tv Tonight From Washington CSPAN April 2, 2013 8:00pm-11:00pm EDT
combat hospital." she spoke at this year's savannah book festival. >> dr. kraft received a phn clinical psychologist in 1996. during her psychology internship at drake medical center, she joined the navy as both an in-flight specialist and clinical psychologist. in february 2004, when her twins were 15 months old, she was deployed in iraq for seven months, with a marine surgical unit. her book, "rule number two," is about her experience in iraq. today she is a consultant for the navy and the marines ptsd, post traumatic stress disorder treatment programs. please become, dr. heidi squier
kraft. [applause] >> well, good morning. so, i have been doing fair amount of speaking over the last few years, and i have to say that i'm quite certain this is my first talk in which the vice president warmed up the audience for me. it may not be the last, but it is the first. and i wish he was here to hear me say that and then their respectfully say, thank you, sir, for such a good job. it's an honor to be with you here today. how many veterans of our country's military do we have in the audience today? thank you all very much for your service. [applause] >> i was sharing with my terrific sponsors last night
that, doing this many speeches, sort of becomes a little desensitized, and sometimes it's emotional, and the reasons are sometimes obvious, like memorial day. other times it can be things that are upcoming that take me by surprise. baseball season just started. did everyone know that? yeah. we got the skilled players arrived in spring training. we'll see whether that's a big deal in san diego or not. but here we are and baseball season is starting, and this makes me think of a young man, very special person and one of curio country's heroes. close to nine years ago now he died sacrificing his life for his fellow marines. he was a young man that i had the privilege to know through only a few moments of holding his hand. they were moments that occurred
in a austere field hospital in the dirt of western iraq. we didn't speak. he couldn't speak. so, i didn't know him, not really. and yet because i've now come to know his family i learn he was much more than mama -- marines he was beloved son, brother, and baseball player. his wonderful experience at his high school included a battling average of .408, which is still a record. and he was drafted by the arizona diamondbacks, but chose the marines instead. and as is often does, i'm fining that life comes full circle. because it was two years ago now on memorial day that my then-eight-year-old hit his first out of the park home run. and instead of standing up like a good mother should and taking a picture of him as he was coming into home plate and all
this little friends were jumping up and down, waiting for him, i was texting jason benham's mother to tell her. and you know what she wrote back? i would give anything to see jason strike out one more time. like i said, baseball season, who knew. so, the bottom line is i think, how do we go through these experiences? and not be changed? we are changed. and those of you in the room, who i asked to see your rands, those that you honor by being here today, you're veterans of our past and present service, and the proud families. they're all changed. we as patriots who support them and have supported them through what is now a long war, we're changed, too. but ladies and gentlemen, i hope if there's one thing you take out of here today is that change is the whole point. change is what we're afraid of,
what we dread, and then what we cling to, what we depend on when everything else seems fleeting. a change is what matters. and the stories behind that change deserve to be told. so together, as nation, we can celebrate them, cry for them, learn from them, and move on. i believe that's probably the reason why i'm here with you today. there's almost always a reason. and i hope that after today, you, as members of this very proud, patriotic community, will think of your service members and their brave families, and maybe look at them with slightly different eyes. and i hope that my words might encourage all of you to embrace your own stories through all of this, of patriotism, of pride in your community and its long history, and in one another. and most importantly in the role we all play. in this long road ahead for our
veterans. it was february of 2004 that i deployed with the marine corps surgical company to western iraq. at the time i was active duty in the navy and may bens were 15 months old. so; said goodbye to my family in florida and headed out to camp pendleton where a rag tag group of us put our things together and headed to iraq out. job there was to set up a mobile field hospital to care for the marines operating in the area, and there were a lot of them. we had an air wing, an infantry regimen and a huge combat support battalion. i was part of a four-person combat platoon. by myself, my psychiatrist partner, and two enlisted psychiatric technicians. together we were responsible for the mental health, treatment, and, of thousand u.s. marines. this is a long time ago. 2004. some of you will remember this year as the greer which both
battles for fallujah were fought. it was a difficult time for all of us. i can say for certain, on behalf of the medical personnel, we could never have imagined or dreamed of the number of casualties we would see during that time. toward the end of this very challenging time, i decided to write a list of things that were good and bad about iraq. i think for me it was probably beginning of what became a lot of writing as therapy and closure. for my colleagues in iraq, this was hysterically funny, because i told them i'm going to write a list. they said that's going to be the most lopsided lift anyone has written. i i was lopsided but took the form of a poem, and i send it via e-mail to my husband, who forwarded it to 25 people. by the time i returned to florida in september, the list,
as i called it, had literally been forwarded around the world, and hundreds of e-mails were waiting for me. people that wanted to talk about it. that related to it. and i have to say, i was embarrassed, overwhelmed. i wasn't myself in 15 different ways, and i didn't handle all the attention very gracefully at first. until i started hearing from vietnam era marines, korean war navy corpsmen, nurses marks recents even from world war ii, two told me that the list made them remember, and that remembering was okay. and then i was humbled. i thought i would share the poem as it is truly the beginning of my story, and it appears many others as well. things that were good.
sunsets over the desert. almost always orange. sunrise over the desert. almost always red. a child-like excitement of having fresh fruit at dipper after going months without it. being allowed to be the kind of clinician i know i can be and want to be. with no limits placed and no doubts expressed. but most of all, the united states marines, our patients, walking every day and having every single person who passed by me say, hura, mam, and having one half them ask me, when can i get out of sneer i just want to get back to my unit. meeting a young sergeant who lost an eye in an explosion, he asked a surgeon if he could open the other one. when he did he sat up and looked at the marines from his team being treat net the other room. he smiled, laid back down and
said, well, i only have one good eye, doc, but i can see my marines are okay. and of course, meeting the one i will never forget, the one who threw him on a grenade to save the marine s at his side. the first marine medal of honor recipient since the vietnam war. my friends, some of them are life-long in a way that is indescribable. my patients. some had courage unlike anything i had ever witnessed before. my comrades. at alpha surgical company. some of the things they went through will by with them forever but still they provided outstanding care to our marines, day in and day out. sometimes for days at a time with no break. for seven endless months. and above all else, holding the hand of that dying marine. things that were not good. camel fighters, poisonous
scorpions, bats in the darkness. howling territorial wild dogs. flies that insisted on landing on our faces. giant looming mosquitoes, and invisible sand flies that carry disease, 132 degrees, wearing long sleeves, full pants and combat boots in 132 degrees, random power outages that led to sweating throughout the night. sweating in places i didn't know i could sweat, like lips and ears. the roar of helicopters overhead. the resounding thud of are tillll in thely stance. the popping of gunfire, not knowing if that was a good thing or bad thing. the siren and the big voice yelling to take cover, the cracking up so of giant artillery rounds. the rum of the ground, shattering of the windows, hiding under flack jackets and
kevlar helmets, waiting to be told we could come to the hospital. watching the black helicopter with the big red cross on the side landing on our pad. worse, watching gray marine helicopters landing at our pad. because they were filled with patients, and often we didn't know they were coming. ushering a sobbing marine colonel away from the traumatic bay while he listen to his marines cry out in pain inside. meeting a 21-year-old corp recall with three purple hearts and listening to him week pause he was shamed of feeling afraid to go become. telling a room full of stunned marines in blood-soaked uniforms that their come raid had just died of his wounds. washing blood off the beats a young nurse while she told me about the one who died in the trauma bay, and then the one she had to tell when he needed for the truth. that his friend didn't make it.
listening to another of our nurses tell of that marine that came in talking, telling her his name, about how she pleaded with him not to give up. but she could see his eyes go dull when he couldn't fight any longer. and finally, above all else, holding the hand of that dying marine. so i referred to him in the beginning, the baseball accomplishing also the dying marine in the poem, of course. this is corporal jason dunham. in april he came through the doors of our surgical company with a very serious head injury. now, many of you who have lived through something like this know that, in combat medicine, when a person shows no meaningful signs of brain activity, there is no option of life support. that person is triaged, expectant, and moved to a place where he or she can be given fluids, pain medication, and support, while that person dies.
i met corporal dunham in our expectant room. i held his hand and told him we were proud of him. we had no idea how proud we actually were in what now looking back can really only be a medical miracle, his status really changed and he began to squeeze my hand in response to my voice. he was med-evacked. we did in fact risk that helicopter crew to get him to baghdad. and then on to germany. and he made it home to bethesda where his parents were weight for him, after he finally died of his wound eight days after coming into our trauma bay. april 22, 2004. it's almost nine years ago now but sometimes still feels leak yesterday, and specific wherein i'm texing with his mother about baseball. we later learn he had given his life to save the men in his squad by throwing his body over
a live grenade. there was an imbedded reporter with his unit, back then we had all sort office these reporters imbedded, and he came through our surgical company to learn of our experience with him. later, he told our story to jason's mother. it ends up that's all she really hoped for. when she heard he was critically injured. that someone was holding his hand. so she wrote to me that summer. and she thanked me for doing the only thing she wanted to do but couldn't do,. we've remained very close ever since, and in january of 2007, president bush, posthumously aired waivered the congressional medal of honor to her son. beth and dan dunham invited know be with them at the white house when the award was given, where i was very proud to be the single sailor standing among 56 marines in dress blues in recent
years if a also been privileged to attend with them the christening ceremony of the uss jason dunham, the navy's newest destroyer. and i'm sew fortunate for all of this. certainly not the only medical or religious personnel person from our services who has sat with a dying warrior on the battlefield. but because of the really truly unique circumstances around all this, i know i may by one of the only ones who has learned of his whole story because i've gotten to know his family. i consider them great friends, and they're very cherished to me. deb still introduces me to people as her angel, which is completely overwhelming. but she believes he fought to stay alive because when i spoke to him, he heard her. not me. i know we both need to believe that.
so, not the typical place for a psychologist, right? nothing about my deployment involved typical places for psychologist so what did i do in the midst of all this when i returned? i ran away, as many do after trauma. i left the navy, i left clinical work all together. i was hoping to find some peace. and during that time, "rule number two" was written. by accident, really. written as therapy. a vietnam marine, a retired colonel, otto, who has written several books about the marines in vietnam, he contacted me, and he said you need to write a book where every line in that poem is a chapter. and i was, of course, very respectful since he is a colonel, after all, and i said, circumstance all due respect, absolutely not. i will not write another word about this experience. and you know what? once a month he wrote me an i'm people and said, doc, what about the book? and so nine months after getting
home and sort of living through this sort of vague, strange suffering that, as a shrink, i can define easily, but as a person i didn't even realize i was going through, and isn't that funny how that works? i finally wrote and said, okay, what do i do? it's published. not because of him. it's published because of den dunham who told me she wanted to try to get it published. so this is her fault. but the most important part of this i learned that exposure therapy works. with each story that i wrote, it became progress servicely easier to write the words on the panel and right about that time i decided it was time to go back to work with the wounded marines, and i've been there ever zillion it's where i belong, really. and i get this great unique opportunity to try to be one of the voices out there, trying to convince people that it is in fact okay to seek help for wounds that no one can see.
someone very wise told me recently he feels like the country, after all this, is in the midst of a slow motion mass casualty. i have to say those words struck a chord with me. after being awakened main nights by marines, mass casualty. the words are a little different for me but i think its fits. and in my humble opinion it's based on one thing. i'm hearing it over and over again, from my patients, from those in audiences who either ask questions in front of everybody or come up later and speak to me, it's a sense that seems to be consistent. across men and women, special forces, aviation, dod, medical. we seem to have this one thing in common. and at it important. for all of you as veterans, family members, as obvious members of the concerned
community. it's important for you to know that some of our current and past service members feel alone. they feel like maybe there's no one anyone could ever understand how hard it is to admit that there's something wrong that no one can see. so, the way ahead through that feeling for them, the way ahead to be heal expelled whole again, al to the changed, because we're all changed -- we all will be moving through this together as a community. it's a validation. we provide validation for others in ways we don't even realize. so, as a healthcare provider who deployed a long time ago, who now hears from our current warriors, and their families, please trust me on this. you matter to our country's
veterans to those members of your community to your family members to your friends to your coworkers in ways you'll never know, if you take that extra moment just to validate whatever it is that person might be feeling. it's an extra 30 seconds maybe, to remind that person, it's okay if you're not okay. know for certain, motion as you move forward, that the one instant of locking eyes, of just a little bit of extra time holding on to a handshake or hug, you can actually validate that feeling of being alone and start a person on a path to healing. we do not need to be mental health provides in order to do that for one another. sometimes in those moments of comfort, that might show up in what can be pretty chaotic in people's minds, those brief moments can be life-changing. in closing i'm going to tell you
a couple other quick, short stories about two of those moments for me. the tent was pitch black inside. the 14 women who called it home had different schedules so everyone agreed woe navigate by flashlight whenever inside. my temporary cot was in the middle of the tent, perpendicular to the rest of them, like the crossbar of an h. the other women had towels or personal items such as photos of husbands, children, navy seal boyfriends, hanging over their cots. the air conditioner built into the side of the tent forced most womens to use thick blankets over them at night. fallujah was burning and casualties were flowing too fast for the platoon to keep up with them two junior nurses lived in our female officer tent. marie ask and noel walked with
the air ofle experienced nursess and also with the lock of sleep deprivation, i had seen them catching an hour whenever they could. this particular night they hadn't slept one minute. after meeting breakfast i return to the tent. it was 0800 and the sun was warming the air up fast. inside it was still cold and dark, sensory deprivation chamber. i fumbled how to my find my note book. the door was lift. allowing a flash of blinding light and dropped fell. knoll and marie you enter silently that rhea collapsed on her cot and put a plank wet over her head. know ella changed into sweat that said u.s. navy on the chest and leg. she sat on her cot, sighed
deeply, and lowered her face to her hands. a few minutes late she came over. how are you? i ask the quietly. we lost one on the table, she replied, very obvious fatigue in her voice. was he the first? yeah, everyone is just wasted but probably wasn't about losing him as much as just has been about the whole last couple of days. there are couple patient is can't get out of my head, you know? i waited. a group of the came in, she said, with their corpsmen. the captain was dead. he had been shot. and under one arm and out under the other. i think the corpsman had been out there applying pressure on both of the captain's arms for a long time. didn't realize that that guy bled out a long time before we got him. he just sat there, the corpsman, staring into space. wouldn't answer questions, wouldn't talk to anybody. that might be a good person for me to see, said. is he still here?
nah, they took him back at 0500 this morning. probably best, she says, kicking the wooden floor of the tents, looking at heir flip-flop-clad feet there was another one that came in with women. a gunny. triple amputee. he lost one leg below the knee, one at the hip, and an arm below the elbow. he was amazing. she took a deep breath in and exhaled through pursed lips. things were getting tense in the a while. the look on my face must have been stress. i was running past him once, and he said, hey, ma'am. i thought, he needs more morphine and i have been so busy i've missed it. went over to him and i said, are you okay, gunny? do you need anything? he said i need to ask you something. so i leaned over him. how many irishmen does it take to change light bulb? she said, i couldn't believe it.
what did you just say? he says, it's to serious in here, ma'am, you people need to lighten him told jokes the entire time we worked in there like a standup routine, and then the hilo landed, and they came to get him. and he waved at us with one arm, gave us a thumb's up. we had been laughing so hard for the last half hour, we stood there like idiots. watched them loading him in. they shut the hatch, the bird lifted off, and it was like opening the flood gates, she said. everyone started crying, i think. a few people even fell to their knees. she rubbed her eyes. wonder how he is now? well, anyway, need to hit the rack. she got up and staggered back to her cot. fumbling through the darkness, she looked back at me, thank ford listening, doc. that's what i'm here for.
what a great story. yeah, she said, lying back on her pillow, we all were lucky nat gunny came in and took care of us today. i got up to lead. hey, neel. yeah? how many? how many what? how many irishmen does it take? [laughter] >> she smiled, well, apatiently it takes 21, one to hold the light bulb and the other 20 to distinction the room starts spinning. -- other 20 to drink until the room starts spinning. so there's many stories i could have shared with you and i understand this was even more appropriate for this audience than i thought. because i guess there's a lot of irish american folks near satisfy van newscast. so there you good. there's your joke for the day. it's interesting because when i think about stories to share with audiences, this one keeps coming forward, not because it's
especially wonderful, which it is. and not because it may sound familiar to some of you. we all these these life-changing moments. this man wasn't a gunny. i had to change everybody's ranks and injuries. he wasn't a triple amputee. i had to make people unidentifiable. right, for the book. and interestingly, i have no idea, i had no idea what happened to him or anyone that we took care of. we had zero tracking system in place back in 2004. it's much better now, but these people came into our surgical company and in many cases really touched us, and then we had no clue what happened. so, the reason, though, to tell you that story is because in this particular case there's this part two. and i think it's the perfect description of exactly what i've just been talking with you about. if we keep our eyes open, if we allow ourselves to grow and change in a positive way after traumatic experiences, we see
that life comes full circle. just like my little baseball player who is not so little anymore. and jason dunham's family. i got to see this gunny again, who is not a gunny. the book is associated with a terrific charity, called the semper phi fund, and helps injured marines and corps men, and a few years ago i was invited to a party with the board of directors and several of the funds' recipients. now, the director of the fund had given my book to all the board of directors and these marines who have been given various types of assistance from the fund. and i walked into this restaurant, and i looked across the bar, and there he was. this gunny, who wasn't a gunny. he was drinking a beer with one prosthetic hand and his service dog's leash was wrapped around
the other, and he was surrounded by women, and they were laughing. so, i knew it was him, of course, and i said to my house, who is a marine, there's just no way i can good talk to that guy, and he said if you don't you will regret it for the rest of your life. so i was so nervous but i went therefor and introduced myself and i said i'm the author of the book that karen gave you. he said oh, that was a good book. and i waited. kind of cringing. so finally i had to ask him. what did you think of your chapter, and he said, my chapter? and i said, i called it the irishmen and the light bulb, and he said but that guy was a gunny. i'm just a staff sergeant. [laughter] >> so i explained how i had to changite identities. i assured him that was you. he took a long swig offer and said i'm going to need to re-read it now.
i said you probably are. before i left him i said, i need you to know something. those medical people at tq that night? they were exhausted they were up to their knees in casualties and had been working three days straight, and you saved them. he looked at me for a second and says, seek that's just so funny. i always figured they saved me. so, ladies and gentlemen, it does not matter about which war we are talking. now i understand why people got in touch after reading the poem, even people from world war ii. i get it now. bus across generations the whole point is still the same. when i was out in iraq, many of my marine patients kept telling me, doc, watch band of brothers. why in the world would i want to
watch want of brothers when i'm in the middle of iraq? thank you, no. itself did not watch band of brothers while i was in iraq. i did get home and someone gave it to me as a welcome home present, whiches sort of a strange welcome home present. but there it sat on my book case, wrapped in plastic, for four years. and when you hear people speak of avoidance, after trauma, that's a good example of avoidance after traumatic. i did get around to watching it. and now i understand why they wanted me to see it. there's a title of one of the insides, that says, why we fight. and that's what they were trying to tell me. they were just trying to tell me why they were fighting, and it's the same today as it always has been. it's for one another. for the people to our left and our right and always has been. so, for all of you, who have worn our country's uniform or
supported a family member who did, thank you for your service. it will always mean a great deal to us. and for all of you now who are part of a really amazing community of patriotic energy and support, you can be a cohesive supportive, protective, role, in the lives of your sons, daughters, neighbors, friends, as they come home from the fight, and give them what they need then going forward, with the rest of the fight. some of them that stigma will be the greatest fight they've ever faced. you have the ability to give them permission to not be okay. to validate they're sacrifice in a personal and health-felt way they will never forget. so, if i may speak on behalf of all of them, thank you for your support of your veterans, that
we are all to proud of. you matter to them. you matter to us. thank you very much. [applause] [applause] >> thank you. thank you. [applause] >> thank you very much. [app >> thank you very much. [applause] >> of course, very happy to take questions. i think we need the microphone. love to hear your questions. >> i hope i'm not the only person here who doesn't know this, but what's rule one and what is r rue two? >> my goodness. thank you. what a great question. i planted him. so, die have any m.a.s.h. fans
in here? rule number two and rule number one came from the first season of mny .aa.. in a wonderf ru episode in which hawkeye loses a person on the table he knew from high school and feels really torn up about that. and henry, his commanding officer, says to him, the only thing i know is that there's two twoles of war. twole under one is that young n die and rule number two is that that doctors can't change r rue nd rmber one. any other questions? >> do you have any insights into the alarming and tragic phenomenon of the number of suicides in veterans which we all are becoming familiar with? anything at all you can tell us that could be changed? >> yeah. you know, think this is one of these things that, the good news
is that all the services take it so incredibly seriously. i have had the opportunity to speak at a few flag level conferences for the navy and the marines, and truly the four-star level this is number one and nd rmber two priorities of these guys. other even before missions. it's truly alarming, as you say. the bottom line as far as we can tell is that the still comes down to the stigma i was referring, to that there is still, even with all the advances we have made in working to make it okay to get treatment and help, there's still a t twoe stigma amongst many of our veterans around admitting they need help for these wounds. they're truely injuries and that's the way wear trying to push this fur. this is not a mental illness. this is not something that makes you sick. it's an iundsury, of something
that happened to a healthy eastern and treatment works. so there's a push to change the way people think about this, but this needs to happen in the mid-levecho of our services, tht mid-level leadership also puts that type of message out. and i think this is going to be decades before that actually is the case. i think the unfortunately the suicide rate is a direct reflection of that. people just not feeling they have anywhere to turn, they can't ask for help. so, i again, one-by-one, be can change that. yes, sir. right behind you. >> my father served in the second world war, and i was born in 1946, and he would never answer any questions about his service. and all we knew was he brought home a t twonkful of nazi flags swords and that he had been in the artillery. recently i have done some
research on where he was and what he was doing, and it sounds here are horrific, and my brothers and i recently found some photos he brought back that shows he was at one of the death camps early on in so fort. >> wow. >> i'm wondering whether anybody has done any study of this phenomenon you're talking about, and how it was unaddressed with world war ii veterans, and what i'm really trying to figure out, how die get into the mind of this father who was totally silent about it through his life? >> right. there is a lot of interest in the wothe veterans because, as you say, they were very -- as a whole they were very silent about their service, and yet there seems to be this thought that many of them were actdecllylovue brnctional, went on to live vey brnctional lives, and seemed to do okay.
sort of on the surface at least. and there's a couple different theories. obviously one is that there was still that stigma. there was no pos, hbility of receiving hel-c that didn't exist. you didn't do it. it was, what did they call dill -- battle fatigue. but even before that it was like a soldier's heart, something that made it sound like you were weak. so it was even say, there's awa- the names have evolved but they started off extremely prej haiciang, that it waswas,- i think there was that. but then there's also this thought that maybe, because in ships, together, they had sometimes months to actually be with people who got it, and decompress some of what they lived through, and that perhaps that may have been a true
protective factor for many of thlãin the ability, despite the honor row, which is, as you say, unfathomable, despite that, if he came home with another group of people who got it, who understood him, who didn't judge him, who knew what he lived through, who lived through something sausilar, they were able to debrief and sort of move through a lot of the process together. that's one theory. it's sort of why this whole generation of people who lived through something so bad, seemed to generally do okay. the other theory is that they just refused to talk about and it refused to let it bother them and just didn't do it. it wasn't an option. i like the first theory bettehe@ makes some sense. now our veterans are home 12 hours after they were in iraq. they're home and it's just really shocking.
>> could the difference also have been that the way they were welcomed home? >> could have been. the country was obviously different. >> there were parades. they were revered. you came home from vietnam, you were shunned. >> that's right. and certainly the country's nt during wothe has to also have been protective. the entire country was part of the fight. so that clearly has to have been protective. vietnam, no doubt about it, the country's di, hnvsay, vement and even hostility towargs those that fought is clearly an additional risk factor for vietnam veterans. no doutry about that. no doutry about that. [inaudible] >> sure, sure. [inaudible]
>> right. right. there's some different thoughts on that. but, yeah, theoretically, when you're volunteering to do it, this is something you're a different way of thinking about it. but, yeaod i don't think anyone has ever come to the true consensus on the draft situation, but, yeah, you're right, that's certainly a di hoerent factor as we look at different wars. >> hi, this question may be frivsay, ous but ips curious, the grandmother of twin one-year-old boys and
but i think having them there was clearly helpful, and my husband was out of the marines by then, and so he was there he was working but he was there which is -- was a good thing, clearly for me, knowing that their father was there but was not good for him, because as a marine pilot he was supposed to be head over there, not me. he was better suited to go i was better suited to stay. we both agreed on that. so there was clearly a lot in the biz call cognitive dissidence, something that doesn't make sense. and there was really a sense -- almost like he resented me for going. like he had flown for 12 years and never got a chance to blow open a path for infantry marines to go through, which is what he was supposed to do in the
airplane. so it was a challenge for us, but the good news is the kids had all sorts of support and they were what mattered the most to me. >> this is back to the question of, what do we do with an individual coming back who has these internal wounds, and it seems to me that when you are learning how to fight for your country, you're basically told to suck it up. and you live with that psychology and that protects you, and that gives you the courage, if you will to go on some do horrendous things. then suddenly to dismiss all of that and leave that mentality, that is where probably the
problem lies, how do you make that transition. what you mentioned about being on the ship, time, and you watch ncis and they address this kind of a problem where people come home and they don't know how to relate to the people they left behind. >> right. >> so is this one of those serious issues about individually trying to take away what you had to know to go in to fight to do these things and replace it with therapy? >> to some extent. although the attempt to change the way we think about these wounds as injuries, instead of illness, is an attempt to try to make this akin to a badly sprained ankle, and so whenever i get my chance to talk to a big group of marine order sailors i say, okay, everybody knows what looks like when you spring your ankle, right?
everybody knows. sometime it hurts to walk, okay, and everyone knows what you should do in the acute sense to take care of that ankle. right? everybody knows. you should get off of it. you should put some compression, ice, maybe take vitamen m, motrin. and so we all know this. then i say to them, okay, go with me for a second here. what if you don't have time? what if you're embarrassed? you leave the boot laced up tightly and go out there and do crazy things you shouldn't do in boots but that's a whole other lecture. so you stay on it. you walk on it for weeks, months, long time, is it possible no one will know how badly sprained your ankle is? sure. yeah. you can fake it pretty in. then some day i tell them, even you have to take a shower. so you take the boot off, now what does your an del -- ankle
look like? that not good and you don't have to be a corpsman to know theirs something wrong with the ankle. looks like a bowling ball. so you get sent to the doc and the doc sends you to the physical therapist. i said what if the physical therapyi gives you exercises and you do exactly what that person tells you, is it possible you end up with a stronger, more flexible, more resilient ankle at the end? and day all -- they all have to admit, it's possible. meanwhile i'm watching like light bulbs coming up, and of course the punchline is, this is no different. normal person, injury. signs we recognize. and attempt to cover them up. a moment when you can't cover it up anymore. and treatment. same thing. so, this is what we're trying to
push forward. this idea. so that hopefully it doesn't have to be something that is counter counter to what you learned. you learn you have to be healthy to help your unit. at it being taught at the junior leveled and we're trying to move that quickly through the ranks. we'll see how it goes but so far at least on the junior side it's accepted that way. on the very senior side it's definitely accepted because they know, those guys know, the leadership, 'they've got to keep these guys. hey. so i hope that will be the case. feel tree to use the ankle analogy if you ever need to one more question, i'm told. anyone? no pressure. doesn't have to be a great question. we've got one here. two more? all right. you're next. >> i had a friend that came back from afghanistan that is a
double automatic pew tee, and i'm very proud of him and admire him and his courage and everything like that. now he wants to go back, and i think he is crazy. can you explain dish know this happens a lot where they just want to go back and they've given so much already. >> there's work shawns where there's a title of a seminar, why i want to go back. at it very common. and i even felt it, too. as much as -- really? but you doom because there's a sense of knowing what you're doing. there's a sense of real confidence in combat. everything is black and. why your roll is very clear. what is expected of you is very clear. there's no additional stuff going on. just you and your unit and what you have to do. and that's really nice. it's very simple. and i think that when you get back and there's all the different pieces floating around, with family and he
future and your injuries, sort of starts to feel complicated so they yearn for the simplicity, where everything was simple. in addition some people become true adrenaline junkize. i have to fight with my patiented about their 100 miller momentum. -- 100 mile-an-hour motorcycle riding. but they say they don't field alive. they felt alive in combat. that's alive. this? so he wave to work on increasing pleasurable experiences and realize it's never going to feel like that again, but that's good, because near savannah, georgia you shouldn't feel like that. right? that is just a very specific feeling, and we don't really want that again. so, i think it's very normal, and there are actually a fair amount of amputees that are returning to active duty and even deployment. it would be a different role but at it possible.
hopefully he'll move thereof his transition and see where he can contribute to the army, or to his community in a different way. and still find pleasure and joy from that. the last question is here, this gentleman here. >> in the blue hat. >> i'm a psychiatrist and i've treated many veterans from vietnam to the present. one of the problems i have with what you have said is there's a marked difference between the normalcy that most people experience and the horrors of war. people in the military in wars see things, do things, and experience things, that normal people have no idea what they
are. >> that's true. >> and it's very difficult for those two groups to understand each other because people who haven't experience it have no idea what it's like, and people who have experienced it don't understand why the people who haven't experienced it don't understand it. so, they live in very -- two different worlds. >> exactly right. >> in which the military world is almost like a nether world. where they're experiencing things that are -- what you said, horrendous, that are exhausting, that go beyond anything. >> yep. >> and normal people don't know how to relate to that. and so there's tremendous difficulty in getting back into the normal world because their world will never again be normal. >> you're absolutely right about that. and when you say the problem
with what i said, you mean as far as trying to support one person at a time? is that what -- you were addressing? >> my specialty of many year was treating brain injuries, so i understand the analogy about injury vs. illness. but the problem with your swollen ankle is that nonmilitary people have had swollen ankles also but never seep their neighbor jump on a grenade and be explode all over the room. we think it was exploded but there's tissue and blood and every -- body parts flying. so they can relate to the idea of a swollen ankle-but they can't relate to the military experience. >> okay. i do -- >> so at it totally different. >> i understand. and perhaps your point is that, as a connective story, the swollen ankle is a difficult one to use, potentially true. i use it with military guys to
try to break the stigma, but i see your point. i think what this comes down to is connection as human beings and we will -- people who haven't lived through it will never understand it, and i think admitting that to someone is huge. i hear that from my guys a lot. when they see a doctor or nurse or even just have someone who is concerned, that is trying to help, it's very important to make some comments such that, i have no idea what you have lived through and would never understand it but i'm right here if you want to take me along. whatever it was it was okay. at it okay. i'm still here. that kind of a general acceptance can be really helpful. i know what you're trying to say, doc. yes, sir. [inaudible] >> he didn't say people weren't normal. he said their experience is so out of the realm of normal
compared to living here in savannah day-to-day. i didn't hear that. i think what he meant was the experience -- what sort of our -- the typical american living in savannah is living, we would call maybe that's a normal day, is going to work, going to the grocery store, going to school. and then what you live through in combat is just so very different. so, perhaps just the different way of defining what we have lived through. what you have lived through. it's very different than what your neighbors have lived through if they've never gone to war. i think we're probably done? we actually went over. thank you all very much. [applause] >> coming up on the next washington journal, allen gomez of u.s.a. today gives an update on bipartisan efforts in the
house and senate to create comprehensive immigration legislation. >> she was out there and n a way that, is a indicated before, respectable women did not do, but this is a new era. this i a time when the women's movement is underway, and interestingly enough, you know, if someone like julia tyler fits into a certain extent. she is very conservative in some ways, but in terms of breaking through the traditional way that a woman should behave, she is
doing it in a way that other women are not at that time. >> two navy seals talked about their books at this year oses tucson festival of the become. marine corps niner, howard was din, about his experiences in the the elite special operations unit, and fellow sniper brandon webb, the author of the red circle, about his combat
experiences and role in training navy snipers are this is an hour. >> waskin was racessed in georgia and enlest i with the navy where he served as a search and rescue swimmer. waskin re-enlisted in order to get the necessary steps to -- completed the necessary steps to become a navy seal. late her was selected to join the unites states seal team 6 which is a tier one special mission unit. following his honorable discharge he cowrote the autobiography memoir, seal team six. memoirs of an elite navy seal sniper. and he graduated from marry ya a georgia and earned a doctor of chiropractic trying. brandon webb was born in canada
in 197 4 , raised mostly in california and worked on a fishing boat from the age of 16. he joined the navy in 1993 and began his career as an aviation warfare systems operator and search and rescue swimmer. he completed basic underwart demolition seal training and was assigned to seal dream three, served combat deployments to southwest asia, including iraq and afghanistan. second as a navy seal niner course manage we are he developed new click la and trained snipers. he is the editor in chief of -- and a media commentator on snipers and related special operations forces. webb is co-author of the 21st 21st century sniper, complete practical god, and his memoir, the red circle. let's give them a round of applause. [applause] >> i'd like to turn the time over to howard waskin now for presentation.
>> good afternoon. glad to see everybody. can everybody in the back hear me? i'll keep this up here. a little cross-section. a lot of myths about seals and kind of people we are, what planet we come from and all that kind of stuff. so, i want to give you a cross-sex of -- cross-section of a typical seal, me. but before i do that i want anybody who ever served in the military or is currently serving to please stand up. give them a round of applause. [applause] >> thank you all for your service. just so you know, navy seals are the hot topic issue right now, chicks dig and it all that stuff but the guy you saw stan --
stand up are just as important, we all have a mission to full. the love of the america and the land of opportunity. there's something happening in our country right now that i don't quite understand. or something that has happened and we have gotten away from not only loving our country, but loving each other. so i want to talk about you the success i have had recently and then show you where i cam from and it might surprise you. my first book there, seal team six, i was fort tout to us with the timing. they killed osama bin laden and four days later my book came out, and before anybody asked me, no, they didn't call me up and say, howard, hurry up, we're getting ready to cap him. i was accused of that. it was just good timing. the second book you see there was a youth adapted book. i'm more proud of this book than almost anything i have done. i have 200,000 kids that have read this book and this is for
the kids who don't like to read, and the letters i have gotten show me that, there might have been a reason i was spared on october 3, during a battle. so that's successful stuff. the seal team six book came out last summer and you're the first people to see it, easy day for the dead will be out in october. so i'm riding pretty high right now. before that i had military success. a silver star, purple heart, navy commendation medal, and does anybody know why why they givous the medals? because they don't want to give you've raise, you know. the silver star is a neat medal, and that and 50 cents will get you a coup of coffee. the purple heart, look at that as a navy marksman ship medal. that is what the military does
for you. but before success, this is how i grew up. i was raised -- i was born to a 15-year-old mother. i was born two months premature. i was a premy and i almost died because my lungs had not developed completely. after that i was adopted, moved to a small town in georgia and abused. i mean daily. no like beat with a fist but beat with a belt regular, and after that i decided to run away from home. so -- and i did. rant into these people's house i caught the bus with and said, i'm here to live with you go anything to eat? i was desperate but this is all before success. so if i had copped out and gone to some social program or something to help me because, i had a tough life, somebody help me, could i have turned out like jeffrey dahmer.
