Hosted by Marine Corps Veteran Tanner Iskra, Borne the Battle recognizes each battle, challenge, and sacrifice our Veterans endure during and after their service, as well as spotlighting important resources, offices, and benefits VA offers our Veterans.
After his football career ended, Jesse found racing. However, he was at a disadvantage compared to his peers who started racing at a very early age: Iwuji started in his mid 20’s. He lacked sponsorship and he wasn’t born into a racing family. Despite this, his determination has led him to a variety of open doors. He funded the first part of his NASCAR K&N racing career through a variety of ways to include starting his own business. Currently he is racing in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
2019 marks the 40th Anniversary of VA's Vet Centers.
This week’s interview is Pennsylvania National Guard Veteran Michael Fisher who is the VA's Senior Readjustment Counselor. He leads and has direct oversight of over 300 Vet Centers, 80 Mobile Vet Centers and the Vet Center Call Center. We broke it all down - how they started, their differences between them and VA Medical Centers, their services and who is eligible for said services.
Army Veteran Nathan Goncalves applied to UCLA’s Law school to study corporate law. He was accepted, but a bitter divorce, where his military mental health history was used against him, hampered those plans. Through his own experiences, Goncalves realized there was no advocacy for situations like his own. So he sacrificed a potentially lucrative corporate law career and switched to family law to offer services to homeless and low-income Veterans.
For months, I’ve been promising a special bonus podcast episode for when Born the Battle received its 100th rating and/or review on iTunes.
We did it! But, before we get to Mel Brooks and the late Adrian Cronauer.
In five months, our listenership has increased 500%. You’ve allowed more Veterans, VA employees and civilians to hear these amazing stories and to take advantage of all the benefit breakdowns in our archives.
Dr. Baxter has been the SecDef's flight surgeon for over 25 years – both in and out of uniform. 18 years ago, he was the commander of the flight clinic in the Pentagon when the plane hit the building. Before any helicopters landed, before the first responder ambulance showed up - Dr. Baxter helped lead the immediate recovery effort and evacuation of the Pentagon on 9/11. And right here, on this very episode, he‘s gonna give you his own personal account of that day.
In this week's Benefits Breakdown, Army Veteran Ursula Draper talks about the development of the VA's Assistive Technology program; how the program started, how a Veteran can get in the program, and some examples of the technology being developed to assist Veterans in their everyday lives.
Curtez is the CEO of the Military Influencer Conference (MIC). Started in 2016, the conference is a community of entrepreneurs, influencers, creatives, executives, and leaders who are connected to the military community. Curtez said he sees the conference as a mentorship and connection hub for future and current military Veterans looking to make the military transition with an entrepreneurial mindset. Tanner also discusses recent VA news - New VA National Cemetery, New VA App and Operation Song Partnership.
This week’s Borne the Battle interview is with Army Iraq War Veteran, David Gowel, a West Point and Ranger School graduate who later became an assistant professor at MIT’s ROTC program. David is currently the CEO of RallyPoint, a military-themed social media network. Currently there are 1.7 million RallyPoint members, many of whom, in addition to active duty and Veterans, are family members, caregivers, civilian recruiters, and VA and DoD civilians.
Since some veterans have multiple traumas, known as polytrauma, VA dedicates resources to help Veterans with very complex issues.
This week's Borne the Battle interview is with Army Veteran Ursula Draper, who developed the VA Assistive Technology Program in 2010. The program finds adaptive ways for Veterans to access their environment, such as turning on lights or accessing computers. Draper talks about some of the specific technologies VA has developed to help Veterans. Enjoy.
If you have a Facebook or Instagram account, you either follow this week's guest or have seen his work shared on your social media feed. This week’s Borne The Battle episode interview is with Marine Veteran Daniel Sharp, the Chief Executive Officer of PopSmoke Media and podcast host of The Smokepit.
Sharp talks about his transition from the Marine Corps as an infantryman to starting his own media company. We discuss his personal relationship with his local VA Medical Center.
Back in episode 43, Gary gave his original testimony on Borne the Battle.
This week’s Borne The Battle episode provides an update from the Senior Director of Military Programs at Walmart on the hiring initiatives through the company and the Walmart Foundation donating $1 million to Hire Heroes USA.
Profit is the first person to serve in his role—a role that has now spanned a decade. He plans on retiring by the end of this year.
The VA understands that sometimes, faith is the best way to reach a Veteran. Therefore, VA set up a resource that educates local clergy on Veteran concerns and Veteran benefits so they can be the one to tell the Veteran what is available to them. In this episode we talk with the center's acting director, Marine Veteran Conrad Washington. In addition to breaking down the center's purpose and goals, he explains how his career and his faith eventually let him to his current role.
Perry Firoz is smart. Not just Air Force smart, but “can I copy off your paper,” smart. He was an Analytical Scientist for the Air Force. His entire job was to figure out how to make the Air Force more efficient. Returning to his first love, music, Perry moved out to Los Angeles and started Epic Music LA. They work with experienced composers to create a music library that films and television shows can license. They have recently signed deals with CBS, MLB and NHL Networks.
This week we interviewed Camp Valor Outdoors’ Chief Operating Officer, Army Veteran Denise Loring. She is a world class competitive shooter, having shot in a CMP and NRA Nationals, USA Olympic Trials (Air Rifle), and World Championships. We talked about Camp Valor's mission, how Denise was being recruited to the Army for shooting, her 29+ year career, her transition out, and how she came to find a home with Camp Valor Outdoors.
Walter Stitt was a Sherman tank gun loader in General Patton’s 3rd Armored Division. He was one of the first tanks to cross the Siegfried Line – receiving a Purple Heart in the process.
During WWII, Victor Marulli served as a frogman in Guam, Philippines and during the Battle of Midway. Frogmen were underwater demolition-men and are the forefathers to the current Navy SEAL teams.
#BtBattle Veteran of the Week:
Army and Korean War Veteran Dale Quick
On June 22, VA will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the G.I. Bill. In honor of this historic event, Army Veteran Maxine Henry and Air Force Veteran Mark Connors of the VA’s Loan Guaranty Service team sat down with Borne the Battle to discuss one of the best and most popular Veteran benefits--the VA home loan entitlement.
For three days, the MidAtlantic Air Museum brings WWII Veterans, reenactors and a full air show to their community. This year included two living survivors of Pearl Harbor.
Richard Schimmel was one of the first soldiers to ever work with radar. He shipped out to Hawaii to help form the new Signal Aircraft Warning unit.
William Bonelli was a mechanic at Hickam Field when the attacks occurred. He also flew 30 missions over Italy and received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions as a pilot.
David talks about becoming a Green Beret, being attached to a MIKE Force in Vietnam, being a security contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan as a 55-60 year old man, and helping advocate to reform Arizona's university system to work friendlier with the GI Bill and the VA system.
One couple, Marine Veteran Brett D’Alessandro and his partner, Alexa Modero, have made it their mission to help those Veterans that find themselves with nothing but a backpack. The first thing they are doing is literally improving the backpacks that rest on homeless Veterans shoulders.
They have patented their very own pack that is created specifically with the homeless veteran in mind. Their goal is to go to a one-for-one sale model. For each Bowery Pack sold, they can give one to a homeless Veteran.
Fisher houses are a vital part of helping Veterans heal. If there is an open room in a Fisher House next to a VA or military medical facility, a family can join in their Veteran’s recovery at no lodging cost. Today, two new Fisher houses opened at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Bronx, New York City.
To mark today’s event, today’s interview is the current President of the Fisher House Foundation, Army Veteran David Coker.
Not only is Army Veteran Jan a wrestler, he’s a producer of the documentary “Valhalla Club.” The feature documents how three wrestlers, formed a wrestling stable based on collectively fighting their PTSD through wrestling.
Recently, the Valhalla Club were featured on the first episode Comedy Central’s new show, “Klepper.”
Additionally, Jan is a VA employee. We talked about his role in the Office of Business Process Integration.
#BtBattle Veteran of the Week
Marine Veteran Edgar Huff
Before our interns left for the year, I wanted to reward them with their own episode. For his “final” we challenged Zach to go find an interview off his campus. He interviewed Joseph Pennington, a former Navy Seabee and the current Director of Military Programs for AllState.
Joseph talks about how his grandfather, inspired him to raise his right hand, his transition, and his experience in building military programs.
