MetroFocus: November 16, 2021

AMERICAN VETERAN: THE RECKONING

PBS’s “American Veteran” project is our focus tonight with Army veteran, burn survivor, motivational speaker and “Dancing With The Stars” season 13 winner J.R. Martinez. Tonight’s discussion focuses on how veterans and civilians together can move America forward. Documentary producer and director Leah Williams joins us with a look at Episode 4: “The Reckoning” along with Kelly Wadsworth, a veteran of the Chaplain Corps of the Army National Guard who served in Iraq who says, “Some veterans appreciate ‘Thank you for your service,’ others wonder if the thanks are just ‘bumper sticker deep.’” And Anuradha Bhagwati, a Marine Corps veteran whose testimony before Congress brought national attention to sexual assault in the military and helped overturn the ban on women in combat.

For more information on PBS’s “American Veteran,” click here.

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION,

DO I WANT TO BE SEEN AS A VETERAN?

I GUESS IT'S SIMILAR SO ASKING, DO YOU WANT TO BE SEEN AS A SURVIVOR?

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE.

FEELS VERY SOCIALLY AWKWARD.

YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE THANKING ME FOR.

BEING A VETERAN IS LIKE SPEAKING A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE.

VETERANS AND CIVILIANS BELONG TO TWO DIFFERENT WORLDS.

I'M REALLY TRYING TO BREAK DOWN THE WHOLE THING.

HOW CAN WE DO THIS TOGETHER?

> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M RAFAEL PI ROMAN.

THAT CLIP WE JUST SAW WAS A PREVIEW OF THE RECKONING, THE FINAL EPISODE OF THE PBS FOUR-PART DOCU-SERIES, AMERICAN VETERAN, A SERIES WHICH SEEKS TO BRIDGE THE GAP BETWEEN THOSE WHO HAVE SERVED IN THE MILITARY AND THOSE WHO HAVE NOT.

THIS EPISODE EXPLORES HOW VETERANS CAN MAKE A SPECIAL CONTRIBUTION IN NARROWING THAT DIVIDE AND ILLUSTRATES HOW THE IMPULSE TO SERVE CONTINUES TO BE A POWERFUL MOTIVATING FORCE AMONG VETERANS.

AND JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT THE SERIES ARE, LEAH WILLIAMS, ONE OF THE DIRECTORS AND PRODUCERS OF 'AMERICAN VETERAN' AND ANURADHA BHAGWATI, A MARINE CORPS VETERAN AND FOUNDER OF SERVICE WOMEN'S ACTION NETWORK AND HELPED OVERTURN THE BAN ON WOMEN IN COMBAT, AND KELLY K WADSWORTH.

THEY ARE BOTH FEATURED IN 'AMERICAN VETERAN.'

WELCOME ALL OF YOU.

IT'S AN HONOR AND A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU HERE WITH US.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

LEAH, IN THE INTRODUCTION I SAID THAT YOUR DOCUMENTARY SERIES SEEKS TO BRIDGE THE GAP BETWEEN THOSE WHO SERVED AND THOSE WHO DIDN'T.

DID I GET THAT RIGHT?

IS THAT THE PRINCIPLE GOAL OF THIS FILM?

WELL, I DEFINITELY THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE GOALS.

YOU KNOW, I LIKE TO SAY THAT THIS SERIES IS ABOUT VETERANS, BUT FOR VETERANS AND CIVILIANS, AND FOR ME IT WAS REALLY TO MAKE SURE THAT ALL DIFFERENT KINDS OF VETERANS AND THEIR STORIES THAT PEOPLE DIDN'T FEEL ALONE IN THEIR JOURNEYS.

AND I ALSO WANTED TO MAKE SURE THAT CIVILIANS HAD AN UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT VETERANS REALLY WENT THROUGH.

SO THOSE WERE SORT OF THE -- YOU KNOW, THE KEY GOALS AND REALLY FOR ME AT THE -- YOU KNOW, AT THE END I WANTED TO MAKE SURE THAT WE ALL RECOGNIZE WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO ONE ANOTHER AS CITIZENS.

AND THAT'S SOMETHING THAT'S AN ETHOS I FEEL LIKE WE'VE BROUGHT HOME REALLY STRONGLY WITHIN THE MILITARY RESPONSIBILITY TO ONE ANOTHER.

AND I FEEL LIKE THAT'S SOMETHING AS CITIZENS WE SHOULD ALL HAVE.

