The Reckoning: Anger, Depression, and Reconciliation with Carol Sprague

Carol Sprague is the wife of Chuck Sprague, a former Vietnam Veteran and retired VA Psychiatrist. Carol and Chuck both grew up on orange groves and met during a Goodbye Picnic when Carol was sixteen years old. Chuck asked Carol’s parents for their permission to take Carol to the Goodbye Dance. A Romeo and Juliet relationship with many arguments along the way, this changed when they married just prior to Chuck going to Vietnam. Carol and Chuck live happily in Muskego, Wisconsin, after working through the trauma, depression, and anger that ensued after Chuck’s return from Vietnam.

Carol joins me today to discuss the reckoning that occurred a decade after Chuck returned injured from Vietnam. She shares the challenges and emotions associated with being the wife of a Veteran who has seen extensive action. Carol shares how Chuck kept his Vietnam experiences to himself for ten years, before his father’s death caused a day of reckoning. She discusses their reconciliation and finding peace through religion and philosophy. Carol also highlights how communication and counseling can help Veterans and their spouses as well as the importance of avoiding shaming and blame.

“We were two ships passing in the night when it came to his Vietnam experience – until it all came apart.” – Carol Sprague

This week on the Stigma Free Vet Zone Podcast:

  • Carol’s feelings of anger towards the government for joining a war based on oil-related motives
  • Carol’s experience with being questioned about what our government was doing in Vietnam, as a twenty-year-old woman
  • The cold and hard telegram from the government informing Carol that Chuck was injured in Vietnam
  • The Navy and government’s lack of outreach about what to expect from Chuck’s recovery and his reaction to his experiences
  • Why Carol wanted Chuck to share more stories about his experiences
  • How Chuck’s dad dying in the 1980s became the incident that finally caused him to open up about his Vietnam experiences
  • How philosophy and religion helped Chuck work through his anger and depression
  • How Carol and Chuck reconciled the difficulties of their post-Vietnam decade by discussing their emotions and feelings
  • Why you should seek counseling, hold on to your friends, find someone you can talk to, and avoid shaming and blaming

This episode is brought to you by…

The Orban Foundation for Veterans is dedicated to bringing greater hope, understanding, resolution, and togetherness on issues of civilian readjustment for all military veterans and their families. Orban Foundation for Veterans promotes the importance of education, identification, understanding, acceptance, and resolution of many of the complex and severe responses to war and military life.

Visit our website to learn more about the Orban Foundation for Veterans and to support our mission.

Helping Veterans & Their Families Transition to Civilian Life

Thanks for tuning into this segment of the Stigma Free Vet Zone podcast, the show dedicated to helping veterans and their families make the transition from the military to civilian life and culture. If you enjoyed this episode, please head over to Apple Podcasts to subscribe to the show and leave a review. For more stories, insight, and resources on coping with military-related trauma and PTSD, visit our website and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn. Don’t forget to share your favorite episodes across social media to help us raise awareness and help our brothers and sisters and their families transition to civilian life.

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, 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, 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.

The Emotions of War and the Wounded Healer with Chuck Sprague

After joining the Navy Reserves in 1966, Chuck Sprague became a Navy Corpsman who served in the 3rd Marine Division in Vietnam. He was injured during Operation Dewey Canyon and felt lucky to survive, where he felt the government was trying to get him killed. He returned to the United States and became a student, where he had similar feelings about the government, which he took very personally. Chuck then became a medical doctor and psychiatrist and spent his career at Veteran Administration Hospitals throughout the United States. Today, Chuck resides in the Milwaukee suburb of Muskego, Wisconsin.

Chuck joins me today to discuss the emotions of war and healing through work and our relationships. He discusses how working in Navy hospitals is a hard introduction to the reality of war injuries and his feelings of fear as he arrived in Vietnam to serve the regiment nicknamed as “The Walking Dead.” Chuck reveals the toll that his time in Vietnam has had on his body and mind. He highlights how the stigma and treatment of Vietnam veterans affected him and the healing process that required the support of his relatives, finding meaning in his experiences, and how his work became a form of his own therapy.

” You can sometimes heal yourself through work and your interests.” – Chuck Sprague

This week on the Stigma Free Vet Zone Podcast:

  • Chuck’s experience while training at a Navy hospital and how it felt to know you would be in a perilous job
  • Why Chuck believes working in veteran hospitals is a difficult introduction to the graphic injuries of war
  • Arriving in Vietnam in 1968 and being told to “run like hell” as they dropped the deck
  • How it felt to be assigned to One-Nine Marine Regiment, given the nickname “The Walking Dead,” by General Giap and the communist forces in South Vietnam
  • How no promised replacements meant Chuck could not rotate out and how this led to feelings of betrayal
  • How constant trolling across the infiltration routes resulted in Chuck dropping from 240lbs to 150lbs in eight months
  • How the emotions of war change from fear to numbness as you recognize who gets hurt is a matter of luck
  • Being injured in Operation Dewey Canyon and the crushing feelings of being so changed that his wife did not recognize him
  • What it was like to be shunned by older veterans and the stigma attached to being a Vietnam veteran
  • How flashbacks plagued Chuck 15 years later, causing depression and anger
  • How working as a physiatrist and giving back to other veterans became a form of therapy
  • The importance of support from relationships and the difficulties of reintegrating into normal life
  • Why finding meaning in your experiences will help you heal and rejoin civilian life

Resources Mentioned:

This episode is brought to you by…

The Orban Foundation for Veterans is dedicated to bringing greater hope, understanding, resolution, and togetherness on issues of civilian readjustment for all military veterans and their families. Orban Foundation for Veterans promotes the importance of education, identification, understanding, acceptance, and resolution of many of the complex and severe responses to war and military life.

Visit our website to learn more about the Orban Foundation for Veterans and to support our mission.

Helping Veterans & Their Families Transition to Civilian Life

Thanks for tuning into this segment of the Stigma Free Vet Zone podcast, the show dedicated to helping veterans and their families make the transition from the military to civilian life and culture. If you enjoyed this episode, please head over to Apple Podcasts to subscribe to the show and leave a review. For more stories, insight, and resources on coping with military-related trauma and PTSD, visit our website and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn. Don’t forget to share your favorite episodes across social media to help us raise awareness and help our brothers and sisters and their families transition to civilian life.

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, 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, or their guests is strictly for purposes of bringing

Souled Out: War and Inner Peace with Mike Orban Part 2

Mike Orban is an army veteran who served in the Vietnam War in 1971. After returning home to civilian life, Mike struggled to cope with the experiences he had during combat, which led him into decades of darkness and isolation. In his book Souled Out: A Memoir of War and Inner Peace, Mike discusses his story of fighting in the war and dealing with combat’s traumatic impact. Today, Mike dedicates himself to outreach, connecting with numerous veterans and their families through his organization, the Orban Foundation for Veterans. He is also the co-founder of the Warrior Partnership, an initiative through the Medical College of Wisconsin that connects medical students with veterans with war-related trauma.

Mike joins me today to dive deeper into discussing his return to civilian life after serving in Vietnam, and the measures he took to maintain a facade of normalcy while fighting his distressing inner battles. Mike discusses his decision to join the Peace Corps, how this experience served as a spiritual awakening for him, and what it was like when he returned home to the United States once more. Mike also highlights his experiences with mental health care and how becoming more educated on his traumatic responses empowered him to move forward.

” The fear that I had of losing my mind exceeds any fear I’ve ever had in my life.” – Mike Orban

This week on the Stigma Free Vet Zone Podcast:

  • Whether other people noticed Mike’s mental health struggles when he returned to civilian life
  • How Mike’s post-traumatic stress impacted his ability to pursue his education upon his return
  • The anger, guilt, and shame Mike felt towards himself because of his experiences in Vietnam
  • Why Mike decided to go into the Peace Corps and his family’s reaction to this decision
  • Where Mike traveled to with the Peace Corps, the people he interacted with along the way, and the life lessons he learned
  • When Mike started experiencing suicidal ideation
  • How the support of Mike’s family members helped him manage his symptoms
  • Mike’s experience with mental health professionals, what his early therapy focused on, and the help he believes saved his life
  • How being in a group with other veterans gave Mike a new perspective on his war trauma
  • The list Mike received in therapy that changed his life and allowed him to address his traumatic reactions
  • Why we should focus on mental health education rather than mental illness and the insights Mike has gained through his trauma recovery journey
  • Why it is crucial to consider the impact of war on veterans’ families

Resources Mentioned:

This episode is brought to you by…

The Orban Foundation for Veterans is dedicated to bringing greater hope, understanding, resolution, and togetherness on issues of civilian readjustment for all military veterans and their families. Orban Foundation for Veterans promotes the importance of education, identification, understanding, acceptance, and resolution of many of the complex and severe responses to war and military life.