#BtBattle Veteran of the Week:
Marine Veteran Megan McClung
For the next month, the VA’s National Cemetery Administration is partnering with Carry The Load and this week’s guest, Stephen Holley, is the CEO and co-founder of the nonprofit, Carry the Load. In addition, he is a former quarterback at the Naval Academy and a former Navy Seal. In addition to talking about Carry The Load, we dive into his four deployments in five years, his transition and what Memorial Day means to him. Enjoy. Additional Links to This Episode: https://www.va.gov/PAINMANAGEMENT/Opioid_Safety/index.asp https://www.va.gov/HEALTHPARTNERSHIPS/index.asp http://www.carrytheload.org https://bit.ly/2VwziUn https://bit.ly/2DucCtZ https://bit.ly/2V2gJs3 https://bit.ly/2WchKKw https://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/59350/march-memorial-day-va-carry-load-honor-fallen/ #BtBattle Veteran of the Week: https://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/59517/veteranoftheday-navy-veteran-marc-alan-lee/
FBI, CIA, AFT…USPIS? It’s not an alphabet agency that is often brought up in conversation around DC Beltway. However, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service was founded almost 100 years prior to the FBI and almost 150 years before the CIA. Their mission is to “support and protect the U.S. Postal Service, its employees, infrastructure, and customers by enforcing the laws that defend the nation's mail system from illegal or dangerous use.” Today’s guest is a current U.S. Postal Inspector and Marine Veteran Carroll Harris. He is the first guest to reach out to ask to be on the show, so he can get information out to Veterans. Operation Protect Veterans is an effort by the Postal Inspection Service to prevent crimes and scams within the mail system that are targeting the Veteran population. In addition, Carroll is a historian in the Marine Corps Reserve. He is attached to the Marine Corps History Division and is tasked with going on deployments to record Marine Corps history in times of conflict. In the episode, he covers how he was “drafted” into the history division in Kuwait, right before the Marine Corps crossed the Kuwaiti-Iraqi border during 2003’s Operation Enduring Freedom. Additional Links to This Episode: https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/ https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/radDocs/OPV.html https://bit.ly/2DucCtZ https://bit.ly/2W3Rkum https://bit.ly/2VlZelB Mission Act Links: https://bit.ly/2D8czDE https://bit.ly/2IDLZXH https://bit.ly/2Zw2uKw #BtBattle Veteran of the Week: Army Veteran Ellen Ainsworth https://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/58675/veteranoftheday-ellen-ainsworth/
Bonus episode! This episode is an experiment of a sorts. I attended a Veteran/ military spouse networking event called BourBiz. It was held this last Thursday by The Veteran Success Resource Group at the MGM, National Harbor, Maryland. I was told about this event by future guests, Brett D’Allesandro and Alexa Modero the founders of the non profit, Backpacks For Life. They were part of a veteran-owned-business pitch competition that was going to be held at the event. Placing 2nd, they were awarded $15,000. Again, this was last Thursday and I didn’t know about it until the day prior. Within 24 hours I was hooked up with a booth. So with little time to plan, I brought my gear and figured to catch something. I set up, did two interviews - and I didn’t think I captured anything. It was loud and they were having a live auction right next to me. So, I shut down my operation and just took the whole thing in. However, when I went home, I learned that the quality wasn’t too bad. So, what you're going to hear is what I was able to capture. If you would like to hear more episodes like this (with more content) please reach out to me at email@example.com. Enjoy. Additional Links: bourbiz.com https://www.roa.org/ https://www.linkedin.com/company/us-army-soldier-for-life/
Danny Chung is an positive example of a Veteran that found a way to give back to the transitioning active-duty community. Danny’s team is trying to do is fill a gap in the civilian workforce. At any given time, there are over 500,000 open jobs in the computer industry. The current education system is producing only 49,000 computer science majors a year. Danny’s goal is to fill the gap with a portion of the 250,000 service-members that leave active duty every year. One solution is the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA). It is an 18-week course that active duty can take on base towards the end of their service. They offer training in high demand fields like cloud development, cloud administration, cybersecurity, databases and business intelligence administration. In addition, graduates are guaranteed an interview with Microsoft or an industry partner. There are currently 15 military bases that offer the MSSA. Currently, Danny’s biggest drive is to help military spouses find gainful employment in the technology industry. The Military Spouse Technology Academy is an effort by Danny’s team to combat the military spouse 18% unemployment and 53% underemployment rates. In addition, we talk about his service, difficulties transitioning during the Great Recession, and his feelings on artificial intelligence taking over the planet. Enjoy. #BTBattle Veteran of the Week: Army Air Corps Veteran Dick Cole https://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/37196/veteranoftheday-army-air-corps-veteran-richard-dick-cole/ ADDITIONAL LINKS FOR THIS EPISODE: military.microsoft.com https://www.hiringourheroes.org/ https://www.troops2transport.com/ https://worldwide.erau.edu/microsoft-software-systems-academy/ https://www.stmartin.edu/academics/programs-schools/hal-and-inge-marcus-school-engineering/areas-of-study/microsoft-software-and-systems-academy
Navy Veteran Jennifer Marshall joins us on the show. Since transitioning from active duty, she’s been hustling out in Hollywood. She’s a veteran of some movies and shows you may have seen: “Stranger Things” “Hawaii Five-O” “A Dog’s Way Home” “Timeless” “Game Shakers” Most notably, she’s an actress, but she also hosts red carpets, hosts shows, models and volunteers for various causes in and around the area. Jennifer talks about why she joined the Navy and why she had to exit earlier than she anticipated. She also talks about her husband’s transition and trying to bridge the military-civilian divide. She also shared how the military community in Hollywood helped her gain her sea-legs as she started on this new journey. Finally, we discussed how a military mindset can help you achieve your goals, the misadventures of motion capture for her first (and probably last) video game, and current volunteer projects that she is passionate about. Enjoy. Additional Links For This Episode: https://www.hollywoodpost43.org/ https://vmeconnect.org/ https://www.pinupsforvets.com/ https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/fgib/VetTec.asp #BtBattle Veteran of the Week is Air Force Veteran William Andrews: https://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/58577/veteranoftheday-air-force-veteran-william-francis-andrews/
There are many veteran entrepreneurs in the coffee industry. Today we focus on a local roaster in the Northern Virginia area that is making waves in the coffee industry. In this episode, Sean talks about his unique military career. Starting out as a merchant marine and as a reservist, Sean explains how he switched between a couple of different occupational specialties before coming onto active duty as a Naval Intelligence Officer. We also break down Sean’s transition from the Navy, and how he started a business on active duty and turned it into a $500,000 revenue-generating business within six years. Enjoy #BtBattle Veteran of the Week Marine Corps’ Veteran and soon-to-be WWE Hall of Famer Brian James is this week’s Veteran of the Week. Additional Links for this Episode: http://www.campvaloroutdoors.org/
I love finding Veterans who are out there working to bridge the military-civilian divide. This week’s guest is continuing to serve by connecting Veterans to communities as the military relations manager at the second largest private company in the United States. While in the Army, John Buckley, II was an infantry commander for soldiers in combat and peacekeeping operations. In addition, he directed two of the Army’s top schools. Commissioning as a 2nd lt. in the reserves at the age of 19, John began serving in the Kansas Army National Guard, eventually earning a regular army commission. He is a graduate of the Infantry Basic and Advanced Courses, the Army Command and General Staff College, the School of Advanced Military Studies, the Armed Forces Staff College and the Army War College, receiving a special degree in national security policy. John also holds a master’s in military arts and sciences and a master’s in military science. Today, John teaches transition courses, gives presentations, writes about the military career transition, and continues to mentor current and former military service-members. Furthermore, John is involved in the local Veteran community of Wichita, KS as the: Co-chair of the Wichita Community Veteran Engagement Board Board member of the Veteran Providers' Coalition of Sedgwick County Currently, the boards' current focus is on Veteran unemployment and homelessness. Their future goals are to create a Veteran-friendly medical transportation system. John is also a board member of the non-profit, Passageways. They battle Veteran homelessness within and around the city of Wichita. For their Phase II, Passageways is looking to develop a 30 home community focusing on providing homes for the local female veteran community and their families. Hope you enjoy this week's episode. Additional Links for Week's Episode: https://bit.ly/2usvnJ9 https://bit.ly/2FzlBeG https://bit.ly/2vtH4Q6 #BtBattle Veteran of the Week: https://bit.ly/2Tw1fXE
How does a Navy submariner from Hollis, Queens, NY, become a farmer in North Carolina? That is exactly what Valroy Williams did after over 30 years of dedication between the Navy and Army. In this episode we talked about his service, how he learned to farm and the camaraderie of the Veteran farmers in North Carolina. Links For More Info: https://bit.ly/2TMSfCk https://bit.ly/2UIP9vo https://bit.ly/2CoRTqU https://bit.ly/2Teb8sI https://bit.ly/2uhqrGV
Tanner's first podcast features a former mentor. Rick Robinson is an Emmy award winning director of photography and cinematographer. Rick talks about being a combat videographer in Grenada and Beirut, breaking into Hollywood and working on major motion pictures, working on a documentary film crew for a Michael Jackson's "Dangerous" World Tour, teaching at film schools, working on features in the South Pacific and his journey back to the Marine Corps after 30 years.
This episode is a humbling one for me. Episode 134 is the last episode I will produce as the host of Borne the Battle. I launched the podcast in 2016 under the title "This Week at VA," renamed it Borne The Battle about a year later, and have interviewed an impressive set of Veterans and their loved ones. However, while I may be moving on from the podcast, the podcast is remaining and will be hosted by a newer member of my team, Tanner Iskra. Tanner Iskra is a United States Marine Corps Veteran who served as an intel analyst in OIF III and later as a combat videographer/photographer. During his military career he deployed to OIF III as well as Romania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Germany, France, Spain as part of the Black Sea Rotational Force. After leaving active duty, Tanner was a Senior Post Production Editor with NASCAR Productions. Tanner is a graduate of the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Media Studies and holds a Certificate in Military Motion Media from the Newhouse School of Journalism at Syracuse University. Joining the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in October 2018, Tanner is a video producer with the Digital Media Engagement team focusing on producing, editing and shooting content that tells the Veteran’s story. Tanner joins the show so we may learn about his service, his creativity, and his vision for the podcast moving forward.
Vet Centers are one of VA's most valuable and crucial resources. Vet Centers are community-based counseling centers that provide a wide range of social and psychological services, including professional readjustment counseling to eligible Veterans, active duty service members, including National Guard and Reserve components, and their families. Readjustment counseling is offered to make a successful transition from military to civilian life or after a traumatic event experienced in the military. Individual, group, marriage and family counseling is offered in addition to referral and connection to other VA or community benefits and services. Vet Center counselors and outreach staff, many of whom are Veterans themselves, are experienced and prepared to discuss the tragedies of war, loss, grief and transition after trauma. While I was in Dallas, visited the Vet Center in Arlington, TX and sat down with Vet Center Director Joel Chaverri for an interview. Joel tells us about his time in the Marine Corps, his path to becoming a social worker, and what everyone needs to know about how Vet Centers serve Veterans and their families.
Since I joined VA in April 2016, we have avoided alcohol themed content in our production. However, with so many Veterans involved in the industry through craft beer, distilling, wineries, and more, I decided it was time to feature a Veteran inside the industry. Brent Thompson is a Navy Veteran and Head Brewer at Texas Ale Project in the City of Dallas. I originally visited his establishment as part of the Military Influencers Conference. When I returned to Dallas a year later, I knew I wanted to interview him about going from Navy to co-founding a successful brewery. Brent sat down with me in his tap room to record our interview. Over his shoulder I could see a tap handle designed in digital camouflage that read "Good to Go," the name of his pale ale. Though subtle, signals like that are evidence of a culture transcending one's life, bringing vernacular from the past into the present. Brent spoke to me about his decision to enlist in the Navy, the major influence his father had on him, and the journey he's been on founding a successful brewery.
Back in October I interviewed Ozzy Ramirez, an Army Veteran that is pursuing an acting career in Hollywood. Ozzy's interview got buried in a swarm of interviews conducted in that time span and I just discovered it again last week. When I went back to listen to it, I remembered how great of an interview it was and how valuable it is for us to hear stories like his. Ozzy joins Borne the Battle to discuss his time in the military, which allowed him to not only help support his family, but also become a U.S. citizen, and his bold decision to head to Hollywood in pursuit of the silver screen. You can see Ozzy's full body of work on his page at IMDB.
This week we have a unique episode. One of my interns, Zach Wheeler, conducted an interview with one of his professors at Johns Hopkins University. Zach is a sophomore and is studying International Studies. His professor, Robert O. Freedman, is an adjunct professor at Zach's university. Mr. Freedman served during the Vietnam War and joins Borne the Battle to discuss a great leader he had in the military, his philosophy on giving your country two years of service, and his career in academia which includes time at West Point.
Our week of podcasts focused on student Veterans is coming to a close. On Monday, we spoke with Student Veterans of America president Jared Lyon. Then, Tuesday through Thursday we had a conversation with three groups of Student Veteran of the Year finalists. Today, we feature the 2018 Student Veteran of the Year, Alexandria Sawin. Alex is the president of the UNLV Rebel Veterans Organization at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She speaks with us about her service in the Air Force, becoming a leader in her community, organizing a ruck march across the state of Nevada, and her best practices in her student Veteran chapter.
Today, we continue our discussions with Student Veterans of America’s Student Veteran of the Year finalists. This episode features Angela Peacock, Kyle Venable, and Carlos Caro. We learn about their chapter’s success in 2018, their philosophy on outreach, and how to include other military personnel on campus.
Today, we continue our discussions with Student Veterans of America's Student Veteran of the Year finalists. This episode features Chanel Powell and Tyler Freeman. We learn about their chapter's success in 2018, their philosophy on outreach, and how to include other military personnel on campus. About Chanel: Chanel is a paralegal specialist in the New York Army National Guard for the past 3 years and continues to serve. She deployed with the 1156th Engineer Company to Kuwait and Iraq in 2016-2017. Promptly after returning home from deployment she started her first semester at the University at Buffalo just last spring. During her first semester she was elected SVA chapter President and the following semester they became nationally recognized within the Student Veterans of America, making their chapter one of the newest. Her plan is to continue her education in law school a little over a year from now. About Tyler: Tyler was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and joined the United States Marine Corps in 2008. He was stationed in the Carolinas shortly thereafter with military occupations primarily involving helicopter squadrons as an Aviation Maintenance Supervisor and a CH-53E Helicopter Crew Member. After 5 ½ years of service and three deployments (2 to Northeast Africa and 1 to Afghanistan), Tyler received an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps in April of 2014 to pursue undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Greensboro. While enrolled, he held a concurrent full-time position at Ameriprise Financial in various operations and project management roles. He completed a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (Magna Cum Laude) at UNC Greensboro in December, 2017. Tyler then relocated to Atlanta after he was accepted to Emory University’s Goizueta Business School & Emory Law School, where he began the full-time MBA/JM Dual Degree program in August 2018.
Each year, Student Veterans of America selects a "Student Veteran of the Year." They receive hundreds of submissions for consideration and narrow the field down to ten finalists. Year after year, these ten finalists prove to be exceptional individuals. I had the opportunity to sit down with the finalists this year and talk to them about the success they've had with their respective chapters and on their campuses. Today's group of student Veterans include David Cote, Katherina Pratt, and Wesley Wilson.
I just returned from the 2019 Student Veterans of America (SVA) National Conference (NatCon). It was my fourth conference in five years. I've been to two as a student Veteran, and two on behalf of VA. Each year this gathering proves to be more powerful than the last. SVA saw a 30% attendance boost since last year's conference, hosting more than 2,300 student Veterans and stakeholders. The three-day event featured keynotes from Secretary Robert Wilkie, Medal of Honor recipient Ryan Pitts, and President of SVA, Jared Lyon. Jared has been on the podcast a few times in the past, including a sit-down I had with him at last year's NatCon. Each time he speaks with us, he has the same passion and excitement about the success of student Veterans as he did the time before. In this year's interview, that we recorded at NatCon 2019, Jared shares what it means for SVA to be "left of bang," tells us about the amazing group of Student Veteran of the Year finalists, and what SVA's priority in 2019.
The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University is a key contributor in the support of Veteran entrepreneurs and research on transitioning Veterans. In the past, we have spoken with IVMF's Director, Mike Haynie, and their Manager for Managing Director for Programs and Services, Jim McDonough. This week, we talk with Nicholas Armstrong, IVMF's Senior Director for Research and Policy. Nick began his career as an Army field artillery officer upon graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2000. In the Army, he served seven years on active duty, including nearly three years deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia with the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), during which he received two Bronze Star Medals and the Combat Action Badge, among other commendations. In addition, Nick served as a speechwriter to the commanding general of the 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum, NY, as well as aide-de-camp to the division’s deputy commanding general. Nick is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Airborne, Air Assault, and Ranger Schools. Serving in his current role since 2014, Nick developed and leads a multi-disciplinary team comprised of social, behavioral, and data scientists, student analysts, and an extended network of affiliated scholars and experts. He manages a broad portfolio of sponsored research, program measurement, and evaluation efforts to inform the social, economic, wellness, and related policy concerns of the nation’s veterans and their families. In addition, Nick is responsible for the IVMF’s data analytics, quality, and decision support activities that guide the Institute’s operations to serve, annually, more than 20,000 veterans and family members nationwide and abroad. Nick joins Borne the Battle to discuss his experience in the Army, his efforts at IVMF, and some key research from the institute that provides essential information on transitioning Veterans.
