At Least 31 Killed In 2 Mass Shootings, Man Who Suffered Brain Damage In Custody Awarded $12M, ‘Sixty-Six’ Garage
KPBS Midday Edition / August 5, 2019
At least 31 people were killed in two mass shootings over the weekend in Texas and Ohio. Also, the mass shooting in El Paso is being handled as a domestic terrorism case. A man who suffered brain damage while in the county jail has been awarded more than $12 million in damages, Congress may expand fertility benefits for troops amid objections from religious groups, the story of ‘Sixty-Six Garage’ has been serialized in a LA Times podcast, and the new film “Ophelia” looks to Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” from the perspective of this supporting character.
Speaker 1: 00:00 Two days after the deadliest targeted attack against Latinos in the u s Latino leaders from across the country are gathered in San Diego. The president of Unidos u s the nation's largest Latino civil rights organization has issued a statement about the shooting in El Paso. In it, she criticizes the anti-immigrant rhetoric of president Trump and says he must be held partly accountable for the violence at today's Unidos US conference in San Diego. Five Democratic presidential candidates will address the group we expect to hear from former vice president Joe Biden and senators, Camilla Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders and former housing and urban development. Secretary Julio on Castro. Joining me is you need those us board member, our Nofo Menriquez president and CEO of the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee on antipoverty, a San Diego based nonprofit and our Nofo. Welcome to the program.
Speaker 2: 00:58 Thank you for the opportunity to be able to share some, uh, some words. Um, we have a Mac.
Speaker 1: 01:03 We need those. US president at Janet Morea also said she's angry about the shooting in El Paso. Do you share that reaction?
Speaker 2: 01:12 Absolutely. Here in the San Diego community as being a border town. This absolutely has an impact in our entire community. We work with the Latino and in the Latino community, uh, day in, day out. And this absolutely raises concerns for us. Um, uh, we're concerned that may come to different border towns.
Speaker 1: 01:32 What are you hearing so far from people in San Diego on their reaction to this mass shooting?
Speaker 2: 01:39 Everything we hear right now has been coming through the media and um, but those are the type of uh, notes that come out that put us on concern. We have been here at that when he, those conference and the, there has been a kind of an undertone off this conversation about what's happening and, and it's a shame that it comes at a time when we are here, gathered together organizations across the country, affiliate those of Winnie of those us. And we're here to celebrate heritage and culture and the power of Latino community that the great strides we've done and made over the last several decades and to feel that we are here and that we are being attacked. It's a huge impact. And so the conversation that's happening, it's not just people from the San Diego community, but the people that are here across the country is we're all concerned.
Speaker 1: 02:31 Now many people are making a connection between Donald Trump's anti-immigrant words and actions and the El Paso shooting. What do you see are the elements of that connection? How would one thing lead to the other
Speaker 2: 02:44 president? Trump's comments have been feeling the rhetoric, the Anti Latino rhetoric and I believe there is even a manifesto or a, uh, an outline of this pasture in El Paso that he was targeting Latino community. I think that it adds fuel to the situation and we are in, we needs to stop
Speaker 1: 03:06 now. This morning, president Trump condemned white supremacy and we have a clip of what he said
Speaker 3: 03:12 in one voice. Our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart and devours the soul.
Speaker 1: 03:33 I'm wondering, were those words coming from the president? Good to hear.
Speaker 2: 03:38 They are absolutely good to hear and I know he was reading them and it's about time that those words come out and they don't and they cannot stop. Right. They have to continue throughout, not just the president, but throughout the elected officials throughout the country.
Speaker 1: 03:55 Now, the Texas suspect, the Texas shooter had reportedly told investigators he wanted to quote, shoot as many Mexicans as possible, unquote. As someone who was worked with the Latino community here in San Diego, would you say there is hostility here toward Latinos today?
Speaker 2: 04:15 Absolutely. There is. Even though San Diego is a much more welcoming community. I am a Mexican American. I am an immigrant. I was born in Mexico, Mexicali. I came to the United States when I was 10 years old. I am an American citizen. I vote. I have not missed any election since I became a US citizen and we do believe that there is a critical impact to dwell of us. Like myself being an immigrant. Yes.
