Episode 199 Ashlee Leppert Helping Others Through Faith And Sharing Stories Transcript

This transcript is from episode 199 with guest Ashlee Leppert.

[00:00:00] Scott DeLuzio: 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.

[00:00:18] Scott DeLuzio: And now let’s get on with the show.

[00:00:21] Scott DeLuzio: Hey everybody welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today, my guest is Ashlee Leppert. Ashlee is a coast guard veteran who joined me on the podcast last year in episode 1 0 6. And now she’s back today and I can’t believe it, but it’s been almost 100 episodes since she was last on. This is episode 1 99. Ashlee is.

[00:00:42] Scott DeLuzio: It’s also the author of the book, The Hurricane Within which I was honored to be able to provide an endorsement for a, which we’ll get into the book and more about. Type of stuff in just a bit, but first I want to welcome you back to the show. Ashlee. Welcome back. [00:01:00] Thank you,

[00:01:00] Ashlee Leppert: Scott. It’s awesome to be back, like you said, it’s crazy to believe it’s already been a year since we last spoke.

[00:01:05] Scott DeLuzio: I know it’s been pretty wild, been in time kind of flies when you’re having fun, I guess. Yeah. So last time we talked about your participation in the hurricane Harvey rescues and how you were invited to the state of the union by president Trump and all of that is. An incredible experience, I think.

[00:01:25] Scott DeLuzio: So for the listeners out there, I want you to go check out that episode again, it’s episode 1 0 6 titled The Hurricane Within, go check out that episode so you can hear all of the great details about that. I don’t want to have a repeat of that episode. We, Ashlee has a lot more to talk about and tell us about in this episode.

[00:01:42] Scott DeLuzio: So go check that one out before you get into this episode, or even after either way you’ll be able to get a lot out of it. Why don’t you for the listeners who maybe haven’t heard that previous episode and aren’t familiar with you. Can you just give us a quick little bit of background on who you are and things.

[00:01:58] Ashlee Leppert: Sure. Absolutely. So again, my name [00:02:00] is Ashlee Leppert and I proudly served as a helicopter flight mechanic and rescue crew member in the United States Coast Guard for 14 years prior to medically retiring. Some of my significant rescues include while I was stationed in New Orleans. I was one of the very first helicopter crews out during hurricane Harvey.

[00:02:17] Ashlee Leppert: And of course, anybody who knows any bit about hurricane Harvey understands the devastation there. A ton of rescues and just, did the mission that we had trained so much to complete. And because of our cruise bravery president Trump did invite me to his first state of the union address, which I was completely honored to be the face of not only our crews, but the entire coast guard for all our efforts and rescues during that time.

[00:02:39] Ashlee Leppert: So that’s just a little bit of a quick nutshell about. That portion of my life. And since then, I’ve just been trying to share my personal story and just help others overcome personal issues in their own life.

[00:02:51] Scott DeLuzio: And that’s pretty much what we’re trying to do on this podcast. So, I mean, that’s really what.

[00:02:55] Scott DeLuzio: The gist of it here, it’s, I’m really trying to help other people overcome [00:03:00] whatever the issues are, whether it’s PTSD or substance abuse or homelessness or things, anything that under the sun that, that could be affecting people. I want to touch on those things. And so having people like yourself on who.

[00:03:12] Scott DeLuzio: You served in the coast guard and the coast guard kind of gets a little bit of a bad rap in the military community. All in fun. We’re not, no, one’s hating on the coast guard, but it’s looked at as almost an afterthought, when you think of a military, you think of the army and the Marines, the Navy yeah, I guess we could throw in the air force too, but then the coast guard doesn’t.

[00:03:33] Scott DeLuzio: Typically get thought of at first it’s like that. Oh yeah, by the way in, and we have a coast guard too kind of thing. And so a lot of times, I don’t know that people even recognize the fact that some of the stuff that you do. Is pretty intense. We talked last time about the hurricane Harvey rescue efforts.

[00:03:51] Scott DeLuzio: And I was looking back at that episode, listening to it the other day as I was preparing for this episode. And, you were talking about all the people who were [00:04:00] stranded on the roofs and there were deceased animals floating in the water and things like that. Like that’s, I don’t know if, to me that would be pretty traumatic.

