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…
JOSE: I was a trained soldier. Readily available at any time. You know, mentally. Tough, physically tough to go ahead and handle business. In basic training, we say you eat now, and taste later. So, in Iraq we say you fight now, and you cry later. BOB WOODRUFF: What about here? JOSE: Here, it's-- everything's backwards. You're just always constantly crying. And-- and, you know, thinking about what could've happened, what just happened, you know. So, it was worse here.
HE'S NOT ALONE. THE VA BELIEVES THERE COULD BE THOUSANDS MORE HOMELESS IN PART BECAUSE OF COMBAT STRESS, BRAIN INJURIES FROM IED'S AND THE RISING USE OF DRUGS AND ALCOHOL. ALREADY, OVER A QUARTER OF A MILLION TROOPS HAVE ASKED FOR MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT. BUT THERE ARE MANY MORE THAT GO UNDIAGNOSED…
SETH DIAMOND, Commissioner Department of Homeless Services - NYC People are very proud when they come back. They may not want to-- admit that they need some help.
IN NEW YORK CITY, THE VA HAS PARTNERED WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELESS SERVICES…TO HELP IDENTIFY AND HOUSE VETERANS IN NEED, TO AVOID MAKING THE SAME MISTAKES MADE AFTER THE VIETNAM WAR.
SOT SETH DIAMOND DHS COMMISSIONER Vietnam-era veterans, we still are serving a number of them because they were never properly reestablished in their communities when they returned. The country has learned a lot. The city has learned a lot. you gotta get it right at the beginning. And if you do that, it'll have lasting effect.
BUT SOME SAY CHANGES ARE NOT BEING MADE FAST ENOUGH… WITH THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN STILL AT FULL FORCE - TROOPS ARE BEING CALLED UPON TO SERVE OVER AND OVER. APPROXIMATELY 900,000 SERVICEMEMBERS HAVE BEEN SENT INTO HARMS WAY MORE THAN ONCE - WOMEN INCLUDED - IN FACT, WOMEN ARE BECOMING HOMELESS FASTER THAN MEN…
SOT PAUL RIECKHOFF, Director IAVA Women are becoming homeless at twice the rate of men. Women are at a much greater risk across the board on homelessness, on unemployment, on suicide. They make up about 15% of the returning fighting force. And that's something the VA wasn't prepared for. Nonprofits weren't prepared for. Shelters weren't prepared for. And that's why we're seeing them end up homeless at such a higher rate.
SGT. Q-TARA HENRY IS ONE OF THOSE WOMEN…A CHEMICAL WEAPONS SPECIALIST WITH THE 101ST AIRBORN SHE SERVED 2 DEPLOYMENTS TO IRAQ, HER SECOND TOUR OF DUTY CAME ONLY 4 MONTHS AFTER HER SON WAS BORN…WHILE IN IRAQ HER HUSBAND FILED FOR DIVORCE AND WAS GRANTED CUSTODY OF THEIR TWO KIDS.
Q-TARA: When I found out about court and everything else. I said, "You know what? I gotta get a lawyer." So, I was trying to deal with those things while I was in Iraq. So, that's where all my money was going.
WHEN SHE CAME BACK TO THE US SHE SLEPT ON FRIENDS COUCHES, AND EVEN IN A CAR ON THE STREET. TODAY SHE'S AT THE BORDEN AVENUE VETERANS SHELTER IN QUEENS WITH 26 OTHER VETERANS FROM IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN.
BOB AND Q-TARA WALKING TO HER CUBBY: This is my living room. You know, cubicle. This is where my clothes are. And these are the love of my life. These are my children. These are my inspiration. So, that keeps me going in the morning. BOB WOODRUFF: what do you kids think about you being homeless? Q-TARA I don't tell my children that I'm homeless because I don't really think they would understand that. When I have them, I take 'em to beautiful hotels. I let them go to swimming pools and everything else. Because I don't want them to know. The hardest thing for me was my son asked me, "Mommy, why do we keep moving?" He doesn't understand that I'm in hotels. So, he thinks that every time I take him to a hotel that we're moving to another place. And that hurt me to my soul. BOB WOODRUFF: You've never shown them this place at all? Q-TARA: They cannot come here.
SHE MAY NOT HAVE TOLD THEM BUT HER DAUGHTER KNOWS SOMETHING ISN'T RIGHT.
Q-TARA: My daughter's eight years old. She took all the money that she had and said, "Hey, Mommy, this'll help you buy a house." And I was overwhelmed. BOB WOODRUFF: She offered you money. Q-TARA: Yes. So, I guess she knows that it costs.