Speaker 1: 04:45 No. There are five major Democratic candidates that will address the, you need those us conference. Why aren't you hoping to hear from them?
Speaker 2: 04:52 You know, I think what's, what's the most important message that I want to hear from them is how to listen to the Latino narrative, right? We, the Latino community is not about immigration and, and that seems to be the topic that drives whenever you hear Latinos is the, is immigration. We are much more than immigration. We are involved in so many areas of the world, of the community, of the impacts that we have, whether it's business, whether it's technology or education or housing or, uh, services to the community. Like we are in every single aspect of this community of San Diego. And so I want to hear from them their Latino narrative of talking about all the great achievements that we are, that we've done and made to this community and how we can strengthen the United States here. Yes, immigration is a topic, but we are not just about immigration.
Speaker 1: 05:46 And I've been speaking with your needless u s board member are no flow, boundary gas. And I want to thank you so much for your time. Thanks a lot. Thank you.
Speaker 4: 05:59 [inaudible]
Speaker 5: 06:03 um.
Speaker 1: 00:00 Federal officials say they are treating the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas as domestic terrorism, but what does that mean if there is no federal charge for domestic terrorism and how does that impact law enforcement's ability to investigate and stop mass shootings? Your to talk about that is Mary McCord. She is senior litigator and visiting professor of law at the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and protection at Georgetown University law school. Previously she oversaw the US Department of Justice, his National Security Division. Mary, thanks so much for joining us.
Speaker 2: 00:34 My pleasure. Thank you for having me
Speaker 1: 00:36 and the law fair blog. You wrote a piece called it's time for Congress to make domestic terrorism a federal crime. In it, you say it's important to make the moral equivalence between domestic terrorist and international terrorist. Why do you think that's important?
Speaker 3: 00:52 Well, I think it's important for several reasons. I mean one is just to um, actually treat them the same because they are the same. When violence is used as a means toward an end and extremist goal, whether it's Islamist extremism, which has been the bulk of the terrorism cases prosecuted since nine 11, or whether it's it's extremism inspired by white supremacy, um, they should be treated equally under our law. And right now the law heavily favors the prosecution of, um, those who are committing their acts of violence on behalf of a foreign terrorist organization. And the bulk of the foreign terrorist organizations designated by the u s government are our Islamic extremist organizations. I think is also important though for people in the u s to understand what terrorism is. I think since nine 11, it's probably pretty common when people think terrorists. They think as long as extremism, they think Muslims. But we have terrorists that, uh, whose extremism is grown up right here at home in white supremacy. And when they commit acts of violence, they should be in furtherance of their extremist goals. They should be called terrorists and they should be prosecuted that way.
Speaker 1: 02:04 And you know, I mean, because long before nine 11 even white supremacist groups like the KKK terrorized African American communities all across this country, bombing churches, burning towns, and lynching people, while hundreds gathered to watch. To this day, 73% of terrorist attacks in this country have been linked to white supremacist organizations. That's according to the Anti Defamation League. So why is there no federal law against domestic terrorism?
Speaker 3: 02:31 Great. So I think, I think historically, part of the reason has been because a lot of the acts of violence that are committed in the u s are crimes under state and local law, and they all, they continue to be. So murder is a crime in all 50 states, right? Assault with a dangerous weapon, a crime in all 50 states. And I think historically we've treated these crimes as local crimes, even with done either, you know, for racist purposes, like a hate crime or for terrorist purposes, which might overlap with hate crime might be a racist, a rationale, but it's intended to intimidate or coerce, which is what terrorism is. What's the definition in the Federal Code of terrorism? Is crimes committed to intimidate or coerce the civilian population. We're influenced the policy of government through intimidation or coercion. So historically I think that's one of the reasons.
