Episode 326 Ryan Timmermans How Veterans Off-Grid is Changing Lives One Veteran at a Time Transcript

This transcript is from episode 326 with guest Ryan Timmermans.

Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Hey, everybody. Welcome back to Drive On. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And today, my guest is Ryan Timmermans. Ryan is an army veteran who founded Veterans Off Grid, and he’s here to discuss the organization and how it helps veterans reintegrate back into society. So first, before we get into that, though, welcome to the show, Ryan.

I’m really glad to have you here.

Ryan Timmermans: Thanks for having me. I’m really excited

Scott DeLuzio: to be here. Yeah, you bet. Um, for the listeners who aren’t familiar with you and your story and, and kind of everything, uh, that we’re about to talk, talk about, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background just to kind of set the stage for the listeners who, uh, you kind of want to know who you are before we kind of get into what it is that you’re doing now?


Ryan Timmermans: So my name is Ryan Timmermans. I founded Veterans Off Grid in 2017. Um, I deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 and 12. Uh, that was my first deployment. And I was part of, uh, the 340th, uh, Technical Psyop Company, and I did [00:01:00] Intel and Psychological Operations, um, for them, so I had two MOSs. Um, when I was there, uh, There was a guy who took my place on a mission.

I had a back injury and on their first mission out, um, they hit an IED and they all died. Um, my first sergeant came to me and said, Hey, I’m so glad we didn’t send you. We didn’t have any casualties, uh, as far as fatalities. Um, but that, that experience, even though I wasn’t directly. involved in combat operations outside the wire, surviving when someone else took my place.

It affected me when I came back from Afghanistan and I didn’t realize what was happening to me because very rarely can you see [00:02:00] yourself from outside of yourself. You don’t have cameras following you around and you’re, you’re experiencing this world and this life through, through your eyes, but everyone around you sees you, but they don’t know how to help you and they don’t know.

what’s going on in your mind. A lot of them can’t relate to you because they haven’t been in combat. They haven’t had those same situations happen to them. And so when I got back from the airport, my mom, she told me later, she said, the light had died in your eyes and it took me a long time to get back to who I was.

I was lost. I was purposeless. I had no, Meaning, um, I tried. I knew I was in danger. That much I knew. Like, mentally, I was not well. So, what is a soldier supposed to do? You’re [00:03:00] supposed to go to the VA. Um, well, I called them. It was a five month wait. To see a doctor. Wow. I said, are you kidding me? Like, is this a joke?

Are you sure there’s not a, uh, uh, a cancellation list or something in which I can get help sooner? I didn’t want to tell them I was suicidal because then they’re going to take my top secret clearance. Then there’s going to be like these kid gloves that come out to like, Oh, Ryan is in trouble and special.

And we need to, uh, you know, whatever. Right. And no warrior wants to be that you want to, you’re supposed to. You’re supposed to be able to handle whatever comes your way. That’s what you’re trained to do. So I waited. I held on for those five months. I saw the doctor and the doctor was a volunteer and I [00:04:00] can’t blame him.

Um, because he was trying to help. He had a good heart and he said, I’m really sorry. I’m late for a golf tournament, like really late. Give me your top three problems and I’ll give you referrals. And I said, Oh, okay. Yes, sir. And I gave him the top three things that were easy to solve. I didn’t want to make him later, more late.

Um, and he said, okay, goodbye. I said, wait, wait, wait, when’s my referrals? Is it tomorrow? Is it next week? Like I know you’re a big hospital. No, three months from now. Wow. It was my first appointment. And that’s not guaranteeing that that person was late for golf tournament. Or if I have to remember or forget, cause I was having trouble with memory.

And then my friends were on like 20 pharmaceutical medications and they were drooling on themselves and they couldn’t remember anything. They couldn’t go to school. They couldn’t hold a job. They were literally. Words of the State. And I didn’t want to end up that way, so I felt like this system that was designed to [00:05:00] help me is failing, it’s not able to help me, I’m in danger, what do I do?

And luckily, what saved my life, because I would be a statistic right now, we’re losing 22 veterans a day,

my friend called me, she graduated at the top of her class at Fort Huachuca, uh, with me, and we were, um, intel analysts. And she said, hey, I’ve got a job for you. It pays well. Come back to Afghanistan if you want to. The plane leaves in two weeks. Can you be on it? And I said, please get me out of this country.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’ll be on the plane. And so I went back to Afghanistan for like a year and a half. Um, but it was when I was there that I saw people that were like me, [00:06:00] were struggling as a civilian, they were going back to war, but it wasn’t the war that was drawing them back, it was the camaraderie, sense of purpose, the mission.

