MetroFocus: November 9, 2021

AMERICAN VETERAN: EPISODE 3 – “THE RETURN”

Tonight we preview “The Return,” the third installment of PBS’s four-part series “American Veteran.” The episode focuses on one of the most difficult experiences faced by many veterans- the transition back to civilian life. From trauma, to injuries, to the demands of family life, the return home is a challenge that never ends. Leah Williams, one of the directors and producers of the documentary series is back and joined by two of the veterans who contributed to the project- former Army 1st Lieutenant Edie Meeks, who volunteered to serve as an Army nurse in Vietnam, an experience she says was life-changing in many ways, and Marine Corps veteran and writer Phil Klay, who served as a public affairs officer in Iraq and is the host of the “American Veteran” podcast, “Unforgettable Stories.”

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.

> THE WAY HOME IS DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE.

YOU DON'T BELIEVE.

EVERYTHING COULD GO WRONG, WHAT IF THEY SHOOT US OUT OF THE SKY?

THEY PUT SOME RED PAYMENT ON ME.

YOU'RE A WARRIOR NOW.

I CAN'T EXPECT THAT KIND OF WELCOMING.

I FELT SO GUILTY.

SURVIVOR'S GUILT.

IF YOUR IMAGINATION, YOU'RE GOING TO GET OUT OF THE MILITARY AND LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

UNFORTUNATELY, THINGS CREEP OUT OF YOUR PAST.

GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I AM JACK FORD.

THAT WAS A PREVIEW OF THE RETURN, THE THIRD INSTALLMENT OF PBS' FOUR-PART DOCUMENTARY SERIES TITLED 'AMERICAN VETERAN,' WHICH SEEKS TO BRIDGE THE GROWING GAP BETWEEN THOSE WHO HAVE SERVED IN THE MILITARY AND THOSE WHO HAVE NOT.

THIS FOCUSES ON ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT EXPERIENCES FACED BY MANY VETERANS, THAT IS THE TRANSITION BACK TO CIVILIAN LIFE.

FROM TRAUMA TO INJURIES TO THE DEMANDS OF FAMILY LIFE, THE RETURN HOME IS A CHALLENGE THAT, FOR MANY, NEVER ENDS.

JOINING US TONIGHT TO TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE ISSUES EXPLORED IN THIS EPISODE OF AMERICAN VETERAN ARE TWO VETERANS WHO CONTRIBUTED TO THE PLO JEKT.

EDIE MEEKS VOLUNTEERED TO SERVE AS AN ARMY NURSE DURING THE VIETNAM WAR.

AN EXPERIENCE, SHE SAYS, THAT WAS LIFE CHANGING IN MANY WAYS.

AND MARINE CORPS VETERAN PHILL KLINE.

HE SERVED AS A PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER IN IRAQ AND IS THE HOST OF THE AMERICAN VETERAN PODCAST.

ALSO BACK WITH US IS LEAH WILLIAMS, ONE OF THE DIRECTORS AND PRODUCERS OF THE DOCUMENTARY.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

THANK YOU.

LEAH, I WILL START WITH YOU AGAIN AS WE DID LAST TIME.

FOR THOSE WHO PERHAPS HAVEN'T SEEN THE SERIES YET OR JUST BEING DRAWN INTO IT, GIVE US A SENSE OF THE CONCEPT BEHIND THE ENTIRE SERIES.

SURE.

WELL, THE CONCEPT BEHIND THE SERIES WAS THAT WE REALLY WANTED TO SHOWCASE AND ILLUSTRATE WHAT THE VETERAN EXPERIENCE WAS LIKE.

WE WANTED TO DO THAT SO THAT VETERANS WHO EXPERIENCED THINGS DIDN'T FEEL SO ALONE IN THEIR JOURNEY, AND ALSO FOR CIVILIANS WHO DIDN'T UNDERSTAND, TO GET A BETTER SENSE OF WHAT THAT MEANT TO SORT OF GO THROUGH THE ARC OF A VETERAN'S CAREER FROM ENLISTMENT AND TRAINING, TO THEIR TOUR OF DUTY, TO THEIR RETURN FROM A WAR ZONE OR RETIREMENT.

