tv Democracy Now LINKTV November 12, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
11.12.12 11.12.12 >> from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> this personal issue that cropped up, i think, is very much a mild thing. as an historian, i have to say, compared to his exploits in iraq and afghanistan. >> david petraeus steps down after confessing to an extramarital affair with his biographer. we speak about his role in iraq
and afghanistan and the cia. then the nation marks of veterans day. >> in this country, we take care of our own, especially our veterans who have served us so bravely and have sacrificed so selflessly in our name. we carry on knowing that our best days always lie ahead. >> a major new investigation reveals how thousands of veterans are being denied disability benefits due to errors by the department of veterans affairs. >> there is nearly out of resources and in about of accumulated trauma that these soldiers, marines, and air men are experiencing, because of the war itself, continues to accumulate the law the war goes on. the military is playing catch- up more than 16,000 veterans are homeless.
an estimated 18 veterans commit suicide every year. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. "the new york times"is reporting high-level officials were notified in the late summer about the decision of david petraeus to resign. the relationship between him and his biographer paula broadwell was uncovered in an investigation. members of congress have complained they were not informed of the findings until just after the election. as head of the cia, petraeus oversaw the agency's use of drones for targeted killings abroad and had recently pushed the white house to push for a major expansion for the agency's drone fleet. petraeus also oversaw the search of troops over president bush
and also commanded coalition troops in afghanistan. in a letter to the cia, petraeus said of the extra marital affair, "such behavior is unacceptable as a husband and a leader of an organization such as ours." in news from afghanistan, a british shoulder -- soldier has been shot by an insider wearing an afghan uniform. international forces returned fire, killing a member of the afghan army. it is not clear whether the man they killed was the original shooter. more than 60 soldiers with the u.s.-led note -- into a coalition have been killed this year. meanwhile, 10 afghan civilians died in three separate roadside bomb attacks over the weekend. the dead included a family returning home from the hospital with their newborn baby.
more than a dozen afghan witnesses and victims testified over the weekend as part of a hearing to determine whether u.s. staff sergeant robert bales will face court-martial for allegedly slaughtering 16 afghan civilians in march. in video testimony, witnesses, including several children, recalled being shot at and seeing their loved ones murdered. one young one remembered shouting, we are children, we are children, before seeing his sister get shot. president obama addressed a crowd at the arlington national cemetery. >> this is the first veterans day in a decade in which there are no american troops fighting and dying in iraq. [applause]
33,000 of our troops can now return from afghanistan and a transition there is under way. after a decade of war, our heroes are coming home. over the next few years, more than a million service members will transition back to civilian life. on thea's speech focused need to provide services to veterans, almost a quarter of whom come home physically or emotionally disabled. but in an investigation sponsored by propublica found that the u.s. military had lost or destroyed some record needed for individuals to claim benefits. the group veterans for peace joined one of the country's largest veteran's day parade in auburn, washington saturday after the group was initially barred it from purchase of bidding by the city. the peace group filed a discrimination lawsuit and was
allowed to march after a judge issued a temporary restraining order. the issue of tax cuts for the wealthiest americans has taken center stage in the political battle over a looming fiscal cliff of tax increases and spending hikes that could tip the country into economic recession at the start of next year. "the new york times" reports that president obama is hoping to recruit corporate executives to accept higher taxes and assurances of democratic votes to reduce so-called entitlements. on saturday, president obama defended tax hikes for the wealthy. >> i am open to new ideas but i refuse to accept any approach that is not balanced. i cannot ask students or seniors or middle-class families to pay down the entire deficit while people making over $250,000 a year are not as to pay a dime more in taxes. >> house speaker john boehner
argued against any tax rises -- tax hikes. >> instead of raising taxes on americans, let's begin to solve the problems. let's focus on tax reform, closing the loopholes and tax rates. instead of an arbitrary cuts that will endanger our defense, but consumers about entitling -- short of the entitlement programs. >> in haiti, turn to rains and floods have killed 11 people and left thousands homeless. just two weeks after he was devastated by hurricane sandy, rivers have overflowed, crops have been destroyed, and aid workers say they are in dire need of supplies. >> we have 150 people here with only 12 sacks of bread. they gave us four cases of jews
this morning. the world food program brought two packs of cookies for each one. we have handicapped people here, women who give birth last night. we have nothing for them. >> and the york region is continuing its slow recovery, retain sunday -- slow recovery from hurricane sandy. officials say the storm caused more than $50 billion in damages to the new york region, making it the country's costliest storm apart from hurricane katrina. more than 125,000 customers remained without power in new york and new jersey, the vast majority on long island and the rockaways. hundreds of people protested outside and the long island power authority on saturday condemning the utility's slow response to the outages.
