tv At This Hour With Berman and Bolduan CNN November 11, 2015 8:00am-9:01am PST
>> hello, everyone, i'm john berman. >> hello, everyone, i'm kate bolduan. we want to welcome our viewers here in the united states and around the world. an important show today for us and a very important day, a salute and a tribute to our nation's veterans for their service and for their sacrifice. we're looking live right now at the official veterans day ceremony. it's getting under way at arlington national cemetery. >> these are live pictures from the nation's most hallowed ground, as is tradition, the president will lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknowns. he will deliver an address inside the memorial amphitheater. we'll also hear from the v.a. secretary, robert mcdonald. you're looking at outside the amphitheater right now. the president, in minute now, will walk up, he will lay that wreath, then we will take you inside to hear his remarks. >> as we await -- it's such a beautiful day. i was just struck by the falling leaves that you see right there. as we await to see the president and we'll break in the moment that we do, we want to bring in
our pentagon correspondent barbara starr as well as cnn military analyst major general spider marks to join us in this conversation. general, it's always great to have you on. it's great to have you on every day but especially on a day like this. >> this is a rather special day. >> just on this day when the president's preparing to speak on a day that everyone takes a moment to stop to remember to honor, what does it mean for you? >> it means everything. i mean, this is what i dedicated my life to but more importantly, it's what all these incredible young men and women of all generations routinely step up and make this decision to defend our freedoms. i mean, it's absolute selflessness, and it's the heart of what we stand for. it's a magazine nnificent tribu them. >> 19 million veterans in this country right now. and today is the day to thank each and every one of them. barbara starr at the pentagon for us. we do expect to hear the president talk about what the tha nation now is doing for our veterans because this has been a subject of some controversy for now a couple of years.
>> it has been in recent years. a lot of questions about whether america's veterans are getting from the department of veterans afairs the services that they need. are they getting that health care, that medical care on a timely basis? there's been a lot of talk from the white house and the administration about trying to improve it, but still, i think, even the department of veterans affairs would say a very long way to go. but what we are seeing here today at arlington really is the history of america's veterans' service to the nation. this holiday, if you will, is a remembrance really on the -- they call it the 11th hour of the 11th day in which of the 11th month in which the armistice to end world war i was signed back in 1818. now it's become a moment to remember all. >> and let's all take a moment right now and watch the president as the ceremony gets under way.
inside the memorial amphitheater where there will be a ceremony to mark this veterans day. the president will speak as will the secretary of veterans affairs, rob either mcdonald. joined by general james "spider" marks. spider, you know robert mcdonald. he's been on the job now for a year and change. how has he found the time there, the challenges are enormous. >> it is an immense organization that has grown, and its charter has just kind of evolved over the years. and there hasn't been what i would call a concomitant to help that secretary of veteran as fairs, whoever it was, his predecessors, to really keep focused in on that charter. remember, president lincoln created the veterans administration to heal up those that were injured and to care for his, her family, the wives and their children. we have gotten so far beyond that. we are now everything to
everybody. and we have this massive, massive organization and the longevity of all our veterans is increasing. it's a wonderful thing. >> right. >> so we still have -- we still have, you know, world war ii veterans, god love bob dole. i mean, and that generation of patriots. yet we have that generation, we have korean war, we have vietnam, et cetera. and then the engagement in these most recent wars, we've seen veterans come back and again, god love them, the medical care has been phenomenal. so we have veterans today that wouldn't necessarily be with us in those previous wars. >> they would not have survived. now because of the medical care, they have survived. >> multiple amputees and god love them. >> their needs are different than the needs of past veterans. >> absolutely. we've got to keep up with all of that. we cannot afford to not pay attention to that entire spectrum of knees vthese vetera. it's a monstrous job. >> as he was alluding to, the scandal that has rocked -- that
is a beautiful image that we're looking at right there, as we continue our discussion. as john was alluding to, the scandal that rocked the veterans affairs administration, rocked the v.a., it is a scandal that made -- that is the reason that the previous secretary lost his job. we now have robert mcdonald on the job. what are the reviews that you're hearing so far in how he is tackling and taking on and making progress in the face of this intense, intense scrutiny? >> you know, i actually talked to him a few weeks ago at an event here in washington. he is very aware of the challenge that he is currently facing and the challenge that lies ahead in the very near future. sure, i mean, i think there are veterans who are very clearly telling us that they are not getting the services they need on a timely basis. the wait times are still significant. we've talked about this, the
v.a., the department has outdated computer systems. they have a demoralized employee work force. they have more and more veterans every day, and it is only going to grow. this is not a population that is going to decrease. we have seen 14 years of war in this country, and i think one of the most interesting things bob mcdonald told me when i spoke to him, he is already looking ahead to women because we are facing, in the new year, the very real likelihood that all combat jobs will be open to american young women to searrve this country jt as the young men do, and that is going to open a whole new generation of veterans issues for the department. they will have to provide, on an equal basis, medical care to american service women of all types, all kinds of medical care that they may only be doing around the edges now. the population is growing. the population is shifting.
