tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN December 26, 2013 9:30am-11:31am EST
information about the new way that women were being used in iraq and the defacto combat integration that was taking place. and since then of course a new generation of women combat veterans has emerged. they have come home from these conflicts and this generation. lou: including the women on the panel today, have gotten organized and are changing the narrative about, and policies about, that affect military women and women veterans. they're raising critical issues that the military needs to address including sexual harrassment and rape and are expressing themselves in their writing. lou: their memoirs, poetry, their artwork and are visible on radio, television and in film. so with that i'd like to get started and have us, have the opportunity to hear some of their, some more of their
stories. i'm going each panellest briefly. we'll start with questions. nicole goodwin all the way down at the end, enlisted in the u.s. army in 2001. she served as a supply specialist and was deployed in iraq in july of 2003 for five 1/2 months. when nicole returned to the bronx was one of the first homeless veterans of iraq war and featured in the document, when i came home as well as many news programs. she lives in new york city and raising her daughter and wrying poetry, fiction and non-fiction. she graduated college in 2000 one with a ba in english in creative writing an anthropology teresa fazio, next to nicole, grew up in white plains, new york. she served as a marine corps communications officer from 2002
to 2006. deploying once to iraq. she is writing a memoir about deployment relationship and its aftermath. teresa published her work in "new york times" at war blog and read her writing at the kennedy center in washington, d.c. she lives and works in new york city ing rebecca harila, did i say that right, is a former army sergeant and explosive ordnance disposal technician serving on active duty from 2:00 to 2008 and in the open reserves from 2008 to 2010. she was deto afghanistan in 2006 and 2007. rebecca is currently working towards a master degree in international affairs with a concentration in media and culture from the new school in new york city. raenn pay, recently transitioned from the u.s. army as a captain, having served seven years on active duty. she is currently working as the board event manager in the
marketing division at new york stock exchange euronext. she deployed to at that legal, iraq, in 2007 as company executive officer with the eight at this second airborne's division first brigade combat team. while there they managed logistics and operations for her unit to conduct intelligence operations across southern iraq n 2010 she deployed to kandahar, afghanistan as a unit intelligence officer for the 217 air calvary squadron of the 100 first airborne division. okay. these are our panelists and i would like to start by asking you to talk a bit about your experience when you first joined the military and your reasons for joining. i'd like to start with nicole. can you talk a little bit about why you chose to enlist? >> okay, thank you. the reason why i chose to enlist was, it was a dire situation in
my home. pretty much i come from a very impoverished, dysfunctional family and there weren't many options open for me to elevate myself at that time. i was very young, i was 19 going on 20 and seemed like my options had run out and living in the south bronx and living this impoverished life and wanting more and wanting an education and these things, motivated me to search for a way out as soon as possible. and that is pretty much why i enlisted. >> teresa. >> i also actually had a bit of an economic motivation for joining. i did it to pay for college. i did rotc in undergrad and i probably wouldn't have been able to pay for school otherwise. i went to mit. that was pretty expensive. i wanted the challenge and
comradery but also to pay for school. >> i'm from the south and every single male in my family has been in the military. so i kind of saw it as, it was kind of an option but i also grew up in very, very religious environment where women were supposed to stay home barefoot and pregnant and that was not my thing. so i decided that i wanted to pursue military service and, it was interesting because long story short, i had open-heart surgery when i was a young child. so it took me almost two years to get a medical waiver to let me in the military and i went into explosive ordnance disposal. basically i was in the bomb squad. i did a relatively challenging job. economics played a big role in it. i think everybody was like, i'm in middle of a war and i want a college degree and i don't want any college debt that definitely played a part in it. i think there was still like a
patriotism factor as welcoming from the, what i would refer to as the deep south having that kind of in my family heritage. >> everything that everyone just said actually, i think we all share the common, the idea of comradery a and chance for me was chance a travel, meet a lot of new people and taken out of my comfort zone. i joined my soft more year of college. i joined rotc so it paid school. once i graduated school would be paid for and i didn't have any debt. when i was a sophomore in college that was 2001. so i had to just, post-9/11, that happened and i got a letter from the rotc department on campus that said, we'll pay for school but this is an opportunity for you to serve after college and i thought that that was, it would be a great opportunity for me to be a part of something bigger than me, especially after 9/11.
so i was searching for a way in some way to give back and rotc was it. it turned out to be a great experience for me all together, just being on active duty. so i got everything that i wanted and then some, so. >> talk a little bit about how others reacted to your decision when you were in college to join up. >> the rotc department or the unit on my many capus was pretty -- campus was pretty active. it is a small school and a small organization on campus and so i was in a sorority at the time and a lot of my sorority sisters were shocked when i came out and said i want to join rotc i'm five foot nothing. it really surprised them. every wednesday on campus we had drills. so we had to wear uniform. at time it was bdus, the olive green uniform. i think they referred to me as the pickle. it was a joke. i wasn't being made fun of.
it was term of endearment. and it kind of almost raised awareness for, anybody can join rotc if raeanne can do it, only five foot and female. i wouldn't say i led that alone but we had pretty good turnout the next year people wanting to become part of a program. at first it was, really she wants to do this? they couldn't imagine me being part of that organization. funny later once i was in the army, i would tell people i was sorority and cheerleader in the high school. folks in the army would be surprised by that once they saw me in uniform so it was interesting dynamic. >> you shocked them both ways. i wanted to talk a little bit, have each of you talk a little bit what your mos was and how you made your decision to choose it and what sorts of skills you learned in the process, really get down to some brass tacks. rebecca, could you start since
you already mentioned your mos. >> sure. i wanted to be a dude and be special force but that was not an option. so i picked what i thought was annex best thing and i went dod. so, basically like i said, i was in the bomb squad. i basically, for lack of a better effort always ask people if they have seen "the hurt locker." if you've seen "the hurt locker", that was me kind of sort of but "the hurt locker" was not all that realistic but at least gives people kind of a vantage point to start from. but we did mostly ied missions. we would either respond to them when people found them or we would respond to them after they went off. ied are basically roadside bombs. so i did a lot of work with explosives but i did a lot of work when we were in again began because i was the only only female unit i was assigned to
and attached to i did a lot of biometric data collection, being a woman and having skill set i have, hey, you're a woman and you can disarm bombs and we'll bring you and you're going to also, you know, mingle with the local woman pop all of our men can not really deal with. so i got cross-trained in a lot of different skillsets that were outside of my actual job description. but i really, one of the things, that i do miss it, blowing -- up is kind of awesome and it is fun and i miss kind of challenges every day with something different. you never knew what you were going to get yourself into or how things were going to go definitely. it kind of i relate it honestly to being a policeman or firefighter. there is a lot of down time. we have to go, get your stuff. hit the road. kind of high-stress environment. one of ironies being in
afghanistan in a bomb squad, doing the actual job was not most stressful job, it was driving vehicles through the mountains. that was the most stressful part of being over there. of the driving a 20-ton vehicles on mountain pass roads with a 600-foot drop to your right-hand side. that was kind of like, just please get me there i can deal with whenever i deal with when i get there but i've got to get there first. but there were a lot of, a lot of contradictions and ironies associated with my position but i always kind of, you know, there were about when i was in 2004 and 2008, there were about 50 women in the field, the whole field in the army. so very, very infrequently did you ever see another woman who was an eod. so that definitely made me kind of anomaly, sometimes just being a woman in the military can be anomaly in and of itself and it was even more isolating in a
sense, which was challenging like i said i really enjoyed my job. i kind of miss it sometimes. it would be kind of fun to make something go boom every once in a while. >> so you were with a, you were in a team of how many -- >> initially in teams of three to four and you were assigned to different locations. so, you know most of the time you would send a whole unit over, our unit was only, like a lot of people think about companies being a couple hundred people or so. ours was 20 people. so we were very small, kind of very intimate. everybody knew everybody. but then you would be centrally located and then dispersed out throughout local areas. so you were only with two or three people that you specifically had to deployed with from your unit at any given time. it was a very different setup what we consider ourselves to be outside of the mainstream
military and we did things a little bit differently. it was kind of a unique setup at the time when we were -- >> can you give us a sense -- so you would get, would be told there might be something you need to check out in this place and your group of three or four would be assigned that task? >> yeah. you never go out by yourself. you were always, we always had to have an escort. i worked with task force, part of the time called task force paladin which was a counter-ied task force. we had an intelligence officer. people who would do post-blast analysis. they would go out and collect biometric data from the actual blast site itself and we had our team who would deal with actual ordnance or ieds that were not yet exploded. so it was, we were kind of sit around and wait. a lot of it was very intelligence-based. a lot of it was about trying to minimize the risk to everyone else. that was always outside the wire
and outside doing missions all the time. but yeah, we would get, you know, kind of, we would get radio call and they would be like, we think we found something. we need you guys to respond. we always try to respond within 30 minutes. again you have to have an escort. a lot of time people that do this thing infantry and combat engineers and mps were usually already out on missions. somebody might have to come back and get us in our little two vehicles and escort us out to the site where we were in order to take care of whatever we needed to take care of. >> that's great. raeanne, you were an intelligence officer and -- >> i wasn't directly assigned there but we did a lot of work with them where we, when i was in iraq we were responsible, security force mission for our brigade. infantry brigade ran convoys through the entire country to the south and baghdad and back
down. if there was threat along with any routes we were assess threats with what task force paladin was able to provide. indirectly we probably supported one another. >> that is great. can you talk about your mos or your training and what you did in iraq first? that was your first deployment no. >> that was my first deployment. it was funny, i studied psychology in college and when i wanted to become an officer i was told by another cadet, well, you should have a business degree. i used psychology every single day regardless of my specialty. with intelligence, i think first and foremost i wanted to be an officer because i wanted to be a leader. intelligence was just happened to be the branch i chose going in. i really liked tell against because it was basically i was, as a new officer, second lieutenant, i was responsible for a tuav platoon, which was
aerial assets. tactical, unmanned aerial vehicle, basically drones. we were responsible for collecting from aerial perspective checking imagery of routes, doing a lot of route reconnaissance, things like that. so i was responsible for a 24-person platoon and they operated these unmanned drones for the unit and so -- >> which part? >> this was southern iraq. >> okay. >> so i actually when i went into afghanistan i was with a manned helicopter unit. so i went in with some experience from that understanding more of the aerial perspective and what needed to be, the way to look at it in terms of intelligence but we were in southern afghanistan and we were kind of doing the same thing except now i'm dealing with pilots who are putting themselves at risk going out several times a day and flying helicopters themselves.
these were small aircraft with two pilots, no passengers. single-engine aircraft. these things were built in the '70s and didn't really, in terms of technology, didn't really improve from the '70s, used in vietnam. this was, these guys and women putting themselves at risk every time they went out. i'm asking them to collect very dangerous areas of southern afghanistan. and so it was interesting the dynamic between iraq and afghanistan and what my mission was but all within the intelligence cycle. ground intelligence. >> in afghanistan were there mortars or people firing at the helicopters that were doing this reconnaissance? was that -- >> yes. the types of aircraft we had, apaches that went out and they were basically the difference between the two. one is more of a the ability to target whereas the other is the small aircraft is going out, not
so much in offensive role but more of, they're looking for information, taking pictures, literally hanging their arm outside of an aircraft, taking a picture and coming back. they were frequently targeted because they're small aircraft. they don't fly as fast as apache or a black hawk. so there were, we had, a lot of times when they came back if they had been shot at that was up to my group i was responsible for to assess the damage to the aircraft, to understand, you know, were they being targeted at, what level, basically to identify capabilities of the enemy and use that so that we were protecting the ground troops. so there were times that our guys, our pilots when they would go out they were directly supporting someone, well, every time, they were directly supporting so one on the ground. and so off then times they were shot at because there was, they were suppose toddies rapt those -- >> right.
okay. >> that's interesting. okay. teresa, talk a bit about your role. >> sure. no problem. i was a communications officer in the marine corps. actually in the marines, you don't get to pick, they pick for you what you do. they saw that i had a technical degree under grad. they made me communications officers. i worked with computers and radios, satellites, wired, wired telephones and ran a platoon that maintained generators and power equipment for our unit. so i was deployed to iraq for seven months in 2004. and one of the reasons that i became an officer also was for the leadership aspect. i had 35 guys working for me and one woman. growing up with three younger brothers and having been a camp counselor in high school with the best preparation for that ever. except with machine guns in iraq. so, yeah. and what we did, our main role was to be on a base which, did get mortared and to lay cable
underground. this was before the marine corps really had a whole lot of multichannel radio communications between different bases. so there was only a little bit of that. so within our own buys we had to make sure all of the telephone cable and fiber-optic cable worked. it was a gigantic airbase midway between ramadi and fallujah in al-anbar province. it was like heading up a construction crew. my marines were hard-working. they were great. they would dig trenches and lay cable underground. we would get entire company to help us out, 200 marines pulling out cable under airfield. took out the old iraqi telephone wires, and replaced them with 30 kilometers of cable all told throughout the base. they got mortaredded. the cable would be cut. my repair marines would have to repair it. it was like being in charge of the whole cycle of operations there which was stressful but i worked with a lot of fantastic
people. that was really great. >> that's great. and nicole? >> my story, i guess is a story of a misdirection, believe it or not. i, after i took the asmap i wanted to be a journalist actually, and recruiter told me i didn't make the cut. i didn't get the proper score to enlist as, to get the journalism slot. so i was like, what do you guys have to offer? he was like, you know, he mentioned a few other moss and then he mentioned supply. i have retail experience, i have sales experience, i have office experience. and it's a strange story because supply and garrison versus supply and during the deployment, it's very, two different atmospheres, two different types of stressors
whereas when i was in garrison in germany it was a lot more fun. i felt like, i felt very interconnected because i did unit supply and i was in the ordnance. i was in an ordnance company. so i was in the ordnance unit, rather and my company was the largest of that ordnance unit. so, and bravo company, you know, ordering a pen, i could order a pen, i could order a machine gun and m-60, saw weapon, these things were on the books and on paper it is very interesting to have accountability for these incredibly massive and powerful weapons and at same time, oh, i need a roll of paper, some tissue. so it is pretty ironic. and then the networking aspect is so vast because you have unit
supply, which is a 9yankee. then we worked with shop office which were alphas. alphas also worked at the warehouse. and 92 juliettes which were medical supply officers. so it was a small world amongst the logisticses family and we all kind of knew each other, knew how to get to each other versus, you know, in different aspects of the military. the jobs would be a little bit more secular and separated. so logistics was more like professionally a little bit, one, a bit more of a happy family. in that sense we were in s-4 and it was just strange aspects of it. but then when you take that to deployment it's a different situation. because the budget itself would fluctuate a lot more differently
compared to in garrison and more, quote, unquote relaxed situation. so there are times we didn't have the supplies to give the soldiers and it could be life-or-death situation. i remember we went out of flak vests to assign to different soldiers and we had to scrutinize and rotate and come up with innovative idea how, whom, how to protect whom. who is going on what mission? where can we get, where can we borrow what we need? so it was dire situations sometimes. and it was very unspoken in my section but it was, i could constantly see that way on each other's brains, each of our brains. like if we ran out of gas masks, what are we going to do if there is a biochemical attack? and that kind of position puts you in a strange dichotomy in
relation to the rest of your unit, in relation to other supply offices and, your position in the hierarchy of the military. and, it's a very frightening aspect that i feel hasn't really been spoken about, because people think, well it is only logistics but, the whole aspect of quartermasters around logistics and connection to supplying one's self in the military, it is in deployment it's a life-or-death situation. these are things you can't really teach in garrison or in training. it kind of just happens along the way. and it develops through experience. so i think that, seeing that aspect and seeing that hierarchy, those echelons and that ladder go up and down and
spiral and sometimes be broken really made me the person and writer i am today. >> i mean it sound like you were at the center of the circle. >> yes. >> people have to come to you. >> yes, very much. very much we were the center of the circle, and again these are things i have never really spoken about. i think a lot of people when, even the media, when concerns itself with war, sensationalism, oh, the bullets and the bombs and mortars and ieds and all this sensationalism and many times my job was mundane and i'm sitting in the office and no one's there. all right, 9:00 to 5:00 and no one picked up a lot today and two of my friends in the section, oh, we got to get to camp anaconda. you have to go through sniper alley. our lives were in danger just to do our job and it is literally
pushing pencils but at the same time as supply we were a crucial part of operations and we were kind of unsung because, you know, we weren't, we weren't the ones through the door first. so it is just an aspect never really played up. >> right. i also wanted to have, have you talk some more, all of you, about your experiences in iraq or in afghanistan, particularly stories about, you know, maybe a, one of the more memorable stories that you, where you felt that your, your skills and things you were trained to do really paid off. that you really made a difference. it sound like, nicole, you, you had that awareness every day that you were doing your job. at types it might have seemed out of sight but you were the underpinning how the operation
was going to be successful or not if they didn't have their supplies much. teresa, can you talk about that. >> sure. so during my deployment was actually the first battle for fallujah in april of 2004. a lot of people remember the second bat nell november where we actually took the city but in the first one the marines went in for like a few days and then pulled back and tried to let the iraqis do their own thing. during that it was pretty stressful time around the base. we had just gotten there a month before. it was really made sure everybody had connectivity and talk to each other. we would call each other electron warriors jokingly because we were behind computers a lot of time or talking on a radio or trying to connect a satellite. i do remember one occasion where in succession a bunch of different communications systems broke. we had to just find different ways to like talk to a base. that was about 50 miles away and we were trying to, you know, i
was trying to translate, like between one dialing code on one thing, how we dial on the satellite phone instead and you know, try to bounce it off the bird and get to talk to a different base so that our higher commanders could actually be able to talk to each other and know what is going on. so between that and just, brute forcing, cable underground so that people could have the electrons flowing in this age of actually having to communicate via email and send images and things like that. actually sending images for the drones was like a big thing. we needed a lot of band wit for that, that was pretty crucial. in three things you need in a war, shoot, move, communicate. grunts with would be shooting. nicole's unit moving supplies back and forth and we would be helping people communicate. >> at what point you say the infrastructure got up, the communications infrastructure? was it after 2004 or right at
that time during the first battle? >> yeah. no. i think for our particular job in my unit was to transition. so it was still comparatively early in the war and for this base the, we took it over from the army who had only taken it over from iraqis less than a year beforehand. so, by the time that we left in september and really moving on into the winter the infrastructure was far up on that base and in general throughout iraq we had satellite communications between every base and things like that. so there with ways to communicate well but they were becoming entrenched during the deployment i was on. . .