escalating clashes between israeli forces and palestinians in the as the strip have led to some of the worst violence the area has seen in months. human rights activists say seven palestinians have been killed, including five civilians, while 50 others have been wounded. the palestinian center for human rights said four of the deaths occurred when israeli military fired artillery shells on young people playing football. a number of israelis have been wounded by palestinian rockets and mortar. tensions escalated after a young palestinian boy was shot last week during an exchange of fire. in news from syria, groups opposed to bashar al-assad have agreed to form a unified group. the decision comes amid mounting bought between assad's regime and rebel forces.
11,000 syrians fled to turkey and other neighboring countries over a 24-hour period last week. more than 400,000 refugees are now registered with the un . meanwhile, on sunday, israel fired a guided missile into syria as a warning shot. in the basque region of spain, residents in barricada held a vigil to pay homage to a 53- year-old woman who jumped from a balcony to her death as she was about to be evicted. the death of amaia egana marked the second suicide related to evictions in spain after a growing movement has put pressure on authorities to act. the government and opposition leaders were expected to meet on monday to work on changes to the country's mortgage laws which critics say favor banks and fail to cancel debts, even
homes are repossessed. maine has seen a mounting economic crisis with unemployment now exceeding 25%. a general spite -- strike in spain has been called for wednesday. meanwhile, greece has passed a new austerity budget amidst mass protests in spending cuts and tax hikes. 15,000 anti-austerity demonstrators gathered outside the parliament. protesters condemned european leaders who demanded greek cuts in exchange for an international bailout. >> this is a budget that will bleed the greek people drive. this is so they can pay for the capital of the banks and the markets. that is why i am here, so i can show that this oligarchy government, and the political elite. enough is enough. >> the director general of the british broadcasting channel is resigning after questions over
their handling of two sexual abuse reports. one of their programs, "newsnight" played a report that wrongly accused a british official. in his resignation speech on saturday, the former bbc director general admitted the report reflected poor journalistic standards. >> in light of the fact that the church for general is also the editor in chief and ultimately responsible for all content, and in light of the an acceptable journalistic standards of the "newsnight" film, i have decided that the honorable thing to do is to step down from the post of director general. >> "newsnight" is also under scrutiny for not playing
certain parts of the report. in news director has also quit over the scandal. a california woman has been fired from her job after using a racial slur against president obama on facebook and writing, maybe he will get assassinated this term denise helms later explained her comments in an interview. >> the assassination part is harsh. i am not saying that i would do that, not by any means, but if it was to happen, i would not care one bit. >> the post was part a barrage of racist references to president obama on social media following his re-election last week. republican tea party member alan westin is unwilling to can see defeat to patrick murphy, even
though the state of florida says that he lost. election officials in one county are reportedly recounting some early votes. on friday, a florida judge denied a request to impound ballots and voting machines. the supreme court has announced it will hear challenges to a key provision on the landmark voting rights act of 1965. the case centers on a section of the law that requires many state and local governments with a history of discrimination to get federal approval before altering voting procedures. the money transfer company moneygram has agreed to establish a $100 million compensation fund as part of a settlement for a fraud allegations. the company is accused of processing transfers to agents who defrauded customers by posing as family members or
offering cash prizes. the justice department said thousands of customers complained but the company failed to fire the agents. moneygram also admitted it failed to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program in violation of federal law. the openly queer and hiv- positive activist and artist brandon lacy campos has died at the age of 35. in a speech earlier this year at the civil liberties and public policy conference, he called for each id to be a central concern at the movement for reproductive freedom. >> hiv is not over. it is relevant to your work, relevant to your lives. it is not just a disease that affects white, gay men. in fact, it is not a disease that affects only men.
women of color and latino women are the fastest growing population of people living with hiv. with 300,000 women living with hiv in the united states, you cannot injustice or faye, removed a chevy from the issues of reproductive justice. >> he was found in n.y. city on friday. it was unclear how he died this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. with an today's show surprise resignation of cia director david petraeus last week following revelations of an extramarital affair with his biographer paula broadwell, a married army reservist. in a message to cia staff, the 60-year-old general confessed he was resigning because of the affair. he wrote, "after being married over 37 years, i showed
extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. such action is irresponsible. >> the head of u.s. forces in afghanistan, he retires after 37 years in the military. broadwell's patti is called "all in: the education of general david petraeus." over the weekend, new revelations suggesting she had sent harassing e-mails to jill kelley, a 37-year-old woman from florida and friend of the family. the fbi launched an inquiry after kelley said vichy received vicious e-mails from the cia director's by gaffey. agents believe that she or someone close to her had sought access to the e-mail. we spoke to an historian about the significance of the
resignation. juan cole is a professor at university of michigan. his latest book is called "engaging the muslim world." >> i was opposed to general betrayers of becoming the head of the cia in the first place. one of their charges is to evaluate policy. one of the things that needed to be evaluated was the surge in afghanistan, the big counterinsurgency program that the jurors put into place and shepherded through as commander on the ground. the cia cannot properly evaluate the program and its head is the author of the program. i am sure the analysts tried and petraeus tried to be objective, but it is not right. that is the real issue. why did the obama administration put an actor in a military role, then as the head
of the agency evaluate the actions? i think we need a national debate about obama's troop escalation in afghanistan. it was a failure. obama is now committed to withdrawing in 2014. that is generally a good thing, but did we need the true escalation, how well did it work, should we do more? all of that cannot be addressed unless we have a national debate on the policy. am sure general petraeus' issues and other security issues were there, but that is really not the issue here. >> it is interesting. all of this takes place as roger bales is being questioned for the murder of 16 afghans. he is now at fort lewis-mcchord in washington state. >> that is another issue. i am from a military family.
i really mind that the events in afghanistan are on stage. we know almost no media reporting on afghanistan. our guys are out there fighting, and if they get killed, it is on page 17. it is not right for a country to be at war unless it is committed to the war. it is not right to have any public discussion of the mistakes that were made, the kind of command structures that were there. obviously, there are a lot of troops who never been through a lot of rotations. some of them probably have a lot of ptsd there are a lot of issues here which our country is not coming to grips with. >> when you talk about the surge in afghanistan failing, why? >> i believe it was doomed to fail because of the way there af
petraeus and his colleagues perceived of a counterinsurgency program. they had this mantra, take, clear, cold, and build. they would take a village, clear it out taliban, hold it for a few months to reassure that the taliban was not coming back, you do not need to be afraid of reprisals if your team up with us, and then building up security. this entire project was so fantastic and unconnected to reality. kabul does not have much of the government, no less boxes of which to send out to different areas. if it were to succeed, it would require a lot more troops that were committed to it. so you had that famous march. they said they were going to do
kandahar, and then the whole thing petered out. vice-president biden was opposed to this plan. he thought, if terrorism crops up, if you get explosions telling villagers, said in a swat team to do with that. instead of trying to reformulate afghanistan. they attempted to do that relatively on the cheap. in my view, it was one of the big mistakes of obama's first term, his attempt to do counterinsurgency on that scale in afghanistan. it clearly failed. >> anything we should know about general petraeus? >> i think general petraeus, in his heart, was opposed to the iraq war, and puzzled as to what the bush administration was doing. that famous interview he gave early on asking, how does this
end, if he could not conceive of it. i saw him interacting with families. he went to mosul to ask, what can i get you? i think most believe that he tried to reach out to people and try to accomplish something. but i think he learned a long russians -- and the wrong lessons. the only reason they did not have to leave in helicopters by the end is essentially because the shiites essentially cleaned out the sunni. he took a wrong lesson of what happened in baghdad. the kind of allied with the majority community and had a fairly soft landing, and then tried to replicate that in
afghanistan. that was the big error. and then this personal issue that cropped up at the end, that is very much a minor thing, as an historian, i have to say, compared to his big exploits in iraq and afghanistan. the tragedy here, even with someone like petraeus, ph.d. in international studies, and intelligent and competent man, often was trying to the right thing, and was put in a nearly impossible situation. the days when a great power can occupy a south country -- we are over with. the profit for the new american century simply would not come to terms with that new reality. in many ways, and general petraeus' career got ruined twice. >> windy mean by project for a new american century. >> that was bought by the new
conservative movement in the 1990's. they felt the soviet union had fallen, the u.s. was a hyper power, and it could act with impunity. if it wanted to occupy iraq and put a government in and exploit the riot -- the national resources, it could do so without opposition. while it is true that russia and china did not interfere with the rest going into iraq in that way, the iraqi people did. the iraqi people were educated, mobilized. they had a big pharmaceutical industry, petrochemicals, and they were wired, educated. they inflicted damage along the u.s. military along the way, both from sunni and shiite. many iraqis never accepted the idea of a foreign occupation of their country, and it failed. the project for a new american century, formulated as a
proposition that the u.s. could be an empire on the old british model, that crashed and burned because people are now mobilized, politically and socially. it was the lack of mobilization in the old 19th century, when people were not literate, were not connected with each other -- ok, and maybe the british empire could exist. but that is not the situation any more. what i am saying is, petraeus was sent to these countries with the project from the new american century, the big new conservative thinkers who thought up these kinds of projects for occupation and reformulation of countries. they are anachronistic. you cannot do this anymore. >> you say the project for the new american century did not
change under president obama? >> in some ways, the afghanistan troops search was one last iteration of that project to try to formulate afghanistan in a way febrile enough to the u.s. before we left. again, i should be clear, i do not think that is what president obama wanted. so would to the pentagon and asked for three plants. -- three plans. they stonewalled him for three months. he went back to the pentagon and said, where is the plan? they said, we have one for you, but the others will take a while. so they kind of boxed him into the strip search. >> and petraeus' role in that? >> he is the one that boxed him in. he got he bought -- what he wanted, but it was a failed
policy. >> this weekend is important not only for one pakistani girl, but for an entire nation. talk about how this fits into the story of the u.s. presence in afghanistan and pakistan. >> this girl was shot in the head by one of the taliban in pakistan because she had become well known for having this advocacy of girls' education. the swat valley was a place where the taliban briefly took in 2009. the pakistani military, partially under the pressure from the obama administration, went into swat and expel the taliban largely. of course, they are still around, and one of them shot the girl. she survived. she will have a slow but successful recovery.
saturday was a day to celebrate her run the world. girls came out in demonstrations asking for the right to be educated, all across the country. the u.n. is also putting pressure on the pakistani government to use more resources on education, which is good in general. the way in which this intersects with the story of the nine states, the afghanistan war, as it was fought by the bush administration, was a search and destroy missions, an attempt to put in large numbers of western troops, radicalize the afghan population. in 2001, when the taliban fell, the afghans were very happy about that. the taliban were disliked. but if they were going to have 145,000 western troops in their country, a lot of them i did
that. so you had this revival of taliban sentiment which then spilled over into pakistan. i think the u.s. made a big mistake trying to stay in afghanistan after 2002. it's simply have withdrawn and allowed the northern alliance to try to make its alliances and govern. again, this idea that the u.s. can occupy these countries successfully, militarily, and we shipped them in our image, is wrong. a lot of people say the u.s. had a responsibility to help afghan women. this is just a redefinition of colonialism. white men stephen brown women from brown men. if you associate women's liberation with a foreign imperial project, you actually harm it in the eyes of locals.
it is much more likely that girls will proceed in becoming a spear and for the success of the project. >> i spoke with him sunday in princeton, new jersey at the 32nd anniversary of the coalition for peace action. juan cole is a university professor at the the receipt of michigan. when we come back, we continue our veterans day special. stay with us.