AND THEN SORT OF RECKONING AND MAKING SENSE OF IT ALL.

THE LAST TIME WE TALKED WITH YOU, WE WERE FOCUSING ON THE EPISODE CALLED 'THE MISSION.'

NOW WE'RE ON, AS I SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION, THE RETURN.

TELL US ABOUT THE IDEA BEHIND THE RETURN.

SURE.

THE IDEA BEHIND THE RETURN IS THAT REALLY IT IS -- IT'S LIFE CHANGING TO GO FROM YOUR TIME WITHIN THE SERVICE TO EITHER LEAVING THE SERVICE OR I WOULD SAY RETURNING FROM -- FROM A WAR ZONE.

AND REALLY, THERE'S A HUGE TRANSITION THAT TAKES PLACE.

AND THERE ARE LOTS OF SORT OF STAGES, IF YOU WILL, THAT VETERANS TEND TO GO THROUGH.

SO WE TRIED TO SORT OF SPEAK TO THOSE DIFFERENT SORT OF STAGES OF TRANSFORMATION AND TO REALLY GET AT SOME OF THE THINGS THAT VETERANS ARE -- ARE -- ARE -- ENJOY DURING THAT TIME, BUT ALSO SOME OF THE THINGS THEY MAY STRUGGLE WITH.

SO WE JUST TRY TO HEAR FROM AS MANY DIFFERENT VOICES AS WE COULD TO SORT OF PUT A FINE POINT ON SOME OF THOSE TRANSITIONAL MOMENTS.

OF YOU ABOUT YOUR OWN RETURNS IN A MOMENT.

BUT I THINK TO HAVE A BETTER SENSE OF YOUR OWN JOURNEY, WE SHOULD START OFF WITH YOUR BEGINNINGS IN YOUR MILITARY SERVICE.

SO EDIE, I WILL START WITH YOU.

I MENTIONED THAT YOU VOLUNTEERED TO SERVE DURING THE VIETNAM WAR.

HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?

ACTUALLY, MY BROTHER WAS DRAFTED AND JOINED THE MARINE CORPS, AND AT THAT TIME, I REALLY DIDN'T KNOW WHETHER THE WAR WAS RIGHT OR WRONG.

BUT I FIGURED IF SOMETHING HAPPENED TO HIM, I WOULD WANT SOMEBODY THERE WHO WANTED TO BE THERE.

AND SO I FIGURED I CAN HANDLE THIS.

I'VE DONE EMERGENCY ROOM NURSING AND INTENSIVE CARE NURSING.

AND SO I JOINED UP AND IT WAS A LIFE-CHANGE EVENT.

HOW MUCH TIME DID YOU SPEND ACTUALLY IN VIETNAM?

A YEAR.

A YEAR, ALL RIGHT.

SIX MONTHS IN SAIGON AND SIX MONTHS IN THE HOSPITALS.

LET ME JUMP OVER HERE RIGHT NOW.

AND YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MILITARY, WHY?

WHEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL, I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICER, A DIPLOMAT.

BUT I WENT TO COLLEGE IN SEPTEMBER OF 2001.

VERY SOON MY COUNTRY WAS AT WAR IN AFGHANISTAN AND SOON AFTER THAT IN IRAQ.

SO I WANTED TO SEVEN MY COUNTRY, DO SOMETHING THAT I VERY MUCH WANTED TO DO IN SOME CAPACITY.

IT SEEMED LIKE THE MILITARY WAS THE WAY TO GO.

AND ONE OF MY OLDER BROTHERS HAD ALREADY JOINED THE MARINE CORPS.

SO CAN'T LET HIM BE THE ONLY ONE WITH THAT SNAZZY UNIFORM.

THAT'S CERTAINLY THE MARINE WAY.

I'M GOING TO GET IN THERE AND DO IT BETTER THAN YOU.

LET'S TALK ABOUT SOME OF YOUR EXPERIENCES.

AGAIN, THAT SET THE STAGE FOR YOUR RETURNS.

EDIE, WHEN YOU GOT THERE, HOW DID THE REALITY COMPARE TO YOUR EXPECTATIONS OF WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE?