[00:04:11] Ashlee Leppert: Really. Yeah, it really was. And honestly, that was one of the main goals that I had with sharing my book is if the only thing that was taken from that was that the general public can learn a little bit more about coast guard, particularly coast guard aviation, because we are a small little sector. I was like, if that’s the only thing that people can take away is to learn a little bit more than job well done.

[00:04:32] Scott DeLuzio: Well, you know, I absolutely learned some things from reading your book because I know, like when you watch the news and you see things like hurricane rescues and things like that sometimes you see the helicopters fine. Sometimes you see the, there’s boats and things like that that are going by, but they don’t go into the story into the detail like you did, you went into like, this is what we did.

[00:04:52] Scott DeLuzio: This is how we live for that period of time. This is the long hours of flying. Horrible conditions. [00:05:00] In most other circumstances, the flight would be probably grounded because of how bad the conditions were. Right. So I gotta ask and I have to wonder, what was that experience like for you as far as the trauma of seeing all the things that you saw going out, flying in these dangerous conditions?

[00:05:16] Scott DeLuzio: All of them. Traumatic experience. What was it? Afterwards the aftermath and in the coping with that in the first few days, weeks, months, and even now years later, what was that all like for you

[00:05:29] Ashlee Leppert: truthfully Scott, in those moments, and I’m sure you can relate to from all your deployment, history and stuff like that in the.

[00:05:36] Ashlee Leppert: We are hard, wired and trained to do the mission, get the mission done. You’re very susceptible to just quickly compartmentalizing any emotional things that you’re going through. Any triggers that you’re dealing with. None of that as a factor, the only thing that our mind is focused on is getting the job done and saving lives or, defeating the enemy or whatever the case may be.

[00:05:56] Ashlee Leppert: So, during those days it was sort of a [00:06:00] robotic, it was complete the mission. Try to get some sort of rest, eat some sort of food and then get right back at it. There was just non-stop it was sensory overload honestly is the best way for me to put it. It was the loud noises you have, whether you have.

[00:06:14] Ashlee Leppert: Nonstop traumatic things that you’re witnessing and it’s go, go, go, go, go. So, shortly after getting home from the hurricane stuff, and honestly, in those moments while it was happening, I didn’t really think anything of it. I was like, cool, we’re doing the mission. This is great. We’re getting things done.

[00:06:29] Ashlee Leppert: Honestly for me personally, it wasn’t until I got home and I realized. The decompression level that I was going through. And I literally remember just wanting to sit in my house for days with no TV on no music. I really just wanted to be in silence. I didn’t want to talk to anybody. I really just needed to take that time to really offload all of that stuff that I had been compartmentalizing for many days out there.

[00:06:55] Ashlee Leppert: I think I did the right thing initially. I think. I think still to this [00:07:00] day, the remnants of a little bit of what I went through, nothing terrible. I’ve come a long way. Just being able to talk ultimately cathartic, really, process that a lot better. But I still have my nightmares.

[00:07:10] Ashlee Leppert: I still deal with triggers. Even unknowingly. I’ll have a trigger and be like, why am I feeling this way? And be like, oh, that’s why, it all kind of makes sense when you can sit there and think about it. But really I just, I find a lot of peace and using. That amazing situation and using that platform just to be able to open up and share not only about the hurricane, but about my personal life, just to help others so that they know that they’re not alone and trauma looks different for everybody.

[00:07:38] Ashlee Leppert: And that was a big, important thing for me to share with my story.

[00:07:42] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, it does. And I like the perspective that you just shared, how you were able to take that amazing experience, right? It was it wasn’t. Great experience in terms of all the destruction and damage and loss of life and all that stuff that took place.

[00:07:59] Scott DeLuzio: But you’re [00:08:00] still able to see how you’re able to use that experience to now go out and help other people and make an impact in the world where other people don’t like, just because you experienced something overly traumatic. It doesn’t mean that. Okay. Boom. Life is good for everyone. Yeah, from now, till the end of time, there’s always going to be people who are suffering through certain things and here you are going out and making the best of the bad situation.

[00:08:26] Scott DeLuzio: And I think that’s a really refreshing way to look at it.

[00:08:31] Ashlee Leppert: Thank you. Yeah. Honestly, Scott, people can take a situation whether it’s good, bad, and it’s all about how. You perceive it and how you handle it. I think everybody in life can look around at search at certain situations and say, well, it was me, this is sad.

[00:08:44] Ashlee Leppert: I’m depressed. Or they can say, wow, it could have been a lot worse. I’m still alive. The things that we did out there were amazing. And, it’s all about perspective and it wouldn’t be a missed opportunity. For me personally, if I didn’t share my story, because I know that.

[00:08:59] Ashlee Leppert: Put in that position [00:09:00] for a reason. And I’m just trying to make the world a brighter place, one person at a time,

[00:09:04] Scott DeLuzio: right. And you said, that you were put in that position for a reason. And that leads me into kind of, the next thing I wanted to touch on was your faith, which is something that you talked about in the book?

[00:09:14] Scott DeLuzio: Quite a bit, actually. So what role did your faith play in the whole coping process, or even just getting through. That situation to begin with a w did that play a significant role?

[00:09:29] Ashlee Leppert: Honestly, Scott, I don’t think if it weren’t for my foundation of faith, that I would have gotten through things as easily as I did.

[00:09:35] Ashlee Leppert: And I’m not saying easily but easier. I knew that God would get me through it. And I’m not saying that in like a religious text, like, oh no, like I know God intimately. I’ve seen him pull me from the, disasters I’ve been through. I’ve witnessed my prayers become true. I watched miracles happen in my life, and this is just a pure testimony.

[00:09:58] Ashlee Leppert: It’s not just like, oh, there’s a God. And [00:10:00] we should all believe him. No. Like if you give him your life, if you trust in Jesus, you will literally watch the miracles unfold. And again, I think it would be a different. This to the people that I love someone, I only my community, but in the country and in the world, if I didn’t share that, because unfortunately I’m sure as you’ve seen through your life, that, there is religious people that ruin it for everybody.

[00:10:22] Ashlee Leppert: You don’t have to jump through a million hoops. You don’t have to say a million hail Mary’s. It really is as simple as having the faith to trust in our savior and just sitting back and watching like, wow, this is reality. He really is intimately. Connected in my life and wants the best for me.

[00:10:38] Ashlee Leppert: And it’s just, it’s a beautiful thing. And I just want to get on a mountain top and shout it to the world, to be honest with you.

[00:10:45] Scott DeLuzio: Well, and that’s why I wanted to ask the question too, because like you said, I, know, faith looks different for everybody and some people have. A similar relationship like you have w with God and with [00:11:00] their faith and their religion, but other people are maybe a little more cynical or they just have no belief whatsoever in any kind of higher powers.

[00:11:09] Scott DeLuzio: And I think when you have a person like yourself who has been through Quite frankly, walked through hell or flew through hell, I suppose, in this case. Right. But, and you come out the other side, still with that faith, knowing that there is a God and not only is there a God, but God does some incredible things.

[00:11:32] Scott DeLuzio: It’s pretty powerful to me to say, okay, Well, maybe there’s something to this for those people who may be questioning or not so sure about their beliefs. So that was important to me to get that in that perspective from you as well. Thank

[00:11:46] Ashlee Leppert: you. Thank you for giving me opportunity to share that too.

[00:11:49] Ashlee Leppert: I think sometimes people get nervous talking about religion and talking. Based, but I think if we look at it from the other angle, we can all agree looking around the world that there is so much evil happening right now. Right? And [00:12:00] if we look at it from that perspective to know that there’s a beautiful, complete opposite of pure goodness through God.

[00:12:06] Ashlee Leppert: That is such a comforting feeling to know that we do have purpose here and that there is a plan for us and that no matter the darkest of days that, Jesus is there to lift us up and to pull us through those tough times.

[00:12:17] Scott DeLuzio: Absolutely. And there was a time. So when I was in Afghanistan, my brother was killed and that’s what I write about in my book.

[00:12:23] Scott DeLuzio: That I was standing there. I was taking a shower. I was standing there by myself and I remember just yelling out my brother’s name was Steven. I remember yelling out why Steven, why? And it wasn’t like. Was kind of crazy thinking that my brother was there to answer me or anything like that, but I was calling out to God asking him, why did he think that now is the time for my brother to to leave us?

