this is a little under an hour. [applause] >> thanks, nancy and to the pritzker library for having me here. thank you all for coming out. i know your friends are probably at the lake right now. it's an amazing day. i'm going to read a bit from my new book, a section that takes place in d.c. at the bethesda naval hospital and then also at a dinner later that same day for women soldiers, and i might potter and randall but more and just talk a bit about writing in the military, which i've done a bit of. i like doing more of it though. all they really want to do is hang out with my baby and talk
about my baby, but i'm not going to do that tonight. somewhere between elizabeth and prince and i looked at my speedometer and realized i was going 120 miles per hour. in mind i had been back in the desert driving a humvee with fire everywhere, me driving with my left hand, mike and 16 in the right, they're all out the window and letting loose. i didn't care who or what i get. now let the engine shops speed slowly. on the shoulder ahead of me a guy change the tire on his truck. my first thought was a vehicle borne explosive device. but i saw the wife and child holding hands at the rear of the vehicle. they waved. the man were dirty coveralls and in black and white it could've been a scene out of a novel that would have been steinbeck. people driving be up cars i thought someone should write a
dissertation. my right hand gripped the gear shifter where the pistol gripped. there were a pistol grip on my life, and my rifle, sorry. but i had no ammunition on the root of bethesda and the target's remained unclear. i poured water over my head and blessed the radio. i took the speedometer back up to 90. i thought of again kids missing limbs in bethesda. well what i say? i made it to bethesda and somehow in the labyrinth sound office that i needed to find. a naval officer from the bethesda media team arrived to escort me to the injured marine floor. i made plans with the marines to meet up with them later at the dinner in d.c.. as they walked out my first impulse was to bolt. i hadn't been to the hospital since my brother died. i knew this mill, the sounds, the antiseptics and the low sound of machines that give and
take life. i knew the heartbeat of a hospital floor holding so many lives in fine balance. i did not belong here. i would wreck the balanced. but i wasn't the climb of the day for me to leave was not the plan. the naval officer showed me into the room where a mother bent over her young marine son. he had arrived few days before. they were not sure the kid would live. least earlier he'd taken a sniper round to the floor head. he blinked when his mother spoke to him. but he could plant for only a few hours a day. i remember the family was from a high yield. someone from the naval media team asked me to sign a copy of "jarhead" for the kid. i wrote it out to tommy or tammie or whatever his name was knowing he would never read it. his mother was overly polite. she took the book from me and smiled and said she would read it to him and i thought jesus, please read the kids something with more hope, not my bleak book. what are you going to give a mother from ohio to read over the death that her 19-year-old
son, i thought. i walked out of the room with my brain hurt. i was short of breath and thursday. i got called away for a moment and asked me to stand by. ahead of me in the hall i saw a man in his 50s leaning against the wall outside a patient room. he wore a red t-shirt that said marine that. he was big and he once fit a football player somewhere in the midwest i guess. i approached him. excuse me, sir, can i ask you a few questions, i said. who are you, son? a former marine officer right away, vietnam, 68 to 70i could see it in his eyes. i'm a former marine and writer, i said, and i'm just here on the ward to listen to stories to see how the marines are doing. who are you visiting? my boy, he said, and he pointed at the sweatshirt and looked at me as though i were stupid. he continued, he is in surgery right now, below the knee on one leg, above the knee on the other ones it all shakes out.
