tv U.S. Senate CSPAN April 16, 2012 8:30am-12:00pm EDT
an update on how volume four was taking shape. >> this is really a book not just about lyndon johnson, but about robert kennedy and jack kennedy and the interplay of their personalities, marley robert, i guess -- particularly robert, i guess. and it's a very complicated story that i don't think people know of two very complicated people. and -- robert kennedy and lyndon johnson. and i had to really go into that and try to explain it because it's part of a story all the way through the end of johnson's presidency. that's done. and i suppose chronologically at the moment johnson is passing the 1965 voting rights act. and that's sort of, in one way, where i'm up to now. >> watch the rest of this interview and other appearances by robert caro online at the c-span video library, and watch for our upcoming "q&a" interview
with robert caro on sunday, may 6th. now, a discussion on the news media's coverage of race including the trayvon martin case. the nbc news washington bureau chief was among the panelists at this forum moderated by juan williams of fox news. the event was part of a recent symposium on the state of race in america hosted by the aspen institute. from the newseum in washington, d.c., this runs about an hour. >> okay. and as i said, the last panel is on the impact of race on the news media and vice versa and to moderate this we welcome back juan williams. >> thanks very much. i guess i don't need to introduce our first panelist, you all know him so well, but let me just say that jose is the news anchor for telemundo, and he's also the national director of the network's public affairs
programming, managing editor of their public affairs program. so i don't have to ask you to join me in welcoming him because you know him. [laughter] okay. so now let me move on and introduce the rest of the panel if i can get my notes in order. andrew row sec key, is that how you pronounce it? co-author of "the black image in the white mind: media and race in america." andy is an associate professor at the university of illinois at chicago. his research focuses on media and politics as they relate to political movements, globalization and race politics so, please, join me in welcoming andy. [applause] doris trung, did i pronounce that correctly? >> correct. >> the president of the
asian-american association, the multiplatform editor at "the washington post," she's been the post deputy metro copy chief for the extras shepherding a staff of 13 weekly suburban sections, and she was in the national and style department as a copy editor/slot editor. she's on the board of unity, the journal of color, and she's a graduate in this case of an exceptional school that's why we mention it, the university of missouri school of journalism, so please join us in welcoming doris. [applause] and our final panelist is jose -- i'm sorry, i got the wrong person here. >> i'll take it again. we tv people don't mind being mentioned twice. [laughter] >> antoine fuentes, the washington bureau chief of nbc news. he started out as an intern for nbc news station, the local station, wrc, while he was attending american university. he's also been a producer of
notable coverage across africa including reports from darfur, the eastern congo and an historic interview. he's a documentary photographer, please, join us in welcoming antoine. [applause] antoine, let me start with you and ask you about something that was mentioned in the very last question we had in the previous panel. it had to do with race and media and an unusual theater which was athletics. and the star of this moment was the new york knicks' player jeremy leadership. jeremy lin. when he became the focus of what was called lin sanity because there was so much attention to the extraordinary idea that there would with this asian-american basketball superstar, the question was, well, how do you cover him and,
oops, look at this. even espn has managed to offend him with some racially-charged language. or look at what this commentator had to say or look at what this columnist had to say about stereotypes dealing with asian-americans. how do you in directing a news bureau cope with racial stereotypes in this new age, in this 21st century? >> well, i think the challenge is to defy, the to defy the stereotypes. i think it begins, firstly and most importantly, with the discussion on the inside. i think that when you have a thriving editorial discussion on the inside with a makeup of journal, qualified journalists who, frankly, look like america because that's our charge on the inside to -- challenge on the inside to make sure that the discussion we have reflects what
the audience expects to be served. defying stereotypes, this wonderful basketball player who defies the stereotypes and, again, we talked about this earlier this week about our challenge is to cover the story behind the story. not just going with what you see and what you would expect to kind of imagine in terms of the stereotype, but look at this man's background. how did he get here? let's talk about the stereotypes. >> let's talk about -- even though it's a basketball story, to a basketball audience that would say, gee whiz, why is nbc talking about this guy's race and making a big deal out of somebody who just made a mistake, you would say, oh, no, even though it's part of the sports story, we cannot ignore the sociopolitical, cultural aspects of the tale. >> request can't ignore it and, frankly, you've got to give the
>> that's something that is a harmful stereotype that, of course, we're working against. >> yes. maas calculated in one way? -- emasculated in what way? >> there's a feminization of the asian-american male that i think happens in the united states, in, you know, popular media as well as in the nude media -- news media. so we don't see that with particularly other, um, ethnic groups. i mean, there's a catch choization -- machoization of certain groups which is just as bad. >> i think, in fact, one of the jokes about jeremy lin was the size of his penis or something like that, right? and the question for you is, well, if people enjoy this stereotype or this, you know, mock erie of asian-american men, what do you do?
>> i mean, what we're here to combat. we're, as an organization and as good journalists we're here to make sure that fair and accurate reporting is what's happening. and we all know that stereotypes are not applicable to individuals. >> so you would have suspended that author, the author of that column? >> well, it's not, it's beyond the scope of my organization or for me to say what has to happen -- >> no, i'm asking what do -- that's how you fight it? is a suspension enough, or does the suspension simply produce a backlash of support for the columnist and the offensive comment? >> i think you need to have more diversity within the newsroom, you need someone there to police it to make sure it doesn't really get out there to the public to begin with, and you need to have those discussions within your newsroom before it goes public. >> well, this is quite interesting because, you know, andy, lots of people would say we pay too much attention to race, why are you focused on race? just cover the ball game or let people talk about jeremy lin,
and if something goes wrong, okay, but what we're hearing in both cases here is that there's preconceptions built in, and people have to pay attention. in your case you focused on the way that black/white relations play out in media and, of course, the story of the moment in terms of those black/white relations is trayvon martin. >> uh-huh. one of the most difficult things for me to do when i teach my class in race, media and politics, i teach a largely white class of undergraduates with a few african-americans who seem to be thoroughly sick of talking about race. and so the way that i introduce the topic to them is to sort of give them an exposure to the latest psychological research on it which tells us that most racial judgment takes place unconsciously. so i have them take this test at project implicit which is an online test where you kind of, where you select things like
gender-specific occupations or gender-appropriate occupations or preference for skin color, body size and so on. and people are surprised, students are surprised to find out that they do have a preference, automatic preference for something. and in the case of white students, that they have a preference for light skin which they're horrified to find out about because, of course, the norms have changed. but the thing that's even most important is that these implicit associations often have an effect on the way people behave. and the most, and the gravest sorts of things are the things like shooter bias where, like, in a video game if you see a white target or a black target, you're more likely to shoot the black target more quickly. and, of course, that's what presumably happened in the case of trayvon martin. unless, other long-term sorts of things, you know, it gets down
to things like this famous experiment done with sending out a resumé that was identical except for the name that was written on it. in one case it was louisiana key shah, in the second case it was emily. identical in all respects except for the fact that emily got 50% more callbacks. so even the people that were making the judgments about the various merits of these two candidates, apparently, had some unconscious sort of preference for one over the other based on a sort of stereotypical association. >> tell me how that plays out for someone who's a news director or someone who's a reporter or a writer when it comes to covering a racial incident. >> well, i think it begins -- and this is something that we found when we were doing research for our book, and i did some interviews with whites, whites wholied in -- who lived
in suburban indianapolis. and it was very interesting. those that had either grown up in an integrated neighborhood or those who had a black, let's say, relative of understood the news in a way that those who didn't have that kind of experience understood it. those people who had firsthand experience understood that event that was covered in the news as being the last chain in a long series of circumstances. and that the way that other people saw the news, they just saw it for what it is which is highly stylized, richallized -- ritualized content where you can predict exactly what the first five minutes of local news is going to be like. >> you mean poor people of color killing each other, a fire, robberies, some horrific event? >> pretty much. you wonder why people watch it
because it's not really news the way it's presented. >> but it must be comforting in some way then. >> well, maybe it is comforting in the sense that you don't live in that neighborhood. but i think that the more interesting story to be told which is really hard, i think, for journalists is what happened that led to that last step, right? >> yeah. but that would invite a historical discourse. this is just the news. >> well, even in the case of a particular person that was shot, right? i mean, that's pretty much what this documentary that was recently -- i think it got an academy award, "the interrupters," where people actually went in the neighborhood where there was violence and took pains to intervene with the person who was about to strike back. and then began to talk to the person and can then sort of interrupted that process. >> but that's not news. >> that isn't news, but that's, that's precisely the problem. in other words, news is not defined in terms of what is
really substantive, it's just, it's almost ritualistic in a way. >> okay. let me come to you on this very same story. >> i'm ready. >> trayvon martin. because one of the complaints that i've heard about coverage begins with coverage of the man who shot trayvon martin. >> right. >> i don't think there's any need for me to say alleged, i think everybody agrees he shot trayvon martin. so, first, he was tribed as a white man -- described as a white man, then as a hispanic white or white hispanic, and then it became so politicized, oh, well, if he's not purely white, then it's a different story. it's not the traditional narrative of whites and blacks. now we've got a white hispanic, hispanic white and black, and then of course it was, therefore, if person's hispanic, it couldn't have been a racial incident. >> right. >> how have you been dealing with this?
>> well, a great question, very profound. we at spanish language tend to not label people either hispanic, non-hispanic, white, black, liberal, conservative, we just try to be pretty neutral. i'm told that i have to go. >> sorry. >> if i could just leave with two challenges -- >> sure. >> -- today and some food for thought. it all boils down to one big issue, but there are two issues i see in our news world. one is the few latinos and minorities who are in the news tend to believe that they have more right than others to say things that are unacceptable to say. i've heard you be challenged, for example, are you black enough by african-american. what the hell is that? you know, are you hispanic enough? it's okay for me to use words
and speak of issues that whites couldn't or shouldn't be talking about. that's, i think, unacceptable that we in our communities and be in our roles are accepting. >> right. >> you know, you're as white, hispanic and african-american as you are. and yet we feel that we can judge or can say things like, well, you're not exactly real black, are you? because i'm covered because i'm a latino, and that includes the trayvon martin story a little bit. but the bigger problem is in our newsrooms' management. and just recently colleagues of ours in the puerto rican community dealt with a network, an english-language network that had a television show that for entertainment purposes in a joke the latino character who's puerto rican when confronted with unemployment said, don't worry, i'm puerto rican, i can always sell drugs.
now, that show was canceled, but there was a big uproar in our commitments, starting with the puerto rican community. they finally got a i'm sorry note. >> this was an entertainment show. >> yes. but why do i mention this? because if people in high levels of management were sensitive or maybe were latino, when that script passes by them said perdon? >> what are you talking about? >> what are you talking about? it doesn't happen not because they're racist, but because it's just not on their radar screen. a joke is a joke is a joke, but it's not that. bringing it could down to news. if management in news had more latinos, for example, had more african-americans at the highest level -- and it's happened. msnbc, for example, has an african-american woman with huge experience in the latino community. but i'm saying those issues of
someone on television questioning how black you are would be mitigated if at the highest level of management in our news business there was that sensitivity that i believe can only be brought by having people of color, asians, hispanics at the top level so that when the equivalent of i don't worry about unemployment because i can always sell drugs, i'm puerto rican in entertainment, when that concept comes to news be it in trayvon martin or anything else, there is someone there that says, sorry. this is not how it's done. let's look at the bigger picture. i leave that with all of you because i think it's relevant, we see it on a daily basis in our coverage, and i am insulted as a latino when i hear someone in our communities question someone else in our community because they feel they have the right. that's one issue and then the management. >> so just quickly on the martin case, though, did it matter to
you and to your coverage when all of a sudden the designation changed from white to hispanic-white or -- >> what's interesting is that it didn't change in the spanish language world because we never started with it. >> never, ever, and did the subsequent change in places like "the new york times" have any impact? >> i mean, i read it, and we discussed it, but in spanish language it was never a matter of white versus black versus hispanic versus black. it was by a gentleman named zimmerman, there's his picture, who shot trayvon martin, there's his picture. you guys make the decision on what he is. you know, that person is dead regardless of who killed him, and it didn't change anything that it was by some in the elite media, first a white guy, then a latino guy then a guy who i'm not sure what he is -- >> so preconception -- >> the issue of justice doesn't change. so by taking time on discussing this issue, time has passed
on -- >> right. but the professor's point was there are preconceptions built in, and your viewpoint is it comes from white preconceptions. i was asking you about hispanic preconceptions. >> we didn't -- honestly, maybe it's a mistake, but we just didn't label it. we didn't label it. >> okay. >> as a white, kind of a latino, how latino was he, that brings me back the your issue, juan. >> jose, thank you very much. >> thank you. [applause] >> let me put the same question to you. >> sure. >> what happened with this change in zimmerman's status, and does that reveal preconceptions in terms of american media in dealing with a racialized story? >> look, on the nbc news side we stick to the facts, you know? is we try to get them right as often as we can. as you know, in our business we've got to be right 100% of the time. in terms of his background, his mother is peruvian. if we get into a discussion about backgrounds, you know, in
terms of being bicultural in america, if you will, in terms of backgrounds, my father's chilean, for example, so now we're getting into citizenship in terms of backgrounds. as opposed to diversify. dwertty. we could have a long discussion about that. i think that's why it's important for us, let's get the facts straight. there's a special prosecutor who's looking into this matter. i think in this particular case there are plenty of voices out there, the discussion is important. i think that reflects how our society has evolved, the fact that we can have these very important discussions, the fact that this particular story wasn't buried. so for that i think it's important. >> well, you know, it's interesting you say not buried. i think the story happened, actually, in late february, didn't come to national attention for three weeks, i believe it was the case. so it wasn't buried, and then to come back to jose's point, it
looked as if minority broadcasters and journalists were the ones who forced it to bubble up to national attention. is that your understanding too? >> and in, i believe, other networks got involved and noticed that, but that's important, right? i mean, that's part of this discussion. say 20 years ago would this have been possible? i mean, the fact that the community, this journalistic community is so much larger today when you add twitter and you add blogs and you add the power of social networking in general, we have to take notice. we can't be everywhere all the time. the fact is that there is a mechanism now for us to pay attention. so if we were slow, that's certainly an issue. but we certainly did respond. >> certainly did. and, doris, when you look at the preconceptions that get built in whether we're talking about the martin case or we're talking about jeremy lin, what are you
seeing as a working journalist? >> uh-huh? >> you know, it's interesting, earlier today i was -- jose vargas was on this panel, and he said, you know, when you talk to the political correspondents at a big newspaper like "the washington post," they're mostly white males, and their preconception is minorities are a secondary story. it's like that's not really where the power axis exists in american society. that's a preconception, i think. >> uh-huh. >> do you see a preconception when it comes to talking about race in other venues beyond politics? >> well, one of the things that's been striking about the trayvon martin case has been the photos that have been used both of the victim and of george zimmerman. and people are saying now, well, that's not exactly how trayvon looked when he died, and that's not exactly how zimmerman looks now, you know, so why are we using these old photos of both of the people involved in this
case? is that playing into what our preconceptions are of what a victim should look like and what somebody who is kind of being put on public trial should look like? so that's another thing that we have to think about just as journalists is do we want to continue to perpetuate it by running the photo because we've been running it for three weeks or whatever the time is? >> that's really interesting. that reminds me of the controversy when "time" magazine put a picture of o.j. simpson on, and he was colored darkly than the actual truth of his skin tone. >> right. >> so the image there was the foreboding, threatening, dark-skinned black male. >> right. >> now, in the case you're talking about, it's the contrast between the cherubic little boy, trayvon martin, and the teenager who was then starting to effect the thug life attitude and look and the handle that he had on his, i think it was facebook, was it facebook or twitter? >> i'm not familiar. >> but much more angry
