Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast where we are focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio, and now let’s get on with the show.
Scott DeLuzio: Hey everybody. Welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today my guest is Brandon Betis. After leaving active duty, Brandon is now currently serving in the Reserves, and he also runs the Phoenix Area Veterans Beer Club and is here today to talk about the Mighty Oaks Foundation, which helped him in his healing along the way.
Scott DeLuzio: So, welcome to the show brand. I’m glad to have you here.
Brandon Bettis: Thanks, Scott. I appreciate the invite to come on. I appreciate you showing up to the Veterans Beer Club and having a good conversation and just continuing the convers.
Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, absolutely. I enjoyed going out there. You know, I learned about the Veterans Beer Club from another guest that I had on here[00:01:00] who.
Scott DeLuzio: Was one of the co-founders of the Veterans Beer Club out in San Diego. And I learned about it. I started looking into it. I was like, oh, there’s a chapter here in the Phoenix area, so I might as well go check it out. I wasn’t gonna drive all the way to San Diego to, to go check it out for, to go have a beer or whatever.
Scott DeLuzio: But you know, some, something a little more local. I figured it, it’s worth checking it out, you know, and I was pretty glad that we got to link up there. So, so yeah, that was definitely cool. You know, I gave a little bit of in intro to you, but for the listeners out there who may not be familiar with you and your background, could you fill us in a little bit more and tell us a little bit about yourself.
Brandon Bettis: Yeah. So, I’m a native of Arizona. I believe you are too, right?
Scott DeLuzio: No, I’m actually I’ve lived here for about nine years now. I’m actually originally from Connecticut. Oh, okay.
Brandon Bettis: For some reason I thought you were a native. My, my apologies yes, I’m one of the very few natives of Arizona.
Brandon Bettis: Born and raised here. Went to Arizona State University, met my wife out there. And then went active duty in 2006. Yeah, 2006. Once I graduated college, I went and went to ocs, got my commission as an infantry officer, and served 10 [00:02:00] years on active duty various locations, one deployment to Afghanistan and then in 2016, After a fairly decent career transitioned to the civilian world, I did keep one foot in and I’m still serving in the US Army Reserves.
Brandon Bettis: I don’t really work that hard in army reserves. I found a really sweet gig called ima, which stands for individually mobilized augmentee. So I’m basically just kind of biting my time until I hit 20 years of service. But then I started in the financial services industry. In 2016 and became a financial planner.
Brandon Bettis: And as part of that role, it’s very active when it comes to networking and meeting other people and just really helping people and serving people. And so I just like serving others whatever that looks like, whether it’s through a. Let’s go have a beer. Let’s go talk about your transition from the military.
Brandon Bettis: Let’s go talk about finances whatever that looks like. And that’s kind of my life. I have two daughters. I had two daughters along, away, both [00:03:00] born into active duty service with my wife and I. So, kind of a whirlwind. Military career the last 16 years or so, and then now I’m back here in Arizona and settled in and just kind of figuring out what God’s plan is for me and how it can help other people so
Scott DeLuzio: well, and it seems like that’s kind of what you’re doing now.
Scott DeLuzio: I mean, you’re out there, you know, with your financial planning a lot of people out there who. Don’t really know one, one way or another what to do with their finances. And you know, that, that’s certainly helpful. I mean, finances are certainly a huge issue with people. But also, you know, just networking type events like that, veterans Beer Club it, it’s a great opportunity for people to get out there in a low stress situation.
Scott DeLuzio: It’s not like you. Out there selling yourself and going on job interviews or whatever. But it’s a way to meet people and make connections and all that kind of stuff. So that’s pretty awesome. That’s what you got going on. Yeah,
Brandon Bettis: I like that. Veteran’s Beer club, cuz I see it as building camaraderie.
Brandon Bettis: You know, almost every veteran I’ve [00:04:00] ever talked to or really any person that’s left one world and gone into another world whether it’s going from military service to civilian world or even going. One civilian industry to another. Every single one of them talks about they miss the comradery. They don’t miss the job.
Brandon Bettis: They don’t miss the pay. They don’t miss other stuff that comes along with it. They miss the comradery. They miss having friends. And it’s the age old joke of, you know, how do you make friends when you’re in your thirties and forties, you know, when you’re a kid on the school or you walk up to your kid and be like, Hey, you want me my friend?
Brandon Bettis: And be like, yep. And you’re best friends, right? Adults we put too much pressure on ourselves and we make it much more difficult. And so I’m a big fan of if you can’t come out and have a beer and just kind of talk like a normal human being and let’s have a conversation about wherever we want to talk about.
Brandon Bettis: Then then there’s a bigger issue at play there. So the whole intention of the Veterans Beer Club. There’s a part of it that is serving if someone has a need or if someone has a question or an issue, or if they’re looking for a job or if they’re [00:05:00] looking for you know, services. There’s enough people there that can hopefully help.
Brandon Bettis: But really at the end of the day, it’s like it’s an excuse to go out and meet new people, and it’s an excuse to go make a new friend possibly, and you never know what happens. And I think you got the short end of the stick cuz the one Veterans Beer Club you went to is just you and me sitting there.
Brandon Bettis: But you can see the fruits of that now, as you know, we were able to connect and have a really good conversation and become friends and now do help you out with your podcast and, you know, just see where it goes from there. So, it’s fun. It’s fun. Right,
Scott DeLuzio: exactly. And the way I look at it is, you know, yeah, it wasn’t like a well attended event, but still at the end of the day, we were able to sit down, have a beer, have a conversation, and get to know a little bit about each other, and like that is the way I.
Scott DeLuzio: Adult relationships start like, you know, the way people start to become friends, like you, there’s no playground for us to go to, for us to just go, Hey, you wanna be my friend? The bar is the new playground for some people. . [00:06:00] Right, exactly. So, so it’s like, you know, that’s how these things kind of start and you know, if there was.
Scott DeLuzio: 50 people there. It might’ve been overwhelming and it might, you know, we wouldn’t have had the same kind of conversation anyway, so yeah, I agreed. So, so it’s all good. Let’s take it back a bit and let’s talk about your involvement with the Mighty Oaks Foundation. And let’s take it back to, before you reach out to the Mighty Oaks Foundation, what was going.
Scott DeLuzio: In your life back then and what made you want to reach out to them?
Brandon Bettis: Yeah. So that’s, that might be taking it back pretty far, but whenever I tell my story and my testimony when it comes to my specifically and my faith you know, I kind of paint the picture of I had a really good. You know, I served in the Army.
Brandon Bettis: I served as a platoon leader. I was a executive officer in Afghanistan. I had a successful deployment. Nothing crazy happened on the deployment. You know, outside of, you know, normal context of getting shot at, I guess you could say. But nothing, you know, I came back healthy served as a company commander.
Brandon Bettis: I served in the old [00:07:00] guard. I served in some really cool assignments. I had a really successful military. I transitioned on a high note, if you will. My transition wasn’t, you know, a bad transition. I was able to find a job that I loved. I found a new career that, you know, not necessarily an easy career, but it was a good, rewarding, fulfilling career.
Brandon Bettis: And and then I became financially independent. I became financially independent through a couple different avenues of both the education and then you know, just some personal circumstances that happened. So, and then my wife, I had a good marriage. Supportive wife. I had two beautiful, happy, healthy daughters.
Brandon Bettis: Life was good, you know, I mean, everything we talk about when you’re a kid and all the goals that you wanna accomplish I’d accomplished almost every single goal I ever set out to meet. Maybe not at the level I wanted to meet it, but for the most part I didn’t have a lot to complain about. But I had this nagging thoughts and I had nagging issue.
Brandon Bettis: That had plagued me most of my life and I didn’t [00:08:00] wanna be here. I was essentially suicidal. And I was just lost. I was very lost. And I was chasing different things. I was chasing you know, money and possessions and notoriety and pride and all these things I was chasing. And I was smart enough to not you.
Brandon Bettis: Commit suicide. I was smart enough to have safeguards in place. I was smart enough to, you know, ask for help and seek help and all the stuff that goes into both the VA and conventional, you know. Wisdom when it comes to mental health. I was going to counseling, I was taking medication from the va. I was, you know, doing healthy trying to live a healthy lifestyle.
Brandon Bettis: But man, these thoughts just kept on nagging at me. And so I was starting to, so this was probably around like 2020 or so. And Covid wasn’t really bad for us. Covid was. Kind of good for us, if you will. I know that kind of sounds weird, but [00:09:00] I was able to build a nice, you know, shed, I was, my business didn’t, you know, implode my family was healthy.
Brandon Bettis: And I kept on still having these nagging thoughts and and that’s when I really kind of put my therapy and my mental health into over. I just started looking for every single kinda solution I could think of. Whether it was going through additional counseling, trying different medications, the va trying healthier habits, doing whatever I could.
Brandon Bettis: And then along came Mighty Oaks and. Mighty Oaks. I had put an application in from Mighty Oaks. I still, to this day, I had no idea how I heard about Mighty Oaks. I have no idea what I put on my application. I later on found out that I actually put an application from My Oaks back in 2016 when I was transitioning from Acton duty.
Brandon Bettis: Cause I was kind, struggling then too. I was struggling with my identity. I was struggling with, you know what you want, what do you want to be when you grow up? And they reached out in 2021 and said, Hey, you put an application in a few years ago, are you still interested in [00:10:00] coming to our program? And by the grace of God, and thankfully I was in a mode of like, looking for anything and everything, like no matter what it was.
Brandon Bettis: And all I knew about My Oaks at the time was that it was a retreat for veterans with PTSD and depression. And I said, okay, I will attend one of the sessions. So the session is they run week long sessions and it was out in Ohio in May of 2021. And I told them, I said, okay, you know, I’ll show up.
Brandon Bettis: No problem. I got my plane ticket. They paid for everything. They made it. They make it really easy for veterans to show up. Veterans and first responders, they make it really easy for you to show up. They take away any kinda excuse that you have to not attend Mighty Oaks. And I was about to go out there and.
Brandon Bettis: I was gonna fly out on a Monday morning. On Friday. I finally went to the website and I said, what is Mighty Oaks like? I have no idea what I’m about to get into. Like, let me look out. And the first thing I saw on their website is The Mighty Oaks Foundation is a faith-based veterans service [00:11:00] organization.