some, i was in vietnam. i saw a lot of men died i spent three weeks. i never saw men injured so hamas leader. the boys are read it to shreds. going his remand you will see. and look at all the mothers. i'm one of the only fathers of here because the fathers are back at home earning money or they've never been around. i'm lucky. my time in the court was an executive at a bank. i retired a year ago. i got pensions, i can afford to pull here and look out for my son. i can do this for the rest of my life. but look at the mothers, he said. some of them are married. but you know of the story. some of them come from broken poor homes come single mothers. these women felt they were going to refashion themselves after 50, live new and dazzling adventures. but they will be with their sons the rest of their lives. he put his hand on my shoulder and asked me to look out for any marine i ever could. a woman approached. she had clutched copies of a
newspaper article to our chest. this is the article the rams and yesterday in the paper, she said. it's a touching. size and they captured his soul. the woman began to cry and the marine that comforted her. may i give you one of these? yes, ma'am i said. i grasped the article, the front page story with a colorful flow from wednesday's paper in cleveland or cincinnati or wherever. this woman and her son's bedside, the sun in mobile, oxygen mask, legs in traction, the boy barely visible beneath the decay of medical material. who are you with, she asked. just then my minders are rife and introduce me to the woman. she asked for a signed book, and i gave her one. she told me a week or so before wolfowitz had been on the floor but she was more excited to meet me. the woman told me to care her son received was top-notch and the support staff had been wonderful. i glanced at the photo of her
son on the newspaper. he's a sweet boy, she said. the marine that walked away. the woman looked at me and said i had before him his sun has a small wound. losing your leg is a small wound. i will never be able to truly understand the depth of the disparity marines and families are suffering. i spent a short time at the entry point of this calamity. at the end where the bombs blew and rifles shattered bodies, where the war hog's sometimes fired on on friendly trips and i totally forgot about this end, the sick and come the destroyed end, the utter ruin of families. may i hug you, the woman asked? yes, of course. i felt awkward but i couldn't say no, could i? she had me tight and gripped me for life, for the memory of her son had been, young, clean shaven, of course i was none of these things that she would never hugged her son while he stood upright. she went into my shoulder.
the linus lost her family, icecaps melted. how could we go on? she looked on to my eyes and a wildly erratic way, her face full of tears. she was attractive in that high school library in way and considered handsome, that's what she was and sturdy and she possessed an orderly smell of all good mothers. her son would be fine. he would never walk and he might not talk that he would have his mother and somehow they would both notice and be well. this couldn't have been true but it is what i told myself then come and it is the same lie that other americans have been telling themselves for a decade and we believe this because we have to. the nurses and orderlies swam around us a nice warm of the green and blue scruggs. from every room came the nauseating songs of protest that it decreases the nation, the beginning of altered lives. one of them grabbed me at the elbow and ushered me on to another room. the visitor's chair is in the room set an extremely old woman and a girl that couldn't have an
older than ten. they wore colorful indigenous clothing that shouted bolivia. the young girl had a smile was as incongruous as her dress. minders introduce me to the marine. he was an infantry staff sergeant and had been blown up in a convoy. both of his legs were in tractions. he said i'm free to walk again, man, i'm going to walk. his face had burns from him in trouble. he said my guys got blown up, but i live, you know, i lived. i got blown up and i will appear in this bed. how many days later? i don't even know. i was having a dream in the philippines like a little island, and i was there with my platoon, but i opened my eyes and looked at the end of the bed and there is sitting my grandmother and my niece. i haven't seen anyone from bolivia in 14 years, since i left. and i think well, i guess i died in baghdad and here i am having with my grandmother and my niece. but then i think we, they aren't
dead. how can they be dead? and they walked up to my side and said you are alive. the grand other hugged me suspiciously and the little girl continued her intends beautiful smile. i loved the core, the surgeon said. he blew up in baghdad and before he woke up in the u.s. to bring my grandma and my niece. i have to admit i was totally impressed. all i want to do is go back and fight again. fight for my dead brother's. i could see she was slightly built up and it looked as though he got shot up again in his eye v. he went away and we beat, and wondering. where do they take his brain? back to the desert in the philippine islands, the west shangri-la not unlike the local promised land with the versions. the shattered me out of the hospital.