WHEN I WAS GETTING OFF THE PLANE IN VIETNAM, IT FELT AS IF -- I KNOW THIS SOUNDS STRANGE, BUT IT FELT AS IF THE EARTH WAS IN PAIN.

THEY HAD BEEN AT WAR FOR SO LONG, AND THEY'RE STILL AT WAR, AND WE WENT TO -- ASSIGNED TO THIRD FIELD HOSPITAL IN SAIGON.

NOW, EVERYBODY ELSE WAS IN FATIGUES EXCEPT FOR THE NURSES IN THE THIRD FIELD HOSPITAL, WHO WERE IN FLIGHT UNIFORMS, WHICH I THOUGHT WAS KIND OF BIZARRE.

BECAUSE WE WERE GETTING THE SAME PATIENTS THAT EVERYBODY ELSE WAS.

THEY WERE FLYING THEM IN BY HELICOPTER OR BRINGING THEM IN BY TRUCK OR AMBULANCE.

SO THE INTENSIVE CARE UNIT THERE WAS SET UP, WE WORK 12 HOURS A DAY, 6 DAYS A WEEK.

AND MY EXPECTATIONS WERE THAT I WOULD BE ABLE TO HANDLE THIS BECAUSE I HAD BEEN IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM BEFORE.

BUT I HAD NEVER SEEN INJURIES TO SOMEONE SO YOUNG AND SO HUGE, YOU KNOW, TERRIBLE CHEST WOUNDS, ABDOMINAL WOUNDS, LIMBS MISSING.

AND YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO STABILIZE THEM AFTER SURGERY SO THEY COULD BE SENT TO JAPAN.

AND FOR ME, EVERY ONE OF THESE YOUNG MEN COMING IN WAS MY BROTHER, BECAUSE THE AVERAGE AGE THAT WE HAD WAS BETWEEN 18 AND 23.

AND MY BROTHER -- I HAD TWO BROTHERS YOUNGER THAN I AM.

AND IT WAS LIKE, WHAT A WASTE.

I MEAN, I WAS -- IT WAS OVERWHELMING, IN A WAY.

IT'S INTERESTING.

YOU TALK ABOUT THE AGES, BECAUSE ONE OF THE GREAT COMPARISONS BETWEEN VIETNAM AND KOREA AND CERTAINLY WORLD WAR II WAS THE AGE.

THE AVERAGE AGE OF THOSE WHO SERVED IN WORLD WAR II WAS CLOSE TO 27, IF I REMEMBER CORRECTLY.

YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT THE AVERAGE AGE WAS AROUND 18 IN VIETNAM.

SO HOW ABOUT YOU, WHEN YOU SHOW UP IN IRAQ AND GIVE US A SENSE OF WHAT YOUR EXPECTATIONS WERE AND WHAT THE REALITY WAS THAT YOU WERE PRESENTED WITH.

YOU KNOW, WHAT EDIE JUST SAID REALLY RESONATED WITH ME.

I CAME INTO IRAQ IN ANBAR PROVINCE.

I WAS A STAFF OFFICER SO I HAD A RELATIVELY SAFE JOB.

I WENT TO A FORWARD OPERATING BASE.

THERE WERE THESE HUGE MINI CITIES, THEY WERE RELATIVELY SAFE.

SOME PEOPLE NEVER LEFT THE FOB.

BUT WITHIN THE FIRST MONTH THERE WAS A SUICIDE BOMB OUTSIDE THE MAIN GATE.

IT WAS JUST LIKE EDIE SAID, I'M CARRYING A STRETCHER EARLY ON, WITH A CHILD.

I'VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THE KIND OF INJURIES THAT BOMBS CAUSE TO HUMAN BODIES.

I HAD NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THAT, AND CERTAINLY NEVER SEEN A CHILD WITH THOSE KIND OF INJURIES, RIGHT?

AND I REMEMBER THINKING, I'M NEVER GOING TO FORGET THIS CHILD'S FACE.

BY THE END OF THE NIGHT I COULDN'T PICK THEM OUT OF THE LINEUP, BECAUSE THERE WAS A STREAM OF PEOPLE COMING THROUGH.

