Episode 10: The Undesirables

Today’s show is titled, with our tongues lodged firmly in our cheeks, “The Undesirables,” because it features two wonderful veteran voices who speak on the subject of having to hide aspects of their personal identities which–at the time–could have been viewed as obstacles to their military careers.

Contributors: Lisbeth Prifogle and Anthony Moll.

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Episode 9: All That’s Really Worth Doing

Today’s episode takes its name after a quote by Lewis Carrol, “All That Is Really Worth Doing is Worth the Doing is What We do for Others,” and we chose it because our two contributors, Brian Turner and Mariah Smith of the US Army, have stories and poems that echo that sentiment. Mariah, because her story is about jumping through hurdles to be present for an important moment in the life of someone who was important to her, and Brian, because his poetry and stories consistently carry an element of sitting watch with someone in their darkest hours. We’re going to start off with Brian Turner.

Contributors: Brian Turner & Mariah Smith

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Episode 8: Unstuck in Time

Navigating the present, alongside past and future.

Today’s show, “Unstuck in Time,” is titled after the opening line in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse Five, one of our favorite descriptions about Post Traumatic Stress. Vonnegut uses it in reference to his main character, where he writes, “Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.” Upon first reading the book, it’s natural to take it literally — the book is couched in a science-fiction veneer after all –but upon later reflection its remarkable how perfectly it explains the phenomenon of flashbacks.

Contributors: Benjamin Busch and Sierra Crane.

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Episode 7: The Abyss Also Gazes

Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you. – Fredrick Nietzsche.

Friedrich Nietzsche’s quote reminds me that there are certain individuals who have unique insights about the process of staring into the abyss, as well as climbing back out of it again. We have four terrific veteran writers and artists speaking on the subject who come at it from very different angles:

Contributors: Andrew Szala, Rolf Yngve, Gill Sotu, Elizabeth Washburn and Dan Lopez of San Diego’s veteran visual arts non-profit, Combat Arts.

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Episode 6: Aftershocks

On today’s show we’re talking about, “Aftershocks,” both literal and figurative, related to events that came back to shake us after their initial detonation. We have three great contributors, whose stories deal with how the quickest moments can have the longest effects.

Contributors: Casondra Brewster, Sam Abel, Lt. Cmd. Liam Corley.

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Episode 5: What’s Lost at Sea

“I was much further out than you thought, And not waving but drowning.” –Stevie Smith.

Today’s episode is titled “Lost At Sea,” for two reasons: firstly because we’ll be hearing from service members who spent a lot of their time bobbing on the water, Kurt Kalbfliesh of the Navy and Tenley Lozano of the Coast Guard, but also because their stories both touch on what they sacrificed and endured during their service that impacted the rest of their lives.

Contributors: Kurt Kalbfleisch and Tenley Lozano.

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Episode 4: Invasions

“Tell me a Story!” He said. “I’ll tell you a story.”

Invasion can be both psychological and literal. We’re very lucky to be able pair up two contributors who dealt with invasion and actually served together at the same time in Iraq, but from very different places. Our contributors are Francisco Martinezcuello, a mustang officer, and Sammi S., an Iraqi man who was barely a teenager when he became an interpreter for the Marine Corp., and in a very literal way was raised by them.

Contributors: Francisco Martinezcuello and Sammi S.

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Episode 3: Time is a River

The past doesn’t go anywhere. Time is a river, and you are standing in it. – Utah Phillips

Today’s show is split into three parts and three different veteran writers, each focusing respectively on periods before the country went to war after 9/11, during deployment downrange in Iraq, and the aftermath after leaving the service. That’s why we’re titling today’s show, “Time is a River,” after one of my favorite quotes of all time, by the American folksinger Utah Phillips, who said, “The past doesn’t go anywhere. Time is a river, and you are standing in it.” Each part is told respectively by Army veterans Kelli Hewlett, Brooke King, and Zack Dryer, and while their experiences were wildly different, they shared a part of the same war at different points and collectively tell its story in-brief.

Contributors: Kelli Hewlett, Brooke King, Zack Dryer.

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Episode 2: Souvenirs

What happens overseas comes home with you, and can find a way to reappear back into your life when you least expect it.

Today’s episode is titled, “Souvenirs,” which in the context of the stories you’re about to hear is a little tongue-in-cheek, a little bit of that dark humor people under stress employ from time to time to get by, but I’m sure you’ll appreciate it by the end. The gist is that what happens overseas comes home with you, and can find a way to reappear back into your life when you least expect it

Contributors: Brandon Lingle, Alex Flynn, and Brent Wingfield.

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Episode 1: Our Reasons

Less than one percent of the entire country serves in the military at any given time nowadays, which is perfectly fine from a national security perspective, according to experts on the matter, but that situation becomes problematic on other fronts once we consider how it might affect our democracy, civilian engagement with foreign policy, or the very social contract that holds us all together.

Asking so few to carry a burden so large, one that we’ve all benefited from regardless of our personal politics, is not a deal that comes without consequences. What happens during war time doesn’t end when the war ends, if the wars of our time ever end anymore. It doesn’t end when a service member comes home either, in fact coming home is often more dangerous for a lot of people than being deployed.

The transition back to the civilian world has always been a lonely one, but coming home to a place where most civilians have no idea what service members have done, and have some major misconceptions about it, makes it more so. And while not all of our veterans need help, some do.

The 22 veteran suicides that happen every day on average demonstrates that fact, a number that far outpaces the rate of casualties that have resulted from combat or accidents in the line of duty. And until all of us have some idea about who our military is and what their lives are like, we won’t know how to stop it.

So we started this program to ask questions, hear stories, and learn. Because that’s what we know how to do.

But we’re not just listening and asking questions because it’s ethically imperative; we’re listening because what they have to say is compelling, and artfully rendered, funny, poignant, surprising, and all the other things you want from good storytelling.

Some of the voices you’ll be hearing from are studied writers who want to do this for a living, and others are fascinating individuals we’ve met along the way who have a great tale to tell that we wanted to share with you. But one thing holds true for all of them and it is this: the men and women you’re going to meet are artists. Full stop. Who are also veterans. So we regarded them as such.

On behalf of all our contributors, past, present, and future, thank you for making this possible and for being our audience. The reader completes the writer, and it’s an enormous privilege to have this forum where we can all sit down and talk together at last.

Contributors: Jesse Goolsby and Adam Stone.

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