Episodes

  • This week’s Borne the Battle – a benefits breakdown – features the Million Veteran Program (MVP), which is a national, voluntary research program to learn about how genes, lifestyle and military exposures affect health and illness and improve health care for Veterans.

    Sumitra Muralidhar, Ph.D. is the program director under VA's Office of Research and Development. Dr. Sumitra is motivated to help Veterans by overseeing the policy and infrastructure development for the collection and use of samples and genetic, clinical, lifestyle and military exposure data from one million Veterans. Since the program’s inception in 2011, 870,000 Veterans have enrolled and partnered with MVP.

    The Million Veteran Program is the world’s largest health care system-based research program on genetics, lifestyle, military exposure and health, with the goal of providing precision health care to Veterans and the population at large. Dr. Sumitra provides overall direction and management of the national program across sixty-plus VA medical centers, more than 70 community-based outpatient clinics; she also oversees operational leadership, coordination, implementation and oversight of all aspects of the program’s development and implementation, including policy development, fiscal management, regulatory affairs, public relations and scientific direction.

    Precision medicine is an innovative approach that has the potential to cure cancers, wipe out rare diseases, and improve the overall health of Veterans and even the general public. It’s changing the way we think about health care. With MVP, VA hopes to provide an invaluable tool for scientists to use in order to advance research and tailor disease prevention and treatment by taking into account the differences in an individual’s clinical, lifestyle and genetic information.

    In this episode of Borne the Battle, Dr. Sumitra answers these questions and more:

    What motivates her to help Veterans at VA?Why should Veterans enroll in the Million Veteran Program?Why should Veteran’s trust MVP with their genetic information?What studies are coming out of the program?What is the overall purpose of MVP?How VA can keep this genetic data safe through cloud databases?How can Veterans sign up and participate in MVP?

    Dr. Sumitra encourages Veterans from all backgrounds, races and ethnicities to sign up for the program, so it can really make a difference. It’s a legacy program, and it can revolutionize how health care is delivered for all other Veterans and even the general public.

    Borne the Battle Veteran of the Week:

    Army Veteran Ismael Medina

    Additional Links:

    VA genetics program aims to increase mental health treatments for Veterans;Million Veteran Program – 10 years, 850,000 Veterans and one dream to revolutionize health care;VA’s Million Veterans Program seeks to enroll more women Veterans;VA's Million Veteran Program Publications through December 2021;We Need Volunteers;You Can Now Join VA's Million Veterans Program Online.VA publishes Interim Final Rule for Legal Services for Veterans Grant Program
  • Retired Army Major General Charles (Chuck) Swannack, Jr. served in various command and staff positions during his thirty-plus years in the Army. He commanded the 82nd Airborne Division from October 2002 to May 2004, served as a brigade commander during Operation Uphold Democracy, was a battalion commander during Operation Nimrod Dancer and served in many more roles.

    Despite his impressive military service, Swannack argues that his contributions pale in comparison to the ones made by service members who lost their lives while in the line of duty. As a civilian, he helps Veterans and military families honor those who have fallen.

    In this Memorial Day Borne the Battle episode, Swannack discusses his eventful military career and then talks about how he does his part to honor the fallen.

    Swannack touches on his work with Speedway Motorsports (SMI) as executive director for SpeedwayChildren’s Charities. Through this non-profit fundraising organization, he works with local groups to help children facing challenging circumstances overcome obstacles standing in the way of their success.

    As SMI’s Vice President for Armed Forces Affairs, he also leads Speedway Motorsport’s “Welcome Home Patriots” initiative, designed to close the gap between the military and civilian community.

    Swannack further speaks about the Coca-Cola 600, a motorsport event that he looks forward to every year. Slated for the Sunday of every Memorial Day weekend, this race centers entirely around honoring the fallen. Listen to the podcast episode to learn more about why Swannack cannot help but shed tears at the Coca-Cola 600 every year.

    FOR A VIDEO RECAP OF THE 2021 COCA-COLA 600, CLICK HERE

    Swannack also serves as president of the Patriot Military Family Foundation. The foundation provides various forms of Veteran and military family support, including housing assistance, scholarships for children of Veterans, post-traumatic stress treatment assistance and much more.

