tv Taking the Hill With Patrick Murphy MSNBC December 15, 2013 10:00am-11:01am PST
good afternoon. welcome to "taking the hill." i'm patrick murphy. ahead today one of the most partisan clashes in america and one of the most anticipated days of the year for the american military -- the army-navy game. i spent the day outside the stadium in the stands and on the sidelines. i will bring you binds snapshots of the game's rich traditions. first, the second installment of "wounded, the battle back home" produced in part by the wounded warrior project. highlighted in this episode, retired iraq war vet angie
peacock. after normal medications and programs didn't work for extreme post traumatic stress disorder she turned to alternative therapy one normally prescribed to the blind. here now, angie's story. ♪ you know we talk about a decade of service and a lifetime of commitment. you look back and, wow, ten years already. it's the future we have to look forward to. we know there is no end to this. there are still korean vets korld war 2 and vietnam vets that 40 60 years later need assistance. this generation won't be different. they committed their lives to our freedoms and our way of life and security. how can we not turn around and say we are going to be there for you and for your issues for the rest of your life.
[ indistinct radio traffic ] >> there are things that always follow you. it's always hard to exploin to people who haven't been through it. danger is around you 360 degrees at all times. you can't unprogram that. anxiety for me is debilitating. if you are afraid of something you have to do it. you have to go straight into that fear. don't fight it. just let go. you can do things you never thought possible.
in the military, you move around a lot. so you look for home. i just closed on the house a week ago. feels like home. each object that i have i wouldn't keep it unless it meant something important to me. you don't want to shut the door because that's who i am. i wouldn't be here without all of that. it reminds me of how far i have come. my first was at ft. bragg, north carolina. i loved it. i never felt like a family at that time. it was closer than my own family. i got promoted to sergeant. i was looked up to. i took care of my soldiers better than anybody. i was a damn good soldier.
when 9/11 happened we all knew we were going. we were ready, willing. but it wasn't like what we thought it would be. as you inch closer to iraq the people started getting more hostile. they would stuff a dead dog with with a bomb so it would blow up when you drive by or the kids would come close and we'd have to kick them away because their parents would pack a carton of cigarettes with bombs and they would sell it to us and it would blow up. we knew death was a real possibility at any moment. we swallowed it down. we had to do a job. then i started to come down with some kind of like, signessckness on the ideas. i kept losing weight and getting panic attacks. my blood pressure would rise and i would pass out. i was still doing convoys constantly. i would hide. i didn't want anybody to see me cracking. i would crawl under the humvee
and have my panic attack for no one to see and be completely humiliated that i couldn't handle it. losing your mind and you can't stop it or tell anybody. i remember the day where i just stood and stared at the sunset in the middle of baghdad. i was like this is where i'm going to die. there is nothing i can do about a it. i just kept getting sicker and sicker. they medevaced me out. it was the day after i came back our convoy got hit. i felt like why wasn't i there to help that? i was supposed to be on that convoy. that's not fair. that moment for me was a cracking point. this is my family. we're supposed to be in this toegs. together. that's who i am and now i have nothing. >> imagine you take three, four eight, ten years out of your life to serve your country and
go through tremendous sacrifices and hards ships for us. there is a camaraderie, a bond when you are in the military. then you go home. let's face it 99 of 100 people never serve. there is no one that understands. you think there is trepidation going into the military. now coming out, there is not a lot of places that understand really at the core what this population needs to move forward. >> you come home and things have new meanings. like a piece of trash on the highway. i can read it from 200 yards away. my family and friends are like why do you always drive so close to the car in front of you. in baghdad we drove on top of each other so nobody could run in between the convoy and throw a grenade. so you come home and do it. you can't unlearn that you saw -- you know brains splattered on the inside of a car because it was blown up. you can't unlearn that.
>> i have a very simple definition for what ptsd is. it's a normal reaction to a screwed up situation. how many of these men and women saw people die? maybe they had to kill somebody. maybe they were in multiple roadside bomb explosions. honestly i have seen more lives destroyed because of ptsd than i have from missing limbs or physical injuries burns like mine. >> it was right at the beginning of the war. we didn't talk about ptsd back then. i just felt crazy and i didn't want to feel anything. my first coping mechanism was to use drugs, just numb it. >> the first time i saw her when she came back was in the hospital. it was a rehab hospital. she looked like she had been beaten up. they were talking about releasing her. i offered her to come and live with me. i thought all she needs is a big hug. come live with me and i can hug you. it doesn't work that way.
>> i would have been homeless had it not been for grandma. she was really supportive. for me i still didn't know how to cope or live. i would swallow more and more pills. i still felt the same. i still felt the anger and the hate and, like the anger at a god like how could you make my life like this. this is not what i had planned. i tried to kill myself multiple times with multiple ways. i'm like i'm going to keep mixing drugs until it works. let it be over. >> i was afraid i was going to lose angie. she was sick. it wasn't fliek -- like sick. it was emotional sick. she had to hit bottom. now i see that. >> i was very alone. that was a turning point for me. it was the final thing that got me like i have one last chance or i'm going to die. >> it's shocking when as a country you have more suicides
than come wattbat combat deaths in a year. you don't see the injury but it's there. it is devastating when left un untreat untreated. >> i went to an in patient post traumatic stress disorder treatment program. the medicine wasn't working and the therapies weren't working. they said you should try an alternative therapy. g.i. joe is my service dog. he's my companion, goes with me everywhere. he's my best friend totally. when i first got him i was not leaving the house. when i started taking him out i was like this is crazy. i can go to three placeses in one day. there is this bubble of joy that i could do that again. like i was living. i learned how to trust his ing stingts more than my own. i saw everything as danger. he had this little stroll about
him like i'm on my job, i'm working. i would look at him like he likes this. it's not scary. just stay calm. it's cool. we got this. i started living more independently. i approached my rehab counselor and said i don't want to sit on the couch the rest of my life. there are people and friends i lost that i want to live for. i want to go back to school. my first semester i was just a small fish in a huge pond. i will never forget my first day of school. it was a shouting match with an english professor that i couldn't have a dog at school. i thought, i'm not going back. i'm done. >> veterans are at a different time in their life. if you need accommodations pause of a disability or injury you have to identify as a person with a disability and find the
support services and what's missing sometimes is knowing how to navigate the services you need on campus. so the more information we can give them up front that they can make better and informed decisions, that's really where our goal is. >> it's hard to meet friends that have the same experience as you or even similar. it's hard to relate in your 30s when you are in a class full of 18-year-olds. i would walk the halls and leave. never would go to the events. i'm not part of the community. i'm here to take a class and then i go home. in my second semester i was like wait there are cars in the parking lot that look like mine with stickers on them that would say afghanistan, iraq veteran. i want to meet these guys that are like me. >> student veterans need to be vocal. it is building the community in any way you can. if the community isn't there, recognizing that you may need to be the one to build that community. there is not a veteran i have met that's not up for the
challenge. >> i think the first sentence out of my mouth was we need to start a student veterans group on this campus. there are so many of us. we all miss the camaraderie. this is a family. we just don't know it's here yet. we started the series of meetings in february. it was like we all just clicked immediately. we had this family to support us. may 1, we had a student veteran organization on campus. >> let's start out. what worked last year? what can we do better? what are the obstacles and how can we overcome them for next year? as a former commander in chief here, let me go ahead and started this. >> let's start with good stuff. >> it's the most subtle form of leadership really. she's never demanded that we do something. she's never complained that we don't have a service available.
she has outlined what works. how she can do better how we can do better. there is no point in doing anything other than going there. >> she's got charisma. she's got something that causes people to follow her. so i wish i had that. >> part of the organization has been doing outreach. we let the civilians ask any questions they want. there's been learning moments where we are learning from each other. how do we relate to veterans and how to veteranses relate to civilians. we are meeting in the middle. >> communities on campuses where veterans created communities are very strong. angie created this organization organically on campus so when she transitions to her next school it will continue. with the help of her service dog g.i. joe angie was able to relax and pursue her education.
after the break, how a horse turned into a priceless companion in her struggle to over come ptsd. make sure you join the conversation using the hash tag # taking the hill. and we've made a big commitment to america. bp supports nearly 250,000 jobs here. through all of our energy operations, we invest more in the u.s. than any other place in the world. in fact, we've invested over $55 billion here in the last five years - making bp america's largest energy investor. our commitment has never been stronger. hicken caw ♪ ♪ [ chicken caws ] [ male announcer ] when your favorite food starts a fight fight back fast with tums. heartburn relief that neutralizes acid on contact and goes to work in seconds. ♪ tum, tum tum tum tums! ♪ ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] this
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welcome back to "taking the hill." healing for my fellow veterans is so easy task. as we saw in part one of angie's story. in part two we'll see that there are answers out there. so now more of angie's journey. ♪ there is something about the animal-human relationship. they don't ask for much. they just want your gentleness and kindness but they reflect it right back to you. there is a grant from wounded warrior project that allows me to do equine therapy. >> we use horses to work with physical wounds. so we work on balance, core strength. then the other aspect of it is
using it for stress-related disorders likele combat stress ptsd. not just getting on a horse and riding. we have goals, plans, objectives. the overall outcome and success is absolutely incredible. angie is one of the ones who led us to develop this program. she had been riding prior and because of it she's a different person today. >> you really have to be balanced and pay attention to the horse. it's like before i would be hypervigilant about something dangerous. i'm redirecting it to concentrate on this moment and feel what the horse is doing and breathe with the horse. it's amazing. >> horses have an innate ability to pick up on stress level. as the warriors calm down the horses calm down. it's a huge an hall but with it responds to the lightest of touch. they build a bond. >> being out in nature and breathing and talking to
civilians without them giving me medicine or telling me that something is wrong with me. to the say you are doing something right, the horse is listening. that's priceless to me. you ready for p.t.? >> no. >> why not? >> i'm tired! >> you have to push through the sleep so you are walking. >> i want to go back to combat. >> and then running. today the combat is p.t. >> aw! >> today's mission is -- p.t. [ laughter ] >> i was a combat engineer. i did demolitions. my challenges are ptsd multiple sclerosis, and traumatic brain injury.
now i have problems remembering things blurred vision. i'm working on getting back to walking. i first met angie through the wounded warrior project. she was assigned to me as my mentor. >> the only thing we ever asked this alumni to do is throw the ladder back over the fence to the next guy because they are fighters. be a fighter for yourself and for the next guy or next gal that need as hand. if you're doing well great. come in and be a peer mentor for the guys and gals that aren't doing as well. everybody can continue to serve that way. >> what do you usually do at p.t.? >> i walk. >> getting stronger and stronger huh? >> yes, i am. >> when i was selected for peer mentoring through the warrior project, i was shocked. like wow, people think i have come a long way? all i know is i'm doing all this hard work. it's painful but i thought,
there is no better person to relate to than another person who has walked in your shoes or can understand. >> she's a friend. everything that i'm going through right now, she knows. she knows how to live with ptsd. >> we talk about things that only a peer can relate to. something he may not want to tell anybody else. that's part of this. i though it hurts. i had to do the same thing. >> on my own -- >> you're getting closer. >> when i had to live in the military i felt like my life was over. it is the only job that i have known. i was angry. i'm trying to pull myself out of that right now. >> ready?
♪ >> after they give you the list of diagnoses, you think, my life is over because i'm stuck like this. that's really not true. dennis has been a light. he might not see it himself sometimes. i have watched him go from i'm stuck in this wheelchair. i don't want to live anymore. now he's starting to walk. >> it's a long process. i'm not a very patient man. >> yay! awesome. [ applause ] >> i'm not done yet. >> i'm not done right? >> it's amazing. i have seen him grow and the smile has gotten bigger and his
arm shakes less and his legs have gotten sturdier. he's lost weight from the exercise he's doing. i don't know what i can offer. i just want to be there. >> one day i feel that it would be great to be a mentor. i don't have patience. but i have the drive and desire. i refuse to let it run my life. >> when i found out that i could graduate in may and walk across the stage and, like receive something that i earned it marks, for me, kind of closing a chapter where i made an impact, where i didn't give up where i put everything i had into it. >> angela graduates with a 4.0 with her degree in psychology.
