Thursday, July 31, 2014

Merrill's Marauder and Madison Rising - The New American Veteran

Every Tuesday afternoon (well most every) you can watch TNAV live at a link on Vets On Media.  If you miss it, you can always watch the Youtube archive - this weeks show is here:

The Vets On Media Command Group has also made TNAV available on Podbean. That means you can listen to it here:

TNAV has been available as a free download through the iTunes podcast store since November 2010 and will continue to be available there.

If you haven't caught it yet, give us a listen!  We bring on legendary veterans, successful veterans, fun veterans, and we talk about how one goes from "supporting and defending the Constitution" to a civilian life that seems lacking in purpose and how to obtain that sense of purpose and hope again.

If you want to be on the show, or want to recommend someone to be on the show, drop me an email.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

MSG Leroy Petry Retirement and 2/75 Change of Command

Last week I had the privilege to attend MSG Leroy Petry's promotion and retirement, had a Ranger breakfast with Rangers from three different time periods (one pre-Gortex, one 90's and one GWOT).

Here's the entire set on Picasa.

Or if you prefer Flickr.

Listen to the audio of MSG Petry's retirement.

Listen to the audio of the 2nd Ranger Battalion Change of Command.

RLTW  Karl

Friday, July 25, 2014

SSG Ryan Pitts, Medal of Honor

This is a great short video by the American Legion on SSG Ryan Pitts.  Some of you will recognize COL Bill Ostlund in here:

And this is a piece of awesomeness - SSG Pitts shows them how to bang the gavel at the NYSE:

Friday, July 18, 2014

Stigmatized Veterans

      I recently had the privilege of sitting in on a meeting with some of the heads of Atlanta's corporate entities to listen to them discuss hiring veterans and bringing awareness to the subject. As a veteran who has seen his fair share of deployments I think I can honestly say that I am somewhat of an SME on what a veteran brings to the table for a major company. The basic attributes of loyalty, honesty, and integrity are in themselves commendable, but that is not all the modern day veteran brings to the table for corporate america. The ability to make an intelligent decision based on limited information in a high stress situation is something that a combat veteran learns through experience. This is not something that can be taught, but instead is ingrained into the DNA of anyone who knows the stress of thinking on the fly.

      As I sat there listening to these ideas of how to properly use words to describe veterans in order to get hiring managers to recognize their value, I nearly had a moment of absolute anger. Instead of discussing how to categorize the modern day veteran, or any other veteran for that matter, why not focus on the reason why veterans are cast in a different light than any other candidate? After all we are no different than the guy or gal who went to college and started working right away, other than the fact that we get our college for free and we posses a plethora of leadership and team oriented abilities that the average Joe could only hope to learn in their life time.

       Terms like PTSD and Combat veteran instantly make people think that the veteran who the terms are associated with is broken and no longer suitable for duty. This could not be any further from the truth. Yes there are those who's emotional difficulties have debilitating effects on their life, but are there not also civilians who suffer from debilitating issues in their lives as well? Just because a man or woman has served in combat does not make them a baby killing psychopath who is not suitable for corporate america. This is the stigmata that has been associated with veterans and my suspicion was affirmed during this meeting. At the end of the day veterans are in fact different from the average student or candidate for a job. We of our own accord volunteered to defend the constitution of the United States of America and by doing so set ourselves apart from the rest of the population. This does not give us any more of a right to be hired or to be recognized as heroes, but what it has done is provided us with knowledge and experience that cannot be acquired anywhere else on the planet. RLTW! 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Finding My Fit, The Struggles of Transition

James Ross, is a Ranger veteran, GallantFew volunteer, and our newest member of the blogging team.  He has found success in transition in a career field most Rangers haven't considered.  RLTW

When we transition from the military life to the civilian life it is hard to predict what the future brings. For me this was especially true. After my ETS in April of 2010 I began my long road to finding my fit. I always knew that I was good with communicating with people and getting them to listen to me, but how in the world does a veteran with no college degree and limited "real world" work experience put his leadership and drive to practical use?

After a long and arduous journey I eventually found myself content with day to day life. Determination and hard work as well as some inspiration from my wife got me through college. I managed to balance working full time, having a new born child, and college and received my Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Homeland Security Crisis Management in March of 2014. The question now was did I really want to go into this field of work. Much like the past four years I had a difficult time trying to pin down my fit.

In all of my years of life I had never even considered Real Estate as a career until my mother in-law (a Realtor of 20 years) said she thought I could be a great Realtor. So I went ahead and pursued my license here in the state of GA. Three weeks later I was an officially licensed real estate agent. The beauty of the whole thing is now I am able to communicate daily with a variety of different individuals, while at the same time putting to good use my leadership and drive that I learned during my years in the military. Also I no longer find myself in one place feeling stagnant as I did in the past with other career fields.

Once I received my license I became a member of The Joanne Curtin Team, which is a team associated with Keller Williams Realty Consultants. The draw of the team environment and being able to have my opinion be heard was extremely appealing. As veterans we strive to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and this was it for me. Now I am able to work in a team environment, while at the same time having the freedom to manage my own schedule and determine my own earning potential. The idea of helping other in their home buying process is also pretty cool. The beauty of the whole thing is that every single deal is different and believe me when I say that you are definitely faced with people of all kinds on a daily basis.          

The cliche of "if the shoe fits wear it" has ever been more appropriate. For the first time since I have left the military I find myself actually satisfied with my daily life. Previously I would tell myself that I was happy with what I was doing when in reality I was just masking my discontent with my situation. Now, it may just be that there is finally enough distance between me and my time in service, but I firmly believe that I have finally found my fit. Regardless of the situation any veteran finds themselves in they need to revert back to their discipline and mission focus and remember to stay on track and complete the mission though they be the lone survivor.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Now about that Veteran unemployment thing...

Haven't heard much talk about this, have you?

Last month veteran unemployment numbers took a turn for the worse, with post 9/11 Veterans jumping to levels near a year ago.

While the female non-veteran dropped to almost nothing, all female veteran numbers jumped the wrong way.  These are small numbers (unless you're one) but there is a defined trend since December of female veteran unemployment worsening.

Since August, all male unemployment trends have been positive.  In June however it took a serious jump negative.

This chart shows the populations against themselves the same time last year, and last month.  With rare exception, post 9/11 (shown here as GW Era II) stays significantly higher than any other population.

On a twelve month average, a post 9/11 veteran is 36% more likely to be unemployed than a person who never served.

A veteran who is trying to transition on his or her own, isolated physically and emotionally from their peers have a much more difficult time transitioning that does a veteran connected within a local network, especially if that network consists of veterans just like them, and previously successfully transitioned.  If you are transitioning, register at for a local connection.  If you already successfully transitioned and are ready to pass that experience and knowledge along, register at to be that local connection.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Police Officer Shoots and Kills a Veteran

WICHITA, Kan. — Wichita resident Icarus Randolph, 26, was killed in an officer-involved shooting Friday afternoon in the 7800 block of East Clay. That's near Lincoln and Rock Road.

Wichita Deputy Police Chief Nelson Mosley said at approximately 1:09 p.m. police officers responded to the report of a suicidal person. They met with family members in the front yard of the residence saying Randolph was distraught and out of control.

Icarus Randolph then came out of the house and walked aggressively straight toward one of the officers. The officer then used his taser on Randolph which only halted him for a moment, then he continued toward the officer.

That's when the officer noticed Randolph had a knife in his hand and the officer pulled his gun out backing away from Randolph. As he backed away he fired his gun 3-4 times hitting Randolph in the chest.

EMS transported Randolph to Wesley Medical Center, where he later was pronounced dead at around 2 p.m.

The investigation is still ongoing. Family spoke today at a press briefing expressing their upset about the shooting.

"We called for help....and now we are burying my brother," said Ida Allen, brother to Randolph. She said that family is going to hire a private investigator to reanalyze the scene and details.

According to Allen, Randolph was a Marine and recently returned from Iraq; she said he was being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at the time of the shooting. (emphasis added)

The family has dealt with a near identical situation over 50 years ago when Randolph's grandfather was shot and killed in an officer involved shooting.
KAKE News is still looking into details about what happened and where this investigation leads to next.

Previous Story  One person has been killed in an officer-involved shooting in southeast Wichita.

The shooting happened around 1:30 Friday afternoon in the 7800 block of East Clay. That's near Lincoln and Rock Road.

Police officers responded to the report of a suicidal person. The man charged at two officers holding some type of weapon. Officers first tazed the man but they said that didn't stop him. He was shot by one of the officers. The man died thirty minutes after the shooting.

The suspect's cousin, Cassious Randolph, said he visited with the suspect last week and realized he wasn't acting normally. Randolph did not believe his cousin had been treated for a mental illness. Family members said he was a Marine who served in Iraq.

The two officers have been placed on administrative leave.

Wichita Police will release more information at a news briefing Saturday at Noon.

Here are some other links to this tragedy:

Former Marine shot after police receive suicide call

WPD Chief responds to criticism over recent officer-involved shooting

Police chief: Man killed in shooting charged at officer with knife (VIDEO)

This is not the answer the family was asking for after a Marine Iraq Combat Veteran may have been triggered by illegal fireworks.  The family contacted the local Police to "help" with the situation. Help turned into a tragedy for the Wichita, Kansas native family. But like this family, many veterans have triggers that involve loud noises that can cause a volatile Post Traumatic Stress fueled situation. A problem many veterans have brought to the public eye during the recent 4th of July holiday.

 This is why we need veterans dealing with veterans. Maybe a tiny more training on escalation of force. Maybe have a policy for police officers for situations such as this. To me, this is a situation that could have been avoided. Whether its making contact with the veteran before he gets to the point he was or provide additional training for folks that are put in similar situations that occurred.  I know that using lethal force is authorized in occasions like this but is this the answer? Is this the treatment our veterans deserve? I know I don't know all the details but could possibly having a Military Veteran LEO dispatched to the scene be helpful? I realize its a tough case to understand but is this the answer? How would you have dealt with this situation? Lets hear it!!!

Rest Easy Marine!


Coming Home!

I was going through old emails and stumbled across this gem. For awhile now as a guest writer I have been talking about the power of The Landmark Forum. Here is a first hand account of a Landmark Forum Leader who "coached" a returning Iraq Veteran at the event. 

This was from May 2009. The background is this:
On Saturday morning of the landmark Forum: a guy on the back row who had not shared all weekend - raised his hand and said “ I need coaching. I am in the Army and in May 2006, I got the news I was going to Iraq. I promised my wife two things: I would come home and I would come home the same person.”

He began to rub his face and cry. He said “I did come home, but I did not come home the same person. And I am not really home. I live Iraq every day. It is really hard. We were madly in love and now I cannot even connect with her. I came here because I heard this could help me.”

He stood there with his head down in his hands…rubbing his face and eyes. I stood about 2 feet from him just listening and then I said “Jason, what happened”. He said “Oh, I really can’t talk about it” and he cried. I listened and asked him again what happened. He said “well, I was the leader of my platoon – 50 men - and we got ambushed. I called for backup….no backup came…I called for backup…no backup came. It  was bad…finally backup came 5 hours later and by then two of my men were dead. I was right there with them…they died. I let them die. I failed. It was my fault. I have read every manual the Army has to figure out what I did wrong. I cannot find anything.”

He raised his head and turned around - the vicious circle was on the board behind him…I said “what happened?” he said “we were ambushed, no backup came, two men died.” And then I  said “and everything else is interpretation.”  He said “WOW!”

The room erupted in a cheer. I said “what other interpretations could there be?” Almost all of the participants raised their hands: I called on one at a time and they said “honoring man, hero, integrity, loving man, brave man: he stood there with tears flowing down his face: he said “Well, I did bring 48 men home.”

Then Sun morning, a participant who is a writer - raised his hand and said he had written a poem for Jason and wanted to read it – he read to all of us, (sorry I don't have the poem).

Jason was dressed in full Army attire Tuesday evening and shared with everyone why he came to the Landmark Forum and that the Landmark Forum had brought him home!

This conveys the possibilities you can experience and these scholarships are available to you. We can help you enroll and register. You just have to want the break through. 

Here For You....

for more information please visit this page.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Falling in to the VA Rabbit Hole

**After a 7 year career as an investigator, I am now a full time caregiver to my Ranger husband. In 2011 he was critically injured by a suicide bomber with a hand grenade. He was medically retired in 2014 with a 100 percent service connected rating. I blog so that the highly publicized shortcomings of the Army Medical Evaluation Board and the VA can be seen through one families personal experience and how decisions made by  those in charge trickle down to those most in need of care.**

As a caregiver, my role at the VA is to advocate for my husband, ask important questions about the recommended treatment plan and provide an emotional buffer to the stresses caused by the system. I do my best to remain calm, patient and respectful. This is no easy task.

My husband has very complex injuries and as a result he frequently falls. His falls are caused by leg injuries, nerve damage, TBI, and vision loss. After several serious falls, including knocking himself unconscious after a fall in the bathroom and, on a separate occasion, almost going over the second level railing at a football stadium, we knew he needed help. The journey to get the appropriate safety tools took 6 months.

He was first evaluated at the poly-trauma clinic who determined that, at a bare minimum, his falls could be reduced with leg braces. The clinic ordered X-rays and sent referrals to orthopedics and prosthetics. Prosthetics decided, without evaluation or knowledge of the internal structure of my husbands feet that orthotics will fix the falling. This idea seemed ridiculous to both my husband and I but we went along with it anyway.

Several weeks later, we were able to see the orthopedist. After his evaluation  he laughed that prosthetics had issued him orthotics to try and rectify his falling. The x-rays revealed three large shrapnel pieces that reside in the right foot. The x-ray also showed how his tibia and fibula are titanium rods screwed into his ankle joint. This severely limits his range of motion. The orthopedist prescribed "Ritchie Braces" which encase the ankle and heel to steady his legs and sent us back to prosthetics for casting.

This is when we hit a brick wall. The prosthetics department REFUSED to make the braces. They told us, "You saw the worst orthopedist in the VA system so we will not do what he recommends." Patients have no control over which specialty doctor they are assigned to and although no one in the prosthetics department is a medical doctor they believed they had the power to veto what was recommended.  On top of suggesting my husband was "perhaps putting the orthotics in backwards" they suggested we go back to the poly-trauma unit to determine "why he is falling."  Essentially, they wanted us to start back at square one.

We were turned away twice by the prosthetics department as they shared their clear disdain for the orthopedist who had suggested the braces. At this point, 4 months had passed, my husbands falls continued, and my patience was wearing thin. We decided to make a third attempt at getting the braces. This time, I refused to leave until he was casted. It took me 3 hours and taking a poster off their wall that listed "The Goals of Prosthetics". I pointed to number 9 on the list which stated "reduce the risk of falls". They begrudgingly gave in and casted my husband.  After another two months, and several calls attempting to dissuade us from the braces , my husband can finally walk with a sense of security.

No veteran or caregiver should have to experience such mismanagement of care nor should they have to fight tooth and nail for what a doctor has suggested.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Col (RET) Robert Howard

Colonel Robert Howard a legendary man on and off the battlefield, set the example to follow. With being wounded over 14 times in Vietnam, Colonel Howard earned numerous Silver and Bronze Stars, 8 Purple Hearts, a Distinguished Service Cross, and a Medal of Honor to name a few. This man embodied the Ranger Creed. As he makes his way to the patrol base, I want to take a moment to thank him for his service and remember his comrades who he was unable to save.The citation is an outstanding testament to what a soldier endures, and the challenges some choose to face on the battlefield.

Colonel Howard lost his fight with cancer. My condolences to his family, his friends, and the community he served. RIP Ranger. RLTW, SIR!

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 1st Lt. Howard (then SFC.), distinguished himself while serving as platoon sergeant of an American-Vietnamese platoon which was on a mission to rescue a missing American soldier in enemy controlled territory in the Republic of Vietnam.
The platoon had left its helicopter landing zone and was moving out on its mission when it was attacked by an estimated 2-company force. During the initial engagement, 1st Lt. Howard was wounded and his weapon destroyed by a grenade explosion. 1st Lt. Howard saw his platoon leader had been wounded seriously and was exposed to fire. Although unable to walk, and weaponless, 1st Lt. Howard unhesitatingly crawled through a hail of fire to retrieve his wounded leader.
As 1st Lt. Howard was administering first aid and removing the officer’s equipment, an enemy bullet struck 1 of the ammunition pouches on the lieutenant’s belt, detonating several magazines of ammunition. 1st Lt. Howard momentarily sought cover and then realizing that he must rejoin the platoon, which had been disorganized by the enemy attack, he again began dragging the seriously wounded officer toward the platoon area.
Through his outstanding example of indomitable courage and bravery, 1st Lt. Howard was able to rally the platoon into an organized defense force. With complete disregard for his safety, 1st Lt. Howard crawled from position to position, administering first aid to the wounded, giving encouragement to the defenders and directing their fire on the encircling enemy. For 3 1/2 hours 1st Lt. Howard’s small force and supporting aircraft successfully repulsed enemy attacks and finally were in sufficient control to permit the landing of rescue helicopters.
1st Lt. Howard personally supervised the loading of his men and did not leave the bullet-swept landing zone until all were aboard safely. 1st Lt. Howard’s gallantry in action, his complete devotion to the welfare of his men at the risk of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
A full list of his Medals include:

Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross (with one oak leaf cluster)
Silver Star
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit (with three oak leaf clusters)
Bronze Star (with three oak leaf clusters and “V” device)
Purple Heart (with a silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters)
Meritorious Service Medal (with two oak leaf clusters)
Air Medal (with “V” Device and numeral 3. One award for heroism and two for aerial achievement)
Joint Service Commendation
Army Commendation Medal (with “V” device and one each silver and bronze oak leaf clusters. 4 awards for valor and 3 for achievement)
Joint Service Achievement
Army Achievement
Good Conduct Medal, 4 Good Conduct Loops (4 awards)
National Defense Service Medal
Armed Forces Reserve Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
NCO Professional Development Ribbon with 2 device
Army Overseas Ribbon
Army Service Ribbon
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, w/3 Service stars (3 awards)
Army Presidential Unit Citation, 1st Oak Leaf Cluster
Presidential Unit Citation (United States) 2001, Studies and Observations Group
Navy Unit Commendation
Army Meritorious Unit Citation
Foreign decorations
Vietnam Campaign Medal with 60 device
Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star (Corps citation)
Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star (Division citation)
Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star (Regiment or Brigade citation)
Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal 2nd Award
Vietnam Wound Medal
Vietnam Civil Actions Medal 2nd Award
Vietnam Cross of Gallantry Unit Citation with Palm, 1st Oak Leaf Cluster (Unit citation)
Republic of Korea Order of National Security Merit (Samil Medal)

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