>> so having kind of a morbid sense of humor was a way that a lot of me and my guys and the people that i worked with kind of worked. so we got a call one day, and there had been a suicide bomber who had blown himself up in one of the main cities, and it was the first suicide bombing that i had been called out on. so i was, didn't really know what to expect. i'd done a lot of, you know, ordnance is one thing, blown-up people are another. so i'm with a group of infantry guys, and one of the guys in the vehicle hands me a stick of gum, and was like, here, chew on this, it actually helps with the smell, because these bodies have
a distinct type of smell. i was like, okay, thanks, dude. and my team leader at the time the guy i was working with was not a friendly person, we really didn't get along, so i wasn't relying on him for much guidance or advice, so when we got there, it was kind of what you'd think of. i don't watch horror movies, because i've seen them in real life. i have seen what that stuff looks like in reality. so, basically, when someone blows themself up, all that's left usually is part of the head and part of their legs. the rest of it is left in little gooey bits. and i was basically searching for secondary devices or like, hey, there's news humongous boulders, can you please go check them to make sure there's no secondary devices, and i was like, sure, whatever. so i'm walking over these very unstable rocks, huge rocks, and
i slipped because i'm wearing, like, 40 pounds of gear, carrying a weapon, you know, all geared out as usual, and i fell and put my hand in this pile of goo. and i was like, oh, what is this? it was pretty much the guy's face. and i'm like, y'all missed a piece. i'm going to bring it to you now, because we had to collect all of that stuff and take it back for analysis. so that kind of stuff is, you know, some of the things that i dealt with on a somewhat daily basis. not all the time. but it was kind of one of those things that you deal with, and you're kind of, you know, looking back on them like it was kind of like playing a video game. i'm not going to lie, this was very much -- it was very much kind of third person, i'm kind of outside my body right now, i'm watching this stuff happen, and i'm not sure how i'm going to deal with this, so i'm going to put that in the back of few file cabinet, and i'm going to deal with that when i get home.
so that was some of the stuff -- and that was my first experience with those types of situations. i mean, there were guys who had, you know, seen those things multiple times and had, you know, dealt with, you know, way worse stuff than that particular situation. and things actually got even more intense after that. i had about a three month period where, you know, kind of, you know, the shit hit the fan for a while, and we were up to our eyeballs in missions and absolute craziness. so, you know, and it's interesting, you know, when we got talking about these kinds of things and what we did, it's kind of like, you know, sometimes -- i'm sure we'll get to this in a little bit, but i'm going to touch on it a little bit, what do people really want to know? you guys are out there thinking what am i going to ask a veteran, what should i say? sometimes i'm like, you know, this isn't stuff that i talk about a lot. i'm actually perfectly comfortable telling some of these stories, but a lot of
times people on the receiving end are like, oh, my god, i don't know how to respond to this, i don't know how to react. i can see it in your faces, like the response, the recoil of i don't even know what to say to this story. and, um, it's just kind of interesting when you talk about what, you know, what are you proud of in your service, like, what made you the person, like, those are the types of things that really do kind of, have made me who i am and given me some of the perspectives i have. like, you know, i come back, and we see things and we do things, and people get all uptight about stuff. i'm like, look, nobody died, chill out. it is not that serious. [laughter] i'm like, you know, slow your role, bring it down a notch, let's relax and figure out what we need to do and get stuff done. so those types of situations, while very kind of gruesome and very kind of intense and took some time to kind of process and get think once i had the time to get through and process them, they're still in a sense
they're, like, very helpful in kind of crafting a perspective about life in general sometimes. >> right. yeah, no, i can imagine reann, do you want to jump in? >> sure. while i was in afghanistan, this was the beginning of the surge to southern -- well, beginning of the surge for the u.s. we went into southern afghanistan, and we at that time there were multiple ground units, battalion level, so you're looking at 400 soldiers, 200 soldiers per so many square miles, i guess. and not every battalion belonged to the same overall brigade. so there was a lot of fragmented communications going on different standard operating reed yours. so it was really -- procedures. so it was really, i guess, difficult to operate when you weren't all trained together. so as an aviation unit, we were
supporting multiple ground forces who were having difficulty communicating. some of that came back to, you know, the different communications architectures that are in place, and they just hadn't trained together in the states. so when we got, when we got there, kind of hit the ground running, and we had been looking at intelligence through the year leading up to this, and i was stressed with my soldiers for being able to support multiple units on the ground and try to direct or at least make recommendations to my commander on where he would direct aircraft and who to support. so i just felt this immense pressure to be right, and i think by virtue of intelligence is supposed to drive operations, that was what we were aiming towards. but it didn't always happen. it's one of those things you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. you think you're directing something in one direction, but, of course, if you're predicting future enemy operations, then the commander, the, you know, my
commander would want to counter that. well, if he counts it successfully, the enemy may not be successful. that's good news except then they look at the intelligence officer and say, so you predicted wrongly or incorrectly. so that could be frustrating. but i think a moment in afghanistan where we were, we were there in the winter of 2010, and, um, just kind of how the vegetation is very bare during the winter time frame in the south. the enemy was relatively quiet. then we got into the spring of 2010, vegetation starts to come back. this is an area for the locals there where poppy and the growing poppy was really important to the local economy. but it also helped for the foreign fight beers or for the fighters there to be able to have cover and concealment or more cover to be able to move freely through southern afghanistan. and so i went out with, on a
flight with one of our pilots, and my commander wanted me as the intel officer for the unit to be able to see what today saw and to understand their perspective and how little they could actually detect from maybe 50 feet up, 100 feet up in their aircraft and flying fast. and so we flew through there, and it was, it was incredible. there were grape rows where, you know, these are five feet high, so you can imagine when the ground -- the enemy has the advantage of having lived there forever. the friendly forces, coalition forces have a disadvantage in that they get there, and there's these phi-foot- five-foot-fy grape rows that they have to navigate over. so we learned through the summer months of heavy fighting and supporting ground forces and really trying to crack the code on how the enemy's operating there. we got into the fall where the vegetation started to die out, and we realized through almost a full year there that the enemy
had these underground tunnels and that there were huge cash sites. some of -- cache sites. some of it was medical supplies, weapons, ammunition. so we realized what we thought to be enemy operating, you know, from multiple firing positions simultaneously, this is a complex enemy there. we realized they were navigating underground. so we started working with, we had to build that relationship with the ground units to trust us to say we think this is going to happen at this location because last spring we saw this, and now we're realizing they were navigating from one position to the next underground it was one guy, one enemy fighter. they started to trust us through this, you know, nearly year-of long relationship we'd established, and so they started going and exploiting the underground sites and pulling, you know, a lot of ammunition out of, potentially pulling it out of enemy hands. so it was, we started to see the
success there, and it was really nice to feel like the work that we had been doing and it had taken to long to build this up, that it was actually paying off. every time that we had either an aircraft that was shot at or hit or you sit in an operating, an operation center, tactical operations center which is most of the time where i was, and the soldiers, the analysts that worked for me would day in and day out look at reporting. they were looking at significant activity as it came in. to them, it was just statistics. so they were seeing, you know, a triumph -- triple amputee. this is what came across. this unit just got hit on the ground, this platoon just ran into a string of ieds and they lost, you know, five people. and that's catastrophic to a small unit. one loss is catastrophic, so you can imagine when it's more than that. so every time this would happen, we would come back, and it was making it more real for us in an operations center where we were sitting behind computers, and it felt more like a video game than
the reality it was. so when we would start the question did we send, did we ask the send these people out into harm's way, and we were, you know, did we miss something. and so to see the success of operations and pulling this ammunition out of enemy hands was really, i think, a rewarding moment for us there, and it was also a way to keep my soldiers and the analysts engaged to support those guys out there and make sure, um, the guys and gals that were going outside of the wire every day. it also, i think, it helped to build that confidence in what we were doing. so we found that that relationship was really important so that intelligence would actually drive operations. >> that's interesting. can we thousand turn to talking a little bit about your, the skills that you learned and then how you transitioned out into civilian life? nicole, can you talk a bit about what you felt you gained from
your experience and then sort of how you, how your transition went? >> um, my story is a very strange arc, and i always consider it as a continuous build-upon and just retransforming myself. i don't want to say i didn't learn any skills. i think it reinforced who i am as a person being out in iraq. again, my job position and my, um, the psychological connection to my job position. i got to see many aspects of iraqi people and, um, my negative soldiers in the military -- my fellow soldiers in the military. and the tricks that that played on my mind was very difficult even now to explain to many people. and and i think one of the things that helped me cope and
to filter out and decipher and to constantly modify my perception about myself and my relationship to my deployment was the fact that, um, i'm an avid reader, i'm an avid writer, and the skill of doing my job and the routine of that helped keep me sane in that situation. and it was very difficult because, again, for me being a supply i got to stay behind a great deal. but at the same time, um, the fact that my unit, there were so many people in my unit constantly tasked out to the position, like we supported tankers and infantrymen, and i have many friends that were medics. they were constantly sent out on missions. and be then we had iraqis come
in. and they had jobs on our post. and while we were stationed there, so they ran the laundromats, and they built the café. and it was a strange dichotomy because on one hand, um, there was some interpreters. on one hand you see this situation as, you know, this is the enemy, and we're here to liberate. but then on the other hand, you see the position of there are people here who are not the enemy, who are of this collective and this ethnicity that look like me being an african-american woman, so there was that social aspect there that are risking their lives to feed their families, to feed their children and share this experience with me in a way that you come to the states for, you know, many other soldiers in the coalition, europe or wherever they were stationed from, they
can't explain that to their civilian counterparts where it be their family, their spouses or even their children. so, um, i think that played a huge psychological, placed a huge psychological burden upon me for many years. like, how do you explain this unique experience to people that don't necessarily want to hear all the bad? they want to hear, oh, you fought for your cup, oh, you're him, you're safe, you're alive -- you're home, you're safe, you're alive. and i'm like, no, there's so much gray in between. on one hand you are -- i was very young. i became 23 in iraq. i had a birthday. and, um, i had to celebrate my birthday in a situation that was constantly reminding me of my own mortality. and then i had shiloh, my daughter, in march 2003, and i redeployed to germany in april 2003.