And strangely enough, I saw a music video and it changed my life forever. Um, have you ever heard of Five Finger Death Punch? Oh yeah, yeah.

Scott DeLuzio: Listen to them all the time. They’re

Ryan Timmermans: an amazing band and they have a song called Wrong Side of Heaven. It was released, it was on Facebook. I, I clicked on play and I saw it and I just started weeping.

Because it followed five soldiers overseas, it followed them back home, they disintegrated. Um, and the biggest thing that helped me was… That’s statistics that flashed across the screen. At this point, I just thought it was me. I couldn’t handle it. That I was a fuck up. That I, excuse me, my language, but I’m military.

It’s [00:07:00] one of our, uh, you know, our languages, but, um, you know, I just thought it was me, but there was 300, 000 that were homeless at that time. Yeah. Of my brothers and sisters. 42% more likely to get divorced. And I was going through a divorce, um, because we damage the people that are around us. We’re like this big rock that hits this placid lake and our dysfunction and our trauma that we’ve experienced ripples out and we don’t even see it.

Um, and then at the very end of the video, it fades to black with the sound of the Humvee. Which to an army guy, that’s our, like, that’s our horse, right? . And, uh, and it, it says, by the time you get done watching this video, another veteran’s decided to end his own life. And that’s where I was at. Yeah. So I just wept and I was like, you know what?

I don’t care if I die, I don’t care if I go broke. In the process of, of trying to become a solution, Or, or, or part of the solution to this larger problem that’s affecting many of [00:08:00] my brothers and sisters. And so I started Veterans Off Grid when I came back. Well, I want to talk

Scott DeLuzio: a little bit more about Veterans Off Grid and kind of how that came to be in just a minute.

We’re going to cut to a quick commercial break here. So stay tuned. So Ryan, tell us a little bit more about. The, the, the idea behind Veterans Off Grid, how it came to be, um, and, and what was a spark? I mean, in the intro, you were talking a little bit about your story, your background, and, and how you got to the place where you’re at now, but what made you decide Veterans Off Grid and, and I guess describe what Veterans Off Grid does and, and, and what made you decide to get into that?

Ryan Timmermans: Sure. When I, when I was in Afghanistan, um, I saw the video, I recognized that People around me were, um, we’re also struggling to become civilians again and, and to reintegrate into civilian [00:09:00] life. Um, and so I was like, how do we, like, if we’re coming back to war, but we don’t like war, like we don’t, we’re the ones who pay the price.

We’re, we lose our friends. We lose our limbs. We lose our lives. Like the food sucks. Most of the time, unless you’re a general, um, the housing sucks. Like, why do we come back? And I was, you know, I was, I boiled it down to the camaraderie, the sense of purpose, the mission. Life is simpler. Like when you get back to the United States, I went to the grocery store and there was an entire aisle of laundry detergent of different colors and powers and whatever.

And I’m like, it was almost like I got hit in the face. Like what? Like when I went to the PX, like there was one laundry detergent and there was like three bottles of it. If you didn’t get it, you didn’t have laundry detergent if you didn’t get it fast. Um, so [00:10:00] you’ve got bills. You’ve got, um, choices, you’ve got all kinds of things that compete with your time, and sometimes it’s overwhelming, and in a war zone, you do your job, 12 to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, and your brother, and your sister, they, they do their job, and you’re counting on them, and there’s commitment, and if you, if, if they know you’re dead, they will still risk their life to bring your body back home to your loved ones, When you come back to the United States, and I’m not saying it’s wrong, but everything is individual.

You’re not part of a team, especially for those in the Guard and the Reserves. Active duty is a little bit different because you’re part of the base, you know, and there’s a little bit more support for you, but, you know, we use the Guard and the Reserve as it was never intended to use.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, I mean, [00:11:00] yeah, I mean, I was National Guard myself and I was deployed to Afghanistan, you know, it was a year long deployment, just like any other active duty soldier would have, would have been on, um,

Ryan Timmermans: you know, as an infantry soldier. And if you were lucky enough, you got extended for an extra six

Scott DeLuzio: months.

Right. Yeah. I mean, fortunately that didn’t happen to me, but I know plenty of people who were National Guard who did. They were, they were there for a year and then. A year turned into 18 months. And, you know, it’s like, that’s, yes, we know that that’s a possibility when we sign up, especially when there’s a time of war going on, you know, that’s a possibility, but it’s not.

Not the expectation, as if you were to join active duty, that is sort of the expectation, right?

Ryan Timmermans: Yes. And so when you come back, like you’re expected just to turn it off, like transition, like that. And it doesn’t turn off. Um, I remember going around the house, checking my windows and doors three times a [00:12:00] night.

I remember getting up in the middle of the night because I couldn’t breathe. I thought I suffocated. On my pillow because I forgot how to sleep in a bed or I, like, I couldn’t figure out what was happening. I didn’t know it was a panic attack. Nobody prepared me for what I was experiencing when I came.

Sure. You can’t turn it off like that. It takes time and some people, that time, it, it worsens over time and then it starts to affect their life. I remember when I went back to drill and God bless this police officer, but I, for some reason, my brain misfired. I took the wrong road. I was already like 10 minutes late.

You can’t be late to drill. No. And so I was going 110 miles per hour in a 55… mile per hour zone. I got pulled. I’m shaking. The police officer comes to me and he says, late for drill. [00:13:00] I said, yes, sir. And I just got that from Afghanistan. I don’t know why I took the wrong road. I’ve been to drill like a hundred times.

I don’t know what’s going on. And he says, slow the fuck down, let me go. Like, but your brain just doesn’t work right when you come back. Um, and so I asked the question like, okay, if we’re going back to war, why don’t, why don’t we create the conditions?

And we have this refuge for veterans to feel normal so that they can focus on the skills and building the resiliency from a place of familiarity and strength instead of the big boot kicking you into the deep end of the pool and saying swim and you’ve forgotten how to swim. And, you know, I came back, the first two conversations [00:14:00] that I heard was these two guys at the bar and they probably were drunk.

I came back early because I had that back injury and they’re like, Hey, you need to go back and prepare the way for, um, for the unit. And, uh, they were fighting with each other about who was the better quarterback. My quarterback was this and that and this and that. And I remember thinking, do they even know we’re still in a war and my friends are in danger.

Probably not. Friends were like, uh, why are you still overseas? Like I thought we were done. I was like, no, that’s Iraq. Afghanistan’s still going. Like people are so divorced from the reality that a certain percent of the population, a population is still deployed, still in danger, still fighting. But the quarterbacks, oh my gosh, that is the biggest thing in my life right [00:15:00] now.

Mine is better. And then the other conversation was this group of girls and they were like, and Jersey Shore was the thing at the time and they were like, Oh my God, I can’t believe Snooki cut her hair and, and how did she let that hairstyle, that hairstylist should be shot. And I was like, I remember thinking like, I just came from a place where Afghans were being pulled onto soccer fields.

Shot for listening to music.

My worlds were colliding and they weren’t the same. I felt like an alien in my own country. Mm-hmm. , I watched poor Starbucks baristas get yelled at for putting whole milk in the soy latte. And I, it became so frustrating and I watched people glaze over if they asked me a question and I was telling them

my [00:16:00] reality, my story. They didn’t have the capacity. It’s like, how are you? Oh, good. How are you? Good. I lost two soldiers to suicide within six months of me returning. That’s 2% of my unit. I was struggling with suicide, but when I went to drill, how are you? Good. How are you? Good. Ugh,

Right? Like, there was no time, there was no place to decompress, to share, or you were considered weak, right? So how do we create that space where our brothers and sisters can congregate, live, be together, help each other, not wait five months for a doctor, not wait for the government to help us. But help ourselves

Scott DeLuzio: together.

And that’s what you’re, and that’s what you’re doing with, [00:17:00] with veterans off grid, right? I mean, you’re, you’re c creating that, that comradery, that community for veterans to go and. And get better and heal together.

Ryan Timmermans: And it all started with five finger death punch and listen to a video on Facebook.

Scott DeLuzio: And it’s amazing though, because those guys, you know, sat there and they, they wrote that song.

Obviously the military is, you know, near and dear to them. Um, and they, they, they want to affect some sort of change. I don’t think any of them had any idea specifically what kind of change that video would have. You know, what kind of impact that would have had on someone like yourself and what it is that you’re doing now in terms of, you know, getting.

Uh, people together, reintegrating them back into society, um, and doing all that kind of stuff, but, uh, you know, tell us a little bit about how that ended up working and, and how you’re, you’re working with veterans to get them back into society and do the things that they, [00:18:00] um, they need to do to be able to, you know, live a, uh, you know, uh, a good life, you know, and not be

Ryan Timmermans: struggling.

Just, just like, um, Five Finger Death Punch unlocked. an experience for me that unlocked a thought pattern that launched me into my mission that’s going to consume the rest of my life. I don’t care about if I go broke or die trying. This is the course of the rest of my life. This is my mission.

Every time I talk to a veteran, I, I, when I got back from the second, um, time in Afghanistan, I ubered in Charleston, South Carolina, which is a great city. And every time a veteran got in my car without words, my, I got goosebumps. I just knew. Um, and there was a [00:19:00] connection immediately. And when I was telling them about what I’m planning to do with this idea and this nonprofit of creating this place where veterans can come, a place where they can learn how to build their own homes, to live.

Producing their own electricity to live, uh, harvesting the rainwater from their house and filtering it in their, in their house and having a house that actually takes care of you instead of you having to take care of your house all the time and spending all this money on bills, bills, bills, bills, bills.

I talked to these veterans and they’re like, you just put words to my story. Your story is my story. Every time there is this connection, this brotherhood, this camaraderie, I’m unlocking and putting words into their heads that, that unlock their own experiences that say, Oh, this is what’s, what’s [00:20:00] causing my issues.

This is my experience. You’ve just told me. And so the more that we can come together, the more that we can help each other, the more that we can stay connected. When I’m weak, you’re strong. When you’re strong, I may be weak. And, you know, we are that member. Do you remember that, um, that advertisement was a terrible advertisement, but it was all over the TV when I was growing up.

The army of one. You’re not an army of one. You’re not Rambo going across the world and, you know, havoc follows, right? You take seven support soldiers to support a war fighter. Right. When we get back, we don’t have that support network. So we’re creating that, that place at Veterans Off Grid, but we’re also helping the planet and we’re helping the environment while we help each other.

So there’s two missions really [00:21:00] is to help veterans and to make this world a better place environmentally. Because we don’t want to leave to our grandchildren, right? We want them to inherit something that is that you can breathe the air. You can swim in the water and not get burned. You know, that wildfires are consuming the planet right now.

Like how do we help? How do we become part of the solution? And so those are our two focuses at Veterans Off Grid.

Scott DeLuzio: Well, I want to talk more about that, the sustainability aspect, and also how that works with the veterans. But we’re going to take another quick commercial break here, so stay tuned. Everybody, welcome back to Drive On.

Um, Ryan, um, Before the break, we were talking about how, um, you take veterans and, and you show them how to kind of build their own homes and, and help have their homes kind of work for them as opposed to them working for their home, paying all the bills and all the repairs and all this other stuff that, uh, you know, typically, I mean, myself included, we all, we [00:22:00] all end up with that, um, you know, homes are expensive and that there’s just, uh, they, they could be a pain in the butt too.

Um, but. So you’re focused on like kind of sustainable, uh, communities and, and building, uh, stuff that isn’t destroying the earth and, and how to take care of the earth. And, and you have the environment in mind, I guess I’m trying to say here, um, how does living in those types of communities and, and having that kind of positive impact on the environment around people help the veterans who are kind of going through the process of what you guys do?

Ryan Timmermans: Yeah. Um, so when I was 11, Um, I went to a survival camp, and it was my parents idea, it was Eustace Conway’s first camp. I was among 24 boys, 12 younger, 12 older. Preston was the counselor for the older, uh, Frank was the, uh, counselor for the younger. We were in two teepees on 10 acres. Five mile walk into the woods [00:23:00] to get there.

And along the way, Eustace was like, oh, there’s bear poop. And I’m like, what? Bear? What? You know? And, um, I credit him with igniting the fire and the knowledge within me that we’re all connected in this world. If we destroy it,

like we’re, we go extinct. We’re all, we’re all part of this web. And if any one piece of that web starts to break down, we’re in trouble.

I, I had such an amazing time. I begged, I walked five miles to the nearest phone to beg my parents to stay another week. And when they came to pick me up, I stank so bad because all my stuff, I didn’t have enough clothes for two weeks. And so they, When I was sleeping, they, they literally pulled into a McDonald’s parking lot and threw my sleeping bag and my shoes and everything away, um, because, [00:24:00]

Scott DeLuzio: anyway.

It’s probably, probably stunk that bad. I, and honestly, I think a lot of veterans who’ve probably listened to us, we’ve spent some time out in the field. We know what the stink is like. Yes. We know what you’re Eustace has

Ryan Timmermans: gone on.

He has a thousand acres. He created Turtle Island Preserve. He’s on the Mountain Men show if you’ve seen it. It’s pretty amazing We’ve stayed in touch When I was in Afghanistan the second time the county tried to take his land through eminent domain to give to another developer who was going to make McMansions on his land to Increase the tax base and They used the code He’s building houses to the 1700s standards.

There’s no electricity in them, but code says you have to have outlets every, [00:25:00] every so often in your house. He didn’t have any outlets, and so therefore, they can steal his land. Now I’m in Afghanistan fighting for the freedom of a country that I thought you could be free in. That you could have property ownership, that you could pursue your dreams.

I called them 20 times and left messages on that poor bureaucrat’s phone, increasingly angry.