i had never driven in d.c.. i have only the slightest idea where i was doing. i wanted to visit the marine corps war material which had been in arlington prior to heading somewhere near capitol hill's of the wounded warriors tener which started at seven. i found the memorial. it was a replica of the famous flag raising of hiroshima, the second one of course, along with the memorial was stenciled the name of every campaign large and small the the marine corps had never participated in. the crowd was in a truly american collection of people white, latino, black and asian, middle eastern countries and european immigrants. some of the men were vietnam veterans and others the sons and daughters of the vets. a man being pushed in a wheelchair from the island campaign. he wore a cap with the badge of guadalcanal in the first marine division, the division created specifically to jump the island all the way north into the heart of mainland japan. i looked at the war memorial and
i smelled during the sand and scorched asphalt from decades and centuries. i walked towards the edge of arlington. there were two funerals under way to the beach below the plastic tarp. one had already been dropped, the family and friends and the other the priest hovered above the offering solutions. i wondered if he rested in the coffins, young men from the current format called men passed on from emphysema our colin cancer, from alzheimer's or peaceful sleepy and, just one last breath. arlington told me, the tapestry of green and white silence. the tapestry did not hide the fact that most of those men and women had died horrible deaths in combat. to tour buses unload their passengers in front of the appointed restaurant a few blocks from the senate office buildings. these were the men and women come soldiers, sailors and
marines undergoing outpatient care at walter reed and bethesda. the used crutches and walkers and wheelchairs' and some of them walked on their own. he with a prosthetic leg, i could tell by the snag of the pant leg pity or she, missing an arm and choosing to go without the prosthetic. the left shirt sleeve folded and pinned to the front of the shirt the symbol stands in hand and jester half of prayer and half of defiance. and here were mothers of the many legacies this war produced, the one not yet considered by most observers was this which the marine dad pointed out to me in the hospital corridor: mothers, a few as young as 40, they looked at the horizon ansel themselves supporting their sons to the v.a. hospitals for the next 40 years. the greatest burden of the war i always saw on the mothers. the men on both sides killed and had their song, the blue each other up and posted devotee one
youtube and the mothers carried the casualties to the river and washed and dressed the wounds and cut casualties. the mother's day at the wounded in hiroshima as they had done so on many other rivers, the misery, the is a common name a river that has received the wounded from the backs of mothers. i heard someone calling my name. i watched the staff sergeant from bethesda, his cologne, the lance corporal of the hill. they said a surreptitiously from a bottle of whiskey it was a prelude to the horror film or fantasy and i couldn't decide which. a motion to the marines we should head in. there was a serious ki of the elevator. we were expected in the ballroom on the second floor. most of these men and women were not exactly prepared to climb the stairs. they told me to take the stairs and they would meet me at there. i offered him a piggyback ride but he said he didn't trust my
scrawny civilian legs. the reception looked like a version of the new york party that i casually attended for a few years. the spread was not as ambitious as a hollywood party, and on par with something for a party of a poetry magazine. the new york parties in terms of appeal and food and drinks, i would give the hedge funds the number one spot, then the art world, television, magazines, books, and ugly and distant last the ngos. the bar here consisted of one guy behind a folding table with two kinds of bad wine, red or white and a number of 60 gallen crothers full of ice and beer and soda, but that didn't matter. the arriving troops were pumped. they were not eating hospital could tonight. they were building wheelchair wheels and they were influential. i saw the secretary of the army and in admiral whose face i recognized from some congressional hearing or another. i saw bob dole and half a dozen congressmen and a few senators whose face is i knew from the
papers but whose names i couldn't recall. of course this party didn't hold a priority this evening for these teams of social d.c.. they were the power wave in this room, the surge, and in the city as in every other city of the world, when you are the power and the money, you can stand only so much time around the masses before an uncomfortable silence falls over the room. the troops and their families will not be able to hold conversations with you about holidays in europe, about the new salote, the new nanny, the summer home remodel. the gathering is supposed to be a casual social hour, but eventually the masses will want to talk about healthcare perhaps, and prescription drugs and the living wage and how many times can you ask the kid with a metal plate in his head, the kid with no legs, where he grew up and we're in iraq or afghanistan did this horrible unfortunate all of thing happened and how it was progressing and if he missed the men in his unit. how many times could you ask these questions without the guilt and horror blinding you?
i sensed that these princes of the ocean with the bark from the cocktail lounge within 20 minutes and a jump in the schooner and sale to a party where none of the tough questions had to be asked to rate no visible injuries from a good martinis. and i was right. 20 minutes later, someone on a microphone asked us all to be seated and the power left for the back door having done their good deed for the week. i said at a table with kalona and the staff sergeant, two injured army personnel, female volunteers from nonprofit veterans advocacy groups and to members of a lobbying firm who seemed to be a couple. the couple was next to me and i expected myself from your shot of them and said hello to the young woman on my left. young girl i thought, she looked about 16. strawberry blond hair, light sweet smile, bluejeans and a flower print blouse.
