The Cities | Military Families | Cokie Roberts

The Cities | Military Families | Cokie Roberts


(somber music) – [Narrator] A proud
supporter of this program River Bend Foodbank’s
vision is a hunger free Iowa and Illinois. – [Announcer] Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home and Crematory has been
serving Quad City families since 1889. Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Homes are located in Rock Island, Milan, and Reynolds and are proud supporters of WQPT. – Protecting our military men
and women after their service and remembering Cokie
Roberts and her visit to help public broadcasting and
women in the cities. (upbeat music) He was the longest serving
sergeant major of the Army in American history,
during those seven years, Kenneth Preston was an
advocate at the highest levels of the U.S. Army, for all
soldiers and family members. Retired from the Army now he serves with the Association of
the United States Army. That’s a private non-profit organization known as AUSA, it also
supports the military men and women inside and out of service. He came to the cities to help raise money for military families
and veterans in our area, and SMA Kenneth Preston
also sat down with me to talk about the needs of those families. Like I was saying while you
were SMA, you were in charge of soldier and family related matters, training, quality of life. This dovetails really nicely
with AUSA does it not? – Sure, it does. – How critically important
has that been in your life is to make sure that other
soldiers are able to, wow not only survive the
military but after the military? – Well I think that for me
to be able to stay close to the Army and really
understand as the Army changes the mission changes to
also then understand what is that transition
process for soldiers as they return out to
the civilian workforce? – Now you had spent more than
30 years in the military, starting in the basics then you get to be the most senior member as
far as the Army soldiers are concerned, it’s a whirlwind for you. But there’s a lot of lessons
learned I would assume? – Sure I mean as I look back
when I made the decision to join the Army I was
still in my senior year of high school, delayed entry program. So my intent was to come into the Army do my four years, get out,
take the Montgomery GI Bill go to college and become an architect. But I ended up falling
in love with the Army. It was the people in the Army. The leadership that I worked for, that I ended up staying,
of course I stayed for a very long time. – And while you were in
the Army of course you were actively involved in making
sure that fellow soldiers were taken care of and
now with the AUSA I think it’s kinda interesting
some of the programs that you have actually been involved in. One that I want to talk about is the Army Emergency Relief program. It helped soldiers and their family facing financial distress, it
really hadn’t been changed in much of a decade, you’ve been giving it and your team a greater focus to make sure it helps more people. – Sure I mean not
necessarily part of AUSA. But Army Emergency
Relief has been very good at really expanding
the roles at being able to get out there to
empower commanders to give the individual soldier and
their family a little more of a say in how the
money is that they use, and what they need it for. So it’s been very good. – Because it is kinda
interesting I noticed that 36,000 soldiers were, and
families actually were helped. $58 million in aid, that goes a long way to giving stability to military families that may be feeling like
they’re in a free fall once they leave service. – Yes and you know when
you look at the money that those soldiers got it was in the form of either a loan or a grant depending on their circumstances and
what the money was used for. – There is a slogan that
you know in the military and even afterwards saying
leave no comrade behind. – Leave no soldier behind, that’s right. – Keep that underlined right? I mean that’s so important even after the military service is over. – Yes and really I mean
that’s part of our ethos and when you look at
what soldiers are taught from coming in from day one
and really what they live throughout their career
it’s about looking after the brothers and sisters to your left and right, your comrades. – And there’s a couple areas that I wanted to talk about that because
I know that you toured a Kansas City facility
when you were discussing areas of homelessness and you
saw some interesting project involving very small houses. – That’s right, tiny houses. – Tiny houses, first off
tell me about the problem of homelessness for our
veterans, for our service members who have left the military. – Sure, and you know there’s probably a thousand different reasons
why veterans become homeless, and when you look at homeless
it’s not necessarily somebody that’s living out on a street
corner, or under a bridge. But these are people that they
may be living with a friend, sleeping on a sofa you
know they may be living out of their car, I was down in El Paso just a couple weeks ago and heard a young lady down there speak as she left the Army as