SO THAT WAS FOR ME THE FIRST REALLY SORT OF ARRESTING SENSE OF THIS IS A WAR ZONE, AND THIS IS WHAT WAR MEANS.

RIGHT?

IT MEANS TERRIBLE VIOLENCE DONE, OFTEN TO EXTREMELY YOUNG PEOPLE.

AND AS EDIE MENTIONED, THIS WAS SOMETHING ALSO THAT REALLY RESONATED WITH ME.

THE KIDS THAT WERE FIGHTING WERE SO YOUNG.

WHEN I LEFT THE CORPS, I WAS IN MY EARLY 20s.

I REMEMBER SEEING A UNIT COMING BACK FROM AFGHANISTAN.

THEY WERE SKINNY, THEY HAVE THE RACCOON EYES BECAUSE THEY HAD BEEN WEARING EYE PROTECTION.

JUST LOOKED LIKE BABIES, THEY JUST LOOKED LIKE KIDS.

AND THAT WAS MY IMPRESSION WHEN I WAS IN MY EARLY 20s.

GOD, HOW YOUNG THESE GUYS ARE.

LET ME TALK ABOUT THE FILM MAKING THAT'S DONE.

I'M ALWAYS FASCINATED BY OPENING SCENES.

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE, SOUND LIKE, WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO BRING PEOPLE IN?

AND IN THIS EPISODE, IT OPENS WITH WHAT HAS BECOME A SORT OF ICONIC SHOT OF HELICOPTERS.

AS WE KNOW, EDIE SAW IT, THE HELICOPTERS ARE EMBLEMATIC, CERTAINLY BEGINNING WITH VIETNAM AND THROUGH ALL OF OUR CONFLICTS IN THE LAST 30 YEARS OR SO.

TELL ME ABOUT THAT DECISION AND THEN THE STORY THAT'S TOLD BY A WOMAN WHO IS A HELICOPTER PILOT AS PART OF THIS.

YOU KNOW, I THINK PART OF THAT DECISION WAS REALLY THE HELICOPTER CAN BE SYMBOLIZED SORT OF COMING TO AN END, BUT ALSO A BEGINNING AT THE SAME TIME.

WHETHER THAT IS TAKING SOMEONE WHO IS WOUNDED OUT OF A SITUATION OR TAKING TO SOMEONE WHO IS NOT WOUNDED AND LEAVING.

BUT THEN IT'S ALSO -- IT'S REALLY THE BEGINNING OF THE NEXT PART AND THE NEXT CHAPTER AND THE THOUGHT PROCESS OF WHAT HAD BEEN ENDURED.

AND SO I THINK THAT'S -- THAT WAS REALLY THE THINKING BEHIND THE DECISION THAT IT'S AN ENDING BUT ALSO A BEGINNING.

EDIE, LET ME COME BACK TO YOU.

YOU TALK ABOUT THE TIME THAT YOU SPENT SERVING AS A NURSE IN VIETNAM.

GIVE US A SENSE OF THE ANTICIPATION AS YOU WERE GETTING CLOSE TO THE END OF YOUR PERIOD THERE, THE ANTICIPATION OF GOING HOME, OF RETURNING, WHAT DID -- DID YOU ALL TALK ABOUT IT?

WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT IT?

WHAT WAS THE EXPECTATION?

AND I'LL GET IN A MOMENT TO WHAT THE REALITY WAS WHEN YOU GOT HOME.

BUT LET'S FOCUS ON THE ANTICIPATION OF GOING HOME.

ACTUALLY, IT WAS KIND OF A DOUBLE SIDED SWORD, BECAUSE YOU WERE HAPPY THAT YOU WERE GOING HOME, BUT YOU ALSO FELT GUILTY ABOUT LEAVING, BECAUSE YOUR JOB WASN'T DONE, BECAUSE THESE GUYS WERE STILL COMING IN AND YOU HADN'T FINISHED.

AND SO -- AND I EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT ASKING TO STAY ANOTHER YEAR.

AND I THOUGHT, YOU'RE OUT OF YOUR MIND.

