This is a rush transcript from "The Story," May 28, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MIKE EMANUEL, FOX NEWS CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: "The Story", guest hosted by Melissa Francis, starts right now. Have a good evening, God bless America.
MELISSA FRANCIS, FOX NEWS HOST: Indeed, thanks, Mike. This is a Fox News alert. A state of emergency has been declared in Maryland following a devastating flood. I'm Melissa Francis in tonight for Martha MacCallum.
For the second time in less than two years, Ellicott City is reeling from flash flooding that has trapped folks in their homes and cars and destroyed local businesses. In moments, we are going to be joined by the young woman who shot this footage, and has now found herself at the center of this devastation not once, but twice.
But we begin tonight with a desperate search for National Guardsmen Eddison Hermond. True to his profession, he tried to help his fellow citizens last night only to get swept away by the raging waters. Authorities giving this update a short time ago
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a pretty chaotic scene last night when we arrived on scene, multiple people trapped within vehicles and in buildings, and they were obviously our first priority.
GARY GARDNER, POLICE CHIEF, HOWARD COUNTY: In regards to the missing person, 39 year old male. He was at a restaurant on Main Street, La Palapa, with some other folks trying to hold a door from the water trying to come in. A lady approached and indicated she was trying to find her cat. He, along with some other folks, went back to a sister and unfortunately, during that effort, they saw him go under the water and not surface.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've also searched the river pretty extensively with the human assets and cadaver dogs searching for victims and the missing person. So, in that aspect, of things we're still in the active rescue mode.
FRANCIS: Rich Edson, reports live tonight from Ellicott City, Maryland. Rich.
RICH EDSON, FOX NEWS WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Melissa. And officials say they are still searching for Eddison Hermond. That effort continues here nearby Ellicott City, and just about 24 hours ago, he was eating at a restaurant 50 to 100 yards that's Main Street right there. We're not allowed to go to that portion, but that's where a lot of the recovery efforts are concentrated.
Officials say they also performed about 300 rescues because of last night's flooding, and in today, essentially you have the cleanup. This entire area you're looking at now -- first off, much of it was underwater about 24 hours ago. And then, during the day today, cruise pulled cars, if you can see the tracks in the sand there, those were cars that cruised and were moving from this area all throughout this stream as well.
And then, throughout the day you've got -- you've got tow trucks just pulling cars up from the lower part of that road down there. Police say the area down there is all washed away. This is a reminder, this is the second time that this is happened in less than two years and business owners in the area say they're getting tired of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATHY TAYLOR, OWNER, DAMAGE BUILDING, ELLICOTT CITY: So now here we are again, and it's sad, but we -- you know, I said to my husband, is this our new normal? Is this what's normal now? Because for us every couple of years to have to dig this place out?
TIMOTHY KENDZIERSKI, OWNER, ELLICOTT MILLS BREWING COMPANY: You always pray that it's not going to happen again, but -- you know, every time it rains hard, you know, you say a Hail Mary and hope it's not the time and here we are, it was the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
EDSON: That July 2016 storm that flooded much of this area cost tens of millions of dollars in damage, and also killed two people. And a number of the business owners we spoke to in this area say they had been repairing over the last couple of years. That brewery owner who we just heard from, the second man you just heard from, he said that he had just finished repairs about a few weeks ago, and then, this happened. Melissa?
FRANCIS: So devastating. Rich Edson, thank you. Joining us now is Ellicott City resident, Kali Harris, who has twice survived the historic flooding in her town. Thank you so much for joining us tonight. I mean, the water came in, you were trapped, a firefighter had to help you climb out of your building.
KALI HARRIS, RESIDENT, ELLICOTT CITY, MARYLAND: YES.
FRANCIS: Tell us about that.
HARRIS: It was actually just so surreal living through it all again. In 2016, I was able to just walk out my front door with a small bag of toiletries and not even a change of clothes. And this time, the water didn't recede enough for me to go out my front door. So, I took a couple of bags and was able to climb out the back on the rooftops and down the ladder with a fireman who helped me so.