a young staff sergeant with three children. She was living out of her
car, she had no place to go, and really had, did not
have the wherewithal to really get established. You know to be able to go out there, get yourself established
into a job or a career to get back into school, you know to get the educational needs that you need to kinda get yourself
reestablished in a career within the civilian job
market, it’s very important, and I think that what the Army has done to help that transition through
the Soldier of Life Program has been very good to make
that less of an occurrence, and to really set up soldiers
that are leaving today more prepared for success when they leave and go out into the job market. – One of the organizers of
the Veterans Community Project in Kansas City had a quote
saying “Isolation is a huge thing “reintegration is tough.” – Yes absolutely, you know and
when you’ve been in the Army even if you’ve only been
in the Army for four years. You’ve done your four years and now you’re going back out again. You know you’ve been
away from high school, for four years so there are
some tough decisions now that you have to make and of
course if you look at those out there, your peers
that were in high school when you joined the Army,
they’ve kinda moved on with their life, so now
you’re going back out into the job market as
a high school graduate and you got some job experiences. You’re actually sought after
by the employers out there because you’ve got leadership skills. You’ve got discipline, you’re drug free and all those things. So there’s some really
good values behind soldiers leaving the military. But the challenges of
course is getting matched up the right veteran with the right job set or job skill that’s out
there to get hired on. – Where does this isolation
I guess, come from. ‘Cause in some ways you would think that you’re part of a troop,
you’re part of a bigger thing than yourself, that’s what
the military kinda teaches you and then you go out after
your military service and now all the sudden
you become very one, one individual, very isolated. – Absolutely you’re on your own. So now you’re not, you’re
no longer part of this small team you know the band
of brothers or band of sisters that you’ve been part of
this small organization where everybody looks out for each other. So you’re out there now, you’re brand new. You’re an individual on your own, and you don’t necessarily
have that camaraderie in a lot of our communities
across the country so it’s really about getting out there and finding those groups where you can get yourself established and find out what’s your priorities? You know is it for your
career goals is it education that you need, is it employment right away that you need? And then what about housing
as we were talking about from a homeless perspective. – At Arsenal Island in Rock
Island as well as throughout the military in the first
Army as well as other branches of the military have been
really very active in regards to treating the service
member and their family. Whether it’s issues of spousal abuse, well let’s just start
there or even child abuse. It seems like the military’s
been taking a much more proactive vision towards
families, not just the soldier but also the rest of the family. – Sure and we’ve always known
that we may enlist a soldier and bring them into the Army. But when it comes time to reenlist, we’re reenlisting a family, and when you look at the
demographics of the force today it’s about 52% that are married. So it’s a very large population out there that you have to invest
into the family resources and taking care of the family if you want to keep the soldier and we have a great all-volunteer force and for those soldiers out
there that continue to volunteer and continue to serve. Particularly the ones
that are our very best, the talent out there that we wanna keep in our uniform, it’s
really about takin care of the family and providing
those programs out there where they have a quality
of life that’s as good or better than what they could provide back in a civilian career,
back in hometown USA. – And is that something
that you can almost use as a selling point for new recruits? ‘Cause as you said you joined the military maybe a year or two maybe four at the most but what was it that attracted you to a life in the military? – Well you know as I look back and you know of course, the mid 70s, 1975 was a little different–
– Very much so. – And it was the start of
the all-volunteer force but we used to have a joke back then that if the Army wanted
you to have a family they’d issue you one. So the families were not
necessarily a priority, and my wife and I we had
these discussions about the things that they do now
that take care of families. But it’s absolutely
essential, especially with the operational pace and
tempo of what we’re asking our young men and women in
uniform to do every day, and you know they’re out
there now in 140 countries around the world really doing
very very important missions. So the families that are left back, these now become single families. So if you have a spouse that’s left behind he or she is a single
parent with the children while that soldier is forward deployed. – AUSA one of the biggest
advocates of course for soldiers men and women on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, I mean major
initiatives are going on to protect as well as to
make sure the pay is good and everything else. What’s the greatest initiative that you have going on right now? – So I think that for
us the next big thing is the AUSA annual meeting, there in D.C. On the Columbus day weekend, we’ll kick it off on that Monday. So that 13th, 14th, 15th,
that window of time in there is probably our big event
because it’s an opportunity for the Army to showcase itself, to really show all the things
the capabilities the Army has. But it’s also an opportunity
to bring industry, to bring the Army, and to bring members of our government together
to really know and understand the missions of the Army
and what the Army needs to move forward to continue to maintain not only current readiness but
the plan for future readiness in the years to come. – Well I mean you have
put in three decades plus as far as being active military and now many decades afterwards
being an advocate as well. You must be amazingly
proud of the military men and women even though
the military has changed dramatically over that period of time. – It’s changed a lot you know
and as I look at the Army and just the quality of the soldiers, I mean this is really a
testament to our society and the recruiters that
are out there today. Recruiting the young men
and women to find those who want to serve and
want to wear the uniform of our military services
you know the quality today is so much greater than
it was when I reflect back to when I was a brand new
private and made the decision to join the Army, but you
know young men and women today are very smart, very capable,
very technically connected and I think that when you
look at the Army today and the types of equipment
that we got out there, we need those kind of technical experts. We need those smart,
clever young men and women. That are not afraid to
ask the questions why. Why do we do this? And understand you know commander’s intent and the strategic kind of missions that we’re doing out there so at their level. Down where those first line
supervisors who are responsible for two or three soldiers. They’re making decisions
that have potentially strategic level impacts
all around the world. – That was Sergeant Major Kenneth Preston. U.S. Army retired now with the Association of the
United States Army, AUSA. The AUSA chapter based on Arsenal Island is always looking for new members. It serves military men and
women and families throughout much of eastern Iowa and western Illinois. You can join by going to
their website AUSA.org and the local chapter has
teamed up with Isabel Bloom to sell Freedom Medals
which help fund education and scholarship programs you can find them at any Isabel Bloom location. Still to coke, Cokie
Roberts in her own words. But first Laura Adams ready
to help you better enjoy the start of fall in our
area, she’s out and about. (upbeat music) – [Laura] This is Out and About for September 16 through 22nd there are festivals galore coming. Brew Ha Ha at LeClaire
Park September 21st. Riverssance Festival of Fine Art in the Village of East Davenport
September 21st and 22nd. There’s Music at Mercado on 5th the 20th With Compaz del Rancho
and Glenview Mariachi. Life @ Five features Candymakers at the River Music Experience on the 20th. Music on the Mississippi
presents the Crooked Cactus Band at the Riverside Park on the 16th. Chamber Music Quad Cities
presents The Recital September 22nd at Trinity
Episcopal Parish Hall. Music at Butterworth Center features the Andrew Collins Trio the 17th and The Bucktown Revue opens their season September 20th at Davenport
Nighswander Junior Theater. The Clinton Symphony
Orchestra opens their season the 21st and it’s time for
the Quad Cities Marathon and Festival of Races at John
Deere Commons September 22nd. While the Taming of the
Slough Adventure Triathlon on Sylvan Island kicks off on the 21st. The NAMIWalks, the 5k takes place at the Greater Mississippi
Valley Veterans Memorial Park in Bettendorf the 21st and grab your fur baby for
Geneseo Bark in the Park September 21st while the
Veterans Classic Car Show happens at the Mississippi
Valley Fairgrounds the 21st. The German American Heritage Center hold their Fall Frolic Benefit
Gala at The Outing Club September 20th and on
stage Circa 21 present the musical Singing in the
Rain, while Playcrafters present the drama The
Wolves through the 22nd. For more information visit WQPT.org. – Thank you Laura. Bethann Heidgerken has been
featured on our program over the past few years
and we wanted to feature another solo performance from her, and she joined us on the stage of Moline’s Black Box Theater. Bethann Heidgerken with Use Me Up. (opening notes of Use me Up) ♪ You are lonely, I was sweet ♪ ♪ Holding hands and touching feet ♪ ♪ I’m afraid to admit wrong ♪ ♪ I shut my mouth and carry on ♪ ♪ Write a song for you ♪ ♪ I’ll paint a picture
