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 Alex Gonzalez, who is a retired army colonel with 26 years of service four combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan, and he’s here. Today to chat about his career, his combat experience, how he’s coped with P T S D and some other various issues that he’s had from his military service.
Scott DeLuzio: So welcome to the show, Alex. I’m glad to have you here.
Alex Gonzales: Thank you so much, Scott. It’s my pleasure to be here on your podcast
Scott DeLuzio: today. Absolutely. And Before we get into the conversation, why don’t you just tell the listeners a little bit about yourself [00:01:00] and your background just to kind of give a little context to who it is that we’re talking to here.
Alex Gonzales: Hey, sir. Like retired army colonel, 26 years in the Army. I come from an extended military family. My father did 30 years. He’s a retired C S M. I got four brother, three brothers that are in the Army. Two retired, one still serving a colonel at Fort Hood. My combat deployments have been rather tough on me as far as what I brought back home, what happened over there and what I brought back home as most of us battle with those issues that we bring back home. So I’ve been diagnosed with P T S D, traumatic brain injury. You name it, I’ve got it, but. My biggest claim to fame is I currently have 255 men that I send a daily devotional out to, and those men inspire me each day to get up and get out of bed [00:02:00] and make something to myself each and every day.
Alex Gonzales: Some days they get the devotional early, sometimes they don’t get it till late at night. It depends on how I’m feeling and if I can actually get up out of bed and be. .
Scott DeLuzio: And before we started recording, you were telling me a little bit about your, some of the issues that you’re dealing with and how some days it really is a struggle to just do something as simple as getting out of bed.
Scott DeLuzio: Which a lot of people they take that for granted. You know, the alarm clock goes off and Okay. Yeah, maybe it’s a little you know, Little groggy, and you might hit the snooze button in a time or two. And yes, you may not want to get out of bed but physically you could do it, you know, if the smoke alarm is going off and there’s a fire in the house Yeah.
Scott DeLuzio: And you need to hop your ass up out bed and you get moving. Right. But sometimes for some people it physically it’s a struggle to get out of bed. So could you tell us a little bit about what is going on there and kind of what you’re dealing with that?
Alex Gonzales: So I’ve got [00:03:00] six herniated discs throughout my lower back and neck, and I’ve got severe arthritis, rheumatoid, an osteoarthritis throughout my spine and throughout my entire body.
Alex Gonzales: So some mornings are just extremely tough. My wife will come and literally. Pull me outta bed and stand me up and walk me to the bathroom. Some mornings, no joke. It’s embarrassing. I’m only 44 years old, but I got an amazing wife that knows what she has to do to get me going each day. And. With her by my side, I know there’s no option either.
Alex Gonzales: She walks me into the bathroom, I come back and she makes me sit up and gives me a cup of coffee, but I have to at least be functional that day and show some drive each
Scott DeLuzio: day. And that, that’s a difficult thing to , basically have to rely on somebody else like that. I mean, it’s outstanding. And I’ve met your wife we’ve chatted before.
Scott DeLuzio: And we’ll have her on a, another episode coming up here soon. But you know, [00:04:00] just having to rely on that other person that’s that’s gotta be tough, especially. Coming from a leadership position, which obviously, you know, you rely on your men in whatever leadership role that you might have been in, you’re relying on the people to go get the mission accomplished.
Scott DeLuzio: Right. But but not to necessarily do your job, to do the thing that you are supposed to be able to do. Right. Exactly. Exactly. So that’s gotta be difficult for somebody.
Alex Gonzales: It’s tough. It’s very tough, but my wife is always there to speak life to me, to tell me I’m gonna have a good day to motivate me and be that person that I need to kick me in the rear end to get me out of bed and get me motivated.
Scott DeLuzio: Right now let’s back up a little bit and talk about your career 26 years in the Army, pretty long career. And let’s back up a bit more than that and let’s go into what made you want to join the Army in the first place. Let’s start kind of from the beginning.
Alex Gonzales: So, as a young child [00:05:00] coming from a military family, my grandfather enlisted in 1942.
