'This Week' Transcript: Gen Peter Chiarelli

Christiane Amanpour interviews Gen. Peter Chiarelli on "This Week"

AMANPOUR: IN THIS SEASON OF GIVING, SOME OF THOSE WHO HAVE GIVEN THE MOST, FIGHTING FOR THEIR COUNTRY HAVE COME UPON HARD TIMES.

RETURNING TO THE HOME OF THE BRAVE, FOR THOUSANDS OF MILITARY VETERANS, HAS MEANT NO HOME AT ALL.

MANY VETERANS OF AMERICA'S WARS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN ARE FINDING THEIR TRANSITION TO CIVILIAN LIFE OVERWHELMING.

SOMETIMES COMPLICATED BY POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER, SUBSTANCE ABUSE, UNEMPLOYMENT AND DIFFICULTY ADJUSTING TO ORDINARY LIFE AFTER THE EXTREME ENVIRONMENT OF COMBAT, THOUSANDS OF VETERANS HAVE BEEN LEFT HOMELESS.

ABC'S BOB WOODRUFF TAKES A SPECIAL LOOK AT THE PLIGHT OF THESE WARRIORS WITHOUT A HOME. WOODRUFF: IT HAS BEEN OVER 9 YEARS SINCE THE US HAS BEEN AT WAR IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ - OVER TWO MILLION US SERVICEMEMBERS HAVE DEPLOYED - MANY RETURNING TO THE FRONTLINES MORE THAN ONCE - AND SINCE THAT INITIAL SHOCK AND AWE CAMPAIGN THE VA ESTIMATES THAT OVER 9,000 OF THESE MEN AND WOMEN HAVE BEEN HOMELESS.

BOB WOODRUFF: Do you think people would be shocked to know there have been 9000 homeless Iraq and Afghanistan vets? SOT PAUL RIECKHOFF, Director IAVA: I think they should be. We know that's a conservative number - there are thousands. And I think even if there's one, it should be a national outrage. I mean a day when it's 20 degrees outside and the idea that some man or woman who got home from Iraq or Afghanistan maybe just a couple of months ago is homeless that should outrage everybody in America.

BUT THERE ARE…

BOB WOODRUFF: Was-- was it ever this cold when you were sleeping here on the bench? JOSE: Last winter wasn't that cold.

JOSE PAGAN IS A DECORATED VETERAN WHO SURVIVED TWO TOURS OF DUTY IN IRAQ AS A ROAD CLEARANCE SPECIALIST…JUST THREE DAYS AFTER LEAVING THE MILITARY HE WAS HOMELESS, LIVING ON THE STREETS OF THE BRONX…

BOB WOODRUFF: how long was this your home? JOSE: For around a month and a half to two months. BOB WOODRUFF: A month and a half on the benches? JOSE: Yes, yes, yes, yes. But it was safe. BOB WOODRUFF: It was safe here? JOSE: It was safer than any other place. BOB WOODRUFF: Well, how'd you lay down? JOSE: Well, I had duffel bags. So-- you know, I normally put the duffel bags here. And-- a duffel bag here. Pretty much lay on it. But-- I was lucky to have one of our sleeping bags with me. BOB WOODRUFF: And that was your only warmth? JOSE: Yeah. It was embarrassing. Pretty embarrassing. Especially as a veteran. Yeah. Honor, pride, duty, loyalty, all these things that we-- that kick in as a soldier, you know. And then, to find yourself here, it's-- . BOB WOODRUFF: It's something you'd never imagine. JOSE: Never.

SPECIALIST PAGAN WASN'T ALWAYS ON THE STREETS - HE HAD A WIFE AND DAUGHTER, A HOME…

JOSE: We had two vehicles. Beautiful apartment, with a real nice fireplace. We was planning to go to Brazil this year, this Christmas. And then, you know, none of that-- none of those plans could exist anymore. So, it was kind of-- it'll-- it'll kind of mess with you a little bit, you know.

THE BREAK UP OF HIS FAMILY AND HIS DEPARTURE FROM THE MILITARY PROVED TO BE HARDER THAN HE THOUGHT…

Page
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...