Borne The Battle



Borne the Battle recognizes each battle, challenge, and sacrifice our Veterans endure during and after their service, as well as spotlighting important resources, offices, and benefits VA offers our Veterans.


  • #172 Lakota Warrior and Vietnam Veteran Dr. Robert Primeaux

    #172 Lakota Warrior and Vietnam Veteran Dr. Robert Primeaux

    20/11/2019 Duration: 01h04min

    Native American Vietnam Veteran Robert Primeaux shared his journey from a Lakota reservation to the Army, to Hollywood. As a young man, Primeaux was eager to get off the reservation and see the world. To leave, he decided to join the Army. He trained in Fort Lewis and Fort Knox before joining the 101st Airborne Division and sent off to Vietnam. In 1972, Primeaux returned to the United States. His younger brother had been killed in a car accident, leaving Primeaux as the sole male survivor of his family. However, he did not stay in the Army long. A car accident of his own put him in a coma for three weeks. After he recovered, he was discharged. Primeaux then lived on his grandmother’s ranch while he recovered from his injuries. To help with his recovery, he began to self-rehab by working with the horses on the ranch. His love for horses gave him the opportunity to go to school through a rodeo scholarship from the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA). Between school and living on his family ranch,

  • #171: Seven Summits w/ Benjamin Breckheimer

    #171: Seven Summits w/ Benjamin Breckheimer

    13/11/2019 Duration: 01h07min

    Benjamin Breckheimer was a teenager when he watched 9/11 unfold. Like many other young Americans, the images spurred him into action. Right after high school, he enlisted in the Army as an operating room specialist. The operating room is where Breckheimer served his comrades and met his closest mentor. As fate would have it, Breckheimer would end up on the operating table himself. Breckheimer received serious damages to his body after an improvised explosive device went off under the Stryker he was driving. The road to recovery was a long one. Hopeless and angry at the world, Breckheimer’s life spiraled out of control to the point of suicidal thoughts. However, with the help of his family, mentor, and a strong support network, Breckheimer was able to get back on his feet. To get better physically and also to challenge himself and others, Breckheimer started climbing. As time went on, his ascents grew to higher altitudes. To free himself from weight of the past , Breckheimer threw his problems off some of the

  • #170: Dale Dye, Marine Corps Birthday Episode

    #170: Dale Dye, Marine Corps Birthday Episode

    06/11/2019 Duration: 01h44min

    When watching a movie, it’s easy to think that everything is real and true and lifelike. It's no surprise that that isn't always the case, especially with military movies. That's how Marine Veteran Dale Dye got involved. He wanted to tell Hollywood the right way to portray the military on screen. Dye’s journey to becoming a military technical advisor started when he was a young man. He often overheard his father's inspiring World War II stories. He enlisted in the Marines after seeing a Marines poster. In service, Dye became a combat correspondent and he often documented battles and life in the Marines during the Vietnam War. It was this experience that he later drew on to advise Hollywood film directors on how to accurately portray the military. His love for the military inspired him to influence the next generation through films, books, and even video games, so he created Warriors Inc. to provide Hollywood with technical advisors for all things military related. As Dye discussed his experiences, he covered

  • #169: Benefits Breakdown - Appeals Modernization

    #169: Benefits Breakdown - Appeals Modernization

    30/10/2019 Duration: 54min

    Executive Director of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) Appeals Management Office (AMO) and Army Veteran David McLenachen talks about the appeals modernization process. McLenachen briefly discussed his service in the Army with counterintelligence. He later left the Army to pursue a career in law. He worked as law clerk for a federal judge before he eventually came to work at the VA. Before becoming executive director of the VBA’s AMO, McLenachen acted as deputy under secretary for disability assistance. While in this position, he began helping the VBA improve their appeals system in order to better assist Veterans. The Appeals Modernization Act took effect Feb. 19, 2019. Congress created the act in 2017 to help solve problems VBA had with appeals and claims. The act created three new ways to help Veterans submit appeals and get their results at a quicker pace: Higher-level review Supplemental claim Board of Veterans’ Appeals McLenachen and the VBA continue to strive to find ways to improve the a

  • #168: Coaching NCAA Lacrosse with Marine Veteran Chris Burke and Mitchell Shafer

