“Huge Sense of Pride”: Spouse Reacts to Columbia University Debacle


Wounded Iraq veteran Anthony Maschek last week encountered  heckling and booing from fellow Columbia University students as he spoke at a town hall meeting on whether ROTC programs should be allowed on the Ivy League school’s campus.

The story has been getting big play as vets’ groups and commentators decry the apparent lack of respect for the former Army staff sergeant, who miraculously survived a 2008 insurgent attack where he was shot 11 times and broke both legs. While an audio recording of the meeting shows that the booing and shouting was mostly over a political statement he made about terrorism — not specifically about the military or ROTC — the situation does put the spotlight on vets’ treatment at elite schools.

We caught up last night with his Maschek’s wife, Angela Maschek, and got her take on the verbal attacks that have ignited so much controversy — and the pride she feels in her husband for standing up for what he believes. You can hear an edited audio recording of our conversation or read the transcript below.

Audio: Interview with Angela Maschek


Amy: This is Amy Bushatz, and I am talking to Angel Maschek, the spouse of former Staff Sgt. Anthony Maschek who was recently heckled and booed at a Columbia University town hall meeting on whether or not to let ROTC back in the school. Angela, thank you so much for talking to us today.

Angela: Amy, thank you for having me. I am honored to speak with you.

Amy: How did you learn about the incident involving your husband?

Angela: He did come home and talk to me, you know, about how the events went down of the evening and he was also there with a couple of other vets, and I also heard their reactions as well.

Amy: What was your immediate reaction?

Angela: Initially my husband, you know, told me his version and from his point of view, he believed it was a positive experience, in the sense that he got his message out there, there was a lot of cheers, there was a lot of positivity from the crowd. So, that was my first impression of what happened.

Amy: How do you feel about the media attention this has gotten since it happen?

Angela: It’s a little unbelievable and a little surreal to be very honest with you.

Amy: I listened to a recording of the townhall meeting, and from what I can tell the booing was pretty minimal. That’s not to say it wasn’t a bad thing, but do you think people are maybe blowing this a little bit out of proportion.

Angela: Yeah, I mean, I do in a sense. But on the other hand, I mean, you know very timely for me to say this — but I guess everyone’s entitled to their opinion, and I mean what I hear might not necessarily be what other people hear. So, I mean, I guess it’s kind of on an individual basis, I suppose.

Amy: Sure. As military spouses, I think we often tend to get more upset by the slights taken by our husbands, or soldiers, or what not than maybe they do.

Angela: Sure.

Amy: Do you think you’re maybe more upset about this than he is? How is that playing out in your household?

Angela: You know, I mean I don’t know that — I can say most certainly that I don’t think I’m any more upset than he is. If anything, there’s just I think such a huge sense of pride. And I think any military spouse can appreciate that. Whenever you think that your husband has done you proud or done the military proud, there’s always that sense of pride. I can say it’s not such a negative experience for me, it’s that I admire and respect him for standing up the way that he did.

Amy: It’s hard to hear in the recording, but do you think there was significant support voiced for him at the same time as the hissing and booing.

Angela: Absolutely, undeniably. It’s funny, because you say that and I kind of get a shiver. Because from what I hear there’s just these people that are passionately cheering and passionately encouraging and supporting him, and I just think that that is beautiful.

Amy: How do you feel he’s treated on a daily basis at the university?

Angela: Incredible. Nothing short of wonderfully treated.

Amy: Are there ways that they can be more welcoming to vets than perhaps they already are?

Angela: Hard for me to say because I’ve been on the campus a few times taking my own private little tour. I can’t really say if there’s anything they can do differently. But as far as I’m concerned from how I’ve seen Anthony treated, I can’t think of anything that they could do differently or do better.

Amy: What do you hope comes out of all of this?

Angela: Oh geez — I think the one great thing that’s coming out of this so far is just the media attention on ROTC, period. Obviously Anthony clearly supports ROTC coming into Columbia. I back him, I also support it. I just think that this is a great opportunity to teach people about ROTC that maybe aren’t aware of it. And maybe people that are on the fence about the issue — it might get them to look into the issue a little bit more, to think about it. And so if nothing else comes out of this its just awareness and I think that awareness is always an amazing thing.

Amy: Thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate it.

Angela: Thank you, again, thank you so much for having me.

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on CNN.com, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • Michael

    As an army vet of over five yrs active duty in W. Germany with 30 months ending in 1964 when I tried to become an army pilot (I washed out after 7 months in So. Alabama), I became involved in the anti-Vietnam war movement at SD State and UC San Diego in the spring of ’65 when LBJ ordered ground forces in. After what happened to the French 11 yrs before at Dien Bien Phu I could not believe we would get into another ground war vs. the VC and the NVA. My contempt was NOT with the trigger pullers but with the military brass, the generals and admirals along with the civilian suits such as SecDefense Robert Strange McNamara and his people. Not one 4 start general or admiral stood up to LBJ/McNamara et al in defiance of the war policies. Not one resigned in protest. The Nixon ‘incursion’ into Cambodia in May, 1970 was the last straw for many of us. The war went on for five more years until we had to flee in April, 1975.

    • Retired Navy

      What’s your point?

      • larry24416

        never bite the hand that feeds you. also sounds if you are still bitter because you did not get your way.

    • Jim

      …I agree with most of what you posted about the Vietnam War. …I particularly agree with you for many reasons about the high brass not “falling on their swords” even though they knew that Johnson wrong on many levels.
      … The only area where I would diverge from your track is regarding Cambodia. International law states that if a party to a conflict attempts to cross the territory of a neutral… or set up bases or operate from the territory of that neutral state… that country must drive them out or intern them. If it would be impossible for that state to win such a clash… then that country could no longer claim to be neutral… but rather would revert to the status of an “occupied” country… (or partially occupied in the case of Cambodia…)
      … Was the incursion into Cambodia wise? In hindsight, probably not… … but illegal? No… not even slightly. The U.S. involved in many lies and blunders… but the “Illegal invasion of Cambodia” was and is a bum rap… … JFO USMC (Infantry) 1968-70

  • Garry Owen

    What is the point of your rambling post? Your actions at home helped the NVA and the VC convince the American public we were losing the war.

  • Donmurry46

    Hey Michael: Did you know or even care that when the US was forced to pull out of Vietnam (because of losers like you) that 2 million South Vietnamese people lost their lives? We were turning the corner on that war at that time and people like you turned your back on your brothers.

  • angels28

    I’m just going to comment on this once so listen well. How dare you call one of our soldiers a loser while still talking about serving in Vietnam by the way you can not compare your war to that of this war. I have a very good friend who served there and he’d slap respect back onto your lips. Michael is right in what he said. Our enemy hates us with such a passion that they came here and killed thousands just to show us. We didn’t ask for this war but sure as hell won’t walk around shouting peace while the enemy is planning ways to destroy what has become our home. Wake up people we have terorists here now sneeking around. I have nothing but respect and graditude towards our military who are fighting to protect us here at home. What are you doing? Stop sounding bitter, respect the uniform and show some graditude with support

  • ssgt leslie

    we will not be where we are today with freedom of speech with out the military. it is respectful that columbia has not come out with a statement considering they are a ”yellow ribbon school’. now their true colors come out. the college is only in it for the federal money. i served our country honorably and with distinction for 26 yrs. two deployments. the last one in afghanistan. all this rambling on does not solve the current issue. we as a society has lost our respect for one another. and this begins at the top, with our ‘commander in chief’.