tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN December 24, 2013 6:00pm-7:01pm EST
nicole? >> my story is a story of misdirection. i wanted to be a journalist, actually. the recruiter told me that i could not make the cut. i did not get the proper schooling to to get the- journalism slot. i was like, what do you guys have to offer. mos's,ioned a few other and then he mentioned supply, and i was like, well, i have retail experience. i have office experience. supply and garrison versus a deployment is really two different atmospheres, different tribes of stressors, whereas when i was and garrison in germany, it was a lot more fun. i felt like -- i felt very wasrconnected because i
doing supplies and i was in an ordinance company. i was in an ordinance unit, rather, and my company was the largest of the unit. i could order a pen. i could order a machine gun. m 60s. order i mean, these things were on the on paper. it is very interesting, the accounting for these incredibly weapons,nd powerful and at the same time, i need a royal -- a roll of toilet paper, some tissue. it's ironic. at the same time, you have unit .upply you work with alphas.
alphas also work with the warehouse. juliet was medical supply officers. it was a small world amongst the logistics family. we all kind of knew each other and knew how to get to each other, versus in different aspects of the military, the job can be a little more secular and separated. ,o this was more like professionally, a bit more of a happy family. there were strange aspects of it, but then, when you take that it's a different situation, because the budget .tself would fluctuate there were times when we did not have the supplies to give the
soldiers in a life or death situation. s toan out of flak vest assign to different soldiers, and we had to scrutinize and rotate and come up with innovative ideas, how to protect whom, who was going on what mission, where can we borrow what we need? it was dire situation sometimes. it was very out -- very unspoken in my section, but i could constantly see that way on each other's brains. if we run out of gas masks, what are we going to do if there is a biochemical attack. that conversation puts you in a strange dichotomy in relation to , inrest of your unit relation to other supply
officers and your position in of the military. i have not been very open about because people think well, it is only logistics, but the quartermaster s and logistics, supplying the military, these are things that are life or death situations and something you cannot really teach in training. it kind of just happens along the way. i think seeing that aspect, that hierarchy, those echelons, that , reallyo up and down made me the person and the writer i am today. at thespoke like you are
center of the circle in the sense that people have to come to you. >> very much we're at the center of the circle, and again, this was never really spoken about. , evenk a lot of people the media, when it concerns itself with war and , there were times when my job was pretty mundane. i was just sitting in the office and no one was there. 9-5 and no one has picked up a lock today, and then two of my friends in a section would say we have to get to camp anaconda. we have to get to the fight alley. our job is literally pushing pencils, but at the same is an essential
part of operations, and we were kind of an son because we were not the ones through the door first. it is an aspect that is never really played up. >> i also wanted to have you talk some more about your experiences in iraq, , tell us about maybe one of the more memorable stories where you felt that your skills and the things you were trained to do really paid off, that you made a difference. it sounds like you had that awareness every day that you are doing your job. at times it might have seemed out of sight, but you were not. you were an underpinning of how the operation was going to be supplied. can you talk about that? >> sure.