attitude-laden. the question is, if you're the journalist covering this, why are you using one pick hur or -- picture or another, or is the audience being overly sensitive and you're just using the picture you had? and you're saying -- >> it's a good question. but the other thing, too, to antoine's point, we have so much more spoacial media now, so if you're not getting the news that you're expecting to get, or if you're getting the same story from kind of the legacy media, the new york times, cnn, what have you, there are other venues, but how accurate is that, how well vetted is that information? >> you were going to say? is. >> well, the one thing i did notice is that the media started maying the story differently. first of all, i think it was kind of a social media-driven event -- >> which one? >> the trayvon martin -- >> the martin case. >> the martin case. i think it was about three weeks
that lapsed before the story became a national news story. and that kind of gives you an indication of the importance of social media for bringing to attention stories that ordinarily wouldn't have come to media's attention. the other thing, of course, is the sort of polarization around the story, and that reflects just the way that the mainstream media are -- and by that i mean cable news and broadcast news -- is that, and particularly in cable news is that that's become politicized. and what's interesting there is that, you know, if you listen to one network, msnbc, you're likely to get a story about the innocence of the victim. if you're likely to watch fox, you're more likely to talk about gun rights, right? and so they're appealing to two different audiences, and that suggests to me that, you know, there doesn't appear to be much of an attempt to really deal with the core of the story, that
things have become so politicized that it's sort of difficult to stick to the facts. >> in other words, people are catering to audience, and the preconceptions of the news judgment are based on what those news executives think that the audience wants to hear. >> sure. and it's perfectly rational economically because if you're, if you're in the news business today, you're not going to try to convert your audience to a different point of view. you're going to pretty much cater to what it already believes -- >> but talk to antoine because, antoine, you're saying your job is to get it right the first time. >> let me jump in. i think you're referring to reverend sharpton if you're talking about a certain viewpoint, because his viewpoint is widely known. we don't pretend to think it's anything other than his opinion. on the other hand, the nbc news family also includes kerry sanders who's covering the story, he's been covering it all day today and sticking to the facts. so we don't pretend to be
something or something else. i mean, we know who reverend sharpton is, we talk to reverend sharpton. we have a discussion in terms of what he would like to advocate and talk about, and his views are widely known. they've always been widely known. >> the argument would be he's the host of the program, but he's also an actor this terms of the story -- in terms of the story that you're covering. and is that a conflict of interesting, i think, is the way howie kurtz wrote about it. how do you respond to that? >> he's an opinion host, and effectively he is advocating his point of view. and so long as he is above board in terms of where he stands, that is a discussion that we have with him often. i think it's more important when we're having a discussion like this to know where the person stands and being clear about that as opposed to advocating something that isn't clear to
the audience. >> well, but the contrary point might be pat buchanan, his contract with nbc lapsed after he wrote a very racially-charged book in which he suggested that, you know, white men are the ones who created this country, and they're being disrespected and on can and on and on. what's the difference between buchanan and sharpton from your mind? >> well, number one, mr. buchanan was a contributor to msnbc. mr. sharpton has a show. i think there's a distinction there. in terms of mr. buchanan's view poins, they're known -- viewpoints, they're known. his contract, you know, we won't get into that, but there was a parting of ways, if you will. in terms of reverend sharpton if we're going to get to that issue again, his viewpoint is widely known. i think it's an important part of the discussion, but it's part
of what nbc news does, i think it's also important to get not only the other side, but get the straight journalism down the middle. .. coverage that is not racially charged or coming with racial preconceptions that we heard about earlier? >> i mean it's foolish to think that you can leave race out of the discussion. earlier today they talked about how post-racial america, like the discussion is really
starting now. so we just have to be mindful of the viewpoints i think and i think that to jose's point we have to bring in more managers when people are saying there is an somebody who is qualified to be in those positions, are they looking hard enough? are? are they going to be organizations such as mind and their there are numerous other have pipelines of qualified journalists with diverse backgrounds. obviously there multiple kinds of diversity that we are lacking in the newsroom any more. you don't tend to have a lot of people from low income backgrounds because you just don't. the people from those kinds of backgrounds don't tend to go to it and it's not a high-paying gig to begin with. blood on a certain level we are also promoting people from high-end journalism school. you can't get a journalism job without some form of degrees so, it's a push and pull. how do we get that kind of diversity into the newsroom?
we have to be mindful of it and we have to bring a people from diverse backgrounds to become managers. they're the ones who are going to make those decisions. >> before regarded questions from the audience i just wanted to come to this idea that we began this conference with which is that disproportionately the younger cohort of the american demographic much heavier in terms of people of color, immigrants, older and of the demographic much more quite. the people who watch news in america are not the younger people. the older, whiter audiences that dominate in terms of news consumption. is there any basis that -- of course news coverage is going to come from a case of white viewers because they're the ones that are buying the product. >> you>> you know, i think thg back to my earlier point, i wasn't trying to suggest that
the media were necessarily racial icing an issue consciously, that inadvertently, that they would sort of cater towards their audiences with certain topics. let's say they were relevant. as to the point about the age of the audience, it's true that one thing that has happened is that we have a smaller accidental audience right now. in other words people can sort of tune out right now. most of my students don't consume the news. in fact i have to trick them into actually reading the news. i actually make them read the news of a can report on it. they are just not interested. and so, to the extent that the audience that is still interested in the news is largely demographically, not polarized but made up of a certain group of people, i think
it's inevitable that the news coverage for example on the nightly news, we tend to follow a lot of stories that have to do with health issues which reflects an aging population. so, i don't know what the future is going to be about the way the news will be covered. i think we are in a transitional moment right now and so it's difficult to tell exactly where things are going to go. but it's clearly going to be kind of a menu-driven kind menu driven kind of format i think. >> people pick what they want to hear and read and watch. and exactly how that is commercially sold is going to be -- >> but then the challenge of making sure that it is racially not exacerbating the worst racial attitudes becomes the problem. >> sure. yeah, i mean i go back to the trayvon martin case. i think the reason that it's become such big news is that it
affected someone who is middle class and i think it reflects the frustrations of the black middle class. i think it was touching and shocking to me that the stories that i read written by columnist to have a talk with their kids -- with their kids, it's not about sex but how if you are a black male, that this is how you behave in public. and it must be very tiring to go through that exercise and certainly the students that i have come from that background say that part of the difficulty of being black middle class is that i'm exhausted all the time because i feel like i'm being watched all the time. >> so your point that is intriguing to me is what we are talking about is the black middle class consumers of the media also the voices in media, impact coverage. if it was poor blacks that as a whole other ball of wax and less likely to get attention, or to
even have to have preconception challenge. nobody is challenging preconceptions about poor blacks and a american media. >> i think in this particular case i don't think it would have gotten quite as much attention had not trayvon martin been been middle-class. >> now we have time for a few questions and of course we have the microphones there. for anybody who is not asleep you are welcome to come and ask a question. please go right ahead. >> hi i'm a graduate of the university of illinois, chicago circle and your last comment, that is what i wanted to talk about. i hear from friends all the time in chicago about the number of african-american males, you know that are just being killed on a regular basis and how much is that covered either in chicago or you know, throughout you know the national media? >> this is fascinating because in fact when you started that you were talking about the nightly news and the kind of
carnage typically in low income poor areas that get covered, but what you just heard from her question is, well, actually people don't pay significant attention to the high murder rates in the black community, the black-on-black crime. they will have this little thing about it. another person got shot in a drive-by. i don't know why -- >> i think there's a slip between national news and local news. local news is ritualistic in the belief, it's fairly simple to cover. based on advertising that i'm not going to get into the national news it turns out that white victims are much more likely to be publicized in the crime stories. why that is the case i am not sure. >> oh come on.
why does a white girl get more attention when she is kidnapped? >> it is somewhat facetious but to your point, the stories are covered in chicago, part of the south this outside of the city there is lots and lots of violence there. it's never really fully explained. it just happens and it's not really identified as being racial because the audience can now read the code that in other words, the research that has been done that was done earlier about reporting showed lack in white crime, where blacks were somehow depicted as much more likely to be guilty than white let's say so coverage has pulled back from being racialized. the audience can certainly read it and even in experiments all you need to say is the word inner city and people automatically change their political preferences so there
is these sophistication in the audience that somehow -- >> so the audience is looking for the racial cue. >> it recognizes it. >> do they wanted or is it being imposed by the storyteller? >> i don't think the artist necessarily want to. i think it's an easy to cover kind of story by the police department who supplies it. there is more violence in black neighborhoods and so it's a reliable source of stories. i don't think it's any more complicated than that and it certainly no investigative story can explain why it is the case that there is violence and periodically there are stories about drugs and gangs and how gang territorial fights cause this violence in which other people are caught up innocently. so there is no particular context for this.
in that respect i think it has become -- it's constant and to that extent it's almost ritualized. >> before you made a distinction between local and national news, you said something about advertisers for local news and you didn't want to go into it but why is there a difference in terms of advertisers, appetites on local versus national news when it comes to racial preconceptions? >> oh no i was going to say correct me if i'm wrong about this and want but isn't it true that local stations get all the advertising revenue for the news as opposed to getting for example showing network or grams gratis y. local news is so important to a station and to the extent that they can recover a lot of their cost by getting all their advertising revenue and keeping all of it to the extent that they can keep costs low. certainly that factors into the way the stories are covert. >> you keep costs low by covering something that is
predictable like a street corner shooting. even if it hazard ratio message that this minority community is troubled and should be stayed away from and all the rest. >> yeah, you almost never see an investigative reporting going into that kind of story. >> we have a question from the audience. >> a great panel. my name is joe and i was thinking, i have had friends that were in the print journalism field and have lost jobs, and people are talking about how the news media is in flux, and it brought up i think josé antonio vargas mentioned it earlier about blogs, and this whole advance advent or this new moment of new media. since we are talking about the state of race, do you have any thoughts on sort of the, these
new virgin in forms of media as it pertains to how different communities receive the news? >> do you find that people in the asian american community are receiving a different set of new stories and people in the white community or the black community? >> i don't think that is necessarily the case. there has been a strong tradition of ethnic news media among ethnic communities and all the studies will show you that asian-americans tend to be the most plugged in terms of mobile devices and the use of mobile is a lot lower than buying a laptop or a desktop computer so you are going to be able to reach out to lower income families, people who don't necessarily have internet at home just because you will be able to give it to them on a device that they can take with them, that they can read quickly but it's still an issue aboard and get the people to gather the news?
where do you get the people to give you the information? there was a project that the asian american journalists association undertook in new york's chinatown and it was really an issue of things happening not just on my street but in my building and that is what people really care about and why aren't they collecting my trash today? they don't care as much about traffic in another part of the city because it doesn't affect them directly. so you have people really hungry for news that is very directly affecting their daily lives, and we are also, you are seeing more entrepreneurialism and the kind of the field of blogging just because it's a low threshold point of entry. you don't have to go buy a multi-million dollar companies to have a voice so i think there is lots of opportunities out there and that space for people to reach out to a niche market for that information. >> so the news coverage then becomes highly racialized if every niche has its own set of
voices in terms of the events though there is an asian american community on line commenting on the trayvon martin case from their point of view and the hispanic community has its own point of view and a black community and of older white community and younger white community so everything just gets fragmented. >> that's true. but you still have room for the big media, the legacy media because they are -- they are kind if they are to be the soldier for all of it. there is a big lens. we are not going to necessarily things on the other side of the world if you are you're focusing on new york's chinatown. speak you want nbc to pay attention. >> by the way we don't have time to cover the issues in chinatown and chinatown so in many ways, you are satisfying the needs and i think to oversimplify if you're only going to get your news from one place or one blog,
and the universe now is so much larger. that but it should not replace the good housekeeping seal of journalism if you will. we still need the entities that cover the big stories. if you want to go hyperlocal, it's a tremendous opportunity today and there are some wonderful journalists out there who have created their metro web sites that cater exactly to what needs and we may have on a daily basis. but i think most groups are highly plugged in because of technology. i think it would be oversimplified if the only limit themselves for example in korea which is a tremendous web site that we co-own and or nbc latino that we are launching. that is just one part of the universe that most folks pay attention to. >> we have another question. >> i would like to make a quick plug for my colleague at the
mere center for entertainment and news two years ago which showed that only 20 seconds -- 22 seconds are devoted to hard-core news on most local stations in the los angeles area and this is across 1000, half-hour news. >> 22 minutes? >> 22 seconds. >> hard news? >> of hard news in the local half-hour in the show that comes on the station. >> 22 seconds for every 30 minutes? >> yeah, so the majority went to sports, entertainment and crime stories. so i would like to raise the question i raised earlier again, how do we have a conversation about race when it is divorced from public interest, when it is divorced from the concerns that we should be covering in the news, if all you have is 22 seconds to raise these issues? thank you. >> we are going to finish up now. i just wanted to ask you again,
what have you learned about preconceptions with regards to racialized coverage of the news? >> well, i think and i go back again to my class, the sword of ah-ha moment's of my class is when i show them a trayvon documentary called hoop dreams which followed the careers of these two kids. again on the west side of chicago to the very poor areas and how they are both at st. jo's high school which is kind of a developmental school for high school -- before say isaiah thomas, and how these kids were selected from school grounds by talent scouts for their basketball prowess. if you happen to be selected, you will go to school magically.
the athlete also became gifted academically. so, they begin to sort of understand this long causal chain that sort of leads to what you see a sort of ordinary reality that you don't really see critically anymore because it's just there. and that is the point i think that the news sort of ritualistically kind of makes us i think, it kind of endures us to the cause of everything to happen the way that we see it now. you are talking about a larger social economic, political structure and the news doesn't cover that on a regular basis. >> i don't think he can. i don't think it does do that so i'm not really blaming the news for not doing it. it's just people who rely strictly on the news for their picture of the world, that necessarily they are pictures of the world are going to be
ritualized because the world is racialized. >> the question becomes now, how do you maintain fairness? again it's got to cover raise. >> i think what we have learned from multiple incidents is it's an ongoing issue of education. some of our members have said to me why are we still having this conversation? we have this conversation 30 years ago when organizations -- organization was formed. we still have people who don't understand why using the word in a headline is not approved it and something you really want to think about in the context of why you are using that word. so it's an ongoing issue and we are constantly having to push for more diversity in the newsroom and in management. >> antoine, where are you not just an nbc but as a news manager in terms of trying to ensure as you put it so wonderfully, that you don't want to be wrong one time.
>> you have got to keep working hard at it and actually i've wanted to follow up on one thing that you talked about, how are we going to grow the diversity on the inside, to know we get it right. because if you have the right diversity, we are better in power to deal with these issues. we have been working extra hard with our diversity councils on the inside to widen this pipeline. we have got entry-level positions that really foster and allow folks of all income levels, from all levels, from all kinds of ethnic backgrounds, to get a shot at the working side of the newsroom so while we track folks from certain journalism schools, that is not a deal killer. we have got a place in our newsroom where we are working extra hard to get folks in.
>> alright, antoine, doris, thank you so much for joining us and thank you for being a great audience. >> thank you juan. we have gone the full circle today and we started with dr. jackson's discussion of demographic trends, showing us the cultural gap between the white overpopulation and the emerging minority populations. we looked at political factors and found that there is no escaping it looks like that race will be a part of the election, that it will inevitably find its way into the election and the latino and asian and african-american votes will be significant voters in that election. the question will be turn out and then we look more specifically at the latino vote which we found very nuanced, and it looks like 25% of that latino vote is a swing vote.
it's very much in play. but we also found that both parties had their problems. it wasn't just the republican rhetoric that was showing us so strongly in the primaries, but president obama's policy on deportation has left a scar in the latino community. so again, the question of turnout would be significant. we looked into identity and very rich dialogue about that and i guess my conclusion there is as you said we are never going to go back to that kind of america that people long for. it's never going to -- you are not in your father's oldsmobile anymore. well we are not in your father's america anymore and perhaps this election might even be kind of a referendum or recall an the question of the roles of white
males, not just the african-american president. we got into education and looked at how low expectations of people of color can undermine their educational future. we looked at the importance of not only teachers but the teaching facilities, the importance of choice, and equity. equity, first of all you have to evaluate what works and be equitable and allocating resources. and finally, the discussion of the "news media," coming full circle again to this idea of if you are going to have the rich coverage of the news including all of america in the newsrooms and management that included all of america, and the discussion somewhat of how fractional is asian of the audiences can
change may be pushing rates to a more important end to the floor but in the end it needs to educate not only audience. we thank everybody for purchase a painting, for moderating. juan a terrific job, josé a terrific job and we thank you again. our colleagues and our friends at comcast corp. who made this possible we want to thank again my own staff and the senior project manager really drove this whole process together. thank you all. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
>> house oversight committee is holding a hearing today to examine a report by the general services administration. that details wasteful spending related to a las vegas convention that cost nearly $823,000. in the wake of the report gsa administrator martha johnson resigned and the agency dismissed her top deputies. >> frankly our first responders give them a network and that is exactly what this legislation does so congress created first, put it under ntia and then indicated that $7 billion from auction revenues would be made available to first net to go ahead and design and construct this network.
>> now to veterans tell their different experiences from getting help from the veterans administration to avoid homelessness. they spoke before the senate veterans affairs committee which also hears from homeless advocates. this hearing is chaired by senator patty murray. it's about an hour and 45 minutes. [inaudible conversations] >> good morning everyone. thank you all for joining us for this very important hearing today. you know it goes without saying that no one had the last sacrifice to serve our nation in uniform should ever be without a roof over their head, yet homelessness is a harsh reality for tens of thousands of veterans are going to thousand
nine, secretary shinseki laid out the full scope of andy homelessness among veterans in five years. as we reached the halfway point today's hearing will examine the progress to date as well as the challenges and opportunities moving forward. particularly the challenges that homeless women veterans face. as many in this room know, the va and the department of housing and are met and development recently announced a number of homeless veterans dropped by 12% to a little more than 67,000. the va and how deserved to be commended for the significant progress they have made but despite this progress, challenges remain. the va must focus on a new and unfortunately growing segment of the homeless spectrum population. female veterans. like their male counterparts, women veterans face many of the same challenges that contribute to their risk of becoming homeless. they are serving on the front lines and being exposed to some of the same harshest realities
of war. they are screening positive for ptsd, experiencing military sexual trauma, suffering from anxiety disorder and having trouble finding a job that provides the stability to e.'s their transition back home. yet when our female veterans find themselves homeless, they have needs that are unique from those of male veterans and the va's inspector general found in a report released on monday some of those unique needs are not being addressed. the ig found there were serious safety and security concerns for homeless women veterans, especially those who have experienced military sexual trauma. they found bedrooms and bathrooms without sufficient locks, halls and stairways without sufficient lighting and mixed gender living facilities without access restrictions. they also found the va should do a better job of targeting places and populations they need help
the most. in addition to this ig report, gao released a report at the end of last year that cited va for the black of gender specific try to see, safety and security standards. following that report i sent a letter to the va and hud with senators tester and snowe seeking answers to a number of questions raised. i have heard from hud they are reviewing their data collection process in order to capture more information on homeless women veterans. i've also heard from va they are working to develop and provide training for staff and providers to better treat veterans who have experienced dramatic events and are modifying their guidance on privacy, safety and security for providers who serve homeless veterans. as more when you begin to transition home, and step back into lives as mothers and wives and citizens, we must be prepared to serve the unique challenges they face as we continue to learn about the alarming number of homeless women veterans. we must be sure that va is there
to meet their needs. this means we cannot violate their trust by jeopardizing their privacy, safety or security when we place them in housing facilities or when they receive care at va's facilities. i'm hopeful that today we can explore these issues together during today's hearing and i'm so pleased that courageous women like sandra who has just joined us and chanel who you will hear from on the next panel have come forward to help give us a first-hand account of the challenges that we need to meet. as the va continues to make progress in bringing down the number of homeless veterans, challenges remain. we are still facing unacceptable numbers of chronically homeless veterans. this group often has complex combinations of issues including addictions or mental and physical health issues. all have been failed by a system that lets them slip through the cracks and many of the traditional methods used for
treating and curing for homeless veterans may not work for this population. that is wide it is critical we continue to look for productive ways to engage these veterans and get them off the streets. a strong partnership with va's mental health program will be crucial for this effort. one of the best ways to and homelessness is to prevent it from occurring. this will take a concerted effort from va's homeless program but it will also take collaboration from all of the va programs. in today's economy these pro-grins provide critical assistance that helps veterans and their families remain in their homes. it's also important to continue to focus on getting earned benefits and services to veterans greatly and without delay. for homeless veterans and those at risk these benefits can make the difference in avoiding homelessness or becoming trapped in a cycle that keeps them on the streets. we have been making progress in
ending veteran homelessness and improving solutions like rapid re-housing and permanent housing programs but we must ensure we do not lose sight of the need to provide each homeless veteran with the resource that most closely matches their needs. we also have to ensure that the va program help homeless veterans are running as efficiently as possible. i had my staff do an exhaustive review of thousands of pages worth of va's inspections of his grant and per diem providers. my staff found there were opportunities to improve the programs by providing more guidance to providers and staff who work with them. today's hearing gives us another opportunity to better understand the current situation with the goal of fixing what is not working and expanding what is. with that, senator brown is here today. we are replacing senator burr, not replacing obviously. we will turn it over to senator
brown. >> thanks for calling this important hearing. first of all i would like to welcome all of the witnesses as well today and particularly like to welcome ms. strickland and ms. squier and your willingness to share your expenses with us. it's important to hear first-hand from our veterans and how they been affected by a lot of the policies and problems within the va especially on this important issue and on behalf of ranking member burr i would like to extend a warm welcome to reverend scott rogers from nashville who is representing the homeless veterans of thank you for involvement. i'd also like to welcome and recognize maura squire from aarp austin regional office as are our her outreach coordinator and looking forward to hearing that testimony and thank you for being here as well. a lot of you obviously for many years have dedicated service to our united states navy and there are a few issues today that we care more about really then this issue of homelessness and ending
it amongst our men and women who have been serving and giving so much to our country. according to the va 65,000 veterans are homeless. i know in massachusetts we are trying to do it better and work on it and zealously. i know congress since 2000 has provided over 400 million-dollar increase to services for homeless veterans and that is a good thing. the significant funding increase, the va has developed a wide variety of services for homeless veterans in securing and maintaining permanent housing in gainful employment. in light of the recent reports by the va inspector general and gao i'm concerned about the effectiveness of these programs and i know senator burr has represented additional funds but we need to make sure we use them wisely. another also a lot of nonprofit groups out there trying to do their very best as well to help in the housing shortage for veterans. first the gao found in the report without complete data and
i'm quoting the va does not have information needed to plan services effectively allocate grants to providers and track its overall goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015 end quote. the second finding is the black of oversight to ensure the safety of women veterans and community programs. the inspector general found that the last 10 years 22 homeless female veterans were placed in per diem facilities approved for only male veterans and this is unacceptable. this alone should cause serious concerns. it's even more concerning that it appears to be a staff had little regard for the women's safety and security and i find that disturbing to say the least. lastly the inspector general found the grant per diem program spent $60,000 to provide housing to veterans who are not homeless and one grand per diem facility almost one fourth of veterans were not hope -- homeless prior to entering the program and that goes to the point of having proper oversight. while progress has been made it's evidence that from these
reports that pointing simply to the 12% increase in the number of homeless veterans on any given night in january does not provide the complete picture so i think we need to ask a lot of serious questions and we are doing just that. on the effectiveness of the va veterans programs. for instance how can va and homelessness without having accurate data? does the va understand the reasons -- residential treatment program and do they also know the veterans living situation after completing the program? follow-up is very important. in the current economic climate this congress is responsible for ensuring taxpayer monies being used effectively and fficiently so i hope today we will have that opportunity to get some of those very real answers to these very important questions of thank you manager and i look forward to our witss testimony in moving forward with this issue. >> thank you very much senator brown. we will turn to you for an opening statement.
>> thanks for your leadership and your dedication for adding veterans homelessness. it is just unbelievable it's still the persistent problem that it is and i appreciate the work the va is done especially in chillicothe in southern ohio, one of the best veterans outreach programs for the homeless of anyplace in the country. according to a recent gao report the number of homeless women veterans is more than doubled from 06 to 2010. va is in keeping up but i understand it's not just the va, it's an all hands approach from state and local governments to nonprofit and public service groups and it's not just the homeless programs like food and shelter, the homeless veterans reintegration program, the department of labor funded program, designed to provide support and assistance for veterans to obtain employment and economic stability. it's getting access to the program that includes medical treatment and counseling and education and where appropriate legal assistance.
ultimately the veterans administration must be the leader in the coordinator of these efforts as we continue to look to solutions. like are witnesses to think about how we can coordinates these programs so that they are not overlapping or are not missing gaps. we are reaching every veteran and every veterans family and every community in which they live. today's second panel will have a proud ohioan whom i just met and i'm glad she has come forward to tell her story so what happened to her will not have to be repeated. chanel curry is an army reservist from cleveland ohio. her story is familiar -- they served bravely in uniform since 2006 graduate of cleveland heights high and in her early 20s she was mobilized. in 2009 for two years and was sent to iraq and kuwait. after returning stateside she found a job in atlanta and here is where her stories unfortunately shared by a large number of service employees. she still needed to travel to
kuwait due to her military commitment. because of time missed serving her country and serving her community she was eventually let go by her employer in a state hundreds of miles away. from march to december of march 2011 to december 2011 she was homeless. she found the homeless information that year in december of 2011 and was conducted with a grant in in the per diem provider. there she got the help as she should've received much much earlier. she has gone through the initial stages of hud and the inspection upper -- this week. she left the grand per diem program and is now staying with her sister until the voucher process is complete. understand that can be as early as this week. she is also interviewing you for employers for full-time job. i hope this will be a success story. an unfortunate beginning but a success story. by any measure she deserves was sheer and while serving her country in uniform. her testimony like her service
to our country overseas shows her moral commitment to our country that she has exhibited. she served then and she is serving now. i thank you you chanel for being here and thank you for sandra for your work. >> thank you very much. this time i would like to welcome all of our witnesses for being here today. first we are very pleased as i mentioned to have sandra strickland at veteran of the u.s. army who will speak to us today about her experience as a homeless veteran. ms. strickland's thank you for your service to our country and your willingness to come here today and the courage to share your story with all of us. after that we will hear from reverend scott rogers come the second of direct or of asheville town, community christian ministry and accompanying reverend rogers is the president chief executive officer of the national coalition for homeless veterans. following reverend rogers we will hear from the executive
director of the philadelphia veterans multiservice and education center, testifying on behalf of the vietnam veterans of america. finally we will hear from linda halliday the deputy assistant inspector general for the valuations in the va office of inspector general and accompanying her today as a fellow washingtonian, gary abe the director of the ig seattle division. 's thank you for coming and sharing your story. >> you are welcome. of course i'm an army veteran. i served in the army for two and half years. join the military in 1986. i served in germany and also fort hood texas. i was not able to go to desert storm but i did transition out and moved to virginia to open up my own business, did a great job. unfortunately my husband and i had issues. in december of 2010 i was
involved in a domestic violence situation and so i left the home with my two children, ages seven and five at the time. i have been staying at a domestic violence shelter so i'm familiar with how a shelter is, how it is to be homeless. i never thought that it could have been homeless. like i said i was a business owner, didn't graduate from college, didn't go to college but i had 20 plus years in the administration field, so a wealth of experience and like i said i'd never thought i would have been a homeless person. normally when you think of a homeless person you think of a person that is on the street with a sign. he never think about a person that has a life that is a mother, so i think it's a silent epidemic that people don't feel female veterans as becoming homeless, but we are. from the shelter, i was able to start working at a temporary agency, working full time but it was enough to get me started.
i have been able to get a full-time position at the assignment i was working on. i was able to get an apartment for me and my children, but then i will when it to work on a monday and they told us on monday that her last day would be that friday. so here it is i'm looking at unemployment. i was unemployed for six months. i did get unemployment compensation but it did and. resources starting running out. going through custody issues with my children. i wasn't able to maintain physical custody of them because of my situation. so it was just a long struggle so without with that i'm facing homelessness. i called out to the va center and they were not able to help me so i got in contact with an organization called final salute and a assist they assist female veterans and obtaining safe and suitable housing. that is where i am right now.
