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.
The VA home loan guaranty has several advantages for Veteran borrowers:
It was WWII Weekend in Reading, PA. For three days, the MidAtlantic Air Museum brings WWII Veterans, reenactors and a full air show to their community. You can step back in time to every major theatre, visit friendly and enemy camps, hear 1940s music, and even see an FDR impersonator.
More importantly, WWII Days include an impressive VIP guest list. Over twenty-five WWII Veterans attend every year and recount their experiences. This year included two living survivors of Pearl Harbor.
Richard (Dick) Schimmel was one of the first soldiers to ever be a radar tech. He enlisted in 1940 and was shipped out to Hawaii to form new formed Signal Aircraft Warning unit. He wasn’t on duty but was stationed on Pearl Harbor during the attack. When he realized the island was under attack, he ran to his post.
William Bonelli was an enlisted B-17 and B-29 mechanic at Hickam Field when the attacks occurred. In 1944, he got his opportunity to fly the “Flying Fortress” as a pilot, flying 30 missions over Italy (21 as squadron leader) and receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions.
Enjoy both of these unique accounts of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Quick Bonus episode reflecting on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings. Features General Dwight D. Eisenhower's speech to the troops of the eve of the operation.
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.
#BtB Veteran of the Week:
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.
Additional Links to this Episode:
#BtBattle Veteran of the Week
Army Veteran Bill Hayes
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. These two new homes will join the 70+ Fisher Houses currently in operation around the world. By the end of the year, the Fisher House Network will be able to provide for over 1,000 families at any given time.
To mark today’s event, today’s interview is the current President of the Fisher House Foundation, Army Veteran David Coker.
We talked about:
FOR INFO ON LOCAL MEMORIAL DAY CEREMONIES CLICK HERE
#BtB Veteran of the Week:
Army Veteran Todd Cornell
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Not only is Army Veteran Jan a wrestler, he’s a producer of the documentary “Valhalla Club.” The feature documents how three wrestlers, including Jan, formed a wrestling stable based on collectively fighting their PTSD through wrestling.
Recently, Jan and his stablemates 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
For Borne the Battle, we have a small team of interns that transcribe previous episodes so those with hearing loss can still read our episodes. It is finals week for many universities around the country and we will be soon losing that important cog of our team.
So, before our interns left for the year, I wanted to reward them with their own episode. We had our intern, aspiring podcaster Zach Wheeler, go and get another interview.
Back in episode 130, Zach interviewed Robert Freedman, his professor from Johns Hopkins University. For his “final” we challenged him to go find an interview off his campus. From there, he took the ball, ran with it, and interviewed Joseph Pennington, a former Navy Seabee and the current Director of Military Programs for AllState.
Joseph talks about how his grandfather, a WWII Veteran, inspired him to raise his right hand. He also talks about his transition, his experience in building military programs for various companies, and how that experience led him to his current role at AllState.
#BtBattle Veteran of the Week:
Marine Veteran Megan McClung
Additional Links for this Episode:
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.
Additional Links to This Episode:
#BtBattle Veteran of the Week:
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:
Mission Act Links:
#BtBattle Veteran of the Week: Army Veteran 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
#BTBattle Veteran of the Week:
Army Air Corps Veteran Dick Cole
ADDITIONAL LINKS FOR THIS EPISODE:
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:
“A Dog’s Way Home”
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:
#BtBattle Veteran of the Week is Air Force Veteran William Andrews:
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.
#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:
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.
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.
#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:
Tanner’s first guest is Emmy award winning director of photography and cinematographer, Rick Robinson, who was a huge influence on Tanner’s career. In this episode, Rick shares his experiences on his deployments, drops knowledge on how he broke into Hollywood without knowing a soul, lets us in on how teaching film changed his life’s pursuits and tells us how he ended up in the South Pacific for over seven years. Rick also shares his journey back to the Marine Corps, and how he currently spends his time developing the next crops of military visual information specialists.
In the episode:
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.
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.
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.