i wondered if her father was one of the injured men among us. i looked for him. she said to me i served as a private in the 82nd airborne military police. she lifted her right leg and with her knuckles counted on it. the sound was titanium. guess how they got me? i guess you don't have to guess. ied. she chuckled. it was the first time that day that i found myself speechless. this girl, this woman that looked as though this very morning her mother had made her scrambled eggs and brushed her off to homeroom was lifting the pain of war right next to me, while at the same table mothers coral stupidly about nothing. i thought i had been handling the carnage fairly well. the ruined mother holding the clippings from her son's newspaper story, the bolivian sergeant with his grand malae and his niece, kalona with his lessons in sex. none of it had been pretty but it had all been tolerable. in the event of this i prepared psychic shells for these brands of trauma or i thought i had.
the injured young female private had drove this war to deep. solid plates were replaced with entrees, stake. i was in the marine corps during the first gulf war matt, out now. how was your treatment? mostly good, sir. she said. it's a long process, you know. they are kind of cruddy. the food tastes like dirt. that's why i come to these as often as possible. that and i got an autograph from tiger woods for my dad a couple months ago. and i get to see her and no, she motioned to her left. the younger kids sat up straight in his chair chewing stake, pulled down cross over his forehead, black silk army jacket, alert eyes. he nodded slowly at mechem every move tentative with pain. you know, the army doesn't want us to be dating, to be together because he is a sergeant and all, but we are both getting out. he broke his back, so we are getting out. on my other side were eni and
the man she was fighting with. i heard a low voice of hatred of to people that were no longer in love. i had no appetite for listening to that. i nodded at the private and her boyfriend and excuse myself to the terrace. here mostly male soldiers and marines stood or leaned and smoked. i never smoked, never had a cigarette in my life i asked the young marine with a clear-cut if he could spare one. this was the one place of military members that i never took up. people ask me you didn't smoke? i never took up tobacco trade. everything else though. sure thing, do come he said. he said do it in a sharp california beach cliche. his buddies loved it. my hair wasn't long but it was longer than any military guy. i tried to take the carriage of a u.s. marine especially around this crowd. but my hair said slimy civilian, and so did the extra pounds and
my suit kuwait i noticed myself looking at the men, greeting their appearance and behavior for military discipline. however absurd that was. the marine let my cigarette for me and i inhale deeply and coughed. the smoke was bitter and burned. i threw it into a planter that was being used as an ashtray and this drew a chorus of laughs. where did you learn to smoke, man, she asked? you owe me a dollar for that. i will smoke it, someone else said. and some kid picked up my gun smoked cigarette from the planter. it was my first one ever i said, and my last. if that's the case, the kid said, can you go on of iran? were you drinking? beer. they laughed. i counted eight of them. eight beers. make it 161 of them shriveled. i will see what i can do. inside leaders sought to assert in front of diners and at this stage a country band meat ready for the show. i asked the bartender for 16 years. he didn't want to give them to
me. he said we can't give these kids too drunk, you know, some bad stuff has gone down in the past. who knows what is in the iran. i will place 50 out of my pocket and handed to him and he put 16 years in the wine box. on the terrace i put the years with of the smokers and the explained and whistled and clapped their hands as though i handed them this spigot for the fountain of life. they will never give us more than one year per person. they think you're going to get drunk and get in a fist fight back at the barracks. a bunch of get this beating each other up with or crutches and canes, right? they laughed. now they were able to skip the bus and go to a bar and get in a fight with some civilians. how did you get 16 out of that guy? i pulled rank, i said. back at the table the staff sergeant and kalona seemed to be making it simply progress with the two ladies from the nonprofits. maybe these girls denied true profit in the veteran advocacy.