FRANCIS: What was going through your mind? I mean, this is the second time that you've run for your life did you think how could this be happening again or what did you think?
HARRIS: Absolutely, I did. The only thing that was going through my mind is that was starting, was that this isn't really like I was in complete shock, and I didn't believe it was really happening. And until the building started collapsing and cars are coming down the street, I honestly didn't believe that it was happening again.
And once it started, I started freaking out obviously, and you know started packing a bag and planning for what was going to come next, and you know kind of going down the checklist of things that I should have done last time, but -- you know, should have had to do it again. But, here it was stuck and doing them again.
FRANCIS: You know, for people who have never been in that situation, it is very difficult to understand how quickly the water comes. What is the time like in that instant?
HARRIS: Yes. It's fast and it's slow. It feels like it's going in slow motion, but it's -- you know, things get swept away so quickly and the way that water takes things down like it weighs nothing. You know, cars are just coming down like they were -- you know, just toys, you know.
And it rose up so fast and sort of ripping things out so quickly that I didn't even -- you know, even though, if I was actually safe in my apartment because it was -- it's a stone building that I live in, and I'm on the third-floor apartment. But the way things were coming down around, me, I had no idea if I was safe or not.
FRANCIS: And it did eventually collapse, is that what you said?
HARRIS: I'm not sure actually of the status of my building, I don't believe it's collapsed. I think everything is still standing where I live, but everything else is I'm -- you know. I know they've assessed everything today and have, you know, lists of places that are safe and places you can't go in. The only things I've looked at are my building where I live and that salon that I work at up the street which will have access to my salon with, you know, assistants tomorrow.
FRANCIS: You know, I want to ask you the question I think our whole audience is wondering right now as they watch this which is, will you go back? I mean it's happened twice.
HARRIS: It's a great question. Honestly, I don't -- I don't have a good answer for it. The -- and after the flood of 2016, we rallied and we came back as a community stronger than ever, and I became close with all my neighbors in a way that I -- we never were before.
And we really rallied around each other and brought each other back, and we were almost -- you know, back to full capacity, operating like we were before. And then, now this happens, we're all just questioning if we're going to go back or not.
And, you know, I live on Main Street, I work on Main Street, and my entire life is on Main Street, it is my home. And that's why I went back after 2016 is because it is home. I have built my life for myself here and I don't want to have to leave. But, honestly, experiencing this twice in under two years is incredibly traumatic, and I don't have a good answer for if I'm going to come back or not.
FRANCIS: All right, I know I read after the first one. You know, you were scared that it was going to happen again or that you'd be alone in the building. And when this happened, were you alone at the time, was there anyone else around?
HARRIS: Now I live alone, and actually, my neighbors just recently moved out, so you know my -- all the buildings are connected on Main Street. But my -- the building that I live and -- I am totally alone. There is no -- nothing underneath it, there's no retail space that's taken up, and I don't have any neighbors. So it was literally just me in my building.
FRANCIS: If you decide not to go back, do you have any idea where you would go instead?
HARRIS: No, I don't. I mean, I'm from Denver, so, it's always an option to move back out West. But again, like Ellicott City is my home and the life that I've built for myself, is here. So I don't know, I have no idea.
FRANCIS: For people watching out there tonight, you said, "it struck me", you said there were things that you were thinking you should have done last time that you didn't do, or -- what were some of those things?
HARRIS: Grabbing -- you know, things for the long term, because the last time things were in place as fast as they were this time we weren't -- we didn't have access to our buildings for a week. So, I didn't even have a change of clothes, I had to go to target and buy toothpaste and a toothbrush and all that kind of thing.
So, I grabbed all my toiletries, shampoo, conditioner, a change of clothes to last me for about a week. I didn't make the best decisions in my choice of clothes, but you know, whatever. But yes, just those kinds of things, you know, shampoo, conditioner, dryer, straightener, yes.
FRANCIS: Was that precious time that maybe -- I mean, you should have run for it when you were collecting your things? I mean, was that one thing you were thinking about was do I have time to grab this stuff?
HARRIS: I had nowhere to go, honestly. I -- the fire department came in, they came into my building and told me to stay put, because I don't have an exit out the back of my building and the only way through the front is where the river -- like the what the flood was, where the water was coming through, that's the only way I have out.
So the fire department came in made sure I was safe and told me to stay put. And so, I was -- I was stuck, I was helpless. I sat at my window, I just had to watch the water ravage everything.
FRANCIS: That must have been so terrifying, we can't even imagine. Thank you so much for sharing your story tonight.
FRANCIS: You're blessed that you made it out and we're happy for that. Thank you.
HARRIS: Yes, thank you.
FRANCIS: Good luck.
FRANCIS: Still ahead tonight, Chelsea Clinton's Memorial Day message to President Trump, well, it was you quote degrade, what it means to be an American. Her comments and why some in the media say that she's exactly right.
Plus the White House working overtime to seal the deal on a meeting with Kim Jong Un and the president's latest move. And how North Korea is responding, that's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He's playing this like Ronald Reagan played Reykjavik. And I think, his achievement will be as great or greater when it's all finished, but let's hope.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCIS: Breaking tonight. The race is on to salvage President Trump's June meeting with Kim Jong Un after a wild week that put it in jeopardy, a US delegation hitting the ground in North Korea to "make arrangements for the Singapore summit scheduled to take place just two weeks from tomorrow. This comes in the wake of a surprise meeting between North and South Korea's leaders where Kim apparently reaffirmed his commitment to "completely denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. Kristin Fisher is live at the White House with the latest developments. Kristin?
KRISTIN FISHER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Melissa, well tonight whether or not this summit is actually going to happen is still very much in question but tonight and today there really have been some new developments that are making it seem like this summit may very well be back on track. And the latest little nugget is that today President Trump spoke on the phone with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the White House said that that the two agreed to meet in person and I quote, to continue close coordination in advance of the expected meeting between the United States and North Korea.
So that's a statement from the White House calling this summit expected and then of course right now we know of at least two teams that are overseas preparing for this summit. One team is in Singapore led by the Deputy -- White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagen, the other team is in North Korea led by veteran American diplomat, the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim. Now he's facing off against the North Korean Vice Foreign Minister whose explosive remarks last week threatening a nuclear to nuclear showdown and calling Vice President Pence a political dummy were partially responsible for President Trump canceling the summit. But since then, the President has done an about-face about the summit on Twitter and in remarks from the Oval Office on Saturday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A lot of people are working on it. It's moving along very nicely. So we're looking at June 12th in Singapore that hasn't changed and it's moving along pretty well so we'll see what happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FISHER: Now some lawmakers on Capitol Hill including some Republicans worried that with just two weeks to go that there's not enough time to properly prepare for a meeting of this magnitude. But the President's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said on 'Fox News Sunday' that this is all playing out perfectly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: He cancelled it and now we have Kim Jong Un back where he was before talking about wanting to do it, meeting with the leader of South Korea. So I don't want to raise expectations but I think the President's strategy has played out really brilliantly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FISHER: After that surprise meeting on Saturday, the President of South Korea said North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un committed to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula which is exactly what the White House wants. But of course, the North Koreans are really known for keeping their word and many Americans -- American officials are worried that they remain deeply skeptical that the North Koreans are going to continue to lie and that they would never officially entirely abandon all of their nuclear weapons. But of course, tonight, President Trump is continuing to try to change that, Melissa.
FRANCIS: Well every day the story changes, it involves. Kristin, thank you. Here now is Jason Chaffetz, former Utah congressman, and a Fox News contributor. We also have Y.J. Fischer, former State Department diplomat under President Obama who helped implement the Iran Nuclear Deal. Thanks to both of you for joining us. Y.J. I'll start with you. I mean, in some ways Rudy Giuliani mentioned the idea of expectations and this on-again- off-again some ways it's helpful because it limits the expectations for the summit.