and then i does deployed -- was deployed, i met up with my unit in iraq in july 2003. and i didn't see my daughter until nine months later. so that kind of personal separation and personal experience, um, that really played a huge -- placed a huge psychological burden upon me because it's such a remote experience. and again, there was a lot of gray for me. so coming back home, i really wanted to start where i had thought i left off. i had a lot of college friends around me, and they were never -- they wanted me to talk about my experience in the military, and i pretty much was like, no, let's just pick up where we left off. and for many years, like, that was how i dealt with it. these are my experiences, i kept them in a box, and this is the person i want to be again.
and transforming from that and realizing that life had gone on and and you are a mother now and you're not the young girl that went in even though i was much older than a lot of the enlistees, i came in at 20 and got out and turned 24, and it was just so many dynamics of change that happened. in that short span of time. and it took me so many years to digest it and to deal with this concept of ptsd and depression and anxiety and all the labels for mental illness when it really is about a person having a dynamic experience that's very convoluted and cannot be explained as in good or bad and living with ambiguity and realizing that there's so much that is, um -- america's really
isolated culturally to this concept of war more than any other country in the world, in my experience. and, um, going back into school and going into a routine and reestablishing my connections to my older self who i was and my interests and combining that with my new experiences and the confusion of it all and just building upon that as a person, that is where the transition, the positivity of the transition really began. but that took ten years. that took ten years. and that was a lot of down ward slope. between those ten years and the acceptance of help from, like, the harlem vet center where i still receive treatment, you know? and building a support system and realizing that where a lot of my anger came from and a lot
of these concepts of misunderstanding and realizing that there are going to be people who want to listen, but they're not going to want to hear everything, and that's okay too. but being willing to tell it anyway. so future generations, like my daughter, won't just read a paragraph about iraq and think that's the whole story. so, um, i think now it's gone on about 11 years since my enlistment. it's really been a journey and realizing that there's nothing about that experience, not labeling it good or bad, but saying this is my perspective, and this is a part of me. and i'm not necessarily proud of my position in the war, but i'm proud of the person that's become, that's come out of my perspective from thatting appearance.
>> right. as you say, you've learned to live with that ambiguity and then produce, you know, do your writing and process it that way. we'll come around and talk about that, because i'd like to ask you some more about that. teresa, can you talk a little bit about finish. >> yeah. >> -- the skills, your leadership skills that you learned and then your transition? >> sure, absolutely. so when i joined rotc, i was a very quiet kid. and i stayed quiet pretty much until i had to start talking to large groups of people which is when i became a platoon commander when i was in iraq. and i got plunged down into the deployment. i deployed after being in my unit after about four weeks. my commander said, great, welcome aboard, don't unpack, we're leaving soon. they'd actually shuffled around a bunch of the officers, so i didn't know i'd be leading two platoons of marines until i stepped my boots in the sand. so what i learned over there was
really how to talk to anybody. because i grew up kind of nerdy, and i was kind of quiet, and i was used to talking a lot about math and just physical stuff and, you know, communications architectures and things like that. but you're leading people. so i had to talk to my marines. and everybody from, you know, the 18-year-old who was already married and his wife was pregnant, and she was about to have baby while we were deployed to, you know, my 35 be-year-old senior enlisted who would give me advice on, like, is this what we're supposed to do next? and i'd be like, great, thanks, gunny, and go tell the rest of the platoon this is what we're doing now. and being able to kind of, you know, put your ear to the ground and listen is and gather information and talk to all of your troops and then, you know, talk to your fellow officers and everybody else around you and then being able to digest that and get advice and come up with a plan of action and then be able to tell everybody what to do and execute afterwards was something that really i learned during that compressed period of deployment. because when you're doing all
the training, yeah, it's kind of real, but nobody's actually with firing anything at you. there's not the actual pressure of outside the wire troops are on the ground depending on the communications architectures that you're putting together. so that was a huge thing that i learned over there. and just to be able to be comfortable and walk into a room and realize that everybody in there is, in fact, human and, you know, you're going to have to be able to work together and talk with each other. so after the deployment i served in the california in the marines for two more years, and then i got out and went to graduate school. i was actually in a ph.d. program which i've since finished, anding with around people after the -- and being around seem after the marine corps who were four years younger than me and right out of college and then going to more school afterwards was actually pretty difficult for me for the first two years. one of the first things i had to do was be a teaching assistant for a class, and it turns out that undergrads don't salute. [laughter] funny thing about that. >> i could have told you that.
>> yeah, who knew? [laughter] that was really hard, because i'd want to reach across the desk and choke the kid and realize that would get me arrested. [laughter] in the marine corps, you can do a lot. [laughter] i never did that. you know, it took a couple of years to dial down the pressure and the pressure on myself, too, because there's this intensity that, you know, you build within yourself when you're in the military and, like, you're all about getting the mission done like on time, you know, as a team you will brute force through the night, you will dig that trench and lay that cable and do whatever you have to do. and if grad school, you know, with the projects and everything i was just like waiting for somebody like tell me what to do, and that's not actually the point of doing scientific research. the point is to find out what science has to tell you. so that was hard. and it was hard at first to make friends. and then eventually bit by bit i started making friends in my brad program. but that actually only -- grad program. but that actually only happened after i came forward a little
bit with my story and started confiding in my classmates of the things that had happened, like, on deployment and the experiences that i had had and what it was like to be on that base. and like finding people i could really trust. one of my best friends in my grad program was actually an army officer who was guesting a master's in physics to go back and teach at west point. we became friends and from there i kind of, like, developed a good cadre of people to hang out with and, you know, from there that helped a lot. um, yeah. the writing has helped, too, but i gather we'll talk about the writing stuff in a future question, so leave that for then. >> rebekah. >> well, learning how to blow stuff up doesn't really translate to civilian life. um, so i think like i said, what i gained most from it was a perspective adjustment of sorts. like, i grew up pretty sheltered. i've always been a bit of an overachiever, so i think what
i've learned most is how to chill out. but even that's kind of hard. like, i am -- i just started idea school this semester, and i'm taking four graduate-level courses, and right now i'm up to here in papers that are due on monday, tuesday, and it's like, ah! >> good luck. [laughter] >> so it's, that's been, you know, as you were saying, like, there's kind of a -- you know, when i got back, like, i've always kind of felt like i've been an outlier. again, being a woman in and of itself is hard enough, but a woman in an environment where you don't see other women ever and then, you know, i got dealt a pretty bad hand as far as units go. my commander and my first sergeant were not nice people. and so i had a pretty crappy experience with my unit and some of the things that i dealt with from the pen that i worked with. -- the men that i worked with. so one of the things that i learned, and it was a hard lesson but well learned, is like i can take care of myself. like, i don't need anybody.
that was definitely one part of it. but then on the flip side of that is part of that, too, is i learned i do feed people. -- i do need people. and actually coming to the realization that i have to be willing to accept help sometimes, that it really isn't always just about me and, yes, i can do my damnedest to get through things on my own, and i don't need any assistance, but, you know, when it came down to it, i really did need assistance. i needed help. and, you know, like, i was unemployed and bouncing from couch to couch for quite some time, and it was really tough for me to look at my best friend and be like, hey, dude, can i come live with you for six months? i need a place to stay. and he's like, here, have a couple hundred dollars to go -- you need to get back to the gym because you're, you just need to work out. and i'm like, no, i'm cool. nope, here, i'm buying you a gym membership. go to the gym. and just being able to say, you
know, to look at people and say thank you. without having to say anything else or having to feel like i had to apologize for where i was at. and, you know, i still a lot of times feel like i'm an outlier. like i said, i didn't have a very good experience. a lot of times i do not relate well to veterans. a lot of times i'm very, very wary of veterans because i was burned badly by the people that i worked with, so i'm very, very kind of sensitive to people who tell me that they're veterans. i mean, i'm kind of like, oh, okay. so my walls go up and i act like a little tough ass, like what you got? but i got better. so there's that play this that dynamic. so i moved up here for a job about two and a half years ago. i love new york city, i want to stay. and i found roller derby. so rollerrer the by, for me -- roller derby, for me, has kind of been a little bit of a place,
but at the same time i'm a roller derby referee. so i'm still on the fringe in a manner of speaking. so there's kind of -- i've had to learn how to navigate that fringe in a sense. and so that's kind of been, that's been interesting of kind of doing it completely 100% on your own and having to navigate that and then figuring out like, no, i can't do this all on my own and then -- it is about finding a path. it is a journal think. like, it's just every day you're kind of reinventing yourself sometimes of where you've been with and where you are now and where you want to go. >> um, rebekah, i wanted just to specifically ask you because when you came back, you joined the class action suit against rumsfeld and -- for those of you who don't know, it was a class action suit against the defense secretary gates and the pentagon for not, um, taking note of the
sexual harassment charges and that, you know, women had been, um, women had been sexually harassed, and 17 former and current members of the military sued claiming that this behavior, this not paying attention by the pentagon had led to violence against women being tolerated. the suit was dismissed, and then in the spring of this year you testified in front of the senate armed services committee, and you discussed your experience of being raped in afghanistan and your feelings about the military criminal justice system. and i wanted to just ask you about your decision. these are big steps, to go forward, to come forward, to go public and to testify about your experience. can you talk about this decision, um, and then your
decision to become an advocate for changes in the military justice system? >> yeah. like i said, i'm first and foremost always like my experience is not the experience of all women. i just happen, like i said, i got dealt a wad hand in a manner -- bad hand in a manner of speaking. but just because i had a bad experience in the military does not necessarily mean everyone else had. so sometimes i feel like in the talk around this issue of sexual violence in the military, it's kind of -- a lot of it gets stereotyped, and i kind of, like, try to debunk that. i'm like, you know, yes, there are dynamics this the military that make this an issue that is is challenging to deal with, but that does not mean that everyone acts this way. there are good people in the military. there are good men, there are good women. that being said, the bad apples that are in the military have a lot of leeway to get away with the crap they get away with because of the way that it's set up. so i think that dynamic, um, is
difficult when you're trying to talk about, like, how do we fix this, how do we adjust it, how do we talk about it. is it genders, is it not gendered? so when i got back, yeah, i was raped by a guy i worked with a week before i came back from afghanistan. initially, i decided i wasn't going to say anything, i just wanted to get out of the military and move on with my life. so now the military has two types of reporting, restricted report, unrestricted report. in the end, i did a restricted report which just basically makes you a statistic. nothing happens. after that, again, i just got out of the military, i didn't want to discuss it or talk about it, i just wanted to move on and try to figure my stuff out. i was approached by this legal team who in the end, the whole idea was basically charging the doctrine -- challenging the doctrine where you cannot sue the military for anything. so that was kind of the premise, was an eventual trying to
challenge this legal doctrine. under the premise that most of the time when you're suing the military, you're trying to sue the military, they usually come back with the idea that, no, you can't sue us because this is something that relates to military service, or it's a function of the military environment or in the case of when this started, the guys sued the military because they gave him lsd without asking permission. and they were like, no, we gave you lsd in order to experiment as a part of what would happen if you were actually begin this in a combat environment, so it sevens a -- serves a military function. that's what we were challenging, rape and violence serve no function whatsoever. the military says they have this zero tolerance policy. so as was mentioned, it's been thrown out, um, and one of my biggest irks of the whole thing is the judge basically, um, called, called it a just, a
hazard of service, rape is a hazard of service. that's actually written in the legal documents that were handed down by the judge. so, um, again, the whole idea is when i, when i first decided to speak about this, it actually happened very unexpectedly. i signed on to this lawsuit as just kind of one of many participants, and then i got thrust into the media spotlight kind of last minute. they called me on a friday, said can you come film with tbs, and i was like, no, probably not, why? we had somebody drop out. i was like, well, i take care of kids, what do you want me to do? can you get somebody for the weekend, literally flew me on a saturday afternoon, i did a three-hour interview, and they put me on a flight and flew me home. the segment aired on tuesday morning, i had no idea what it was going to be like, and then they dropped the lawsuit about an hour after the segment aired. which then kind of pushed me into a whirlwind of media.
and as a result, i ended up working for an organization here in the city that deals specifically with the issue of sexual violence in the military and trying to adjust policy. so it's been interesting because it's been about almost three years since i started speaking publicly about that issue, and there's been a major uptick in media coverage of awareness around this issue of men speak out about their experiences as well. and a lot of you have probably heard if you follow these types of things kirsten gillibrand introduced a proposal called the military justice improvement act which the whole idea is to take sexual assault cases out of the chain of command. some people agree, some people don't. i personally do because infantry commander is not a lawyer. and an infantry commander probably, like, is dealing with both the accused perpetrator and the person who accused them in their unit. you cannot be, you cannot be objective this those situations. in those situations.
so, again, without going into too much detail, this is -- there definitely needs to be something that's done, and the only way you can change the military is literally through an act of congress and the ndaa. so these types of things have been this the works for a while, and people ask, too, like the whole combat exclusion policy was repealed this year. they're like, well, doesn't that just mean more women are going to get raped? i'm like, no, it does not. and diversity in the military is a good thing, and women are just as capable of doing the things that men do, and it's all about, you know, the standards you set. and i honestly believe that the leadership that you have is going to be where that line is drawn. good leadership, this stuff doesn't happen. bad leadership, anything goes. and that's kind of, you know, you have to hold people accountable for their, for their choices. and that includes leadership that chooses to sweep this stuff under the rug and pretend like it doesn't happen. but, you know, again, my perspectives are i still have
very strong feelings about the military, and i believe that it was a good thing for me. there's a lot of cognitive dissonance there. like i said, i still cannot do the veterans day parade. i can't do it. like, there's this overwhelming sense of pride, and i'm like all the grand songs, and i u.s. >> in this -- i just have this welling of emotion, but like this. and i just can't reconcile that sometimes. maybe i'll get there one day, we'll see. but be i still feel very strongly that those that choose the military should have the best experience possible. there's a lot that the military can offer, your views on war aside. people make the choice to serve for many different reasons, and, you know, whether we agree with those reasons or not, people should be able to step into the military, serve with honor, serve with pride and come out a better person on the end without having to deal with some of the stuff like sexual harassment, sexual violence. like, that stuff should not be in the picture, the equation. and if it's, those people should be rightly dealt with.
until that happens, like, we have some work to do, but social change takes time, and you're doing it. i think we're getting there. >> you're all part of it. yeah. >> can i piggyback on a lot of what she said? >> >> like you, i was raped, and i was raped in iraq. and for certain years -- for seven years i suppressed it, and relabeled it, and i never reported it to my unit. my unit did not have my back on many issues, so i knew the minute if i would even decide to say, hey, you know, i was raped and this concept of nonviolent rape doesn't exist in people's minds, it's an oxymoron. so that dynamic, i was like, look, i just got -- i'm in it, i've got to get out of it, i've got to make choices and sacrifices. so i constructed my brain to think, oh, well, it was just sex that i didn't like.
and for many years, several years, um, you know, i just harbored this resentment and all these emotions and all this pain, and i even got into a relationship that, um, spiraled really downward. and for many years the depression got worse from where it would go from three days of like, hey, i'm just laying in bed for no reason to six months of, jeez, what did i do for six months? is and this overwhelming cloud of sadness that blocked everything. and i can't recall six months of my life. and it went from six months to a year, and it went from a year to another year. and it got to the point where in 2010 my depression got so bad my apartment was a mess, and i literally -- my daughter was taken away by acs.
she was removed from my home for six months. and it literally was so bad for me that suicide was a huge option. and then instead of that, you know, the resiliency of people is amazing. and my resiliency to say no, you know? i am not a bad person because these things happened to me. and, you know, to start digging and to ask for help and for help to actually be with there, i think one of the biggest issues with military sexual violence in the military especially when i came back is that there was no help. even was like, okay, you have ptsd. but mst wasn't even considered back then. and it took seven years for the program that i went into for, um, in new jersey for women who suffered, um, mst, and it would
just be women who suffered from mst and not in a population of ptsd where other male vets could come about. seven years. and -- of suffering. and for many women, they suffered with it longer. so just for the dialogue to happen, it was almost a decade. and for these issues to take precedent in the eyes of the media is still a fight. because women are constantly associated with rape in the media, with sexual assault in the media. and then you're in the military, and it's like, well, you know, it's a man's world, you better suck it up. and just the dialogue of saying rape is wrong, rape is not just -- it does not just happen to women. there are male soldiers who have experienced sexual assault, sexual violence that haven't come out at all because of the dynamic of, well, you're a man, and this doesn't happen to men.