Alex Gonzales: I have five uncles. Each one of them served in the army. So I saw my three older brothers enlist at age 17 as enlisted men and crossover to be officers. So there was no doubt in my mind what I was gonna do. I mean, my dad, he told me, son, you can choose a different career. You just have to choose another family Now.
Alex Gonzales: I know he was joking, so he didn’t force me to join the Army, but that’s what we had done since my grandfather. So there was really. They had paved the way for me and I was just gonna go on that glide path and do exactly what my older brothers had done and be a soldier. So that’s all I ever wanted to do.
Alex Gonzales: As a little kid, seeing my father in the army, seeing my brothers enlist, seeing them go off the basic training, I thought that was the coolest thing in the world, and I could not wait to turn 17 to enlist, to go to basic.
Scott DeLuzio: Yeah I [00:06:00] know when my, so my younger brother joined before I did, and going to his basic training graduation, that was basically, The thing that I think sealed the deal for me to join was just seeing that and I was like, oh my God, I’m so proud of him and everything that he’s done and accomplished.
Scott DeLuzio: And you know, exactly. Looking back on it now, you know, basic training is what it is. But still, back then it was a super impressive thing to me. Yes. You know, an outsider looking in and I was like that’s it. I’m joined too. Exactly. At some point, like, I that probably did it.
Scott DeLuzio: And I, I also wonder like other people, like my kids and you know, other peoples like you know, other soldiers kids. Yes. Looking up to their parents. Is that something that they look at as I want to be, that when I grow up? or is it something different? You know, it may be different for every person, but I always wonder what people think about when they are in that position.
Scott DeLuzio: Right,
Alex Gonzales: exactly. So that’s a great point. So my son’s 21 years old and he enlisted in the National Guard when he was 17. And when I took him down and swore him in, [00:07:00] And I was all done and I came back home. I sat down and I was just crying my eyes out, like I could not believe my son chose to do what I had done, and he saw me come back from combat in the issues I’ve had as the kids take it on the most of any other person in the family because they’re younger and they don’t know how to cope with the challenge.
Alex Gonzales: But that day that I swore him in, I think I cried myself to sleep that night. I just, I was just blown away. Blown away. I could not believe my son raised his right hand to defend this country,
Scott DeLuzio: you know? And as a parent, you know, my, my kids are too young at this point, still. My oldest is 13, so, they’re too young.
Scott DeLuzio: That time is getting nearer by the day. It, you know, it is. But that would be an awfully proud moment I think for me if my children chose, and I, again, like your dad, like I’m not pushing anyone to, to do [00:08:00] anything. They can make their own decisions for their own career choices and everything like that, but I think that would be an awfully proud moment if they chose to stand up and serve and defend this country.
Scott DeLuzio: Yes. The way that we have, right? Yes, exactly. I think that would be pretty, pretty awesome. Now let’s talk about your combat experience, cuz you mentioned that, you know, a lot of these issues that you’ve been dealing with from the T B I, the P T S D and other physical things that you might be dealing with kind of led from some of that combat experience.
Scott DeLuzio: So take us through some of that and what you went through during your combat tours.
Alex Gonzales: So I deployed oh 4 0 5 to Iraq and oh 6 0 7 to Iraq. First deployment was a little rough. Lost a couple men. Second deployment, extremely rough, lost a lot of men. During that deployment. We were in the Diallo Province of Iraq, and it was just, Unbelievable.
Alex Gonzales: Every time we [00:09:00] left the wire, we got blown up with an i e d and shot at guaranteed, no doubt. My vehicle got hit 13 times directly to my vehicle during that 15 month deployment. I think I had about three times where I got knocked out and didn’t know what was going on. So that contributed in my T B I.
Alex Gonzales: The last two deployments to Afghanistan not so bad. I mean, just going out, doing mission, doing what we do. But that second deployment was extremely hard on me, and that’s the one deployment that brings back those bad thoughts and those bad memories. And as you know, being a combat veteran, those.
Alex Gonzales: Thoughts are always there, and it is so hard to clear your mind from those
Scott DeLuzio: events. It is hard and sometimes, and I can’t speak for everybody and I obviously can’t speak for you, but sometimes it almost feels like you’re back in that [00:10:00] situation. Like you’re not sitting on your couch in the living room.