Speaker 3: 03:19 But then of course as we started to have the problem with international terrorism, and particularly I'll cuda nine 11, you know, the congress then created in some cases, you know, new statutes to deal with that and those focused very heavily on this international terrorist threat. Um, with, and, and to be clear, some of our terrorist terrorism statutes would apply to acts that are motivated by white supremacy and other, what we think of as domestic ideologies. Even though we know what's promising is not limited to us, it's, it's, it proliferates in western Europe and southeast Asia and other places like we saw with Christ church and with three Lunken other ex violence abroad. But the sum of the u s terrorism code would apply, but only in limited circumstances. So if it's, if it's, let's say a white supremacist act of violence, if it was committed with a bomb, which is a weapon of mass destruction, a nuclear device or radiological device, we get charged that as a terrorism fence.
Speaker 3: 04:15 It was committed against US government officials or US men mass transit, we could charge it as terrorism. But what we see mostly certainly what we saw in El Paso, what we've seen in Poway and um, Pittsburgh and other places are mass shootings using firearms. And sometimes things as in, at, in Charlottesville, use of a vehicle. And, and right now our terrorism crimes don't apply to acts of violence committed domestically using firearms or vehicles and less, uh, those were targeted at a US national or US government property. And so that's a big gap sort of in, in our terrorism offenses currently.
Speaker 1: 04:54 So how does not having a federal law against domestic terrorism impact law enforcement's ability to investigate and stop domestic terrorism?
Speaker 3: 05:05 So, and I don't want to give the false impression that there's nothing law enforcement can do currently because they can, the FBI, um, is empowered to investigate, you know, potential acts of violence. So if they learn about something that might be trending toward the commissioner of a violent crime, they can open an investigation. And sometimes that means opening investigations that, uh, the assistant director for Counter Terrorism, Mike mcgarrity recently and the director of Christopher Ray recently testified to Congress that they have something like 800 open investigations, but that's not fully integrating, um, the investigation of domestic terrorism into the nationwide counterterrorism program. And by that I mean the program that was really, you know, aggressively pursued post nine 11. That means using undercover online personas to engage with people who may be starting to talk about using violence, a mean of expressing their, um, extremist goals, such as creating a white ethno state or, you know, eradicating people of color or things as heinous and horrible as that.
Speaker 3: 06:08 That means running sting operations. That means, um, uh, you know, using these kinds of preventive techniques, which are very different than the way civil rights investigators and civil rights prosecutors look at things like hate crimes, which is more about let's bring justice to the victim because they've been a victim of a hate crime. There's is less about prevention and more about justice after the fact. So if we're going to present things and not just more than after we have the killings of 20 people and nine people and 11 people in 14 people in one foot, you know, in one fell swoop at one location. I think we need to integrate much more fully domestic terrorism into the already existing national counterterrorism program. And by creating a statute that's designed specifically to target that conduct, that kind of gives, first of all, congress is giving really a mandate to law enforcement.
Speaker 3: 07:01 This is important. We've given you the statute, now go investigate it. It also, I think allows for law enforcement who now, you know, have, they have to meet certain predicates and they always would to investigate, but it allows them to say, here we have this crime that we're investigating and here's how we're going to investigate it. Here's how we're going to go about it. And I, and I should just add one more thing and I know I've been talking a lot, um, I get, um, very, um, and passionate about this is that not only do we need to share a lot of information domestically between federal law enforcement and state and local authorities, but this is now an international problem. As I was just indicating, you know, we've had now mass attacks internationally by white supremacists who are now talking about each other and inspired by each other. Yet most of our coordination internationally, historically has been with respect to Islamic extremism. And we need to make sure that our law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies are talking to each other and sharing information that can help us better understand the extent of the threat internationally and domestically.
Speaker 1: 08:02 How do you think creating a federal charge of domestic terrorism will stop the kind of attacks we've seen recently?
Speaker 3: 08:10 Well, again, it's more about integrating it into the counterterrorism program and fighting it more aggressively. From a prevention point of view, when you're really trying to do prevention, what you're doing is you're paying attention. Again, we have to, we have two in the U s we have to support first amendment rights and the fact that people are entitled to say things that many of us would find a Corinth and be appalled by and, and, and, and make things should be illegal but are actually protected by our first amendment. We have to respect that, but that doesn't mean law enforcement can't be focusing in on what are the online social media platforms, what are the chat rooms, what are the places where white supremacists are talking about what their goals are? And those goals include violence. And when those goals include, or at least there's violence encouraged or, or invaded or even, you know, wink, wink, nod, nod, which we do see some of that and we see that even from our highest leadership, our president.
Speaker 3: 09:06 Um, those are the things that, that, that then can be investigated by. Again, having undercover officers take on the persona of someone being involved in that chat room. Right? And, and, and just like we do when it comes to international terrorism, we have undercover officers who get into the chat rooms and, and take on a persona and they talk with other people who are thinking about Jihad. And then they sometimes put together sting operations. Now people criticize these types of aggressive law enforcement and, and there are a lot of complaints about aggressive law enforcement, but those are ways that crimes are prevented. So these are law enforcement tools that have, you know, they have their criticisms, but if you want to prevent things and not just prosecuted after the fact, these are the kind of tools that law enforcement needs to be using. And I'm sure they are using them. It's just to what? How many resources have they put toward them and does it need to be more, does it need to be more vigorous? Does it need to be more coordinated? I think so.
Speaker 1: 10:05 I've been speaking with Mary B McCord, senior litigator and visiting professor of law at the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and protection at Georgetown University law school. Mary, thank you so much for joining us. My pleasure. Thank you.
Speaker 1: 00:00 A San Diego man who suffered brain damage after officers arrested him on suspicion of public drunkenness while he was being treated by paramedics has been awarded $12 million. The lawsuit accuses San Diego County deputies of false arrest, negligence, excessive force, and deliver it in difference among other allegations. San Diego County disputes the claims and is considering its legal options for an appeal. Joining me is Kelly Davis who reported the story with San Diego Union Tribune reporter Jeff McDonald. Kelly, thanks so much for joining us. Thank you. A jury awarded 12 million to a North county man who suffered brain damage after he was arrested by sheriff deputies. And walk us through what happened.
Speaker 2: 00:43 Yeah, the young man, his name's David Collins. Um, so this happened in November, 2016 he was 30 years old and he was suffering from a condition called Hypno Tree Mia, which, uh, results in, um, your blood sodium level dropping to a dangerously low level. And some of the signs of this are confusion, uh, weakness, hallucinations and, and so he had wandered out of his house. He had, he had gone about 200 feet away from his house according to the lawsuit, and he fell a pedestrian, um, who was walking by, saw him, um, went over to see if he was okay and he said, please get me help, please call nine one one. So, um, the paramedics arrived, uh, some sheriff's deputies arrived, but before the paramedics could render aid or assess what was wrong with Mr. Collins, the deputies handcuffed him. Uh, they called it in as a drunk in public and uh, took him to the Vista detention facility and there he fell at least twice. He possibly fell three times. Uh, there was some mention in the records of him falling in the parking lot when they arrived at the jail. His, his booking photo shows scratches on his face, but the entire time he was there, he was in the jail for, um, about 13 hours. The belief was the entire time that he was intoxicated, um, even though, like I said, he, he fell and hit his head at least twice and he was continuously just displaying signs of, of confusion and a, an altered mental state.
Speaker 1: 02:18 What can you tell us about the extent of the brain damage? Collin suffers from now?
Speaker 2: 02:23 Yeah, he, so he suffered not only the damage from his fall in jail, but there was a additional brain damage when he got to the Palomar Medical Center and there was some errors I guess with the medication he was administered to bring his blood sodium level back to normal. So I think that kind of exacerbated things. But ultimately, uh, you know, uh, according to his attorney attorneys, um, he will need medical assistance for the rest of his life. He needed help, uh, regaining the ability to walk and speak. You know, one, one thing that really got me in lawsuit is it can take him 15 minutes to button up a shirt. Um, his parents are really working with him to try to help him rehabilitate. But yeah, he won't be able to hold down a job and, and he will need continuing medical care for the rest of his life.
Speaker 2: 03:15 Did the award involve the sheriff's department admitting fault in this? No. I mean this was the, a jury awards. So, you know, as opposed to a settlement. But you know that the sheriff's Department of course said that they disagreed with the jury verdict. Um, they, they blamed Mr. Collins for, for what happened to him. Um, I guess he was an avid video game player and had kind of spent a couple of weeks beforehand as the, the sheriff's department said drinking beer and playing video games and not attending to his own health, which triggered the low blood sodium. So, um, yeah, they said that the Mr. Collins failure to take care of himself is what caused, uh, his harm in the first place. There's lawsuit isn't the only one the family has filed. Who else have they sued and why? So as most lawsuits do, they, they started off with, with kind of a, a wide swath of defendants.
Speaker 2: 04:07 You know, there was a, the ambulance provider, um, Palomar health, the city of Encinitas, um, various doctors and nurses at the hospital. But, you know, all those parties kind of dropped away after a while. They were either dismissed or they reached private settlements. So for this jury trial, um, all that was left was, uh, sheriff's deputies and sheriff's, uh, Vista jail medical staff. The jury is $12 million award. Is the result of one of dozens of lawsuits against the sheriff's departments over the last decade resulting in more than $20 million in damage awards. How unusual is that? Yeah, this is, you know, there have been some pretty significant settlements involving, um, inmates who've died in jail. There's a $2 million settlement there. There was a $3 million settlement. This is, this is huge. Um, I tried to look back as far as I could in, um, you know, in news records and I could not find a verdict this large in a San Diego County jail, uh, law enforcement case at all.
Speaker 2: 05:16 So it, it could be, I, I mean, I, I don't want to say it's the largest verdict ever. Uh, definitely one of the largest, why are taxpayers footing the bill for these settlements? It's cause the, the county is self insured. And has the sheriff's department made any changes as a result of these lawsuits and settlements? I, I'm not sure. I'm, because these lawsuits keep happening, settlements keep happening. Um, there's, there's some more lawsuits being filed this year involving inmates, you know, or inmates, families that, uh, allege, you know, neglect and harm on the part of the sheriff's Deputies and jail staff. So, I'm not sure if because of the, you know, like I said, this keeps happening. What's the next step in terms of this $12 million settlement? So the, the county and the sheriff's department will decide, uh, will need to decide whether they want to appeal the verdict in the, I believe they've got about 60 days to make that decision. I've been speaking to report her. Kelly Davis. Kelly, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you.
Speaker 3: 06:19 [inaudible].
Speaker 1: 00:00 When reporter Joanne Farian first became aware of a Coronado nursing home patient called 66 garage. She was working at KPBS and deeply involved in investigating end of life care. But then something happened. The strange, sad story of the man with no known identity being kept alive on machines for 15 years became an obsession. Now Joanne tells the whole story of 66 garage and a new podcast that has become one of the most popular in the nation. It's called room 20 from the La Times studios. It solves mysteries about 66 garage as it raises questions about how we define consciousness and life itself. Room 20 podcast host Joanne Farian joins me and welcome Johanne. Thanks for having me. Now why do you think that this anonymous man on life support became such a powerful mystery for you to solve? I have a personal connection not to this man, but to this place.
Speaker 1: 01:01 Um, the nursing home, not this specific place, but in terms of how people are kept alive. Um, and I, I reveal something about my mother's death and, um, th the days leading up to her death. And it kind of explains not just my obsession, um, with this place, this room or this man, but the sort of the obsession I had for a while on covering end of life issues. And I was working at KPBS when I spent a year covering hospice care and, um, you know, documenting the end of life for, for people in hospice, even though the stories were done, I kept going back. And that's weird, right? It couldn't quite figure out why I kept going back. And, um, but one of the things that happened while I was reporting on this man is he's supposed to be in a vegetative state. And I see he smiles at me.
Speaker 1: 01:49 He literally smiles at me. And here's the thing, being in a vegetative state, people smile, they frown, they cry, they do all these things right? And, and it tricks their loved ones into thinking, oh no, there's the, you know, they're not unconscious. They're in fact aware. So turns out that happened to me. So that's the podcast. That's the step. That's sort of where the podcast begins. And you tell us early on in the podcast that almost everything you were originally told about the backstory of 66 garage was not, not true. What were some of the things that you were told? Um, that he was driving a van? Um, when it crashed that the van was taken to a place called 66 garage. And what I learned is things that, that he thinks that people would even tell me in the nursing home. Like I'm saying that medically this is, this is this person's condition or the accident happened this way and they were wearing a helmet or, so when I actually went to find out, okay, is this true?
