tv Vietnam Post- War Trauma CSPAN May 22, 2016 1:11pm-2:01pm EDT
i know it has been another glum day of death and dying in the united states. i will see you all on tuesday. thanks very much. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] >> you are watching american history tv, all weekend on c-span3. to join us in the conversation, like us on facebook. >> next on history tv, jan gallowaynd grace liam discussed their postwar physical and psychological,, including the personal expanses of mental health issues and adjusting to civilian life. this conversation is moderated by joe klein and as part of the library wartial summit, exploring the wars lessons and legacy. joe: please help me welcome your
panel, dr. galloway, mr. scruggs, and your moderator joe klein. welcome to austin. [applause] joe: good afternoon, everybody. time thate second i've been privileged and honored to sit on the stage. both times, the topic was veterans. time, i was accompanied by three spectacular young veterans of the iraq and afghanistan wars. called recent book is "charlie might," which means continued mission in military jargon.
it was about the veterans of .hose wars to me, it's very interesting to spend time with them as i have over the last four years. i embedded in iraq and afghanistan with them and also to spend time with veterans of my era, of the vietnam war. this since theay wars were equally silly, but they have had an easier time than you guys had. .hey were all volunteers many of them volunteered on september 12, 2001. they went over as units and came back as units. vietnam veterans went over alone and came back alone. because of the experience of vietnam veterans, the doctors
and many clinicians at the v.a. and elsewhere new what posttraumatic stress disorder -- i've actually dropped the disorder part of it because it is not disorderly to respond to the experience of combat by having some troubles reintegrating into a society that knows nothing of combat. they treated each other differently from the vietnam generation. they formed their own organizations to help each other, to help us. polls,them, according to went to continue service in their communities because they are a generation of volunteers. they've looked now more recently sisters brothers and who served in vietnam and are including them and their public service organizations like
disaster relief internationally ,. it's important to know that when you see this horrifying statistic -- that 22 veterans a day commit suicide. we are talking about veterans of all wars. the majority of those veterans are vietnam veterans. lonely,een a long, horrendous road back for vietnam veterans and i am honored to share the stage with these people. i would like to start with jan woulds because if anybody redeem this generation of veterans and making the public aware of them after so many people have forgotten the way they were treated when they came home, it is jan.
jan, why don't you tell us how and why you did what you did? well, after i returned from vietnam, i spent a couple of years hopelessly lost, running around on motorcycles and getting in trouble. i decided to get an education and got a masters degree from american university. while there, i did a research project on ptsd. it was not called ptsd then. i testified in front of congress , wrote an article in "the washington post." that automatically makes you an expert on anything. [laughter] so i had some academic credentials. it is often short-lived. two years later, i decided there should be a national vietnam veterans memorial after seeing this movie "the deer hunter." i said i'm going to build a
national memorial in washington, d.c. she laughed and i told my boss at the department of labor. he said, "you know what? we all need a mental health day and i think you need a couple of weeks." so i went back to my school books and looked at the writings of carl jung, a student of sigmund freud. werelieved there collective psychological states and the was a spiritual element to life and that there are things that we shared. for example, when this great team wins a championship, the entire campus goes wild. they share this memory and belief in their college and their school. i believe people would have a belief that people who give their lives for america should be remembered by having their name engraved.
so there was a theoretical basis for this entire thing. i just kind of started it. i do not know what i was doing. they finally did an article about my effort and it said that $188 have been raised in two months as a result of that. , so i wasa team contacted by some guys who were graduates of the hartford business school, who all served in vietnam and had actually been to west point. these were a real band of brothers. they made a harvard business school project out of this. when you land, we need a design. we need the money. we put it all together, introduced the bill and 1979 in november, and 1982, the dedication took place. [applause]
joe: were you surprised by the emotional outpouring? jan: know, because the whole idea of seeing a name on a monument with all these emotions that have been freeze-dried for years by these vietnam veteran people, it was going to have a big psychological impact. there were going to be tears shed, shed in a good way. ,he designer of this memorial we had the largest architectural design competition held in the history of western civilization to get this. the person who directed that is actually in our audience. she said, "let's put the names not in alphabetical order or in chronological order." , you were in a battle there and you would see all these hundreds of names together
of people who died together. that takes the veteran back into the past and helps them confront the drama and sometimes helps them recover from the vietnam war. book about wrote my vietnam veterans in the early find themhad to --ough the army because through the marines, excuse me. boy, that's a big mistake. [laughter] these were veterans of a single battle of a single unit and they had completely lost touch with each other. grace, you have been dealing with these people for the last 40 years. i imagine you have bumped into more than a few in iraq and afghanistan. can you talk about the difference and the feelings of isolation that veterans feel when they come home?
grace: yet, sure. before i do that, i would like to correct something. i did not serve as a medic. i was a volunteer for three and half years for capital relief. what happened is that when they went to research me on the website, my community free clinic made a mistake and took when the swallow, who is -- linda swallow, who was an army nurse and medic in vietnam. i am her and she is me. [laughter] i think it just got messed up a little bit. that was our fault and not the lbj library. you guys are good. [laughter] coming out of vietnam after three and a half years, people say why did you go? when you are young and you are 17 years old and you think you know everything and you are bulletproof, you are going to do things that may be later on in
your life you will regret it i do not regret this at all. i grew up very fast and learn to care. ok to saythat it was to somebody, yeah, i have posttraumatic stress or, yes, i have anxiety. i have a problem i can't describe. it is not medical. ibuprofen won't take care of it. there something wrong. -- there is something wrong and i don't know what it is, but there is something wrong. with myas meeting up friends from vietnam, i was there doing tet. my tet brothers when i came back to united states, we all connected. it was ok for me to say to my tet brothers and they were not
going to say it to me first. they were these macho men and they were west point graduates. they were not going to say if they had anything wrong having flashbacks or nightmares or anything like that. i remember i said to them, "you know what? i can't sleep anymore. maybe two hours, three hours. i keep waking up. it is not like i have bad dreams, i just can't sleep." amazingly, skeeter told me the same thing. john lang told me the same thing. they both passed now from agent orange. is the last of my vietnam brothers. i'm the sole living person left of that group. it took that. it took somebody else to say i cannot sleep. what is going on? -- wears, we would not
would stay in touch, but we would not be talking. if i picked up the phone and called them, it was like, my gosh, it was yesterday that we finished a conversation. it was like we had never been apart for that many years. this is the way it was with us. horrendousoming was because, especially for john lang and for phil sleet. these were west point graduates who had been generations of west point graduates. john's family, his great-grandfather was a west point graduate. is a long line of military families. all these guys expected something more than what they got when they came home. so it was really tough for them. but then my other friends who came out of the cornfields of iowa, they expected maybe not a
parade, but maybe they expected their family or their community to understand. by the time they came home, the sentiment had turned against the vietnam war.you had people who were protesting the war , which i agree, because i did too. you hate war. you love the warrior. they did not start this dam n war. i don't get it. and it's true. even today, you hate the war but you love the warrior. waydifference between the the vietnam veteran was treated afghanistaniraq, veterans are treated is like night and day. all of you that you are veterans in this room, you deserve to
stand up and take a big bow. it was because of you. joe: why don't you do that? [laughter] [applause] joe: can we have all the vietnam veterans? [applause] and if there are any iraq or afghanistan veterans, you join them. one of the reasons why i decided to write another book about veterans was because the experience was so different. hadof the great insights i as i spent the last four years interviewing more recent it wass was that something that applied to vietnam veterans as well. and that is that post-traumatic thess is not only about
things that you saw and you did over there. a good part of it is about being part of a family, being part of the community, having brothers and now brothers and sisters. and then when you come home, you come home all alone. one of the people i wrote about was a woman who was a gunnery sergeant and explosive ordinance disposal unit. it was like "the hurt locker." she came home with a raging case of post-traumatic stress. she said i deployed myself to camp couch and the commanding officer of camp couch with me. was me. military order specialty on camp couch was to stay on camp couch. , especiallyme that
in this new generation, one of the things that the rest of us can learn from them is the importance of community. you are telling me a story before about how vietnam veterans have reestablished communities for themselves. first of all, do you agree with me that part of posttraumatic stress is the loss of the sense of community? grace: absolutely. loss of sense of community whether it is your family or it is the small town that you lift, absolutely. i was telling him this little story earlier. i work in a small town called concorde, north carolina, just a little bit north of charlotte. i work at a place called community free clinic, which provides free health care for all uninsured and anyone who is poor, you come to us and we will take care of you. [applause]
and it is free. we take no federal money. we take no state money. donations and volunteers. have also seen lately in the last 12 years or so, we have been taking care of more and more veterans. the main reason is twofold. benefits, butve the closest the a is too far away and have no transportation. i will get your meds no problem. the other one is that they do not know they have the benefits. some of them really don't know they have the benefits. we try to help them through that process as well. the most interesting group of veterans that i know and who are my patience is a group of about 12 people, sometimes 13, but no more than that. they literally live out of the woods. yes, the woods. they have tents.
they live out in the woods. they have been out there for 40 years. they will not come in. i keep asking and they say, no, we are fine. these guys know they are cukoo for cocoa puffs. when they went to the v.a., when you have a mental illness, you are in pain. it is the physical pain that you feel. when they would go to the v.a. and say they were in pain, they would get pain medication. what they needed was maybe a mood stabilizer but most importantly they need someone to listen and some talk to. these guys threw away their oxycontin.
they don't use it anymore. this is their community, their family. they help each other out. we go out in the woods in the wintertime to make sure that they get what they need, especially medication. i have to tell you a funny story if i may. he sees these strange people and the house and says so who are these people?
another time he comes home and there is a strange man in the yard, an elderly gentleman. he asks who's that? it was one of my vietnam veterans that paid me back by breaking big yard. this is the community that we live in the regardless of the fact, is that a terrible thing. to them, that was their home. that is their home, that is their community. if you are invited to come to their house, this is where you would come, into their tent. they are proud of it. host: what was coming home like for you? >> i came home just a few days before the kent state of event. this friend took me to lunch from an attractive girl. one thing i would never do is go out with these vietnam veteran guys. these are what these people do.
i can't see myself, i would be afraid to go out with them. maybe telling people you are about -- be a good idea. that is where it started. the larger issue is for the men and women coming back from iraq, what we did with the vietnam veterans memorial is saying we can separate war from the warrior. this guy wanted to use nuclear weapons in iran. i got to know them both very well. that made a message. we separated the war from the warrior. this is not going to happen to these people.
the stereotype began to develop a vietnam veterans as half crazy when they came home. it is a stereotype that has continued on to this generation of veterans. i would like both of you to talk about that stereotype. how real is it? a vietnam veteran invented. internet. >> if you look at some of the great entrepreneurs of this country, there are a lot of really successful people including people who have themselves struggled with ptsd. it does not have to destroy you. one of the great experts is sitting next to me. >> post-traumatic stress is why
giving back is my way of saying to all my friends who died and who i held in my arms, it is my way of saying to them that i pay you this honor and respect. host: there are statistics that are beginning to show that that is an actual fact. he was a navy seal. he was blown up in iraq. he started walking towards --
killer sentence. he said, thank you for your service. we still need you. i live my life and regret that i didn't come up with that sentence. eric went on to start an organization that gave fellowships to wounded veterans. they have been at -- academic studies that show that helping others is a really wonderful way to treat posttraumatic stress. it actually works. the other thing i say is this. the active service is a very important and crucial form of democracy. were you drafted? >> i volunteered for the draft
at age 18. they were looking for people like me. [laughter] president obama gave me a 20 year appointment. i'm actually the chairman of selective service. it is very important what you're talking about. everyone here has some degree of mental health. when of the worst things you can do is to -- for withdrawal is to live alone with the television. you have to engage with people. when you asked to give back to people, the universe will give it back to you. one thing i would point out to
the vietnam veterans -- groups that do international disaster relief, mission continues they are now reaching out to vietnam veterans to be part and join up. it is really wonderful. when you see veterans getting together and organizing themselves the way military folks do to help other people, the joy that they get out of it and the amazement of civilians that don't know anything of the military life, the depreciation that did they get out of it is a remarkable thing. for me, the first thing that i knew of acting as a group was vietnam veterans against the war. john kerry will be here later in
i might recommend you that we start thinking more as a society. to being part of the coming cycle for young men and women. [applause] in countries and societies that are smaller than ours, everyone either has to go into the military or service, that is fantastic. she spent 18 months working at a mental hospital. everyone does have to give back. there is a's social cohesion that is missing. this awful presidential contest which i can't stand. you had to remind me.
this is my vacation. to be up to come to detect -- texas to really appreciate it. >> you brought up and point. i agree, i believe that every single person when they turn 18 owes their country two years of service. if you want to the military, that's fine. whether it's public health, mental health, serving the community as a teacher. you own your country two years.
that way i think we can may be that we are indeed the family of man and that we will make a better country and better world. people say america is the best country in the world. i say, not yet. we can get there. how about it? [applause] host: there are those who are still suffering. have you deal with them? people come to me as having written these books. how do we deal with these folks?
there is a tremendous organization called given our made up of therapists that gave an hour of therapy each. veterans who are coming back from iraq and afghanistan. they don't know how to deal with that. civilians never ask and your generation was never asked because people thought the answer would be a lie. tell me what you did over there.
what was it like? >> vietnam veterans really deserve a lot of respect. it was a very difficult war to fight in. it was always hot over there. the vietnamese, the viet cong. they know. the draft supplied a lot of people. 17,000 people were at the -- drafted to fight in vietnam. out of the 58,000, you're correct. there was an average of 20
people killed today. we cannot put up with that right now. there are wars going on in iraq and afghanistan. you can say my kids are not going to get drafted. it is important to remember how difficult it was and how they lowered the standards. it was atrocities that so many of them would get killed in combat because they didn't know what to do. it is harder to get in the army now than it is community college.
what we're talking about here is something that is prideful and essential. host: there is a book by william mcneill that is called a lovely title. it is called keeping together in time. the history. his theory is that at the dawn of civilization, if you wanted to get out and get some meat for dinner. the chances were that you would be the lines dinner. over time, the habit grew of young men doing the killed the lion dance together. that gave them a much better chance of coming home with some protein. that instinct was -- is hardwired into young men. we are trying to get by these
days without having any coming-of-age ritual at all for young men. many of them join gangs and fraternities. that is what you have. i do believe an essential part of the honor that is owed to the veterans of vietnam is the honor of recognizing that as terrible as it was and as unfair as it was, they fulfilled their humanity and their citizenship in a way that people who scorned them never did. [applause] >> i know he is in the audience. if you were wounded on a
what we are veterans in iraq and afghanistan is what we know -- how do we do it? we and our clinic and the way i found the best way to honor them is to listen. a lot of times they don't want to talk to you but they want you to sit there. let them talk to you. you talking to them means absolutely nothing. they have to get to a point where we can listen to you. yes, i am ready to listen to you today but yesterday i was in.
listen, be there. respect that and you will be doing so much more than any psychiatrist could do. >> i want to close this with a story about a veteran who share the stage with me the last time i was here. i think the thing that infuriates me most as a journalist and as a citizen. the public senses that veterans are victims. many veterans have internalized this. some of you vietnam veterans.
people won't a veteran on their resumes as they think it will be harder to get hired. he graduated from harvard. before 9/11, a dual degree in physics and philosophy. he used the occasion to announce that he was joining the marines. he came from new england liberal stock. his mother told the boston globe the next day that he would only have been more just just -- disappointed if he had been joining a life of crime. >> do you still believe that
what you did was right? he says absolutely. he served four tors in iraq. he came home and he decided to run for congress up in boston. i don't know how many of you have seen the movie spotlight but the guy who was the hero of spotlight, walter robinson. he looked at work veterans who ran for congress. many of them exaggerated their records. about a month before the election, he found out that walter robinson was investigating set.
and there was going to be a story coming out and that story came out two weeks before the election. walter robinson discovered this unbelievable thing, that he had received two bronze stars and and maybe action metal. he had never told anybody including his parents. and robinson asked why he had never told anyone. seth said he joined the military that it was his duty as a citizen. i was against the war in iraq but i figured my job there was to get my guys through and i did not succeed in that. what is there to brag about? in my experience, that is what a
veteran is. i won't use the word hero because they hate it when you do. these are people who we need to learn from. and i hope as we move along we can rectify in the way that you do every day. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
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>> i gave the fbi information pertaining to the freedom riders three weeks before it occurred. >> what did you tell them? >> that i have been contacted by a birmingham city detective who wanted me to meet with a high-ranking officer of the birmingham police department for a reception of the freedom riders. set upmean the policeman the beating and you told the fbi this? >> that's correct. >> were they then beaten? >> very badly. >> did the birmingham police give you the time that they promised? >> yes. we were promised 15 minutes with no intervention of any police officer whatsoever. the information was passed on to the bureau. we had our 15 minutes. approximately 50 minutes after they were attacked a police officer ran over to me and
stated -- got dam it, got dam it, get out of here. we're sending the crew in. this, fred shorts, let me have you underscore for the public exactly what it is we are hearing. we just heard testimony that the fbi and the birmingham police colluded to allow people to come in and beat the freedom riders unaffected for 15 minutes before the authorities moved in? is that what we just heard? >> that is what you just heard and that's what happened. >> watch more of the church committee investigation saturday night at 10 p.m. and sunday at 4 p.m. eastern, here on american history tv on c-span3. >> welcome to hattiesburg, mississippi, on american history tv. it