even as spider was just saying, the world war ii generation, the korean generation, the vietnam generation, aging, and they have their own medical needs as aging veterans. this is one of the most complex eras many people believe in the care for america's veterans population. >> all right. barbara starr, stand by, please. general spider marks, stand by as well. we are awaiting remarks from the president on this veterans day. we'll have that right after this. this holiday season, get ready for mystery. what's in the trunk? nothing. romance. 18 inch alloys. you remembered. family fun. everybody squeeze in. don't block anyone. and non-stop action. noooooooo! it's the event you don't want to miss. it's the season of audi sales event. get up to a $2,500 bonus
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analyst major general james "spider" remarks. general, i think you should weigh in on this as well. one of the issues that the v.a. has been also been focusing on is ending homelessness among veterans. and this is an area where they can tout some success, and we can expect to probably hear that from either the v.a. secretary for the president himself today. >> i think, you know, the state of virginia now is going to be saying that it feels it has ended homelessness amongst american veterans. we'll leave it to them to speak on their behalf. but this is a very difficult problem across the country. and i don't know how people can say they really end homelessness because as more veterans come home, new veterans, newly, you know, leaving the service, so many young people find themselves in very challenging economic circumstances. i'm from los angeles, and i can tell you i've been downtown l.a. many times. the overall homelessness problem
in los angeles and especially for veterans, young veterans in particular, is extremely significant. and a lot of work being done by private organizations and partnering with the v.a. indeed to try and find solutions to that. but this gets back to what we're talking about. america's veterans population is a very dynamic always-moving population. people constantly get out of the military. they constantly, over the last 14 years, have come home from america's wars, and many of them do face a number of challenges that grow over time. they don't always get better. sometimes they do, thankfully. so this is the population that we will have in this country now for many years to come. america's veterans from iraq and afghanistan will be with this country proudly for many decades. and that hand is going to have to be reached out to help those who may need it.
>> ladies and gentlemen, the president of the united states. [ playing "hail to the chief" ] ♪ >> unfortunately, his face blocked by one of the teleprompters right now, but right there you can see the introduction of president obama standing right next to the v.a. secretary, robert mcdonald. spider, your thoughts on what barbara was stalki intalking ab quickly. >> the homelessness problem is one we need to get our arms around and the v.a. is doing quite a good job. 600 service members a day become veterans. they depart the service, and all the services are getting smaller, so that is going to increase, the population of those that need care will increase. >> spider, you know, as we're listening to the music to go
along with this wonderful ceremony right now, you are a veteran, obviously, served for three decades. >> three decades. >> in the army. on this day, it shouldn't just be one day where we honor the service of those who have given so much. what do you want to hear today? >> i want to -- i would love to hear from bob and robert mcdonald who is a classmate and a dear friend. so i've known bobby forever. i would love to hear from both of them that this is certainly for secretary mcdonald, this is his sole focus. this is why he comes to work every day. this is why he suits up. from the president, i would love to hear efforts on his part to work across all parties and across the aisle to really galvanize legislation that can really get us in a better spot relative deep to d.o.d., the department of defense, and the department of veteran as fairs. as barbara indicated, she's absolutely spot on. there needs to be a continuum of
care. the service member who signs up today, the 18-year-old who comes in today, is going to be this veteran 80 years from now. hopefully 80 years from now. yet there's this great divide. d.o.d. is in virginia. v.a. is in washington. there has never been a larger divide across the potomac than you can imagine. that database. young spider marks at 18. is that completely continuous over the v.a. so i seamlessly transition to somebody else who owns me. right now that disappears. this is a very, very tough technical leadership requirement. >> you really lay out well just a perfect example of just how difficult the challenge is, how difficult it is, it doesn't matter, though. this is something that -- this is why these men are in this job. >> got to fix it. and by the way, something everyone agrees that they want to see fixed. there's not a debate. >> this is not a partisan debate. >> exactly. this is one of those where you can really get your arms around and we all agree. >> we're waiting to hear from the president. let's take one more quick break.
in 1954 to hold this annual observance. >> we're looking right now at the veterans day ceremony happening at arlington national cemetery. let's listen in. >> -- these special guests. if able, please stand when your name is called. norbert ryan jr., national president, military officers association of america. gene henkowski, national president, polish legion of american veterans.
larry kynard, korean war veterans association. angel zuniga. armenda crawford, national commander, catholic war veterans of the usa. edward dement sr., national commander, american ex-prisoners of war. al kovak, paralyzed veterans of america. jerome bloom, national commander, jewish war veterans of the usa. john rowan, president, vietnam veterans of america. john betjetski, commander in chief, veterans of foreign wars of the united states. james pigeon, national commander, amvets. dale stemper, national president, blinded veterans association. carl good jr., national commander, army and navy union of the usa.
h. gene overstreet, commander, noncommissioned officers association. david goff, national vice commander, the american legion. robert husker, national commander, military order of the purple heart. virgil cornea, national president, fleet reserve association. richard gore sr., national commandant, marine corps league. lyman smith, executive director, military chaplains association. william mullen, national commander, legion of valor of the usa. mike plummer, deputy legislative director, national association of uniformed services. ruth hamilton, commander in chief, military order of the world wars. lawrence highland, national
president, the retired enlisted association. thomas kelly, congressional medal of honor society. >> we're listening to some of the introductions at the memorial amphitheater at arlington national cemetery. this is the veterans day service. we're waiting to hear from robert mcdonald and ultimately president obama address the nation and discuss the challenges now for our veterans and how we help and serve our veterans who served us. barbara starr at the pentagon, as this is going on, u.s. involvement, military involvement over the world not abating on the contrary, in fact, we are learning that the u.s. involvement in afghanistan will continue past the date the president initially intended. we are learning that special forces troops headed to syria. the challenges around the world remain. >> just about everywhere. i can't think of a place right now where the pentagon isn't looking at the map trying to figure out what may come in the
months and years ahead. you know, even europe, today veterans day, whether you call it veterans day, armistice day, remembrance day, it was originally to signify the end of world war i in france in 1918. unbelievably, we are back looking at europe as a place especially in eastern europe because of russian moves there. there's no question about that. in ukraine, in crimea, so many nations in eastern europe unsettled and looking to the united states to provide some military backup power in an emergency, to provide military troops, to help train them, get them ready, get them advanced weapons so they feel more comfortable with those russian moves on their borders in eastern europe. did anybody, you know, two years ago think we would be standing here talking about poland, ukraine, countries which had finally come after so many decades of war into an era of
peace? now again those are very unsettled places as they look further east to what vladimir putin may be up to. it's a real lesson, i think, that america's veterans really truly called to serve anywhere any time when they are on active duty. you know, those introductions we just heard, that really represents the backbone of america's veterans. polish veterans, catholic veterans, jewish, those who are paralyzed, those who are disabled, officers enlisted. those people who are standing up there for these, you know, sort of typical washington pro forma introductions at some ceremony really fundamentally do represent the history of this nation and of military service. all segments. and as i said a minute ago, it may be about to change again with the new year if the pentagon makes the expected decision to allow women to serve in combat positions.
