Sebastian Junger talks war, vet reintegration, and what's wrong with America - We Are The Mighty
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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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Sebastian Junger talks war, vet reintegration, and what’s wrong with America

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

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

Music licensed by Jingle Punks

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  • Heavy Drivers
Articles

How an aspiring sergeant major became a stand-up comedian


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In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake, Tim, and O.V. speak with Mitch Burrow, a funny burly-guy who went from being a Marine to becoming a stand-up comedian.

When we join the military all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, we have sort of an idea of what we want to do with our lives — but we change our minds dozens of times before landing a career that we hopefully love.

Related: This is how drunken shenanigans influence pilot callsigns

Sebastian Junger talks war, vet reintegration, and what’s wrong with America
Mitch Burrow doing his monthly workout. (Source: Mitch Burrow)

Mitch is a Marine Corps veteran that served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. He then started a career in manufacturing before realizing that it sucked. Now, Mitch has found his true calling in acting silly on a stage in front of strangers on a nightly basis.

So why did Mitch decide to jump on stage and be a comedian after getting out of the Marines?

“I love stand up comedy, so I was like you know what? If this is working at a party or a social group, let me try it on stage,” Mitch humorously recalls. “So I drove down to San Diego to the Comedy Store in La Jolla and had three shots of tequila, and I drank a couple of Budweisers then I got on stage. I’ve been told it went pretty good.”

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

To follow Mitch or check out one of his shows visit his website: Mitchburrow.com.

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

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.

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Selected links and show notes from the episode

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

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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.

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

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.

Articles

5 Air Force legends with incredible stories you need to know about


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Hundreds of heroes have emerged through the ranks of all service branches with remarkable stories of courage and selflessness.

And while some stories are well known, the ones we talk about in this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast are seldom told. You’d think these stories are made up, like the tale of airman “Snuffy,” or propaganda ploys to recruit more troops. Either way, every service member should know about these Air Force legends and their badassery.

Also read: 10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force

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Here’s a brief description of our heroes for reference:

1. Col. Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr., the Tuskegee airman who almost shot Muammar Qaddafi. Chappie was already a legend before calling out Qaddafi in 1968, having served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

2. Sgt. Maynard “Snuffy” Smith, the original airman Snuffy. Despite being an undisciplined slacker avoided by everyone, Snuffy rose to the challenge in the face of certain death to save his crew.

3. Douglas W. Morrell, the combat cameraman who lived the entire history of the Air Force.

5. Eddie Rickenbacker, the race car driver-turned airman who broke all of the Air Force’s records.

6. Charlie Brown, the B-17 Flying Fortress pilot who was spared by German ace fighter pilot Oberleutnant Franz Stigler. These two rivals became close friends after meeting in 1990.

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Podcast

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


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In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake, Tim, and O.V. talk with stand-up comedian and Marine veteran Mitch Burrow about a Communist Army cadet and a cannibal dictator, and they make a smooth segue into Ken Burns’ Vietnam documentary.

General Idi Amin dethroned the government of Milton Obote and declared himself president of Uganda. During his eight years of ruthless leadership, it’s estimated he massacred approximately 300,000 civilians.

Then it’s rumored the Ugandan president was a closet cannibal and liked munch on human remains.

Related: These make-believe benefits would make being a vet so much better

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

  • [1:10] The WATM crew discuss the Army cadet who is reported to be a big fan of the Communist party.
  • [3:35] Mitch and Blake attempt to create a list of historical dictators that weren’t considered dicks.
  • [5:45] Blake talks about the dictator of Uganda who decided one-day to start eating people. Yew.
  • [6:35] Mitch puts in his two cents on why capitalism is better than communism.
  • [8:11] Blake attempts a smooth segue into discussing Ken Burns’ Vietnam documentary on PBS.
  • [11:55] We break down who was fighting for whom during the Vietnam War.
  • [14:00] Mitch makes a humorous statement clearing the air about his Marine Corps aspirations.
  • [19:15] Tim plugs his new WATM article franchise about what movies characters are doing after the credits roll.

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

Mitch is a Marine Corps veteran that served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. He then started a career in manufacturing before realizing that it sucked. Now, Mitch has found his true calling in acting silly on a stage in front of strangers on a nightly basis.

To follow Mitch or check out one of his shows visit his website: Mitchburrow.com.

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Podcast

This is how the US will respond when World War III erupts


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With the conflicts in the Middle East and America’s tumultuous relationships with Russia and China, it’s not hard to imagine the final chapter in the World War trilogy. While fighting a conflict on the World War scale won’t be fun, there’s sure to be plenty of fireworks. Luckily, America and NATO-affiliated countries have prepared for such a scenario.

In this episode of the We Are The Mighty podcast, we discuss which American forces will be the first on the scene when World War III erupts.

Related: If the modern American military conducted the 1944 D-Day landings

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Selected links and show notes from the episode:

Music licensed by Jingle Punks:

  • Let’s Get Saxy
  • Goal Line
  • Method

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

Articles

It will make you angry to learn how a veteran lost $100k in benefits

Before you read any further, the lesson here is don’t listen to anyone with an opinion about your VA benefits. Even when the Department of Veterans Affairs makes a “final” decision on your case, you can still appeal. So, don’t listen to your Staff Sergeant. Anyone still wearing a uniform is not an expert on your personal VA claim.


Unfortunately, this happens a lot more frequently than you might think. That’s where Moses Maddox comes in. Maddox is more than just a veteran who advocates for his fellow vets. For almost a decade, the former Marine has built a career in helping other veterans with personal, academic, financial, and success counseling through various organizations.

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Maddox talked to us about finding your veteran community, managing our veteran ego, and how to thrive in your post-military life. He talked to David Letterman about his experience, so we’re grateful he took a moment to sit down with us on the Mandatory Fun podcast.

Sebastian Junger talks war, vet reintegration, and what’s wrong with America
Yeah, we’re totally on the same level.
(Worldwide Pants)

Maddox believes we’ve come a long way and the military is getting better at preparing us for our post-military lives. The problem in his mind is that the military is designed to weed out the weak among us and the weakness in ourselves, a necessary process to prepare military members for what they may have to do. But once you’re out, that process proves detrimental – the perception that mental issues are weaknesses is what keeps us from addressing those problems.

The greatest challenges he faced when transitioning out of the Marine Corps stemmed from his admitted lack of planning. He set a countdown to his EAS date and was excited as the day approached. When it came, he felt nothing. He was so fixated on getting out that he didn’t have a plan for what he was going to actually do when the day came.

Over the course of two months, he went from handing out millions in humanitarian aid to handing out gym memberships at an LA Fitness.

“The nothingness and monotony of civilian life has just as much potential to beat you down as war did,” Maddox says. It’s a refrain he tells to many transitioning veterans. When the military is gone, the silence is the biggest hurdle.

But all that changed. One day, Maddox drove to the VA to see if they could help him. When he was there, a Vietnam veteran saw the despair in his eyes — and told him that the feeling was normal. No one had ever told him that his struggles were normal and treatable. So, armed with this knowledge, Maddox took care of it.

Sebastian Junger talks war, vet reintegration, and what’s wrong with America
IAVA Member Veterans Moses Maddox (L) and Dave Smith attend IAVA’s Sixth Annual Heroes Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on November 13, 2012 in New York City.

Now he advocates for veterans in many areas of post-military life. He looks back on his service fondly, but acknowledges that the Marine Corps was not the only thing he had going for him. Helping people is his passion, helping veterans is now his life’s work.

Learn more about Moses Maddox and how he discovered his “new why” on this episode of Mandatory Fun.

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

‘Terminal Lance’ creator talks about the Marine Corps and the future of his comic


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Sebastian Junger talks war, vet reintegration, and what’s wrong with America
The creator of the military counter-culture comic strip “Terminal Lance”—Max Uriarte—is the guest for this week’s podcast.

Max leads a busy life these days. He just published his much anticipated graphic novel “The White Donkey,” he’s working on building an animation studio, and he continues to publish his wildly popular comic strip.

This episode delves into the origins of the Terminal Lance universe, Max’s film aspirations, and his reasons for getting serious in the “White Donkey.”

As usual, the show is hosted by:

Selected links and show notes from the episode

Terminal Lance website

Terminal Lance Facebook

Terminal Lance Twitter

• [00:40 ] Rip it energy fuel

• [01:10] “The White Donkey” graphic novel

• [02:30] Kickstarter

• [06:00] Terminal Lance comic strip origins

• [09:00] Veteran revolution on Social Media

• [11:40] Meme War with Untied Status Marin Crops

• [14:20] WATM interview with Max regarding “The White Donkey”

• [15:40] Max’s inspiration for Terminal Lance, Penny Arcade

• [17:30] Max’s film aspirations

• [18:00] World War II propaganda cartoons made by Walt Disney. See them on The Best Film Archives channel on YouTube.

• [21:00] Max on American Sniper film

• [23:50] Dealing with politics on social media

• [26:30] Caitlyn Jenner comic strip

• [28:00] The future of Terminal Lance

• [29:45] Planning and writing the Terminal Lance comic strips

• [32:00] Max’s artistic origins

• [36:25] Max’s favorite movies

• [41:10] Scary superiors in the military

• [48:55] Shiney Things – Max’s comic strip about Marines saluting anything that shines

• [50:45] Moving to Los Angeles

• [52:10] Max’s goal behind “The White Donkey”

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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.

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

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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How unconventional tactics won the battle for Ramadi




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In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, we speak with Scott Huesing, a retired U.S. Marine Corps Infantry Major with 24 years of service as an enlisted and commissioned officer.

During his career spanning ten deployments, he operated in over 60 countries worldwide. Throughout his numerous deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Horn of Africa, he planned, led, and conducted hundreds of combat missions under some of the most austere and challenging conditions.

Sebastian Junger talks war, vet reintegration, and what’s wrong with America
Scott Huesing as he speaks to Marines stationed in 29 Palms..

Before the Marines on-the-ground could consider fighting an unconventional war, they first had to demonstrate using unconventional tactics to fight the War on Terror in Iraq — that’s exactly what retired Marine Scott Huesing did.

“When I say ‘unconventional,’ I was willing to think outside of the box to some degree,” Scott Huesing states. “If there was a Marine, soldier, sailor, airman, contractor that had a rifle, knew how to shoot it, I didn’t care. If they wanted to come out in the combat zone and fight with us, that was an enabler.”

Sebastian Junger talks war, vet reintegration, and what’s wrong with America
Then-Capt. Scott Huesing in Ramadi, Iraq, 2006. (Image: Scott Huesing’s Facebook)

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

The Marine veteran is a published author since 2005. His upcoming book, Echo in Ramadi, is a ten-month snapshot in time that changed the face of operations on the battlefield. It promises to be a captivating story of Echo Company, 2d Battalion, 4th Marines during the Second Battle of Ramadi in support of the Multi-National Forces (MNF) Surge Strategy in 2006.

Sebastian Junger talks war, vet reintegration, and what’s wrong with America
Echo in Ramadi’s book cover. (Image: Amazon)

His true-life account provides keen insights into what may be an unfamiliar world to readers, but very familiar to those, like Scott, who lived it and endured this historic fight.

Echo in Ramadi was written to honor the sacrifices and spirit of his Marines and the families they supported – it’s his way of honoring and paying tribute to troops he served next to.

Also Read: Military brats are highly skilled at reading people and bad situations

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: Retired U.S. Marine, Scott Huesing

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.

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

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

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