Tag: army

Iraq, Afghanistan I was there! Combat Medic | Chris Swift

I was born in Milwaukee and grew up on the northwest side.  My childhood was like many others, hanging out with neighborhood friends and playing sports and getting into our mischief.  I graduated from Milwaukee Madison HS in 1993, went to Carthage College, but at the time I was only worried about playing football and not engaging in class like I should’ve been.  I worked for a couple years prior to enlisting in the Army as a medic, the best job I ever had. At my first duty station in 2000, I worked in the ER at FLW, MO, there was no better place for me to be.   I learned the skills that would help me in combat later on.  I spent 55 months between Iraq and Afghanistan, there were good days and bad.  After I finished my time in Active Duty, I went home for the birth of my daughter and transitioned to the Reserves.  During my time in the reserves, I became an instructor, but my transition to the civilian world was not so good.  I had many underlying issues that I hadn’t dealt with.  I am an alcoholic who got three OWI’s, which is way less than I should’ve.  

After my third OWI, I went to inpatient rehab at the VA and spent seven months in jail.  After my release, I began working for the Captain John D. Mason Veteran Peer Support Program with the Medical College of Wisconsin.  I have since become a Certified Peer Specialist and take my experiences and try to help those who need help. I also share my story so that they don’t follow my poor choices.  I have found my purpose again in life because of the programs and work that I do now.


DISCLAIMER: The information and content shared in each episode of the Stigma Free Vet Zone are for informational purposes only. The Stigma Free Vet Zone hosts, Mike Orban, Bob Bach and Erin Schraufnagel are not, nor claim to be, medical doctors, psychologists, or psychiatrists and should not be held responsible for any claims, medical advice, or therapy/treatment recommendations mentioned on this podcast. Any advice mentioned or shared by Mike Orban, Bob Bach, Erin Schraufnagel or their guests is strictly for purposes of bringing awareness to the veteran community and the services available. Please speak with a medical professional before taking any advice or starting any therapy or treatment discussed or shared on this podcast.

Afghanistan and More: Extreme Challenges & Resiliency

Arianna Cirincione is from La Crosse, WI, born and raised until leaving home at the age of 18 to join the Air Force. Arianna served on Active Duty as a Security Forces member from 2005 until 2018, until she was medically retired. Arianna began her career at Spangdahlem, Germany, followed by RAF Lakenheath, Fort Leonard Wood, MO and finished her career back up at Spangdahlem. Arianna deployed to Afghanistan in 2006 where she performed duties as a detainee operations cell guard. Arianna was also deployed to Al Udeid AB Qatar where she was a DBIDS operator. While deployed she sustained injuries sending her garrison where she began working as a military police investigator. Following her medical retirement, Arianna returned back to the La Crosse area where she began graduate school in Mental Health Counseling with a focus in working with individuals with addictions and is scheduled to graduate in December. Arianna aspires to continue working with veterans and military following graduation and also runs the Tactical Recovery Group, a recovery program for veterans and their family members. Arianna has been married to her husband Dominic since 2006 and they have one son together named Harrison.


DISCLAIMER: The information and content shared in each episode of the Stigma Free Vet Zone are for informational purposes only. The Stigma Free Vet Zone hosts, Mike Orban, Bob Bach and Erin Schraufnagel are not, nor claim to be, medical doctors, psychologists, or psychiatrists and should not be held responsible for any claims, medical advice, or therapy/treatment recommendations mentioned on this podcast. Any advice mentioned or shared by Mike Orban, Bob Bach, Erin Schraufnagel or their guests is strictly for purposes of bringing awareness to the veteran community and the services available. Please speak with a medical professional before taking any advice or starting any therapy or treatment discussed or shared on this podcast.

Resolving his traumas provides todays healing for others | Victor Kilpatrick Jr.

Victor Kilpatrick was born in East Chicago Indiana. His parents were loving yet strict disciplined leaders providing good healthy structure. A good athlete his childhood was for the most part happy.

Victor chose to enlist in the U.S.Navy where he became the ships cook. While his time in service was educational and positive and he is one of few to earn the Enlisted  Service Warfare Pin. Victor was not aware how a harsh, sometimes angry  demeanor suitable for military life would return home to invade his civilian relationships.

Life after the military was different and transition to civilian life and culture had its struggles. His second marriage would coincide with his search for meaningful purpose. The resurfacing of childhood traumas would force him to face and resolve troubling traumas from his past .

All of these experiences would lead to his present passion working with veterans as a peer mentor. Victor is a Certified Peer Support Specialist for the state of Wisconsin and currently serves as the Project Coordinator for the R&R House the 1st Peer Run Respite for Veterans in the country.

“Assisting Veterans in anyway is my passion, and if I can use my lived experience to assist a veteran in their recovery, I’m happy to share it”.


DISCLAIMER: The information and content shared in each episode of the Stigma Free Vet Zone are for informational purposes only. The Stigma Free Vet Zone hosts, Mike Orban, Bob Bach and Erin Schraufnagel are not, nor claim to be, medical doctors, psychologists, or psychiatrists and should not be held responsible for any claims, medical advice, or therapy/treatment recommendations mentioned on this podcast. Any advice mentioned or shared by Mike Orban, Bob Bach, Erin Schraufnagel or their guests is strictly for purposes of bringing awareness to the veteran community and the services available. Please speak with a medical professional before taking any advice or starting any therapy or treatment discussed or shared on this podcast.

Afghanistan Veteran Matt McDonell, punishing, destruction of long term Benzodiazepines withdrawal and new life vision to provide hope and healing for Veterans, First Responders and Health Care Front Line workers!