i was in the first battle for falluja in april, 2000 four. a lot of people remember the second battle when we actually took the city. in the first one, the marines went in for a few days and then pulled back to try to let the iraqis do their own thing. there about atten month before and it was really crucial that we made sure that everybody had conductivity and could talk to each other. sometimes, we would call each other electron warriors, kind of jokingly, because we would be talking on the radio or trying to connect a satellite, and i do remember when a succession of different medication systems broke and we had to find different ways to talk to the base about 50 miles away. we were trying to translate , how we woulding dial on the satellite phone and then get to talk to a different
base so that our higher commanders could be able to talk to each other and know what was going on. so, between that and forcing cable undergrounds of the people could have electronics flowing instead of having -- and actually be able to communicate and with images. sending images for drones was a big thing because we need a lot of and with for that. we need to be able to shoot, move, communicate. some would be shooting, some would be moving units back and be helpinge would people communicate. >> at what point would you say the infrastructure got up, the communication infrastructure? was after 2004 or right after that time? job, myur particular
particular unit, it was still come veritably early in the -- comparatively early in the war. time weme -- by the left in september and on into the winter, the infrastructure was far up on that base. in general, throughout a rack, we had satellite communications rack, we hadhout a satellite medications and things like that. >> rebecca? >> my story is extremely graphic. so, be forewarned. again, we would respond to scenarios that sometimes included suicide bombers. if someone blew themselves up, we would go pick up the pieces. in doing things like that, you tend to develop somewhat of a --
ped sensecall it a war of humor. you find ways to make things less intense. having a morbid sense of humor was a way that a lot of me and my guys and the people i worked with kind of work. 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 , so i did nott on really know what to expect. ordnance is one thing. blown up people are another. i am with a lot of infantry guys , and one hands me a stick of gum and he is like here, chew on its, it actually has -- actually helps with the smell because these bodies have a distinct sense of smell. and my team leader was not a
frantic person. we did not get along, so i was not relying on him -- was not a friendly person. along, so i was not relying on him for device. i do not watch horror movies because i have seen what that stuff looks like in reality. basically, when someone blows himself up, usually all that is left is part of their head and part of their legs. i was searching for secondary devices. hey, here are humongous boulders. could you please go check these boulders to make sure there are no secondary devices? i was like sure, whatever. i am walking over these very rocks,e walks, -- huge and i slept because i was carrying like 40 pounds of gear and -- slipped because i was
carrying like 40 pounds of gear and a weapon. in i slip and put my hand this pile of do, and i was like, what is this? and it was the guys face. , yeah um, here is a piece. let's take this back for analysis. these are the kinds of things i dealt with on somewhat of a daily basis. it's kind of like playing a videogame. i'm not going to live. it was kind of third person, i am kind of outside my body now, watching this stuff happen, and i am not sure how i am going to deal with it, so i'm not. i am going to put that in the back of my file cabinet and deal with that when i get home. so, those were some of the stuff -- and that was my first experience with those types of situations. there were guys who had seen those things multiple times and had dealt with way worse stuff
than that particular situation, and things got even more intense after that. itre were three months when hit the fan for a while and we to our eyeballs in missions and absolute craziness. talking about these kinds of things and what we did, i am sure we will get to this in a little bit, but i want to touch on it quickly, it's like, what do people really want to know? when you are out there in the audience thinking about, what am i going to ask a veteran or what should i say, sometimes i'm like, this is an stuff that i talked about a lot. i am perfectly comfortable these tories --
stories and you can see on the receiving end, of the response are the recoil of i don't know say to this story. it's interesting when you talk, what are you proud of in your you thiswhat made person, those are the kinds of things that of made me kind of who im and given me some of the perspectives i have. i come back and we see things and we do things and people get uptight about stuff and it's like, nobody died, chill out. it's not that serious. you know, slow your roll, bring -- bring it down and not show. let's relax and figure out what we need to get done. situations that are gruesome and intense take some time to process and get through once i had some time to process. still critical in
crafting a perspective about life in general. >> i can imagine. ?o you want to jump in i was in afghanistan, it was the beginning of the surge for the u.s. we went into southern afghanistan, and at that time there were multiple ground units . we are looking of 400 soldiers, 200 soldiers per so many square miles, and not every battalion belong to the same overall brigade. there was a lot of fragmented communication going on, different standard operating procedures, so was really difficult to operate when you are not all train together. we were supporting multiple ground forces who are having difficulty communicating.
some of the different communication architecture was in place but they had not train together in these states. we hit the ground running and had been looking at intelligence for the year leading up to this, and i was stressed with my soldiers for being able to support multiple units on the and try to direct or at least make recommendations to my commander on where he would direct aircraft and who to support. felt this immense pressure to be right. intelligence is supposed to drive operations. that is what we were aiming toward. not what always happens. it is one of those things where you are dammed if you do and dammed if you don't. if you are predicting future enemy operations, my commander would want to counter that.
the enemy may not actually be successful. that's good news. becca be frustrating. -- that could be frustrating. but i think a moment in afghanistan where -- we were there in the winter of 2010, and the vegetation is very bare during the winter in the south. the enemy was relatively quiet. there we got into the spring of 2010, the budget station starts to come back -- the vegetation starts to come back. growingan area where poppy was really important to the local economy. give theelped to foreign fighters cover and concealment to be able to move freely through southern afghanistan. , i went out on a flight with
the commander of one of the units to be able to see what they saw and how much they could actually detect. it was through there and incredible. areas where these were five feet high. when the enemy has the advantage , the friendly forces have a disadvantage in that they get these fivehere are foot high grade rose they have -- grape rowser they have to navigate over that the enemies have to navigate through. we got into the fall were the vegetation started to die out and we realize through almost a the enemythere that had these underground tunnels
and that there were huge cash lights. some was with medical supplies. some was with weapons, thatition, and we realized there were multiple firing positions -- what we thought were multiple firing positions were just the enemy navigating underground. we said this is what we think is going to happen at this location because last spring we saw this and now we're realizing they are navigating from one position to the next underground. it was one enemy fighter. the ground units started to trust us through this nearly year-long relationship we established, so they started exploiting the underground sites and pulling a lot of ammunition -- potentially pulling it out of enemy hands. we started to see success there, and it was really nice to feel like the work we had been doing, that it taken so long, was
actually paying off. every time we had either an aircraft that was shot at or hit or -- you sit in an operations soldiers would day in and day out look at reporting. they would look at significant activity is a cayman. to them, it was just statistics, them,it came in, and, to it was just a test experience this unit ran into ied's and lost five people. -- to them, it was just statistics. this unit ran into ied's and lost five people. that's devastating to a small unit. when we were in the center sitting behind computers it felt a videogame than
reality. we started to ask, are we sending these people into harm's way? did we miss something? polling ammunition out of enemy -- pollingeally ammunition on of enemy hands was a really rewarding moment for us. it was a way for our analyst to engage and support the guys and gals that were going outside the wire every day. it also helped to build the confidence in what we were doing. we felt that relationship was really important so that intelligence would actually drive operations. >> interesting. can we now turn to talk a little about the skills you learned and how you transitioned into civilian life? bit aboutn you talk a what you fell you gained from and how yource
transition went? >> my story is a very strange .rc i always considered a continuous, build upon and read transforming myself. i don't want to say i didn't learn any skills. i reinforced to im as a person being out in iraq. , my job position in the psychological connections to my job position, i got to see many and my of iraqi people military.diers in the the tricks that played on my mind was very difficult, even now, to explain to many people. i think one of the things that helped me cope and filter out constantly modify
my perception about my relationship to my deployment was that i am an avid reader. i am an avid writer. and the skill of doing my job. helped keepof that, me sane in that situation. for mevery difficult because, again, being the supply, i got to stay behind a great deal, but at the same time, the fact that there were so many people in my unit constantly task out to different like,ns of the military, we supported tankers and infantrymen, and i had many friends that were medics. they were constantly sent out on missions, and then we had iraqis come in and they had jobs on our were stationed
there, so they ran the laundromats and built the cafe. it was estranged economy because on one hand -- dichotomy because on one hand you see the situation as this is the enemy are here to liberate. but on the other hand, you see the position of there are people who who are not the enemy are of this collective and this ethnicity that look like me, being an african american woman, so there was a social aspect there. they are risking their lives to feed their families, to feed their children, and share this experience with me in a way that , andome to the states wherever they were stationed from, they cannot explain that
to their civilian counterparts, whether it be their families, their spouses or their children. i think that played a huge psychological -- placed a huge psychological burgeon upon me for many years. how do you explain -- burden upon me for many years. how do you explain this experience to people that do not want to hear all the bad? they want to hear you file for your country, your home, your want to hear you fought for your country, you are home, you are safe, you are alive. i was when he three and a rack. i had a birth a. turned 23 in iraq. i had a birthday. i had to celebrate my birthday in a situation that was mystantly reminding me of own mortality. i had my daughter in march of 2003 and redeployed to germany in april of 2003. i met up with my unit in iraq in july of 2003.
i did not see my daughter until nine months later. the kind of personal separation and personal experience, that really placed a huge psychological word in upon me because it is such a remote experience -- burden upon me because it is such a remote experience. i reallyck home, wanted to start where i thought i had left off. i had a lot of college friends around me and they would 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. for many years, that's how i dealt with it. these are my experiences. i kept them in a box, and this was the person i wanted to be again. transforming from that and realizing that life had gone on,
and you are a mother now and not the young girl that went away -- even though i was much older than a lot of the enlistees i knew. i came in at 20 and got out and turned 24. there were so many dynamics of change that happened in that short span of time. it took me so many years to with thisand to deal concept of ptsd and depression thesexiety, and all of labels for mental illness when it really is about a person having a dynamic experience that is very convoluted and cannot be , livingd as good or bad with ambiguity, and realizing --t there is so much that is america is really isolated, culturally, to this concept of
war, more than any other country in the world, in my experience. going back into school, going into a routine and reestablishing my connections to my older self, who i was and my interest, and combining that , and thexperiences confusion of it all, and is building upon that as a person, the transition, the positivity of the transition really began, but that took 10 years. it took 10 years, and i was a wasof downward slope -- it a lot of downward slope between those two years and the acceptance of help from the harlem vet center where i still receive treatment. building a support system, and -- 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 are not going to want to hear everything, and that's ok 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 is the whole story. now it is going on about 11 years since my enlistment. it has really been a journey. and realizing that there is nothing about that experience, not labeling a good or bad, but saying this is my perspective id this is a part of me, and am not necessarily proud of my position in the war, but i am proud of the person that has come out of my perspective from that experience. >> as you say, you have learned to live with that.
aresa, can you talk little bit more about your leadership skills and your transition? >> and i joined rotc i was a quiet kid. quiet pretty much until i had to lead large groups of people. i got plunked down into deployment. i deployed after being in my unit for about four weeks. the first day i showed up, my commander was like great, welcome aboard, don't unpack, you're leaving soon. i got over there and they had shuffled officers because they were short staffs. i would beven know leading marines until i stuck my boots in the sand. what i learned over there was how to talk to anybody, because
i grew up kind of nerdy and i was kind of quiet. i was talking about a lot of ,ath and physical stuff communicating architectures and things like that, but i was leading people. and everything from the 18-year- old whose already married with a pregnant wife to my 35-year-old senior enlisted who would give you advice on what we are supposed to do next and i would be like, great, thanks, and then go tell the rest of the ro platoon, this is what we are doing now, being able to gather information, listen, talk to all of your troop's and everyone around you, and then be able to tell everybody what to do and execute afterward was something i learned during that compressed appointment, because -- deployment, because when you are doing all the training,
yeah, it is kind of real, but nobody is actually firing at you. or is not all that pressure. -- there is not all that pressure. that was a huge thing i learned over there. just to be able to be comfortable to walk into a room and realize that you're going to have to work together and talk to each other. so after the deployment i served in california in the marines for two more years and then i went out -- got out and went to graduate school. i was in phd program that i have since finished. aroundt her -- being people after the marine corps who were like four years younger than me and right out of college and going to school right afterward was really difficult for me for the first few years. i had to be a teaching assistant, and it turns out that undergrads don't salute. funny thing. who knew? that was really hard because i
would want to reach across the desk and choke the kid and then realize that would get me arrested. it's a mere few years to dial down the pressure, and the pressure -- it took me a few years to dial down the pressure, and the pressure on me, to. as a team, you will dig through the night, build a bridge, levesque -- lay the cable, whatever you have to do. in grad school, i would look for people to tell me what to do, and that is not the point of doing scientific research. the point is to learn what the science has to tell you. it was hard to make friends initially. bit by bit, i started making friends, but that only happened after i came forward a little bit with my story and started confiding with my class mates
had happened in my deployment, the experiences i had had, what it was like to be on a base. i met an army officer who was getting a masters in physics to go back and teach at west point. he was still on active duty and we became friends. from there, i developed a good cadre of people to hang out with , and from there, that helped a lot. but, yes, the writing has helped , but i gather we will talk about that in a future question. >> rebecca. stuff upng how to blow does not really translate to civilian life. what i gained most from it was of sorts. i grew up pretty sheltered. was perspective of sorts. i grew up pretty sheltered. i have been an over achiever. what i learned was how to chill
out, but even that is hard. i just started graduate school and i am taking for graduate level classes and him up to here with papers due on monday and tuesday. good luck. >> that has been, as you are saying, there was kind of a -- i always kindk, of felt like an outlier. being a woman in and of itself is hard enough, but being a apartment where you don't see other women, ever. badi kind of got dealt a hand as far as my first unit went. i had a pretty crappy experience and so many things i dealt with from the man that i worked with. one of the things i learned, and it was a hard lesson, but well learned, was that i can take care of myself. i don't need anybody. that was definitely one part of it, but on the flipside of that,
part of that, too, is that i learned that i do need people. and actually coming to the realization that i have to be help sometimespt and it isn't just about me. i can do my damnedest to get through things on my own, and i don't need any assistance, but when it came down to it, i really did need assistance. i needed help. 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, come home with you for six months? i need a place to stay. and he would be like here's a couple hundred dollars. you need to get back to the gym to work out. to look atable people and say thank you without
having to say anything else or feeling like i had to apologize i still ai was at, lot of times feel like i am an outlier. i did not have a very good experience. a lot of times i do not relate that are in. a lot of times i am very wary of veterans because i was burned badly by the people i worked with so i am very sensitive to people who tell me they are veterans. i actls go up and tough. there's kind of that play in that dynamic. i moved here for a job about two and half years ago. i love new york city. i want to stay, and i found roller derby. for me, that has been a little bit of the place, but at the i'm a roller derby
referee, so i am still on the french. i have to learn how to navigate coming out of the fringe in a sense. , andis been interesting doing it completely, 100% on your own, having to navigate that and then figuring out, i can't do this on my own. it is about finding a path. it is a journey. every day reinventing yourself sometimes, where you've been, where you're now, and where you want to go. >> rebecca, i want to just, specifically ask you, because when you came back you joined the class-action suit against .umsfeld for those of you who don't know, there was a class-action suit against defense secretary gates taking pentagon for not note of the sexual harassment beenes that women had
sexually harassed. 17 former and current members of -- sued,ary suit 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 were big steps to come forward, to go public, and to testify about your experience. can you talk about this decision
, and your decision to become an advocate? i said, i got dealt a bad hand. just because i had a bad experience in the military does not mean that everyone else had. sometimes i feel like in the talk around this issue of sexual violence in the military, a lot of the get stereotyped. i try to debunk that. yes, there are dynamics in the military that make this an issue that is challenging to deal with, but that does not mean that everyone acts this way. people in the military. there are good men. there are good women. that being said, the bad apples have a lot of leeway to get away with the crap they get away with because of the way it is set up. i think that dynamic is difficult when you are trying to talk about how do we fix this,
how do we adjust it, how do we talk about it? is it gendered. is it not gendered. i was raped by a guy i worked before i came back from afghanistan. i initially decided i was not going to say anything, i just wanted to get out. now the military has two types of reporting. you can do a restricted report or an unrestricted report. i did a restricted report, which basically just makes you a statistic. nothing really happens. after i got out of the military, i did not want to talk about it. just wanted to move on. i was approached by this team. in the end, the approach was to the doctrine that does not hold the military accountable for anything. under the premise that most of the time, when you're suing the
military or trying to sue the military, they usually come back with the idea that you cannot sue us because this is something that relates to military service or there is a function of the environment, or because, when this started, they gave the guys lsd without permission. no, we gave you lsd to see what would happen in a military environment and this has a function it is serving. so rape serves no function. it has been thrown out. one of my biggest irks of the whole thing is the judge a hazard oflled it service. rape is a hazard of service.
that is written in the legal documents that were handed down by the judge. -- whenhe whole idea is i first decided to speak about unexpectedly.ned i signed on to this lawsuit as one of many participants and then got thrust into the media spotlight kind of last-minute. they called me on a friday and said can you come film with tbs and i was like no, probably not, why? and they were like, though we had somebody drop out. and i was like, i have to take kids -- take care of kids. did the me on a flight, interview, put me on a flight and gloomy home. the interview aired tuesday morning and then they dropped the lawsuit about an hour after the segment aired, which then kind of pushed me into a whirlwind of stuff. 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. it has been interesting because it has been about three years since i started speaking publicly about the issue, and there has been a major uptick in media coverage of awareness around this issue of men speaking out about their experiences as well. a lot of you probably heard if you heard about these types of things the children will brand -- jilled a proposal hillebrand introduced a proposal to take sexual assaults out of the chain of command. because anhis infantry commander is not a lawyer and he is probably dealing with the accused and the accuser, and you cannot be objective in those situations. into toothout going much detail, there definitely needs to be something that gets
done, and the only way you can change the military is literally through an act of congress. so, these types of things have been in the works for a while. people ask about the combat exclusion policy. doesn't that just mean more women are going to get raped? no, it does not. ofen are just as capable doing the things men do, and the standards need to be said. i honestly believe the leadership you have is where the line is going to be drawn. good leadership, this kind of stuff doesn't happen. bad leadership, anything goes. and you have to hold people accountable for their choices. i know there is some leadership that chooses to sweep this under the ride and pretend it doesn't happen. ,ut again, my perspectives are i still have very strong feelings about the military.
i believe it was a good thing for me. there is a lot of cognitive dissonance there. i can do the veterans day parade. there is an overwhelming sense theride -- i cannot do veterans day parade. there is an overwhelming sense of pride and then this. and i cannot reconcile that. will get over that one day. i believe those who choose the military should have the best experience possible. there is a lot the military can offer, your views on war aside. people choose for different reasons. but whatever your reason, you should be able to serve with that -- serve with honor and come out of the other person on the other end. there is violence, those people should be rightly dealt with. we have some work to do, but
social change takes time and we are doing it. i think we are getting there. >> cannot piggyback on a lot of what she said? i piggyback on a lot of what she said? like you, i was raped in iraq. for seven years, i suppressed it. i never reported it to my unit. my unit did not have my back on many issues, so i knew the minute -- if i decided to even say hey, i was raped. this concept of nonviolent rape does not exist in people's minds. it is an oxymoron, so that i amic, i was like, look, in it. i have to get out. i have to make choices and sacrifices. i constructed my brain to think, well, it was just sex that i didn't like. for many years, several years,
you know, i just harbored this resentment and all these emotions and all this pain, and i even got into a relationship ,hat spiraled freely downward and for many years the depression got worse, where it would go from three days of like, hey, i am just laying in bed for no reason to six months of geez, what did i do for six months? overwhelming cloud of sadness the blocked everything, and i can't recall six months of my life. it went from six months to a year and a year to another year, and it got to the point where in so bady depression got my apartment was a mess, and i -- my daughter was taken away by acs. she was removed from my home for six months.
it literally was so bad for me that suicide was a huge option. that, youinstead of know, the resiliency of people is amazing, and my resiliency to not a badu know, i am person because these things .appen to me to start digging into ask for help, and for help to actually be 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. you have was like ok, ptsd, but mst wasn't even considered back then. it took seven years for the program i went to in new jersey who suffered mst, and there were just be women who were notfrom mst and
just part of the population of tts steve -- of ptsd to come about. seven years. happen, the dialogue to it was almost a decade. and for these issues to take precedent in the eyes of the , becausestill a fight women are constantly associated in the media, with sexual assault in the media, and then when you are in the military it's like, well, it's a man's world, you had better suck it up. oft the dialing -- dialogue saying rape is wrong. and rape does not just happen to women. there were many male soldiers who experienced sexual assault and sexual violence who have not come out at all because of the dynamic of well, you are a man, this doesn't happen to men. so the misogyny and the stereotypes in getting rid of
these things and gender in grape rape is -- gender ring still a dialogue that needs to happen. i have read articles about women who came out and said i was raped in my unit, and every single woman in that article experienced some type of blame and shame. this is not to say every woman in the military is going to get raped. absolutely not. it is just saying that this culture has been placed in a hidden light, and it is unfair -- i mean, we would not tolerate this in the civilian world. why is it in the military covered up and protected? that is a dynamic i never understood, and it does not translate. for pioneers like you to sit there and say hey, i am going to talk about this. it is uncomfortable, and i
, when you'restand just a normal person and you get thrust into this situation you never asked for, that is the hardest thing to do. that in itself is bravery. iese are just things that challenge people, civilians and veterans alike, and people still in the military, to contemplate. >> i think by talking about these things and doing efficacy around them and advocacy around them, you are going to change. rhiannon about your transition, and then i want to talk about your creative your writing has
helped you deal with some of these things. transition is very near and dear to my heart right now. i have only been out a year, last october. my husband is an army that. raise your hand. there in the fourth row. we met in the military and decided to get out and wanted to pursue business school. he was accepted to columbia business school. i had a great experience in the army. i loved being a leader. i loved the people the most. there were a lot of skills that , and i loved it. but tom and i had goals together of a family and wanting to be co-located as a family together. thead gone through
deployment after we first started dating. he was stationed in germany and then deployed to iraq for a year. three months later, i moved to fort campbell, kentucky, and the move to afghanistan. was at least 18 months apart. we came back from deployment. we had leaders who really worked with the organization to get us co-located, and we spent time together back at fort campbell. once tom got accepted to school, i decided to get out as well. so here i am in new york. i was from a small town in kentucky. really require something. these ladies understand it. but i think it is really something that we tell the story of our transitions so the people who are not in new york city
where veterans do want to speak and people want to listen -- and the rest of the country, i think --erans are isolated area at isolated. if veterans are not self asntifying as that's -- fats, and for various reasons as veterans, and ,or various reasons, some don't if they hear stories that are similar to theirs, i think they become more comfortable speaking out. i think veterans are incredibly resilient just by virtue -- i am by virtue oft's the type of people who want to serve and feel called to serve or the experiences they have in the military that shape and mold
them into the people they are. but i have learned that we are great at overcoming adversity. we are really good at working with people that are not too much like ourselves because of the dynamic of bringing people from all different walks of life and focusing on accomplishing a mission. you have problem solvers. you have people who are really pressure, being able to make very difficult decisions using discretion. it is an incredible set of skills that veterans acquire through service and then they come into civilian life and feel , and i think the rest of society never gets to benefit from that. to be honest, you're paying our salary. , i mean,t's important these are skills that you pay for. i have been focused in transition on trying to sit and do some analysis of what skills
do i have, who am i today because of the military? andg able to speak to that then being able to just find veterans who, you feel like you have a common language. you can use acronyms and understand what they mean. it feels good to tap into that comfort zone, but at the same time, it would be a disservice to our service if we did not reach out and challenge ourselves to get to know someone who is not of that. i think that is how we start to thege the gap between services and the civilian population. through my time since deciding to join rotc until now, people have been very supportive,
, peopleit was friends at home who may be disagree with or have been nothing but respectful of me and the time that i served. think it is important that we talk about that and that we are able to feel welcomed when we come back or when we get out. it is a totally different lifestyle. i am learning that now. finish year with one small piece. thebody asked me, what is biggest thing you have learned since transitioning, and this was more of a professionals capacity. idea that i could wear it rings to work and let my hair down. hearings to work and let my hair down. i felt comfortable in a job my hair was pulled
back and there were no wispy hairs flying. over -- on months said she hadoss noticed that i had transition to over the last year. aresaid i noticed you wearing more colors. your hair is down. you're curling it now. she had no idea why. that was just a tiny piece of my transition that really shed some light on it. she was like oh, that is pretty cool. >> a reminder, you can see this discussion again tonight on c- span beginning at 11:00 p.m. eastern. ♪ >> this week on "q&a," "washington post" reporter nikita stewart discusses her
recent front-page profile of washington, d.c. businessman jeffrey thompson. thompson"of jeffrey -- >> nikita stewart, as a reporter for the washington post, on july piece, wrote a huge frontpage, on a man named jeffrey thompson. why? in the news.n he is a local businessman at the center of a major federal investigation, and no one really knew who he was. so i basically told my editor i want to write the definitive profile of jeffrey thompson. when people want to know about him, i want them to refer back to this article. hopefully icon pushed that -- i accomplished that. >> what we want to know about him? >> right now, he is the center of d.c. politics and some folks