Episode 175 Chris Whittemore Terror to Triumph
This transcript is from episode 175 with guest Chris Whittemore.
Scott DeLuzio 00:00:00 Thanks for tuning into the Drive On Podcast, where we’re focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. Now let’s get on with the show. Hey, everyone, welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today, my guest is Chris Whittemore. Chris is a Marine veteran who has written the book terror to triumph. His book is a journey through the eyes of a Marine scout sniper in Ramadi, Iraq in 2005. It continues through to Fallujah, Iraq in 2007 and finally finishes as he’s flying as a crew chief and door gunner through Helmand province, Afghanistan. Welcome to the show, Chris. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
Chris Whittemore 00:00:57 Awesome. Thanks again for having me on. It’s definitely a pleasure getting the word out in talking to other vets about all this stuff. Like you said, I started out in the military. did a bunch of deployments, is a scout sniper as a gunner. Then they gave me the nice boot, under recruiting duty in 2011. They sent me behind the desk, which was good and bad. As we all know, you beat up your body enough throughout the years. You’re going to go behind the desk, and all of a sudden your body’s going to start aching and hurting. I know we’ve all been there, waking up back, cracking.. Once I retired in 2015 after a couple of surgeries, putting myself back together a little bit, I got the opportunity to go to the initial Invictus games in London when Prince Harry first started it. Back in 2014 was the initial one.
Chris Whittemore 00:02:02 We got a fully paid trip over to London and competed against 13 other countries. I mean, it was amazing. Leaving the military with the TBI, the PTSD, the being broken. I was told by a neural psych, with your TBI, you’re not going to be able to hold down a job. You’re not going to be able to maintain a marriage and don’t worry about doing school because you’re never going to be successful. Well, being a stubborn person like I am, I was like, well, we’ll see about that. I have been married for 21 years, since last December, so prove them wrong on that. I finished my master’s degree with a 3.89 GPA and almost got a 4.0. I got a B, which isn’t horrible, but it is what it is.
Chris Whittemore 00:02:56 I never thought in a million years I would ever be published, let alone, writing a book about the past, because I thought who’s really going to be interested. There’s hundreds of books out there on Iraq, Afghanistan, deployments, etcetera. I wanted to bridge the gap where you had talked a little bit about the deployments, a little bit about the stuff we’ve all seen on deployments, the good, the bad coming back the high outrageous suicide rate that plagued the military for so long and still plagues the military. I wanted to kind of open up people’s eyes to what happens on deployment. Everyone deals with the IEDs, the casualties that, all that stuff, but no one really has written a book on what actually happens when you come back to the states, the family issues, the hypervigilance checking the locks three times a night, get up at three in the morning and, just freaking out drinking excessively.
Chris Whittemore 00:04:02 Then you rinse and repeat a lot of guys get in that deployment cycle of deploy returns, drink like fish, domestic issues, family issues, redeployment. I wanted to really shed light on everyone who goes through that. What if you come back and you have issues, well, in my mind, it’s I guess what, if you don’t have issues after seeing that stuff, go check yourself into the prison because you’re a psychopath. When are they going to make a movie about you, probably like Ted Bundy? It’s normal to have issues, you’re not alone. That’s the big thing. A lot of people are going through it. The stigma is there, but it doesn’t have to be there.
Chris Whittemore 00:04:50 It’s okay to not be okay. If I can succeed going through all this stuff, and write a book for all this other stuff anyone can do it. There’s hundreds of resources. One of the pages of the book on the back is an entire page and a half of different resources and websites that people can go to, check it out and find the help that they need, save their marriage, save your own life really. I mean, it’s so easy to love the VA and I have a love, hate relationship. As I’m sure a lot of people do, there’s a lot of medications and you can become a zombie or you can use the medication to help yourself. To get through what you need to do the work and come out better on the other side.
Chris Whittemore 00:05:48 That’s kind of what the book is really about showing my journey, what I went through, what I put my wife through, and what I put my family through. Things are winding down in Iraq. We all know about Afghanistan and all the chaos that’s involved in that political mess. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first war that the US has been in and probably will not be the last. Hopefully, people will read the book and say, man, I was going down that path. I need to stop and I need to suck it up and get help and save their military career if they want to make a career out of it. If they do deploy, come back and realize, I’m not sleeping.
