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Borne the Battle

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.
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Borne the Battle
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Feb 28, 2018

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.

Feb 21, 2018

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.

Feb 14, 2018

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.

Feb 7, 2018

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.

Feb 5, 2018

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.

Feb 1, 2018

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.

Jan 29, 2018

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.

Jan 24, 2018

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.

Jan 17, 2018

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.

Jan 13, 2018

"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.

Jan 12, 2018

 

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.

Jan 11, 2018

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.

Jan 10, 2018

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.

Jan 9, 2018

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.

Jan 8, 2018

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.

Jan 3, 2018

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.

Dec 27, 2017

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.

Dec 20, 2017

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.

Dec 13, 2017

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.

Dec 11, 2017

I promote the Veterans Crisis Line whenever I can. It is a very important resource to be aware of and I try to remind people however I can. I've used the line to help a friend in need. I encourage everyone to put the number in their phone.

1-800-273-8255 and Press 1

So, in this episode of Borne the Battle, I decided to spotlight the Veterans Crisis Line. In the future, I hope to talk to someone that works there to get their perspective as well. For this week, I explain the different ways you can contact the VCL and the following frequently asked questions:

What happens if I don't press 1?

Can I use the Veterans Crisis Line even if I'm already receiving care from VA?

What mental health services are available from VA?

Do I have to give my name or share personal information when I call the Veterans Crisis Line?

If I share personal information, will it be kept confidential?

Dec 6, 2017

Last year I had the honor to visit Pearl Harbor for the 75th Commemoration of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. The ceremony was sobering, as a naval ship lined with sailors passed by the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. The honor and recognition given to those that lost their lives on December 7, 1941 was echoed by each person in attendance at the official ceremony.

However, the most powerful moments of my trip were not at any of the events or ceremonies. They were when I joined my colleague to interview a handful of Pearl Harbor survivors. We had the pleasure of talking with Alfred "Uncle Al Rodriguez, Everett Hyland, and, today's feature interview, Sterling Cale.

Sterling served in the Navy as a pharmacist's mate and was stationed at Pearl Harbor during the attack. Sterling shares his perspective during the attack, how he responded, and his role in recovering bodies afterwards. His story is profound and one we're honored to have heard straight from him.

Dec 4, 2017

Veteran homelessness is an issue that is very concerning in our community. VA is committed to aiding those that are homeless or at risk for homelessness. That second part is so important to remember. If a Veteran is experiencing family or financial issues that may lead to them being without stable housing, they should approach VA to get connected with the resources they need. We have a "no wrong door" policy. That means no matter how you contact VA about being homeless or at risk for it, that person will get you connected with the people you need to talk to.

Many communities around the nation have proudly announced that they have effectively ended Veteran homelessness in their area. That doesn't mean that there are no homeless Veterans at any given time. It means that they are prepared and have systems in place to aid any Veteran identified as homeless or at-risk for homelessness and get them back into stable housing.

I decided to speak with my colleague at the Homeless Veterans Outreach and Communications Office. He shares with us the ways VA communicates with Veterans regarding homelessness, the challenges in reaching Veterans, and how VA approaches that outreach.

Nov 29, 2017

A few weeks ago we released episode 1103 of The American Veteran, a compilation of videos and stories from around our community. Included in that episode was an interview we recently conducted with Secretary Shulkin about improvements around VA, modernizing the processes, and announcements being made.

I wanted to make sure you all heard this interview, so I decided to make it this week's feature interview. My colleague, Melissa Heintz, sat down with Secretary Shulkin to discuss where VA is 8 months into his watch.

Nov 27, 2017

Native Americans serve our country at a high rate compared to other demographics. Many of us are familiar with the Navajo Code Talkers, who were key to our victory in World War II. As we round off Native American Heritage Month, I wanted to spotlight VA's efforts to deliver benefits to Native Veterans and work with their tribes.

The Office of Tribal Government Relations (OTGR) works to strengthen and build closer relations between the VA, tribal governments and other key federal, state, private and non-profit partners in an effort to effectively and respectfully serve Veterans across Indian Country. This work is done in the spirit of government to government consultation and collaboration, respectful of the special relationship that exists between the United States and tribal governments.

I sat down with my colleague, Stephanie Birdwell, who is the Director of OTGR. She talks with us about how her office works with tribal governments, how these partnerships help deliver benefits to Native Veterans, and the nuances of these benefits as it relates to Native Veterans (such as VA home loan for property on tribal land).

Nov 22, 2017

Covered in Episode 63:

  • Happy Thanksgiving!
  • Interview with Army Veteran Nate Boyer
    • Why Nate joined the Army and became a Green Beret
    • Transitioning out of the military and going to college at University of Texas
    • His involvement with Waterboys, building wells for clean water overseas
    • The Merging Veterans & Players initiative
    • Disaster response with Team Rubicon
  • #VeteranOfTheDay Air Force Veteran Edgar A. Grabhorn
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