Rank #1: #157: Ursula Draper – Army Veteran, Occupational Therapist, Assistive Technology Professional
Since some veterans have multiple traumas, known as polytrauma, VA dedicates resources to help Veterans with very complex issues.
This week's Borne the Battle interview is with Army Veteran Ursula Draper, who developed the VA Assistive Technology Program in 2010.
Draper, an Army Veteran, spent six years working as an ophthalmic technician at Martin Army Hospital at Fort Benning, Georgia. Using her GI Bill, Ursula received her bachelor's degree in Occupational Therapy from East Carolina University. She then operated her own private practice in Orlando, Florida, for over 20 years, specializing in Sensory Integration and pediatrics. Wanting to give back to the Veterans, she then pursued a career in the Veterans Health Administration working with spinal cord injuries. In 2009, she began working at the Veterans Administration, specializing in spinal cord injury and traumatic brain Injuries.
The Assistive Technology program tries to meet Veteran needs. The program finds adaptive ways for Veterans to access their environment, such as turning on lights or accessing computers. Specific areas of AT intervention include:
- Mobility Assistive Equipment
- Adapted Computer Access
- Electronic Aids to Daily Living/Environmental Control Units
- Augmentative & Alternative Communication
- Electronic Cognitive Devices
- Adapted Automotive Equipment
- Adapted Sports & Recreation Equipment
- Navy Veteran Donald McCarty
Rank #2: #4: Robert A. McDonald – Army Veteran, Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Happy Veterans Day! Joining us on this Veterans Day episode is Secretary Robert McDonald. Secretary McDonald, who prefers to be called "Bob," is an Army Veteran and former CEO of Procter & Gamble. An Army veteran, Mr. McDonald served with the 82nd Airborne Division; completed Jungle, Arctic, and Desert Warfare training; and earned the Ranger tab, the Expert Infantryman Badge, and Senior Parachutist wings. Upon leaving military service, Captain McDonald was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. Since joining VA, Secretary McDonald has led the Department in its ambitious transformational journey to be a world-class service provider and the No. 1 customer-service agency in the Federal government giving Veterans consistent, high-quality experiences. Covered in Episode Four: * The story of Medal of Honor recipient, Michael Fitzmaurice. * Interview with Army Veteran Robert McDonald * Bob's decision to join the military. * Transitioning to Procter & Gamble. * Could VA handle another influx of combat Veterans? * Measuring the impact of his leadership after he leaves. * How he uses his time most efficiently. * His emotional response to Veteran homelessness * The new Vets.gov portal. * An ode to all Veterans Click here for the full script of the episode. The #VApodcast is now available in iTunes. Search “This Week at VA” in the Podcast app.
Rank #3: #3: Fred Wellman – Army Veteran, CEO of ScoutComms
November is upon is and episode three of the podcast is here. This week's feature guest is Army Veteran Fred Wellman.
Wellman is a retired Army officer having served 22-years as an aviator and public affairs officer including four combat tours. He currently is the CEO and Founder of ScoutComms, Inc., a B Corp communications and corporate social responsibility firm supporting organizations addressing the needs of veterans and military families. He founded the firm in 2010 and it is today one of the first B Corp firms focused on veterans issues in the world.
Covered in Episode Three:
- The value and importance of Patient Advocates.
- Interview with Army Veteran Fred Wellman
- Fred’s decision to join the military.
- Serving before and after 9/11.
- Reentering the job market.
- Becoming an entrepreneur.
- The growth of ScoutComms.
- Resources for Veteran entrepreneurs.
- #VeteranOfTheDay Army Veteran John Kamin
Click here for the full script of the episode.
The #VApodcast is now available in iTunes. Search "This Week at VA" in the Podcast app.
If you have any questions or feedback regarding the podcast, please Tweet us using #VApodcast.
Rank #4: #57: Sebastian Junger – Journalist, author of "Tribe"
Sebastian Junger, award winning journalist and author of "Tribe," is the first non-Veteran who isn't the Secretary, to be on the podcast. I believe he makes a great fit with his experience in conflict zones and his longtime relationship with the military community. Junger is going to share his thoughts on storytelling and the importance of sharing your military experience with your community.
Rank #5: #69: Boyd Renner – Navy Veteran, Everence
A couple months ago I attended the Military Influencer Conference. There were a lot of great creators and entrepreneurs there, but one group of people stood out to me. I met a few people representing a product called Everence. Everence is a patented technology that allows you to add DNA from a loved one into any new or existing tattoo.
I know tattoos are a common thing in the military and Veteran community, and I had my own curiosity, led me to inviting a member of their team onto Borne the Battle to talk about it.
Boyd Renner, one of the co-founders of Everence, served in the Navy for 28 years. He served at SEAL Team Two for four years and served over 23 years at Naval Special Warfare Development Group.
He's going to talk to us about his time as a Navy SEAL, his transition out of the military, and the unique product Everence.
Rank #6: #77: Randy Dexter – Student Veteran of the Year finalist
Today, we speak with Randy Dexter. Randy is an Army Veteran and just received his bachelor's from University of Nevada in Las Vegas. He just started his pursuit of his master's degree.
Randy shares stories from his service, recovering from his deployment and struggling transition, how the Las Vegas shooting impacted his community, how he got his service dog, and how his Veterans group is making an impact with local government.
Rank #7: #141: BourBiz - Military Veteran/MilSpouse Networking Event
Bonus episode! This episode is an experiment of a sorts. I attended a Veteran/ military spouse networking event called BourBiz. It was held this last Thursday by The Veteran Success Resource Group at the MGM, National Harbor, Maryland.
I was told about this event by future guests, Brett D’Allesandro and Alexa Modero the founders of the non profit, Backpacks For Life. They were part of a veteran-owned-business pitch competition that was going to be held at the event. Placing 2nd, they were awarded $15,000.
Again, this was last Thursday and I didn’t know about it until the day prior. Within 24 hours I was hooked up with a booth. So with little time to plan, I brought my gear and figured to catch something. I set up, did two interviews - and I didn’t think I captured anything. It was loud and they were having a live auction right next to me. So, I shut down my operation and just took the whole thing in. However, when I went home, I learned that the quality wasn’t too bad. So, what you're going to hear is what I was able to capture. If you would like to hear more episodes like this (with more content) please reach out to me at email@example.com.
Rank #8: #65: Dr. David Shulkin – Secretary of Veterans Affairs
A few weeks ago we released episode 1103 of The American Veteran, a compilation of videos and stories from around our community. Included in that episode was an interview we recently conducted with Secretary Shulkin about improvements around VA, modernizing the processes, and announcements being made.
I wanted to make sure you all heard this interview, so I decided to make it this week's feature interview. My colleague, Melissa Heintz, sat down with Secretary Shulkin to discuss where VA is 8 months into his watch.
Rank #9: #42: Brian Stann – Marine Veteran, Hire Heroes USA
I remember watching Brian Stann fight in the UFC, thinking it was so cool to see a Marine in the octagon. Now, I think its even cooler to see a decorated Veteran taking a leadership position that allows him to influence the lives of so many other Veterans and spouses. Brian is the CEO of Hire Heroes USA. They do amazing work with Veterans looking for employment and career advancements. They proudly claim more than 50% success rate for all users that register on their website. That's amazing considering how many visitors come to the site "just to check it out." Hire Heroes USA is positively affecting our economy and the Veteran community with the services they offer. Brian even offers his opinion on the upcoming Mayweather/McGregor fight.
Brian Stann is President and Chief Executive Officer of Hire Heroes USA, a decorated Marine, and a nationally recognized analyst for the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship).A Naval Academy football player and graduate, he served two deployments with 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM and was awarded the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for valor, for his actions near the Al-Romana Bridge during Operation MATADOR in May 2005. Stann took over as President and CEO of Hire Heroes USA, which is headquartered in Alpharetta, Ga., in 2008 and has grown the nonprofit organization to a total of seven offices across the country. Under his leadership, Hire Heroes USA has built a national reputation of excellence and is recognized as a best-in-class veteran service organization by the USO, Call of Duty Endowment and the George W. Bush Institute.
Covered in Episode 42:
- Medal of Honor citation for James C. McCloughan
- Interview with Marine Veteran Brian
- Why he decided to join the Marines
- Examples of great leadership while he was in
- His decision to transition.
- His MMA career
- Hire Heroes USA mission and impact
- Mistakes Veterans make with resumes and job hunting
- Mayweather vs McGregor
- Veterans Employment and Transitioning Services provided by Department of Labor
- #VeteranOfTheDay Army Veteran John "Wolf" Wagner
Rank #10: #156: Daniel Sharp – Marine Veteran, CEO PopSmoke Media, Smokepit Podcast Host
If you have a Facebook or Instagram account, you either follow this week's guest or have seen his work shared on your social media feed. This week’s Borne The Battle episode interview is with Marine Veteran Daniel Sharp, the Chief Executive Officer of PopSmoke Media and podcast host of The Smokepit.
Sharp talks about his transition from the Marine Corps after 11 years of service as an infantryman to starting his own media company, to developing his podcast. We also go into his personal relationship with his local VA Medical Center. He said his experience with Veterans Affairs started out difficult, but he worked to hold himself accountable to identify solutions and make sure the care worked for him. Sharp also talks about the stress of combat and the support network that can help mitigate those stresses.
Currently, his podcast has listeners in 55 different countries.Additional Links to this week’s Episode:
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing:
- Navy Veteran Neil Armstrong
- Air Force Veteran Michael Collins
- Air Force Veteran Buzz Aldrin
Rank #11: #55: Kevin Leverence – Marine Veteran, VA health care user
When we first launched the podcast, initial response questioned whether or not our audience would hear from Veterans that have had trouble with VA. A few of my guests in the past have alluded to challenges with VA health care, but I wanted to to dig a little deeper and talk with someone that has a wide range of experiences with VA. Kevin Leverence and I have known each other for a few years after he first appeared on my podcast 1, 2, Many: Veteran Suicide. I followed up with him earlier this year asking if he'd be willing to share his experiences on This Week at VA and he generously agreed. Kevin did not have a good introduction to VA and it took a few frustrating iterations before he finally broke through some sticking points and found the help he was looking for. Kevin is going to share stories from joining the military and his military service, his transition out of the Marine Corps, frustrations with VA, and finally getting the care he needed. Lots of great talk about patient advocates, Vet Centers, different types of therapy, and much more.
Covered in Episode 55:
- How to follow us during next week's events
- Interview with Marine Veteran Kevin Leverence
- Why he joined the military
- A story from his time in
- His transition out and the challenges he faced
- The day that first turned him off of VA
- The value in patient advocates
- How Vet Centers are great resources for Veterans
- Types of therapy he has used
- Getting comfortable with VA and getting the care he needs
- Finding your patient advocate
- #VeteranOfTheDay Navy Veteran Tony Roberti
Rank #12: #134: Tanner Iskra – Marine Veteran, new host of Borne the Battle
This episode is a humbling one for me. Episode 134 is the last episode I will produce as the host of Borne the Battle. I launched the podcast in 2016 under the title "This Week at VA," renamed it Borne The Battle about a year later, and have interviewed an impressive set of Veterans and their loved ones. However, while I may be moving on from the podcast, the podcast is remaining and will be hosted by a newer member of my team, Tanner Iskra.
Tanner Iskra is a United States Marine Corps Veteran who served as an intel analyst in OIF III and later as a combat videographer/photographer. During his military career he deployed to OIF III as well as Romania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Germany, France, Spain as part of the Black Sea Rotational Force. After leaving active duty, Tanner was a Senior Post Production Editor with NASCAR Productions. Tanner is a graduate of the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Media Studies and holds a Certificate in Military Motion Media from the Newhouse School of Journalism at Syracuse University. Joining the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in October 2018, Tanner is a video producer with the Digital Media Engagement team focusing on producing, editing and shooting content that tells the Veteran’s story.
Tanner joins the show so we may learn about his service, his creativity, and his vision for the podcast moving forward.
Rank #13: #49: Forever GI Bill round table w/ TAPS, Got Your 6 & SVA
The wonderful people over at Got Your 6 emailed me one day asking if I wanted to do a round table podcast talking about the Forever GI Bill. I was in right away. The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 AKA the Forever GI Bill works to improve education benefits for Veterans, their dependents, and their survivors. On the panel we have Ashlynne Haycock from TAPS, Lauren Augustine from Got Your 6, and William Hubbard from SVA. The three of them are going to tell me all about the development and execution of this bill.
Covered in Episode 49:
- This week's social media events for Suicide Prevention Month
- Round table discussion with Ashlynne Haycock, Lauren Augustine, and Will Hubbard
- Why the Forever GI Bill is valuable
- What it does for Veterans
- Each of their roles in getting it passed
- Their experience collaborating with Capitol Hill
- When and how the bill will be implemented
- Education Call Center
- #VeteranOfTheDay Air Force Veteran Beck H. Gee
Rank #14: #44: Mark Rockefeller – Air Force Veteran, Street Shares CEO
In the Veteran community, there are people you hear of and hear about over and over but never meet or engage with. Mark Rockefeller was on my radar for years. I heard about Street Shares, the company he co-founded, when they first started. I never had the opportunity to interview him for my former programs, so he made the short list when we launched This Week at VA. Just a couple weeks ago, I finally got the opportunity to talk with him. I visited Street Share's cozy space in Reston, VA and talked with him about serving in the Air Force, being an entrepreneur, Veteran owned businesses, and much more.
Mark began his career as a military officer, and later as an attorney. Following service in Iraq, Mark worked briefly on a pro bono micro-finance project in Africa before joining the prominent global financial services law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP. His law practice focused on securities, financial restructuring, and international investment disputes. Inspired by his experience in Africa and a desire to reinvigorate small businesses in the United States (particularly veteran-owned small businesses), Mark left the law firm in 2013 to co-found StreetShares. He holds a B.S. in Finance, and advanced degrees in Finance and Law. Mark provides strategic leadership and vision to StreetShares and ensures our talented team has what it needs to serve our customers. Mark's favorite American Main Street is Main Street, Breckenridge, CO.
Covered in Episode 43:
- Secretary Shulkin's remarks on the signing of Choice and Quality Employment Act
- Interview with Air Force Veteran Mark Rockefeller
- Why he decided to join the Air Force
- His experience in the military
- Handling legal cases in a conflict zone
- Founding Street Shares
- Entrepreneurship among Veterans
- Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization
- #VeteranOfTheDay Marine Corps Veteran Robert Estrada
Rank #15: #51: Mike Krzyzewski – Army Veteran, Duke Basketball Coach
I've published more than 500 podcast episodes in my podcast career. A couple times a year, there's usually an exciting interview, one that feels like a badge of honor. This week's episode of This Week at VA features the epitome of those interviews. Thanks to a colleague and the great folks at Duke, I had the opportunity to interview Mike Krzyzewski, coach of the men's basketball team at Duke University. As many of you know, Coach K has won multiple NCAA championship titles and is considered a legend in the sport. What many people may not know, is that he is a West Point graduate and a former Army officer. Coach K talks to us about his decision to go to West Point, transitioning from military to college coaching, developing young players, and his experience in the Army.
About Coach Mike Krzyzewski (before his career at Duke):
Coach K's disciplined, mentally tough teams can be seen as an extension of his own upbringing. Krzyzewski went to West Point and enrolled in the U.S. Military Academy to receive a quality education, play basketball and become an officer in the Army. From 1969-74, Krzyzewski served his country, directing service teams for three years and serving a two-year stint as head coach at the U.S. Military Academy Prep School in Belvoir, Va. In 1974, he resigned from the Army having attained the rank of Captain. When Coach K was just 26, Knight, his former coach at Army, offered him a graduate assistant-ship at Indiana University. That 1975 squad posted an 18-0 mark in the Big Ten and a 31-1 overall record. Prior to his arrival at Duke in 1980, Krzyzewski spent five years building the program at his alma mater in West Point. He led the Cadets to one NIT berth, one ECAC playoff appearance and an overall record of 73-59.
Covered in Episode 51:
- Nominating a #VeteranOfTheDay
- Interview with Navy Veteran Kevin Quarles
- His decision to attend West Point
- A story from his experience in the Army
- Comparing developing young players to mentoring soldiers
- How military service made him a better coach
- Transitioning from military life to coaching life
- VA Adaptive Sports
- #VeteranOfTheDay Army Veteran Francis Brown Wai
Rank #16: #150: Benefits Breakdown – VA Home Loan Program
On June 22, VA will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the G.I. Bill. In honor of this historic event, Army Veteran Maxine Henry and Air Force Veteran Mark Connors of the VA’s Loan Guaranty Service team sat down with Borne the Battle to discuss one of the best and most popular Veteran benefits--the VA home loan entitlement.