Chris Whittemore 00:06:34 I’m not, “all I want to do is drink and isolate.” Well, that’s a normal thing, but it’s not normal. So now this book is out, it’s on Amazon Barnes and Noble, and Walmart. I actually got a hold of a friend and they put it in what do you call it? A veteran spotlight in the back of the Army Times, Navy Times, Marines Times, basically all the Times magazines for the month of February. It blasted out to all the bases. Who knows how many people have looked at it? Who knows how many people picked it up and decided to read it? It’s on Kindle. The audiobook will be out in the middle of the summer. Because a lot of people have asked, Hey, I don’t have time to read a book, do the audio thing. Then I’ve been lucky enough to come on these podcasts and speak with you and a few others. It’s been amazing. It’s been a really amazing journey.
Scott DeLuzio 00:07:40 Yeah. I recently wrote a book as well. Mine came out back in August and I know exactly what you’re feeling like when you said that never in a million years did you think you’re going to write a book? I’m actually hesitant to even let my English teachers know from high school that I had written a book because some of them might have a heart attack if they’re, oh my gosh, this kid who was just getting by in English class is now a published author. Like, did we do something right? What happened or whatever. None of us go into this joining the military, getting deployed. We know we don’t go into it thinking to ourselves, Hey, this is going to be a book someday.
Scott DeLuzio 00:08:31 You just don’t do that. But then you realize how many lessons that you’ve learned along the way. It almost feels selfish to keep some of that stuff to yourself. Putting it out there in a book is helpful to not only yourself in terms of the therapeutic of writing your story down. Also, helping other people by realizing that they’re not alone. That there’s other people who’ve gone through something very similar. It’s not normal to be drinking yourself stupid every night. But it’s normal in the sense that a lot of people do it. We need to point out that there are other better ways to deal with some of the stuff that we’re going through. I absolutely understand where you’re coming from. I was in a very similar situation with writing my book, I feel like we kinda need to get into this a little bit more. What is this book, something that you had in the works for a while, or was this something that you kind of woke up one day and thought, I need to put this into a story?
Chris Whittemore 00:09:50 Great question. The funny thing about it was, it never initially started out that it was going to be a book at all. It was going through the therapy, going through the TBI clinic, trying to remember all these stories and I obviously, and like you, I’m sure, you never want to forget a story or leave something out or leave out, someone who played a key role, in the stories, I didn’t want to do that. As I’ve progressed since retiring, I’ve actually found myself starting to struggle, trying to remember like, oh man, what happened with this? I told my wife, I said, my memory is really messing up. That’s caused a lot of problems. How can you remember a night walking through Iraq, on patrol at three in the morning with, the dogs barking, the cocaine rolling down the street, but you can’t remember when we first got married in 2001? and It’s a different thing that gets ingrained in you.
Chris Whittemore 00:11:02 I started writing it down, and it all started to kind of with COVID too, because you’re working from home. You’re not at the office, so you don’t have the excuse, “I’ve got to commute”.It’s like, man, how can I not implement this? I started writing it all down and my wife’s like, what? You should submit it to a public place. Why would I do that? Who’s going to be interested in this? I started talking to another good friend of mine, Scott Hussein. He was the author of Echo in Ramadi.
Chris Whittemore 00:11:49 His book has taken off. He’s done a lot of great things. He does a lot of amazing, different campaigns he’s involved in. Save the brave he’s, the founder of that organization. He does carry the load. He takes veterans out fishing. He does a lot of amazing things. He actually recently posted something that he was actually signing a book for Slash from the Guns and Roses, lead guitarists. He’s doing a lot of amazing things with that organization. He rides his motorcycle from California to the east coast. Along the way, he does different events to raise money for veterans. Because that’s what he’s all about. He’s about giving back. He runs about three or four different companies, retired major, and been on tons of talk shows.
