tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN November 11, 2015 9:00pm-12:01am EST
on wednesday morning, we will gather right here in this room at 8:00 a.m. to kick off capitol hill day. this is our greatest opportunity to tell our members of congress to support increased funding for veterans treatment courts. so i hope you will all be there because we all know how critical this is to the success of these programs. if you're able to on wednesday afternoon at 2:00 p.m., come by the building on capitol hill and sit in on a briefing i will be hosting on veterans and substance abuse. you will not want to miss the kickoff here 8:00 because it will feature the hilarious alonzo. thursday, we will close with an inspiring ceremony.
i know that some of the most important moments of this conference will take place in the hallways over dinner and between sessions. you all represent the very best of our criminal justice system. the very best of treatment and the very best of veterans affairs. you are transforming the courtroom. you are transforming our communities and transforming this great nation. the most exciting part of this conference will be seeing all of you share your ideas and make lasting connections. valor is not limited to the battlefield. valor means it showing courage in the face of adversity. veterans treatment courts are defined by valor. it takes valor to fight to implement a veterans treatment
court. to transform the way veterans in the justice system are handled in this country. it takes valor to continue to serve your nation by volunteering as a mentor to your brothers and sisters who are struggling at home. and of course, the incredible graduates show valor every day. by accepting the help being offered in doing the difficult work of facing their demons head-on with strength and dignity. they are heroes in every sense of the word. and so are all of you. veterans fought for our freedom. thank you all for fighting for thiers. on may 13, many of us awoke to the news that an amtrak train had derailed outside of philadelphia.
as the news broke, it became clear that the disaster would happen far worse had it not been for the heroic actions of many of the passengers who helped pull people from the wreck. it should come as no surprise that at least one of these heroes was a veteran. my friend and veterans treatment court champion patrick murphy. you have done more to bridge the civilian military divide than patrick murphy. patrick became the first iraq war veteran to serve in congress where he represented pennsylvania's eighth district. during his two terms in congress, patrick thought for the largest increase in veterans benefits in american history. led the charge to repeal don't ask don't tell and championed the passage of the post-9/11 g.i. bill which has already helped over one million veterans.
[applause] >> i think that deserves an applause, too. [applause] >> patrick is now a partner at the national law firm and the host of the only national news show dedicated to veterans issues, msnbc's taking the hill. patrick is also a dedicated husband and father to his wife, jenny, and his two beautiful children, jack and maggie. patrick is with us today because of his unyielding support for justice for vets and veterans treatment courts. whether it's hosting a roundtable discussion, promoting veteran treatment court on msnbc
or offering his expertise and guidance on key issues, patrick has been among our most ardent supporters. i have known patrick for 10 years now. i am proud and honored to call him my friend. i have never met anyone with more energy than patrick murphy. he is a go go guy fueled by a passion for and commitment to serving others. he is a man of incredible integrity and humility. he has the courage of his convictions. i have always seen him do what he believes is right. even when the cost to him will be very high. patrick is an aspirational
figure not only to me, but to countless others. i'm thrilled that we have the opportunity to honor him here today. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in presenting the justice for vets ambassador award to patrick murphy. [applause] >> i can hold it for you, if you want. patrick: thank you. of course i trustee. thank you so much. what a way to start the week. it is good to be with everybody. thank you so much.
we have been friends for over a decade. she is one of my closest friends the world. it is an honor to be here and i do want to say thank you to the interim ceo. thank you for your leadership. the board chair, thank you both for your leadership. and for everybody here. [applause] patrick: we like to speak sometimes too much, so i will keep it short and sweet. i want to say three things. the first is thank you, thank you, thank you for what you do for our veterans. many of you in this room are veterans and many of you are not. there is a civilian military divide right now in our nation. especially when you look at we are in iraq and afghanistan, the longest wars in american history.
less than 1% have gone to fight these wars. when they come home, most of them are doing great things. most of them are incredible civic assets, like in generations past. they are more likely to vote, more likely to lead organizations, more likely to run successful small businesses. as you know, many of them do fall through the cracks. we have an ethic that we leave no one behind. because of efforts like yours, thousands are not being left behind. if you heard me talk about this, talk about justice for vets. it is a life or death movement for so many. it is because of you in this room and your counterparts back home that are making a real difference, literally saving lives of folks who have been forgotten. from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for this award
and more importantly for what you do for veterans. the second thing i want to mention is there are other heroes in this room, people like barbara. when you look at our generation of veterans, the over 500,000 not suffer from genetic brain injury or ptsd disorder. you see them in your courtrooms. you see them in a mentorship program. all of a sudden this room have the opportunity to be part of the solution. all of us cannot thank you enough. i was lucky -- i was thinking about it yesterday. 22 years ago, i got my
commission 19 years ago. i was lucky to go through basic and advanced training and jump out of airplanes. two tours overseas. it was not until the amtrak train crash that i got a traumatic brain injury. i was knocked unconscious and i was lucky to be ok. there are frustrating parts about that. not remembering things, etc. everyone has their different struggles and mine is -- mine pales in comparison. these veterans and their families have given so much. for you to be so selfless and helping them and guiding them to get back on track, there is no amount of words i could say to articulate our nation's gratitude. a lot of folks talk a big game. you are the ones at family events, you are the ones paying extra hours, you are the ones going above and beyond your jobs and your professions to do what is right. thank you so much.
the third and last thing i want to mention, i try to make sure i say this -- i had two grandfathers who served in world war ii. we need to recognize the vietnam generation. to me, the vietnam generation are such incredible heroes because they never had a victory day. much like we won't in iraq or afghanistan. it was the vietnam generation that made sure that whether people were for the war or against the war, we learned because of the vietnam generation that when these men and women come home, we treat them with dignity and respect. we separate the war from the warrior. it is not the military that has to go -- it is the political class of this country. they just execute what they were told to do.
the vietnam generation who were not treated the right way when they came home, they were the ones -- when you talk about buffalo, new york, i would like to give a shout out to the judge, the 82nd airborne guy behind the scenes, it was that tag team there that made it right. you are the ones that made it right for our generation. there are still too many of us veterans who have fallen through the cracks.
22 veterans per day. they commit suicide. it is a national tragedy. there will be a lot more if you did not welcome us with open arms and make sure you knew how grateful we were for your service. thanks so much. it really takes not just military veterans, civilians dividing our nation. when most of this was thinking about the military role, arab or talking to her and saying, you're exactly the right person to be the director. we need someone like you. she is philly. an ivy league school, she was in hollywood. she is as fairly as you can get. that is why we all love her in this room. all of you out there really deserve a round of applause. you are the ambassador of the
award today and forever. god bless all of you. thank you very much. [applause] cliques that you know recognizes the gentleman from new hampshire. >> -- now recognizes the gentleman from new hampshire. >> i rise to stand with veterans throughout the country to offer an amendment to seek funds for the veterans initiative. >> the other thing i think is so important are the drug courts. >> this would increase funding
by $1 million. >> i led the effort in my home state. >> increase federal resources to this program nationwide. >> they worked out spectacularly well in many places throughout the country. >> drug courts are transforming the criminal justice system throughout our nation. >> i have seen firsthand the difference the courts can make. >> fortunately, specialized treatment courts are being developed across the country. >> it really has been the states who have been showing us by example how effective they can be. >> more than 11,000 that's -- that's -- vets enrolled in veterans treatment courts. >> they are doing an amazing job with a team of professionals, truly saving one life at a time and providing a last chance for our veterans. >> that would increase by $3 million the amount appropriated
for fiscal year 2015 for the drug courts program. we do not have to waste taxpayer dollars in jail. and restorecrime families. quite simply, drug courts work. >> we do not have to be content with a system not effectively serving the people it is supposed to. the drug court approach reduces crime by as much as 45% and we have programs to help and save money. for every dollar invested jug courts, taxpayers save as much as $27 when compared to the historic approach. >> that makes a very powerful case. >> that is the beauty of the drug court. >> i think it makes a lot of sense. >> i just think this is something that deserves the support. >> i accept the amendment and i yield back. >> don't miss the capital held a cash held a -- the capitol hill day kickoff right here wednesday morning at 8:00 a.m. >> hello, everybody. my name is timothy. i'm a graduate of the philadelphia veterans court.
[applause] for those of you who do not know, philadelphia is the earth -- birth place of the greatest fighting force this world has ever known. the united states marine corps. i am proud to be from philadelphia. i'm proud to be a marine. i am proud to be a graduate of the veterans court. when i returned from iraq, i was lost. i had nowhere to turn. four days after being home from iraq, i got arrested for aggravated assault and i found myself in a jail cell all by myself.
it did not end there. there was no veterans court when i returned. seven arrests later and almost a year of my life in jail, you know, that lost feeling. i wish i would have had a veterans court from the beginning. i would not have gone through everything. i was addicted to drugs and alcohol. i did it to cope with ptsd. i lost my daughter. i lost my family. i lost a lot. someone said to me, ptsd and i said no way. not me. i am a big bad marine. i don't get anything like that. eventually, my family was able to get me in to the veterans hospital where i received treatment for the drugs and alcohol. january 4, i had for years clean and sober from drugs and alcohol. [applause]
even though i put the drugs down, there were still issues i had to address. the monster on my back known as ptsd. i had an episode while driving my car. i got my final arrest and i ended up in philadelphia veterans court. the first day i got there, i thought i would be treated like i would in any other court room. i had my first court date. i left there and i went to the korean war memorial on veterans day where i have seen judge dugan. patrick murphy was down there as well. i have seen both of them speak. i said, these guys they care and they get it and they do not talk it, they walk it as well. my next court date when i got
into court, i walked in and everybody knew my name and it blew me away. finally, i was not just another number. i found a home there. when i got into veterans court, i found here to peer support. i was around other veterans like me. they knew what i was going through in what i needed. it did wonders for me and i finally found a home. like i said, that was my last arrest. i have not been arrested since and i'm living proof steny hoyer -- standing here today that veterans courts work. [applause] i now have my daughter back in my life. [applause]
i married her mother, my beautiful wife. we now have another daughter named fiona who i love to death. it is all because of veterans court. it is crazy. i see rich bauer, the prosecutor in our court. to have the prosecutor of a court here supporting me, if that is not living proof, i do not know what is. [applause] my mother, i put her through hell and she smiles now every time she sees me. that is because of people like mike brown, judge patrick dugan,
rich bauer, and a host of other people who lead the way every day. i'm grateful to be here today. i will close with, we are going to capitol hill on wednesday. i will lead the way if everybody follows me so i expect to see everybody over there. thank you. [applause] >> from one marine to another, semper fi. thank you for sharing your inspiring story with us and for being a shining example of strength, honor, and resilience that embodies our veterans. thank you for continuing to serve our country as a mentor in veterans court.
i am proud to serve as a project manager for justice for vets veteran mentor core. all across the country, my fellow veterans stand ready to be of service. thanks to veteran treatment courts, thousands are volunteer mentors to veterans in crisis. there is no bond as strong as one that exists between those who served our country. i am proud to report that over the next 2.5 days, nearly 100 veterans from across the country will be attending the veteran mentor boot camp, where they will learn how to transfer the bond into healing and empowerment. i would like to ask all the mentors in the room to stand and big knowledge. -- be it knowledged. acknowledged.
[applause] thank you, ladies and gentlemen. i will be seeing you soon. don't be late. in the early years of the war in iraq and afghanistan barbara and a group concerned about the mental health implications on our troops, they licensed clinical psychologist practicing in the washington dc area for over 20 years. she was determined to take action. in 2005, she found a national network of mental health professionals who provide free services to u.s. troops, veterans, loved ones, and their communities. today, the network has over 7000 providers who have collectively given over $16 million worth of services. barbara's work has made the
mental health of our veterans a national issue. she is an expert on the psychological impact of war on troops and families. and she mobilizes communities in support of active duty service members, veterans, and families. she carries her message throughout the media and is regularly featured on outlets such as the ap, york times, wall street journal, washington post, good morning america. such military media outlets as stars and stripes and usa magazine and the pentagon channel. barbara is the recipient of too many awards to list. to give you an idea of her impact, in 2012, time magazine named her one of the world. -- one of the most influential people in the world. leadership, her
given our is now leading the campaign to change direction. a collective impact effort to change the culture of mental health in america. justice for vets and the any bcp are honored to partner with given hour on this effort and i am thrilled to welcome miss barbara to tell you all about it but first, take a look. >> today, nearly one in five americans are living with a mental health condition, from our children and grandparents to our veterans and neighbors. for all of us, our mental well-being is just as important as our physical health. unfortunately, most of us do not know how to recognize the signs that someone is in emotional distress. many of those who are having difficulty cannot get the help they need. together, we can change it. we can start by visiting change direction.org, and learning five science that may mean someone is
-- five signs that may mean someone is struggling and they need help. it is then up to us to show compassion and reach out, connect, help folks find the hope and support they need. together, we can change the story about mental health in america and together, we can change direction. [applause] >> ms. barbara. [applause] thank you. barbara: good morning. i am going to walk and talk. it helps me think. i want to thank melissa and caroline for inviting me to come be with you this morning. justice for vets and what you all do is incredibly important for me for a number of reasons. i will talk in a few minutes about stories because we all
have them. i will tell you mine. you heard a little bit about my story, and i will tell you more. that will hopefully put me in the context of how i came to be here this morning. my father was a veteran of world war ii who served in the pacific. he like many young men, he lied about his age to join the navy p he was old enough. he was a first-generation american who loved his country. when the call came for young men to join, he cheated and got in early. he served his country in the pacific. he saw combat and many things he never talked about to his kids. he came home and i grew up in california and when he came back, he decided he wanted to move his young family to the
country. he moved to the san joaquin valley and i have three older brothers. all looked like the american dream. well, my dad, like many of our veterans, combat affects you and he came back with what we now would say was posttraumatic stress. we did not have words for it back then. we do not have labels for it back then. patrick mentioned the important , legacy of the vietnam veterans also helped mental health professionals understand posttraumatic stress, what it is, and to begin to learn how to respond to it. my dad came back in i was not -- and i wasn't born yet. he decided he wanted to move our family to california. unfortunately, that move precipitated a psychotic break
in my mom and she was diagnosed later diagnosed as schizophrenic. my dad was very traditional, a veteran, tattoos on his arm, and he had to now be the dad and the mom and he stepped up like many of our veterans did and he took care of us and he helped my mom as much as he could. back then, in the early 1960's, there was not much treatment. there certainly wasn't in rural california. time went on and my mom and dad stay together until i was about eight. and then they split up. my mom, like so many of the mentally ill in my country, she fell through the cracks. we lost track of her. i did not see her for 43 years. i have seen her recently and that is another part of the story i will not talk about
today, but it is a -- we are proud and happy we were able to find her after all these years. so. i grew up and became a clinical psychologist, moved east to go to graduate school. i was standing in bethesda, maryland, holding my story i will not talk about one-year-old daughter on 9/11 and i thought, i want to do something. but there was not anything a clinical psychologist could do to really help. time passed and one day i was joining a few years later with -- driving a few years later with my nine-year-old and four-year-old daughters in the car. we saw homeless veterans and my daughter, who was nine at the time and is now 19, erupted with an outrage and she said mom, how could we let this happen to the men and women who served our country? she knew my dad had served as she never got to know my dad because he passed away laos 27. -- when i was 27. it was that moment that i decided, i can do something. i can harness people like me, mental health professionals.
that is what i did. i read nonprofits for dummies because i knew nothing about creating a nonprofit. but that is a great book if you ever want to start one. it kind of goes step-by-step. and i found a given hour. time passed and we started providing free services. we have now given over 160,000 hours of free care to those who served and their families. along the way, eyeing encountered justice for vets. i knew that we had to form a relationship. what we do fits together. more time passed and we had another national tragedy. it was this time the sandy hook shootings in connecticut. it was at that time the white house reached out to me and it was a huge honor that i was asked to take a look at what we need to do in our country to change what is happening in mental health.
why are people falling through the cracks? while most people who experience mental health disorders and have a mental illness are the recipients of crime, when someone does react as a result of delusions or hallucinations or severe trauma or any other number of combination of factors, sometimes, it can be horrifically tragic and we need to do better at identifying people early. that led me to gather this -- gather a bunch of folks together who i know and respect, and together, we came up with a simple concept. we need to change the culture of mental health in america. to do that, we are starting with something simple. just like we know the signs of a heart attack, we can learn the sign for someone is suffering emotionally and needs our help. we all know the signs of a heart attack or defend one in this
-- of a heart attack. if anyone in this audience right now started to experience check -- chest pain, sweat profusely, shortness of breath, the people around you would say, oh my gosh, this could be a heart attack and you take action. we do not do that for people suffering emotionally. sometimes, we do not even know what we are seeing. sometimes we know something is wrong, but we do not step in to help. these five signs that everyone can recognize, personality change, withdrawal, agitation, lack of personal care and homelessness. -- hopelessness. patrick mentioned 22 veterans per day commit suicide in this country per day. 42,000 americans commit suicide this past year. more than die in car accidents. we can change that by beginning to reach out in connecticut -- reach out, connect, offer help, like you saw the first
lady say. we are very proud of the partnership we have with justice for vets. and the national association of drug professionals. we are proud to work with all of you. what will happen because of the partnership is the mentors is -- will learn these five signs. they will be working with veterans and identifying recognizing when someone is in need. courtroom professionals will learn the signs. counselors and folks all throughout the justice system, because of our partnership, will recognize when someone is in need of mental health care and support. i talked about stories. we all have stories, you all have stories that brought you here. you heard mine. you each have one and i guarantee, because we know one in five of us are dealing with a diagnosable mental health condition at any point in time, but that means look around. a lot of us are here and we are productive and we deal and we engage and we do our jobs.
all of you understand the impact that unmet mental health needs can have on our veterans. all of our veterans have stories. you heard a few already this morning. amazing stories, inspirational stories. there but for the grace of god go i, right? all of the veterans who end up in the court system, it was their story. it was a combination of factors. it was what the experience in combat. it was genetics that maybe they came into that experience with a predisposition that set them up to experience the trauma in a certain way. it was life and family circumstances. it was a lack of a job, a lack of education, a long break. we all have stories. there were things that we can
all do to ensure that the stories of our veterans are the way we want for them, the stories they want for themselves, the stories their families deserve, the stories that they deserve. thank you, justice, and thank you, melissa, for everything you are doing. thank you all for the service you are providing. as many vietnam veterans have said to me and have written to us, thank you for our 7000 providers for providing free health care. they say the vietnam generation says if we had had what you are doing, and i would say, if they have had what you are doing, so many fewer people would have suffered unnecessarily. thank you all and i look forward to seeing you throughout the rest of the day. thank you. [applause]
>> thank you, barbara. good morning, everyone. my name is manny welch. i am a united states navy veteran. and a proud graduate of buffalo veterans treatment corps. [applause] i am the first graduate of buffalo veterans treatment corps -- court and also one of the , veteran graduates who came first back to become a mentor also. [applause] but i was not always a proud veteran. my story goes back to oakland, california. i served in the navy from 1975 to 1979. i got out of the navy, i know nothing about the v.a., i knew nothing about anything.
i got a job at the united states postal service and my addiction took over. i suffer from the disease of addiction and mental health issues. i knew none of that. all i know is i used to live and lived to use. as my journey from california back to new york state eventually, i suffered from despair, degradation, jails, institutions, over and over and over again. i lost two families. i have a set of twin daughters, back when i was in the service, that i have no connection with. i must say i leave that in god's hands. it is only because of his mercy that i am here. forgive me, because i must thank god for doing what he has done for me. [applause]
my god is in my midst every day. by losing the two families, the first one, my set of twins, and then i was married again for seven years, the disease of addiction, divorced out of that family. i also lost one daughter. to a drunk driver. my oldest daughter of the second marriage is now in new orleans. i have a slight relationship with her and for that, i am truly grateful. because when i was building back up a relationship with her, she said, dad, i do not know exactly where you will fit into my life, so i will fit you and where i can and i said thank you. because i had left her where -- when she was seven years old and i was truly grateful she would fit me in, and now we do e-mail back and forth. she gets back to me when she can. i want to get right back to
veterans treatment court. in 2008, when judge russell, hank, jack o'connor, sat down and put this thing called a veterans treatment court together, it was the best day of my life. my journey from california back to new york, once again, i was jailed in institutions. that is where i met my third wife, and i am glad to say and proud to say, i am still with her 24 years later. [applause] my oldest son of the family is here with me today. manny the third. [applause] and my wife and my other two are living it up in myrtle beach right now. [laughter] but, veterans treatment court, i was in regular drug court before. it was not working out for me.
i was continuously going to jail. i was continuously coming back on warrants. and then when they developed the veterans treatment court in 2008, i was transferred into that court. by being transferred into the court, a spirit came over me i did not truly understand. when i walked into the court in handcuffs, again, being returned on a warrant again, judge russell said something to me that no one else had ever said. he said, thank you for your service. then he stood up and there were some guys standing over to the side. they happened to be the mentors, which i knew nothing about your jack o'connor is my mentor. they were standing to the side and then based debt up and -- they all stood up, and then
everybody in the gallery of the court room stood up and they all started applauding me. i was like, i did not know what to say. i did not know what to do. i am like, what kind of court in -- am i in? where they applaud you for coming out of jail. [laughter] with that court, i reunited with my family. i am also a graduate of the community college, with an associates degree. i'm a graduate of the university of buffalo with a naturalistic -- with a bachelors degree. veterans treatment court does work and i am proud proof and tim is also. with that being said, i am a proud employee of the veterans of the va hospital buffalo, new york, as a peer support specialist, which god gave me the grace to give back to veterans what was freely given to me and i am truly grateful for that.
i work for a wonderful staff at the va hospital at the mental health division, which, they do not know my past. they know my future and my present. they are like, we cannot really understand that is who you were. and i might, yes, but that is -- i am like, yeah, that is who i was, but that is not who i am today. for that, i would like to thank kristen, who held my hand through the whole thing. i called her and tested her -- texted her constantly and she said no problem. i would like to thank adam, the rest of the staff, dave, and truly i would like to thank judge russell, jack o'connor, and i know she is probably out there, but pam, wherever she is. there she is. all right. those are people who truly had their foot in my behind, literally speaking, that i could make it. thank you for the conference and allowing me to come.
it is truly an honor and a privilege and i hope you all enjoy the rest of the conference. thank you. [applause] >> good morning everyone. i am butch, united states army, retired. 31 years, three months, two days. you laugh but i guarantee you every veteran here can tell you exactly how long he or she served. more importantly, i am the son, united states army, retired infantry, 36 years of service. 10th grade dropout, private e1
to colonel. 100% disabled veteran. i went to see him. dinner with my mom and dad. told him what i was going to do today and i said, do you have any advice, he said after he thought for a minute, he said, don't embarrass your family. [laughter] so, i will do my best. that is our family's legacy of service. but we are not done, just like you, we know there is work yet to be done. you realize that, otherwise, you would not be here right now. my colleagues and i are new to the conversation. we join a conversation that for years has been led by our nation's veterans service organizations.
we are so proud to have in our audience today, so proud to join us over the course of the next few days. we thank you not just for being here today, for all of our leadership and attendees, but we thank you for leading the conversation, we thank you for being our advocates on the hill, and for driving policy every day, that positively affects our veterans. to all of our leaders and members, thank you for being here and for what you have done for us all. [applause] i am grateful to our next presenter. judge robert russell. judge russell reminded me of three things. he reminded me that the law in the hands of honorable people is the greatest force for good in this country.
he reminded me that courts are -- our government and our communities can, if they want, make a difference, and can solve problems. he reminded me why, since the 10th grade, in mr. young's constitutional law classes in kansas, why wanted to be a lawyer. i am grateful to judge russell. but let's have a private moment here because judge russell and his posse from buffalo come with a warning. this is between us. the warning is, if you take one step into his courtroom, you are sucked into a vortex of service you cannot ever get out of. nor do you want to get out of that vortex of service.
it was one brief visit up there and i knew, this is where i wanted to be. this is where my wife and i wanted to devote our continued service to the nation. i am grateful. i fully anticipate that when you make that step and visit, as judge holder and his crew are going to do soon, and you visit buffalo on you meet the judge, and you meet jack, and you meet patrick and everyone else up there, he will be in the vortex of service and just like i am, you will be eternally grateful to judge russell for the single individual who brought all of us here today and who has wrought veteran treatment courts to where they are at this time in our history. please welcome to the stage judge robert russell.