Brandon Bettis: And my heart kind of dropped because I was a non-believer. I was an a. I called myself an atheist. I didn’t believe in a higher power. I didn’t believe in the Bible. I didn’t believe. Anything really. And I actually called them up. I said, Hey guys, this isn’t, this program isn’t for me. I appreciate your help.
Brandon Bettis: Best of luck to you. Use my seat for someone else. You know, a lot of veterans have that mentality like, ah, I’m not that bad. Someone else can get the help. You know? Right. You,
Scott DeLuzio: you see all the time. There’s always someone worse, right? .
Brandon Bettis: Yeah. You always see it all the time with like veterans you know, filing va.
Brandon Bettis: Like, ah, it’s okay. I can kind of walk a little bit. And it’s like, no dude, go get your benefits. Go get your services like you earned it. But we all think we’re taken from somebody else. And so a lot of the veterans have that mentality of use it for someone else. And I definitely had that mentality as well.
Brandon Bettis: And to their credit, they said, we know, we knew you were an atheist when you applied. It’s okay. Come on out. We might teach you a thing or two. We might be able to give you some tools to help. And long story short, I was [00:12:00] saved on the last day of Mighty Oaks. I accepted Jesus Christ and that was May 21st, 2021 at about 11:00 AM and life has been pretty good since then.
Brandon Bettis: So my life after Mighty Oaks after being saved is I’m now involved in the program. I’m a team leader at Mighty Oaks. I go back to the sessions and help other veterans to peer to. Resiliency support program. So all the instructors are combat veterans. We don’t do it to get rich. It’s not a necessarily a job for us.
Brandon Bettis: It’s more of a call in and I’m able to go up there and share my testimony with them and share saying, Hey, I tried all the things that you’ve tried. I’ve tried this, I’ve tried medication, I’ve tried counseling, I’ve tried this. I’ve. Unhealthy habits. I’ve tried unhealthy behavior, I’ve tried sin. It doesn’t work.
Brandon Bettis: I’m telling you right now, it’s not working. It’s not gonna work. And so that’s kind of my long and short, like you said, backing up of how I got the Mighty Oaks and how I got involved with Mighty Oaks.
Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. I’m glad that [00:13:00] you went into that level of detail too, because for the listeners who might have been in your situation, they might go to the Mighty Oaks website and look at the tagline and see that they’re a faith-based organization.
Scott DeLuzio: They might, Nope that’s not for me. It’s not gonna help me. I’m out kind of thing. Yeah. You know, they. Knowing that you were in that position and you kind of had that same attitude going into it, you’re like this really probably isn’t gonna be for me. I’ll give it a try, but it’s probably not gonna do a whole lot for me.
Scott DeLuzio: But then realizing that after that week that your life is pretty much, seems like turned around from the issues that we’ve dealing with before. Right. And so it’s kind of. Maybe it’s worth a shot, you know, if, even if you don’t think that you’re gonna get a whole lot out of it.
Scott DeLuzio: Well, maybe you just
Brandon Bettis: might. Right? And I wouldn’t, anyone I talk to about Mighty Oaks and anyone I, who I would, you know, for lack of a better term, try to convince them to go. I always use, I always tell ’em different [00:14:00] ways cuz I’m like, listen, you’re not gonna, you’re not gonna get past this. I’m telling you right now, you’re not gonna regret it.
Brandon Bettis: And so I did wanna read like their actual mission statement and like their, like who we serve. Cause you’re right, it is a little intimidating to just go to the website cuz that’s the number one question I get. It’s, people are like, what is Mighty Oaks? What is, what does Mighty Oaks do? And so their actual mission statement and on the website says, you know, my Oaks Foundation is a faith-based veteran service organization that teaches combat veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress, how to get beyond combat trauma and live their lives in a manner God intended.
Brandon Bettis: Many combat veterans are unable to reintegrate back into civilian life, leaving their families to deal with the aftermath of broken homes and suicide at times. By aligning their lives to biblical principles, these warriors are able to lead their families, their communities, and our nation. Our mission is to serve and restore our nation’s warriors and families who have endured hardship through their service to America, and to help them fund a new purpose through hope in Christ [00:15:00] and our re and our resiliency and peer to peer recovery programs.
Brandon Bettis: Now, that’s a lot of kind of bumper sticker. Legalism, if you will. It sounds great on a postcard, and I’m not trying to knock my at all. They have a great program. They have a great you know, way to do it. But the way that I kind of break it down, whenever I talk to veterans, I say, listen, I’ve gone up there a couple different times now.
Brandon Bettis: I’ve gone up there. I’ve seen non-believers. I was a non-believer. I’ve also seen people that are really strong in their faith, and every single person I see walk away from Mighty Oaks walks away. Even if someone has a really strong faith and really strong biblical background and they can quote scripture weapon, right?
Brandon Bettis: There’s gonna be a poke in the chest moment, during that week of, oh, I could do better. Cuz when you have your friends and your peers and men that you respect come walk alongside you and talk about their struggles the common theme that we hear a lot. Oh, I thought I was the only [00:16:00] one. I thought I was the only one that had that trauma.
Brandon Bettis: And it might not even be combat trauma. It could be, you know, childhood trauma. It could be trauma from something that is so out of the norm. But we all have the same issue. And now we’re linking arms and we’re walking and we’re fighting together. And then even for some guys, like there’s some people that they’re so hesitant to even put an application in.