WHILE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS TRYING TO IMPROVE THE SYSTEM NON PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS ARE TRYING TO FILL THE GAPS. HERE IN NEW YORK, FOR EXAMPLE, THE JERICHO PROJECT IS WORKING ON THE HOUSING SHORTAGE…HELPING VETS GET THE BENEFITS THEY'RE ENTITLED TO AND MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL - HELPING THEM FIND A PLACE TO CALL HOME.
SOT TORI LYONS, Director Jericho Project and Bob Woodruff tour of new veterans housing site: Tori Lyons This was a vacant lot before we started. And it's gonna be all state of the art-- new construction. BOB WOODRUFF: And this'll be done by Spring? TORI LYONS: Yeah, we're looking February/March just to move in our first veterans.
JERICHO IS CURRENTLY CONSTRUCTING 2 VETERANS RESIDENCES THAT WILL OFFER PERMANENT HOUSING TO VETS FROM IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN - THIS ONE IS SCHEDULED TO OPEN IN MARCH…
SOT TORI LYONS: We've seen people-- with less than a year of being discharged from the military-- were showing up in the homeless shelter. And that's really alarming, because there was-- it was kind of commonly thought after Vietnam that it was maybe eight to ten years after the conflict ended that-- that the veterans showed up in large numbers. 00:19:38:00 that's why Jericho is building these now. Because people-- are already coming back. So, we don't have the luxury of waiting eight years for them to hit the street, so to speak.
THE CURRENT ECONOMY HAS ONLY MADE THINGS WORSE - ESPECIALLY FOR YOUNG VETERANS - THEIR UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IS 20%, THAT'S ABOUT DOUBLE THE NATIONAL AVERAGE... MICHAEL MONROE IS ONE OF THOSE VETS, HE WAS A COMBAT MEDIC IN IRAQ AND NOW HE CAN'T FIND A JOB. HE'S BEEN LIVING AT THIS SHELTER FOR THE LAST 6 MONTHS…
BOB WOODRUFF If you had a message for Americans watching this, what would be your-- your message to them? MIKE Don't-- just, you know, once we get home, don't forget us. I mean, there's a bunch of us still here. And-- you know, some of us do need a little bit more help than others. And just be there.
BUT FOR SGT. HENRY THINGS ARE LOOKING UP…WITH THE HELP OF JERICHO SHE HOPES TO HAVE HER OWN APARTMENT BY CHRISTMAS…
SOT DEBBIE MODESTE - JERICHO: We are working very hard so she can have her kids over. Sot Q-Tara: it's been two years since I've had them for Christmas.
SPECIALIST PAGAN IS ALSO ONE OF THE LUCKY ONES…JERICHO HELPED HIM TOO…
SOT JOSE PAGAN: Everything changed. I have an apartment. And it was the first time. First time, especially as a grown man that-- I've gotten a gift like this. So, it was an amazing feeling. I have a place. this is what I call-- it's my little-- it's home.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST: Bob, thank you so much. That's very, very powerful. So good news at the end, but so many thousands of veterans homeless. Why is it that Iraq and Afghanistan returning vets are becoming homeless faster than they did when they came back from Vietnam?
BOB WOODRUFF, CORRESPONDENT: You can say in Vietnam it was they're going back to a civilian world that existed. So many came back. And you look at the numbers, about 11 percent of Americans served in Vietnam. Now it's only about 1 percent. So when they come back, they're largely alone.
They don't have any information about how they can get so much help. So they end up really temporarily as homeless, as opposed to Vietnam, which was after five to 10 years it became permanent, because of the way they were treated when they came back. They were spat upon, and they didn't have any help at all.
AMANPOUR: But they're not finding that now, right? They're not finding that they're ostracized?
WOODRUFF: They're not ostracized. It's exactly that. Once they find out what they can do, they begin it. That's the one that they say (ph). It's not that there's not help available to them. They just don't know anything about it. And the ones that are coming out of all the wars, the numbers every day, homelessness, the V.A. says about 107,000 veterans are homeless every day from all the wars, not Iraq and Afghanistan.
AMANPOUR: Some 9,000 or so from Iraq and Afghanistan?
WOODRUFF: That's what they say. Yes.
