Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wrapped up a two day visit in Colorado Springs on Friday. We caught up with him at two locations. He was at the super secret Cheyenne Mountain complex. He talked about the dramatic spurt in military suicides. There have been more deaths by suicide than in military action in Afghanistan. Secretary Hagel told us that suicide prevention programs in the military have not been cut because of budget cuts and that despite the cuts more still needs to be done to save lives.
A couple of hours later Secretary Hagel was under the hot sun with troops at Fort Carson. He spoke for a few minutes about furloughs, budget cuts and how grateful the nation is to the military and others who fought the recent and current Colorado wildfires. Secretary Hagel said, "Your work has been spectacular. It has gained recognition and thanks from every corner." The former Senator also said that when it comes to sexual assault in the military, "We're going to stop it. We're going to fix it. This is the way it gets fixed. It has to be fixed here. We are better than that. We don't break the law."
Several soldiers got the opportunity to ask the Defense Secretary their own questions. Private First Class Israel VanBrunt was among the group. He believes it's an amazing experience to ask his boss a question about his future, "I feel very important. My voice matters."
Captain Louis Montoya listened to the speech. He is with the Fort Carson Fire Department. He was in the crowd while the Defense Secretary honored those who helped and are helping fight the Colorado wildfires. Captain Montoya is proud of the praise his organization received, "It does feel good to be recognized by the Secretary of Defense. It's a great honor."