MetroFocus

FULL EPISODE

MetroFocus: September 14, 2021

Veteran New York City writer and editor Seth Barron joins us tonight with his new book "The Last Days of New York, A Reporter's True Tale." Also, meet Paws of War. They are the four-legged companions helping the nation’s soldiers recover from the emotional effects of war.

AIRED: September 14, 2021 | 0:28:41
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

>>> THIS IS "METROFOCUS" WITH

RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND

JENNA FLANAGAN.

>>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE

POSSIBLE BY --

SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA

PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT

ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN

GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER.

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD.

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN

FAMILY.

JUDY AND JOSH WESTON.

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN

FOUNDATION.

>>> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO

"METROFOCUS."

I'M RAFAEL P. ROMAN.

AFTER DECADES OF DECLINING

CRIME, WHY DID NEW YORK CITY GET

DANGEROUS FOR NEW YORKERS

OVERNIGHT?

WAS THIS NEGATIVE TURN SIMPLY A

CONSEQUENCE OF THE COVID

PANDEMIC?

WAS IT DUE TO MAYOR de BLASIO'S

MISMANAGEMENT?

OR DO THE CAUSES OF THE MOUNTING

PROBLEMS GO MUCH DEEPER THAN

THAT?

THESE ARE JUST A FEW OF THE

QUESTIONS THAT VETERAN NEW YORK

CITY WRITER AND EDITOR SETH

BA

BARON RAISES IN HIS NEW BOOK,

AND HE JOINING US NOW.

SETH, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

>> THANKS, RAFAEL.

I'M GLAD TO BE HERE.

>> SETH, FIRST OF ALL, I MOVED

TO NEW YORK CITY IN 1979.

AND AT VARIOUS TIMES SINCE, I

HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT I WAS LIVING

THROUGH THE LAST DAYS OF NEW

YORK CITY OR SOME VERSION OF

THAT.

FIRST IT WAS THROUGHOUT THE '80s

AND THE BEGINNING OF THE '90s.

THEN IT WAS AFTER 9/11, OF

COURSE.

AND THEN IT WAS BRIEFLY AFTER

THE FINANCIAL MELTDOWN.

AND OF COURSE WE CAME BACK MORE

OR LESS STRONG IN EACH OF THOSE

CASES.

DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE THAT THESE

ARE THE LAST DAYS OF NEW YORK,

THAT WE ARE IN A IRREVERSIBLE

DECLINE NOW?

>> WELL, YOU KNOW, NEVER SAY

NEVER.

BUT I WOULD SAY THAT WHAT WE'RE

EXPERIENCING IN NEW YORK RIGHT

NOW IS A RAPID UNWINDING OF A

PERIOD OF STABILITY, PROSPERITY

AND GROWTH THAT I THINK NEW

YORKERS HAVE GOTTEN TOO USED TO.

I THINK WE HAVE GOTTEN

COMPLACENT.

CLEARLY NEW YORK CITY ISN'T

GOING TO VANISH.

WE HAVE ALMOST NINE MILLION

PEOPLE.

THE CITY IS, YOU KNOW, BEEN

AROUND FOR 400 YEARS.

I DON'T THINK IT'S -- YOU KNOW,

IT'S NOT MOGADISHU AT THE

MOMENT.

IT'S NOT KABUL.

HOWEVER, IN 2020 AND THIS YEAR,

TOO, NEW YORKERS EXPERIENCED A

RAPID DISLOCATION.

WE HAVE NEVER SEEN CRIME, LIKE

VIOLENT CRIME ESCALATE AS

RAPIDLY AS IT DID, SHOOTING UP

40% MURDERS.

THAT HAS A KIND OF WHIPLASH

EFFECT.

AND THAT SORT OF ACCELERATED,

YOU KNOW, IT IS ALMOST LIKE A

KIND OF COLLAPSE IN PUBLIC

ORDER.

CAN CERTAINLY MAKE PEOPLE FEEL

LIKE THEY'RE LIVING IN THE LAST

DAYS OF NEW YORK.

>> SO YOU DEDICATE THE LION'S

SHARE OF YOUR BOOK, THE

CATALOGING EXAMPLES OF WHAT YOU

AND OTHERS CONSIDER MAYOR BILL

de BLASIO'S FAILURES, IGNORANCE

IN HIS TENURE AND EVEN BEFORE

HIS TENURE.

HOW MUCH DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THE

DECLINE AND THE PROBLEMS, SEVERE

PROBLEMS THAT WE'RE SEEING TO

HIM?

>> I MEAN, LOOK, IT WOULD BE

UNFAIR TO BLAME ONE MAN FOR

EVERYTHING.

I THINK BILL de BLASIO IS THE

EPITOME OF A MOVEMENT THAT CAME

TO POWER AROUND THE SAME TIME

THAT HE WAS FIRST ELECTED, THAT

I CALL THE PROGRESSIVE ASCENDSY

IN THE BOOK.

SO HE HAS TO SHOULDER A FAIR

AMOUNT OF THE BLAME, THE SAME

WAY WHERE HE GETS CREDIT WHERE

IT'S DUE.

BUT I WOULD SAY THAT HE IS THE

FRUIT AND FLOWER OF THIS

POLITICAL MOVEMENT THAT AIMS

VERY EARLY ON TO IMPLEMENT, YOU

KNOW, CERTAIN POLICIES THAT I

THINK HAVE HAD A VERY

DELETERIOUS EFFECT ON THE CITY.

SO HE'S THE CHIEF REP, LET'S PUT

IT THAT WAY.

>> IN A MOMENT I WANT TO TALK

ABOUT THAT AND FIND OUT MORE

ABOUT HOW THEY GOT TO WHERE THEY

ARE.

BUT LET'S FOCUS ON THE TIME

BEING ON THE MAYOR SINCE YOU

DEDICATE SO MUCH TIME TO HIM AND

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE MAYOR AND

CRIME.

CRIME DID DROP DURING de

BLASIO'S FIRST FIVE YEARS IN

TENURE, FIRST FOUR YEARS.

AND NEW YORK REALLY WAS, AS HE

OFTEN SAID, THE SAFEST BIG CITY

IN THE COUNTRY.

THAT IS IN PART BECAUSE TO THE

SURPRISE OF SOME, HE HIRED BILL

BRANTON TO BE HIS POLICE

COMMISSIONER, THE GUY WHO IS

GETTING THE CREDIT FOR TURNING

CRIME STATS AROUND IN THE CITY

AND TO HELP TO START THE

RENAISSANCE OF THE CITY.

YOU SAID HE DESERVES SOME

CREDIT.

HE SHOULD DESERVE SOME CREDIT

FOR THAT, RIGHT?

>> OH, SURE.

IT WAS A SMART THING TO DO TO

HIRE BILL BRATTON.

HE KNOWS HOW TO RUN A POLICE

DEPARTMENT.

HE HAD THE POLICE BEHIND HIM,

LARGELY.

SO, SURE.

AND, LOOK, YOU KNOW, AS ADAM

SMITH SAID, THERE IS A GREAT

DEAL OF RUIN IN A NATION.

IT TAKES A LONG TIME TO SPEND

DOWN ALL OF THE GOOD WORKS THAT

THE CITY CREATED IN 20 YEARS OF,

YOU KNOW, PUBLIC ORDER AND SO

FORTH.

SO I WOULD SAY, YOU KNOW, THE

FIRST FIVE OR SIX YEARS OF de

BLASIO'S TENURE, YOU KNOW, HE

WAS SORT OF, YOU KNOW, EATING

OUT ON THE PREVIOUS

ADMINISTRATION'S EFFORTS.

>> TALK ABOUT THE PREVIOUS

ADMINISTRATION'S EFFORTS.

BILL BRATTON WAS ON THE SHOW AND

HE REMINDED US THAT IT WAS MAYOR

BLOOMBERG WHO CUT THE NYPD BY

SOMETHING LIKE 7,000 OFFICERS,

WHICH MADE COMMISSION EHIRE

KELLY DEPEND ALL THE MORE ON

STOP AND FRISKS WHICH GOT SO OUT

OF HAND THAT IN ONE YEAR, AS YOU

WRITE IN YOUR BOOK, THE NUMBERS

OF INCIDENTS WERE OVER 600,000

WHICH OF COURSE LED TO A SOURING

OF RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE NYPD

AND MANY PEOPLE IN POOR

COMMUNITIES OF COLOR, WHICH

INDIRECTLY LED TO THE POPULARITY

OF THE DEFUNDING THE POLICE

MOVEMENT HERE IN NEW YORK CITY.

SO THEY DESERVE SOME OF THE

BLAME, RIGHT?

>> WELL, I MEAN, I WOULD TAKE

ISSUE WITH THE IDEA THAT

DEFUNDING THE POLICE WAS EVER

POPULAR, ESPECIALLY IN THOSE

POOR COMMUNITIES YOU REFERENCED.

