MILITARY FRIENDLY DEGREE PROGRAMSThe University of North Texas Student Veteran Services is committed to removing barriers that student veterans face when transitioning from military service to college life. UNT has created a unique undergraduate degree that is military friendly, the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (B.A.A.S.) degree. This program applies your military training toward a bachelor’s degree so you can finish your degree fast!Find out if the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree is right for you at unt.edu/BAAS.
PUBLISHERDevil Doc PublishingEDITORChristine WalkerINTERIM ASSISTANT EDITORLes StevensonSTAFF WRITERSEric McNailMike SaundersLes StevensonChristine WalkerFEATURE WRITERSChristina MortelCristie RemmelPaul SullivanSALES STAFFJennifer McNailScott NeideckerChristine WalkerLAYOUT & DESIGNChristine WalkerCONTRIBUTING WRITERS:Patrick AlcornTravis CoyleDaniel DancerRet. Sgt. Maj. G. LealCourtenay NoldA. Mark PackRandall SurlesJeff WillieFIND US ON:FB:@AtEaseVeteranMagazineTheATEASEmagazine.comCopyright 2021 © AT EASE! Veterans Magazine and Devil Doc Publishing All Rights Reserved.AT EASE! Veterans Magazine, a subsidiary of Devil Doc Publishing, reserves all rights connected to all copyright and proprietary property contained in our official publication, website(s), social media accounts, videography, email marketing, branding and printed materials. This includes, but is not limited to, authoritative and/or written content, photographs, graphics and infographics, ad design, artwork including official company logos in design, color, and format and video(s). Any use of the above aforementioned in whole or in part may not be used for any reason without the express written consent of Devil Doc Publishing.A MESSAGE FROM THE EDITORA MESSAGE FROM THE EDITORChisne WlkerSummer 2022 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 3Has 2022 been a crazy ride so far or what!?First and foremost, if you are reading our print issue, it may or may not be the same quality as our previous issue. We just won’t know until it’s printed. I have been in contact with our printer, and they are having one hell of a time getting their paper supplies. Yep, that’s right … it’s a supply chain issue, and I will just leave it at that.I would also like to take this time to extend my heartfelt gratitude to V.L. Stevenson who has been nothing short of a miracle worker on this issue, Sgt. Maj. G. Leal and Eric McNail for stepping up and adding additional stories, and of course my family for putting up with my craziness one more time! We hope you enjoy this issue…
Table of ContentsTable of ContentsMessage from the Editor 3My Turning Point 8Digging Out of the Rubble 11Begin with Focus 20Fulfill Your Purpose, Reach Your Full Potential 21DD-214 & Beyond 22The GI Bill Can Pay... 24From War to a Waltz 36Girls & Grit 38'I Remember When...' 40The USMC R&B Vet 42I Couldn't Save Her 46V2VG: Death Did Not Take Him 48July 4th: Counting the Cost 51Keeping Up with Your Health in 2022 52From My Point of View: In Search of the Good Life 54A Voice for the Voiceless, pt 2 56TAPS 61Book Review: 'A Quiet Cadence' 63 25 Veteran Podcasts 64Crossword: 'Summer' Scavenger Hunt 66Excerpts from 'Born in a Bar' 67Coming Up in our Next Issue 68SO WHY THE QR CODES? It is simply a way for us to utilize technology and help make your reading experience more interactive. IT’S EASY!1. Open your phone’s QR Reader or Camera.2. Hold it over the QR Code3. A drop down link will appear, just tap it and it will take you to the extra content/website.1313EVERY VETERAN HAS A STORY TO TELL2525663030THE NAKED WARRIORA Navy SEAL StoryA Navy SEAL StoryTHE NAKED WARRIORA Navy SEAL StoryA Navy SEAL Story4 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022The Sapper CompetitionThe Sapper CompetitionThe Sapper CompetitionThe Sapper Competitionptsd awareness monthptsd awareness month
MILITARY CONNECTED BUSINESS OWNERS ENTREPRENEURS | STARTUPSYour battlefield may have been in a distant or foreign land. Starting and growing a business may feel just as distant and foreign. But, you can live the American dream of business ownership!OCT5-72022BUILD YOUR KNOWLEDGE, YOUR NETOWRK + YOUR BOTTOM LINEBBBC.UTA.EDUREGISTER
6 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine |Summer 2022SapperSapperWhen rst approached about doing this article about the ‘Sapper Competition’, immediately images of brawny men in red plaid shirts and tree trunks came to mind, besides the obvious question, ‘What the hell is a Sapper?”Despite a little friendly ribbing, the Army Sappers are no joke! According to the US Army’s website, “A sapper or combat engineer is a combatant soldier who performs a wide variety of combat engineering duties; typically including, but not limited to, bridge-building, laying or clearing mineelds, demolitions, field defenses, general construction and building, as well as road and aireld construction and repair. They are also trained to serve as infantry when needed in both defensive and offensive operations and is fully involved in modern counter-insurgency operations.”1The Sapper program was originally established by the Continental Congress at the bequest of Louis Duportail in 1778. The French-born Engineer, Duportail brought valuable knowledge of combat engineering and was appointed as Commandant of the Continental Army Corps of Engineers during the Revolutionary War. It is easy to see where they got their name. Sapper or the French Sappé in its original medieval translation is ‘spadework’ or ‘trench’. The modern translation means ‘to undermine’ taken, interestingly enough, from its military engineering origins. Since their induction in 2004, Sappers are an elite group of Combat Engineers that make up the third tab in the US Army’s Special Forces that include Rangers, Airborne & Sappers. To earn the insignia, both Officers and Enlisted must first complete the Sapper Leader Course. “The Sapper Leader Course is a demanding 28-day leadership development course for combat engineers that reinforces critical skills and teaches advanced 1 https://www.army.mil/sapper/history.htmltechniques needed across the Army. This course is also designed to build esprit de corps by training Soldiers in troop leading procedures, demolitions (conventional and expedient), and mountaineering operations. The course culminates in an intense eld training exercise that reinforces the use of the battle drills and specialized engineer techniques learned throughout the course.”2According to Daniel Ochoa, a former Sapper instructor and now Membership Coordinator for the Sapper Association, “When you go to Sapper school, usually only 35 to 40% of the students will graduate. It is a tough course.”LET THE COMPETITION BEGIN! Every Spring since 2005, the Sapper Association sponsors the annual Robert B. Flowers Best Sapper Competition held at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. According to their website, “It is a three-day competition open for two Person teams of Army or Marine Engineer MOS competitors in the grades of E4 and above. A team must consist of at least one member who is a graduate of the Sapper Leader Course. Any unit desiring an exception to the established eligibility must submit exceptions through the Engineer Regimental Command Sergeant Major.The competition’s concept is to not only determine the next “Best Sapper” team, but to challenge and test the service members’ knowledge, physical prowess, and mental fortitude… [showcasing] the most elite Soldiers in combat engineering from duty stations around the world. “Warrior Athletes”!”Daniel Ochoa describes elements of the competition. “It’s a very intensive 3-day, nonstop, 24 hours a day [contest]. They don’t tell you how many miles you’re going to run. 2 https://home.army.mil/wood/index.php/units-tenants/USAES/Sapperby Christine WalkerThe Sapper Competition is a test of body, mind & will! Pho-tos by: Martel GoldmanSCAN TO SEE PROMO VIDEO
Summer 2022 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 7They’ll say this is the starting line and it could be a 12, 15, or a 20-mile run. [The teams] keep running. You’ll see the end when you see it.” Affectionately referred to as the Round Robin. Each Sapper team rucks 13 miles and at the end of every mile, they are tested on physical acuities. According to Daniel Ochoa, “Sappers must complete a log cut, sprint drag, door breach, picket pounding, and a sandbag carry.” Other stations include select combat engineering tasks like demolition stakes, weapon stakes, and land navigation that assess the mental sharpness of the physically exhausted and sleep-deprived participants. On the second day, participants start off the morning with Helocasting and then it’s on to the next event in the competition. By day three, Sappers are running on pure adrenaline, MREs, and a sheer mental will to nish with only 2-3 hours of sleep over the course of the whole competition. The same mystery standard holds true for the X-Mile Ruck March carrying an 80 lbs. rucksack. Like the run, Sappers just keep going until they see the end. This year it was an intense 22 miles. THE WINNING TEAMThis year, Team 17, with Captain Alaimoana Paunga and 1st Lieutenant Eric Mattia took home the coveted title of 2022 Best Sapper. Captain Paunga was born and raised in American Samoa, a US territory located in the South Pacic Ocean, and is the southernmost US territory south of the Equator. Captain Paunga’s sister joined the Army directly after high school and was instrumental in bringing her family to the United States shortly thereafter. Captain Paunga joined the Army after being encouraged to do so by his sister. “So, at a young age, I knew I was going to join the military. My sister told me about becoming an ofcer. So, I went to school rst, I did the ROTC program and from there I was commissioned to be an ofcer. I chose engineering because I was always really good at math and science and enjoy solving problems. and then come to nd out when I did Commission as an engineer ofcer, there’s also the combat side of things. So, I got the best of both worlds,” Captain Paunga recounts. 1st Lieutenant Mattia comes from a family of proud service members. His Great-Grandfather was Army, both Grandfathers served in WWII, one in the Navy and the other a Marine, and his dad also served in the Navy. “ I have a long line of individuals in my family that were in the service and growing up around that [inuence] I was like, hey, I know I want to serve in some way. The school I went to for undergrad was The University of Vermont and they only had [the choice of] Army ROTC. So, I decided to do that and then everything else just fell in place,” he said.Capt. Paunga and 1st Lt. Mattia, of the 20th EN BN, 36th EN BDE out of Fort Hood, TX, started training together just two months prior to the competition. Both of them were completely in sync with the other. Capt. Paunga said, “We really just were a perfect match as partners in every way.” 1st Lt. Mattia reiterated that statement and went on to say, “We met a schedule of topics and we just made sure that at least one of us on the team was pretty condent in each of the separate tasks. So, when we rolled up to a station, we knew exactly what it was gonna look like and one of us could take the lead.”The physical aspects of training for each of them were important. Capt. Paunga joked that his Polynesian physique created unique challenges, but it was nothing he couldn’t handle and 1st Lt. Mattia conditioned himself by running a few marathons. The biggest challenge for each of them was the mental gymnastics of pushing through the physical exhaustion, cramps, and heat. “You know, we made it our goal to come there and win. We took it event by event, so that way we’re not overloading our minds with things. But at the end of the day, we had a goal to win. And between both of us, we had our ups and downs, but we kept each other going. So, whenever Eric might have felt down, I just helped him push through by motivating him, and he did the same for me,” Capt. Paunga said. On the 1st day during the ruck, Captain Paunga had a surprise waiting for him, “the best part was when I saw [that] my wife, son, mom, and brother were present. I had no idea they were gonna show up to at Fort Leonard. WINNERS of the ROBERT B. FLOWERS BEST SAPPER COMPETITION: 1st Lieutenant Eric Mattia (L) & Captain Alaimoana Paunga (R) Photo by: Martel GoldmanContinued on Page 60
8 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022Sitting cross-legged on my parents’ living room floor in front of their black and white TV, I manually flipped through the channels as usual. All of a sudden I paused. President Lyndon B. Johnson appeared on a newscast. It was late July of 1965, and I listened as he announced a doubling of the monthly draft quota to 35,000 a month in support of the Vietnam War effort. This was not good news for me. It didn’t take a genius to figure out what was about to happen. I was nineteen years old, having graduated from high school the previous year with a Selective Service 1A classification. I attended college part-time and worked part-time—a prime target for the draft. My days were numbered, and I was beginning to feel the pressure. The lottery was still four years away, so eligibility was determined by the 22 levels of Selective Service classifications for deferment from 1A to 4F. My classification of 1A was at the top of the list and first to be drafted. I continued my fall semester at college. It was uneventful, only now I had this obstacle in my road of life that would not disappear—military service and the Vietnam War. I was still living at home with my parents but wanted my independence. I had planned on moving out and getting an apartment with Larry, a high school buddy, but the threat of being drafted ruined my dreams of autonomy. I couldn’t plan anything that would require a long-term commitment and the uncertainty was bearing down on me.I finished my fall semester and enrolled for spring, but it remained an unsettling time. The Vietnam War was top of the news every night on TV…you couldn’t escape it! Every week one of my buddies would turn up with a draft notice in hand. They were disappearing before my eyes one by one!Larry and I shared mutual anxiety about the draft. Neither of us could move on with life without addressing military service. The thought of dodging the draft never entered our minds. After months of frustration, one morning in February of 1966, we decided to do something about it. We visited the Federal building in downtown Fort Worth, which housed all five branches of recruiting offices. The Coast Guard was full and not taking enlistments; the Navy and Air Force wanted four years; the Army three years—and then we saw it. As we walked down a long hallway, standing there at the end, a giant poster of an impressive, fit-looking Marine came into view. We read the bottom line: “You can now enlist for two years.” We weren’t considering the Marine Corps, but we were both looking for the shortest route through military service so we could return to our civilian lives. This seemed to be a viable solution.Larry and I looked at each other with an I will if you will dare on our faces. So, we went inside and checked it out. Not only could we join for two years, but we could go in on the buddy system. The recruiters were very convincing! I looked at Larry and said, “What can they do to us in two years?” We would soon find out six weeks later in boot camp…then nine months later in Vietnam! On February 1, 1966, we signed the Marine Corps enlistment papers and waited for orders. I didn’t tell my parents before enlisting or my steady girlfriend. My parents were not upset, but my girlfriend…well that’s another story. She had been talking for months about getting married, believing it would lower my Selective Service eligibility for the draft. But President Johnson had already signed an executive order in August 1965 eliminating the marriage exemption. The effort would have been futile. Besides, I was not ready for marriage. She accused me of choosing the Marine Corps over her, and that began our downfall, eventually ending our relationship during boot camp. Looking back, she was correct!Larry and I received orders to report to Marines Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) on March 15. On March 14, we boarded a train in Dallas headed for San Diego, California. The two-day trip had lots of card playing, teenage comradery, and drinking…all the things we were about to lose in a few days. The last few train cars were reserved for the recruits and for good reason—we were a noisy, rowdy bunch.When we finally reached the San Diego train terminal late evening of March 15, all the partying subsided and an eerie feeling of doom mixed with a little regret passed over us. Outside the terminal, a military bus awaited, and our first taste of boot camp began. As we exited the terminal, a drill instructor began yelling at us, and he never stopped until the day we graduated! Unbeknownst to us, he was saving our lives.My Turning PointThe giant poster in front of the USMC recruiting office the way I remembered. The bottom line hooked us!
When we reached MCRD and deboarded the bus, we met those legendary yellow footprints. The footprints were painted on asphalt to organize and space us for marching in formation. We were processed quickly, including the ever recognizable buzz haircut. Interestingly, after the haircuts, nobody recognized one another!During the Vietnam War era, Marine Corps boot camp was reduced from 11 weeks to eight. We were about to get a crash course in basic training. It was March 16, Day One of boot camp and my 20th birthday. I kept that to myself for fear of harassment from the drill instructors. My two goals in boot camp were: remaining unnoticed and the DI forgetting my name.Our recruit training platoon consisted of 82 recruits assigned to three Quonset huts. Larry was in one, and I was in another. We barely spoke to each other or anyone else during the entire boot camp experience. So much for the buddy system!There’s no doubt the president’s announcement was a turning point in my life. It was never my intention to join the military, but looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. Even though I only served on active duty for two years, more than half my time was spent in Vietnam as a radio operator with an infantry battalion. They attempted to get me to re-enlist by offering an immediate promotion to Sergeant. But the Vietnam War still raged in early 1968, and I had just returned after surviving 13 months of the darkest time of my life. I had no intentions of tempting fate again. During those two years the Marine Corps instilled in me their core values of honor, courage, and commitment, tenets that have remained with me for a lifetime. For that, I am incredibly thankful.VL Stevenson – Corporal, USMCVietnam 1966 – 1968Going away party on March 12, 1966, for VL Stevenson (R) and LT Salyer (L) two days prior to leaving for Marine Corps boot camp. In a few more days those smiles would fade! © 1966 VL Stevenson
DiGNG Out Of The RuBB:DiGNG Out Of The RuBB: AMERICAN LEGION POST 26The National weather service issued a Tornado warning at 9:26 pm for Graves County, Kentucky. Within the county was the little town of Mayeld that would soon suffer a direct hit from the mammoth EF-4 wedge tornado. It destroyed their historic Main Street, killing 22 people and severely injuring hundreds more. All this taking place on an unseasonably warm late Friday evening, December 10th, 2021.The American Legion Post 26, located in the heart of Downtown Mayeld, suffered extensive and non-repairable damage. Built in 1923, the building housed the Legion meeting rooms on the ground oor, a basketball court and theater on the second oor and the theaters balcony on the 3rd oor. For over 90 years, this American Legion was home to generations of Veterans from WWI to Post 9/11 Veterans and their families. In speaking with Commander Wendell Guge, 3 days after the tornado, he was still trying to get his bearings in a town where he had grown up. “I don’t recognize anything, everything is gone.” And while he had yet to process the loss of their Post’s historic building, Wendall was much more concerned for the people of Mayeld, nding the missing, and using Post resources to help feed and clothe those who had lost everything. When standing in the Post’s 100-seat theater looking out through the open space where it once was occupied by the indoor movie screen, “The destruction was just overwhelming,” commented Commander Guge. But then his attention turned from the material to the human destruction both in injury and loss. So many were displaced and needed immediate help. His employer, a local Ford dealership, offered their warehouse to stage supplies needed for the recovery effort and it quickly became a distribution site for the Post. Supplies poured in from near and far with at least 25 states participating and the warehouse was quickly overwhelmed with aid. Many of the sister American Legion Posts around the neighboring states also sent trailer loads of supplies.Since the Post’s historic building is no longer safe or suitable as a meeting place, the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars), DAV (Disabled American Veterans), and the American Legion’s 149 members all temporarily share space at the DAV’s building. Commander Guge said, “The current Post’s building is scheduled to be leveled and the Post will not rebuild on that site.” Instead, they are planning on a new building that will be designed to better suit their needs. One of the Post’s goals is to also build efciency apartments to temporarily house veterans and their families. “It has always been a goal of the Post’s to help provide housing, and now that just may have to become a reality soon,” Guge said. “In the current environment, there is a lack of building raw materials, supplies, and manpower,” Commander Guge commented. The priorities for Mayeld are to repair and rebuild the homes and business lost. Therefore, rebuilding the American Legion Post is at the bottom of the priority list and he doesn’t know when they will rebuild. In all the destruction and loss, the one thing for him that did stand out was how the town came together without anyone being asked to help, they just did! Hope and the human spirit are alive and well…and Mayeld Kentucky is thankful for that!by Christine Walker & Les StevensonTHE END OF AN ERAInset Top Right: Complete Destruction as viewed from the back of the building. Inset Right: Post 26 Commander Wendall Guge stands in front of what's left of the Post
"I am an American; free born and free bred, where I acknowledge no man as my superior, except for his own worth, or as my inferior, except for his own demerit."~ Theodore Roosevelt
Written by: Christine Walker
14 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022JUST A BOY SCOUT FROM MISSISSIPPIWilliam Branum’s SEAL journey began, in all places, at a Boy-Scout National Jamboree while he was in High School. A kid from another troop had mentioned wanting to become a F-14 Tomcat Pilot and a Navy SEAL. “What’s a Navy SEAL?” William asked. “You know, the most elite military unit in the world. They work in small groups, jump out of planes and blow things up!” That sounded good to William, and he decided then and there that is what he wanted to do.According to the Navy.com website, the SEAL program (Sea, Air & Land) was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, the Navy SEALs are a nimble, elite maritime military force suited for all aspects of unconventional warfare. They provide immediate military relief in crises around the world.1 THE UNEXPECTED & LENGTHY JOURNEYAnd as it just so happened, a few weeks later he received a call from a Navy recruiter. “Hey man, have you ever thought about joining the Navy?” William replied, “Actually yeah! I wanna be a F-14 Pilot and Navy SEAL.” And so began his journey, never knowing at the time, the ght that was ahead of him to make this dream a reality. Of course, no one joins the Navy with a Rate of SEAL. So, William opted for Electricians Mate to satisfy his father’s wishes, but that Rate wasn’t available for the time frame when he was supposed to report to Basic Training in Great Lakes, IL. So instead, William took Gunners Mate, which had a strong electronics component. During basic, he took the BUD/S screening test and failed. Williams next opportunity to pass the screening test was during his Gunners Mate A School, but according to him, 1 https://www.navy.com/seals“I didn’t take it again [then] because number one; it was cold and it’s Great Lakes! It’s the wintertime, [it’s] cold, dark, and scary.” And any of us who attended A Schools at ‘Great Mistakes’ during the Winter would 100% agree with his decision. Upon completion of the Gunners Mate training, William had a few decisions to make. He could either go straight to the Fleet or continue with a specialized C School for his Rate. William chose the latter, which unbeknownst to him, would have it’s own consequences in fullling his dream of becoming a SEAL.“I thought I would go to that C school in Virginia Beach and from there I would go to BUD/S. Williams recalls. “Well… what I didn’t know, is because I took those orders to that C school where I thought I’m gonna go here, get in better shape and be ready to go to BUD/s. I didn’t know that I had 24 months of obligated service on the USS Hewitt DD-966 in Yokosuka, Japan. What do you think of when you hear the words, “Navy SEALs?” Does it invoke images of a lethal group of well-armed super humans appearing magically out of dark waters ready to right every wrong? While all of that may be true, the story of William Branum is far more about perseverance, humility, and a mental resiliency than the perception of being a real badass… although he is that too!