Scott DeLuzio: You’re standing in. The desert in Iraq or in Afghanistan or wherever it is that thing took place at. And it’s hard to snap out of that sometimes, right? It
Alex Gonzales: is, it is. It’s very hard to snap out of that. And that’s the one thing that I can say that. Over the years in dealing with what I’ve dealt with, you know, I’ve been to countless doctors for P T S D and I can’t stand sitting in front of a doctor that says, oh, I understand.
Alex Gonzales: Hold on, time out. Have you ever served? I don’t think so. So you don’t understand. And so many doctors say, wow, that was like 15 years ago. You should be over it by now. Really? You don’t know me, you don’t have my thought process. You have not experienced and seen what I’ve experienced. So who are you to say that memory should be erased from [00:11:00] my mind because it’s been 15 years.
Alex Gonzales: That’s just unbelievable. Unbelievable.
Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And that doesn’t compete with me either. I mean, there’s a various number of reasons why it might still be an issue for somebody and. Not necessarily for a lack of effort on trying to resolve the issue either, right. But but sometimes it could just be, you know, it’s been not handled properly.
Scott DeLuzio: You know, the doctors that you may have gone and seen, maybe they weren’t the best at what it is that they’re doing and. You’re stuck in this loop of trying to get out of here, but you’re just digging a hole and you’re getting deeper and deeper. And now you’re at this point where it’s hard to get back out.
Scott DeLuzio: And it’s even harder all these years later. So it really shouldn’t be all that surprising to somebody that could be the issue. Right. But but we still live in a day and age where, I mean, while things are getting better, doctors are [00:12:00] not the most informed on some of this stuff. In some cases.
Scott DeLuzio: Some are great not, but some of ’em still might have some issues. Yes,
Alex Gonzales: And unfortunately, majority of the ones that I’ve dealt with, They’re always quick to jump to, okay, this is your problem. Whoa, I won’t, this is my first session with you and you’re like giving me a solution to my problems.
Alex Gonzales: You don’t know me. I haven’t told you even. An eighth of the issues that I have from combat, but yet you’re giving me a path forward. Like after like two or three, you get to know me a little bit better. I’m more receptive to you saying, Hey, okay, this is a potential path forward. But if you come to me the first session and say, this is what you gotta do, this is what will fix you.
Alex Gonzales: Whoa, whoa. Pump your brakes.
Scott DeLuzio: Pump your brakes. Yeah you definitely need to get to know the person from the doctor’s standpoint that you definitely need to yes, know the issue get to understand all the details going into it and [00:13:00] approach it more holistically in, in terms of trying to figure.
Scott DeLuzio: All the issues that could be going on. Yeah, sure. You were in Iraq and your vehicle has been blown up, you know, a dozen or more times. Okay. That’s certainly traumatic, but there’s probably some other stuff going on too. So let’s figure out all of the pieces of that puzzle before we just try to, Put it together without looking at the picture on the
Alex Gonzales: box.
Alex Gonzales: Right, . Yeah. And it’s so unfortunate now that I’m on the VA side, I’ve got a lot of old soldiers that are struggling with P T S D, same issues I have from the same deployment that, that we were on together. And they call me, they’re like, sir, I can’t, the VA just turned me around. I’m like, what? So I will call on their behalf.
Alex Gonzales: To get them treatment, but I’m a retired guy, so they’re like, who are you? Who are you? Right? I’m like, look, I used to be this soldier’s leader and I need him to get seen today. He’s sitting outside in the parking lot. I’m gonna have him walk in and I need him to be [00:14:00] seen today. I will call back in 30 minutes to make sure he’s been seen, but it’s kind of sad that.
Alex Gonzales: Our service members get turned around by the VA because behavior, health therapists, social workers, and psychologists are so short across the nation that it’s hard to find a
Scott DeLuzio: provider. That’s true. E especially within the VA system, which exactly, I’m not faulting the va. They are doing what they can with what they have to work with.
Scott DeLuzio: Exactly and it’s. It’s hard. You can’t just go to the psychiatrist tree and pick another one off when No, you need one. Like, like it’s an apple or something. You know. Exactly. You need to train people, you need to educate them and get them up to speed on the issues that these soldiers are facing before they can walk in.
Scott DeLuzio: Otherwise, they’re gonna walk in. That bad doctor who doesn’t understand what’s going on Exactly. You’re [00:15:00] just gonna create more problems down the line, so, exactly. Exactly. So you really do need to have a better system in place. Now with that said, there are people outside of the VA that are doing lots of great work and there’s lots of different options that are available.
Scott DeLuzio: Maybe the traditional talk therapy that you might get through the VA isn’t gonna necessarily resonate with everybody. Yes. Maybe there’s some other options out there, right? So, sure. So there is that possibility, which Which exists that people can go and talk to people that are not necessarily affiliated with the va.
Scott DeLuzio: Exactly. Now that adds an extra layer of complexity because now you gotta figure out, okay, who are these people? Where are they physically located? How do we get in touch with these people? Yes, there’s an extra issue there. But it is a possibility. So, so with that yeah, no, go ahead.
Alex Gonzales: So one of the things I’ve found is I’ve got about 255 men that I communicate with each day. Monday through Friday, I send a devotional out to them, and about [00:16:00] 9% of them are my old soldiers or veterans. But I am always there to answer the phone when they call and they think that I’m helping them out. But that’s not always the case, just by them calling.
Alex Gonzales: I get to cry with them and I get to laugh with them, and I get to get stuff off my chest that has been in my brain. So it’s twofold. Yes, I help them, but they help me as well, you know, and it just, it’s an awesome. Thing that I have so many men and there’s, every day there’s one to two or three men that need to talk and they’ll send me a text message back and say, Hey, do you have time to talk?
Alex Gonzales: And I’ll give ’em a call and then we’ll just, we’ll laugh and we’ll cry together and we’ll process everything. And I think that’s one of the biggest issues for us combat veterans, is the ability to process what we’ve been through. Because if we don’t process it and we don’t. Store [00:17:00] it in the right part of the brain.
Alex Gonzales: It’s always at the forefront of our mind and it will always come up whether you meet a soldier or a civilian who has the same name as one of the soldiers that you lost in combat, it just, you go there instantaneously and it, you’re back in Iraq or Afghanistan and it’s horrible. You know, you can be out with your family having a good time, and you meet somebody and whoa, oh my gosh, that’s my old soldier’s name.
Alex Gonzales: Everything else is a wash. But to me, it’s awesome to have so many men that I know will reach out to me when they have issues. And it’s a blessing for me. It’s a true blessing for me.
Scott DeLuzio: Well, and it gives you a sense of purpose as well. So those days that you’re sitting in bed and you’re having trouble physically, having trouble getting out of bed.
Scott DeLuzio: Yes. But you know that there are those 250 soldiers who. Sitting there waiting for the text from you that, with that [00:18:00] devotional, it’s like, okay I’ve got this mission to accomplish today. As, as simple as it may be as sending a text message, that’s your mission. Mission. And then, yeah. In addition to that, it’s being there for them when they need it, and exactly that’s part of your mission.
Scott DeLuzio: It gives you that thing that you need to do and helps you to. Get up and get moving throughout the day, right?
Alex Gonzales: Yes. Yes. So my wife is the one that drove me to start the devotionals, and it’s grown tremendously because when I got retired, I got medically retired in the Army and VA said, your traumatic brain injury is so bad you can never work another day in your life.
Alex Gonzales: So I was like, whoa, what am I gonna do? But now with that, I have men that depend on that each and every. And I know that, so I’ve gotta get it out some nights. It doesn’t go out till late at night, but I will get it out Monday through Friday each and every [00:19:00] day
Scott DeLuzio: That. A great thing to be able to do, to know that you are providing this service to these soldiers and that they are benefiting in some way, despite the fact that the VA said, you’re not gonna be able to work, you’re not gonna be able to, in a way that’s what I’m saying, you’re not able to contribute to society, but here you are contributing to society.
Scott DeLuzio: Right, exactly. And that is while it’s not a nine to. Office job, or, you know, construction job or anything like that. It’s not that, but it still provides a benefit to people that , I mean, at the end of the day, it could make the difference in somebody’s day, right? Yes.
Alex Gonzales: Without a doubt. Without a doubt.
Scott DeLuzio: So in addition to this Daily devotional, the sending out these messages. What have you found that has helped you with your P T S D? I know you said you’ve gone to the doctors and that a lot of times they don’t seem like they quite understand what the whole issue is going on with you.
Scott DeLuzio: But have there been other things that you’ve [00:20:00] tried that have seemed to work a little bit better?
Alex Gonzales: So, Just being out in God’s country. I’m a big outdoorsman, so I go fishing, I go hunting, and I live in El Paso, Texas, so people say there’s no place to fish. I drive up to New Mexico and there’s a lake.
Alex Gonzales: It’s almost dried out now, but we catch a lot of fish there and it’s just, you know, I take veterans out fishing, I take veterans out hunting when I can’t, when I can’t, and it’s just, it’s such a blessing and most often, more often than not, I plan a trip and then the night before I’m calling him saying, Hey man I’m just not feeling it today.
Alex Gonzales: Maybe next week. Let’s try again next week so I don’t get out as much as I can. But the opportunity to go out in God’s country with another veteran where we can swap war stories and support each other, whether we’re out in the field looking for an animal or on the water fishing, it’s just a blessing.
Alex Gonzales: [00:21:00] It’s a true blessing,
Scott DeLuzio: and. I love that because it’s something different, you know? Yes. When I asked that question, I was thinking of what are some of the other clinical type things that you might be doing? Yes. Some of the doctors or other therapies or resources that might be available. But I mean, at the end of the day, it’s so simple.
Scott DeLuzio: Get outside, go in nature and yes, go hunting, go fishing. If that’s not your thing, go for a hike. Go for a walk, go. Exactly. It could be just around your neighborhood or something, but like get outside. Right. That’s, it’s that simple.
Alex Gonzales: So, so most of my times when I go, I say I’m going hunting, I drive.
Alex Gonzales: To this ranch that a church buddy has got, and I park and I just, I can only walk like a hundred yards from the truck and I’m maxed out, but I’m away from everything. I don’t hear no traffic, I don’t hear no sirens. It’s just God’s country and peace. And I clear my mind and just absorb nature. It’s [00:22:00] so beautiful.
Alex Gonzales: And people like. You don’t get very far from your vehicle. I’m like, that’s not the point. The point is I’m away from hearing traffic. I’m away from hearing horns and sirens and the daily grind, people working around the house with shop backs and stuff. It just beautiful to get out there and just sit and just look around and just enjoy God’s country.
Scott DeLuzio: That is it’s more than just your personal experience that’s backed by. Research and science and stuff too. That, that just being outside getting exposure to sun, to fresh air. Exactly. It does help you. Yes. It has those therapeutic benefits to it without it. Yes. I remember early on when I started this podcast, I talked to a guy that I served with and he said that the outdoor.
Scott DeLuzio: Is his therapist, it’s his church. It’s his, it’s like everything from him just being [00:23:00] outside. It’s his gym. You know, he gets all that he needs from being outside, you know, whether exactly, whether he’s out hiking or mountain climbing or on, the river in a boat or whatever. Like, he, he does all of these things.
Scott DeLuzio: Outside and that’s where he gets the most benefit from. And it’s exactly, sounds like it’s very similar to you. Oh yes. Without doubt. And you know, it is unfortunate that you are limited in terms of your physical mobility and things like that. However, you still are able to take advantage of that and I think that’s encouraging.
Scott DeLuzio: Yes. For the listeners who might be sitting there thinking to themselves, well, yeah I totally resonate with this guy cuz. I can’t get out of bed most days either without some assistance or, you know, I’m having all these physical issues. But, you know, I can’t go outside like that and go hunting or fishing because it’s just too much for me.
Scott DeLuzio: Okay. Well, it’s a lot for you too. Yes. And you’re still able to make it work. It’s worth a shot. You know? It’s worth giving it a try. Getting out there, finding a [00:24:00] place that’s off the beaten path where you don’t have the car horns, you don’t have the sirens, you don’t have the construction going on.
Scott DeLuzio: It’s just you and nature and that, that’s a beautiful thing.