I’m risking my life to defend the Constitution and for a country that I believed in, while you’re trying to steal someone’s land that had an amazing impact on my life that made, then I went to college in that town, and I want to retire in that town,

and, and you’ve, you’ve completely turned What [00:26:00] I thought was reality on its head, and it started to, to give me moral injury, which is like when, when soldiers come back and they’ve had experience in, in war and they’re like, maybe they’ve killed somebody, maybe they were, they made a mistake and got someone killed, called in a grid coordinate with 48 hours, no sleep, and you got one digit wrong.

It hit the hospital instead of the insurgent position, right? Survived when your friends died. That moral injury stays with you. Or maybe you took part in a war that you no longer agree with and you get back and you see your country in a new light and it doesn’t make sense. How do you come back from that?

And in my, my theory is that if you, if you create this new world, if you [00:27:00] create what you were willing to give your life for, in on this 50 acres at veterans off grid and, and we’re building the country that we agreed to die for, right? How do we model that for everybody else to keep the country from decaying?

’cause I think we all feel it. I think we all feel that the country is on a downtrend. How do we bring it back up? How do we heal ourselves while also healing the nation? And that’s through. Helping each other, um, building these sustainable buildings. We’re all connected in this, in this world to our food supply.

Do we even know where our food comes from? Do we know what’s sprayed on our food? Do we know what we’re intaking in our body with the glycophosphates and all of this stuff? So we grow our own food. We [00:28:00] don’t spray it. Why? Because we don’t want to eat it. Right. Right. We, um, we have these houses where I don’t have any bills, you know, a big stressor for veterans is when they come back, they have all these bills, but they don’t have the income coming in from the military anymore.

And so all the bad habits we’ve developed. I mean, there’s strip clubs around every military base, there’s bars around every military base, there’s, um, car salespeople, you know, payday loans around every military base, because we’re not taught about money. So part of Veterans Off Grid is, is helping people get their credit score up and helping people budget, help, they have no bills.

So what could you do together to make this world a better place? I asked them this question, um, if you had no bills, what would you choose to do? That would help the world that would help society where you would wake up so [00:29:00] excited in the morning to go to it that you wouldn’t even need to get paid because you have no bills.

Why would you need to get paid? Right? So like, if you answer that question and you spend time thinking about it and you find what it is, you don’t have to get to be 80 years old and look back at your life and be like, Oh, man. I worked 50 years for the vacuum company. Like what? Why did I do that? I was supposed to do this and this and this.

And so I built the platform at Veterans Off Grid where veterans can come and they can create the life they’ve dreamed about. That they were called and destined to be. Veterans were meant for so much more than just collecting the small disability checks every month to be like, Oh, I’m going to drink myself to death on the couch now.

You were meant for so much more.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, you’re, you’re meant for, you are, you’re, you’re meant for so much more. And what you’re doing is you’re, you’re creating this environment where, [00:30:00] uh, you know, a lot of us, we, we are, we we’re focused on the financial aspect, right? Because it’s a huge motivation. If, if you don’t have a job to bring in the money, you can’t pay the bills for.

The electricity or for the gas or for the, you know, any of this other stuff that that’s going on, but you know what, it seems like what you’re doing is you’re creating this community where people are able to live off the land. They’re, they’re able to grow their own food. They, the food is, is there, and it’s not like you said, not sprayed with toxic chemicals.

You know exactly where it’s coming from because you see it, you know, growing, right? You know pretty much in front of your eyes as opposed to you know, having it be trucked in from God knows where You don’t know what happens to any of that food that we get at the grocery stores or any of that kind of stuff But but in your case you do and and so like none of that you don’t have to worry about any of that stuff it’s just it’s there and and [00:31:00] the housing is there the the food is there the all that kind of stuff is is available and It lets you kind of release some of that stuff for a while and get that off of your plate.

Um, I want to talk a little bit more about that, um, when we get back from this next break here. Um, but when we do get back, I want to talk about that and kind of, um, you know, how this is helping, um, you know, veterans and including, you know, the homeless veteran population, because there’s, there’s plenty of them out there as well.

So, uh, we’ll get back to that in just a minute. So stay tuned. So Ryan, um, I want to talk right now a little bit about, uh, a couple of things, um, a couple of big issues. Um, that affect the veteran population. Um, coming back, getting out of the military, getting back into the civilian world, um, a lot of times the skills and the training and everything that we had in the military doesn’t necessarily correlate back to a civilian.

[00:32:00] Job, you know, I was an infantryman, there’s no infantry jobs available in the civilian world, unless

Ryan Timmermans: you’re a

Scott DeLuzio: mercenary or something like that. You can be a hit man. Yeah, you could do that. But, um, you know, I mean the closest, like, you know, let’s call it a legit profession is maybe a police officer. Um, you know, that type of thing.

Right. Um, so job skills. Training is a huge, uh, issue with, with veterans. When they come back, they, they, they feel lost. It’s like, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. Or, or maybe they, they did something, they had training in something that’s transferable, but they didn’t really like it and they want to find something else.

Right. Um, but the lack of. you know, uh, sufficient job and, you know, having to worry about keeping a roof over your head and all that kind of stuff, um, leads to homelessness. And there’s, there’s other issues that lead to that as well, I’m sure. Um, but all of this that you’re, you’re doing all everything with Veterans Off Grid, um, you guys are helping people with.

Job skills, you’re helping them with, with the [00:33:00] housing challenges, all of this kind of comes together. And I’m looking at it, the more I’m talking to you, and it’s like kind of a holistic approach that you’re, you’re trying to tackle many different aspects of the problems that veterans are facing. And you’re, you’re, you’re nailing them all at once in, in, in one big program.

And it’s, it’s a lot to bite off, but, um, tell us a little bit about the job. training and, and, and that aspect of what it is that you guys do.

Ryan Timmermans: Sure. Human beings are complicated. Fords, Chevys. If it breaks, you replace the part. It runs again. If a human breaks, you can’t just replace the brain. Um, we haven’t gotten to that point yet.

Hopefully we never will. That

Scott DeLuzio: sounds scary.

Ryan Timmermans: It makes. [00:34:00] healing way more complicated. Every person is different. They have backgrounds, they have childhoods, they have everything in their life is filtered through their own personal filter. And then you add to it the trauma of war. You don’t give them the skills to navigate that trauma. And again, you take the big boot and say, boom, you’re in the deep end, figure it out.

So I, I consider the real world that you live in as a veteran, I call it the tornado. When you’re in the tornado, you’re not worried about the pot of spaghetti on the stove. You literally are running for the mattress to get, to put over the bathtub, get your kids in, survive.

The pot of spaghetti can take care of itself. [00:35:00] It’s not even on your radar, and so when you come back, that’s the environment we find ourselves in, which is why my Facebook and, and, and my friends is filled with, they’re filled with comments, how do I get back in? I’ve made a mistake. And it’s you, it usually takes about 30 days.

And you’re like, all the things that you got out, you’re like, 54 days and a wake up, 39 days and a wake up, woohoo, I’m

Scott DeLuzio: gonna be free. Yeah, right.

Ryan Timmermans: And then you’re like, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, how do I get back in? Inmates, felons, police officers. We all have that same experience when we get out. So that’s why Veterans Off Grid is crucial because it gives them a buffer [00:36:00] where they can still be around like minded individuals who are kind of trying to figure it out together, um, while having a purpose and a mission.

Still, there’s, they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Um, you know, you mentioned skills training. Everybody I think knows the, the adage. If you give a man a fish, he will be

Scott DeLuzio: hungry tomorrow. Yeah,

Ryan Timmermans: you teach him to fish. You’ve solved the problem. So if we have all, all of these veterans homeless.

There’s a reason that they’re homeless. Look upstream. How did they get there? First of all, solve those problems and they won’t be homeless. But [00:37:00] if they are homeless or, you know, I would, I would, I would venture to say at 30% of us, And this is a totally made up statistic. Don’t quote me on it, but I would say 30% of us dream of the possibility of living in the woods in our off grid cabin and not having to deal with people ever again, that sounds super peaceful.

It does sound peaceful. But how do you do it? And if you’re by yourself, is that the healthiest place for you? Many veterans you’ll find living in the wood in a tent. I would argue that’s not healthy for them. They’re by themselves. They’re worried about their stuff. They’re constantly in this unstable environment.

They’re trying to do it. But probably not well. So what if we did that together? What if we did that as a group? We don’t have to worry about our stuff. We don’t have to worry about, um, you know, [00:38:00] being alone. I think alone, humans weren’t meant to be alone. We evolved in tribes. Nobody can do everything by themselves.

I mean, the movie depiction of Rambo and all these. What happens if you get sick? What happens if you sprain your ankle? Boom, you’re done. Right. And so we’ve got to have that group. And then for a veteran specifically, we’ve evolved, we’ve been trained to be part of that team, to be part of that unit, that network, so that you trust the person on your right and your left.

There’s no race. There’s no creed. You’re all together. You just see green. right? So how do we do this together? How do we be off grid? How do we help the planet? How do we survive? How do we get better? How do we create this environment of normalcy? And my ex wife, when I was in Afghanistan, [00:39:00] she was an amazing person.