Y.J. FISCHER, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT DIPLOMAT: I think that's exactly right. I think the question is how President Trump is going to use this time and is he going to prepare for success because if he doesn't, then even if the summit gets rescheduled, you could easily get canceled again. If you look at what President Trump has done to date, Melissa, he's done three things. He set outsized expectations for the summit overstated what he had achieved and he has insisted on a maximalist position from the North Koreans. If you look at how Nixon approached Mao and how Reagan approached Gorbachev when they negotiated, that's not how they prepared for success.
FRANCIS: Jason, I mean one of the things the President always says is you know, if you're going to think, you might as well think big. I mean, you wouldn't start a negotiation from your minimal position, you know, you start from what's the absolute most that you want, don't you? Jason?
JASON CHAFFETZ, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, what's fundamentally - - well what's fundamentally different here is that Donald Trump is actually at the negotiating table. That didn't happen under Obama. It didn't happen with Secretary Clinton, it didn't happen with Secretary Kerry. So the very fact that they're actually having this dialogue bringing home hostages, they have made huge far more progress than anything else before. And I think Donald Trump in conjunction with Mike Pompeo as the Secretary of State are moving this in exactly the right direction. And whether or not it happens, actually, on the 12th or not but it's moving in the right direction.
FRANCIS: I think that you know one of the biggest concerns that everyone has mentioned is how do you verify that he's actually telling the truth especially if they come to some agreement? I mean, Y.J., I would ask you as somebody who was involved in the Iran nuclear deal, you know, we heard about those anytime anywhere inspections and it doesn't seem like that actually happened are the things that you would do differently this time in order to make sure that we could actually inspect.
FISCHER: I think it's a great question. I think it's going to be the hardest part of the deal and I actually think that ultimately President Trump would be very happy if he could get a deal as good as the Iran Nuclear Deal because it is so unlikely that we are going to get the level of comprehensive verification with North Korea's program. I mean, North Korea is so much further along, it's really quite complicated. And I would also just add to this discussion, I think it's really also important to talk about what is President Trump going to put on the table. I mean, I would even ask Congressman Chaffetz how he feels about reports that President Trump was willing to pull U.S. troops out of South Korea. That's was even before North Korea made a single concession. I mean, those troops are protecting the peace in South Korea and serving as a deterrent should China, and I think we need to ask what is the U.S. willing to put on the table.
FRANCIS: Well, I think before we pivot to that, I mean, let's tackle the idea of going in and authenticating what is actually going on because she said the President would be lucky to get as good a deal as we got with Iran and we know that that was a terrible deal because we never got the chance to go in and look at anything. So Jason, do you think he would actually agree to a deal like the Iran deal? I mean, he threw that one in the wastebasket.
CHAFFETZ: No. No -- yes exactly. Donald Trump tore that agreement up because there was no verification. You could not get there and you had to have weeks in advance. They could easily move the material, as the chairman of the Oversight Committee, I wanted to go to Iran, they said no you can't go. So what kind of verification is that? Donald Trump is leading. This is different than what you are used to dealing with which is leading from behind. Donald Trump is leading from the front and its peace through strength. It is a page out of Ronald Reagan's put a book and it's making sure that we have the strongest possible position economically and militarily. That's what's brought Kim Jong Un to the table as well as the Chinese. And our partnership with South Korea and Japan is going to make the best difference.
FRANCIS: Y.J., will it be inappropriate. I like your question about you know, what's an appropriate thing to give in exchange. What do you think would be appropriate?
FISCHER: I would argue that we actually had a great model with what we did in Iran where we had a sort of less for less deal approach where Iran had to dismantle its nuclear program and had to do that first and then it got economic concessions. Now, I know that one of the gripes that people had and Trump had with Iran --
FRANCIS: But we learned they didn't do that, they just moved it under another name into another location. They didn't dismantle their program so it was really less for nothing.
FISCHER: Iran did dismantle its program we had IAEA inspectors on the ground who verified that more than ten times, right? When you look at even what spread Prime Minister Netanyahu was alleging that Iran had actually violated, he was saying it was just the original intent back in the day of whether they had a nuclear --
FRANCES: No, he said they moved it to a new location with all the same people and that they just changed the name of the project.