[applause] thank you, judge. robert: thank you. thank you major general. i am honored to share the stage with someone of such profound service to this nation. i appreciate your kind words. to tim and manny, thank you very much for sharing part of you and your story today. to the men and women who have worn the uniform or presently wear the uniform, thank you very much for your service. as i look out at the room and see all of you, i am filled with a sense of gratitude and
appreciation for you and all of the work that you are doing to come to the aid of our veterans. i know many of you have implemented veterans treatment courts and because you were told and you did it, not because you were told to, but because you saw it was the right thing to do. you all helped this nation live up to its ideal of leaving no veteran behind. when there is a veterans treatment court within reach, of every veteran in need, it will be because of you. the pioneers. and the inspired action you took to come to the and of the veteran in crisis. thank you all for the work you do day in and day out on behalf of those who have served.
a few weeks ago, i have the honor of meeting with robert mcdonald, secretary of the v.a., secretary mcdonald is a man who has, time and again, answered the call of duty to his and our nation. he graduated from the united states military academy at west point in the top 2% of his class. in 1975. an army veteran. mr. mcdonald served with it is -- with the 82nd airborne division and completed jungle, arctic, desert warfare training. earned the ranger tab, the expert infantryman badge, senior parachute or swing. -- parachutist wing.
upon leaving military service, captain mcdonald was awarded the meritorious service medal. mr. mcdonald's's expertise as a soldier is equaled by his business acumen. he earned an mba from the university of utah in 1978 and he has had a storied career in the private sector. before joining the v.a., secretary mcdonald was chairman, president, and chief executive officer of procter & gamble. a company where by every measurable metric, he was an astounding success. but throughout his career, mr. mcdonald carried with him the values he learned from his military service and when his nation called once again upon him for service, he accepted
without hesitation. secretary mcdonald's devotion to country is equaled by his devotion to those who defend it. he was confirmed by the united states senate as the eighth secretary of veteran affairs on july 29 of 2014. in the years since, secretary mcdonald has set about restoring the nation's's trust in the v.a., establishing the v.a. has an institution in both that it should be and that it can be. he has established an extraordinary degree. -- degree of transparency at the v.a. so he can bring all state quarters to the table to the stakeholders to the table to contribute to help to make the v.a. better. putting the needs and expectations first.
rebranding the v.a. as my v.a.. so the veterans feel a sense of ownership and empowerment in a system that exists solely for them. it is already working. this year, the v.a. has access to care and completed 7 million more appointments this year than that of last. what does the v.a. look like today? let's take a look. ♪
>> this is air talk. mantle.y mountai the v.a. has agreed to create housing for southern california homeless veterans. here to talk about the deal is the u.s. secretary of veterans affairs, robert mcdonald. is it possible to end homelessness for veterans in southern california by the end of the year? robert: the big idea here, larry is the first step to any -- ending homelessness is for the community to come together. all of you who have committed yourselves to not just counting a number, but finding each individual story. while this is a city of so much, it is also a place alongside the l.a. river and the freeway offramp and underneath our skidrow andre in throughout our city, there are far too many people are homeless. >> one thing you learn in the army and in the military service of this country, whether the
person is alive or dead, we never leave somebody behind. unfortunately, we have left some people behind and they are our homeless veterans. i am here to tell you that we at v.a. are totally committed to helping the city of los angeles, helping the mayor and all of you achieve that goal of ending veteran homelessness by the end of the year. ♪ [applause] >> along with the delegation for the justice, buffalo and rochester veterans, his
-- i was struck by his sincerity and his strong support for veterans treatment courts. i can report to all of you that we have someone committed to ensuring the partnership between the veterans treatment court and the v.a. remain strong. as we all know, mentors are the foundation of the treatment court's success. it occurs to me that during our meeting with secretary mcdonald, he is also a mentor for all of our veterans. therefore, i think it is only right that we make him an official member of the national volunteer veterans mentor core, what do you think? [applause]
and you know, we're having a veteran mentor boot camp at the conclusion of the boot camp, each of the veterans volunteer. mentor participants will receive and where one of these shirts when they are inducted. when secretary mcdonald, before you leave today, he will also receive his shirt. ladies and gentlemen, it is with great honor to welcome to the stage our leader of the united states department of veteran affairs. please let us welcome secretary robert mcdonald. [applause] stage our leader of the united
>> thank you very much. it's a thrill for me to be here. i cannot think of any better way to keep veterans out of incarceration, stop veteran homelessness, and i'm just so thankful to all of you here today for the work that you do to help us care for veterans. one thing that became very clear to me in los angeles, as you may have seen in that film, is that we in the v.a. cannot do this job by ourselves.
we need the help of all layers of government, nine government organizations, businesses, and others, to be able to care in the right way for veterans. it is important to have collaboration and partnerships. i love the picture of judge russell and myself as we are shaking hands across the table at v.a. because that is the kind of partnership we need to have. that is the kind of collaboration we need to have. [applause] nationally, we have got a monumental task. it has to really be a community effort. we have to work community by community, city by city, state by state. locally, it is a huge undertaking. we know we cannot succeed only from the federal government. we have got to make collaborative connections. 2016 is fast approaching and we in the v.a. have made a number of commitments for the end of 2015.
our goal is to end veterans homelessness. we have a huge role to play in doing that and so do you pay or we are incredibly thankful for the partnership. there is a link between justice involvement and homelessness. if i was looking at all the studies i looked at as i came in to the rule, it was very clear. if incarceration is like a one-way ticket to homelessness, if we could work together to end incarceration, we have a great chance of endless -- of ending homelessness fairly. we need to give veterans and offramp from that inextricable link. two weeks ago, president obama described the united states as a nation of second chances. i deeply believe that. nobody deserves a second chance more than those who have
protected our country, the 1% that has protected the 100% of our country. they gave us the opportunity to prosper. they preserved our liberty and our freedom. how many of you are veterans in this room? if you would not mind, please stand up and accept applause of all of us here. [applause] thank you for your service. how many of you are serving through mentor boot camp? [applause] thanks for your commitment. a commitment to make people's lives even better. i think there is nothing more
mobile than to live a life of purpose. wouldn't it be terrible to meander through life without direction? all of you have purpose and that is represented by you being here. let me tell you a quick story, probably a store you are familiar with. an old man and a young man. the old man is on a beach. the beaches littered with starfish up and down the beach, and the tide has gone out. the starfish were kind of baking in the sun and were vulnerable to lose their lives. feels man would walk the beach and then over and pick up the starfish and throw it back in the seat. the unmanned saw this and as you know, often times when we are young, we become cynical and iconoclastic. the old man says, oh what are you doing, and i say, i am picking up starfish and the
young man said, yeah but, look down and you see thousands and thousands of starfish. there is simply no way you are going to be able to pick up all the starfish and throw them back in the seat. so why bother? the old man picked up a starfish and he put it back in the water and he said, it makes a difference to just one. making a difference to just one is really how to measure our lives. do we make the difference in the life of at least one person every single day? it is certainly the question i asked myself when i leave my office in the evening. have i made a difference in the life of at least one veteran that day? i am here to thank you for the difference you are making in the lives of so many veterans through the work you are doing. we in the v.a. think we have the highest order of calling in the
world. that is to care for those who are born in the battle, their survivors, and their families. there is no higher calling. we also think we have the best values in the world, integrity and commitment and advocacy, respect, and excellence. if we live our lives according to that mission and according to those values, there is no question we could make a difference for all the veterans who served our country. serving justice of all veterans is an important part of that. you are embracing that mission. you have got germs around it and -- you have your arms around it and even as you wrap that around it, we have many veterans who need us and they need you. look at the marines in this formation. which would you imagine are going to become involved in the
criminal justice system? which could you imagine would potentially be homeless? too many have and more will. thanks to you, thanks to you, there is an offramp. an offramp to a second chance. for that, we thank you deeply. you have heard the testimonials. veterans treatment court kept me alive and kept me going. eric said veterans achievements courts offered me the chance of a lifetime. nick said veterans treatment court's save my life. i have heard many of these stories. they start with the criminal justice system and they start
with a peer counselor. they start with veterans treatment courts and then the individual goes on and they use the g.i. bill, they get community college training and may be a four-year degree. maybe they even go on to law school and maybe they end up paying it forward like many of you here. working on behalf of other veterans. no other group or people better personify that mission or these values than you do. i pray that god will continue to bless you all in your work. you are helping with one of our
return or integrate. we now have 351 veterans courts nationwide, working every day to increase that number and the number of counselors we have to work with you. while v.a. leads the way in health care, we have done things like the first liver transplant, the first cardiac pacemaker, the first time a nurse came up with the idea to use a barcode to connect patients with medicine and medical records. we invented the nicotine patch. we also invented the shingles vaccine. a lot of innovations have come from the v.a. and we have three nobel prizes and seven awards. one innovation that did not come from the v.a. is the veterans courts. you taught us how to do this. your partnership model, the
model of collaboration of the core concept executed federally and locally, tailored to meet every specific need. you have taught us this. it is a perfect example of how communities can collaborate in holistic ways. there is the judge and the court staff supervisor. there are v.a. and community providers delivering treatment simultaneously. there are volunteer veteran mentors providing moral support, camaraderie, and training. this is the best in classic kind of collaboration we could possibly have. all of us working together synergistically for the benefit of the veterans. let me remind you we are also working hard in all of this to help families as well. it is part of our homelessness effort, we have vouchers but one of my favorite programs is one that provides support for families.
so that we show we are not only caring for the veterans, but we are caring for the family as well. certainly when the veteran joins the service or a servicemember joins the service, the family goes with them. when they deploy, the family goes with them as well. so we have to care for families. we need more of that kind of innovation. we need more creative solutions that we can use. we in the v.a. are willing to try anything that will work. all we are concerned about is getting the numeric outcome at the end, making sure we get the human outcome of the veteran who is better off. we are working on many technological solutions, things like tele-health and also a regional veterans courts. we are committed to creative approaches to make these crucial partnerships work. you all here in this room are at the nexus of justice involvement and homelessness.