[00:12:47] Scott DeLuzio: And this incredible calm feeling came over me. And this was like the day that my brother was killed. So this was, it was still raw, very fresh. And this incredible calm feeling came over me. That basically was like, no matter [00:13:00] what the answer is, It’s not going to be okay with me. I just have to be okay.

[00:13:04] Scott DeLuzio: Knowing that God’s plan is good and that it’s for something bigger and better. And I just have to get okay with that. And it was a strange, calm feeling that just came over me almost instantaneously. It was just right in that moment that I was like I just have to be okay with it. And I only show.

[00:13:26] Scott DeLuzio: As another Testament to how powerful that faith could be. And for the people out there who are questioning or. Are on the fence about their own relationship with God. Maybe explore that a little bit more because it does work in some pretty powerful ways.

[00:13:43] Ashlee Leppert: Yes. I couldn’t agree more. And honestly, knowing God and reading his word, I mean, he gives us the whole story beginning to end, and he says in there he is close to the broken hearted. If you seek him, you will find him. And there’s been plenty of times, just like you, Scott, in such a tragic moment where.

[00:13:58] Ashlee Leppert: Cried out. And I’ve [00:14:00] been mad at God and I’ve been like, why is this happening? And he always comes through and he reminds me that there’s something bigger. There’s a bigger picture. And it’s not just about. My situation in that moment. It’s one day when we do die, we will understand his glorious plan.

[00:14:15] Ashlee Leppert: And just to take peace in that really it’s a peace that surpasses understanding, it really is. And I remember in your book as well, and thank you for sharing that. And you’re a little excerpt to, it was courageous for you to share that, and nobody wants to talk about those raw.

[00:14:29] Ashlee Leppert: Hurtful. I mean the most terrible thing you can go through and the loss of a sibling, I mean, in such a horrific manner, nobody wants to talk about that. So I have to tell you too, I loved your book. I thought it was such a courageous thing for you to do, to share that because you have no clue who you’re helping with just sharing your story.

[00:14:47] Ashlee Leppert: And that’s what I’ve realized too, is I have people reach out to me. Thank you for talking about this. I didn’t know I was going through PTSD until I read your story or, wow. I didn’t even know the coast guard did all those rescues and now, I [00:15:00] appreciate this, whatever the case may be, it’s just, it’s really great to be able to help other people.

[00:15:04] Ashlee Leppert: And I see you during that a lot as well.

[00:15:07] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And you’re absolutely right with that, because with your story again you never going to know just how many people you touch and you reach with your story. I know I’ve shared your story with a lot of people telling them about some of the things that you’ve done and how your story has impacted me.

[00:15:24] Scott DeLuzio: And I really do encourage people again, the book, The Hurricane Within to go out and get a copy of that book, because it is. Really incredibly powerful and does shed some light on some of the things that the coast guard does that quite frankly. And I served in the military, I didn’t know all of the things that the coast guard did.

[00:15:41] Scott DeLuzio: I had some vague ideas, but I didn’t know the details. And especially from that first person perspective on how, not only what did you do, but how did that affect you as a person? Right. And so you get to see that, and then you look around. You look around the country and you see, the coast guard who’s out there [00:16:00] rescuing boaters, and responding to natural disasters and all these other things that, that the coast guard does.

[00:16:05] Scott DeLuzio: Right. And I’m sure I’m just scratching the surface with those couple of things. And. It’s such an integral part of our lives. And sometimes we don’t even realize that you guys are even there. Right? Yeah, exactly. So definitely pick up a copy of the book because it will definitely open your eyes and make you appreciate what we have so much more.

[00:16:24] Scott DeLuzio: After getting out of the coast start. So you were medically retired from the coast guard is what you said earlier. What was that transition like for you back into civilian life? Was it an abrupt transition or did you have some time to dip your toes back in the civilian water?

[00:16:40] Ashlee Leppert: That’s I guess, a mixed bag answer if you will. I had a, about a year or so through the medical process, the medical retirement process. I was able to make a loose plan if you will. Kind of like about what I wanted to do. But honestly, when I signed that, dotted line, I really had anticipated serving 20 plus years.

