tv The Stream Al Jazeera May 24, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm EDT
i am lease will a fletcher. you are in "the stream"? >> all of my crew is now gone. i only have two friends left from my flying group. and it brings back a lot of memories. >> on memorial day, we remember those who died in serviced to our country. today, we are also remembering those who have been forgotten.
>> we are here bringing in all of your feedback throughout the show. there is no question america would not be what it is today without the contributions of so many men and women who we have never heard about. we don't know their stories. we don't understand and should understand their contributions. >> there are so many american heroes who are not protagnists or side kicks or footnotes. they are forgotten. there were 10008 cia soldiers who fought in vietnam. now come the government does not recognize them. >> he said that's how the u.s. military takes care of its own withing a n withing a abnegation. >>.
>> we are doing it today. i feel proud about it. >> they fought and presented casualties. from the cia trained veterans to choctaw code talkers, with the help of minority groups. however, they and their families often feel overlooked. about 8,000 mung veterans are alive today. surprisingly, they don't qualify for u.s. veteran benefits and aren't allowed to be buried in our national cemeteries alongside their fellow soldiers. congress is currently debating legislation that would give them these honorary burial rights. what makes an american hero? we have a great line-up of guests joining us to break this down. out of washington, d.c. phillip smith for loa veterans of america. herman jviola from the smithsonian museum of the
american indian. >> president of the choctaw code talker association. her grand pa was a code talker during world war i. thank you for being here. phillip, it's just been in the last few years really, primarily because of this bur yelled rights legislation floating around since '08 that americans have even heard of the mung soldiers. what many don't know much about is their secret role in the war. what was their contribution during vietnam? >> thank you, lisa. let me just say that in terms of the u.s. war effort in laos, that was a secret war. it was the largest covert operation in u.s. history, and many people don't know about the mung contribution. in part, because it was deeply classified. kennedy.
>> tying up division after division and as a result, saved the lives of countless u.s u.s. g.i.s because the north vietnamese -- excuse me. those nva decisions from north vietnam would have been killing american soldiers in south vietnam. >> phillip, how do you think the vietnam war would look had the mung soldiers not been there? how would the outcome have been differently. >> tremendously differently. for example, the vietnam memorial here in washington would be two or three times larger with perhaps 150,000 names instead of 52,000. >> you think the contribution of the mung soldiers saved 50 to 100,000 american lives? >> incredible. >> absolutely. >> you mentioned this was a secret, a classified operation, but -- >> yes >>-- does it being a secret operation justify benefits and
recognition being held from thousands of men? >> well, i think in bi-partisan fashion, the u.s. congress has finally, recognized the need to remedy this injustice, and it wasn't until 1997 that the mung veterans were formally recognized and in part, because it was a deeply classified program and so the legislation now in congress that's been introduced by senator lisa mckurskoy and mark begoch from alaska and jim costa from california is solidly moving forward. it has the support of both the democrats and the republicans, and i think it will help to recognize the service of the mung veterans. >> phillip, speaking about unsung heroes, check out this
photo. we asked the community to talk about them and carlos says: . >> maybe we wouldn't have been as strong? let's speak about some others: and ishk says: >> nuchio, your grandfather was a chocktaw code talker, helped us beat the germans. how did you discover that your grandfather was an unsung hero? even you didn't know about it. >> no. yes. and i don't believe my grandmother nor my mother knew. it was something that came out because they were sworn to secrecy. you are talking about world war i, which was in 1918.
and transfers at the tiit was ae the government said they could not speak their language and they were not considered citizens of the u.s. they didn't receive citizenship until 1920 or until 1824. so -- or 1924. sorry. but nobody really knew because they did not talk about it. in aur choctaw way, your word was your honor. so when they were sworn to secrecy, naturally, when the war ended, they wouldn't be able to talk about this to any family members. so it was much later, probably around '87 to '89 that i really found out about my grandfather being a code talker in world war i. >> heran, that can't be an unusual experience for the native american families of these code talkers. i know you have done a lot of research in this area. what surprised you most about the native american role in the
u.s. military? >> the biggest -- first i want to say how pleased i am to be with you. this is such an important topic. and i am glad to be part of it. my research demonstrated to me how really unsung native americans have been in the military. most non-indians never think about it. they always see cowboy and indian movies and it's always the indians against the cowboys. the truth is the indians have been in the military since the american revolution. they have been on our side in every engagement. but as you just heard, indians are very private. they don't brag, and so their stories just never were told or collected. and yet, every indian family probably has a good military story. what really struck me is the extreme patriotism of native americans. >> in spite of their marginalization in the u.s., that pride and patriotism for the country is there? >> you go to any indian
reservation, the high schools, the hallways, the walls are covered with pictures of the indians from the school who are in the military, whatever branch of the service, male and female, and they are just so respected. and the thing is, i know there is going to be some talk about the homeless coming on here about veterans, but with indian people, they welcome their people home. the greater society may not do it, but boy, they are not forgotten in their own communities, and they are respected. they are treated honorably. they have special ceremonies that take care of them. so, it's a whole different but kind of hidden world from what we have in mainstream america. >> all right. thank you so much to our guest, herman viola, phillip smith for joining us. here is a surprising fact: the fastest growing segment of the homeless population is female veterans. up next, joined by a female army vet who has lived through it and a lieutenant colonel helping to change the course for will veterans. later, the harlem hell fighters.