so the misogyny and the stereotypes and getting rid of these things and engendering rape is still a dialogue that needs to happen. and in my eyes, i mean, i read in "the new york times" this article of women who did come out and say, hey, i was raped while they were with their unit, and every single woman in that article experienced some type of blame and shame. and this is not to say every woman in the military's going to get raped. absolutely not. it's just saying that this, um, culture has been placed in the hidden light. and it's unfair to -- it's, i mean, we wouldn't tolerate this in the civilian world. it's not tolerated. so why is it in the military? why is it covered up and protected? that's just a dynamic that i never understand, and it doesn't translate. and for pioneers like you to sit
there and say, hey, i'm going to talk about this, and it's uncomfortable, and i totally understand the idea of being the front of the media and you're just a normal person, you're thrust into this situation that you never asked for is the hardest thing to do. and, um, you know, that in itself is bravery. so, um, these are just things that, um, i challenge people, civilians and veterans alike and people still in the military to contemplate on. >> um, no, and i think you're, you know, by talking about these things and addressing them and doing advocacy work around them, you know, you're going to change policy. you are, as you said, it's going to be slow, but you are doing it, and you're going to change the narrative. and, i mean, i wanted to ask raeanne just about your transition, and i want to talk about sort of your creative works and how your writing has
helped you deal with and your other sorts of things that you do has helped you on changing this narrative. >> um, well, transition is very near and dear to my heart. i've been out it was a year last october, and my husband, who's actually sitting out here or today, he's an army vet. tom, everyone's looking for you, so you can raise your hand. [laughter] he's right here in the fourth row. he, so we met in the military and decided to get out. he wanted to pursue business school, so he was accepted to columbia business school. and i had a really great experience in the army. i loved being a leader. i really loved the people the most, and i think there were a lot of skills that i acquired, and i watched how i grew and how others around me grew. so i loved it. but i also knew that i had goals. tom and i have goals together of a family and wanting to be, you know, co-located for longer
than, you know, a few months. we had gone through a deployment after we'd first started dating. he had been stationed in germany and then deployed to iraq for a year, and three months later after i had moved to fort campbell, kentucky, i was deployed to afghanistan. so when we deployed and said good-bye to each other, we knew based off of my three month delay after his deployment, that was -- if we don't both went a year, that was at least 18 months apart. so we came back from deployment, we had leaders who really worked with the organization to get us co-located, and we spent time together at fort campbell, and once tom was accepted to school, i decided to get out as well. so that brought us to new york. so here i am from small town kentucky, had been in the military for seven years, loved what i was doing, and now i needed to focus on transition. and it really requires something. i think everyone should -- i know these ladies up here understand it, but i think it's really something that we tell the story of our transition so that people who aren't in new
york city where i think veterans are able to speak and have a voice and the civilian world wants to listen, um, to the rest of the country there are a lot of veterans who are out there that may feel very isolated just by virtue of the military is a culture within our society that's actually pretty small. it's, i guess, less than 1%. and if veterans aren't self-identifying as vets and for various reasons some don't, then they feel very alone and isolated in their communities. and when they hear stories of just successes, maybe, you know, not such a great experience, they feel like someone can identify their experience, and they feel more like speaking. and i think that puts them on a path to a successful transition and, hopefully, build upon the skills that they adwyered in the mill -- acquired in the military. i think veterans are incredibly resilient, and that's just by virtue -- i'm not sure if it's by virtue of the type of people who want to serve and feel called to serve, or if it's the
experiences they had in the military that shape them and mold them into the people they are. but i've learned that we are great at overcoming adversity. we're really good at working with people that aren't so much like ourselves because of the dynamic of, you know, you're pulling people from all different walks of life together and focusing on accomplishing a mission. you have problem solvers, you have people who are really good at, under pressure, being able to make very difficult decisions using discretion. it's just an incredible set of skills that veterans acquire through the service. and then they come into civilian life and feel alone, and you never, i think, the rest of society never gets to benefit from that. and to be honest, i mean, you were paying our salaries. so i think it's important that if we can continue to serve and use the skills that you paid for, then you could probably benefit as well in many capacities. i've been focused through the
last year on that transition and trying to sit and do some own, you know, analysis of what skills do i have, what was -- who am i today because of the military, being able to speak to that and then being able to just find veterans. you feel like you have a common language, use acronyms like ied or a 92 yankee or an alpha and understand what that means, and it feels really good to tap into that comfort zone. but then at the same time, it would be a disservice to our service if we didn't also reach out and challenge ourselves to get to know someone who's not a vet and just through the relationship over time they'll be more educated. and can i think that's how we start to bridge the gap between the services and the civilian population. through my time since deciding to join rotc until now, i've had
people who -- everyone has been very supportive whether it was family members, whether it was friends. some people in my community at home that maybe disagree with war just in and of itself, the principles of it, but they have been nothing but supportive of me and respectful of the time that i've served. so i think that it's, it's important that we talk about that and that we're able to feel welcomed when we come back or when we get out. it's just a totally different lifestyle, and i'm learning that now. but just i'll finish here, but one small piece. somebody asked me what's the biggest thing that you've learned since transitioning, and this was probably more in a professional capacity. and besides the fact that everything's kind of tied to revenue in some way, it was the idea that i could wear earrings to work and i could let my hair down. and i had a really hard time through my first jet of job -- set of job interviews not taking my hair out of a bun.
i felt confident going into an interview just pulling my hair back and there were no wispy hairs flying. i started to relax, and my boss like eight months into the job she said i've noticed you have kind of transitioned over the last year. she had no idea just because it didn't cross her mind that it was a difficult transition for me or that there was a transition to really be had at all. so when i started to talk about it, she said i noticed you were starting to wear more colors, you were starting to, you know, your hair was down, you're curling it now, so she had no idea why though. that was just a tiny piece of my transition that really shed some light on it, and she was like, oh, that's pretty cool. >> that's fantastic. are we ready to wrap up? okay. >> q&a. >> we're going to have the q&a. i'm hoping that teresa and nicole in their answers integrate some of their writing work that they're doing, because we wanted to mic sure -- make sure that you knew that people are doing interesting projects and processing their experiences in all sorts of work and
creative ways. >> i'll bite the first bullet here. so, you know, thank you all for joining us on this sunny and bright saturday, you know, afternoon. you could be doing something else, but thank you for coming here and listening to our women warriors. you know, i'm the founder of women veterans and families network, and we, you know, do a couple of different things, but one of the things that we've been doing more active on is actually connecting with veterans to the vast amount of services that are out here. and we realize that, you know, the mayor's office actually have a lot of services to provide, so there's cucs, and a lot of other nonprofits out there that want to help women, but they're having, you know, a difficult time finding these female veterans. as rebekah has said, and she didn't really affiliate with the
veteran community because she had a tough time in the military. and for us, you know, we realize that not even wants to come out and reengage in the veterans community. one of the things that we realize is there's a high, very, very high statistic among female veterans who are unemployed, who are homeless, who are single parents, who are divorcee, and they're having the toughest time in this transition process. and that really transcends all age groups. so if you look at these outrageous statistics, much higher than their male peers. so that's kind of one of the reasons why we started our nonprofit. and raeanne here, she's on our board. and she's had, you know, a phenomenal time in the military, and it really helped her transition into the civilian world and because of her success, she wants to share that with all the veterans, specifically female veterans so that they would come out and learn about these amazing
services these organizations are providing. so my question, you know, for the panel is all of you have different experiences, and we can see that it's really not that different from male peers, right? you know, it's, if you listen to other folks, i'm sure there's tons of guys that worked in eod that talks about heads, and, you know, picking up body parts and folks that worked in telecommunication that dig the trenches, same thing as you. and, you know, i think for me because i want to understand a little more like how would you go about reaching out to those female veterans who doesn't want to talk about their experience? and, you know, you guys have done a fantastic job of being here and opening up and sharing your stories with everybody. >> thanks. so, actually, i can talk -- because i'm pretty relate sent, too, when -- reticent, too, when talking about my experiences. it took me a few years to open up to people who were my friends, let alone other veterans. and one of the scariest experiences i had was less than a year ago of walking into the
veterans' writing workshop at nyu which is a free, nonprofit organization. [laughter] but it was like my very first day there, and, you know, we were -- i didn't know what to expect. i didn't know, like, if we were going to share ore own stories or writing, but i had the feeling that, like, all the other veterans there were going to judge me for, like, what i had done or not done in the military. so i think an attitude of acceptance is really important for any organization that's reaping out -- reaching out. and just the folks there both male and female, like, everybody was just really cool, and if you wanted to talk, like, that was cool. and if you didn't feel like talking, that was fine too. so if you didn't want to, like, share your writing that day or anything like that, you know, you didn't have to. as it happened, i did. and i was, like, shaking as i read it, but it worked out okay. and that whole process has been really therapeutic in writing about stuff that happened in iraq. so, yeah. my mar experience was that i had
a relationship with the guy who was of the mortuary affairs officer in my unit which was a terrible idea, not the least of reasons because he was married. but, you know, stuff like -- my relationship was on sensual, and -- consensual, and, you know, but writing about it has helped out a whole lot. yeah, i just think that attitude of acceptance has been really great. >> um, how do we -- well, first of all, the fact is that me and teresa were in the same workshop, so to see another woman vet there, that was just like, oh! that was amazing. it's like you suck in a breath, and you're like, yea, and then you keep it all inside. but, um, for me i think one of the biggest motivations that really encouraged many me to, like, just tackle this beast of what it is and redefining this idea of being a veteran is that,
um, i accepted my experiences, and i accepted the uniqueness and the similarities of my experiences to other veterans. and the questions that arose from that, i accepted those too. so there's a finish you -- you e to have this ability of self-acceptance, and that comes with time. so what i encourage to a lot of civilians that are like how can we help veterans, how can we get in contact with female veterans is just consider this idea that they're always around you, even if you don't know it. and the encouraging thought of give it time is, it's universal. you're going through this hard situation. i don't necessarily what it is, but give it time. give it time and things change. your appearance changes, the way
you look at the situation changes, your perspective changes. you grow. there's a lot of growth in suffering. and people don't realize that. but you have to give it time. and, um, a lot of veterans, i don't think, are encouraged to give it time. a lot of people are like, oh, well, i need to know what happened to you now. i'm interested now. it's a very finish it's an immediacy to the situation. and transitions sometimes are gradual. and sometimes just being there and not saying anything means so much more to a person than just saying, okay, well, i want to hear your story. just tell me your story. and it's, like, well, right now i don't want to speak about it. and, you know, like everything in life, you have to have strong roots in order to grow. into something, to blossom into something resilient. and profound. so, i mean, give it time.