BUT IT WAS THAT KIND OF THING, THE TEAM WORK WAS SUCH THAT YOU FELT YOU HADN'T FINISHED.

THERE WAS STILL GUYS THAT NEEDED YOUR HELP.

AND SO FOR ME, IT WAS, YES, I CAN HARDLY WAIT TO GET HOME, BUT YOU ALSO FELT, YOU KNOW, MAYBE I SHOULD BE STAYING.

HOW ABOUT YOU, THE ANTICIPATION, THE EXPECTATION?

YEAH, YOU KNOW, I HAD -- IN SOME WAYS, THE SAME FEELING.

OF COURSE, YOU COME BACK AND THESE WARS HAVE STRETCHED ON AND ON AND ON.

SO I CAME BACK FROM IRAQ, I GOT OUT OF THE MILITARY.

AND THEN PEOPLE I KNEW WERE CONTINUING TO DEPLOY, AND I WOULD BE, YOU KNOW, AT A BAR IN BROOKLYN.

IT WAS ALMOST LIKE A PARODY OF WHAT YOU WOULD THINK BROOKLYN WAS LIKE.

THERE WAS A BAND SETTING UP WITH A UKULELE.

A MARINE BUDDY CALLS TO LET US KNOW SOMEBODY WE KNEW HAD BEEN SHOT.

FOUND OUT, YOU KNOW, FAIRLY SOON AFTER I GOT BACK THAT ANOTHER MASH I HAD KNOWN THAT HAD GONE TO AFGHANISTAN HAD BEEN KILLED.

AND SO ON.

SO IT'S A VERY STRANGE SORT OF HEAD SPACE TO BE IN WHERE YOU COME HOME TO A SOCIETY THAT JUST REALLY DOESN'T FEEL LIKE THERE'S MUCH OF A PUBLIC SENSE YOU'RE AT WAR.

THE FIRST TIME I CAME HOME, BECAUSE YOU GET TWO WEEKS OF LEAVE IN YOUR DEPLOYMENT, I FLEW RIGHT TO NEW YORK.

AND LATER, A WAR PHOTOGRAPHER TOLD ME LIKE, OH, KNOW, YOU NEVER FLY TO NEW YORK AFTER A WAR ZONE BECAUSE IT'S TOO WEIRD.

IT'S TOO MUCH OF A DISCONNECT.

AND THERE'S A SENSE OF A VIETNAM VETERAN ONCE WRITING HE COULDN'T WRAP HIS HEAD AROUND THE IDEA THAT THE MADNESS THAT WAS GOING ON IN VIETNAM WAS NOT THE MORAL CENTER OF EVERYBODY'S LIFE.

AND YET IT JUST WASN'T.

AND SO --

AS YOU MENTIONED, YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT WHEN YOU WERE OVER THERE SAYING, WE'RE AT WAR AND EVERYBODY AT HOME IS AT THE MALL.

RIGHT, RIGHT.

AND I THINK OVER TIME, I'VE MADE MY PEACE WITH THAT, RIGHT?

ONE OF THE REASONS YOU SIGN UP IS SO THAT PEOPLE CAN GO LIVE NORMAL LIVES AND RAISE FAMILIES.

I HAD THAT FEELING, YOU KNOW, A COUPLE YEARS AGO WHEN I WAS AT THE MALL SHOPPING FOR ONESIES AND THINKING OH, WE'RE AT WAR AND I'M AT THE MALL, TRYING TO FIGURE OUT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 3M AND 3 TO 6-MONTH ONESIES FOR MY BABY.

EDIE, GO AHEAD.

I TOTALLY AGREE WITH WHAT YOU'RE SAYING.

I CAN REMEMBER MY LAST DAY IN VIETNAM WAS THE DAY THAT THEY LANDED ON THE MOON.

AND SOMEBODY CAME OUT AND SAID OH, THEY'RE LANDING ON THE MOON, LET'S COME AND SEE.

I THOUGHT, WHY WOULD I WANT TO SEE THAT?

MY GUYS ARE OVER HERE DYING.

THIS IS THE IMPORTANT THING.

WHY AREN'T THEY PAYING ATTENTION?

AND ACTUALLY, I NEVER HAVE WATCHED ANY FILM OF LANDING ON THE MOON.

TO ME, IT WAS THE MOST BIZARRE THING.

THAT THE IMPORTANT THING TO ME WAS MY GUYS.

AND THESE GUYS, THEY WERE OVER HERE, GETTING THEIR LIVES, SUFFERING.

I DON'T CARE ABOUT THE MOON.

ONCE AGAIN, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT RETURN, THE THIRD EPISODE IN A DOCUMENTARY CALLED 'AMERICAN VETERAN.'

JOINED BY LEAH WILLIAMS, PRODUCE'RE AND DIRECTOR.

EDIE MEEKS AND PHILL KLINE, WHO SERVED IN IRAQ.

SO LET'S GO NOW TO YOUR ACTUAL RETURNS.

AND EDIE, WE HAVE HEARD SO OFTEN THE STORIES OF THE VIETNAM VETERANS WHO TALK ABOUT WHEN THEY SHOWED UP AT HOME, MANY IMMEDIATELY TAKING THEIR UNIFORMS OFF BECAUSE OF THE TURMOIL THAT WAS TAKING PLACE IN OUR NATION.

I'M A YOUNG COLLEGE STUDENT WHEN ALL OF THIS IS TAKING PLACE AND PROTESTS.

YOU KNOW, I HAD A COUSIN WHO DIED IN VIETNAM.

I HAD A HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL TEAMMATE THAT DIED IN VIETNAM.

THEY WERE OLDER THAN I WAS.

BUT TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR RETURN AND HOW YOU FELT INTERNALLY AND WHAT THE SURROUNDINGS SEEMED LIKE TO YOU.

BEING OVER IN VIETNAM, YOU DIDN'T -- I HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON ALREADY.

WE WERE BUSY.

BUT THE NURSES COMING IN COUNTRY TOLD US AS SOON AS YOU HIT STATESIDE, TAKE YOUR UNIFORM OFF.

BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT BE RECEIVING A WELCOME.

WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO THAT WHEN YOU WERE TOLD THAT?

I GUESS BY THAT TIME, I HAVE TO SAY I WAS SO NUMB THAT I JUST FIGURED OKAY, I'LL DO IT.

ALL YEAR I HAD BEEN DEALING WITH THE ANGER THAT I HAD AT THE ARMY AND THE GOVERNMENT FOR PUTTING MY BOYS THERE.

AND I GUESS YOU JUST KIND OF SHUT DOWN.

SO I JUST SAID OKAY, SO I BROUGHT A DRESS WITH ME.

AS SOON AS I GOT OFF THE PLANE, I WENT INTO THE LADY'S ROOM AND THREW MY UNIFORM IN THE TRASH AND PUT A DRESS ON AND WENT HOME.

AND WHEN I GOT HOME, EVERYBODY EXPECTED ME TO BE NORMAL.

YOU'RE A LADY THAT LEFT, AND I WASN'T.

I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW THAT I WASN'T.

BUT I WASN'T.

HOW DID YOU AT SOME POINT REALIZE -- OR DID YOU AT SOME POINT IN TIME REALIZE THAT YOU WERE NOT, IN FACT, NORMAL, THE OLD EDIE ANY MORE?

IT TOOK ME OVER 20 YEARS TO FIGURE THAT OUT.

FOR ME, I WAS COPING.

I WAS DOING JUST FINE.

AND THEN ABOUT 20 YEARS LATER, IT STARTED HITTING THE FAN FOR ME.

AND WHAT SAVED MY LIFE WAS THE VIETNAM WOMEN'S MEMORIAL, AND GOING DOWN FOR THE DEAD CASE OF THE MEMORIAL.

AND THERE WERE WOMEN THAT SPOKE MY LANGUAGE.

I DIDN'T HAVE TO EXPLAIN A THING TO THEM.

I DIDN'T HAVE TO SAY I'M SORRY, EXCUSE ME, I SERVED.

THEY WERE ALL THERE BEING PROUD OF WHAT THEY DID.

AND ALL OF A SUDDEN, I STARTED FEELING PROUD OF WHAT I DID.