The VA home loan guaranty has several advantages for Veteran borrowers:
- Veterans using the VA home loan are generally not required to have a downpayment.
- Veterans using the VA home loan also aren’t required to carry any mortgage insurance, which saves borrowers hundreds of dollars on their monthly mortgage payments.
- Veterans using the VA home loan benefit enjoy limited closing costs.
- VA home loans have very competitive interest rates.
- Veterans aren’t charged any prepayment penalty if they are able to pay off their mortgage earlier than required while using the VA loan.
- VA provides assistance to help Veterans retain their homes during periods of temporary financial difficulty.
- The VA home loan benefit can be used multiple times throughout the Veteran’s life.
- Army Veteran Arthur Lorelli
Rank #17: #1: Haley Carter - Marine Veteran, soccer player/coach
Haley Carter is a Marine Veteran and retired American professional soccer player who currently serves as assistant coach for the Afghanistan women’s national football team.
Covered in Episode One:
- Value of the Veterans Crisis Line
- Interview with Marine Veteran Haley Carter
- Haley’s journey in the military.
- Her transition out of the Marine Corps.
- How she started playing soccer in National Women’s Soccer League.
- How Haley uses VA
- Basic information on VA Home Loan
- #VeteranOfTheDay Navy Veteran Billie Kuchinski
Rank #18: #53: Alejandro Villanueva – Army Veteran, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle
One great thing about podcasting is the ability to think, "hey, I want to talk to that person," and then taking action to make it happen. When I learned that Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva is a former Army Ranger, I knew I wanted to talk with him. Al was nice enough to make time for This Week at VA and spoke to us about his experience in the military, transitioning to the NFL, and being a Veteran in a high-exposure arena.
Alejandro attended SHAPE American High School (Casteau, Belgium) and after graduating from West Point, he spent 2010-13 serving as an Army officer and served three tours in Afghanistan. He earned numerous honors for his service, including the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, the Ranger Tab, the Parachutist Badge, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Combat Infantryman’s Badge and Expert Infantryman’s Badge. He is the son of Ignacio and Mati Villanuev. His father was a Lieutenant Commander in the Spanish Navy and also worked for NATO throughout Europe.
Covered in Episode 53:
- Where to find the VA podcast
- Interview Army Veteran Alejandro Villanueva
- His decision to attend West Point
- A story from his deployments
- Transitioning from military to NFL
- How he almost didn't get signed
- Comparing an NFL team to a military unit
- Being a military Veteran in the high-exposure NFL
- Volunteering at VA
- #VeteranOfTheDay Coast Guard Veteran Donald Dewar
Rank #19: #117: James McDonough – Army Veteran, IVMF's Managing Director for Programs and Services
Rank #20: #155: Gary Profit – Army Veteran, WalMart Military Programs
Back in episode 43, Gary gave his original testimony on Borne the Battle.
This week’s Borne The Battle episode provides an update from the Senior Director of Military Programs at Walmart on the hiring initiatives through the company and the Walmart Foundation donating $1 million to Hire Heroes USA.
Profit worked as a defense contractor before hearing of the Walmart opportunity through a retiree network contact. He met with Walmart officials and became the first person to serve in his role—a role that has now spanned a decade. He plans on retiring by the end of this year.
Initially, Walmart wanted to hire 100,000 Veterans through its Veterans Welcome Home Commitment, but later doubled the commitment to 250,000 by the end of 2020. To date, Walmart has hired more than 226,000 Veterans since Memorial Day 2013.
Walmart is also trying to help with the disproportionate unemployment of military spouses, giving hiring preference to spouses who seek employment at Walmart or Sam’s Club through the Military Spouse Career Connection, which started Nov. 12, 2018.
Hire Heroes USA empowers U.S. military members, veterans and military spouses to succeed in the civilian workforce.
Additional Links to this week’s Episode:
#BtBattle Veteran of the Week:
- Army Veteran Fred McDade.