[00:16:57] Ashlee Leppert: So this all kind of unfolded. But [00:17:00] again, I trusted. Plan. I knew that he was going to lead me where he wanted me to be. And if I’m being really raw and just honest with you, there was a point in time where I was angry with God. I was kind of like, man, here I am just trying to.

[00:17:14] Ashlee Leppert: Live out a career that I wanted to be in. I’m trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus and really share his word. And here I am with a medical diagnosis, my career is ending. But I decided again to switch my perspective and say, wow, this is such a blessing. So I went on a road trip, I packed up my big fifth wheel in my truck and I went on a road trip and I sort of.

[00:17:33] Ashlee Leppert: Kind of had it out a little bit with God, like God leading me, what is happening? What am I doing? And he did, he guided me. And I ended up staying in Montana for a little while where I had met my now husband Nate, who is also retired military. And it’s just crazy. How wouldn’t you finally surrender when you finally stopped trying to do things your way, because we have an idea of what our life is supposed to look like, but sometimes God laughs at that and says, oh my child, I got something better for you.

[00:17:59] Ashlee Leppert: [00:18:00] So just there was such beauty in that surrender, honestly, of just saying, you know what, I’m giving it all to you. And the blessings that have come since then have been Really, it gets me emotional to even think about, because since then I’ve been able to publish my book. I’ve been to speaking engagements all over the country, or I’m able to share my personal testimony and just, spread positivity and love.

[00:18:22] Ashlee Leppert: And now I’m going to school, full-time online to get my bachelor’s in crisis counseling. So that way I can have another avenue to really. Have a more intimate, personal connection with people that I’m trying to help. And life is good. I think it’s just, it’s beautiful to see how things progress.

[00:18:37] Ashlee Leppert: And when you think the future looks dark and, God shows you that light and you’re like, okay, you’re right. You’re right. I give it to you.

[00:18:46] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, absolutely. And it does it makes a huge difference when you do that and and even things like. Meeting your husband, things like that.

[00:18:53] Scott DeLuzio: Maybe wouldn’t have taken place. Had you not gone on that trip and put your trust in God and. [00:19:00] His plan was for you. You may not have even seen it when you packed up your things and headed up that way, but God knew what the roadmap was looking like, knew where you were going to be and knew that you were going to find the right person when you got there.

[00:19:13] Scott DeLuzio: Right. So all of these things, some people might just talk up to a coincidence, but I really believe that there is a plan in place, right? There is more to it than just a dumb luck, right?

[00:19:28] Ashlee Leppert: Yeah. As well. I think there’s a saying what is your, what you believe in shows in what you’re willing to risk or something along those lines?

[00:19:37] Ashlee Leppert: And, I talk about in my book, where God spoke to me and said, be still my child. I have things way bigger in store for you. I mean, could you imagine like the type of radical you’d ridicule and sometimes people joke. Oh yeah. You heard from God. That was two weeks prior to me flying in the biggest hurricane rescues of my life.

[00:19:56] Ashlee Leppert: Two weeks prior to that, when I was stressed out. [00:20:00] Something. I heard God say, be still my child. Like people can say that as coincidence all they want. But I mean, I know that was God speaking to me, just like when you felt that power in the shower, when you just know that’s, God’s speaking to you and also truth be told Scott, there’s been times since I’ve gotten out where it’s been tough.

[00:20:17] Ashlee Leppert: I go to a PTSD counselor. I’m still, even though I feel like I’m a lot better than I was even just two years ago or a year ago. I think it’s very important to keep on top of that stuff. And I talked to a counselor and I take a lot of just natural supplements to help out with my nightmares and stuff.

[00:20:33] Ashlee Leppert: So things have been really, really great. And that’s just a Testament of just trusting in God’s plan to.

[00:20:40] Scott DeLuzio: For people out there who might be hearing this and say, okay, well it’s been several years and you’re still going to see a counselor. You know, what, what kids they’re like, is this even something that, you should still be doing at this point?

[00:20:51] Scott DeLuzio: I was in Afghanistan about 12 years ago, and I still go to a counselor as well. And it’s one of those things, like you said, it’s important to keep up on, and if [00:21:00] you let it go and you let it Just fall apart, then you’re going to start to fall apart as well.