the opportunity to hand angela a diploma that will signify the completion of this part of oh her journey will be very special. >> she's so proud and i'm proud of her. she's starting to show the light that's inside of her. there is a light there. it was just hidden. >> when i look back it didn't end the way i planned it to end. i'm seeing graduation as like i completed something even when i thought i couldn't. >> angela peacock, highest honors. [ cheers and applause ] >> this is just a start for her. to know that she will leave such a legacy here is a blessing really. >> you made it girl. >> yay! >> i don't think anybody in my
life values education as much as grandma does. she graduated with with with her degree at 65. i thought, if grandma can do it at 65 i can do it. i have looked up to her. she's smart and i want to be like her and finish what i start. i have wanted to go to washington university in st. louis since i was about 12. for a long time i thought, there is no way that i could even come close to getting accepted there. then i received a letter that i got accepted. doing the bachelor of science in psychology program. immediately i can call grandma grandma, i got into wash-u and you are the first person i told! >> my heart buzz beating so fast. i was so excited. it was wonderful. i can't describe it. it was great. >> this one i got because of the 4.0. >> all right! >> this one for being a veteran. >> okay. >> my ultimate goal is to study psychology, get a ph.d. to help veterans with ptsd and tbi
specifically. to help veterans that went through things that i did. >> after what she's been through, she has the ability to do anything. anything she wants. . >> i have been looking forward to sky diving since i was 12. i thought, let's do this right after graduation. i really wanted to bring dennis because i wanted to show him even though i'm scared to do something, i'm going to do it. part of healing is scary. i want to face it and feel it completely. i have already thought about what's going to happen when i hit that door and it's nothing but white clouds.
it's kind of been a recurring theme in my life of just surrender. don't fight it. just let go. it's really hard for me to do with a lot of things. to just trust and let go and see what happens at the end. when you come back from the military, it feels like you have grown into a different person. you have to figure out where ises my place in this world that i left that went on without me. i think through all this recovering from everything i have found myself finding my way
back to myself. now my main goal is to help other veterans that are coming back to just prevent some of the suffering that i had to endure myself. we have been helped along the way. we are just returning that help. to the warrior that might be a little bit behind us. healing is not easy. i have come a long way and walked through a lot of fear. i'm just looking forward to the next chapter. even with the post 9/11 g.i. bill angie's dream to get her education was met with many bumps in the road. her teachers didn't understand why she needed her service dog.
she felt alone. before she served again this time by starting a student veterans group on campus luckily for returning veterans programs are sprouting up across our nation specifically designed to help educate and train wounded veterans. next on "taking the hill" we'll talk what the founder of one such program about the specific hurdles veterans face in gaining an education. >> brought to you by the proud hepburns of the american federation of government employees. open to ambition. open to bold ideas. that's why new york has a new plan -- dozens of tax free zones all across the state. move here, expand here, or start a new business here and pay no taxes for ten years... we're new york. if there's something that creates more jobs, and grows more businesses... we're open to it. start a tax-free business at startup-ny.com. ♪♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ [ male announcer
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can even watch us get it there. and look for our limited edition holiday stamps. welcome back to "taking the hill." we saw the story of angie, an army sergeant who returned from iraq mentally and physically shattered and struggling to survive, but slowly with the help of her school her fellow veterans and a service dog named g.i. joe she found hope and became a mentor herself. joining me is jack jacobs. and executive vice president for economic empowerment at the wounded warrior project and retired army officer jennifer silva. welcome. in that documentary one of your colleagues mentioned there are more injuries from ptsd than
from traumatic injuries physical injuries. is that your experience at the wounded warrior project with veterans coming home as well? >> absolutely. according to our veterans that we survey 75% have anxiety or post traumatic stress. that exceeds any physical wound. >> in that documentary which is so powerful it talks about when she was back in college using the post 9/11 g.i. bill and she had a service dog named g.i. joe. one of her english professors gave her a hard time for the dog. do you think schools are ready in breaking down the military divide in the nation? >> i don't think any part of society is ready. you have to remember a very small number of men and women serve this country in the last 20 or 30 years since we have had the all volunteer service and
people weren't obligated to serve. only a small number of people have. we talk about having two countries, two americas. it's true in a lot of respects. almost no more true than it is in terms of national service. a small number of men and women who served the country and many who did not. i think the divides are as high as ever. in angie's story it's a powerful position that the g.i. bill helped her. one million veterans have used it. has that helped to impact veterans coming back in transitioning back into society? >> i would say so. definitely using the g.i. bill is critical. they have funding for college education and it is very important for the faculty and administration to make sure the
college classroom and student disability office and that they promote a student veteran organization on campus so they can gain the peer support. it's the number one mental health resource for warriors with mental health concerns. let's make sure they have the opportunity to provide peer support so they can be an asset to the country after they get their education and go into the work force. >> it seems like angie found delight in herself when she became a peer to veterans coming back. colonel jacobs when you came back from vietnam with opportunities like the post 9/11 g.i. bill out there, is there a difference how our society has treated veteranses coming home? >> oh, yeah.