AMANPOUR: Another issue that you are obviously intimately familiar with, because you suffered traumatic injury from an IED in Iraq, is the catastrophic injuries that many of these vets are coming back with. At the Walter Reed Hospital you spoke to an army corporal about the situation and about her possible recovery. Let's just play what you said to her and what she said to you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: How long do you think this recovery is going to take?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe a lifetime for the mentally (ph). You never know.
WOODRUFF: I know that this has been a long road. Think you're going to spend... (AUDIO GAP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we go. Stand by.
AMANPOUR: Is it done now? Another issue that you're obviously intimately familiar with, because you've suffered traumatic injuries with IED in Iraq, is the catastrophic injuries that many of these vets are coming back with. At the Walter Reed Hospital, you spoke with an Army corporal about the situation and about her possible recovery. Let's just play what you said to her and what she said to you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: How long do you think this recovery is going to take?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe a lifetime for the mentally (ph). You never know.
WOODRUFF: I know that this has been a long road. Think you're going to spend a year walking better, dealing with PTSD you've got? Or do you think this is long-term for much of your life?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think definitely the PTSD and TBI is more a life thing. But the walking, I think we can -- I think we can overcome and just take it for what it is and be glad that I'm still here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: TBI, traumatic brain injury. How are they getting the help? And is it better now than it was?
WOODRUFF: Well, that's getting a lot better than it ever was before. You know, this was such a mystery when we came to this war. We did not really anticipate there'd be so many of these kinds of injuries in terms of IED explosions, you know, what we call invisible injuries, you know. These wounds you can't see sometimes.
So those that have it, there's still the stigma problem. People don't want to necessarily admit or talk publicly about the fact that they've got something like PTSD combat stress. But that's changing very quickly. So as that happens and we learn more about the brain. We know about the livers. We know about the kidneys. We just don't know much about the brain. That's getting better, but that's going to take some time.
AMANPOUR: And in terms of the attention that the American people are paying to this, many of them are out of sight and therefore out of mind. I also want to play what Corporal Coleman (ph) said about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: You think that us in the media are just not reporting enough about what's happening?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If a soldier gets killed, you all cover it. I think it's important that you all cover more about the wounded warriors, because I mean, look around. There's hundreds of wounded warriors here. Walter Reed's overflowing with patients.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: You are a wounded warrior in our ranks, in the ranks of journalism. What do you say on this holiday weekend to what she just told you?
WOODRUFF: I think anytime somebody meets somebody that was injured, they want to do everything they can. I've definitely seen that. A lot of times, in your community, in your neighborhood, you might not know anybody, because it's only about 1 percent of the people in the country are serving. If you do meet them, you want to do it.
It's just -- I think when people don't want to do something, it's because it's a different world. You know, the rest of us have a different world, and their world is over here. Once it comes together...
AMANPOUR: And you have really, with your wife, Lee, taken on this mission of raising funds, of raising awareness for the walking wounded who come back.
WOODRUFF: There is so much nonprofit help, as you're saying. Stuff like Jericho, for example, helping the homeless, because there's gaps. You know, the government is doing a lot, more and more all the time, but there needs -- all these holes we've got to fill up, what happens between Walter Reed and their community when they get home. So you fill this gap and you help everything from education to help the physical help to health care. All those things needs to be done in the private world, as well.
AMANPOUR: Bob, thank you very much indeed. Thanks a lot. WE'RE NOW JOINED BY GENERAL PETER CHIARELLII, VICE-CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE U.S. ARMY.
HE WAS LAST ON THIS PROGRAM IN AUGUST TO DISCUSS SOME OF THE CHALLENGES FACING SERVICEMEMBERS WHEN THEY COME HOME.
AMANPOUR: So welcome back to this program.
GEN. PETER CHIARELLI, VICE CHIEF OF STAFF, U.S. ARMY: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: And I want to ask you, I mean, it's painful looking at that report that Bob did. Do you think America is meeting its moral obligation to the people who she sends out to fight the battles for freedom and against terrorism?
CHIARELLI: Well, I think we're doing everything we possibly can to learn as much as we can about the brain. And that's really the issue. It's -- it's trying to understand the brain as well as we do the other organs in the body.
AMANPOUR: The moral obligation: why are these people homeless to begin with? Why is that possible?
CHIARELLI: Part of the problem is posttraumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, and getting them the help that they need. One of the things that we're trying to do, all the services are doing, is through our Wounded Warrior programs, is take those soldiers who are wounded most seriously and put them into programs where the Army is -- warrior treatment facilities that we have. We ensure that they get the help that they need and their transition from the military to civilian life is not done without ensuring that they're in the V.A. system.