>> WHEREVER IT IS POPULAR.

I MEAN TO THE DEGREE THAT IT IS

POPULAR, THIS HAD SOMETHING TO

DO WITH IT.

I DON'T MEAN TO SAY IT'S POPULAR

OVERALL THERE.

>> THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN A

RADICAL COHORT THAT REFLEXIVELY

BLAMES THE POLICE AND ASSUMING

THAT THE POLICE ARE A KIND OF

OCCUPYING FORCE, ESPECIALLY IN

BLACK NEIGHBORHOODS.

I PERSONALLY DON'T THINK THAT

THAT'S A LEGITIMATE PERSPECTIVE

AND I DON'T THINK MOST PEOPLE IN

THOSE NEIGHBORHOODS VIEW IT THAT

WAY.

IN FACT, IF YOU GO TO PRECINCT

COMMUNITY MEETINGS WHICH YOU

USUALLY HEAR ARE PEOPLE

IMPLORING THE POLICE TO INCREASE

THEIR PRESENCE BECAUSE, YOU

KNOW, PEOPLE DON'T LIKE HAVING

DRUG DEALERS ON THEIR CORNER.

THEY DON'T LIKE PUBLIC DRINKING

AND FIGHTING AND ALL THE KIND

OF -- OR EVEN LOWER-LEVEL

DISORDER THAT CAN -- THAT CAN

GATHER AND BECOME, YOU KNOW,

MAJOR, MAJOR.

>> YOU WRITE ABOUT THE ROLE THAT

HOMELESSNESS AND PUBLIC MENTAL

HEALTH PLAYED AND THE

SIGNIFICANT EROSION OF QUALITY

OF LIFE IN OUR CITY.

BOTH EXHIBITED BEFORE MAYOR de

BLASIO TOOK CONTROL.

HOW DID THEY MAKE IT WORSE?

>> WELL, I THINK ONE OF THE WAYS

IN WHICH de BLASIO AND THE

PROGRESSIVE ASEN DANSY MADE IT

WORSE IS THIS FOCUS OF HIS

THRIVE NYC PROGRAM.

THIS MODEL OF, YOU KNOW, MENTAL

HEALTH AWARENESS IS FOCUSSED ON

TRYING TO GET AS MANY PEOPLE AS

POSSIBLE INTO SOME VERSION OF

THERAPY TO DEAL WITH WHAT'S BEEN

CALLED THE WORRIED WELL.

PEOPLE WHO ARE, YOU KNOW,

ANXIOUS, INNENEUROTIC, DEPRESSE.

THAT'S NOT REALLY THE PROBLEM IN

NEW YORK CITY.

THAT'S KIND OF LIKE A LUXURY

PROBLEM.

THE PROBLEM IN NEW YORK CITY ARE

SERIOUSLY MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE

WHO ARE BASICALLY BEING ALLOWED

TO, YOU KNOW, TO SIT IN THEIR

OWN FILLth, RUN AROUND THE

STREETS, YOU KNOW, ATTACKING

PEOPLE, PUSHING PEOPLE INTO THE

SUBWAY TRACKS WITH THE

ASSUMPTION THAT, WELL, WE CAN'T

DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT BECAUSE,

YOU KNOW, FOR VARIOUS

LIBERTARIAN REASONS AND THE IDEA

BEING THAT, WELL, THE MOST

IMPORTANT THING IS, WELL, WE

JUST HAVE TO HAVE SERVICES ON

OFFER.

WELL, WE SPEND A LOT OF MONEY ON

SERVICES FOR THE MENTALLY ILL.

WE HAVE AN OPTION, KENDRA'S LAW.

IT IS THE MOST ROBUST LAW OF

THIS SORT IN THE NATION THAT CAN

ACTUALLY COMPEL PEOPLE WHO ARE

MENTALLY ILL AND PUTTING

THEMSELVES OR OTHERS AT RISK,

THEY CAN BE BROUGHT BEFORE A

JUDGE AND COMPELLED TO, YOU

KNOW, STAY WITH THEIR TREATMENT.

>> SO WHY DON'T WE USE IT MORE

OFTEN?

>> WELL, THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION.

PART OF THE PROBLEM HAPPENS AT

THE STATE LEVEL.

THEY HAVE REDUCED THE NUMBER OF

BEDS, BEDS FOR THE MENTALLY ILL

IN HOSPITALS AND, YOU KNOW, I

HAVE ASKED de BLASIO ABOUT THIS.

HE CLAIMS THAT THEY ARE USING

IT, BUT THE NUMBERS DON'T BEAR

THAT OUT.

IT'S NOT BEING USED EFFECTIVELY.

AND I THINK A LOT OF IT HAS TO

DO WITH THERE IS THIS SENSE, AND

YOU WILL READ IT IN THE PAGES OF

THE NEW YORK TIMES THAT SERIOUS

MENTAL ILLNESS IS JUST ANOTHER

WAY OF BEING.

AND THOSE PEOPLE HAVE THE RIGHT

TO, YOU KNOW, LIVE AS THEY WILL.

>> WELL, YOU KNOW, LET'S GET TO

THE PROGRESSIVE ASCENDANCY.

WHO AREID THEY COME TO POWER?

AND WHO ARE THEY?

FOR SOME PEOPLE MAY SAY, WAIT,

THIS ISN'T RIGHT.

>> WELL, I THINK YOU SEE IT IN

THE ORIGINS OF THE WORKING

FAMILIES PARTY, WHICH WAS BORN

IN THE EARLY 2000s, LATE '90s,

WHICH CAME OUT OF ACORN, YOU

KNOW, THE COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION

THAT DID TENANT ORGANIZING AND

SO FORTH.

VERY EARLY ON, THE FOUNDERS OF

THE WORKING FAMILIES PARTY,

MOSTLY UNION REPRESENTATIVES,

WANTED TO SEE BILL de BLASIO

BECOME THE MAYOR.

AND BY 2009, THEY ELECTED A

NUMBER OF PEOPLE TO THE CITY

COUNCIL.

THEY GOT TISH JAMES IN.

THEY GOT BRAD LANDER, JAMINI.

THESE ARE ALL THE PEOPLE THAT

BECAME LEADERS OF THIS MOVEMENT.

BILL de BLASIO CAME THE PUBLIC

ADVOCATE.

WHEN HE BECAME MAYOR, HE

INSTALLED HIS CITY COUNCIL

SPEAKER AND ESSENTIALLY THESE

ARE THE PEOPLE WHO ARE NOW

RUNNING THE CITY, YOU KNOW, FOR

HIM.

WHAT ARE THEIR POLICIES?

WE SAW IT WITH de BLASIO'S 2013

CAMPAIGN, THIS IDEA THAT THE

CITY IS, YOU KNOW, BROKEN, THAT

WE HAVE THE TALE OF TWO CITIES,

THAT WE HAVE THE HAVES AND THE

HAVE-NOTS.

SO WEALTH, INEQUITY, TO HIM IS A

MAJOR PROBLEM.

NOW, WEALTH INEQUITY CAN BE A

MAJOR PROBLEM, BUT IN NEW YORK

CITY WE HAVE A LOT OF VERY RICH

PEOPLE WHO PAY A HUGE AMOUNT OF

TAXES AND THAT'S ESSENTIALLY

WHAT FUNDS THE ENTIRE SERVICES

SUPERSTRUCTURE.

>> SETH, TIME IS RUNNING SHORT,

BUT, YOU KNOW, YOUR BOOK CAME

OUT BEFORE THE RECENT MAYORAL

PRIMARIES AND BEFORE ERIC ADAMS

GOT THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION

ESSENTIALLY RUNNING ON A LAW AND

ORDER PLATFORM, PARTICULARLY IN

THE LAST FEW WEEKS.

EXPLICITLY SAYING THAT UNLESS WE

GET CRIME UNDER CONTROL, THAT

THERE WILL BE NO ECONOMIC AND

CULTURAL RENAISSANCE IN NEW YORK

CITY.

DOES THAT MAKE YOU OPTIMISTIC

ABOUT THE LAST DAYS OF NEW YORK?

>> WELL, YOU KNOW, I SUPPOSE

IT'S THE RIGHT KIND OF RHETORIC.

I'M NOT SO SURE THAT HE'S THE

GUY TO REALLY DO IT.

MY FEELING ABOUT ERIC ADAMS IS

HE'LL SAY ANYTHING AND DO

LITTLE.

I REALLY HAVE A WAIT AND SEE

ATTITUDE ABOUT WHAT HIS POLICIES

ARE ACTUALLY GOING TO BE.

I WAS NOT HEARTENED THAT HE SAID

HE'S ON THE SAME PAGE AS THE

PRESUMPTIVE MANHATTAN D.A. ALVIN

BRAG REGARDING SUCH THINGS AS

NOT ARRESTING PEOPLE FOR GUN

CRIME OR, YOU KNOW, NOT SEEKING

JAIL SENTENCES FOR VIOLENT

FELONS.

I THINK THERE IS MAJOR QUESTIONS

THAT REMAIN, THAT WILL REMAIN TO

BE SEEN.

>> ALL RIGHT.

IT'S A WAIT AND SEE ATTITUDE

THAT YOU HAVE.

WELL, YOU KNOW, THE CENSUS

NUMBERS RECENTLY CAME OUT AND

SHOW THAT NEW YORK CITY'S

POPULATION GREW TO A RECORD 8.8

MILLION PEOPLE IN 2020, ALMOST

UP 8% FROM 2010.

NONE OTHER THAN THE NEW YORK

POST SAID THIS WAS PROOF OF THE

CITY'S CONTINUED VITALITY AND

THAT IT GAVE US REASON TO

BELIEVE THAT THE BEST WAS YET TO

COME IN A POST-COVID AND POST-de

BLASIO NEW YORK.

ARE YOU MOVED BY THEIR

ENTHUSIASM?

>> WELL, YOU KNOW, THE NEW YORK

POST, THEY HAVE LIKE REASONS TO

BE BOOSTERS.

YOU KNOW, I HAVE A MORE

JAUNDICED EYE, I'D SAY.

YOU KNOW, I PUBLISH IN THE POST,

BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN I SHARE

ALL OF THEIR OPTIMISM.

>> SO, LISTEN, I CAME ACROSS

THIS RECENTLY.

WHEN I READ IT, I THOUGHT OF

YOUR BOOK, WHICH I HAD JUST

FINISHED.

HE SAID THIS, COUNTRIES

GENERALLY GO FROM ORDER TO

DISORDER AND THEN FROM DISORDER

MOVE BACK TO ORDER BECAUSE

QUIET, LAZINESS, LAZINESS

DISORDER, FROM RUIN COMES ORDER.

FROM ABILITY GLORY AND GOOD

FORTUNE.

MAYBE WE'RE NOT IN THE LAST DAYS

OF NEW YORK.

MAYBE WE'RE IN THE LAST DAYS OF

DOWNWARD CYCLE.

MAYBE GLORY AND GOOD FORTUNE IS

WHAT AWAITS US.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

>> I HOPE SO.

YOU KNOW, FROM YOUR LIPS TO

GOD'S EARS.

I THINK THAT, YOU KNOW, BUT IT

COULD TAKE A WHILE.

RIGHT NOW WE'RE AT A CRATER AND

HOPEFULLY WE COME BACK.

SO GIVE US A SENSE.

IN YOUR BOOK, YOU'RE VERY

CANDID, AND YOU DON'T PRETEND TO

KNOW WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN.

BUT I WANT TO PUT YOU ON THE --

PUT YOU ON THE SPOT.

WHERE ARE WE GOING TO BE IN TWO

YEARS FROM NOW?

>> WELL, I THINK IN TWO YEARS

THE FISCAL PROBLEMS ARE GOING TO

REALLY BECOME ACUTE.

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS NOT

GOING TO CONTINUE TO SHOVEL TENS

OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS INTO NEW

YORK'S COUFFERS.

DEPENDING ON IF HE'S WILLING TO

STAND UP TO THE PUBLIC SECTOR

UNIONS.

YOU KNOW, IT DEPENDS ON WHAT

HAPPENS WITH BIG BUSINESS.

>> I WAS HOPING THEY GET A

LITTLE BIT OF OPTIMISM, BUT I

GUESS I'M NOT GOING TO.

BUT ANYWAY, SETH, THE BOOK IS

THE LAST DAYS OF NEW YORK, A

REPORTER'S TRUE TALE.

IT'S A RIVETING READ.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING

US.

>>> BUILDING A BOND WITH HIM, HE

STARTED DOING STUFF FOR ME THAT

HE WASN'T EVEN TRAINED FOR.

NOT TOO LONG AGO I WAS IN

THERAPY AND WE WERE TALKING

ABOUT SOMETHING INTENSE.

I GOT PANICKY.

HE GOT OFF THE FLOOR AND CLIMBED

UP ON TOP OF ME.

MY THERAPIST AND I STARTED

LAUGHING ABOUT IT.

I WENT FROM ALMOST HAVING A

PANIC ATTACK TO LAUGHING BECAUSE

MY DOG IS LICKING MY FACE.

>> WHAT IS AN ORGANIZATION THAT

PLACES RESCUED ANIMALS WITH

VETERANS?

>> THIS FACILITY IS DESIGNED TO

BE THEIR SECOND HOME.