young american women in high school looking possibly for any type of military career. the doors will be open to them to serve as well. another new generation of service really opening up for america's young people. >> and spider, this is coming at the end of this president's term as he's kind of winding it down and, of course, that's when presidents start looking at their legacy. and this is definitely a president who wouldn't anticipate speaking before the nation's veterans on a day like this when he wanted to wind down two wars and now sending more and more military men and women into very dangerous places. >> it's the right thing to do. he understands he cannot disengage. he has to stay engaged for a whole host of reasons primarily because if we are going to remain, some could argue that we are atrophying, if we're going to remain an international power and a leader, we have to be able to commit our resources and to really make a difference so that others can galvanize around us. we can't lead from behind. we've heard that before.
i have no clue what that means, none. you have to lead from the front. and you have to be out there. so this president, i think, understands that he's got to get into those messy situations. you've got to embrace this chaos. this world is nothing but chaos right now. you've got to embrace it and try to make a difference, and you do that by staying engaged. and the military is not the way you do that. we all know that. diplomatic, informational, economic ways to do this. but the military routinely of all those elements of power, routinely stands up because there is no variance in terms of what the standard is. you can't play with that. >> spider, stand by. barbara starr, stand by. the president getting ready to speak to address the nation on this veterans day. we'll be right back. ♪
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the amphitheater on this veterans day. let's listen. >> -- emblematic of the service and sacrifices of young men and women from every generation of american veterans. for almost 2 1/2 centuries now, they have selflessly answered the calls to arms to preserve and defend the ideas behind the words that are both vision and conscious of our democracy. we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. each generation has done its part to deliver a strong and free america to the next generation. they have done so with great determination, personal toughness, and willingness to risk it all for others. this veterans day, we want to especially acknowledge those who served in two difficult conflicts. this year marks the 70th
anniversary of the end of world war ii. and the beginning of our 50th commemoration of the decade-long war in vietnam. to those who fought in both wars, thank you for your selfless service. americans are ever grateful for your sacrifices. the president and vice president understand and value the service and sacrifice of veterans. that's why they've provided strong and increasing resources for care and benefits, support of the new g.i. bill to educate the next generation of american leaders, tremendous support to help v.a. drive down the backlog and claims by almost 90% and improve access to quality health care for all veterans. as the president said in his state of the union address this year, as a new generation of veterans come home, we owe them every opportunity to live the american dream they helped defend. the first lady and dr. jill
biden are also unwavering supporters of veterans and service members in their own right. they have joined forces to bring the public and private sectors together in support of employment of service members, veterans, and all of their family members, among many other initiatives. veterans could not ask for stronger advocates than our president, vice president and their wives. ladies and gentlemen, it's a great personal and professional honor to present to you our commander in chief. please join me in welcoming the president of the united states, barack obama. >> thank you. thank you so much. please be seated. thank you. thank you, bob, for your service to our nation.
as an army airborne ranger and your tireless work on behalf of your fellow veterans, to vice president joe biden, general dunford, major general becker, distinguished guests, to our outstanding veterans service organizations and their leadership, to our men and women in uniform, and most of all, to our proud veterans and your families, it is a great privilege to be with you once again. and to captain florent grobert, as bob just mentioned, tomorrow it will be my honor to present you with the medal of honor, our nation's heyest military decoration. to all our veterans here today, the veterans across america, whether you served on the
beaches of europe, the jungles of asia, the deserts of the middle east, whether you served here at home or overseas, in wartime or in peace, whether you served proudly in the army, navy, air force, marines or coast guard, you are part of an unbroken chain of patriots who have served this country with honor through the life of our nation. on these sacred grounds, where generations of heroes have come to rest, we remember all those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. and today we gather once more to salute every patriot who has ever proudly worn the uniform of the united states of america. this year as we mark 70 years since our victory in the second
world war, we pay special tribute to a generation that literally saved the world. we're joined by several of those heroes including our oldest known female world war ii vet, army lieutenant colonel luta c. mcgrath who this year turns 108. there she is. and i would ask all of our veterans and families of world war ii, if you can stand, please stand or raise your hand so
america can thank you one more time. today in big cities and small towns across our country, there will be ceremonies around flagpoles and parades down main street to properly express our gratitude, to show our appreciation to the men and women who serve so that we might live free. it is right that we do so. but our tributes will ring hollow if we stop there. if tomorrow after the parades and the ceremonies we roll up the banners and sweep the veterans halls and go back to our daily lives, forgetting the bond between the service of our veterans and our obligations as
citizens, then we will be doing a profound disservice to our veterans and to the very cause for which they served. this day is not only about gratitude for what they have done for us. it is also a reminder of all that they still have to give to our nation and our duty to them. that's what i want to talk about briefly today. we're in the midst of a new wave of american veterans. in recent years more than 1 million of our men and women in uniform, many of them veterans of afghanistan and iraq, have completed their military service and returned to civilian life. each year at least another 200,000 do the same. our 9/11 generation of veterans are joining the ranks of those who have come before, includng many of you, our veterans of korea and vietnam.
our tributes today will ring hollow if we do not ensure that our veterans receive the care that you have earned and that you deserve. the good news is is that in recent years, we've made historic investments to boost the v.a. budget, expand benefits, offer more mental health care and improved care for our wounded warriors, especially those with posttraumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. we've now slashed the disability claims backlog by nearly 90%. we're reducing the outrage of veterans' homelessness and have helped tens of thousands of our veterans get off the streets. still, the unacceptable problems that we've seen like long wait times and some veterans not getting the timely care that they need is a challenge for all of us if we are to match our words with deeds. and my message to every single
veteran, to veterans all across this country, is that i am still not satisfied. and bob mcdonald is still not satisfied. and we are going to keep unvesting in the facilities and the physicians and the staff to make sure that our veterans get the care that you need when you need it. that is our obligation, and we are not going to let up. our tributes today will also ring hollow if we don't provide our veterans with the jobs and opportunities that you need when you come home. that's why we've helped more than 1.5 million veterans and their families pursue an education under the post-9/11 g.i. bill. that's why we worked to make sure that every state now provides veterans and their families with in-state tuition. that's why we're fighting to make it easier for our veterans to get the licenses and certifications to transition the outstanding skills they gained in the armed services to
civilian jobs. that's why we're helping more veterans and military spouses find jobs. and today the veterans unemployment rate is down to 3.9%, even lower than the national average. but this can't just be a job for government. we all have a role to play. i realize that with less than 1% of americans serving in uniform, the other 99% of folks don't always see and appreciate the incredible skills and assets that our veterans can offer. on this veterans day, here's what i want every american to know. our veterans are some of the most talented, driven, capable people on earth. think about the leadership that
they've learned. 20-somethings leading platoons in life-or-death situations. the cutting-edge technologies that they've mastered. their ability to adapt to changing and unpredictable situations. they can perform under pressure. they've helped reconstruct towns. they've managed large-scale projects. they've learned how to work on teams, how to stay committed to a mission, how to solve problems. they get stuff done, and they are selfless, and they are brave, and they are qualified, and america needs folks who know how to get stuff done. if you can save a life on the battlefield, you can save a life in an ambulance. if you can oversee a convoy or millions of dollars of assets in a conflict zone, you sure can help manage a company's supply chain. if you can maintain the most advanced weapons in the world,
surely you can manufacture the next generation of advanced technology right here at home. our veterans will tell you themselves, they may have put away their uniforms, but they're not finished serving their country. and that includes our wounded warriors who tell me that as soon as they can, they want to serve their country again. they're exactly the kind of people we need to keep america competitive in the 21st century. that's why more and more companies are hiring veterans. not out of charity. not out of patriotism or some moral obligation, although they do have those obligations, but because they know it's good for their bottom line. every day our veterans help keep america strong. every day. responding to natural disasters here at home and around the world. working to end homelessness and get more of their brothers and sisters in arms the resources they need to transition into civilian life.
