Navy SEAL: No, the military does not destroy your creativity - We Are The Mighty
Podcast

Navy SEAL: No, the military does not destroy your creativity


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In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, we speak with poet, activist, filmmaker, actor, and Navy SEAL veteran of 22 years, Mikal Vega.

Vega joined the Navy at 17, entered the EOD profession for roughly nine-years, and deployed multiple times around the world in support of SEAL teams. After working with SEALs, he decided that’s what he wanted to do with the rest of his career.

At 28, Vega earned a spot on SEAL teams and added a few more tours of duty to his already impressive resume.

Related: How a ‘zit-faced kid’ transformed into a Navy SEAL — and a powerful advocate for veterans

After being honorable discharged in 2012, Vega started a non-profit called Vital Warrior, providing Kundalini Yoga for veterans, first responders, and active duty service members.

But, this wasn’t enough for the motivated sailor.

Vega went on to express his creative side by entering the world of film and television and now serves as a military advisor on the hit NBC military-drama, The Brave.

Navy SEAL: No, the military does not destroy your creativity
The Brave — “Stealth” Episode 108 —Pictured: (l-r) Noah Mills as Sergeant Joseph “McG” McGuire, Natacha Karam as Sergeant Jasmine “Jaz” Khan, Mike Vogel as Captain Adam Dalton, Hadi Tabbal as Agent Amir Al-Raisani, Demetrius Grosse as CPO Ezekiel “Preach” Carter (Photo by Lewis Jacobs via NBC)

As veterans, we have a surplus of talent and creativity that we can draw from stemming from our unique military service and experiences.

Like many combat vets who are fans of narrative filmmaking, Vega uses his in-depth training to bring the realism of combat tactics to the screen.

Navy SEAL: No, the military does not destroy your creativity
The Brave cast — Pictured: (l-r) Tate Ellington, Demetrius Grosse, Anne Heche, Dean Georgaris, Executive Producer/Co-Showrunner/Creator; Mike Vogel, Sophia Pernas, Hadi Tabbal, Natacha Karam, Noah Mills, Mikal Vega, Technical Advisor. (Photo by Paul Drinkwater via NBC)

NBC’s The Brave focuses on a group of elite Special Operatives who embark on the most challenging and dangerous missions around the world to save the innocent lives behind enemy lines.

During his service, Vega held many positions, such as a SEAL Platoon Leading Chief Petty Officer, Personal Security Detail Shift Leader, U.S. Navy SEAL Combatives Instructor, U.S. Navy SEAL Demolitions Instructor, and Senior Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician.

He’s earned many awards, including the Purple Heart for injuries sustained during Operation Iraqi Freedom, two Bronze Stars with combat valor, the Army Achievement Medal for Operation Joint Guardian Kosovo, and the Navy Achievement Medal.

Navy SEAL: No, the military does not destroy your creativity
Vega on the set of Transformers 3. (Image from IMDB)

Vega’s qualifications include, but are not limited to, Navy SEAL, Senior EOD Technician (Bomb Squad), Breacher RSO, HRST Master, free-fall parachutist, U.S. Secret Service, Presidential Security Detail Operations, combat leadership, precision driver, dynamic firearms, SCUBA and closed-circuit diving supervisor, Cold Weather Environment Survival, demolitions instructor, and martial artist.

Following his lifelong passion for acting, he used his career successes to fund Vital Warrior, a system that increases performance and resiliency through non-pharmaceutical stress mitigation techniques that can help veterans and their families recover from wartime trauma.

He was recently elected as president of AK Waters Productions and has acted in film and television productions that include Transformers 3 and Hawaii Five-O among others. Vega lives in Los Angeles with his wife, daughter, and son.

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: Navy SEAL veteran Mikal Vega

Podcast

How playing cowboys and Indians prepared this commander for war


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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

Navy SEAL: No, the military does not destroy your creativity

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

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.

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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
Podcast

How Navy corpsmen and Army medics work together on deployments


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Rivalries are nothing but tough brotherly love between military service branches. Sure, we give each other a hard time. But put us on any mission together, and we become an unstoppable force.

Related: 5 key differences between Army medics and Navy corpmsen

Army medics and Navy corpsmen are a perfect example of service branch cooperation. When they work together, they save lives.

For this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, we invited former Army medic Ruty Rutenberg to chat with our resident Corpsman about deployment responsibilities. Tune in to learn the differences between their jobs on the field and in garrison.

Disclaimer: Let’s be honest — we only work so well together because we’re secretly trying to outdo the other side.

Hosted by:

Tim Kirkpatrick: Navy veteran and Editorial Coordinator

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

Guest:

Ruty Rutenbert: Army veteran

Music licensing by Jingle Punks:

  • Goal Line
  • Heavy Drivers
MIGHTY TRENDING

The military superpower veterans have but sometimes fail to use


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In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Tim, O.V., and Blake speak with The Marine Rapper a.k.a. TMR about all the A-level training our service members receive but don’t capitalize on it when they get out.

Every veteran’s journey after the military is different.

While some of us pursue the career along the lines in which the military trained us for, others take a different path and sometimes fall short of their full potential.

“They [veterans] have a set of skills, they have leadership abilities, and there is so much more we can do,” Blake passionately states. “Granted, I’m a writer, and I have five degrees, and none of them have to do with writing.”

A veteran finding his or her purpose is essential to life outside of the military.

Related: How an aspiring sergeant major became a stand-up comedian

So when did TMR decide to become a rapper after serving the Corps?

“When I started getting better at it,” TMR jokingly admits. “In the Corps, I wasn’t at the level I am now.

If you’ve ever surfed the internet looking for military rap songs, chances are you’ve come across the unique sound of “The Marine Rapper.”

Known for sporting a red mohawk and wearing an American flag bandana, TMR served 10 years in the Marine Corps as a Combat Correspondent where he earned a Combat Action Ribbon and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals during his service.

After successful tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, TMR left the Marine Corps in February 2014. After entering back into civilian life, TMR began focusing on music as a profession and for cathartic expression.

Also Read: These simple luxuries can make your next deployment tolerable

Check out The Marine Rapper‘s video for his latest song “Instructions.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKbJIbskndk

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Podcast

RNC vs. DNC on veteran issues (podcast)


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In this #DefendYourVote bonus episode of the WATM podcast, we catch up with our editor-in-chief Ward Carroll live from the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ward also covered the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, and so we asked him to compare and contrast the two.

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Selected links and show notes from the episode:

Music licensed by Jingle Punks:

  • Yankee Doodle Rock Instr-JP
  • Heavy Drivers-JP
Podcast

How the Vietnam War shaped the modern day U.S. Air Force


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In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, we talk to former Air Force Chief of Staff, General Merrill A. McPeak, who served as a military adviser to the Secretary of Defense, National Security Council, and the President.

He’s also a career fighter pilot with more than 6,000 hours under his belt, including time as a solo pilot with the elite Thunderbirds.

Navy SEAL: No, the military does not destroy your creativity
The salty and well-respected Air Force Chief of Staff General Merrill A. McPeak (Photo from Wikipedia Commons)

The General currently has three books out, Below The Zone, Roles and Missions, and Hangar Flying, about his time being ringside during one of the most tumultuous moments in recent history: the Vietnam War, where Gen. McPeak was an attack pilot and high-speed forward air controller.

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

  • [1:35] The Mandatory Fun crew introduces General McPeak and his epic resume.
  • [4:00] How allied troops managed to set traps for their North Vietnamese enemy.
  • [7:00] The general discusses what it was like kicking off Operation Desert Storm.
  • [10:30] The reasons behind why air doctrine changed since the Vietnam War ended.
  • [13:45] The general breaks down the stats of the fighter pilots who have been shot down.
  • [21:00] What it’s like flying in an Air Force air show in front of political VIPs.
  • [28:50] What influences the general had on Ken Burn’s PBS Vietnam documentary and what it was like working with the filmmaking legend.
  • [34:35] How the Air Force attempts to retain it’s outstanding and well-trained fighter pilots.
  • [35:30] What things the general loved about being a fighter pilot.
  • [45:15] The importance of having nuclear weapons on station.

Hosted By:

Blake Stilwell: Air Force veteran

Tim Kirkpatrick: Navy veteran

Orvelin Valle (AKA O.V.): Navy veteran

This podcast originally produced in December 2017.

Podcast

The origins behind some of the best military nicknames


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A nickname is a revealing indication of a man or woman’s character. Whether it’s bad or badass, it’s usually determined by peer evaluation — unless there’s something so obvious about a person’s appearance that a nickname is impossible to avoid.

In this episode of the WATM podcast, we discuss our favorite military leader nicknames and how they earned their labels. Some leaders wear them with pride, while others resent their given monikers.

Related: 7 badass nicknames enemies have given the American military

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Selected links and show notes from the episode:

Music licensed by Jingle Punks:

  • Cheval Vapeur
  • Goal Line
  • Show Me
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.

Navy SEAL: No, the military does not destroy your creativity

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

Sebastian Junger talks war, vet reintegration, and what’s wrong with America


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New York Times bestselling author Sebastian Junger dropped by We Are The Mighty to discuss his latest book “Tribe.”

Here’s what the publisher says about the book:

Through combining history, psychology, and anthropology, “Tribe” explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. It explains the irony that—for many veterans as well as civilians—war feels better than peace, adversity can turn out to be a blessing, and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. “Tribe” explains why we are stronger when we come together, and how that can be achieved even in today’s divided world.

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Navy SEAL: No, the military does not destroy your creativity

Selected links and show notes from the episode

  • Sebastian Junger’s new book “Tribe” is nothing short of a lesson for all Americans
  • [00:40] Sebastian Junger’s motivations for writing TRIBE.
  • [02:05] Why humans are drawn to communal living and tribal affiliation.
  • [04:15] Examples of tribalism in modern communities.
  • [06:05] How do we live in a modern society and retain some of the cohesion that comes from hardship and adversity.
  • [07:15] How mandatory national service could unify America.
  • [09:00] How Bowe Bergdahl and the financiers who caused the great recession harmed America.
  • [11:05] The difference between war trauma and personal alienation for troops reintegrating into society.
  • [14:00] The dangers of over valorization.
  • [16:20] Why no one else could have written this book other than Sebastian Junger.
  • [20:00] Sebastian Junger clarifies the use of “tribe” as used in his book.
  • [23:15] The feelings associated with coming home and leaving for deployment.
  • [25:25] What it takes to be accepted into a tribe.
  • [26:15] Sebastian Junger’s thought about practicing tribalism.
  • This celebrated war correspondent nails the reasons why soldiers miss combat
  • Sebastian Junger nails the reason why young men want to go to war

Navy SEAL: No, the military does not destroy your creativity

Music licensed by Jingle Punks

  • Goal line
  • Heavy Drivers
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.

Podcast

We showed a civilian how to be a vet, here’s what we got




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In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, we speak with standup comedian turned actor Tone Bell.

Tone isn’t a veteran, but on the Netflix show Disjointed he plays a soldier with multiple combat deployments under his belt who deals with everyday veteran issues like trauma and transitioning out of the military.

You may remember Tone from a few other shows he’s been on like 9JKL, The Flash, Truth Be Told, and Bad Judge with Kate Walsh.

Disjointed’ s producers and creative minds went to great lengths to develop his character and to get the veteran portion right. One of his character advisors on the show is WATM’s resident Green Beret Chase Millsap

Related: This Green Beret will change what you know about action movies

Navy SEAL: No, the military does not destroy your creativity
Tone Bell as Carter in Disjointed doing what he does best — create comedy.

In the show, “Carter” works as a security guard in a marijuana dispensary at Ruth’s Alternative Caring owned by Ruth Feldman (played by Kathy Bates).

To play the role, Tone spent countless hours prepping the character by talking with veterans throughout his creative process and combing through the script with Chase.

Navy SEAL: No, the military does not destroy your creativity
Dank (Chris Redd), Dabby (Betsy Sodaro), and Carter (Tone Bell) marvel at their newest marijuana ventilator. (Image source: Tone Bell’s Facebook Fan Page)

In the event, Tone reads a portion of the script where he felt the “Carter” character felt synthetic — he’d immediately voice his concerns with the producers.

Tone receives several direct messages daily on social media from veterans who respect how he has portrayed the veterans on the screen. This notion promotes that aspect that showcasing veteran issues in a witty and comedic way is possible without the actor going too over-the-top with their performance.

Also Read: Why your next business book should be a military field manual

This unique process of prepping for a military role with the help of veterans will hopefully create a shift throughout the entertainment space that departs from Hollywood’s version of the armed forces.

All of Disjointed episodes are currently streaming on Netflix — so check it out. It’s freakin’ hilarious.

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

Special Guest: Standup comedian turned actor Tone Bell

MUSIC

How Taco Bell influenced a rapper to become a Marine


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In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake speaks with The Marine Rapper a.k.a. TMR about how he went from wrapping tacos to rapping music lyrics.

“I joined the military because I was working at Taco Bell and ironically as a [taco] wrapper,” TMR recalls. “I wanted more, so I became the manager. I [wanted to go] the same route as the [Taco Bell] founder did and become a Marine.”

Related: How to kidnap Marines — according to a combat training role player

If you’ve ever surfed the internet looking for military rap songs, chances are you’ve come across the unique sound of “The Marine Rapper.”

Known for sporting a red mohawk and wearing an American flag bandana, TMR served 10 years in the Marine Corps as a Combat Correspondent where he earned a Combat Action Ribbon and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals during his service.

After successful tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, TMR left the Marine Corps in February 2014. After entering back into civilian life, TMR began focusing on music as a profession and for cathartic expression.

Also Read: This is how drunken shenanigans influence pilot callsigns

The Marine Rapper ‘s Action Figure is a bouncy, hyper, fast-paced journey that chronicles the making of his identity. Each song is accompanied by a music video that will be released weekly on YouTube starting Sept. 29.

TMR’s Action Figure will be available for purchase on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Tidal and everywhere where digital music is sold Sept. 29. In addition, a limited run of signed physical copies and merchandise will be exclusively available on TMR’s website: themarinerapper.com

Navy SEAL: No, the military does not destroy your creativity
The album cover. (Source: TMR)

Check out The Marine Rapper‘s video below for a taste of what you can expect when his record drops Sept. 29 for yourself.

YouTube, The Marine Rapper

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