A couple weeks ago we published a special episode with the Center for Minority Veterans to feature a panel that was originally scheduled for the Women Veterans Summit. One panel member was missing from that episode, so I brought Melissa Castillo on to interview her as our featured guest. Melissa talks to us about her military service, working for VA, and her experience as a woman minority Veteran.
About Melissa Castillo:
Ms. Melissa Castillo enlisted in the US Navy. She completed basic training and Torpedoman’s Mate “A” School at the Naval Air Station, Orlando, FL. Her duty station included on board the USS Simon Lake (AS-33) in La Maddalena, Sardinia, Italy; Naval Submarine Base, New London, CT; and Naval Operational Support Center, San Antonio, TX.
Ms. Castillo has over 10 years of experience in VA benefits. She is accredited by Texas Veterans Commission and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) as a Veterans Service Officer.
Covered in Episode 53:
One great thing about podcasting is the ability to think, "hey, I want to talk to that person," and then taking action to make it happen. When I learned that Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva is a former Army Ranger, I knew I wanted to talk with him. Al was nice enough to make time for This Week at VA and spoke to us about his experience in the military, transitioning to the NFL, and being a Veteran in a high-exposure arena.
Alejandro attended SHAPE American High School (Casteau, Belgium) and after graduating from West Point, he spent 2010-13 serving as an Army officer and served three tours in Afghanistan. He earned numerous honors for his service, including the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, the Ranger Tab, the Parachutist Badge, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Combat Infantryman’s Badge and Expert Infantryman’s Badge. He is the son of Ignacio and Mati Villanuev. His father was a Lieutenant Commander in the Spanish Navy and also worked for NATO throughout Europe.
Covered in Episode 53:
The 2017 National Women Veterans Summit put on by VA's Center for Women Veterans (CWV) was cut short due to Hurricane Harvey. The CWV has been developing ways to deliver information from the summit and I've collaborated with them to produce a podcast, with support of the Center for Minority Veterans, on minority women Veterans. Barbara Ward, the Director for CMV, lead a panel with Teresita Smith, Juanita Mullen, and Ginger Miller. They discuss
About Center for Minority Veterans:
The Center for Minority Veterans is the Department of Veterans Affairs model for inter-and intra-agency co-operation, to ensure all veterans receive equal service regardless of race, origin, religion, or gender. We are process improvement-oriented and both internal and external customer-centric. We assist VA in executing its mission in the most equitable, efficient and humane way possible. Dignity and an acceptable quality of life are the products we seek to deliver to ALL veterans no matter what their circumstance. We will grace our mission execution with gratitude to the men and women we now serve who in turn served our Nation so well.
Covered in Episode 52:
I've published more than 500 podcast episodes in my podcast career. A couple times a year, there's usually an exciting interview, one that feels like a badge of honor. This week's episode of This Week at VA features the epitome of those interviews. Thanks to a colleague and the great folks at Duke, I had the opportunity to interview Mike Krzyzewski, coach of the men's basketball team at Duke University. As many of you know, Coach K has won multiple NCAA championship titles and is considered a legend in the sport. What many people may not know, is that he is a West Point graduate and a former Army officer. Coach K talks to us about his decision to go to West Point, transitioning from military to college coaching, developing young players, and his experience in the Army.
About Coach Mike Krzyzewski (before his career at Duke):
Coach K's disciplined, mentally tough teams can be seen as an extension of his own upbringing. Krzyzewski went to West Point and enrolled in the U.S. Military Academy to receive a quality education, play basketball and become an officer in the Army. From 1969-74, Krzyzewski served his country, directing service teams for three years and serving a two-year stint as head coach at the U.S. Military Academy Prep School in Belvoir, Va. In 1974, he resigned from the Army having attained the rank of Captain. When Coach K was just 26, Knight, his former coach at Army, offered him a graduate assistant-ship at Indiana University. That 1975 squad posted an 18-0 mark in the Big Ten and a 31-1 overall record. Prior to his arrival at Duke in 1980, Krzyzewski spent five years building the program at his alma mater in West Point. He led the Cadets to one NIT berth, one ECAC playoff appearance and an overall record of 73-59.
Covered in Episode 51: