Full video of every panel.
Newsweek and The Daily Beast’s Hero Summit, Nov. 14 and 15 in Washington, D.C., is an invitation-only theatrical-journalism event that will be streamed live at the Daily Beast. We will hear powerful stories from active and retired members of our military, as well as from historians and writers who have written about moral and physical courage under fire. Read the agenda here, and check back for the latest updates.
Courage and character will be explored by luminaries from Madeleine Albright to Kael Weston, Bono to Bernard-Henri Lévy at The Hero Summit, an invitation-only event from Newsweek and The Daily Beast, in Washington this November 14th and 15th. Keep checking this page for the latest as new speakers are announced.
Madeleine K. Albright
Chair, Albright Stonebridge Group; Chair, Albright Capital Management
Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright is the chair of both the global strategy firm Albright Stonebridge Group and Albright Capital Management LLC, an investment advisory firm focused on emerging markets.
Previously, Albright served as the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations and was a member of the president’s cabinet. In 2012, she was chosen by President Obama to receive the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in recognition of her contributions to international peace and democracy.
She teaches the Practice of Diplomacy at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
Every Wednesday at 3 p.m. EST, Newsweek & The Daily Beast and a special guest host an hour-long discussion with readers about military and veterans’ issues. This week, Paul Rieckhoff, founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), discusses the political climate facing veterans returning home. To join the conversation, go to Twitter and tweet with the hashtag #vetchat.
The lessons Colby Buzzell learned studying abroad with the Army paid off back home on campus.
When I graduated from high school in 1995, I flirted with the idea of enlisting in the military but decided against it. Why would I want to sign up, receive all that training, and end up sitting on a base somewhere just killing time. Instead, I skipped the training and worked a series of nothing jobs.
Nick Daly / Getty Images
Then 9/11 happened, and I started hearing that the U.S. military was now hiring—and pretty much anyone they could. So I signed up, and after graduating from basic training studied abroad, spending 2003 and 2004 in Iraq, where our battalion commander sent us outside the wire several times a day “to locate, capture, and kill all anti-Iraqi forces.” After that, college seemed like it would be a breeze, especially with the post-9/11 GI Bill meaning Uncle Sam would pick up the check.
There’s a scene in Forrest Gump where the title character enlists in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. While in basic training, Gump, who’s essentially autistic, is heralded as a goddamn genius by his drill instructors because he follows simple instruction. He does what he’s supposed to in the military: exactly what he’s told.
It took me a bit to figure this one out—like a lot of things in life after war—but college is the same thing, really. My teachers back in high school, where I graduated in the bottom 10 percent of my class, may not believe it, but once I applied what I learned while serving to school, it became easy. It doesn’t take a genius to receive an honorable discharge or get a diploma. You just got to suck it up and drive on. You’re handed a syllabus, given textbooks, told what to read, how to read it and when to read it, and tested to see if you’ve comprehended or at least memorized the material that’s assigned. If you have any questions, there are professors there to answer them.
I made the Dean’s List my first semester in community college in California. I applied to a university and was accepted and moved to the East Coast. I got there in the dead of winter, mid-school year, with no warm footwear other than the desert-tan combat boots I wore in Iraq, which I had to dig out from a storage box. My blood type was still inscribed on the side. I laced those on and bloused them the same exact way I did in the Army, and wore them through the snow to my first day of class.
On Veterans Day, about two weeks after Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the northeast, veterans groups including Team Rubicon and The Mission Continues came together to clean up a hard-hit beach community in Queens.
Visits Arlington Cemetery.
President Obama visited Arlington National Cemetery on Sunday morning to mark Veterans Day. The president observed a moment of silence and laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. “The memory of your loved one carries on not just in your hearts, but in ours, as well,” Obama said in remarks at Arlington’s Memorial Amphitheater. “Whenever America has come under attack, you’ve risen to her defense.” America needs to better serve its newest veterans, Obama said, calling the men and women who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan some of the most dedicated in the nation’s history.
In 3 Minutes With A Soldier, Col. Greg Gadson tells The Center for Oral History at West Point how he lost both his legs in Baghdad. 'You don't worry about yourself; you worry about your people,' he says. 'When the time comes right, they'll take care of you.'
Haneke is “paying forward” the care he received over nearly five years and 200 major medical procedures by helping post-9/11 veterans, reports Sandra McElwaine.
Forty-four years ago, Lt. William G. Haneke was pronounced dead five times over 48 hours.
The first time was after a Viet Cong–detonated mine catapulted him 80 feet into the air and left him hanging sideways on a barbed-wire fence.
When he came to, his left eye was blown out, he could not see and could hardly breathe. The carotid artery on one side of his neck was severed and every time his heart beat, blood would spurt out and bounce off his shoulder. His right leg was gone above the knee, his jaw shattered and part of his brain exposed. Dazed and crippled by pain he was paralyzed and could only muster a desperate prayer for help.
Almost immediately, he says he heard a soothing voice telling him: “Turn your head to the left and relax. Have faith and I will see you through this ordeal.”
VA claims are slowed by errors in as many as one in every three cases, reports Aaron Glantz of the Center for Investigative Reporting.
U.S. Navy cook Hosea Roundtree watched the 1983 shelling of Beirut from the deck of a ship, feelings of helplessness washing over him as people perished onshore. That memory haunted him, resurrected in flashbacks eight years later after a tour in the Gulf during Operation Desert Storm.
But when Roundtree’s claim for disability compensation crossed Jamie Fox’s desk at the Department of Veterans Affairs more than two decades later, it was slated for denial on the grounds that he had never seen combat. Fox, herself a Navy veteran, tried to straighten things out—and for that, she lost her job.
A lawsuit filed by the former VA disability claims representative provides a rare glimpse into what veterans’ advocates call systemic problems in how the agency handles compensation claims filed by Americans wounded physically or mentally in the line of duty.
A Center for Investigative Reporting review of the VA’s performance data reveals chronic errors—committed in up to one in three cases—and an emphasis on speed over accuracy that clogs the VA system with appeals, increasing delays for all veterans.
“When the VA makes a mistake processing a veteran’s claim, then our veterans face another unacceptably long wait,” said Paul Sullivan, a Gulf War veteran and former senior VA project manager who now works for the Washington, D.C.–area law firm Bergmann & Moore.
Aaron Scheinberg of The Mission Continues hosts this week’s #vetchat.
Every Wednesday at 3 p.m. EST, Newsweek & The Daily Beast and a special guest host hold an hour-long discussion with readers about military and veterans’ issues. This week, Aaron Scheinberg, West Point graduate, Iraq War veteran, and Director of Strategy and Research at The Mission Continues discusses how continued service can ease the transition home. To join the conversation, go to Twitter and tweet with the hashtag #vetchat.
The best books on today’s wars are being written by veterans.
They fought. They died. They killed. They came home. And some of them started to write. Now 11 years after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, nine years after the invasion of Iraq, the soldiers have started to write. They have written hooahs and gung hos in the first person; they have written books so painful to read, you don’t believe they could still be alive; they have written in truth and out of desperation. But we are hearing their voices. Think back to Vietnam, to the generation that gave us The Things They Carried, In Pharaoh’s Army, and Dispatches, among many other now classic books.
Courtesy of Benjamin Busch
All books that have done more to tell us about Vietnam than a thousand hours of TV. When we think of that war now, we think of Cacciato imagined by Tim O’Brien, of the nightmare visions of Philip Caputo, of Neil Sheehan’s perfect soldier who saw the light only to be blinded by it. In short, their war has become the war. That’s the war we know, and the great heroism of these writers is to have brought it to us as true and unvarnished as a bullet entering the brain.
Years after the wounds have healed, at least to our eyes, we still turn to these books as a way to not forgot and to be amazed, again, at what great literature can do with the worst. We think it’s impossible, and surely no one who has watched Fox News, read the newspaper, even daily, and followed the news can achieve that same understanding that a single perfect paragraph in the hands of a writer who has seen war and wants to understand it himself can bring to us.
And let’s not be shy in calling them heroes. Many of them may already be heroes for their acts on the field, but it takes another sort of bravery to try to share the incommunicable experience of war.
The assault targeted a key Taliban training camp in Afghanistan’s Kunar province. The mission was failing. The wounded were dying. The medevac team took off on the perilous mission to save them…
The first bodies came on the first day of the operation. It was a Saturday, hot and quiet, the wind spinning eddies of sand around Forward Operating Base Joyce in eastern Afghanistan. Out of the midmorning silence came the crackle of a hand radio. “Medevac! Medevac! Medevac!” said the dispatcher, and eight camouflaged figures—the helicopter crews of DUSTOFF 73 and DUSTOFF 72—darted out of their tents, a rehearsed riot of belts and straps, buckles and Velcro. Going by the manual, it takes more than an hour to prep a Blackhawk helicopter for flight. But both of these birds were airborne within five minutes, the pilots still blinking sleep from their eyes.
Apache helicopters create a ring of protective fire around medevac missions like DUSTOFF 73. (Department of the Army)
The call came from a unit in Operation Hammer Down, a mission to clear Taliban training camps in the Watapur Valley, just over the border from Pakistan’s most dangerous tribal regions. The same terrain stymied the Soviets in the 1980s, and controlling it was an elusive centerpiece of the war against the Taliban and al Qaeda. Every summer U.S. forces charged in by the hundreds, but every fall the bad guys were back again, and the cycle repeated. This mission was meant to be the last dance, a crucial partnership with the Afghan National Army before the Obama administration began unwinding the war.
It broke down almost immediately. Before dawn a lumbering Chinook transport helicopter clipped a tree line and crash-landed high in the mountains, stranding a platoon of infantry soldiers. At least two other platoons were ambushed at dawn as they moved into the valley. And by midday the medic calls were stacking up like bids at an auction. The most urgent came from Gambir, a village notched into the mountainside, where 40 soldiers dug in against the onslaught. The first in command was already dead, shot in the neck as he moved to higher ground to organize an evacuation. Now a skinny black private was slowly choking on his own blood, his jaw shot away.
Inside the cockpit of DUSTOFF 73, the pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Erik Sabiston, 38, stared out from behind dark shades. Back at base he’s known as a jokester, the guy who carpets a Red Sox fan’s locker with Yankee paraphernalia. But not in the air. Now Sabiston talked maneuvers with co-pilot Kenneth Brodhead, 44, one of the most experienced fliers in the Army; behind them were two relative rookies, 24-year-old Specialist David Capps, the crew’s technician, and next to him the medic herself, Sgt. Julia Bringloe, one of the few women on the front lines. They were flying over a region where more than a hundred Americans have died fighting, a many-named series of valleys known among some veterans by only one: the “Valley of Death.”
There was no way to land in Gambir; the fighting around the gravely wounded soldier was too intense. Trees burned, buildings smoldered. Taliban reinforcements streamed in from a network of caves and the homes of sympathetic locals. So over the next few hours—while American gunships tried to clear Gambir for an emergency landing—the two DUSTOFF helicopters knocked down their rescue lists elsewhere. There was a patient with shrapnel in his thigh, two patients with gunshot wounds, and then two more with the same. Neither helicopter landed; instead, Bringloe and the other medic were hoisted down on hooks, and then hoisted back up along with the stricken. No shots were fired, no enemy engaged. It was almost like a training day.
The legendary director picks his favorite cinematic moments of guts and glory.
The Best Years of Our Lives
This is a picture about the heroism of coming home from the war, facing your loved ones and your job and a world that knows nothing of what you’ve endured. It was directed by William Wyler, who himself had served. The homecomings; Dana Andrews’s flier being soothed after a nightmare by Teresa Wright; Harold Russell (a real vet with prosthetic hands) calling on his father to help him into bed—these are among the most moving passages in American cinema.
At the end of this Italian neorealist classic by Vittorio De Sica, a young boy (Enzo Staiola) sees his father (Lamberto Maggiorani) scorned, humiliated, almost sent to jail, and then takes his hand and walks proudly by his side. In one beautiful moment, the son realizes that their roles must reverse and that, at least for the moment, he needs to look out for his father.
Team Rubicon, a nonprofit that deploys veterans to help with disaster recovery, did their part to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy in lower Manhattan last week. Team member Curtis Coleman, a former Marine, shares his thoughts on heroic leadership.
A voter guide for the 2.5 million post-9/11 military veterans, from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
Eleven years ago in October, American military forces launched a war in Afghanistan that’s still raging today. One would think that the war and the postwar care for the veterans that fought in Afghanistan and Iraq would be a crucial part of the 2012 presidential campaign, but that hasn’t been the case.
In stump speeches and campaign pit stops across the country, President Obama and Governor Romney have made cursory references to veterans’ care and benefits, but offered little in the way of specifics. And in the debates, the candidates spent more time talking about Big Bird than they did vets’ policy. ObamaCare versus “Obama Cares” and “Romnesia” are funny, but also a sad commentary on the state of our political discourse. The Main Streets in countless American towns and cities are pushed aside for carefully crafted PR zingers.
But whoever wins on Tuesday, America’s 2.5 million post-9/11 veterans—more than 60,000 in Ohio alone—will be looking to the president to address the education, housing, employment, and health-care challenges they face every day—and to do so substantively, the same way they have tackled the fallout from Hurricane Sandy. Just because the war in Afghanistan will end someday doesn’t mean it already has, nor does it mean that the effects of it are going away anytime soon. Quite the contrary, in fact.
Lost in the good news of this months’s jobs report was the fact that the unemployment rate for America’s new Greatest Generation is still at 10 percent, more than 2 percentage points higher than the rest of the country. Within that group, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 15.5 percent of our female vets are unemployed. Not only are those numbers appalling, but the government’s research on the veteran community is woefully inadequate. If we’re going to make progress on vet employment, we need reliable data to provide effective support from the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Yet neither candidate has demanded real change for veterans.
Which is why Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) have released a voter guide to educate all Americans on the most pressing challenges challenging our new Greatest Generation. If the political leaders on both tickets don’t address critical issues like employment, support for our female warriors, and VA reform now,when will they? The answer is never. Veteran and civilians alike need to make clear at the ballot box on Tuesday that we expect nothing less than smart, committed plans that do more than pay lip service to veterans’ care.
This map, created by the Center for Investigative Reporting, displays 58 VA regional offices and the number of backlogged claims by week on a national, regional and local level. This application will update itself every Monday to show each office's change in pending claims.
From Adm. William McRaven to columnist Nicholas Kristof to Bono, WATCH VIDEO of the summit’s must-see moments.
Newsweek & The Daily Beast are thrilled to introduce a thought-leadership initiative that strives to define America's Next Greatest Generation.