CMI 2020 Annual Report

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Speaker Series

NPR reporter’s Veterans

coverage continues at home

By Hayley Keys

Speaker Series

through phones, radios and TV screens,”

Lawrence said. “The program is meant to

help find a veteran who cannot help themselves.”

Lawrence said the idea was good in theory,

but after meeting a veteran who had been

put on the alert, he began to understand the

controversy.

“Your name and health conditions would

be made public, and you know it could feel

very violating,” Lawrence said. “You might

not want everyone who doesn’t know me to

know that I have problems.”

Lawrence finished the talk by telling the

crowd lighthearted stories about the people

he gets to meet every day. He mentioned

that he feels blessed to have a job where he

gets to interact with unique individuals on a

daily basis.

“I get to have a lot of fun meeting really inspiring

people,” Lawrence said. “Most of these

guys are totally squared away and doing

really well and have, you know, transitioned

in whatever way they needed to.”

Maddy Sedberry, a sophomore SAEM major,

attended the event to earn shadowing

hours, but she said she ended up really enjoying

the experience.

“I think it’s really interesting to hear about

veteran affairs. And I mean I’ve heard about

the issues, but honestly I never thought

about tackling mental health as a part of

that,” Sedberry said. “I think it was really

interesting to hear his topics on that and

how it might change in the future.”

Zach Washington, a freshman SAEM major,

said that Lawrence helped him become

more aware of the struggles of veterans,

something he hopes to share with others.

“This kind of helped inform me on a lot of

things and now I’m more consciously aware

of these issues and I always enjoy having an

opportunity to learn,” Washington said.

Sedberry also mentioned she hopes to bring

awareness of veteran affairs to her fellow

peers.

“I think I’m gonna take the information

and just you know talk about it with my

peers and be like, ‘Hey, I just saw this great

speaker, and this is what we talked about,’”

Sedberry said.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in

The Globe.

Photo by Hayley Keys

WESA-FM reporter Chris Potter (left) moderates the discussion with Quil Lawrence in the Highmark Theatre.

Quil Lawrence is a National Public

Radio (NPR) correspondent who covers

veteran affairs around the world. On Oct.

17, as part of the Media Innovators Speaker

Series, Lawrence visited the Pittsburgh

Playhouse to talk to students and educators

about his experience as a journalist.

Lawrence said he spent many years acting

as a foreign correspondent in countries

like Iraq and Afghanistan, but he felt like he

wanted to do more.

“It just really started to occur to me that

I had something in common with [the

veterans], and I also wanted to understand

what it’s going to be like for them to come

home,” Lawrence said. “That was when I

started bothering NPR to bring me home

because there are all these reasons that we

need to see what happens, and we need to

make sure that America sort of makes good

on its contract with people.”

Lawrence spoke about his experiences

with different policies in place, and their

unintended consequences when it came to

veteran affairs.

“With the VA Mission, they decided they

are going to slowly expand this to all

veterans, but there are still a lot of problems,”

Lawrence said. “One of the biggest

problems that NPR has highlighted is that

people will get kicked off the program with

no explanation.”

According to Lawrence, the program was

created by the government to help caregivers

of veterans who are seriously injured.

He went on to talk about Matt Andrews,

a triple amputee who had recently been

kicked out of the program.

“He’s been through every manner of human

experience,” Lawrence said. “He’s been

homeless while a triple amputee, he’s dealt

with drug addiction and he was just kicked off

the caregiver program because the VA said he

hasn’t been making progress.”

Lawrence played a clip from one of his interviews

in which Andrews talked about his struggles

and his wife, Elizabeth, and mentions

the hardships they had been through.

“I’m still going to care for him, even if they

pay me or not,” Elizabeth said.

Another topic Lawrence talked about was

the Green Alert Program. This program was

implemented in Wisconsin, in an attempt to

decrease veteran suicide rates, but Lawrence

said it was met with controversy due to its

invasive nature.

“They instituted a Green Alert, and, like an

Amber Alert, it reaches people in the area

Photo by Center for Media Innovation

Prior to his presentation at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, Quil Lawrence talks with Carmen Gentile, military veteran and author of

Blinded by the Taliban. The roundtable discussion covered many topics related to media coverage of disabled veterans.

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