    #168: Coaching NCAA Lacrosse with Marine Veteran Chris Burke and Mitchell Shafer

    23/10/2019 Duration: 01h32min

    This week's Borne the Battle podcast features Marine Corps Veteran Chris Burke and the youngest head coach in NCAA Lacrosse, Mitch Shafer. Burke discussed his service in the Marines, including his injury and recovery from an IED explosion in Afghanistan. However, Burke's real story begins on what he did after serving in Afghanistan. When Burke left service, he went back to school, where he planned on joining the lacrosse program in hopes of playing with his younger brother. But his plans didn’t go the way he had hoped. Instead, he found a new sense of purpose, one that reminded him of the camaraderie that he experienced in the Marines. In time, that new sense of purpose led to Burke accepting the position of defensive coordinator at Maryville University. CHRIS IS THE SECOND VETERAN NCAA COACH TO BE ON BORNE THE BATTLE: CLICK HERE FOR THE #BTBATTLE EPISODE WITH DUKE'S COACH KRZYZEWSKI Now, at Maryville, with Shafer's help, Burke uses his Marine Corps leadership experience to to mentor and coach his college

  • #167: Paging Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret Medic, Army Medical Officer, VA Surgeon

    #167: Paging Dr. Albert Weed, Green Beret Medic, Army Medical Officer, VA Surgeon

    16/10/2019 Duration: 01h04min

    This week's Borne the Battle podcast features Dr. Albert Weed, whose career has taken him from enlisted Green Beret Army medic to an Army medical officer to VA surgeon. Weed discussed his name, and how his family’s military background and medical experiences led him to, among other things, peacekeeping in Egypt, swimming in Saddam Hussein's pool, and receiving four different DD-214s. Weed traces his journey's beginnings from high school and later to Special Forces training, where he volunteered to work as a medic. It was during this training when he realized the medical field was where he wanted to be. He was inspired to become an Army medical doctor while doing his clinical. He had just finished a late shift helping labor and deliveries and was planning to take a nap when he was called to the operating room to help. After the operation, Weed went out for a run instead of taking his nap. In that moment, he realized he wanted to pursue a medical career. Listen as Weed recounts his experiences in the military a

  • #166: Navy to NASCAR w/ Jesse Iwuji

    #166: Navy to NASCAR w/ Jesse Iwuji

    09/10/2019 Duration: 01h12min

    Sometimes, all it takes is a whiteboard and a marker to jump-start a dream into reality. This week’s Borne the Battle features guest Jesse Iwuji, whose creative and hardworking mindset led him to overcome great challenges and become a NASCAR driver. Growing up, Iwuji excelled at both track and football. His high school accomplishments led him to the Naval Academy's football team where he played safety. He graduated from the academy in 2010. After seven years active duty, Jesse transitioned to the Navy Reserve. After his football career ended, Iwuji found competitiveness in racing. However, he was at a disadvantage compared to his peers who started racing at a very early age: Iwuji started in his mid 20’s. He lacked sponsorship and he wasn’t born into a racing family. Despite this, his determination and led him to a variety of open doors. He funded the first part of his NASCAR K&N racing career through a variety of ways to include starting his own business. Currently he is racing in the NASCAR Gander Out

  • #165: The Battle of Mogadishu w/ Army Ranger Veteran, Jeff Struecker

    #165: The Battle of Mogadishu w/ Army Ranger Veteran, Jeff Struecker

    02/10/2019 Duration: 51min
  • #164: Benefits Breakdown - VA Vet Centers

    #164: Benefits Breakdown - VA Vet Centers

    25/09/2019 Duration: 53min
  • #163: Helping Reunite Veteran Families w/ Nathan Goncalves - Army Veteran, Equal Justice Works Fellow

    #163: Helping Reunite Veteran Families w/ Nathan Goncalves - Army Veteran, Equal Justice Works Fellow

    18/09/2019 Duration: 01h30min

    On this week’s episode, Borne the Battle features guest Nathan Goncalves, who shares his story of struggle and perseverance. While Goncalves didn’t have the intrinsic calling to join the military, he enlisted at 23, seeking reform and discipline. It was in the Army that Goncalves sharpened his focus and developed lifelong friendships and mentors. Rough transition However, Goncalves' transition back to civilian life was not easy. In fact, it turned out to be some of his lowest valleys--involving addiction, PTSD, and anger management. But things started to change when Goncalves heard he was going to be a father. In this episode, he discusses how an intense work ethic allowed him to achieve a bachelor’s degree at UCLA in less than three years. Goncalves applied to UCLA’s Law school to study corporate law. He was accepted, but a bitter divorce hampered those plans. Through his own experiences, Goncalves realized there was no advocacy for situations like his own. So he sacrificed a potentially lucrative corporate

  • Bonus Episode! - Mel Brooks, Adrian Cronauer, 2019 Military Influencer Conference Roundup

    Bonus Episode! - Mel Brooks, Adrian Cronauer, 2019 Military Influencer Conference Roundup

    17/09/2019 Duration: 26min

    For months, I’ve been promising a special bonus podcast episode for when Born the Battle received its 100th rating and/or review on iTunes. We did it! But, before we get to Mel Brooks and the late Adrian Cronauer.  In five months, our listenership has increased 500%. You’ve allowed more Veterans, VA employees and civilians to hear these amazing stories and to take advantage of all the benefit breakdowns in our archives. Thank You.

  • #162: September 11th with Dr. John Baxter - Air Force Veteran, 9/11 First Responder, SecDefs Flight Surgeon

    #162: September 11th with Dr. John Baxter - Air Force Veteran, 9/11 First Responder, SecDef's Flight Surgeon

    11/09/2019 Duration: 59min

    On September 11, 2001, Air Force flight surgeon John Baxter showed up to work at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, to a full load of patients and completing physicals--just like any other day. Halfway through his morning while getting his next patient, he saw that a civilian airliner had flown into one of the World Trade Center towers. While with the patient, Baxter said he noticed the background noise in the Pentagon changed. It seemed quieter than usual. Then, he heard shouts. He opened his door and saw people running and shouting, and smoke in the hallway. At first, Baxter didn't know if there was an explosion, a fire or some other event. Despite the unknowns, he assembled his team of flight surgeons, a nurse and medical technicians. They grabbed medical kits and traveled as a group. Their emergency plan was to meet up with other medics at the Pentagon's DiLorenzo Clinic. Then they heard the news: there were casualties in corridor 5. Baxter's team ran to the spot. They found Army Veteran Brian Birdwell,

  • #161: Todd Boeding – Marine Veteran, Carry the Load

    #161: Todd Boeding – Marine Veteran, Carry the Load

    04/09/2019 Duration: 52min

    On this week’s episode of Borne the Battle, Tanner Iskra interviews guest Todd Boeding, who shares his past, present and future as a Marine Corps Veteran, as well as his involvement honoring Veterans through Carry the Load. Born and raised in Texas, Boeding was always known to take unorthodox paths in life. He dabbled in college, left for the Marine Corps seeking structure and discipline, and eventually returned to finish up his degree at The University of Texas at Dallas. Since leaving the Marine Corps in 2003, Boeding discussed the hardest part of the transition back to civilian life: finding a sense of belonging. Boeding was able to find his purpose of being part of something bigger through Carry the Load. Carry the Load offers opportunities to learn how to care again and to do it in a way that meaningfully impacts the families who lost their loved ones. Currently, Carry the Load is partnering with the National Cemetery Association on September 11th to help maintain the dignity of cemeteries. If you would

  • #160: Benefits Breakdown – Assistive Technology Program

    #160: Benefits Breakdown – Assistive Technology Program

    28/08/2019 Duration: 29min

    In episode 157, we spoke with Army Veteran Ursula Draper about her role in the development of an Assistive Technology (AT) program. In this week's Benefits Breakdown, we take a deeper dive into how this program works and who is able to access it. The AT program will sound familiar to those who know Darwin’s Theory of Adaptation. The adaptation theory--also known as survival theory, or survival of the fittest--is an organism’s ability to adapt to changes in its environment and adjust accordingly. The Assistive Technology program helps Veterans to do just that. The AT program, which began in 2008, aims to improve the lives of disabled Veterans by allowing them to maintain independence by completing everyday tasks. It helps Veterans with computer use and accessibility, voice activated technologies, drive control for wheelchairs, and even giving them the ability to turn lights on and off. VA created four main hubs for instructing those granted into the program: Minneapolis, MN; Tampa, Fl; Richmond, VA; and Palo

  • #159: Curtez Riggs – Army Veteran, Entrepreneur, Military Influencer Conference

    #159: Curtez Riggs – Army Veteran, Entrepreneur, Military Influencer Conference

    21/08/2019 Duration: 01h06min

    School. Military. Streets. In 1996, Curtez Riggs graduated high school and those were his options in Flint, Michigan. By that time, the auto industry that built “Buick City” had moved away. As a kid, Curtez picked up bottles, turned in cans and always had a side gig to bring in extra money. When it came time to make the decision, Curtez figured the Army was the best way to start his future. His entrepreneurship did not stop when he joined the Army. Curtez continuously started businesses outside of his day job as a career recruiter. In this episode, you will hear how Curtez prepared for his military transition - years before he ended his active service. Currently, Curtez is the CEO of the Military Influencer Conference (MIC). Started in 2016, the conference is a community of entrepreneurs, influencers, creatives, executives, and leaders who are connected to the military community. Curtez said he sees the conference as a mentorship and connection hub for future and current military Veterans looking to make the

  • #158: David Gowel – Army Veteran, RallyPoint CEO

    #158: David Gowel – Army Veteran, RallyPoint CEO

    14/08/2019 Duration: 40min

    This week’s Borne the Battle interview is with Army Iraq War Veteran, David Gowel, a West Point and Ranger School graduate who later became an assistant professor at MIT’s ROTC program. David is currently the CEO of RallyPoint, a military-themed social media network. Which begs the question: just how does a former armor platoon leader become the CEO for a social media company? And, with a crowded social landscape that includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat and others, why would anyone join yet another social media network? This week’s guest lays out his case. In the interview, he also shares tips and pointers for expanding your own social media network. Prior to becoming RallyPoint’s CEO, David and his wife started their own company that helped other companies leverage social media tools to improve their business models. For LinkedIn specifically, David would consult on how to network on the platform without “harassing people.” This experience led him to also write the book, “The Power in a Link: Ope

  • #157: Ursula Draper – Army Veteran, Occupational Therapist, Assistive Technology Professional

    #157: Ursula Draper – Army Veteran, Occupational Therapist, Assistive Technology Professional

    07/08/2019 Duration: 47min

    Since some veterans have multiple traumas, known as polytrauma, VA dedicates resources to help Veterans with very complex issues. This week's Borne the Battle interview is with Army Veteran Ursula Draper, who developed the VA Assistive Technology Program in 2010. Draper, an Army Veteran, spent six years working as an ophthalmic technician at Martin Army Hospital at Fort Benning, Georgia. Using her GI Bill, Ursula received her bachelor's degree in Occupational Therapy from East Carolina University. She then operated her own private practice in Orlando, Florida, for over 20 years, specializing in Sensory Integration and pediatrics. Wanting to give back to the Veterans, she then pursued a career in the Veterans Health Administration working with spinal cord injuries. In 2009, she began working at the Veterans Administration, specializing in spinal cord injury and traumatic brain Injuries. The Assistive Technology program tries to meet Veteran needs. The program finds adaptive ways for Veterans to access their e

  • #156: Daniel Sharp – Marine Veteran, CEO PopSmoke Media, Smokepit Podcast Host

    #156: Daniel Sharp – Marine Veteran, CEO PopSmoke Media, Smokepit Podcast Host

    31/07/2019 Duration: 01h06min

    If you have a Facebook or Instagram account, you either follow this week's guest or have seen his work shared on your social media feed. This week’s Borne The Battle episode interview is with Marine Veteran Daniel Sharp, the Chief Executive Officer of PopSmoke Media and podcast host of The Smokepit. Sharp talks about his transition from the Marine Corps after 11 years of service as an infantryman to starting his own media company, to developing his podcast. We also go into his personal relationship with his local VA Medical Center. He said his experience with Veterans Affairs started out difficult, but he worked to hold himself accountable to identify solutions and make sure the care worked for him. Sharp also talks about the stress of combat and the support network that can help mitigate those stresses. Currently, his podcast has listeners in 55 different countries. Additional Links to this week’s Episode: #BtBattle Ve

  • #155: Gary Profit – Army Veteran, WalMart Military Programs

    #155: Gary Profit – Army Veteran, WalMart Military Programs

    24/07/2019 Duration: 44min

    Back in episode 43, Gary gave his original testimony on Borne the Battle. This week’s Borne The Battle episode provides an update from the Senior Director of Military Programs at Walmart on the hiring initiatives through the company and the Walmart Foundation donating $1 million to Hire Heroes USA. Profit worked as a defense contractor before hearing of the Walmart opportunity through a retiree network contact. He met with Walmart officials and became the first person to serve in his role—a role that has now spanned a decade. He plans on retiring by the end of this year. Initially, Walmart wanted to hire 100,000 Veterans through its Veterans Welcome Home Commitment, but later doubled the commitment to 250,000 by the end of 2020. To date, Walmart has hired more than 226,000 Veterans since Memorial Day 2013. Walmart is also trying to help with the disproportionate unemployment of military spouses, giving hiring preference to spouses who seek employment at Walmart or Sam’s Club through the Military Spouse Caree

  • #154: Benefits Breakdown – VA Center of Faith and Opportunity Initiative

    #154: Benefits Breakdown – VA Center of Faith and Opportunity Initiative

    17/07/2019 Duration: 34min

    The VA Center of Faith’s and Opportunity Initiative’s mission is “engage, inform and educate faith-based, nonprofit and community/neighborhood organizations in VA programs to better serve the needs of Veterans, their families, survivors, caregivers and other beneficiaries.” Basically, VA understands that sometimes, faith is the best way to reach a Veteran. Therefore, VA set up a resource for local clergy so they can be the one to tell the Veteran what is available to them. The current leader spearheading this initiative is the acting director of VA Center of Faith and Opportunity Initiative, Conrad Washington. In this episode he breaks down how your local clergy can get involved with the program. Through partnerships, resources and outreach events, the Center of Faith currently have multiple ways for faith-based leaders to get involved. In addition, he breaks down his own career. Conrad is a former Marine Corps administrator and drill instructor. After leaving service, Conrad went from a security guard to spe

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