my road to homelessness, i feel that there are not enough funds being sense to the private organizations. we have the big organizations, the one that i was in, domestic violence shelters. the funds were even used to help the victims. when you are homeless you feel dehumanized because it's like you have lost everything. people tend to treat you differently, and i just think there should be more support for us. our voices need to be heard. and as far as when i reached out to the veteran administration, i am thinking because i'm a veteran i would able to get assistance. at the time there were no funds available. they said they could give me shelter to go to. i didn't have a full-time job so i'm like, where are the resources, you know? there? there is no one to direct us.
it is just a plight that i don't think a lot of people or society has a clue as to what homelessness is. and then when you are homeless, you tend to not want to reach out because people tend to treat you differently. they tend to treat you like you are an outcast. i did reach out to an organization to get help with my rental assistance. they were able to help me, but you know the funds were dried up and so like i said, i am facing a fiction. i have two children that i need to worry about. and i just, i just feel that there needs to be a voice put on homelessness as far as female homelessness and females with children because if i were facing a situation that i had to go to a shelter per se, i would
have just basically just stayed in my car because the shelter that i went to previously, like i said, it was very cold during that time. it was december of 2010. the blankets that they gave us were very very then, and we were able to work in the pantry so i saw they had donated a a lot of new comforter so that particular night i asked the president manager, could i get some blankets for my children? i didn't really care about myself but my children were freezing. she said you know, we can't. she gave me little baby blankets. i asked her, there are comforters in the pantry. why can't i have some of those? she said, those are for someone else. and i'm like, who are they for? i am in a shelter. i know shelters get donated items so why are we sleeping under blankets that are very paperthin? the organization that i am in
now, i don't really look at it as a shelter. it's a transitional home. i look at it as a home. i don't know what i would have done had that organization not been there for me. i met with the owner, jacqueline booth, and she made me aware that it's a two-year program. i let her know my situation. i am still looking for full-time employment as they speak now. i'm still working as a temp with a temp agency, but that was my saving grace. the programs that is there, i believe when shelters to extend their hand to help a homeless person, that they should have resources in place to not enable them to stay homeless, but to provide resources that will get them on their feet to be able to become self-sufficient.
v. support, i don't know, i just can't stress or talk about the support for the homeless people. homeless veterans at that. a comment was made, women are women. a woman veteran is different than a woman, because we have unique needs and i just think that needs to be addressed. >> thank you very much. really appreciate your testimony. thank you for being here. mr. rogers? >> chairman murray and ranking member richard burr, thank you senator brown for those wonderful and kind words, distinguished members of the senate and subcommittee on veteran affairs, it's my honor to present this testimony on behalf of the asheville buncombe
community christian ministry. familiarly known around asheville as abc cm but also to be here on behalf of the national coalition of homeless veterans and don driscoll, who is not only a strong leader for all of us, providing services but as one who i am happy to call my friend. all of us providing services to veterans are committed to the five-year plan, to and homelessness for all of our veterans. abc cm serves both men and women veterans. we have about 200 men. we have about a dozen women veterans and separate facilities, but last year, in 2011, abc cm and the homelessness for 300 to veterans through our jobs program with the veterans workforce investment program, which
averages $14 an hour at and at about a cost of $1100 per placement as opposed to the national average of $2600 per placement. we also placed 87 disabled veterans into permanent supportive housing. you see, we ended homelessness for 389 of the 437 veterans that we served last year. how did we do this? well, it is laid out here with several principles, nine of them in my testimony. but first i want to say that it is our support of 300 churches, congregations of all sizes, colors, all faith groups who come together to join the government's efforts, the veterans affairs administration's efforts in ending homelessness and we engaged about 3200 volunteers
just in our veterans restoration quarters and our steadfast -- for women. these congregations of volunteers didn't just receive these dollars from the va and from the department of labor, but they match them. they are there with food, their clothes, their financial support particularly volunteering time for training and mentoring so that we are doubling the impact of those resources to provide not only great professional staff and services, but especially that boundless energy from our volunteers. second, we really have strong support and participation from the veterans service organizations like the american legion, the dav, the military officers association, vietnam veterans for peace and many others. third our formerly homeless
veterans have a culture of giving back. they don't want to leave anyone behind. you see, it begins with our formerly homeless veterans who are at the front desk who are saying to other veterans, both men and women, welcome home. in fact, it was the desire of formerly homeless veterans to get back to the american legion in our area in hendersonville and in asheville and the surrounding north carolina put together legion post 526. as about 137 members, they were the first as we understand it, to receive the national charter and operate out of a homeless facility, our veterans administration quarters. forth it is the charles va medical center and asheville, north carolina that provides the high-quality medical home resources. it's also our local continuum of care with about 40 agencies
working together because the collaboration is the critical key and i just thank all of our folks back in nashville for their support. these principles can be summed up in a couple of words. one is, respect, respect for every veteran to be empowered to make their choices and to have a clear sense of self-determination. these are laid out beautifully by the grand per diem program's leadership. two is the flexibility to build on an local innovation, and partnerships that employ and house are veterans. three is building on an incentive-based culture and not an entitlement culture i rewarding those who take responsibility for themselves and others. four was working on the rapid re-housing and prevention strategies that reduces the need for transitional housing. we put back into homes 276 persons last year which kept us
from having to build another 300 bed shelter. we have submitted supportive services for veterans families proposal and hope that we will be able to build on without partnership our own homeless prevention rapid re-housing. we commend the 2013 budget priorities and we hope you might consider adding three other items. first is the cost of living adjustments for the grand per diem of about two or 3%. second is a capital challenge grant for grand per diem is because we need the extra help to expand and improve our housing facility and transportation, particularly for women. right now, we would like to match you dollar per dollar in order to expand and improve those facilities and services. third is providing innovative funding for more education and training, and innovative funding that would provide and utilize a partnership between the va
medical center and local nationals in the treatment of ptsd so thanks again for your commitment to our veterans and to implementing the principles that will help us all and homelessness for our veterans. as a pastor met him chairman, i will continue to pray for your wisdom and the courage of this committee and our congress to offer the best to our veterans. thank you for giving us the tools to serve. >> thank you very much. ms. four? >> good morning. thank you senator murray, senators of the committee. for allowing me to testify map of vietnam veterans of america and i would say that i also thank you for the great support you have given to heart. it's been a tremendous opportunity for the veterans and has seen great advantage. i also would like to mr. brown mentioned that the snapshot picture i guess of the number of
homeless veterans that exist today is 67,000 plus. the va does not feel that this is a true number also but it is a snapshot and i think what it does show is that there has been an impact made by the additional care, assistance, services and programs that have been coordinated to work to help impact homelessness so we have sadly seen that these programs are doing something. although i have full testimony which goes into great detail, i'm going to try to be very concise and a few mentioned. the housing first model which is a great push right now, it's a monster push right now, and it is in fact a beautiful housing model for veterans that sit-in it. it's also one that is a great advantage to women veterans because they can have their children with them. they don't have to disrupt the
family situation. the kids can stay in school. they keep the unit intact but it doesn't fit all veterans, not even all women veterans. there are many veterans that are quite vulnerable and that we cannot dismiss the opportunity, or i should say the responsibility, of not eliminating or disintegrating and housing ready model for some of these veterans because even when you know secretary shinseki first came out on eliminating homelessness, he said, don't close all the doors. there are doors that should be left open, because many veterans will have to find their way to the right one. and by placing some of these veterans in the housing first model we are setting them up for failure, and back to the streets. i would like to just make a couple of comments about the grant per diem program. because in fact, nonprofit
agencies, without nonprofit agencies in the community, the attack on the homeless for veterans would be a greater issue. and, the grant per diem program while it has been a tremendous you know, assistance in that realm for decades, there are a few situations across great concern or great impact and handicap the nonprofit agency. one is the ability to request an increase in the per diem for the program. ..
>> budgets that would be used in the coming year. draw down from that, and i describe that in my testimony. another is, um, the residential payments that we have to deduct, nonprofits have to deduct the payments that veterans would make as a residential payment if they are in a nonprofit program, a residential program. and so that brings down, again, the cost of the program to the agency. if that could be eliminated, the nonprofit agency -- especially those that have more than one program, that have home offices and programs scattered around -- it is very difficult to have a program if you can't help
utilize these monies as discretionary, to keep the entire agency afloat because if that agency is insolvent, it cannot operate the program. and so it is a handicap to those agencies that have many programs to have to deduct residential payments from the expense of the program. um, we believe that there's an issue with consolidation of va grant per diem projects. there are some nonprofits who have had capital grants that get per diem for those. they've expanded that program under a per diem-only grant, and these two grants now have separate project numbers which have to be turned in and provided per diem payments based on percentages, and those nonprofits receive several different percentage, um, payments based on the differences in the project numbers, and they still have the same garbage collected and the same staff and eat the same
food. another is the grant per diem service centers. i will only say that they are, in fact, the gateway in from the streets to the housing-first model. ask you to look at that testimony to see the significance of those programs. some are seeing up to over a thousand veterans, unique veterans a year. they need some staffing grants because four dollars and change doesn't make it for the veteran that comes in for one hour, and the staff has to work for two days to get them housing. we believe there's a great opportunity to expand the use of the homeless grant and per diem service centers. that's outlined in my testimony. we believe the scope of their ability and authority needs to be extended o that veterans who are placed in housing first can continue the case management they need to stay there so they can come back to the service centers and continue that process. we're also looking at how we can best utilize those and morph this program into something other than just homeless from
the streets, but into retention and housing. special needs grants, appreciate the authority that was, um, extended to them. however, va grant per diem did not put out any grants for new programs. >> if we could get you to wrap up your testimony. we do have your written testimony, i want to make sure we get to all of our witnesses. >> yes, ma'am. i've addressed military sexual trauma programs. the supportive services grants, the dol, if we could extend those opportunities for veterans and, of course, the gao report that i mentioned in the testimony. um, appreciate the opportunity to be here. i see that many of this will impack the va in -- impact the va in a broad scope even through the mental health departments, and i encourage the committee to look at the opportunity for nonprofits to continue to assist in this realm. thank you, ma'am. >> thank you very much. ms. halliday? >> chairman murray and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the
oig's work related to va's homeless veterans program. specifically, the results of our recent report, the audit of homeless providers, the grant and per diem program. i'm accompanied by mr. gary abe, the director of our seattle audit division who directed the national audit. the grant and per diem program is the largest of several va homeless programs providing services to homeless veterans. responsibility for the management and operation of funded projects rests with the community providers. why va medical facilities provide the oversight over the delivery of the support services. we've reviewed community agencies receiving grant and per diem funds in fy-2011 to determine if services to homeless veterans are provided as described in their grant applications. and to assess whether program funding was effectively aligned with vha's program priorities. we identified opportunities and made recommendations to strengthen program oversight.
, the grant application evaluation process and program controls. we determined vha needed standards for program safety, security, health and welfare, a more comprehensive grant application evaluation process, a mechanism to better assess and measure bed capacity against funding priorities and the need for the services, procedures to accurately report program outcomes and monitor the reliability of program information. vha also needed training for vha medical facility staff on determining the homeless veterans' program eligibility and improved oversight of the providers participating in the program. we found vha lacked guidance on the level of supervision and security measures expected for various homeless veteran populations. such as female veterans living in transitional housing.