I HAVE A COUPLE MORE QUESTIONS FOR YOU.

THE LAST EPISODE IN THE SERIES, IT'S CALLED 'THE RECKONING,' FIRST OF ALL, WHY THAT NAME?

AND SECOND, HOW DOES THIS PARTICULAR EPISODE CONTRIBUTE TO THAT MISSION THAT YOU JUST OUTLINED?

YES.

WELL, I THINK THE RECKONING, THE FIRST THREE EPISODES YOU'RE GOING THROUGH YOUR TRAINING AND YOU'RE COMING HOME AND THERE ARE SORT OF DISTINCT STAGES AND COMMON THEMES WITHIN THOSE -- WITHIN THOSE TIME FRAMES.

BUT I THINK THAT REALLY IT'S MAKING SENSE OF IT ALL AND HAVING A SEPARATE HOUR TO REALLY SORT OF DO THAT.

AND THAT MEANS FOR SOME PEOPLE WE SHOW MORE OF WHAT THEIR STORY IS AND THE WAY THAT THEY'RE THINKING ABOUT IT.

IN TERMS OF THEIR OWN VETERAN IDENTITY, IN TERMS OF HOW THEY RELATE TO CIVILIANS.

SO, YEAH, I THOUGHT THE RECKONING WAS REALLY -- IT WAS AN APT EXPLANATION, IF YOU WILL.

NOW EVERYONE YOU INTERVIEW IS A VETERAN.

THE VETERANS CLEARLY TALK ABOUT THEIR HUSBANDS, THEIR WIVES, PARTNERS, THEY TALK ABOUT CIVILIANS IN GENERAL ALL THE TIME.

BUT THEY DON'T GET TO TALK IN THIS DOCUMENTARY.

WHY ONLY ONE-HALF OF THE EQUATION?

YEAH, THAT'S ANOTHER FILM.

THAT'S ANOTHER SERIES.

I MEAN, THE STRENGTH I THINK OF THIS IS HAVING PEOPLE BE ABLE TO LOOK DIRECTLY -- THE VETERANS LOOK INTO THE EYES OF EVERYONE AND SAY THIS IS MY STORY AND THIS IS WHAT I WENT THROUGH.

AND, YOU KNOW, THERE'S PLENTY OF OTHER WAYS THAT, YOU KNOW, OTHER PEOPLE'S EXPERIENCE TO VETERANS CAN COME IN, BUT WE WANTED THE FOCUS TO BE ON THE VETERAN EXPERIENCE SOLELY.

ONE MORE QUESTION TO YOU BEFORE I TURN TO THE VETERANS.

I HAVE TO SAY, THE VETERANS THAT YOU INTERVIEW, THEY'RE ALL INCREDIBLE.

AMAZINGLY ELOQUENT, IMPRESSIVE.

I CAN'T IMAGINE ANYONE TELLING THAT STORY, THE STORY OF THE REALITY OF THE MILITARY EXPERIENCE BETTER THAN THE PEOPLE YOU CHOSE.

HOW DID YOU PICK THESE PEOPLE?

HOW DID YOU FIND THEM?

SURE.

ALL SORTS OF AVENUES.

I HAD A GREAT TEAM OF PEOPLE, KATHLEEN, MATT, THAT WERE WORKING WITH ME AND ESSENTIALLY, YOU KNOW, I'M ALWAYS ABOUT TRYING TO BE VERY SORT OF DELIBERATE.

I KNEW THAT THERE WERE STORIES THAT GET LEFT OUT, STOURS THAT ARE RARELY TOLD.

I SAID, LET'S MAKE SURE THAT WE'RE GETTING PARTICULAR PERSPECTIVES AND, YOU KNOW, THAT COULD BE BY GOING TO A VETERANS GROUP, YOU KNOW, THE WOMEN AIR FORCE SERVICE PILOTS GROUP.

THAT COULD MEAN LOOKING IN -- FRANKLY, IN OUR LOCAL BAR.

WE HAD SOMEONE WHO WAS TALKING TO SOMEONE IN A BAR AND WE SAID, YOU HAVE AN INCREDIBLE STORY.

THAT MEANT GOING TO PARTICULAR -- READING AND JUST CONSUMING MEDIA.

I THINK I READ AN ARTICLE ON COMMUNITY POLICING AND LO AND BEHOLD A VETERAN WAS TELLING THAT STORY AND I SAID I WANT TO TALK TO THIS WOMAN.