remember during vietnam we had a draft. you could avoid the of draft by going to college. as a result a large number of people in the service had not been to college, probably weren't going to go. i'll bet there are data to prove it. but a small percentage of people who came back actually went to college. today's different. because you had an unpopular war with an up popular way of serving you had riots in the streets during vietnam. we love the troops today. >> yeah. >> one of the reasons is because we don't have to be the troops today. if we had a draft in the last decade during this series of wars there would be riots in the streets, too and the american veteran would not be as popular
as he is otherwise. >> i'm sure a lot of policy makers if they had skin in the game -- >> skin in the game is important. to serve this country everybody should have skin in the game. >> one of the t important points of the documentary, the fact that angie served as a peer mentor taking a leadership goal. she was a noncommissioned officer and she's using the impact in her life and other veterans lives. is that successful? do you see it as a key mark of success? >> it's critical. it's our logo one warrior carrying another warrior. it's imperative. angie needed that and now she's providing that as well. it's critical to both sides of
the equation. it's in everything we do at wounded warrior project and is critical to the success of the generation of veterans. >> that peer mentorship. we were at the army-navy game colonel jack. you were there with other medal of honor recipients and you were all there watching the game together being there as a team. as you know all three of us on this program now are army folks. but there were navy folks marines. how important is it when you come back and to still be a part of a team and be part of that? >> it's an interesting concept. i don't think the defense department does a good enough job convincing civilians that in fact what you've got coming back is one team. the soldiers sailors, airmen and marines feel that way. they have had a unique and life-changing experience. by the way, one thing we have to do is make them continue to remember that.
they have gained from tex appearance. but we are one teem team. we need to pass it on to the civilians who deal with with veterans all the time. >> what advice would you give to civilians? >> hire veterans. i get confused when organizations say we must hire veterans as if it is charity. it's not. these are the best people you can find. they are young people with authority and responsibility well in advance of their age. you can't find anybody better or more experienced. >> colonel jack thank you very much. jen silva, thank you very much for joining us from florida. thank you for your service to the nation and your continued service with the wounded warrior project. >> thank you. >> we'll be right back. coming up next on "taking the hill," how justin timberlake and jay-z parody video helps pump up the teams before a big army-navy
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not. ♪ ♪ he loves me! that's right. [ mom ] warm and flaky in 15 everyone loves pillsbury grands! [ girl ] make dinner pop! in just a few minutes we'll bring you to the sidelines of a storied military tradition more than a century in the making. the army-navy game. first in the weeks leading up to the december meeting mid shipmen and west point cadets rally the troops to create rival spirit videos. look at some of the year's best. ♪ we will win and keep the trophy again ♪ ♪ that's all right ♪ ♪ we're navy ♪ ♪ hey, army ♪ ♪ we don't mind all the talking ♪ ♪ cause if you study close, real close ♪
♪ you might learn something ♪ ♪ knights ain't nothing but a little when they play us ♪ ♪ that's all right tonight ♪ [ rapping ] ♪ >> on behalf of phoenix tenth combat aviation brigade deployed to bagram afghanistan -- >> go army! beat navy! >> what's better a mule or a goat? >> a mule. the mule goes with army. >> can you ride a goat? >> no. >> a mule is better because you can ride. goats you can't ride it unless you do it a crazy way where you