this is the house i grew up in. this is a better picture, the house i was in had a sag there, and i was the adopted bastard the child and the children who belonged to the man who adopt met lived in the house and they ahead heat. i had no heat in my room. you can live going from the house to my room and see dirt below it. so i have a hard time with the kids today who have these horror stories how bad they've got it. my parent won't give me an ephone. you for thing. you should get yourself taken away from them. but like i told you, success came abruptly. and i say this awe all the time. i went from rock star to rock bottom. i felt good about myself being a member of seal team six. black hawk down was the only bad day i had, and i was shot three times. i went from tactical god, which
i thought i was, and i thought i was more than human, and i'm not bragging. it was kind of like, a wakeup call for me. so, god has a way of getting your attention, unfortunately to get my attention i had to suck up three ak-47 bullets, and he got my attention. the crazy thing when i was being shout, i thought i can't believe his is happening to me. this happens to other people. oh, my god, i'm being shot. so i was shot three times. kind of like get out of the humvee, sitting in a ditch and you can see them coming in on you we're out of ammunition, and you hear people talk about seeing a white light, they're floating out of their body, looking down, and seeing their body on the ground, everything goes in slow motion, i didn't have any of those. things happened to me. i don't know if that meant i was going hell but i didn't see a sign for it. i didn't see a pitchfork or anything. but the one regret i did have while i was laying in the ditch was that i didn't tell the people in my life i loved them
enough. and that was the way i was raised. i was raised by an iron fist. you're a weak man to ask for help. i later found out that's not true. you got to be a real man to tell the people you love them, that you love. and i kind of made god a promise, bargaining with him. if you get me out of this one i'll make sure to tell the people i love that i love them mitchell daughter rachel on the front row when i came back from somalia i was in a dark place, she and i didn't really have a relationship for about four years. i was wounded. divorced, climbed into a jim beam aboutle and lived there near years, and just because it made my numb. so she can tell you now, i never give up on this opportunity to tell the people i love i love them because you never know if it's going to be the last time. so if i die tomorrow i was given a second chance and i was able to fulfill that. through all that, i bring you to my main point, we're the best
nation in the world at taking people and turning them into soldiers. we're the word nation in the world in taking soldiers and reassimilating them back into society. we have -- you'd be amazed at the number of ptsd letters i get. everybody once in a while my clinic server will crash because people are coming back and thank god, they're asking for help, and i think part of the reason is we have made it okay to ask for help. somebody who is a bad ass navy seal says i need help, obviously must be okay. doesn't make you a wimp. just means you need help. makes me so mad when i hear young people today or even adults say, you know, if we had i like -- and use the country for an example or this country, with we do it like this, it's like do you realize that everything in this country that we have is god given in not one person in this room, me included, deserved to be born
into america. by the grace of god we were born into the greatest country in the world and you ought to clap about that. [applause] >> i think in america we have gotten to the point where we're just willing to exist. let uncle sam help us out. let's make uncle sam responsible for our well beg. when uncle sam was done with me i was in a wheelchair contemplating shooting my head off. i was once an asset and now i'm a high school. the shooter who shot osama bin laden, feels the same way. i'm out now. what die do with this skillset and in the meantime, how am i going to make a living and feed my family? so we got to find out a way to get our soldiers, especially our eve lead soldiers, back into society. and i think part of it is this. i speak to a lot of schools and colleges. i think that somewhere we're missing a handoff about who is responsible for the children. every school i speak at, the
teachers, to a teacher, tell me it's not the kids. it's the parents. when was in school if if got a paddling at school -- showing our how old i am -- i hated going hope. it was double jeopardy. you're going to get it begin when you get home. the teachers tell mel now if you get on somebody's okayed, it's in the the kid's fall. at it your fault. so they got mom and dad coming downer, got my little precious. i know they didn't do anything wrong. must be your teaching skills. so we have made other people responsible for our children and that's dangerous. i came home one day and my stepdaughter is in the house in her room, of course on her cell phone, texting, video gaming or something, and i hear this noise outside in the drive and it's like, mmm, you've see these little cars with the round tail pipe on the back? look at the people driving those. so this guy drives up in the driveway gets out of his car, starts walking across the driveway, beautifuls his pants
up, got a chain hanging, a little thing in this eyebrow right here. a piercing in his lip and a thing in this nose and a bunch of heard ware and i'm like carrying the trash out looking at him and i don't know if i'm more appalled at what i'm seeing in his face or the fact he is going to walk past me to my door. so i get his attention. pulled him around and i'm like, hey, where do you think your going? i'm here to get erin. i'm liking case, i you get back in that little car go somewhere, put a belt on so you're not pull your pants up, get all that hardware out of your face, come back, and this time instead of walking past me, stop and talk to me and say, hey i-so and so, i'm their come speak to your daughter, and then i might let you do it. so you know how that happened. i go in the house and i'm the evil person i get this laid on me. you're being very judgmental. your judging someone based on how they look. i'm like, erin, looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks
like a duck, it's probably a duck. so she hated me to me chev hated me and i needed to grow up and quit i judging people. two weeks later after he friend had been date this jerk for two weeks, she came in and thanked me and hugged my neck. she said you were protecting me and i didn't get it. i said remember that line, looks like a -- quacks like a duck, probably a duck. so we have to take care of our kids. there's two choices in life, and as americans we're not listening to this. set conditions as they are or accept the responsibility to change them. i could have stayed in the wheat chair in that jim beam bottle, but i came to the realization that if something is going to change in my like i've government to change it. and let me tell you something, when you're in that dark space, it's not the light that moves. you moved away from the light. so find a way to get back to it. this is a country where people are not as blessed as we are. those know this is a little
somali boy that stepped on a land mine. my reason for having this in here is do the right thing even when no one is watching. the little boy was dying from an infection, we go over and bandage him up and as bad as we have it in the united states, we have terrible things going an with school shootings, but we're not fighting for our lives every day. we development have land mines in the playgrounds playgrounds e flowing rpgs at us so we are we're the most messed nation in the world. here's what i think we're missing, is the ability to love each other. i've got brandon webb on the stage with me and i can tell you brandon and i never ask. nobody ever asked what somebody's color was, religion, what their sex was, if they were gay or straight or anything. all those things that divide us as a country, the only thing we ask, if we're americans and if you're an american i'm going to help you or die trying.
and i'm not here to preach to anybody but i if you read john 15:113. that versus says, greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for a presented. you come talking bat small percentage of people in society who are willing to do that day in and day out. over and over again, way more than i ever did. so we have to approached those -- appreciate those people and they're not doing it to be some tough guy or to have a little badge on their chest or so chicks in bars think we're kole. they're doing it because they love their fellow americans. so, i'm going to tell you one more story and then i'll step down. this is how far first hand that i've seen is slide as a nation. anytime savannah, georgia, stopped at a red light and i look over to the right and there's a man laying in the road. pulling into a 7-eleven, there's
a little ramp there, laying in the road, it's raining, water running past him. a/c him struggling, trying to set up and i'm at the red light. i i'm going to change lanes and go over and help him out. my heart grew for a second because i saw these two young men stop beside him, get out, and go over to him and i'm like, thank god, we still live in a club triwhere somebody is going to top and help something. if that had been a dog on the street everybody in the room would stop. one gentleman go around behind him, stops, poses, and natches a picture, changes the cell phone out, does his little gang sign of whatever it, snaps a picture of the gentleman laying in the street. that might have been a crackhead or alcoholic. it wasn't an alcoholic. when i picked him up, i came around behind hix, put my hand underneath his arm right there and said, pull your right leg forward. and he couldn't do it. so i'm like, i -- the smell is horrible bought i'm getting him
out of the rain. he is in the road. so i tell him again me and doesn't get it. so i reach down and feel his leg and it's a prosthetic leg. lock story short, he couldn't get up because of the prosthetic leg. when if put him on my shoulder and cared him over and sat down and drank a cup of coffee with him, he was a combat veteran from vietnam. had his leg blown off. came back home, climbed into a bolt, never climbed out of that bottle. and except for the degrees of god there go i. seven millimeters more lat'll on my leg i would be that man and i don't if i would have been able to climb out of to the bottle, get my life bask on track and get on my my life. so the next time you see somebody out there, remember, you don't know where they came from, what is burdening them, what is going on in their life. but regardless of what you think of the person, what we're missing in the country and neat
to get back to is loving each other, and i want to say i don't want to miss the responsibility to tell everybody in this room i nowow didn't come here to tell a tough navy seal tell you've about that's the most important thing i there is and i want to tell you all i lovous americans and as human beings and thanks for coming. [applause] >> thank you. some of the things that the awance wanted to hear from you guys, and seek from your experiences, is that both of you kind of -- howard talked -- you had a difficult time in your childhood growing up. it wasn't exactly easy or exactly the way that a lot of us had it. how did that prepare you for training to become a seal and becoming who you are today. >> good question. normally a little more chipper.
i just government back from africa, and if anyone has been to africa, it's like everything is trying to kill you over there i just recovered from some nasty flu so apologize for not being my normal self. howard and i have a little bit of a -- i think one thing i've noticed, whether it's howard or or a lot of navy seals, we come from these crazy, different backgrounds but the one common theme i see with everyone is you have dealt with adversity in your life by the time you show up at seal training, and i had a little different upbringing but i left home at 16 as well. i had for the most part a pretty loving parents. they were hippies. they were trying to figure out hour the son wanted to go into the navy seal team. i had worked on boats, from such a young age, i was actually a
charter scuba diver when is i was 12, and i had this boating experience, and we lived on a 50-foot ketch, and long story longer, we go to -- take this trip around the world, and i made toyota -- made it to a heatty tahiti before my dad through my off the boat. i made my way back, put myself through school and joined the navy and actually was a a.w., aviation warfare. at it was antisubmarine ware fair operator. and i did a couple years as a rescue swimmer and sonar operator. then went to- -- i joined to be a seal and that's a whole other story. most of it is in my book. so i think to answer your
question, jarrett, it's that dealing with learning how to deal with adversity and understanding that, my parents let me play sports, let me lose, they taught me that in life not everyone gets to be on the podium or get a trophy. but it's important if you do, to get knocked down in life or fail, you get back up and learn from those experiences and keep driving on and that's what i think really prepared myself for seal training and what i think prepares other guys that show up and make it. >> thanks. >> howard, one of your thingness your book said you were in the middle of bud, the basic underwater demolition and seal training, and he said there's a point, during one of our long runs can halfway through training we ran behind a truck while music was playing, and
that's when i decided i'm either going home in a coffin or going home wearing the trident. i'm going to make it through training. >> that's is an epiphany that every trainee gets or has. you're bet down mentally, physical russian psychology, which i any other way, cold all the time, and you don't want to quit and you don't quit. you make out there hell week. there's still a doubt in your mind about something it going to come up that might trip me up. i might not be good enough. demolition or diving. you just don't know. but the night book i got to there was i really got to that point in my brain where it's like, you know what? even if i don't make it through training here it's not because i'm going to quit. it's because i'm going to physically die doing it. once you flip that switch, not just bud, but flip that in your personal like i'm going succeed or they're going to put me in a body bag, that's pretty powerful
motivation. some you can pretty much at that point accomplish anything. that was the defining moment for me, because i actually had this picture of myself going back home, and showing me one man in my life that meant michigan to me, my uncle, that i actually had the try department on my -- trident on my chest and i made it. from then on it was like, nothing is going to stop me now, and that's the type of empowerment you have to have in your life to get through something special or achieve anything. you have to visualize it and then you can't -- then you have to convince yourself it's going to happen. >> bran do, i'd like you to share your experience when you were in hell week andure instructors pulled you away from the group and started kicking sand in your face and what your experience was there they were begging you to quit. >> yeah. they had a saying in seal training that you don't want to be, quote-unquote, that guy. and out of 220 students i was
that guy for the first five weeks. it was brutal. i showed up training off an aircraft carrier, and i was just mentally prepared but physically, with just not at the level i should be. i was on every extra duty, physical training, signup, every morning. tied show up early with a group of winners and do extra physical training. so, they had really wanted -- the four group and the meanest instructorness first phase, and there's usually a group of those kind of guys that gravitate to that phase of training, because it's the most brutal. >> like the wolf pack finding the one weak cub. >> and they separate met from the class and had me on the
beach for an hour, four of thieves guys, and just threw everything they could at me. but like howard said, at that point, i figured out early on in bud that it wasn't -- it was more mental than physical. i'd seat these athletes that were really didn't deal with much adversity in life. they're physically very gifted, and collegiate scholarships or whatever, and show up and they would quit because they didn't like the cold water, didn't like to be yelled at. so, i had been there done that. so once they realized that they just -- they couldn't break me, it was like, i turned the corner, and i remember in hell week, which is five and a half days, they keep you up straight, and the fifth week of training, and towards day three and four we had this paddle around san diego, like a 20-mile.