>> I AM A FUTURE MILITARY

SPOUSE.

MY FIANCÉE IS IN THE ARMY.

WE HAVE A FIVE-YEAR-OLD CHILD

TOGETHER.

I HAD TO DO THE JOB OF MILITARY

SPOUSE WHILE HE WAS AWAY.

IN THE MEANTIME, I KIND OF

STARTED DOING THIS TO HELP WITH

ME, TO HELP WITH MY FAMILY.

WE'RE A BIG SUPPORT NETWORK

HERE.

WE ALL WORK HAND IN HAND.

>> WE STARTED FIVE YEARS AGO

PLACING DOGS, AND WE ARE PROUD

OF THE PLACEMENTS.

WE ARE PROUD OF THE LETTERS AND

E-MAILS AND TEXTS THAT WE GET

TALKING ABOUT, HEY, JUST WANT TO

SAY HELLO AND TODAY IS ANOTHER

DAY THAT I'M ALIVE.

AND I'M SO GRATEFUL FOR THIS DOG

AND FOR YOU GUYS.

>> TREAT THE SAME WAY EVERY

TIME, OKAY?

SO EVENTUALLY TREAT GOES AWAY.

WE'RE GOING TO PUT THAT RIGHT TO

HIS NOSE AND I'M GOING TO READ

HIM TO MY TOES.

WHEN THE GUYS COME HOME, YOU

EXPECT THE WORLD FROM THEM

BECAUSE THEY CAME HOME.

RIGHT?

THEY SHOULD BE THE SAME.

BUT THEY'RE NOT.

THEY HAVE BEEN THROUGH A

TRAUMATIC EVENT.

>> WHEN YOU HIT YOUR HAND SAY

YES, RAISE IT UP, SIT.

>> SO I WANTED TO BECOME A

MILITARY POLICE OFFICER.

I HAD TO BE 19.

I WASN'T.

I WAS 17.

SO I TOOK THE NEXT BEST THING.

I JOINED MARINE CORPS SECURITY

FORCES.

THAT'S A SECONDARY JOB.

MY PRIMARY JOB WAS INFANTRY.

WHEN I FIRST GOT OUT, THINGS

WERE A LITTLE WEIRD FOR ME.

THE SYMPTOMS I HAD ASSOCIATED

WITH PTSD WERE NOT REALLY MAJOR

AT THE TIME.

IT KIND OF GREW.

LITTLE THINGS GREW FROM SEEDS

AND GOT BIGGER AND BIGGER AND

BIGGER AND WORSE AND WORSE.

SO I STARTED DOING THINGS TO

COPE WITH IT.

DIDN'T KNOW IT WAS PTSD.

DIDN'T RECOGNIZE IT.

I THOUGHT, MAN, IT'S JUST ME.

I'M JUST SCREWED UP.

AND I'D HAVE A NIGHTMARE AND

THEN I WOULD BE AFRAID TO GO

BACK TO SLEEP, SO I WOULDN'T GO

TO SLEEP FOR TWO DAYS.

I DIDN'T WANT PEOPLE TO SEE ME

LIKE THAT SO I'D ISOLATE UNTIL

IT PASSED.

SO I STARTED TAKING PAIN

MEDICATION PRESCRIBED FROM MY

DOCTOR.

I FOLLOWED THE PRESCRIPTION THAT

I WAS SUPPOSED TO DO.

BUT AFTER TIME I STARTED TAKING

IT NOT BECAUSE I WAS IN PAIN

BECAUSE IT WAS JUST MAKING ME

FEEL BETTER.

SO I STARTED TAKING MORE AND

MORE.

I JUST HAD A FEW NIGHTS THAT I

LOOKED IN THE MIRROR AND I SAID,

I CAN'T LIVE MY LIFE LIKE THIS.

SOMETHING IS WRONG.

ONCE I STARTED WORKING WITH THE

VA AND I STARTED MEETING OTHER

PEOPLE IN GROUPS AND IN THERAPY

AND IN PROGRAMS I MET OTHER

PEOPLE DEALING WITH THE SAME

STUFF AS I WAS.

I DIDN'T FEEL SO ALONE ANYMORE.

I FELT LIKE, WELL, HERE IS SOME

OTHER PEOPLE THAT REALLY DO GET

ME.

>> THE FIRST PLANE HIT THE

TOWER.

THEN WHEN THE SECOND PLANE HIT,

THAT'S WHEN MY NATIONAL GUARD

UNIT WAS DEPLOYED AND WE WERE

SHIPPED OUT ON BUSSES TO THE OUT

SKIRTS OF GROUND ZERO.