Visit our website to learn more about the Orban Foundation for Veterans and to support our mission.

Helping Veterans & Their Families Transition to Civilian Life

Thanks for tuning into this segment of the Stigma Free Vet Zone podcast, the show dedicated to helping veterans and their families make the transition from the military to civilian life and culture. If you enjoyed this episode, please head over to Apple Podcasts to subscribe to the show and leave a review. For more stories, insight, and resources on coping with military-related trauma and PTSD, visit our website and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn. Don’t forget to share your favorite episodes across social media to help us raise awareness and help our brothers and sisters and their families transition to civilian life.

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, 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, 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.

Souled Out: War and Inner Peace with Mike Orban Part 1

After a year of intense combat in the jungles of Vietnam, Mike Orban, an Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War in 1971, returned home with severe post-traumatic stress that led him to an incredibly dark mental place. Mike discusses his story and experience with PTSD in his book Souled Out: A Memoir of War and Inner Peace, which highlights his journey in the war and how he dealt with combat’s traumatic impact. Today, Mike dedicates himself to outreach, connecting with numerous veterans and their families through his organization, the Orban Foundation for Veterans.

Mike Orban joins me today to discuss his journey before and during his year of service in the Vietnam War. He shares how serving in Vietnam transformed his worldview, his relationship with fear and courage during his time overseas, and the “thousand-yard stare” Mike witnessed in the troops who left combat. Mike discusses how being in the war completely altered his perspectives on life and the human race, and the guilt and shame he felt around his thoughts. Mike also highlights the overwhelming trauma symptoms he experienced upon returning to civilian life, including intense rage, anxiety, depression, social isolation, and the coping mechanisms he turned to in an effort to manage the intensity.

“I remember thinking to myself: ‘I am going home to life as it had been before.’” – Mike Orban

This week on the Stigma Free Vet Zone Podcast:

  • How Mike’s family life shifted when he was a teenager and the impact this had on him
  • What Mike’s view of the world was like before he entered the military
  • What basic training was like for Mike physically and emotionally
  • Mike’s experience entering Vietnam and the point that fear and terror of the situation set in
  • Why Mike thought there was a good chance he might not survive the war
  • What coming home from the Vietnam War was like for Mike
  • How the war impacted Mike’s faith and spirituality and some of the events and experiences that haunted him mentally
  • How civilian life changed for Mike when he returned from Vietnam and the mental “bunker” Mike placed himself in to cope
  • The hypervigilance, isolation, rage, and panic attacks Mike dealt with after he returned home
  • Mike’s experience with mental health stigma

Resources Mentioned:

This episode is brought to you by…

The Orban Foundation for Veterans is dedicated to bringing greater hope, understanding, resolution, and togetherness on issues of civilian readjustment for all military veterans and their families. Orban Foundation for Veterans promotes the importance of education, identification, understanding, acceptance, and resolution of many of the complex and severe responses to war and military life.

Visit our website to learn more about the Orban Foundation for Veterans and to support our mission.

Helping Veterans & Their Families Transition to Civilian Life

Thanks for tuning into this segment of the Stigma Free Vet Zone podcast, the show dedicated to helping veterans and their families make the transition from the military to civilian life and culture. If you enjoyed this episode, please head over to Apple Podcasts to subscribe to the show and leave a review. For more stories, insight, and resources on coping with military-related trauma and PTSD, visit our website and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn. Don’t forget to share your favorite episodes across social media to help us raise awareness and help our brothers and sisters and their families transition to civilian life.

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, 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, 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.

Dan Van Buskirk & Linda Bobot on Forging Sacred Relationships with Service Dogs

Dan Van Buskirk and Linda Bobot join us today to discuss the sacred connection and relationship between veterans and their dogs. Dan shares how dogs were used to detect traps and enemy fire in combat and how they became valuable members of military teams. They discuss how dogs can help veterans take control of their emotions, responses, and expectations. and how dogs help veterans diffuse powerful negative emotions like feeling inadequate and survivor’s guilt. They also discuss the dog selection process that takes place between veterans and their service dogs, how our dogs reflect our feelings and emotions, and how HAVEN helps veterans choose the perfect dog for their needs.

