, and that's who he has become. that's his identity now. he's injured, he's dead. he's done and he goes home. my sentence in the first book, and am almost done, in the first book was not to write about the iraq war but to write intimately journalistically about young men going into a war at a particular moment. the type of journalism i do doesn't involve something has happened and then you go afterwards and do interviews about what happened. you show up. you state. you watch what unfolds. in this case the eliminating question in 2007 -- illuminating
-- when the war seemed to reached its tragic moment is what becomes of a young man who goes into a war at such a moment. and adam schuman turned out to be one of the answers i got. so when it came time for the next book, because i wrote about the deployment of this infantry battalion. they begin getting in touch with me and saying they were doing so well. anxiety, sleeplessness and depression, things they weren't expecting. and so it occurred to me is that tragic moment, maybe this was it. not there but here as all of these people who did well in the battalion now get down to trying to recover from the experiences of what they did, what they saw, what they didn't do, what they tried not to see, and on it goes. so basically adam schuman comes
home, and thank you for your service begins with them. in the opening line of the book, two years later, adam drops the baby and the book goes on from there to trace not only adam, but his wife, their children and this hole clustered in kansas of people who serve well and now are trying to get better. >> i have a question about the reporting of the book, david. it reads seamlessly now but how do you go about advising a plan of attack for the porting of it? you've got these vets around the country. you don't know which ones necessarily something, something that would be useful to you in your book will happen to. how do you, with one family, at a time, how do you devise a plan to use your time most efficiently? >> if the figures are right, of the 2 million americans who were deployed directly into iraq and afghanistan, if the guesses are right, some 25 -- 25% of it was
some type of psychological wounds, to contend with. that's a lot of characters to choose from, right? so adam was my starting point, and again, the type of journalism i do depends on being present to the fact i was without battalion for eight months, i didn't visit the story but i stayed with it. when bad things happen to those guys and those present for the bad things, i didn't become a problem for the soldiers. it helped them understand what reporter does. then we came time for the second book, some trust has been established and rather look anywhere, i could start with adam schuman and just build out from there. it's just the same thing. the first book was embedding in war with people and the second book was embedding with some recovering families. the trusting from the first book because everybody in the book i knew from a particular war experience. it's the usual journalism thing.
i say, what you're going through, i finished to be written about, and i'd like to just come and hang out with you. i don't how long it will take the i will be around a lot. either way, you don't get to see the book until it's published because i can't, i'm writing about you. you can't be your own editor. you can't be essence of your own store. it requires a leap of faith on your part. if you're good to go, let's get going. after that, what do you do? you go hang out. you are filled with and decisions because every day i was with the family, not another family. what was i missing? should of your the? you do the best you can. >> david morris, your upcoming book is "the evil hours." tell us how your interest in the subject began and how it evolved into a book. >> well, i came from a military family and so my dad served in
vietnam. a lot of my neighbors had so i don't really know how to answer the question because it sort of all of my life, kind of grew out of mr.. i felt like vietnam was a lot a much older. that was the first -- ptsd comes from vietnam. it was not recognize, not officially recognized until 1980 most people aren't familiar with. it grew out of the vietnam war experience. thinking back and writing this book i was trying to figure out where my interest started, and that was one of the first question i remember ever asking my father, was what happened in vietnam? and i remember he was washing the car at the time. i remember the way took those off the car. i remember the stream of water going in the sidewalk. one of those indelible moments. but then i went into the service once i left college. ptsd isn't something that's on the minds of marines and
soldiers a lot on active duty but if you're from it at all with the literature of war and you seem taxi driver, the deer hunter or any of the great american war movies you kind of get a sense, and ptsd is in the. some of the best documents of ptsd are in film. so you grew up with the awareness of that if you're any kind of sense of history. and i think a circuit that up from my dad, and from his friends, just growing up around the marines. i grew up in san diego which is navy, arguably the biggest military city in america. but then i did my active duty time and we invaded iraq, you know, a war before anyone had thought it up, and i found that a lot of my friends from college and a lot of my buddies that i trained with were all over there. it was impossible for me to ignore the war so i ended up
