Discussing Veterans' Issues with Tavis Smiley

I appeared on Tavis Smiley last night to talk about In Their Boots and the issues facing veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now in its second season, In Their Boots is a Brave New Foundation series highlighting the reality that when the war ends for these brave men and women, the problems for them and their families continue. As I explained to Tavis, who always probes and asks questions of real substance, these problems require immense resources, particularly since it seems our country wasn't prepared for the scope and magnitude of so many veterans returning home from two drawn-out wars. Executive Producer Rick Perez and his In Their Boots team have been telling the powerful stories of these vets in a truthful and gripping fashion.

There are over 33,000 troops who were injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, and countless more in need of psychological help who have yet to come forward. Fortunately, we're seeing President Obama make good on his campaign promises to assist veterans. Just last week, Obama announced an overhaul of military and VA recordkeeping, as well as a substantial increase in advance funding for VA healthcare.

As IAVA's Paul Rieckhoff wrote, "Advance funding VA healthcare and an overhaul of military and VA recordkeeping will eliminate two of the most significant bureaucratic hurdles that keep veterans from the healthcare and benefits they have earned. Veterans nationwide applaud the Administration for making veterans and their families a priority."

Now, we need to build on this momentum with a strong commitment to provide more services and resources for our vets. And we need to distance ourselves from a military culture and its psychological hurdles that preclude vets from seeking much needed help.


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