Tag: combat

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.

Fulfilling life…more than just a soldier!

I have had two parallel career tracks: one in public radio, the other as a government/military worker or civilian contractor. In radio I prepared and hosted music shifts and news shifts, interviewed arts, science, and political figures, written scripts and web posts, and engineered live broadcasts. For the US government, I spent 4 years as an Army linguist, three years in the Foreign Service, and 2 years as a civilian contractor for the US Army in the Balkans.

From 2006-2020 I hosted, wrote, and produced a daily public radio show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Lake Effect.

In 2020, I became the program director for North Country Public Radio.


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.

A Combat Infantry Officer and his wife who shares the experience

Upon graduation from college Allen was drafted into the US Army, and attended infantry basic and advanced training then on to OFFICER’S CANDIDATE SCHOLL at the Infantry School at Fort Banning,  GA.  His duty assignment includes Fort Jackson as a training officer and Fort Banning as a trainee in the Heavy Motor Platoon leader school.  Upon graduation Allen was assign to the Republic of Vietnam where He severed as a rifle platoon leader;commanding general’s briefing officer and an operations officer at the G5 Psyop.  I returned to the USAR and left after serving 8 addionall years leaving at the rank of Major.
While in training Allen married his high school sweetheart Linda who knows the military from the spouses experience. Together Allen and  Linda have two lovely children.
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.

David Carlson on Rising Up After a Lifetime of Trauma

David Carlson joins me today to discuss his troubling childhood upbringing – from being raised in chronic toxic environments, acting out and trouble with the law to joining the military and rebuilding his life. He shares his battles with substance abuse, why he chose to join the Army National Guard, and how the structure and discipline he received during basic and infantry training improved his perspective about his self-worth and his sense of identity. He shares his experiences while serving two tours in Iraq and the stark differences in structure and discipline between military life and civilian culture. He also shares his experiences with losing sight of his purpose in life, how CrossFit and what inspired him to dedicate his life to serving and helping others. Working with the Orban Foundation for Veterans to instill hope in those seeking it.

Words of Wisdom: The Story Behind One Vietnam Veteran’s Podcast

“There are many of us who have experienced these reactions who are here to tell you there is hope. It’s more important to not worry what the world thinks of your but to set a goal of being happy by yourself in a room when no one else is around,” Orban says.

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

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.

The Emotions of War and the Wounded Healer with Chuck Sprague

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.

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

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.

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

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.