Summer 2022| AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 15BUD/S or Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training at the time was a 6-month course and just the rst step in becoming a SEAL and receiving the well-earned Trident Insignia. With nine months left on the Ship in the 7th Fleet, William contacted his detailer to negotiate putting in a package to BUD/S. Once again, things did not go as planned. In his phone conversation, the detailer adamantly refused to even discuss the possibility of entering the BUD/S program, telling William that he wouldn’t’t be released because his NEC (Navy Enlisted Classication) was too critical to the Navy. “I still did all the stuff I needed to do. All the medical stuff, all the physical stuff and I passed the [BUD/S] screening test. William said, with resolve. “I called him again and I’m like, hey, I just submitted my package to go to BUD/S. My detailers response was like, ‘that’s great, but I’m not going to release you.’ I said, well, if you don’t let me go, I’m gonna get out. He said ‘that’s ne. Get out.’ My detailer called my bluff.”NOT EVEN CLOSE TO GIVING UPWilliam was not about to give up… and very soon his tenacity would pay off. He called the SEAL Detailer, and of course they could do nothing until he was released from his detailer. But this news didn’t deter him… he was like a dog with a bone! William connected with a SEAL in Japan, and received a letter of recommendation from him, and then, just by happenstance, the door of opportunity came to him. Literally! The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) came to speak on his ship, and only his ship. William wasn’t about to let this opportunity pass him by. The CNO had started out as enlisted and was a commonsense leader, with the ability to implement decisions immediately. “I notied my Commanding Ofcer that I was going to ask him [about going to BUD/S]. He’s like, OK, do it! At the CNO call he asked, does anyone have any questions? I raised my hand. I was the second guy he called on. I said, I joined the Navy to become a SEAL and I think I deserve a chance to go. My detailer will not release me, saying that I’m too critical, but I think I deserve a chance to go to BUD/S,” William recalls. The CNO turned to William’s Commanding Ofcer and said, “Is he a good guy?” The answer was in the question and six weeks later, William arrived at Coronado Island in San Diego for BUD/S training.NOT SO FAST…Checking in for training, William met his roommate, a Corpsman who had broken his leg and had been sent to FMF with the Marine Corps while he healed. After showing him the ropes and giving him a sense of what to expect, William thought to himself, “how hard can it be? And I learned very quickly that it’s pretty hard.”While waiting for their class assignments, his roommate asked William if he wanted to go for a run on the beach. “I’m like, ‘yeah.’ I had not done any training on soft sand and so going on this little run, I am like, this is really hard. I can’t keep up at all! And that was pretty much most of BUDS for me,” William recalls with a laugh. After being classed up, during the prep phase before the rst week of training, they were doing ‘Sugar Cookies,’ “we’re, you know, run to the ocean, getting wet, come back, roll around in the sand, get up, run back to the ocean, come back, roll around in the sand. And on one of those roll arounds in the sand, I rolled my ankle.” William started in Class 205, and while running the obstacle course, he noticed he just didn’t have the power and spring in his foot he normally had. His ankle didn’t hurt, but he went to medical anyway. The EOD, a PA looked at him and said, “You probably just need to suck it up, but we’ll take an X-Ray anyway.” After reviewing the lms, the PA had to issue him an apology. As it turns out, William had broken his ankle… a half inch piece of bone from the outside Metatarsal had broken off and was oating inside his foot.
16 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022HELL WEEK? NO, HELL YEAR!William was out of Class 205. Armed with some crutches and sheer will, he healed up and was then rolled into Class 206. About three weeks in to training with 206, William had nally kept up with the fast runners. “I wasn’t a good runner. I could swim, OK. I could do the obstacle course OK, and I was OK at calisthenics. Eventually I got better at running and I remember the rst run that I kept up on in Class 206. We were about three weeks in and I’m sitting with the fast runners just stretching out and I’m super stoked. The ‘Goon Squad’ nishes and the instructors come over and they say, alright, go hit the surf.”William stood up and his left knee collapses! He recounts the story, “I’m like, what’s wrong with me? I don’t understand. I went to medical and then they’re like, OK, we’re gonna recommend you to be rolled back.”But that wasn’t all, armed with crutches yet again, William had to go before the SEAL Board. He remembers “The rst guy that I talked to, recommended to drop me from training and I was like, Hold on! I can’t leave, I may never get to come back!”And so, when it was time to go see the director of training, William remembers, “I’m in there crying and bawling. I’m on my crutches and I’m telling him the story about that if I leave, I may not have an opportunity to come back because of my NEC. I’m too critical to the Navy… blah, blah, blah. He said, ‘go stand outside and I’ll be back in a little bit.’ He came back 3 hours later and I’m [still] standing out there crying on the grinder on my crutches. He came back and said, ‘you’re still here?’ Yes Sir! ‘Well, go check in and you’ll be in class 207.’ That was like the happiest moment of my life. Whatever weird injury [it was], I hobbled along and fast enough to pass the evolutions to get to Hell week.”During the infamous HELL week, William was with a boat crew that just kept on winning, and he was hell bent to stay with this crew. In the meantime, his mysterious knee injury vanished. “I got into Hell week and my leg started working again. I don’t know what the deal was. Maybe it was just so much pounding during all the movements. Like physical therapy, a lot of time in the ocean, a lot of cryotherapy and the sand was very exfoliating. Maybe, I don’t know. But there was no question everyone in class knew that I was super gimpy, it’s just like it turned back on.” William jokes. While William’s knee injury just vanished during Hell week, by the end of the week he was just in time to suffer hairline stress fractures on the other leg. And no, this was no joke. William was rolled back to Class 208. After nishing second, and third phase all over again, William nally completed his BUD/S training 13 months to the day of when he rst checked in. JOURNEY TO THE TRIDENTAfter BUD/S training, William went to Army Airborne school for three weeks, earning his jump wings. And nally, he was assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team Two. Now, before we assume that William was ready for Missions, think again. It was at this stage in the game that he received SEAL Tactical Training before going to the Trident Board. SEAL Tactical Training is a yearlong probationary period where candidates learn more advanced techniques of shoot movement communication, land navigation, dive plotting, physics and maintenance, advanced tactical weapons training, interrogation and PSYOP techniques and a myriad of other advanced Mission related skillsets. “At the end of your probation, you went before the Trident Review Board, where there’s a bunch of old guys and they’re asking you hard questions. Maybe they just have a bunch of guns laying out on the table and they ask you to unassembled and then reassemble them. There are probably some rounds in the weapons, so they’re looking to see if you’re gonna keep muzzle discipline. Are you gonna clear and safe the weapon before you actually start taking it apart? All these other things that start just like grinding you with tough questions to see where your brain is. What are the points of performance shooting? What are the points of performance for jumping out of an airplane? You ever been to freefall school yet? OK, well, you still need to
Summer 2022| AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 17know these other things about it. How do you set up a drop zone? How do you inspect someone? Can you multitask? Are you gonna break under pressure? They have you plot a dive. You know you have to be able to do that on a on a nautical chart and then they say, OK, now plot out a land app or show me how you set declination into your compass. Show me how you load crypto into these radios, show me how you program the radio. Basically, the full gamut of what a Navy SEAL needs to know. And if you fail it, you’ve got one more opportunity to study and pass the board. If you did not pass the board the second time, then they sent you to the eet and you never become a SEAL.” William said.William passed and after years of unwavering dedication, nally received his well-earned Trident Pin or ‘Budweiser ‘as an ofcial Navy SEAL. He would spend the next 5 years with Team 2 as one of their designated Snipers. Although when asked about this, he said, “it is true that every team member has a kind of specialty, but I think that gets blurry at times. You know, maybe you have a guy who’s a comms guy and that’s his department, he’s carrying the radios when we’re out doing OPS, but he can also be a breacher or he can be a sniper. So, you can ll any one of those roles depending on what the mission is and what the requirement is. And that’s the different thing about the SEAL teams, we have redundancy, we have multiple people who are snipers, multiple people are breachers. I’ve never personally ever been to breacher school, but I’ve blown up a lot of doors because I’m trained on how to do that. Yeah, and it is kind of fun to do that.”A SEAL’s MISSION NEVER ENDSJust before 9-11, William was serving as the Senior Instructor for the Sniper School. He remembers day the Twin Towers were hit, “I happened to be the LPO of the sniper school. And the day 9/11 happened I was not a senior guy. I’d been in for 8 years and only in the teams for 5 years, but I was in the positional authority because the more senior instructors were TDY working on accreditation for the school. I called Command to nd out what we’re supposed to do and was told, no action required, continue training. So, we took the rest of the day off, and watched the news. Eventually we started deploying to Afghanistan and later Iraq.” For 26 years, William served in multiple teams, with hundreds of Missions under his belt as a Navy SEAL. In 2018, it was time to move on, but the transition was brutal. “It’s just kind of like the analogy of one of those Avenger movies where Thanos does the thing with the rings and the glove and makes half the world’s population go away. So, you’re sitting there, you’re having dinner with your family, your kids or whatever. And then, boom, they’re gone. And they’re not coming back. It was kind of like that for me, and I found that it’s that’s true for a lot of people in sort of these high-performance jobs where you have a bad ass team, you have a bad ass mission, you have a bad ass purpose and when you leave that organization, that’s all gone, and you can’t go back to it.”William by no means was immune to the ‘baggage;’ the feeling of the loss of camaraderie and the lack of purpose and dulling the noise in his head. He made alcohol his medicine of choice, even before leaving he military. “But really what I was doing is just drinking until I passed out, more or
18 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022less, so I didn’t have to think about it. And then having to get up the next day and try to perform at high capacity was not an easy thing to do,” he admits. For William, transitioning was like a blind dive, when panic and total darkness sets in. And even though you’re not contained, you’re still contained. “Because when you’re underwater, nothing makes sense. You don’t really know what direction you’re going in. Like life, we go through these different transitions and if we don’t plan for them, we nd ourselves in absolute darkness underneath the belly of a ship. And having a compass doesn’t actually help us get out. If we get lost, we put our back against the ship, we turn the compass upside down, we close our eyes and kick for about. 30 seconds to a minute so that we know that we are far enough away from the ship so that it doesn’t continue to disrupt our compass. After 30 or 60 kicks, then you turn the compass over and you should know the direction that you’re going. Hopefully you’re going that direction and then you can correct your course,” he said.So, what reengaged his compass? LEARNING TO BECOME ‘A NAKED WARRIOR’No dear reader, it’s not going where you think it may be going. Yes, William had to get NAKED! but this nakedness was of the soul, heart, and mind. He had to get vulnerable with himself and start looking at some of that baggage he was carrying. He had to face his own anger, which as he explains it, “water boils at 212 degrees. I was probably living my life at 210 degrees, so it didn’t take much to trigger me to hit me that boiling point.”Then a friend had introduced William to CBD oil and while uncertain, he decided to test it out. “what I noticed over time taking CBD is I went from 210 degrees to 205 to 200, to 195 to 191 and then 185. I got out of that red zone and my fuse got longer. All the pain from 26 years of service injuries, they just didn’t hurt quite as bad. They still hurt. It was just a duller pain. Then there’s the sharp pain that I generally wake with up and it wasn’t as bad. When I stopped taking CBD, I started going back towards that 210 degrees, 212 degrees.William tried another brand of CBD and had similar results. When he met someone in the CBD industry, they suggested he start his own CBD Company. “I said something like, I don’t know how to start a CBD company and she leans in and says ‘you’re a Navy SEAL. You can gure it out,’ and I politely asked her for my man card back and she gave it to me.”After digging deep into the ‘get rich quick, dirty underbelly of the CBD industry, William made it his mission to provide the purest CBD oil and products on the planet. But that wasn’t the end game, he needed a purpose, a why. And then he saw the statistic that on average, 22 Veterans commit suicide every day. “we’ve lost more veterans to suicide than we have in 20 years of sustained combat. So, our new mission became 22 to 0. [Help] eliminate veteran suicide using CBD as a modality,” he said. And to that end, Naked Warrior Recovery was born. In addition, William has also started a coaching and speaking business training others in the principles he has learned as a SEAL. “I developed ve ways to think like a Navy SEAL and again that message is really getting naked. It’s about taking your ego off and becoming your most authentic self. You know, I have plenty of failures, but my best leadership performance and growth happened when I was in those very uncomfortable
leadership positions where I had no idea what I was doing, you know out of the frying pan and into the re, you know it’s heat that will always show you what you’re made of. But I worked probably 10 times harder than everyone else because my job was to make sure the guys that were working for me had what they needed to do the mission. When I was comfortable in leadership positions, I did not perform as well." The NAKED acronym is 1. Never Quit 2. Accept Failure 3. Kill Mediocrity 4. Expose Your Fears 5. Do The Work. That’s the foundation. William Branum’s perseverance, humility and mental resiliency was built over time with every decision he made. His tenacity to stay the course and the shear will it took to achieve his dream of becoming a Navy SEAL laid the foundation for what was ahead of him. Even more impressive, is his willingness to ‘GET NAKED!’ choosing to be vulnerable and honest with himself and others. Yes, William Branum is a Bad-Ass Navy SEAL! But even more extraordinary, he is a NAKED WARRIOR! SCAN BELOW TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT NAKED WARRIOR RECOVERY AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WILLIM BRANUM'S E-BOOK OFFER...5 SEAL SECRETS: Learn to Start Thinking Like a Navy SEAL! 5 SEAL SECRETSNAKED WARRIOR RECOVERY** Trident Graphic designed by Loma Medialomamedia.com/navy-seal-trident/
20 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022VETERAN ENTREPRENUER - PATRICK ALCORNFocus Focus FocusAs the parents of four children, my wife and I sometimes failed to remember that giving attention to negative behavior often prompted that behavior to continue. We understood how easy it was to inadvertently encourage a behavior we were trying to do away with by focusing on that behavior. We noticed that—whether by accident or by design—whatever we paid attention to would flourish.Attention! You remember. This is the military command given to turn your focus from whatever you were doing to whatever or whomever is most important. Whether you were in a noisy and crowed room or you were in a formation awaiting instruction, when you heard this command, you stopped, looked, and listened with total disregard for everything else.Wikipedia defines attention as the behavioral and cognitive process of selectively concentrating on a discrete aspect of information…while ignoring other perceivable information. American philosopher, historian, and psychologist, William James, wrote that “attention is the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form of one out of …several simultaneously possible…trains of thought”.For those who are interested in self-employment or entrepreneurship, I ask you, “what has taken possession of your mind?” Where is your attention as you are starting and growing your business?Are you thinking about success rather than failure? Are you focusing on where you are going, versus where you are? Is your mind possessed with who you have been as a service member or military spouse rather than who you are becoming as a business owner? Are you thinking more about what you lack than you are thinking about what you want to be, do, and have? How much attention do you give to your values and beliefs regarding being a business owner? How do you turn your thoughts to the positive goals, dreams, and visions you have for your life that align with the complete person you want to become? What must you do to continually show up doing what you do best and enjoying what you enjoy most with those whom you most want to impact and influence?All mastery begins with clarity. You cannot create what you cannot clearly see. To see your business clearly, you must become intentional regarding your focus. You must be clear about who your business serves. You must be definitive regarding how you serve them and what value you expect to earn from serving them. You can have no doubts about the unique benefits they get from doing business with you and how your business impacts their life—and yours. Can you see it? Is the vision you have of yourself clear? As the Founder of Success Motivation Institute, Paul J Meyer, stated, “Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe, and enthusiastically act upon... must inevitably come to pass”! “I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp, in-focus picture of it in my head. First, I see the ball where I want it to finish, nice and white and sitting up high on the brightgreen grass. Then the scene quickly changes, and I see the ball going there: its path, trajectory, and shape, even its behavior on landing. Then there is a sort of fade-out, and the next scene shows me making the kind of swing that will turn the previous images into reality”—Jack Nicklaus.You don’t get in life what you want; you get in life who you are. As Paul J Meyer once put it, “You are who you are because of the dominating thoughts that occupy your mind”. George Knox wrote, “We are what we are today because we were what we were yesterday. And our thoughts today will determine our actions tomorrow.” Thus, what you think about most, you manifest through your actions. Like Jack Nicklaus, consider visualizing in your mind’s eye, drawing a picture, taking a photo, or tearing a picture out of a magazine that empowers you to see your future in full, clear, and unclouded Technicolor. Keep your eyes forward on the person you want to become. Focus on increasing your awareness of every thought that occupies your mind. Sort through the clutter of your busy life and actively choose those thoughts upon which to focus your attention. Give full attention to your uniqueness and allow your subconscious mind to direct and guide your actions. Become steadfast and unmovable, with an absolute focus on who you have to become to accomplish what you want to accomplish.FOCUSby Patrick AlcornBEGIN WITHPatrick E Alcorn is the Founder of Business Beyond the Battleeld Conference and Director of the Veterans Business Outreach Center University of Texas at Arlington. He is a Certied Executive Leadership Coach who empowers entrepreneurs to get up, get out and keep moving.
