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:
On December 16, 1944, the Germans launched what is considered their last major offensive of World War II. Just shortly after the Allied force's successfully invaded Normandy, France, the surprise attack from Hitler's forces caught the Allies off guard. The battle lasted until January 25, 1945. The United States suffered 19,000 fatalities and more than 89,000 casualties.
In commemoration of the 72nd anniversary of this historic battle of courage and fortitude, we invite you to meet Army Veteran Harry Miller.
During the Battle of the Bulge, the 1st Army Headquarters instructed the tank crews to go down to an ordnance depot and take whatever they needed for the tanks. “We had to take good parts off of one tank and put it on another. We finally got three tanks and a tank destroyer that would operate and run, and had a gun,” he said in an interview with VA. They took the three working tanks and sent them to their C Company. Those three tanks ended up taking out three German tanks, which ended up being members of the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitlerbeing, Hitler’s old body guards.
Episode 14 of the #VApodcast features Marine Veteran Christian Benedetto.
Christian Benedetto was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in November 2013. In the nearly 25 years that have passed since his military service with the United States Marine Corps in the First Gulf War and the early 1990s, he felt something was terribly wrong with him, yet he believed he was hiding it well. After being diagnosed, Christian founded and launched the PTSDJournal.
PTSDJournal is dedicated to improving the quality of life for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder sufferers and their loved ones. Each issue delivers in-depth research articles, personal narratives and alternate solutions that highlight the causes of PTSD and the keys to recovery. PTSDJournal advocates for the PTSD community, focusing on early intervention, diagnosis, treatment, and awareness initiatives. Each issue provides physicians, scientists, doctors, patients and families an outlet for PTSD awareness and educate the PTSD community and the general population about how to live with PTSD and where to get help.
Covered in Episode 14:
* An ExploreVA Facebook chat occurring on January 25 at IVMF's Facebook<https://www.facebook.
* Interview with Marine Veteran Christian Benedetto
* Christian''s decision to join the military.
* How service introduced him to diversity
* Leaving the military
* Being diagnosed with PTSD
* Launching the PTSDJournal
* Using the East Orange VAMC
* Research and apply for health care benefits with VA
* #VeteranOfTheDay Air Force Veteran George Watson<http://www.blogs.va.
Episode 13 features Army Veteran John Lee Dumas.
John Lee Dumas is the host of EOFire, an award winning Podcast where he interviews today's most successful Entrepreneurs 7-days a week. JLD has interviewed over 1400 Entrepreneurs and EOFire has over 1 million monthly listens.
Covered in Episode 13:
* The value of VAntage Point
* Interview with Army Veteran John Lee Dumas
* John's decision to join the military.
* Powerful story from his deployment
* Leaving the military
* Using Puerto Rico VAMC
* Locating a VA facility using our directory
* #VeteranOfTheDay Marine Corps Veteran Betty Moseley Brown
Special midweek episode for you with the State of VA.
As part of a two day MyVA Advisory Committee meeting, VA Secretary Bob McDonald and Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson spoke about the significant progress made in the five strategies of the MyVA transformation in 2016. This includes improving the Veteran experience, improving the employee experience, improving internal support services, continuous improvement and enhancing strategic partnerships.
A few highlights of the MyVA progress made in 2016:
McDonald and Gibson recognized the progress that has been made over the past two years, but emphasized that there is still more work to be done and that the VA must continue to serve Veterans by putting their needs first.
I hope everyone had a fun and safe new year. Our first episode of 2017 is with James "Jim" Davis. Jim is an Air Force Veteran and currently does Veteran Outreach for Pathways to Housing DC.
Jim has lived an interesting life. For more than a decade, Jim led a nomadic life of homelessness. He wandered around the country, taking odd jobs in the wilderness to barely get by. When he wasn't set somewhere through work, he wandered off to other states looking for adventure. When he finally emerged from the woods and began his journey back into civilization, he used VA to overcome some adversities in his life. Now, he uses these experiences to reach out to Veterans at Pathways to Housing DC. The mission of Pathways to Housing DC is to transform individual lives by ending homelessness and supporting recovery for people with disabilities. They do good work, and Jim is committed to serving his fellow Veterans by connecting with them through mutual experiences.
Covered in Episode Twelve:
I hope everyone had a pleasant holiday and has some fun, safe plans for New Years. Our final episode of 2016 is with Blayne Smith. Blayne is an Army Veteran and currently serves as Executive Director at Team Red, White, and Blue.
Blayne works closely with Team RWB’s board members, staff, and volunteer leaders to develop and implement programs that serve veterans across the country. He provides strategic and operational guidance to the organization while building and managing key partnerships. Blayne is a West Point graduate and former Special Forces officer with combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Upon leaving the military, he worked at Quest Diagnostics while earning his MBA at the University of Florida. Blayne currently resides in Tampa with his two boys and leads the Team RWB Tampa chapter.
Covered in Episode Eleven:
We're ten episodes in! This podcast has been a lot of fun and we appreciate all of the great feedback we've received. Episode ten brings us Marine Veteran Gregorio Kishketon.
Greg is a VA employee that works at the central office in D.C.. He originally thought he was simply going to be #VeteranOfTheDay, but then he sat down for an interview and opened up about some vulnerable parts of his life.
Covered in Episode Ten:
Episode nine brings us Marine Veteran Justin Blazejewski.
Justin’s introduction to yoga began in 2007 while he was searching for different exercises that would help with a back injury he sustained while serving. Soon after his first class he dove into a daily yoga practice, quickly realizing the physical benefits of yoga when his back pain began to disappear after only a couple of weeks.