Chris Whittemore 00:12:51 He does great things. My wife kept pushing the issue I was like, fine. ‘l’ll submit it, whatever. I went online, found a self-publishing company, and submitted it. Never going to happen in a million years. Sure enough, I got an email back and they’re like, we’ve read your manuscript and we’re really interested in it, we want to publish it. Even at this point, I’ve never thought I would ever have a book published anywhere. and the amount of people who have purchased the book.I told my wife, if I sell 10, what cool that’s, that’s awesome.
Chris Whittemore 00:13:42 I think there’s been 300 and to date. I probably sold almost a thousand books and it’s just unbelievable. It’s so overwhelming at that too, because doing the podcast and having people call me and say, Hey, I got your book. It’s amazing. All these reviews on Amazon, I’m like, it’s just, it’s mind-boggling to me. It’s so hard to comprehend it because I’m like, man, why are people interested in this book? What is it about it? I’m trying to think this is just awesome and enjoying the ride, but I’m struggling with that. Why are people buying this? I’m glad they are. but, but it’s kind of like, what is it like, what is so different about this book or versus the hundreds of other books that are out there. It’s been an amazing journey as I’m sure you’re being published as well.
Scott DeLuzio 00:14:48 It’s actually kind of interesting because, just the other day I was in the grocery store, I was walking down the aisles and I heard my name get called out. I turned around, looking around, I didn’t see anyone that I recognized, but I saw this guy started walking towards me and he came over and he shook my hand and he said that he got a copy of my book and he recognized me from the cover of the book. He was like I just really, really appreciate it. I really enjoyed the book. I enjoyed your openness and sharing and all that kind of stuff.
Scott DeLuzio 00:15:26 I was amazed he recognized me. I was wearing a ball cap. I wasn’t standing out, I wasn’t there for a book signing or anything like that, where they knew they would like to come and find me there or anything like that. I was just going out for groceries for the week or whatever. I was like, that’s just so crazy. I know what you’re saying. It’s like you wrote the book and I was the same way I figured. Probably some friends and family would buy the book, but outside of that, I don’t know, probably not too many other people. So many people have bought it, have read it, and I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback. Let’s get into a book. Let’s try to figure out why it is that people are so into this book and what it is about it. You gave a little bit of description about it, but let’s get a little bit deeper. You started off in Ramadi. That’s kind of your first deployment over there as a scout sniper in 2005. Tell us about that deployment, what your experience over there, and what kind of things went on over there.
Chris Whittemore 00:16:34 Okay, yeah, that was the first appointment back into the military.I joined the scout sniper team, maybe six months before the deployment, maybe a little less. I wasn’t in school training. I got to do a lot of security with a really good friend of mine named Andy Bolden. He and I were the security once we got into the hide site. I was the point man, and we got to set up all the security pieces. During that time in Iraq was, if anyone’s listening that was over there during that time, where remembers that time, Ramadi, they hadn’t had the election yet. The whole city was blacklisted. Helicopters and low flying jets were not allowed to be within. I think it’s, they had to keep it 1500 feet above the city to stay out of the RPG range.
Chris Whittemore 00:17:30 It was crazy going to Iraq. We’re going to a combat zone. It’s going to be, it’s going to be hell, but you don’t really. I think you will really appreciate it until you get there. One thing that I’ll never forget, and it’s kind of a funny story, that’s in the book as well, but we just got to Camp Ramadi right outside of the city, and we’re all late the big GP tents and the little metal rusted bed frames and the little two-inch prison mattresses. The transition tents. We were sitting around and just joking around. We haven’t put the relief in place yet with the other unit. All of a sudden, these loud explosions started happening and everyone whose first appointment it was were jumping on the ground, thinking, oh my God, we’re getting bombed.
Chris Whittemore 00:18:28 We’re supposed to be in a safe place, like what is going on? It turns out that it was the senior Marines who were sitting back laughing and pointing and laughing and thinking like, what is so funny? Like we’re getting bombed. What is this? And they’re like, no, it’s just the counter-battery that artillery guns are shooting out into the city, protecting the troops and the military. I’m trying to save face. you’re like, okay, this sucks, but then you spend a few days in that initial phase and you’re like, okay, maybe this is just another deployment. This is a big deal. you hear the mosques and the towers going off in their little prayers seven times a day, are you hearing the counter-battery, it kinda almost lulls you to sleep in a little bit.
Chris Whittemore 00:19:16 You’re like, man, okay, this is just another deployment. This’ll be okay. And then one day, we’re walking to the chow hall, which is maybe a mile away from the tents. And a group of guys stopped at the concrete barriers to smoke. We kept going into the chow hall. One group stayed, one group went and how it was like, I’ll just go back there. I’ll stay with these guys and smoke. I was like, what, no, I’ll just smoke on the way back. Well, as soon as we go through the front door, we hear this loud explosion and we’re like, whoa, what was that? As we’re walking back, the scene is still chaotic and what has happened.
Chris Whittemore 00:20:03 There’s a young guy named Swanberg, and they actually named the chow hall after him. They put a little plaque above the door and the group that stopped to smoke a rocket landed right up against them basically and killed all of them. But that was like, I think less than a week in-country. That was kind of the jumpstart of like, oh, like, okay, now I know where it’s kinda like that snap back into reality. Doesn’t matter where you are for the next seven months. I mean, it could happen just like that. Different events happen during the deployment. We had a helicopter shoot down some. A bunch of EOD guys got taken out.
Chris Whittemore 00:20:57 We ended up losing, I think, 15 or 20 guys during that deployment. I think a lot of people relate to this. If you don’t ever want to have it happen, but you kinda know there’s going to be stuff that’s going to happen along the way. Service members are gonna get hurt, killed, things like that. It’s one of those things that’s going to happen. You just hope it doesn’t happen, but deep down, you’re like, okay, this is we’re in a combat zone. Things are gonna go bad. but the worst part about it is when the young innocents or the young kids over there get hurt. That was one of the stories I shared in the book too. We had this family.
Chris Whittemore 00:21:51 We use their house, once, to hide a three-day mission. We were down there and it was a father, two wives, and like three or four kids or something like that. One being, which was maybe seven, eight years old, a little girl. We left, we’re there three days, not a whole lot has happened, but, we left and we’ll be like, Hey probably won’t be back, but maybe we’ll be back through again to use your house in a couple of weeks. A few weeks later, they’re like, Hey, we need you guys back down there. We’re like, perfect. We know right where we’re going. we get in there and the guy’s limping as he’s walking to the other room, we put them all in one room, provide security. Keep them all in one location.
Chris Whittemore 00:22:38 And we’re asking here’s the rest of your family? What’s going on? Well, it turns out that days after we left the Taliban, we found out that he let us use his house, which he didn’t have a choice. we were going to use this house if we had to. They’d come in, beat the guy, kill one of his wives, and then execute his eight-year-old daughter out in the street as an example. I mean, ever since that, that was kind of the jumpstart into the, I just isolating the anger, just bearing the trauma cause you can’t really let it get to you. You have to be able to do your job. As you get closer to the end of the deployment, you get guys who get hurt. One guy, his name was Connie.
Chris Whittemore 00:23:31 His wife was giving birth to their child. Then there was another guy, whose wife was having their first baby. The difference between the births was probably three weeks. Connie got bumped, this other guy got put in his spot for the advanced party. He could be home for the birth of his child. Well, the week after they left, he and the platoon commander, Lieutenant Fitzgerald, who was a Citadel graduate, had radio issues. They stopped to fix the radios right on top of a pressure plate. They didn’t realize it killed them instantly. Then coming back from that deployment, was the struggles, the suicide rate was super high. People were overdosing themselves, car accidents, things like that.
Chris Whittemore 00:24:30 That was by far one of the worst deployments. Even when I was going through the VA medical board process, I would go to the VA and we’d be talking like, oh, what, what deployments were you on? I was like, ‘05 Ramadi. Even the VA people, the eyes are like those different locations where people talk about, we heard about that. In different stories, throughout that deployment or in the book, really kind of setting the stage for anyone who deployed into those like nasty areas that experience the civilian casualties or the weird different events.
Chris Whittemore 00:25:21 One of the recruiting events that’s discussed in the book is, we call it the glass factory incident, where they had a recruiting event of maybe a hundred and something people all packed into this like an old abandoned factory. They’re recruiting Iraqi police to supplement their security forces or whatever they want to call themselves. and a guy went in there and detonated himself with a suicide vest. Some of my friends that I still talk to today were charged with going over there handling black trash bags and shovels picking up leaves in the backyard saying, go do what you can. They were experiencing that. Those are the stories I put in there. Dome of my family members are like, oh my God, I had no idea.
Chris Whittemore 00:26:15 No one wants to talk about it. No one wants to be like, oh, guess what we did, last week we got all this other stuff. I wanted to really set the stage and really show during that time. I know for the army, like Baghdad and all these other different places were really hotbeds for just non non-stop abuse. Then the ‘07 deployment was the deployment. We were out doing different missions, but it also started kind of tying in with the family deaths of my wife’s grandfather, who she was really close with, passed away during that deployment. Then, family issues, mom and dad getting a divorce. All those like back home issues that you can’t deal with, but in your mind, they’re like, oh man. Then you go there and then you start compounding the deployment, that personal stuff, the deployment, the personal stuff that you put, and pretty soon, you’re just like, okay you just become a robot and you become numb.
Chris Whittemore 00:27:31 It’s such a tragic tale, but it’s a tale that so many can relate to. That’s the worst part about it. That’s what kills me about the PTSD stigma, the stigma of, oh, you’re broken, you’re a problem. Back then, I’m not sure what years you were in, but the stigma, if you come back from deployment, you’re back probably for maybe a year before you’re going right back on deployment. They don’t tell you this specifically, but if you’re that problem in the company, battalion platoon level, you’re going away. There’s no time to deal with that. They have to get ready for the next seven-month deployment. I mean, nothing against the individual, but there’s just no time. People start burying it, burying it, burying it.
Chris Whittemore 00:28:27 The end result is what we’ve all seen so many times: the Marine drill instructor who was at the pool, standing on the diving board in front of the whole recruit Depot kills himself. It’s such a tragic story that hopefully, the more people like you and I, or whoever else that writes these books, we see that it is OK. These are the stories that everyone has dealt with and people come out better on the other side, don’t wait until you’re at that spot where you have no way of bettering yourself or have no way out of this situation. it’s hopeless, like that kind of thing. There’s just so many resources now.
Chris Whittemore 00:29:21 I can’t stress that enough that I just hope people will put the ego aside, put the” I can’t be not okay.” I have to be okay because this guy is okay. You may not be okay. He may be a better faker than you because he’s probably not okay either. I think writing this book is so important to get that out there. Weirdly enough, a guy I hadn’t spoken with since the 2007 deployment ended up messaging me saying, I picked this book because I wanted you to share some of the same stories that I had in my mind. I didn’t even realize that you were the guy who wrote it until I was flipping through it, wait a second.
Chris Whittemore 00:30:18 He’s been dealing with it since 2007 also never got help, never got anything, lost his marriage. His kids don’t talk to him anymore just because he is isolated because he just went down that rabbit hole. Now as he’s reading the book and unloading his own stuff through the stories that I’ve shared, he started to get better. His relationship with his kids are starting to get better. He’s working, progressing in the right direction. I think that’s if there’s any kind of a success story. It’s stories like that I think if the book is helping others get their life back on track. All the hard nights and as you’re writing it, you’re reliving those stories. You’re starting to kind of go down that rabbit hole yourself a little bit. But if for all that frustration and sleepless nights and rehashing the past if it’s helping someone else, then that’s perfect.
Scott DeLuzio 00:31:34 Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more with that. I feel like we’re putting our stories out there with the hopes of having somebody else pick that book up, and help them. You’ve got this information from this one guy, I’m sure it’s not just the one person who’s picked it up and read it and felt that similar way. Maybe he’s the only one who reached out to you directly, but, I’m sure there’s others as well. I’m looking at the subtitle on your book, so Terror to Triumph, and then it says sometimes the toughest battles you have to fight are at home with yourself. We definitely talked about some of the terrors that you experienced, right? Some of those deaths that you experienced, what happened to that Iraqi family, things like that. They’ll all that is terror. I think you picked a great word for that title. I’m curious to hear a little bit about some of the triumphs. You described that terror part pretty well, but let’s talk about the triumph part of it. What did that look like for you?
Chris Whittemore 00:32:55 I think the triumph part was definitely hitting that retirement date in 2015. On one hand, I was like, yes, I’m done with the military. I’m finally out. I can get on with my life, but then you leave and that door closes behind you. Maybe this is how prisoners feel when they get out of jail that door slams behind them. I don’t have to worry about fresh haircut formation, like all this stuff Monday morning. I’m on my own now. The success for me was getting out, going against the doctor saying, Hey, you’re not going to be successful in a marriage. You’re not going to be able to get a D education. You’re not going to be able to hold down a job.
Chris Whittemore 00:33:48 Looking back on it, I’ve slowly started to try and go back in and speak to the different wounded warrior battalions and the army wounded warrior battalions here in San Antonio because I want to really reiterate to them.” Don’t listen to them you can’t, because there’s so many people who will say how you can’t do this. You’re broken, you’re in a wheelchair, you’re missing an arm. You’re, you’ve got burns, you’ve got, any of that stuff. You maybe can’t go snowboarding anymore because you’ve got a bunch of TBIs that you would like to hit your head wrong and lights go out, but what you can do you can be a motivational speaker.
Chris Whittemore 00:34:40 You can get a Ph.D. You can get all these things that are positive, you can do anything you want.” I mean, you may have limitations now where you can’t play hockey anymore. Well, who cares, but you could still go run a golf pro shop, take other wounded vets out there and play golf with them in Florida. Go watch the Masters where they hit this little stupid white ball and make millions of dollars. I mean, what could be better than that? Things like that. I think about hitting our 20 year wedding anniversary, getting my degree. I’m now working as a case manager for the county’s veterans treatment court, which basically we take veterans, who either have an honorable discharge or a general discharge who have gotten arrested for DWI assaults.
Chris Whittemore 00:35:39 There are certain cases we can’t, like, beating up an old person. It has nothing to do with your military time, but drinking or family violence is almost like a checklist for hope you deployed it. You have a family. Imagine that it’s kind of a roadmap, but we take them before they have to plead guilty in front of the judge, we get them registered for the DA. We put them through a one-year program where they’re required to seek treatment. They’re required to stay sober during the whole year. There’s a lot of factors that they have to meet, but at the end of the year, their cases are dismissed, and they can apply to have their case expunged. They get a fresh start, so that we kind of showed them like, Hey, look, you screwed up, but you can come back from this.
Chris Whittemore 00:36:38 You can be productive. You can get your life back on track if you’re willing to do the work. That is frustrating as the job is sometimes, because I’ve never really been behind the desk kind of person, but that job is definitely fulfilling. So, that to me is, triumphing from, hitting rock bottom. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t be the door kicker anymore. I can’t carry a gun in the wild west anymore. It’s just like for a long time, that was such a struggle. I’m still young enough. I wanna kick in the doors. I want to be that point guy I want, but then it kind of clicked.
Chris Whittemore 00:37:23 44 years old, it’s time to let that younger generation be those door kickers and maybe use my experience to share the successes and the good, the bad and the ugly with them. They don’t have to repeat the good, the bad, and the ugly. They can just come back whole without any injuries, have a better family life, or have a better relationship with their kids. Those are kind of the triumphs, like where I’ve hit rock bottom and now like climbing out of funding out of that basement. I guess, in your mind where you’re just like, oh, I can’t do anything anymore. I’m kicked out of the military, I’m broken, but, but then it kind of all clicks.
Chris Whittemore 00:38:12 There’s so much more out there that you don’t see once you take the blinders off for once you just stop dwelling in that self-pity, where it’s like, oh, poor me. I deployed and now my back hurts. I can’t do anything anymore. And you get out of that mindset, like a really good guy met as I was transitioning out and trying to try my hand at different things. Rico Roman. He’s actually one of the captains of the sled hockey or the sled hockey team that just won the gold, the Paralympic games. And he’s a really great guy. He said it best. He’s like, we’re here when you’re done yet, you lost a leg, you lost an arm, whatever.
