“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.

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

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.

Continue reading “Forward, march: life with gratitude and hope | Jerry Witt”

Rage and Reconciliation — Joe Campbell

In this segment of the Stigma Free Vet Zone, Vietnam veteran Joe Campbell reflects on his family’s experience during his active duty and beyond. We hear how Joe’s family grappled with the fear associated with not knowing where he was, what danger he might be facing, and if and when they might receive word that Joe had been killed.

Continue reading “Rage and Reconciliation — Joe Campbell”

Bodies, Bones and Biologics – Mark Foreman | Pt. III

In the finale of this three-part series, Mark Foreman reflects thirty years later. Now allergic to morphine, osteomyelitis has returned to Foreman’s hip. He has had three major surgeries, all performed without pain killers. The resulting agony caused Mark to desperately search for any instrument within reach to end his pain by ending his existence. That is until once more the power of love saves his life.

To hear the harrowing beginnings of this story, head over to our podcasts page.


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.

Bodies, Bones and Biologics – Mark Foreman | Pt. II

In this episode, Mark Foreman’s greatest insight is recognizing his only success in life would come from taking responsibility for his actions and goals. No mental health professional, family member nor university — no one — but he would ever again build his vision of what his life is and his place in that life. This is profoundly courageous and significant thinking. When understood this is the most fulfilling path in life.

The pain of his wound — so severe — he wished only for another bullet to end his life.   

Years of painful surgeries awaited Foreman following his evacuation from a battlefield in Vietnam. There would be months in a body cast, morphine addictions and a lifetime disability. Physical pain would be bookended by devastating emotional and spiritual discomfort often fueled by alcohol and drug use.

Sometimes his constant pain was so severe he contemplated suicide. However, things changed when Foreman reconnected with the love he felt for his mother and family. Over decades he built a new life that brought value to himself and those around him. Years sculpting stone led to a career as an elementary art teacher and he co-founded the Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative.

Today, his life lived in love is a more powerful painkiller than morphine. He continues his quest to make life better where he can and is a member of Veterans for Peace


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.

Bodies, Bones and Biologics – Mark Foreman | Pt. I

Mark Foreman grew up in a patriotic family, but during his teen years developed a strong opposition to the US war in Vietnam. The inevitability of the draft lottery motivated him to avoid combat by enlisting in the US Navy. Unaware the Navy provides medics (corpsmen) to US Marine fighters.

In 1968, Mark arrived in Vietnam as a corpsman. He dedicated himself to his duty and vowed to do everything possible to care for the 82 marines in his company. But no training could have prepared Foreman for the ambush of his brothers-in-arms by 1,500 North Vietnamese Army regulars (NVA).

Eighty percent of his Marine company was killed in the first ten minutes of a battle that lasted six days. Foreman was wounded on the second day and sustained such intense pain he wished only for another bullet to end his life. He laid on the jungle floor for nearly a week with a shattered hip that prevented him from responding to the screams of wounded and dying Marines scattered around him. Foreman’s evacuation from the battlefield marked the end of one war and the beginning of another.


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 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.