AS WE WALKED CLOSER AND CLOSER

TO THE PILE, IT WAS BURNING.

IT SMELLED REALLY BAD.

PEOPLE WERE SEARCHING IN THE

PILE FOR BODY PARTS.

IF WE HAPPEN TO FIND ANY

REMAINS, THEN WE WOULD HAVE TO

BRING THE PARTS TO THE MORGUE.

I STARTED DRINKING A LOT AT THAT

POINT AND USING ILLEGAL DRUGS

AND IT WAS ALL TO NUMB ALL THE

THINGS THAT I WITNESSED.

I STARTED REALIZING IT AS THE

PROBLEMS WERE GETTING WORSE.

MY IRRITABILITY WAS GETTING

WORSE.

I STARTED GETTING PARANOID.

AND WHEN I GOT TO THAT POINT,

THAT'S WHEN I WENT TO THE VA

HOSPITAL IN EAST NORTH PORT AND

I GOT HELP.

>> GREAT JOB.

GOOD JOB.

>> JAMES IS AN AMAZING

INDIVIDUAL.

HE'S THE FIRST TO VOLUNTEER FOR

ANY SERVICES.

HE'S THE FIRST TO HELP OUT.

HE'S THE FIRST TO BUILD

SOMETHING.

HE'S THE FIRST TO COLLECT DOG

FOOD AND BRING IT TO US.

HE'S ALWAYS BEEN ACTIVE IN HIS

COMMUNITIES.

>> GUARDIANS OF RESCUE RESCUED

11 PUPPIES FROM LOUISIANA AND

THEN DONATED TO PAWS OF WAR FOR

THE VETERANS.

THEY WERE IN A HURRICANE AND IN

LOUISIANA THEY WERE GOING TO

YOUTH NICE ALL 11 OF THEM.

STARTING OUT WITH THEM IT IS

LIKE STARTING OUT WITH A NEW

CHILD BUT NOW IT IS A PUPPY AND

YOU HAVE TO MOLD IT.

>> I MET TODD WHO HAD A SERVICE

DOG.

ONCE I MET TODD AND I SAW HOW

MUCH HELP THE SERVICE DOG WAS

GETTING HIM I THOUGHT, MAYBE A

SERVICE DOG ONE GOOD.

THIS WAS EARLY WHEN I FIRST

STARTED IDENTIFYING EVERYTHING.

HIS DOG HELPED ME SO MUCH

BECAUSE IT WAS A FULLY TRAINED

SERVICE DOG THAT I WAS LOOKING

AFTER AND TAKING ME EVERYWHERE.

IT WAS FANTASTIC.

AND I STARTED SMILING AGAIN AND

LAUGHING AGAIN AND IT WAS PRETTY

COOL.

I THOUGHT, WHAT IS THE CHANCES I

COULD GET A DOG.

I PUT AN APPLICATION IN.

I WENT THROUGH THE PROCESS THAT

I'M NOW IN CHARGE OF.

AND I GOT ROCKY.

ROCKY HAS JUST EXCEEDED MY

EXPECTATIONS.

HE'S VERY WELL-TRAINED.

HE'S A VERY GOOD DOG.

I COULDN'T BE HAPPIER WITH

ROCKY.

>> HOW HE'S PART OF MY CLASS AND

HE'S GOING FOR THE REST OF THE

BADGES WERE ROCKY.

WE'RE TAKING HIM THROUGH ALL THE

LEVELS AND THEY'RE A VERY GOOD

STUDENT.

EVERY CLASS IS AT LEAST 4 TO 6

DOGS, IF NOT MORE.

IF ANY OF THE GUYS LEAVE, SAY

THEIR WORK SCHEDULE IS TOO

HECTIC WITH THE DOG WALKING, WE

CAN BRING THE VETERINARIAN TO

THE SERVICE DOG IN NEED.

IF ANYONE NEEDS HELP WITH DRUG

OR SUBSTANCE ABUSE ISSUES, WE

HAVE A LIAISON THAT CAN GET THEM

IN THE DIRECTION THEY NEED SO WE

CAN GET THE SERVICEMEN WELL

ROUNDED AS WELL.

>> YOU WANT ME TO WORK WITH

ROCKY FOR A SECOND?

>> SERVICE DOG IS AN EXTENSION

OF YOUR ARM.

SERVICE DOG MEANS THAT THE

SERVICE DOG HAS A JOB TO DO AND

MUST BE ATTACHED TO SAID SERVICE

PERSON'S HIP.

>> HE'S JUST THERE.

EVEN IF I'M DROEAMING AT NIGHT

AND I'M SWEATING AND STUFF HE'LL

COME OVER TO ME, POUNCE ON ME,

LICK MY FACE.

HE'LL WAKE ME UP FROM MY DREAM.

HE GOES TO SCHOOL WITH ME.

HE'S TRAINED TO LAY DOWN OR SIT.

I TELL HIM THE COMMANDS

DEPENDING UPON WHAT'S GOING ON

IN THE CLASSROOM AND HE STAYS

THERE.

HE DOESN'T CARRY NOTES OR BOOKS.

>> MOST OF THE DOGS IN THE

BEGINNING, THEY START TO TRIGGER

AND I START TO SHOW THE GUYS

WHEN THEY'RE ACTUALLY, THEIR DOG

IS TRIGGERING THAT.

BECAUSE YOU'LL SEE IT IN VERY

EARLY STAGES OF TRAINING IF WE

HAVE THE RIGHT FIT.

SIT.

GOOD BOY.

>> I PICKED HIM UP.

I DIDN'T TOUCH ANY OTHER PUPPY.

I'M LIKE, I WANT HIM.

AND I KNEW THAT HE WAS THE ONE

FOR ME.

HE WAS NICE AND CALM.

HE WAS CONSOLING ME RIGHT AWAY.

HE JUST LIKE NESTLED UP TO ME

AND HE DIDN'T WANT TO GET OFF MY

LAP.

YOU KNOW?

AND EVEN NOW STILL HE FOLLOWS ME

EVERYWHERE.

>> WANT TO HAVE SOME FREE TIME?

OKAY.

>> AND THE BEST THING IS THE DOG

CAN BE A NORMAL DOG WHEN THE

VEST IS OFF.

WHEN THE VEST IS ON, THE DOG IS

IN WORKING MODE.

SO THE DOG DOES KNOW THE

DIFFERENCE OF WHEN HE NEEDS TO

BE DOING HIS JOB AND WHEN IT'S,

YOU KNOW, OFF THE CLOCK TIME.

>> WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THE

VETERANS ARE INTERESTED IN OUR

ORGANIZATION, THAT A DOG REALLY

WILL BE A GOOD FIT AND THAT THEY

ARE RECEIVING CARE ALREADY.

IF A VETERAN COMES TO US AND

THEY HAVE PTSD AND NEVER BEEN

DIAGNOSED, THEY'RE NOT GETTING

OUTSIDE HELP FOR IT, THAT'S

WHERE OUR PEER SPECIALISTS WILL

COME IN AND POINT THEM IN THE

RIGHT DIRECTION AND SAY, LISTEN,

THIS IS REALLY WHAT YOU MIGHT

NEED.

US HERE AT PAWS OF WAR, WE'RE

JUST OTHER VETERANS THAT HAVE

BEEN THROUGH THIS.

>> EVERYONE IS AFFECTED IN A

DIFFERENT WAY.

THE FACT THEY ARE THIS

HONORABLE, SOMETIMES IT IS VERY

HARD FOR THEM TO ACCEPT THAT

THAT IS WHO THEY ARE NOW, AND

THAT'S THE BIGGEST HURDLE THAT A

LOT OF THESE GUYS GO THROUGH.

BUT WITH THE DOGS IS ANOTHER

THERAPEUTIC HAND IN IT HELPS

THEM TRANSITION AND ACCEPT WHAT

THEY'RE GOING THROUGH AND HELP

THEM LEAD A MORE FULFILLED LIFE.

>> YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE A

FRIEND.

YOU WILL NEVER BE LONELY.

YOU ALWAYS HAVE SOMEONE TO TALK

TO.

THEY MIGHT NOT TALK BACK, BUT

THEY'RE THERE FOR YOU WHEN

YOU'RE HAVING THOSE HARD MOMENTS

OR THOSE DOWN TIMES.

YOU ALWAYS HAVE A FRIEND WITH

YOU.

>> IF YOU TURN OUT OF THE

SERVICE FOR US, THIS IS OUR

SERVICE FOR YOU AND WE ARE VERY

GRATEFUL FOR IT.

THOSE WHO HAVE DONE A SERVICE

BIGGER THAN WE COULD EVER ASK

FOR.

>>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE

POSSIBLE BY --

SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA

PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT

ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN

GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER.

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD.

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN

FAMILY.

JUDY AND JOSH WESTON.

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN

FOUNDATION.

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