Brandon Bettis: And I tell everyone, I’m like, listen, stop what you’re doing right now. Go to MightyOaksPrograms.org and just fill out an application. You’re not on the hook. You don’t have to pay anything. You’re not forced to go. But here’s the worst case scenario. The absolute worst case scenario is you get a week long vacation.
Brandon Bettis: At a beautiful resort. Most of the time they’re in these beautiful locations. You know, think of it as a, almost like a five star, you know, casita house in a beautiful location, no expenses to the veteran or the first responder. They work with veterans and first responders. You’re not gonna pay a penny out of pocket.
Brandon Bettis: The [00:17:00] food is amazing. I’ve had the best steak of my life. In the California location, the food is outstanding. All the guys you’re gonna meet, it’s friends. It’s a, it’s just like we talked about with the Veterans Beer Club. It’s, you’re gonna make friends, you’re gonna make buddies, you’re gonna talk, but you’re gonna get real and you’re gonna get vulnerable.
Brandon Bettis: And it’s a way to focus on yourself. And I would love to meet the person that says, Nope, I don’t want a free vacation with some really good food and some really fun people for. Who’s gonna turn that down? , right? You know, and so, so for anyone on the fence, anyone listening to this on the fence, dude, just put in the application and if you show up there and you have a miserable time, would you lose?
Brandon Bettis: You lost a week of your time. That’s the only thing you lost. But what can you gain from going to my is you can gain a, you can gain some tools to put in your kit bag to, to help you out. You’re gonna change your legacy, you’re gonna help your family, you’re gonna help yourself. You’re gonna have fun along the way.
Brandon Bettis: You’re gonna meet some really good dudes, [00:18:00] and it’s gonna be a great program. They have men’s programs, they have women’s programs, they have first responder programs. That’s just law enforcement. They really do a good job and it’s really hard to. What happens at a session? It’s really hard to describe cause it, it changes each time.
Brandon Bettis: Depends on who shows up there. It depends on the dynamics of. Cause at the end of the day it’s a peer to peer program. So just like anything else it’s gonna be different for each person, but I would highly recommend anyone who’s eligible to attend a session period in a sentence.
Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. I mean, I, the way you put it, it seems like, You know, why wouldn’t you at least give it a try. If this is something like you’ve, like you were in your situation, if other people, I know there’s other people out there who are in the same situation. They’ve tried the medications, they’ve tried the counseling, they’ve tried all these different things and they’re feeling like I got nothing left.
Scott DeLuzio: Like, and I’m not saying Mighty Oaks is like a last resort kind of thing. Like in some cases maybe it should be the first [00:19:00] option, you know, for some people. Right. But there’s plenty of people out there who have tried so many different things and they’re like, nothing is working for me. Like, like you said, go out there, get a week vacation in a beautiful place with great food and great people to hang out with.
Scott DeLuzio: That’s the worst
Brandon Bettis: case on you. Yeah. And you get the, you get, how often do we get chances to just sit there and literally, you know, turn off your devices? You know, quit worrying about the family for a minute and focus on you. Focus on you for a couple days. Cause when you get home, I, you know, every time I go up there, like I.
Brandon Bettis: I love being a team leader up there. And some of it’s, there’s an element that is semi self-serving because I get, I improve myself every single time. I go up there, like I learn something new. I learn something new from one of the new instructors that I haven’t seen teach a class. I learn, I hear about someone else’s story.
Brandon Bettis: And there’s times where I’ll go back up there and be like, whoa, me too. I haven’t thought about that part of my life yet. Let me look at this part of my life. [00:20:00] And it’s. It’s not hard. I’m not saying it’s, you know, sugarcoated you know, easy stuff but men, is it worth it? And it really is.
Brandon Bettis: You don’t have anything to lose. And I, there’s been times where I’ve told guys and you said something earlier, you mentioned, you know, this should be like a, you know, it’s not necessarily a last resort, but there’s stories of guys going out there where this was a last resort.
Brandon Bettis: This was a, okay, I got nothing else to lose. And there’s one powerful story that gives me chills, where a guy was literally sitting in this truck about to commit the final act and one of the team leaders from Mighty Oaks just texted him randomly. They hadn’t talked in two years, and he just has his number.
Brandon Bettis: He is like, Hey man, I was just thinking about you. And that call, that text saved his. And he showed up the Mighty Oaks. And to watch his transformation throughout the week was amazing. Now, you know, we don’t know what happens when guys go home and the tools that we’re teaching folks, it’s not a magic [00:21:00] pill by any stretch of the means.
Brandon Bettis: It’s still hard work. You know, the Bible is. The Bible is instructions . It’s not necessarily, Hey, just read this once and you’re done. It’s but the tools that they teach at Mighty Oaks and then the community that they build would be a great first step. You know, I met a young gentleman a couple weeks ago that he’d just gotten off of active duty and I was like, listen, dude, go to.
Brandon Bettis: You have to go to Mighty Oaks because I know what that transition looks like. And we talk about it and there’s a lot of people that talk about it is our generation never really had, has a proper transition, if you will. You know, you can do the TAPS classes, you can do the transition service classes, but man, how many people do we know that, you know, take off the uniform on Friday and started a corporate job on.