you probably didn't read about them but new york congressman charles rangel is determined to change that. >> the 369th regimen, we will never get an outfit like that, black or white with that type of spirit that they had to really prove how good they were. >> plus, where a veteran lives could determine how well they live. here is a pop quiz. what states do you think are the top 5 best and worst for military retirees? the answer when we come back. minimum, he wouldn't have been out. >> the system with joe burlinger
in training, he was stationed in the philippines. i would like to thank frank for his service. i play golf with him. he is 87 years old. >> isn't that great? before the break, we asked what the top 5 best and worst states for military retirees are. according to a report by the website wallet hub, the best states are wyoming, new hampshire, south daccot e and the worst, illinois, new york and dead last, california. measured by 19 key metrics including comic environment and healthcare. we are discussing heroes we should know about but probably
don't. joining us now onset is lieutenant colonel deborah snyder who served in the u.s. army for 21 years. she is currently president of the operation renewed hope foundation which helps homeless vets with quality housing and supportive services. on skype out of 40 lee virginia, francois at fort lee, she served as a lieutenant colonel for 22 years and with us from alexandria virg, jen lopes, an army veteran. thank you for joining us. francois, women have had a significant role, official or unofficial in the u.s. military. why do you think so little is known about their contributions? >> well, i think it's a combination of things. what we found is the history rich. wonderful stories and the fact that they are not known. they are not greatly explored and, therefore, not necessarily very well researched. i think it also has to do with when we think of military
history, we think of battles, wars and sometimes we forget the human element and that's really the contributions of women to the military really has, you know, a big focus on who the individual is and what they have accomplished and contributed to. >> colonel snyder, i think more so than men, women have a tendency to put themselves first. sometimes actually quite often probably to their detriment and to the benefit of others. do you think that this sort of instinctiveness among women has maybe contributed to their lack of recognition over all? >> putting women -- everyone else before themselves? >> yeah. ? >> certainly, we are used to that as women. we grow up and i think the attitude is changing so that there are more assertive in the military or other positions. s so, i hope to see it could not in that vein. >> sadly, a lot of our female
veterans are coming home, finding themselves homeless as we mentioned earlier. it's one of the fastest growing populations of homeless people in the united states. what do you think think is contributing to that? >> shear numbers are increasing of women in the military. so that is going to portray the same numbers on the homeless side, too. at one point, it might have only been 4%. up to 14% are women in the military. so that's why you are going to see a higher number. the other challenge, quite frankly, is many times, the women are the child caregivers, and so they have the extra challenge of finding jobs along with children they have to find child care for. >> finding a way to financially make that work? >> absolutely. it's a little more difficult. women, as you know, don't make as much as men do on the outside. so that's, again, the third challenge with it. >> we are talking about some of the current problems that female vets are facing and tory shannon
tweets she is a former guest and military spouse. she tweets when a female veteran has to go to an eye care facility for a pap smear, there is a problem. alrea thet kika asks: why is it not a national issue regardless? why are any vets in crisis after serving? and jen, we will get you in the conversation. i want to call you j-lo because you are cooler than the real j-lo. you had to live in a shelter. answering the question: why is this not a growing national issue regardless and why are any vets in crisis after serving their country? what's your answer? >> i do know i could speak on my behalf. i think a lot of it has to do with embarrassment. a lot of veterans do not want to seek help. i know in my situation, since i was in a domestic violent
situation that ended in me becoming homeless, i was ashamed. a lot of people have suffered in private, especially with that pride that, you know, we are veterans, served our country and all of this stuff is instilled in us. we can't for any other issue, ptsd or my issue being in a very abusive relationship, it's just, you know, it just leads to just, again, shame and being quiet. >> col colonel, you think a lot of military women find that they are trained to be tough and should they pull back from that, per perceived as weak. >> absolutely. they are more reluctant, i think, to ask for help. when it gets to the bad situation, then they finally, do reach out for help, so we in the military pride ourselves in being strong. >> right. >> so that is certainly part of the problem, you know. sometimes, you have to really go out and beat the burps to get
these veteransshes to get these veterans to come in and ask for help. they want to be self-sufficient. >> waj raised a great point with one of the comments from the viewer. the proper facilities aren't in place to help women veterans exclusively. colonel, there is a project nearing completion in san pedro to help female homeless veterans. i don't know if you know specifically about that one. but generally speaking, can you talk about how projects like this could help change the course for women vets? >> i know that there is a concerted effort across the united states with homeless veteran organizations like ours to help women veterans. we know that in the past, there has not been enough facilities for them and the fact that everyone is pushing towards getting more, i think, is great thing. just really eliminating homelessness, eliminating veteran homelessness period. >> janet on facebook writes no one knows why they are fighting other than it's for their family and friends.
it's expected of them. right, wrong, win or lose, it doesn't matter. it's the poor souls that have to live with the memories. francois, you have the benefit of history. you know the past, the present and, hopefully, you can give us foresight for the fufrt. whatever some of theture. whatever some of the roadblocks that exist and how can we help improve impediments? >> we think of women being very much in traditional roles, and they have been. they have been since 1775. but at the same time, regardless, they have also found themselves oftentimes in peril. and as we go through history and experience of women in world war i and world war ii, we do know that women did much more than those simply traditional jobs. but again, it's not a very well known factor, very well known history. and so, as we go into the '60s and 'septembers and expansion of women in the military and in the
'80s, greater as the colonel had mentioned there, expanding from 4% to almost 14%, i think there are still prevailing attitudes women fit in these traditional roles and don't have the same needs as male counterparts. >> final thoughts for the average american about female veterans? >> i think a lot more needs to be done for the female veterans, more awareness, more programs to help them, you know, come out and speak of all of their troubles, anything that's going on with them. and a lot needs to be done to make sure that we don't feel that shame like it's okay to seek help but more organizations need to be sprung up to help our veterans in general. >> all right. thanks to our guest, francois vannel, deborah snyder and jen lopes. the harlem hell fires, the under dogs that shocked the world. >> 360 night, never lost a
battle. while they lost many men, they never lost an inch of ground for 191 days, they stood on that battlefield supported not by americans but by the french. >> so why haven't we heard more about these world war i heroes? their story in two minutes. you don't want to miss it. >> i'm at the national wind institute, where they can create tornados... >> a greater understanding... >> we know how to design for the wind speeds, now we design for... >> avoiding future tragedies >> i want a shelter in every school. >> techknow every saturday, go where science, meets humanity. >> this is some of the best driving i've ever done, even though i can't see. >>techknow >> is there an enviromental urgency? only on al jazeera america
military heroes. joining us is jeffrey sam options author of: harlem's rattlers and the african-american quest for equality. if you will, briefly tell us about the harlem hell fighters. who were they? >> well, they started as the 15th new york national guard, and that was in 1916 that a nation national guard regimen of blacks was recognized by the state of new york. when they arrived in france, they found out that they had been redesignated as the 369th regimen of infant riaz part of a professional 93rd division and of course, this unit was used as stevedores and laborers. that was the plan by the war department for them and because of french insistentions that they needed reinforcements,
general pershing relented and gave the 369th to the french. >> jeffrey, speaking of the french, charles rangel of new york joined me for an interview earlier this week and we talked about the grit of the harlem hell fighters, the role of the french and how color blindness can affect history. >> it just shows with a country doesn't start out disliking you because of color that what contributions you make can be made on the merits. because france made the 369th hell fighters that were named hell fighters because the germans didn't know where the heck these blacks came from a lot of european never saw people of african dissent. as a result,ing it scared the hell out of them. they fought like hell, never had one captured by the enemy. >> so jack, these men, the harlem hell fighters who wanted to fight for america had a difficult time establishing themselves as a regimen because of racial tensions. >> well, absolutely.
the united states government and its military did not want blacks to prove themselves in war because they knew that this was just another step for them toward demanding full citizenship rights. so, the united states government, the military did everything it could to keep blacks out of combat roles and then, when they were in them, after the war, they demeaned and deniggrated their accomplishments and 1 of the areas in which this happens is the refusal to give appropriate recognition in terms of medals. >> well, geoff, talking about recognition. we asked our communicatety why so many of these african-american were unsung and what prevents us from acknowledging their sacrifices. is it ignorance, racism? lauren, ozzie writes: and kumm
on facebook says: >> geoff, bringing this back full-circle, we talked about the protagonist of the american nairatives. how do we ensure focus lie the harlem hell fighters don't become a side kick or footnote? how do we make them as protagnists and why is that so important for today's recognition to recognize them as such? >> well, i think that they should be taught in schools, not colleges, not just colleges, but at all levels of education. >> that's one way. we think that our book, harlem rattlers and the great war is going to make a very important contribution to the understanding and recognition of these men. one thing that people don't know is that the regimen was actually disbanded by the war department right after the war. there was no more 369th regimen
as of march of 1919. it took another three years for the 369th to come back in to existence, and this was part of a concerted effort by the war department to remove blacks from combat roles in the military. >> geoff, we've got about 30 seconds left. there is their selflessness, valor cannot be denied. do you think that the harlem hell fighters will at some point achieve their rightful place in history? >> well, i hope so. and there is one thing happening right now, henry johnson is being considered for a medal of honor. he just received approval from the second terri of the army. >> all right. jenk. >> now on chuck hagel's desk. >> got to stop you there. thank you for joining us. until next time, we will see y'all online.
>> good evening to you. you are watching al jazeera america. live from new york with a look at the day's top stories. >> an injustice that needs to be dealt with. >> eerie words from the suspect and the deadly drive behoove shootings. three more dead at a jewish museum in brucels. the pope begins his historic trip to the mid east. >> a moving tribute to those who lost their lives in the vietnam war.