going, and as a reporter i was working at a writer at that point, and you know, people made jokes about ptsd all the time in iraq. you got the ptsd thing going? sort of a source of jokes. it's just such a comment, it's the fourth most diagnostic -- diagnosed psychiatric disorder in order to associate with the soldiers in a big way but it's something that if you run the military and if you spend any time on baseball around soldiers, around the marines have returned, sort of part of the conversation. it's hard for me to say where my answer to begin but it's an ongoing thing. san diego, i run into people all the time. i was in a bar and a rented to someone who just started a private ptsd clinic down the road. it's everywhere. in southern california which has the largest, the largest population of iraq and afghanistan veterans in the
country. i look at it as being, we live in kind of a, culture in some ways. it's part of our environment at this point. >> you wrote the art and growing number of psychiatrists and researchers are challenging our understanding of ptsd, even the very nature as an avid. they argue it's locked in a mindset that is systematically overdiagnosed without nurturing veterans ability to heal themselves. could you explain the gist of this controversy? >> well, people have, when they hear that there's criticism of ptsd, it's hard to wrap your head around that idea because there's this in my mind kind of a surplus of sympathy for veterans. we all want that. we want to thank them for our service, that's something i appreciated the tim title of das book i think is somewhat ironic is people thanked me for my service because i've been dashing even though i hadn't served in iraq and people would think me for it. and i think some veterans have
said to me, iraq veterans have said i feel like everyone assumes we all have ptsd. and that we apologize the entire experience everyone assumes that if you went over there and were blown up once or you spend a week in baghdad that you are broken. and i think there is this tendency to look at all soldiers at having been through it and looking as if there was always a negative damaging experience with them, when, in fact, 85% of people go to war and are generally okay. the worst days with all veterans i think for all of their lives, but to assume that everyone has been damaged by it is kind of going too far. and i think, i think we have to be honest and we have to be honest. i think there's so, the disconnect, the emotional gulf
between civilians and soldiers is a great and people who have not served feel such a burden to give something, to give something back to veterans. i think ptsd has become sort of this way, this gets, if we can't extend our sympathy in the form of a psychiatric disorder, in the form of this acronym, these four letters, that somehow can make up, gene, that makes up the fact that you got screwed up or you have to sacrifice a lot of your life to these stupid worse. so i think it's a way, it's a coping mechanism and this is something i've heard a lot of soldiers say. and the marines say that well, when someone thanked me for the service is more about them. it's their emotional needs that are being met, not mine. civilians are saying that because they feel something. they feel uncomfortable, guilty. they feel, they want to commit
to something so they say thank you for your service. i think ptsd is related to that. >> do you think it impedes a more honest conversation? >> absolutely. i think, people thanked me. i've been thanked repeatedly. i'm not a combat veteran. i served in the peacetime marine corps. most veterans i talk to say it does make them feel uncomfortable but having said that i don't know, it's kind of weird because it's easy to complain and say america didn't do this, america didn't do that. i don't know exactly what i want people to say to me, except maybe nothing and let's have a conversation instead, and let's actually talk about -- if you're interested and want to talk about iraq i will talk your ears off. i will talk into your ears are blue about iraq, let's get into, let's talk about tribal politics, how the middle east was a christian on the map of some british cartographers but
let's get into. i don't want you to just tell me don't talk to your bullet points but what you think the war was to you, which is on television. i'm dying, i'm the talking about iraq with people but if they want to have an honest conversation, i'll tell you how freaked out i was. all the experiences i had, how it was a quasi-religious experience for me. how much i loved it, how much i miss the i'll talk about it all day but people get freaked out. civilians, people who haven't served get kind of scared. it's this taboo subject. it's like talking about rape or sexual abuse. people think it's an untouchable subject, and i guess, you know, rather than thanking me for my service are thinking veterans, take five minutes and think like what was a really like, where were you? what they to either? what unit were you with? learn how the units were. like hemingway said, it's not words like valor, honor and
glory are meaningless to veterans. they want to talk about dates, places and names. think of a different way to approach the process i guess. sort of over answer to your question. >> question for janet burroway. janet suntanned was a ranger and the a ranger and a captain in his arm his fine contractor for humanitarian de-mining. shot and killed himself in 2004. her memoir is "losing tim: a memoir," out of this year. you write that tim was despond and enraged by the bush administration and its regime in baghdad, the corruption, the incompetent, the cradle, the lies, the stupid the. is disillusionment that deep. you said we as a nation have adopted a previously different images of our brave young men and women of the armed forces versus sleazy contractors. could you explain? >> yes. is this on?
okay. i'd like to start by piggybacking on david's comment about the 22 a day, because my son doesn't count among the 22 a day. because he went to iraq as a contractor, he was in love with the military all his life. he started as a toddler with an obsession with the weapons of war and never outgrew it. he had, to my mind, all the time he was growing up i am naïve, reverence for what he called the warrior spirit. and he did talk about valor and honor and glory. he spent three years in rotc and four years in the army and eight in the reserves, and in the reserves they volunteered for everything he could to save sent to bosnia-herzegovina and the
congo and angola and libby. and then, he learned how to run a de-mining operation produced and as a soldier out of the embassy and the army decided to privatize the job. at the point that seemed to me an excellent thing. he left the reserves and waited six months for clearance, and went back to do the same job as a contractor. then, of course, the contracting company that he worked for was bought by another which was bought by another and all that stuff happened in the contracting business, as well as in publishing. but he went to ethiopia. he married, had a stepson an ana young daughter and they went to ethiopia for another de-mining operation. and then he was given the option by his company of going to
washington or going to iraq. and he went to iraq with fabulous, ecstatic enthusiasm. at that point he admired bush. e. believe the wmds would be found that he believed the war was necessary. he bought it all. and he was there for only seven months, but when he came home, i feel that this one leg that he had to stand on, which was his belief in the military value had been ripped from him. he was appalled at, for example, the disbanding of the baathist army, and he had, if you look at it on paper, all of the symptoms of ptsd. he couldn't sleep. he was always around.
he was sometimes distant, sometimes frightened, sometimes irrationally angry and so forth. but what happened in this case, and this is complicated but i'll try to simplify it. is life after his suicide sued for benefits for her and the children. and what -- the truck came down to was did he or did he not have ptsd. at which point it seemed to me, this is not an answer to anything. this does not satisfy any need that any of us have to understand what happens to tim. but that's what a courtroom does, and it's very difficult to prove posthumous ptsd, so there were psychiatrist who looked at the story and gave the opposite answers to the question. and for six years my daughter-in-law pursue this through the courts with reviews and appeals and reviews and
ultimately was denied benefits for her and the children because you couldn't properly say he had ptsd. that experience was valuable to me in the way you were describing i think, david, because i understood that there are kinds of trouble and the are recognizable symptoms, if you like, of the trouble that happens in the minds of young men who go through an experience like this. but labeling is not really very helpful. jonathan shay who wrote two wonderful books about his work with vietnam veterans, achilles in vietnam, has come up with serious work with veteran, has come up with the phrase moral injuries. and it seems to me absolutely to
describe what happened to my son. as he describes it, if you volunteer with great enthusiasm for the army and find yourself in a situation that you cannot then get out of because once you say yes, you can't say partially know. and then you find that your superior officers are giving you orders that are, in my son's words, that christopher read, greedy, wrong. what happens is a moral injury. it is an injury to the idealism with which it began. i'm in fact glad that i had written this book, "losing tim," before i came across the phrase moral injury because i think about that believed that was the
answer that i was seeking what happened to my son. >> in your book you say when i'm writing about my son i have levels, tools to give me the illusion of control. as a writer you're trained to perceive and study your emotions but i'm curious, could you elaborate on that passage and tell us what the experience of losing a son in these circumstances, how it might be different for you as a writer as opposed to someone with maybe less of a habit of introspection or verbal facility? >> well, the difference it made for me is that writing is what i do to make sense of any kind of chaos. it's instinctive and immediate, and i do remember, i don't remember much about the plane trip back from where we buried my son but do remember that i
sat writing a furious letter to the nra. which then eventually was altered into the first essay that i wrote about him which was published by the saint pete times and it happened that christopher was on the staff at that point it but it seems to me that the writing helped me in three different ways. one was that at first i just flush done everything to the grief, the anger, the loss in my journal. and then at some point i began to realize that i had been enormously helped by books that other people had written, about suicide, about depression, about soldiering. and it began to seem to me that what i was doing in my journal was done this sort of my grief and but i wasn't on the story of
my some -- my son. were my son. where my expense day by day was a brief memory, brief memory, brief memory. and there arose in me a desire to tell his story, which i know is not his story of his story. it's mine. he would not have told this story in the same way, and he would not have come to the conclusions that i came to, but it was a way for me to try to understand through his life what had happened to him. you never come to an understanding. there comes a place that you can go no further, but that was the impulse towards the boat. those two things, to tell his story in a way that keeps him alive, and in a way that might help other people.
curiously, david morris and i were just talking about this. curiously, i find that not having written a memoir as close to the facts as i understand them, as i possibly can, i am freed of the past and now i'm writing a play. unchanging characters and purposes in place, and i feel quite free to use the emotions that are still in the, in this very different way. >> thank you, janet. along with the country's habit of lionizing veterans we have a va system with serious shortcomings. the va backlog is already choke on comedy central. it's a well-known the battle for benefits goes on year after year. i'm curious how you three would respond to the seeming
contradiction between the fact that we lionize our veterans and yet as david morris writes, the shortcomings in the va system seems to show that as a society we don't feel much responsibility for what happens to them when they return. spin yet, i think a lot come if you go, i wish next time we held a vote, like to declare war, to intervene, would be held into the hospital. i still go back, i still good to the hospital sometimes which has the largest concentration of iraq and afghanistan statistic and soak in the history. because you can go in there and see world war two vets, vietnam vets and the whole thing. but it is -- you know, bevier, most people don't know it's the second largest department in the us government after the pentagon. it's huge. we spent a lot of money on
veterans. not enough. i don't think, i think it is overly centralized and i think it suffers from not fully understanding and not being complete a series in the ways that it should be serious about dealing with people on a personal level. the biggest, bevier in 2003 and 2004, 2005 began a new rollout of what they call gold standard treatments which are basically one size fits all mass-produced therapies. prolonged exposure. these are all on "60 minutes" about six month ago. prolonged exposure and cbd, which is more of a talking therapy. one of these has a dropout rate of almost 60%. prolonged exposure which is the va's number one, they spent the most money on this therapy, involves you describe it your worst experiences, not one time, not five times, not 10 times that i delete about 100 times in
a row. >> and that would create a virtual reality. >> it's a more expensive, big ticket item. usc was involved in the production of that technology which i think is completely fallacious. i've been through that there be. it doesn't work. so they double down and spend money on these therapies that are questionable, that have very serious side effects because they needed to rollout, create a mass-produced therapy that we treat tens of thousands of veterans very fast. and to be seen to be doing this anyway. there's far less attention to when i first went to the all of wanted to do was pakistan that maybe had a masters in psychology and you something about counseling. that never happen. i was put on a seven, eight month wait list. at the end of it i said what can i do to see pashtun i just want to see what else is out there.
why do we put you back in the seventh month list. the va spends a lot of money. very strict, very smart people to work at the va. some of the smartest most dedicated, most experienced counselors that treat ptsd come from the va. no one spends more in the entire world on ptsd treatment research and training than the united states veterans administration. so they are the lead agency in the world for ptsd research and treatment. i just don't think that -- it's not decentralized enough. i don't think they have enough qualified counselors. just basic counselors to talk to veterans and to do with them on a human level. instead you get this mass-produced sort of like -- it's sort of like producing, thinking of weapons of system. let's make one that would be 1000 times in a row and it will work for everybody. i just don't -- it's a really, really tough problem. the va trying to solve the va
problem is like fighting a war all its own. you have a campaign plan. you have to have smart people and jeff have a serious review process. i don't know why they haven't, why eric shinseki is still in charge of va, considering his poor track record i don't know why they continue to use these flawed therapies. they become, it's odd because ptsd grew out of the anti-vietnam war movement. it was heavily associated with the left him with all of the people who opposed vietnam war, ron kovic being a notable example, the marine veteran played by tom cruise in born on the fourth of july. he was a big part of that group. and yet the va has become sort of this orthodox, they become again -- the zen master for ptsd and they basically dictate research agenda, they dictate the public agenda. and they've kind of in my mind kind of become a little bit fix in the ways about how ptsd can
be looked, how it's going to be treated as a public subject it is largely dominated either via. international organizations, the u.n. communicates and looks to the va in large measure for leadership in ptsd research. we find ptsd research around the world, the netherlands, london, south africa and australia. we pay for their ptsd research because we have the money. >> anyone else care to comment about -- >> i like to say the obvious thing, which is there is no va for the contractors your although many of the contractors are like my son, recent veterans, who go into the war zones for the same reasons they went in to the wars to begin with. rumsfeld's idea was that in the privatization they would pay them very well and then they could cut them loose. so there is no briefing, no
debriefing, no contact with the wise for the symptoms that they might look for. they are very well paid, and being very well-paid, when they are working among the soldiers, there is a natural tension that grows up. they are better paid than soldiers by far, but they are cut loose. >> chris, if i can just broaden it beyond the va for just a second. on one hand, unlike other wars, at least now there is some attempt at putting a system in place to offer mental health assistance to people who need it, flawed as it is. and that's the other part. the thing that my reporting brought me to for this book was
just, you know, good intentions are one thing, but the other side, it's an ad hoc haphazard system. three quick examples from the book. one guy, three soldiers also reached the point of all who did well, came home and for various reasons finally worked up the courage to say they needed help, which is a whole nother story, but they did. it's a small window. they needed help. so the first guy, he goes into va run ptsd program in topeka, kansas, and he gets seven weeks to work out. the next guy, when it's his moment, he wants to go to the va program for seven weeks, but there's a long waiting list at that point, so this caseworker looks around and she finally finds a four-week program for him in colorado.
and this is not the va program. it's a tricare program for support of the one guy gets seven weeks to work it out. one guy gets for weeks to work. and along comes the guy was like about earlier, adam schuman. this moment arrives where it's clear he needs help. the seven-week program is full with a waiting list. the four-week program is full with a waiting list, so this caseworker looks around and finally finds this little thing in northern california that's not va, that's not tricare. it's entirely donor supported, and i got the runs that says yeah, okay, you can come here but the deal is four months minimum, and just as long as it takes to just tear it apart and figure it out. seven weeks, four weeks, at least four months. and it's where you go isn't dependent on your particular peculiar needs for recovery. it comes down to where there's
an opening, and i tried awfully hard, and they think i succeeded, at keeping my own opinions out of these books. they are not my stories. they are the stories of the soldiers and families, but i think it's pretty fair to say that if i had a kid who served and then came home and needed help, and i learned that there were these three options available, i would want, but expect the very best for him. it seems like the least, the least we could do. but again every thing is on the other hand. on the other hand, the four month program is not a broad scale workable model. ..