THERE WERE ALL SORTS OF WAY THAT IS WE GATHERED.

JUST LOOKING AROUND IN THE WORLD, WHILE IT'S A GROUP OF 18 MILLION, WHICH, YOU KNOW, IN THE NUMBERS MIGHT NOT SEEM THAT LARGE, VETERANS ARE EVERYWHERE.

AND SO THAT'S WHERE WE LOOK, EVERYWHERE.

THIS QUESTION IS FOR BOTH OF YOU, BUT LET ME START WITH YOU ANURADHA.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT IS CLEAR THROUGH THIS SERIES, AND I'VE HEARD IT MANY, MANY TIMES BEFORE THROUGHOUT MY LIFE, IS THAT VETERANS ARE VERY RELUCTANT TO TALK TO CIVILIANS ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCE, RIGHT?

SO I'M WONDERING, FIRST OF ALL WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?

AND SECONDLY, HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT FOR YOU TO GIVE THE THUMBS UP TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS PROJECT WHICH YOU KNEW YOU WERE GOING TO BE SELF-REVEALING TO AN OVERWHELMINGLY CIVILIAN AUDIENCE?

THANKS FOR HAVING US.

I WAS SKEPTICAL AT FIRST BECAUSE I'M VERY SCEPTICAL ABOUT THE MEDIA.

I WENT THROUGH A TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE AND A WONDERFUL LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE.

BUT THE TRAUMA IS HARD TO TALK ABOUT WITH ANYONE, WITH MY FAMILY, WITH A THERAPIST, LET ALONE A COMPLETE STRANGER.

AND SO I WAS CERTAIN THAT LEAH WAS GOING TO BE INTERVIEWING ME.

SHE WAS VERY FORTHCOMING ABOUT WANTING TO INCLUDE A DIVERSE GROUP OF VETERANS AND INCLUDING THE NUANCE OF OUR EXPERIENCES.

I DON'T THINK THAT THIS DOCUMENTARY WOULD HAVE BEEN MADE 15 YEARS AGO WHEN I GOT OUT OF THE MARINES.

CERTAINLY MY EXPERIENCE WAS NOT CONSIDERED WORTHY OF BEING TOLD TO THE AMERICAN PUBLIC BECAUSE I WAS TALKING A LOT ABOUT SEXUAL HARASSMENT, SEXUAL ASSAULT.

AND THE WAY WOMEN AND OTHER MARGINALIZED GROUPS IN THE MILITARY HAD BEEN AND STILL ARE BEING TREATED.

AND SO I FELT VERY OPEN AND COMFORTABLE TALKING TO LEAH.

IT MATTERED THAT SHE REFLECTED MY EXPERIENCES AND ACCEPTED THEM AS THEY WERE.

KELLY, HOW ABOUT YOU?

HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT FOR YOU TO SAY, YES, OKAY, I WILL DO THIS?

I HAD A SIMILAR RESPONSE TO ANURADHA.

I WAS SKEPTICAL AT FIRST.

AND SO IT TOOK SOME CONVERSATIONS WITH LEAH AND HER LEADERSHIP REALLY HELP PUT ME AT EASE.

BUT THE AREA I WANTED TO AVOID WAS HAVING MY STORY BE USED IN A WAY THAT WAS FOR ENTERTAINMENT OR THAT WAS GRATUITOUS IN NATURE OR REALLY DIDN'T SERVE A BROADER CONSTRUCTIVE HEALTHY PURPOSE.

I WANT WHEN I TELL MY STORY FOR IT TO REALLY HAVE A DEEP MEANING BESIDES JUST SHARING FOR THE SAKE OF SHARING, AND SO I HAD SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT IT BEFORE I AGREED.

AND IT WAS REALLY LEAH'S VISION, I THINK, FOR -- TO TELL KIND OF THE NUANCED STORIES OF COMBAT AND WAR THAT REALLY PUT ME AT EASE AND I JUMPED ON AFTER THAT.

WELL, YOU KNOW, THE PHRASE 'THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE,' THAT'S BROUGHT UP IN THIS EPISODE OF THE SERIES.

AND AS WE SAW IN THE CLIP, YOU TALK ABOUT THAT IN THE EPISODE.

YOU SAY THAT WHEN SOMEBODY THANKS YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE, YOU TEND TO FEEL -- OR SOMETIMES YOU FEEL SOCIALLY AWKWARD.