i will take will break there. i took this trip in 06. i've been the friend of an organization called the civil american veterans since 2003 and when the man reached and asked me if i'd spent time on the veterans, and i try to go every year to aspen there's the disabled american -- disabled veterans winter sports clinic. it's a pretty remarkable event that has been going on for i think over 30 years now but they teach injured guys adopted scheme and hockey and i think they play water polo. it's pretty wild. they call them sitting skis. you go down the mountain, and i think i skied better than i did on my own story legs -- two
sorry legs. it's a little strange because it is in aspen so there are people cruising around in the $1,500 he suits then there are some wearing fatigues and chain-smoking and doing tequila shots before they head out on the slopes, so the matchup of the aspen lifestyle and the injured vets is interesting to watch. but this is my first time around injured events coming and you might have noticed a don't know how to approach these guys coming and i didn't know how to ask about their injuries or how to speak about them. but now if i read of guy and he's injured i say when did you
get hit? what happened? you know, what do you lose? how are things going now? and i found that remarkably they want to talk about it. they want to tell their stories. i think the sharing of the story for the veteran. i was at the cabin portland and it's a veteran owned have a company i take whenever i am in portland, and there is a young guy and i started inquiring, and eventually we had a 35 minute conversation on the way to the airport about his injury and his time in the military and the process. i think that is one thing that drives me to spend time around these veterans and tell their story is the process of recovery, and what's really remarkable is the attitude and the spirit during the process
but i think what we're finding now is many of these young men and women that would have died in other words are alive now and they're living with new adaptations and they wouldn't have lived in vietnam or korea or world war ii fifth. as a writer somebody interested in combating to see with what mean in terms of how the history of the war is written we as men and women that live through the war with these injuries. their new one standing different picture of what the return from the war is. i know a lot of these young men and women, and i would like to get out and tell their
goodbye marine corps. you will never be a part of my life again. i'm going to be a college student now. i'm going to become a writer and i'm going to live a radically different life. and i thought i had done that. and i thought that i had done it well. but it ended up that i really had come and i was still, you
know, i returned from the war, though war was still present for me. but then redican three present for mechem and i wrote this book about the war and there was no way i could hide or say that i wasn't a marine because i very much self identified as a writer and as a citizen. and only freely in the last decade when i had the company of the veterans again have i discovered that the company have vets is a healing moment for me. i recently wrote an article about ptsd and suicide in the veteran population. i spend a lot of time talking with dr. jonathan jay who's been treating veterans after the vietnam war and he's a smart guy. we were on the phone, we were scraping actually for about an hour and a half, and in the and i just wanted some practical that ice.
and i said dr. shay what happens if a woman calls you up and says doctor, my son or daughter is in pretty bad psychological sheep, and they are in need of some help, but they are not seeking it themselves and i can't force this on them? they said bring them to a circle of veterans, he said. two things will help any psychologically injured veteran, sleet and tears. so of course they may need cite the tropics, they may need therapy but he said i never treated a veteran who was getting lots of sleep who couldn't find his way out of it. then he said sleep and peers. if you get them with other vets were they feel they can share their story and what to be judged by a guy or a woman in
that group of peers would be well on their way to help and to healing. so, remember that. sleep and peers for any veteran the you know that might need some help. alladi eventually found myself in a kind of dark place, and i est. manhattan and i was on the side of a mountain in the catskills alone in the cabin trying to finish a book and isolating myself. i had been in a series of trips with my father, and my father is a vietnam vet, and these are the
trips -- rv trips were a way for us to come together. we shared some stories, he shared stories of vietnam and i shared some of my own stories. but eventually -- have you ever been in a winnebago for about a thousand miles? it's pretty intense especially if you are and the winnebago with your father for a thousand miles. i love my father, but these rv troops were my father's idea and i have to give him credit for making the offer and for making the effort. this was in houston and about 110 degrees in august it was a couple weeks before i turned 40 and i was in a bit of a crisis. i had gone for a run and i was pretty certain that i had initiated a cataclysmic cardiac event. my father was ill, and i jumped into the pool at the super eight and i watched him in his rv.
he has emphysema and he was administering his medicine. from the pool i watched my father moving around in his our feet. he lived alone and mostly travel alone in the hour feet. i knew desolate her life that he created for himself with his fantasies of being a clint eastwood character from a western or a war film. the at the quarter, the stomach, the man that lives on shoe leather and the reality of the road and warfare. but my father have been happier if he were in love with a woman and living in a clean and tidy house? i thought i love my father and my understood the allure of this iconic western fantasy but the possibility that i might end up like my father, old, alone in the dying, scared to death of me naked on my back in the pool in houston. so intense in the back of the rv i told my father i couldn't make it all the way to california with him. i needed to return to new york
as soon as possible to take care of some things come to take care of myself really. i needed to figure out my life. we made it that afternoon and a barbecue at the market and in the morning jump on a plane home. i don't remember much of august. friends in the city threw a party for my 40th birthday. and then was september. i thought of living to los angeles, where a friend was shooting a movie and i could live in his house for free, or where i would never return. eventually a friend asked me to meet a friend of hers. she said she had a friend coming up from brooklyn and we might like each other and we had some things in common. the day before i decided that the next woman i dated needed to have been the daughter of a waitress. i dated the daughters of doctors and lawyers and bankers and the rich and it never really worked out. we met at a cheap mexican place.
i haven't been cents for a few months. this woman -- this was the first time that i met christa and i knew she would be in my life a long time, perhaps forever. she wore a short skirt and a fleet of and cowboy boots. at the end of summer she was dark but i could tell that in the winter her skin would be luxury is white. she said unflattering things about hippies and monks and the yoke of masters and when she had a chance she smiled. she'd gone to college in the late nineties and one semester she worked at this mexican restaurant. when she said this i must have scared both stupidly and longingly. she might be the one. but not only has christa been a waitress at this mexican restaurant, her mother had once been a waitress at the officer club at camp lejeune and as a child, she lived on camp lejeune in the housing and development. it was the bloodiest battle of world war ii. upon my joining the marine corps
22 years earlier, the had been drilled into my facts some nights i saw that nightmares wearing the room of recruits tyra and with me included standing and straining in a position or another involving a rifle and a heavy sacked. the bloodiest battle of world war ii, sir. it's true i still have nightmares. nightmares of cleaning the floor. this smart and engaging in a beautiful woman, small and no inconsequential and island pacific that in my mind was still so the blood of marines. most beautiful women from new york city would have guessed that tyra was a new kind of chevy. she went on to tell a story about being president at her school in a camp lejeune and how each morning she and the secretary were responsible for running out the u.s. and marine
corps flag and then i knew for certain that i was going to be in love with her. so i think i can probably open it up for questions. this gentleman will help with the microphone. >> to your colleagues at "the new york times" accept a veteran as a fellow reporter? >> i don't work for "the new york times," but one of my favorite "new york times" reporters, c.j., i'm going to say chivers i don't how to pronounce his name, but he's a former marine. it might be a bit of a fish out of water but he does some of the best reporting that i read. yes, sir. >> you actually didn't mention
why you joined the marine corps. what was your motivation, and did you think it was a good decision or something that didn't turn out well? >> i wrote a whole book about that. no, it took me years to realize i joined the marine corps to discover this essential mystery about my father, which was viet nam and combat. i was in fact conceived when my father was back from vietnam. my mother got a call one day and someone told her to jump on a plane to the air force base the next day to meet her husband in honolulu who had a week off from the war and then i was the result of that. so my childhood was very much colored by my father's vietnam war experience to get it wasn't something he talked about, only occasionally. some of his friends would come over and they would convene in the backyard, and would be men
talking and i wasn't allowed into that circle. at a time i joined the marine corps because some of my buddies were doing it. and my recruiter had a pretty good pitch. i was excited about the possibility of serving my country, and also of peacekeeping the town of that i had grown up in. it was a little romantic attachment i had to the idea of military service, and particularly service in the marine corps. >> when you are in the marine corps does anyone ever bring you up to the position of the marine corps, the books like the writers that came from the marine corps is that a part of the condition? >> it was a part of my condition. there was a lot of reading. i was a weird guy that goes to the library and a okinawa that
had probably 4,000 books. i discovered caputo on my own after lagat of the marine corps. so, yeah i think the officer corps, and i know now more so than in the past there is a new emphasis on reading the literature, but as a grunt battalion reading wasn't really the top of our list of tasks from day-to-day unfortunately. in your experience what is the general from the current format towards you or other veterans of the gulf war and do you think that it's a fair assessment? >> the question is about sentiment. i think that there is a lot of
respect from veterans from the war to the war and i can walk into the room of the current veterans coming and i know the language and i know the code. sure the war was the gulf war was much smaller, it was over quick. but i think most people who are students of the recent american history and certainly practitioners of the war understand that the beginning of these wars was the gulf war and the understand that, and they're seems to be, at least in my experience, respect from generation to generation. >> i could just keep the microphone, but i want. john edwards royte and
autobiographical -- >> it wasn't totally -- >> i got a question from a that you didn't really see a lot of combat in the gulf war. i thought the marines had done a pretty good push up into kuwait and were quite active. was there -- was my in persian wrong from the movie? >> the movie moves a little quicker through the combat triet i was in something called the task force and we picked up the middle of kuwait, so there were not a lot and so for the most part after that six weeks of bombing which started in january, for the most part they were totally overwhelmed trying to take care of the people who had surrendered.