Brandon Bettis: You know? Right. And you don’t have that time to process who you really are. You don’t have time to process and take time for yourself. So that alone is worth putting the application in and then letting. Letting the details sort itself out. Cause there’s [00:22:00] never an ideal time, there’s never an ideal time to take a week off of family and week off of work and go to some foreign place that you have no idea what’s going on,
Brandon Bettis: But the hardest part about my is showing up truly, honestly, the hardest part is showing up and there’s so many excuses of not to show up. So
Scott DeLuzio: Right. And you know, when you’re talking about people. Especially in the military families have dealt with a lot of, very often, a lot of times where a spouse is deployed they’re away for a period of time.
Scott DeLuzio: the other spouses home probably taking care of the kids and doing all the other stuff at home. And it’s not something. That military families are not able to handle. You know, they’re definitely they’re equipped for this type of thing and we’re talking a week, we’re not talking a year long deployment someplace.
Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. On the other side of the world we’re talking a week, you leave on a Sunday, you come back, you know, Fridays or something like that. Right. Like that’s, it’s not even a week necessarily, but it’s something that you definitely can handle. [00:23:00] Yeah, sure. You might have some juggling going around with some schedules, you know, with kids and stuff like that.
Scott DeLuzio: But at the end of the day, it’s a week. It’s not an eternity. You know, you’re, but you’re talking about something that potentially could benefit you for the rest of your life by going to this and having this counseling, this peer-to-peer counseling and everything else that goes along with it that will impact you and your family for.
Scott DeLuzio: Years to come. And it’s like why not just invest that one week to go get that benefit out of it? And again, worst case scenario, you don’t get the benefit that you’re hoping to get out of it, but you get a week long vacation. Right. . And so it’s like, you know, that’s, to me it seems like. It’s not that much of a stretch to be able to go do it.
Scott DeLuzio: I mean, the interfere is covered. Your lodging’s covered food, you know, everything there is pretty much covered. There’s no cost. So, you know, you’ll come back a week later potentially as a changed person and absolutely. It’s. [00:24:00]
Brandon Bettis: Yeah. And I’ve never, I’ve been to, gosh, probably six sessions since I went as a student.
Brandon Bettis: I include the student session as one of those sessions. I spent six weeks of time and there are times where it’s strains on my relationship with the family, but every time I go, my wife says, you come back a better. And I kind of joke about the vacation piece of it, you know, kind of tongue in cheek, but I’ve never, we’ve never gotten to the Friday at the end of the session.
Brandon Bettis: And someone’s like, well, sweet, thanks for the vacation high five. And they leave every single student that comes through is change in some way, shape, or form. Now, we might not always see the change while we’re up there, but That’s not our job. Our job is to plant the seed. Our job is to, you know, just kind of let them know you know, what does scripture say about what your purpose is?
Brandon Bettis: Cause you know, we’re all sitting there asking like, what’s my purpose? What’s my purpose? And I think that’s one thing that a lot of military guys struggle with is. You know, in the military and in the first responder community, we had a purpose. It was clear as day, it was written on paper.
Brandon Bettis: That was our purpose. That was our mission, and I think that’s one thing that a [00:25:00] lot of guys miss. And I say, guys, you know, interchangeably, you know, might, Oaks has a spouse program. The women’s program primarily started as a way for spouses to help or help spouses with the legacy. But a lot of female veterans are starting to attend sessions and stuff like that.
Brandon Bettis: So, there, it’s definitely a legacy program. It’s called a legacy program. For that purpose of like, what’s your legacy gonna be, we’re all gonna leave a legacy. What does that look like? And so there’s, we could sit here and talk all day about it, and there’s still gonna be someone on the fence and they’re not gonna understand.
Brandon Bettis: And so that’s why I tell everybody, I’m like, listen, just put an application in. The program directors, that once you get an application, you get verified. They work around schedules. They do their best to accommodate you know, schedules and timing and stuff like that. Like I said, it took.
Brandon Bettis: Four years, four years to get to might oak. I’ve met some of the people that take them a couple years to get there, but there’s some that they get there and there’s a slot available in the next couple weeks, [00:26:00] next month. But yeah, like you said you know, what do you really have to lose? I mean, truly, what do you have to lose?
Scott DeLuzio: And one of the things that you mentioned early on when describing the whole program is, You know, you are learning basically bi biblical principles that you can apply to your life and to help live the way God intended. And that’s the whole gist of the whole program. And I know that there’s probably gonna be some listeners out there who hear that and they’re thinking to themselves, yeah, I’m not gonna live.
Scott DeLuzio: Like some perfect Christian, because that’s just not me that I’m not gonna live according to all these biblical principles, but I would challenge those people and make them realize. You kind of already are, in a way, living according to some biblical principles. It may not, you may not be following the Bible to the letter, but you know, there are certain things in the Bible like you shouldn’t kill people.
Scott DeLuzio: Like that’s something that’s written [00:27:00] in the Bible. Thou shall not kill. Okay, well you don’t do that. Generally, right? Like most people are pretty good about that one, right? And you know, if you if you just go through the Bible, there’s other things, like, it’s just part of who we are as a society, as a culture.
Scott DeLuzio: It’s already kind of ingrained in what we do. And so it’s not that big of a stretch to be like, okay, well what are some of these other things? Right? You know, and it’s just a way of. Just really living a good life, being a good person. You don’t have to apply labels to it and you know, whatever it is just really at the end of the day, how to live a good life.
Scott DeLuzio: Right.
Brandon Bettis: Yeah. And Mind Oaks doesn’t push a particular you know, denomination. There’s guys that go there with different denominations you know, different religious backgrounds, different upbringings, different faith beliefs, different, you know, ways that they interpret the Bible and stuff like that.
Brandon Bettis: So that we’re not, they’re not saying, here’s one way, here’s the only way to do it. But we are saying it needs to be based you know, the [00:28:00] way that you. Live your life and your purpose and your. And there are different classes. I won’t give away too many details about what happens at a session, because early on, my Oaks used to be called Fight Club before called because the Legacy Pro, they call it the Fight Club because number one, when you show up you have to fight.
Brandon Bettis: Number two, what stays, what happens at Fight Club stays at Fight Club. So, but the breakdown of the week is there are various classes and there are some classes on, you know, marriage. And money and possessions and margin. Post-traumatic stress, and there’s different topics for each one of the classes.
Brandon Bettis: And then from there, once we teach a class and we’re using scripture to support the argument. But then we go into breakouts and team breakouts, and then we kind of talk about it. And that’s when the real meat and potatoes happens is guys are be able to come vulnerable, take off the mask that they’re wearing.
Brandon Bettis: But whenever I go up there and teach I kind of really emphasize to the guys that I’m helping. I say, listen, if you take nothing from the week, just remember the four bees and we call the four [00:29:00] bees. And that’s, it’s being the word. So be in the word and read the Bible. Know what the Bible says.
Brandon Bettis: Number two, be in prayer, pray, ask. You know, God tell, says when you ask, I won’t answer. And then number three is being community. Now, what is community? Community is. That turns Beer Club, it’s church, it’s volunteering. It’s some sort of organization like being in the community, being in fellowship.
Brandon Bettis: And then the fourth one is being contact with your corner man. So using the fight analogy, you know, you’re in a fight, you’re getting your butt kicked with work, you’re getting your butt kicked with family, whatever you’re getting bucked to, and you kind of take a step back and you go talk to your corner, man.
Brandon Bettis: That’s your confidant. That’s another strong Christian brother. It could be a veteran, it could be just a mentor, whoever it is you’re talking to your corner man, like, Hey, I’m getting my butt kicked in this area of my life. What should I do? And he’s kind of in your ear talking and kind of just supporting you, and then you go back into the fight.
Brandon Bettis: So those four bees, and even if you took out the, you know, [00:30:00] religious piece of it and you took out the actual theology of it, that’s pretty basic principles for anyone to live a pretty decent life. You know, you know, being in the word, being in prayer, being in community, being in fellow, being in contact with your corner man.
Brandon Bettis: And so everyone kind of interprets it a little bit differently, but that’s really the kinda one of the biggest things that we harp on. And you know, some guys do go to Mighty Oaks and they, you know, they continue to struggle with whatever it is. It could be struggling with an addiction, it could be struggling with you know, some sort of big rock in their life.
Brandon Bettis: When they come back six months later and say, Hey, I’m still struggling. I wanna go back to another session. Or, I need help. I need help. I still need support. I’m still struggling, I still have suicidal ideations whatever the case may be. One of the first things we always ask ’em, we say, okay, how, what does the four Bs look like?
Brandon Bettis: And most of the time they’re not following the four Bs. You know, they’re not following what we taught. And so there are chances from the comeback to. You know, a Bible study group, we call [00:31:00] ’em outposts. There’s a reboot program. There’s, it’s not a one week, and then you’re done once, you’re part of the My Oaks alumni, you’re part of that alumni.
Brandon Bettis: And there’s always just fine tuning along the way. So, you know, like you said, These are just tools to live by. And what people do with those tools. It’s on them, but it’s no different than going to the VA and the VA giving you tools and therapy and medication and stuff like that. But from someone who’s been down that road and didn’t see a lot of success from it I will always point back to my oaks and I will always point back to the Bible as a, as the truth, as a solution.
Scott DeLuzio: And like you said, it, this is a set of tools. It’s like handing someone a toolbox, teaching them how to use every single one of the tools in the toolbox and. Then letting ’em loose to go build something with the tools that are in those toolbox or that are in the toolbox. But if they choose to not use any of those tools while they’re building the thing that they’re building, [00:32:00] or if they use the tools incorrectly as they’re building whatever it is that they’re building.
Scott DeLuzio: That’s on them. You know, you’ve done you’ve led the horse to water. You can’t force it to
Brandon Bettis: drink, right? Yeah, absolutely. And, but we’re always just pointing back to those tools, saying, okay, here it is. And the way that we’re pointing back to it is saying, okay, yeah, I’ve been there too.
Brandon Bettis: It’s really, you kind of take away a lot of the the strength of certain arguments. You. So, you know, I’ll use my exam myself as example. If I show up to Mighty Oaks and I have, I’m a raging alcoholic, or I have a raging addiction for something, it’s really easy to sit there and be like, you don’t know me, man.
Brandon Bettis: I’m the only one. I’m the only one. I’m the only one that, you know you know, had this sort of trauma, whatever trauma it is. But then when you have someone that’s up there that, you know, it could be a former Navy Seal or a Marine, or you know, an infantry officer. And be like, oh yeah, me too. Like, you kind of take away the strength of certain arguments.
Brandon Bettis: Not that it’s a competition or anything, but [00:33:00] it helps diffuse the situation of Yeah, I know how you feel. I’ve been there too. I, you know, I’ve wanted to die and money wasn’t the solution. Power wasn’t the solution. My career, I had nothing else to blame but myself. And so it’s, we’re able to come and walk alongside them and say, yep, me too.
Brandon Bettis: Here’s how, here’s what helped me. They, and again, like you said, they can choose to accept that and surrender and submit that they are not in control or continue fighting and going down a path of destruction. Cuz we’ve seen it time and time again, and I know you’ve seen it, I know you’ve heard the stories and most cases when we talk about the lost veteran or the lost first responder or the lost person anywhere they all have similarities of Yeah.
Brandon Bettis: They just didn’t, they just didn’t accept the. They didn’t accept the help that was offered to them. So it’s tragic, but we [00:34:00] can’t control that. Our job is to plant the seed and help. With whatever that looks like, whether it’s going to Mighty Oaks and walking side, you, or let’s go grab a beer and let’s talk.
Brandon Bettis: If you have an alcoholic problem, let’s go grab a cup of coffee and an iced tea. Whatever it is,
Scott DeLuzio: let’s it. I think that at the end of the day, that’s what it is. I think that the individual is always going to be responsible for the individual. You can’t, you. Pass a blame onto somebody else. If you have a problem, you need to work at that problem. It’s not somebody else’s problem to fix it for you.
Scott DeLuzio: You have to want to fix it for yourself. And tools like the Mighty Oaks Foundation what they provide and what. Other organizations are out there providing, at the end of the day, it’s up to the individual who is seeking the help to actually put into practice of things that they learn. Like you said, it’s not a magic pill that all of a sudden, after the end of this week, everything is gonna be rainbows and unicorns.
Scott DeLuzio: Everything’s gonna be [00:35:00] fine and dandy. Absolutely. It’s, it takes work and very often it’s gonna take work well after that one week. And you know, you’re gonna just have to keep at it. Good things will come if you do keep at it. If you choose not to, then you know that’s on you.
Brandon Bettis: Absolutely. And one thing too is that’s why I’m a big proponent of anyone listening to this, stop what you’re doing.
Brandon Bettis: Go to the website, fill an application, because you know, I mentioned it earlier, I don’t wanna paint oaks as a program. It’s only for the lost and broken and the guys at the bottom of the barrel. It’s not, we I’ve met some fantastic individuals coming through there, guys that work at the va clergy you know, folks that are really doing really successful things in their life and they still walk away saying, Oh, I can do better and here’s a way to do it.
Brandon Bettis: And then, oh, by the way, one of the way that probably the fastest way that Mighty Oaks has grown is essentially grassroots program of. [00:36:00] Guys have gone through the program, grabbing their buddy by the collar and saying, you’re going to this program too. And there’s some really cool stories, especially in the law enforcement community in the Tulsa Police Department.
Brandon Bettis: There’s a fantastic testimony of a single incident has changed the lives of. Probably like 150 different police officers in that one department from a single incident, from one guy going to Mighty Oaks. And then it’s spread throughout the community and you think about what that’s gonna do and change with the culture of policing and the culture of you know, what they can do and the good that can spread and the fruit that can, you know, flourish from that one incident.
Brandon Bettis: It’s just amazing. It’s amazing what Mighty Oaks does. So, It’s for everybody. It’s for everybody. It’s for anybody. It’s for the strong Christian. It’s for the lukewarm Christian. It’s for someone who doesn’t believe in anything. I’ve heard of witches going through the program. I don’t know what happened with the witch afterwards, but , you know, they, they’re not gonna turn anyone away.
Brandon Bettis: [00:37:00] Let’s put it that way. And then from there, go out and build a community and build your legacy in a positive direction the way that God.
Scott DeLuzio: And look over. According to the website, over 400, 400,000 of people have gone through their program. It’s definitely for a wide variety of people.
Scott DeLuzio: It’s not for a niche subset of the population. It’s and we’re talking people here who are, again, first responders and military, you know, veterans. Those are the people who are going through it. So, in a way, yeah, it is limited to a subset of the population, but. Having close to half a million people going through the program at
Brandon Bettis: one point.
Brandon Bettis: Now, I will correct you on that real quick. I like, I 400,000 haven’t gone through the program cause I saw that number too on the website when I was looking at it. About 4,500 have gone through the program, but there have been over 400,000 resiliency events. Attendees so understood. Some of the resilience event might be a group speaking event.
Brandon Bettis: Chad Robshow, who is the [00:38:00] founder of Mighty Oaks, does a lot of public speaking. He speaks at Marine Corp Bootcamp at that time. So I think those numbers are tied into that. But the actual alumni from the sessions it’s close to 5,000 at this point between the men’s and the Women’s Legacy programs.
