June 23, 2020

Veterans: Frontline Concerns

U.S. veterans returning home have unique physical, financial and emotional challenges. Join Washington Post Live on Tuesday, June 23 at 12:00 p.m. ET, as Washington Post columnist David Ignatius speaks with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) about her new bill which aims to ease veterans transition to civilian life, with greater job opportunities and access to education. Rep. Mark Green (D-Tenn.) will then discuss his tour of duty in Afghanistan and two tours of duty in Iraq, and how that led him to prioritize medical care for veterans. Kathryn Monet, CEO of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, will join Green and explain how minority veterans are being severely affected by COVID-19, and ways that veterans can avoid the scourge of homelessness.
Full Segments
The transition from military to civilian life can be daunting for many veterans. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) talks with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius about the challenges returning veterans face as they seek health care, enter the job market, and look to get back into the rhythm of civilian life.
  • Jun 24
Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) and Kathryn Monet, CEO of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, speak with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius about the challenges returning veterans face as they seek health care, enter the job market, and look to get back into the rhythm of civilian life.
  • Jun 24
Highlights
In an interview with the Washington Post Live, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) talked about the many issues facing veterans as they transition back into civilian life after serving overseas.
  • Jun 23
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) says that the U.S. has no national strategy to combat coronavirus and that it will have an impact on the 2020 presidential election. ‘We have more deaths than anywhere else in the world.’
  • Jun 23
National Coalition for Homeless Veterans CEO Kathryn Monet says that while they only make up 12 percent of the total veteran population, "33 percent of homeless veterans are black."
  • Jun 23
Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), a cancer survivor, says there are significant health implications for K2 veterans who have been exposed to toxic elements. “I hear all the time of people who were assigned at K2 and have died of… cancer. These are young people in the prime of their lives that have sacrificed for our freedom and it’s time we gave their families some answers”
  • Jun 23
Sen. Debbie Stabenow
(D-Mich.)
Debbie Stabenow made history in 2000 when she became the first woman from Michigan elected to the United States Senate. She is known for her ability to build coalitions and get things done for Michigan and our nation. After hearing from veterans about the difficulty of transitioning from the military to civilian life, Senator Stabenow introduced the bipartisan IMPROVE Transition for Servicemembers Act. It ensures that returning servicemembers have better access to community resources including employment, housing, and other services. It was signed into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Senator Stabenow is a national leader of the effort to make sure people have quality, affordable health care, including mental health care and addiction treatment. She led the fight to open new and expanded VA clinics across the state of Michigan. In 2014, her Excellence in Mental Health Act was signed into law, marking one of the most significant steps forward in community mental health funding in decades. The law requires certified community behavioral health clinics to provide intensive, community-based mental health care for members of the armed forces and veterans. And it requires care coordination across settings, including VA medical centers and outpatient clinics. She’s currently fighting to expand the program nationwide.
Rep. Mark Green
(R-Tenn.)
Congressman Mark Green took the oath of office to represent the 7th district of Tennessee on January 3, 2019. It is the exact oath he first took as a cadet, on the historic Plain at West Point more than thirty years earlier. A successful business leader, decorated combat veteran, and ER physician, Green served in Tennessee State Senate before his election to Congress. Throughout his life, first in the Army and then as a Tennessee State Senator, Mark’s love for our country’s founding principles has inspired his service. His life experiences make him ideally suited to serve Tennesseans of the 7th district. Congressman Green’s experience building a successful healthcare company equips him to to take on wasteful spending and over regulation. His 24 years of service, between the Academy, active duty Army and Army Reserves -- including two trips to Iraq and one to Afghanistan -- have impressed upon him the need for strong American leadership internationally, a globally responsive military and a well-cared for military family.
Kathryn Monet
CEO, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
Kathryn Monet is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. In this role, she focuses on the execution of NCHV’s strategic policy and technical assistance agenda, and on expanding NCHV’s strategic partnerships to more effectively end veteran homelessness. Kathryn has spent over eight years in the public and nonprofit sector working to address housing instability and homelessness among veterans. Prior to joining NCHV, she was with the National Alliance to End Homelessness focusing on the promotion of data-driven, evidence-based interventions to end homelessness, particularly among veterans. Kathryn also was involved in veteran homelessness in a legislative capacity during her time at the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. She earned a Masters of Public Administration from Villanova University and a Bachelor of Science in Diplomacy and International Relations from Seton Hall University.