YEAH, YEAH.

PHIL, HOW ABOUT YOU?

HOW ABOUT YOUR RETURN AND THIS NOTION THAT EDIE BRINGS UP OF A QUEST FOR NORMALCY, WHATEVER THAT WOULD MEAN FOR YOU?

MY GENERATION HAD A VERY DIFFERENT RESPONSE FROM THE PUBLIC.

IN MANY WAYS, WERE VERY MUCH INDEBTED TO THE VIETNAM GENERATION BECAUSE HOW THEY WERE TREATED AND THE WAKE OF THAT, AND VIETNAM VETERANS TALKING THROUGH THE DIFFICULTIES OF COMING HOME INTO THAT KIND OF AN ENVIRONMENT HELPED AMERICANS, I THINK, VERY MUCH SEPARATE HOW YOU SHOULD THINK ABOUT THE INDIVIDUAL VETERAN WHO SERVED IN A WAR AND THE POLITICAL FEELINGS AND THE ELECTED LEADERS WHO SENT THOSE PEOPLE ABROAD.

AND SO MY GENERATION -- YOU KNOW, FOR MYSELF, I WASN'T -- I WASN'T -- I WAS A STAFF OFFICER.

I HAD A VERY SAFE JOB.

I WASN'T TRAUMATIZED BY THE WAR, BUT I FELT LIKE I HAD A VERY DEEP RELATIONSHIP TO WHAT HAD HAPPENED, AND I'VE SPENT THE REST OF MY LIFE ESSENTIALLY TRYING TO THINK ABOUT AND TALK ABOUT AMERICAN WAR, HOW WE USE MEN AND WOMEN'S LIVES, AND WHAT THE EXPERIENCE OF COMING HOME IS LIKE.

AND ALSO WHAT THAT SAYS ABOUT WHO WE ARE AS A COUNTRY.

EDIE, ARE YOU NOW GETTING ANY OF WHAT PHIL HAS DESCRIBED THAT THAT GENERATION OF SERVICE PEOPLE GET?

ARE YOU GETTING ANYBODY SAYING, LOOK, THIS IS LONG DELAYED, BUT I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE.

YOU KNOW, WHAT I REALIZED, I WENT AND SPOKE AT MY DAUGHTER'S COLLEGE.

GREAT STORY.

I'M GLAD YOU'RE TELLING THIS.

GREAT STORY.

WHAT I REALIZED WAS THAT IT WAS PROBABLY GOING TO BE THE NEXT GENERATION THAT WAS GOING TO, UMM, THANK US FOR OUR SERVICE.

I KNOW PEOPLE OF MY GENERATION THAT ARE STILL CONFLICTED, THAT DIDN'T SERVE.

AND THEY DON'T EVEN WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.

AND SO THE VETERANS THEMSELVES HAVE COME OUT AND HAVE HELPED EACH OTHER.

AND I THINK THAT THAT HEALING HAS BEEN A WONDERFUL THING.

YOU KNOW, THE V.A. HAS BEEN SUPER IN HELPING VIETNAM VETERANS.

ALL OF THESE EFFORTS THAT HAVE BEEN MADE, AND ALSO ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HELPED THE VIETNAM VETERAN IS HELPING THE IRAQ/AFGHANISTAN VETERAN.

I THINK THAT THAT -- THE SERVICE TO EACH OTHER IS A VERY HEALING THING.

I ABSOLUTELY AGREE.

PHIL, YOU SEE THAT ALSO?

YEAH.

YOU KNOW, A VIETNAM VETERAN SAYS IF YOU ASK THE 20-YEAR-OLD VETERAN AT THE GAS STATION WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO KILL A MAN, HE WOULD SAY IT DOESN'T FEEL LIKE A THING.

BUT IF YOU ASK THAT SAME QUESTION 20, 30 YEARS LATER, IT WILL BE A DIFFERENT RESPONSE.

IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT WHO THAT VETERAN IS, BUT THE COMMUNITY HE OR SHE HAS AROUND THEM, AND WHETHER THEY HAD HELPED THAT VETERAN PROCESS THAT AND THINK IT THROUGH, AND WHAT THEY HELPED THEM CONNECT TO OTHER PEOPLE.