federal holiday honoring the men and women who fought in the u.s. forces. president obama attended a ceremony at arlington national ceremony and laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown and later met with military families. in his speech, president obama emphasized the obligations americans and their government have to veterans. >> in this country, we take care of our own, especially our veterans who have served us so bravely and have sacrificed so selflessly in our name. we carry on knowing that our best days always lie ahead. on this day, we thank all of our veterans from all of our wars, not just for your service to this country, but for reminding us why america is and always will be the greatest nation on earth. >> although president obama
stressed the importance of supporting returning troops in his speech, veterans continue to face extremely high levels of the unemployment, traumatic brain injury, ptsd, and homelessness. their unemployment rate is 3% higher than the general population. almost a quarter of recent veterans coming home are injured physically or emotionally. more than 600,000 veterans are homeless, an estimated 18 veterans commit suicide a day. a new study questions the government's commitment to supporting soldiers. and the headline "accuracy isn't priority as va battles disability claims backlog" reveals how thousands of veterans are being denied disability benefits as a result of errors. in his article, he writes about navy veteran hosea roundtree,
whose claim for disability compensation was reduced, despite in suffering from flashbacks from his time in lebanon. the va has a duty to assist veterans in developing their evidence to support the claims, but the department reprimanded one of its employees for doing that. jamie fox lost her job after she wrote a memo to her boss arguing roundtree's disability benefits were being denied wrongfully. an internal documents showed that the department failed to properly address all of a thousand cases at the time. jamie fox is with us now from san francisco. she is a veteran herself of the u.s. navy. we are also joined by a reporter for "the bay citizen."
you can see more of his work at baycitizen.org. his most recent book is "the war comes home: washington's battle against america's veterans." the piece appeared in "the san francisco chronicle " " this weekend. before we talk about the case of josé and jamie, if he could put this into broader context on this bed rinse de. >> across the country there are nearly bare -- nearly a million veterans waiting to find out if the va will give them disability compensation for the wounds they received in war. this is a backlog of disability claims that has more than doubled under president obama. when he took office, there were over 400,000 veterans waiting period now there are 830,000
veterans waiting on the disability claims. as we previously reported could put this into broader context on this bed rinse de. >> across the country there are nearly bare -- nearly a million veterans waiting to, and these wait times are getting longer and longer. in city like new york, chicago, los angeles, san francisco, veterans are waiting over a year to get compensation for their wartime wounds. so the question becomes, why are there such egregious delays? what we found in this more recent investigation was that these delays paradoxically exist because the va is putting pressure on people like jimmy foxx to rush through quickly and then they make a mistake, and then the veterans who are wrongfully deniedso the questioe there such egregious delays? what we found enter appeal.
almost a third of veterans waiting are waiting on an appeal. we found the board of veterans' appeals rules that the va makes a mistake 73% of the time that they will on the case. >> tell us the story of hosea roundtree. in this video report, he talks about why he filed his claims with the veterans affairs. >> it is not just for me but for every other veteran out their suffering. it is for every other vet coming home, that they will see a difference. i want them to get better treatment. >> explain his case. >> that is a comment he made recently on his decision to file a new disability claim with the department of veterans affairs r some six years after filing his original claim that more than 20 years after serving in beirut. he was a cook on a navy destroyer that shelled beirut in 1983 shortly before the
marine barracks were blocked in beirut. it is one of those freed on wars, like those who fought in grenada, or panama, these wars that were quick to start and quick to forget those who fought in them. he came back and experienced symptoms of ptsd. i spoke to his wife. she said he was not the same after he got home. in the 1991 gulf war, he served in the persian gulf. that experience, serving in more a second time, caused all of his experiences of people gunned down in beirut, all of that got flooded in, got laird over these new wartime experiences, and he had a major breakdown. he lived homeless on the streets of for a decade. when he was not homeless, he was in jail finally, after this long
experience of trauma that went on for some time, he ended up at a traditional housing program for homeless veterans in los angeles, and they helped to clean him up, and he found disability claim with the va. this was in 2006. then a year or two after that, finally, his claim landed on the desk of jamie fox. after all this, it was slated for denial. >> and that is where you come in. you are a navy veteran yourself, you work at the department of veterans affairs. explain what happened when his case came before you, what you tried to do. >> i received his case during a training class. i was clearly knew within the v.a.
we were instructed to go through the file to check for completeness, correctness. i found something that was a questionable piece of evidence and i brought it to my supervisors who told me to speak to somebody -- there were several events of guidance that i cannot remember exactly what the instructions were. while i was waiting for a piece of evidence to come back from a third-party provider, i began to use this file to study from, because we were given study time. that is when i read through his entire file. i looked at the rating decision and it said that it could not verify that he was in combat, but because i was in the navy, he was in the navy, i knew with
all of his tours, he had been recommended for chief, that is something not easily done. reading through his detailed accounts of his stories, it really piqued my curiosity. that is when i got on the internet and briefly looked at some sites and found that the ship that he had been on was in combat. i was still waiting for another piece of evidence from the first issue and i proceeded to type up a letter because i would be leaving for about three weeks to go away for training. i walked his file over to one of my supervisors and asked him what i should do with the pile. he said, leave it on my desk. i will have somebody pick it up. when i came back, the file was
still there. i asked again -- talked to the supervisor. which i do with the file? i was still green. i needed to have somebody guide me through this. he told me to take it to another supervisor. it had been over 30 years of experience and he is considered an expert of the rating board issues. and i never saw the file again until they -- may. >> and then what happened? >> i was thinking about mr. roundtree, i looked him up on the computer. and there is a computer program that tracks where the file goes, who has it, and for how long. when i looked at it, i noticed
my name had been missing from the middle of the file, showing that i did not have the file, but i had worked on the file. i also noticed the letter was still denied. a co-worker of mine and i called it back. we wanted to see if there had been any suspicious activity. at the time, there had been shredding incidences that have been going on in the v.a., with the intention we would bring this to a supervisor, but the file was intercepted by someone. that led to another series of events. >> as you can see, there are a lot of small details. basically, what happened, jamie
was at the end of the assembly line looking over the claim. it had been>> slated for the ni. in her position, she was supposed to review the claim and then send out a letter saying, these are your benefits, you are due this amount of money, or alternatively, you are denied. his claim was slated for the nile. as she said, she went online and down that pretty quickly that even though the initial determination was that he had not engaged in combat, it was clear that his ship was in combat off the coast of beirut. she mentioned this, she wrote a memo to her supervisors saying, maybe we should go back and look at this claim again. maybe the rating is wrong. after all the minor incidences' she is describing, she was fired. she was given a termination letter, rather. the stated reason for dismissal was that she had spent all of this time going through this veteran's file when it would
have only taken her 15 minutes to deny him his benefits. >> so you, jamie, were forced out. >> yes. >> they gave you the choice of being fired or quitting? explain what you choose. >> well, the person who gave me my termination letter recommended that i resign in lieu of termination, because as he put it, i would never get another federal job again. i did not understand what was happening. the day i received by termination letter was the first time i had ever heard that i had done anything wrong. i sat there and i begged him to look at his computer. they accused me i had the file for a much longer time than i did.
they have accused me of sending it to the file bank with pending charges come of bunch of other things surrounding the case, but nobody would. they just sent me on my way. >> talk about how this expands out to the country. with the number of claims that have been denied, appeals that have been made? >> the obama administration, when secretary karen shinseki, the secretary of veterans affairs, took office, he made two big promises. one was that the backlog of veterans waiting for claimed would be eliminated by 2015. we have already discussed there are many more veterans waiting now than when obama took office. the other claim he made was that
the decision that the va made would be accurate, that by 2015, 98% of all disability claims would be decided accurately. yet, at this point, the va technologist it makes mistakes -- knowledge is it makes mistakes in 40% of its cases. we looked at the inspector general audits that have been done at different offices around the country. we found in these high-profile claims for traumatic brain injury, one of the signature injuries of the iraq war, illnesses caused by the vietnam wars, in these claims, auditors found errors in more than one- third of cases. as i mentioned, this feeds into the delays that veterans face. people like hosea, when they are
wrongfully denied, they come back later to file a new claim how one is revisited. i want this resolved on appeal. one of the things that was troubling to me, as a reporter, when i read through all of the depositions in the wrongful termination suit she later filed, the director of the open the va office said it did not matter whether the rating decision that was made was right or wrong. he could have come back later and appealed if it was a wrongful denial. she should have just sent out the denial letter. it gives you an idea of how these mistakes are made and why there are so many veterans waiting for their benefits. >> jamie, you met hosea for the first time not long ago. what was that like? >> he had been a big part of my
life for so long, just as a name, his file. i always wondered who this person was. i always wondered what he received, did he get a denial, did he receive an award? out of that curiosity, a friend had told me that she saw him on facebook. i looked, and it showed that he was a cook in sacramento, the va medical center. i look on my work directory and found him and called him in the kitchen. he answered the phone, we exchanged some information. i wanted to make sure that that was who he was.
we just hit it off. >> i want to thank you for being with us. jamie fox, now back at the department of veterans affairs. your latest piece is called "accuracy isn't priority as va battles disability claims backlog." this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. back in a minute.
suffer blast-related concussions in iraq and afghanistan. stephen xenakis is a psychologist retired brigadier general who has advised the joint chiefs of staff on mental health issues. it is the founder and president for translational medicine. he was sighted on sunday in "the new york times." stephen xenakis, welcome to democracy now! what are the biggest challenges that veterans face when they come home? >> they have a number of challenges when they come back. in terms of readjusting their lives, from the combat theater coming into the garrison life if they are going to stay on active duty, or civilian life. combat tours are very stressful. they really bear down on on them
in a lot of different ways. it just takes time for them to recalibrate themselves. they have been under intense emotional stress in the army, marines, other services a bit less. they have sleep problems. many of them have musculoskeletal pain speared they have been on many patrols. they have been exposed to ied blasts. it just takes time for them to adjust again and get into to routines. so there are a lot of different problems they are facing. all expectable. it is not to blame anybody. combat is tough. serving in the military, whenever capacity, is difficult. these are things that we should, i think, anticipate and plan for.
that is where i think we have not really looked at a campaign that we should have recognizing that it takes as much time and energy for a young person to come back and then get into a different routine as it did to pare and train them to go to war. i think we need to do a lot of hard thinking, both in the department of defense, and the v.a., about what our policies and procedures are. >> but before the 11th anniversary of the war in afghanistan, we broadcast from colorado springs. we have looked at a unit that came to iraq and came back and could not turn off the kill switch, they were killing their girlfriends and their wives. the murder rate was about 14 times the rate in colorado
springs. that is an important point on these issues. we see, in the peace in "the new york times," the story of staff sergeant white smith. he comes home and randomly runs down a 65-year-old woman and throws her into the back of the car and kills her. we see these her the crimes here, but what about what they are doing there? look at the case of robert bayless, the question of the court-martial at fort lewis- mcchord. >> absolutely. war is messy. certainly, these wars in iraq and afghanistan have been very difficult, a chaotic. for hundreds of years, people have talked about the fog of
war, being in circumstances where these kinds of the unthinkable acts occur. this is just the unfortunate human nature of these violent circumstances in which good people can find themselves. having done that, we need to be thinking hard about how we can help them turn thatthis is juste human nature of these violent circumstances in which good people can find themselves. off, how we can help them come to terms with that. they come back here and are living with the memories of that. they find themselves, particularly as they get older, they have their own questions about the morality and ethics of what they had done, and it is very tough on these folks. it causes all sorts of problems. you alluded to them in the
previous commentary. can help them come tothey have f course, these are the extremes, where people are harmed or killed, but they have all sorts of legal problems. there is unemployment. their families have been disrupted. intimate relations have been disrupted. war is tough. in my view, it is a public- health problem. we have had 2.5 million americans who have served in iraq and afghanistan. they have all been in different ways, not all of them on the front lines, but they were there. they helped to defend the country. we are looking at hundreds of thousands, maybe a million of them, whose lives have really been hit hard. they are now trying to move on and figure out what we are going