Speaker 1: 02:48 And I followed those leads. So many of the things we thought were facts weren't actually facts, right? They just, they're things that got repeated over and over and over again. So as a reporter, I mean, we always kind of know that we do fact checks, but it was really eyeopening because I, I, what I did is I researched everything I was told to. I got until I got to the absolutely lake primary original source to find out what really happened and, and everything was surprising. Wow. The podcast, uh, as you say, takes us into the nursing home and shows us the difficult aspects of existing on life support. Here's a clip from one of your early visits where you're learning the reality of life. Four 66 garage.
Speaker 2: 03:35 Okay. He's awake and there are tears in his eyes. He's gurgling. You look scared. That's uncomfortable. Uncomfortable. I'm embarrassed to look at garage too closely. He's kicked off his sheet and is wearing only a diaper and a tee shirt. I keep trying to cover him without actually touching him. I really don't know how to speak to garage. I feel uncomfortable and self conscious so often he looks as though he's choking to death. I don't know what I'm supposed to say. There is nothing that makes sense to say, but I also can't just sit by and watch. He looks as though he's suffering. They're going to, they're going to help you. Someone's going to come and help you. Okay. They're going to come and help you.
Speaker 1: 04:28 Now you found out that that kind of distress was typical for patients on life support. So I would witness this over and over and over again. And I mean I witnessed this when I was first covering this unit too, but now I was like literally in this sort of embedded, for lack of a better word in this room. So, and I was watching it close up to the point where again, I think part of what you heard in that clip is one of the things I write in my journal, I kept a journal the whole time is I feel like such an intruder and, and, and like here I am. And I wondered why I had even decided to do this because it was, it was terrible. I was intruding in on this men's space, you know? And um, yeah, so this was one of the things that I would witness regularly and what you hear in the podcast is at some point I just can't take watching anymore.
Speaker 1: 05:14 One of the questions you try to answer is, is this man really in a vegetative state or is he conscious? And I don't know which answer to that question is more disturbing. Yeah. So, um, again, another issue I've been reporting on for awhile, um, and this isn't going to ruin anything. I mean, I, I've done these stories before that, um, when people diagnose someone and when doctors diagnose people in a vegetative state, 40% of the time they're actually wrong. They're in a minimally conscious state. And what does that mean? That means they drift in and out of consciousness. Um, and so I think so it's, it's an exploration of consciousness. Um, and it's the great unknown. I interviewed a lot of neuroscientists over the past several years about this issue and you'll ask them what is consciousness? And you'll get a different answer and they'll tell you, you know, you'll keep getting a different answer and how do you define it?
Speaker 1: 06:09 Right? Um, so you end up, as you go along further into the episodes, you, you'll hear about that too. It's also though about human connection. And what you learn is we see what we want to see in the moment, right? In that moment. What did I need to see? What did I want to see Joanna and this six part podcast, you answer a lot of questions about what happened. You find out his true identity and people really have to listen to it all in order to follow this journey. But I wonder if you could tell us some of the places and people you meet on that journey. Well, I ended up going to Canada. I go to Mexico City, I go to Ohio. Um, I spent a lot of time in the imperial valley. A lot of time I ended up even enlisting, um, my son's high school Spanish teacher who I only had met once.
Speaker 1: 06:56 Who goes to quite heroic measures to also to help this effort. Have you been able to walk away from this hold that this story has had on you? Well, that room and during that time, you know, I wanted to be there and now like, and again, without giving away too much, I see it differently. And um, and, and it's never, I mean it's always going to have a certain hold, right? It's always get it, it really impacted. I think it impacted the way that, not just me as a person, but the kind of journalist I think I want to be going forward. I've been speaking with former KPBS reporter now, creator and host of one of the most popular podcasts in the nation room 20 Joanne Ferrin. Congratulations. Thanks, Marie, and I really appreciate being here.
Speaker 3: 07:54 [inaudible].
Speaker 1: 00:00 Congress is considering whether to provide more benefits for service members and veterans whose war injuries left them in fertile. Right now the military pays for in vitro fertilization only in limited circumstances and a VA program that provides fertility coverage for some veterans is scheduled to expire later this year. Carson frame reports for the American homefront project. Thanks to [inaudible] army veteran Jason Gibson lives with his wife Cara and daughter Quinn in central Ohio. They spend a lot of their days coloring and playing hide and seek [inaudible] here. Come for the Gibsons family. Life hasn't come easy. In 2012 in an IED blast in Afghanistan, Jason lost both legs and suffered shrapnel injuries to his groin. Do you remember how daddy got hurt?
Speaker 1: 00:52 He stepped on a bomb. No one in the military health system talk to the Gibson's about possible fertility problems until a year later we were meeting with his nurse practitioner and all of a sudden she just brought up, hey, have you guys gotten a sperm count yet? And the thought just never crossed our mind. We just kind of assumed that everything would be okay. Jason's sperm count was practically nil and it didn't improve. The couple was told they had no chance of conceiving a child naturally and would need to rely on uterine insemination methods or IVF. Still they received little support from the military in its insurer. Tri-Care tri-care would cover like IUI and they would cover some of the IVF medications, but when it comes to the actual procedure, um, egg retrieval, sperm retrieval, freezing of embryos, they don't cover that. In 2014 after Jason was medically retired from the army, the Gibsons paid for IVF mostly out of pocket, showing out more than $10,000. Quinn was born nine months later. Since then, the situation has improved somewhat. In 2016, Congress directed the VA to cover IVF for people whose fertility problems are service-related, but that can be difficult for couples to prove and funding for that VA program is uncertain. Congress has been approving it one year at a time, meaning it could go away as soon as the end of September. Senator Patty Murray of Washington state wants to make it permanent,
Speaker 2: 02:16 although we have passed a forum, this bill in our yearly appropriations bills. It's caused a lot of confusion to our veterans and that's why I ever introduced this bill as permanent and defined it. So specifically
Speaker 1: 02:29 Marie also wants the VA to cover more types of treatments and offer them to more kinds of veterans, including nontraditional couples and those who need donor sperm or eggs. Her bill would also require the VA to pay for the cost of adoption for veterans with service-related infertility, but the cost of Marysville has been a roadblock and so have religious objections. Gynecologist, Kathleen, Ravi l is past president of the Catholic Medical Association. She says they support veterans but oppose IVF. It takes away from the couple that having the child, it puts it into the laboratory. So the lab technician chooses the embryo or the embryo is maybe one, two or three embryos who will be implanted in the woman. The rest may be discarded and these are human lives. Senator Murray takes issue with that
Speaker 2: 03:18 to them. I say go talk to these men and women whose one dream is to have children and to have a family and then ask yourself if you should impose your religious beliefs on them
Speaker 3: 03:30 and where's my peak free.
Speaker 1: 03:34 Now that the Gibsons have their family, they say they feel lucky, but they still think of other service members returning from war and hope that the government moves fertility higher on its list of priorities. There's this old same that goes that if you know the military would have wanted you to have a family, they would have issued you one. And I've just kind of always felt that's how it's been. I mean, themes like have improved, but at the time we just kind of felt last, I don't know what color [inaudible]
Speaker 3: 04:00 Mimi red, orange, yellow, green.
Speaker 1: 04:06 This is Carson frame reporting. And the story was produced by the American Home Front project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting.
Speaker 1: 00:00 She is the girl told to get herself to a nunnery and soon after she's found floating in a lake. Ophelia is not given many life options in Shakespeare's hamlet. A recent movie takes a shot at retelling the helmets saga from the young Ophelia's point of view on her podcast, cinema junkie, KPBS arts reporter Beth OCHA Mando talked with Claire McCarthy, the director of the movie, Ofelia about the challenges of putting a new focus on a classic story.
Speaker 2: 00:30 [inaudible]
Speaker 3: 00:31 you may think you know
Speaker 2: 00:32 my story, many have told it. It has long passed into history.
Speaker 3: 00:47 Most people are probably familiar with Shakespeare's hamlet or at least know something about it's melancholy Dane who hesitates an avenging his father's death, but the new film, Ophelia reimagines, the play from the point of view of Hamlet's love interest. A young woman named Ophelia who commit suicide or does she
Speaker 2: 01:19 [inaudible].
Speaker 3: 01:20 I began my interview with Clair McCarthy by asking what attracted her to Lisa client's novel, Ophelia.
Speaker 4: 01:26 I think the, the challenge of this crazy kind of shift of the narrative access, showing an insight into a failures point of view. I was really attracted to trying to set up the best circumstances for a younger audience to feel for these complex characters and hopefully relate to to the struggle, the failure and to be emotionally moved. So to me it was, it was going to be a challenge. We discussed the language and I talked a lot about the need for there to be a crispness and a bounce to the interactions that this is not trying to be kind of Shakespeare in a classic sense that we want to see humor and for it to feel like a big intense epic.
Speaker 3: 02:09 Now you mentioned that you wanted this to appeal to a younger audience, but for you as part of the appeal also that the novel took the point of view of the female supporting character as opposed to just keeping it, I mean you could have done a hamlet for a younger generation, but you picked one that's particularly from a young woman's point of view in retelling and I was just curious if that was part of the appeal as well.
Speaker 4: 02:32 Absolutely, absolutely. I think as, as I was saying before, you know, an audience can, if they do know hamlet and they can really experience the hamlet, they they might know and love and hopefully find some winsy in the shift of the the narrative and tidal Lexis. But ultimately, yeah, this is, this is a failure through her world. The intention was to always be couched and her point of view and her particular insights about the dynamics around her, we never wanted to lose her or have this, you're passive or a victim as she was an original play. It's just such a tragic icon and such a, so such a small role in the play, but a, I think she's become a kind of iconic figure. So yeah, that was certainly a big attraction to this is to work out how to give her currency in a completely different way and to try and understand the dynamics of the hamlet story from a different point of views from her point of view.
Speaker 3: 03:27 Well, I'm a big fan of Shakespeare in his plays. And when I first heard about this that my one concern was that it was going to have this kind of perspective where they put a modern female character into this setting and that she might appear to contemporary. But what I really liked about what the film did was it showed what a strong intelligent woman had to kind of like suffer through being in that time period that she looks into the library where she's not allowed and because of her place of birth, she's, you know, limited to certain things that she can do with her life. And I, I really appreciated how you gave it a strong female perspective but didn't necessarily, you know, make it this unrealistic kind of contemporary character back in that setting.
Speaker 4: 04:16 It's a, it's incremental as to how far you can push these things because sometimes it can just feel anachronistic and you just wonder, that's just not believable. I can't relate to it. And so it's trying to work out how you were, how much latitude you have to push that character within that context of that world. And still hopefully allow there to be enough room to still let there be complexity and also our capacity for an audience of today to experience a re experience this particular situation.
Speaker 3: 04:45 Well and also seem like you not only gave us an insight into Ophelia's character, but also into Gertrude who is another character who is sometimes kind of difficult to understand from the small amount of time that we get to see her on stage.
Speaker 4: 05:00 That's true. And so in working with Naomi's such as navy watts is such a beautiful, complex, wonderful artists thinking about how to bring in, you know, we, we did a lot of this, we talked a lot about the way that Gertrude had been represented and, and often judged. I mean that's the other thing is in shifts the point of view, it's allowing the characters to have flaws and to, to do questionable things, but to not, not allow us to presume that they're bad or wrong or silly that we're trying to be inside this their situations. Yeah, I guess it allows us more latitude to understand what it would feel like to be, to be kind of lonely. You know, a lot of the complex kind of issues that she would be dealing with, you know, jealousy and shine and self-loading and depression. They're very contemporary sort of, um, discussion points, but there are things that are very inherent within her character. But definitely there, there was a, there was a lot of discussions with Naomi about how the land is character and to find the love, you know, I'd find the empathy for her as opposed to come from a point of, um, presumption that she's weak or inferior or just a part of the rottenness of that, of that empire that caught at that time.
Speaker 1: 06:23 That was KPBS arts reporter Beth Hock Amando talking with Claire McCarthy, the director of the movie. Ofelia. You can hear the whole conversation on the Cinema Junkie podcast number one 72. The female perspective.