FISCHER: Only the documents.
FRANCIS: Yes, I saw him do it live. I did read the documents. That's what he said, it moved to a new locations.
FISCHER: So because -- right, but if you actually look at their nuclear program, there is no evidence of any cheating by Iran and the IAEA weapons inspectors verified that more than ten times.
FRANCIS: They did exceed the heavy water but that's --
CHAFFETZ: No, that's because they did --
FRANCIS: OK, we're out of time. Thanks to both of you. We appreciate it. Thank you. Coming up, we are tracking Alberto the first subtropical storm of the 2018 season, not only is it packing potential tornadoes now but how is it set -- now it's set to dump heavy rain all the way up into the Midwest and mid-Atlantic this week. Plus, is President Trump degrading what it means to be an American. That is just one claim being made by former first daughter Chelsea Clinton, what she's telling a British newspaper next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHELSEA CLINTON, DAUGHTER OF BILL CLINTON: I loved that my parents expected me to have opinions and to be able to back them up with facts.
FRANCIS: We are closely tracking subtropical storm Alberto, a fear system that has officially made landfall now northwest of Panama City, Florida. Its path still threatening multiple southern coastal states right now packing heavy rains, potential flash flooding and even possible tornadoes. Correspondent Phil Keating is live in Panama City, Florida monitoring the conditions. Phil?
PHIL KEATING, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: Hi Melissa, the wind and the sandblasting remained the major problem right now here on the Panama City Beach. In fact, some young ladies who had cabin fever we're out here checking out the rough surf, they said, we want to go home because it's so painful. But the rains have stopped for now. However, you can see off the little horizon our dark bands of rain on the backside of this subtropical storm are expected to reign it throughout the Panhandle for the rest of this evening. Now Alberto, the subtropical storm actually made landfall about 10 miles north of here, about 60 or 90 minutes ago. So it's now pushing northward, pushing inland. The threat of rains and flash flooding remains for the entire south, 48 inches of rain can come isolated spots getting 12 inches of rain.
As for the surf, it remains dangerous rip currents. Everybody of -- along the Gulf Coast told not to go into the water. You can stand on the beach but don't go in the water because it simply is life-threatening. Some people did venture out after being locked up for three days because of the relentless rains that are now heading north into the inland of the United States. They came out tried to have a little bit of fun here but tens of millions of dollars were lost in tourism revenue blown away because people canceled plans, didn't make their trips down to the beaches in Florida. Many events actually got canceled. A Memorial Day parade in Sarasota today. And also a beach party in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday which is nothing but nonstop rain.
We did speak to one beachgoer, a former Marine, Purple Heart recipient who said he's basically just taking it all in stride.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been a wash. And also we can add to it we're together, we are happy. I can't do anything but tan and nothing like that, but read books and just relax. That's all we are here for, is just to relax. And you know, it's better than doing it up in Georgia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEATING: Good advice. If states of emergency remain in effect for the Florida Panhandle, Alabama and Mississippi, all of the rains that have been dumping on the sunshine state, very sunny past three days, sunless past three days will not be moving into the Tennessee Valley in Western Carolina's tomorrow. Melissa?
MELISSA FRANCIS, HOST, FOX NEWS: Phil Keating, thank you. Stay safe.
Also developing tonight, former first daughter Chelsea Clinton out promoting her new book and taking direct aim at President Trump. The daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton telling a British newspaper, quote, "I think that the way our president and many people around him have not only mainstreamed hate, but mainline did it so deeply dangerous. I don't agree with what he's doing to degrade what it means to be an American."
Joining me now is Kayleigh McEnany, spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, and Jon Summers, Democratic strategist and former communications director for Senator Harry Reid. Kayleigh, what do you think of those comments?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, SPOKESPERSON, RNC: Yes. The Clintons, both Chelsea and her mother Hillary, have a very odd habit of insulting a broad swath of America by saying President Trump has mainstreamed hate. Very reminiscent of those comments her mother made about Americans being deplorable and irredeemable.