almost one-third of the 26 providers that we reviewed did not adequately address safety, security and privacy risks of these veterans. we identified security risks such as the bedrooms and bathrooms without sufficient locks, halls and stairs without sufficient lighting and female and male residents on the same floor without access restrictions. we also found that 27% of the program providers did not insure the safe storage of homeless veterans' prescribed medications to include controlled narcotics such as oxycodone and vicodin. providers were not required to address the management of medications as part of their grant application process. a review of dietary support services showed 12% of the program providers did not consistently offer adequate meals that were nutritional hi-balanced -- nutritionally-balanced and appropriate for homeless
veterans. again, we saw the grant applicants were not required to describe how they would provide meals or how they would meet the special dietary needs of homeless veterans such as managing diabetes in their grant applications. vha needs to strengthen its oversight of the grant and per diem program and, specifically, it needs to insure program funding is aligned with program goals. our audit found that 26% of the veterans' discharge information was inaccurate. in more than half of the cases, vha case managers inaccurately reported that veterans successfully completed the program. we have a significant concern that the quality of the program information has not improved over the last five years. clearly, more management attention is needed to address the quality of program information relied upon to make decisions. another important step in helping veterans transition to
independent living is vba's effort to assist homeless veterans filing claims for medical disabilities and other benefits. we've issued nine inspection reports that found four of nine va regional offices did not consistently provide outreach services to homeless veterans. we are continuing to review this important responsibility during our future inspections. va is taking actions to insure the safety, security and health, welfare of veterans participating in the gpd program, and we expect their recent efforts will help to insure the program delivers effective services to homeless veterans and that the funding is used as intended. madam chairman, thank you for the opportunity to discuss our work. we'd be pleased to answer any questions you or the committee has. >> thank you very much for your work on this. um, let me start with you. you contacted the va and asked
for help. obviously, they just said to you, um, nothing. right? got no, nothing -- no response? >> no. their -- to me, their basic concern was my mental health because i had shared everything that was going on with me, and their first question was, are you mentally stable? >> so you weren't assigned a case manager or training services or anything? no. >> what do you think they should have said when you first called? >> what do can you need -- what do you need? not what i wanted or what they wanted for me, but what i needed. and if they weren't able to provide the resources themselves, provide resources that i could reach out to. i wasn't even given that. they just told me they could give me a list of shelters. i could do that myself. but are they, i mean, i just feel there should be some type of partnership. if they're not able to provide
the assistance, then there should be partners they should be able to refer a veteran to so they're not left feeling helpless, because that's how i felt. >> ms. halliday, your testimony was really eye opening, i think, telling someone they're going to be someplace sleeping without a lock on the door, bathrooms that don't have lock, insufficient lighting. um, ms. strickland, what would that type of environment meant to you? >> an unsafe environment? >> yes. >> i would have stayed in my car. it's different with, when you have children, you know? i mean, of course, i think of my safety, but i think of my children as well. there are programs, but it's not enough for women with children. yes, i could have gone to other shelters, but i wouldn't have been able to take my children with me. and then a female, just from
being a woman, you want to be able to feel that when you go to a transitional home or shelter, that you do have adequate safety basic. >> ms. four, reverend rogers, what would that have meant for the women who live in your facilities? >> um, let me just say we do have as the agency a 30-bed transitional program exclusively for women veterans, and, um, i believe that in some cases, um, the women do come there because it is a place that they know is safe, that they know is secured. um, we take great, you know, great attention to that. and i think one of the situations that exists is there are so few of these programs in the community that are exclusive to women veterans, that are designed for them to address their tremendous needs, that that is one of the shortfalls also. >> reverend rogers, what is the importance for safety and security in basic things like
that for your clients? >> it is absolutely paramount. we really felt like it took almost two years for us to earn that trust, and making sure that we could commit the amount of resources that were needed. that's why i asked y'all to consider some kind of a challenge grant. the community wants to respond, but because the numbers of women and their children are low and even though we have them housed separately and they're able to have their own rooms and facilities, it's at a much greater cost. with a little bit of extra help from this committee and from congress, we can provide not only that safety and security, but then also really address the professional needs around sexual trauma, having well-trained staff, being able to really train our volunteers. i've got women who want to mentor other women but don't
always understand the level and complexities of that trauma. we'd like to be able to have the funding and the support, and we believe we can get it matched by the community with some leadership here because we don't, again, believe in the into it with element system, but we do want you to help us incentives but with the funding to overcome the smaller numbers but dealing with more complex issues. >> and, you know, both of the va's inspector general and the gao really made it clear that the va has to improve their services for homeless women veterans. but reports that were issued by two organizations and oversight by my staff have found really disincentives for homeless women veterans to seek va's housing programs including no minimum standards for gender-specific safety and limb takes -- limitations in available housing options for homeless veterans especially with children. so my question to all of you is, what would you do, what would
you direct the va to do today to serve homeless women veterans? ms. strickland, if you had the opportunity to say to the va do this, what would it be? >> provide adequate programs that can deal with the unique needs of female veterans. >> the basics; safety, security, locks, privacy. >> yes. and then resources to help us get back on our feet, to become self-sufficient so that we don't become -- >> chronically homeless. >> exactly. >> ms. four? >> one, i think, would be that, certainly, the, um, issue of the security really impacts their ability to focus on the programs they have to do and to work in. i think that it's very important that the va truly does some oversight of what they have in order to remold and work with
some of the opportunities they have at front of them. i think that the addition of some extra funding through the special needs grants for those programs that want to do the work with women veterans who -- it can be quite costly because the staff that's needed and the support that that grant allows for assistance to families while they took care of the children, while the women were attending to some very specific and very, you know, important work in the mental health field. i think that's another place. and also to really make an evaluation of how many military sexual trauma specific residential treatment programs there are in this country and the fact that if they are at a far distance, how do they expect the homeless women to get into those programs and travel there? >> reverend rogers? >> first, i want to say, ms. strickland, thank you for your courage, and i'm sorry for
your experience. we, we simply ask the va to be right there with us, and what we say and what charles george va medical center in asheville does is they train their staff. their staff are with us as much as three and four days a week in our facility working both with our women and our men. but they're also there saying that we're going to be the advocate, the ombudsman right alongside us as a faith-based and other community-based providers. i think it's when they exhibit and put in place the men and women professionals with that same passion, that it really makes the difference. because nobody can underestimate the power of saying welcome home, veteran. >> ms. halliday, final comment. >> we would like to say that we'd like to see the va
transition away from the reliance of providing these services in multigender facilities. we'd like to see incentives put many place for special needs -- put in place for special needs to insure that female veterans' needs are met just as it was said before, and i think you would have possibly explore using contracts outside of the grant and per diem program to fit the unique needs of female veterans, especially when they don't represent a large number. and it would be smaller and get better economical solutions. >> okay. senator brown? >> thank you. um, ms. strickland, first of all, i read your testimony and, you know, thank you for sharing your personal experiences. i want to commend you for your grit and determination and persian convenience -- perseverance notwithstanding all the challenges you had and continue to have. i read with interest your new situation, where you are now, at
final salute inc.. you're still there? >> yes. >> yes. and how do you find that program in terms of getting you to that path of independence and obtaining your auto body shop and other endeavors? how are you moving along? how are you dealing with your financial assistance? how are things working out with the kids? i mean, where are you in terms of, you know, your balance in your life? how's that coming along? >> um, right now i am on the path to becoming self-sufficient. um, i am still working with a temp agency so i do have consistent employment. i am still fervently seeking full-time employment. but in the interim i just continue to, you know, press on. the program that i'm in with final salute, it's a unique program because it's catered to the specific needs of the person. um, there are four females in the home, and we all have unique
situations. um, so we're actually told to give a plan of what we intend to do with the two years that we have at the program. and so with that they cater to what our specific needs are. so mine, of course, was to, you know, continue my entrepreneurship, to maintain or to get the physical custody of my children so they're providing the resources as far as, you know, obtaining a lawyer for me. um, as far as the entrepreneurship, you know, they're providing resources and conferences that i can attend to be able to further to do that. i don't have any mental health issues, um, but they do or they have set me up with a mentor, um, you know, that i can talk to. um, as far as support.
um, because like i said, when you're homeless, it's one thing. but then when you're dealing with other emotional issues, it's another. >> right. well, looking at your challenges here, being homeless and dealing with the children issues which that's the one issue you can survive and you can do your thing, but then you throw in the other challenges of having children and not wanting to lose them and, obviously, keep that family unit together and then having the possible threats against, you know, your life and your safety and security. >> right. >> so as i said, thank you for your sharing that story. it's personal in nature, obviously. and i was, i was disturbed when i read that when you called the va for help, they basically blew you off. and, um, and that's what we're hearing a lot whether it's dealing with claims, whether it's dealing with these types of assistance issues, that lack of personal touch sometimes is all you need. if somebody said, hey, listen,
we don't have the ability to take care of you because of your situation, however, we have a group that reverend rogers does similar to him in your city or town and give you a whole list and contacts and then follow up with you maybe in a day or two or three, none of that was really provided. you got kind of a list, here are the shelters, see you later, thank you very much. is that an accurate statement? >> correct. >> well, that's unacceptable. and, reverend rogers, i know you have a big fan on this panel. he's here, and he was nice enough to allow me to chair this, and i'm honored to do so. and i want to thank you for what you all do. what do you think separates your program from others? why isn't this going viral all over the country? >> well, that's an excellent question. i really think that there's maybe not as much emphasis on the community-based and faith-based partnerships that can be put together.
when you begin to really grasp what volunteers both from the faith community and community-based organizations can do offering them both professional training as well as the kind of support system, they respond many befold. -- manyfold. >> so how do you deal with costs within that model, how do you actually pay the bills? >> yes. thank you for asking that. we're paying the bills by doing both. once they are exposed to the needs of our veterans, they see both the gaps between what our grant and per diem funds or our hvrp funds can provide. for example, with our homeless veterans reintegration program and veterans work force investment program dollars we had more veterans applying for education, and i'm talking about quality certification skills in
the health care, in internet technologies, in transportation. but when a cdl license costs $4,000 right up front, we found ourselves with some significant gaps. the community responded and provided the extra dollars. we've got a friend down in hender thesonville, jeff -- hendersonville, jeff miller, who started operation welcome home just in response to training and education. the same with food and clothes -- >> so it's a community-based effort. everyone gives a little bit and, ultimately, at the end of the day, you're squared away. >> yes, sir. >> ms. halliday, do you think the va's taking the steps to correct the problems outline inside the audit? >> i think the va's worked with us diligently to make sure they could implement those recommendations. i think the group in vha headquarters has taken this
seriously, has realized they have problems and has been very receptive to do that. as far as our assessment of how well they've implemented, it's too early. >> right, thank you. >> thank you. senator bell itch. >> thank you -- senator begich. >> thank you very much, madam chair. before i ask some of my questions, if i could just acknowledge we have two alaskans here, one is chris duncan, does our homeless coordination for the state as well as oscar sedano, anchorage homeless coalition. again, we're very happy that they're here, but also it doesn't matter where you are, what state you're from, there is an issue and a struggle and a challenge that we have with homeless veterans. so, first, sandra, thank you for your testimony. i wasn't hear to hear your testimony, but i've read your testimony. incredibly impactful. and as someone who personally has dealt with homeless veterans as a landlord reaching out to homeless veterans programs to
try to get them more standard and stable housing situations, i have seen it firsthand as a manager and an operator of facilities, small apartments to insure they be able to move through and get some housing. um, let me ask you if i can, and you made some comments to the chairwoman regarding what can the va do differently. do you think in your experience, and this is actually going to go also to you, linda, the same question, and that is, do you think the va has the capacity within their operations as an organization to do the services that are necessary? in other words, reverend, you make a very good point. i, when i was mayor, we worked with a lot of faith-based groups, and we put aside this whole debate over church and state because we had homeless individuals and veterans that we needed to deal with and had to solve the problem. >> yes, sir. >> and we were not interested in
hearing the philosophical debates, we were more interested in hearing about what we could do as a community. so do you think from your experience that even with some changes that are coming, do you feel confident that the va can make it happen? in other words, if you had someone come to you who's homeless, a veteran, and say where can i go, sandra, for help, what would you, what would you do? that may be a real heavy question, but that's, to me, real important, the allocation of who should be doing what and be how so we improve this system. it's not a va system by itself, it's a collective system. >> i agree with you that it is a collective system. if someone were to come to me and mention that they were homeless, um, i would just from the little knowledge that i have or organizations, i would point them into the direction of the community-based organizations. >> as your first choice. >> correct. um, i think that the va just --
if they could partner with other organizations that can focus on the unique needs, um, because, you know, the va is this big organization, um, but there are the little teeny bits of hearts out there that need to be addressed. >> to connect into the system. >> correct. a joint effort. >> which i give you an example. we have a program in anchorage when i was mayor, actually before i was mayor, from the real estate industry we worked with a group, it's called safe harbor which, actually, the units -- it's for families. basically, it was a hotel but really designed for families, and i think the largest family, diane can remind me, i think was nine members to give you a sense. but each unit was owned by an agency or multiple units were owned by the agency. and the cost per day was maybe $15 to the agency. fully-loaded facility. so at any moment someone could
transition there quickly. safe, clean environment. community kitchen, community environment. and then they would bring in folks to work with, you know, people to insure they have jobs or education or whatever they're looking to do. i think it's an incredible model, and it wasn't a government-run model. and it was a mixture between foundations, faith-based and community model. i mean, that's the kind of thing that you are referring to. that's how the va could partner maybe. >> correct. >> linda, you kind of heard the discussion. do you think the -- the va wants to do well, i know that. from your comments here, but also the conversations we had here. do they have the ability to do it? or do they need to kind of rethink this model a little bit more and turn to folks like reverend rogers or safe harbor as an example or some of the things with we're doing in alasa with homeless coalitions?
i mean, are they too bureaucratic that they may not be able to adjust and be flexible enough, or do you think they can do it? does that make sense? >> it's a good question, yes, it does. right now we believe that the va does not have the type of information it needs to really assess where it needs the services. grants are prepared, the applications are submitted. that doesn't necessarily mean that all of the areas that need the services are getting those services. so i would also say they probably have to look a little outside the model. >> do you think they have the capacity to do that? >> yes. >> okay. >> i think it's going to come down to the coordination within the programs and getting the office of rural health to work with the homeless programs in va that deal with the tribal governments, that type of thing. >> uh-huh. >> will there has to be coordination -- >> more looped together. >> are yes. >> okay. >> so i do think they have it,
but right now i'd say they do not have all the information they need. they have agreed to go and get that information so they can better assess where the needs are and to deliver the right services. >> very good. thank you, madam chair. and i -- because, to me, that's the crux of it all at the end of the day, is if they can't get there, all the reports we do are just going to be reports. but -- and i guess that's our job to have this oversight to make sure they make it to that next sage so when you, when sandra has a choice when someone comes to her -- because i think you're going to be a role model of how you've seen the system, you've seen where it works and where it doesn't -- where we direct them, we want va in the mix, but we also want community affairs in the mix. >> we have been joined by my ranking member, senator byrd. >> i thank the chairman and, more importantly, i thank you for holding this hearing. it's absolutely vital. scott, welcome. >> thank you. >> apologies, i wasn't here at the beginning to welcome you, and i welcome all of our witnesses here today.
just a couple observations and then one or two questions. it struck me as i read the testimony and then heard most of you give your verbal testimonies that what we've really got is we've got two entities looking at different things. we've got private sector, faith-based organizations that seem to look at a veteran that's homeless from a standpoint of what they can do to affect the rest of their lives. and we've got a va that is focused on what the crisis du jour is today. somewhat ignorant of what tomorrow has in store. and i think it gets to some degree as to what the ig's report identified. and i think there's a deep willingness on the part of this
committee to try to bring these two things into one align m. alignment. it shocks me to some degree as much as the chairman has been focused on homelessness and the stated commitment of the secretary and of the va that we seem to be ignorant of the successes that exist be in communities all across the country. by no means do i portray that this is intentional. but i think every member of this committee and probably every member of congress can highlight a successful program in the communities that they live or they represent. scott, i'm not sure that they're any better than what we do in asheville. many of the things that you've been able to accomplish there, the vision of purchasing a bankrupt hotel or motel to open up as a veterans' outreach program is visionary in itself.
the fact that we've got a va facility that understands the problem in the community well enough to partner in a nontraditional way with a community o to the degree that -- organization to the degree that i think, if i'm right, the va has now placed a nurse on your campus. >> yes. >> which eliminates the challenge of transportation and things because you were able to convince the va why that benefits their overall delivery of care. you actually are able to treat people before they're in crisis. and, ms. strickland, i can't thank you enough for your personal on vegases. -- observations, a little bit of the insight as to how you've lived. i would hope that your testimony and others inspired the va to look within, take the airks g's
report, anytime that they don't do everything right. and i think i'll take your own testimony, you said va can't do this alone. >> they can't. >> i i think to some degree that's reinforced by what the ig's report came out with. so my questions are pretty simple. ms. halliday, do you feel the outlines, the problems outlined in your testimony and the recent audit are problems specific to the grants in per diem program, or are they systemic throughout the va's homelessness program? >> at this point we would have to answer that we looked at the grant and per diem program, and that's where we identified the problems. we do think that there are some of these issues that are just impacting va's efforts to move forward in eliminating homelessness. you have to have a needs assessment and to know where to deliver the services and what's
really needed. and we didn't see the program information in place to make those good decisions. >> okay. um, scott, let me ask you as it relates to your organization and specifically your, your outreach for veterans. of those that participate in your program, how do you measure successful outcomes? >> well, senator burr, first, i want to say thank you for being such a champion of veterans issues and such a wonderful champion for north carolina. the success that we measure really is built on the principles of the grant per diem program which calls us not only to move them intentionally through this continuum of care where we have benchmarks around their stability, benchmarks around both personal skill-building, education, job
training and placement and then placement in permanent housing, but we do follow them as the grant per diem program calls for up to 18 months to two years after they leave. i think it's following them for that period of time x can this is where -- and this is where a strength of the hvrp program of the department of labor comes in as well. they go back 18 months and take our list of the men and women we've place inside the workplace -- placed in the workplace. they tell us that, for example, in the last one here in the january 87% of those who were placed 18 months earlier are still on the job and averaging in that $12-$14 an hour range. we measure success, also, according to placement in permanent housing. the national goal average is about 60% in 2011 our number was
76%. were placed in permanent housing. that were identified. so it's, it's not only that, but then for us there's two other measures. first is the reintegration really back into the community through not only civic organizations, but also their family of faith. what we find is that when these men and women are connected through civic organizations or through their faith group, they have the internal and external supports they need. and then lastly is when we have the opportunity to see them reintegrate into family. sometimes it's biological family where the bridges aren't burned too badly. other times it's just restarting, reconnecting as ms. strickland has been able to do, maintaining those connections with children,
maintaining those connections with a new family. one of our most touching stories has come there one of our veterans, ron kennedy, who after completing successfully having the job, having the housing answered an e-mail that simply said could you be my daddy. he'd had a child over in germany, and she was reaching out, she said, for the last time for him to connect with the daughter he hadn't seen since she was 1 year old. and then to have the chance to come and connect has truly been life changing for him, and that's what we see. >> thank you for that. >> thank you very much. and we'll turn to senator boozman for his questions. we do have a second panel and votes at 11:30, so we're going to move through quickly our second panel. >> thank you very much. again, we appreciate all of you being here. really appreciate you being here, sandra. it's so important that people,
you know, such as yourself, you're very bright and articulate, and you really put a face, you know, instead of a number, you know? a statistic. and so we appreciate you having the, you know, the ability and the courage to come and share with us, you know? your particular problem and so that we can help you and others as we move forward. we have a guy that we're very proud of in arkansas, a guy named keith jackson who was an all-american in oklahoma, a went on and was all-pro, and he's a tremendous motivational speaker and somebody i have a loot of respect for. -- a lot of respect for. but his comment about these things that the government has the want to, but they don't have the heart. and i think there's a lot of truth in that. you know, we're desperately, you know, trying to get these things done, but it's just not the same as the, you know, as the care, the good care -- not bad care, but the heart-felt care that you get with some of the faith-based
organizations. i think senator begich summed that up very well, the importance of doing that. my question, though, as we move to that and we are moving to that and we're having good results, and yet we've got some problems. and so, linda, i guess what i'd like to know is how do we get the oversight that we need to insure that those programs are functioning well? there's a lot of money involved now. when that comes about, you know, there's always people that take advantage. i hope that in, you know, that the errors that you found were, basically, errors but not criminal activity. did you find any criminal activity that bordered on that? did it go that far? or was it more -- >> no. since our focus was really on the quality of the services being provided and not looking at any disparities or problems with losses in per diem or misuse, we don't have criminal. activities. i'd like gary abe to get an
opportunity to answer a question. we've brought him in from seattle, and this group did -- >> yeah. how do we do a good job of insuring that, you know, that we don't have problems going forward, more problems? >> well, i think that we've had some real serious discussions with the program management folks, and i think that they, they understand that they do need to have better oversight from the top. we also had a lot of discussions while we were at the sites, at the medical centers. i think the directors there and the program folks at the local level, they understand that they need to have probably better supervision of the providers. some of the things that we've reported in our audit in regards to the safety concerns, for instance, they were pretty obvious that they were lacking, and basically, it was, it was
there when we walked in, it was very obvious for us. but for the local folks, they just sort of overlooked it. and can it's -- and, again, that's the oversight that's needed. >> so how do we keep them from overlooking it? >> well, i think it's from the pressure from the top all the way through to the bottom. >> good. and, again, that's the importance of a hearing like this, is trying to illustrate that. scott, you mentioned that as you were speaking that we needed more innovative training in ptsd and things like that. can you give us some examples of what you're alluding to? >> i can. our va, charles george va medical center has reached out to the local community to help draw in both trained professionals in ptsd, for example, in art therapy and be music therapy. we have a group that's approached us with the biltmore
estate to offer equestrian training through their biltmore equestrian center called operation peg us. pegasus. with just a little bit of for example about and support to the va medical center to both contract with those professionals, to help us train the volunteers around best practices that have been established nationally such as the path program we really believe we can impact not only our homeless veterans, but, of course, those just returning from oef, oif, those who are coming back. we find when they are able in these different modalities to address their situation, to clarify their situation, to
manage it, they soar. they do just fine. >> good. thank you, madam chair. >> thank you very much. we do have a series of votes beginning in about 12 minutes. we want to move quickly to the second panel. want to thank everyone here at the first panel, and if we can move as quickly as possible and have our second panel seated, and i'd ask for order in the room as we do that so that we can make that happen as quickly as possible. [inaudible conversations] >> again, if we could is have our second panel come forward and be seated, i really appreciate all of you taking time from busy lives, and if we could have order in the room because i'm introducing the second panel. pete dougherty is the acting executive director of va's
homeless office. a former committee staffer, good to see you here. he's accompanied by lisa pape and maura squire, a homeless veterans' outreach coordinator and chanel curry who is a u.s. army veteran from ohio. chanel, i want to thank you for your service to our country and your willingness to come and share your story. so, mr. dougherty, we're going to start with your testimony, and then we'll have ms. chanel curry give her remarks. >> thank you, chairman murray, we appreciate the opportunity to be here with you and senator burr and senator begich. this committee has been a great aid to the effort the department of veterans afears have made -- affairs have made. in the opportunity to speed this along, let me thank the committee for what the committee has done because i think what you've heard from the first panel is there are things that are working and things that are not working as well as we want. but i also want to commend the committee because the committee
gave us the opportunity to move to the most important phase that we're now into, and that's prevention. the first two years of what va's been doing under this plan is to build capacity. as you know better than anyone, madam chairman, we did not have the capacity to deal with veterans who needed long-term housing and support services. we now have that with pretty good effort going forward. we have been building and increasing the capacity of treatment services for veterans. what we have now gone into is the ability to provide prevention services for veterans, and we think that turning the spigot off is an excellent thing to do. a number of you have noted previously in questions that the va shouldn't be doing it alone, and i would just remind the committee that that effort is, actually, all being done by community nonprofit groups and organizations. we are partnering as we do in grant and per diem providers with those folks to do it.
i do want to give you a couple of highlights because there is some focus at this hearing that as of january of this year more than 25 -- 29,000 veterans and families have been housed under the hud program, and among that over 11% of those have been women veterans and 28% of those women veterans have a child living with them or intend to have a child living with them. we have moved into a housing-first model. we believe, and i think you've heard some testimony that supports that that is a good move if we are going to end and eliminate homelessness among veterans. we've been doing more and more working with veterans that are in jails and prisons, and the court diversion program, stopping those veterans -- particularly younger veterans who are in the first time facing criminal offense charges -- to get the treatment that they need rather than incarceration will have some long-term dividends as well. and as i mentioned, the
supportive services for homeless veterans, the prevention mode is where we are going. that is the future of how we're going to stop and end homelessness among veterans. let me just give you in the first reporting cycle that we have as of december of this past year, the first report said that 6,291 participants, veterans and others participated in this, 3,400 veterans, 420 of whom who had served in oif, oef and ond, 545 women veterans, 15.6% of the veterans we're seeing in this program are women veterans, and over 2,700 children were getting this. as you know better than anyone and as we believe that holding that family together, getting them employment services, getting them the health care they need, getting them the benefits that they need, those pieces, keeping that family together so they never become homeless is the most important
piece. you had a witness previously who was talking about some of the difficulties she was having, and this is exactly what that program would be designed to do is to help that veteran before they became homeless to keep them out of homelessness or if they had just become homeless, to get them back into services. we appreciate what the committee has done, we appreciate what you and others have done. we realize that we're on a short time frame, and i would ask that chanel curry who's here give you an opportunity to tell you what her experience has been. >> hello, everyone, and i want to go ahead and thank you all for having me today. this is definitely an honor to be able to open up and talk about my testimony. um, i started off as a veteran, um, during operation iraqi freedom. i'm from cleveland, ohio, and, um, i joined the military in 2008. as i served, um, overseas and came back to the united states,
all, i suffered many difficulties finding employment. um, so i recently relocated to atlanta, georgia, because i had a job opportunity available for me almost immediately. so i relocated, and during my process of living in atlanta, georgia, a lot of different circumstances forced me to have to move back to cleveland, ohio, where i was originally stationed. coming back to cleveland, ohio, it was very hard to find a job, and so basically i bounced around if from different relatives' homes, different friends, and it just became definitely a burden because a lot of people that i knew suffered their own hardships, and no one could afford to accommodate another adult. so that forced me to have to contact the va, um, and i contacted the ohio coalition for the homeless, and i spoke to a
veteran by the name of william, and he directed me over to a female by the name of toni johnson. toni johnson is a representative of the women's homeless outreach program, and she herself actually opened up a lot of possibilities for me to get back on my feet. um, she, um, told me about the grant per diem program, and be, um, i lived in a homeless shelter, a women's homeless shelter known as the west side catholic center. and there, um, there were ore things -- other things that were available for me such as the employment connection. and i met with a representative by the name of angela cash. and she, basically, helped me to get a job at the cleveland clinic. so she offered me classes, um, computer training, basically everything that i needed to be able to be readily available for
work and, also, she had her own nonprofit organization known as the forever girls at heart which is a group of beautiful women who helped me get all of the things that i needed for my apartment. now, with that being said, i will be moving into my place as of friday if everything goes as planned. and i do have everything that i need. so the va definitely went above and beyond to make sure that i was not, that i did not remain a homeless veteran. >> thank you. very much for your testimony, and really appreciate that. mr. dougherty, we heard from ms. strickland on the first panel, she reached out to the va and was told there's no help, literally hung up with nothing, and we just heard ms. curry, obviously, a totally different story. with a no wrong-door policy, it's unacceptable that more help wasn't geffen to ms.-- given to ms. strickland and and others
like her. ms. curry, i wanted to ask you what was the turning point that led you to the va? >> actually, it was a very long time before the resources were really known to me. i had to do some research. i actually contacted military one source which is a very helpful resource who helps you, basically, get to a lot of different resources. um, but what led me to the va was the fact that i was just tired of being homeless. i was tired of not having a stable job and having to ask people for things, and i'm the type of person where i like to get everything on my own, so it was definitely a challenge for me. so i had to make an adult decision and go to a shelter where the program would be available for me. >> okay. mr. dougherty, both the gao and ig found that va has to improve the way that it serves homeless veterans, homeless women
veterans, especially those who have experienced military sexual trauma. i am deeply concerned about women veterans or any veteran, but women veterans being placed in a place with no privacy, no locks on doors, no locks on bedrooms. it just is implicit that that should be available. i understand that the department is developing this new gender-specific privacy, safety and security standard for facilities, and i want that done quickly, obviously, but i wanted to ask you, is that enough to make sure we have protection for women with, to make sure there's no registered sex offenders, are we following that? and especially for women who are victims of military sexual trauma, are we really making sure we're focused on those issues? >> senator, i clearly believe that we are moving in the direction. i think we have embraced the ig's report -- ms. pape and her staff are working very closely
on making those corrections. i would also say that one of the things that we have and we are asking the committee to do is to change the contract care authority requirement. currently, under law, you have to have a serious mental illness diagnosis in order to get contract residential care. and i think as the ig just said a few minutes ago, that one of the issues is in some small, some communities we may not have enough need to develop a whole program that's big enough to support a community program x. in those -- and in those places what we need is more flexibility in contracted residential care in order to make that work. >> okay. let me be very clear given the strong oversight that this committee work has done leading up just to this hearing, i think it's very clear we're going to be following this carefully, we want to make sure this is implemented, it's absolutely a top item for all of us. senator burr? >> thank you, chairman. mr. dougherty, just, one, i want to highlight the progress that
we have made. there were deficiencies in our structure as to how i think we attacked the homelessness problem within the va, and i think you've done a lot to move us in the right direction. recommendation. i think it's very important to maybe get on the phone with people like scott rogers. those community partners that you have that regardless of who looks at it, they sort of check all the boxes all the way around. to figure out what's missing in the va's strategy of how to look at this in a holistic way. scott's a pretty, he's a pretty assertive person. and i've seen flexibility from a va hospital that i didn't think was possible, and it may have to do with a great administrator,
it may have to do with a medical staff that understands how to save costs by treating early. i think scott would be the first to say they couldn't have accomplished what they had if they hadn't had the partner of that va hospital working outside the box on some of the problems. what i want to urge you to do and your entire staff is let's start thinking outside the box on solving this. the last thing on this committee that we're holding anybody to a standard is to live within the framework of what we've done in the past. if we do that, our expectations can't be any different than the results of the past. the secretary has stated he wants to end this. well, if we're going to end it, we're going to have to work with more partners who think more outside the box, who design things that may be even unique to their community. but it's going to resolve a partnership -- revolve a partnership with all aspects of
the va. i'm not sure that that buy-in exists today. if it does, it's because we've got a strong community partner that's consequenced the local entity to do it. it would be much more natural if, in fact, that was built into our model and pushed from within va and not just pushed or highlighted in the oversight process. so i challenge you, let's reach out to these folks, let's understand what they need, let's understand how we'll be successful and then work with us to try to incorporate those. again, i thank you. >> thank you very much. and we do have a series of votes that are called, and i have to get to the floor for part of that. i'm going to turn the gavel over to senator begich for the final comments, and i want to thank all of our witnesses and let you know that we are going to continue to follow up with this. we'll have more questions we're going to submit to you. senator begich, thank you. >> thank you very much, madam chair. i'll be very quick and i know, senator boozman, i'll try to be
very quick. i'll submit some for the record, i have several that i have, and i'll share that with you, but first i want to make sure just anytime we have these discussions i put on the record that i'm requesting especially in rural areas that we have additional hud and vash vouchers. as we know, veterans are moving more and more to rural areas, and there's a great need -- there's no place more rural than alaska, so i want to make sure that's clear. ..