Chris Whittemore 00:39:01 Yeah. That sucks. But we’re right here when you’re done dwelling on that, come on in, let’s play hockey. It’s not standing up and skating around like the flyers or anything like that. It’s on that sled. But I mean, watching that stuff on the Paralympic Games, I’m like, dang, you guys are just as brutal as they are standing up. So there’s so many real things out there that people can still do as long as they let themselves go there. As long as they will let themselves be vulnerable, let themselves take advantage of it. Anyone who is at the bottom can definitely fight their way back to the top for sure.
Scott DeLuzio 00:39:44 Yeah, absolutely. Kind of piggybacking off of what you’re saying there if you are just focusing on the handful of things that you can’t do, think about the millions of things that you can do that are out there. All these possibilities, all these different opportunities that are out there, and think about all those things that you can do, and absolutely suddenly the handful of things that you maybe can’t do. Maybe that you do have a limitation where you had a TBI, for example. You probably don’t want to be playing a high-impact sport, but that’s probably not going to help things out and any right. But, think about all the other things that you can do. Now you have this time freed up where you might have otherwise been spending it, doing that, that other activity.
Scott DeLuzio 00:40:37 You now have that time to explore all these other opportunities, maybe the first 2, 3, 4 things that you try, aren’t going to be great for you. Maybe it’s not gonna really turn you on and get you excited about it. If you keep trying all these possibilities, all these different things that are out there, you’re eventually going to find something that you do enjoy. You may find that you even enjoy it more than whatever that other thing was. You aren’t doing it anymore. That just opens up a whole world of possibilities, and really, I think what it is is just a mindset shift. You can dwell on that, woe is me. I can’t do this anymore. I say to people all the time, focus on what you can control because the stuff that’s out of your control. It’s out of your control. If you’re wasting your time worrying about that stuff, you’re literally wasting your time that there’s nothing that you can do to change some of the stuff that’s just out of your control. Focus on the stuff that you can control, then I think it will end up being a whole lot happier for it. Right.
Chris Whittemore 00:42:01 Absolutely. For sure. Completely agree with you. Like you said too you’re trained to be like a Rambo. Carrying the gun and being like this special forces guy. That’s your whole life for now? You’ve got this time now you’re like maybe the sled hockey guy or now a writer. I’ve always wanted to try that, wow, this is way cooler than breaking my back every day. It is that revelation. It’s amazing how, something we were speaking about maybe earlier, if we can put this guy’s name out there, just a weird coincidence that he’s going through some stuff and my wife’s company is working with him and we’ve met and we’ve talked about it.
Chris Whittemore 00:43:08 We’re going to go play at a golf tournament together tomorrow in Austin, Texas, but he is a singer-songwriter. His name is Shannon Book, B O O K. He’s all over iTunes. If you Google, he pops up everywhere. His band played at the Invictus Games in Orlando. He was on the big stage for all the things, which had to be so awesome. All his music that he does, every time you download it. If you’re in there to rock music or just supporting a guy who was a Navy corpsman in the initial push into Fallujah. Every time someone downloads his music, all that money that’s made goes right to different organizations to help, suicide prevention, Wounded Warriors, things like that.
Chris Whittemore 00:44:00 Definitely please, go out there, take a look, listen. A lot of his music is really great. I will tell you some of his music is written from a first-person perspective about the struggles that everyone goes through, whether you are military police first responder, but his music will definitely hit you right in the heart, the emotional heartstrings will get pulled by listening to his music. A lot of it is really great. He’s a rock music player. He’s out of Austin, Texas. His newest band though is called, Deliberately Broken and they’re playing up near Colleen up at the army base. And he travels around and plays for all these different organizations that support the military.
Chris Whittemore 00:44:55 Definitely go out there and give his music a listen and check it out. I think you’ll really enjoy it. I think it’s great for him. It’s a great outlet like we were talking about. He was a corpsman, got out of the military, was kind of like, I don’t know what I’m going to do. And now he doesn’t think he’s huge, but I think he’s accomplished so much. He’s used his military and his traumas to put this band together and perform in front of all these people and raise a lot of awareness for, suicide awareness and more. Great guy, great music. definitely go give it a listen.