we're always around. but just put that out there. and then somebody's going to eventually respond. >> i want to say just one thing to the whole veteran/civilian divide concept. actually, i had this conversation just the other night, on wednesday night, with a girl who was a therapist and worked with substance abuse be issues, and we got talking about veterans, and she was like i only think veterans can help veterans, and i was like, you're wrong! [laughter] very, very adamant understatement. we all, everyone in this room has experienced something that i know nothing about, and i've experienced something that you know nothing about. but that doesn't mean we can't relate to each other as human beings. some of the best feedbacks and the best help i got was from civilians who were interested enough in trying to help me make transitions, trying to help me be successful. it's like trying to tell a therapist unless you've been raped, you can't work with rape victims. it doesn't work like that.
that does not hold in any psychotherapeutic sell setting. so, yes, it's helpful when people are like we want to at least three and understand military culture, we want to be able to empathize with some of these experiences, but just because you're not a veteran doesn't mean you can't help veterans, can't be friends with veterans, can't lend some guidance if they need some assistance. the whole concept of veterans are the only ones who can help veterans, i 125% disagree. absolutely disagree. yes, there are ways that i'm going to relate to the women up here a little differently than those who maybe haven't been in the military. but that does not mean that i'm not going to gain something from the other relationships, from the other communities that i build. so i always three to throw that -- try to throw that out there with people. yes, there is definitely something unique about having military service in your background. that does not mean we are our own little islands to be left aforever and to never be, you know, acknowledged or to beyou
know, to be -- >> reintegrated? >> you know, like, suck us back in. it takes some time. and sometimes civilians can get a little bit like, we don't know what we're doing. we don't know what we're doing either. we'll figure it out together, you know? laugh we're all on this same playing field where everybody's trying to find a way to meet, to find that happy medium to, like, you know, reintegrate into communities. ..
but that's where it starts. >> i'm so sorry i have to make this announcement but the building closes at 6:00, and i wish that we had another hour to be able to have this conversation since this is truly an honor for us to have you all here. like to invite you make closing comments. >> can i just yield my time to the person with his hand up? >> very briefly. [inaudible] >> the topic -- [inaudible] i just want to go over some of your thoughts of how that could be broached. that could be very important.
>> my last job was a commander so i had soldiers who, we are focused from the top down, from the top of the division and, focus on how do we address this issue. it's happening throughout the military, it's happening across the country for veterans now. and unfortunate increasing. the numbers are increasing. the way we tried to address that then was really the exact what we're saying today, through people talking and people talking who had issues and have overcome the. so that other soldiers or people realize they're not alone. and i think that's a huge start. but also be something that can break the chain of command so that dialogue is something that becomes more common. that's in any, in any sector, in any population but if you talk more about people who have issues, not as them but as all of us because we've all had her own set of issues.
some have had more support than others anything the more that it's a topic that is discussed rather than shunned, to feel that way or think about suicide or taking your own life, people who talk about that i think it makes it more, you know, people who are thinking about committing suicide to come forward and seek out help. also having the conversation that help is there and show them with resources are so that when they do come forward, they are listened to. >> it's so, because everybody is carrying a weapon all the time. it's so easy to think about. it's something that nobody really talks about when you're still in, like everybody got something. if having affected it's really, really easy to have that spiral in your mind. like having the dialogue like everybody thought about it, just nobody talks about it. very few people admit having thought about it. making that more of 18 everything and everybody empathizing with each other is really important.
and getting into that except it's like when they come home and engagement i think is really, really good. >> i think for me when it comes to the subject of suicide, isn't really a personal and? i attended twice after i got back -- attempted twice have i got back. what a shirt my survival is the fact of definitely my work through art, my work through writing, just starting on that path. i couldn't say everything i wanted to say but at least i had it down and i got it out. so encouraging different outlets besides -- it may be too uncomfortable to vocally talk, but to keep a diary, a journal, you know, and to be able to put it away, come back to it later. the encouragement of those alternatives really does counsel me. because some of these topics are just too uncomfortable to share right away. to come back and say hey, this is how i felt a few days ago, and this is how i feel today and
i'm able to look at that and say those feelings past and they weren't as resilient as i thought they would be. and then to build on that and all, this was a year ago and this is how i felt then and be able to look back on that. and it's real went on paper it's just as real as talking to somebody. but at the same time is just as, is not as powerful as keeping it inside. so it is a healthy medium, you know, just creating artistically and being able to express artistically really was a healthy medium for me that i was able to build on overtime. >> we have to stop. thank you to our panelists and thank you, everybody, for coming. [applause] [inaudible]
[inaudible] >> thank you so much. thank you. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> coming up today on c-span2, a conversation on mexico's partial privatization of its oil industry. then from the hudson institute a look at u.s.-saudi relations. after that, the top u.s. trade negotiator with europe on a potential free trade agreement.
>> you are watching c-span2 with politics and public affairs. weekdays feature live coverage of the u.s. senate. on weeknights watch tv public policy events. and every week in the latest nonfiction authors and books on booktv. you can see past programs and get our schedules at our website and you can join in the conversation on social media sites. >> tonight at 8 p.m. eastern on c-span2, the tv in prime time. >> why did you write this book? frankly you are busy, right? >> as you are spent with your life seriously busy.
>> i wrote "lean in" because no matter how much progress women have made, the world, get ready for the blunt truth, the world is so overwhelming run by men spent i'm shocked last night spent i'm not sure how well that's going. [laughter] [applause] >> economic growth, war, disease. >> climate change. >> gridlock in washington. >> what's happening is women have made great progress from the generation my mother was it, my grandmother, until now. it's true men run every industry and every government in every country in the world. that means that when the decisions are made the most impact our world women's voices are not equally heard and that's true in the corporate boardroom, to at the pta meeting, true at townhall. i wrote "lean in" to try to address the open -- the issue
openly. and to give practical advice to both women and men who want to do their part to change it. >> you can see all of this discussion with facebook coo sheryl sandberg tonight on booktv in prime time here on c-span2. >> i think he is the longest and the best form of media that's left. but we are doing right now as an hour-long conversation unprecedented only c-span does long form conversation anymore. you and charlie rose are the guys who read books the way i response in order to talk to the author says the. it's tremendously -- they don't get many people who have read
the books and know what they're talking about with page notes. it's so rewarding to be. i get a great deal of satisfaction. when officers t the author saysi scoff at this is that the is the best into the on this book to. loved the interview on things that matter, his new collective essay. some of which are old. that makes my day. i like radio, three hours is an abundance of time. >> more with radio talk host hugh hewitt, sunday night at eight on c-span's q&a. >> mexico is set to allow foreign companies to drill for oil for the first time since mexico nationalized its oil industry in 1938. the mexican undersecretary of hydrocarbons spoke last week atlantic council in washington. this is almost two hours.
