This week’s Borne the Battle features Wayne Hanson, the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Wreaths Across America (WAA).
WAA is a national campaign that coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at over 1,700 national cemeteries, culminating at Arlington National Cemetery. The three-fold purpose of WAA aims to remember fallen U.S Veterans, honor those who currently serve, and teach children the value of freedom. Here, Hanson explains WAA’s humble beginnings and its rise into the national organization that it is today.
In this episode, Hanson discusses his time in the Army and the socio-political atmosphere of when he returned from Vietnam. He talks about transition and his gradual involvement at WAA. Lastly, he shares the four words from a stranger that kept him motivated to work even to this day.
Camp Valor Outdoors’ shooting teams compete in professional matches all over the country. Marine Veteran Dan Duitsman is Camp Valor Outdoors’ Shooting Sports Program Director. His role is to get disabled veterans into competitive shooting – no matter the disability.
While in the Marine Corps, Dan worked in security forces, counterintelligence and the infantry. Prior to his role at Camp Valor Outdoors, he was a weapons instructor with the U.S. State Department. In this episode he talked about his career, his transition, the recreational-therapeutic benefits of the shooting and how to get involved in Camp Valor Outdoors’ shooting program.
On this week’s episode, Borne the Battle features guest Nathan Goncalves, who shares his story of struggle and perseverance.
While Goncalves didn’t have the intrinsic calling to join the military, he enlisted at 23, seeking reform and discipline. It was in the Army that Goncalves sharpened his focus and developed lifelong friendships and mentors.
However, Goncalves' transition back to civilian life was not easy. In fact, it turned out to be some of his lowest valleys--involving addiction, PTSD, and anger management.
But things started to change when Goncalves heard he was going to be a father. In this episode, he discusses how an intense work ethic allowed him to achieve a bachelor’s degree at UCLA in less than three years.
Goncalves applied to UCLA’s Law school to study corporate law. He was accepted, but a bitter divorce 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.
Goncalves is now hosted by Harriet BuHai Center for Family Law and sponsored in house by Equal Justice Works. He continues to fight for family integration for homeless and low-income Veterans as they transition back into the civilian communities.
On this week’s episode of Borne the Battle, Tanner Iskra interviews guest Todd Boeding, who shares his past, present and future as a Marine Corps Veteran, as well as his involvement honoring Veterans through Carry the Load.
Born and raised in Texas, Boeding was always known to take unorthodox paths in life. He dabbled in college, left for the Marine Corps seeking structure and discipline, and eventually returned to finish up his degree at The University of Texas at Dallas.
Since leaving the Marine Corps in 2003, Boeding discussed the hardest part of the transition back to civilian life: finding a sense of belonging. Boeding was able to find his purpose of being part of something bigger through Carry the Load.
Carry the Load offers opportunities to learn how to care again and to do it in a way that meaningfully impacts the families who lost their loved ones. Currently, Carry the Load is partnering with the National Cemetery Association on September 11th to help maintain the dignity of cemeteries.
If you would like to learn more or want to help in this movement, click on this link: www.carrytheload.org/NCA.
There have been many studies that show that nature can be therapeutic for many reasons:
In episode 138, Sean Ricks mentioned a nonprofit called Camp Valor Outdoors. It’s a nonprofit that helps ill, injured and wounded active duty, veterans and their family members. They do this by taking them on fishing, hunting, shooting, archery, four-wheeling and camping. They believe that “healing in the great outdoors…and connecting with fellow warriors is therapeutic and essential to healing.” Nobody is paid on staff and each dollar is spent on the programs that they host.
Although the nonprofit operates out of Kingsville, MO, Camp Valor’s competitive shooting program is located nearby DC in Fairfax. When I found that out, we linked up and I went to shooting clinic and a couple of matches to see what they are all about.
This week we interviewed Camp Valor Outdoors’ Chief Operating Officer, Army Veteran retired Colonel 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, Denise being recruited to the Army specifically for shooting, what else she did in her 29+ year career, her transition out, and how she came to find a home with Camp Valor Outdoors.
#BtBattle Veteran of the Week:
Army Veteran Charlie Challelea
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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. In fact, with the nonprofit, Backpacks for Life the first thing they are doing is literally improving the backpacks that rest on homeless Veterans shoulders.
After deploying to Afghanistan in 2014 and exiting his Marine Reserve contract, Brett started experiencing the same problems many Veterans face after deployment. After serving honorably as a turret gunner in country, he found himself without purpose. He was filling the emptiness with unhealthy habits. However, after randomly providing a homeless Veteran with a backpack that allowed the Veteran’s child to have a pack for school, Brett again found a call to serve those that were in need. Upon learning this, his long-time girlfriend Alexa, began supporting his new purpose. Together they founded the nonprofit Backpacks for Life.
They have since patented their very own pack that is created specifically with the homeless veteran in mind. The Bowery Pack features the old sea-bag opening, a stainless cable closing and an iso mat. 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.
However, Brett and Alexa believe that the pack is only the first step to getting off the streets. Their overall mission “is to provide Veterans with resources that they have trouble providing for themselves…at the same time fostering self-reliance while assisting Veterans through their hardships…”
Additionally, we talked about how Brett and Alexa met, Brett’s deployment, and how they can afford to make the Bowery Pack in the United States.
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#BtBattle Veteran of the Week
Army Veteran Bill Hayes