[00:21:04] Scott DeLuzio: And so I think it’s important. What you’re doing is seeing a counselor is absolutely appropriate for, the types of things that you experienced now was hurricane Harvey, like the first major kind of rescue operations that you actually took part in or were there others along the way as well?

[00:21:21] Ashlee Leppert: I would definitely say that was probably the most major rescue of course. Cause I don’t know. We did somewhere. We rescued somewhere in between 45 and 80 people. I truly don’t even know the number, but so as far as like a numerical scale, that was probably the largest. But when I was stationed in Detroit, Michigan I did, it did some pretty significant rescues up there with my crews.

[00:21:40] Ashlee Leppert: We rescued a kayaker who was trying to kayak from one side of Lake Michigan to the other. There was a gentleman and his son that were fishing right in front of the Niagara falls and their boat stopped working. There’s a ton of rescues on a smaller scale, the safe saving of a life, one life is an ethic mission success in my opinion.

[00:21:58] Scott DeLuzio: Oh, for sure. Yeah. [00:22:00] And all of those. While they may not be as significant in terms of the number of people that were rescued in any given day to those people who were rescued, they were still significant. If you weren’t there, that would have been a total nightmare for them know, and possibly a life-threatening nightmare to them.

[00:22:19] Scott DeLuzio: If you guys didn’t show up. So it was definitely a significant,

[00:22:23] Ashlee Leppert: no, we’re a multi-mission agency. So as you mentioned earlier I’ve gone on different TADS down to Guantanamo bay, Cuba where we do drug interdictions, migrant operations. So I’ve had some pretty awesome situations as far as catching drug runners and different things like that.

[00:22:38] Ashlee Leppert: That I really actually didn’t touch on. I’m working on my second book where I feel like I have so much more to add that I didn’t put in my first book. So hopefully I’ll touch on a lot more of those situations in that.

[00:22:49] Scott DeLuzio: Well, you’ve got my interest peaked. Talking about that cause the coast guard is more than just the rescue side of things, right.

[00:22:55] Scott DeLuzio: They, and they do that and they do a great job at it. And you, you hear about boaters who are [00:23:00] in trouble and you hear about, natural disasters types of things but you’re right. There’s also quasi law enforcement side of things where you’re doing drug enforcement and you’re doing all that kind of stuff too.

[00:23:10] Scott DeLuzio: Ultimately helps keep everybody here at home, safe by preventing those drugs from getting onto the streets and everything like that. So it really is, is one of those a Swiss army knife of agencies that kind of does it does a whole lot of things, right?

[00:23:26] Ashlee Leppert: Yeah. They take multi-mission agency to a whole nother level.

[00:23:29] Ashlee Leppert: We’re pretty much Jack of all trades master at

[00:23:31] Ashlee Leppert: none, you know?

[00:23:35] Ashlee Leppert: When you started writing your book and even the second book that you, you said that you’re in the process of did you discover the writing process to be therapeutic for you? Or was that partially the intention of writing the book to be.

[00:23:49] Ashlee Leppert: Honestly, Scott, that was my only intention primarily is just a therapeutic way because I know we CenterPoint my initial trauma that we talk about a lot [00:24:00] through hurricane Harvey, but really there was a lot, a little.

[00:24:02] Ashlee Leppert: Things building on top of the iceberg, if you will throughout my life. So I after hurricane Harvey and I realized that I was going through some, mental health issues, I started with way back when I was younger and some things that I had dealt with and I thought, well, I don’t really feel comfortable verbalizing that to a person yet.

[00:24:20] Ashlee Leppert: So I thought, let me just start with me and myself and opening up my laptop and just typing it. And. It’s sort of unfolded from there. And again, full transparency. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I am not a writer at all. Thank God that I have some amazing friends in my life that really are good at writing and they helped me fine tune my story a lot.

[00:24:40] Ashlee Leppert: But really I just vomited up a rough draft of. Situations on my word document and my friend, Katie and my friend, Erin and Savannah, I had a really core group of amazing friends that helped me flesh it out in a really dial down the storyline that I was going through, but it was so therapeutic and I had no real [00:25:00] intentions of publishing that for the world, especially just sharing my deepest story.

[00:25:04] Ashlee Leppert: Secrets and experiences. But my best friend read it. And I think she was really the one that convinced me. She goes, Ashlee, we’ve been best friends for almost 20 years. And I’m finding out so much about you. And you’ve inspired me think about what you could do to inspire, the world and that statement rang in my head for awhile and I just prayed about it and I knew God was putting it on my heart to not only share my story, but to plant seeds of faith for those people that just needed to hear a relatable story. And and that there’s inspiration and hope at the end of those traumas.

[00:25:39] Scott DeLuzio: I laughed when you said how you’re not a writer and you had an incredible group of people who were helping you out because I feel like I felt in this.

[00:25:47] Scott DeLuzio: Go in the same boat there. When I w when I was publishing the book, I thought to myself, I really hope none of my high school English teachers find out that I’ve written a book because I’ll probably have a heart attack and die right there, [00:26:00] because I was a terrible English student. So exactly. Yeah, that was a, that was definitely a relatable.

[00:26:10] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah,

[00:26:10] Ashlee Leppert: honestly, what you, the beautiful thing is if it’s meant to happen and if it’s God’s plan it’ll happen. And I thought there’s no way that little me from nowhere, Michigan who joined the military is going to impact the world in any way. And it’s just so beautiful to see that even just helping one person with my story, if that was all that happened, like I can sleep sound at night.

[00:26:32] Ashlee Leppert: It’s really awesome. I’m grateful. And,

[00:26:35] Scott DeLuzio: I feel like there are a lot of people who are in the same situation that you just described little old me from the middle of nowhere whatever state, wherever. And, I joined the military. I did a bunch of things I got out. Okay. Well, those bunch of things.

[00:26:55] Scott DeLuzio: Those are stories, all of them. And so I think that the people out there [00:27:00] who are not giving themselves enough credit and saying, oh, I just did this. Or I just did that. You did a lot of things. And you probably have some stories there. Could impact other people. And you never know when the story that you share is going to impact somebody in a positive way.

[00:27:16] Scott DeLuzio: That’s going to help them through their dark time. So, I encourage other people to share their story, whether it’s coming out of podcasts like this, writing a book just getting up and talking to people, going on, doing some public speaking or whatever it is, get out there and share your story because you never know when it helps people.

[00:27:34] Scott DeLuzio: Right. It’s so

[00:27:35] Ashlee Leppert: true. And who hasn’t been through trauma in their life. Like not one human being on this planet is exempt from going through some sort of heartaches. Why not all of us amplify our voices and our stories so that we can all collectively heal together and know that wow, this person went through what I did.

[00:27:53] Ashlee Leppert: And throughout the Bible, so many ordinary people who were nobodies were used to do extraordinary things. And I [00:28:00] keep reminding people when they come to me and they’re like, oh no, I couldn’t share my story. I didn’t do much. And I go, oh no, You have such big purpose in your life, do not downplay what you could potentially do to impact your community, your country, and your world with your story.

[00:28:16] Scott DeLuzio: Exactly. But there’s so much that can be learned from things that you may not even think of as being significant. If you start telling the story, people would be like, wow, that’s actually something that there’s something to that. And it’s inspiring. It’s powerful. It’s moving. Give it a shot anyways, and there’s so many different ways of telling a story.

[00:28:37] Scott DeLuzio: I know artists who tell their story through their artwork.

[00:28:40] Ashlee Leppert: I have your art behind me. Look right here. I love that

[00:28:44] Scott DeLuzio: picture. Thank you so much for that. I really appreciate that. But there’s so many things that so many different ways that you can express yourself and tell your story.

[00:28:52] Scott DeLuzio: I had an artist on the podcast a while back. She was one of those types of people were kind of closed off. She didn’t really like to talk, [00:29:00] tell her story too much. But she started putting together her artwork this pottery and things like that, that she was making. And she put it on display at an art show and people started talking about it.

[00:29:11] Scott DeLuzio: And that got her to start talking about. Her experiences and what motivated her to do those types of things. So there’s so many different ways that you could do that exact type of thing. Yeah, exactly. I briefly mentioned public speaking is as one of those types of things, but that’s something that you also do in addition to coming on podcasts like this one, what are the sort of things that you’re talking about during these public speaking engagements that you get involved with?

[00:29:35] Scott DeLuzio: Sure.

[00:29:35] Ashlee Leppert: So I would have honestly never thought in a million years that I would be a public speaker. I’m absolutely terrified still to this day to speak in front of people. But again, I just remind myself that there could be one person that needs to hear my story. So that’s kinda my motivation. Primarily I talk about my personal stress.

[00:29:53] Ashlee Leppert: So I guess it depends on the audience and who’s, wanting me to speak of course, but my typical generic. The [00:30:00] speech that I do covers all the bases. So I talk about some of my hurricane rescues. I’ve got some video footage of the actual hurricane and our flight pattern through that.

[00:30:09] Ashlee Leppert: I talk about some raw scenarios about how I dealt with PTSD coming back from. And then I also talk about how can we fix that? Or what’s the remedy for that, right. Cause we talk about the, what the why, and like, how do we go from those to actually defining healing? And so I talk about some different things as far as Coping mechanisms and rewiring your brain.

[00:30:31] Ashlee Leppert: So for those people that have gone through addiction that is just a neural pathway in your mind that you have the capability to rewire for a coping mechanism. That is a positive one. So just different things that I really honestly didn’t know myself. And I think that they have been in an imperative for me in my healing.

[00:30:49] Ashlee Leppert: So I close off with just some takeaways and how to deal with anxiety. And various things like that. So that’s the meat and potatoes of what I talk about. And of course different venues hire me. And if [00:31:00] they asked me to focus a little more on a topic, then I can of course make my speech geared towards that.

[00:31:04] Ashlee Leppert: So that’s the main thing

[00:31:05] Scott DeLuzio: though. Get you to talk about that a little bit, because I wanted to make sure that you had the opportunity to tell people not only about the book and where they can get the book, but also if anyone’s looking to get an inspirational speaker someone to come and talk to their organization or at an event or whatever the case may be how.

[00:31:25] Scott DeLuzio: Get in touch with you and schedule some time with you so that you can join them at their events. So would you be able to tell us all the places that people can go to find you and get in touch?

[00:31:36] Ashlee Leppert: Sure. Sure. Thank you for that. So, right now, my website, AshleeLeppert.com. It’s A S H L E E Leppert, L E P E R T.com.

[00:31:46] Ashlee Leppert: That’s where people can go to not only order an autograph copy of my book, but there’s also a little reach out to. The spot where people can inquire about a speaking engagement. Also if people just want to listen to my book, if they prefer that or the ebook [00:32:00] everything is found on Amazon. So if they search The Hurricane Within, we’ve got the hardcover paperback on audible and all those options as well.

[00:32:07] Ashlee Leppert: So those are the avenues I have. And. So on my Facebook, I have my Facebook page, The Hurricane Within, I put a lot of upcoming events and different things that I’d do on there. So if people go there and they can like that page and keep up to date with all the happening.

[00:32:23] Scott DeLuzio: Excellent. And I will have links to all of this in the show notes.

[00:32:26] Scott DeLuzio: So anyone who is looking to get in touch with Ashlee to hire her as a speaker to have ever come up to your events definitely reach out because I think she has such an incredible story and the takeaways that she has to offer. Are huge. And I think your organization or anyone who is out there who’s listening will definitely benefit from not only hearing her speak, but also reading or listening to her story as well.

[00:32:53] Scott DeLuzio: So thank you again for coming on, sharing your story and your background with us. Again and talking a little bit [00:33:00] more in depth about, your experiences with PTSD and coping with some of the traumas that you’ve experienced and what it was like. Going through all of that and what you’re still going through as well, because that’s significant too.

[00:33:13] Scott DeLuzio: So thank you again, it’s been a pleasure chatting with you again today. So thank you for doing.

[00:33:18] Ashlee Leppert: Scott. Thanks for having me. And thank you so much for giving me a platform to share my story. And I look forward. Maybe we can do this yearly, maybe every a hundred episodes I come on. Huh?

[00:33:28] Scott DeLuzio: I think that sounds like a plan we’ll definitely schedule in for some time this time next year or even sooner, maybe as

[00:33:35] Ashlee Leppert: anytime it’s been a pleasure and it’s always a pleasure talking

[00:33:37] Scott DeLuzio: with you.

[00:33:39] Scott DeLuzio: Excellent.

[00:33:39] Scott DeLuzio: 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.[00:34:00] .

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