AND I WAS WONDERING WHY THAT WAS, IF YOU COULD EXPLAIN IT TO US.

YES.

THERE'S SOME PARTS OF MY SERVICE OF WHICH I'M IMMENSELY PROUD.

THEY MADE ME A BETTER PERSON, THEY EXPANDED MY HORIZONS.

I SERVED HONORABLY.

THERE'S A LOT OF PIECES THAT DEFINITELY FEEL WORTHY OF THANKING.

BUT IT'S NOT THE WHOLE STORY AND I THINK THE WHOLE STORY REALLY IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE THERE'S PARTS OF MY SERVICE THAT I STILL HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT.

THERE'S PARTS OF THE WAR I PARTICIPATED IN -- I PARTICIPATED IN A WAR WHERE ONE OF THE WEALTHIEST COUNTRIES INVADED SOME OF THE POOREST, RIGHT?

I STILL HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THAT.

THAT STILL IS VERY UNSETTLING, AND SO I THINK SOMETIMES WE DO TOO MUCH THANKING AND NOT QUITE ENOUGH ASKING THE HARDER QUESTION, WHICH IS, WHAT TRUTHS HAVE YOU COME BACK WITH?

WAS IT WORTH IT?

WHAT IS OUR NATIONAL, ETHICAL AND MORAL REFLECTIONS ON IT AND THAT'S WHERE -- THAT'S WHERE SOMETIMES IT FEELS A LITTLE AWKWARD, LIKE WE USE IT AS A WAY TO AVOID SOME OF THOSE OTHER QUESTIONS, EVEN THOUGH IT DOES SOMETIMES I THINK COME FROM AN HONEST PLACE.

BECAUSE I DON'T THINK WE'RE DOING ENOUGH OF THE HARDER QUESTIONS, I THINK SOMETIMES IT SERVED AS A REPLACEMENT.

DO YOU EVER USE THAT OPPORTUNITY TO START A CONVERSATION?

FOR EXAMPLE, I GUESS IT COULD BE AWKWARD IF IT'S A STRANGER WALKING DOWN THE HALL.

BUT IF IT'S SOMEBODY YOU KNOW OR SOMEBODY WHO YOU JUST MET AND SAYS THAT, I WONDER IF YOU'VE ASKED -- WHY DO YOU SAY THAT?

OR WOULD THAT FEEL BAD FOR YOU TO ASK?

IT DEPENDS WHAT DAY IT IS.

IF WE'RE IN LINE FOR COFFEE, I USUALLY JUST SAY 'THANK YOU.'

BUT IF THERE'S A LITTLE MORE TIME OR SOMEONE I KNOW, LIKE, I'LL SAY, WELL, HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT I EVEN DID?

WHAT IF I'M A WAR CRIMINAL, WHAT IF I PARTICIPATED IN AN ILLEGAL WAR?

WHAT ABOUT THE TIMES I COULD HAVE STOOD UP AND SAID SOMETHING AND I DIDN'T?

WHAT ABOUT ALL OF THOSE PIECES THAT COME UP FOR ME EVERY TIME YOU SAY 'THANK YOU.'

HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN SOMEBODY THANKS YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE?

I LOVE WHAT KELLY JUST SAID.

I FEEL AWKWARD.

MOSTLY I KNOW -- I FEEL LIKE IT'S A WAY FOR PEOPLE TO CONNECT WITH ME AND IT'S SORT OF -- IT'S A GRATEFUL GESTURE ON THEIR BEHALF.

I KNOW THIS.

WHETHER I'M IN AN AIRPORT IN THE SOUTH OR UP IN THE NORTHEAST BUBBLE OR -- IT'S SWEET MOST OF THE TIME.

BUT THERE'S A LOT OF SILENCE AROUND THAT COMMUNICATION, YOU KNOW.

I GO INTERNALLY AND -- I HONESTLY FEEL LIKE MY SERVICE BEGAN TOWARD THE END OF THE TIME IN MY MARINES WHEN I WAS HELPING MARINES WHO WERE HURT AND THEN REALLY MY SERVICE BEGAN AFTER THE MARINES WHEN I WAS ORGANIZING WITH OTHER VETERANS TO HELP THOSE WHO WERE HURT INSIDE THE SYSTEM AND I KIND OF WANT -- I WANT THEM TO KNOW THAT IT'S -- IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT THE TIME WE ENTER AND LEAVE.