Content from Wounded Warrior Project
Wounded Warrior Project’s Vice President of Financial Wellness, Tom Kastner, and WWP’s Communications Director, Joe Plenzler, will discuss the challenges veterans face in accessing benefits, healthcare, and employment, and how WWP is helping them thrive and live life on their own terms.
  • Jun 23
Tom Kastner
Vice President of Financial Wellness, Wounded Warrior Project
Tom Kastner serves Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) as financial wellness vice president. In this position, Tom provides strategic vision, operational oversight, and leadership to the program areas of Warriors to Work, Veterans Benefits, the Resource Center (Call Center), Alumni Registration, and the Emergency Financial Assistance program. Before joining WWP, Tom worked at the senior manager level for Mercedes Benz, USA and Amazon, LLC. In addition, he served as a senior administrator and academic dean at two different private military boarding schools. A graduate of the United States Military Academy, Tom retired from active duty after a 30-year career as an infantry officer and operations research analyst. Tom earned a Ph.D. in industrial engineering and MS in statistics from Georgia Tech, a MS in applied mathematics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a MA in national strategic studies from the Naval War College. Tom and his wife, Pam, have been married for 31 years. They have two adult children who both served as commissioned officers until leaving the military in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Tom and Pam enjoy the beach, playing cribbage, reading, and are grateful to have been rescued by their amazing dogs, Boots and Pi.
Joe Plenzler
Director of Communications, Wounded Warrior Project
Joe Plenzler is a director of communications at the Wounded Warrior Project. He served as an infantry officer and public affairs officer in the United States Marine Corps from 1995 to 2015 and is a decorated combat veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. From 2002 to 2003 he planned and executed the largest media embed program in Marine Corps history during the invasion of Iraq. In 2005, Joe served as the senior U.S. military spokesperson in Medan & Banda Aceh, Indonesia during the disaster relief mission in the wake of the December 2004 Boxing Day tsunami that devastated much of Northern Sumatra. From 2008 to 2009, he ran the Marine Corps' Drill Instructor School. During the last five years of his Marine Corps career, he served in the Pentagon as the spokesman, press secretary, and staff group director for the 34th, 35th, and 36th Commandants of the Marine Corps. Joe retired after 20 years of active duty service in 2015 and became the executive vice president of marketing and membership at the U.S. Naval Institute. Beginning in 2017, he served as the national director of media relations for America’s largest veteran service organization. In October 2018, he joined the Wounded Warrior Project as the communications director of their Washington office. Joe has frequently appeared on national television and his writings have been published in national outlets to include the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, the Daily Beast, and Defense One.
June 16, 2020
The men and women of today’s U.S. military are fighting battles and facing challenges long after they leave the battlefield and return home. We’re learning more every day about the long-term health effects of exposure to toxic combat conditions in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We’ll hear from Senate Veterans Affairs member Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). and Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.), who is also a medical doctor, on their legislative efforts to ensure veterans receive the highest quality of healthcare. McClatchy reporter Tara Copp will join Ruiz to share what she’s learned from her exclusive investigations into two decades of potential toxic exposures to American soldiers.
Comedian and longtime veterans advocate Jon Stewart and Wounded Warrior Project director of Government Affairs Derek Fronabarger will also join to discuss their latest efforts on behalf of veterans facing health consequences from exposure to burn pits.
Join Washington Post Live on Tuesday, June 16 at 12:00 p.m. ET, as Washington Post columnist David Ignatius puts a spotlight on the medical challenges facing those who served their country with distinction.
Full Segments
Senate Veterans Affairs member Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). shares the legislative efforts he’s working on to ensure veterans receive the highest quality of healthcare.
  • Jun 16
Comedian and longtime veterans advocate Jon Stewart and Wounded Warrior Project director of Government Affairs Derek Fronabarger discuss their latest efforts on behalf of veterans facing health consequences from exposure to burn pits.
  • Jun 16
Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.), who is also a medical doctor, shares the legislative efforts he’s working on to ensure veterans receive the highest quality of healthcare. McClatchy reporter Tara Copp joins Ruiz to share what she’s learned from her exclusive investigations into two decades of potential toxic exposures to American soldiers.
  • Jun 16
Highlights
Sen. Thom Tillis says we need to get ahead of the issue of toxic exposure to make sure veterans get health care they need. ‘This should never be about money. This should be about providing care to servicemembers and veterans.’
  • Jun 16
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) says he supports Gen. Mark Milley saying involvement of the military and the expulsion of protestors by police in Lafayette Square was inappropriate. “The Insurrection Act is there for a reason…We have to use that judiciously…We have a National Guard, they do a great job…I did not want to see the situation escalate. I didn’t want the yelling to drown out the legitimate grievances.”
  • Jun 16
Comedian and longtime veterans advocate Jon Stewart said he believes war profiteers should have to pay a contingency for those who suffer from the effects of war, similar to how oil and gas companies pay after spills. ‘I would like to see the people who profit off of war have to kick in for the people who suffer from the effects of it...I think war profiteers should kick in a 10 percent contingency plan...’
  • Jun 16
Wounded Warrior Project’s Derek Fronabarger says that while there’s no scientific evidence that veterans who were exposed to burn pits are at higher risk for COVID-19, it’s not a big step to say that those with a deteriorated lung capacity could suffer complications if they contract the virus.
  • Jun 16
Rep. Raul Ruiz says the Pentagon has been slow to recognize the seriousness of toxic exposure. He explained the four-pronged public health approach he believes is needed to get veterans the care they need.
  • Jun 16
McClatchy reporter Tara Copp says veterans who served at Karshi-Khanabad in Uzbekistan , also known as K2, cannot register on the VA’s Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry because K2 is not a recognized site on the registry, making those veterans ‘invisible.’
  • Jun 16
Speakers
Sen. Thom Tillis
(R-N.C.)
Sen. Thom Tillis was born into a working-class family with his father and mother and five siblings. During his childhood, his family was frequently forced to relocate depending on where his parents could find work. After graduating from high school, Thom was unable to afford college, so he took a job as a warehouse records clerk earning minimum wage. He knows firsthand how difficult it is to raise a family while attending school at night, struggling to make ends meet. Fueled by a desire to make a difference in his local community, Thom’s involvement in public service began by serving as the PTA president of his daughter’s high school and as a member of the Town of Cornelius Board of Commissioners. In 2006, he was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives and was selected by his peers to serve as Speaker of the House from 2011 to 2014. As Speaker, Thom played an instrumental role in enacting job-creating policies and reforming North Carolina’s tax and regulatory codes. Thom was elected as U.S. Senator in 2014 and he has focused on pragmatic solutions and delivering results for North Carolina.
Tara Copp
National Military and Veterans Affairs Correspondent, McClatchy
Tara Copp is the military and veterans affairs correspondent for McClatchy. She has reported throughout the Middle East, Asia and Europe to cover defense policy and its impact on the lives of service members. She was previously the Pentagon bureau chief for Military Times, the Pentagon correspondent for Stars and Stripes and a senior defense analyst for the U.S. Government Accountability Office. She is the author of the award-winning book “The Warbird: Three Heroes. Two Wars. One Story.”
Rep. Raul Ruiz
(D-Calif.)
U.S. Representative Raul Ruiz, MD, grew up in the community of Coachella, California, where both of his parents were farmworkers. Dr. Ruiz achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a physician through public education. Dr. Ruiz returned home after completing his medical training and began working as an Emergency Room doctor at Eisenhower Medical Center. Recognizing the physician shortage crisis in the Coachella Valley, Dr. Ruiz started a pre-medical mentorship program for young aspiring doctors, which has grown to include over 100 local students. The program became part of the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine, where Dr. Ruiz served as a Senior Associate Dean. Through the group Volunteers in Medicine, he helped to open a free clinic to help underserved communities in the Coachella Valley. In 2010, Dr. Ruiz started the Coachella Valley Healthcare Initiative, which brought together stakeholders from across the region to address the local healthcare crisis. He has also worked internationally in the medical community. The U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne awarded him the Commanders Award for Public Service for his work. Dr. Ruiz continued his work as an Emergency Room Doctor until he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012. He represents California’s 36th District, which includes the entire Coachella Valley, as well as the cities of Banning, Beaumont, Blythe, Hemet and San Jacinto. He resides in Palm Desert, CA.
Jon Stewart
Comedian and Veterans Advocate
Derek Fronabarger
WWP Government Affairs Director and TEAM Community Organizer
Moderated by David Ignatius
The Washington Post
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