    Swannack fundamentally believes that all Americans should live a life worthy of those who gave their lives for our freedom. He contends that fallen service members died so that members of the military and civilian community can be afforded the same opportunities to enjoy a fulfilling life. And he hopes that after this Memorial Day weekend, we can come out as a less divided nation and one that can promote our shared interests.

    Borne the Battle Veteran of the Week:

    Every Veteran who has given their life for our country.

    Additional Links:

    PBS’ National Memorial Day Concert airs on PBS Sunday from 8:00 – 9:30 p.m. ET. For more information about the event and alternative ways of viewing it, click here.Coca-Cola 600 schedule here.VA launches $20 million innovation challenge to reduce Veteran suicide.After two years without gatherings, VA National Cemeteries to host public Memorial Day ceremonies.VA implements COVID-19 health protection levels enhancing Veteran, visitor and employee safety at medical facilities.
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  • Major General (retired) Mark Graham lost his two sons, Jeffrey and Kevin, less than a year apart from one another. Their deaths came unexpectedly and rocked the course of his life forever. For him, happiness will never be the same. And yet, he still finds joy in his life through helping Veterans triumph in their darkest moments.

    On this week’s episode of Borne the Battle, Graham takes listeners on a riveting journey through his life. He described how personal loss, depression, mental health, family, grief, healing, perseverance and his service to the nation all intersected to shape him into the person he is today.

    Graham dedicated a substantial part of his life after his sons’ deaths to combat the stigma surrounding mental health. When he parented his sons, he felt that he severely underestimated the seriousness of depression. But he now iterates that mental health is real and a serious concern. Along with his wife, Carol, Graham established the Jeff and Kevin Graham Memorial Fund, among other organizations and funds, to collect donations that support the prevention of suicide and the study of depression.

    And because of his experiences, Graham is currently the director of Vets4Warriors, a nonprofit that runs a 24/7 confidential peer support network for struggling Veterans, active-duty service members, national guard, reservists, and families of any of these groups. This program hires Veterans and trains them to help guide Veterans or those in the military community who may be going through a difficult time in the right direction by connecting them with resources or just being a place to lend an open ear. The service is completely free and confidential.

    Call 1-855-838-8255 to get in touch with a Vets4Warriors peer

    The Vets4Warriors program collaborates closely with the Veterans Crisis Line, which provides pointed assistance for Veterans in crisis.

    Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 to get in touch with a Veteran Crisis Line responder

    PBS’s 2022 National Memorial Day Concert will feature Graham and his wife sharing their story and how they hope to motivate those that are struggling to get help.

    Graham wants everyone who hears his story to seek assistance if suffering from poor mental health or depression. He recognizes that the first step of reaching out for help can be hard. But Graham also argues that there are people who want to help, people like himself who know what going through a traumatic time in life is like. He and his team at Vets4Warriors are ready to help.

    Borne the Battle Veteran of the Week:

    Army Veteran Jeremiah Thomas Wittman

    Additional Links:

    Distance should never be an impediment to getting support. The VA MISSION Act of 2020 improves access to community care. Learn more about the Act here.Borne the Battle episode 212 features Aaron Quinonez and his app Operation Pop Smoke. The app helps Veterans build their post-service squad to help one provide support for one another.Statement from Secretaries Fudge, McDonough, Vilsack and Yellen on continued efforts to connect homeowners to pandemic relief.
  • Olivia Nunn knew from a young age that she would join the Army one day; her father had been a combat engineer. She planned to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, but low test scores in math prevented her admission. Nunn’s parents supported her decision to join the military, but they insisted that she receive an education and become an officer, so she enrolled at Radford University in Virginia and joined the school’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program.

    After college, Nunn wanted to become an armor officer and be part of a tank crew, but when she joined the Army in 2001, women weren’t allowed to fill certain roles in the military. Instead, she spent a decade as a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Officer in the Chemical Corps and served multiple tours of duty in Iraq before moving into public affairs. For several years, she helped to produce the Army’s Soldier for Life podcast and eventually hosted the program.

    “It looks easy, it looks glamorous,” Nunn says of podcasting, “but the truth is there’s a lot of work that goes into it.”

    Nunn spent a total of 20 years in the Army and recently retired. Afterward, she became a communications consultant and a beauty queen.

    “Your identity is wrapped up in your uniform,” Nunn says, “whether you do it for two years or 20 years.”

    While she was still on active duty, Nunn suffered a mental health crisis and contemplated suicide. In this episode of Borne the Battle, she opens up about her experience and talks about how she found the help she needed, the challenges of transitioning from soldier to civilian and the need for better mental health resources for military personnel.

    Borne the Battle Veteran of the Week:

    Army Veteran Barney F. Hajiro


    EXTRA LINKS

    Official Army Soldier for Life site – https://soldierforlife.army.mil/
  • Navy Veteran Ken Harbaugh grew up in a family of military pilots but never really thought about joining the military himself. However, in a moment of clarity while studying abroad during his junior year of college, he changed course. That led to him commissioning in the Navy and becoming a fighter pilot leading combat reconnaissance missions.

    After serving nine years, Harbaugh left the Navy and later enrolled at Yale University to study law. But the transition to civilian life was not easy for him. In this episode, he talks about what it was like adjusting and processing his emotions after leaving the military.

    Harbaugh discusses how his transition – and a trip to the Bethesda Naval Hospital – inspired him to co-found The Mission Continues, a nonprofit organization. He also talks about his progress to help Veterans transition back to civilian life and assist those with mental health issues.

    Harbaugh is a nonprofit entrepreneur who has been in leadership roles for many Veteran nonprofit organizations, such as The Mission Continues, ServiceNation and Team Rubicon. He talks about why he continues to serve in Veteran nonprofits.

    Lastly, Harbaugh talks about why he decided to work in media and how he became the host for multiple podcasts, such as Burn the Boats and Medal of Honor at Evergreen Podcasts. He also delves into how he formed partnerships with various podcast networks and what steps Veterans can take to start a new podcast.

    In this episode, Harbaugh also talks about:

    What he learned from his experiences in the military.Earning his law degree from Yale Law School.His time as a human rights researcher in Afghanistan.Working as a consultant for multiple Fortune 500 companies.Running for public office and how Veterans can become active in politics.Why it’s important to continue serving after the uniform comes off.

    Borne the Battle Veteran of the Week:

    Army Veteran Thomas Ferrell Allison

    Additional Links:

    Borne the Battle #239: Marine Corps Veteran Jake Wood, Entrepreneur, Co-founder of Team Rubicon.Borne the Battle #264: Veteran Roundtable – Afghanistan Withdrawal / Evacuation.Clay Hunt Act complements VA’s ongoing commitment to mental health.Veteran suicide prevention.Redevelopment of VA Greater Los Angeles West L.A. Campus represents proof of concept for the nation as a way forward in tackling homelessness VA establishes presumptive service connection for rare respiratory cancers for certain VeteransVA encourages volunteers to “Carry The Load” for an American hero during trek across countryVA expands reimbursement agreement program to Urban Indian Organizations
  • This week’s Borne the Battle–a benefits breakdown—features the Office of Harassment and Assault Prevention. The office’s goal is simple: All those who visit a VA facility should be treated with dignity and respect.

    However, recognizing how harassment or assault can manifest and what you can do to combat it may be less simple.

    Lelia Jackson, Marine Corp Veteran and director of the Office of Harassment and Assault, joins this week’s episode of Borne the Battle to discuss some difficult and even uncomfortable topics related to sexual harassment and assault. Topics include:

    Listening to some first-hand accounts of Veterans being sexually harassed or assaulted to show how hostile situations can manifest and how the victim feels in the moment.The cultural and generational influences that limit how some Veterans understand sexual harassment and assault and how to help them expand their worldviews.The different ways Veterans can combat sexual harassment and assault.

    Jackson firmly believes that the path to eliminating sexual harassment and assault in VA facilities necessitates having these tough conversations. Research indicates that 25.2% of women Veterans who routinely use VA primary care clinics reported facing inappropriate or unwarranted comments by male Veterans on VA grounds. And there are likely many more unreported cases and unaccounted instances where male Veterans face sexual harassment and assault. The path to elimination requires education.

    One way Jackson’s office educates Veterans is through their comprehensive Bystander Intervention Training for Veterans. The engaging 30-minute training teaches participants how to recognize hostile situations, the many ways of responding to them and how to get help.

    Jackson’s office also promotes the White Ribbon VA pledge. For her, the VA pledge is special because it recognizes that sexual harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence affect people of all genders.

    Importantly, every Veteran should report every instance of sexual harassment and assault they face. If you are a Veteran who has been sexually harassed or assaulted at a VA medical facility, contact one of the following for assistance:

    VA Police.Patient Advocate.Your Primary Care Provider.

    Borne the Battle Veteran of the Week:

    Air Force Veteran Rosemary Hogan Luciano

    Additional Links:

    Jackson’s office partnered with the VA Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program to combat the rise of domestic violence seen over the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out our podcast episode with that program here.April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and VA, as it is year-round, is ready to offer mental health support and services. Learn more here.VA issues Notice of Funding Opportunity for Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant Program
  • Are you one of the 3 million Veterans eligible to join VA’s Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry (AHOBPR)? If you were exposed to toxic materials during your service and are worried about how it might affect you, joining the AHOBPR allows you to report your exposure and discuss your concerns with a health care professional after a free, voluntary medical exam. The information you provide will contribute to research that may help other Veterans in the future. To learn if you are eligible and how to sign up, tune in to this week’s special rewind episode of Borne the Battle.

  • Before he was Mr. Feeny on Boy Meets World or KITT on Knight Rider, William Daniels was a soldier in the U.S. Army. Daniels was drafted into the Army near the end of World War II and later used his GI Bill benefits to attend college and study acting. Tune in to this week’s special rewind episode of Borne the Battle to hear Daniels talk about being the first person in his family to attend college, meeting the pope, and using the skills he learned in the military to be successful after service.

  • Six. That was the number of black bags Army Veteran Frederick Bourjaily and his comrades carried back to base after completing his first operation control assignment while serving in the Vietnam War. And though the experience happened over half-a-century ago, that memory lingers deeply in Bourjaily’s mind today.

    Bourjaily shares this story precisely because he wants others to hear it. He wants today’s young service members and military prospects to understand what war is like and to be prepared for all its brutality. He also wants Veterans who may be coping with their own traumas to know that they will never be alone.

    In this episode of Borne the Battle, Bourjaily shares what his war time experience was like while also being a father, and some ways he continues to help the Veteran community today as the national commander of the Combat Infantrymen’s Association. More than just being a group that brings together Veterans who received the Combat Infantryman Badge, Bourjaily leads the group agitating for military-oriented legislative reform in political arenas.

    Bourjaily was also a mentor with the Genesee County, Michigan Veterans Treatment Court.

    These Veteran-oriented courts – which regularly coordinate with VA – help many Veterans who commit non-violent offenses avoid falling into a cycle of trouble with the law. And Bourjaily helped Veterans who participated in this program follow a strict but manageable plan to get their lives back on track and get their crimes expunged from their record.

    Bourjaily struggled to readjust to civilian life because of the images he saw while serving. But he argues that the help he received from Veteran support groups, including the services provided by VA, helped him tremendously. He hopes that other Veterans will take the step to reach out for help as he did. Veterans like him are ready to assist.

    Borne the Battle Veteran of the Week:

    Navy Veteran Kimberly Mitchell

    Additional Links:

    Want an idea of what treatment court is like? Check out this blog post featuring a day in the Milwaukee Veterans Treatment Court, here.Click herefor a complete list of Treatment Court related blog posts.For additional Veteran specific resources, check out the VA resources page, here.Treating Veterans with lingering “Long COVID”
  • At age 17, Linda Maloney knew that she wanted more. Her parents were divorced and couldn't afford to send her to college. Looking to take control of her life, she joined the Navy.

    “I think when you grow up in a difficult situation, obviously you want better for yourself, you know?” Maloney asked. “And I just wanted to impact my own life.”

    In the Navy, Maloney served as both an air traffic controller and a public affairs officer. She wanted to be a pilot – and had been fascinated by flight since her childhood – but postings for naval aviators were rare, with only a handful available each year. Her fortune changed in 1987, when one of that year’s flight school candidates dropped out, allowing Maloney to take that person's place. She graduated as a Naval flight officer in 1988 and spent the next 16 years as a U.S. Navy pilot. After the military’s Combat Exclusion Policy was lifted in 1993, Maloney became one of the first women pilots in the armed forces to serve in a combat role.