AMANPOUR: You mentioned transition, and one of the things that Bob was talking about is this hard transition between coming home, basically, lights off, lights on, at war and then not at war, in fact, overnight. How does one help them with the transition?
CHIARELLI: Well, we're working very, very hard to get at high-risk behavior. What we see is a soldier who's down range for 12 months in a very high adrenaline environment, where every single day, he or she finds themself facing an enemy. And they come home, and many times, want to replicate that.
We're looking at programs that, first of all, ensure that we are identifying early on those who are going to have a rough time reintegrating. And then taking soldiers and putting them in high-stress kind of events that are safe for them, such as water rafting and out doing those kind of sports to burn off that adrenaline, rather than getting on a motorcycle and traveling down the road at 100 miles an hour without a helmet on.
AMANPOUR: But do you think when it comes to, for instance, homelessness, that it's high-risk behavior that is responsible for that?
CHIARELLI: I think we have to do a better job of ensuring that all soldiers, not just those that are seriously wounded that we see, but those that may not be, are informed of the services that are available to them and so none of them leave the service, like the young man did, and find themselves in a situation where they have nowhere to live.
AMANPOUR: And how dramatically are these repeated deployment affecting them? I mean, withstand, doing the math, as Bob did, 2 million American servicemen and women have been rotated through Iraq and Afghanistan.
CHIARELLI: You want to get at these issues, we need more time at home before deployment. I was just down range, and I went to an aviation for a day of about 1,500 folks. Those senior pilots in that unit (ph), those individuals who have been flying mission after mission, 62 percent of whom are on their third -- their third deployment, and over 40 -- 40 percent, almost 40 percent were on their fourth deployment, with very, very little time at home.
AMANPOUR: Huge. Those numbers are huge.
CHIARELLI: They're huge.
AMANPOUR: And not enough time at home means what on the ground? And when they finally...
CHIARELLI: It affects everything. It affects the divorce rate. It affects substance abuse. It affects everything. And we've kind of taken our focus and shifted it to ensure that we're getting at that.
You know, the problem with posttraumatic stress is that in the United States, the National Institute of Mental Health will tell you, for regular civilians, it is 12 years between the initiating event and when someone first seeks help. Now the issue there isn't that they finally seek help. It's all the things that happen in between. Everything from high-risk behavior to drug abuse to prescription drug abuse, anger management issues, to divorce. I mean, those kinds of things are affected when people don't get treated for posttraumatic stress.
AMANPOUR: And again, we've been talking about the stigma of that. And I think you in the military have been trying to address that. And there is a public service announcement that some of the -- those who have been awarded with the highest recognition, the Medal of Honor winners, have reported. Let's just put that up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I put the war on every morning, and I take it off every night.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like you, I have experience with challenges of war.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you return from combat and have concerns about your mental health...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... the tools and the resources are here now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Use some of those services and stay strong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be courageous. Ask for help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember your warrior ethos: refuse to accept defeat. Never quit. Don't let the enemy defeat you at home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHIARELLI: I need to tell you a little story about that. We were looking for a way to get the word out to soldiers that, first off, we thought we'd go to NFL football players. We know the issues that they're having with traumatic brain injury and concussion. I know someone came up with the idea, after we talked to some Medal of Honor recipients, hey, why don't we talk to them? Why don't we see if some of them would be willing to make that, because these are truly the folks that soldiers look up to.
AMANPOUR: Is it making a difference?
CHIARELLI: It's making a huge difference. We are finally starting to get at the stigma. We're not there, and as the chief says, he used to go into a room and ask 100 people, "How many people think that, if they went and sought help, it would affect their career?" and he'd get 90 hands up. Now he goes into a room and asks the same question and 50 hands come up. So we're making progress, but we've got to keep on it.
I brief every single brigade combat team that goes to Iraq today. The leadership of that brigade, I do a video teleconference where we talk about traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress and try to explain to them what happens in the body when this occurs and that they've got to seek help.
AMANPOUR: Do you think you might go the NFL route? Because they're also heroes and macho men?
CHIARELLI: We've got to first understand more about posttraumatic stress and TBI. One of the things we've done is we've instituted Resilience Centers down range. I was just down range.
AMANPOUR: Down range means you were on the ground in Afghanistan? You spent a week...
CHIARELLI: I was on the ground in Afghanistan. And if you go to the east, if you go to the south, and if you see the Resilience Centers that we've established for soldiers who are in blast, any soldier...
AMANPOUR: Sorry, what's a Resilience Center?
CHIARELLI: A Resilience Center is somewhere where a soldier goes in the event he's in a blast. If he's in a vehicle that's damaged, is he's within 15 meters of a blast and he's outside. If he's in a building with a blast or if he loses consciousness, that individual is evaluated. Even if they pass that first evaluation and do not have a concussion, they're not allowed in the fight for 24 hours.
Sometimes the symptoms of concussion don't display themselves for 24 hours. We give them a second evaluation, and if they pass that, they in fact go back to duty. If they fail either one of those in that 24-hour period, they go to a resilience center where we rest them until the brain has had an opportunity to heal from that concussion.
AMANPOUR: And before that, you would have just rotated them back onto duty?
CHIARELLI: Before that, we had soldiers who knew that they'd had a concussion, knew that they had had their, quote, "bell rung," and they did nothing about it.
AMANPOUR: Let me play you something that the physical therapist at Walter Reed told Bob Woodruff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The amount of injuries that are now, like double and triple amputees, that's increased a lot. We have many more, like, amputees that are missing two, three, some four limbs, where initially it was just much more usual to have, like, a below-knee amputee or an above-knee amputee. Now there's a lot of doubles and triples, you know. That's been a big change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, she's describing the affects of what appear to be much bigger, more devastating bombs. Is that right? Is that right?
CHIARELLI: That's right. You know, I spent 20 -- I spent an entire day with 24 of the finest researchers in TBI and PTS, and they told me there are genetic factors. Some people are more prone in a blast to get a concussion than other people because of the way their body is made up. We know in treating PTS the closer you treat PTS to the event that occurs, the more likely you are to help that individual. So much so that they told me that, if the event occurs in the morning, it's very important that you bring the individual's anxiety level down before they go to sleep that night, because in REM sleep, something happens in the brain that causes an individual to remember that and make the PTS harder to treat.
AMANPOUR: So there's so much new information coming out about this.
CHIARELLI: Well, there's so much research doing -- being done. And we need to do more research. You know, no one's -- no one's complaining about the way that we are working with amputees and the research that's being done there. The issue is, we just don't know that much about the brain. We automatically assume so many times that a person that's in a blast has a concussion. Many times, they don't have a concussion. Instead, they have posttraumatic stress.
AMANPOUR: You saw also the lady, the intelligence specialist, chemical specialist in Bob's report who is homeless. Why is it that women service members have higher rates of homelessness, unemployment and suicide?
CHIARELLI: Well, the suicide, their numbers are, in fact, down from men. I mean, the majority of my suicides are definitely men.
One of the issues we're seeing with women is in child custody cases. And the fact that -- and we're seeing it in men, too. When an individual leaves, and many times divorces are a very, very ugly thing, with folks fighting back and forth to see who's going to keep the kids. And every state law is different, and we find women in certain situations in some states and men in some states where their absence for a deployment, the fact that they're out for 12 months, gives the other individual in that state an advantage in a child custody case.
And I get these e-mails all the time. We work as hard as we can to help soldiers understand what their rights are.
AMANPOUR: And we talk about health care rights. A report by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America calls the disability claims system antiquated and deeply flawed and so that the V.A. benefits systems has a backlog of about a million benefit claims for all veterans and some waiting months, even years just to clarify their medical disability status.
What can be done to cut through this red tape for these people who have been fighting your wars?
CHIARELLI: First of all, the partnership we have with the V.A. today is better than it's ever been before. And I say a lot of that's because of General Retired Shinseki. He understands us, and we work very, very closely with him.
But the disability evaluation system is a World War II relic. It was designed for a whole different force coming out of World War II.
AMANPOUR: So when is it going to be fixed?
CHIARELLI: Not an all-volunteer force. Well, that -- Congress has been busy doing a whole bunch of other things.
AMANPOUR: But when should it be fixed?
CHIARELLI: Well, we need to fix it right now. We need to take this one on. We need to understand that a volunteer army is totally different from the Army we had in World War II, that it is a totally different kind of soldier in today's Army and throughout the services, and we've got to fix that system.
AMANPOUR: General Chiarelli, thank you so much for joining us.
CHIARELLI: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Appreciate it.
(FILE VIDEO) WHITFIELD: Breaking story out of Afghanistan. CLAIBORNE: A daring escape. A 'New York Times" reporter David Rohde was abducted more than seven months ago. WHITFIELD: David Rohde. MUIR: David Rohde of the New York Times vanished in the forbidding mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Tonight, he is a free man. (06/20) CLAIBORNE: This weekend he managed to get away from his captors. WHITFIELD: He found his way to a Pakistani army scout, was able to get help and now we understand, according to the "New York Times" reporting that he is at an American base in Bagram.
AMANPOUR: THOSE BREAKING NEWS REPORTS CAME IN JUNE 2009, AFTER PULITZER PRIZE WINNING NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER DAVID ROHDE ESCAPED FROM TALIBAN CAPTIVITY.
IN NOVEMBER 2008, ROHDE HAD BEEN REPORTING FROM AFGHANISTAN, WHEN HE AGREED TO AN IN-PERSON INTERVIEW WITH A TALIBAN COMMANDER OUTSIDE OF KABUL.
BUT THE PLANNED INTERVIEW TURNED INTO AN AMBUSH, AS ROHDE WAS KIDNAPPED AND TAKEN TO THE VOLATILE BORDER REGION OF NORTH WAZIRISTAN IN PAKISTAN, A TALIBAN AND AL QAEDA STRONGHOLD.
SEVEN MONTHS LATER, ROHDE AND HIS AFGHAN COLLEAGUE MADE A DARING, MIDDLE-OF-THE-NIGHT ESCAPE AS THEIR CAPTORS SLEPT, USING A ROPE TO SCALE THE WALLS OF THEIR COMPOUND AND MAKE THEIR WAY TO SAFE HAVEN AT A NEARBY PAKISTANI MILITIA BASE.
WE'RE JOINED NOW BY DAVID ROHDE AND HIS WIFE KRISTEN MULVIHILL [MULL-VEE-HILL], WHOSE NEW BOOK "A ROPE AND A PRAYER: A KIDNAPPING FROM TWO SIDES" SHOWS THE IMPACT OF WAR ON THEIR FAMILY THROUGH DAVID'S HARROWING SEVEN-MONTH, TEN-DAY CAPTIVITY.
AMANPOUR: I actually want to ask you why you decided to write it in the he-said/she-said narrative.
DAVID ROHDE, CO-AUTHOR, "A ROPE AND A PRAYER": We thought it was important to show both sides of the story. And, you know, we got this attention, but there are thousands of families in the military. There are diplomats, aid workers, all working overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan, in so many countries. And you don't see the other side of it.
And what Kristen went through is just as important, if not more important, to what I went through.
AMANPOUR: Well, David obviously got all of the attention.
KRISTEN MULVIHILL, CO-AUTHOR, "A ROPE AND A PRAYER": Yes.
AMANPOUR: What was it that you wanted to say about the spouse being at home?
MULVIHILL: Yes. I mean, I hope the story resonates beyond kidnapping. You know, there are military families that are separated from their loved ones for months at a time. And so I hope it resonates with anyone dealing with separation or in a position to make life and death decisions for a spouse when they're unable to do so for themselves.
And we just hope it personalizes the war, puts a personal face on the issue.
AMANPOUR: As for you, you are a professional. You are a photo editor.
AMANPOUR: You are here working at Cosmopolitan magazine, while your husband was in captivity.
MULVIHILL: Exactly. And we kept the case out of the news, which was something the family felt very strongly about. We did not want it publicized. So I went about my daily activities at work as a photo producer.
AMANPOUR: Why did you decide to keep it out of the news? Did you -- why did The New York Time want to do that, David?
ROHDE: There was a general consensus among sort of security experts that when you're dealing with militants who want to defy Western opinion that sort of publicly pressuring them won't work, it will actually raise value. / If it's a government, if it's Iran, North Korea, go public. If it's a young militant, it doesn't help, it just raises the hostage's value.
AMANPOUR: And yet you recount that you did tell the militants that they could get money and prisoners released from Guantanamo.
ROHDE: I did. That was after…
AMANPOUR: On whose authority did you tell them that?
ROHDE: I -- it was an effort, frankly, to save our lives. I was very worried about the lives of my two Afghan colleagues. In past kidnappings, the first thing they did was kill an Afghan to create the pressure.
And one of the problems we saw in writing this is that some governments do pay. There have been a past case, an Italian journalist, five prisoners released. There were some Korean hostages. There were rumors of millions being paid for them.
But I was told an al Jazeera film crew was on the way. Some Arab militants are coming with them, and they're going to decapitate you. I then said, you can get money and prisoners for us.
AMANPOUR: What was going through your head? You had just been married. You hadn't told Kristen…
AMANPOUR: … that you were going off to do something this dangerous. And was the right thing to do?