that on a regular basis, are critiquing and adding information to not only on an ad hoc basis we call them up and say you know we have gotten a call from the senator and now we need to respond but that are really looking at it and the second part of this question is, is there a model that says, may be in this arena the role of the va is really a granting agency and we are going to be grant administrator's and we are going to have folks in the private sector, non-private sector and potentially the for-profit sector depending on what services are needed, that will then connect to these things? i use it as an example. in our state it seems to be a successful model. any comments on that? >> in both the national
advisory, we also have a meeting process that occurs to each va medical center and that is an opportunity for community service providers, local governments and veterans themselves to come. i have been to a couple of those meetings myself and that really is meeting the local needs of the local community, looking at the local strengths and weaknesses within the local community and to develop a local plan on how to address those needs. the other, inmate is actually correct and that is what we are doing in a going forward way as more and more what we are doing is going out to the community. all of the prevention effort is community. >> if i can say one more quick thing and i know, i appreciate that and that is great and i guess i want to do some additional follow up with regards to that but with regards the model that i mentioned, you
have some caps within their sum for direct dollars and so much for direct administration. as a former mayor and person, almost 30 years ago, 25 years ago i had to manage grants, we put our official catholic that in there they are artificial because they are based on modeling that someone did in some room, we restrict the innovation of the nonprofit. why have those caps? these caps are a problem. the program is successful in not allowing them to expand a little bit and trying to make this 30% number. why not just eliminate the cap to look at the success of the program instead? and if you answer yes, let me tell you the answer should be next, you should do that immediately. >> the model if you will was taken after what was done on community experience with the
1,200,000 urban development and what we try to do is we try to give some perspective of what we thought we wanted to achieve with it. i can tell you that obviously in a going forward way, we are always looking at what those needs are and what people are giving us back in feedback, so there may well be some changes and additional flexibility coming forward. >> that is the answer, flexibility in the caps would be great because what works at hud may not work at va and what works in new york will definitely not work in alaska. i guarantee you that. let me, in order -- senator brown i will go right to you. spare will be brief. and a senator boseman has questions he wants to get to but i know the fact for fact that we have -- a success story where va helped to and on the other panel. what that shows is a lack of consistency and we obviously have to make sure we have more
so that is my statement there. mr. doughtery, how is va working to improve the data collected so the va in congress have information that will effectively allocate the resources to insure all ensure all veterans receive the needed resources is based on the gao report saying the information is lacking? >> either one. >> we have been collecting data on homeless veterans for over 20 years now. what we have done to really enhance and a lax -- last several years as rollover into an electronic system and enhancing the kind of data that we are asking for so there are more questions related to people's experience, their medical issues, their housing issues, prior and leaving the program. but what really is, what we are shooting for is connecting with the community and aligning our data collection system with the
homeless management information system and the continuance of care so that we have a coordinated and integrated collection system to look at what veterans are entering both the va and the community and capacity. bed capacity and things like that. >> i applaud for the record, i am actually in a government regs hearing in the next building so i am trying to be two places at once which usually doesn't work well so i appreciate your patience, just so you understand what i'm up to today and i rose concern and seeing the women in particular took an average of four months before securing hud housing with the gdp program so what is being done to ensure that these women veterans receive a referral for temporary housing and a more timely manner? either of you. >> thank you, sir. we already have a policy in place in which all medical centers have to have a referral system in place to either house
veterans in one of their inpatient beds or residential beds, or have a partnership and the community to house a female veteran or any veteran within at least three days of finding them in a shelter. obviously we heard that there needs to be some improvement through the ig and we are working with their medical centers to continue coordinating to do more contract residential housing to have those opportunities for every veteran on every side. >> to quick follow-ups and i will refer back. how do we make sure that the veterans centers getting the assistants are actually homeless number one and number two, senator begich i have an interest in this, how do we make sure the veterans have access to grants per diem roe grandson underserved areas and how these align with the va spending priorities? >> one of the things that we
have maura squire with the veterans administration, one of the first things we have to do is improve the identification as the person who is making contact with us. then the question is how do we make sure that the person who is coming to us is indeed in need of services and really in need of services and not just a low income person for example. that has to be done by having people who can make the assessment and do the assessment and in fact the veteran and also that there is an assessment made, what services are appropriate for the veteran to receive. that is a process that does take a little bit of time and one of the things that we do ask for is to have more staff like maura who can make that assessment being better and eligible for services. >> thank you for coming and anyone in my office feel free --
we have to take our veterans issues very seriously and we actually have a wall in our office covered with letters thanking us for helping with housing in benefits and cutting through the red tape and that is the biggest challenge. mr. chairman, thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman. just real quickly, thank you ms. curry for being here again. he put a face on the person to the statistic and that is so important. we appreciate you taking the time to come and tell your story. i think that the ig report is very disturbing in the sense that in regard to the safety and security of women in some of these facilities and especially some of them having similar problems or you know potential problems in and their deployment or whatever.
but you know i think i can speak for all of the committee. we are -- congress in general, we are very concerned and certainly we have got to figure out -- i guess my question would be is there any congressional tools that we need to give you? is there any way the committee can help you in regards to dealing with that or do you need any initial legislation, any additional whatever? >> well we have several legislative issues and we are bringing them before the committee. one is to get more benefits, staff so we can make sure that veterans get timely benefits because what happens in the stories you are hearing, many of the veterans that were interacting with they get access to benefits quicker and faster whether its benefits to get them back into education or vocational rehabilitation services or employment related services, those things are very important. just the identification because some don't have veterans papers if you well when they are first
going in. the other is the prevention. >> i don't mean to interrupt but what is the turnaround time as far as the advocation? >> in the grand per diem program, we are under the guidance is says within three days we have to verify his veteran status. that is what our standard is. that is statutorily provided for. it is oftentimes difficult for us to make that determination as quickly as needs to be done in that program. >> alright. >> the other programs, clearly senator i've been doing this for a long time and the issue for us is what we need to do to stop the inflow into inflow on i'm convinced is going to be most effectively taking care of by working with community providers across the nation who have the flexibility and the independence to work in ways that we inside
government can't do and they have the flexibility to do things that we in government can't do as well. we give them that permission to do that because as senator begich points out and certainly i know your state, the difference is in the states of arkansas and alaska are different but they are very different from the states of rhode island and new york. and so we have to have program flexibility that gives those local community providers the ability to stop veterans from ever becoming homeless and going through the indignity of that experience. >> very good, thank you mr. chairman and thank you for your hard work, all of you. >> thank you very much and i have one note to end on and i will submit more detail. i just want to state the question and you can answer that a later time. that is with housing and homeless veterans in dealing with mental health services, in alaska and this is a very alaska centered question on mental
health, a health consortium and behavior health dates it seems to me why replicate a system in there already is one in arra area that may be the va can tap into to coordinator resource allocation to make it happen? that is the question i'm going to submit and i want you to kind of think about that. again, how do we make one and maximize and that is the question. let mehgan thank the witnesses of both panels for sharing their personal stories, their experience. we appreciate each of you being here, being part of this panel. we have reached the halfway point with secretary shinseki's plan to end homelessness. we have more work to do and we acknowledge that in this committee will be the oversight necessary in a conversation back and forth from providers and also people who are experiencing it and to understand what more we can do. again the committee looks forward to working on this issue now and into the future. the record will be kept open for questions for the next week so i anticipate --
complicated story that i don't think people know of two very complicated people, and robert kennedy and lyndon johnson. i had to really go into that and try to explain it has its told in the story all the way through the end of his presidency at that time and i suppose chronologically at the moment johnson is passing the 1965 voting rights act. that is sort of one way we are -- now. >> now a discussion about the u.s. policy role in afghanistan and pakistan. military analyst anthony cordesman criticizes the 2014 transition plan a former state department deputy director and
says her military strategy has worked better recently. they were joined by the former u.s. ambassador to afghanistan. this event from the center for strategic and international studies is about an hour. >> good morning. my name is robert lamb and i'm the director of the program on crisis and conflict. thanks to all of you for coming this morning. i want to start by thanking finmeccanica for making this entire day possible. i would like to request that you all please silence your cell phones so we are not interrupted during what i think will be a lively interview section -- session. we will be live tweeting this event from csis underscore or so if you see anthony cordesman playing with a cell phone that is because he is tweeting the entire event. following the panel we will take
questions from the audience but please wait for the microphone to come to you because we are, we are livestreaming this over the internet and we want to make sure everybody can hear your questions. when you do get the microphone, please identify yourself and phrase your question as a question. please don't give any speeches. keep your questions limited. lunch will be served during the third session beginning at 12:30 this session and at 12:15. a little bit about our program. the program in crisis conflict and cooperation, used to be called the post-conflict reconstruction project. we are now in our tenth year at csis during a time in the field is changed fairly dramatically. 10 years ago after 9/11, there was a lot of hope about the reconstruction in afghanistan and iraq.
we have had quite a lot of experiences with post-conflict reconstruction and we have found it's time to rethink where we are in the field and where we have come. a lot of what we do in our program looks at development and in governance in particular and in crisis conflict areas particularly as the risks, challenges and opportunities for cooperation exists. i am thrilled today to be sharing the stage with three distinguished panelists, anthony cordesman to my immediate left the arleigh burke chair in strategist at csis. he is the defense department distinguished service medal list. he participated in the 2009 afghanistan review and has been quite a bit of advising on the conflict in afghanistan, iraq and many other places as well. going back many years, his service to the field of strategy
goes back all the way to vietnam. [laughter] he has studied probably every majors to teach at issue that has arisen him everything from energy to nuclear to middle east, and we are looking forward to his comments today on afghanistan and pakistan. dr. kori schake is joined as a well. she is currently at hoover and formerly taught at west point hopkins school of international studies and the university of maryland school of public policy where she and i both got our ph.d.. during the bush administration she was at the department of state and the office of policy planning and also the national security council, where she advised on defense issues including entry coordination and working with our allies in afghanistan and iraq. and finally, all the way to my left we have ambassador neumann former ambassador to algeria,
bahrain and afghanistan and spent a good deal of time in baghdad, advising on political affairs and a number of other issues. he was once the deputy assistant secretary of news affairs in the state department and is a published author and very well-known expert on all things having to do with the subject of talking about today. i thank all of you for being here. it's very easy to be pessimistic about the situation in afghanistan and the transition in afghanistan and the u.s. relationship with pakistan. clearly in both countries there are problems with corruption and problems with relations between civilian and military hearts of government. there is a good deal of violence in those countries, some related to insurgency, some more terroristic in nature. strange relationships between
government officials and various maligned actors and organize criminal warlords and commanders. it's a very challenging environment to work in. and pakistan the united states -- broke down pretty severely and here we are nearly a year later and we are still struggling to redefine that relationship. it somewhat harder to be optimistic about the situation in both countries, but seeing the situation as completely hopeless is not particularly helpful as we are trying to figure out how to move the situation of those countries forward. in afghanistan, with we observe 10 years ago the country was essentially a theocracy and say what you will about the state of the government and the economy both of which are bad. they are at least not taliban that. there are a number of former warlords and combatants who are
participating in the afghan political process and not necessarily still as combatants in the civil war as they happen in the past. that is not to say they might not again be in the future but there is participation and the political processes information so political parties. generally speaking, there are, there has been progress in the cities, probably more than and many of the rural areas there are some rights and stability in market activities that have not been seen in afghanistan in a long time. again, that might not be sustainable. that could collapse fairly quickly as history has shown us but we do need to acknowledge the progress that has been made. importantly most afghans probably did do not want the country and a class of civil war and they would prefer their government would work in the military be strong enough to defend the country and protect them without participating in a
civil civil war. these are some of the, some of the observations we can make that could potentially be built upon for the future but again it's all tenuous. in pakistan, most pakistanis probably do not want the military to take over the civilian government again. the civilian government is likely to complete its full term for the first time in some decades. the judiciary is increasingly independent and self confident and civil societies increasingly confident even in the face of a great deal of intimidation from militants and extremists. there has been some governance reform that separated powers of the local level and established a requirement for local elections. these have not been fully implemented and is not entirely clear when they will be but at the very least they have put in place some incentives and some framework for reform in the future. most importantly in pakistan, there are a lot of pakistanis who also want their government to function well and would
prefer that there not be support to militant groups and terrorists operating within their borders. now you can fill the strategy on the optimism and you cannot fill the strategy on pessimism. need to build the strategy on a realistic understanding of the facts on the ground and what is actually possible. in pakistan, it probably is not useful for us to disengage. the more we disengage with pakistan, the less influence we will have their and they already have very little influence on pakistan's domestic politics and quality of governance for that matter. so the challenges, how can we marginalize those within the pakistani government, military intelligence services who are anti-american, to take more militant views or hard-line views about the use of violence and outside of pakistan? how can pakistan's many moderates and reformers and
democrats be supported? what can the united states do to make sure that they are not marginalized within pakistan? in afghanistan, there are questions about government and political government. it's an extremely difficult situation, as we all know. the government is often seen by many analysts, particularly here in the united states, as being one of the main roadblocks on the instability in afghanistan. it's not necessarily the case that we can depend on the afghani government to be able to hold the country together to not be corrupt and build up a relationship with the people. with afghanistan is the kind of system that we don't necessarily understand how to analyze, but there is a least an academic term for it, sort of a hybrid political system, which means there is a formal government that structures and overall system of service provision in that country but the formal government is merely the skeleton of that system.