and our boat crew finished first, and one of the instructors that tried to get rid of me, instructor sean, he jumped in our boat and yelling at other people who are slow to race, and one instructor says, hey, webb, if you dump your boat right now, flip it over, we'll secure you early, and this guy looked at me and i was like, let's do it. and that's how i was. at that point i was like, i'm ready to flip this sob over right now. and they knew. i had that look in my eyes, and they left me alone the rest of -- five and a half months. >> you got to check that out in his book. it's a lot more colorful. >> i can't let my son read it yet. he's too young. the colorful language. >> i laughed when i read it three times. >> tell us about both of you, about the competitiveness of the seals getting through bud, getting through your seal
training, and then how that creates the camaraderie you have among seals when you go out to your teams. >> wow, that's tough. first of all, imagine alpha male exponentially to like the tenth power and then you have the guys graduating from buds, and when you graduate and get to your team to a man you think you're the most gifted warrior, sometimes to a fault, as i admitted earlier, but there's something about -- i equate it to be on a pro football team that just won the super bowl. when you -- you have the same mission, like you're trying to win the game, but you have little specialties. like brandon in and are sunshines, medics, communications guys, but when the team is gelling, it's a beautiful thing to behold, and like a professional football team that dominated at super bowl and you come back and at the highest of highs. but then again, if you go out
and do that same and it doesn't end well, unlike the united states government, we come back and man up and take responsibility for that and we do something called lessons learned. so when you go back out to do that same op again you don't make the same mistakes again. i think we should broadcast this on the beltway in d.c. >> howard -- so, that's what we got to do in our personal lives, our own families and financeses, and our government ought to do it, too. anyway, on the team we take responsibility. when i was watching brandon, i was still proud because he is digging uncovering these truths and stuff, and we shouldn't have to do thats a assignses, and the night ought to man up and say we did it wrong but we're going to
try to do it better next time and that's what it's like. the competition there is but when it's all set and down you might want to shoot or whatever, but we're on the same team and when you're acting as a team-that's why the seals are the best fighting force in the world. >> i think that covers it. >> brandon, i'll ask you, how do you guys -- when you go through -- one thing i loved about your book you talked about the navy seals are always training, always training. anytime you come back phenomenon a deployment, you go to training, you get pick your training. how do you keep that constant level of wanting to progress and not rest on your laurels, we already made it to the top? >> i think it comes down to our motto of the only easy day was yesterday. so, you learn that early on, that you need to earn your seal pin or what we call a trident, every day, and howard and i have
both seen guys that got that trident and got it taken away from them and got sent back to the navy. the missions that we're training for, the consequences are severe, and i think you see a lot of the same traits in successful businesses on the out. but it's a little bit different. if the operation goes bad as opposed to the sales presentation, the consequences are a little more severe. ... time and if you consider normal full performance at 100%, we would train passed that level and train harder than we fight. the training more than prepares you for what you're about to face. sometimes we get into bad situations.
that is why it is so important to train so much and at such a high level. >> you talk about the difficulties of coming back out of the navy s.e.a.l.s and readjusting. you were shot in action. how hard is it coming back and re-assimilating into life after being in a group like the seals? >> that is actually harder than being shot for five more times and going through that again. this elite group of people there are people who would jump in front of a bullet to save any life. to have that caliber of person,
and you think, the civilians are screwed up and are not like that, and it's like i'm going to stab you in the back by making you not look as good. my whole adult life i have been in the military and once i had gotten out and had that, coming back into society was the hardest thing i ever did. and not being willing to admit that i needed help. and that was a big thing. the minute i realized i needed help, i got counseling for survivors guilt. it basically means something you deal with where you come out of a situation and in my case, 18 guys had died, one of them was my best friend. and i'm wondering why god let me live when people much better than me have died. it's something that i deal with every october 3.
it's not as bad now, i have a lot of counseling to get me past that and decide that i will have another career that i love. the little things like being able to carry on a conversation. a conversation that maybe nobody in this room will understand. when i come back to georgia, population 920, they are talking about how much the water table is that i cannot relate to that. they definitely can't wait to this. they are looking at you like you have two heads. so it's better not to have this conversation sometimes. i think the military is doing a better job of reassortment waiting. especially the counseling that you get. i was given a check for this and
had to re-assimilate the best i could. >> i love this part and i just want to read it and have you comment on it. excellent. i don't care how they vote on gun laws or school prayer, i want them to know what the heck they are doing and that they are made of that kind of unswerving skill that will not be rattled and moments that count no matter what is coming at them. i want to know that they won't flinch in the face of debate or danger or death. i want to know that they excel at what they do. you never even throw a punch in the name of freedom. whatever it is that you do, you're you are making a stand either for excellence for
mediocrity. >> i think that for me it is one of the things that i had driven home in the seo community. they have a thing called aim high and mid thigh. the book towards the end, i try to share the lessons learned in my career and we are talking about the things that i learned from some really great mentors and in the navy s.e.a.l.s we reach outside of our own community and we really look to other leaders in the world.
you're asking me about the leadership traits. if i had to pick three traits that i still follow to this day, the most important one is leading by example. and that you can't expect things from people if you aren't willing to do the same things yourself there's not a whole lot of leading by example. it's a sad thing. you have to put your career on the line for your subordinates.
i am up for a promotion next year, i'm going to stand up and do what's right. i had a couple of those moments in my critter that i talk about in the book. i forget what the third one is. [laughter] >> it was praise in public and criticized in private. i run a media company today and have writers all over the world and ip people and i never -- it's going to be a private conversation.
>> i have one last question for you. while i'm asking is, if you guys have questions and answers, if you could line up behind, there is a speaker over here and the microphone over here and a microphone over here. if you will line up, we will get you in a minute i look at your schedule. i notice that you stay busy. is that part of the training that you have gone and have committed to? what are your expectations for yourself? i will tell you that we have all heard of if you want something done, give it to someone who's busy. i did two or three presentations a week, travel all over and see
150 patients a week. that is my life and i love it. if it fills me and when i talked about the survivors guilt, i think now the reason that the i was spared was not only to make a difference with my patients, but reaching out to people like this and basically every second i will capitalize on making the most of it. >> other than i don't own a television. and i don't watch a lot of tv. but we have both lost friends. i recently lost my friend in benghazi, libya. glen doherty. it is one of those things that we have seen so many great individuals make the ultimate
sacrifice. my philosophy is i don't have time to feel sorry for myself. i have to go on and live in part for these guys don't run anymore. >> we are going to go ahead and open up for questions and answers. but i'd like to put out a brief plug here. also the branding that was just recently published. the book was published, behind the scenes. number nine on the national bestsellers list. and also for howard's new book, an easy day for the double? >> no easy day for the double. >> that's coming out in october. if you haven't read "seal team six: memoirs of an elite navy seal sniper" and "the red circle: my life in the navy seal sniper corps and how i trained america's deadliest marksmen", i thoroughly recommend them. if we have questions, we can start with this gentleman. the questions are scripted.
>> did you have to get any permissions or were your writings of you before you publish? >> mine was so dated, black hawk down makes up the bulk of my childhood. but i did send it to a retired general and he read it and advise me to take a couple of things out, which i did. and you don't want in your book.
>> there were parts during my transition that i left out, which are sensitive and the men ghazi book, i would love to review that. especially with the military guys coming out in the seo community, they are all pretty heavily reviewed legally. i think just to explain why some guys don't submit for a pentagon review as it takes too long and that is a problem that none of the guys don't want it sitting on a bureaucrat's desk for six months. it is typically 12 months before you see it in print. >> sir? >> you have any suggestions for re-assimilating the navy
s.e.a.l.s or other military personnel who are coming back who needs some kind of assimilation assistance? either from the military or the government? >> i am glad that you asked that. first of all there needs to be an extensive psychological valuation done, and we have some type of delay based on how severe the trauma is. i am convinced that if i could've had a three-month downstage, when i got back to the team, i was screwed up. the guys around me, i was not in a good place. the first thing that we have to
do is figure out a way these guys make a living. i make a great living now, but it's been through trial and error and all this stuff and they need to be made aware of the educational assistance program and all the stuff that they can do, even something like having a job here. a lot of companies pay me to come motivate them. i grew up barefooted and now his fortune 500 companies pay us money to come motivate them. and i thought, you guys are billionaires and that ought to be motivation enough. the market is out there for these guys and they have no way of making that introduction were having a handoff. we are like the day-to-day
interpersonal lives. when i came out, could you imagine what kind of business you have? >> i can fast-forward and we are coming back with us next skill set. we have to have a way to get these guys introduced to the right people there. >> i would just add that special operations committee, as much as we have our own issues, we are
probably less affected by the transition issues, which do exist in our own communities. the problem is that every man and woman, all of them that are coming back and you are out on your own and you're seeing a lot of people that are homeless, men and women and they just need a little bit of a helping hand. what the government is providing is a mentor in addition to some downtime, someone who has been there and done now. that is what glen doherty did for me. the guy that died in libya.
he took me aside and said we will make sure that you kids get some tuition assistance. having that formalized and paid for, they can be paid on and off-site. >> ma'am? >> this question is for trendier. in your book when you talk about making changes to the sniper course, it seems like things were made quickly. were you surprised at how successful it was and specifically the change in the rate and what the thing that was attribute it to? >> that is our mental management
program. we are always adapting and not afraid to try stuff out. i would attribute a couple of things to lowering our attrition rate. as howard will attest to, it is one of the toughest military schools that you can go to. probably one of the only schools where you can go and come back and not get your tried and. want to go or so so, we had about it date and you're there at the course. and we started teaching the active, we started implementing what we call positive teaching techniques and coaching is
better than sit there and yell it's a good or bad for doing all the bad things, you have this fresh mistakes that they are making. they didn't even know what the heck it was. but now they do and that's all they can think about. it's like telling a little kid that is going to prevent not to strike out. so we start saying, okay, this guy is doing something's wrong, what are three positive things that i can tell them to do to correct it and i want him to do properly and that he can focus on. the other thing is having a positive mindset. you have to have a positive mindset. 100% score is what they told
them that was achievable. whereas if you're shooting at 90, it's pretty good. and that's like you really at the top of your game. there is no reason you can't shoot 100%. the first class were told that to come in and shot 100. incredibly high class. we must mentor that with an olympic gold medal medalist. they're a couple of students for each instructor that can not leave these guys behind and i remember they were out in the car and all the guys are making fun of them and it's a positive mindset and visualization. and these guys were getting made fun of for being a carbonite. in the habit these wino guys
waiting to listen to cds. [laughter] >> i hope that answers your question. >> there is a film called act of valor that was filled with some real navy s.e.a.l.s. one of the interesting things is the filmmakers are the philosophies of functionality and loyalty. being this really fast-moving collection and so for me it is like what is your vision or how can we connect with some of these navy s.e.a.l.s that are back in the community. some of the techniques and philosophies that are really valuable. that's just something i'm really interested in. and i'm like, how can we connect
>> i can sit down and have a beer and cigar and i think that you basically are going to have to reread certain books. you don't have to be a navy s.e.a.l. to have a superior mindset or to be able to achieve great things. i have read probably 100 motivational books and my life and read things that helped form me and shake me. as far as just like logistics, part of that high-speed on-the-fly, i don't know that that can be talked about, you just have to get in and start doing it,. >> other than the writing, i run a website. and i just got approached by a former guy and he actually has a business now and his whole purpose within the industry and i don't remember, we swapped
e-mails a couple days ago. he's going to advertise on a website. so you can watch that service that he is providing. >> if you buy our books and have your friends read it, that will help as well. [laughter] >> thank you for coming today. my question is about the different special operations and special forces units like delta force fields and i have read that there is a lot more working together between industry groups. it is just a lot of competition between the two. >> there used to be a lot of competition to the point of being detrimental. the general took over and said you guys are going to play nice with these guys. and once we started training together, you find out that
everybody gets better because these guys might be better at a certain aspect than we are. we might be better at certain things and they are. once we trained together, everybody improved. so that dangerous mentality of it's us against them, we are better than them, that mindset kind of went by the wayside. because once you all train together, with one eye was the small one, getting together in training together. we are talking about politics and if we could get "seal team six" book to washington dc, get all the democrats and republicans in one room, have snipers and say okay, you guys are playing nice together, before you leave this building. [laughter] >> that would be great. >> that is my kind of filibustering. you're not going to just work 125 days per year and get paid exorbitant amounts of money. you must get your butts in the
chairs and solve problems or my guys are not letting you leave. that is the mentality that you have to get to. i say that in jest, but it's the mentality of teamwork. as corny as it sounds, teamwork with those guys and when you're crosstraining with them, everybody benefits. >> unfortunately we only have time for one more question. going to the right, if you could please go ahead. >> you have answered part of my question about joint operations task forces. my son was accepted and he also got an exception to be an officer candidate. when he went into that, he had to go. he has worked with a lot of you guys from "seal team six" and he is a joint operations task force now. we want to thank you for having his back.