with a sky dark blue ♪ ♪ Shelter lies and crooked truths ♪ ♪ Set in sighs and tears of you ♪ ♪ Use me up again ♪ ♪ Use me up again ♪ (tune for Use Me Up plays) ♪ Dark days when I can’t find ♪ ♪ Any insight to use my mind ♪ ♪ Then I take a breath let it out ♪ ♪ Till nothing’s left ♪ ♪ I wish so many things ♪ ♪ but wishes rarely I’ve been granted ♪ ♪ What I need sooth my soul ♪ ♪ Can’t get back the things I stole. ♪ ♪ Wait for your return ♪ ♪ Let the past offenses burn ♪ ♪ Sorry for your heart ♪ ♪ Broke and tried to sew the parts ♪ ♪ Not the way you say my name ♪ ♪ Right to you I’ll go in vain ♪ ♪ People that is plain as day ♪ ♪ My forms they have
the strength to stay ♪ ♪ The card written in rhymes ♪ ♪ And use me up one more time ♪ (tune for Use Me Up plays) ♪ Somewhere over the rainbow ♪ ♪ Skies are blue ♪ ♪ Somewhere over the rainbow ♪ ♪ I am with you ♪ ♪ Somewhere over the rainbow ♪ ♪ Blue birds fly. ♪ ♪ You are all of the rainbow ♪ ♪ Where am I? ♪ ♪ Do do do ♪ ♪ Do do do ♪ ♪ Do du do do ♪ ♪ Do do ♪ ♪ Do do do ♪ ♪ Do do do ♪ ♪ Do du do do ♪ ♪ Do do ♪ ♪ Do do do ♪ ♪ Do do do ♪ ♪ Do du do do ♪ ♪ Do do ♪ ♪ Do do do ♪ ♪ Do do do ♪ ♪ Do du do do ♪ ♪ Card written in rhymes ♪ ♪ And use me up one more time ♪ ♪ The card written in rhymes ♪ ♪ And use me up one more time ♪ ♪ Card written in rhymes ♪ ♪ And use me up one more time. ♪ ♪ Give my heart and gave my love ♪ ♪ Gave the earth and moon above ♪ ♪ But love requires give and take. ♪ ♪ I took your heart to balance fate ♪ ♪ Is there no other way to take all of ♪ ♪ The hurt away, except to let you go ♪ ♪ If that is true I’ll never know. ♪ ♪ Late at night I rest my thoughts ♪ ♪ Dream of you and once ♪ ♪ Of years ago and in the park ♪ ♪ On the stage and in the dark ♪ ♪ We are far removed from there ♪ ♪ Our hearts are far I tried to send ♪ ♪ My love from down the street ♪ ♪ Addressed to you and wrapped up sweet ♪ ♪ The card written in rhymes ♪ ♪ And use me up one more time ♪ ♪ The card written in rhymes ♪ ♪ And use me up one more time ♪ ♪ Use me up again ♪ ♪ Use me up again ♪ ♪ Oh use me up again ♪ ♪ Use me up again ♪ – Bethann Heidgerken with Use Me Up. She started at National
Public Radio in the late 1970s but over the past 40
years veteran journalist Cokie Roberts chronicled
the politics of our time while helping women grow
not only in the media but in countless other areas they may not have even considered. In 2014 she came to
the cities for an event at Augustana College
and to help raise money for WVIK Radio. I got a chance to talk with
her on that March day in 2014. Let me start with the question having to do with your
role in covering politics in Washington, is there
really any compromise is there any chance that
everyone can get along and is it really as bad
as everyone says it is? – It’s really bad in Washington right now. And there’s not a lot
of prospect for change certainly not before the election and maybe not after that. – It always seems that one group is always blaming the other and that seems to be the partisanship angle
seems to be the biggest of the problems. – Partisanship is part of our heritage we’ve always had very fierce partisanship in this country. It is exacerbated at the moment by a whole variety of factors. But it is very serious at the moment. But one thing that’s
important to keep in mind is the American People are deeply divided on the fundamental question
dividing the two parties. What do you think should happen? Should the government spend more and do more, or spend less and do less? The population is divided 50 50. – We also often criticize our government for not getting anything
done, is that fair. I mean you do see–
– oh yeah that’s fair. – You do see the
Affordable Care Act coming but you also see so many judgeships that aren’t decided. A myriad of issues that aren’t decided. – There are a lot of things
that the government’s not doing but there are
a lot of people who think that’s a very good thing. So you know it’s not
something that you can say is good or bad in fact, just Monday. USA Today came out with a poll that showed that people by 55% that
that’s the disapproval of government not getting anything done. It had been 74% in a poll last year. The same poll last year asked the question but should government do more? And it was phrased in
a way where you’d think everyone would say yes
because it was something like should government do more to do good or some such thing, and 74%
last year said it was bad that government wasn’t do more to do good and now it’s down to 55%. So there’s a lot of
concern about government. – But it’s also interesting
to see when you look at congress, look at the White House and see how government is changing. A greater participation on minorities, not perfect of course. Greater participation among women, not perfect of course. Do you see that as perhaps being the start of at least waves
of change in the future. – Oh waves of partisan
change are certainly coming as a result of greater