they're starting their own businesses like the two veterans who started a coffee shop that's so good my own staff voted to have it served in the white house. and understand we consume a lot of coffee in the white house. and consume a lot of coffee in the white house so to my staff those guys are heroic. our veterans are moms and dads and teachers and doctor and engineers and entrepreneurs, social workers and community leaders. they have serving in statehouses across the country, serving in congress. we have a proud veteran are retired navy captain scott kelly, commander of the international space station who is up there right now just became the american as e troe naut to serve the longest consecutive flight in space.
our veterans are already making america great every single day. so my message today is simple, if you want to get the job done, hire a vet. if you are a business that needs team players who need to know how to lead and execute, hire a vet. if you are a school system that needs dedicated and passionate teachers, hire a vet. if you need somebody who is tested and can follow through, hire a vet. every sector and community can benefit from the incredible talents of the vets. they are e ready to serve, and they will make you proud. i wanted to give you just one example. a young woman named jennifer madden. jen joined the army at 17 years old. she wanted to be just like her
grandpa, a korean war veteran. her very first day of basic training was september 11th, 20 2 2001. she pulled a deployment where she lost one of her best friends in combat. when she came home, she could not get back into her own life and found she could not stay focused at school or at work and struggling to relate to family and friends, and soon she was self-medicating and became homeless. jen felt like she had lost her mission, her sense of purpose. but then thanks to the organization that connects veterans with therapists who e donate their time, jen was able to get counseling at no charge. she started to deal with the
post-traumatic stress, and with a lot of hard work, she started to pull her life back together. and to dday, jen and the love o her life josh are raising two children and she is a licensed nurse working at a rehab facility helping folks who were just like her, and including veterans to get back on their feet. and through michelle and jill biden's joining forces initiative, she is an advocate for her fellow veterans. jen is here today and i wanted jen to stand if she can, because i want everybody to thank her for her courage, her example, and for her telling the story, and we are extraordinarily grateful. thank you, jen. [ applause ] and like all of the brave
men and women in uniform, jen represents the best of who we are as a nation. she has sacrificed for us, and sometimes has the scars seen and unseen that are part of that sacrifice. and she's an example of what is possible when we express our gr gratitude the not just in words, not just on one day, but through deeds everyday when we open up our hearts and give hope to the returning heroes, and we harness your tall the lents and the drive. when we honor the inherent sense of purpose, and empower you to continue serving the country that you love. what has always made america great. what has always made us exceptional are the patriots that generation after generation, dedicate themselves
to building a a nation that is stronger, freer and a little bit more perfect. on this day and everyday, we thank you. god bless our veterans and your families and god bless the united states of america. president obama finishing up the remarks at the memorial am pi theater national cemetery saying of the veterans in this nation, 19 million of them, i am still not satisfied, and we have to do more to serve these men and women. >> the message to the veterans, and a very clear message sent to the nation when he said hire a veteran. you need help here, hire a veteran, because system of the best employees that you will get, strong message from president obama right here. general spid general spider marks is here,
and i loved the line when he said about the veterans, an unbroken chain of set rans even pointing out the oldest known world war ii veteran female 108 at the ceremony. she was there. i wish we had a camera there and we could have seen her when he pointed her out. what do you think that the m message should be? what is the message going forward? >> well, clear ly the chain is unbroken and individual links within the chain periodically snap and break, and can the v.a. and the brothers and sisters and veterans put it out there together? the answer is yes. he gave a great example of jen madden, the young veteran from these wars, but the real message is that this is forever, a continuum, and this is going to go on forever and ever, and oh, by the way, the notion of women serving in all branches and in all verticals, and all eareas o the service, doesn't come as a surprise the to me. i was raised by women, and they
have always been in charge and should be in charge. >> and kate said it is an unbroken chain to the past and future. >> and they have immense capabilities, and the i are the leaders and asked to do the impossible at levels and below, and within the organization, magic occur, and so organizations should seek them out for selfish reason, and forget about the patriotism, because i want to hire the vet, because they get stuff done. >> great to see you, spider. on everyday and especially this day. >> thank you very much. >> thank you all very much for joining us at this hour. "legal view" with ashleigh banfield starts right after this. kept the supermarket shelves stocked. made sure everyone got their latest gadgets.
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