>> i believe some others have pointed out that only a small percentage of congressmen in both parties have served actively in the military. do you regard this as a significant? >> i do think that has the members of congress have service experience or have a family history of experience we might be a little more careful with how we wage the war and wind. there is a great disconnect, a great military civilian disconnect that i think is the result of vietnam and people were very comfortable with that. i think the military was comfortable with it and the civilian world for a few decades and i think that is a gap that probably needs to close for there to be a clear outlook on what the cost and the conflict
is, the human cost but also the cost and general to the society and the culture when these men and women returned. >> how do you feel about the military draft? are we better off without? from the military standpoint and the broad spectrum? >> i'm in favor of the draft. i think there could be a national service aspect. you don't want everyone in the military. the generals certainly don't want everyone in the military that has to deal with this divide. everyone isn't fit for service maybe you have some people fighting fires and some people rebuilding infrastructure in the inner cities and then you have some people who are part of the drafted battalions.
a few years ago i was in israel for about dimond. that is a country where everyone serves and at a dinner your waiter just got out of the military and is now going to college and everyone understands the cost of service, and i think that's something that couldn't hurt. i think it is a population issue. >> first from one marine to the next one to say thanks for everything the you are doing to make it easier for those that advocate on behalf of the veterans to get the message out to those that haven't served the sacrifices a lot of other people go through. the question i have, is it easier for you now or so you mentioned your romance about the marine corps. the books that you've read and the traveling that you've done is it easier now to still have
that love and get the message out to those and that have not served? >> i have a lot of love and hate reef delete with the marine corps. the system is sometimes brutal. i was reading them more by lewis and jr injured in vietnam and near the end of it they said i loved and heated the marine corps. unless you've been in the marine corps you don't understand and i probably spend some years heating at more than la vignette that after writing "jarhead" i spent a lot time in the company of marines and veterans, and it's about individuals and commodity and history. i'm still a marine and i think
it's important to tell not just marine corps stories that military stories and make sure the story from the current war is told and i think that is a real responsibility. >> you talk about meeting with current of veterans coming back. what do you think is the largest challenge for them when they return injured and not injured in the current war? >> it's different for everyone. some can come home and become a math teacher of the that and they don't have any difficulties a science teacher or a librarian or mechanic what have you. but they've lost their footing and it's always a tough transition. it's important that the realize the service is out there for them but the service
organizations are not alone. of the things i hear again and again are the families of the veterans and practitioners. the most dangerous is when the veteran isolates' themselves and pulls out from society. i would say reach out and if you know a veteran that is isolating, reach out towards him or her and pull them back in. for me the thing that helped is going to college. i got out of the marine corps and went straight to college and i kicked around community colleges and northern california for three or four years but that always kept me in the community and i was no longer part of the marine corps but i was now part of this community of learning that meant everything to me and told me to study and read and allowed me to be you're now
telling these stories. >> you talk about your writing process and how it has evolved since writing "jarhead"? >> i am a long distance sprinter. that's what i say. my wife says i'm lazy. on the couch i read books about a month and she says what are you doing? i'm working. i'm working. but i am a sprinter. i will work really hard for six or eight weeks and work eight or ten hours a day and hang out and read books and watch movies and slowly re-enter the work that i've done. "jarhead" is a very episodic a book and i wrote the novel after that which forced me to be more narrative am i storytelling and this now i think this book is a
more mature book which i think is how i am approaching the world but also in terms of how i'm approaching the narrative and telling the story. >> what do you read? is a riding or books or more literary? >> it's all over the place. i'm a big fan of presidential biographies. anthony beavers will be here in the week i'm sorry i'm going to miss him and he's one of the great military historians of the time. i can't think of the best military historian. i write everything -- read everything he writes. i will drop into the old classics. i will read some of the new stuff that's coming around. i'm very catholic in my case, and i watch a lot of food network.