hold the horns, let your body off it while you fly across by the goat. >> that's how we do it. >> yeah. >> it's just good science. >> it's not complicated, a mule is better. go army beat navy. ♪ come into the house and get evicted ♪ ♪ it will be a dog fight ♪ ♪ wishing to be the conversation on this space ♪ ♪ a talking dedication but it never put in work ♪ ♪ time to make corrections ♪ ♪ work it until we stress now we got attention ♪ ♪ no more parade rest ♪ ♪ step back ♪ >> if you want to see more of the spirit videos we are on youtube. coming up next on "taking the hill," sights and sounds of the 114th army-navy game. stay with us. hey! so i'm looking at my bill and my fico® credit score's on here. yeah, you've got our discover it card so you get your fico® score on your monthly statements now, for free! that's nice of you! it's a great way to stay on top of your credit and make sure things look the way they should. awesomesauce!
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. it's been war zones and army bases. i'm talking about the yearly tradition known as the army/navy game. the rivalry between the army/navy began in 1890. each year since then mid shipmen and cadets have note one incredible game. it's become one of the deeply entrenched traditions that are such a part of military service. i spent this weekend on the sidelines for meeting number 114. academy grad brothers and sisters in arms, they all park order their par cams hats and filed in. i spoke with some ahead of the game.cams, hats and filed in. i spoke with some ahead of the game. >> of course army has to break the hiatus, they have to get a win. >> it's been 11 years, but you're hopeful. >> i'm optimistic. this is going to be the year. >> guys navy fans what are the costumes? >> we call it navy santa and
navy elf. >> 30 years later i'm still showing these young kids i got the navy spirit. >> this year's game like many before was held in philadelphia. that's about halfway between west point and annapolis. so much of this rivalry is steeped in tradition from where it happens to the fly overs that signal its start. there are a few sporting events as deeply rooted in history as the army/navy game. there is one thing that really stands out about this match-up. that's the mutual level of admiration and respect the into sides have for one another. up in the stands, the mid shipmen and cadets show their spirit. why gu join the navy academy. >> i wanted to support the country. >> who will win? >> navy. >> i joined the navy to be a part something bigger than myself p.
>> who is going to win? >> navy. >> why did you go to west point? >> i chose to go to west point because my parents were in the military and everything i learned from them, the type of person i want to be i want to do something bigger than myself and i want to emulate what they did. >> why not navy? >> go army. >> why did you join west point? >> i always wanted to serve since i was a young kid. 9/11 kind of had an impact on me. and i wanted to serve the nation, keep every safe. >> at the game i was also privileged to speak with several medal of hoon ornor recipients. >> to me this is a fight between two rivals and to tell people that it's the navy fighting the army today, that we fight harder together. >> the great thing about this game is that these guys are fighting it out on the football field, but the day after the
game is over they become brothers and sisters in rm a s ins in arms and work together for all of us. >> what is so special about the game? >> it's really not that special because for 11 years in a row, i've had to pay my younger brother a fee. and he's retired navy. and i have to listen to his crap crap. it's note ral really looking that good. >> the defeated team in this case was army. head over to the other side and they had to sing the opponent's alma mater. and then every heads over to the winner's side. the team that comes in first gets the high honor of singing second. that wraps up this hour. next up, "meet the press".
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from nbc in washington, the world's longest running program, this is "meet the press" with david gregory. >> i was part of the last presidential election. we tried defeating this president. i wish we would have. elections have consequences, mr. speaker. >> good sunday morning. so how is it only in washington can an agreement be so divisive? that's how it works around here. that was house committee chairman paul ryan, challenging gop critics on this budget deal that passed overwhelmingly in the house this week with support from both sides of the aisle. the deal is expected to pass the senate coming up.