>> [inaudible conversations] >> good morning. i would like to welcome all of you to the atlantic council with this incredibly timely event on mexico's energy reform. which was passed by the mexican congress last thursday and declared constitutional just yesterday after being approved by a majority of state legislatures. i would like to recognize how pleased and honored we are the mexican ambassador eduardo is with us today the u.s. is lucky to have the ambassador in washington. the atlantic council is lucky the ambassador is a friend of the atlantic council to thank you very much for coming. as well-regulated mexico's undersecretary of hydrocarbons,
enrique ochoa reza, traveled to washington for this event and also did so on very minimal sleep after working tirelessly to get the reform passed through congress in the last few weeks. spin would also like to welcome me just who are here, members of the national trade commission, atlantic council members, friends of the atlantic council as well as all those are here for the first event and also like to especially welcome as well joining us remotely via webcast and those tuning in via c-span3 as well. thank you and welcome to our events. were -- many member of the mexican press and we have arranged a special press postevent briefing for them and other members of the press. i asked they hold their question for the opportunity to give questions for folks, nonmembers of press to ask questions during this event. i'd also like to thank all those who helped make the launch of this report the success, the adrienne arsht latin america
center in. and atlantic council's fabulous external relations. the adrienne arsht latin america center began operations in october and we are off to a running start. our central star with the generous support of platypus and business leader adrienne arsht, and to get specifically what we're doing today which is to broaden awareness of the many transformations across latin america and to change the nature of the discussions about the region and to highlight the potential as a strategic and economic partner for europe, the united states and beyond. we couldn't think of a better first report of the center than what we are releasing today. energy reform -- energy reform in mexico is the transmission that shows a new dynamism in mexico and reflects the changes being seen across latin america. and editor of his week in the
"washington post" said quote it opens the door for a mexican economic takeoff. our report at today's event reflects the philosophies of our new center which is dynamic, timely analysis and succinct yet the vigorous. this morning under-secretary will speak for about 15 minutes. he has grey shall agree to take a few questions from the audience that were damaged by atlantic adrienne arsht center peter schechter. after about -- "mexico rising: comprehensive energy reform at last?." he will spend but tim is to give an overview of his findings and reports and all he should have. for those turning in the cast has been made live on our site as of 8:30 a.m. david and undersecretary will join duncan wood and jorge pinon in a conversation moderated by peter schechter. don't worry, there'll be lots of audience, however i these
questions in q&a. we will be taking questions via twitter for members of her webcast audience as those those tuning in via c-span but if you want to live with event and want to get out your phone during the event as long as you're not checking your own e-mail you can live tweet -- all on the agenda you got. we are joined by a very impressive group of speakers. you have the full bio so i will not read each one but briefly, duncan wood is director of the mexican institute of the woodrow wilson center. duncan is both a mexico and energy expert, and is one of the most come one of the foremost thinkers in washington on macs issues and thinking committee. were excited your with us here today. jorge pinon is a director for international energy and atomic program policy at the university of texas at austin. is many years in the energy
industry, he now leads a truly unique interdisciplinary center at uci austin that combines geology, business and policy. and this taking ut austin to the next frontier. of course, david goldwyn is -- i will call him and atlantic council author and is also president of gold when global strategies. he is an energy guru, essentially a black belt third degree in the energy world with an incredibly, incredibly nuanced understanding of the energy industry that is reflected in his excellent, excellent report. he is -- special envoy positions in a variety of other high level energy post. we are especially pleased to welcome the undersecretary of hydrocarbons enrique reza. undersecretary is the man at the more. he has not slept in probably weeks, public had to sleep on
the plane from mexico. he is the point person many of the issues of the reform. so there couldn't be a better person from mexico to travel from mexico to join us and talk about reform than undersecretary a chore. he has worked hard. he has incredible listing of business and his intersection with policy. undersecretary come we're so thankful you have agreed to come on a plane to washington, to get endured our customs your ticket into the country, and to discuss the reform in such a busy time for christmas is right around the corner and we're so happy that you traveled to washington right before the christmas holiday. everyone come we're excited for a great program today, please join first in welcoming undersecretary of chocolate have roughly 15 minutes of remarks. [applause] -- ochoa.
>> good morning. on behalf of duk-soo han it is an honor for me to be your and speak to you so close to christmas, and yet so far away from home. i haven't slept -- i want to thank ambassador for being here with us. when peter first asked me to come your, i find it was such an honor. i'm glad i'm here and i want to use our point presentation to help see some of the figures that will allow us to pla this t how we got here, how we got to our reform. and then where are we now with reform and articles also put in place and what is next. so if someon somebody is going p me with the presentation. what we have here is a history
of mexico's recent oil production it as you can see we will reach a point in 2004 with 3.4 million barrels per day. today with increased by almost 1 million barrels a day. a huge concern for mexico. we have done so in a time where we have put more than -- [inaudible] we have put the money into a field where we have come up short with the oil production. we haven't failed yet too much in our budget in mexico because at the same time, the oil prices have tripled. as you can see in 2004 they were $31 per barrel. now they are around $100 or barrel. so as our production of oil declines, prices have increased. therefore, in our economy we didn't fail to check we didn't feel that economic impact of such in production.
but, of course, it is profit. this is natural gas in history of the last 10 years is not much of an oil production. the green line is consumption of natural gas in mexico. a lot of consumption to power generation. the blue line is our into production of natural gas but as you can see 1997 we were -- we produce the same amount of gas we are consuming. but things kept changing the last 10 years and now we are importing mostly from the u.s. so despite having enormous quantities of natural gas underneath our mexican soil, we have the irony of not being able to produce as much as we should. next, please. in gasoline, the history is very similar to the past two slides but even worse. we are importing half of our gasoline products.
so in spite of being a strong producer of oil and having important refineries, we've not been able to keep up the pace of the growth of our economy. so we are bringing from the u.s. mostly 50% of our consumption of gasoline. this is the last sector within the hydrocarbons which are petrochemicals. very similar but even worse than gas. so now what we see here is we are importing 65% of our petro chemicals. what you can see from the last 15 years we have a strong decrease in of the production. we've had a decrease in natural gas production, therefore we import more natural gas. we are importing 80% of our consumption of gasoline, and we are importing 65%. that doesn't seem to be the story of a strong hydrocarbons country. we need a reform. we were going into the path of
becoming net importer of primary energy products, rather than strong exporter. so what we see here is for the first time since 1960 the mexican oil and gas model embedded in article 27 of our constitution was amended. that means put into place context. the reform that was happening in 1960 was made to close even more the sector to not allow private participation in most of the. so it is really very transformative reform that president then you have put in. we have to acknowledge that, by over two-thirds of its members in both house. as you know, what jason was telling us in this kind introduction, the mexican state
also passed a reform just yesterday was enacted by the mexican congress and they have approved it. so now we are up for the pace where president peña nieto show signs reform, make it public and then we start the process, the next process implementation. so now let's see how the reform has with the new model. so the oil and gas reserves are going to be -- a mexican state through the mainstream of energy but in the past it was not sufficient because these parts were administered -- now will be run by the ministry of energy to exploration and extraction remains a strategic element of the constitution, are going to be done through contracts which were previously deleted in the
constitution. 27 were amended to allow constructs which are common in the rubber market, service contracts for profit sharing contracts, reduction sharing contracts, and license. so this is a very strong chance of mission in our constitutional framework, allowing contracts which are common in the world but were absent in mexico's legal framework. exploration, we will do something also happens in other countries that have had patricia maisch which is around zero that will allow them to some entitlements that will allow them to start off the reform. i want to talk more about that in a few minutes. refinery which were closed to private participation are now going to be open. you can participate in refineries with mexican for
foreign companies associated between them, or associated -- [inaudible] they will not be the only participators which a been up to now in the constitution and transportation, we're also opening up for private participation. most of those sectors were closed for public participation. also done by private. next, please. [inaudible] congress has established a doctrine which includes has up to 90 days after the constitutional amendment has been published by the president to present to the ministry of energy those areas where they want to keep on working. they had 90 days to present a technical element that will allow the ministry of energy in
the hydrocarbons national commission to decide on a technical basis which will be the field which will keep them to work on. the minister da vinci will have 180 days after those first 90 days to decide that. that will be ground zero. entitlement and those classes will make commercial discoveries or exploration investment. we will allow them a great between three and five years to do so. in those fields where they are extracting oil or gas they will keep those entitlements for the next round. pemex may propose that means the energy to transfer from entitlements that were achieved in ground search for new construct that took place to secondary installation. that process will have to go through a process i will show not that includes the national hydrocarbons commission.
for those of you have seen these models were, like columbia. this is a site i like to show very much in mexico. the 20 most important economies that produce oil. what you can see is that all of them had any legal frameworks either concessions, profit sharing, or licenses to work with the private sector. that was a common practice. but there were two exceptions in that area. in these 20 countries only mexico invite and service contracts. no type of contracts were about. that had hurt mexico in an important way. now with reform as you can see in number 10, we not only have service contract can we also profit or production, sharing and licenses. we are now in a group of those groups that have legal
frameworks that allow them to make a better use of its natural resources. next. this is very important. the natural resources, oil and gas, that are in the tops will remain owned by the nation. this is also a very important constitutional fact. we are allowing contractors that allow once the oil and gas are extracted above the subsoil to be part of the private sector. so how will the new system work and according to the transitional chart is in the constitution, ministry of energy will have to select the blocks that will be open for participation with the technicl assistance of the national hydrocarbons commission. once we allow our we collect a block, then the ministry of energy decides the technical guidelines of the grants in the technical design of the contract. meantime, the minister of finance will decide the terms of
the contracts. the hydrocarbons commission then conducts the grounds, decides on the winning bids, and on behalf of the mexican state, signs the contract. when the contract is being put into work on a yearly basis and the hydrocarbons commission has responsible for the technical management of those contracts, follow, those contracts or been intimately. the morning those come out from those contracts, goes to mexican controlling firms for development that is supposed to be based in the central bank. this is similar to the model in norway, as most of you know. i want to explain how platform works. next, place. this is a mexican petroleum fund for stabilization and develop and. this is one i believe from part of the reform.
it's established in the article 20 and also in others. when we have these committees headed by the ministry of finance who is the chairman, the energy minister participates in the bank governor for two states and/or before independent members nominated by the mexican president and ratified by two-thirds majority of the people of the mexican senate. that's supposed to be the committee that will run -- run the fund and the fund will be based in the central bank. when the money comes in the first thing the fund will do is pay the contractors. profit-sharing that establishes costs. the fund pays them first but secondly, the fund -- up to 4.7% of gdp. that is the base that right now the oil