Category: Podcast Episodes

With His Life in Chaos, Family Gave Him the Reason to Ask for Help!

Growing up listening to his Fathers stories, Sgt. Dave Arensdorf knew he’d serve in the armed forces as well. Joining the US Marines as a sophomore in high school, he was only 16 when he enlisted. Sgt. Arensdorf deployed to Fallujah in 2004-2005, and spent time working as a mechanic, guard, and operator for motor-T. After coming home there were some relationship conflicts that were just more than he cared to tolerate. At his insistence, he was added to the next outgoing deployment to Iraq. Now in 2008 he deployed to Taqaddam, Iraq. While the hours were long, Sgt. Arensdorf enjoyed the tour and volunteered to be extended for a 3rd tour while in country. Finally returning home in 2010, he discharged from the US Marine Corps, got married, and had 2 children. After a divorce, Sgt. Arensdorf came face to face with the memories of the deployments. His children were his only joy in the world. Knowing this wasn’t the way it should be Sgt. Arensdorf sought help from a therapy team of veterans. After a few years he turned the corner and has found joy in his work, life, and family again. The lessons Sgt. Arensdorf learned growing up, serving, deploying, and healing has continues his mission and helped to safe another life.

When Heroin and his “God-Box” Failed him Otis Chose to Confront Past Traumas

Otis arrived in Milwaukee “on a stick” and homeless . It had been over thirty years since Otis had accepted a mainline injection of heroin as payment fora debt owed him. people, places and things were hard to make sense of.
He had grown up as one of only eight African American families in rural Western Pennsylvania. His father was a hard working man who expected the same from his son after high school. Otis chose to enlist in the US Army, a decision his mother, who he loved dearly, did not approve.
On leaving military service Otis was diagnosed with schizophrenia. A life of Denial, isolation and coverup followed.
That payment of heroin and continued addiction would give relief from the voices in his head, but that heroin would become a bigger enemy than relief. Over 2 dozen attempts at required rehab along with incarceration followed before he realized only he could face his past traumas, understand and resolve them. Otis made the decision to seek help.
Otis entered treatment, a lifelong commitment to redemption.
Listen now to Otis share how this decision has taken him to a new recognition of the human spirit beyond his own. Through his work with Dryhootch Otis shares how he changed those values in his “God-box” and dedicates his life to improve the condition of the human spirit for all who are searching.
At the top of his list is his love for his two children and obligation to be ever present for them in understanding his journey.

Extraordinary Display of Courage and Accuracy

She is the past president of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Student Veterans Organization. Lia Coryell is a former U.S. Army Soldier who was diagnosed with MS. “I spent my time at home trying to stay alive” says Lia. Through courage, determination and with extreme physical challenges Lia is now a star U.S. paraolympian in archery. Join us as Lia shares her inspirational story.

The Liability of Being a Veteran | Michael Kirchner

Being a veteran and being hired, means you are a liability, right? Wrong. Michael Kirchner is the director of Military Student Services at Purdue University Fort Wayne and an Assistant Professor of Organizational Leadership where he teaches courses in leadership, training and human resource development geared towards veterans entering the workforce and the challenges they face. Kirchner was the first director of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Military and Veterans Resource Center (MAVRC) where he guided programming for the 1,500+ military-affiliated student population on campus. From 2013 to 2016, the campus built a nationally-recognized “military-college-career” framework focusing on supporting student veteran transitions.

Kirchner earned his Ph.D. in Human Resource Development from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and his research on veteran career transitions and applications of military leader development in non-military contexts has been published in numerous peer reviewed journals including Human Resource Development Quarterly, New Horizons in Adult Education and Human Resource Development, Industrial and Commercial Training, Organization Management Journal and the Journal of Military Learning. Dr. Kirchner frequently provides consulting to small, medium and large organizations on military-friendly programing and new employee onboarding. He served a year in Baghdad, Iraq from 2004-2005 as part of the US Army National Guard.

The LiFE OF HOPE | Deeatra Kajfosz

After a childhood with emotional and psychological challenges, Deeatra Kajfosz enlisted in the Idaho National Guard and found a home, but a move to Wisconsin, a change in military occupation and an unfamiliar culture unraveled her military experience.

Cycles of chronic major depression and anxiety and a near-fatal suicide attempt would follow and denial became her key to survival. She experienced suicide loss from a unique perspective and came to fully understand how little she knew about suicide. Kajfosz began a quest for answers.

Now, Kajfosz dedicates her life to raising awareness, providing education and supporting others affected by suicide ideation, attempt and loss. It is through her own life journey her story connects with her audience in highly personal and inspiring ways. Hers is an extraordinary tribute to the gift of adversity, the power to rise above it, and the ability to share a life-saving message of hope with others.

Deeatra Kajfosz is an award winning suicide awareness and prevention advocate, public speaker, and Founder of the LiFE OF HOPE organization, serving as a comprehensive approach to the prevention of suicide attempts and death.

When your family fights your war | Ken Lee

Kenneth Lee immigrated to the United States with his family as a young boy. The son of a South Korean Army career soldier and Vietnam War Veteran, Lee developed a sense of duty to his new country. Completing medical school and determined to serve and “give back” he joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

There, as a commander of the Company Bravo of the 118th Area Support Medical Battalion, he suffered a traumatic brain injury during a suicide car bombing while on a combat tour to Iraq in 2003.

Years of physical and psychological challenges — and of the the haunting guilt of leaving his command post and company behind in Iraq — would strain Lee’s wife and children. They would be the real casualties of his war — suffering the effects of a husband and father emotionally detached from the family.

“You don’t smile anymore,” said Lee’s daughter — then he sought help.

After recognizing the need to take responsibility, he is determined to maintain the health of his family as the primary health care unit. His passion to help veterans is shown through his devotion to the adaptive sports community.

“Your son didn’t come home” | Heidi Carlson

Heidi Carlson’s father was a Marine, her family had a history of substance abuse and addiction. Her marriage to a Vietnam War veteran — scarred by abuse — ended in divorce.
The loves of her life would be her two sons and her six grandchildren.

When her son David announced his decision to enlist in the US Army,
Heidi was frightened yet proud. David, an infantryman, returned from his first deployment to Iraq in good spirit and health.

When Meeting David at the airport returning from his second tour she immediately noticed, as a mother would, that his eyes were different and evasive.

While hugging her son he said to her, “your son did not come home this time.”

Heartbroken and afraid, what waited for them both were many years of suffering, substance abuse, severe mental health issues and prison punished them, but a mothers love would never surrender.

Forward, march: life with gratitude and hope | Jerry Witt

Jerry Witt was born and raised in southeastern Wisconsin and graduated from Milwaukee Custer High School in 1964. After earning an Associate Degree at a local community college, Witt was drafted into the U.S. Army and assigned to a scout dog training program. He served as a dog handler in Vietnam beginning in May of 1968.

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