we want to share where we are with ending veterans homelessness. as you can see by this chart, veterans homelessness is down 33% from 2010 to 2014. it is down 40% for chronic homelessness. this is because of the president's strong support and his focus and funding we have received. funding is important for transitional housing, employment and job training. since 2008, funding programs benefiting veterans homelessness have increased 170%, from
$2.4 billion in 2008 to $6.5 billion in 2015. but it is about a lot more than just money. we have to know how to spend that money. we have learned what works and very importantly we have learned what does not work. we have settled on evidence-based strategies, they are here on this chart. housing first, what a beautiful strategy. it recognizes the hierarchy of needs, we need to get the lowest level needs out of the way first so we can work on the other needs of the veterans. we do not get a veteran under a roof there is no way to work on treatment. so temporary housing is the most important thing to do first, then deal with other issues that may have caused homelessness. second, no wrong door. coordinating the assessment and entry systems and providing help, no matter where the veteran turns. i love it when i go into a city like los angeles and i see and
access program where every door you go in leads to the same access, to treatment and housing. outreach and engagement, seeking homeless veterans, getting to know them and their needs, sharing with partners. we are doing a good job of trying to hire social workers and counselors, there is no substitute for the peer counselor, for the veteran who has been there, been through the need. i was recently in tucson. there are a lot of veterans there homeless and i met a young man, doug, who literally goes into the desert and comes back and brings veterans in and puts them under a roof. the fact that he has been to the desert and he has been homeless, it gives him the ability to go into the desert
and get them. that engagement is so important. connecting veterans with services, this is critically important. grassroots mobilization, how do we get things mobilized at the local level, get the local government involved, local service providers, local landlords. one of the biggest issues we have with homelessness across the country and housing veterans is finding the landlords willing to rent at the voucher amount. we go into cities, i get with mayors and we ask landlords to get into the room and we say, we would like you to join the mayor's challenge, that you rent to veterans for the voucher amount, we will provide the cure for the veterans, but we need that roof. and many veterans have stood up. the mayor in san francisco told me that he was so thrilled, because the chinese-american community in san francisco saw it as their patriotic duty to rent their spaces to veterans
for the correct amount. i cannot stress enough the importance of the grassroots effort. only so much can be done nationally, and by a federal agency like the v.a. we provide a strategy and support, the funding, but ending homelessness has to happen community by community. it is so much more the money, it is people like you that are committed to veterans and evidence-based strategies that work. another community strategy which is working is the mayor's challenge. phoenix, salt lake city, new orleans, they have all reached milestones over the past year. in 2014, new orleans was the
first major city to declare that they had ended veterans homelessness. houston recently announced that they have created a system that will help end and prevent homelessness going forward. but we expect many more cities to declare results over the coming months. let me to you, nobody has done more to help veterans homelessness than first lady michelle obama and the president. they have been there along the way. they have provided support, leadership, and the enthusiasm to get this done. partnership is one of our strategies that really works. we use the same principles in these partnerships that are valuable to your efforts, working within the justice system, involving veterans. so far, we have served, you know, we in the v.a. are only allowed to serve those who have honorable discharges, so those with a less than honorable
discharges, the 15% of veterans that have that, really rely on community partnerships to get that done. i was in boston not long ago and i visited an organization named homebase. historically, homebase has been competition for the v.a., a competition to provide care for veterans with post-traumatic stress or with dramatic brain injuries. i do not think that way. we in the v.a. do not think that way, we embrace all organizations trying to help veterans, we want to partner with them, because homebase not only provides great outcomes for veterans, but post-traumatic stress, but they help those 15% that we cannot serve by law. so these strategic partnerships are not only critical, they are not only smart for achieving strategies, but in my mind they are also there with morals,
because we need to make sure that no veteran is left behind. we also work with section eight vouchers. i recently went on a multi-city tour with secretary of labor tom perez and others because we wanted to demonstrate that we in the federal government are working collaboratively across departments and we would like to work collaboratively with the cities and counties that we visited. all of us are adopting a no wrong door philosophy, to ensure that we can get veterans in the care, under roof and in order to do that, we in the v.a. have a strategy called strategic partnerships. we are trying to engage local philanthropy, landlords, business communities, we want to maximize the total number of
resources available for all of us to get this done. we also want to leverage your political capital, we will get housing authorities committed to providing units, local veterans service organizations and military bases to donate and volunteer their time. we need to continue to work to build paths to the stronger relationships, bring people to the table, set realistic goals, make plans and execute as one team with one dream. we in the v.a. are not only trying to improve our numbers as we go, for example, we are working to improve access to medical care. as the judge said, we have more completed appointments over the last year versus the previous year. 20% of those have been same day appointments. the average wait time now nationally is five days for specialty care and four days for primary care and three days for mental health care. 22% of our completed appointments have been in the
community. 4.5 million have been in the community, 2.5 million have been in the v.a. we also work to get the backlog claims down. we are now down to about 117,000 from a peak of 611,000 last march. we are not going to rest until we get that back order claims down to zero. as i have already shown, we are making progress on homelessness. all of that is progress in the right direction, but we are not going to get where we need to be until we transform the v.a. for the long-term and we are in the midst of that now. we call this the mighty vh -- the my v.a. transformation, that is the way we want you to think about this.
we want you to think about the v.a. as if it were your cell phone, personalized and customized for you, the veteran. to do that, we have five started. number one -- improve the veteran experience. we are working hard to train the organization in what great customer service is. we are working with companies like disney, ritz carlton, starbucks and others to learn the best customer service. strategy 2 -- improve the experience. we know we have no hope of improving the veteran expense until we improve the employee experiencne. we are working hard to provide the right training, provide the right leadership, and do all of the things we need to do to empower v.a. employees. third -- we need to improve the support services, i.t. systems are often outdated, the scheduling system that got us into trouble in phoenix, that dates to 1985.
when i was in phoenix, i sat down and worked on it myself, it was like working on a green screen with ms-dos. and our financial managing system, believe it or not, it is about 20 years old and it is written in cobalt, last programmed in 1973 on the west point computers. we have work to do to improve the support services. number 4 -- we need to establish a culture of continuous improvement. to do that, we are training be a employees in a way that employees take charge of systems they work on, they are given tools to change the system and i tell them, let's try to be the change we want to see, like gandhi said. and number 5 -- the partnerships. we cannot do this job alone. we need you.
we embrace you as partners. remember, your work is purposeful. there is no higher calling than the work you do. it is monumental. you help veterans, families. you make a difference in the lives of others. there is no higher calling than that. and you more than anyone else understand the inextricable link between what we do in the justice system and ending veterans homelessness. we are committed to assuring you have all the services you need come all the support you need, we are committed to making sure that every veteran has the services they need, including those who are justice-involved. justice-involved veterans are welcome to the v.a. they are the ones we are looking for first, we are seeking them to help them have access to services and we are trying to make sure that the criminal
justice system, the criminal history of probation or pending charge does not affect their eligibility. if there is a v.a. practice that is getting in the way, we will find a way to fix it. my e-mail is bo email@example.com, very simple, it is my name, please let me know if there is something in your way. don't ever settle for the status quo or belieg you cannot create change yourself. you can and you will and you are. i want to close by saying you all inspire me every single day, we will succeed, i know we can and i know we will, but we will because of all of you. so i would like to again thank you for letting me spend some of your time with you, god bless you and what you are doing. thank you very much. [applause] >> mr. secretary, we cannot
thank you enough for your leadership and support. good morning, i am carson fox, the chief operating officer of justice for vets. this morning, we had the honor of giving not one but two awards. to give the first award i would let to invite chris to join me and the secretary on stage. [applause] >> sometime in mid-2008, i am watching mtv, there is a tribute to veterans and they show this
story about this young marine in tulsa oklahoma who is making it his mission to start a treatment court, mind you at the time, there are only two in operation. through the force of his personality and his inability to take no for an answer, matt steiner did create that third veterans treatment corp, and then he established a veteran mentor program, where he cajoled, networked, harassed every agency and department within 100 miles to show their support. the result was that the tulsa veteran treatment core would go on to be named a national model. after that, he came to washington, d.c., where he led
the new division, justice for vets. he was exactly the leader we needed. i worked with him for two years as he traveled the country, building the support for veteran treatment corp that would become the foundation of the movement is today. he approached his mission like it was his calling. i am sure you are familiar with that aspect of his personality. i was grateful to be there to see him, to see his tenacity, to experience his unique use of four-letter words on a daily basis. [laughter] i can tell you from justice for vets we could not be any prouder than on the pathway to working with the secretary. he made us stop and help us raise the bar. >> so, steiner, where are you buddy? thank you for all your done for justice for vets and corps around the country and the
veterans you serve, and for your service to your country. [applause] >> i will say a few words. >> go for it. >> thank you very much. i was not expecting this whatsoever. thank you for what you are doing in the field, like the secretary said, you are the ones making all the magic. you are the ones serving veterans and it is an honor to receive an award named after a great marine who helped start this whole thing. thank you very much. [applause] >> for those of us who knew hank, what we remember first is his infectious laughter. hank lit up the room, he helped people, he was my friend.
he was a friend of many of us here, and for those who did not know him, if you knew him, he would be your friend too. hank was a vietnam vet. they created the role of coordinator, bringing together the mentors. nothing was more important to hank than his family, friends and helping others, especially fellow veterans and those people who receive this award today carry on his memory. i would now like to ask the vets to of justice for join me on stage to present this second award. >> the next recipient is known
to most in this room and i guarantee you to every single person working in the great state of texas. mary covington is a force of ature. >> i jokingly told mary this morning when we first met i did not need readers, and now i do. so i've known her a while. i will tell you a little bit about her and then become a little bit more personal because this is a really emotional award and i'm proud to be a part of boe stowing it upon her. frank covington, the special ograms manager in harris county, houston texas. she manages the harris county adult court success through addiction recovery, star, program, as well as the veterans
treatment court programs as coordinator in veterans treatment course she helped turn it into one of the pre-eminent veterans treatment program, even being featured on 60 minutes. in addition to her tireless efforts to ensure each participant receives appropriate treatment, she's been an incredible advocate at the state and national level. her efforts have help sod spread -- have helped spread veterans treatment court not only throughout the lone star state of texas but she's recently been in washington, d.c. meeting with members of congress to urge their support for veterans' treatment considerate court funding. on a personal note, i will tell you she and i have shared many things as specialty courts have grown in the state of texas. we have a lot of stories that would mean something to us and you guys would just say, ok, get on with it. but i will tell you this.
one true legacy for mary covington is that she has helped train more incoming presidents of the texas association including me. mary thank you for your mentoring, thank you for your training, and it is with great honor that i bestow upon you the 2015 hank karofski award. mary: thank you so much. judge reyes, you have always been my mentor and my friend and i'm so thankful to always have you in my corner. i told judge russell last night that when i first met hank in 2003, i had been on my job at the harris county program manager for drug courts for all of 24 hours and quite frankly,
hank terrified me. but i remember thinking at the end of the week if i could ever be half as good as hank i would have accomplished something. so i'm so honored to receive this award today. i couldn't accept this award without thanking judge mark carter for letting me be a small part of his vision to bring veterans' treatment courts to texas. and to my team, thank you for inspiring and encouraging me every day. i'm only as good as you made me. one team, one fight. thank you. >> march 10, 2002, i entered the
united states marine corps. the day i stepped off the plane in afghanistan, people were carrying a.k.'s down the middle of a main street. it was a radically different world. once i realized that, not only my purpose for serving but kind of the purpose of my life changed at that point. it was very hard to reintegrate into the society that i had left, i had done things that many people would never dream of ever having to do. i was really angry. the sleeplessness, the nightmares, they crippled me. i became addicted to opiates and later heroin. however they became much more of a problem than i had even tarted out with. >> i decided to practice law because the law could be used to promote good things. i always talk with my clients because i really want them to understand that i know them and
i care about them. i had a young man and he came into court and i said, what's going on? you don't seem yourself today. he said going to his ptsd group sessions made him feel worse. and the next week, this young man overdosed and died. so i said not on my watch. that's when i began to develop this program that was specifically to save veterans' lives. >> there was a point in my drug use where i didn't care if i lived or died. my mother had finally gotten to the point where i came home and she met me halfway down the driveway and said that we are always going to love you, but don't come back. i lived like that for about two years. until i was arrested and came in ront of a judge in treatment
court. >> the court is a standalone court. i have 23 ancillary services right out my courtroom door. when someone is standing before me i can say, what more can we do for you? >> that day was the last day i used drugs or committed a crime. >> they're volunteering to work really hard to profoundly change their lives. >> my story is not unique. there's a lot of places in the united states that don't have this opportunity right now, so a veteran that doesn't have this opportunity doesn't have a uture. >> we are here to save lives. we are here to restore veterans to those human beings that they were before they chose to serve. adcp lcome to the stage n
interim director carolyn harden. carolyn: good morning. during her years on the bench, combined the best traits. in 2008, her and her incredible team launched the second veterans' treatment court in the country. immediately after the program started, judge linley's court became a crucial destination for thousands of people interested in better serving veterans. judge linley understands the unique needs of veterans and has done outstanding work at
bridging the large divide in our culture between civilians and veterans in the justice system. she saw opportunities where others saw obstacles. she sought not just to solve problems, she sought to transform individuals, their families and communities. and guess what? that is exactly what she did. while she is no longer previding over veterans' treatment court she will long be remembered for helping to pioneer a program that will also help us with saving the lives of 11,000 veterans this year. i can think of no one more deserving to be elected to the veterans' treatment court hall of fame. it is my pleasure, my honor to introduce to you my friend and one of my mentors, judge wendy linley. [applause]
judge linley -- judge lindley: thank you. it is a huge honor to receive this. it was an honor to be one of you and work with you on behalf of veterans. i'll be brief but starting with long, long ago when i started my first collaborative court, we didn't have evidence-based practices available to us. ewe didn't have research. methamphetamine was the drug of choice at that time. there wasn't much available at all system of what did we do in these isolated pockets where we were creating these collaborative courts? we learned by trial and error. we made lots of mistakes. i made lots of mistakes. until the national association
of drug court professionals came along and changed everything. today we are so fortunate to have justice for vets. justice for vets provides us with evidence-based treatment. they provide us with key components. they give us practical advice on creating, implementing, and improving veterans' courts. and they work tirelessly to do this. i personally had to put on probation several individuals who worked for justice for vets because they take no personal time for themselves. and i hope that my latest individual on probation attended the meditation this morning because she does nothing but tirelessly work for this organization. which truly does create justice for vets. closing, i want to say that our work is so important and each one of you in this room is
so important to our work. you come in, day after day, week after week, year after year, in spite of challenges and sometimes disappointments because you know that the work we do saves lives, saves families, as we heard today, and saves money, and make ours community a better place for all of us. as i look out to the more than 1,000 of you who are here today, i have such hope knowing that you are now armed with even more information to go back to your community and to continue to do your good work to bring justice to vets. thank you. [applause]
>> thank you, judge lindley. i have to admit i'm the one she put on prodation. thank you everyone for being here this week. i don't know about you but after today's ceremony, i feel pretty energized. do you? ready to go for a great conference. i know that together we are going to have a great conference. his morning we heard a beautiful version of the national anthem performed by tony-award winning actress katy hudspeth. her credits are too new mexico russ to -- numerous to list here. she's best known for her tony-award-winning turn as oola in the smash mitt "the producers" and remains one of broadway's shining stars. but she is also a passionate advocate for veterans. when i called katy and i asked her to come share her talent
with us, here today, and i told her what you all were up to, katy said, and i quote, if my little voice can help in any way, of course i'll be there. well, after having heard her this morning, we all know she doesn't have a little voice. so katy wanted to be here and ladies and gentlemen, noona perington, please welcome back to the stage, my friend, ms. katy huffman. [applause]
[applause] >> coming up on c-span, our profile of two freshmen representatives who served in the military. congressman seth moulton of massachusetts a former marine, and after that, representative steve russell of oklahoma, an army ranger. later, a pair of doctors who work with veterans on treating ptsd and other mental health issues. >> on the next "washington journal," sulma areas on a federal appeals court upholding an injunction blocking president obama's executive action preventing deportation of five million immigrants living in the
u.s. then former homeland security secretary tom ridge looks at new threats to the u.s., including threats to cyberware and the electrical grid. frieden , dr. thomas of the centers for disease control and prevention discusses food borne illnesses in the last few years. "washington journal" live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. >> things are very different today. first of all we have a justice system that does not -- these trials were not held according to what we would consider to be modern law. hearsay is perfectly acceptable, innocent until proven guilty had not jet -- yet -- was not in place. there were no lawyers, i should say, at the time. the courtroom is an extremely unruly place. that's one piece of it. ot that we don't happen to
believe in witchcraft or prosecute witchcraft. >> on sunday, stacy schiff talks about her book "the witches" about the salem witch trials and the effects it had on the massachusetts community. >> and the way we think of salem s that wealthy people were accused of witches, homeless 5-year-old girls were accused to be witches. this is not an incident where all the victim rrs female. we have five male witches, and we didn't burn the witches, we hang them. there was so much encrusted myth and so much misunderstanding here that i felt it was important to dispel. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern and pacific. on c-span's "q&a." >> next, c-span's ongoing series
congressional freshman profiles with members who have served in the u.s. military. democratic congressman society moulton represents the sixth district of massachusetts. he's a former marine who did four tours in the iraq war and worked directly with general david petraeus. the harvard graduate talks about his decision to serb and his goals as a new member of congress. this is 20 minutes. host: you're one of several freshman members who are veterans. is that a -- is there a camaraderie between you and other veterans? representative moulton: yes. i've gotten to know several representatives across the aisle because we share that experience. we've found ways to work together where we might not have
had a way to find a point of commonality. host: did it surprise you to find so many young veterans? representative moulton: as a whole, we have less vet -- fewer veterans than any point in history. the chairman of the armed reverses ommittee, he seniority because he said some of the veterans down front, the freshmen veterans, ask the best questions. host: what motivated you to become a marine? representative moulton: i grew up in a middle class family, able to go to good schools with the help of scholarships. but when i looked back at my life in college, i said, you know, i haven't done anything to give back. i was enflunesed by some mentors, especially the school minister at harvard, the reverend peter gomes, a larger than life moral figure on campus. he had one of the most popular
undergraduate courses. he talked about the importance of service. it's not enough just to believe in service or support those who serve, you ought to find a way yourself to serve and give back. i looked at the peace corps, i looked at teaching overseas, but at the end of the day i had so much respect for the 18 and 19-year-old kids who serve on the frontlines of our nation's military that i decided that's where i'd do my part. host: this is months before 9/11, how did your parents react? representative moulton: they were not pleased. my parents graduated from brown in 1968, 1970, they were anti-war and didn't have experience with the military. they didn't really understand my decision to serve in that way. host: tell us about your experience as 9/11 comes along, what was your service like? how many tours did you do?
remitive moulton: when i was going through training in 2002, i thought i had just missed a war. this was when we were in afghanistan, it sounded like afghanistan would be quick like the first persian gulf war, so i was training throughout 2002 and then got to my unit just before we deployed for the invasion of iraq. i ended up in the first company of marines into baghdad. host: what are the moments you're most proud of in your marine service? representative moulton: i'd say some of the worst days of my life were in iraq and some of the best were there too. every single day in the midst of that war, even though i disagreed with it, i was able to have an impact on the lives of other people. on the lyes of fellow american, on the lives of iraqis. i was able to have an influence over the way that war was being fought. frankly more of an influence than if i'd just been back home
complaining about it. host: you served from 2001 to when? representative moulton: i started in 2002, just after september 11. then i did tours in iraq, up until 2004. i worked with general petraeus in 2005. then i got out. i was ready to go to grad school. i'd gotten into harvard business school. but then when general petraeus was asked to go back for the surge he asked me to come with him, so i postponed grad school and put the uniform back on and went over for a fourth tour. host: during your run for the sixth district, "boston globe" said something that during your campaign you never mentioned the commendations, the medals you received. why didn't you do that? and what were those medals? representative moulton: a couple of reasons. first of all, i think there's a healthy disrespect for those of
us who served on the frontlines, for people who go around telling war story. there are an awful lot of young marines who have done incredibly heroic things and haven't been recognized properly. so i didn't think it was ever appropriate to talk about my awards or brag about them in any way. and i think that that's a common view among many veteran who was been on the frontlines. so i don't think it makes me that unusual. maybe it make me unusual in the political world but certainly not among my fellow veterans. host: you mentioned the armed services committee. how does your military experience, in addition to your service on the committee, how does that help or influence what you do on chill? >> a few lessons i learned in iraq, in the war. one of which is the value of leadership. it's amazing the impact even some of the youngest people in our country can va on the lives
of others if you're willing to stand up and lead. so for example, when i made the difficult determination that the best way to prevent iran from get agnew clear weapon was to support the deal, not that it's a great deal but that i, after serious examination of all the alternatives thought it was the best position we could be in, a lot of people advised me to step back. this is politically dangerous. it's a very contentious issue, there are a lot of divisions. but i remembered that i wasn't elected to sit back and take the politically easy course. i was elected to lead. so i got out there and explained why i thought it was important. i think i was the only politician in massachusetts to hold open forums in the month of august to talk to my constituents and explain to them, to justify my position. and here -- and hear those in favor say aye criticisms and complaints and answer their concerns. so that's something. a realthink that there's value in just having the courage
to come out and say what you believe. i think that we'd be a better country and stronger congress if we had more people just explain the truth to the american public even when they know it might be unpopular back home. host: do you think the american public understands, you serve on the armed services committee, understands the needs of veterans? representative moulton: everybody supports veterans today. i have tremendous respect for the vietnam generation who had to come back from a tragic war and then face more tragedy at home on the home front when they got home and were treated poorly ust for their service. i feel lucky as a veteran of the iraq war that i've been treated well. but the problem is, there's a real divide between the half of one percent who served in our wars and the other 99.5% who barely realize there's a war going on.
it's not that americans don't want to care about veterans but i feel like we need to do a lot of work to restore the understanding between veterans and the rest of our country. host: what was service like under david petraeus in the surge? representative moulton: he's widely respected for being a great military leader, and an academic. he has a ph.d. from princeton. he can talk about strategy and politics. but he's the best boss i've ever had. i feel honored to have had the opportunity to serve with him. host: now you're not only the congressman but you're the boss of this office where we're talking today. what's a typical day like for you here in this office? representative moulton: i don't know that there's a typical day, i think that's one thing that makes the job interesting. but to succeed in washington today, you've got to pick your battles carefully, you've got to work very, very hard, and we
have a team that's smart and hardworking enough to do that. we had about 1,000 applicationers in 15 positions in the office between washington and the district. and we worked together as a -- work together as a team. we have a video conference every single day so the district and d.c. teams are on the same page. we have the cream of the crop that came to work for us. we also have an incredible team of interns. we got a tremendous number of intern applicants as well. we pride yourselves on working hard and doing a good job. but fundamentally, on being focused on service. that's an abiding principal of this office. it's fundamentally why i'm here in the first place, to serve the country. so, you know, amidst the meetings and committee hearings and visitors who come into the office, we carve out time to have leadership and values discussions, to remind everybody, to remind ourselves why we're here. at the end of the day we're here to serve the people of our district and the united states
of america. host: typically, what time does your day start here and when does it end? representative moulton: i try to get up at 5:30 and come in and do work or go to the gym early on. at the end of the day, last night i had dinner with several colleagues there's always some dinner, fundraising or other activity in the evening. the average day probably starts around 7:00 and ends around 10:00 or 11:00 at night. host: your district includes your hometown, salem, massachusetts, we're talking to you a couple of days after halloween. what's that kay like in se lem? representative moulton: it's crazy. salem actually has an amazing maritime history which is overshadowed by the witch trials. it's got an extraordinary history with overseas trade and the relationship with foreign country as well as the water
itself that's fascinating. so that's my favorite part of living in salem. host: what are the constituents like? representative moulton: we have an incredibly diverse constituency. one thing that's great about my district, i think it's the way a lot of people wish most of america was like. we have small towns with real characters. this is not a district of highways and strip malls and chain restaurants, where one exit is no different than the last. this is a district of real character. every different town has a unique identity, unique folks who live there, different business strengths an interests. my number one priority for the district is economic development. in gloucester that's about the fishing industry. in lyn it's about the industrial city and how we can adapt and take the businesses that are growing out of the universitys in boston and cambridge and bring them to the north shore. every town really has a character, a spirit, that makes
it unique and special and it's one of the best parts of being from the sixth district of massachusetts. host: clearly you love history, by looking at the books, and your talking about the nautical history of your district. we noticed the book about general john glover, the mar bablehead mariners. what's so special about that ook? representative moulton: it's special one because it was a gift from general dunford. host: the hofede the joint chiefs? representative moulton: yes. marblehead is important. and i went to the glover school for elementary school growing up. when you're in elementary school, you see this famous portrait of washington crossing the delaware. the teacher said it's not really accurate, because he's standing up.
he couldn't be standing up in the row boat because you rock the boat. that's wrong because he could stand. every one of those rowers were from marblehead and they could handle a standing george washington as he crossed the delaware. i'm proud of it, general dunford knew of this book, i did not, it's out of print he found a copy and he gave it to me and i proudly have it on my bookshelf today. host: tell us about your election. you took on longtime incumbent john tierney. what motivated you to run? and tell us how that primary went. representative moulton: i'm not someone who grew up in politics. i'd never been in a campaign or been an intern on capitol hill. i come at this from my experience in the marines. i feel then i was in the war, i saw some of the consequences of failed leadership in washington. i think washington didn't know what they were doing when they got us into iraq and didn't have
our backs while we were there. so although there are huge number of issues we deal with every single day in the office, most of which have nothing to do with the war or foreign policy, i wouldn't be here if not for that experience in the war and that experience in the marines. as a practical matter, i was recruited, i was working on a high speed rail project in texas when i received a call from a new nonprofit trying to recruit veterans to run. because we've never had fewer veterans in congress in our nation's history. they called and said you ought to take on this incumbent in massachusetts who is having some trouble. i said no. but they were obviously persistent and i eventually decided that really two things, one this is a place i could make a difference. i could find that sense of purpose that i had in the marines an frankly missed since getting out. second, it was a race i could win. i ended up being the only -- the only democrat to defeat an incumbent in the entire house of
representatives last year. so it turned out to be a very difficult race. but fundamentally, i think that being able to get some new leadership in washington is the kind of change we need. host: that must have felt like a bolt out of the blue when you got that call. representative moulton: very strange. i was not in the political system. i didn't grow up being a congressman or eying this congressional seat. but i did find i missed publicer is vess. that -- i honestly didn't expect that. i went to the marines, i thought i'd do my four years and check that box. anyone who questioned whether i'd served my country for the rest of my life i could say, i served in the marines. but i got out and found i missed it. this is the first time since leaving the marine corps that i have felt a sense of purpose in my job where every single day we can help other people. that's incredibly rewarding. host: you said you were working for a high speed rail company.
what interested you in that? representative moulton: transportation is the foundation of economic development. the kinds of transportation we have influence the kind of development we have and the kind of communities that result from that. we have fallen terribly behind the rest of the world in investing in transportation. not only can we not maintain the existing roads and bridges we have, most countries are far ahead of us in next generation transportation systems like high speed rail. you know, i have to fly home to boston at the end of every week. it's a 3 1/2 hour trip door to door. about 30 minutes i can actually do anything, that i'm even allowed to use my laptop. the rest of it is a waste of time. any other country in the world i'd be able to drive five minutes to union station, get on a high speed train and be in boston in about three hours and make use of that entire time. morocco is building high speed rail. and yet we don't have it here in america. and it's not because it's just
good for the environment or it's just fast or nice or convenient. it's because fundamentally, it's a better investment of our transportation dollars. that's why you see high speed rail systems across the globe. it's an example of where we not only need to invest more in transportation but we have to be smarter about the investments. host: how are you trying to advocate for it as a congressman? representative moulton: i would like to be on the transportation and infrastructure committee, i'm not there now. but i am involved in the conversation as much as i can be. i try to be a thoughtful representative on these issues. i'm working on some transportation issues back home. at the end of the day i'm not just an advocate for rail, i'm an advocate for investing our dollars intelligently and making decisions on how we spend our precious taxpayer dollars. there's no one in the united states who says, here's a dollar to solve a transportation problem. let's figure out how best to
invest it. we have a highway policy where they take all the money and invest it in the highways. they have an airway policy where they take the money and invest it in the airports and what not. we don't have a rail policy at all. we ought to look at transportation problems. for example, the boston to new york corridor is congested and say, how can we best invest in this problem? and by the way new york that case for example, all study shows the answer is high speed rail. but because of the momentum, the inertia, the lobbies behind investing in our airways and highways, we're not putting much money into high speed rail in the neevet. host: did the piece you're working on, in texas, get built? representative moulton: it hasn't been built yet but it's moving forward. you don't see much prives sector investment in our highway system despite all the federal subsidies, yet most railways in america are run, despite any subsidies, by the private sector which points to the innate efficiency of rail.
in case of high speed rail in texas it's a privately backed project. actually central railway of japan is investing in it. i think it's sad we have to have the japanese invest in our transportation but of course it's not a bad thing if it gets built. it'll take a trip that takes five or six hours to drive between dallas and houston, three hours door to door to fly, and you'll be able to go downtown to downtown in 90 minutes. if we do next generation high speed rail it will be 60 minutes. host: it's a year or so since your election in november of 2014. what's different about washington than you expected? representative moulton: one thing that's surprised me is the degree to which the partisanship here is just institutional. there's not as much animosity between members, or among members, as i perhaps expected, but a lot of folks just don't even know folks on the other side of the aisle. that's why i've made an effort to get to know my republican colleagues. to get to know them on a
personal level so hopefully we can find ways to cooperate professionally. you know, with fellow veterans or other kecks that we find, i've been taking republicans on runs, i like to go on runs in the morning. i've been going out to lunch, going out to dinner, having republicans over for my -- in my office just to grab a quick bite. and i think that establishing those personal relationships is the real foundation that you need to be able to work together professionally. i think either side is not going to compromise on our basic principles, but there are an awful lot of places we can find common ground to work together. host: what are the top one or two things your folks in your district are most concerned about? representative moulton: economic development is number one. that means different things for different cities and towns. out in the west we have an awful lot of thriving tech business but there are problems with transportation access. especially for millenials who don't want to have a car to go
everywhere. i don't have a car here in d.c. on the coast, there are different issues like in lyn, it's a city that has so much potential, it's a 15-minute train ride from downtown boston yet it has vacant land along the water but doesn't have a fishing industry. in gloucester it's also all about the fishing industry. just a little farther, they're all about the rescythelyization of downtown. there's a unique character to each city and town in the district but economic development, getting good job, good businesses in the district, that's my number one priority. host: as you wrap up your first year, what are your future aspirations on capitol hill and beyond? representative moulton: i guess every politician by saying, i don't know where i'm going next. truly i did not grow up with some vision of a political clear. i'm here because i want to serve. as long as i can serve the people of the sixth district well i'll keep doing this job. but you know, i'm always looking for opportunities to have an impact and make a difference. it's a true honor to serve the
country again. it was an honor to serve in the marines, best decision made in my life was joining the marines. it's an honor to serve again here in the house of representatives. host: congressman seth moulton of massachusetts. thanks for being with us. >> on the next "washington journal," sulma areas for the centers of commun change action on the federal appeals court upholding an injunction blocking president obama's executive action preventing deportation of five million illegal immigrants living in the u.s. then former homeland security secretary tom ridge looks at new threats to the u.s. including threats to the cyberware and the electrical grid. after that, thomas frieden discusses a 25% increase in multistate food borne illness outbreaks in the last few years. plus your phone calls, facebook comments and tweets.
"washington journal" live on c-span. >> thursday a look at the supreme court 10 years after john roberts game became chief justice. we're live from the federalist society 2015 national lawyers convention at 12:15 p.m. eastern n c-span2. >> c-span presents landmark cases, the book. a guide to our landmark cases series which explores 12 historic supreme court decisions including marbury vs. madison, brown vs. the board of education, miranda vs. arizona and roe vs. wade. landmark cases the book features introdukeses, background, highlights and the impact of each case. written by veteran supreme court journalist tony morrow and published by c-span in cooperation with c.q. press, an
imprint of sage publications incorporated. "landmark cases" is available for $8.95 plus shipping. get your copy today at c-span.org/landmarkcases. >> our profiles of congressional feshmen continues with republican steve russell of oklahoma. after a long career in the u.s. army, congressman russell became an advocate for veterans and later served in the oklahoma state senate. he's also a successful author, motivational speaker and owns his own rifle manufacturing company. this interview from his capitol hill office is 20 minutes. host: congressman steve russell from oklahoma's fifth congressional district is a freshman representative. is it what you expected? mr. russell: i think the legislative pieces are. i served a term in the state senate in oklahoma, so i kind of
got to see how the sausage is ade. and whether you are playing junior varsity or pros, the rules are about the same, just one is bigger. in terms of the dynamics, i think the surprising thing has been a lot of the division and gridlock that we often get accused of it surprising that it is not necessarily fomented by us, it's outside groups that seek to profit from that division and dust it up to raise money. host: how do you fix it? mr. russell: i think you fix it by -- the american public, they have such a low opinion of congress, and yet most people like their particular congressman or congresswoman. i think trusting us a little bit. the things that we are trying to communicate back, if they are in contradiction to the i love
america or i hate america pack, whichever it might be, maybe take the information that we have and realize that there's some truth behind it. host: walk us through your routine. oklahoma is not the easiest place to get to from washington dc. how often are you in washington? what's your daily routine in d.c. and then when you go back o your district? mr. russell: oklahoma city, it is, you know, in the middle of the country. it does take time to get here. i will typically be here not every weekend do i go home. some weekends there's just things to do. if there is a particular large bill that is going to be in markup and committee, it might be 600 or 700 pages long, that takes time to read. so i try to do the diligence. that's what i was elected to do. other times, you know, i was a
national speaker for eight years and traveled all over the country. i still do some of that, although the wheels have changed and what that is, but i still get around. i was in missouri this past weekend speaking. and so i won't get home every weekend, but i try to get home about two weekends a month. and then i will be here the remainder of the time. or in and out from here. host: let's talk about you. why did you decide to run for congress? and when did you first think of public office? mr. russell: politics has been a surprising path. i retired from united states army and the infantry in 2006. i had been deployed three out of five years, so it was pretty hard on my family. my oldest daughter at the time, she was a senior in high school. so i wanted to settle all of our kids, the last chance that we had. so i took it. did a lot of veterans advocacy work, traveled around the
country trying to take my personal story to convince people to back our troops rather than bickering about it. et them get it done. and in the course of that, that garnered the attention of politicals and other party officials. and before new it -- before i knew it, i was approached to run for state senate in oklahoma. i ran in 2008. i did a term there. left in 2012 under my own volition and did my business, i have a rifle manufacturing business and i wanted to pursue that, and my book and my speaking. so coming to congress was really not even on the horizon. it was a result of when senator dr. tom coburn decided to retire early. james lankford successfully ran for his seat, but doing so vacated oklahoma's fifth istrict.
i looked at it, i could see a path to get there, and i thought, i don't want to look back on my life thinking that maybe i could have helped my country and didn't try. so i thought, win or lose, i'm going to try. the people of oklahoma sent me here. so it's been a real honor. host: you come from a long military tradition. the army in particular. talk a little bit about that and also why you decided to begin your career in the military. mr. russell: my ancestors go back all the way to the revolution serving in uniform. my six and seventh great-grandfather's were captured in 1780 by the british and were imprisoned in detroit until the treaty of paris. and they, you know, were eventually released. every major war since that time on one side of the family or the other, i always wanted to be a soldier. most of my family were not career soldiers but they did
serve. my brother served eight years in the navy. my dad served in 1953. it was just something that, in r family, it was always an interest. it was always a topic of discussion with relatives. so anyone that knew me as a child would not be surprised i ecame a soldier. host: where did you grow up? how many in your family? and where did you go to college? mr. russell: i grew up in oklahoma. as far as we can ascertain, i am the only federally elected congressman to come from bell city. it is a small suburb of oklahoma ity. and i have an older sister and an older brother. he is in the middle of the three of us. and i had a four-year army scholarship, rotc scholarship. got some good marks in high school and allowed -- that allowed me to go to college. went to a baptist university.
i got a degree in public speaking and debate. never thinking i would ever use it for a living. i just thought if they will give you a degree for talking, sign me up. i was trying to get a commission in the united states army and it was something i enjoyed. it turned out to be a good decision on many levels. i met my wife there. we've been married, it will be 30 years this year. embarked on a military career. host: what is the key to being a successful public speaker and what is your approach? mr. russell: i think a lot of times, the most effective speakers are those that can relay stories. we see that through so many xamples. christ, sermon on the mount or in parables, he would still or -- tell stories and it would connect to people.
you would also see many in history, the great orators, they don't do it on the fly. abraham lincoln, gettysburg address. prepared remarks. winston churchill, might've looked like it wasn't, but he had prepared remarks. martin luther king, prepared remarks. oftentimes, if you go to the podium meandering, and comes across as, well, meandering. and so i think the diligence behind it, the study, and then to make it appear natural and connect with stories that people can relate to that. host: how influential were your parents and your life growing up and as you pursue your career? mr. russell: very influential. i nearly died several times from birth. i almost died at that time. i had the opposite blood type as my mother and the rh factor was different. she had had a couple of miscarriages prior to me. and i nearly died at birth, so
she's always told me that i was her little fighter. and that does something to a child. you are not going to quit, you are going to persevere and you are going to stay with something until you get it done. and then survived a bout of appendicitis. my appendix ruptured, and it was about six or seven hours before i had any medical attention to deal with that. didn't know what it was. felt better after it ruptured. then. peritonitis set in, i was in intensive care for weeks. my folks at that time thought they were going to lose me. host: so you didn't know it had ruptured? mr. russell: no. i had a stomach ache, things hurt, and suddenly it felt better. the pressure was relieved. and i went outside and played on a saturday. by that night, i was doubled over in pain. i remember asking my mother
during that time, i asked her, am i going to die? and she was honest with me. and she says, we don't know. but we are praying. and we believe that you are going to make it. and i appreciated that. it made me want to fight that much harder. and just prior to that, oklahoma, no stranger to tornadoes, had a devastating tornado at my grandparents, it killed a neighborhood girl next door to them and it just leveled the entire area. we krouled out from under mattresses in a small tin building. because the alternative was to be in trailers, not a good idea. we have always felt that are pretty much immortal until god is done with us. and then at that point, it is time. so i have not really given it a whole lot of thought.
i approached it that way in combat. i think those childhood experiences conveyed that if there is some plan that i am meant to fulfill and i'm diligent, then perhaps it can be done. if not, you know, then all of my efforts are not going to matter. i sternly had that kind of faith when i was in combat. >> so you're not afraid of death? mr. russell: no. the act of it is not too thrilling but as far as what would happen afterwards, i'm not. i know christ as my lord and savior and take that faith very seriously as most of our framers and founders of this great country have. it should be no surprise, you know, to millions of americans who hold similar faith. and i take great comfort in that. that were something to happen, i believe that i'll be eternally secure because he promised it, that if i would believe in him,
hat i would have eternal life. host: with any experiences in your life, has your faith been tested? mr. russell: it absolutely has. in battle, your faith plays a tremendous role. i've had to do some terrible things. processes that -- processing that has been a long journey. as an infantryman, you're not dealing with some electronics or on some computer or working with some machine. you're on the frontlines. you're killing, rifle, bayonet, hand grenades, the basic implemented. with those organizations, they are the ones designed to go find the enemy. not just react to the enemy but go find them. in my excursions, we certainly found a lot of different enemies. i've had to watch friends, you know, get hit.
i've had loss of my soldiers, very, very tough to deal with. i've had to take human life and fight my way out of ambushes. those experiences are -- they stay with you your entire life. but they're not insurmountable. and i try to relay to people that if you were in a horrible car wreck, or if you were in some devastating storm or if you were in something traumatic, it would impact your life and largely shape it, but that doesn't mean you don't function. it just means you take those experiences and they shape you for your future experiences. that's the way my faith has helped me process my experiences. host: one of those enemies, saddam hussein. that book behind you, now in paperback, "we got him," what happened? we were there in 2003 to 2004.
and we got involved largely due to geography. it was not something that -- where we thought that specifically that we would go find saddam. we were in a task force that was occupying his hometown. and it became readily apparent very quickly that saddam was probably being harbored there. we got incredible intelligence and we began to work that and worked that with a number of other teams. two special operations forces teams over a six-month period and worked very, very close with and developed from the ground up our own intelligence. my commander commander jim hickey who works on the senate staff now, he was a marvelous warrior. and general radeno, chief of staff he was our commander in the fourth infantry division. so these were our two immediate
commanders and gave me great latitude and i'm thankful for their bravery and their trust. and we worked foth as a team. my unit was not the only one involved but one of a half a dozen. and it was very humbling to participate in that time, to lead the raids. we nearly captured saddam in the summer of 2003. didn't get him. but we got personal effects and papers, $10 million in cash. and $2 million in jewelry. it turns out he was captured six months after that raid across the river. you could see the two places from one another. and you could see his home where i had soldiers using it as an outpost from all three could mutually see one another. so it was -- it was really interesting. and i -- i counted it a great privilege to have participated in that. and i give great credit to all of the units involved, you
know, my book, it has been noted for its vivid detail and a lot of the experiences that we went through. and that was very important to me coming home was to tell our portion of it. it was to make sure it did get told so it wasn't erased from history. host: yet during all of this you and your wife raising five children. representative russell: yes. host: three adopted from hungary. explain how that came about. representative russell: well, we had two children at the time . and we wanted more. she was concerned about some flare-ups of some childhood arthritis. with each pregnancy there was a chance that could recur so we began to look at adoption. we were stationed in europe at the time. and i went to a men's conference in germany. and there was an army doc there
and he had adopted two boys from hungary. and worked in an orphanage there. one thing led to another. and we began to explore how he did that process. and then we used a facilitator, a marvelous lady, a maria chenady. she lives in san diego. she and her husband oswald with their two very small children. the oldest was 18 months. and hungarian revolt of 1956, they fled. and they made it over the mountains into austria. vice president nixon on a -- at the refugee camp picked five families to become instant u.s. citizens. and they were one of the families. a miracle story. and she worked for the department of defense for years after that. and when she retired she began to work to place orphan children in hungary with soldiers. because she had such love for the military. having worked around it. and one thing led to another, and we adopted a set of orphan siblings. they were 5, 6 and 8 and that
was in the year 2000. host: and where are they all now? representative russell: they're all in oklahoma city, the metro area. and my oldest daughter, she has graduated from college. and runs a business in-and-my oldest son he works for hitachi. and they're all doing pretty good. they're trying to find their way. and i got them all to 18 without an incident or crime. so i'm thankful for that and on them to make a good life of their own. i'm very proud of them. host: what about your life here in washington as a member of congress? what do you want to achieve? what's your objective? representative russell: i think the main thing is we need to get back to the basics of life, liberty and property. the government has a federal role. abraham linken put it really well when he said those things that we can do ourselves, the government ought not to interfere. but those things collectively that we cannot accomplish, the government may have a role.
and i think that we ought to keep it in that perspective. it's tempting for the government to want to take over every aspect of our lives. but that's not something that we need to do. the american people are resilient. they largely want to be left alone. they want to have the fruit of their labor. they're willing to pay some taxes for roads and schools and the things that we all collectively need. law enforcement. but they don't want a government that tells them what to eat, what to drink, how to be clothed. how much they can do this, that or the other. the american innovative spirit has always defieded -- defied that and still does today. and i hope to bring that reminder as we go back and look at our framing documents right here in this town. magnificent to see them. they remind us that we can pursue that happiness. that we do have life, liberty, and property.
and the government has to protect those things. and also promote good policy to protect those things. not take away and encroach upon it. host: can you carry on with those principles and yet also compromise with democrats? representative russell: sure. i think the framing of the constitution was a giant compromise. you had the states that wanted autonomy. you had the need for a road and communication and defense system that they couldn't really provide. and so they were willing to ditch the articles of confederation for the constitution. and they labored over it. john jay and james madison and alexander hamilton and many others, they -- they debated. they studied. they looked at past democracies and wondered why they failed. and determined that we needed a republic, a representative republic with checks and balances so that one side could not usurp the other.
and then even divided further among the bran sms. -- branches. when you hear complaints you can't get anything done in washington it was designed that way. designed so there would be competing interests. and i think that when you come to overlapping circles of need, that's where you can find the compromise. that's where you can find the things most americans can get behind. and you can do. and already seeing it. already beginning to do some of it. my dad was a democrat. my mom a republican. i grew up in a house divided. i think it's important to listen to both sides. no person is the font of all knowledge. i learned something from everybody i talked to. and i think it's important that we keep that perspective. at a minimum, we will be more solidified in defending our beliefs that they were correct. but an alternative, we may gain
new information that persuades us to a better view. and you can't do that if you don't build relationships. and you don't reach across and talk to one another and that's a problem. we have to work on that more. host: two final questions. first of all, any thought on how long you intend to serve or have you thought about that? representative russell: i really haven't. i just find it amazing that i'm here. and i'm very humbled and honored. i think as long as the people of oklahoma feel that i can represent them well, i am enjoying the work. i wouldn't say i like the work. that's a strong word. but enjoying it, i do enjoy the work. i feel equipped for it. i have life experiences as a businessman, as a soldier, as an author, a speaker, i bring a lot to the table. i've worked with teams my entire life. building them. leading them. solving tremendous problems. and so i feel equipped to be here.
and i hope to be useful to the country for as long as that is practical. host: which is my final question. not on the policy side but on the personal side, what's the biggest challenge of being a member of congress? representative russell: your time is completely consumed by handlers and others. d i think having time for my faith, for my family. i'm fortunate that cindy and i with our kids being all grown, we travel back and forth together. now, the government doesn't pay for us to keep an apartment here or her travel to come up. there's a cost associated with that. but there's a cost if you don't. and we're still rather fond of each other. after all these years. and so we have determined that we want to do that. and she's been a great support to me. and i think that building those types of margins in your life so that you can take a step back with a fresh look. and then as a warrior i tried
to keep fit my whole life and allows me to have a clear head and good energy. so i try to find the time for that. and been a challenge but it's doable. host: congressman steve russell of oklahoma. thank you for your time. representative russell: thank you. >> coming up, a pair of doctors who work with veterans on treating ptsd and other mental health issues. after that, the political director of the iraq and afghanistan veterans of america. on veteran and military issues. on the next "washington journal" the center for community change action on a federal appeals court upholding an injunction blocking president obama's executive action preventing the deportation of five million illegal immigrants living in the u.s. then former homeland security secretary tom ridge. looks at new threats to the u.s. including threats to cyberware and the electrical
grid. and after that, dr. thomas friedan of the centers for disease control and prevention discusses a reported 25% increase in multistate food-borne outbreaks in the last few years. plus your phone calls, facebook comments and tweets. "washington journal" live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. thursday, a look at the supreme court, 10 years after john roberts became chief justice. we're live from the federalist society, 2015, national lawyers convention. t 12:15 p.m. eastern on c-span 2. c-span has your coverage of the road to the white house 2016. where you'll find the candidates, the speeches, the debates and most importantly your questions. this year, we're taking our road to the white house coverage into classrooms across the country with our student cam contest. giving students the opportunity
to discuss what important issues they want to hear the most from the candidates. follow c-span student cam contest and road to the white house coverage 2016 on tv, on the radio, and online. at c-span.org. now a look at efforts to treat veterans with ptsd and mental health issues. dr. harold kudler, guests on washington journal. his is 40 minutes. >> we have with us in studio this morning dr. harold kudler who is the mental health consultant for the veterans health administration and retired colonel, a doctor and the clinic chief community based outpatient clinic chief here in washington, d.c., for the dcva medical center. welcome to both of you. a pleas. host: we are going to get calls
here momentarily from active and retired military. dr. cutler, if i could be -- dr. kudler, if i could begin with you. what is happening? guest: mental health is fundamental to the v.a. and it has always has been. people are taking a serious look inside the agency and outside the agency. are we getting the job done? are we doing it quickly enough of the right places? and this is keeping us very busy, but i tell you, it is great work to be doing. host: what will the president be announcing today on that? the president wants to improve a program that allows veterans to receive private medical care. does this include mental health care? guest: absolutely. last summer, congress signed the veteran's choice act, which has any veteran waiting more than 30 days or lives more than 40 miles from of the eight is eligible to choose to get their care -- from
ba is eligible -- from a eligible to choose to get their care -- a v.a. is eligible to get their care from a community health care provider. and how do we pay for all this, who is the contracted provider, who can we approve? we are getting very good at this. and the administration is working on making it even better. host: and you are new to the v.a. system. what were you doing before? and have been on the job for a week, so what is your experience so far? guest: so i am not going to talk about a big v.a., but i will talk about my experience, which is good. i did a career in the military, and then i worked in washington dc. then i spent a little while looking at what job i wanted to take. i finally chose the v.a. for a number of reasons. i will tidy what some of those
are. first of all, i have a lot of really good friends who work there and like the experience. they have increased the pay for psychiatrists coming in, so it was the best job offer financially that i had. and then secretary mcdonald, who is a real special person, personally invited me to join, as did dr. kudler. so far, i have been very, very pleased. it has a great electronic health system, which really makes looking at records easy. there is a lot of focus on access to care. this last week, we have been spending time looking at all our patients in the mental health system who haven't been seen for 30 days. we are going to have an access stand down this saturday to mixture that anybody who feels they need to be seen earlier can get in, and so the washington v.a. will be open for business on saturday. host: and that brings up the report that just came out
recently. from "usa today," the report to the gao found in a review of 100 while 86 cases, patients seeking an initial mental health evaluation were generally seen within an average of four days of scheduling an appointment, the exley waited an average of 26 days to get that appointment. -- they actually waited an average of 26 days to get that appointment. guest: there are lots of ways to count things. i do want to argue with them, although looking at 100 records, in a system that sees 1.5 million mental health patients, is not really a meaningful sample. we would argue very strenuously with the way they count to those outliers. but saying that, our goal is every veteran should be seen when they want to to be seen, when they want to be seen. otherwise it is of no use to them.
, if thoseritchie seeking mental health care has to wait, that becomes almost a barrier for them of seeking help. the resistance to seek help mental health anyway, and then when they have to wait, that becomes an issue where they might turn away and not seek the help after all. guest: that is absolutely true. and your previous speaker talked about issues like parking. and there is now a new parking garage at the washington v.a. there are a lot of barriers, especially if you are ambivalent about seeking care. my job is going to be with the community-based outpatient clinics, which are around the washington dc area. and i'm very interested in the idea of providing care of to the community so it is much easier for people to go, they can keep a job and go, because sometimes in the past it has been so difficult for the veterans to get care that they have to take the whole day off of work. there is the vet centers, which
are easier to get to, but the more we can put mental health care up to the community, either through the v.a. or one of the things that is critically important is for the civilian providers to know how to treat ptsd, no to ask the question, have you served in the military or are you a veteran. so the less barriers to care, the better. host: let me just throw these numbers out here. statistics on posttraumatic stress disorder. one in three returning troops are being diagnosed with serious posttraumatic stress symptoms. less than 40% will seek help. in 2009, a record-breaking year for suicides, 245 soldiers killed themselves. five active-duty troops attempt suicide each day. charles is in maryland. retired. charles, good morning to you. go ahead. caller: yes, hello.
i am calling from the ba facility here in maryland. -- v.a. facility here in maryland. , am a mental health patient and i just want to say that the care and treatment i have received is first rate. i have no problems with it. reach around and pat yourselves on the back there. host: let's talk about who is seeking mental health care, and what other treatment options. guest: first, i want to thank charles for his call and for his service. and also for, frankly setting a very good example on national television. when people have problems, it is not easy to put them into words. americans are not raised with a lot of mental health literacy. a friend of mine often points out that if i have a toothache, i know to go to a dentist and i know what to find one. but if i have a problem with depression, i don't have words for it and i don't know what to
do about it. do i want to go to their office? charles the setting an awfully good example, and we hope that when people do have problems they will come to us. host: most often, is it there. that you are prescribing? or i we talking about pharmaceuticals? -- or are we talking about pharmaceuticals? to every single patient, i have always said, look, you have a lot of tools. some of them you may like more than others. in your situation, medicine may be a part of the story. another part.y be and there are other therapies we have. what appeals to you? where should we start? if it doesn't get the job done, we may add this or that. it will always be a mix. guest: and i would like to pick up on that. what is really important is patient engagement because one of the characteristics of people
coming back from the wars now is the are very ambivalent about seeking care. if they come to somebody who spends their time looking at the computer screen and not at them, they are not coming back. so it is really important if you prescribe medication to talk about the medications and possible side effects. medications have sexual side effects, and patients are not going to stay on medications that cause problems to this extract or ability to perform. both harold and i have really gotten interested in what is called integrative therapy, acupuncture, yoga, and my pet interest is service dogs or therapy dogs. horses can be useful. there is a lot of them out there. the research is not there yet, so they are not food and drug administration approved. but patients like them.
and often it is going to be a combination of, say, yoga or mindfulness and meditation, and then perhaps medication and psychotherapy. host: and on that note, the congressman from ohio who practices yoga himself, is very much into mindfulness. there is a story in the "huffington post" that he and others have a bill where they would turn the american legions that are shutting down and these other veterans bars into wellness setters instead. what do you think of that idea? guest: i think wellness is a great concept. a lot of people say mindfulness feels touchy-feely, but the concept is to get back in touch with yourself. to give your brain a rest. to feel in control within your own body and then within your own life. i think that is a wonderful place to start. guest: i belong to a american legion number 41, and part of
the reason i joined as they have a great garden, actually, and they are into things like gardening and baseball. it is not just a place for people to go and drink, which is the concept we used to have. but i think they are converting part of it into doing mindfulness and it is a great idea. host: new york, good morning to you. caller: good morning. greta, thank you very much to dr. cutler -- dr. kudler and dr. ritchie and all the people behind the scenes to make c-span possible every day. host: thank you for that. caller: thank you. i have -- [indiscernible] i have also served as a case church withtrinity the mentally ill and homeless,
and have had veterans and other persons come across my way. but i am homeless right now. i -- i have used the techniques that colonel ritchie has spoken about, but after the loss of three homes, a hernia caused the software go cancer. 90% of my esophagus was removed. and everything i have done since i was two years old from tying shoes to bending over, gardening has to be relearned, yoga has to be relearned, i live with post-traumatic stress, bipolar, and depression. thank god i have a service animal now. i would like to offer a couple of solutions because as major general butler said, war is a racket. and this is armistice day. and we ought to be promoting peace and peacemakers.
i had to call in on other because i am a peace corps veteran. i had the most cap rant of case in peace corps at the time, giving midwives in senegal, west africa prenatal material. unfortunately, america doesn't admit mistakes, wouldn't set me back -- send me back. i finished my education and have gone over three times on my own, including serving the rwandan refugees after the genocide 20 years ago. first of all, if we are going to keep promoting military 10% offes, i said 10% -- the top of the budget has to begin for and for care of all -- allto be given for care for veterans.
$6.40 oh they -- a day on food stamps. onn we have to lift the cap income tax. everyone has to pay their fair share. atit shouldn't stop $118,000. this will solve the entire social security budget. host: and can i ask you are you homeless because you want to be or because you can't afford housing? caller: if you give me the time, i will sustainably tell you. caller: -- -- cyst think tillie -- cyst think tillie -- s usinctly tell you. suit -- [indiscernible] clinton'sfrican the
staff gracefully sent me to adult protective services, rather than follow the statutes of seeing me within three days, they dumped the case because they were looking at the computer. and if anyone had been in court on their own, they were going this one's got to go. and to the disabled were being dumped. host: i apologize for jumping and because we have a lot of other callers who would also like to talk. would you like to share your thoughts? guest: there is a lot in there, and i will only be able to dress -- to address a piece of this. has ptsd,eman depression, and bipolar. and that is very common. people think of ptsd on its own, especially now with the recent afghan and iraq that's. -- vets. the signature weapon of these
wars has been a blast -- the blasts. again, a note for civilian providers other, always ask about the range of effects because it is a whole person that is hurt, physically and mentally, in many cases. guest: and if i could add -- and i appreciate patrick's service -- i think a lot of what he pointed out his it takes the entire community to respond to work. , we go to warwar as a nation. it is the only way we can. and when people come home, they come back to a nation that needs to be with them and understand. when we go to war, it resonates across the entire country and across generations. the v.a. is still paying dependence to one survivor of the civil war today. with that is the families. not just the parents and kids of the service member or soldier
who has gone to war, but the brothers and sisters and aunts, so it is a water effect on the nation when one of our servicemembers deploys and comes back. host: let's go to robert in diamond, missouri. retired military. good morning to you. caller: good morning, greta. i have a question. i tried to get on earlier, but i missed. mail -- i got a card that is called the choice card. it was sent out by the veterans. they had a toll-free number on their, and i called the toll-free number -- there, and i called the toll-free number. i told them my situation, i told them my right knee had been operated on, and then my left knee started hurting. so they told me that, well, to call back in 10 days.
after i received the letter. i called back in 10 days, and explain to them what my situation was -- explained to them what my situation was, and they give me a number. they gave me a toll-free number to kansas. they said that we can't find you all on file. well, where did i get the card to start with? host: robert, i will have dr. kudler jump in. guest: i will share your frustration, robert. giant bureaucracies can be maddening, and when you're in pain, when you're entitled to care, and we can't -- when you answer, of straight course you are frustrated. i do want to say that a veteran should never be afraid if they are not getting the answers they need from the person they are speaking to to go a rank higher. but s