Episode 2 Returning to civilian life. Our Guest is Matt McDonell a former Airborne Infantryman  with the 173rd IBCT having served primarily in Germany and Afghanistan. Matt took advantage of educational opportunities available in the military suited to his plans for post military life.  Matt returned home enthusiastic and anxious to get on with life confident the woes that many veterans experienced in transition would not afflict him. A new home with his wife and his business starting strong verified his plans for transition were good ones.

While in the military Matt was recognized to have PTSD, TBI, cognitive damage as well as pain to back, shoulders and knees experienced as a paratrooper. He also experienced headaches and nightmares.  Matt was prescribed Ambien and Diazepam, a Benzodiazepine, for these conditions.
  Experiencing good results with these medications, life in transition was moving along on a healthy course. A doctor’s phone call changed everything . Diazepam was now recognized as possibly more addictive than opioids when used long term. Following  the two week withdrawal regimen the doctor suggested Matt believed the issue resolved.
Matt could not have prepared himself for  the punishing 18 month battle with withdrawal from Benzodiazepine that would end his marriage and cause the loss of his very successful business.
Listen in as Matt shares how this  experience dramatically changed his  views on  life and the unexpected direction  now providing education and healing resources for Veterans, First Responders and Front Line Healthcare workers.

DISCLAIMER: The information and content shared in each episode of the Stigma Free Vet Zone are for informational purposes only. The Stigma Free Vet Zone hosts, Mike Orban, Bob Bach and Erin Schraufnagel are not, nor claim to be, medical doctors, psychologists, or psychiatrists and should not be held responsible for any claims, medical advice, or therapy/treatment recommendations mentioned on this podcast. Any advice mentioned or shared by Mike Orban, Bob Bach, Erin Schraufnagel or their guests is strictly for purposes of bringing awareness to the veteran community and the services available. Please speak with a medical professional before taking any advice or starting any therapy or treatment discussed or shared on this podcast.

“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.


DISCLAIMER: The information and content shared in each episode of the Stigma Free Vet Zone are for informational purposes only. The Stigma Free Vet Zone hosts, Mike Orban, Bob Bach and Erin Schraufnagel are not, nor claim to be, medical doctors, psychologists, or psychiatrists and should not be held responsible for any claims, medical advice, or therapy/treatment recommendations mentioned on this podcast. Any advice mentioned or shared by Mike Orban, Bob Bach, Erin Schraufnagel or their guests is strictly for purposes of bringing awareness to the veteran community and the services available. Please speak with a medical professional before taking any advice or starting any therapy or treatment discussed or shared on this podcast.

Losing the present to the past | Joe Pospichal

A native of Grafton, Wisconsin, Joe Pospichal graduated high school in 1984. The events of 9/11 — along with other incentives — made his military enlistment an easy decision. Joe deployed to Iraq leaving behind a pregnant wife. Working the roads outside the wire would profoundly alter Pospichal’s outlook on life with many nights the longing to be home with the love of his wife gave soothing sanity to life. 

Punishing challenges to life, with his wife and two children, would lead to divorce and many regrets for Pospichal. A still-present battle with cancer arose which has gone into remission, but not without trailing health issues — including total double-hip replacement at 36. 

From the glorious invisibility of a 20 year old soldier in a combat tanker division, through events leaving scars he could never not have foreseen: today, Pospichal is of positive mind and spirit.

His determination and introspection have him in control of how he views the world and responds. He is certainly a hero of mind and spirit.

DISCLAIMER: The information and content shared in each episode of the Stigma Free Vet Zone are for informational purposes only. The Stigma Free Vet Zone hosts, Mike Orban, Bob Bach and Erin Schraufnagel are not, nor claim to be, medical doctors, psychologists, or psychiatrists and should not be held responsible for any claims, medical advice, or therapy/treatment recommendations mentioned on this podcast. Any advice mentioned or shared by Mike Orban, Bob Bach, Erin Schraufnagel or their guests is strictly for purposes of bringing awareness to the veteran community and the services available. Please speak with a medical professional before taking any advice or starting any therapy or treatment discussed or shared on this podcast.

From Under A Bridge to Off A Bridge? | Mark Flower

Mark Flower enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduation from High School. He served, then lived life gaily until issues took hold, bringing him to homelessness and addiction. The hardest step – seeking help – started Mark on his journey in recovery. This recovery is maintained by giving back and by being of service to others who struggle with similar experiences. Giving back helps keep Mark on track in his recovery!

Losing the present to the past | Joe Pospichal

Punishing challenges to life, with his wife and two children, would lead to divorce and many regrets for Pospichal. A still-present battle with cancer arose which has gone into remission, but not without trailing health issues — including total double-hip replacement at 36.

From the glorious invisibility of a 20 year old soldier in a combat tanker division, through events leaving scars he could never not have foreseen: today, Pospichal is of positive mind and spirit.

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 Prose of Reconciliation | Jim Hackbarth

Jim Hackbarth grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was drafted into the Army shortly after graduating from high school. Hackbarth was trained first as a helicopter maintenance specialist and later as the door gunner on a UH-1 (Huey) helicopter.

Hackbarth arrived in Vietnam in October of 1968 and served a one-year tour of duty as a member of the 1st Cavalry Division. Although not wounded physically, Jim suffered other forms of anguish. For example, pain and isolation stemming from his combat experiences interfered with his ability to make and keep close friends and relationships.

However, decades after returning home from the war, Jim sought counseling and started writing poetry. He re-connected with former comrades and sought to share his message of hope and reconciliation with other veterans. His mission of outreach continues today.