I'm sure everyone enjoyed bathing in the glory of our nation's freedom as we celebrated our Independence Day this week. I hope everyone's holiday was safe and joyful. This week's podcast features Darren Sherrard. Darren is an Army Veteran that served two decades and is now putting his skills to work for VA. He serves as VA's Associate Director for Recruitment Marketing. Darren helps drive the initiative that is VA Careers and helps communicate the value in working for VA to its potential employees.
Covered in Episode 38:
One of my favorite things about podcasting is learning about different parts of life and new concepts. Last week we learned about the positive effects roleplaying games have on Veterans, and this week we will learn about powerlifting. Enter: Steve Goggins.
Steve served in the US Army from September of 1983, until May of 1990. While in the Army, he served in the 82nd Airborne and was a member of the Armed Forces Powerlifting Team. He has competed in powerlifting for over 25 years and was the first powerlifter to squat 1100 pounds. he has won many titles since he started powerlifting as a teenager.
Covered in Episode 37:
Episode 36 brings us Joshua Heath. Josh served in the Army from 2006 to 2011 as a 91J Quartermaster and Chemical Equipment Repairer. While he was in, he ran a Dungeons and Dragons game for MWR while in Iraq, helping soldiers destress and escape. Now, he uses his company Reach Out Roleplaying Games to help connect people and create communities through gaming. Josh is going to talk to us about the benefits of playing RPGs and the effects he's seen in Veterans.
Covered in Episode 36:
This week's podcast features Army Veteran Jeremy Paris. Jeremy served in the '90s in personnel. He is currently with Veteran Artist Program and hosts the Veteran Resource Podcast. He helped coordinate the 2017 Women Veteran Art Exhibit in collaboration with VA's Center for Women Veterans.
Jeremy Paris was born in Buffalo, NY and joined the US Army immediately after graduating from high school. After ten years as a Personnel Administration Sergeant he left the military to become a government contractor performing computer support to the Department of Defense. Although the initial plan was to be a contractor for two years and then split, he spent the next 16 years supporting the same customer within different rolls. Jeremy has been on the staff of Veteran Artist Program (VAP), a non-profit Veteran Service Organization since 2010. While at an event in Washington DC with VAP Jeremy shook hands with people representing so many veteran-focused organizations that he was blown away. It was the realization that most veterans had no idea that these organizations existed that prompted Jeremy to start this podcast. The new mission of the Veteran Resource Podcast is that every single one of the 20,000 veterans transitioning out of the military each month will have the opportunity to learn about the veteran organizations that are available to them.
Covered in Episode 35:
This week's podcast focuses on the announcement made by Secretary Shulkin on Monday. The Department of Veterans Affairs will be adopting the same electronic health record system used by the Department of Defense. The podcast features audio from SECVA at the White House press briefing. He provides remarks on the announcement originally made at VA's central office earlier that day, followed by questions from the media.
Covered in Episode 33:
I hope everyone had a safe and solaced Memorial Day. I had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of Veterans and other members of our community at Sunday's Rolling Thunder demonstration. It was humbling hearing riders talk about their fallen comrades and whom they were riding for. It's moments like those that keep me grateful for our nation's service members and Veterans.
This week's podcast features retired Army Brigadier General Henry Huntley. Henry I are colleagues in the Office of Public Affairs at VA's central office. Each time I speak with Henry, my respect for him grows. Henry had a long, decorated career in the Army before coming over to VA. He's going to talk to us about his time in the service, his transition out, and how VA fulfills his post-military service to Veterans.
Covered in Episode 33:
Each year, at their national convention, Student Veterans of America announces a Student Veteran of the Year. This award is competitive and quite prestigious as the Veterans considered have impressive resumes as service members and as student Veterans. 2017's Student Veteran of the Year is Kate Tillotson, a Marine Veteran currently attending University of Tulsa.
Kate served in the Marine Corps for four years as a Radio Operator. After she got out, she began pursuing higher education. Now, she's the president of her Veterans group on campus. Kate talks to us about growing and developing her SVA chapter to be one of the most active groups on campus.