>> considering that you've written fiction and memoir how do you feel on the process of writing autobiographical and do you feel like you can trust the memory completely or what process you go through to remember the sort of event and specific details. is there a process that you go through, and do you think that there is, you know, obviously there is an element of truth to everything that you are saying that do you think that this memoir sometimes is in the eye of the beholder? >> for me writing is an act of memory retrieval seóul am i began writing of a period in my life, the memories come flooding back to the of my father is in this book and he's very much a part of this book and certainly he remembers a couple of these trips somewhat differently and
its pros now in its narrative's and these events, the dialogue is close to what occurred. they come back with a war story. i trust my memoir. i like memoirs because i feel like one thing the memoir has in america is the invention and the novels to do certain kinds of things in terms of narrative and starting with frank conway that's why i wrote another memoir and i'm not certain that i will write another one.
i think that my next nonfiction might be reported. >> this is a question from jake in chicago. you conclude your books by saying that fatherhood may be more a test of man's great missed and combat. i think i'm doing well. it's been the best nine months of my life and something happened when my daughter was born other men don't experience that she was on my just about five hours after she was born i had an epiphany.
out and gave his support and felt that this was libya's's chance to enter the world and that is exactly what happened. i said well, then what made you change your mind? thatis he said w well, i would go homea from work and say i don't gonge down the street because they've directed the gallows wherehe w someoneo is hanging petraeusbe >> i saw how he ticked off his enemies, and then one day they grabbed mohammed and he spent the next 11 years in the army and he ended up fighting the war it's got to be one of the mosta futile wars the world ever knew. it was over a strifip of deserto about 60 kilometers wide. and i have to tell you it is something that libya doesn't need it is more deserts'.czecho. f it is therse isit is desert. there is plenty, believe
you know, for as important as important as this project has become to my life i can remember the first time i learned about this historical research and future presidents in 79. but what i do remember is reading about it in akaka treated with a typical one or two sentences that he would see about the congressional race and i thought to myself way to bury it. all of a sudden we are in this race between the future presidents, james madison, james monroe debating the most important issues we talked about in the country whether we should have a bill of rights, what kind of union we should have, and then all of a sudden the next page in the first as a way to bury. so i decided i would read everything i could about the
1789 election. i found no one had ever written anything about it before and i decided i was going to tell the story. the book rivals called open the inauguration of george washington. but many people don't know is when he took the oath of office, two of the 13 states or outside of the union. north carolina and rhode island didn't ratify the constitution because of their concern that was missing a bill of rights. a guaranteed fundamental liberty to read this was common throughout the continent. the common denominator of which james monroe was one is that the opposed the constitution. many of them can at it from different ingalls and believe you couldn't have a union that covers these different states. they believe perhaps regional confederacy's but they didn't think any government could ever be suitable to this entire continent. james monroe represented the majority of antifederalists that came in and his objection to the
constitution was centered around the missing bill of rights. washington took the oath of office the two states, new york and virginia agitating for the new constitutional convention and in the words of james madison and george washington they were terrified at this prospect. they believed would be infiltrated by enemies of the new government and that the constitution would be scrapped and done away with and the union with the fractured never, ever to come together again.