IT'S REALLY A LIFELONG JOURNEY.

ANY RESPONSIBILITY TO THOSE IN UNIFORM, PARTICULARLY YOUNGER, LOWER RANKING MARINES AND SOLDIERS, IT'S A CONTINUOUS EFFORT AND VERY FEW PEOPLE, IN MY OPINION, ARE STILL LOOKING OUT FOR THEM, YOU KNOW.

YOU KNOW, I CONFESS, I'VE SAID THAT TO VETERANS AND THE MILITARY, PEOPLE SERVING IN THE MILITARY.

BUT I'M AWARE OF THE CONFLICT AND THE CONTRADICTIONS THAT YOU BROUGHT UP, KELLY.

AND I THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE SACRIFICES THAT YOU HAD TO MAKE, THAT YOU PUT YOURSELF IN A SITUATION.

THAT'S WHY I THANK YOU FOR IT, BECAUSE I DIDN'T HAVE TO DO IT.

BUT I'M GOING TO THINK ABOUT IT TWICE NEXT TIME I HAVE THE IMPULSE TO DO.

BUT ANYWAY, MOVING ON, ANOTHER CLEAR THEME IN THE SERIES, AND PARTICULARLY IN THE FINAL EPISODE, IS THE STRONG DESIRE THAT VETERANS HAVE TO CONTINUE TO SERVE, TO CONTINUE TO GIVE, TO CONTINUE TO CONTRIBUTE TO A CAUSE GREATER THAN YOURSELVES AND I'M WONDERING -- I WAS WONDERING AS I WAS WATCHING, IS THAT BECAUSE THE PEOPLE OR SOME OF THE PEOPLE, MANY OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ATTRACTED TO THE MILITARY ARE THAT WAY?

OR DOES THE MILITARY IN SOME WAY SHAPE YOU INTO THAT KIND OF PERSON, PERSON WHO WANTS TO CONTINUE TO CONTRIBUTE?

ANURADHA, LET'S START WITH YOU.

I THINK IT'S BOTH.

I'LL SPEAK FOR MYSELF.

I THINK I SAW THINGS THAT I WOULD NEVER HAVE SEEN IN THE OUTSIDE WORLD.

I SAW HOW ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL SYSTEMS ON THE PLANET TREATS PEOPLE, USES PEOPLE FOR GOOD AND BAD.

BUT IT'S -- EVERYTHING IN THE OUTSIDE WORLD PALES IN COMPARISON TO ME.

I DON'T -- I THINK VETERANS EXPERIENCE A SENSE OF REALITY WHETHER THEY WERE OVERSEAS IN COMBAT OR EVEN IN A TRAINING ENVIRONMENT THAT VERY FEW AMERICANS SEE.

IT'S TRANSFORMATIONAL.

IT GIVES YOU A SENSE OF HOW SMALL YOU ARE IN RELATION TO POWERFUL FORCES, WHETHER IT'S THE GOVERNMENT OR, YOU KNOW, NATIONS.

AND, YOU KNOW, RIGHT NOW I'M WORKING WITH THE HOMELESS POPULATION AND REALIZING THAT SO MANY FOLKS ON THE STREETS ARE VETERANS.

THERE'S A SENSE, AGAIN, OF WHAT THE REALITY OF HOW HARD THINGS ARE IN LIFE AND HOW COOLRUEL TH PLANET CAN BE AND HOW CRUEL OR OWN NEIGHBORS CAN BE WHEN THEY IGNORE THE REALITY OF SENDING TROOPS OVERSEAS AND NOT REALLY REFLECTING ON WHAT THAT MEANS.

BUT I -- YOU KNOW, IT'S SUCH A TRANSFORMATIONAL EXPERIENCE.

I COULDN'T IGNORE WHAT'S HAPPENING TO VETERANS OR THE MILITARY POPULATION IF I WANTED TO.

IT'S PART OF ME NOW, IT'S IN MY BLOOD.

KELLY, AGAIN AND AGAIN WE SEE IN THIS SERIES HOW DIFFICULT IT IS FOR MANY VETERANS TO GET BACK INTO CIVILIAN LIFE.

BUT AS JAKE WOOD, ONE OF THE VETERANS WHO PLAYS A BIG ROLE IN THIS EPISODE SAYS, YOU ASK VETERANS TO DO MORE BECAUSE THEY WANT TO DO MORE.