Reach Your Full Potential, Find Your PurposeReach Your Full Potential, Find Your Purpose | PART IPART IWhere did you come from, where are you going, why are you going there, and what are your plans once you arrive? Mark Twain once said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you nd out why. “Life isn’t a sprint, life is a marathon of ups, downs, and turnarounds. Yes, there will be times you need to make a mad sprint to save your life or the life of someone else. But overall, life is a marathon of patterns of stops, rethinks, reections, self-assessments, readjustments, and restarts. Where are you at in running your marathon, or are you standing on the sideline watching it all take place? Are you running with the crowd, or are you focused on your lane? By the way, the marathon is not over until the end of your life. After you make your end-of-life nal assessment, how was the marathon journey? Did you fulll your life’s purpose? Was every day guided by your passion? How well did you lead yourself? Yes, our biggest challenge in life is leading ourselves. Are you inspiring someone every day? “Inspire until we Expire.” Are you being true to your passion and your purpose? My hopes are that we discover our purpose for being on this earth. I believe we all have a unique mission in this life designed specically for each of us. Your purpose is unique as your ngerprint, different from any other person on the face of the earth. Yes, our hands are similar in shape but different in characteristics. Therefore, our mission or purpose may be similar but unique to everyone. ‘Why’ is the question we must continue to ask ourselves until we discover our ‘Why?’ How do we discover our why, our passion, and our purpose? During most of my 26 years in the United States Air Force, the law of attraction and the desires of my heart placed me in speaking and teaching opportunities. Therefore, to this day, I nd myself attracted to speaking, teaching, training, facilitating, serving, and adding value to people, people are my business. The million-dollar question is how did I discover my passion and purpose? How many people do you know who are stuck in dead end jobs or professions they despise? When you ask them why they are still working for company X or doing a particular job. Many answers are (1) the pay is great, (2) I have limited skills, (3) I’m not qualied for other jobs, (4) my entire family have always been educators, lawyers, doctors, mechanics, (5) I don’t know what I want to do, etc. I had the opportunity to mentor a Staff Judge Advocate (Army Lawyer). After a few minutes into our mentoring session, she admitted that she did not prefer to be an attorney. I asked her why she attended law school, took the state bar exam, and received a commission in the United State Army? Her answer did not surprise me. She stated her parents wanted her to become a lawyer. Her brother was an engineer and because of the high expectations imposed on them by their culture, most in their culture were working in professions that did not align with their passion. How to reach your full potential…discover your passion. What profession or habit excites you and you are willing to do it for free? Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life. One of the rst steps in discovering your passion, your purpose is self-awareness. You must know yourself to grow yourself. There are many personality assessments (DISC, Strengths Finders, Myers-Briggs, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, etc. Personality assessments can reveal blind spots, your strengths, weaknesses, your interests, opportunities, your value to a team, areas of growth, and some assessment reports will create an action plan for growth. Once you are self-aware, you become teachable and coachable. This new level of awareness will help you develop a growth action-plan. Of course, each time you learn something, you must take the new thing you have learned today and build upon what you learned yesterday to keep growing. Your growth action must include at least key major components, 1) deliberate, 2) consistency, and 3) willfulness. Make sure to see Part II in the FALL 2022 Issue. Air Force Veteran & CEO of Jeff Willie Leadership. An Executive Program Member of Maxwell Leadership, I am certied to consult, facilitate, speak, train and coach individuals and groups in the areas of leadership development, professional skills, career growth, and personal growth. Inspirational, motivational, dedicated, visionary, living with a passion and purpose, never stop dreaming, continuous education, lifelong learning, lead by example, model expected behaviors, and a great steward of God’s Gifts. These words are not the latest denition of leadership; these words describe my life and fuel my leadership and educational philosophy.by Jeff Willie
DD-214 & BEYONDEntrepreneur Support Programs: Whether you are in ideation phase of a business endeavor or have ofcially launched your company, entrepreneur ecosystems exist in local communities providing structure, support, and expertise to start and grow your business. As a solopreneur with plans to grow and hire, or an entrepreneur needing a network, mentorship, or source funding, accelerators and incubators answer this call. Accelerator and Incubators Dened Accelerators are organizations created to help busi-nesses while in ideation to startup phase, and are pre-revenue, with a focus to accelerate the timeline to business launch. Work at the accelerator includes developing a successful business model plan for the company or working on product development. This may include validating the target customer market, and answering key questions about your business: What problem does your business solve? What is your value proposition? How will your product or ser-vice differ from what is currently in the marketplace?To join an accelerator program, a business owner applies, goes through a selection process and if selected, takes part in a three-to-nine-month pro-gram. Depending on the accelerator program, these can be industry or vertical specic and have a set curriculum to complete. Incubators help businesses in the startup stage that are already generating revenue. Like accelerators, incubators do have a selection process and owners take part in a cohort for a dedicated period. Incuba-tors supply an array of business support services which may include workspace, ofce and meeting space, mail-room and postbox services, front desk support, and kitchen space. These are fee based and normally discounted for cohort members. Incubator programs run six months to eighteen months and are also milestone-based, with set targets to hit while in the program. “Working within your cohort, keeps you account-able,” said Leslie Wegner, Army Veteran and Owner of North Texas Voice and Speech. Leslie took part in a Bunker Labs Cohort in Dallas. Bunker Labs is a Veteran and military spouse non-prot incubator located in 28 US cities that works to advance businesses and non-prot or-ganizations through a structured program with peer-to-peer support. Leslie’s perspective is unique, having gone through the process rst as a busi-ness owner, followed by joining the team as an Alumni Coach. Leslie currently serves as a Program Ambassador, guiding Veter-ans- in-Residence members while conducting outreach to community leaders and organizations.Leslie explains the process when the selected compa-ny joins the cohort. To kick off the program, the vet business owner decides on three stretch goals that can be accomplished in the six-month program and shares those with cohort members. Leslie notes, “then we start weekly meetings, and the meetings are very structured. Each person has two minutes to tell their business win of the week, or share something they are struggling with, a business or personal struggle.” Then the members get to work brainstorming how to address the problem with ideas and suggestions, or with connections who may help address the issue. “You let your cohort solve the problem as a group and take yourself out of the equation, because you have already tried to deal with it. If it is not working, let somebody else try and solve it.”Helping Business and the CommunityA primary reason entrepreneurs seek these orga-nizations is to lower startup costs and reduce risk as they focus on their business. When startups are cash-strapped, the use of a co-working space provides access to administrative and ofce support, mentor Written by: Christina MortelHow Accelerators and Incubators Support Business Owners and the Local Community22 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022“The biggest impact that Bunker Labs has had on me is the community of individuals that help motivate and evaluate my ideas and strategies. The peaceful atmosphere of WeWork helps me accomplish more by having an external office and in person evaluators as well.” Amir Makin, Founder, A.I.C. Publications – Bunker Labs Cohort May 2022Leslie Wegner
relationships, peer support and community. All these shared services save time and money. A business owner is not the only one who bene-ts. Local communities benet by having these businesses under one roof which in turn, can meet economic development goals. Cities and towns that invest in incubators send a message to the community on the importance of fostering an entrepreneurial friendly environment. Businesses working in the incubator can bring products to market faster, can diversify an economy, help create jobs, expand the tax base, and contribute to growth in the area. Economic Development Organizations and Academic Institutions sponsor most Incubators. (International Business Innovation Asso-ciation -InBIA)Universities and Community Colleges often have a Research facility on campus or have a tech park. These are master-planned properties designed for research and product commercialization. Colleges may also house a makerspace, which is a workspace with shared equipment. Here entrepreneurs and students use equipment to build prototypes or do small batch manufacturing. There are test benches and equipment available for use that allows changes and updates to be made through an iterative process in the product development phase. All these organizations make up an entrepreneurial ecosystem in a community. Accelerators and Incubators may be tech-based, but more programs are open to non – tech businesses so that the extended business community can participate and benet from this framework.Bringing it All TogetherNear the end of an accelerator or incubator program, there is a cap-stone project. This can be in the form of pitch competition to potential funders or angel investors. Other formats include a Bootcamp or Start Up Weekend where business owners can highlight their businesses to the community, interested funders or investors.For Leslie, this was a turning point for her business. As her cohort neared its end, Bunker Labs Dallas hosted a Showcase event in July 2021. Working on her business pitch with a coach, Leslie developed her deck and crystallized her message. This grew her condence to present her business to an audience of interested businesses and investors. Leslie was selected to participate in a pitch competition sponsored by Ford, where she won a grant, resulting in the purchase of medical equipment for her speech therapy practice. That catapulted her business as Leslie doubled her revenue that same year. And now in 2022, she has plans to hire employees. The pitch competition opened other doors along the way including participating in the George Bush Stand-To Leadership Academy. Leslie reiterated the importance of the peer community to the success of the cohort. “When you are in small business, it is lonely, especially Christina Mortel is a US Army Veteran and Business Consultant with Texas Veterans Commission Veteran Entrepreneur Program. She also hosts Texas Veterans Mean Business Podcast. Christina is a business owner and Managing Member of Get Write to Business LLC.Do you have a start up story? Connect with Christina www.linkedin.com/in/christina-mortel/Continued on page 60
The Post 9/11 GI Bill is an incredible Veteran Benet, but most users don’t understand how great it really is. It can literally pay for your whole four-year degree at Harvard. Really! It’s true! Let me break it down for you.The following information is based on a Veteran qualifying for the full 36 months of the Post 9/11 BI Bill at 100%. If you are unsure what you qualify for, you can contact the VA or reach out to a VA counselor on any US Military base for assistance. You can get the updated amounts for VA Benets at www.va.gov. The Amounts listed in this article are based on the benets from Jan. 1, 2022.GI Bill BasicsThere are three basic parts to the GI Bill: the Annual Book Stipend, the Housing Allowance, and the Tuition.The Annual Book StipendThe annual book stipend will pay up to $1,000 a year and is paid proportionately based on the number of credits taken by the student at $41 per credit hour. Chances are this probably won’t pay for all your books, but it will put a good dent in the cost, especially if you buy used. So, buy used!Housing AllowanceThe Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) is generally the same as the military Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for an E-5 with dependents. This rate is variable and dependent on factors such as the location of your school, your rate of pursuit, and whether you enrolled in the program prior to 1/8/18. The Housing Allowance paid to Veterans using the Post 9/11 GI Bill can be signicant. It is important to note that the amount is reduced if you are attending classes online or are not considered a full-time student. For Cambridge, MA, where Harvard is located, that amount is $3,075/ month. The average rental cost for a one-room apartment in that area in 2021 is about $2,600 (www.zompuer.com). This means that if you used your Post 9/11 GI Bill at Harvard and found an apartment for $2,600/month, you would pocket $475/ month for utilities and food. And if you found a roommate, that would be another $1300 in your pocket. That will offset your books and give you some extra cash for pizza study nights!Even if you wanted to stay on campus, boarding costs on the 2021 Harvard campus are $11,704 (on campus at Harvard in 2021 was about $11,704 for about nine months (https://college.harvard.edu/), so you’re still covered (9 x $3,075 = $27,675) and pocket some cash to spare (The Housing Allowance doesn’t pay for Christmas break or summer break unless you are attending classes at that time).TuitionHere is where you’re probably most curious. How will the Post 9/11 GI Bill pay all that tuition for you? Watch and learn.1. The Post 9/11 GI Bill currently pays up to a maximum of $25,162.14 / year for tuition at a private university. Harvard Business School’s annual tuition in 2021 was $54,002. So, we’re just under the halfway mark.2. Harvard participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program which means that the school offers a scholarship to Veterans using the Post 9/11 GI Bill and the VA matches it. In this case, if you want to go to Harvard Business School, Harvard offers a $20,000 scholarship and the VA matches it with another $20,000 which brings the total of benets for tuition to $65,162.14. Unfortunately, Veterans don’t keep the difference in the tuition, but your tuition is paid.You can use the GI Bill Comparison Tool on the va.gov webpage to see all of these amounts as well as the amounts for any other school.The total paid to you is the sum of the maximum allotted Book Stipend ($1,000, depending on your course load) and approximately nine months of Housing Allowance (They don’t include summer or Christmas break. However, if you are taking classes during that time you will receive benets if you apply.)In SummaryYou can use the Post 9/11 GI Bill to pay for an education at Harvard, and if you’re frugal, you might not even have to get a part-time job to supplement. Also, don’t forget to apply for other scholarships directed at military and Veteran personnel (https://www.scholarships.com/ is a good place to start). Also, ask about local scholarships at the school you want to attend and the nearby bases. That’s just extra money in your pocket, and there are a lot of opportunities out there for scholarship money if you do your research.The Post 9/11 GI Bill can assist in paying for just about any college, including foreign schools (Does anybody want to be a French Chef?), and in most cases, it can cover your entire tuition. Contact the VA or reach out to a VA benets counselor on any US Military base for assistance on using the GI Bill Comparison Tool in order to maximize the use of your benets.Check out my other articles on Medium about how to maximize your active duty and Veteran benets: https://email@example.com, where you will also nd this article with graphs and links.For more about me and my editing for military novels: https://www.randysurles.com/THE GI BILL CAN PAY FOR YOUR HARVARD UNIVERSITY DEGREEAND JUST ABOUT ANY OTHER SCHOOL TOO!by Randall Surlesby Randall SurlesRandall (Randy) SurlesRandall (Randy) Surles spent over 25 years serving in Army Special Operations as a Green Beret and a Ranger, deploying numerous times to the Middle East, Africa, and South America. He Retired as a Sergeant Major and then worked as a VA Benets Advisor helping Veterans and transitioning Service Members maximize their benets. Randy now works as a freelance writer and editor, helping authors write more compelling stories.24 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022
EVERY VETERAN HAS A STORY TO TELLWritten by: Written by: Eric McNail (USAF & USA)Eric McNail (USAF & USA)Les Stevenson (USN)Les Stevenson (USN)Christine Walker (USMC)Christine Walker (USMC)Summer 2022 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 25
Andrew Hasty grew up in Cedar Lake, Indiana, and was just a kid when the Twin Towers fell on 9-11, but it affected him greatly. While in High School, he attended a September 11th Memorial service, and looking back, Andrew sees that as one of his greatest motivators in joining the Military. Another motivator was, academically speaking, he was on the struggle bus. Andrew’s parents were vying for College, but when he asked, “What if I don’t go to college and they’re kind of like; ‘Well? You know your other option would probably be the military, but you’re not going to do the military.’”Enter motivator three…’The Push Back.’ The harder his parents pushed back against the idea of the Military; the more Andrew set his mind to do it. Although none of us can blame them, the US was at war in Iraq & Afghanistan by this time, and no parent wants to send their child onto the battleeld. Eventually, Andrew’s parents relented, and then came the decision to choose a branch. His uncle, who was Air Force Reserves, was vying for that option, but his mom and dad were pushing for Army. Andrew’s grandfather served in the Army for 30 years with a career that spanned WWII, Korea & Vietnam. That summer, he met an active-duty Marine who had just returned from Iraq. “He was the only one who didn’t push me towards a specic branch. When I asked him about the Marines, he told me ‘I’m not gonna tell you to join the Marines if you don’t wanna do it. It’s not for everybody.’ That made me want to join the Marine Corps even more,” Andrew said. Andrew enlisted at 17, with the consent of his family and after graduating early, went straight to boot camp. He was ready. Andrew had been mentored by a recruiter who was Infantry, “So he came in, showed me some pictures, he mentored me a little bit, and prepped me for boot camp. He was like, ‘look, boot camp is not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be very difficult. But as an infantryman, boot camp is gonna be one of the easier things that you do, it’s just gonna get harder for you after boot camp.’ And training-wise, his advice to me was to just stay under the radar, do what you’re supposed to do, do it fast, and do it loud, but he said, ‘don’t make waves. don’t stand out … just get through it.’ And so that’s what I did. Actually, by the end of the 13 weeks my drill instructors didn’t even know my name,” he laughed.Andrew went to Pendleton for Infantry training and received orders to a Unit stationed out of Hawaii, who was currently deployed to Iraq. “It was kind of under weird circumstances. We got word in August 2008 [as] we were just getting ready to graduate that this infantry unit in Hawaii that’s deployed to Iraq took a huge amount of losses. They had a suicide bomber come into their chow hall and blow himself up, killing a bunch of people. We went to Hawaii just before the unit came back. So, we were there the rst two or three weeks with just a bunch of new Marines and a couple of NCO’s that had stayed back. [When the Unit returned] there was a solemn mood. Everybody was super on edge,” he remembers. Andrew was deployed to Afghanistan twice. His rst tour was the bloodiest deployment that even the seasoned combat Marines had seen. “My company was in a giant abandoned city called Now Zad, Afghanistan. The city was a pretty large city and was completely abandoned, but there were still people living on the outskirts of it. They had all been kicked out by the Army two or three years before that. The whole city was just riddled with IEDs [because] there were tunnels, like irrigation tunnels where people could slip in and out of the city unseen. We were constantly battling IEDs. We took 9 casualties and a handful of guys lost limbs and one guy lost his vision. It was very stressful.”Andrew remembers the incident with his Team Leader that really affected him. His unit was putting together a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) for a night patrol. As they were getting ready to head out, his team leader told Andrew to stay behind. The two of them were the only drivers and they needed a driver at the Forward Operating Base (FOB). Andrew fought him on this decision, but in the end, the Team Leader went out on the QRF. In the middle of the night, Andrew was sound asleep when he was woken up… his team leader had been observing a house, and as they turned to leave, he stepped on a landmine that had two artillery shells underneath it. It took both of his legs, a few ngers, and a few teeth from the butt of his rie hitting his face. Andrew scrambled into his gear and jumped in the Nautilus and raced to the scene like a bat out of hell, which was a little tricky in the maze of streets and houses. Due to their location, air support had an extremely short window to evacuate, Andrew had mere minutes to get his team leader extracted and evacuated, but they made it happen. All told, from incident to evacuation, it took a total of 30 minutes, one of the fastest medivacs on record. “MOTIVATED”The Story of Andrew Hasty - USMC – Afghanistan“Motivated” continued on page 5926 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022
healthcare was free and “free healthcare is nice.” Hazlett said he would do it all over again if given the chance and that the good always outweighed the bad.Sgt. Hazlett offered this advice to someone who was thinking about joining the Army. “Try to prepare yourself for anything that can happen. You will have your good times, and bad. It is what you make of those times that will dene your time in the military,” Sgt. Hazlett said speaking from a wealth of experience. Being an Army veteran is something no one can ever take away from you. Its an honor and a privilege to have been part of an elite group. While all veterans struggle at times, they seem to light up a little when meeting another veteran and start sharing their stories. The stories and experiences veterans share with each other cannot be easily shared with anyone else but another veteran, it is part of what makes being a veteran great. Veterans understand veterans.Sgt. Hazlett now lives in Ohio with his wife and two daughters. “AN HONOR & PRIVILEGE”The Story of Sgt. Patrick Hazlett - USA – Iraq & AfghanistanSgt. Patrick Hazlett initially joined the Army to get college money so he wouldn’t incur debt. He took Culinary Arts in High School and had fun doing that and liked working with food. That’s why he chose Food Service Specialist MOS 92G or commonly referred to as a Cook. He served in both Fort Campbell, Kentucky with the 101st Airborne Division and Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as a cook.He was deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan with ve deployments starting in 2002 through 2012. Hazlett said, “The hardest part of being in the Army is the easiest to answer. It is all the time spent away from my family. I missed 39 months of my eldest daughter’s life in her rst 6 years.” Likewise, he recalled one of the most haunting memories while deployed, “I was in the same room when one of my battle buddies accidentally discharged his weapon resulting in his death.”However, not all times were bad. There were the good times, the fun times, as he smiled and lamented how there are so many it is difficult to narrow them down, but he recalls one of the best, “It was when I went to my rst and only military ball with my wife. There was lots of camaraderie there and the fact that there were families in attendance made it even more exciting.” One of the most comical moments Hazlett recalled was when he hugged a pizza delivery man to blow off some steam however this pizza delivery man turned out to be one of his NCO’s, and he was still a junior enlisted soldier. He also mentioned meeting great, life-long friends as a major benet of joining the service. Now that he is out of the of the Army there are a few things he does miss. Among them are the sense of belonging and serving with a purpose. That is something he hasn’t been able to nd in civilian life when it comes to work. Also, the Summer 2022 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 27
Airman First Class (E3) Matthew McNail enlisted in the United States Air Force in March of 2021. However, even in his short enlistment, he has gained a wealth of experience to share. This is indicative of all branches of the military because when he joined, he left a smooth sailing civilian life to the rapid-re military life in an instant. Matthew’s Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) is an SF 3P051 Security Forces and he is assigned to the 66th Security Forces Squadron at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts. “I joined to get health benets for my family and a GI bill for Cooper, my new son,” McNail commented. There are many reasons one chooses to join the military. Family tradition, patriotism, and a sense of duty to serve, just to name a few. There are not many who will admit to the more temporal and immediate reasons and these reasons are no less laudable for one to join the United States Military.He chose the Security Forces as a military career objective because he already had an associates degree in Criminal Justice and wanted to acquire training and experience in Law Enforcement. He also wanted to get the weapons and tactics knowledge that the Security Forces provided. If he chose not to make the military a career then the training directly leads to a civilian job in law enforcement. McNail gave this advice to anyone thinking of joining the military, “Do as much as you can while your active duty. The opportunities are nearly endless, and a lot of people choose to spend their free time in the dorms sleeping, partying, or gaming, and sadly they miss out on a lot. For example, in my short time in the Air Force, I have already had the opportunity to do a ag ceremony at all the major New England games.” The benets can be getting a front row and court-side tickets to the Celtics, Boston Red Sox, Patriots, Boston Bruins games, and more. That is just a small example of the opportunities you are given. “So seriously, take advantage of them and do as much as you can!” he said.He very highly of his military leadership at Hanscom as well. One of the best experiences of being in the service is the family-like atmosphere. I was supposed to deploy a week after I arrived at Hanscom. Thankfully my leadership got me out of the deployment so I could be home for the birth of my rst child. I didn’t even ask for it, they just fought for me right off the bat even though I was brand new!However, there were a few sad times as well. McNail has some regrets as he recalled, “My worst experience so far, was halfway through my training not seeing my wife and fully realizing I missed her whole pregnancy. All the ultrasounds and trimester ups and downs, I missed all of it…I couldn’t be there for her. That was hard.” This is one example of sacrice, among many, that military personnel have to make throughout their careers.When asked if he would do it again, he quickly responded, “For sure, I would absolutely do it again. Personally, I’ve had many more benets and pros than the cons. The overall experience is irreplaceable.” The 23-year-old McNail said the biggest perk of being in the Air Force Security Forces was the training and use of rearms. He commented, “Getting paid to shoot guns is by far the biggest perk for me. But honestly, there are so many it is hard to pick just one.”However, even though McNail has only been in for a short time, he has already learned a tough lesson. “The hardest part is always the same, it’s the goodbyes. You build amazing relationships and friendships, and everyone moves around so fast with deployments, Permanent Change of Station, Temporary Duty Station or just getting out of the military in general. The goodbyes are the hardest.”“A bRIGHT fuTuRE”The Story of A1C Matthew McNail - USAF – Active Duty28 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022
Operation Buffalo, July 3, 1967, DMZ South VietnamAs the Vietnam War escalated in 1965, so did the demand for Marines and Corpsmen. It was something every young man faced when he turned 18, registering for the Selective Service and eventually waiting for your draft notice. Phillip Olmstead was faced with the choice as all rest, wait to be drafted, enlist in a military branch of service, or try to obtain a draft deferment of some manner like full-time college enrollment. He chose to enlist in the Navy. In April of 1966, he ended up in Great Lakes, Illinois for Navy boot camp. After graduating from boot camp, he and 18 others in his boot camp platoon were selected to be trained as Navy Corpsmen. He had never imagined going into the medical branch of the military but the Navy decided that for him. The demand for Marines was great but the need for Corpsmen was also extremely high. Someone had to keep these guys patched up so they could continue to ght! So that’s what Olmstead ended up doing during his tour of Vietnam.After nishing C School for Corpsman training at Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Virginia, he transferred to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina for Field Service School. Once graduated from Lejeune, he was given a Hospital Corpsman MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) of 8404. In May of 1967, he was sent to Vietnam where he was assigned to 3rd Battalion 9th Marines (3/9), India Company as their Corpsman.Olmstead stayed with 3/9 for seven months. During that time, he participated in many operations, ambushes, and night patrols. But one particular operation called Operation Buffalo stands out in particular. The operation spanned a period of 14 days from July 1 to July 14, 1967. The event Olmstead recalls happened when his India Company was assigned to provide security for 1st Battalion 9th Marines (1/9) companies Alpha and Charlie who were searching the area that was a battleeld near the Trace1 the day before. Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie companies were involved in heavy ghting with the NVA the day before with Bravo taking some of the heaviest casualties; they 1 The Trace, also referred to as the McNamara Line, was a 200-meter-wide strip of barren land cleared by the US military running between Con Thien and Gio Linh, South Vietnam. It was designed to slow infiltration of the NVA into the South. It did not help.were practically decimated. Alpha and Charlie were sent to recover Marine bodies from the battleeld and there were many.As the day progressed, India company started taking lots of sniper re and they were out in the middle of a rice paddy. Artillery was called in on the suspected NVA positions and Olmstead was making his way to a foxhole where a Marine buddy was taking cover. Before he reached it, he saw a large brilliant ash out to his side. The kind of bright light reported by many when they have a near-death experience. Olmstead went down and didn’t move. After a few minutes, he regained consciousness, got up, and scrambled to the foxhole. He jumped into the hole where his buddy was and surprised him. His buddy said, “Hey Doc if I had known you were alive, I would have gone out and dragged you back to the foxhole.” Olmstead examined himself top-to-bottom and miraculously, he was not wounded. The only shrapnel he discovered was a gaping hole in his canteen! The bright light he saw was an exploding shell just a short distance from him, but well within the shell’s “killing zone.” He recalled he never heard a sound. The blast knocked him unconscious almost immediately.What had taken place was a 105 MM Howitzer artillery round, red from the Marine base at Con Thien, which fell short of its destination. Rare, but those so-called “short rounds” were every Marine and Corpsman’s nightmare—being killed by friendly re. The explosion sent shrapnel in all directions but somehow it all missed Olmstead.He commented that he still doesn’t understand how he survived with only a hole in his canteen. “I was being watched over that day and I guess He had different plans for me,” Olmstead said. Yes indeed, different plans because Olmstead went on to complete an eighteen-month tour in Vietnam and was discharged from the Navy in October of 1969 as an E5 Petty Ofcer Second Class. He married his sweetheart in between Vietnam tours, went on to have 3 children, 14 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren, and worked for the same jewelry company for 43 years. “INCOMING!”The Story of Phillip Olmstead - USN HM – VietnamSummer 2022 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 29
30 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022PTSD AWARENESS PTSD AWARENESS MonthWE'VE GOT YOUR SIX! VETERANS CREEDI AM A VETERAN, I HAVE SEEN AND DONE THINGS MANY MAY NOT UNDERSTANDI AM A WARRIORI WILL NEVER ACCEPT DEFEATI WILL NEVER QUIT AND I WILL NEVER LEAVE A FALLEN BROTHER OR SISTERIF THEY ARE HURT, I WILL CARRY THEMIF I CANT CARRY THEM, I WILL DRAG THEM.I WILL HELP THEM FACE THEIR ENEMIES.TO INCLUDE THE DEMONS FROM WITHIN.THEY ARE MY BROTHER & MY SISTERS.I AM A VETERAN! VETERANS CREEDI AM A VETERAN, I HAVE SEEN AND DONE THINGS MANY MAY NOT UNDERSTANDI AM A WARRIORI WILL NEVER ACCEPT DEFEATI WILL NEVER QUIT AND I WILL NEVER LEAVE A FALLEN BROTHER OR SISTERIF THEY ARE HURT, I WILL CARRY THEMIF I CANT CARRY THEM, I WILL DRAG THEM.I WILL HELP THEM FACE THEIR ENEMIES.TO INCLUDE THE DEMONS FROM WITHIN.THEY ARE MY BROTHER & MY SISTERS.I AM A VETERAN!
Summer 2022 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 31June is PTSD Awareness Month, and as we highlight the stories and articles in this feature and throughout this issue, we want to reiterate that as Veterans, PTSD can and does effect each one of us differently... there is no 1-stop shop or single 'fix' for the battles that rage in our minds. We don't have to face this battle on our own. We don't have to isolate ourselves or think that we are 'too' broken. Most importantly, YOU ARE NOT ALONE... We did not walk onto the battlefilds of Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan alone... and we damn sure don't have to fight the war of PTS or PTSD as a lone warrior either. If you need help or are just feeling overwhelmed with where to start, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will personally connect you with a Veteran or Veteran Organization who will help you navigate through those murky waters. TOTAL WAR ON PTSDBy Courtenay NoldI arrived at Kandahar Aireld outside Kabul and survived the rst of many missile (rocket) and ground attacks. But my innocent newbie face changed. It eroded with each race for shel-ter as Taliban ordnance pounded our ‘secure’ base. Each round of incoming added to what was becoming the foundation of the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that stalks me to this very day. A dark creature was clinging to my back and raising the hair like hack-les on the back of a dog. But that damned creature is no longer there. It is gone because I am winning my personal ght in the Total War on PTSD. I am winning the war through mindfulness of body and soul. I am walking this path and rediscovering my passion, my emotions, and my joy in life through writing, creative and artistic expression. Last but not least, I live my life to help others...without fail...my mission in life is to help others to ght their war and nd their own path to recovery.For me this is highly personal. PTSD invades your life with claws and teeth. It can hit you in a war zone like Afghanistan where it grabbed me, or it can pounce on you in the civilian world anywhere that repeated, life-threat-ening trauma tears into your body, mind and spirit. PTSD is a potentially lethal enemy. We must fully understand it and then defeat it. We can do it. Especially if we take it on together. By this I mean all of us with all of America’s diverse resources. That kind of commitment is necessary if we’re going to defeat this invader. TOTAL WAR ON PTSD is a book that was born out of my personal frustrations about the lack of a single re-source for mil-itary, Veterans and civilians confronted by issues centered on PTSD in all of its forms. Please don’t get me wrong...there’s plenty of information out there, but it’s very widely scattered and tends to be stove-piped like so much unco-ordinated intelligence.If you have PTSD, or if someone you care about has PTSD, you need access to all kinds of intel about every kind of therapy out there in order to facilitate recovery. You can’t leave it up to just therapy or medications...that just isn’t always the answer...that’s not always for everyone and it also doesn’t provide you with what you need to nd your own path towards healing in your own way. No one heals from PTSD the same way, and in the same timeframe. That’s why I set out to create this book, for myself, and for so many others, who need the very same thing.I was very motivated given my own personal circumstances. Total War on PTSD contains a wealth of in-formation on options for standard as well as alternative therapies and options ranging from Yoga, to Psychiatry, to Floatation Therapy, Ketamine Therapy, and so much more.Every single contributor to this book was a volunteer, and provided their chapters, and contributions with no expectations other than to help those dealing with PTSD towards recovery in any way possible. My deep-est possible thanks go out to each and every one of them for such an extraordinary and wonderful gesture on behalf of all PTSD sufferers.You can access the Total War on PTSD eBook by scanning here: Outside the U.S., please e-mail email@example.com for a PDF copy.
32 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022My Name is Travis Coyle and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) almost cost me my life. However, what was a roadblock became a platform for what was next. I served in the Army reserves for six years and had one deployment to Afghanistan. I was a young Sergeant and excited to be a part of something bigger than myself. My tour of Afghanistan wasn’t overly difcult or so I thought. The constant stress showed to be more difcult than I had realized.I enlisted in the Army as a Carpentry and Masonry Specialist 21W. The Army had other plans for what I would be doing overseas. In brief, I worked with a civilian security team where I was the automatic gunner. The rst time outside the wire I was given a crash course on operating an M240B machine gun. Outside of basic training, I had never red this weapon system. This set the tone for how deployment would go for me. I was in many situations in which I only had a basic training level of experience. It wasn’t until coming home that I realized how stressed out I had been. In theater, I just did what I had to do and rode the adrenaline rush. ________Once home, within a few weeks’ things started surfacing that looking back, were indicators of a mental wound that had been created. I found myself not wanting to leave the house, being overly aggressive while driving, and having a hair-trigger for what I called ‘stupid people’. I had found drinking to be the only way I could take the edge off. Before long, I was in the grips of a severe drinking problem compounded by what I later learned was PTSD. The situation worsened and I began experiencing severe anxiety, panic attacks, and deep depression. As my symptoms and drinking progressed, I began having suicidal thoughts and behavior. ________December 31, 2012, it came to a head. I had spent many nights with a rope around my neck or feeling the cold steel of a gun pressed to my head. This night was different, this night I knew it was my last night of life; I was going to go through with it. I sat drinking my bottle of rum in complete calmness. A pistol was on the table knowing it was coming to an end. Then something clicked and I went into a total rage. Breaking everything in my path. I walked past a mirror and saw my face and rage went through me. I picked up the closest thing I could nd and smashed the mirror. I nished the last of the bottle, put the gun to my head, and pulled the trigger!After two weeks in ICU and then more time on the Psychiatric oor, I had no memory of that night. It wasn’t until returning to the scene and seeing a hole in the nightstand that those things started coming back. As I leaned in to inspect the hole and opened the drawer to nd a Bible. Picking the Bible up, I found the bullet that passed through my head just weeks before. In that split second, I relived the whole night. ________You may think that such a profound event such as this would produce immediate change, but for me, it did not. It wasn’t until several months later that I would begin to learn how to live life again. I once again found myself riding the adrenaline of what I had just lived through. As my life began to unravel again, I went to the VA and demanded someone help me. I had been to the VA a few times prior only to be turned away. This time, with a certain promise to the lady if she didn’t help me, I would rearrange the clinic. Finally, I was able to get a foot in the door. I was able to get in with a psychiatrist and was quickly educated about what PTSD was. The same day I visited the clinic I made a promise to myself and to God, I would do anything I could to stop drinking. This was the single most important step to me beginning to nd an enjoyable life again. ________I began doing the things the Doctors were telling me to do; mainly attending peer groups and using the techniques I had learned. My anxiety and Panic attacks became less frequent and manageable. I do use some medications but no longer take the heavy meds I once did. Over the last several years I have found a platform from which I can speak to those who may be struggling. If you get nothing else from my story know that PTSD is not an automatic sentence to a dark depressed life. Believe me, it can be, but you can nd ways in which to mitigate the effects. In 2019 I founded a non-profit called Living Waters Freedom Initiative. LWFI is a grassroots movement in which Veterans acting together take back the initiative in their lives. For those reading this who may be searching for answers, reach out. There is light at the end of the darkness. Don’t Give Up! 'I PULLED THE TRIGGER...''I PULLED THE TRIGGER...'by Travis CoyleTravis & his service dog ChopperScan to find out more about Living Waters Freedom Initiative
Summer 2022 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 33The General of the invasion force held a seminar with Marines The General of the invasion force held a seminar with Marines across the Corps who had experienced war for the first time. The across the Corps who had experienced war for the first time. The main idea was to see what requests the young Non-Commissioned main idea was to see what requests the young Non-Commissioned Officers needed for round two. Officers needed for round two. During a question-and-answer period, One of the Sergeants asked During a question-and-answer period, One of the Sergeants asked if it was possible to bring WW II veterans to talk to them, because if it was possible to bring WW II veterans to talk to them, because they don’t seem to have any PTSD issues. they don’t seem to have any PTSD issues. I quickly asked the General if I could provide a little knowledge I quickly asked the General if I could provide a little knowledge to the question. to the question. I told the Marines present that about a month before I had been I told the Marines present that about a month before I had been the guest speaker to a group called The Defenders of Corregidor the guest speaker to a group called The Defenders of Corregidor Bataan Death March Survivors. They were 2nd Bn 4th Marines Bataan Death March Survivors. They were 2nd Bn 4th Marines and other Army units that were ordered to surrender by Army and other Army units that were ordered to surrender by Army General Wainwright who was given the order by General Douglas General Wainwright who was given the order by General Douglas McArthur, nicknamed ‘Dugout Doug’ by the men left behind, as McArthur, nicknamed ‘Dugout Doug’ by the men left behind, as he boarded a submarine to a safe place. he boarded a submarine to a safe place. "The Battle of Bataan began on January 6, 1942, and "The Battle of Bataan began on January 6, 1942, and almost immediately the defenders were on half rations. almost immediately the defenders were on half rations. Sick with malaria, dengue fever, and other diseases, living Sick with malaria, dengue fever, and other diseases, living on monkey meat and a few grains of rice, and without air on monkey meat and a few grains of rice, and without air cover or naval support, the Allied force of Filipinos and cover or naval support, the Allied force of Filipinos and Americans held out for 99 days. Though they ultimately Americans held out for 99 days. Though they ultimately surrendered, it was against this backdrop that the Bataan surrendered, it was against this backdrop that the Bataan Death March—a name conferred upon it by the men who Death March—a name conferred upon it by the men who had endured it—began. The forced march took place over had endured it—began. The forced march took place over some two weeks after Gen. Edward (“Ned”) King, U.S. some two weeks after Gen. Edward (“Ned”) King, U.S. commander of all ground troops on Bataan, surrendered commander of all ground troops on Bataan, surrendered his thousands of sick, enervated, and starving troops his thousands of sick, enervated, and starving troops on April 9, 1942. The force on Bataan, numbering some on April 9, 1942. The force on Bataan, numbering some 76,000 Filipino and American troops, is the largest army 76,000 Filipino and American troops, is the largest army under American command ever to surrender. Most of under American command ever to surrender. Most of the prisoners began the long walk at the tip of Bataan, the prisoners began the long walk at the tip of Bataan, and had to march the full 66 miles to the rail head; and had to march the full 66 miles to the rail head; others joined along the way. The Japanese brutalized others joined along the way. The Japanese brutalized their captives during the march north to the trains their captives during the march north to the trains that would take them to a prison camp. They beat that would take them to a prison camp. They beat them incessantly, sometimes to move them along, them incessantly, sometimes to move them along, sometimes just for sport. Many of the prisoners were sometimes just for sport. Many of the prisoners were battle worn and incapable of keeping up the grueling battle worn and incapable of keeping up the grueling pace of the march, especially in the tropical heat and pace of the march, especially in the tropical heat and with little water. Those who dropped from exhaustion with little water. Those who dropped from exhaustion or sickness, fell behind, broke ranks to fetch water, or or sickness, fell behind, broke ranks to fetch water, or tried to escape were bayoneted, shot, or beheaded."tried to escape were bayoneted, shot, or beheaded."11 "Survivors typically recount their time aboard POW "Survivors typically recount their time aboard POW transport ships, the “Hell Ships”, as being the most transport ships, the “Hell Ships”, as being the most terrible experiences of their captivity. Conditions terrible experiences of their captivity. Conditions aboard the transports were appalling. Hundred or aboard the transports were appalling. Hundred or event thousands of men, wearing little more than event thousands of men, wearing little more than rags, were packed, “like sardines in a can” into unlit, rags, were packed, “like sardines in a can” into unlit, unventilated, cargo holds. In the tropical heat the unventilated, cargo holds. In the tropical heat the holds were sweltering. In winter, traveling the icy seas holds were sweltering. In winter, traveling the icy seas to Japan, they were freezing. Food, and especially to Japan, they were freezing. Food, and especially water, were in short supply for the POWs; but the water, were in short supply for the POWs; but the crews and guards were not restricted in their use. If crews and guards were not restricted in their use. If the men were lucky, water was rationed in canteen the men were lucky, water was rationed in canteen cups; if not, water was dispensed by the spoonful, or cups; if not, water was dispensed by the spoonful, or the POWs went with none at all. Food, when delivered, the POWs went with none at all. Food, when delivered, often consisted solely of small amounts rice, or on trips often consisted solely of small amounts rice, or on trips to Japan, millet, a hard grain particularly ill-suited for to Japan, millet, a hard grain particularly ill-suited for men suffering from diarrheal diseases. Sanitation was men suffering from diarrheal diseases. Sanitation was almost non-existent. Relatively healthy men could almost non-existent. Relatively healthy men could wait in long lines to climb the ladder to the deck to wait in long lines to climb the ladder to the deck to use primitive wooden “benjos” hung over the sides of use primitive wooden “benjos” hung over the sides of the ship, but those sick with dysentery were unable the ship, but those sick with dysentery were unable to climb or wait. to climb or wait. All told some 3,600 American POWs lost their lives All told some 3,600 American POWs lost their lives aboard Hell ships and some 700 others were so aboard Hell ships and some 700 others were so debilitated by the experience they quickly succumbed debilitated by the experience they quickly succumbed upon arrival at their destinations."upon arrival at their destinations."2 2 I was honored to speak to this great bunch of Warriors. I was honored to speak to this great bunch of Warriors. What could I possibly say to these true heroes? I What could I possibly say to these true heroes? I presented a slideshow of the invasion of Iraq. They presented a slideshow of the invasion of Iraq. They loved it. They had never seen such detailed plans. loved it. They had never seen such detailed plans. Meanwhile, my wife had been talking to their wives Meanwhile, my wife had been talking to their wives and later told me that their husbands were still and later told me that their husbands were still fighting the war and the PTSD that followed. fighting the war and the PTSD that followed. They fought the good fight until the day they died. They fought the good fight until the day they died. 1 https://www.britannica.com/event/Bataan-Death-March/The-march-and-imprisonment-at-Camp-ODonnell2 https://www.adbcmemorialsociety.org/HistoryLessons Learned from the WWII Bataan Death March POW SurvivorsBy Ret. Sgt. Maj. Greg LealBataan Death March - POWs who fell out due to starvation, exahaustion, or sickness were immediately killed. Drawing by Bataan Death March & POW Survivor Ben Steele (1917-2016 | Army Air Corps).
We’ve all heard the statistic, haven’t we? Twenty-two veterans a day take their lives! In fact, the nation has heard it from more than just for-prot and non-prot veteran organizations, but from politicians, going all the way to the top, as well, “Twenty-Two a Day!” they yell, and they post, and they plaster all over T-Shirts, stickers, bracelets, and swag of all sorts. All to raise awareness of this veritable pandemic of veteran suicide.However, that statistic, the twenty-two per day, is not exactly accurate. According to the Veterans Affairs article that the statistic was approximated from, it cautions using the study alone to infer nationwide data. The VA has released a new study as of 2021, the National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, and in it the highest average veteran suicide rate per day is approximately eighteen, not twenty-two. The question becomes in the nal analysis, is that just splitting hairs? It is only a difference of four suicides per day after all. This author believes that it is not just a matter of semantics or hair-splitting. Every life is precious and sacred, and every single life has immeasurable value so, yes, four lives PER DAY, which extrapolates out to 1,460 per year, is no small number at all. However, the issue is deeper, far deeper than a mathematical aberration in a statistic.The deeper issue naturally is suicide. Statistics show that veterans commit suicide at a higher rate than their civilian counterparts. Again, according to the VA’s latest National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, there was a recent period where the rate of veteran suicide was greater than a staggering 50% of their civilian counterparts. It’s not about the number of veterans per day, it’s about the number of veterans in total.What are the reasons behind the overwhelming number of annual veteran suicides, especially when compared to the civilian population? That is the so-called million-dollar question. Many studies show that, contrary to popular assumption, it is not only combat arms of Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) that have the heightened rate of suicide. These studies show that the rate of suicide either seems to average out over all MOS’s, combat arms, or support. Which does make more sense considering the nature of our recent conicts where asymmetrical warfare was the name of the game and the ght was brought to everyone and not typically to our combat line members.Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a huge contributing factor to the national suicide rate and PTSD can afict anyone for a variety of reasons. Likewise, contrary to popular belief, PTSD can be caused not only by a singular traumatic event but by a series of high-tension, high-stress situations over time. Therefore, even our traditionally rear-echelon members can be hit hard with PTSD by being targeted by regular mortar attacks, sniper re, IED exposure, and so on. Such is the reality of asymmetrical warfare.How can we help? How can we possibly help when so many of our brothers and sisters take their lives with virtually no prior hint or indication they planned to do so? This author suggests one of the best things we can do to help our comrades is to listen to them. Be present for them. Hear their stories and let them vent, let them know they are not alone, even if, and especially if, they act like nothing is wrong in their lives. Sometimes it’s the strongest among us that are the most vulnerable. Even the mighty oak can suddenly snap and fall. Therefore, it is imperative that we be there to catch them when they do. Let them know help is out there. Watch and watch closely for signs of depression that they may be trying to hide behind a façade, even a façade of generosity and charity.More Than Just a Number...by Eric McNail34 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022Editors Note* It is important to note that the VA's National Veteran Suicide Data 2021 Annual Report is based on 2019 data & statistics. Scan here to view.
Veterans CRISIS LINE800.273.8255Veterans CRISIS LINE800.273.8255SCAN FOR HELP! “In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” José Narosky
Written by: A. Mark PackA MARINE REFLECTS“Ballroom dancing is basically close order drill, except you are spinning a woman instead of a rie.”_____I don’t like social situations, even the ones you see me laughing it up and whatever. Orlando, FL was just recovering from the nightclub shooting. I had not quite locked down my medication situation with the VA. I was really missing the Marines while simultaneously NOT missing the Marine Corps. I was basically a hermit. If it didn’t involve school or work, I had no life that wasn’t found in the bottom of a beer stein. I would “hideout” at this German restaurant, devouring comfort food. I had all the exits and entrances staked out in this place. What a way to live! I Figured I’d scope out this dance studio; keep a low prole, grab some prices, and get myself back to the bar. But this is what I walked into: “You no sit, come, come here now. You dance with me!” Have you ever dealt with Eastern European women? First generation immigrants? I say this with the utmost reverence: they do NOT take no for an answer. They are commanding. They are poised, balanced, graceful, and strong! And they are so gorgeous! My primary dance instructor was this tiny woman from Ukraine. She had a list of dance championships that she
Summer 2022 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 37had won that is longer than she is tall. She might have been tiny, but her personality did NOT get the memo. She was in my face with the intensity of a drill instructor. When you get down to it, ballroom dancing is basically a close order drill, except you are spinning a woman instead of a rie. Step off on the left foot unless the dance calls for something different. Pivot here. Turn there. Head up! Back straight! Eyes scanning the dance oor, because while my dance partner is dancing; I’m guiding her around a crowded dance oor and all decisions must be in time with the beat. This should have been just the thing to get me out of my shell, but I was still ghting. That all changed one day when I was introduced to a retired Marine, Brigadier General Gary Brown, who also danced at the studio. Gary, a Florida native, retired to his hometown to enjoy the fruits of his hard work, which he invests back into the community by way of being a frequent regular at local restaurants and taking dance lessons, competing in dance competitions, and offering sage wisdom to freshly retired Marines. That was the factor that really sold me—a brother Marine was there and my social anxiety decreased by at least half! Of course, had I known his record when introduced, I would have dropped all social anxiety immediately, but that didn’t matter. A brother Marine was there and my body nally relaxed and started moving smoother with the music. I no longer felt the need to keep my situational awareness at full readiness, which can be pretty taxing over time. I could nally focus more on my dancing. One night after class, we all went out to a local bar. Gary and I had a chance to sit down and talk about our experiences in the Corps. I told him where all I had been stationed and deployed. Gary turned out to be a retired Brigadier General, with two tours in Vietnam and another tour in the Middle East during Desert Storm; awarded two Silver Stars, a Purple Heart, and a Navy Commendation Medal with Valor Device. He has other medals of course, but I’m sure his dance trophies make for much better reading, especially if pictures of him and his dance partners are included!The Brigadier General added a new dimension of moral courage to my vision. He plucked me out of my own self-dug “mental foxhole” and got me back into the fight. He actually had to do this a couple of times for me—the most recent being thoughts of the withdrawal from Afghanistan. It’s a bitterness that few can stomach, yet Vietnam Veterans were force fed it for decades: soldiers being spit on returning home, abandoning the Republic of Vietnam to the enemy, POWs/MIAs still unaccounted for, the aftermath of Agent Orange, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Veteran suicide. My generation owes so much to Vietnam Veterans like Gary. We learned their lessons learned in Vietnam, saving thousands of lives. They faithfully trained the next generations. When troops came home from deployments in the War on Terror, Vietnam Veterans were there for two reasons: (1) To make sure what happened to them didn’t happen to us and (2) to say the two words that too many of them never got to hear.Welcome Home!Why ballroom dancing? It’s very social and I have a heightened state of social anxiety. It takes skill, grace, and nesse, and I’m pretty sure I showed up to the studio wearing combat boots.Retired Marine, A. Mark Pack served in Fallujah in Operations Phantom Fury in late 2004 and Citadel in 2005. He went on to serve three tours in Afghanistan in 2008, 2009, and 2011. Pack took advantage of early retirement with TERA in 2015 and shortly thereafter started law school in 2016.
Women’s Veterans Day was first recognized and passed into law by the New Women’s Veterans Day was first recognized and passed into law by the New York State Assembly in 2008 as ‘Women Veterans Recognition Day,’ a tribute York State Assembly in 2008 as ‘Women Veterans Recognition Day,’ a tribute to women who have served in our Armed Forces and recognize the unique to women who have served in our Armed Forces and recognize the unique trials that we face in and out of uniform. It has gained some momentum over trials that we face in and out of uniform. It has gained some momentum over the past 14 years and is now recognized by eleven other States. the past 14 years and is now recognized by eleven other States. Women's Veterans DayWomen's Veterans DayWritten by: Christine WalkerWritten by: Christine WalkerCONFLICTED!CONFLICTED!When I first became aware of Women’s Veterans Day a few short years ago, I’ll be honest, I was conflicted. On one hand, I would never want to demoralize the importance of my brothers service nor undermine the incredible sacrifices they have made throughout the history of our Country. After all, we are ALL Veterans! On the other hand, I genuinely appreciated the acknowledgment of my service and the distinct abilities and perspective that we as women bring to the six branches of the Military, in addition to the incredible challenges we have faced as female Veterans. For decades we have been invisible, having to defend our status as Veterans not only among the civilian populace, but within the Veteran community as well. We have suffered in silence with the long-lasting effects of PTSD and MST from our Military service coupled with the mindset that was instilled in us from boot camp, that under no circumstances can we allow ourselves to be the weakest link! Thanks in part to our younger female Veterans, that 38 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine |Summer 2022
mentality is beginning to shift and even those of us who are ‘old school’ have taken on the demons that once held us hostage. GETTING BACK TO OUR ROOTS! GETTING BACK TO OUR ROOTS! Growing up, I had the privilege of watching two incredibly classy, but fierce women in my family break the glass ceilings in the 40s & 50s. One was my great-aunt on my mother’s side who became the first female school principle in Springfield, MO. And the other was my great-aunt on my fathers side, Captain Jonita Bonham Bovée who, despite incredible odds and circumstances, became the only living female during the Korean war to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross for saving the lives of 27 men after their plane went down in the Sea of Japan. Their tenacity to stick their foot in the door of opportunity, is rivaled only by their patience and persistence to prove themselves, ultimately leading to an invitation into the male dominated arena and thus opening the door for generations of women, myself included, to follow suit. June 12th commemorates the signing of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948. Approved by both the House and the Senate, and Signed by President Truman, this act gave women the right to serve in the United States Military full-time active duty and reserves. Prior to this bill, women were only able to serve as a Reservist in the Military during a time of war, and this was proliferated during WWII, where it is estimated that over 150,000 women served in either the Navy’s WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), or the Women’s Army Air Corps, commonly referred to as WAAC. Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948: To establish the Women’s Army Corps in the Regular Army, to authorize the Public Law 625] enlistment and appointment of women in the Regular Air Force, Regular Navy and Marine Corps and in the Reserve components of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, and for other purposes. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That this Act may be cited as the “Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948.”CELEBRATE! CELEBRATE! So, On June 12th I will be celebrating the generations of women that have come before me and followed after me. I will celebrate their incredible service to our Country. We are unique, a Tribe unto our own… a sisterhood that was forged in the fire… We are Female Veterans! ...Summer 2022 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 39
I Remember When...I Remember When...Have you ever seen someone who just absolutely took your breath away or buckled your knees? How about your heart bursting through your chest? Did all three and all at once happen? No? Well, they did for me. It was on Nathan Road in Kowloon, China. In the crowded morning pedestrian traffic, I saw her. She was about thirty yards from me, heading my way. Instantly, I needed to meet her. I was so taken aback by her smile, her walk, her loveliness, her richness, her “beautifulness”. Is there such a word?She was easy on the eyes, denitely a delight to look upon. I was 24, single, relatively good looking. I carried myself well but in no way could I possibly be even considered to be in her league. However, there I was standing directly in front of her as she strolled toward me. I was not going to leave my spot. I would speak to her. What would I say? How do I speak? That’s it. Does she speak English? Best “line” ever. She stopped directly in front of me. I was aware of people all around us but did not see them. I was aware of sound but heard nothing. (Hey, that’s how it seems to be for me now with my VA issued 3rd set of hearing aids.) She paused. She stopped. She smiled. I stood still. My heart stopped, crumbled and fell at her feet. She was thinking. I was not.“May I help you?” she sighed. “Yes, do you speak English? “Yes, you just heard me.” Oh, oh, great, I just stepped on my tongue and she would leave me forever. I mumbled something like, “I need to exchange American dollars for Hong Kong dollars. Would you know of an exchange booth nearby?” In those days, one American dollar could be exchanged for 40 Hong Kong dollars. Not bad if you’re an American in Hong Kong. Sometimes things were so cheap you’ could go broke. She kind of squinted at me, smiled, turned to her right and there directly in front of us, stood an exchange window. I asked that question solely to get the opportunity to speak to her. I may have passed three or four exchange stores as I walked from A 'Magical' Encounter in Kowloonby Paul Sullivan, Ret. Captain, USMC40 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022
our hotel. Never did I see a one of them. Why was I walking by myself that morning? To this day, I don’t know.As I am vaguely remembering now, she introduced me to the money exchanger. I took out and exchanged a few 10’s or 20’s, (big spender), and we continued to walk through the teaming streets of Kowloon. I felt a certain “magic” about the whole situation. She told me about her work in a department store, (similar to a Woolworth’s) and that in the evening she worked at a dance hall as a waitress. She asked if I would like to meet her there that evening. How could I possibly say “No”? We rode a tram to the other side of Kowloon to her work place. I think we were both “taken aback Paul Sullivan, Ret. Captain, USMC resides in Massachusetts with his wife Beverly. by each other”. Smitten might be a better word. (Is that the right adjective?) I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel to tell my buddies how lucky I was to meet this girl. When I nished telling them what I just told you, almost in unison, they piped up with something like, “What about last night? Don’t you remember the great time we had and the girl you were with? Of course, the night before we were bar hopping all over the island of Hong Kong. I was blotto. I didn’t remember a thing about the previous night. I just remember being on what was called a “walla walla”, a water taxi that took us from Hong Kong to Kowloon about 2:00a.m. They SOFHOLDAt Ease 1/3 Page Ad | B1Bert Barillas | firstname.lastname@example.org | 818.261.5020SofHoldGun Magnet The Ultimate Gun HolderScan the QR code to visit SofHold.com/AE and see all our gun magnets.Proudly MadeIn the USAMounts anywhere for quick access• car or truck • under a desk or shelf • behind a bed or nightstand • in a safeconvinced me to skip my date for that evening and meet her the next night. To this day, I don’t know why I didn’t follow through. Some things just happen for a reason. Don’t you think?
THETHE USMCUSMC R&B VET: R&B VET: THETHE USMCUSMC R&B VET: R&B VET: As a kid growing up in southern California, Elliott always knew he wanted to be a Marine! Inspired by the Marine Corps commercials from the late 90s and early 2000s, a USMC Eagle, Globe & Anchor flag was proudly hung next to the American Flag on his bedroom wall since he can remember. Just days after graduating from High School, Elliott was on the yellow footprints at MCRD San Diego. “I wasn’t exactly the most academically inclined student. But I had character traits very similar to what the Marine Corp wanted,” Elliott remembers. But he was ready for it. He had been training with his recruiter every weekend for over a year. He went into basic with two MOS ratings, 0311 or Infantry Rifleman and 8152, Marine Corps Security Forces. Looking back Elliott laughs, “I got pizza boxes on one of my first quals, which is like the worst score you can get. [Eventually] I had sharpshooter for pistol and an expert for rifles, so I got better.” After boot camp, Elliott went up to Camp Pendleton for his 0311 school and then it was on to Norfolk, Virginia for FAST Teams training, which was actually a mistake. So, after 6 months, he was finally reassigned to Washington, D.C. for Presidential Support Duty. In January 2005, Elliott received orders to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, and by February of the same year, he was sent with his new infantry battalion to Ramadi, Iraq. “I wasn’t too prepared for that. We had just arrived at the base in Al Assad if I remember correctly. It was like the multi-branch base and then we got transported by trucks to our actual small FOB (Forward Operating Base). So, while we were at that big base, we had just gotten there, everybody was just kind of getting comfortable and settling in. I was like, alright, I’m gonna go take a shit. So, I went to the Porta potty outside, and mortar rounds started landing in the base not too far away from where I was. The porta-potty was shaking from the explosions, and that’s when I was like, oh SHIT! OK, this is real. This isn’t training!”While Elliott appreciated learning about the Iraqi culture while in country, he would pay the price of war, just like every Marine and soldier who survived before him has paid. Elliott lost sixteen of his fellow Marines, including his favorite Company Commander. Elliott himself, suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury when a VBIED exploded near him while he was on post, knocking him against a wall of sandbags before he was knocked out. After Elliott’s initial recovery and return to the States, he was able to finish out his enlistment and was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 2007. He recalls, “I don’t know exactly what happened with me, but for some reason [the PTSD] stayed dormant for a couple months at least. Actually, it was years, ‘cause I went to Iraq in 2005 and I didn’t start really experiencing issues until [after] I got out in 2007. So, two years it was dormant and then I don’t know what happened.” WAKING THE DEMONSAt the time, Elliott was living with his mom and brother, while he worked as a security guard at the local library. “I was getting ready for work one day and I can’t remember why we started arguing, but me and my brother got into a verbal argument and my PTSD just went crazy and I got angry. I got violent. I picked up a chair in the living room and threw it at him. And then I picked up a kitchen knife and I started brandishing it and threatening him with it. My mom walks out of her bedroom hearing all this commotion and her two big sons about to rumble in the freaking wilderness in her living room and she calls 911. And I end up just throwing the kitchen knife at my brother ‘cause. I was like, I gotta go to work. I was already dressed for work on my way out of the door when it happened. I was like, ‘whatever’ and threw the knife at him. [It] hit the TV and broke it, and [then I] walked out. Elliott McKenzieElliott McKenzie42 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022by Christine Walker
As Elliott walked to work, the Police pulled up behind him with lights and sirens. “’Are you Elliot McKenzie?’ Yeah. ‘Put your hands behind your back.’ OK, cool. I knew that my mom had called the cops. ‘cause. I saw her on the phone, so I kind knew I had it coming, and they took me back to my mom’s house to figure out what happened. Luckily [for me] the Sergeant on the call was an Army veteran and he talked to my mom about my history and going to Iraq and all that, While I was in the car in the handcuffs, [he] comes out to the car and says, ‘Hey, I was talking to your mom about you and she says you’re a veteran, right? ‘You served in the Marines?’ I was like, yeah, I was in Iraq. ‘Have you seen therapist or counselor or anything for PTSD?’ No, what’s that? I wasn’t really aware of it,” as Elliott recalls the conversation. The officer gave him two options. He could either treat Elliott like a civilian and charge him with assault with a deadly weapon, which if convicted, he would do some serious jail time or the officer, who had dealt with his own PTSD, could take Elliott to the VA to get the help he needed, he chose the latter. “So, he drove me in the back of his car to the VA in Long Beach, which he didn’t have to do. He went out of his way to drive me there, and they put me on a 5150 hold for three days. And that’s when I officially got diagnosed with PTSD and anger issues,” Elliott said.HARD LIFE LESSONSAfter Elliott was discharged, he called his mom to come pick him up, but he was not expecting what he heard next. His mother was afraid of him, his brother was afraid of him, and now he had nowhere to go. He was homeless. Elliott ended up living in his car for two weeks but soon realized, “I can’t do this forever. I gotta do something. I called the resource number, told them what happened, and they said OK, we’ll see what we can do. They ended up getting me into transitional housing for homeless veterans in Long Beach. And I stayed there for about a year and a half,” he remembers.Between his stint in transitional housing and couch surfing with friends, it took Elliott two years to regain the trust of his family that would allow him to go home. By 2010, Elliott enrolled in a Community College using the Post 911 G.I. Bill, “I didn’t have a job. I didn’t have money at the time, so I was like, Fuck it. I’ll go to school and get money that way. So, I go to school and that’s when my PTSD started getting worse. My depression started getting way worse. My anxiety started getting way worse. My anger issues started getting way worse. I couldn’t focus on class and my depression was so bad that there were days when I would Summer 2022 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 43
stay home and cry all day in bed. I was missing classes, I was missing tests, I was missing finals exams. So, I was failing a lot of my classes and it wasn’t working. By 2013, I’m like FUCK it! I can’t do this anymore. I quit; I’m done. Just nothing is working for me, so I dropped out of college, and I finally decided to get help,” he said. THE JOURNEY TO HEALINGAfter a little research, Elliott learned about the Vet Centers that were set up specifically by the VA to provide counseling and therapy. Once he was established with a therapist, and she was able to break through some of Elliott’s walls of defense, music became a consistent topic of their conversations. Since his childhood, Elliott was gifted with a set of pipes and loved to sing. In 5th grade, a boyhood friend had heard him and said he needed to do this for a living. Even in the Marine Corps and during a deployment to Okinawa, Japan, singing was always a part of who he was. But music was put on the backburner, there just wasn’t much to sing about in the six years since returning home. Little did Elliott know that music would give him his life back. “On the first visit and second visit, and I told her, you know, I used to sing in this and that when I was a kid. And so, I told her everything and she was like, you know, you can use your music and your abilities to sing as a therapeutic way to get through all these issues that you have. At the time I was on medications from the from the VA for all the anxiety and shit, but it wasn’t really helping. Long story short and fast forward two years, I got the therapy and I started applying the information that she was giving me. My depression was going down, my anger problems were reduced, I was a lot calmer, I was able to focus again, I was feeling happier on a daily basis again, and I started using my music as therapy,” Elliott said.Back in 2008, Elliott was missing the Corps, but reenlisting was squashed because of a few new tattoos, so instead he had joined the Army Reserves and used the signing bonus to purchase recording studio equipment. Unfortunately, he was just beginning to battle his demons, so like his talent, the equipment sat dormant until he started to heal. “I had the computer, the speakers, the microphone, all the equipment that you need to have, like a small setup at home and started using that. And I started writing songs. I started expressing myself through the songwriting. I started finding ways to get booked so I could perform live.”In 2015, Elliott also re-enrolled at the same Community College he had dropped out of just two years prior. This time, however, Elliott made the Dean’s list and graduated with his Associates Degree in 2016. That same year, he was also ready to put his experience in Iraq into a song. “I guess you can say I decided to finally take all the music experience I had, the recording studio and then my personal experience and write a song about it. I said to myself, I wanna write a song that will educate civilians about the veteran experience, about what it’s like to have PTSD ‘cause I’ve been through all this shit now. And I also wanna use it ‘cause it’s therapeutic for myself and maybe another veteran might see it or hear it and get therapy out of it for themselves.”Elliott wrote Gunshots, and then teamed up with the Marine Rapper to shoot the music video. “We created the music video and released it. It went semi viral out here in California and in the veteran community. I started getting phone calls and emails from local news channels. They wanted to feature me about my story about going from being this Homeless veteran who dropped out of college to becoming successful and now having this cool music video about the experience of being a veteran [with PTSD].”Gunshots is featured on Elliott McKenzie’s debut R&B album, Therapy Session. His style and genre are reminiscent of the old school R&B artists from the 80’s & 90’s. “My older brother was a big influence because he listened to R&B a lot, so I started following his influence as a kid and he was the one that took me to [my] first concert, ‘Boys to Men.’ I just fell in love with R&B from the time I was a kid and old enough to understand the music. And I am also a very romantic person. I wanna get married, have the white picket fence, opening a car door for a woman or walk on the outside of the curb. My mom was very big on chivalry. She taught me how to be a gentleman and R&B plays to that. R&B talks about relationships back in the day. Not anymore. But music back then in the 90s and early 2000s was all about romance. As I 44 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022LISTEN NOW
started singing and my voice started developing, I noticed that I sounded like an R&B singer. It was romantic, it was about sex, It was about love. So. The genre suited me as a person very well.”Since the release of his debut album, Elliott has since gone on to receive his bachelor’s degree in 2018 and continues to build his career as a recording artist. “Elliott’s debut album, “Therapy Session” is available everywhere on all streaming platforms. Therapy Session is the culmination of all he has been through while also highlighting the talent that America’s military Veterans have. He hopes that his music will continue to inspire and motivate both Veterans and civilians across the globe to know that no matter what you go through in life, you can overcome it and still live out your dreams. Elliott’s dream is to be a successful Recording Artist and a source of inspiration for people worldwide. RnBvet baby…let’s go!!”1 1 https://www.elliottmckenzie.com/storySummer 2022 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 45Make sure to check out ELLIOTTMCKENZIE.COMElliott can also be seen on Vet TV as Sgt. Velasquez in 'A GRUNTS LIFE' A GRUNTS LIFESEASON 2
she is running toward me. She is wearing a white nightgown, her hair flowing in the night breeze. I ask myself why did I not save her, why didn’t I save her from the onslaught of the wave of human destruction that was all around her.While this concentration of insane firepower we cannot even begin to know why some live and others die. We can say a greater power has allowed them to continue in this craziness. I’m those who were chosen to live wished they would die so as not to continue this hell on earth.In the desperate hours they come, oh yes, the demons come (fiery blood-red eyes). In your sleep, they own your very soul.My first nightmare. At least that I remember. Elena told me I have had many others. I have dreamt of cutting my arms off last night in three different dreams. My arms are black because they are burned by the fire of an explosion. I can only remember the charred bodies from the nighttime engagement with the Saddam Fedayeen reinforcements that came from the North to help bolster the Iraqi forces. This memory is about something that happened just north of Nasiriya. All day my senses give way to the smell of death. I keep looking over my shoulder as if the demons are standing behind me waiting to take me away. I must stop them; they have already taken my thoughts and now they want to take me as their permanent slave. They do not sneak around because they own the night, they do however laugh and mock me. One day soon they know they will own me.Some of the dead have a look in their eyes as if desperately asking why. They cannot see, they have no eyes, they cannot speak, they have no lips. They cannot do anymore for their God, he has taken them home.There is only one way to stop the demons who are now visiting me in the night. They will take me to a hell of my own design, yes, my own, for they ran through my mind as if it is a Devil’s treat. When they find me, they take great joy in constructing their playground By Ret. Sgt. Major Gregory Leal, USMCDisclaimer: Content in the following article may be distressing to our readers with PTSD. Proceed with caution/supportUnless man has empathy for those innocents caught in the middle of conflict, he is no better than the tyrant he has come to remove. As we made our way to the North side of An-Nasiriyah, we saw the burning Amtrac hulls and destroyed vehicles of every sort. Charred bodies beyond recognition, many others blood and guts, body parts, pieces arms here legs there you name it, it was everywhere. Some enemy soldiers still manning their positions indicating that they had never seen the killing blow coming. The Iraqi soldiers knew they were dead the minute the Marines crossed into Iraq; some ran but others stayed anyway. We came upon a mother and a baby who were presumed dead. I remember that everything had turned into slow motion, all heads in the vehicle turning away and wishing that they had not seen the two bodies lying there. As we went to investigate, we discovered the baby was still alive. We were relieved, but the mother was dead. More than likely, she sacrificed herself trying to provide shelter for her infant child. As we scanned the area, bodies, so many bodies and body parts were strewn across the engagement area. We could not take a body count even if we wanted to. We would have to literally get online as if to conduct a police call in order to check each one. However, our priority was the safety of the invading force. Securing the area to ensure that the enemy lost its combat effectiveness and willingness to fight, so as not to try and reform to attempt a counterattack. I remember all those innocent men, women, and children lying on the grown. Amongst them were dead and dying, Iraqi soldiers and the Saddam Fedayeen who forced them out of their homes so they could cower behind them to be used as a human shield. I remember some more than others. At night when I’m alone with a couple of shots of Tequila to keep me company, she comes for me. In her eyes I see the shock, the innocence; she knows she is going to die. But I don’t know why she is worried because I will save her. In my mind, 46 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022
and my hell. It is time to realize my fate. In fact, I can let go at any time, but I stay clinched by my own desire to suffer. I stay so I may suffer and feel life again. The demons know I will never feel life ever again. They laugh hysterically as they begin to rip the skin off my body. My black charcoal arms are next. They wave them in my face and laugh. My legs are soon to follow. They are now nothing more than bone. They yank my tongue out as if a fish had a fishing hook in its mouth. Yes, I feel the pain and see the things the demons have done to me. The only time I am not screaming is when my soul is taken. Now I know I am truly dead. I think their game is over but as soon as it is over, I relive the entire nightmare again. I have only completed the circle once. I will relive the nightmare until I wake. In the desperate hours, the demons come again and again. There is only joy for the demons. I have received my prize. Not until you have seen death through the eyes of a child you will not know the psychological trauma.I am haunted once again by my demons. For some reason, I am on my riding mower in a dark cave as if I were mowing the yard. Elena is following me watching me making sure I am okay. My demons will not let me go. As I drive deeper into the cave, I’m not mowing but now I am chopping something. In a split second my demons are back grabbing at me. I turn to the left and right trying to run over them with the blades of my zero mower. But it does not seem to be working. I awake seating and in a panic. Elena had been awakened by my thrashing around in my sleep. She asks me if I am, okay? I pray if they should find me, I will be nothing, nothing more than dust. I will be nothing more than an afterthought.I had forgotten that years ago the RCT Gunner had given me a CD of photos of the Invasion of Iraq. She was there. She was this little mud puddle. Yes, she was dead and that is why I could not save her. It was her innocence that stayed with me. She died that fateful day, but she will live with me forever.I’m sure somewhere amongst the sea of dead, broken, and bullet-riddled bodies are her parents. For about a minute I think we should look for them. But where do we start and how would we know here in this sea of death? We start walking online to insure none of the enemies are lying in wait to perhaps make a desperate one last stand to kill the Infidel who now rules over his and. He knows that he has failed Allah and that there will be a price to pay in the afterlife. It’s somewhere after midnight, the RCT has been scratching, clawing, and fighting its way through (the gauntlet) An-Nasiriyah. The hell we just passed through was only the beginning of the running gun battle that the Regiment would be known for. The 1st Marine Division G-3 gave us that nickname. The gauntlet became the tactical norm, a blueprint that would be used to expedite our race to Baghdad. I can only describe it as being flushed down the toilet (no toilets were harmed during this process) and straight into the rest of the shit flowing in this septic tank called war. Somewhere in the darkness, the sun rose, and we’ve rolled into the 2nd Light Armored Recon (LAR) infamous Battle of the Coil. Unbeknown to Saddam’s Fedayeen was the 2nd LAR was already north of An-Nasiriyah, they also didn’t know that Marines were lying in wait. Needless to say, no one slept that night or any night for that matter. Maybe we did not. But on 26 March 2003, we were pushing north on Route 7. All that day we pushed farther north. Sometime that morning we found a little girl on the side of the road. If she were left on the ground, would the soil around absorb her soul and leave her corpse to rot? Only to be picked at by the vultures flying nearby waiting for all to clear so they can do their part in the natural cycle of life.At night during the darkest time, you know that time of night when the ambient light is nonexistent. That is when she comes to me. She knows I am all alone but, in my mind, it’s dark and lonely. In her eyes I see only innocence; she wears her clean nightgown. She looks at me with a sad look asking why did you save me? Why didn’t I save her from the onslaught, the wave upon wave of destruction? Just the sheer exchange of madness. The hail of bullets and the sheer volume of a LAR unit that created a steal curtain that no one could survive. I could save her, she was just an arm’s length away but, I couldn’t save her why? I could not save because I did not run fast enough, was it because of my combat load? So, I return the LOD (line of departure) Gregory Leal. Copyright 2022 © Amongst Warriors | Gregory Leal. Copy and/or reproduction in any form is unauthorized.Sgt. Maj. Gregory Leal was born and raised in Abilene, Texas and enlisted in the Marine Corps May of 1976. After completing Communications School at Twenty-Nine Palms, Pvt. Leal reported to Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, CA. Just three years later, after a deployment to Okinawa Japan, now a Sergeant, Leal returned to MCRD San Diego First Battalion as a Drill Instructor from 1979 - 1981. In 1982, Staff Sgt. Leal reported for duty as an Instructor to Communications Electronic School, Twenty-Nine Palms. From 1983 to 1985, Staff Sgt. Leal Reported back to MCRD San Diego, as a drill instructor, senior drill instructor and series chief drill instructor for First Battalion, Alpha Company. Staff Sgt, Leal was meritoriously promoted to Gunnery Sergeant, and completed his tour as the standard operating procedure instructor and physical training instructor at Drill Instructor School in January 1987. Over the course of his exemplary Marine Corps Career, Sgt. Maj. Leal participated in Operations: Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Joint Task Force-6 Counter Drug Operations, Anvil 2, Desert Fox, Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. His personal awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with Combat “V” Device, Meritorious Service Medal, with one gold star, the Navy Achievement Medals with two gold stars and the Combat Action Ribbon. He currently holds a 2nd-degree black belt in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.Sgt. Maj. Leal is married to the former Elena Hernandez of San Diego. They have two daughters: Monica and Sonia.Summer 2022 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 47Continued on Page 59
48 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine |Summer 2022DEATH DID NOT TAKE HIMBy the time he heard the mortar come sailing in, it was entirely too late. The shell, likely a 60mm projectile1, exploded very close to the forward ghting position that Private First Class (PFC) Armand Comire and his companions had dug for themselves. From that moment forward, PFC Comire’s world would never be the same.He was thrown at least fteen feet from his position into the jungle and, as he heard the whistles and sounds of a North Vietnamese attack commence, PFC Comire began to take stock of his situation. Amazingly, he felt no pain, just a strange heaviness in his chest. Comire simply laid there and looked up at the sky as he waited for the sensations of his shocked body to come back. However, he heard the moans of one of his companions off to his side and this spurred him to action. Comire began to look for his rie and, after being unable to locate it in the dark, he attempted to stand up to go to his friend’s aid.Once PFC Comire stood, he heard the distinct sucking and gurgling sound of a chest wound, one that involved an exposed lung injury. He began to swoon and become dizzy then collapsed with his arm across his chest, once again covering and thus largely sealing his wound. It was at that time the pain arrived with a snarling vengeance. Comire describes it as, “I felt terrible pain from the very tips of my toes to the top of my head, it was so painful, I almost laughed because I couldn’t believe it!” Comire didn’t know it at the time, but the shrapnel from the mortar had peppered him vertically from the bottom up, with both serious internal damage as well as painful supercial wounds.PFC Comire knew he was going to die that night and he made his last confession. He thanked God he was awake, conscious, and aware because as he stated, “You only make this trip once and I wanted to experience what it 1Fired from a smooth bore, high-angle, close infantry support Type 31 or 63 Chinese Mortar Tube.was going to be like to die, to pass on from this life to the next. I was ready.” So, hearing the battle around him, Comire lay there in the dark waiting to die, but the Angel of Death wasn’t coming for him, not this night.After some time had passed, he heard the sounds of an NVA, (North Vietnamese Army) squad coming to their position; he knew his moaning buddy had given them away. Comire knew that this time for sure, it was the end. From mere feet away, the young NVA soldier red into the darkness where he and his companion lay, dirt kicked up all about them and he felt the rounds tugging at his tattered uniform. The moaning stopped. He held his breath, but he lived. PFC Comire heard the distinctive clack of a new AK-47 magazine being latched into place and knew that, now, for sure, again, it was the end. The ash and roar of the fully automatic weapon clattered in the night. Death still did not take him. Once again he heard the clack of yet another magazine being loaded, and yet again the amazingly loud, near-point blank gunre chatter of that AK-47 Kalashnikov. This time he did receive, for all that effort, a graze on his leg from one of the rounds, but that pain quickly blended in with the rest.After the third magazine he heard what he presumed to be the squad leader quietly giving orders to his men to loot their bodies. Armand again held his breath, still stunned and amazed he was alive. He felt the hands of an NVA soldier gingerly, ever so gently, almost so as not to disturb a sleeping child, creep up his leg and unclasp his gear. He felt the soldier slowly and carefully slide his weapon out from under him….“Yes, from underneath him!” Comire was furious! Had he known his weapon was there he would’ve attempted to shoot back, but alas it wasn’t meant to be. Then, just as gently and softly as the looting started, it ended and the NVA soldiers moved off. Armand didn’t have long to be upset about his weapon because he soon passed blissfully into unconsciousness from shock and pain.Written by: Eric McNail“Currahee” | PFC Armand Comire Airborne1-506 Infantry Regiment
Spring 2022 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 49Tax Preparation | Income Tax Advice and Planning Virtual Accounting Department | Taxpayer RepresentationToday, Armand Comire jokes about his injuries from that night. He says that he had made a deal with God before he left for Vietnam. He asked the Lord not to take his sight or his manhood. So, he says with a wry grin, “God, with His sense of humor, took one lung, one eye, and a chunk out of my manhood and a permanent piece of shrapnel in my testicles.” Since the war, Armand has had a full life and served as a Law Enforcement Ofcer in Connecticut at both the Local and State levels as well as serving on police departments in Northern New Hampshire. Mr. Comire lives in Northern New Hampshire with his wife and is beloved by his daughter, grandchildren, and friends.If you’d like to hear the unabridged story of this proud paratrooper, please visit the “V2VG.” YouTube channel and look for “Interview with a Paratrooper.” 5099 US Hwy 377 S, Suite 400 | Aubrey, TX 76227 Phone: 940-365-3115 | email@example.comWe are a financial services firm offering a wide menu of disciplines to meet the many needs of our clients – both personal and business. Focused on building long-term relationships, we provide a professional and personal approach to our business. Our clients’ goals and concerns are our focus; our commitment and professionalism are our tools and our training, experience and credentials ensure our successful outcomes.The ultimate measure The ultimate measure of a man is not of a man is not where he stands in where he stands in moments of comfort moments of comfort and convenience, but and convenience, but where he stands at where he stands at times of challenge times of challenge and controversy. and controversy. Martin Luther King, Jr. - 1963
Photo by: Dave Olmstead, Army Veteran 19D Calvary Scout50 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022
Independence is worth fighting for and our nation’s Founding Fathers knew it. However, it almost invariably comes at a cost and at great risk for those who realize its value. The people of the thirteen colonies who choose to fight in the various colonial militias and the Continental Army should rightfully be lauded for their bravery and commitment to the fledgling American cause. Indeed, those whom we refer to as Founding Fathers had, in a certain way, more to lose than the average soldier. Those early pioneers of American Independence knew very well, as they were men of stature and means, what the penalties of High Treason to the Crown were; and it wasn’t simply execution.The very moment King George III, in August of 1775, rejected the Olive Branch Petition from the Second Continental Congress and issued his Proclamation of Rebellion, the leaders of the American Revolution were, as they were not British Nobility, subject to execution by being hanged, drawn, and quartered. On the surface, this sort of execution does not seem so barbaric, especially considering other types of torture and execution of days gone by. However, it fails to describe the process. The person could not simply walk to the gallows, they were to be “drawn”, that is dragged by a horse to the place where they were to be hanged. Once on site, they would be hanged until nearly dead. Then while still very much alive, they would be released, emasculated, disemboweled, (which would often be burned before their very eyes), and have other internal organs removed after which they would then be be-headed. At that time, they would be “quartered”, or cut into fourths, and disposed of in a variety of methods to allow for continued public display.Counting the CostCounting the CostCounting the CostCounting the CostIndependence Day ~ July 4th 1776Independence Day ~ July 4th 1776Independence Day ~ July 4th 1776Independence Day ~ July 4th 1776“The cosT of freedom is always high, buT americans have always paid iT. and one paTh we “The cosT of freedom is always high, buT americans have always paid iT. and one paTh we shall never choose, and ThaT is The paTh of surrender, or submission.” John f. Kennedy.shall never choose, and ThaT is The paTh of surrender, or submission.” John f. Kennedy.Summer 2022 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 51by Eric McNail
52 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2021Taking in new clients in 2022 has been very interesting. We as a nation are somewhat learning to adjust after the pandemic and slowly ﬁnding our roots again. However, there is still some worry lingering over the economy and what will happen next. With that said in mind, how do you stay motivated during these times? Why is ﬁtness important? Why should a simple workout schedule be a priority with everything going on? I work with hundreds of clients and my business is a family run operation. Meaning we spend time getting to know our clients and what works for them. I always say that every body is different. Meaning our bodies respond to things differently. No person is exactly the same. So when it comes to coaching we have different workouts and motivation techniques for everyone. When it comes to staying motivated the ﬁrst thing is, there is no such thing. Motivation is the reason an individual has for acting a certain way. However, motivation is temporary. Discipline is what your mind and body long for. So when we ask ourselves why we quit so easily we need not focus on motivation. We need to ask ourselves if we are truly disciplined enough to stick with it. This is why some clients sign up and quit after the ﬁrst week. In order to stick with anything in life you need discipline more than motivation. Through discipline motivation will come and go. Some of the best workouts are the ones that are completed when we least desire to do them. We all know that ﬁtness is important. But sometimes we forget the beneﬁts. When we live in a stressful environment we become prone to high blood pressure, heart issues, skin conditions, depression and anxiety. Just in the year 2020 the pandemic led to an increase of 27.6% in cases of major depressive disorders. There is no secret that Veterans are likely to be among these numbers as well. When we take ﬁtness seriously we improve the heart, strengthen the muscles and even our bones. Decrease are chances of diabetes, and aim to maintain a healthy weight. Most importantly we increase the chances of maintaining good mental health. When we take care of ourselves there’s a good chance we can even live longer and visit the hospital fewer times a year. Veteran Fitness:KEEPING UP WITH YOUR HEALTH IN 2022By Daniel Dancer | USMC
Summer 2021 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 53This journey wouldn’t be possible without my amazing wife Deanna. She’s the CEO of Camp Freedom Fitness. She cooks for our clients and does all the back end, behind the scenes work. I run the programs and coach the clients. The best part about this journey is that most of it is online. Most of our clients are all over the US. We send them workouts, build their diets, coach them, and train them. Having an online platform means we can work with more people more often. You can always nd us on Facebook at @campfreedomtness or visit our website at campfreedomtness.org . We would love to meet you. It’s well known that in order to create a habit we need to do things over 20 times. Once a good habit is formed we will continue to grow. Most clients who stick to their programs do more than just exercise. They eventually start craving more out of their personal lives. The conﬁdence that comes with taking care of yourself is priceless. I’ve seen people become police ofﬁcers, nurses, open up their own business become better parents and so much more, all because of sticking to a simple routine. _______Welcome to the Pain Train! This isn’t for the faint! Check out one of my favorite workouts! This can be done from home without any weights. Have you ever heard the term every minute on the minute? This means that you do a certain number of exercises and repetitions within a minute and rest until the next minute starts. So, every minute is basically a set.Set your timer for 20 minutes. That’s going to be 20 sets of the exercises below. The goal is to keep up and not overlap on the time. THE FIRST EXERCISE IS PUSH UPS. YOU WILL DO 10 OF THEM. UP POSITION:DOWN POSITION THE NEXT EXERCISE IS SQUATS. YOU WILL DO 7 OF THEM.UP POSITION:DOWN POSITION:THE LAST EXERCISE IS CRUNCHES. YOU WILL DO 5 OF THEM. DOWN POSITION: UP POSITION: ......Enjoy the Workout! The traditional recommendation is that everyone should consult with their doctor before they started to exercise. The reason behind this is that, in theory, when you start to participate in a moderate or intense activity, there is a slightly increased risk of a heart attack or cardiac complications. Exercise at your own risk.
•Journal: Great historical people insist on journaling to clarify the mind, provides room for quiet and is a private reflection just to name a few good thingsabout journaling.•Deep Focused Work: Concentrate on the task at hand and do it like it’s the most important thing in your life. 3 hours of deep work is better than 18 hours of half-ass work.Rule 2:Focus on What’s in Your ControlMarcus Aurelius always wanted to simplify and separate matters so that he could stay in control of what was in his control. He used to say that “it does not matter what other people say or think, it only matters what you do or think.”Thinkingabout your problems and separating them into categories.•What can you control about your problems?• What is out of your control?Then only focus on what you can control and nothing else because that which you cannot control will work itself out in the long run, it always does.Rule 3: Do not Entertain Imagined TroublesSeneca advised people to“do not be unhappy before the crisis comes, do notexaggerate, or imagine all the bad things, do not anticipate, and do not let sorrow stay in your daily life.” Don’t let anxiety or worry get the best of you. You will suffer more from your imagined troubles than your actual reality.Stay in the present, do not let your imagination overtake reality.Rule 4: Treat Success and Failure the SameYou are the same whether you lose a limb, get fired, or become a millionaire.You are the same when you are at the top of the world or down on your luck. Do not lose yourself because of the things that happen to you or around you. Don’t be overly joyful when something good happens and don’t be overly sad when something bad happens in your life.Rule 5: Do One Thing Every Day and Do It WellDo one thing every day that is important to you and curb your procrastination tendencies. Stay humble,persistent, and work to improve every single day.Acquiresomething that will fortify you against misfortunes.Rule 6: Make Amazing ChoicesMake better choices because it makes you feel better andbecause you want to create a better life. What does your life look like?Are you in shape?Do you want to eat better?Do you want to be around for your kids when they grow up?Take the choice that challenges you to make a better life.How do you have agoodlife? Well, you have to create it. If you are waiting around for things to change so that you can have a good life, then you’ll be wasting your time. Life doesn’t change on its own.You have to put in the work and effort to make tiny changes to see your life differently.How do you show up every day in your life? Do you give up easily?Are you always angry at the world?We are all dying each day and our existence in this world isbrief.How then are you making a difference? Til next time! ~ CristieFROM MY POINT OF VIEW:By Cristie RemmelIn Search of a Good LifeIn Search of a Good LifeIn Search of a Good LifeIn Search of a Good LifeSometimes I get up in the mornings and wish that nothing would ever go wrong, if I could just live day by day without anything bad happening or not making any mistakes. I wonder what it would be like. I know you are probably saying,“that is not how life is, who are you kidding” right? Left to our own devices with enough opportunities we all eventually mess up and things do happen that are bad.That is why we have so many rules that we come up for ourselves. In my recent studies of ancient philosophy, my most favorite person hasbecome Marcus Aurelius because he discovered that self-meditation was what got him thru the rough patches in his life. He called it, ” epithets for the self.” It’s kind of like saying, “know what you stand for and stick to that, hold the line.”Living a good life is about coming up with your own values, your own rules, and your own way of living your life. In practice, it’s a set of rules you live by. This ensures that you are going to stay on the right path and that you won’t compromise your standards so that you don’t deviate from the life you want to have.I’ve been developing my own set of rules and standards to live by. Yes, life does happen, and life does get in the way, but for the most part I work on rectifying things and getting back on track. I have a set of 12 rules and in this article,I will share the first 6.Rule 1:Own My MorningSometimes I have trouble getting out of bed and believe me it is hard. But I own my morning and I get out of bed so that I can have a productive day. I most definitely want to stay under the covers and sleep a few more hours. But I get up because I know that if I own my morning then the rest of the day will turn out well. My daily morning habits are:•Work out first thing in the morning: get it out of the way otherwise it won’t happen.54 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022
Summer 2022 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 55Have you ever dreamed of becoming a business owner? David MacMelville didn’t. Back in 1992 he didn’t know what he wanted to do, so he joined the Navy right out of high school. His goal was to take advantage of the educational beneﬁts to set him up for a future career outside of the military after his 4-year enlistment. After boot camp, David attended Aviation Electronics Technician school in Millington, TN. This was a fast-paced school that compressed about 2 years of a traditional trade school into about 9 months. Upon completion of initial training, he arrived at his ﬁrst command and began working on the full avionics suite of the Navy’s E-2C Hawkeye. After 4 years, according to Dave “I was having the time of my life” so he decided to re-enlist. In true military fashion, he was assigned to a job that had nothing to do with all of this knowledge and training he had gained. His next assignment was Recruiting. No more turning wrenches and ﬁxing airplanes. Instead, he learned a lot about business, marketing and sales during this tour. At the tail end of that tour, the tragedy of 9/11 struck the nation. As an E-6 he was called to immediately report back to support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Two more combat deployments and many years later after several more transfers, reassignments and promotions Dave ended up back in Virginia managing all levels of aviation maintenance and ﬁnally moved to Maryland where he is in charge of the maintenance department for research test and development of new aircraft systems. Nearly 29 years later, David is about to retire with many new choices to make. “Do I sit on the porch and drink ice teas? No, too boring to do that. Do I just take the easy route and look for a corporate job? No, too limiting. Maybe I’ll look into becoming an entrepreneur? Yes, that sounds like a good challenge. But where do I start?”David took advantage of the numerous transition programs provided by the military, but he still felt ill prepared for making the leap. “The thought of starting a business from scratch was beyond my comprehension.” After doing his research, David reached out to Irving Chung, a franchise consultant and franchise owner. With literally thousands of franchises available, he helped him navigate the entire process. Irving conducted a comprehensive consultation in which he walked him through a series of questions to help narrow the search. After meeting the franchisor corporate staff from the CEO on down he ﬁnally chose a franchise that he believed will provide him resources to ensure he is successful. Long story short, entrepreneurship is within your reach, and there are people out there to help guide you on the path. David is about to take the bold step of owning his own business as a Floor Coverings International franchise owner launching summer of 2021.From Enlisted, to LDO, From Enlisted, to LDO, to Entrepreneurto Entrepreneur“While I felt qualiﬁed and competitive for several job listings that I looked at, it was time for me to perform a bit of soul searching and decide what I really wanted out of life.”Why are Veterans Why are Veterans Selecting Franchises?Selecting Franchises?•• Proven track recordProven track record•• Less riskLess risk•• Established infrastructure Established infrastructure •• Full operating proceduresFull operating procedures•• Comprehensive training and Comprehensive training and ongoing support ongoing support •• Brand awarenessBrand awareness•• Experienced leadership teamExperienced leadership team•• Marketing resourcesMarketing resources•• Easier fundingEasier fundingWhy are Veterans Why are Veterans Selecting Franchises?Selecting Franchises?•• Proven track recordProven track record•• Less riskLess risk•• Established infrastructure Established infrastructure •• Full operating proceduresFull operating procedures•• Comprehensive training and Comprehensive training and ongoing support ongoing support •• Brand awarenessBrand awareness•• Experienced leadership teamExperienced leadership team•• Marketing resourcesMarketing resources•• Easier fundingEasier fundingIrving Chung is a franchise consultant with FranChoice. He is also the Director of Entrepreneurship and Board Member at the Dallas/Fort Worth Veterans Chamber of Commerce.To learn more, contact Irving for a free consultation.Irving ChungFranChoice Franchise Consultantichung@franchoice.com(214) 908-9791bigconsideration.comDavid S. MacMelvilleLCDR USN NAS PAX MDVX-20 Maintenance Ofﬁcer
56 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022The Public Court of Opinion is a powerful thing! And when it comes to anything to do with the Capital breach on January 6, 2021, that same public court of opinion has tried, convicted, and sentenced anyone and everyone present on the Capital grounds that day. The public court of opinion says, “They should’ve known better, it’s their own fault. Guilt or innocence doesn’t matter, just keep ‘em locked up and throw away the key for their evil and egregious deed of being present that day.” Does that seem a bit harsh? Of course, it does, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s the base sentiment behind popular talking points.Perhaps it’s naïveté’ or having grown up in an era genuinely believing in “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.” But I believe prudence, wisdom, and truth should be the prevailing benchmark when it comes to all things concerning January 6th. This magazine has been built to give a voice to all Veterans. We have a motto in the Veteran community: We’ve got your six.” That means we will never leave a brother or sister behind. Period! And that goes for our Veteran brothers and sisters in pre-trial detention who have yet to be convicted of a crime by a jury of their peers in a Court of Law. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,”_______On January 4th, 2021, Kenneth Harrelson, a disabled Army Veteran, received a call from an associate asking if he would be able to drive up to DC and take over the security detail for another man who was unable to attend. Kenneth is an Oath Keeper, and they were headed to Washington DC to stand guard for the multiple speakers during, what was supposed to be, peaceful protests planned on January 5th & 6th.That decision would change the life of Kenneth and his family. Kenneth grew up in Georgia, on land that his family had owned for generations. He was an avid hunter and outdoorsman, so it was a natural progression that he would join the Army. Kenneth, by all accounts, is just your typical red-blooded American who loves God, Family & Country. He met his wife, Angel, while on Active duty and they married in 2009. She grew up in Louisiana, a true Ragin Cajun, growing up hunting ‘gators’ and deer with her dad. They are both ‘country’ folk, but before we cue the music to ‘Deliverance,’ Angel jokes that she is the palest one on her side of the family and racism in the Harrelson household just isn’t tolerated. Kenneth was medically discharged from the Army after a series of back and shoulder surgeries for an injury he sustained during a training exercise just weeks before he was set to be deployed to Iraq. However, like many Veterans, Kenneth took his oath to the Constitution seriously, but he has absolutely no interest in politics. In fact, according to his wife, they are as apolitical as they come, nor are they afliated with any party. So, Kenneth’s motivation driving up to DC that day had zero to do with being an active participant, protesting the election outcome, and everything to do with being a set of eyes as a part of an independent security detail.A VOICE fOR THE VOICELESS PT IIby Christine WalkerKenneth & Angel Harrelson | 2009
Summer 2022 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 57According to Angel, Kenneth arrived the morning of January 5th and the whole day was without incident. The same holds true on the morning of January 6th. It wasn’t until the throngs of thousands of people started walking to the Capital that things seemed to go sideways pretty damn quick. The Oath Keepers were asked by a Capital Police Ofcer to help rescue his fellow ofcers inside the Capital itself. Kenneth and a few other oath keepers went to the East side of the Capital and that’s when they physically caught up with the crowd moving towards the steps and the Columbus Door. Once on the steps, there was nowhere to go. People were being pushed from behind, and then Kenneth noticed a Capital Police ofcer in the mix and made it his mission to try to protect this ofcer from the crowd. Unbeknownst to him at the time, protestors who had entered through the West side of the Capital, were making a bee line to the Columbus Door to unlock it. Once the door was open, one of the protestors was physically manhandling people and pulling them inside, all the while they continued being pushed from behind.Kenneth returned home to Florida, but on March 10, 2021, Kenneth was on a ladder, cleaning the gutters on his home when, according to Angel, about 15 cars with Federal agents raced up in front of their home. Guns drawn, they ordered Kenneth off the ladder and placed him in handcuffs. Angel had just started a new remote job and was on a call when she heard the knock. “They knocked on the door. I actually have it on my ring video of them coming to the door with Ken in handcuffs, there was a guy behind him with his rie pointing towards the door. When I opened it, they wanted to come in and I asked them for a warrant. [The agent] didn’t have a warrant on him. I was like, well, I want to see the warrant rst,” Angel remembers. Somehow, the agents physically swapped places with Angel, while not hurting her or Kenneth at all, they were now in their home. After six hours of searching their home, taking pictures of Angel’s books on homesteading, outdoor survival and even the ‘Art of War’, they turned their attention to the airsoft guns used by their son for his ROTC program and training. There was one legally registered rearm, which they did not take into evidence and left open and on the oor. It was only after their home was searched that the agent handed Angel the search warrant as they left to take Kenneth to the county jail. The next day, they transferred him to Seminole County jail, where US Marshals took custody of him. On March 12th, Kenneth went before a Federal Judge and was denied bail. Within just a few weeks, Kenneth was transferred to Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia. It was at this time his health was in serious decline. Kenneth’s blood pressure was through the roof, he was having chest pains and coughing up blood. Tearing up, Angel said, “They decided they would take him to medical, but they really just locked him in the ‘hole.’ He ended up staying there for 10 days. No medical help. No nothing. They [also] cut his food in half. It was just it was a lot for those 10 days. It was horrible, you know. No communication with me and I literally put it out there for everyone to call because I wanted to know if my husband was OK. If he was still alive. So nally, there was a nice guard that brought him a phone, and he was able to contact me.”In June, Kenneth was then transferred to the DC Jail. Initially, he was assigned to General Population, and as a J6 defendant, wore the scarlet letter ‘R’ as a supposed racist. Things could have gone unbelievably bad for him, but thanks to Kenneth’s amenable and friendly demeanor, he was able to nd some common ground with the other inmates. Shortly thereafter, he was transferred to the ‘Patriot Pod’ with the other J6 defendants. Kenneth’s attorney, Brad Geyer, was a Federal Prosecutor for 21 years who also served in Iraq as a DOJ Federal Prosecutor detailed to the FBI to oversee the War Zone Fraud program. Ken is charged with Seditious Conspiracy, Tampering with Witness, Victim, or An Informant: Conspiracy to Obstruct an Ofcial Proceeding, Obstruction of an Ofcial Proceeding and Aiding and Abetting & Tampering with Documents or Proceedings; Conspiracy to Prevent an Ofcer from Discharging Any Duties and nally, Destruction of Government Property and Aiding and Abetting. Even looking through the eyes of a Federal Prosecutor, Geyer states, “In 30 years in the business, I have never seen a situation [like this]. I am totally convinced that my client is innocent by fact and by law!”The challenge that Geyer and other attorneys like him face, is that instead of the prosecution providing the burden of proof of a defendant’s guilt, these defense attorneys are having to prove their client’s innocence. Exculpatory evidence is continually being denied or delayed by the ‘Powers that Be’, and with over 14,000 hours of video and surveillance footage to weed through, Geyer has had to le an extension to Kenneth’s trial, which was supposed to begin in July. “Defense attorneys wrote that a trial delay is necessary due to massive publicity surrounding the work of the U.S. House select committee investigatingJanuary 6. The committee has held hearings and taken testimony since July 2021. It has not issued a report. Attorneys said publicity surrounding the committee’s work could make it impossible for the Oath Keepers to receive a fair trial.” An article by the Epoch Times stated.1The trial is set for the end of September and Kenneth will remain in custody. Meanwhile, Angel continues to keep the home res burning. There are so many milestones that Ken is missing, like his son graduating with honors in May and then entering Army basic in June. It’s bittersweet for Angel, “Ken should be here.” And when asked how they are doing as a couple, she said, “We’re solid! I’m not going anywhere and I’m going to keep ghting for him!”1https://www.theepochtimes.com/judge-delays-oath-keepers-seditious-conspiracy-trials_4451483.html?utm_source=ai&utm_medium=searchVideo 1 Video 2family, Angel asks that you support her store, angelspatriotbattle.org
58 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022Joseph D. McBride, Esq.Attorney & Counselor Joseph D. McBride, is the Founder of THE MCBRIDE LAW FIRM, PLLC, located in New York City. Prior to going into private practice, he was a criminal defense attorney with the Legal Aid Society’s Manhattan Criminal Defense Practice, and began his legal career with the Innocence Project. Mr. McBride’s practice is primarily focused on Federal Civil Rights Claims, Federal Criminal Defense, Federal Criminal Appeals, State Criminal Defense, and State Criminal Appeals. He has a team of people around him focused on civil matters and personal injury law as well.Mr. McBride became a lawyer in response to his brother Anthony’s wrongful conviction. Con-sequentially, he shares a bond with each client he represents because he knows what it is like to have his family’s fate in the hands of an attorney. His brand of representation is aggressive, forward thinking, and relentless.mcbridelawnyc.com/january6thlegalfundEditors Note - It has been decided to follow the development of these cases, therefore A Voice for the Voiceless will become an ongoing series in AT EASE! Veterans Magazine, to better inform our readers. On May 7th, we were contacted by Attorney Joseph McBride, that his client, USMC Veteran, Ryan Nichols was being held in Solitary confinement as retribution for filing official complaints against the DC Jail for not allowing the necessary therapy for Mr. Nichols service related PTSD. In his letter to the General Council of the DC Department of Corrections, McBride states "The fact, however, that he has been kept in prolonged solitary confinement for punitive reasons, with the full knowledge of his serious underlying medical condition, is a clear violation of his civil rights. Specifically, it is evidence of deliberate indifference to his serious preexisting medical condition and detainee punishment, both of which violate his due process rights under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution."Mr. Nichols was held in solitary confinement for 20 straight days, from April 22 until May 11.McBride Letter to DOCAtty Joseph McBride on Tucker CarlsonTrial UpdateTrial UpdateTimothy Hale-Cusanelli, a former U.S. Army reservist highlighted in our previous article, ‘A Voice for the Voiceless’ has been found guilty on all charges. Scan to read the article in the Epoch Times. “The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.” Patrick Henry
Summer 2022 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 59and drop my combat load. Just like the Combined Armed Exercise in 29 Palms Ca, you fucked it up and back to the starting point until you got it right. Now armed only with my pistol and shotgun I start again. Once again, I fail. I think again, and ask why I did not use my Hum-V. I again return to the LOD. I put the pedal to the medal and go racing toward her. She again is running towards me with her arm reaching out towards me and once again I fail. I try and try again, and each time I fail. For years, this nightmare continues. Night after night I asked myself why didn’t I save her and why didn’t someone else save her? I looked at the other Marines faces and they had blank looks on their faces, and they are looking down. I could not save her, nobody could save, because she was already dead. I couldn’t save her; in my mind those who died that day in the An-Nasiriyah Battle of the Coil; they are still falling. The bodies of small children are still falling to the ground. They fall ever so slowly to the ground in slow motion. If they were left on the ground would the soil around them absorb their soul and leave their corpse to rot only to be picked at by the vouchers flying nearby waiting for all clear so they can do their part in the natural cycle of life and death. After years of being totally dysfunctional and almost paralyzed the realization was that she was already dead. After years of nightmares, I finely figured out why I could not save her was because she was already dead. Years ago, the Regimental Gunner had given me a CD with photos of the Invasion of Iraq. Not wanting to see blood guts pictures, I put it away and forgot about it. She was there but not as I had envisioned her in my dreams. Yes, she was dead, and that is why I could not save her. She was this little mud puddle. Her body was coved with a poncho. She and many like her in the days and years to come would lose lives, and for those who were lucky or unlucky to have survived, lost their innocence. I couldn’t save her in my mind they are still falling. They fall ever so slowly to the ground in slow motion. In my mind I see her hitting the ground with a bounce. I could not save her because she was already dead. After years of being dysfunctional, I realized that she was already dead. I have Dr. Tania Glenn to thank for getting memory to the surface. The Marines thought it was a body part until it moved. The RCT Surgeon, Chief, and a few Corpsmen worked to stabilize her. One leg and part of the other were missing. She looked to be maybe 3 or 3 1/2 years old. They stabilized her. Marines stood guard over her on the side of that road, to make sure no one mistakenly ran her over. Someone had given her his poncho liner to keep her warm. The Air Officers tried in vain to get an air medevac, the weather had set in, and no air was available. We passed her off to CSSC-111, RCT-1 XO said, “Gunner, there are days I’ll never forget”, looking at the little girl, “and this is one of them”. Me too, I often think of her. I doubt I’ll ever know what became of her.The only thing I learned in being a man who swore to defend the constitution of the United States of America was that politics is the guiding force, not the will of the people. We Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers spend our time destroying our fellow human beings. Yet we continue to fight knowing the futility of war. No matter, we the Warriors of the world will lose. We lose to those who care not of the common man, but only of their self-interest. Yet we, the warriors of the world will lose not to our enemies, no not to the enemy who we can see? We will lose to those that speak to the masses of those who stand for nothing but want everything. My Achilles heel is and will always be the senseless loss of civilians, especially the children.I Couldn't Save Her.. Continued from Page 47"Motivated" Continued from Page 26Andrew remembers the debrieng back at the FOB, “I’m sitting in this room with them (the QRF) and they’re dirty and just covered in blood. They were out of it, tired, and a little dazed. I didn’t quite know what to do at that point. I remember getting very upset and angry that this happened to him, and I felt like it shouldn’t have happened. If I was there, it wouldn’t have happened or it wouldn’t have happened to him, or at least it probably would have happened to me. I was very as very upset with myself about it. A squad leader [who] had already been on two or three tours in Iraq, and some pretty bad ones too said ‘look, you can’t do that to yourself, ‘cause. There’s nothing you could have done. It was gonna happen and you being there wouldn’t have made a difference. It was going to happen either way.’ At the time I didn’t really [heed] his advice.”A few months later, Andrew was driving an armored vehicle on patrol, “we ran over the IED, it was very loud, and everything went white. I don’t know if it was the dust or my brain just shut down, but everything just went white for a second. I was dazed. I’m not really hearing anything. I can see people talking, but I can’t hear anything. After that, we realized what had happened. Everybody was good, [except for one guy]. He had this Kevlar off and was resting with his head pressed up against the armor when it happened. The percussion ended up knocking him out and rattling his brain so hard that he ended up with a very severe concussion. He had to relearn how to walk and speak again,” he recalls.At the time, Andrew was cleared for duty but was later diagnosed with a TBI because of the incident. Tragically, the other Marine took his own life after years of struggling.And whatever became of his team leader? “He survived and made a very quick recovery to prosthetics. He was walking within two or three months and got with the Wounded Warriors. Before we were even back in Hawaii, he was already on press junkets. He was right there at the bottom of the plane when we got back, and actually took me and the squad on a shing trip.” After his tours, Andrew returned to Hawaii, but he knew something wasn’t right between the nightmares and depression, so he got help right away. Unfortunately, being prescribed mild anti-depressants disqualied him from carrying a rie and ofcially made him ‘unt for duty’ with his unit. He nished out his enlistment as an MP, married his wife, and was honorably discharged. Shortly after returning to Indiana, he pursued a degree in writing and journalism and connected with Operation Combat Bikesaver, serving as Director of Marketing for the organization.
60 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022Veterans who receive health care benets through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can also enroll in Medicare upon turning 65. Because each offers different benets, having both at your disposal will broaden your health insurance coverage options.If you’re a veteran, it’s important to understand how VA benets and Medicare work in tandem before you make the choice. The VA’s health care package and Medicare are two distinct programs. They do not work together, but rather, alongside one another.Our organization can help you understand those benets and show you how they work firstname.lastname@example.org or 940-597-2001DID YOU KNOW?DID YOU KNOW?Like I said, we live in Fort Hood, TX. Well, I had texted my wife the day before the competition started and she said, ‘yeah, we’re probably not gonna show up ‘cause. it’s kind of a far drive with the baby’ I said OK, no worries, I’ll be OK. Eric and I were halfway through the day and rucking to our next point and I saw a car pulled off to the right and from a distance I couldn’t tell who it was, I asked Eric. Hey, who’s that? As we got closer, that’s my family right there! It got me emotional. The next two days [they were] cheering us on and motivating us. Even our command team showed up and having [our] fan club pushing us through made the difference,” he said. The ultimate accomplishment came as Capt. Paunga and 1st Lt. Mattia ran through the big red castle that marked the end of the Sapper competition! They nished strong. 1st Lt. Mattia remembers that moment, “OK, it’s done. I did everything I could do. I know I get to sleep tonight, so there’s that. We knew we were probably podium (top 3), but we didn’t know for sure.”Team 17 would have to wait to nd out the results until the award ceremony was held the next day. They won! “It was pretty surreal. It was always our goal, obviously, but there’s this kind of surreal moment when we were actually up there holding the trophy,” 1st Lt. Mattia said. For Capt. Paunga, it was a dening moment, “Personally, this was a huge accomplishment. For me and I would add for my culture. To be able to go through all of that and then come out winning a competition in the Army. The Army [is] like hey, this guy and his partner are unbelievable, right? And then just a cultural part, we’re not really a big country and we don’t win Olympics or events like that. But representing my culture and be the rst ever [American Samoan] to win the best Sapper competition and it even made the Samoan news. It was cool!” he said. From all of us at AT EASE! Veterans Magazine… You are Bad-Ass! Congratulations!! “SAPPERS LEAD THE WAY!EARN THE RIGHT!”FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE SAPPER COMPETITION, VISIT SCAN TO SEE TEAM 17 IN ACTION'Sapper Competition' Continued from page 7if you are sole proprietor, you have no team and you are making all these decisions on your own, getting stuck in analysis paralysis. The cohort is a safety net – and it is not just business. The cohort supports vets through both business and personal struggles we may be going through. The peer group is there for accountability and support. It is just an amazing experience.”Check out these Entrepreneur Support OrganizationsIf you are interested in learning more, research Accelerators, Incubators, and Makerspaces availability in your community. Check with community colleges and universities for innovation labs. See links below for more information: Bunker Labs Home - Bunker Labs The Bridge Accelerator - The Bridge (tb-xl.com) – El PasoCapital Factory - Capital Factory - The Center Of Gravity For Entrepre-neurs In TexasCenter on Rural Innovation - Center on Rural InnovationDallas Entrepreneur Center - Entrepreneur | The DEC NetworkLos Angeles Cleantech Incubator - Startup Programs Overview - LACI (laincubator.org)Rice University Alliance - Connecting startups to capital, net-works, and success | Rice AllianceSan Antonio - Research University in Texas | UTSA | University of Texas at San Antonio; Maestro Entrepreneur Center (maestrocenter.org)Texas Tech - TTU Accelerator | Research Park | Research Home | TTUUT Austin Austin Technology Incubator – Deep Tech Incubator from the University of Texas at Austin (utexas.edu)DD-214 & Beyond Continued from page 23
T A P ST A P SIn an effort to NEVER forget, this page will serve as a Memorial to our Brothers & Sisters who gave everything! If you would like to have a fellow soldier or loved one remembered, Please email TAPS@theateasemagazine.com with name, rank, branch of service, war and death date. WE WILL NEVER FORGET!WE WILL NEVER FORGET!WE WILL NEVER FORGET!WE WILL NEVER FORGET! RANK/NAME BRANCH DEATH DATE DEATH LOCATION CAUSE SSGT. KENDALL DAMON WATERS-BEY USMC 03.21.2003 UMM QASR (NEAR) Summer 2022 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 61This issue we remember the names of our Brothers & Sisters who Gave All in Operation Iraqi Freedom
62 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2022
Summer2022 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 63A QUIET CADENCEBOOK REVIEWA Quiet CadenceBy Mark TreanorPublisher: Naval Institute PressMilitary Writers Association Gold Medal Award for Historical Fiction (2021) Winner of the William E. Colby Military Writers’ Award Winner of the W.Y. Boyd Award for Excellence in Military Fiction Synopsis: Sometimes it takes years for a combat vet to understand what war did to him when he was nineteen. With the perception and reflection of a man on the cusp of retirement from a career teaching high school kids, Marty McClure recalls the relentless intensity of prolonged combat as a teenage Marine machine gunner facing booby traps and battles in a war with few boundaries. Family and friends know Marty as a kind, peaceful man. They aren’t aware that when he was young, he plumbed the depths of terror, hatred, and despair with no assurance he’d ever surface again. Now he needs to reveal what happened in Vietnam and how, with the help of Patti, his wife, Corrie Corrigan, a disabled vet, and Doc Matheson, a corpsman turned trauma surgeon, he works to become a good husband, father, and teacher while he fights to bury the war. Only if he accepts help from his wife and his friends will he find real peace.The hard copy of A Quiet Cadence has been sitting on my bedside table and it has been a constant reminder to me that I have been meaning to read this book and do this review for almost a year. And I can assure my readers, that it has been well worth the wait. Written by Captain Mark Treanor, USMC; A Quiet Cadence is a fictional story recounting the horrific experience of PFC Marty ‘Mick’ McClure, a Machine Gunner, with the First Platoon Bravo Company in Vietnam. The camaraderie with men who he had only known for a few weeks or months and the incredible loss of losing them. However, Marty’s story doesn’t end when he comes home, in fact, the second half of this novel follows Mick throughout the remainder of his enlistment stationed at Lejeune and then onward throughout his life as he continues to deal with the ‘ghosts’ of his fallen brothers, the confusion and fallout of the anti-war, anti-veteran sentiment within our Country at the time, and trying to build a life completely separate from his experiences in Vietnam. A Quiet Cadence is by no means another watered-down version of a Vietnam war story. By chapter three, the reader begins to understand without question that the brutality and violence of the war and the toll it takes on the young Marines contained in these chapters are not a contrived Hollywood version of events, but instead, are the real memories of Captain Treanor. I had to take breaks in-between chapters in the first half of the book to absorb the unrelenting and descriptive ruthlessness of war.Notwithstanding, the writing and the character descriptions and development are outstanding! You will quickly recognize the characteristics of the other Marines and Veterans you know or may have served with. I became engrossed in each character and hoped by the books end there would be some resolution or a miniscule understanding of the fates of those who survived. I was not disappointed. I strongly recommend each Veteran add this to their reading list this summer. Regardless of which war era we have served in, I believe each one of us can connect more readily with understanding and compassion for our Vietnam Veterans. ___Having grown up in the 70’s and 80’s, many of my friends’ fathers and teachers I had in school were Vietnam Vets. I have always held an incredibly special place in my heart for these men and women who did what was required of them, even though the outcome, propagated by decisions of irresponsible politicians, was an unmitigated disaster. In 1986, I was just fourteen and I traveled to Washington D.C. on a trip with my 9th Grade class. I have vivid memories of slowly walking down the chevron of the Vietnam War Memorial alone and taking in the 58,000 plus names. But what I remember most were the men there that day, dressed in their leftover war regalia, tears streaming down their faces, or a stoic hand placed on the name of a brother who never came home. ___“How do I explain that when I was very young, I plumbed the depths of depravity without knowing if I’d find my way back to sanity’s surface? I can describe the camaraderie of shared misery, but can I also relate the excitement, the pride, and the love without downplaying the horror and terror that nearly drove me mad?” BOOK REVIEWMark Treanor, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Mark served as an infantry and artillery officer (2dLt. – Capt., 1968 – 1973) in the U.S. Marine Corps where he led a rifle platoon in Vietnam, an artillery battery in the 2d Marine Division, was aide de-camp to the Commanding General of the 2d MarDiv, and was an instructor in leadership, weapons and tactics at The Basic School. He is also a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law, where he was a member of the Law Review and Order of the Coif.
25 VETERAN PODCASTS YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT25 VETERAN PODCASTS YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT1. A Lile More AT EASE! :Hosted by Chrisne Walker & Billy Rubino. hps://anchor.fm/a-lile-more-at-ease2. The Unprofessional Veterans: Hosted by The Rev & The Kid. hps://anchor.fm/unprofessional-veterans3. The Red, White & You Show: Hosted by Dean McMurray. Website: hp://deanmcmurray.com/radio-show/4. The Truths We Hide: Hosted by Annee Whienberger. Website: hps://anchor.fm/annee-whienberger5. Someone You Should Know: Hosted by Stuart Sax. Website: hps://stuartsax.com/my-shows6. NonProt Architect: Hosted by Travis Johnson. Website: hps://nonprotarchitect.org/7. Entrepreneur on Fire: Hosted by John Lee Dumas. Website: hps://www.eore.com/8. Vercal Momentum: Hosted by Richard Kaufman. Website: hps://anchor.fm/richard-kaufman69. Jocko Podcast: Hosted by Jocko Willink. Website: hps://jockopodcast.com/10. Airman to Mom: Hosted by Amanda Human. Website: hps://www.airmantomom.com/11. The Stoned Vet: Hosted by Sgt G. Website: hps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJk55bmjx03NpyWSOyCbBGw/featured12. The Hoarding Soluon: Hosted by Tammi Moses. Website: hps://anchor.fm/tammi-moses13. Veterans Be Real: Hosted by John Valenne. Website: hps://www.veteransbereal.com/14. Disgruntled Docs Podcast: Hosted by Disgruntled Docs. Website: hps://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/disgruntled-docs-podcast15. The Military Veteran Dad: Hosted by Ben Killoy. Website: hps://www.militaryveterandad.com/16. The Ambious Vet: Hosted by Chris Homan. Website: hps://theambiousvet.libsyn.com/17. Home-Bound Veteran: Hosted by Keith and Laura. Website: hps://homeboundveteran.com/18. Mind of the Warrior: Hosted by Dr. Mike Simpson. Website: hps://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/mind-of-the-warrior19. Team Never Quit: Hosted by Marcus and Morgan Lurell. Website: hps://teamneverquit.com/podcast/20. Borne the Bale: Hosted by Tanner Iskra. Website: hps://www.audible.com/pd/Borne-the-Bale-Podcast/B08K568Z9121. Frontlines of Freedom: Hosted by Denny Gillam. Website: hps://frontlinesoreedom.com/22. The Warrior Soul: Hosted by Chris Alpert. Website: hps://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-warrior-soul-podcast23. Mentors for Military: Hosted by Robert Gowin. Website: hps://mentorsformilitary.com/24. Bale Buddy: Hosted by Keith McKeever. Website: hps://www.balebuddypodcast.net/25. Veteran on the Move: Hosted by Joe Crane. Website: hps://veteranonthemove.com/64 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022
“I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but by how high he bounces when he hits bottom.”– General George S. PattonMyNewsBuffet.comMyNewsBuffet.com is a unique, woke-free news site that is staunchly pro-liberty, pro-Constitution, pro-law and is a unique, woke-free news site that is staunchly pro-liberty, pro-Constitution, pro-law and order, and pro-free speech.order, and pro-free speech.In addition to featuring the top news stories of the day, In addition to featuring the top news stories of the day, MyNewsBuffet.comMyNewsBuffet.com gives you quick access to more than gives you quick access to more than 300 news sources, wire services, columnists, and videos each and every day. And it does so with astonishing speed and 300 news sources, wire services, columnists, and videos each and every day. And it does so with astonishing speed and Get the News the Mainstream Media Get the News the Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want You to SeeDoesn’t Want You to SeeAND TRY IT NOW FORAND TRY IT NOW FOR FREEFREE Your Daily Source for Woke-Free Political ContentYour Daily Source for Woke-Free Political ContentMyNewsBuffet.comMyNewsBuffet.com “I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but by how high he bounces when he hits bottom.”– General George S. PattonMyNewsBuffet.comMyNewsBuffet.com is a unique, woke-free news site that is staunchly pro-liberty, pro-Constitution, pro-law and is a unique, woke-free news site that is staunchly pro-liberty, pro-Constitution, pro-law and order, and pro-free speech.order, and pro-free speech.In addition to featuring the top news stories of the day, In addition to featuring the top news stories of the day, MyNewsBuffet.comMyNewsBuffet.com gives you quick access to more than gives you quick access to more than 300 news sources, wire services, columnists, and videos each and every day. And it does so with astonishing speed and 300 news sources, wire services, columnists, and videos each and every day. And it does so with astonishing speed and Get the News the Mainstream Media Get the News the Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want You to SeeDoesn’t Want You to SeeAND TRY IT NOW FORAND TRY IT NOW FOR FREEFREE Your Daily Source for Woke-Free Political ContentYour Daily Source for Woke-Free Political ContentMyNewsBuffet.comMyNewsBuffet.com
'SUMMER' SCAVENGER HUNTACROSS1 SAPPER MEANING3 WHERE THE DEATH MARCH TOOK PLACE7 AMERICAN LEGION IN KENTUCKY12 WOMEN’S VETERANS DAY IS IN WHAT MONTH13 UNIVERSITY ADVERTISER14 ‘MAGICAL ENCOUNTER’ TOOK PLACE IN __________16 ‘IN SEARCH OF A GOOD LIFE’ RULE 618 FIRST SAPPER COMMANDANT20 SGT. HAZLETT WAS A ________ IN THE ARMY22 BRIGADIER GENERAL GARY BROWN SERVED IN __________23 EAGLE PHOTOGRAPHER26 ELLIOTT MCKENZIE SONG28 BASIC _______ DEMOLITION/SEAL29 OLMSTEAD WAS HIT BY WHAT TYPE OF ARTILLERY ROUND30 SEAL ICONDOWN2 PFC ARMAND __________4 HARRELSON BRIDE5 CAPT. PAUNGA IS FROM __________ __________6 WILLIAM BRANUM IS THE __________ __________8 CONTRIBUTOR JEFF WILLIE IS A __________ VETERAN9 VINTAGE COFFEE AD10 DD-214 & BEYOND HIGHLIGHTS __________ __________11 JUNE IS __________ AWARENESS MONTH15 PRIMARY CHARACTER IN ‘A QUIET CADENCE’17 ‘BEGIN WITH FOCUS’ AUTHOR19 EDITORS BRANCH21 VL STEVENSON SIGNED USMC ENLISTMENT IN WHAT MONTH24 ANOTHER WORD FOR ‘DRAWN’25 1ST LT. MATTIA WHEN TO COLLEGE IN __________27 BRANUM WAS STATIONED ON WHATSHIP66 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022
CROSSWORD ANSWERS:Summer 2022| AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 67EXERPTS FROM 'BORN IN A BAR'...Oh Deer...Deer... Imagine you’re standing guard on post at any base, looking out in the distance and seeing what appears to be multiple reflective belts running through the tree line outside the gates. You would eventually investigate to see what or who was in the area that shouldn’t be, right? This is exactly what happened at Goodfellow AFB. The gate guards kept seeing the reflective belts running through the brush and they would give chase, but they couldn’t catch or figure out who or what it was. Eventually, after a few chases they realized it was a herd of deer running through the woods, wearing the reflective PT belts. They finally caught one of the deer and removed the belt from around its body. It turned out that Marines stationed there had been baiting, tracking, ambushing, and then tackling the deer before pinning them down and putting the reflective belts on them. These perpetrators would have gotten away with their glowing prank had they not left their names written in sharpie on the belts. Marines are no longer required to wear reflective belts on Goodfellow. As unbelievable as this sounds, it has been confirmed by several USAF security forces who were stationed there. uSMC DRINKING TRAITS Justice – Fighting an extremely drunk obnoxious person while you’re still sober is quite hilarious. Judgement – If you’re not sure which beer is yours, always assume it’s the fuller one. Dependability – Always be there for your brothers. If they need a pick-me-up, $20 for a lap dance and a beer goes a long way. Initiative – Don’t wait for a friend to call and ask to go to the bar, just assume he does and pick him up.Decisiveness – Don’t spend five minutes looking at the menu. Just fucking order already. Tact – Never, ever talk to another dude in the bathroom, or complain about the brand of a free drink. Integrity – Always be honest about who bought the last round. However, it is acceptable to grossly exaggerate while telling bar stories.Enthusiasm – If you’re broke and your friend is buying, you must laugh at all his jokes and stories and be his wingman. See also: ‘Loyalty.’Bearing – You may get so drunk that you have to crawl home, but by God, you will crawl home like a Marine. Unselfishness – Allowing a brother to bum more than one cigarette without making it a big deal. Also, the greatest thing a drunk can do is buy a round of drinks for the bar. Courage – Knowing that 99 out of 100 will say no, but you don’t give up because eventually you will find “the one.” Knowledge – Knowing beer before liquor, always sicker. Liquor before beer and…you probably won’t remember anyway. Loyalty – Being there as a wingman for your fellow Marine by taking the grenade so your brother/sister may attempt a hook up. Endurance – It’s a long night, don’t be the fucking blue falcon who causes the cops to be called and everyone to go home early. Besides, PT is at 0530. Might as well just stay up. This list has not yet been ‘officially’ endorsed by the Marine Corps, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.fOR MORE INAPPROPRIATE SHANNIGANS, SCAN THE QR CODE bELOw:
68 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Summer 2022Coming Up In Our Next Issue: • Carlos 'White Feather' Hathcock• Book Review: Born in a Bar• CreatiVets• Veterans Day• The Boombox 'Bugler'• Plus our regular feature articles
LIKE WHAT YOU SEE SO FAR? HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS? LET US KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS ...'THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER AS YOU'VE NEVER HEARD IT'HIGHLY RECOMMENDS: SCAN THE QR CODE TO HEAR 'ON MY WATCH TONIGHT'Summer 2022| AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 69
there is my country.there is my country.Where liberty Where liberty dwells,dwells,Benjamin FranklinBenjamin FranklinBenjamin FranklinBenjamin Franklin
Check Us OutWe go live on FB June 8th @ 7:30 pm CSTYOU CAN ALSO FIND US HERELike our Magazine, 'A Little More AT EASE!' podcast is casual, honest, & sometimes unfiltered. We take you behind the scenes and give you a peek into what it takes to create AT EASE! Veterans Magazine, checking in with the Vets behind the stories, and discuss the topics that matter to Veterans. Nothing is off the table... and you never know what you're going to get!
VETERAN STORIESVETERAN STORIES MILITARY HISTORYMILITARY HISTORY DD-214 & BEYONDDD-214 & BEYOND GIRLS & GRITGIRLS & GRIT SALUTE TO SATIRESALUTE TO SATIRE VETERAN VETERAN ENTREPRENEURSENTREPRENEURS AND SO MUCH MORE!AND SO MUCH MORE!$40/a year for 4 Quarterly Print Magazines$40/a year for 4 Quarterly Print MagazinesSCAN THE QR CODEVisit: theateasemagazine.com/subscribeVisit: theateasemagazine.com/subscribeSUBSCRIBE TODAY!SUBSCRIBE TODAY!PO BOX 133 | PILOT POINT, TX 76258PO BOX 133 | PILOT POINT, TX 76258940.209.0022 | DEVILDOCPUBLISHING.COM940.209.0022 | DEVILDOCPUBLISHING.COM