and for doing such a great job. i am at a loss for words. i think what you do over there is absolutely wonderful. i don't know how we could have done it without you. all the training and all the other places in the training bases. >> thank you for that. thank you to your son for his services. i would like to close out by asking a question and nobody asked as per the question i get asked all the time is how do you go from being a "seal team six" sniper and being a chiropractor and taking care people? it is the same job. you just put people out of their misery in a different
>> with 90% of americans supporting your measure and background checks, and in fact, aren't there more parents concerned about the lives of their kids and there are leaders at the nra. not even the membership, which majority supports these measures. what are the politics that allowed the nra to transcend and have a story like in today's "washington post" that your bill and others could be gutted if lawmakers accepted language by the nra. what are the politics that allow that? how can we reverse that? and are we going to lose it if america figures out a way to not pay attention to that kind of
thing? what is to be done and how do you explain it? >> i am so pleased you all will have, in a few minutes, and opportunity to ask winlock p. at that question. i cannot answer that question because i'm not in the nra. i can only speak for my own reality. i do believe with all my heart that when you have 20 children murdered, little children, simply learning how to read run spot run, getting ready for christmas and somebody comes in
and murder some adtran, i sat in my speech there is transformative moments that have been in on our life. if it does not cause folks to step back and say we need to begin to look at the way our country is operating and say we need to do something about the violence, i don't know what will. but be interested to hear what the nra has to say about that. to let me say this, living as long as i have, what is my greatest concern is that arguments go back and forth and we end up doing nothing. and we end up doing absolutely nothing because i do believe when you have these transformative moment, they are
pregnant with opportunity to make a difference. and if we do not act in those moments, things will likely only get worse. and so you will not hear me beating up on the nra. i want to work with the nra to bring about meaningful legislation so we get something done. i want to deal with the bottom line. do we get something done or don't we? at the end of the session do we have something or don't we? the arguments will fade into the universe. but the question is, how they accomplished anything quite again, great question, but i would hand that one off to mr. latte air.
>> they put out a report saying schoolteachers of proper training should be allowed to bring guns into schools. congressman hutchinson presented the group's findings. a >> we presented a model training program for school resource thas officers that is an enhancement of what they currently undertake and are required. is it's 40 to 50 hours -- 40 to 60 hours of comprehensive training for school resource officers that covers everything from weapons retention to court nation with local law enforcement and that is anhe extensive presentation. prepad we also have prepared for the a first time i'm aware of, a modef training program for selective and does the needed armed school personnel. this is probably the one item that catches everybody's
attention.why is is part of our recommendations? in pearlthe incident high school in 1997. an active shooter went into the school and killed two students and wounded others. left thetant principal school and went to his truck and retrieved his semi-automatic firearm and return to the school and disarm the the assailants. that is an example where the response is critical. the key is reducing that response time. if he had been trained or had access on his person, he might have saved more lives. of so -- one of the findings
the team went through one school that did not have school resource officers and they were plotting to arm school staff. when the inquiry was made about what kind of training do you have, it was clearly insufficient training. adequateon't have direction on what is a model program for armed personnel. teachers should teach. if there is a person out with good experience and is willing to go through this training of that is anours, then appropriate resource that a school should be able to utilize.
>> actually it's really significant that this has been preserved all these years. at one point, they were probably 30 to 40 of these around the salt river valley and only a couple of them have survived. most of the amounts are much smaller come a third to a quarter of the size of mesa grande day and his sister not survived also pueblo grande day. a lot of those were destroyed and the youth mounts to survive. it offers us an opportunity to learn about their lifestyle and learn something about how complex their social and political organization lies. but archaeology, one of the great things we have about archaeology is when we look in
to the past and see what people did, late bolinas canal systems here, it gives you hope for the future because if they could do this with taking strip, what is it that we can't do? >> now come a panel of authors have written about combat in afghanistan and iraq. reporter jake tapper has written the "the outpost" about one of the deadliest battles in the war in afghanistan and iraq were bordering, benjamin busch and brian castner talk about combat x variantsin is. live this is an hour.
wh >> versus jake tapper, he joined abc in 2003 and has reportedfro extensively from those here in the u.s. in the least. "the outpost: an untold story of american valor" account from the deadliest battle in afghanistan. please welcome jake. [applause] benjamin bush, actor, photographer, director, and a marine corp. offers who served two combat tours in iraq "dust to dust" weaves together his childhood, marine training, and deployment in the worst of the war in iraq. please become benjamin bush. [applause] brian served three tours of duty in the middle east, two as the commander of an an explosive di poe sal unit in iraq. when he returned them to his
wife and family, he struggled with an unshakable feeling of fear and survivor's guilt, the story of war and the life that follows shows the toll it takes on the men and women that fight it. please welcome him. [applause] thank you so much and enjoy. >> thank you, sir. do i sit here or stand up there? i'll just sit. first of all, it's a real honor to be here at the miami book fair. i want to thank every involved, especially mitch who got me involved, a true honor to be on a pam with two veterans, benjamin with the marines, and brian with the air force. i -- i don't belong on a panel with people who actually lived through it, although, my book is about war as well, and then lastly, there are some other
veterans in the book who are actually here. stan and dave roller are in the back there, and i thank you for being here. that means a lot to me that you guys are here so thank you. [applause] one of the things i'm asked is why did i where a book about this one combat outpost in afghanistan? it's not really my area of expertise. i'm a political reporter. i'm the seep your white house -- senior white house correspondent for abc news, and the answer is i feel i didn't pick combat outpost to write about, but i felt like combat outpost picked me. on october 3rd, 2009, i was in the recovery room of the hospital with my dear wife, jennifer, and i was holding our day old son, jack, and everything was fine. she just had a baby, so that's why we were there, and on the
television, i heard a story that was just harrowing of the remote outpost, combat outpost keating, that i never heard of, bottom of three steep mountains, 14 miles from the pakistan border, 5 # 3 troops facing 400 taliban. a horrific, horrific day. i held my son, and heard about how eight other sons were taken from us that day, and i just wanted to know more, and i couldn't get it out of my head. the coverage was all along the lines, well, why would there be an outpost at the bottom of the mountains? nobody answered the question. when the military invest gaited it, which will come as no surprise to benjamin or brian, they said, yeah, there was no purpose for that to be there, sorry, and moved on. there were -- i was haunted by that. i wanted to know more and wanted
to solve the mystery of why would anybody put a camp there? it was a mystery i had to solve. the more i found out about the outpost and the more i pound out about the attack on the outpost, i heard amazing feets of her heroism, all who died there was engaging the enemy or saving a fellow soldier, every single one of the eight killed. their stories were never really told. it became a project i wanted to tell. i got a book contract to write about it. the book was going to be called "enemy in the wire" just about the last play between, -- platoon, and their experience in the attack, but then i started hearing from troopedded who served there at other times in its three and a half years. i got a call from a former intelligence officer who was with 371 camp.
he wanted me to make the book bigger and more comprehensive. he wanted me to tell the stories of other troops who had served bravely and sacrificed so much. lieutenant joe, medal of honor winner jared monte and a kid from oklahoma who gave his life to save an afghan soldier. he wanted me to tell their stories, and then i heard from dave roller, in the back of the room here, served with the group after 371, 191 camp, and they actually had a very successful year at that outpost. it started horrifically. it started with the death of two brave men, ryan and dave commander captain b awe the the year went on, there was a lot of success reaching out to the afghans, and it was not only an outpost that was a story of failure. it was an outpost that for some time from 2007 to 2008 was a
success. the more that the troops contacted me, told me the stories, the more it was a call r for me to write. it felt i was out of my slumber, covered the war in afghanistan from the comfort of the north lawn of the white house, and the debates about troop levels, 10,000, 40,000, numbers, really, in retrospect seemed cold, covering the fights between mcchrystal and president obama, but it was not until i embarked upon the project that i came to any understanding of what it is our brave troops, men like those on the panel go through, what they sacrificed for us, not just them, but their wives and their moms and their friends, and what we, as the nation don't recognize enough which is we're incredibly blessed to have people like this doing this for us, serving like this for us, and their stories
are actually, even though we in the media don't cover them, not as much as they should be, and i say that's because the american people don't want to hear think thinking the war is a bummer, that these stories are not all depressing. they are, in many ways, inspiring, and what people do for one another and the strength and resolve and bigness of heart that our troops have, even the ones who make bad mistakes, those who screw up here and there, and that's part of the book, it's something that we, as a nation, should be thankful for. that's my eyes opened, and that's why i wrote the book. i would like to take a second if i can beforehanding over the microphone to my friends here. one brief part of the book, if that's okay, which is, you know how the book ends with the outpost overrun, and the u.s. beats back the taliban, and
ultimately, the u.s. destroys combat outpost which so many soldiers had dieded to build and to maintain and serve at. this is not the spoiler alert because you know how it ends, but it's part of the book that's, to me, the most e -- it was dark now, and special forces arrived clearing the village reenforcing the post. this is after the end of the battle. captain went up to the barracks. you've done an incredible job. i'm the commander now. you're red one. as he was released as the command, he exhaled, rolled the shoulders. you did an incredible job. there were not many places to sleep, just the back racks and the eight station and the yond around them. few slept, and none slept well.
october in afghanistan was chilly. the troops wearing t-shirts, shorts, woken suddenly, and lost clots to theñjr day's fire. bodies scattered throughout the camp. red platoon troops collapsed in their barracks, huddled together, slept on armor, not all that soft, crawled in the fetal position with a day's he walked outside the back racks. the dying fires crackled in nearby buildings, glow sticks with a blue light. there was a sound. someone was singing. i ain't seen the sunshine since i don't know when. ..