WHEN THE VETERANS DISCOVER A CAUSE GREATER THAN THEMSELVES, THAT MAKES THE INTEGRATION EASIER OR BETTER.

IS THAT RIGHT?

YES.

I WOULD SAY DEFINITELY.

IT'S THE KIND OF EXPERIENCES THAT ARE SO LIFE CHANGING THAT I TRIED, LIKE MANY, TO JUST COME BACK AND JUST PICK UP WHERE I LEFT OFF AS IF -- AS IF THAT'S EVEN POSSIBLE.

LIKE, HOW THAT IDEA EVEN HAS MADE IT INTO OUR SOCIETY.

I DON'T KNOW.

THAT'S -- IT'S ALMOST INSANE FOR THAT TO BE A REASONABLE EXPECTATION.

AND SO WHAT I FOUND WAS -- THESE ARE EXPERIENCES THAT SHAPE US PERMANENTLY FOR OUR WHOLE LIVES AND WE SPEND THE REST OF OUR LIVES INTEGRATING THEM AND WORKING THROUGH THEM AND THEY CONTINUE -- IT'S LIKE AN ONION, CONTINUALLY GETTING PEELED BACK.

I WOULD SAY I RETURNED IN 2009 AND SO PROBABLY FOR A GOOD DECADE A LOT OF IT WAS MY OWN JOURNEY, MY OWN PROCESS.

FINDING A HOME IN THE PEACE MOVEMENT AND WANTING TO SPEND MY YEARS ON EARTH DOING EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO BUILDING PEACE AND AVOIDING WAR AT ALL COSTS.

AND NOW, A FEW YEARS PAST THAT, MY OWN CHILDREN ARE NOW TEENAGERS AND IT HAS PUT INTO RELIEF A WHOLE DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE.

IT'S JUST ANOTHER LAYER THAT I DIDN'T NECESSARILY SEE COMING.

OLDER VETERANS PROBABLY COULD HAVE TOLD ME, OH, YOU'RE NOT DONE WITH YOUR JOURNEY YET.

AS IT BEGINS TO IMPACT YOUR OWN FAMILY IN A FEW KIND OF WAY, ALL OF A SUDDEN THERE'S A NEW IMPETUS FOR THE WORK OF PEACE, FOR THE WORK OF CONSTRUCTIVE LIVES, FOR OUR YOUNG PEOPLE AND THAT IS -- I FEEL LIKE THAT IS MY DUTY NOW IN THE SECOND HALF OF LIFE IS TO CARE TO THE BEST OF MY TALENTS AND ABILITIES FOR THE YOUNG PEOPLE COMING UP, THAT THEY HAVE A -- THEIR BEST CHANCE AT A LIFE THAT IS HEALTHY, CONSTRUCTIVE, AND PEACEFUL.

LEAH, ALMOST EVERY VETERAN THAT YOU SPOKE TO MANIFESTED THIS DESIRE TO CONTINUE TO SERVE, ALMOST AS -- YOU KNOW, ALMOST AS MISSIONARIES, YOU KNOW.

IT WAS SOMETHING THAT SURPRISED ME, THAT DESIRE TO SERVE AND TO CONTINUE TO CONTRIBUTE.

I WONDER, DID ALL OF THE VETERANS THAT YOU INTERVIEWED SAY THIS, MANIFEST THAT?

OR THE ONES WHO MADE IT ON THE AIR DID THAT?

IN OTHER WORDS, WAS THIS AS UNIVERSAL AS IT SEEMS.

NOT KNOWING THE OTHER 17 MILLION -- [ LAUGHTER ]

THE OTHER PEOPLE WHO YOU INTERVIEWED THAT DIDN'T MAKE IT --

BUT I WILL SAY THIS, I WILL SAY THIS, ONE, YOU KNOW, WE WERE LOOKING FOR THOSE WHO HAD EXPRESSED THAT INTEREST AND THAT WILLINGNESS TO CONTINUE ON.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME I BELIEVE ONLY FIVE OR SIX PEOPLE THAT WE INTERVIEWED DIDN'T END UP MAKING THE FILM.

SO, YOU KNOW, LIKE, IT'S -- I THINK ACTUALLY -- IT'S BOTH THINGS.

I THINK IT WAS SOMETHING THAT WE WERE, YOU KNOW, SEEKING TO SPEAK ABOUT, BUT I ALSO THINK IT IS -- IT'S SOMETHING THAT A LOT OF VETERANS DO FEEL.

BUT, AGAIN, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE'S EXPERIENCES RUN, YOU KNOW -- AND STORIES RUN THE GAMUT.

THERE ARE THOSE WHO SAY I SERVED IN THESE WAYS AND, YOU KNOW, I'M GOING ON ABOUT MY LIFE IN THE WAY THAT DOESN'T INCLUDE THAT KIND OF LEVEL OF COMMITMENT IN ANOTHER REALM.

AND THAT'S PERFECTLY FINE.

EVERYBODY HAS THEIR -- EVERYBODY IS ENTITLED TO DECIDE WHAT IT IS THAT THEY WANT TO DO.

SOMETHING ELSE THAT BECOMES REALLY CLEAR AS THIS DOCUMENTARY PROGRESSES IS THE COMPLEXITY AND CO CONTRADICTIONS IN THE MILITARY EXPERIENCE.

ANURADHA, LET ME USE YOUR EXAMPLE.

YOU TALK ABOUT WHO YOU FEEL MOST COMFORTABLE WITH, HOW IT'S WITH OTHER VETERANS THAT YOU FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE WITH, THAT YOU -- EVEN IF THEY'RE BIG WHITE DUDES OR PROBABLY CARRYING A CONCEALED WEAPON, YOU GET THE SENSE THAT THEY GET YOU AND YOU GET THEM AND THERE'S A -- I THINK THIS IS THE PHRASE YOU USE, THERE'S A CERTAIN KIND OF TENDERNESS IN THE INTERACTION.

AT THE SAME TIME, YOU HAD TO LEAVE THE MILITARY BECAUSE OF THE ACTIONS OF SOME OF YOUR FELLOW MARINES, THE ASSAULT ON WOMEN, HARASSMENT OF WOMEN, AND BECAUSE THE MILITARY BRASS IGNORED THE COMPLAINTS AND EVEN BLAMED YOU FOR BRINGING THEM UP.

YOU KNOW, WHERE IS THE TENDERNESS AND THE INTIMATE CONNECTION THERE?

IT'S THE CONTRADICTION I STILL WRESTLE WITH.

IT'S NOT EASY.

I DON'T THINK IT WILL EVER BE RESOLVED.

THESE BIG BEAR-LIKE MEN THAT I WAS REFERRING TO AREN'T ALWAYS THE NORM, AND I HAVE TO SEEK THEM OUT OR I HAPPEN TO RUN INTO THEM IN VARIOUS PLACES WHERE I FELT SAFE.

AND SAFETY IS AN ATMOSPHERE THAT IS NOT EASILY CREATED FOR SURVIVORS OF TRAUMA OR DIFFICULT EXPERIENCES.

IN THESE PARTICULAR SETTINGS WHERE I MET VETERANS, SAFETY WAS A PRIORITY, THE INCLUSION OF WOMEN OR PEOPLE OF COLOR, ANY MARGINALIZED GROUP WAS A PRIORITY.

IF THAT'S NOT A PRIORITY FROM THE GET-GO, I WON'T FEEL SAFE.

I GUARANTEE THAT THESE BIG BURLY MEN WILL NOT MAKE ME FEEL SAFE.

THERE'S A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF WORK THAT THOSE MEN HAVE DONE IN THEIR OWN LIVES, WITH THEIR OWN FAMILIES, THEIR OWN PERSONAL RECKONING WITH REINTEGRATING INTO CIVILIAN LIFE, EXPLORING THEIR OWN TRAUMA, THEIR OWN MENTAL HEALTH UISSUES, THEIR OW FEELINGS ABOUT VIOLENCE AND WHAT THEY MAY HAVE SEEN OR DONE.

AND THAT'S A VERY BRAVE THING TO DO AND THAT'S UP TO EACH INDIVIDUAL TO EXPLORE.

THOSE ARE THE FOLKS I FEEL SAFE AND COMFORTABLE WITH.

KELLY, THE CONFLICTS AND CONTRADICTIONS OF YOUR MILITARY EXPERIENCE, HOW DO YOU EVENTUALLY COME TO TERMS WITH THOSE IF YOU DID?

I CALL IT A WORTHWHILE JOURNEY.

BECAUSE I THINK IT'S REAL.

LIKE, I THINK THE CONTRADICTIONS, THE MESS, LIKE THAT'S REAL LIFE, THAT'S REAL HUMAN EXPERIENCE AND SO THERE'S SOMETHING IN IT I THINK WAITING INTO IT THAT IS LIFE-GIVING IN THE SENSE OF IT'S THE RIGHT PLACE TO BE, IT'S THE RIGHT QUESTIONS TO BE ASKING, IT'S THE RIGHT THINGS TO BE WRESTLING WITH.

THE ANSWERS MIGHT NOT BE EASY ONES.

I FEEL LIKE I SAW UP CLOSE SIMULTANEOUSLY THE BEST AND THE WORST OF HUMANITY.

RIGHT?

SOME DAYS I REALLY REFLECT ON THE BEST.

AND THERE'S OTHER DAYS I REFLECT ON THE WORST.

BUT IT FEELS LIKE A REAL, AUTHENTIC HUMAN EXPERIENCE AND NOT ONE THAT IS GLOSSED OVER.

NOW, LEAH, WHAT KELLY JUST SAID, THAT COMES THROUGH IN THIS DOCUMENTARY.

THE KIND OF LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP THAT A LOT OF THESE VETERANS HAVE WITH THE MILITARY, SOME OF THEM WERE WOUNDED BY THE MILITARY.

NEVERTHELESS THEY STILL SEEM TO -- MAYBE THIS IS TOO STRONG TO REVERE THE MILITARY AND THE EXPERIENCES AND WHAT IT TAUGHT THEM.

DID YOU GO INTO THE SERIES WANTING TO EXPLORE THIS, OR DID YOU DISCOVER IT IN THE COURSE OF MAKING THE SERIES?

I MEAN, I THINK JUST BEING A WOMAN OF COLOR I HAD AN UNDERSTANDING -- WHILE I DID NOT HAVE MILITARY EXPERIENCE, THERE ARE COMPLEXITIES AND CONTRADICTIONS AND NUANCE IN ALL OF THE -- OUR AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS.

AND I FELT LIKE THOSE STORIES DO EXIST AND WOULD EXIST AND PEOPLE WOULD OPEN UP ABOUT THOSE THINGS.

AND SO THAT'S WHY I SOUGHT THOSE THINGS OUT AND I WAS JUST COMPLETELY HONORED AND APPRECIATED THE FACT THAT ANURADHA, KELLY AND SO MANY OTHERS SAID, YES, WE WANT TO TALK TO YOU AND WE WANT TO SHARE WHAT WE'VE BEEN THROUGH.

WE JUST HAVE A LITTLE BIT OVER A MINUTE.

AND I WANT TO GET THIS QUESTION TO YOU, LEAH.

I'M TURNING THE BOILERPLATE QUESTION OF WHAT DO YOU HOPE THAT VIEWERS WALK AWAY FROM THIS FILM AND ASK YOU.

YOU SPENT A LOT OF TIMES WITH THESE VETERANS.

YOU GOT TO KNOW THEM.

HOW DID THAT AFFECT YOU?

WHAT DID YOU WALK AWAY WITH FROM THAT EXPERIENCE?

HOW DID THE CHANGE YOU?

I JUST WAS -- I WAS -- COMPLETELY, I WOULD SAY GRATEFUL AND SO APPRECIATIVE.

I FEEL JUST HONORED TO BE -- HAVE HAD CONVERSATIONS WITH ANURADHA AND KELLY.

IT'S COMPLETELY OPENED UP MY MIND.

I FELT LIKE IT REALLY MADE ME THINK ABOUT WHAT WE'RE ASKING OUR MILITARY TO DO, HOW I AM A PERSON -- I'M PARTICIPATING IN THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS ABOUT WHAT WE'RE DOING OR NOT DOING, AND HOW WE'RE CARING FOR OUR VETERANS WHEN THEY RETURN.

AND IT'S THESE WOMEN AND COUNTLESS OTHER PEOPLE THAT WE SPOKE TO WHO MADE ME THINK ABOUT THOSE THINGS.

AND I WANT EVERYBODY WHO WATCHES THIS TO THINK ABOUT THOSE THINGS AND I WANT THEM NOT JUST TO THINK, BUT TO ACT.

OKAY.

WE'RE ALMOST OUT OF TIME.

I'M SORRY.

IT WAS A GREAT DOCUMENTARY.

I HOPE A LOT OF PEOPLE SEE ALL OF IT.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US AND THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEING PART OF THIS WONDERFUL DOCUMENTARY.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

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