I THINK THAT, YOU KNOW, THERE IS A WAY IN WHICH WORKED ON BY THE VIETNAM VETERANS DIRECTLY RELATES TO SOME THINGS THAT PEOPLE ARE PROCESSING NOW.

THERE ARE DIFFERENT WARS AND EXPERIENCES BUT THERE ARE COMMONALITIES.

I THINK THAT THINGS LIKE THIS SERIES HELP EXPAND THAT LEVEL OF UNDERSTANDING BEYOND VETERANS TO CIVILIANS.

AND IT ALSO ALLOWING VETERANS WITH DIFFERENT EXPERIENCES FROM EACH OTHER SORT OF CONNECT ACROSS A DIVIDE IN BETWEEN VETERANS THEMSELVES, BECAUSE DIVERSE GROUP WITH A DIVERSE SET OF FEELINGS ABOUT EACH OF THESE TOUCH POINTS THAT THE SERIES IS FOCUSED AROUND.

SO THAT DIVERSITY OF EXPERIENCES I THINK NOT JUST TREMENDOUSLY REVEALING ABOUT TWO VETERANS ARE AND WHAT THE EXPERIENCE OF WAR IS LIKE.

BUT VERY HELPFUL IN TERMS OF PEOPLE UNDERSTANDING THEMSELVES AND SITUATING THEM SELVES WITHIN A COMMUNITY THAT IS ALL CONCERNED ABOUT THESE ISSUES.

LEAH, I'M GOING TO GIVE YOU THE LAST WORD.

I HAVE ABOUT A MINUTE AND A HALF.

TALK ABOUT, BASED ON WHAT THEY SAID, ABOUT THE SERIES AND WHAT YOU'RE HOPING PEOPLE WHO ARE EITHER VETERANS OR NOT VETERANS CAN GET FROM THIS.

SURE.

I THINK TO PHIL'S POINT, REALLY THERE IS THIS FOCUS ON CONNECTION TO COMMUNITY.

I THINK NO MATTER WHETHER YOU WERE IN A WAR ZONE, WHETHER YOU WERE IN THAT WAR ZONE AND PARTICULARLY TRAUMATIZED OR WHETHER YOU WERE IN THAT WAR ZONE AND NOT NECESSARILY DEALING WITH A PARTICULAR TRAUMA OR WHETHER YOU SERVED STATESIDE AND DIDN'T DEPLOY, I DO THINK THAT VETERAN EXPERIENCE DOES CHANGE YOU.

IN PROFOUND WAYS.

I THINK THAT THAT CHANGE, YOU HAVE TO FEEL -- HOW DO YOU GET REORIENTED ONCE YOU LEAVE THE SERVICE?

HOW DO YOU REORIENT YOURSELF BACK INTO EVERYDAY LIFE, KNOWING THAT YOU HAVE SEEN THINGS OR BEEN PART OF THINGS OR, YOU KNOW, TAKEN PART IN THINGS THAT WERE PROFOUND.

I THINK THAT THERE REALLY NEEDS TO BE A SORT OF COMMUNITY OF PROCESSING.

THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I REALLY HOPE HAPPENS IN THE SERIES IS THAT PEOPLE TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT VETERANS HAVE GONE THROUGH, AND THINK ABOUT THEIR OWN JUXTAPOSITION TO THOSE PEOPLE, AND HOW THEY CAN -- HOW THEY CAN BE ENGAGED.

BECAUSE TO ME THE ENTIRE POINT OF ALL OF THIS IS FIGURE OUT HOW WE CAN ALL BE ENGAGED AS ONE LARGE COMMUNITY TO HELP ONE ANOTHER.

AND THE FILM DOES A MARVELOUS JOB DOING THAT.

CONGRATULATIONS FOR THE WORK YOU HAVE DONE.

EDIE, PHIL, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

AND THANK YOU INDEED FOR YOUR SERVICE.

WE CERTAINLY APPRECIATE IT.

AND WE APPRECIATE YOU SPENDING SOME TIME TALKING TO US.

YOU ALL BE WELL NOW.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

> '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

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