participation by minorities and young people and to some degree women and so we’ve seen elections
completely change outcomes because of those participations. But I don’t see that
that leads to any kind of compromise or consensus,
maybe just the opposite. – Why do you think just the opposite? – Well when you have groups coming in to the voting population
that haven’t voted before and have different views
than some of the people who were the majority
that leads to debate. – I want to talk to you about your book Founding Mothers, Remembering the Ladies. What made you write it? What made you think that this is a story that has not been heard? – Well I wrote Founding
Mothers for grownups in 2004 and then the sequel to it
Ladies of Liberty came out in 2008 and they were very popular books and the fact is that
people really do wanna know what women were doing in our country particularly in this crucial
time, the founding time, and so the publishers asked me to write a children’s version and so
I was delighted to do that. It turns out that
children’s book illustrators are very busy people
so it took a long time to get it done but Dianne
Good the illustrator has done a wonderful, wonderful job and it’s a terrific book for kids. – It’s gotta be a love of
yours to be able to write a book like this and relate
the past to the present and affect the future for children. Is there stuff that you learned that you were surprised–
– Oh absolutely! I learned a great deal
writing these books, I was amazed at how
deeply deeply political the women of the 18th century
and early 19th century were and how everybody expected
them to be political. Nobody expected them to sit at home and pour the tea they were expected to be participatory even though
they couldn’t vote. – Well and talk about
the sacrifices they made as well as the men
gathered in Philadelphia or whatnot they’re the
ones that were keeping the homes and the farms
alive with the British knocking on the doors oftentimes, and that’s kinda a sacrifice
that you don’t even really think about. – That’s right I mean at
one point Abigail Adams wrote to John Adams, we women are really the best patriots because we’re making all of the sacrifices and
suffering all of the hardships for the cause and if we win
you men will hold office you’ll be held in high acclaim, and we won’t be able to vote
so we’re better patriots. – And Abigail Adams was
also another set of eyes from the front line of Boston. – Absolutely, the British were there, I mean John Quincy Adams
wrote at one point, my mother for 12 months
with her infant children was subject at any moment to be butchered in cold blood or carried
off as a hostage to Boston. It was very dangerous, John
at one point wrote to her and said if it gets really dangerous, take our children and fly to the woods and my reaction is thanks John. I hope you’re having a nice
dinner in Philadelphia. – How incredibly lucky we all are that those letters are preserved, that they were written in the first place. That they were so honest and truthful. But that they’ve been preserved. – Well women’s letters tended
to be much more honest, and men’s letters to
women are much more honest because they don’t expect
them to be preserved. Whereas the letters to
each other they absolutely knew would be saved and published. So they’re very self-aware and pompous. Whereas their letters to women
tend to be much more filled with their anguish and
their humor and their gossip and the women’s letters to
each other are quite fabulous. Preserving them is a difficult thing because people didn’t
care what women thought. So it is very very lucky
that we have a few. – So tell me a little bit about being a Washington Beltway person. What do you think of the Iowa caucuses? – I hate them.
(laughter) – I have never talked to
a Washington journalist who didn’t, so is it mostly a thing that you don’t like the caucuses
or you’d rather see a primary or do you just hate Iowa? – No we love Iowa everybody loves Iowa. It’s just a crazy process
and it’s a process that we put much too much emphasis on. But Iowa certainly plays into that and would have a bloody fit if we didn’t. – Journalist Cokie Roberts
who died last Tuesday from cancer, it was first detected in 2002 but came back to claim her life this week. She’ll be remembered
by public broadcasters for her professionalism,
her wisdom and her passion and she’ll be remembered
by countless women for showing us all how
it’s supposed to be done. Cokie Roberts was 75. On the air, on the radio, on the web, and on your mobile device
thanks for taking some time to join us as we talk about
the issues on the cities. (exciting classical music) (somber music) – [Narrator] A proud
supporter of this program River Bend Foodbank’s
vision is a hunger free Iowa and Illinois. – [Announcer] Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home and Crematory has been
serving Quad City families since 1889, Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Homes are located in Rock Island, Milan, and Reynolds and are
proud supporters of WQPT.

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