Scott DeLuzio 00:45:40 Yeah, absolutely. I like the different approaches that people take to expressing themselves. You’ve written a book. Some people take to art, some people take to different forms of expressing themselves, but music is another one of those forms that people will use to express themselves and tell their story and get some information out there, but also using it to help people along the way too. All the money is going towards these different organizations that are helping out veterans. I think it’s really an amazing thing that he’s doing there. I’ll try to put some links to the music in the show notes as well.
Chris Whittemore 00:46:25 Awesome.
Scott DeLuzio 00:46:27 That way we can help, promote some of that stuff as well. Before I let you go today, Chris. I wanted to just let you take a couple of minutes to just say what you hope the readers will get out of your book. Then also tell us again where we can get a copy of the book. That way the listeners know where to get it.
Chris Whittemore 00:46:54 Absolutely. As far as what to get out of the book, I really hope anyone who picks it up, that has either maybe I guess first and foremost, have never been in the military, really opened your eyes about what the people will see on the news or see it hear through the stories. Maybe they don’t really have a full appreciation because they’re just not in that life. They just don’t know the huge sacrifice that not only the servicemen and women deal with. I also want to put out there the family, the spouses who are out there that are our caregivers are definitely the unsung heroes that are out there that are behind closed doors, you see ’em all out there, smiling and happy.
Chris Whittemore 00:47:47 But that may be 30 minutes of an entire week. That’s been absolutely miserable. Anyone who’s out there that is just taking care of the wounded, ill or injured, are definitely just phenomenal, unsung heroes, for sure. I hope that people who are in the military, that maybe the spouses or the family members who pick up the book that are like, man, why is my son, brother, uncle Joe, whoever’s best friend, why is he coming back? Why won’t he talk about stuff? Why is he getting up at three in the morning to check the doors and the lights and the windows and just all this stuff, like what is going on with him? He’s so different. Well, yeah, he’s different, but there’s a reason.
Chris Whittemore 00:48:40 Maybe that’s going to be an eye-opener. For the guys and men and women who have deployed and come back, it’s okay to not be okay. Get out of that mindset where you have to be this invincible person where you put on. I put in the book that’s probably going to hit home with a lot of people. Take off the Halloween mask, let people really see who you are and what you’re dealing with. It’s so easy. And I was an expert at it, behind the closed doors. I was just isolated in a wreck, drinking all the time, but out in public, put on that little Halloween mask to be like, oh, I’m great. Nothing’s wrong with me. I’m invincible.
Chris Whittemore 00:49:29 Get out of that mindset. There’s tons of resources out there. Just take advantage, don’t be a statistic. There’s too many resources. There’s too many people who care about all of us, family, friends, wives, girlfriends. Don’t be that person. There’s help out there. definitely get the help. Google the book, title Terror to Triumph, it will pop up on about, five or six Google pages of results, of different locations. It’s overseas and in Great Britain, Germany. it was in the military magazines, Walmart, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. If you go on Reader House, and Kindle. The audiobook will be out soon. If you want to read her house, readerhouse.com, and type in, find the book and punch in the code F F save S A V E ten one zero (FFSAVE10).
Chris Whittemore 00:50:38 It will give you a 10% off discount code for purchasing the book. Please, if you’re able to go out there and support the book, pass it on to as many people as you think we’ll benefit from it or are just into those stories in general. It’d be a great thing. I’d love to hear any feedback too. If anyone does purchase the book, and everyone’s great about clicking the stars on Amazon, please leave a review with some comments on there. I can say, Hey, this was good or this was not good. I welcome all that. If you don’t like it, please tell me why you didn’t like it. I think it would be great. A lot of people are asking, oh, when are you going to write the next book? It’ll be a long time before there’s another book. It’s one of those just things. It’s just been great. Thank you again so much for having me on here and definitely appreciate it, I mean, it’s just been a great time.
Scott DeLuzio 00:51:52 Yeah, absolutely. It’s been a pleasure having you on, I’m really glad that you came on to share your story and talk a little bit about your book and I’m sure we could have gone real deep on some of this stuff and dove into the topics. I really want people to go out and buy the books. I don’t want to give too much away in this episode. Going by the book, we’ll have links to everything in the show notes too, where you can buy the book and, and everything else that we talked about as well. Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website DriveOnPodcast.com. We’re also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at Drive On Podcast.
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