Justin was in his 4th year of monthly travel to Afghanistan and Iraq as a government contractor when he devoted himself to a daily yoga practice. Over the last 10 years he served as a communication engineer with a total of 41 temporary duty assignments. After years of constant travel, Justin realized the effects of the war zone were taking their toll, but he also noticed how the benefits of yoga were offsetting these effects.
Covered in Episode Nine:
Episode eight brings us Navy Veteran Alfred Rodrigues. He's affectionately called "Uncle Al" around the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Uncle Al was in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on December 7th, 1941. We caught up with Uncle Al and talked to him about his service.
Covered in Episode Eight:
* WWII Navy Vet finds friend
* Interview with Navy Veteran Alfred Rodrigues
* Al's decision to join the military.
* Pearl Harbor attacks
* Serving during WWII
* Where he was when the war ended
* Sharing his experiences with others
* Our thanks to the Greatest Generation
Episode seven brings us Army Veteran Kayla Williams. Kayla serves as primary advisor to the Secretary on Department policies, programs, and legislation that affect women Veterans. In addition, she oversees the Center’s activities, which include monitoring and coordinating VA’s administration of health care, benefits services, and programs for women Veterans; serving as an advocate for cultural transformation (both within VA and in the general public) in recognizing the service and contributions of women Veterans and Servicemembers; and raising awareness of the responsibility to treat women Veterans with dignity and respect.
She is author of two books. Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army, is a memoir about her deployment to Iraq. Her second book is, Plenty of Time When We Get Home: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War, about her family’s journey from trauma to healing.
Covered in Episode Seven:
* Information on MakeTheConnection.net
* Interview with Army Veteran Kayla Williams
* Kayla's decision to join the military.
* Military before & after the 9/11attacks
* Serving in Iraq
* Transitioning from Servicemember to military spouse and Veteran
* Working at Center for Women Veterans
* Connecting with the Center for Women Veterans
* #VeteranOfTheDay Air Force Veteran Timothy Montjoy
We hope everyone had a pleasant Thanksgiving. Here at VA, we are all thankful for our Veterans, their families and our staff that are committed to serve them.
Episode six brings us Michael Lumpkin. Michael served in the Navy and went on to work in three federal departments. He is currently the Special Envoy and Coordinator of the Global Engagement Center at the U.S. Department of State. In this role, Mr. Lumpkin leads efforts to coordinate, integrate, and synchronize Government-wide communications activities directed at foreign audiences abroad for the purpose of countering violent extremism and terrorism.
Mr. Lumpkin has more than 20 years of active duty military service as a Navy SEAL where he held every leadership position from platoon commander to Team commanding officer. Mr. Lumpkin has participated in numerous campaigns and contingencies throughout the world to include both Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
Covered in Episode Six:
This week's featured guest is Navy Veteran Brad Snyder. Snyder has been a #VeteranOfTheDay and is featured in our videos from the Team USA Awards, where Brad first agreed to today's interview.
Bradley Snyder is a swimmer on the United States Paralympic team who competed at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London and the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio. Snyder won two Gold medals and one Silver at London and three Gold and one Silver at Rio. He lost his eyesight from an IED explosion while serving in the United States Navy in Afghanistan. Among fully blind swimmers, he is the current world record holder for the 100-meter freestyle events.
Covered in Episode Five:
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Happy Veterans Day! Joining us on this Veterans Day episode is Secretary Robert McDonald. Secretary McDonald, who prefers to be called "Bob," is an Army Veteran and former CEO of Procter & Gamble.
An Army veteran, Mr. McDonald served with the 82nd Airborne Division; completed Jungle, Arctic, and Desert Warfare training; and earned the Ranger tab, the Expert Infantryman Badge, and Senior Parachutist wings. Upon leaving military service, Captain McDonald was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. Since joining VA, Secretary McDonald has led the Department in its ambitious transformational journey to be a world-class service provider and the No. 1 customer-service agency in the Federal government giving Veterans consistent, high-quality experiences.
Covered in Episode Four:
* The story of Medal of Honor recipient, Michael Fitzmaurice.
* Interview with Army Veteran Robert McDonald
* Bob's decision to join the military.
* Transitioning to Procter & Gamble.
* Could VA handle another influx of combat Veterans?
* Measuring the impact of his leadership after he leaves.
* How he uses his time most efficiently.
* His emotional response to Veteran homelessness
* The new Vets.gov portal.
* An ode to all Veterans
Click here for the full script of the episode.
The #VApodcast is now available in iTunes. Search “This Week at VA” in the Podcast app.
November is upon is and episode three of the podcast is here. This week's feature guest is Army Veteran Fred Wellman.
Wellman is a retired Army officer having served 22-years as an aviator and public affairs officer including four combat tours. He currently is the CEO and Founder of ScoutComms, Inc., a B Corp communications and corporate social responsibility firm supporting organizations addressing the needs of veterans and military families. He founded the firm in 2010 and it is today one of the first B Corp firms focused on veterans issues in the world.
Covered in Episode Three:
Click here for the full script of the episode.
The #VApodcast is now available in iTunes. Search "This Week at VA" in the Podcast app.
If you have any questions or feedback regarding the podcast, please Tweet us using #VApodcast.
Francisco Urena is a Marine Veteran and currently serves as Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans’ Services and previously served as the Veterans’ services officer for the cities of Boston and Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Covered in Episode Two:
Haley Carter is a Marine Veteran and retired American professional soccer player who currently serves as assistant coach for the Afghanistan women’s national football team.
Covered in Episode One: