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Be Prepared – Active Shooter Situations

Our nation struggles with another mass shooting. The answer to what drives these individuals to wreak carnage upon the innocent and what we can do to mitigate future attacks is a complicated and multi-faceted discussion.

As we mature we find that many of life’s issues are NOT black and white and cannot be resolved with a simple, quick or knee jerk solution. American Warrior Radio is not the forum to debate this issue.

However, I WAS a Boy Scout. And the motto I first learned upon entry to that organization applies to many situations in life; Be Prepared. While you and I will not solve the issue of violence in our society today, there IS one thing we can do – Be Prepared.

Heaven forbid it ever happens to you, your family or your fellow employees but you can be prepared – have a plan. We share a discussion with two experts in the field of Active Shooter Situations. Please listen and please share. Be prepared.

“Active Shooter Situations”


Havok Journal Update – Scott Faith

The first Havok Journal check-in of the year with editor Scott Faith. Havok Journal is an online publication with articles heavily focusing on military and law enforcement issues.

Our discussion features multiple topics covered by Havok Journal authors so far this year including:

New Year’s Resolutions for Veterans

While studies have shown that resolutions themselves rarely “stick”, the process of self-evaluation and writing resolutions can be very beneficial. Havok Journal polled their writers and listed their top 8 resolutions for Veterans.  Suggestions include; telling their stories, not acting as if they world owes them something, helping their fellow veterans whenever they can, asking for help when they need it, checking in with Gold Star families, setting examples of responsible citizenship, always being proud of who you are and what you do and helping to write the next chapter of our nation’s history.

Foreign Policy

Entering a New Year we also took a look back at a 2017 piece on foreign policy and how things have progressed under the new administration.  Both Scott and I share our opinions regarding the proper role of military action in the context of diplomacy and our world standing. “You have to reach people on a level they understand and in much of the world..unfortunately.. only understands the use of force.”

Gender Integration in the Military

A recent Havok Journal article discusses how the doubling of the numbers of sexual assault reporting at Westpoint may actually be a GOOD thing.  Scott’s hypothesis is that this may mean that leadership is truly taking this issue seriously and facilitating an environment where cadets are more comfortable coming forward.

Another article discusses how the best thing we can do to help fully integrate women into combat arms, we must be more apathetic to their gender and judge them solely upon their capabilities. Until we adopt equal standards, some will also have suspicions. Too many in our society still confuse equality of opportunity with equal outcomes.

TAKEAWAY:  “It is important to learn to love battle axe or someone else will. We take on bullies, we don’t act like a bully..but sometimes if you want to keep the bullies in line you have to be the biggest, baddest kid on the block. Everyone in the world respects strength.”


Navy SEAL Jason Redman

Jason Redman tried to join the Army, but the Navy got him instead. Good thing because he became a member of one of our nation’s most elite special forces – a SEAL.


Jason Redman

Accepted into the Seaman to Admiral Program, Redman was in his first semester of college when the 9/11 attacks occurred and he wanted to drop out to rejoin his team. However, one of the most respected officers in the SEAL teams uttered some prophetic words; “This war will not end quickly and we will need good operators and good leaders to fight this war. You need to finish your education and come back and lead.”

Leadership did not come easily to Redman and he made some mistakes – one that almost cost him his Navy career. Recovering from that experience taught him several lessons; owning your mistakes, humility and the true meaning of team action.

Redman redeemed himself and at the end of his second deployment, his team ran into an ambush. He was hit 8 times. He survived but the road to recovery included 37 surgeries.  During this time, he became weary of visitors’ pity so he wrote some words on a bright orange piece of paper and taped them to his hospital room door. Those words got him an invitation to the White House and now hang in a frame at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.  Jason says those words don’t belong to him – they belong to ALL wounded warriors.

There is courage in combat and courage after combat.  Back home, Redman did not mind that people asked him about his mangled face, but he became frustrated that no one seemed to consider that they might be battle wounds. This led him to establish the Wounded Wear initiative and the Combat Wounded Coalition.  His latest endeavor, the “Overcome Academy” will debut Feb. 19.  All of these programs help both Veterans and the public to realize that wounded warriors are not broken or damaged goods.

We also get a surprise call from Redman’s friend and former ATF undercover agent Jay Dobyns.

TAKEAWAY:  “The mark of any man or organization is not found in their past, but how they overcome adversity and build their future. And regardless of the overwhelming odds or opposition in your path, you always have the opportunity to overcome. It is YOUR attitude that will affect the outcome. Quitting is never an option.”


Freedom Blues – Hank Robinson

Freedom Blues

Hank Robinson, Hanro Studios

Freedom Blues is Hank Robinson’s monument of honor to his fellow warfighters and Veterans. He is our first featured Veteran Entrepreneur story for 2018.

Hank is a Veteran of three deployments himself; Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. He joined right after the 9/11 attacks. During his 9/12 Army career he earned a Bronze Star with Valor and an Army Commendation Medal with Valor.

But when he separated, he found himself unable to find work, getting into alcohol and “other bad stuff”.  Always fascinated with metal work, he used his GI Bill to take a welding class and an artist was born.  In his words, he “..traded his M4 for a Dremel.”  Now his custom engraving work is in demand from professional athletes, music stars, movie producers and quite a few “normal folk.”


Freedom Blues

Freedom Blues, hand engraved Ford truck

He founded Hanros Studios in his garage in 2011 but customer demand and the size of his canvas forced and expansion.  Inspired by tattoo artistry, he engraves everything from small pieces to trucks.  Each one a custom one of a kind piece engraved freehand. Oh, and those trucks!

His latest work Freedom Blues is a customized Ford F-150 lovingly engraved with images of real battle scenes. In all, the engraving work required over 800 hours. It was displayed at the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association in 2016 and was on display at the world famous Barrett Jackson Auction in Scottsdale this past weekend.  The truck features over $100,000 in aftermarket customization.

Hank hopes to sell Freedom Blues to raise money for the Boulder Crest Retreat, only one of the charitable projects he supports as a way of taking care of his fellow warfighters.

TAKEAWAY:  Hank’s “breakthrough” moment as an entrepreneur came when Dremel approached him about becoming a sponsor. He advises other entrepreneurs to find something they love to do regardless of the pay.


No Angel – Jay Dobyns

Jay Dobyns is more than qualified to be called a “sheepdog”.

Jay Dobyns

During his 27 year career as an undercover ATF agent Jay did not wait for the wolves to come to us, he entered their dens and ran as part of their packs. Jay shares some amazing and enlightening insights.

He participated in over 500 undercover operations including working his way into the inner circle of the Hells Angels.  That journey was chronicled in his book “No Angel”, a New York Times bestseller.

Following a stellar collegiate football career, Jay joined the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. He started work on Monday and on Thursday was shot in the back and bleeding to death in the dirt and garbage of a trailer park.

He is the founder of the Jay Dobyns Group, a firm that provides covert ops training for undercover officers and their supervisors.  He shares that one of the most critical elements for these personnel is the ability to hide their fear and carry on with confidence. Similar to Dale Dye, he also provides authenticity consulting to film companies and just completed work on the film “Den of Thieves”.

Jay Dobyns experienced many dangers but one of the greatest was “losing himself” after so many years deep under cover.  The role he played became who he was and not his job, inflicting secondary damage upon his family.  Because he has personally wandered these dark passages, Jay dedicates much of this time to supporting various organizations that provide support to Law Enforcement personnel experiencing trauma, stress and depression. He specifically partners with  The Institute for Responder Wellness and Safe Call Now.

TAKEAWAY: “Sacrificing and being part of something where there is a greater good involved causes you..forces you to be humble and gracious because you know that regardless of how amazing you might be individually you are still only as good as the people that surround you.”


The Beauty of a Darker Soul – Joshua Mantz

The Beauty of a Darker Soul author Joshua Mantz experienced possibly the most severe trauma possible and lived to tell about it. Kind of….

Darker Soul

Joshua in recovery

While on patrol outside of Sadr City in 2007, a sniper’s round first struck down Staff Sergeant Marlan Harper and then ricocheted into Joshua’s leg, severing his femoral artery.  In a testament to his training, Josh’s first reaction was to drag Sgt. Marlan to safety.  But soon he collapsed and felt every moment as he bled out. He took his last breath and died.

Josh was dead for a full 15 minutes.  But thanks to a medical team that wouldn’t give up Josh came back. Miraculously, he suffered no brain damage and remembers every moment.

But he found that the trauma of dying was not the only challenge he faced.  For a decade he would struggle with depression, guilt and other feelings that nearly led to his downfall.  However, by embracing his demons he would come to learn some truths about trauma..truths he shares in his new book “The Beauty of a Darker Soul; Overcoming Trauma Through the Power of Human Connection.

Trauma does not discriminate and is not limited to warriors or first responders. During this powerful discussion, Joshua shares his death experience and some of seven tenants of trauma recovery that can benefit everyone who has experienced trauma.

All of us experience suffering throughout our life. But it can give us the capacity to empathize with others on a much deeper level. Leveraging our experiences to help other people is the beauty that Josh found in the darkness.

Josh is donating proceeds from the first week’s book sales to the Integrated Recovery Foundation, a non-profit that helps female victims of military sexual trauma.

TAKEAWAY: “Even in my darkest moments, there was always someone in my life who had the strength and courage to plant healing seeds in my mind that would start to grow. It was being receptive to that feedback that kept me alive.”


Christmas as a POW – Lee Ellis

Leon “Lee” Ellis spent several Christmas Holidays as a POW.


Col. Lee Ellis (USAF Retired)

During Christmas, most of us are surrounded by that which we hold dear; family, friends, peace and hope.  The promise of Christmas is one of hope.  Those who “Stand the Watch”; the men and women of our military forces, volunteer to spend their time away from THEIR families so that we can spend time with OURS.

For several Christmas holidays, all Lee Ellis had was hope.  He was shot down and captured November 7, 1967 during his 53rd mission over North Vietnam. He would be held as a POW for five and a half years, including several at the notorious “Hanoi Hilton”.

Lee said arriving at the Hanoi Hilton just before Christmas was both “good and bad” because that time of year they usually treated the prisoners better for propaganda purposes.   However, during the rest of the year he and his fellow POWs were kept in tiny cells, barely fed and often tortured.

Lee recalls receiving a package from home with warm socks, food and vitamins. However, his captors insisted he sign a receipt that stated “because of the lenient and humane policies of the Republic of North Vietnam.”  He refused to sign and went without the package. Because so many others did so as well, the next time packages arrived they were not requested to sign a receipt – a small victory.

Small victories were important. They developed techniques for resisting their captors.  A “tap code” allowed them basic communication and attempting to reach prisoners in solitary confinement to let them know they were not alone or forgotten was a high priority.  Very often under torture they would volunteer false information such as flight leaders named Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne.

Lee is President and Founder of Leading With Honor, a leadership and team development consulting company that provides leadership resources and training.  His clients include Fortune 500 companies and he is in great demand as a speaker.

Takeaway: “The best gift we can give to others during Christmas is the gift of encouragement and affirmation and acceptance to others. We needed that desperately in the POW camps and we gave it freely. I have tried to keep up that habit and I encourage others to do so.”


We Weren’t Flying Over Laos – Ed “Moose” Skowron


Lt. Col Ed “Moose” Skowron

Ed “Moose” Skowron accumulated more than 15,000 hours in the cockpits of both civilian and military aircraft. Some were combat missions over Laos that were not credited. However, it was his 99th combat mission in Vietnam that he remembers most.

Ed wanted to be a pilot since he was a child. He wanted to fly for the Air Force or Navy but admits he didn’t like school all that much, which limited his options.

The Air Force had a navigator training program that didn’t require a college degree so he signed up.  After beginning training his class was informed that the Air Force was short pilots and any navigator interested could test for pilot school. Ed jumped at the chance.

Some of his first training would be a Luke Air Force base outside of Phoenix, which would prove ironic later in life. As a 21 year old flying with nuclear weapons under his wings, he remarks why war is a young man’s vocation.

Ed jokingly confirms that during the early days of the Vietnam War “We were not in Cambodia and we were DEFINITELY not flying over Laos.” He relates one mission while “not flying over Laos”. A covert ground operator radioed he was popping white smoke to pinpoint his location. When Ed saw white smoke rising through the tree canopy he radioed back to confirm. The reply he received was “I did NOT pop smoke – put all your bombs on that location.” It turned out the enemy had been monitoring their radio frequency and ending up paying for that deception with their lives.

In Vietnam, 100 combat missions were required before being sent home. Ed’s last mission in September of 1966 was supposed to be a “milk run”. But diving to check out a burned out truck he soon found himself staring down the barrels of numerous anti-aircraft guns. He was hit and headed out to sea.  Smoke got so bad in cockpit that Ed couldn’t see his own hands.

He tried to eject but soon realized he had neglected to remove the seat pins during pre-flight checks. Luckily he was able to remove the pin and ejected.

The rescue crew that landed in the ocean to rescue him was reserve unit out of Luke AFB – they were on their very first mission and Ed was on his last.  When rescue crew landed, mortars and other rounds churned the water all around them. Ed recalls the pilots’ eyes were wide as saucers.  Despite a few wounds he was recovered and went on to a long aviation career.

TAKEAWAY: “You DID NOT want to get shot down over Laos. At least in North Vietnam there was a chance you would be taken prisoner.”


Wreaths Across America

Wreaths Across

Meredith Ford, Hospice-Veterans Partnership of Southern Arizona (L) Gold Star Mother Marsha Moon (R)

Wreaths Across America will be placing wreaths on the graves of fallen warriors at over 1,200 cemeteries across the nation, abroad and even at sea.  Their mission is to remember our fallen US Veterans, honor those who serve and teach children about the value of freedom. American Warrior broadcasts live from one of these locations; East Lawn Palms Cemetery thanks to the generous underwriting support of the Hospice- Veterans Partnership of Southern Arizona.

Wreaths Across America was the brainchild of Morrill Worcester.  As a 12 year old paper boy, he won a trip to Washington and his visit to Arlington National Cemetery left a lasting impression.  In 1992 Worcester Wreath found themselves with an excess of inventory for the holiday season so Morrill arranged to have the wreaths placed on graves in an older part of Arlington that was receiving fewer visitors.  His tribute went on without much fanfare until a photo of the adorned graves hit the internet and calls came in from across the country.

Wreaths Across

Specialist Christopher Moon, US Army

Marsha Moon is the organizer of the East Lawn Wreaths Across America event. Her son Chris Moon was a first round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves and received a scholarship to play for the nation’s #1 ranked college program.  But Chris Moon was a warrior – and a patriot.  According to friends, Chris believed that real warriors competed on the battlefield so he chose to forego a professional baseball career to defend our nation.  He became an Army sniper. On July 13, 2010 Chris succumbed to wounds suffered while serving in Afghanistan.  He is buried in the Veteran section of East Lawn alongside 16,000 of his comrades in arms.

As a member of the American Gold Star Mothers, holidays were particularly painful for Marsha and her family. Laying a wreath upon her son’s grave assures that his name will never be forgotten. Volunteers who participate in laying a wreath are encouraged to speak the Veteran’s name out loud and thank them for their service.  Listeners can support this amazing program by making a donation toward the 2018 event or volunteering to help lay wreaths at their local cemetery.

Meredith Ford is Communications Manager for Case de la Luz Hospice. The Hospice-Veterans Partnership of Southern Arizona is a part of the We Honor Veterans program that seeks to assure that Veterans receive the support and dignity that they deserve at the end of life.  Meredith shares how hospice care supports families and caregivers. The majority of patients remain in the home surrounded by their family with training and support from their hospice provider. The partnership also gathers the stories of their Veteran clients and submits them to Library of Congress.

TAKEAWAY: “It’s never too late to give our American Veterans a heroes’ welcome home.”


Boulder Crest Retreat – Josh Goldberg

Boulder Crest Retreat’s motto is “Healing Heroes. One family at a time.”

Boulder CrestTheir innovative post traumatic growth curriculum has helped over 3,000 warriors and is showing amazing results.

Josh Goldberg, Director of Strategy for Boulder Crest Retreat shares more information about this pioneering initiative and how it is helping warriors, first responders and their families. Their programs are offered free of charge to participants.

After retiring from a 21 year career in the Navy, explosive ordinance disposal technician Ken Falke found himself regularly visiting the bedsides of fellow EOD warriors injured in the war on terror. These experiences led him to create the EOD Warrior Foundation and witness firsthand the desolation and frustration experienced by these personnel during their recovery in DC area facilities.

On occasion, he and his wife Julia would invite these warriors out to their home on 37 acres of Virginia pasture. In 2010 he came home to find his wife and a friend sitting at a table with 3 empty bottles of wine and a hand drawn diagram of a plan to convert their pasture into a retreat for these recuperating warriors. Boulder Crest Retreat was born.

Over 2.7 million warriors have been deployed since September 11th, a number equivalent to the entire population of the city of Chicago. It is estimated that 700 thousand of these personnel suffer from PTSD or undiagnosed combat stress.  Often overlooked is the fact that combat related stress is also contagious across the entire family. Considering an average family unit of three persons, the number of our neighbors affected by this stress is closer to 2.1 million.

Boulder Crest Retreat’s main programs were designed by combat Veterans for combat Veterans and are distinguished by their non-clinical approach and emphasis on creating sustained results.  Their results speak for themselves; 40 – 60% sustained reduction in PTSD symptoms, 50% reduction in depression and an amazing 84% remission rate versus the 2% rate in “traditional” programs.

Warrior PATHH (Progressive and Alternative Training for Healing Heroes) is an 18 month program that begins with a 7 day intensive retreat at one of the Boulder Crest facilities and continues with regular follow up.  They do not see themselves as a “catch and release” program.  They also offer PATHH programs for couples, family members and caregivers.

Boulder Crest is entirely privately funded are Josh encourages anyone interested in their programs to contact them directly at info@ bouldercrestretreat.org

TAKEAWAY:  “If you are a combat Veteran, first responder or a family member and you don’t have the life you want – if you are struggling, hit us up..we are here for you.”