Covered in Episode 32:
Episode 31 of This Week at VA is another "best of" type episode. This volume of Meritorious Segments includes soundbites from AMVETS National Director Joe Chenelly, Team Rubicon Chief Operations Officer Art delaCruz, and Team RWB Executive Director Blayne Smith.
Even if you've heard each episode, I know you'll appreciate hearing these stories and sentiments again.
Covered in episode 31:
Joe Chenelly describes AMVETS' service to Veterans
We are 30 episodes into the podcast and I'm going to do something a little different with this one. This is going to be a "best of" episode. I pulled four clips from our more popular interviews to feature in what I'm calling "meritorious segments."
Even if you've heard each episode, I know you'll appreciate hearing these stories and sentiments again.
Covered in episode 30:
Jared Lyon on the value that student Veterans bring to a campus
John Lee Dumas about why he chooses VA in Puerto Rico
I was introduced to Bob Wright by an organization named Us Too. Us Too is an organization that supports and advocates for men at all stages of prostate cancer. Bob is an Army Veteran having served in Vietnam. He is going to talk to us about his time in the military, discovering he had cancer, and become a support group leader for men.
Bob served as a Battalion Surgeon`s Assistant as First Lieutenant Medical Service Corps with 101st Airborne Division. He was in Vietnam from 1969-1970. During his time in service, his efforts were recognized with a Combat Medical Badge, Bronze Star , Vietnam Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and National Defense Service Medal.
Covered in Episode 29:
When you're active in the Veteran community, you tend to hear names repeated in conversation and mentioned on social media. Recently, one of those names is Skye Marshall. I saw Skye in Got Your 6's #shesbadass campaign and knew she'd make a great feature on the podcast. Skye talks with us about serving in the Air Force, following her dreams to Hollywood, working with Al Pacino, and more.
Covered in Episode 28:
The Women In Military Service For America Memorial (WIMSA), is the only major national memorial honoring all women who have defended America throughout history. It sits at the end of the road as you approach the gates of Arlington Nation Cemetery near Washington D.C. Today's podcast features Army Veteran Dee McWilliams, the current president of WIMSA. Dee talks to us about her 29 years in the Army, retirement, serving as WIMSA president and the significance of the women's memorial.
MG Dee Ann McWilliams retired from the Army in 2003, later joining the Office of the Director of National Intelligence where she served until 2010 as Director of the Lessons Learned Center.
MG McWilliams holds degrees from Lon Morris College, Stephen F. Austin University where she was named a distinguished alumnus, Texas Woman’s University, and the National War College.
IIn 2007, MG McWilliams joined the board of directors for the Women In Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, assuming the position of Vice Chair in 2014. She formerly served as President of the Army Women’s Foundation, a Director on the Army Historical Foundation Board, and on the Lon Morris College Board of Trustees.
She was the 2013 recipient of the American Veterans Center Lillian K. Keil Award for outstanding contribution to women’s service in the United States military and was named a Trailblazer by Women Veterans Interactive.
Covered in Episode 27:
My interview this week is with Army Veteran Doug McCormick. I've been very fortunate in the past couple months and have received a lot of opportunities for interviews. My cup has run over, and finally, after sitting on it for six to eight weeks, I finally have opportunity to release my interview with Doug. We talk about a few important topics, to include Veteran community, entrepreneurship and money.
Note: We are not providing any financial advice and VA does not official endorse Doug’s guidance on money, but we did invite him onto the podcast because it is an important topic and respect him as a subject matter expert. If you have any questions or want to explore the ideas Doug brings, consult your family’s financial adviser or contact Doug directly using the contact information he provided.
Before joining HCI Equity, Doug worked in the Investment Banking Division of Morgan Stanley & Co., where he was involved in the completion of numerous mergers and acquisitions and acquisition-related financing transactions. Doug previously served as a Captain in the U.S. Army's 25th Infantry Division, receiving numerous awards for performance and achievement.
Doug serves as a board member of Team Red White and Blue and Bunker Labs, both veterans service organizations, and is a Henry Crown Fellow.
Covered in Episode 26:
Episode 25 is here! This is a fun milestone for us and we're happy to continue this great program. This week's interview features two Veterans involved with the Veterans Community Project in Kansas City.
Kevin Jamison retired after 20 years of service in the Marine Corps. He served three tours in Iraq, was part of the embassy evacuation in Albania in 1997, and was part of the US operation in Haiti in 1994. He is now the Chief Operations Officer for Veterans Community Project.
Bryan Meyer is a prior Marine Corps helicopter Crew Chief. He deployed twice to Iraq and participated in Operations Shining Express. he is now the Chief Legal Officer for Veterans Community Project.
Covered in Episode 25:
When Got Your 6 first got on my radar, I wasn't sure what they did. Years later, I still wasn't convinced I understood their mission. Then, a few weeks ago, their Executive Director Bill Rausch interviewed Secretary Shulkin for our YouTube Live event. After the event, I invited him to join me on the podcast and he enthusiastically agreed. We had a very informative and fun conversation regarding his service, Got Your 6, the Veteran space, collaboration among organizations, a conflict of guilt some veterans have, and even beards.
Bill Rausch is the Executive Director at Got Your 6. He is a former Army Major with over ten years of service including 17 months in Iraq serving under Generals Casey and Petraeus while assigned to the Information Operations Task Force. Prior to joining GY6, Bill was Political Director at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America where he oversaw policy and advocacy campaigns.
Bill is also an active community leader and volunteer serving as Chapter Captain for Team Red, White & Blue (Team RWB) in his local community in Alexandria, VA. He also serves on the Board of Directors at Volunteer Alexandria, an organization promoting volunteerism across all charity sectors.
Covered in Episode 24:
When I first conceptualized VA's podcast, I knew Team Rubicon would be an early feature. Team Rubicon has had a significant impact on the world by providing natural disaster relief and it has had an even bigger impact on the Veteran space by providing a renewed purpose for Veteran volunteers. This week's guest is the Chief Operating Officer for Team Rubicon, Art delaCruz.
Art delaCruz served honorably for more than 22 years in the United States Navy and enjoyed a career that included a broad range of assignments. Art commanded a Navy strike-fighter squadron, spent one year with McKinsey & Co. as a Secretary of Defense Corporate Fellow, served as a Topgun instructor, and made six combat deployments. After retiring, he spent two and a half years in the aerospace and defense sector in the roles of business development and strategy and planning.
Covered in Episode 23:
This week's podcast features another participant in the 2017 Women Veterans Art Exhibit, Navy Veteran Debra Russell. The exhibit is traveling to ten different VA medical centers throughout the month of March to celebrate and honor Women's History Month and how Veterans use art for personal expression.
Debra joined the military in 1984 and served until 1997. She worked in supply early on and went on to work on the staff for an Admiral. She was "med-boarded" after a running accident and was separated from the military. Around that same time, she was dealing with a sexual assault she experienced with a superior. Debra opens up regarding her service, her transition, and how she uses art and photography for therapy.
Covered in Episode 22:
The podcast continues to grow and it is thanks to our wonderful audience. Thank you for taking the time to listen to these powerful Veteran stories. This week's guest is Army Veteran Pamela Corwin.
Pamela served in the Army for six years. She went on to complete a Masters in Biology from The Citadel. She now works full-time as a wildlife and fisheries biologist for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
I asked Pamela to join me on the podcast because she is one of ten artists being featured in 2017 women Veterans art exhibit. The exhibit is traveling to ten different VA medical centers throughout the month of March to celebrate and honor Women's History Month and how Veterans use art for personal expression.
Covered in Episode 21:
We're back with another great episode of This Week at VA. This week's featured guest is Army Veteran, Bobby Henline.
As a 4-tour Iraqi War Veteran, Retired Staff Sergeant, Wounded Warrior, Comedian, and Bravo748 Motivational Presenter, Bobby Henline’s story and lived experiences have been featured in numerous media, including the documentaries “Comedy Warriors: Healing Through Humor”, “Healing Bobby”, and “Weight of Honor”; on CNN, PBS KET, NPR, Today.com, and Time.com; Time Magazine, People Magazine, The Huffington Post, Guideposts, and The Nipawin Journal; as well as television, radio, and podcasts around the world.