Every once in a while I'm pleasantly surprised to discover that someone famous is a Veteran. A couple months ago, a story came out about William Daniels when he fended off an intruder in his house. When I saw his age, I wondered if he served in World War II. Sure enough, I learned that he spent a couple years in Italy shortly after the bomb dropped in Hiroshima. So, naturally, I wanted to speak to him about his service and invited him to join me on Borne the Battle. Many of you probably recognize him as the voice of KITT on Knight Rider, Dr. Craig on St. Elsewhere, and, the role he's most commonly recognized for, Mr. Feeny on Boy Meets World. Mr. Daniels and his wife Bonnie joined me for a short phone interview to share his experiences as a drafted soldier in World War II, using the G.I. Bill to attend Northwestern University, being a recognized actor, and how important his relationship with Bonnie has been through it all.
To round of National Caregivers Month, we feature Sarah Verardo. Sarah is the CEO of Independence Fund and a caregiver for her husband, an Army Veteran. Sarah also authored the children's book, Hero at Home. Founded in 2007, The Independence Fund is committed to empowering our nation’s catastrophically wounded, injured, or ill Veterans to overcome physical, mental, and emotional wounds incurred in the line of duty. We are dedicated to improving the lives of both our Veterans and their families. Through our Mobility, Caregiver, Adaptive Sports, Advocacy, and Family programs, The Independence Fund strives to bridge the gap of unmet needs for Veterans and their caregivers. Sarah also recently announced Independence Fund's new program, Operation Resiliency. The program will team with VA to host suicide prevention reunion retreats with the Veterans of high suicide rate military units. Sarah joins this week's podcast to discuss her experience as her husband's caregiver and her efforts at Independence Fund.
Today's podcast features a Veteran spotlighted by NCA's Veterans Legacy Program. Kenneth Holliday, who joined us on episode 106, joins us today for the unofficial debut of Veterans Legacy Program podcast. Today, he tells us about Terrence Halligan. Terence Patrick Halligan was born in Northern Ireland on April 3, 1922. He is an Army Air Corps Veteran of World War II. During a combat mission over Italy, his plane was shot down and Halligan was never found. Visit cem.va.gov/legacy for more or follow @VANatCemeteries on Twitter.
Everyone needs a break from time to time. Borne the Battle - and, more importantly, its host - decided to take a short break from production. It's been a month since our last episode was published, but I was still recording interviews in that span of time. A couple of the interviews I did were with caregivers. With November being National Caregivers Month, and with this week being Thanksgiving, I decided to bring the podcast back to full form with two episodes featuring caregivers. Not only to spotlight their efforts, but to show our gratitude for the role they play in Veterans' lives. First up is Liz Rotenberry. Liz joined me at VA Central Office after the Elizabeth Dole Foundation showed interest in collaborating on a podcast. I didn't know much about Liz before we started the interview, but by the end of it I felt I had just recorded one of the more valuable interviews in the podcast's two year history. Liz, is a military caregiver for her husband, a Marine Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom & Operation Enduring Freedom Veteran. As an Elizabeth Dole Fellow Alumna, Liz works to advocate not only for herself and her family, but for all Military and Veteran Caregivers. Liz joined the Elizabeth Dole Foundation as their Caregiver Community Program Coordinator and is now the Foundation’s Fellows Program Coordinator. Prior to becoming a military caregiver, Liz graduated from the University of Delaware with a BAS in Art and Art History. Liz worked in the architectural field as a designer for schools, medical, offices to government and military facilities, including the test sites on Proving Grounds in Arizona. The work Liz experienced with the Proving Grounds in Arizona provided an eye opening experience to what our Military train for in real life theater every day. Liz is honored to have been a part of the training and implementation of the Joint Experimentation Range Complex. It is important for Liz to represent not only the Veteran but especially the Caregiver. Liz and I talk about being a military spouse during her husband's service and how she experienced transition when her husband separated from the military. That, plus plenty of insight on her role as a caregiver.
After a short break, Borne the Battle is back. This week we bring on Marine Veteran Elliott McKenzie. After returning home from a deployment to Ramadi, Iraq, Elliott started showing signs of having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). By 2008, his symptoms were spiraling out of control. He had severe anger, depression, anxiety, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and hyper awareness. It was severely affecting his life and the lives of those around him. By 2009, his PTSD was so bad that he ended up homeless. After sleeping in his car for a period of time, he applied to a veteran's homeless facility in Long Beach, CA. Elliott soon after got connected with VA and began his long road to recovery. That road to recovery included creating music, which he used as a coping mechanism and as a way to express himself. He joins us on this week's podcast to discuss his time in the Marines, the difficulties of his transition, and how his music career has been so powerful in his recovery.
September means back to school, even for Veterans. Being a student Veteran on campus is a unique experience. Student Veterans are typically older than traditional students, they have more life experience, and they can even have families at home. One resource available for student Veterans on campus is student Veterans group, often an official club with officials and board members. These groups can be great places for Veterans to gain friends, have a community, and get connected with more resources on campus. This week's podcast celebrates going back to school. Our three panelists discuss their experiences and what they've learned as best practices for Veterans themselves and the clubs they're a part of. I'm joined by the President of Student Veterans of America, Jared Lyon, the president of Mason Veteran Patriots at George Mason University, EJ Delpero, and last year's Student Veteran of the Year Finalist, Kirsten Battocchio. EJ and Kirsten bring their own perspectives and Jared compliments with SVA's guidance and insight.
About 30 episodes ago, we spoke with Michael Haynie, the Founder & Executive Director for the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. The IVMF is higher education’s first interdisciplinary academic institute, singularly focused on advancing the lives of the nation’s military veterans and their families. This episode, we hear from Mike's colleague, James McDonough, managing director of programs and services for IVMF. James tells us about his service in the Army, a great leader he served under, and the decision to begin transition out of the military so he could care for family. Then, we learn about two powerful programs worked on at IVMF: AmericaServes and Onward to Opportunity. AmericaServes is the country’s first coordinated system of public, private, and non-profit organizations working together to serve Veterans, transitioning service-members, and their families. Onward to Opportunity is a free, comprehensive career training, certification and employment program designed to launch you into your next career with over 30 industry-recognized career tracks and courses. IVMF is a highly respected organization in the Veteran community, and James does a great job adding on to what we originally learned from Mike. Enjoy!
Music is a great way to communicate one's feelings and cope with experiences. Veterans have been using music in these same ways as a way to come to terms with some feelings they have and to tell their audience their story. Petey Ace is a Marine Corps Veteran and a hip hop artists based out of Los Angeles. He joins Borne the Battle to talk about a recent song he did to express those feelings, and how he has joined a group of Veterans that are using basic camaraderie to reconnect with fellow Veterans. We also talk about his time in the Marine Corps and his thoughts on fatherhood.
Back in December of 2016, we featured Army Veteran Blayne Smith on the podcast. At the time, he was Executive Director of Team RWB. That was episode 11. He has since moved on to the GORUCK team, and here on episode 115, we are featuring he successor, and good friend, JJ Pinter. JJ is also an Army Veteran who joined shortly before September 11. JJ will share his story of military service and tell us about the wonderful soldiers he served with, but the real value in this interview comes from his insight as Team RWB's second official employee. He's been with Team RWB for quite some time and in the Veteran space even longer. He shares his perspective on serving Veterans' post-military needs, measuring the impact his organization is making on Veteran, how his staff focuses on their mission, and other valuable thoughts that only someone in his position can have. About JJ: JJ Pinter is the Executive Director of Team Red, White, and Blue. As Team RWB’s 2nd employee, he has played a key role the development, growth, and operation of the organization. JJ works closely with board members, staff, and volunteer leaders to ensure the delivery of excellent programs that deliver impact. He provides strategic guidance in addition to building and managing critical partnerships. JJ is a West Point graduate and combat veteran, serving as a Field Artillery officer. After his military service, he held both leadership and analytical positions in the construction, defense and medical industries. He currently resides outside Louisville, KY with his wife and 3 kids, where he loves to coach youth sports and be outdoors with his family.
I've been podcasting for more than five years. I look forward to each interview, because I love hearing new perspectives and unique stories of life and service. There are some interviews that truly get me excited, like this week's with Medal of Honor recipient Bennie Adkins. Bennie was in Washington, D.C. for the MLB All Star Game and to do some media for his new book A Tiger Among Us. While he was in town, he swung by VA Central Office for an interview to be featured on Borne the Battle. Bennie's Medal of Honor citation has more action in it than most war movies. He was in battle for 38 hours and was escaping for another 48. In that time frame, he sustained 18 wounds. He fought the North Vietnamese with mortars, machine guns, recoilless rifles, small arms, and hand grenades. There is no type of Veteran that deserves the designation "hero" more than patriots like Bennie Adkins. Bennie talks to us about joining the military after leaving college, the days in Vietnam that led to his award, and the importance of taking care of Veterans after their tour of duty.
I met Dan Cnossen on the red carpet at the Team USA awards back in April. I spoke to him about the opportunity to represent the United States in a different uniform and his experience with adaptive sports. Hour later, he was named 2018 Male Paralympic Athlete of the Games. Dan was nice enough to agree to a podcast interview, and connected with me a few weeks ago to record. We talked about everything from his time in the Navy to accepting that his injury meant leaving the service to becoming a gold medalist. About Dan: Lt. Cmdr. Dan Cnossen was serving as the platoon commander for SEAL Team One in Afghanistan in September 2009 when he stepped on an IED (improvised explosive device) and was wounded in the explosion. The accident caused Cnossen to lose both his legs just above the knee. Cnossen went through rehabilitation, first at the Bethesda National Naval Medical Center, and later at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he learned to walk with his new prosthetics. Cnossen was awarded both a Bronze Star with Valor from the Secretary of the Navy for his service in combat.
A five-member mountaineering team of U.S. military, Veterans, and a physician from non-profit U.S. Expeditions and Explorations (USX) summited North America’s highest peak, Denali, Alaska, during a scientific research expedition to benefit the study of high altitude cardiology, May 14 to June 5, 2018. USX is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that enables the military and Veteran communities to impact STEM fields by conducting adventurous, scientific research across the globe. During USX’s Denali expedition, its team members wore Cardiac Insight, Inc.’s Cardea SOLO™ wireless electrocardiogram sensors to capture cardiology data and detect cardiac arrhythmias at high altitude. One of the members of the mountaineering team that went up Denali was Army Veteran Adam Storck. He is Head of Devices for M-KOPA Solar, overseeing new product development, delivery, and testing. Storck is from Seattle and resides in London and Nairobi, Kenya. He is a graduate of Garfield High School, Seattle (2005), UNC-Chapel Hill (2009), and Oxford University (2016). Adam is also a Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan (2010-2011, 2013). Adam joins Borne the Battle to talk about his experience climbing to the summit of Denali and the incredible work he is doing in Nairobi. He is another example of how Veterans go on to do amazing things following their military service.
Drinking can be a concern for many people. Veterans can fall into behavior of using alcohol to cope with emotional distress following a deployment or transition out of the military. For some, the volume drinking turns from moderate to heavy, and the body starts to show signs of wear. VA created VetChange to help Veterans monitor their drinking and take control. VetChange is a free, confidential online program to help Veterans cut back or stop drinking, and learn to manage PTSD symptoms without using alcohol. Based on scientific research, VetChange helps you build skills to better manage your drinking and other problems Veterans can experience after deployment, including symptoms of PTSD. Set your own goals. Learn at your own pace. Check your own progress over time and adjust your personal plan for change — with VetChange, you're in the driver's seat. Monica Roy, who is the Program Manager for Substance Substance Abuse Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program and Outpatient Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program at VA Boston Healthcare System's Jamaica Plain Campus. She served as a subject matter expert for the development of the VetChange App. She joins us on this episode to explain how VetChange came to be and how it benefits Veterans.
When I was visiting my then-girlfriend in Columbus a few years ago, we realized her apartment complex was not outfitted to accommodate a wheelchair. There was handicap parking, but unless you were on the ground floor, that person would not be able to access your apartment. That realization made me notice more instances of this in our communities, and I've become sympathetic to the challenges that brings to persons in wheelchairs. I've also seen the technology that has improved the lives of those with permanent injuries. Rory Cooper was on the podcast a while back talking about his research and the breakthroughs he's making. Pictures from a recent golf event showed paralyzed Veterans using a chair that helped them stand upright so they could properly swing a golf club. So, we have a society that's still behind on accommodations, and we have technology that is making breakthroughs for the people it serves. Where does that put us overall and what is the experience of injured Veterans when looking through those two lenses? I sat down with David Zurfluh, the National President of Paralyzed Veterans of America. David talks to us about his time in the Air Force, his accident and injury, the evolution of accommodations, and how his organization serves Veterans.
Education is one of the most valuable things a person can have. Following World War II, the original GI Bill helped provide Veterans returning from war the opportunity to pursue a college degree. Since its inception, the GI Bill has gone through a few iterations, including the most recent Post 9/11 GI Bill receiving the Forever GI Bill enhancement. The GI Bill celebrates its 74th anniversary this month. To join the celebration of this wonderful benefit's 75th year, I invited a couple members of Student Veterans of America to join me in a discussion of the history of the GI Bill, its evolution, and its latest iteration. With me for this week's episode is Marine Veteran Barrett Bogue, SVA's Vice President for Public Relations and Public Engagement and Army Veteran Lauren Augustine, Vice President of Government Affairs. Both of them have experience working in higher education and had a close view of what it took to pass the Forever GI Bill.
One of my favorite parts of podcasting in the Veteran space is learning about what Veterans are doing in their communities and their industries. This week we hear from Army Veteran Sally Roberts, founder of Wrestle Like a Girl. Sally was a resident at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center for eight years during which time she was a 3-time national champion, 2003 World Cup Champion, 2003 & 2005 World Bronze Medalist and a 2008 Olympic Alternate. She served six years in the Army as a Special Operations soldier where she volunteered for deployment to Afghanistan. She was also a member of the Army’s prestigious World Class Athlete Program and represented both the U.S. Army and Team USA in elite athletic competitions. Sally joins the podcast to share her experience in the Army and her efforts with Wrestle Like a Girl, advocating for girls and women across the United States to be afforded opportunities to participate in wrestling.
A couple weeks ago, GORUCK hosted an event in Washington D.C. called the Star Course 50-Miler. More than 700 participants wondered around Washington visiting way-points in attempt to walk 50 miles in 20 hours. The idea originates from an executive order handed down by Teddy Roosevelt to his military. Hours before the event, Jason and Emily McCarthy, CEO and Chief of Staff of GORUCK, swung by VA's central office to record a podcast with me. GORUCK is a company that makes rucksacks and hosts events for community rucking led by a cadre of special forces experts. Rucking is the activity of walking with weight on your back. In this week's podcast, the married couple share Jason's experience as Army special forces, Emily's experience as a military spouse, their separation, their re-connection, and how all of that led to the creation of GORUCK.
Continuing the theme of memorializing those that have served our country and passed, we're going to talk more about the Veterans Legacy Program. Last week, Bryce Carpenter laid the ground work last week by explaining the creation and development of the program, as well as the impact it has as an educational tool. This week we talk with Kenneth Holliday, who works with the Veterans Legacy Program at the National Cemetery Administration. He is also a proud Army Veteran, having served in the Infantry with deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Ken shares his experience of service, his transition out, how he first got involved with the Veterans Legacy Program, and how his experience has been with the program since joining VA. He also shares some unique stories that he's discovered through his research, as well as some of the challenges that come with creating content for Veterans who have passed.
I hope everyone is enjoying their Memorial Day. However you recognize the holiday, I hope you take a moment to remember those that paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country. In theme with Memorial Day, we'll be looking at the Veterans Legacy Program on this week's podcasts. The Veterans Legacy Program (VLP) is National Cemetery's Administration's educational outreach initiative. Their mission is to memorialize our nation's Veterans through sharing their stories of service and sacrifice. They partner with universities, schools, teachers, professors, and students of all levels to research Veterans interred in NCA cemeteries and how they contributed to their country as service members, and how they contributed to their community as Veterans. First, on a Benefits Breakdown edition of the show, I bring on Bryce Carpenter, Educational Outreach Programs Manager for NCA and a proud Army veteran. Bryce will tell us about the inception of the program, the value it brings to our community, how schools are using it for education, and how it has impacted him as a Veteran.
Hopefully, you watched our panel discussion on mental health or listened to the audio on Monday's podcast. Today's episode is an extension of that conversation. Coming out of that YouTube Live event, there were a number of things I wanted to ask that just didn't fit into our program. So, the following day, I met with Dr. Wendy Tenhula to learn more about her role at VA, the progress we've seen in Veterans seeking treatment for mental health issues, and the value Make the Connection has for our Veterans who want to learn more.
May is Mental Health Month and one of VA's leading resources for mental health, Make the Connection, kicked off the month with a YouTube Live event. The event was a panel discussion about Veterans and mental health. I was honored to host the event, and was joined by Marine Veteran Moses Maddox and Dr. Wendy Tenhula, VA’s Director of Innovation and Collaboration for the Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. I decided to pull the audio from the event and include it on a Benefits Breakdown episode. Moses shares a lot about getting treatment at VA and Dr. Tenhula explains how Veterans can use services at VA for information and mental health care. As a group, we went in-depth on the importance of mental health care and how Veterans and their family members can be prepared to respond to a disconcerting situation.
Tele-health has been a priority at VA and we've made great strides in the care we can offer Veterans. From video conferencing between physician and patient to our mobile app "Annie." I've personally used mobile apps and digital platforms to connect with my therapist. The convenience helps preserve the valuable resource of time and the comfort allows patients to receive the care they need with less stress on their daily lives. VA's efforts in using technology to reach and care for Veterans has been grouped under our Office of Connected Care. The Office of Connected Care focuses on improving health care through technology by engaging Veterans and care teams outside of traditional health care visits. By bringing together VA digital health technologies under one umbrella, the Office of Connected Care is enhancing health care coordination across VA and supporting Veterans’ participation in their own care. This week I talk with Dr. Jennifer MacDonald, Director of Clinical Innovations and Education, VHA Connected Care. She shares her time in the military, becoming a doctor, and how VA is using technology to care for Veterans at a distance. We'll cover My HealtheVet, VA Telehealth Services, VA Mobile, and more.
We're wrapping up Public Service Recognition Week and I think a nice bookend to the week is to talk with someone that serves Veterans through his public service. Raymond Kaloplastos is known as "Ray from VA" around his community in San Antonio. I spoke with him at the Student Veterans of America National Convention back in January. He was there with a mobile Vet Center to provide any counseling services Veterans may need while attending the event. Ray is an Army Veteran and will talk to us about his lengthy time in service, his retirement, how he got started with VA and the value that Mobile Vet Centers bring our communities, including disaster response.
This is a big milestone for us. 100 episodes of Borne the Battle. We've spoken to Veterans from all branches (even one Coast Guard Veteran) and learned about so many industries. The stories have been interesting and learning about their current vocations has been inspiring. Episode 100 is going to feature Bruce Silverglade, an Army Veteran that served during the Vietnam War. We'll learn about his service, his transition, how he became owner of Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn, and about a cool program he started that allows Veterans to train at his gym for free. Then, we'll hear from other characters involved in this program including the VA employee that helped organize it, the trainer that works with these Veterans, and the Veterans that are benefiting from such a unique program. To see and learn more about this program, check out our YouTube for a video we recently produced for the latest episode of The American Veteran, showing these Veterans in action at Gleason's Gym.
VA is very active in addressing and attempting to prevent Veteran homelessness. We hold a "no wrong door" policy, which allows Veterans to touch base with any point of contact at VA with confidence they will be guided to our resources and services to assist them. The longer I work here, and the more I speak with fellow employees, the more I realize this matter is important to everyone here, whether or not they're directly involved. In December, I brought on my colleague to discuss VA's approach to communicating homeless resources to Veterans and their communities. This week, I speak with Anthony Love, Director of Community Engagement for VHA's Homeless Programs. He and I discuss how VA delivers these resources, benefits, and services to Veterans that are homeless or at-risk for homelessness. Anthony helps us understand what it means to be at-risk for homelessness and how communities are ending Veteran homelessness.
After a successful round table on women Veterans topics, I was excited to do another one. I decided to curate a round table of Veteran entrepreneurs, but had a couple guests back out and was forced to postpone. Fortunately, one of my invited guests was still available and interested in doing a one-on-one interview. Nick Karnaze is a Marine Veteran having served as an officer with the Marine Raiders. After getting out the military, he started a business in international development. The business did not succeed as hoped. Then, after growing a beard in honor of a fallen friend, Nick was inspired to start his current business, Stubble & 'Stache. Nick and I discuss the journey of entrepreneurship, his process for troubleshooting, his routines, and how he handles productivity.
Tim Kolzcak asked his dad what the plan was for college. After learning there was no money available for his education, he had to choose between going into debt or joining the military. So, he enlisted in the Army. After his tour, which involved deployments in support of OIF/OEF, he continued his education. With the recommendation and encouragement of a professor, he began a photographic essay titled The Veterans Project. Now, Tim tells the stories of Veterans through these photos. Tim is going to share his journey in the Army and exploring the idea of his project. Also, Tim joins us for a conversation about storytelling in the Veteran space, and what Veterans should keep in mind as they collaborate within the community and attempt to motivate others through their own story.
Alternative healing and mental health awareness is becoming more important and more popular. One thing Veterans are trying out is meditation. Meditation can be defined as a practice where an individual focuses their mind on a particular object, thought or activity to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. Like many Veterans, I have tried mediation and enjoy it, but I struggle with regular practice. When I first exited the military, I got involved with a brand called Veteran Empire which was led by my friend Alfred "Alphi" Quitevis. Alphi was hustling with school, a business, and a busy social life. He noticed it started catching up with him and he put it all aside to explore the world and himself. During this exploration, he studied and practiced meditation. Now, he's an expert on the subject with plenty of insight to offer. I watched Alphi go through this transition and followed him along his journey. I knew he'd be the right guy to discuss meditation and how it can apply to Veterans. He's going to talk to us about his time in the Corps, becoming too busy, becoming less busy, and finding meditation.
I've never run a marathon. I'm definitely one of those people that say, "I'd like to run one someday," but the truth is I probably won't. Rob Jones, a Marine Veteran who has two fewer legs than I do, ran 31 marathons in just as many days. His journey started in England, and then he hopped across the pond for a 30 for 30 marathons to days adventure. His journey wrapped up on Veterans Day 2017 as he finished his last marathon at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.. Now, Rob hosts a podcast called Use the Weight and uses his recovery from injury as inspiration to others. Rob joins us this week to talk about his service in the Marine Corps, the logistics of doing 31 marathons in 31 days, and where he may be going from here with his next mission. Guest: @RobJonesJourney Host: @TimothyJLawson VA: @DeptVetAffairs
I smoked for nearly ten years. I picked up the habit when I was 18 or 19 years old, and didn't truly quit until my late 20s. Like many smokers, I tried a number of different philosophies to kick the habit. It was easier to quit when I left the military, but it was still a challenge. Even years after I quit, I still get cravings occasionally, especially if I'm around other smokers. Like any personal challenge, a support system is always key to success. I wish I had known about VA's Smoking Quitline when I decided to quit. One call to the quitline can get you set up with a counselor to talk about the importance of quitting, help you set up a plan, and schedule follow up calls to check in on your progress. To get you more familiar with this service provided by VA, I spoke with a cessation counselor about what you need to know about the experience of using our Smoking Quitline.
Washington D.C. is full of amazing museums. The National Mall is lined with preserved history and remembrance. However, one of the best locations in the area for military history, the Marine Corps Museum, is an hour south in Quantico, Virginia. The Marine Corps Museum is beautifully built, meant to resemble the flag staff of the famous Iwo Jima flag raising photo. Inside, guests can learn about about Marine Corps' inception at Tun Tavern and its involvement in America's conflicts since then. The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation is responsible for the development and upkeep of the museum, preserving and promulgating the history, traditions and culture of the Marine Corps and educating all Americans in its virtues. Our guest on this week's podcast, retired Lieutenant General Robert Blackman is the President of the foundation. Robert shares his experience in the Marine Corps, the importance of preserving military history, and his role at the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. About Robert Blackman: Lieutenant General Blackman was commissioned as Marine Corps officer upon graduation from Cornell University in June 1970. Toward the end of a long successful career, Lieutenant General Blackman served as the Commanding General, III Marine Expeditionary Force; Commander, Marine Corps Bases, Japan; and Commander, Marine Forces Japan from 2003 to 2005. He then assumed command of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command; U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Europe; U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South; U.S. Marine Corps Bases, Atlantic; U.S. Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic; and U.S. Fleet Marine Force, Europe, until his retirement in 2007. After leaving active service, Lieutenant General Blackman worked with Marine Corps’ Marine Air-Ground Task Force Staff Training Program. He was named President and CEO of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation in 2011.
We have some bonus content for you. I sat down with three amazing Veterans to help wrap up our focus on Women Veterans this month. Lauren Augustine from Student Veterans of America, Joy Ilem from Disabled American Veterans, and Sarah Maples from Veterans of Foreign Wars joined me to discuss women Veterans they admire, women Veterans issues from the perspective of their respective organizations, and the growth of women Veterans as icons and leaders in the Veteran community. Lauren Augustine is SVA's Director of Policy, advocating for student Veterans as it comes to policy affecting their pursuit of education. Joy Ilem is DAV's National Legislative Director. She directs the advancement of DAV’s public policy objectives to promote and defend reasonable and responsible legislation to assist disabled Veterans and their families nationwide, while guarding current Veteran’s benefits and services from legislative erosion. Sarah Maples just wrapped up her time at VFW as Director for National Security and Foreign Affairs where she developed, implemented, and promoted the VFW's national security and foreign affairs policy priorities.