Alex Gonzales: Yes. So during those moments, when I tell my wife, like, Hey I gotta go out to the ranch. It’s not my ranch, it’s at church buddies, but, Like she knows. She’s like, go. It can be four o’clock in the afternoon. It doesn’t matter. She’s like, go.
Alex Gonzales: Because she knows when I tell her that I need to go, and sometimes she’ll go out with me and she’ll go hiking and I’ll walk out about a hundred yards from the vehicle and just sit my butt on the ground and just process what bad thoughts have been going through my brain since the last time I was out.
Alex Gonzales: And it’s very powerful to sit there with no distractions. My cell phone doesn’t work out there. It’s awesome. And just to process that stuff and [00:25:00] get it from the forefront front of my brain and store it in the back part of my brain. So it’ll take a while for it to resurface.
Scott DeLuzio: The ability to get out in places where your cell phone just doesn’t work. It like whether you wanted to or not. It’s just not an option. It’s just not working out there. Yes. That, that’s gotta be a beautiful thing because sometimes the buzzing, the notifications, everything else that’s popping up on it.
Scott DeLuzio: It, it’s distracting. It’s annoying. It’s like, I have other stuff I want to get done today. Exactly. I’m, it’s like you’re a slave to this Yep. Little device that you got in your pocket. Yes. And it’s like, sometimes I wanna just throw the thing out the window, , because it’s a pain in the butt.
Scott DeLuzio: So
Alex Gonzales: I would recommend to your listeners, if you can’t get to a place like that, just turn your phone off before you leave the house and just, Turn it off and say you’re gonna be out in God’s country and you’re gonna have some time alone to enjoy nature. [00:26:00] And that’s your mission. And once you get done, you can turn it back on and you can get all the emails and get on social media like you normally do.
Alex Gonzales: But it’s so powerful to have one to two hours just to escape from everything. It, it is so powerful for me. Okay. So powerful for me to be, have that opportunity to. .
Scott DeLuzio: Absolutely. Throughout your career we’ve talked about this a little bit already, 26 years in the Army, again, pretty long time in the Army.
Scott DeLuzio: I gotta imagine you’ve probably had some memorable experiences. Any highlights that come to mind?
Alex Gonzales: Yes. So I would have to say The last about 10 years, I worked in the Army acquisition course, so I was developing army equipment and it was awesome to be working on a piece of equipment and going out and seeing the soldiers actually use the equipment that you’ve been working on and see it benefit them.
Alex Gonzales: And benefit them in executing their missions. That was just awesome. It was an awesome [00:27:00] feeling to, to see something you’ve been working on for so long and then see it get in the soldier’s hands and see it actually have a positive impact on mission accomplishment.
Scott DeLuzio: I, I could imagine that it would be extremely satisfying to see.
Scott DeLuzio: Not only just that the thing that you developed is being used, but seeing how much better those soldiers are able to accomplish their mission with that equipment versus with whatever it is that they were using before. You know, if they, whether it’s a, you know, new body armor, new Whatever the equipment might be.
Scott DeLuzio: You know, if it’s, if it’s body armor and it’s stronger and lighter Yes. Than the old body armor they’re able to move faster with less injuries. Exactly. And protect them better than what the old stuff was doing. That’s gotta be extremely satisfying to see Yes.
Alex Gonzales: That outcome.
Alex Gonzales: Without a doubt. Without
Scott DeLuzio: a doubt. So, I know we talked a little bit about your. Your background [00:28:00] your combat experience, your current situation with the P T S D and T B I and everything else that you’re going through. And know that you currently are sending out these daily devotionals to these these individuals.
Scott DeLuzio: What’s next for you? Do you have any other goals on the.
Alex Gonzales: So my wife was asking me this question the other day and I was like, you know what? I, if I could take my life back, like maybe about six to eight years when I could get up and go do PT and be functional every day and know that I would be functional every day, I would set a goal for myself.
Alex Gonzales: But today, my goal is just to get up, send out that devotional to my men, and be on standby for whoever needs to. And that is my mission. That is how I give back to the service members and veterans that I have come across, or the ones that I have served with. And to me, that is the ultimate because [00:29:00] I can’t work anymore.
Alex Gonzales: And I’m okay with that because I have a mission and I am adamant about accomplishing my mission and helping as many service members as I possibly can.
Scott DeLuzio: And in a way that’s sort of freeing because you’re taking things one day at a. It’s, I’m gonna wake up today and I’m gonna worry about today. Today, and I’ll worry about tomorrow.
Scott DeLuzio: Tomorrow. And right now is the only thing that matters. Yep. Tomorrow’s not guaranteed to anybody. No. So, let’s not worry about it’s not So let’s just worry about today. Exactly,
Alex Gonzales: and I think that’s one of the things that our veterans suffer from. They’re like I want to do this, I wanna do that.
Alex Gonzales: I want to accomplish this. But we have limitations based on our experiences in the military, and it’s hard for us to process. Those limitations that we have because of what we’ve experienced in the military. So for me, like you said, I live my day for today and I want today to [00:30:00] be the best day it can be when I wake up.
Alex Gonzales: I thank the Lord for allowing me to wake up. I thank the Lord for all the blessings I have in my life, and I thank Lord for allowing me to breathe and have my wife on my side and my.
Scott DeLuzio: If you were talking to a soldier who was preparing to leave the service is there any advice that you would want to tell them or anything that you wish someone would’ve told you before you got to that point in your career?
Alex Gonzales: Wow. So the number one thing I would say is find a veteran who has experienced this before. Now I have brothers that have retired and they. A lot of experience, but they’re not close to me. They’re eight, 10 hours away. So find somebody that lives close to you that you can go to for guidance with the va, with your [00:31:00] disability, whatever it may be.
Alex Gonzales: They’ve experienced it. So find a veteran that you can talk to, because what I have found is one of the biggest issues that our veteran. Fight on a daily basis is when they leave their battle buddies and they go back home. They no longer have that brotherhood and that connection. You know, maintain the connection with your battle buddies, maintain that.
Alex Gonzales: Send a text message, give ’em a call. You gotta do that because that’s part of your process of your new life. You can’t just turn that. It’s not gonna happen. I’m sorry to tell you, it’s not gonna happen. What we did, we were, it was ingrained in our brains to get up and be flexible because we really didn’t know what was gonna happen.
Alex Gonzales: We may think we’re gonna go to the M 2 49 range and oh change. We’re going to the. In two range. [00:32:00] Oh, how did that happen? Don’t know. We just do it. That’s just how it is. But those things that you went through with your battle buddies, they’re experiencing the same thing that you are. So you have to understand that when you’re missing the service, your battle buddy is missing it too.
Alex Gonzales: And if you left the service and your battle buddy’s still in, I guarantee you, if you call your battle buddy, you’ll be like, dang it, you made the right decision. You wouldn’t believe the BS I’m putting up with today. But you guys can both go back and forth on what challenges you guys are facing because guess what?
Alex Gonzales: You guys were molded from the same stuff. You guys experienced the same stuff in combat or even through basic area it, or being stationed in Alaska together, that’s a bond that can never be broken. So I would say find a veteran that you can talk to and maintain your connection with your brothers and sisters in
Scott DeLuzio: arms.
Scott DeLuzio: And there are so many groups out there [00:33:00] that enable you to be able to find other veterans. Exactly. It’s just a matter of getting out and participating in some of these groups. There’s the obvious ones. There’s a V F W, American Legion, and tho those types of organizations. Yes. But there’s even other networking groups that are not quite as well known, but they may just be local to your area, you know, if you’re, yes.
Scott DeLuzio: Whatever city that you’re near, look up, you know, veteran networking groups or veteran Exactly. You know, social clubs. So find an activity that you enjoy doing. Just add the word veteran to it, , and see if there is that group that exists. And if there isn’t, start one up because I mean, exactly. I’m sure there’s people out there who would be looking for something like that.
Scott DeLuzio: Yes. And they may just. That no one has started it up yet. And so start one up. If you, if that’s what you need to.
Alex Gonzales: That’s a great point. And a lot of our veterans [00:34:00] get out of the service or retire and they have no connection to battle buddies, to nothing. And they’re like, I’m all alone. You’re not.