but the mountains had gotten them first. that's it. i hand it to my friend here. [applause]reflected, >> much though it may not be storect it, we do appreciate when serious journalist takes her story and brings them home.o some of us never had the chanceh to articulate those feelings and observationswrite a war memoir. and it -- i don't think it is, in the end. "dust to dust" is really about our place in time, our place in the landscape. but because i went to war, it becomes part of that journey. and necessarily, it's part of
our nature, unfortunately, this weakness for conflict that we seem to tend towards no matter how enlightened we become, no matter how far we progress as people, no matter how much hope we have that discussion can help us avoid, um, the absolute and most definitive inability to articulate, you know, concession. which is, which is war. so i'm just going to read a little piece from this which kind of puts it all in place. i think war appears in my book to put war in context, not to describe war so much as being part of, part of our history. and for us all, especially for veterans, obviously, it's part of our individual history. we've confronted this thing. that many of us for our sins set
out to seek. this is from the chapter "ash," and i'll just read this section. during my first tour, i convinced myself i was invulnerable, i was not careless, but i was unafraid because fearlessness was required of me. yarines withac our endangerment. when we took our first casualty, we were at a loss to completely believe it and went back to our ritual of patrols as if nothing had happened. while i deployed my family worried, all of them keeping their worry from me as much as they could. my second tour was different. i expected to be killed in ramadi. after i was wounded, it was worse for my wife and parents, the mystery of my situation expanding my peril in their imagination. but the belief in immortality and the certainty of doom produced almost the same lack of
anxiety in me. on june 16th we were going south to cross the railroad or tracks, a routine operation in conjunction with other combat engineers. and i'll just talk about this section, um, i had a good friend in ramadi who was a captain, commander of a company of marines. and on june 16th we just went on what would be considered a common mission. we went out with combat engineers conducting a search mission on a tip that was a cache of explosives near the canal. the village was always bizarre, inhibited by fishermen. the people didn't mix with the city to the north, a mere 200 meters away on the other side of
the tracks. we never knew who we would find there. the entire settlement sometimes abandoned to children and dogs, sometimes flush with men. we called it springfield because we thought it had a population of characters to rival that of "the simpsons." i accompanied the infantry company led by a captain who'd become a friend during the deployment. it was to be a security patrol while engineers located around artillery rounds delivered my insurgents. while we patrolled through the town, we found it almost empty again, the streets vacant, dogs silent. to take the edge off, the captain and i exchanged lines from monty python and "the holy grail," one of us began, you're in great peril. i don't think i was. yes, you were, you were in the terrible peril. look, let me go back and face the peril. oh, no, it's too perilous. we were like-minded in how to
approach the embattled city. i would spend the night protecting my friend's smoldering wreckage. i went home. i attended all the memorials. early on the night of a holy day, and i can hear the broadcast from three nearby mosques, a voice spread out through an extended exhale of language that i cannot interpret but feel that i may understand. that's a gray of incomplete darkness, blind to the world as we see it but somehow not colliding with it. both of us recognizing what is solid and what is not. it is, then, the same world to men and to bats. they hunt insects that hunt us and hunt each other. everything is similar. everyone is hunting. i had moved through the dark defining the grainny green glow of night vision goggles. i'd been out all day patrolling
and sweating and thinking that i wouldn't need them. you always brick all of your -- bring all of your gear. you have them strapped to the front of your helmet, and their awkward weight pulls your head forward, there is no depth perception. you can't see the dust, but you know that it's there. something explodes, try running through a city like that. the phosphorous burn of tracers flashing too bright for your eyes to adjust to, gone as fast as they pass. you don't know how long you'll have to stay on the roof you've found yourself on. you've ordered the family into a room beneath you. you hope the rest of the bats in the unit know it is you on the roof. someone is shooting. watch the tracers, keep low. you may be there all night. you may be there for the rest of your life. you watch the alleys and the windows for anyone you don't know. you don't know anyone. think through the rules of
engagement, positive identification of a threat is required before you can fire, reasonable certainty. you're in the middle of an urban sprawl, your friend's shattered vehicle is upside down by the road ahead, extinguishers are all expanded, and marines are throwing sand on the wreckage. the tires cannot be smothered. you can smell the smoke, and all the while it isn't your house that you have invaded. the family beneath you is just waiting for you to leaf. someone is still shooting. you're not sure in the night vision equipment if you can see something moving. it can't be positively identified. you hold your fire, you hold your position. that can be your profession. you don't want to let anyone down. a bullet had gone out into other people's lives. we gathered some who lived there to fill in the holes left by the bombs left for us.
for 215 days we threw ourselves at the city and washed back into hurricane point. as headquarters 100 meters away, our marines read our report, and the euphrates passed between us without noticing anyone. so i go into that with the book because war is where i arrived after a life, essentially, of chasing endangerment to a certain extent. the uncertainty of it all fascinated me, as does my environment just by nature. so the book is very much about our landscape, how we perceive it as fascinating in our youth and how over time it changes. the same substance -- stone, rock, water, wood -- go from being the unknown, worthy of curiosity, to at some point being a threat. and the natural defiance of us living our lives, which is in
defiance of our mortality all the way from childhood where we're immortal to our elder years where we become the thing that holds so many people we've lost and is what survives. memory is what survives. and within that memory the afterlife of so much. so thank you. [applause] >> good afternoon. i'd also like to thank the organizers of the miami book fair for having me. when i started writing my book a year or two ago, i certainly did not expect i would end up here or seated on a panel with these gentlemen. i think what we've heard so far is that a lot of war stories represent a need to explain.
why was there an outpost where there should never have been an outpost? what's the context within my own war experience? who was i before i went to war and then how did that affect me when i was actually over there? i wrote a memoir -- i didn't want realize i was writing a memoir -- i didn't realize i was writing a memoir. i didn't realize that was going to be the little title they put on it and the shelf they put it on. i was so so naive about the publishing world, i thought i was just writing a story of what happened to me. and some of my friends that i included in it. and really it was to explain to myself how did i end up like this after my tours in iraq, explain to my children this is why daddy's crazy? but print out one copy, put it on a shelf and save for when they were older. i think there's really three kinds of war books. i think there's, you know, the
top level explanation of the policy. when john keegan writes world war ii, that's what happened in world war ii. and i wasn't in a position to write that. and then there's the really detailed recreation of what happened in a specific time and place which is what jake did, which is a gift that i was not able to do. my memories of my tour were so fragmented, they were very specific on particular days, and then there's, you know, the month of september 2006 i don't really very much there. i was -- i could not have recreated that if i wanted to. so instead what i did was i wrote the third kind of book which is, which is where you try to get the feeling right. what does it people like to be there, what does it feel like to come back, what does it feel like to get shot at, what does it feel like, um, to come home from that and be walking through
the airport and realize that you're thinking about who you're going to shoot to get out of the room in case something goes wrong, to think about driving down the road and looking for ieds on the road or be putting your son in his hockey gear and realizing that as you're putting your son in his hockey equipment, you're actually putting him in the bomb suit. be -- and you're sending him off to work on an ied. that's the book i had to write, and i had a completely average experience. so here's what my average experience was. i was an air force eod officer, explosive ordnance disposal, that's the bomb squad. as an air force guy, because we all -- army, navy, pa lean, air force -- we all go to the same school, we're interchangeable, so i was assigned to an army
unit, we can all work together. so i did a tour in balad in '05, and i did a tour in kirkuk in '06. and our normal day is you're there at the base, and you get called, and you take apart one, two, three ieds a day. you take apart car bombs n. kirkuk we had, we went through a stretch where we had a lot of car bombs. we had two a day that came every afternoon. out of the 50 something that we had over the course of those couple weeks, we managed to take apart one. 49 of them detonated. so then there's that other part of the job which is being a little bit like csi. you go, and you look at the scene, and you try to figure out what it was and who the target was and what kind of bomb they used. you just collect this evidence day by day, and you put it in the report, and nobody seemed to care, and it was groundhog day, and you did that every day until you went home.
so your mission was if we can't stop the car bombs and the ieds from being put out and if all we're doing is reacting like the fire d., then our job is to everybody comes home. all 30 of us went together, and all 30 of us will come back. so i managed to do that. all of my whole unit, we all came back together. i was very lucky. when i got home, i also had a completely average experience, i would say. and i'm not comfortable speaking for any particular veteran. ever what would who personal experience is i had trouble thinking about anything other than grief, than thinking about the fear. the fear and the grief were as much about what kind of person am i that came home as fear of being in any particular surrounding. i knew i was safe in my head, i
just didn't know i was safe in my gut. and part of the grief is you come home, and i got out of the military. i only did eight years. but your friends go back, and just because your war's over doesn't mean their war's over. and so you worry for them, and you're helpless. on wednesday i was at the pentagon, i was lucky enough to be there when a colleague of mine, technical sergeant joe delauria, he got a silver star for his actions in afghanistan. he was clearing a landing zone, there was a marine that had been hurt. they called in the medevac helicopter comes in, he's trying to clear the area to make sure the helicopter's not going to land on an ied. he steps on one. he lost both legs and his left arm, okay? so when i say i am lucky and i had an average experience, you know, joe was my reference. i don't want to speak for joe. he might tell you that he was
lucky. he had good people that put three tourniquets on him and got him through it okay. we have a memorial down in the the -- down in florida where all the eod techs go to school. everybody that died in the line of duty since world war ii, essentially, since the school opened. so we put more names on the memorial last year than we have put on since 1945. and all told since 9/11, it's 120. now, 120, you know, that number might feel low compared to the thousands that we have lost overall, and in a decade of war or and as jake mentioned, you know, what do the numbers really matter? those are 120 friends, brothers, sisters, fathers, sons, and we're such a small community, that those are 120 people fairly
important to me. so that's the grief you try to process and the fear, and your own fear of death, and all those kind of things. and i don't have a good answer about what was resolved there, it took me an entire book to try and figure that out. and i'm not sure i did by the end of it. so in my book i tried to weave those two threads. i wove the thread of the war and the thread of coming home, and i kind of weave them at the same time because it all felt like it was happening at the same time. so i'm going to -- if i didn't want use up too much of my time, i'm just going to read from the beginning of my book to maybe give you a sense of kind of how it feels. what i learned is that running helped me, and for the reasons that you'll understand as i read. the first thing you should know about me is that i'm crazy. i haven't always been until that one day, the day i went crazy, i was fine, or i thought i was. not anymore.
my crazy is a feeling, it's the worst, most intolerable feeling i've ever had, and it never goes away. when you're crazy, you make a list of people you have told, the people who have come out to. my list is small; one best friend but not another, jimbo and john and greg, but not the other guys on the team. your wife, but not your mother. those that you think will get it, will understand. and now i'm telling you that i'm crazy, and i don't know why. the second thing you should know about me is that i don't know how to fix it or control it or endure from one moment to the next. the crazy is winning. so i run. i run every day, sometimes twice a day out the front door of my peaceful suburban home past sticky black scenes of sewage and motor oil and bloody swamps of trash and debris, ankle deep filling the roads and sidewalks.