But look, President Trump, he embodies what it means to be an American. He's a self-made billionaire. He conquered the political scene and how he's providing access to the American dream for millions of Americans.
You look across, unemployment being down, wages being up, tax cuts. He's empowering Americans. He is what it means to be American and those comments were insulting and they were absurd.
JON SUMMERS, DEMOCRAT STRATEGIST: Well, I think it's interesting that Kayleigh has to go back two years to say to find something bad to recite about Hillary Clinton. But the reality is we hear negative things and quite frankly, bullying from the president of the United States just about every single day, usually in the form of Twitter.
So, I think when we talk about degrading American values, we're all proud to be Americans, but when you talk about the president degrading American values, it's not an American value to criticize John McCain for his historic military service. It's not an American value to rip apart thousands of families as we are seeing happening right now. It's not an American value to undermine the U.S. justice system. So I think there are a very serious concerns that are worthy of discussion here.
FRANCIS: You know, Kayleigh, the problem is though, you know, every time I hear Clinton talk about degrading the office of the president I think about the office and Monica Lewinsky and a cigar and I think I don't know how much more, you know, it can be degraded when as a woman when I hear them talking about dignity and respect and all these things you just sort of, I don't know, I mean, it comes out hypocritical.
MCENANY: Well, no doubt, it absolutely does come out hypocritical. Because what was degrading to Americans was Bill Clinton's actions in the Oval Office. What was degrading to Americans was Benghazi. What's degrading to Americans was BleachBit-ing subpoena emails or the quid pro quo corruption at the Clinton Foundation. That was degrading to Americans.
It is not degrading to enforce borders, raise economic prospects for millions of Americans and dominate on the foreign policy realm, which is exactly what President Trump is doing. So, Chelsea should take an inward look if she wants to talk about degrading.
FRANCIS: Jon, you know, I mean, she's out there talking in order to promote a book which is what we all do. I mean, you know, that's how you get people chattering and to take a shot at the president is very smart because it kind of gets her name in the headlines.
You know, I wonder beyond promoting a book, do you feel like she's a good spokesperson to go out there, there's always talks about her having a political life going forward. I mean, did she strikes out as a good spokesperson?
SUMMERS: I think she strikes me as a levelheaded spokesperson. She, you know, isn't necessarily the best sound bite, but I want to go back to the Lewinsky thing because I think that that analogy is just rich--
SUMMERS: -- when you look at the president that we have right now who was called women pigs, who has bragged about sexually assaulting women. I mean, this president has a terrible record when it comes to the way he treats women and I think that that's not something that should be overlooked. And we shouldn't become numb to the things that this president says and just write it off as Trump being Trump.
FRANCIS: Yes. Kayleigh, I mean, I don't think anybody is dismissing any of the things that President Trump has done. There's no excuse for that either. You know, the ones that are true or what people have said. You know, who knows about the ones that are not true.
But it's the idea that someone is criticizing him from a pedestal when they themselves and their family have this thing in their background, you know. I mean, it's just this like, this is kind of, you know, again, as a woman, it makes me feel like it just makes me cringe and it feels hypocritical.
MCENANY: Sure. It's the height of hypocrisy. And if you look at President Trump, President Trump has empowered women. Sarah Sanders, Kellyanne Conway. Look at Gina Haspel, the first female CIA director. And going back to his real estate company where he had the first person in commercial real estate to put women at the highest levels to become executives.
That is President Trump's record with women. And Chelsea Clinton, if you're going to go out make this argument, Bill Clinton is going to come up in the verifiable facts of what happened in the Oval Office with Monica Lewinsky a very dark period in our history.
FRANCIS: But what's good for the goose is good for the gander, right, Jon? I mean, the minute you start talking about it on one side than Trump's history comes up. And you know, that's fair game, right?
SUMMERS: I think that's right and I think it's actually more relevant because as we know Chelsea Clinton was just a child when all of that happened in the White House.
FRANCIS: Well, but the other happened in the White House. I mean, I think for a lot of people out there that's the difference, somebody who at the time being paid to be our president was there with an intern, whatever. That's a discussion for another time. We'll let that one go. Thank you, guys.
All right. Coming up, an Iraq war veteran's battle against the opioid epidemic. Find out his incredible story and what he's doing to help his fellow vets fight, next.
FRANCIS: The opioid epidemic is a crisis that has become all too common, hitting some of our nation's finest especially hard. The number of veterans addicted to opioids has risen more than 50 percent between 2010 and 2015. It's a problem that my next guest knows all too well.
Kevin Rumley was serving with the marines in Iraq when he was hit by an IED and severely injured. The road to healing was long, requiring 32 surgeries. Kevin soon found himself struggling with opioid addiction, but it is a battle that Kevin is now winning. He is in long-term recovery and has made it his life's work to help his fellow veterans combat opioid abuse.
Here now is Kevin Rumley, marine combat veteran, Purple Heart recipient and coordinator of Veterans Treatment Court. Thank you so much for your service. It has been far and wide.
Talk to me a little bit about -- you were in there for two years, you had 32 surgeries. You made it through all of that, but then you're stuck with an addiction. How did you overcome that?
KEVIN RUMLEY, COORDINATOR, VETERANS TREATMENT COURT: Well, thank you for having me and happy Memorial Day to you. I, like many veterans, was discharged from the hospital and I had a lost sense of purpose. I didn't really know what my next steps were, but I did have opioids and I found opioids really helped me address the physical wounds, but also the psychological wounds of war.
But I was fortunate enough to have a support system and family members that really encouraged me to get the support that I needed and go to the Asheville V.A. and from there I was put on Suboxone which is a medication- assisted treatment. I really credit Suboxone with saving my life.
FRANCIS: I know that you went on, you took, you used the G.I. Bill to get an education and you wanted to go into social work to help others. You were an intern -- you were interned at this amazing program which is now what you advocate for that takes a different approach for veterans. Tell us what this group does.
RUMLEY: Yes. So, it's the Veterans Treatment Court and in lieu of sending our veterans to prison, they complete in our court and it's 18 months plus where we focus on treatment and rehabilitation and really getting to the source of the suffering that led to the negative outcomes for our veterans.
And the exciting part too is not only are they held accountable for their actions and they receive the proper treatment, but we are finding this kind of renewed sense of hope and purpose at the end of their journey so they have a stable job, stable house and a year after graduation from the Veterans Treatment Court they are eligible to have their charges dismissed.
FRANCIS: Wow. You say and these are, we should say these are for nonviolent offenders. You know, you say that you spent about half of your time doing therapy with people who have been through what you've been through and have face that struggle and want to talk you about how you've made it through to the other side.
If you spend the other half of your time trying to make sure that this program continues for those down the road. I mean, how widespread, how many people do you think that this could help?
RUMLEY: Well, we know that problem-solving courts are incredibly effective. Just sending an individual to prison, there's a 50 percent chance that they are going to return. They are going to recidivate. But when we look at the results of specialty courts like the Veterans Treatment Court in drug court, nationally we only have a 3 percent recidivism rate.
RUMLEY: So, as we're looking kind of at where we want to go with the future of our justice system, I am a big advocate for second chances. I was given a second chance and a second chance really saved my life. And I'm seeing the amazing results that can come when we work one-on-one with these veterans--
RUMLEY -- and say, you know what, you were a hero, you may be at zero right now but we are going to get you back there.
FRANCIS: You say on this Memorial Day there are a lot of people out there watching who would like to do something. You have a very simple action item for people who are watching, what they can do, tell us about it.
RUMLEY: That's right. I really just encourage everyone on this special Memorial Day to just go up to a veteran and simply ask how they are doing. You know, all the training and interventions that I've gotten through the years of education, it's fascinating because the most effective way that we can support a veteran is simply to be there as empathic and caring, loving, compassionate friend.
RUMLEY: And that was what got me through this journey and I really encourage others to do the same.