Alex Gonzales: There are thousands of veterans just like you. Who feel like they’re all alone. That’s why I say maintain that connection with your service members, brothers and sisters you serve with and find a veteran. It can be an 80 or 90 year old veteran. It can be a World War II veteran. There’s not many left, but just the opportunity to sit with them and listen to their.
Alex Gonzales: That’s powerful, not only for you as a veteran, but for that other veteran. To have a younger veteran come in and like, wow, you want to talk to me? Really like that. What I have found is those guys are just blown away that I want to hear their story, I want to hear their story. I want them to open up to me, and usually that entails a lot of crying, a lot of laughing, a lot of hugging, but it’s a beautiful thing because we’re veteran.[00:35:00]
Alex Gonzales: And nobody can take that away from us.
Scott DeLuzio: Right. And when you have someone like that, one of the 80, 90 year old veteran World War II veteran, who’s now trying to share his story with somebody who’s younger in their twenties, thirties, forties, whatever they’re sharing it. And that person’s not gonna live forever, obviously.
Scott DeLuzio: Right. But, Their story will live on through the person that they are telling their story to. Exactly. And that’s exactly, that’s powerful too. Just the power of sharing your story is super important. Exactly. It can help motivate it. It can, you know, if someone, you, you’re telling me your story today, and I’m gonna turn around and I’m gonna go talk to my wife later tonight and we’re gonna talk and she’s gonna ask, oh, so how was that podcast that you recorded, I’m gonna start talking about your story and.
Scott DeLuzio: Yes. And that’s gonna go to her, and then she’s gonna talk to somebody else and maybe she’ll share a piece of that to somebody else and it just spreads, right? And so, same way with some of these other people. You can just spread that and it can have this exponential [00:36:00] effect where just goes out to so many different people and it helps in one way or another.
Scott DeLuzio: It, one small story. You may think it’s completely insignificant because it’s. A normal thing to you, but you tell it to somebody else and it may totally change their day, change their whole life even. Yes,
Alex Gonzales: Yes. So because we’re not pioneers. There are so many veterans who have experienced exactly what we experienced, whether in combat or garrison or after we leave the military, there are.
Alex Gonzales: There’s thousands, millions of people who have done this before us, and it’s so beneficial to share five, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour with them and just talk about our current challenges.
Scott DeLuzio: Absolutely. And sharing that type of stuff may not seem like that big of a deal, but. You do end up feeling just a little bit better about yourself, about things that are happening in your life similar [00:37:00] to how you’re saying you go and sit out in nature and all of the these things just kind of melt away and you get time to process things.
Scott DeLuzio: Well, in a way, you’re sort of processing things. You’re just talking to someone while you’re doing it and yeah, you get to sort of forget about the other issues that are going on. Exactly. In life you don’t, you forget about, You know, the, you know, the faucet that you’re supposed to fix at home. Yeah.
Scott DeLuzio: And you forget, you know, all the little things that you’re supposed to do. Right. Like, you forget about those things. You’re in this conversation. Exactly. It just helps process things a little bit better, I think. Right.
Alex Gonzales: Definitely. Without a doubt.
Scott DeLuzio: Without a doubt. Scott. Well, Alex it’s been.
Scott DeLuzio: A pleasure speaking with you today. I really do enjoy hearing your story and your background, everything that you’ve gone through and how you’re pushing through and thriving despite the fact that you know, the VA basically told you that you’re not able to. Help you know, work going forward, but you’re still finding things that you are able to do.
Scott DeLuzio: You’re not just [00:38:00] taking that as a a sentence to being stuck in bed for the rest of your life. Exactly. You’re still getting up, you’re still getting after it, you know, to the extent that you can and you’re doing, making the best. Out of this situation. So, sure. Your story to me is really inspiring.
Scott DeLuzio: I’m really glad that you were able to come on the show and share that with us. And so I thank you for everything that you’ve shared with us today. Thank
Alex Gonzales: you, Scott. Your story motivates me. You’re an awesome man. And I just feel blessed to have come across you and your story is extremely powerful.
Alex Gonzales: Scott. Thank you so much.
Scott DeLuzio: All right. I appreciate that. Thank you.
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.[00:39:00]