Servicemen and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan face homelessness, joblessness, mental health problems, substance abuse and suicides at rates higher than other Americans. And for veterans with disabilities, the problems can be even more difficult. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have also produced a new type of veteran: there are now more women returning wounded, and with the improvement in battlefield medicine, many of them return in need of extensive physical therapy and mental care. Neal Conan talks to Iraq war veteran and Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Veterans Administration Tammy Duckworth about the way the Veterans Administration is changing the way it serves the needs of returning veterans.
Michael Vick and Second Chances
President Obama made a surprise phone call from his Hawaii vacation this week to Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeff Lurie. Obama thanked him for giving convicted felon Michael Vick a second chance at an NFL career. Vick was convicted for his involvement in a dog fighting ring and served 21 months in prison. Sports columnist Buzz Bissinger was horrified when the Eagles signed the notorious quarterback in 2009, but with Vick excelling on the field this season while continuing to speak out against animal cruelty, Bissinger — like many football fans — has reconsidered. Bissinger talks about why he thinks Vick's prison term changed him for the better.
The Way We Give
The end of the year is the biggest time for charitable donations. People give for all sorts of reasons— religious tradition, personal passion, or to support research on diseases that have affected their lives. Neal Conan talks with author Ted Gup about the story of his grandfather's incredible generosity 75 years ago, and with Diana Aviv, president of the Independent Sector, a leadership forum for non-profits and corporate giving organizations, about the things that motivate us to give.
What's Changed for the LGBT Community?
The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community had its share of news headlines this year. In October, Tyler Clementi became the fifth gay teen to commit suicide, and columnist and author Dan Savage launched the "It Gets Better" campaign aimed at helping LGBT youth cope with bullying and harassment because of their sexual orientation. In California, Proposition 8, which would allow gays and lesbians to marry, is still under court review, and three judges in Iowa were ousted in the midterm elections after they unanimously ruled that same sex unions were legal. And the year ended with the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which will allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. Neal Conan continues our series of conversations with different groups of Americans on what's changed this past year with Eliza Byard, executive director for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.