Brandon Bettis: What happens from those 4,500? It does spread and My oaks is growing. They’re looking to have more programs in 2023. You know, there’s donors are coming outta the woodwork to help support the program because they’ve seen the results of it. Applications are increasing. They need more leaders to help with the program.
Brandon Bettis: And so, you know, there’s 35 programs per year, I believe, and I think they’re looking to increase that. Don’t quote me on those numbers. But they do a lot of good things and so that’s why I say get in, get an application in and see where it happens after that. So,
Scott DeLuzio: So for the listeners, MightyOaksPrograms.org, I’ll have the link in the show notes.
Scott DeLuzio: You can go there on the top right of the website click the donate button if you’re looking to donate, or right next to it is the apply button. You can use that, those links to either [00:39:00] donate or apply to the program to get involved whichever way that you are looking to get involved.
Scott DeLuzio: Again, that link, MightyOaksPrograms.org. I’ll have that in the show notes. You know, this has been just a great conversation first off and I think part of the purpose of this podcast is to expose the listeners to other alternatives that are. People who just may not realize that there are things outside of the VA or what those things are.
Scott DeLuzio: You know, you don’t necessarily know what to search for. You go to Google, it’s like, okay, I have X, Y, or Z problem. You don’t know what to search for to find the answers that you’re looking for. And so that’s part of the reason why this podcast even exists is to highlight organizations like Mighty Oaks and talk to people like yourself who’ve been through the program who.
Scott DeLuzio: Has seen the benefits and so someone else who’s sitting there, who’s hearing it and like, yeah, that sounds just like me. You know this. Guy or [00:40:00] gal who might be out there listening, they might be an atheist, they may feel like they don’t want to be here anymore, and they might feel like they’ve tried a whole bunch of stuff and none of it’s worked and they don’t know what to do anymore.
Scott DeLuzio: And here’s an option. You know, and I’m gonna keep throwing out options to people. Every single week there’s gonna be something new coming out here. And, you know, mighty Oaks is just another one of those options. Keep trying things. Because there is something out there for everybody. I guarantee it.
Scott DeLuzio: Yep. And so that, that’s that’s why I really wanted to have you on the podcast to help highlight you know, everything that Mighty Oaks does, but also share your personal story too, because I think tying those two together really does help just like, like when you’re at one of these programs with the Mighty Oaks, you know, you’re talking to other people.
Scott DeLuzio: It’s like, oh yeah I’ve done that too. And you. It helps make people understand that there is a way to, to make that connection to a program. So, really do appreciate you taking the time, coming on. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you today. You know, any last closing words before we, we wrap up
Brandon Bettis: here?
Brandon Bettis: No, I think I’ve, I [00:41:00] think I’ve kind of hit everything. I do wanna thank you for, you know, this podcast. I’ve listened to quite a few of ’em after you and I met, and I think you do a good job with everything of, you know, like you said, there’s. Just because it worked for me doesn’t mean it’s gonna work for someone else.
Brandon Bettis: And just because something doesn’t work for me doesn’t mean I wanna work for someone else. But there’s a lot of programs out there. I think the post nine 11 generation is probably one of those generations that the, I think the excuses for getting help are just excuses because there’s so many programs out there, there’s so many nonprofits, there’s so many ways to get help.
Brandon Bettis: There’s so many different types of therapy. There’s so many different. You know, solutions. I, I would just I would let you guys know that Mighty Oaks one is just kind of different. I’m a little biased, but one of the things we say on the first night is, you know, there’s people that come to Mighty Oaks and they might have been to other programs.
Brandon Bettis: They might have been to va, they might have been to counseling, they might have been to on the fishing trips and the hunting trips and all the places where you’re gonna get a bunch of swag and they’re just gonna give you [00:42:00] free stuff. Cuz that’s what they can do. And that’s. But that’s not the solution I’m telling you right now.
Brandon Bettis: And we’re a program that we’re gonna come alongside you. We’re gonna put our arm around you, we’re gonna tell you I love you. Then we’re gonna pop you in the chest and we’re gonna poke you in the chest and we’re gonna get down to the root of the problem. Cause that’s what we’re all looking for.
Brandon Bettis: Anyone looking for help? Anyone open to help. This is a. And I would highly encourage anybody to kind of do it and feel free, they I know you, you link you know, our social media to, you know, the show notes and stuff. If anyone has any questions about Mighty Oaks or if anyone has any questions or comments or concerns or whatever I’m always available to anybody at any time.
Brandon Bettis: And I truly mean that, but fair warning, I’m always gonna point back to Mighty Oaks and be like, right, go back to Mighty Oaks. And the reason I point back to Mighty Oaks is cause Mighty Oaks is point at scripture and then point at the Bible. And then once you come back from Mighty Oaks, then we can do Bible study together and we can kind of go through stuff like that too.
Brandon Bettis: So, whatever it looks like. But now, I appreciate you having me on. I appreciate appreciate your time. Appreciate what you’re doing.
Scott DeLuzio: Right. Well, thanks again for taking the time to join us. Again all the links that [00:43:00] we talked about today will be in the show notes for the listeners. Definitely check it out and if you’re interested, please apply to the Mighty Oaks Foundation.
Scott DeLuzio: Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, Surviving Son on Amazon. All of the sales from that book go directly back into this podcast and work to help veterans in need. You can also follow the Drive On Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.