ROHDE: It was the wrong thing to do. You know, I regret the decision. It was completely unfair to her. I'll always regret it. I let competition get the best of me. ///Dozens of journalists have safely interviewed the Taliban. And I wanted us to be the best foot possible.
But I lost my way and I shouldn't have gotten so competitive.
AMANPOUR: Well, I ask you about that because your book is called "A Rope and a Prayer." Prayer, faith sustained you.
MULVIHILL: It did actually, and family. I had a practice -- I was raised Catholic, and I really sort of fell back on prayer as the way to, you know, surrender without giving up. I ultimately knew the outcome was not going to be up to me. And it really helped me maintained positivity and find that intention.
Written prayer, actually, when I couldn't find that within myself. It kept me going.
AMANPOUR: You were not religious.
ROHDE: No. And even from our time reporting in Bosnia, you know, we've seen, you know, religion taken to extremes can be a very destructive force. And I was with these young militants who had been deluded into thinking was a religious war.
They despised me because I was unclean. They said because I wasn't Muslim, they didn't want to eat food from the same plate as me. They believed that the U.S. Army was, you know, forcibly converting Afghan Muslims to Christianity.
But I, in my time in captivity did end up saying prayers myself. I don't know, I'm still skeptical about organized religion.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, because given that it was secret, the fact that he had been kidnapped, a lot of us knew, none of us published. It was a little James Bond-y the way you went after his release.
MULVIHILL: Yes, it was. It was. And we did a bunch of things. You know, the FBI swooped in very early on to tell the family how the case might progress. But they can't negotiate. They can't exchange funds for prisoners.
So we hired a private security team to try to negotiate on the phone with the Taliban. I also had a friend by the name of Michael Simple who was based in the region who advised me. I tried to send in notes to David through Taliban elders. I don't know if they ever got to him or to the elders.
I even, in fact, made a video at the request of a mullah close to the kidnappers that were holding him. He suggested, you know, the kidnappers have sent you several videos, why don't you send one back, it might be a nice gesture.
AMANPOUR: And you spoke to some of them on the phone.
MULVIHILL: I did. I was called at home twice. It was very surreal. They would always call with a stipulation that I look at the phone number and call them back. They didn't want to pay for the calls. So it was adding insult to injury.
But it always gave me pause. It gave me a moment to catch my breath and sort of figure out what to say. Our conversations were highly scripted. Between demanding millions of dollars and prisoners, they would say, you know, we're going to go off and pray and, Inshallah, we'll get back to you.
So it was a very strange thing.
AMANPOUR: And how long did it take for them to ever get back to you?
MULVIHILL: You know, it would be weeks at a time. And it wouldn't necessarily be by telephone. It may be through an emissary.
AMANPOUR: What did learn from these Taliban who had you? Are they more radical than you thought, less? What did you learn from them?
ROHDE: / They're very radical. It's very dangerous. I was held in the same place where Faisal Shahzad, the young man who tried to set off a truck bomb in Times Square, where he was trained.
Nothing has changed since I escaped from captivity 17 months ago. The Obama administration has repeatedly asked the Pakistani military to remove this. It's a mini-state. They train suicide bombers. They do whatever they want.
And the problem continues today. And they're carrying out cross-border attacks and killing American servicemen from this place.
AMANPOUR: And, indeed, the Afghan review -- the war review suggested that even the fragile progress that is being made in Afghanistan is threatened precisely from North Waziristan.
Do you see any willingness, in your continued reporting, by the Pakistanis to really crack down on that?
ROHDE: It's all about India. And as long there's this India-Pakistan rivalry, the Pakistanis, they continue to see the Taliban as proxies they can use to stop India from coming in and making inroads in Afghanistan.
You know, Richard Holbrooke was trying to do this. He was trying to sort of reduce tensions between India and Pakistan. There are assurances that we can, you know, make to the Pakistanis, maybe ask the Indians to back off in Afghanistan.
The Pakistani military is a rational actor. They don't agree with the Taliban. They're not secretly Islamists. So I think there is a solution. You know, I think we have to keep trying. And it's this regional dynamic that will stabilize Afghanistan.
AMANPOUR: So while he's thinking geopolitics in his particular area of reporting, captive there…
MULVIHILL: Yes, exactly.
AMANPOUR: … and still, you having to go about your daily work as a photo editor at Cosmopolitan, chatting with your colleagues. How did that -- I mean, how?
MULVIHILL: It was very tough. I mean, actually, two weeks into the captivity…
AMANPOUR: Without telling them?
MULVIHILL: Yes, two weeks into the captivity I told the editor-in-chief. And she kept that secret throughout. She was tremendous. As the time dragged on, I had to tell more people. But it was very strange the first few months.
You know, I would be planning shoots and in the office, and I would get a call from the FBI, you know, we have a video communication of David, can you duck out and meet us, you know, in front of Starbucks on 52nd Street?
So it really was kind of like leading a double life.
AMANPOUR: And you were able to call Kristen a couple of times.
ROHDE: Yes. They were very technologically adept. They had throughout a satellite phone. They called on cell phones. And they even Googled me. So there was -- what was so interesting was that they were kind of globalization is happening in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan. But they pick and choose whatever information sort of fits their conspiracy theories.
AMANPOUR: So what information about you fit their conspiracy theories as they Googled you?
ROHDE: They, you know, basically saw the West as sort of hedonistic. They said that they hated The New York Times because it supported secularism, therefore they were their enemies. // They were so deluded that they thought that the -- if you remember the kidnapping of the Somali pirates -- I'm sorry, the American sea captain by Somali pirates, they said, oh, no, no, those three pirates weren't shot. The United States government secretly paid a $25 million ransom.
I mean, that's completely false. But that was the expectation they had.
AMANPOUR: After being there for seven months, how did you make the decision finally to decide to escape?
ROHDE: Our captors' initial demands were $25 million and 15 prisoners being released from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. After seven months they had reduced their demands to $8 million and the release of four prisoners.
They told me every day they had me they were delivering massive political blows to the American government. I mean, I said my case isn't even public, people don't care, I came to interview the Taliban, people are angry at me.
And they were just delusional, and we just decided the only way, you know, we could end this would be to try to escape. And they moved us to this house that was very close to that Pakistani base.
And we didn't think it would work, and it did. We were so lucky.
AMANPOUR: And you snuck out while they were asleep?
ROHDE:// We had a ceiling fan in the room where we slept with the guards and there was an old air conditioner called a "cooler," and it made a tremendous amount of noise.
And that was what made us -- you know, with the power back on, we decided that that kind of covered up the sound we made. And I found the rope -- it was a car tow rope, and we made it to the roof, lowered ourselves down that wall and, you know, it was just a miracle.
AMANPOUR: And by the time -- how did you hear he was released?
MULVIHILL: David called home and my mother picked up. And she took notes on Post-It pads so when I ran home there were all of these little stickies strewn across the living room. And very quickly we got on the phone.
We called The New York Times and they sent the editor over to the house. And between the three of us, you know, we contacted Hillary Clinton, we contacted Richard Holbrooke who had been fantastic throughout.
And they in turn contacted the Pakistanis. They said, we know where David is, please make sure he is exited safely from the region.
AMANPOUR: Meantime, as Kristen was doing that, you had barely escaped with your life. Well, the Pakistanis thought that they might need to shoot you.
ROHDE: There was -- we got to the edge, we went over that wall. She talked about we get to this base. We're nearly shot because, you know, I have beard down to here, I'm in local clothes.
They take us on this base -- and I really to emphasize this, this very brave young Pakistani captain, he was a moderate. And he apologized to me for the kidnapping, allowed us on the base, let me make that crucial call home, because I thought other Pakistani officers might hand us back to the Taliban.
There are moderates in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Most of the population opposes the Taliban. And I'm here today because a moderate Afghan and a moderate Pakistani helped me.
And I think it's vital that people know that. And we want this book to be more about moderates in a sense than about my kidnappers.
AMANPOUR: And do you allow your husband to go back to Afghanistan?
MULVIHILL: Well, I actually didn't have to tell him not to go back again. He came to that conclusion on his own.
AMANPOUR: And do you want to go back?
ROHDE: No, I don't. My days as a war correspondent. And I'm, you know, just so lucky to be home.
And, again, we wrote this because we're just one small story. This is kind of this hidden war that most Americans -- it doesn't really affect their daily lives. Such a small percentage of Americans serve in the military or overseas.
So, you know, this is just one small story of what's happening. There's tens of thousands of Americans as well as, you know, average Afghans and Pakistanis.
AMANPOUR: Well, thank you both very much, indeed. David, Kristen, thanks very much, indeed. And I hope people read it and get that message from you both. Thanks.
MULVIHILL: Thank you.
ROHDE: Thank you.