She’s like 10 times more productive than I am, right? She, she’s the one who introduced me to earthships and earthships are built out of tires and glass bottles, things you’re throwing away, things that are part of societal waste and a problem. And have you ever seen a termite eat a tire? No. They don’t. No, they don’t.

Tires last 2, 000 years in the sun, in the wind, the rain. They last forever. You’re literally building a house that lasts forever. You go to Europe and there’s like the, you know, the Colosseum. It’s 2, 000 years old. You go to America, your house is lucky to last 50 years. without extensive repairs. So, why don’t we think that way?

Why don’t we build that way? Um, and so we focus on building homes that [00:40:00] produce their own electricity. They utilize waste that other people are throwing away. We’re part of the solution. We collect the water from our roof. We have nine inches of rain a year. My dad got that in North Myrtle in one day with a hurricane.

That’s my entire year’s allotment. And we’re still surviving, and we still take showers. Um, we still grow our own food on the rain catch, which agriculture takes way more water than humans do. Um, the house literally stays 70 degrees inside. It’s negative 30 degrees in Taos in the winters on the extreme days.

Um, and on the extreme days, it’s 95 to a hundred in Taos in the summers. So that’s a very big swing that we have to build a house that actually works. Um, so the thermal mass on the inside of the house. basically gives off the temperature that you want. And then the house is [00:41:00] made so that it’s facing south.

So in the winter, that sun penetrates the house, heats up the thermal mass. The thermal mass then gives off the heat during the nighttime, and it stays 70 degrees. Think about your refrigerator, the freezer. If you unplug it and there’s nothing in it, You might have two to three hours of cold. If you unplug it and you filled it with ice cream and, you know, frozen meat and ice cubes, that thing’s going to last for two to three days.

So that’s your thermal mat, your ice cream, your, your ice and your, you know, your, your frozen stuff in there. Um, but your insulation is the actual refrigerator itself. And it’s kind of how we build houses. So it is 70 degrees inside all year round. And Michael Reynolds, um, with the Airship concept. Uh, is a genius.

He inspired Ustis Conway when they were trying to take his land. They both eviscerated by our government and Michael Reynolds had his architectural license revoked. [00:42:00] The people that are innovative oftentimes are the ones that are stomped on. Why? I don’t even understand it. We have to be innovative. We have to think differently.

We wouldn’t have 22 veterans a day killing themselves if the VA was doing things effectively. I’m not saying the people at the VA are bad. They’re amazing. They want help. They’re part of a bureaucracy and a system that’s not working. We’ve got to do something different. What is it? I don’t know, but I’m trying the best I can to create it.

Scott DeLuzio: And, you know, a lot of times I say, um, in the work that I do outside of this, this podcast is that a lot of the problems that. exist in businesses and personal lives. And it doesn’t matter what the environment is, even in government, it’s not necessarily a people problem. Although you do get bad apples every once in a while.

And those people they’ll be exposed [00:43:00] eventually. And they’ll, they’ll find their way. They’ll be, they’ll be asked to be successful elsewhere. Let’s just put it that

Ryan Timmermans: way. I don’t, I don’t know. Even in the government, if you find bad apples, sometimes it’s impossible to fire

Scott DeLuzio: them. That is true. That is true. So, so there may be that going on too, but I think the majority of the problem is a process problem.

It’s like you, you, you own, you have this many veterans who need help of some sort, and you have this many providers who need this amount of time to do the work. And you end up with people like yourself who are on a five month wait list to see a doctor or, you know, and then on another three month wait list to see the next doctor.

And that That process is broken. I’m sorry. Like there’s nothing right about that process. You got someone calling saying, I need help, mental health help, and they can’t get the help for another five months. There’s something wrong with that. Um, but we’re going to take another quick commercial break here, um, before I get too much into a rant on all of these things.

Um, so [00:44:00] stay tuned. Ryan, it’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you today, learning all about. Uh, veterans off grid and everything that you do in your journey to get to where you’re at now, um, for the, the listeners and the viewers who want to learn more about veterans off grid, um, whether it’s to get involved themselves, uh, to kind of get some assistance through veterans off grid, or, or maybe to support your mission in one way or another through, I don’t know if it’s donations or volunteering or whatever it is that you’re, you’re looking for, uh, where can people go to find out more and, and, uh, Get involved.

Ryan Timmermans: Sure. So we have a website. It’s veterans off grid. org. We’ve got a Facebook group. That’s pretty active. Instagram. Um, I would, I would encourage you to reach out. You know, we, we have the soldier’s creed, right? Never leave a fallen comrade. How many of us [00:45:00] have come back, reintegrated and watch people on the side of the road who are homeless?