This week's podcast marks our fourth and last installment in the series featuring women from the Women Veterans Athlete Initiative put on by the Center for Women Veterans. Today, we feature Sarah Holzalb, a Coast Guard Veteran and Relationships Manager for Team RWB. Sarah Holzhalb entered the US Coast Guard Commissioned Corps as a deck watch officer in 2002, serving for 5 years. While grieving the suicides of two shipmates, she decided to train for her first marathon. The long training hours proved therapeutic, and her running club provided a new tribe to replace the shipmates she’d left behind. Sarah talks to us about serving in the Coast Guard, her approach to marathons, the value she sees in Team RWB, and more.
This is the third installment of our series spotlighting women from the Women Veteran Athletes Initiative put on by the Center for Women Veterans. Featured on this week's episode is Army Veteran Candice Caesar. Candice Caesar joined the US Army as a personnel actions specialist, excited to serve her country. A vehicle accident left her traumatized, paralyzed, and medically retired. She vowed to run again one day, and throughout her transition and recovery, she leaned on physical training to keep her going. She's run a number of different races and events across the country, and is trying to race in 50 out of 50 states. She also aspires to do a half marathon on all seven continents. Candice talks to us about her eagerness to be a soldier, the car accident that left her injured, and how Team RWB and physical fitness have benefited her.
Mila Dimal served as an aviation mechanic in the US Navy and Navy Reserves, retiring after 20 years of service. Her passion is being the best mother, friend, and employee possible, and she credits sports and physical activities with helping her meet her goals, and setting a great example for her children.
Bernardine "Bernie" Donato is a Navy and Air Force Veteran that lives life to the fullest and on her own terms. She is a cancer survivor and lives with two autoimmune disorders; one which affects her joints and the other her muscles. Yet, she's an athlete, a leader for the Team RWB Durham chapter, and an artist. Bernie is the first interview in a set of four to help us celebrate Women's History Month and the Center for Women Veterans' Women Veteran Athletes Initiative. “The Women Veteran Athletes Initiative will highlight the strength, diversity and resilience of women who served our country,” said VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin. She has seen a woman's role in the military develop over her lifetime and seen the growing recognition that women Veterans are finally receiving. She joins Borne the Battle to tell us about her service in the military, supporting her community, staying active, and how she needs to retire from retirement.
Many of us have a passion for serving Veterans. For some, it's a true calling. That's what I saw in this week's guest, Randy Reeves, when we were conducting our interview. Randy C. Reeves was nominated by President Donald J. Trump to serve as the 6th Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs and was confirmed by the United States Senate on November 8, 2017. National Cemetery Administration has received exceptional marks in the past, and Under Secretary Reeves is committed to building on that. About Under Secretary Reeves: As Under Secretary, he leads 135 national cemeteries in providing dignified burial services for Veterans and eligible family members. His responsibilities include maintaining the cemeteries as national shrines; design and construction activities related to the establishment of new national cemeteries; overseeing memorial programs to honor the service of Veterans, including the provision of headstones, markers, medallions and Presidential Memorial Certificates; and administering federal grants to help states, territories and tribal governments establish Veterans cemeteries. He shares stories from his time in the service, his transition out of the military, losing a close friend and how that keeps him inspired to serve Veterans.
It's interesting how long one can be aware of something before finally checking it out. I heard about Vet Tix a few years ago and appreciated the concept, but never looked into them. Finally, after interviewing their Chief Strategy Officer, Steven Weintraub, I decided to enroll and see what it was about. Through their system, I got tickets to a cool event at a local venue, and it only cost me a transaction fee. That's incredible. Vet Tix started ten years ago and was inspired by Navy Veteran Michael Focareto when he attended the Super Bowl and noticed some unused seats. He wondered if unused seats at events could be distributed and donated to service members and Veterans interested in attending. Vet Tix was born. Now, there are more than 720,000 users and at the time of this writing, they have nearly 1,000 events nationwide that Veterans can attend. The system is straight forward: -Tickets are donated to Vet Tix. -Normal events are open and first come first served. -High demand events are distributed through a lottery system. -The more you use Vet Tix, the more opportunities you have to submit into a lottery. This system is beneficial for all involved. Ticket holders that cannot attend the event have a tax-deductible donation they can make, because Vet Tix is a 501(c)3, and they're assured their tickets will not go unused. Venues benefit because it helps get people to the event. End users benefits by getting tickets to events for little to no cost to them. Steven Weintraub joins us to explain the ins and outs of Vet Tix, his role in the organization, and his service to our country in the Marine Corps.
This week's interview is with Michael Haynie. Michael is an Air Force Veteran, Vice Chancellor at Syracuse University, and Director of Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). He is also a professor of entrepreneurship. IVMF is widely respected in the Veteran space and continues to grow each year. IVMF is higher education’s first interdisciplinary academic institute, singularly focused on advancing the lives of the nation’s military veterans and their families. Syracuse University has made student Veterans a priority and have graduated many top performing Veterans including Student Veteran of America's Jared Lyon. Michael provides us a great insight into his military career, his tenure at Syracuse, Veterans in higher education, and Veteran entrepreneurship.
Suicide prevention and Veteran suicide is an important topic for us all. Secretary Shulkin and VA continue to make it a priority. Personally, I've been talking to people about this topic for several years, to include sharing my own suicide attempt. Whenever I get the opportunity to talk to a Veteran about mental and emotional health, I do not take the occasion for granted. I was wandering a social event at the Military Influencers Conference when I met John Preston. John is a Marine Corps Veteran that is pursuing a career in music. He has struggled with PTSD, alcohol dependency, and suicidal behavior. His music is inspired by his emotional struggles, the passing of his father, his brother's suicide, and other events in his life. John was nice enough to join me for an interview and shared his life from joining the military to where his career is now. This is a powerful episode and one you'll definitely want to listen to.
VA recently released a Welcome Kit that can guide Veterans to which benefits they may qualify for. What makes this product unique and refreshing is the guidance is based on the Veteran's stage of life. The road map starts with the moment you join the United States military and goes all the way to a Veteran's later years. You can read about the release of the Welcome Kit and download a digital copy. On today's Benefits Breakdown segment, Barbara Morton from the Veterans Experience Office explains the value the welcome kit has, how Veterans can receive a copy, and how Veterans can use it.
Back in October, I attended the Military Influencers Conference. While there, I met dozens of awesome and unique Veterans. During a social event, I was introduced to Josh Elledge. Josh is an expert on saving money and getting upgrades. He told me about a technique he uses with hotels that almost always produces a room upgrade. I was fascinated by his insight and his passion for what he knew. When I returned home I followed up with my new contacts and did a little research on them. That's when I learned Josh had an initiative called upendPR. Between the savings and the public relations knowledge, I knew Josh could bring some unique insight to the podcast that few can. I hit him up and he happily agreed to an interview. Josh tells us about his service in the Navy as a journalist stationed at Pearl Harbor. We learn about his transition and attending college. Then, he gives us the backstory on how he became a consumer expert and gives us some tips on how we can save on our grocery bill. All that, plus some professional PR talk.
Women Veterans make up the fastest growing segment of the Veteran population, and VA is committed to providing them with the best health care. This week's Benefits Breakdown features Kayla Williams, the Director of the Center for Women Veterans. Kayla is an Army Veteran herself and was a military spouse when her husband was serving. She sat down with me to discuss the mission of CWV and the care and resources VA provides for our women Veterans. For more information on CWV and health care for women, you can all the Women Veterans Call Center at 1-855-VA-WOMEN.
The past couple months have been amazing with so many great Veterans agreeing to be featured and doing interviews. Sometimes, when I get a stash of interviews recorded, I forget how good some of them are until I go back to edit them. That's the case with my interview with General George Casey (ret). We recorded the interview at Student Veterans of America's #NatCon2018 during a busy day of interviews with Student Veteran of the Year finalist interviews, and I was pleasantly surprised when I listened to the interview a couple weeks later. General George W. Casey, Jr. is one of the most accomplished soldiers in U.S. history and an authority on strategic leadership. As the 36th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army from April 2007 to 2011, General Casey led what is arguably the world’s largest and most complex organization — 1.1 million people strong, with a $200+ billion annual budget — during one of the most extraordinary periods in military and global political history. He is widely credited with restoring balance to the war-weary U.S. Army, modernizing and leading the transformation necessary to defend our nation in the 21st Century, and ensuring the current force deployed in the war on terror was the best this country has ever fielded. Currently serving as a Distinguished Senior Lecturer of Leadership at the Samuel Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University and lecturing internationally on leadership to the leaders of national and multinational corporations (e.g., Coca-Cola, Caterpillar, Amazon, TDAmeritrade and General Electric) and at other business schools (e.g., Columbia, Yale and the Universities of Denver and North Carolina). He is also Chairman of USO Board of Governors and serving on Georgetown Board of Directors. George tells us about his 41 years in the Army, why he joined, his close friends in the service and his continued service to Veterans and students.