    On this week’s episode of Borne the Battle, Maloney discusses her two decades of military service, including the combat exclusion laws she faced in the Navy, the value of maintaining personal relationships and the experience of ejecting over the Atlantic Ocean following an aircraft malfunction.

    After retiring from the Navy in 2004, Maloney became an author, public speaker and entrepreneur, and now serves as the project director of “Proudly She Served.” This project highlights and honors the service of women Veterans by depicting them in a collection of 12 hand-painted portraits that are both published in a printed book as well as exhibited to the public.

    “It was an amazing opportunity, I wouldn’t change it for anything,” Maloney said of her Navy career. “I could never repay the military for the opportunities that it gave to me.”

    Borne the Battle Veteran of the Week:

    Navy Veteran Katherine Leahy

    Additional Links:

    Borne the Battle #187: Darlene Iskra: First Woman to Command a Ship in the NavyBorne the Battle 232: Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, USAF Veteran, Children's Book Author, Global MarketerVA releases Asset and Infrastructure Review report
  • Navy Veteran Andrew Bliss always wanted to work in the video production industry, but his journey wasn't straightforward. Before serving in the military, Bliss was an accomplished professional martial artist with over 10 years of experience coaching and mentoring students. Working as a martial artist eventually led him to the military.

    In the interview, Bliss talks about serving six years as a Navy broadcast journalist in Combat Camera at the Pentagon and his time directing and producing a feature film while on active duty in Italy before leaving the service.

    After creating a comfortable life for himself as a civilian, Bliss made the uncomfortable decision to sell all of his belongings, buy a motorcycle and make the long journey across America to the west coast. Bliss talks about why he chose not to take a differnet path to pursue his dream of working in the entertainment industry.

    Bliss discusses how he leapt from doing freelance and independent work to fulfilling his dream of working for a major entertainment company like Bad Robot Productions. He also talks about content creation, his current position, and how the framework he learned in the military helps him stay focused and grounded while working in Hollywood.

    Finally, he explains how important it is for Veterans to get involved with Veteran networking organizations, such as Veterans in Media & Entertainment, if they are interested in pursuing a career in the entertainment industry.

    In this episode, Bliss also talks about:

    What he learned from his experiences in the military.Earning a degree in Interactive Design at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.The principles that have guided him during his military career and throughout civilian life.The fundamentals to being a part of any industry.Why it’s important for Veterans to have insatiable curiosity and the courage to pursue their dreams.His view of NFTs and the future of cryptocurrency.

    Borne the Battle Veteran of the Week

    Army Air Corps Veteran Gail "The Candy Bomber" Halvorsen

    Additional Links:

    Borne the Battle #217: Jennifer Marshall – Navy Veteran, Host of CW’s Mysteries Decoded.VA will propose adding rare cancers to the presumed service-connected list as related to military environmental exposureVA supports women Veteran entrepreneurs in how to obtain government contracts VA publishes Interim Final Rule for Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant ProgramVeteran communities receive latest resources for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
  • Tim McCoy was born in Fort Jackson, S.C. and grew up in a military environment. He eventually joined the military and gave almost 26 years of service until a health condition forced him out. Despite his abrupt departure, he continues to involve himself with the military community in his capacity as a historian focusing on giving a voice to the lesser known and often forgotten figures in American military history.

    McCoy lived a unique life compared to most Americans. He was a military brat whose service ended suddenly because of factors beyond his control. In this episode of Borne the Battle, he shares some details of his own life’s history:

    What it was like to adjust to new schools and environments as a military brat.How he coped with not being able to see his father for long periods of time as a kid.How his father inspired him to enlist in the military.The way he struggled to adjust to civilian life – “When you’re a warrior, it’s hard for you to admit that something’s wrong with you.”How he eventually found his place of belonging and purpose after being out of the military.

    But beyond just retelling his own past, McCoy loves studying America’s military past as well. As a historian who aspires to open his own military museum one day, he possesses a wealth of knowledge in military history. Here are some of the many historical facts McCoy mentioned in this episode that you may not have known or thought about:

    The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, an all-Black women battalion that ensured mail reached U.S. soldiers in the frontlines during World War II.“The Golden Thirteen” – the first 13 African American sailors who became commissioned and warrant officers in the U.S. Navy during World War II.A World War II destroyer escort and submarine attacking vessel, the USS Mason, which had a majority African American crew.The fact that Hawaiians participated in the American Civil War.

    In 2021, McCoy was the featured in PBS’s National Memorial Day Concert highlighting the 2nd Ranger Company, the Army’s only elite and all-Black Ranger company and served during the Korean War.

    From when he was born to today – all 57 years of it and counting – the military has been an integral part of McCoy’s life. Today he is committed to giving back by helping tell the stories of other Veterans who have not yet been heard.

    Borne the Battle Veteran of the Week:

    Army Veteran Marcia Anderson

    Additional Links:

    McCoy’s nonprofit, Winged Warrior Inc., is running the Winged Warrior Project, aiming to “document the development, employment and deployment of Airborne Operations from its inception to present.”VA asks for public input on Veterans outdoor recreation experience
  • This week’s Borne the Battle – a benefits breakdown – features the Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU). They are an internal accountability office that protects and advocates for Veteran-owned businesses. They also work to ensure that Veteran entrepreneurs can compete and be selected for a fair amount of contract opportunities.

    Air Force Veteran Michelle Gardner-Ince is the director of the Women Veteran-Owned Small Business Initiative (WVOSBI), a directorate under OSDBU at VA. Gardner-Ince is motivated to help women Veteran entrepreneurs get opportunities, access and education to achieve their business goals. Since WVOSBI’s inception in 2019, it has provided women Veterans with networking and collaborative opportunities with Federal agencies and private-sector corporations.

    In this episode of Borne the Battle, Gardner-Ince answers these questions and more:

    What motivates her to help Veterans at VA?What is classified as a small business?What are the eligibility requirements for being certified as a Veteran-owned small business?How can a Veteran-owned small business become a Certified Veteran Enterprise (CVE)?How can Veteran-Owned small businesses avoid common mistakes when breaking into federal contracting?

    For Veterans who need help verifying their small business, OSDBU partnered with Procurement Technical Assistant Centers (PTACS), which helps to ensure that Veteran-owned small businesses can compete successfully in the government marketplace.

    Additionally, OSDBU helps Veterans understand the process of bidding on federal contracts through its Direct Access Program and Strategic Outreach and Communications office.

    But before contacting OSDBU, Gardner-Ince recommends that Veterans first reach out to the U.S. Small Business Administration's Veteran Business Outreach Center for assistance.

    OSDBU provides various services and programs that are ready to help Veteran-owned small businesses take the next steps to secure a federal contract. However, not enough women Veteran entrepreneurs know that these programs exist. Gardner-Ince aims to close the gap by reaching out to and helping Women Veteran-owned businesses by providing them with opportunities to understand the system and improve their business goals.

    Borne the Battle Veteran of the Week:

    Marine Corps Veteran William McDowell

    Additional Links:

    Borne the Battle #231: Army Veteran Dawn Halfaker, Combat Wounded Amputee, CEO of Halfaker and AssociatesWVOSB Resources.VA Women Veteran-Owned Small Business Initiative.Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA).VA COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan program updates.Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program.Veterans pave way forward through STEM and small businesses.Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization Vets First Verification Program.2.5 Million Small Businesses Are Owned by American Military Vets.VA proposes updates to disability rating schedules for respiratory, auditory and mental disorders body systems
  • With 44 years of service under his belt, Air Force Veteran, four-star general and former Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force Larry Spencer decided that he earned a well-deserved break and retired on a Friday in 2015. But that very following Monday, he went right back to work, promoting aerospace education in his new role as president of the Air Force Association.

    Did Spencer regret going straight back into work after retiring and does he recommend it to others? You might be surprised by his answer and what he recommends Veterans do instead.

    While Spencer commanded at all levels of the military and was the second-highest military member of the Air Force, he claimed that his favorite experience remains his first command post as a squadron commander. It might be a low-level command job, but Spencer explains why he found it to be the most rewarding of all his leadership experiences.

    Spencer also specializes in financial management and is a well-respected comptroller in the Air Force community. He wrote extensively on how money is used during times of war. In his latest book, The Green Eyeshades of War, he analyzes the complex policies, negotiations and procedures that are involved in financing a war.

    In recognition of his service to the nation, the Air Force created the General Larry O. Spencer Innovation Award in 2015. This award honors Airmen who made significant contributions to saving Air Force financial and manpower resources through innovation.

    Today, he is on the board of directors for Whirlpool Corporation and president of the Armed Forces Benefit Association and 5Star Life Insurance Company. He has lived a rich life thus far and shares much of his experiences and wisdom on this episode of Borne the Battle.

    Borne the Battle Veteran of the Week:

    Army Veteran Alwyn C. Cashe

    Additional Links:

    In addition to writing The Green Eyeshades of War, Spencer also wrote on his upbringing and the journey that he took to reach the heights he did in his book Dark Horse.VA, HUD and community partners conduct annual homeless census.VA funding available to create technology helping eligible service members and Veterans adapt their homes.
  • Elysa Acosta-Millan was inspired by her brother to join the armed forces. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in the weeks following 9/11, and Acosta-Millan saw the positive effect that military service had on his personality. That, combined with an increasing desire for change in her personal life, led Acosta-Millan to consider a career in the Corps.

    Acosta-Millan spent more than seven years on active duty in the Marine Corps and now serves as a reservist working in public affairs. She is studying at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication on the campus of Arizona State University, and has also competed in beauty pageants, winning her first title in 2011.

    Join us on this week’s episode of Borne the Battle as Acosta-Millan discusses her experiences in the service, including how she and her brother were both posted to the same duty station in Japan, the importance of being professional and why she decided to become a journalist. She also talks about taking advantage of Active Duty for Operational Support (ADOS), a program common to several branches of the military that allows reservists to serve in temporary postings while receiving all the benefits of of active-duty, including time accumulated toward retirement.

    Acosta-Millan began working as a show host shortly before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, which prevented her from conducting in-person interviews. Instead, she interviews subjects online, reaching out to them through email and social media. She invests a great deal of time and effort into researching and setting up each interview. At this stage of her career, in order to expand her portfolio, any expenses she incurs (wardrobe, editing, renting studio space, etc.) has to be paid for out of her own pocket – a subject she says is “just part of the job.” However, Elysa is determined reach her goals, both professionally and personally using the perseverance she learned in the military.

  • This week’s Borne the Battle features Army Veteran Greg Williams, who has over 30 years of experience training the skills and techniques used to identify specific human behavior patterns. Over that time, he's instructed every Tier One military force in the United States, as well as various international organizations.

    After serving six years in the Army, Williams transitioned to civilian life, working as an urban law enforcement professional. He discusses the specific skills and abilities he acquired while on the force and the limitations he faced while on duty.

    In the episode, Williams talks about progressing from police work to training the Human Behavior Pattern Recognition Analysis technique. He breaks down the definition of human behavior pattern recognition, how it can be used to predict danger, what it takes to gain expertise in human behavior pattern recognition and the factors that influence behavior.

    Williams decided to transfer the skills and abilities he learned to develop the world-renowned USMC's highly successful and lifesaving Combat Hunter Program. He delves into the program's history, its recruitment process, the high-profile endorsement he received, and what Marines can learn while taking the course. He talks about how human behavior is the foundation of many important programs. As a human behavior pattern recognition specialist, he explains how humans are the best part of the job – and the most challenging.

    Later, he explains why gas stations are the most dangerous places in the world and the importance of using critical thinking when stopping for a fuel up. Williams also shares advice on how Veterans can start a career in human behavior pattern recognition.

    In this episode:

    His mentors and the lessons he learned while in the military.The human pattern behavior recognition podcast he co-hosts.Why it’s important to listen to Veterans' personal stories and how to get involved in community programs for Veterans.

    Borne the Battle Veteran of the Week:

    Navy Veteran Leah Rosetti

    Additional Links:

    Borne the Battle #191: Brian Marren, Human Behavior Pattern Recognition ExpertS. Marine Corps Combat Hunter ProgramThe Combat Hunter Program and Securing the VictoryThe Evolution of Combat HunterThreatened by lone-wolf attacks, Marines must become true human huntersA Situational Awareness Discussion Guide: “Left of Bang: How the Marine Corps’ Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life”VA amplifies access to home, community-based services for eligible Veterans OPM affirms $15 minimum wage for federal civilian employees
  • With over two decades of experience, Mark Cooter and Alec Bierbauer have been called the “Wright Brothers” of the U.S. drone warfare program. They were the ones – in January 2000 – who were tasked with finding terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. They had nine months to carry out their mission.

    This week’s episode of Borne the Battle explores the history of drone warfare, which dates back to the 1990s, when drones were used as relatively simple, short-range surveillance tools.

    Here, Cooter and Bierbauer discuss how their team located bin Laden a full year before the events of 9/11 (and why they couldn’t take action against him), how weapons were first added to drones, and the ways in which drone technology has evolved over the last 20 years. They also talk about the psychological stress endured by today's drone operators and caution against minimizing the combat trauma faced by pilots and support crews.

    “It could very easily be perceived as a video game,” said Bierbauer in the podcast, “and it’s not.”

    U.S. rules of engagement hold that military forces could only attack an enemy target if they had “eyes on” – that is, if the target was under direct observation. Political considerations also meant that American troops could not be stationed in a friendly “host” country. Further complicating matters, manned spy planes could not be deployed unless they were also supported by search and rescue personnel, in case the aircraft was shot down. Using unmanned drones provided a solution to all of these problems: They didn’t require the presence of troops on the ground and could monitor targets from a distance without any risk to a pilot or crew.

    Borne the Battle Veteran of the Week:

    Army Veteran Wendall Robert Cram

    Additional Links:

    VA, Civil Air Patrol chaplain corps to support families of Veterans at national cemeteriesMost recent VA Secretary press conferenceVA delays electronic health record implementation date due to COVID-19 surge in Ohio
  • SSVF is a program administered by VA to rapidly rehouse Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. National director of the SSVF program, John Kuhn, joins this episode of Borne the Battle to speak on the following:

    How the SSVF operates and what resources eligible Veterans can receive from utilizing it (2:18)An overview of the requirements organizations must meet before becoming a SSVF provider (5:02)How a local nonprofit can become a SSVF partner (6:04) Additional VA resources available for Veterans needing eviction protections, homelessness avoidance, and rapid rehousing resources (8:00)

    And unlike many VA-backed programs, enrolling into SSVF does not require any interaction with VA. Instead, an eligible Veteran simply needs to call or email their county’s SSVF partnered nonprofit or consumer cooperative to start receiving SSVF assistance.

    OPEN THIS EXCEL FILE TO FIND YOUR 2022 SSVF PROVIDER

    The SSVF Program Office also provides its Shallow Subsidy service. The Shallow Subsidy provides rental assistance to low-income and extremely low-income Veterans who are enrolled in SSVF Rapid Rehousing or Homeless Prevention projects. And the Shallow Subsidy service is designed to incentivize recipients to raise their income by fixing the money they receive for two years. That means SSVF recipients can increase their income or benefits without the fear of losing their subsidies.

    For Veterans experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness and where SSVF assistance is not sufficient, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program will be able to help.

    Check out this Borne the Battle episode featuring HUD-VASH national director Meghan Deal for more details.

    Additionally, the U.S. Treasury Department also has funds available to assist households unable to pay rent or utilities through its Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

    There is a variety of services and programs ready to help Veterans and their families overcome homelessness. However, not enough people know that these programs exist. SSVF aims to close that gap by connecting Veterans with housing support experts in their local communities. These people who can provide relevant and specialized support to meet any eligible Veteran’s needs.


    Of course, they need your help spreading the word about their program as well.

    Borne the Battle Veteran of the Week:

    Army Veteran Lawrence Brooks

    Additional information:

    Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness are encouraged to contact National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at (877) 4AID-VET (877-424-3838) for assistance. They can also visit their closest VA medical center without calling in advance.VA seeks feedback to guide new copayment waiver program for Veterans at risk for suicideVA health records now display gender identityVA designates flexible funding to support homeless Veterans