I’m not trying to guilt anyone, I’m trying to inspire to say, Hey, how do we come together as a group? Maybe you successfully reintegrated, maybe you want to be a mentor, maybe you want to support us financially. 10 a month is nothing, but it means the world to us because we take, I don’t, I don’t get paid.

I’m a founder. I’ve done this for six years. I don’t get paid.

We take every donation. and we build with it and we support veterans with it. We’ve got a veteran here, um, who was homeless 20 years in California. He came, I told him, don’t come, we don’t have any space for you yet. [00:46:00] Um, he shut up anyway. And he said, uh, I talked to a lot of people and they all make big promises and they’re never who they say they are.

I said, well, you know, the only way you’re going to know is if you come. Sure. He lived in a tent in Taos in March. It was like 10 degrees outside. He had like snot sicles coming out and he was crying. And I’m like, are you okay? He says, I’m, yeah, I’m fine. I’m fine. I am crying because I’m so happy. Wow. I don’t have to worry about the police coming to make me move at five o’clock in the morning.

I don’t have to worry about my truck being broken into, my tools stolen, my battery, my car being stolen. I’m part of something bigger than myself. He’s 73 years old and he’s teaching carpentry. He’s living his best life. He’s growing. He’s my chief microgreen grower in the, in the Wallapini, which is an underground greenhouse.[00:47:00]

He’s an amazing person.

He’s, he’s now shining for everyone else. because he’s part of something that has created a structure so that he can. He’s not a nomad anymore. He’s giving back. So if people want to give back, come. Reach out first though, because I need to make sure I can house you or, or, or you’re okay. Cause it, you know, Veterans Off Grid is more like a fob right now.

You know, if you’re expecting like a, you know, a Saddam’s palace, we don’t have it. It’s not there yet, but we’re building it. We’re building a dream. Um, so they can come, they can volunteer. They’re going to learn sustainable building. We don’t charge anything. Um, but we really are limited by our funds. So 10 a month on our website, veteransoffgrid.

org. And you can help be part of it from wherever you are.

Scott DeLuzio: And that sounds great. And we’ll have links to all of that, uh, in the show notes for anyone who wants to take advantage of that. [00:48:00] Um, but now I want to, I want to cut to another quick segment here. It’s been a few episodes since we’ve done the, is it service connected segment.

Um, so I want to do that one again, uh, for the viewers, uh, who aren’t familiar with it, is it service connected is where we take a look at a video of a service member doing something stupid or otherwise getting injured kind of America’s funniest home videos kind of moment. Um, and we tried to predict whether or not the injury that they sustained would qualify for VA disability.

Somewhere down the line. Uh, for the podcast listeners who can’t see the video, I’ll do my best to describe the video for you, or you can tune [email protected] to see the video. Uh, I may also post the video to social media later on, uh, if I remember to do that. But, um, follow drive on podcast, on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, all the socials for, uh, for that as well.

Anyway, so I’m gonna share the, the, uh, screen here with. My guest. So he can take a look at this video and we can have a little laugh together. Um, are you able to see the, the, uh, screen I’m sharing? Okay. So for the, the audio [00:49:00] only podcast listeners right now, it looks like we have maybe a promotion ceremony, award ceremony, something like that.

We have a soldier standing in front of what looks like a formation saluting. Um, maybe a commanding officer. American flag, tanks in the background, everything. It’s, it’s pretty, pretty cool looking shot here. So we’re going to, I’m going to play this video here real quick and just take a look at what kind of injury the soldier might be sustaining.

All right. A little salute. And he’s falling out. He’s walking away and clunks his head on the tank as he’s walking away. It just, it’s like, it’s like the joke, a man walks into a bar and he says, ouch. And it’s like that, that’s pretty much what I envisioned when someone walked away, he turned around, he walked away.

And then. clunk right into the big gun on this tank and, uh, and nailed his head. So, um, I don’t know if that’s necessarily service connected. It definitely, he probably had a headache after that. I would, I would say, [00:50:00]

Ryan Timmermans: well, concussions are a real thing. Um, and if you have the right lawyer, definitely service connected, but, uh, You know, I always think military does things, practice first and then implements second.

So I’m wondering if he did that twice.

Scott DeLuzio: You know what, that may be the practice run though. And so now he figured out, okay, don’t go that way or, or duck and go that way or something. Um, you know, he does have one thing going for him though. They did catch it on video. So, um, you know, if he does, does go back and decide to claim something, they have that on tape.

So, um, Ryan, again, thank you so much for taking the time to join us. I really do appreciate you, uh, and everything that you guys are doing

Ryan Timmermans: out there. Right on. Thank you for having me.

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