Before 2017 ended, I sat down with Army Veteran Danielle Corazza for an interview. At the time, Danielle had been selected for a position at our Center for Women Veterans but had not yet started. Danielle has since started her role as National Outreach Coordinator for CWV. You can follow news and announcements out of the CWV on their web page. Danielle Corazza is a lifelong member of the military community (both parents served on active duty in the Marine Corps and Navy), she entered onto active duty service with the US Army at the age of 17, completing her 3 year term of service as an E-4P (Specialist) and transferring into the Army National Guard for an additional two years. Due to service-related medical conditions, she left the National Guard to pursue her education when her disability rating was awarded. She availed herself of Vocational Rehabilitation services and the Montgomery GI Bill in order to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources and Business Administration from Strayer University, and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts, adding a certificate from Georgetown University in Nonprofit Executive Management in 2014. Danielle and I talked about her service in the military, being a VA patient, being a caregiver, entrepreneurship, and much more.
"Someone has to be the best." That's what my Gunny told me when my colleague received slightly better marks than I did when I was at MALS-26 on MCAS New River. In a competitive field, someone has to be named the best. I imagine the committee at Student Veterans of America had a difficult time choosing their Student Veteran of the Year. Of the ten finalists, many of them founded their SVA chapter. Some of them helped get a space at their campus designated for Veterans. All of them have faced some sort of adversity and overcame that for the success the see now. Student Veterans of America’s Student Veteran of the Year is someone who exemplifies the qualities of a servant leader. Student Veteran of the Year is a current SVA chapter executive with a demonstrated record of significantly improving their chapter, campus, and community over the past academic year. Student Veteran of the Year personifies SVA’s mission of supporting yesterday’s warriors, today’s scholars, and tomorrow’s leaders, with evident respect from their colleagues. Student Veteran of the Year is the public face and representative of the 1.1 million student veterans in higher education. In the end, someone has to be the best. Air Force Veteran Chris Rolph of Queens University of Charlotte has been named the Student Veteran of the Year. 36 hours before the announcement, Chris and I sat down to talk about his service in the Air Force, a close friend of his, the challenges and accomplishments he's seen on campus, and much more.
Today, we speak with Randy Dexter. Randy is an Army Veteran and just received his bachelor's from University of Nevada in Las Vegas. He just started his pursuit of his master's degree. Randy shares stories from his service, recovering from his deployment and struggling transition, how the Las Vegas shooting impacted his community, how he got his service dog, and how his Veterans group is making an impact with local government.
Each year Student Veterans of America choose an exceptional student Veteran as Student Veteran of the Year. This year, they narrowed it down to ten finalists, announcing the winner at the end of their national conference. This week, we are spotlighting 7-8 of this year’s finalists, including the person that was awarded Student Veteran of the Year. Tuesday, we spoke to two exceptional Veterans, Aaron and Kirsten. Yesterday, we featured Gretchen and Jessica. Today, we chat with Jessica Kirksey from Our Lady of the Lake University and Luke Opyd from Cornell. Both give us their military stories, serving as chapter leaders, and thoughts on outreach on campus.
Each year Student Veterans of America choose an exceptional student Veteran as Student Veteran of the Year. This year, they narrowed it down to ten finalists, announcing the winner at the end of their national conference. This week, we are spotlighting 7-8 of this year’s finalists, including the person that was awarded Student Veteran of the Year. Yesterday, we spoke to two exceptional Veterans, Aaron and Kirsten. Today, we learn from an Air Force Veteran and a Marine Veteran, Gretchen Klingler and Jessica Nelson. Each will tell us about military service, leading a Veterans group on campus, and best practices for campus outreach.
Each year Student Veterans of America choose an exceptional student Veteran as Student Veteran of the Year. This year, they narrowed it down to ten finalists, announcing the winner at the end of their national conference. Student Veterans of America’s Student Veteran of the Year is someone who exemplifies the qualities of a servant leader. Student Veteran of the Year is a current SVA chapter executive with a demonstrated record of significantly improving their chapter, campus, and community over the past academic year. Student Veteran of the Year personifies SVA’s mission of supporting yesterday’s warriors, today’s scholars, and tomorrow’s leaders, with evident respect from their colleagues. Student Veteran of the Year is the public face and representative of the 1.1 million student veterans in higher education. We spoke with last year's receipient, Kate Tillotson earlier last year. This week, we are spotlighting 7-8 of this year's finalists, including the person that was awarded Student Veteran of the Year. Today, we learn from two Marine Veterans, Aaron Slatton and Kirsten Battocchio. Each will tell us about military service, leading a Veterans group on campus, and best practices for campus outreach.
If you've been following our Twitter or Instagram accounts, you've been seeing some stories and images from Student Veterans of America's National Conference. It's a place where thousands of student Veterans and their supporters convene to make the experience of achieving higher education more fulfilling for Veterans. During the conference I had the opportunity to sit down with SVA's President Jared Lyon. Jared was on the show about a year ago where we went through the routine questions and talked about the Veteran experience on campus. This go-around, we talked about recent metrics showing Veterans' success in higher education, how SVA chapters can keep the momentum going after the conference, and how people can support their local student Veterans.
I was first introduced to Leaphy Khim through Got Your 6. She had shared her experiences at their Storytellers event in Los Angeles. Leaphy was born to Cambodian refugee parents and joined the military after Sept 11 as a way to give back to her parents' adopted country. Leaphy Khim is a first generation Cambodian American who was born and raised in south Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As the youngest daughter in a family of 5 (3 brothers and 1 sister), she was constantly trying to prove to everyone that she can keep up and stand out. Leaphy had always develop a knack for doing things above and beyond the normal and sometimes the impossible. This is one of the reason why in 2002, she enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. From here, she received intense combat and weapons training through the Corps for more than 6 years. Now, she's pursuing a career in Hollywood as an actress and stuntwoman. She even has a producer credit. Entertainment is an industry that many Veterans venture into but is rarely spoken about when we talk about post-military careers and what Veterans are doing today. Leaphy gives us some insight to that experience.
We've featured a handful of Veterans from professional sports on this podcast including an NFL player, an NCAA coach, and an NWSL goalie. This week we add a golfer to that list. Navy Veteran Billy Hurley is the only military Veteran currently listed on the PGA tour. Hurley is a 2004 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, where he earned a bachelor's degree in Quantitative Economics. He also was named Academic All-American. He was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy in 2004, rising to the rank of Lieutenant. After his graduation from the academy, he was assigned to the USS Gettysburg, a guided-missile cruiser based in Mayport, Florida, where he was a combat electronic division officer and on the USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He had an extended deployment in the Persian Gulf, where he held the position of guided missile destroyer's force protection assistant. He left the Navy to pursue a career in golf and has successfully made it onto the PGA tour. Billy will talk to us about his military service, pursuing golf, and how his military career has contributed to his success as a golfer.
The second part of VA's motto calls on us to care for the widows and orphans of those that have "borne the battle." Earlier this year, we had Ashlynne Haycock on during our round-table podcast talking about the Forever GI Bill, and she talked about how a crucial element of the new bill was to benefit survivors. This week, we bring on Bonnie Carroll, the president and founder of the Transition Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). Bonnie Carroll founded Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) following the death of her husband in an Army C-12 plane crash on November 12, 1992. TAPS is the leading national Military Service Organization providing compassionate care, casework assistance, and 24/7/365 emotional support for all those impacted by the death of a military loved one. She is a Veteran of the Air National Guard and a 2015 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Bonnie and I talk about her military service, losing her husband, founding TAPS, dealing with grief, and how survivors can get assistance and peer-to-peer support through TAPS.
A couple months ago I attended the Military Influencer Conference. There were a lot of great creators and entrepreneurs there, but one group of people stood out to me. I met a few people representing a product called Everence. Everence is a patented technology that allows you to add DNA from a loved one into any new or existing tattoo. I know tattoos are a common thing in the military and Veteran community, and I had my own curiosity, led me to inviting a member of their team onto Borne the Battle to talk about it. Boyd Renner, one of the co-founders of Everence, served in the Navy for 28 years. He served at SEAL Team Two for four years and served over 23 years at Naval Special Warfare Development Group. He's going to talk to us about his time as a Navy SEAL, his transition out of the military, and the unique product Everence.