During his initial six-month hospital stay, Bobby remained upbeat, positive, and relied on humor to get him through each day. Putting nurses in headlocks, trying to keep other wounded soldiers’ spirits up by telling them jokes, and singing a ditty over and over garnered the attention of his occupational therapist. She challenged him to go to an open mic night and try his hand at comedy.
Covered in Episode 20:
I hope everyone had a pleasant President's Day weekend. This week's podcast is an exciting one as it features our new Secretary, Dr. David Shulkin. This is the first interview Secretary Shulkin conducted after swearing in as Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
The Honorable David J. Shulkin was nominated by President Trump to serve as the ninth Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) and was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 13, 2017.
Prior to his confirmation as Secretary, Dr. Shulkin served as VA’s Under Secretary for Health for 18 months, leading the Nation’s largest integrated health care system, with over 1,700 sites of care serving nearly nine million Veterans.
Covered in Episode 19:
The podcast has officially reached more than 10,000 hits. We are truly grateful that all of you have taken the time to listen. This week continues the trend of great interviews with Navy Veteran Jared Lyon. Jared is the President & CEO of Student Veterans of America. Jared was our #VeteranOfTheDay in January 2016.
Jared Lyon was appointed President and CEO of Student Veterans of America (SVA) on January 4, 2016, overseeing all aspects of the organization. He initially joined the professional staff of SVA in 2014 as the chief development officer and executive vice president of operations. In this role Jared forged critical partnerships and secured record grant funding for SVA. Named National Student Veteran of the Year by SVA in 2011, Lyon has come full circle to lead the organization he credits with his educational success.
Covered in Episode 18:
This Week at VA episode 17 features Marine Corps Veteran Joe Chenelly. Joe currently serves as the National Executive Director for AMVETS. A native of Rochester, N.Y., Joe enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in March 1998, serving with the 1st Marine Division, and was honorably discharged as a Staff Sergeant in April 2006. He is a combat veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, having served in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Kuwait, East Timor and the Horn of Africa. Covered in Episode 17: Hiring freeze exemptions Interview with Marine Veteran Joe Chenelly Joining the Marines Experiencing 9/11 attacks in the military Becoming a Veterans advocate AMVETS mission and Joe's efforts there Addressing suicide as a person and as an organization Supporting VSOs in your community #VeteranOfTheDay Navy Veteran Norris Taylor
Kayla Williams delivered some remarks this week at the Policy Research Roundtable on Women Veterans.
She spoke about her career, the Center for Women Veterans, and data regarding women Veterans.
For some of you, this information will be familiar, but I think you all will appreciate the material.
This Week at VA episode 16 features Air Force Veteran Jim Horton. Jim currently serves as the Director for the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.
Jim served in the Air Force as a pilot. He never planned to give the military nearly three decades of his life, but new opportunities presented themselves and he kept adding on the years. I met with Jim in his office at the national cemetery in Honolulu, which is affectionately called "The Punchbowl" as it sits in a crater on the island of Oahu. Jim has hosted many dignitaries at the cemetery, including former a former Secretary of Defense and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. As Jim mentions in his interview, the honor in working at the cemetery is serving the veterans that lay to rest there and the loved ones that come to visit them.
Covered in Episode 16:
This week's podcast is going to get emotional. Our feature interview is with Army Veteran Gordon Wallace.
We first met Gordon at the VA Pacific Islands Health System in Honolulu. He was playing music in the lobby with a fellow Vietnam Veteran. They strummed on their guitars singing familiar songs providing hospital guests with entertainment. Between songs, Gordon began speaking about his recovery. He talked about returning from Vietnam and being shunned by his family. He wept as he recalled being labeled as "baby killer."
We invited Gordon to share more of his story on our podcast and he humbly accepted. Gordon is a native Hawaiian and very proud of his service.
Covered in Episode 15: