How post-9/11 vets are bringing new life to the American Legion - We Are The Mighty
Podcast

How post-9/11 vets are bringing new life to the American Legion


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In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake speaks with Army veteran Jennifer Campbell who is currently the Second Vice Commander of the American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood, Ca.

Recently, Jennifer and the commander of Post 43, Fernando Rivero were featured in a Wall Street Journal article about how they engineered a plan to bring some fresh energy to the post.

The young veterans of the post managed to fuse and honor old military traditions with the new generation of combat veterans.

Related: The real-life dictator who ruined his country and became a cannibal

In this episode, we talk on a wide-range of topics including:

[1:05] Jennifer states why she decided to join the Army after growing up in a Navy family.

[4:00] We talk about the path on how to join the leadership of an American Legion.

[9:50] Insightful advice for other post-military organizations that are struggling to stay afloat.

[11:23] Jennifer briefly explains “Operation the First Reformational Congress” is all about.

[15:30] We get an update on the modern and exciting renovations legendary Post 43 is getting.

[17:00] The new post modifications features a new state of the art one of these…

[18:30] Jennifer makes a list of all the film productions and celebrities associated with the post.

[20:20] Jennifer tells us the spooky inside history that happened in the historic legion.

Also Read: How to see those never-before-published ‘Terminal Lance’ comics

Hosted By:

Podcast

Transition advice from a top tier special operations veteran


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In this episode of the We Are The Mighty podcast Army special operations veteran and subject of “That Which I Love Destroys Me” documentary Tyler Grey shares his experience and wisdom for transitioning out of the military. Grey left the military at the height of his career due to injuries he sustained while serving in Iraq. Today, Grey spends his time as a technical advisor in Hollywood and mentoring veterans. Recently, he worked on the set of the DC Comics supervillain movie “Suicide Squad.”

Related: These vets share challenges they faced transitioning back to civilian life

Grey’s advice is valuable for any transition, not just the military. Whether you’re switching careers, going through a rough personal patch, or approaching the next chapter in your life, these words of wisdom will prepare you for those trying moments.

Hosted by:

Selected links and show notes from the episode

“That Which I Love Destroys Me” movie trailer featuring Tyler Grey

Music licensed by Jingle Punks

  • Skynet-JP
  • Beat Meat
  • Heavy Drivers-JP
Podcast

4 survival skills that will help you thrive in a disaster or zombie apocalypse

Do you have a plan for the catastrophe most likely to affect your area? Since the WATM staff is based in LA, our most likely natural disaster is either an earthquake or devastating mudslides. We wondered which one of us in the office (aside from our office Green Beret) was most likely to survive such an event.

The surprise was that some of us have more skills than you might think.


Former Air Force intelligence officer Shannon Corbeil is an avid camper. As is Army veteran and radio operator Eric Milzarski. Veteran Corpsman Tim Kirkpatrick, on the other hand, is a borderline survivalist. As for me, Air Force combat cameraman Blake Stilwell, my plan is to get rescued as soon as possible — hopefully before my rations run out.

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During an earthquake, you’re supposed to seek cover, duck, and protect your neck. Shannon Corbeil was raised in the Los Angeles area, and was in major earthquakes in 1987 and 1994. The WATM crew also has different ideas on what to do after the crisis passes: account for resources or create a team of skilled party members, ready for adventure and initiative?

And then, like the real U.S. troops having a survivalism discussion that we are, we lay out our plans for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

But there are at least four very important general aspects of survival to talk about either after a disaster, in the wild, or yes, the zombie apocalypse. The most important is being prepared! Don’t wait until disaster strikes to try and get supplies. You’ll be food for the people who went to the Army-Navy surplus ahead of time.

Also, you need to figure out how to navigate through your new, post-apocalyptic world, either by the stars or the sun. Or perhaps you even made your own compass with a leaf and water.

How post-9/11 vets are bringing new life to the American Legion
Finally, your life has some direction.

In the wild, you need a little bit more. You need to figure out how you’ll filter water, start a fire, and identify edible food. Forget that most of us are bad at picking real food in our daily lives — the stakes are much higher when Taco Bell is closed for the end of days.

Finally, you need a game plan for a disaster. What would you do if a disaster struck your area? Find out what the folks at WATM came up with in this week’s episode.

Resources Mentioned:

Key Points:

  • What do you need to carry with you in case of an emergency.
  • If you don’t know any survival skills, you are not alone.
  • Use Krazy Glue for wounds; use Doritos for kindling.
  • Surviving in the wild is much harder than surviving a disaster.
  • Earthquakes don’t feel like earthquakes until they do.

Sponsors:

  • Audible: For you, the listeners of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out some of the books and authors featured on Mandatory Fun. To download your free audiobook today go to audibletrial.com/MandatoryFun.
How post-9/11 vets are bringing new life to the American Legion

Mandatory Fun is hosted by:

Catch the show on Twitter at: @MandoFun and on our Facebook group.

Podcast

How a single Christmas tree brought the spirit of the holidays to a deployed unit


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In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, we speak with Army veteran, national speaker, and acclaimed author of the 2017 Independent Publishing Award-winning book The Frontline Generation: How We Served Post 9/11Marjorie K. Eastman.

Eastman is also an accomplished executive and operational professional with over 20-years experience in leading people and various organizations.

Her award-winning book began as a personal memoir for her son. Eastman’s goal was to capture the lessons and inspirations she learned serving beside men and women who represent the very best of what it means to be American — the 1% of the population in the military.

How post-9/11 vets are bringing new life to the American Legion
The Frontline Generation: How We Served Post 9/11. (Source: marjoriekeastman.com)

She respectfully identifies this group as the Frontline Generation and notes that it is an untapped reservoir of leaders who have been strengthened by their Post 9/11 service.

Christmas Lights All Year

“Can someone please tell me why in the hell this big-ass box is still cluttering the entryway to the CP?”

It was early in the morning, and I was standing in the front part of my company’s command post (CP), staring at a box that was just over six feet tall (a height I can quickly surmise since I am six feet tall). This designated area was meant for my soldiers, as it was an “orderly mess” of numerous bins, all of which were overflowing with freebies from countless care packages. At any hour of the day, soldiers could stop by and grab extra soap, snacks, toothbrushes—you name it. While deployed, my unit received an abundance of care packages that were crammed with just about anything and everything—and the CP was beginning to be littered with boxes, especially since we were approaching the month of December.

It was Sergeant Marco Vasquez who popped his head over his computer, my quiet, stellar NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) sergeant who was also my driver on several convoys. He probably was swearing underneath his breath that he was the unlucky one, the only person in the office to answer my cranky question. My headquarters team caught on quickly that I was the most unpleasant after my morning beatings from Battalion, where I had to give my company’s daily battlefield update briefs, and on top of that, I was currently embroiled in an unnecessary battle over my company’s combat patch ceremony.

“Yes, ma’am. I think First Sergeant said it was a care package that was simply addressed to HHC.” Top walked into the CP at that moment, a to-go breakfast plate in hand, not missing a beat. “Good morning, ma’am. Yes, we still need to open it and see if we can identify the individual it belongs to, or if it is just a care package meant for the company.”

I instantly had a flashback of those damn duffels and tough boxes that were left at the reserve center back in Texas—for years! To put it lightly, I was annoyed that it had already sat there for several days. So I grabbed the box, which was leaning against the wall, and I laid it on the ground. With one quick slice along the taped seam from my Benchmade knife, the smell of a fresh evergreen tree burst from the box and engulfed the room.

“What in the hell?” I wondered out loud. With Top and Sergeant Vasquez peering over my shoulder, I unwrapped a live, six-foot-tall Douglas fir Christmas tree. The more and more I breathed in that glorious smell—an absolutely foreign fragrance on Bagram Airfield—I was overcome with joy and peace. I turned around to see that this tree was also having the same effect on Top and Vasquez—both had sloppy grins ear-to-ear.

Once we stood it up, and began to loosen the boughs, a card dropped to the floor. I picked it up, and read, “To the Soldiers of HHC, enjoy this reminder of home during the Christmas season. Take care, (signed) Charles Eastman.” My husband had sent the live Christmas tree, the piece of home, and gifted it to my soldiers. He was wise enough to include a tree stand, tree skirt, and numerous strings of Christmas lights.

Charles knew all too well what it felt like to be deployed over the holidays, considering he had spent the past two Christmases in Iraq. This was our third consecutive Christmas in which one of us was serving in combat; outside of our family and close friends, not many people knew this. Thus, his gesture meant so much more . . .

To read more, you can purchase a copy of The Frontline Generation online at Amazon, Barnes Noble, or signed and personalized copies available at www.thefrontlinegeneration.com.

Related: How the US Air Force tricked CSAF McPeak into staying in the military

In this episode, we talk on a wide range of topics, including:

  • [2:00] The reason why this acclaimed author decided to join the military.
  • [7:25] Eastman explains how she received her direct Army officer commissioning.
  • [11:50] What gave Eastman the motivation to move forward and write her now acclaimed book.
  • [16:10] The story behind why Eastman smiled at a drill sergeant during boot camp
  • [20:30] What helps define a strong female presence in a leadership position.
  • [25:00] What veteran stories Eastman loves to tell during her public speaking events.
  • [31:15] The complete explain behind the story “Yes, man. No, man.”

To continue following Eastman’s public appearances and other work, be sure check out her website: marjoriekeastman.com

Also Read: These veterans may be the future of cannabis-based pharmaceuticals

Blake Stilwell: Air Force veteran and Managing Editor

Tim Kirkpatrick: Navy veteran and Editorial Coordinator

Orvelin Valle (aka O.V.): Navy veteran and Podcast Producer

Articles

WATM Podcast: What if the US took on the rest of the world?


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Just imagine the shocking scenario where the U.S. angered China, Russia, Iran, and its traditional allies like the UK and France. Now imagine if these countries formed a unified coalition to attack the U.S. How long would the U.S. be able to hold them off? Which tactics would it deploy? What role will its citizens play?

In this debut episode of the WATM podcast, the boys of the editorial team discuss how this idea might play out.

The podcast is hosted by bunch of vets who live and breathe all things weapons, tactics, and mil-tech. Here’s who they are:

Selected links and show notes from the episode

• Reader comments on the WATM Facebook page

• VICE article: We asked a military expert if all the world’s armies could shut down the US

• How long the US military would last in a war against the rest of the world

• IMDb: Red Dawn (1984)

• The top 10 militaries in the world, ranked [9:20]

• Russia’s only carrier is a floating hell for the crew [9:45]

• China’s new carrier will be an updated version of its first one [10:20]

• Here is why the US is the most powerful country that has ever existed [12:35]

• Swamp Fox Memorial: The legend of the Swamp Fox (General Francis Marion is credited as the Father of Guerilla Warfare) [18:35]

• Mining Everyday Technologies to Anticipate Possibilities:

DARPA’s “Improv” effort asks the innovation community to identify commercial products and processes that could yield unanticipated threats [19:35]

• This was the most powerful explosion ever . . . by a lot [22:15]

• These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had [34:00]

• Cracked article: 6 Powerful Groups You Didn’t Know Have Post-Apocalypse Plans

If The USA Falls, Wyoming Will Pick Up The Pieces [31:10]

• America’s ‘concrete battleship’ defended Manila Bay until the very end [32:15]

• For fun: Articles about the F-35 [36:00]

Music license by Jingle Punks

  • Drum March
  • Beat Meat
Podcast

‘This is War’ is a raw look at the combat vet experience few will ever know


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What is it like to fight in combat? What toll does it take on someone, emotionally, physically, and mentally? What toll does the personal aftermath take on the relationships in the life of an American troop?

Most American Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen join the military at a very young age. Turning 18 and then going off to war will affect them for the rest of their lives. Even officers, who first get a college degree or graduate from a service academy, will be only as old as 23 when their military career begins.

What comes next? That’s what This Is War is about. This Is War is a new podcast from the Wondery Podcast Network. This Is War is full of first-hand accounts of what it’s like to fight and survive combat while protecting our freedoms, the bonds that form between our nation’s fighting men and women, and the psychological toll it can take on a human being.

Today on Mandatory Fun, we give you a preview of This Is War. Today’s story is about Ian Mearns, who joined up in the deferred enlistment program in August 2001. We all know what happened just one short month later. Ian was just 17 and starting his senior year of high school. His life would never be the same.

“Telling stories of the American combat veteran gives us the chance to look at heroism, honor, and duty through the lens of real lives,” says the opening of This Is War. “To see the practical influence of a life of service to one’s country.”

Listen to Ian Mearns tell the story of his first days in Iraq and much more.

Mandatory Fun is hosted By:

Blake Stilwell: Air Force veteran and Managing Editor

Tim Kirkpatrick: Navy veteran and Editorial Coordinator

Orvelin Valle (aka O.V.): Navy veteran and Podcast Producer

Catch the show on Twitter at: @MandoFun and on our Facebook group.

Articles

Podcast: Name the B-21 and the OV-10 Bronco is back


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Last week the U.S. Air Force tweeted to the world that it needs help naming its newest bomber, the B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber. (What could possibly go wrong?) Well … we discuss the possibilities and provide examples where crowdsourcing failed. We also discuss the OV-10 Bronco’s comeback and what it means in the fight against ISIS. And on a lighter note, we talk about which service branch we’d join knowing what we know about the military today.

Hosted by:

Selected links and show notes from the episode

• [1:45] CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS

• [7:25] Here’s what it costs to fight ISIS (so bring your wallet)

• [7:35] These are the Air Force’s most expensive planes to operate

• [8:00] Articles about the A-10

• [13:00] 9 reasons it’s perfectly fine to be a POG

• [14:15] 32 terms only airmen will understand

• [18:40] The awesome callsigns of the pilots bombing ISIS

• [19:50] Watch these 5 vets admit what branch they’d pick if they joined again

• [36:00] Airmen have the chance to name the Air Force’s newest bomber

Music license by Jingle Punks

  • Lightning Ryder
MIGHTY TRENDING

PTSD is temporary: here are the first steps to defeating it

This month is Mental Health Month, so we sat down the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Director of Innovation and Collaboration for the VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Dr. Wendy Tenhula. The good doctor was very outgoing in explaining how to spot trouble signs of mental health issues and answering our podcast listeners’ burning questions about the use of recreational drugs to treat PTSD.


The VA healthcare system is the largest in the United States. The Department of Veterans Affairs is the second largest cabinet-level office in the U.S. government — just behind the Pentagon.

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Those of us who require the services of the VA healthcare system know that navigating it can be a daunting task. Do you need a psychiatrist or a psychologist? What’s the difference between the two? Which is better for your situation? Do you have to take drugs? Do I even have a choice?

The answer to the last question may surprise you: yes, you do.

But first it’s important to realize if you have a mental health condition. Or perhaps you see problems in a loved one that didn’t exist before their deployment or separation from the military. It’s harder to recognize a mental health condition than it is to recognize a physical condition. Everyone is different and the unique ways in which we internally respond to external problems makes it difficult to categorize ourselves. How do you know when you have a mental health issue and when you’re just having a bad day?

“If it’s getting in the way of your life,” says Dr. Tenhula. “Things like going to school, getting a job, maintaining relationships — then that’s a clue that you may have a mental health condition. It’s not necessarily a bad day.”

How post-9/11 vets are bringing new life to the American Legion
Dr. Wendy Tenhula

If identifying that you have a problem is the first step, where do we go from there?

There are a number of specialized, professional counselors that can help with your specific condition. But where the VA has started truly innovating is through the use of peer specialists — veterans who have had mental health struggles of their own. They know, first-hand, what a returning veteran is going through and they know the system.

Mental health treatments can often take time and some individual sessions can make veterans feel worse than when they came in. Treatment for post-traumatic stress often requires painfully and honestly revisiting traumatic experiences — and that’s hard. The VA’s peer specialists are also there to keep vets from getting discouraged.

How post-9/11 vets are bringing new life to the American Legion
The peer specialist concept is simple: Veterans will connect better with those who have experienced the same things.
(VA photo by Tami Schutter)

There is always more than one treatment option available and veterans have a choice to make — but it takes work, honesty, and a real partnership with your practitioner.

For more about the VA’s renewed push to reach more veterans through Mental Health Month and its Make the Connection campaign, listen to this episode of WATM’s Mandatory Fun podcast. Then, check out the Make the Connection website.

Resources Mentioned

Sponsors

Audible: For you, the listeners of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out some of the books and authors featured on Mandatory Fun. To download your free audiobook today go to audibletrial.com/MandatoryFun.

About Mandatory Fun

Mandatory Fun is hosted by:

Share your thoughts about this episode on Twitter at: @MandoFun and on our Facebook group.

Articles

How going to war brings out the best and worst in people

Sebastian Junger is not a military veteran. He makes that clear, but he sure sounds like one. Maybe it’s because he’s covered conflict zones from Sierra Leone to Nigeria to Afghanistan as a journalist. It’s safe to say he’s seen more conflict than many in the United States military.

If there’s an expert on modern warfare and the long-term effects of those who live it, that person is Sebastian Junger.


He sees war and its effects through the lens of an anthropologist. This not only gives him the perspective to look back on his homecoming—and the homecomings of U.S. troops—to see the problems and abnormalities with how societies deal with their combat veterans, it allows him to put those ideas into words. Some words returning and transitioning veterans may not have ever known to use.

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“We try hard to keep combat at a distance,” he says in the new PBS documentary Going to War. “But when we talk about war, we talk about what it means to be human.”

In Going to War, Junger and fellow author Karl Marlantes (Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War) examine the paradox of fighting in combat: how the brotherhood and sense of purpose contrast with the terror, pain, and grief surrounding the violence and destruction. It starts with the training. Whenever young men (and now women) are placed in a situation where they would be fighting for their lives, the training would diminish perceptions of the individual in favor of the group.

“If you have people acting individualistically in a combat unit, the unit falls apart and gets annihilated,” Junger says. “So you need them to focus on the group. The training, beyond firing a weapon, is an attempt to get people to stop thinking of themselves.

This is not just the U.S. military. This is every military around the world.

The United States is “orders of magnitude” more capable than most. What the U.S. is having trouble dealing with is what comes after its veterans return home and then to civilian life. For returning vets, sometimes the problem is returning to an unearned hero’s welcome.

Only about ten percent of the military will ever see combat. Those who don’t still get the welcome home, but feel guilty for feeling like they never did enough to earn that accolade.

For those who were in combat, the experience of being shot, shot at, and watching others get killed or wounded is a traumatic experience that our increasingly isolated society doesn’t handle well.

How post-9/11 vets are bringing new life to the American Legion

When veterans leave the military, separation becomes a more apt term than we realize. Our wealthy, individualistic modern society rips military veterans from their tribal environment while they’re in the military and puts them back into a cold, unfamiliar and far less communal world.

Junger thinks a fair amount of what we know as PTSD is really the shock of a tribal-oriented veteran being put in an individualized environment.

Going to War did a fantastic job of capturing the experience of fighting in a war and then coming home,” Junger says. “For me one of the most powerful moments wasn’t even on the battlefield.

Junger goes on to describe what, for him, is the most poignant story out of a slew of emotional, true stories of men fighting nearly a century of wars:

“A young man, a Marine describing his final training, a ruck march. They had heavy packs and the guy had an injury so he couldn’t walk very well. Another guy comes along and carries his pack for him, so the second guy is carrying 160 pounds maybe, and says ‘If you’re not gonna make it across the finish in time, then neither will I. We’re gonna do it together or fail together.’ And that is the central ethos to men in combat in the military.”

For more of Sebastian Junger and his thoughts on war and the men and women who fight it, be sure to download or listen to this podcast. If you still can’t get enough Junger (and we totally get understand), check out his amazing books or our previous podcast with him where we talked about his latest book, Tribe.

Going to War airs on PBS on Memorial Day at 9 p.m. Eastern. Check your local listings.

Resources Mentioned

Sponsors

Audible: For you, the listeners of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out some of the books and authors featured on Mandatory Fun. To download your free audiobook today go to audibletrial.com/MandatoryFun.

About Mandatory Fun

Mandatory Fun is hosted by:

Share your thoughts about this episode on Twitter at: @MandoFun and on our Facebook group.

Podcast

How Bergdahl’s stroll in Afghanistan affected a unit’s operations


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In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake speaks with Jimmy Blackmon, the author of Pale Horse, a book about his time commanding an Army aviation task force with the 101st Airborne Division at the height of combat in the Afghan War.

Set in the very valleys where the 9/11 attacks were conceived, and where 10 Medals of Honor were earned.

How post-9/11 vets are bringing new life to the American Legion

These are the stories of the pilots behind the lethal Apache helicopters who strike fear into the heart of their enemies as they work with medevac crews who risk their lives to save their fellow troops. We get an understanding of how warriors learned selflessness and found the closest brotherhood they ever known through the crucible of war.

Jimmy was also in the area when Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl decided to go for a stroll in Afghanistan.

“Every soldier out there has a mom and dad that loves them and they all make stupid mistakes at some point,” Jimmy humorously states. “Thank goodness I didn’t decide to go for a walk in Afghanistan.”

Related: These are the best military movies by service branch

In this episode, we talk on a wide-range of topics including:

  • [1:25] Jimmy’s reaction to the controversial Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl’s sentencing.
  • [5:00] These are the predicted events that might occur if Bergdahl did receive jail time.
  • [6:55] Jimmy explains went he meant in by writing the chapter in his book “the plan begins to unravel”
  • [10:55] How Operations Officer Jack Murphy worked with a team of Chinooks and Black Hawks on the battlefield.
  • [14:00] What was going on in the troop’s mind when Bergdahl decided to abandon his post.
  • [18:00] This is the average timeline to begin a search for a missing troop on deployment.
  • [22:00] Jimmy’s final thoughts about all the service members that are still affected by this case.

Also Read: How to stay fit and not get fat after you get out of the military

Hosted By:

Blake Stilwell: Air Force veteran and Managing Editor

Tim Kirkpatrick: Navy veteran and Editorial Coordinator

Orvelin Valle (AKA O.V.): Navy veteran and Podcast Producer

Podcast

Military brats are highly skilled at reading people and bad situations


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In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, we speak with respected book author, speaker, publisher, and Vice President of Production at Warriors, Inc., Julia Dye, Ph.D. Warriors, Inc. is a unique organization that provides technical advice to the entertainment industry. 

Dr. Dye is the daughter of a World War II bomber pilot and is married to Hollywood’s drill instructor, Capt. Dale Dye — who is featured in episode 37 of the Mandatory Fun podcast.

Although growing up as a military brat has its issues, it can instill several unique, advantageous traits within an individual.

“Many of them speak more than one language, know more cultures, have seen more of the world, which is great for any kid,” Dr. Dye said.

Dr. Dye’s book, titled Through My Daughter’s Eyes, is a one-of-a-kind, much-needed look at what it means to come of age in a military family today.

Related: How a single Christmas tree brought the spirit of the holidays to a deployed unit

How post-9/11 vets are bringing new life to the American Legion
Dr. Dye’s book cover Through My Daughter’s Eyes. (Source: Amazon)

An excerpt from Dr. Dye’s book: Through My Daughter’s Eyes

Dad wasn’t feeling the emptiness like we were. He was busy, I’m sure, fighting the war and leading his soldiers.

You’re probably wondering what it’s like over there, so let’s see if I can make it real for you, like it was for my dad. Start by finding the vacuum cleaner.

Pop that sucker open and grab the dust bag. OK, now pour that over your head. Get it good in your nose and eyes. Hit yourself in the chest and make sure that you cough up a good cloud. It’s a start. I’m sure you think it’s hot, and yeah, that’s true, during the day. At night try walking over a frozen rock garden.

Fun, no?

You have to walk over that to get to the bathroom in the dark. And the during-the-day hot isn’t like a warm summer day, even here in Texas.

Think living inside a blow dryer. On high. While wearing a suit of armor. We’re getting closer. Oh, yeah, and while all that is going on, people are trying to kill you. While you are breaking into their houses.

How post-9/11 vets are bringing new life to the American Legion
Dr. Dye and her husband, Marine veteran Capt. Dale Dye. (Source: Julia Dye, Ph.D)

A percentage of the book’s profits goes to Our Military Kids, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports children, ages 5-12th grade, of deployed National Guard and Reserve service members and children of wounded warriors from all service branches. Grants pay for participation in activities that help children cope with stress and anxiety while their parents are recovering or absent.

Follow Through My Daughter’s Eyes on Facebook.

To learn more about Dr. Dye visit: WarriorsPublishing.com.

Also Read: Dale Dye wants to make this epic World War II movie with veterans

Hosted By:

Blake Stilwell: Air Force veteran and Managing Editor

Tim Kirkpatrick: Navy veteran and Editorial Coordinator

Orvelin Valle (aka O.V.): Navy veteran and Podcast Producer

Special Guest: Julia Dye, Ph.D

Podcast

How playing cowboys and Indians prepared this commander for war


Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | Spotify

In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake speaks once again with Jimmy Blackmon, the author of Pale Horse, a book about his time commanding an Army aviation task force with the 101st Airborne Division at the height of combat in the Afghan War.

The book is set in the very valleys where the 9/11 attacks were conceived and where 10 Medals of Honor were earned.

Related: How to stay fit and not get fat after you get out of the military

How post-9/11 vets are bringing new life to the American Legion

These are the stories of the pilots behind the lethal Apache helicopters who strike fear into the heart of their enemies as they work with medevac crews who risk their lives to save their fellow troops.

Jimmy was also in the area when Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl decided to go for a stroll in Afghanistan.

In this episode, we talk on a wide-range of topics including:

  • [1:45] Jimmy humorously explains why he decided to join the military.
  • [5:50] How growing up in Georgia prepared Jimmy for a career in the Army.
  • [7:55] This is how playing Cowboys and Indians as a child helps develop skills for combat operations.
  • [11:45] Jimmy compares his life as an enlisted soldier to growing up in Georgia.
  • [13:45] The difference between situational awareness and situational curiosity.
  • [15:05] The combat rules of flying vs. the combat rules on the ground.
  • [17:15] The most challenging aspect of war according to a pilot.
  • [24:30] How pilots develop skills to read the enemies’ intention from high above.
  • [27:50] How the enemy uses their terrain and weather to combat allied forces.
  • [30:10] Jimmy’s coolest memory from the battle at Observation Post Bari Alai.
  • [35:00] What Jimmy’s been doing since exiting the military.

Also Read: Dale Dye wants to make this epic World War II movie with veterans

Hosted By:

Blake Stilwell: Air Force veteran and Managing Editor

Tim Kirkpatrick: Navy veteran and Editorial Coordinator

Orvelin Valle (AKA O.V.): Navy veteran and Podcast Producer

MIGHTY MOVIES

How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul


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“It was like walking onto the surface of the moon,” Graham Elwood says of his first experience walking off of a C-17 in Afghanistan.

His experience was not unlike many of our own first times deploying to a far-off edge of the world. We take a long, long C-17 (or god help you, C-130) ride for seemingly endless hours. There are no windows. The plane is packed. Forget about an in-flight movie or looking out the window. And when you walk off, it’s invariably the middle of the night and you and the hundred or so people you’re with walk off the flightline in a single file.

From there, who knows? There’s a good chance the “hurry up and wait” has just begun. For civilians visiting war zones for the first time, it’s no different – except they have no idea how to speak the acronym language.

“They said ‘When your bird hits the LZ, find your POC, they’ll take you to the MWR tent then you can go to the DFAC,'” he jokes. “It’s like… what are you saying to me right now, man?”

Elwood is a Los Angeles-based comedian with appearances in comedy clubs across America, on college campuses, and even CBS’ Late Late Show. He’s also a veteran podcaster with shows like Comedy Film Nerds, and The Political Vigilante, and he’s a co-creator of the Los Angeles Podcast Festival.

How post-9/11 vets are bringing new life to the American Legion

None of that prepared him for performing for U.S. troops deployed in combat zones. His first documentary, LaffghanistanComedy Down Range, is about his first time volunteering to go do just that. It’s amazing how fast you can go from playing the Hollywood Improv to playing Bagram Air Base.

Elwood’s film documents his personal journey from the sunny beaches of Southern California to the sun-baked moonscape of Afghanistan, where the military’s Department of Morale, Welfare and Recreation enlisted him to entertain the troops. Elwood’s psychedelic travels through a war zone are simultaneously hilarious, harrowing, and heartbreaking. His journey becomes unpredictably personal, creating a documentary that no one expected, least of all Graham.

For someone who admits he’s pretty far removed from the Global War on Terror, it all came home to him when went around the small firebases of Afghanistan. It was his first time in helicopters, driving in unarmored vehicles on the ground in Afghanistan, and seeing minefields. It got real for him for him real fast.

“What was said to me and what I’ve said to other comedians,” he says. “Well don’t go over there if you don’t want to be changed. It will change you. You have no idea. This is no joke.”

Now that Elwood has done a number of these shows and tours around deployed military bases, he looks back at his first experience in this episode of Mandatory Fun.

Nothing could adequately prepare him for performing a comedy act in Afghanistan. All the dive bars and sh*t holes he played as a young comedian is the best thing he could do to prepare. He was still freaking out but couldn’t help but put himself in the shoes of young troops.

“I’m here for two weeks,” Elwood says, “and MY family is freaking out. Imagine them and  their families and how much they’re freaking out.”

But they quickly realized that they need to be the comics. They were there for a reason: to give American troops fighting overseas a few laughs, a taste of a normal night, and a show to help ease their tension, even if it was only for a short time.

Mandatory Fun guest: Graham Elwood has been a stand-up comic for over 20 years working comedy clubs, colleges, TV shows, Holiday Inn Lounges, war zones, dive bars, and one time on the top of a double-decker tour bus in Chicago (not joking)

. You’ve probably seen him on the TV as the host of the socially relevant game shows “Cram” (GSN) and “Strip Poker” (USA), along with making the world a better place by appearing on shows like “Best Bodies Ever” on VH1. Don’t forget the time when he told jokes on “The Late Late Show” (CBS). He has also starred in the theatrical plays Speed the Plow, Light Sensitive, and Cash Flow, and co-wrote the one act play Brothers. Learn more about Elwood:

Mandatory Fun is hosted By:

Blake Stilwell: Air Force veteran and Managing Editor

Tim Kirkpatrick: Navy veteran and Editorial Coordinator

Orvelin Valle (aka O.V.): Navy veteran and Podcast Producer

Catch the show on Twitter at: @MandoFun and on our Facebook group.

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