Continue reading “Dan Van Buskirk & Linda Bobot on Forging Sacred Relationships with Service Dogs”

Joe Campbell – Spiritual Awakening of Forgiveness & Service of Gratitude, Pt. II

Joe Campbell joins us today to discuss his involvement in the vehicle caravan that transported a remnant piece of steel from the former World Trade Center in New York to Milwaukee. He shares how communities came together and the outpouring of support they received to transport this precious cargo and how this experience served as a spiritual awakening for Joe. He explains how he met Kim Phuc Phan Thi, a Vietnamese woman who was badly burned from a napalm bomb during the Vietnam War and author of Fire Road, and how meeting Kim helped Joe heal from the emotional trauma he experienced during the war. He also explains how forgiveness and service through gratitude have helped him through the darkness and into the light of hope and recovery.

Continue reading “Joe Campbell – Spiritual Awakening of Forgiveness & Service of Gratitude, Pt. II”

The Veteran Spouse Perspective with Janet Austin

Janet Austin understands first-hand the experience and struggles associated with being the spouse and caregiver of a combat veteran. Her husband, Bill Austin, is a medically retired Master Sergeant who has served over 30 years in the Army and Air National Guard before being medically discharged due to his diagnosis of PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) following his last tour in Afghanistan. Since his discharge, Janet has tirelessly advocated for military families and others suffering through combat-related trauma through the Facebook group she created, PTSD The Truth In Numbers. Additionally, Janet is a staunch advocate for service dogs, largely due to the tremendous strides she has seen with Bill’s former service dog, J.P., and regularly speaks at various events to educate others regarding the laws on service dogs for military veterans.

Continue reading “The Veteran Spouse Perspective with Janet Austin”

Balancing Compassion with Emotional Control as an AirEvac Medic with Bill Austin

Bill Austin joins us today to discuss his drive to join the military and his experiences while serving his country in Grenada, Bosnia, Kosovo as well as Afghanistan and Iraq. He explains why he decided to switch from the Army to the Air National Guard, his experiences while serving in each branch, and the challenges he faced in transitioning and adapting to the Air Guard’s culture. He describes the emotional turmoil military medical personnel experience when they lose a patient, the difficulties of dividing resources in an effort to save as many lives as possible, and the struggles of shutting off your emotions to ensure you’re providing the best care possible. Bill also discusses his medical discharge from the military and his experience of permanently returning home to his wife and son.

Continue reading “Balancing Compassion with Emotional Control as an AirEvac Medic with Bill Austin”

Joe Campbell – Finding Acceptance After the Vietnam War, Pt. I

Joe joins us today to share his experience of serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He explains why he chose to enlist in the Army instead of waiting to be drafted, why he was anxious to fight in the Vietnam War, and how the realities of war compared to his initial expectations. He shares the shocking realities of returning home after serving in Vietnam, how he was treated, and why he felt like an ‘outsider’ even within the U.S borders. He discusses the impact that burying his feelings and emotions about losing battle buddies has had on his life, how it led to his addiction to alcohol, and how the gift of sobriety helped him cope with those buried emotions. Joe also shares his motivation to connect with veteran outreach programs and dedicate himself to helping other combat veterans.

“The greatest gift I have is to live a good life for those guys and gals that gave their life for me. And the only way I can really thank them is by living a good life because of them.”

Joe Campbell

Born and raised in Illinois, Joe Campbell graduated from the Marmion Military Academy in 1965. Shortly after, he enlisted and served four years in the U.S. Army. During his enlistment, Joe served with the 8th Infantry Division in Bad Kreuznach, Germany as well as the 1st Logistical Command in Vietnam. Over the last several decades, Joe has committed himself to serve and help other military veterans. He has served as a Trustee for the Milwaukee County War Memorial Corporation, Inc, a Chaplain with the Vietnam Veterans of America Milwaukee Chapter, and has held executive positions at several veteran-oriented organizations, including his own machinery and welding company. Due to his service and commitment to help his fellow veterans, Joe has received several awards and accolades, including the 2018 Patriot Award from the War Memorial Center and the 2007 Veteran of the Year Award by Milwaukee County.


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, 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, 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.