In this Emmy-nominated program, GPB Senior Correspondent Susan Hoffman talks this week with Max Cleland, former U.S. Senator from Georgia and American war hero, who lost both legs and his right arm when a grenade exploded during his service in Vietnam. Drawing on his own experience of pain, depression and frustration, Senator Cleland reflects on his life of extraordinary public service which began soon after he was wounded in 1968 and continues to this day.
Max Cleland successfully ran for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Senator Sam Nunn in 1995. While in the Senate he championed the issues of health care and education reform, bio-terrorism preparedness, homeland security and fiscal responsibility.
Previously, Cleland had the distinction of serving as the youngest Secretary of State in Georgia's history and the youngest member of the Georgia State Senate. Under President Jimmy Carter, Cleland became head of the U.S. Veterans Adminstration at age 34. In that capacity he instituted the revolutionary Vets Center program which offered, for the first time, psychological counseling to combat veterans to heal the emotional wounds of war.
Soon after the horrific events of September 11, 2001, Max Cleland was tapped to serve on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. In this conversation with Susan Hoffman, he passionately discusses his concerns about the Iraqi War and the continuing danger to American soldiers in that region. Cleland resigned the 9/11 Commission in December, 2003 to join the board of directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States where he works to promote jobs for Americans.