in formal actors, tribal and ethnic leaders, organized criminal insurgents and the various other individuals in afghanistan are at the flash, muscles and sometimes the tumors on that system. collectively, they make up a hybrid system in afghanistan to the degree we think that we are going to try to get the government of afghanistan to have a monopoly on governance and violence in afghanistan. i think we are probably fooling ourselves. that is a long-term project, probably generations over the next two years afghanistan will continue. afghanistan will certainly continue to be a hybrid system so the question as to what degree can reshape that hybrid system so that it is stable, so there is not increasing violence and there is not economic and political collapse in afghanistan? i have asked our speakers to talk about their views of some of the most important risks that
we face and both afghanistan and pakistan. on what they think of the most important u.s. interests in both countries, and what changes they think need to be made in the current approach. so i'm going to step down and let them -- left and give you all of their views and i think i will start with tony cordesman. you are welcome to sit or stand as you like. >> thanks very much. i would like to talk specifically about the risks in transition, and let me preface this with two points. first, it is by no means clear that if we can't achieve most of our goals, afghanistan somehow comes back under taliban control. at it may well divide. we need to remember that for all the problems that are within,
the taliban and other insurgent groups, they are relatively limited and strength and coverage. they are structures and ethnic groups. what may well happen is afghanistan reverts to something close to what it used to be, a capital with a group of various ethnic and sectarian and geographic groupings. and if that happens, you think that it's also important to note that as countries go, particularly in today's natural climate, this is not a country of great strategic importance to the united states. we are not in it the coast of cousin of the strategic importance. we are in it because of a given point in time it was the center of a movement that conducted successful terrorist attacks on the united states. whatever happens, for all the talk of a new -- this is not going to be an area of the major economic importance to the west, to china comes to
russia, and the countries in the region may be. there are many other centers of extremism of al qaeda now, emerging as one probably are going to be more serious threats and in fact pakistan is much more the center of al qaeda today then afghanistan. but let me go back to 2009 and say, where are we on the road to transition of what i think will happen and do it very quickly? we had i think unrealistic hopes on the part of some that we could deal with the problems of corruption and effectiveness in the afghan government. we will not make success all of the objectives that were formerly on the table are not going to happen by 2014. and this is not a reflection on president karzai. it is part of a very broad
system of competing powerbrokers, of people struggling for money, struggling for influence and struggling for security. we will obtain more civil servants, but i enlarge, afghanistan is not going to meet the goals that we said set in the afghan compact and the bodies which deal with corruption are almost uniformly ineffective and when they become an effective ineffective, and either end up with scapegoats or end up in being disbanded. whether that matters are not is a real issue. i suspect that as the money goes -- grows weaker and smaller, corruption will revert to a more affordable pattern. we are not going to deal with the insurgent sanctuaries in pakistan. it is brutally clear that whatever our hopes were, that pakistan would turn against these insurgencies. pakistan will focus on its own
internal security issues. we can talk, we can meet, we can get occasional cooperation, but the haqqani group and the various forms of groups of the taliban are not going to be somehow pushed out. unless there is some kind of unanticipated peace settlement, the sanctuaries and pakistan in 2014 and 2015 will be very much what they are today. that creates a massive challenge to security. are transition plans for the afghan national security forces is frankly not a plan. roughly a year ago we were talking about expenditure levels of $79 billion a year from 2020 for the afghan national security forces, a force of over 300,000 to put roughly 40% would be five
different police forces and this is an important distinction because it's often confused with an army. we are now talking about $4.4 billion a year after transition, having cut our fy13 request roughly in half from what we spend in fy12. we are talking about going down to 230,000. none of us really know what this means, and this focus on manpower numbers ignores the fact that when it comes down to transferring responsibility, both within the ministries, according to the department of defense reporting, and in the training force, we have not yet been able to put together the structure to provide sustainability, the skilled elements of a force structure has distinguished from battalion elements. within the police, we have a
pattern of corruption, local influence, which is going to be the pattern of corruption and local influence when we leave. we have a peace negotiation. if you go onto the web on to thb site for the taliban, you will find that they declare that the peace negotiation is victory, that they have one and basically we are forced to concede and we are talking to them because they want to. that is not usually a prelude to a smooth compromise an effective transition out of the military position, and i think that one has to remember what happened in cambodia when we ended up with a kinder, gentler poll pot taking over what has happened closer in nepal. pushing too hard for peace to quickly creates two problems. one is, you may empower the opposition, the insurgents in the process. the other is, no one knows what
to plan for. if we don't know whether there will be a negotiation or it will be successful, how do you plan transition at any level? when we talk about u.s. force cuts, it's important to note that we never build up to the u.s. force levels that were called for in the original mcchrystal plan and we have already built down far more than we had originally planned to build down. similarly, we never have the number of civilians that were called for in the strategy. whether that is critical or not is not yet clear, but i think that the plans we had at the start of last year for holding on to the south and moving into the east are not tenable with the forces we are going to have left. the rate of reduction in the course of the period between june and september of this year is going to create major problems. in terms of afghan presence and
structure, as we look at the real power structure, we still have a question, can we have a successful election at the same year we are in transition? if so, who will the leader be? will it really matter? we often worry about the quality of the election for the afghan legislature, but nobody can really explain to me what it does aside from consume assets. the constitution that we left basically gives the president power over virtually all of the revenues, and that leaves provinces and districts with a structure that is inherently week. the last time i looked, and we we were at about 25% of the goal for afghan officials in the field that we had planned in 2009. whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is hard to measure. some people would argue that
these are enough. when you look at the pressure that is coming from outsiders on what happens as we leave, we don't yet know that we are seeing a step up in iranian activities and we certainly do not see a pakistan which has abandoned its goal of making afghanistan strategic depth. whether india has changed its goals is another issue. what is truly striking is the absolute lack of commitment so far on the part of china or russia, both innate and any other kind of active presence. the most the russia has done a support us in obtaining power projection. in terms of the actual fight, let me just make a comment about what i have seen. there are two sources of reporting on afghan security that are unclassified and efficient. one is a report by the department of defense called the
1230 report, the semiannual report. another is a report by the special inspector general for afghan reconstruction. two years ago, those reports are bided data on areas of insurgent influence, areas where the afghan government was or was not becoming more effective, maps of where aid was being spent, a whole series. all of them are no longer in the reports. what we see today is a set of measures which bear a striking resemblance to what happened in vietnam. we don't talk about insurgent influence. we talk about insurgent significant incidence and insurgent in initiating the attacks. now strangely enough, we pretend
to win by those criteria. they don't take on our conventional forces and when, so the numbers become very favorable relative to the peak fighting of 2010, and that is exactly what happened in vietnam. we almost never lost a tactical clash and of course it almost never mattered, because what did count was influence, the growth of the ability to control or intimidate the population, something we no longer report upon. it is very disturbing to me as we head into transition, that we do this. that we do not provide meaningful measures on where the fighting is or the progress we are making or the areas of insurgent influence. after 50 odd years of working with u.s. government, wherever
you see a massive drop in transparency, it is not a sign of success. and let me just close with the economics of transition. if you go back to the long conference -- rahn conference, a whole group of reforms it has been promising for the last six years. in return for that, it asks for between 10 and $20 billion in a year in aid through 2020. it did not describe how that aid would be spent and the figures were taken almost verbatim from world bank study on transition, which is the same study that the u.s. is using to the extent we have a transition plan. there is a little problem. the world bank estimate of the afghan economy is approximately
half the estimate used by the state department and by the cia. and this just illustrates the almost total disconnect in the level of economic data we have. we don't know basically where our money goes. we know how much we appropriate, but we have no accounting system to say exactly where the spending goes inside afghanistan and we have no formal measures of effectiveness as to what the aid rogue ramsar. please don't misunderstand. i think we have accomplished a great deal with roads, with water and individual aid projects. but if you look at these numbers as we going to go into the economics of transition, we have spent since this war began, 10 times the highest estimate of the afghan domestic gdp over the same 10 year period.
as that money goes down, we risk a recession or a depression of major proportions. and we do not have any credible form, the most basic data on the afghan population, the afghan economy or exactly what we have been doing with aid money and exactly who it has gone too. thank you. >> thank you. kori. >> hello. i disagree with a couple of tony's judgments and i guess that is where i was there. i'm going to focus my comments on the risks and maybe we can pick up mitigating factors and that conversation. the first place i think i differ with tony's judgment, does seem to me that the military piece of what we are doing in afghanistan is going better than i think to tony. the problem for me is that the
military piece of it never has meshed with other elements of the strategy and those things are essential to us being able to capitalize on the gains that the military is making. we have never had that right in afghanistan and now with the clock ticking down to 2014, some of the essential bargains that we made in afghanistan i think need to be revisited in order for the transition not to simply result in something we are not going to like a whole lot better than we like to the 2001 version of afghanistan. the first big thing i think we are not doing is investing in rethinking the structure of the electoral system and the distribution of political power in afghanistan. there is a terrific posting on shadow government today that looks at the choices that we make, which of them are inherent
in the constitutional structure of afghanistan, which of them are simply political bargains that we made, and one of the things that really strikes me about the governance structures that the united states endorse both in iraq and afghanistan is the centralized nature of control, and that is so out of character with a country that has all of the vibrant state and local challenges of the federal authority, that at least we believe the basic reason we do it is because it's easier for us to manage it that way. you put somebody in charge, you help them have authority over the country, but that is as camillo points out a terrible match for the cultural politics of afghanistan and essentially what we have done is allowed the afghan political elite to carry over the constitution from an
afghan -- and karzai is currently invested in those powers. there there is not original balance to it, there's not a parliamentary balance to it as tony pointed out. it seems to me and it time we have remaining, that focusing on the structure of governance where changes might be made to the structure of governance, to provide for a more pluralistic and representative in afghanistan someplace we have to be investing an awful lot of time and attention, because if president karzai honors the -- that he will not run again in 2014, there is a real opportunity for bringing forward a generation of political leadership and putting in place structures and practices that will make afghanistan a lot better than afghanistan currently is and they can begin to reconnect the people of afghanistan with a government that they have lost faith in, and their loss of faith in their government is a huge impediment
to our capacity to carry out a strategy. a second risk that i think i see, and this is the second place i think i differ with tony. it seems to me that afghanistan does have the potential to revert to the 2001 afghanistan if we don't play the endgame right and in particular, if we applied and game that the obamas administration applied in iraq, i mean that is just a recipe for an afghanistan that reinforces the al qaeda narrative. this is their big victory. 10 years we have achieved nothing in there and control of the country. why wouldn't al qaeda make that essential made worldwide operation, because it would heed the narrative that we have spent so much time and so much effort trying to pull up by the roots. and to substitute with a narrative that it's about us
having a positive vision for the country, but ultimately it's certainly a battle for security, but it's also a battle of narratives and who has an idea that afghans will buy into? another risk i see is that we are about to convince ourselves several things about america's ability to change and influence the world, and whether it's worth it to do it. then i think feels to me a lot like the end of vietnam, that it's too hard and they don't actually deserve our help. they are fighting against us as well as they are fighting with us, that our ideas and values are not something that they share, and that it's actually too expensive and too hard to try and create this. while i'm actually sympathetic
to a lot of the gumption behind that, because it is really hard, and fighting and winning these kinds of wars is confusing and contradictory and hard to know if you are make in progress and very often you only know far in retrospect when the victors in the country you are trying to affect tell their story. that said, if we allow ourselves to begin to believe those things, that leads us to vice president biden's counterterrorism strategy. you just kill bad guys wherever you can find bad guys and you don't try and solve childhood nutrition, improve the quality of governance and in my judgment, one of the main reasons the united states can perpetuate is -- has perpetuated
its global power is because most people in the world than most countries in the world actually want us to succeed. countries and people don't actually work very hard against what we are trying to advance in the world very often, and that is a huge positive element of american strategy, and if we stopped being something more than our military might, the likelihood of other people wanting us to succeed and helping us succeed drops dramatically. values actually, trying -- not caring about whether you know 10 years ago there were 10,000 afghan girls in school and now there are 10 million. excuse me, there 2.6 million afghan girls in school and that creates a different afghanistan in the long run. and we are about to convince ourselves that that stuff doesn't matter, we can't do it and they don't want it.
that seems to me likely to cause as a whole lot of problems in the coming two decades. another risk i see in the endgame of afghanistan is that if we adopt this approach, if we decide it's unwinnable and by the way it's too expensive and too hard to do, it makes it much more difficult to get cooperation for other things we want to do because after all, if afghanistan is a place where you know, the first attack on american territory in the last 50 years comes from and we don't bother to see that one through to a proper finish, one that secures the hour -- then why would other countries that we are trying to persuade to do what is in our interest have any belief that all that we are going to see it through to where they and we benefit from it. and perhaps the country that is most important to persuade in this regard is pakistan for
reasons tony alluded to and that i think are self-evident. another risk i think that is internal to the american logic on this is that whole of government operations is really hard and we are not very good at it and we are about to convince ourselves that we can't do this. that our military does a good job at nobody else is good at their job and we need a strategy that, where the military gains hard way down by failures in our diplomacy in our development and other things. again, sympathetic to the -- american diplomats and american development workers aren't nearly as capable as they could be. but that is not because they are either stupid or ill meaning. it's because we don't invest enough professionalism and the way we ask professionalism of the american military. we need to fix that with the structural fix. it's not impossible and in fact this is all over the country.
the military succeeds with this. we can fix this. we just haven't and we are looking at the consequences of having it which is that our military success outpaces our capacity to capitalize on it in diplomatic and economic terms. but the solution to that is and falling back to the strategies that don't have constituent elements of diplomatic and development and other aspects. it is making herself as a military success. and another risk that tony very rightly pointed out is that the afghan national security forces cannot do what we expect them to do. this seems to me very much an open question and while i see positive signs, for me the most significant one most recently was the comparison of the studies that american military about green and blue attacks in
afghanistan and the one that the afghan army did. the american military says the american military does wonderfully and endearingly well. it critiques what we could do better, right? what is included is that we need to be more sensitive. when he should be more knowledgeable, we need to be more respectful of the afghans and i'm sure all of us do, but it is a problem that focuses on us as a solution. the afghan army also did a study and what they found was that the majority of green-on-blue attacks occurred, the perpetrators of them, their families are living in pakistan so that tells you something about their commitment to afghanistan and it tells you something about the potential for hostagetaking and it tells you something about the likelihood of radical invasion. not only do they identify those factors, but they also have
requiring all afghan soldiers to have their families living in afghanistan so they not only identified the problem, they identified solutions and brought them into effect. that suggest to me that the afghan national security forces are perhaps better than any other they give them credit for. that for me is an important sign. that said, to the extent that our military operation still depend so heavily on night raids, i think there's a real question whether afghans, when they are in the rear ship are going to be willing to do this in the way we have done this. i am quite taken aback in general allen's testimony a couple of weeks ago that he mentioned that we have conducted 2200 night raids in the course of the last year, and he also said that 82% of them captured their intended target and that only 1.5% of those raids
resulted in civilian casualties. that is a very admirable thing, but that means that at least 330 times a year afghan civilians are being killed in the conduct of night raids. that is almost a death a day or several deaths a day over the course of the year. that is understandable to me why it's difficult for them to sustain an understandable to me that when it its afghans conducting the threats they will have a much more difficult time buildings political support for that so to the extent our strategy depends heavily on that it seems to me trouble medic. two last quick points. first, i think we are at risk of adopting a strategy where we cross team failed states and i would want to be a lot more confident in our ability to play defense before i would shift
their strategy that way. it does seem to me that given the abdulmutallab bomb threat at 2009, suggest to me that we want to have a layered defense and we want to be a lot better if the defense so before we start to shift their strategy that way. and lastly, perhaps the biggest risk of all of the trajectory we are on in afghanistan is that we are reinforcing pakistan's paranoia about us abandoning them, but india taking over in afghanistan, better fundamental hostility to their security interests, and we really ought to over the course of the next 18 months find a way to deal with that if we want an end state in afghanistan that we are going going to feel achieves our security interest. >> thank you, kori. >> i have learned over time as
many have you have is when the speaker says i only have a few things to say or her will be brief you should understand this is a statement in faith and not a fact and settle back in your chair. nevertheless i'm going to try to be actually at nine minutes. afghanistan is not going well. you have heard a lot about that and you see a lot about it in the press. it is also an incredibly complicated situation and the result of that for analytical purposes is that it's very convenient for cherry-picking. those who consider it everything impossible and ones should leave can find ample evidence to support the conclusion. those who say the strategy is going well will put a different array of facts. the battling goes back and forth and positions get harder but not wiser. it is very difficult to get out of this because it is so complex that those who study at or visited as they begin to develop
positions cannot most invariably find the examples to support their position they take and maintaining an open mind in this kind of situation is extraordinarily difficult, frankly. that perhaps makes it useful to think about a few basics, but not to the exclusion of all the complexities. to my mind, there are two big categories of risk to us strategically in afghanistan. one is a premature departure means to a civil war. i don't think it leads to taliban reconquest but i do think it leads to a civil war, and in fact very many afghans are talking about a civil war today and thinking about how they would conduct themselves and positioning themselves. nobody's going to start a civil
war tomorrow why we are there, but the amount of discussion about the civil war when i went -- back in 2010 and march of 2011 and the amount of talk increased by march of 2011 had become sort of common wisdom by the end of that year. that civil war would draw in all of the usual suspects, iran, pakistan, russia, india and it would go one for a very long time. take lebanon as an illustration in.. a smaller country. they were the external players who are less capable overall than those in afghanistan. that civil war has the potential to destabilize a large part of central asia. it is also going to drop pakistan and i think because they're few will be that they cannot allow