FRANCIS: Well, it is the very least that we could do for our men and women who have served this country. Kevin Rumley, thank you so much. Thank you for coming on tonight and sharing your story. I'm sure there are people that you have helped out there tonight. Happy Memorial Day, and thank you again for your service.
RUMLEY: Thank you.
FRANCIS: Up next, army troop reunites after a tragedy 11 years ago. Together they made a small town parade and give the true meaning to honoring Memorial Day. You will not want to miss it.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Memorial Day actually has a very deep meaning. It's a day of honor. I feel like people forget that. It's not Veterans Day, it's Memorial Day, for America's heroes.
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FRANCIS: On Memorial Day 2007, an army troops deployed in Iraq went on an emergency rescue mission when they were suddenly ambushed. Six soldiers died in the attack.
Tim Hallgring lived through that mission and on this Memorial Day, the hometown hero was asked to be a grand marshal in his small town of Highlands, New Jersey. Tim agreed but under the condition that the rest of his brothers be there too. With the help of GoFundMe the town got the troops back together and if only you were there to capture their reunion 11 years later.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's indescribable. You know, losing friends right in front of you and not being able to do anything about it. We lost six that day.
ANDREW CLARK, ARMY VETERAN: It was a dark mission. Down aircraft recovery mission and they gave us the location to go, and we went and we got ambushed on the way there and lost a few guys and I didn't even know it was Memorial Day until we got back.
MIGUEL CASTRO, ARMY VETERAN: Memorial Day, it was a tough day for all of us. It's one of those things that just kind of punches you in the stomach and takes the breath away. But luckily I've got some good troopers over there to help us all through it. Timmy standing by us, getting us altogether. It just makes it a little bit easier.
TIM HALLGRING, ARMY VETERAN: The commander of the American legion called me up one day and asked me if I wanted to do it and I wasn't sure if I did. I don't ever want to do stuff on that day, it's very personal and when he said Grand Marshal, I said, you know, let me get back to you and I called up some of the guys that I was with on that Memorial Day. I wanted to make sure that they knew that it was going to be a bigger parade than anything that they've seen.
CLARK: We're brothers. That's all it is. Combat vets. You know, we always stick together. We always have each other's back. So it was an honor.
CASTRO: Memorial Day, it's a tough day. A lot of people like to go out there and enjoy themselves and barbecue it up and maybe have a few and that's fine, but I like to remember, not just for the people that we lost, but the people before us. We are pretty fortunate to be in a place that we are at and it's because of them that we are able to do a lot of stuff that we are able to do today.
TODD WETSEL, ARMY VETERAN: It's not Veterans Day, it's a day where we remember those who died in the service of our country.
JOHN RICHTER, ARMY VETERAN: I haven't looked forward to a Memorial Day in 11 years because there's billboards, those radio commercials. Memorial Day sale, Memorial Day giveaway and it's just a lot more somber for me. It's a day of honor, it's not a day of summer. I feel like people forget that.
CASTRO: This one is different because I've got my brothers here. I haven't seen some of these guys in about 10, some people about 12 years. So being able to see them, it really makes me happy. It makes me feel like me again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My friend Jonathan Markham, his wife and his son are coming and he never got to know his son. He was too young when we deployed. This is a chance for us to let his son know who he was. And he's going to lead the parade, including the tribute.
It's different for us, it's very personal for us and that's why we want this parade to be personal and we want to remind the American people of what Memorial Day is supposed to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCIS: Finally, a powerful reminder of what Memorial Day really stands for from retired Navy SEAL Officer Jocko Willink whose message on this day of remembrance serves as tonight's quote of the night.
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JOCKO WILLINK, RETIRED NAVY SEAL: Life. Liberty. The pursuit of happiness. You have the joys of life, the joys that I gave up so that you can relish in them. A cool breeze in the air. The gentle spring grass on your bare feet. The warm summer sun on your face.
Family. Friends. And freedom. Never forget where it all came from. It came from sacrifice, the supreme sacrifice. Don't waste it. Don't waste any of your time on this earth. Live a life that honors the sacrifice of our fallen heroes. Remember them always and make every day.
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