i run through dust clouds blown in off the desert or kicked up by the rotor wash. i run past the screaming women that never shut up. don't shut up now. i should have made them shut up when i had the chance. i run as fast as i can as long as i can. my feet hitting the pavement in a tour rouse rhythm all along the river near my home. i run in the hottest part of the day, the full afternoon blaze. the heat of the black asphalt and the summer sunrising through my shoes and into my feet. i speed up, but the crazy feeling is still winning. sweat pours down my flushed eyes, in my face. all this is chalk white skin and brown-dried blood from head to toe. kermit's skin was blue after they finally found him and put him in the box. did jeff have any skin left to show his mother? i run every day along the river stretching to my left, occasionally veiled by low trees swaying in the sunshine and the light breeze off the water. my left knee started aching 5
miles ago. my teeth are rotting out of my head. my left eye twitches. the detonation rains concrete chunks on my head, peppers the armored truck with molten steel. i reach for my rifle. i run down the road outside my home to the drone of humvee diesel engines and in the purple sunrise over a flat desert. the crazy in my chest is full to bursting, but the protest of my overworked lungs and heart tamps it down. the run makes the rest of the body scream louder, one din to cover another. the foot sits in a box because, why not? where else would you put it? i run, and i don't want to stop. the adrenaline has been building all day, and it finally has a release. the boilover flows. fidgety legs and sweating arms pump and swing. when i stop, the crazy feeling refloods my swollen heart,
lungs, ribs. i speed up again. my head swims and swirls. helicopter and dust fade. i put my rifle down, shrug off my vest. sweat wipes clean ricky's head and jeff and kermit and, and -- my knee is screaming louder than the women. my ragged breath shakes my chest. i run and run and run, and the is tries to pound out of my head what once was. thank you. [applause] >> i suppose now would be the time for questions if anybody has one. the microphone's there in the middle, and people should just line up or whatever. >> a question for the two veterans. in the last year or so, we've heard about the antics of
general mcchrystal and general allen while they're commanding 60 or 70,000 of our troops, writing with their girlfriends or saying discouraging remarks about the president, that sort of thing. how do you react to those stories? >> do you want to go first? >> did everybody hear the question? the question was was our reaction to the most recent scandals involving high-level military commanders, and i've got to say from my level, i never, i was never touched by the politics of almost anything except for the fact that i was sent to the war which was the by-product of politics. you know, the soldier is a tool of the state and is made to be betrayed. that's kind of the deal. even if you walk into that news unwittingly, that's what you're going to discover. and i don't know that policy was
directly affected on the ground by these actions, so i guess i'm of split opinions. as a veteran, i don't see how it affected the war. as a voter, well, it's all just a little embarrassing. >> i think the only thing i'd add to that, um, or i guess i should reinforce the idea that the policy just has so little to do with the time when you're there. you know, my war was so small. it was the 30 guys, it was the city of kirkuk, it was getting everybody home safe. you know, we didn't sit around the fire at night and talk about which president was disappointing us or which general was disappointing us. general petraeus was one of the commanders when i was there, and he was, he was beloved, you know? at the time. so i just, i feel almost, i feel so disconnected from the question almost because what i did and why we did it was never
based on a speech from washington or somebody's affair or not, it was, it was love of the man next to you. and it's a cliche that guys jump out of the trench and run forward because of the guy to their left and their right, but just because it's the cliche doesn't keep it from being true. so it, yeah, questions like that we -- i focused on the small, small part i could do something about. >> and i'd echo that. the war is as small as the war is for you when you're there. it's not how did you get there, it's there you are for almost every troop. and, you know, a general expressing opinion is maybe something we could use more of. what that opinion is, is something we can't gauge. if someone is hiding something, such a large thing, what else are they hiding? how much, how much of everything is ever true? because it's on a level of such
high discussion where the effect is you've got to diffuse the bomb, and i've got to keep 150 marines from being dead that day. and does he notice? does anyone really notice? it comes down to the worry over detachment and if they're living the surreality of a sort. how much, how much of the war is real to anyone not actively engaged in it on the ground. >> and if i could just weigh in as -- i'm not a veteran, um, but i see myself as something of an advocate for the veterans of this one outpost. and just because he's sitting right here, i wanted to read this passage. if you keep general petraeus' high jinx in mind, this is what first lieutenant dave roller was going through in afghanistan at one point in 2007. up at the mountain on observation post war height, dave was getting used to a lifestyle even one more spartan
than at combat outpost keating. hygiene had had become a relative term. he had yet to use any shampoo and was still on his first bar of soap. the troops bathe inside a mountain stream. he rotated his socks, shirts and uniforms on a monthly basis. the platoon had run out of forks and spoons, so it was common to see soldiers sticking any spoons they found into their pockets for future use. there were no longer any women permanently stationed at the outposts with plans scratched for a provincial reconstruction team in the area, the mp unit was not replaced. the first platoon troops literally had not seen a woman in months. it was an odd sensation for the americans as if men were the only ones left on the planet. wherever this one -- whenever this one particular female apache pilot flew in the area,
soldiers would crowd around the radio just to hear her voice. they were all convinced she was gorgeous. that's what dave roller and his guys are going through. a few years later only general petraeus can say what he was going through with his biographer that he brought with him to kabul, but i'm embarrassed on, as somebody who knows some of these guys that anybody would be living that kind of life wile our troops are -- while our troops are enduring what they're enduring? i mean, that's not even about bullets. that's just about life. so i'm embarrassed, and i'm outraged. [applause] >> i'd like to ask the warriors the question of whether your books have been welcomed by the military and are used in the service as helping those who have returned, um, traumatized
from posttraumatic stress disorder really work through some of what they are feeling and going through which i could be very valuable. and also i think it's fantastic that those of us who have not had access to your experience are really being brought in because it may help the nation be more thoughtful about entering wars in the too much. in the future. >> i'll go quick. um, my biggest worry when i wrote the book is what would my brothers in arms think about it. and, you know, i didn't want sweat "the new york times" book review too much or some of the others or which festival i'd be invited to, whatever else. but if that all went perfectly and if my bros said you shouldn't have written it, you did something wrong, you're taking advantage, whatever the
case may be, if that's the reaction i got, i'd want to find every copy and burn it. fortunately, it has been the exact opposite. and the reaction that i've gotten is, um, other eo o d techs telling me they bought a copy -- actually, they don't tell me they bought the copy, their father will tell me that their son bought it and gave it to them and said this explains me, you know? and having that kind of reaction is not why i wrote it. like i said, i wrote it to explain it to myself. but if my experience helped inform somebody else's, that is the most amazing compliment. so i count myself very fortunate that the reaction has been far more than i deserve. >> you know, my book -- like i said, it's really not, it's not war memoir pure. but it is about the journey that the child takes towards endangerment, you know?
war being the most dramatic outcome of that for the most part. and what i've found is a number of mothers especially, some fathers and wives of veterans whether they, you know, they've been combat veterans or simply, you know, they served in the military at some point in their lives, this informs something that those people haven't been able to yet articulate to them, which i think is really interesting that, i mean, we're all different children, you know? there's a similar inclination. some of us have native urges which, in by case, took me from being a studio art major to being an infantry officer in the marine corps to war, to the hbo series "wired" as an actor, to writing poetry and crafting a book which tried to describe our
place in the universe. and war is part of that story. but it's really, it's really this succession of choices that we all make and how it becomes who we are. so i've had a few marines i've served with read this, and i'm always excited to see what they said because really it's a very visual book. and it's far more a portrait of my perspective than it is of family or anything else. the people in my family are rarely mentioned because it's all about what i see. and i try to, i try to let the reader watch the world with my eyes and, hopefully, the things that i'm talking about become the things that they know when i talk about water, it's their river. when i talk about the woods, it's the one that they know. and that's what makes this book talk to the bigger things, that it also speaks to those military experiences which are direct. i'm always interested because my
marines patrolled the same roads i did. but i was looking at different things. and their story of the same walk would be fascinating to me. because we all, we all cue on what fascinates us from our baggage. so strange answer to your very important question. [laughter] but for some people it does kind of explain that untested child's unearned confidence in being fascinated by uncertainty. and what sometimes that quest leads to. >> if i could just interject one note which is because t not the nature of a -- it's not the nature of a soldier or a marine to complain or to state anything publicly that could get them in trouble with people who used to be their bosses, we have a public health crisis on our hands with post traumatic stress
disorder in this country. and it needs to be acknowledged by our leaders. there is a huge backlog at the veterans hospital, hospitals throughout the country. these are, generally speaking, the people at the va are good people trying to do the best they can with not such great salaries. i know because by mom used to work at the va in philadelphia. but we have a huge crisis. we have about two million people who served in iraq and afghanistan, according to a rand study, what was it, 25% of ptsd? something like that. >> and those are the ones who acknowledge they have ptsd. a small percentage of them seek treatment, that treatment is often not good or effective. >> a lot of it's medicinal. >> a lot of it is medicinal, and this is a problem that isn't going away. these are people that are walking our streets and need help. and we have those problems because we sent them to war. and so i just want to say that i touch on this a little bit in the book. one of the survivors of the attack, ed falconer jr., has
horrible ptsd and, ultimately, overdoses and dies less than a year after the attack. he was in treatment at the va, and two days after his overdose, the veterans hospital called his dad to let him know that his son was late for his appointment. there needs to be -- somebody needs to do something. and i know there's a lot of talk about this during election years. i hope it doesn't stop. >> and that backlog's actually, it's only about 50 years old because we never, we never acknowledged that for vietnam. and the loss has been not just exponential, but incredible. what we should have learned from the veterans of vietnam were what the veterans of vietnam told us, you know? this is going to be bad, in this whole thing. and talking to veterans from that war, particularly mostly because they're the ones that i had access to, most of of the
world war ii veterans were not in my life. because they would ask on that particular subject, you know, they would ask so how are you, you know? how's the war with you, is what they were asking me. how are you? i'd say, well, i'm fine. that's not what they were asking. how is the war with you? and if i said i'm fine, they said, great. well, give it 20 years. what do you mean? [laughter] you know? it doesn't go anywhere. it's much like, you know, this book is about, you know, childhood doesn't leave us. we cover it up with consequence and experience and time, but we carry it all on that comet trail that is us, our history. so it's all there. when it chooses to reveal itself, when it chooses to find a way back to you is the great unknown. that's the concern almost every veteran has. and that little piece i wrote, i think, for them, for the daily beast, i talk about a little bit
of that where, you know, these things wait. and sometimes you need a sense of larger context to realize how you've been really affected, you know? you can hold yourself together for an awful long time. people are tough. then we have a wonderful ability to repress. it's one of our greatest gifts, you know? and we're built that way, you know? we're built to be afraid for certain reasons, because it heightens your awareness, it makes you ready to react. that's why you get afraid. you can turn that off too. you can say thanks for the message, i understand. but you can also, um, you know, you can also repress certain things for a certain period of time to survive them. because you're not able to handle them at the time that they occur. grief is like that, you know? and i had that with my parents. the book was borne out of my parents' death. i returned from my second combat tour, my daughter was 1 year old and the day i got home, she didn't know me. within a year, i lost both
parents. and i just have had about enough death. i think we kind of have confronted each other, and i wasn't the one that left. shockingly enough. of all the people to go, i was the one that survived. and it was that, um, confronting my parents' death, where i realized my incredible ability to disbelieve that which is inevitable. um, the child disbelief, the mortality of their parents, you know? it's kind of this thing we're built with. it's from our childhood, but it doesn't leave us. we learn that it's wrong, but we don't always believe it entirely. and it took a while for me to kind of deal with that. and so who knows? who knows these things? i completely agree with jake, and i'm glad you bring visibility to that. because, you know, in your position especially you're dealing with the very people who make that policy. so, um, you know, embrace that
in a veteran. you know, ask for his story because his story really is a way of letting some of that, you know, fire out. >> first of all, thank you, all three of you, for being here. this is really one of the fascinating panels that i've heard coming here for the last three years. i wanted to ask about the decision to become a soldier, about the decision to put yourself in line where somebody else is kind of in charge of what you do and potentially your life, and you've both spoken about the experiences that you had there. i wanted to ask how you, how difficult it was or how easy it was to make that decision to become a soldier, to put yourself in line to go to war. i know that, um, later in the afternoon another former foreign correspondent, chris hedges, will be talking, and he's written a book that gives us meaning. >> he's a genius, by the way.
it's very annoying. [laughter] >> so i was hoping you two could mention that, maybe how you made the decision to put, potentially put your life, you know n danger. and for mr. capper, i was hoping you could talk about the fact that we do have this volunteer armed forces, if that makes it more difficult to relate as a reporter their stories to the american people? >> do you want to start, and then i'll -- >> okay. um, i think it's manager like -- it's something like .5% of this country has served since 9/11. and as we know, many military communities are basically self-contained. so very few people feel part of these wars that we have been waging since 2001 in afghanistan
and iraq to say nothing of the larger global war on terror or whatever name it's going by today. um, that disconnect serves no one, it doesn't serve our policymakers, it doesn't serve the troops or their families. um, i'm not saying that there should be conscription or there should be a war tax or there should be anything, but it's not sustainable the way it is right now. one general in the book who preferred to go on background, not use his name, said that he hoped my book would at least help some people understand why we shouldn't go to war so quickly, what it is that is being sacrificed. because he compared this general -- whose name you'd know if i shared it -- he felt like we were like the romans hiring the legionnaires to fight our wars. that there was this completely separate, um, reporting on the
wars while not having served is not a problem because most of what i report on is not groups that i belong to. and it's always been that case. writing this book has helped me have a greater understanding, um, and not just the difference between a first sergeant and a staff sergeant or sergeant first class or just regular sergeant -- [laughter] but also just what it's like to be a soldier. i will never truly understand that, but i, but i have a much greater understanding of it. but i do think that, um, when our nation goes to war, it -- i think the policymakers do so glibly, but a lot of the debate is glib. a lot of the debate is flippant, and there's no resemblance to the really of these fighting -- real estate of reality of these
fighting men and women. when this happened, i had been reporting on stuff, war debate. i had, at that point i had never gone to afghanistan. now i've gone twice. but i had gone to iraq because i did want to understand a little bit of what was going on there. but generally speaking, um, we go to war. it's not that we go to war too quickly, it's we go to war without, as a nation, without understanding what it means. this little boy is not going to have a father. that woman will never get over what happened. these five incredible young men or women will never be. we think we know it in our hearts, but it doesn't factor into the intellectual decision, i think. >> very well put. i was just going to say that i'd like to echo just a little bit of that in that the separation of the military and the civilian populace is something that i talk about with some veterans' groups, so i think that's a
really -- it doesn't -- [inaudible] on the military side if you don't live in texas, north carolina you just don't see people in uniform. that was true for me growing up in buffalo, new york, but i got my rotc scholarship in 1995. that was a very different culture and time. it's not that long ago, but it, but it's, you know, 9/11 really did change so many things. and i thought i wanted to be an astronaut, you know? i thought i was going to do all these other things. but i went to eod school between the invasions of afghanistan and iraq, and i knew exactly what i was, what i was signing up for. and i wanted to do it anyway. and that would make me the same as young men between the age of 16 and 30 for the last five million years. and it doesn't -- the con scwxes -- consequences just are not there. my wife says that there's this part of the brain that h
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