Episode 375 Zorina Pritchett Transforming Military Experience into a Life of Purpose Transcript

This transcript is from episode 375 with guest Zorina Pritchett.

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.

Welcome back to Drive On. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And today my guest is Zorina Pritchett. Zorina is an army veteran, a caregiver and entrepreneur. She dedicated 30 years of federal service to helping out veterans and, um, as an army veteran herself, uh, and caregiver for her disabled brother.

Her journey is marked by resilience, creativity, and a commitment to. Making a difference in the lives of others. Following her retirement, she embarked on a new chapter, channeling her creativity into the development of children’s products through her [00:01:00] business. this episode, we’re going to look at her experiences and insights across her military service, her caregiving role, and her entrepreneurial endeavors.

So before we get into any of that, I want to welcome you to the show, Zorina. I’m glad to have you here.

Zorina Pritchett: am so happy to be here, Scott. Thank you for inviting me.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, you bet. I’m really glad, um, to have you on the show, like I said, but, um, we, we started chatting a little bit before we started recording and I could just tell the energy that you have, um, it’s, it’s going to be infectious. I think, I think folks who are listening to this show, they’re going to, they’re going to feed off of some of that energy that you have.

And it’s, it’s, it’s going to be, I think it’s going to be a good conversation. So, um. Let’s, let’s jump right in. Let’s, let’s talk about, um, maybe some of your experience, uh, serving in the army. What were you, some of your responsibilities, maybe some memorable moments during your [00:02:00] time in the military?

Zorina Pritchett: have to tell this story before I answer that question. When I joined the military at 19, it was because my college sweetheart and I, we eloped and we had this plan that we were not going to tell our parents. That we wanted them to continue paying our education and my mom got a little snoopy. I don’t know what she was looking for, Scott, but she went in my room and she happened to find my marriage license and she told me now that you’re a woman, you got to move out.

So my husband at the time, we moved out and we realized we were two broke college students and so we came up with the idea. Let’s go in the military! We can serve our country and we can get some education money to finish our educational course and we did. And so, when I went into the military I [00:03:00] was very excited about the opportunity of serving our country cause I thought, never been away from home this is a nice little vacation sort of way.

And so, when I entered I signed up And, um, I was a 75 Bravo personnel because I like helping people and everything. And so I was excited about that and during my military, I have to tell people this, I got hurt in basic training. Yeah, I was one of them. Got hurt in basic training, doing KP, got my hand smashed, but they wouldn’t let me go home.

So I went through basic and I’m telling this story because It shaped my life today. Um, and so going through basic and struggling to fire my weapon and I finally, um, qualified and I was a fourth squad leader. And so being in the military, after I got through basic training, um, I realized that although I was eventually [00:04:00] discharged because, you know, You gotta be able to shoot your weapon.

And I’m gonna be honest, I think they gave it to me so I can move along. But during that time of the short period of time I did have in helping veterans, that was the most enriching time for me. I learned In that short period of time, I learned about courage, I learned about resilience and leadership because I wanted to stop being a squad leader because I couldn’t qualify.

That drill sergeant told me, get down and give me 50, soldier. A leader never quits. So I learned early in life, you never quit. And then finally it was the teamwork. I love the military, the teamwork of looking out for your buddies. And so my most memorable experience was jacking up my basic training, but look what the reward that I got is shaped my life and I’m so happy about that.

Scott DeLuzio: You know, I think a lot of people have an experience where [00:05:00] they go through their. Military career, no matter how long or short, and they look back on it. And they’re like, you know, I am so glad I did that at the time. It might’ve been the most miserable experience, but looking back, it’s something that shaped who I am, the type of person gave me the character, uh, to be the type of person, uh, that, that I am all this kind of stuff.

Right. And. And they, they come back, um, just a totally different person. And, um, you know, we, we don’t, I think we, sometimes we take that for granted, we, we don’t give it enough credit. Uh, you know, the amount of, um, you know, kind of resiliency and the change that, that go goes into us when we go through the military, um, You know, I think, especially in basic training, cause that’s where they break you down to the bare bones and they build you back [00:06:00] up into what they want you to be.


Zorina Pritchett: And I think also, when you think about it, when you’re going through some things in your life, you can draw back from your military because of those experience and the discipline, you know, what discipline looks like, you know, the outcome of discipline. And so I rely on that too. I’ll be like, I’m lazy.

I’m not trying to do nothing today. And that military part of me, although it’s been years ago, come on, soldier, let’s get in the game. We got, we got accomplished a mission today. And I’m like, Okay. So it’s really hard. That’s why I say when they say veteran, it’s, it’s just a part of us. You can’t let it go.

If you really enjoy your experience and you learn from it, it’s a part of you and embrace it and celebrate it. And that’s what I do.

Scott DeLuzio: For sure. Yeah. And I think the, the, the, there are some people out there who they kind of turn away from that. That veteran label, um, and they don’t want to associate that way or they don’t [00:07:00] feel that they, they qualify as a veteran. You know, they, they maybe didn’t serve during wartime or if they did, they didn’t deploy to a combat zone or, you know, any of that kind of stuff.

And they, they don’t feel like they did enough or that type of thing. Um, but But really, it doesn’t matter. You could have done as much or as little. The whole point is that you served, you did what your country asked you to do, and that’s something I think you should be proud of. You did serve something

Zorina Pritchett: really think so too.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, you serve something bigger than yourself and you very well could have been asked to go and do those things that maybe some other people did. Um, just being a service member here at home, um, you know, I’ve said this before on this show, it serves as a deterrent to other people who might come and. You know, do bad things here at home.

So just because you, [00:08:00] you weren’t overseas taking the fight to somebody else, it doesn’t mean that you weren’t doing something to help your country, uh, you know, in

Zorina Pritchett: I think, you know what I think too Scott? People who feel like that and God bless their soul. But when you think about it, whether you serve in combat or peacetime, we are behind the scenes preparing to making sure that everything is together. So if we are called We don’t have to get ready because we’re staying ready.

And so I think that’s why it’s important that you embrace it no matter which part you serve. You were ready to go to action to defend this country and everything about it.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right.

Zorina Pritchett: so I struggled with that myself, not finishing my commitment on active duty and finishing the rest of it. Um, with the reservists, it was a federal veteran that had to convince me, you are a veteran.

It’s not your fault that you got hurt and everything. So when I [00:09:00] embraced that, I was like, yeah, I’m a veteran. And I like wearing that hat and I like how it helps me to look at other people and want to help them too. And I think that’s what led me to my career, 30 year career with the VA in helping veterans because I know about the culture, I know about the hardship.

And so I’m very proud of that too. So I can’t get away from it. Even now I’m helping veterans.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, absolutely. And, and you’re right. You, you associate with that, that group of people. And, um, when you’re associated with that group of people, you want to help that group of people and you, you want to see them succeed and do better and, and, and, and have all the, the, uh, success that they, they possibly could get.

Um, and that, that includes, you know, doing the type of work that you did with their, uh, You know, with the VA and things along those lines, right? Um, so you, you mentioned briefly about, uh, you know, getting out of the active duty and going into the reserves and [00:10:00] that whole transition, um, was that kind of a, an abrupt transition for you?

Zorina Pritchett: Oh man. First of all, when I transitioned, um, out the military, I was disappointed because I, you know, I had a plan. Remember here’s another plan that got jacked up. So I wanted to complete that plan. And so I found myself like looking for a job. Um, my husband at the time, he stayed in. And so I was always reminded of, you know, you didn’t stay, you didn’t stay the course here.

So, but then I realized that I was still supporting our country when in the reserve. And so I really had to make a mental pivot and say, yes, although you didn’t do the active duty part, but you’re still showing up. For your country and you still have an opportunity, um, to go to school while in the reserve.

So that really helped me out a lot, but I really miss the camaraderie that you experience [00:11:00] on active duty, man. It is so rare. It’s just a beautiful experience, even though it’s hard, let’s just be honest. It can be hard, but the friendships that you develop, it’s just a wonderful experience. And so having to give that up.

And make that transition in the reservist when you only show up one weekend out of a month and do you do your two weeks? It wasn’t the same and so But again, I still learned something and I still showed up for my country

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right. And, and I think, you know, whether it’s active duty, reserve, uh, guard or, you know, any other, uh, you know, way that you’re serving your country, you’re still serving, uh, your, your country and you’re doing, again, you’re doing what’s asked of you, uh, while serving your country. Um, were there any like specific challenges or, you know, adjustments that you had to?

Uh, navigate during this transition period or, or even after getting out of the reserves altogether, um, you know, what was that, that [00:12:00] transition like for you?

Zorina Pritchett: Well, the big adjustment was looking for a job, you know when I was in the military It was only on the weekend right and you know helping people with their paperwork. No big deal But then when I had to go look for for a job job, I realized the injury in the military, um, really caused me some headaches.

In fact, it made me feel very anxious that I wasn’t going to be able to perform and, um, and so I was always nervous about that. How am I going to, um, survive out here. I needed a job and we had started our family and I was struggling. And so that was the, the challenge for me, but I learned how to mitigate it because I started doing things differently, um, to compensate to the point where my disability didn’t, um, hinder me.

And then also I missed the [00:13:00] structure. It was something about being conditioned with the structure, because then I found out. Without that structure, I was like all over the place, man. I was all over the place. And I didn’t like that about myself. So I really tried to set goals and structure because I operated much better in that space and I achieved much more.

So I was able to Uh, make some adjustments by applying some things that I learned in the military to my civilian life. And I think that’s what helped me to honestly get to a 30 year career, a federal career and retire because we know how to be flexible. I believe we know how to be flexible and we know that.

Whatever that mission is, I’m going to do it. No matter what it takes, I’m going to get there. And that’s what the challenges of, for me, was really my disability. I didn’t know that that injury would affect me in my civilian life. I[00:14:00]

Scott DeLuzio: Right. And when, when you deal with a disability, um, just, you know, whether it’s from military service or whatever, uh, causes a disability, um, it, It changes you in a way, uh, and you kind of have to learn to adjust and adapt to this new reality, this new situation that you’re, you’re dealing with. And, you know, it’s, it’s not the easiest thing to deal with, especially, I got to imagine, you know, mentally is probably one of the toughest things because yes, there’s a, there, there are physical disabilities, uh, which, Which have their, their limitations, but then overcoming it and being resilient mentally, uh, and saying, all right, I got this problem, but I’m going to deal with it and I’m going to, I’m going to get through, and I’m going to, I’m going to push through it and, and, uh, you know, make the best out of this situation.

Um, sometimes. Folks [00:15:00] just let it beat them down and get the better of them. Sometimes people rise up and become, you know, super resilient and, and, uh, are better off. I don’t want to say better off, but they, um, they’re, they’re mental state. They’re, they’re able to overcome this and achieve, you know, great things, despite the fact that they, they’ve got this, uh, you know, disability.

Um, and, and you see, see all sorts of different. Um, reactions to stuff like this, um, where, um, you may have that resiliency, but you may also have the, the victim mentality, the woe is me, you know, everything, everyone’s out to get me kind of thing. Um, you know, and it’s, it’s sad to see, but you know, there’s, there is a wide range of reactions to this.

So, you know, it’s

Zorina Pritchett: think it seems

Scott DeLuzio: Oh, go ahead.

Zorina Pritchett: You know, Scott, I think it’s easy for veterans to fall in that trap though, because one, um, you know, society lift us up though, [00:16:00] but when you go out there to the workforce, you don’t have that cushion. You don’t have that camaraderie that you have. And so a lot of veterans want to show up because people expect them to.

Act a certain way, right? And so for many of our veterans who are dealing with any type of mental challenges, um, that could be quite difficult because people, you know, maybe there’s certain things that how they express themselves. Um, I know clearly when it comes to, um, mental health, Some people look at veterans negatively.

Some of them even become afraid of veterans, so you want to hide it. But I want to tell our veterans, the best thing you can do for yourself in this country is to own it. Get the help you need because You served your country and it came with a price. And so you have to, uh, as my doctor told me, I have to respect my disabilities if no one else.

So respect your disabilities, get the help you need. And always remember you [00:17:00] served your country and you deserve the best outcome of your life because of the sacrifices that you and maybe your family has made.

Scott DeLuzio: Absolutely. Um, I think anyone listening to this should, should take that, um, that advice. Uh, you, you definitely deserve the best, uh, outcomes. Um, you know, just the, the, uh, the disabilities that you might, uh, be dealing with, um, those don’t define you. Um, and, and those are, um, just. You know, wear them as a badge of honor or something, you know, your battle scars, whatever it is, like, you know, wear it, you know, with, with, with pride and, and get out there and, um, you know, hold your chin up and, and get out and, and conquer whatever it is that you’re trying to, uh, accomplish.

Zorina Pritchett: Mm hmm.

Scott DeLuzio: now I want to switch gears just, just a bit here. [00:18:00] Um, In the beginning, I mentioned that you’re also a caregiver, um, as well for, for your brother. Um, I, I know there’s some folks who listen to this, uh, uh, the show and they. Our caregivers themselves, um, they may feel isolated alone. They, they don’t have, uh, maybe a support network that, that would help them, uh, navigate these challenges that, that come with being a caregiver.

Um, Could you tell us about, you know, maybe some of the challenges that you might have faced, uh, being a caregiver and, uh, maybe any advice that you might have for other folks who might be in a similar situation and, and ways that, um, they can, uh, navigate being a caregiver a little bit easier.

Zorina Pritchett: Wow, that has been one of the hardest roles I’ve ever, no, I think being a wife was a little harder. I became a caregiver right before COVID. My brother had a [00:19:00] stroke in December of 2019 and it was a brain stroke. So you can imagine everything wired up. He didn’t remember a thing. So when I became his caregiver, I had to rebuild his life.

And he was so sensitive and so fragile that, um, I was like, I had plans. I was going to retire and go stay on, on an island somewhere for a year and look at me. I’m a caregiver and the support. Oh man. Um, those who are in this position. I had to do what you were doing. Maybe it was meal prep, giving them their medication, taking them to the doctor, taking them to the barbershop, doing everything other than the date and bathing them and stuff like that.

But that was a toll. Scott, that takes such a toll out of you. And I think people avoid you. Let me be honest. I think people avoid you because they know if you, if they ask you, well, how are you doing? [00:20:00] You’re going to say, well, not so good. I need a break. I need this. And they don’t want to offer that. They don’t want you.

So they don’t ask. And so you find yourself lonely. You find yourself stressful. I almost hurt myself because I was so stressed. I accidentally put my vibe. I put my brother’s medication in a pocket. And I was going to take my vitamins and I happened to put my vitamins in the same pocket. And so I ended up taking one of his blood pressure pills and it plummeted my, uh, blood pressure.

I had to go to the VA emergency. Um, and so the doctor told me, I know you’re a caregiver, but I want you to be mindful of self. So that is one of the things I want to encourage caregivers. Self care first because you cannot help them if you don’t take care of yourself. So I learned that. Develop a structure.

I was all over the place. So I had to [00:21:00] learn. I don’t have to cook daily meals. Why don’t I meal prep? So I would meal prep for 30 days. So if you can meal prep. Also, try to have some structure. I, I used to do the little peels, like, weekly, until somebody say, Hey, why don’t you do it for 30 days? And I was like, Oh, they got something like that?

Yeah, go to Amazon. I was like, Wow, okay. So I started doing that. And I started picking a day that I can go shopping with him and get everything done. But most importantly, Get help. If you need some help, ask for help because it can be so frustrating. And I found myself snappy. And I was always apologizing to my brother and he said, it’s okay, sister.

I understand. But it wasn’t okay because they’re so fragile, those that we take care of. So make sure you get the resources that’s out there, get you some help. And then most importantly. Patch yourself up, celebrate your wins, [00:22:00] that you did a good job, that these people are happy, and then finally, Encourage them, because they’re vulnerable.

You know, it’s a, it was very hard watching my brother Struggle, um, and so I tried to find a way to make him hold on to his manhood, you know I found him an apartment, I made sure he could handle that, but everything else, I handle it. So again, Self care, you know, get some help, structure everything, celebrate your wins and encourage them because it is hard and it’s okay.

You got this. You made the commitment. And you can do this. That’s what I tell myself. I can do this. And so, um, I’m glad I’m doing it.

Scott DeLuzio: absolutely. And, uh, you know, I’m, I’m sure he is too. Uh, I’m sure he’s, he’s, uh, you know, appreciative of the sacrifice and the effort that you, you put in, you know, you’re, [00:23:00] uh, you’re, you’re not, you know, on an Island somewhere right now, sipping a, sipping a drink.

Zorina Pritchett: Are you rubbing it in right now, Scott? We tried to figure out. I was like, man, can I take him to the island? But then I was like, I don’t want to do that. You know, I want to move. But then I think I take him out of his environment because that’s another thing with caregiving. You just can’t uproot them. You know, they got a routine.

They’re used to it. It is a big sacrifice. And. I’m gonna say this and I hope your audience don’t misinterpret because people tell me all the time they’ll say oh you’re such a good sister and I’ll say I’m not doing this because I’m his sister I’m doing it because it’s the right thing to do my brother has no wife he has no children and I knew that if I placed him in a home I might as well sign his death certificate and he was only 50.

for at the time. And so I decided to [00:24:00] step up because no one else will and I’m glad I did it because I learned a lot about me. I learned I need some patience and uh, he taught me some patience and then also that resilience that we learn in the military. I learned to apply that when time is like I’m gonna push through this, especially when I was rebuilding his life.

So caregiving, oh my god, praises to you for stepping up because a lot of people cannot do what we’re doing.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And, you know, one of the things that you mentioned is the difficulty of seeing that, that transition from, you know, the normal, healthy, what you’ve, uh, experienced for your whole life, you know, knowing him, uh, and everything to after, uh, you know, that, that happened and, and then seeing him kind of in this disabled state and it, it’s like, okay, that sucks.

Like this person, you know, used to be, you know, uh, you know, [00:25:00] Healthy, you know, full of life and energy and able to do all these different things. And, and now can’t do quite as much as, as he used to. My wife, a few years ago, uh, developed epilepsy and, uh, she started having seizures, never had a seizure before in her life, but started having that.

And, um, you know, afterwards, um. She’s gotten better since then, but, you know, immediately afterwards, you could tell like, you know, things just weren’t processing quite as quickly and, um, you know, things, things, things that she normally was able to do, um, you know, even just coming up with words, like in, in a sentence, uh, she’d start stumbling over her words and, and just couldn’t get it out.

And it, You know, it’s like, you’re, you’re watching her. It’s like, God, that sucks. Like, why, why did this happen? But, um, you know, the, there, there is resilience there. Um, you know, in her, I’m sure in your brother as well. Um, not, not taking that, [00:26:00] uh, you know, woe is me mentality. It’s like, I’m, I’m gonna, I’m gonna do better.

I’m not gonna let this, uh, define me or, or beat me just like the, you know, disabilities that, that we were talking about before. Um, you know, that. That stuff shouldn’t define you. Um, it’s, it should be, um, you know, obviously it’s a part of, um, a part of you, but it shouldn’t be all of you. You know, my, my wife, she’s still a mother.

She’s still, uh, you know, is all these different things and, and she. Uh, doesn’t let that define her and be like the thing that, um, is, is like her headline, you know, who she is or anything, you know, so, um, you know, I, I think, um, uh, you know, as a caregiver, um, on, on your end, um, the advice that you gave is, is certainly spot on, uh, definitely take care of yourself.

I know in the beginning when my wife first, uh, you know, first had her, her seizures and, and she was having all, all these problems, um. I [00:27:00] kind of let myself go. I was like, you know, hell with me. I got it. I have a job to do here. I got to take care of her. But, um, then I started realizing if I’m not, if I’m not taking care of myself, how am I going to take care of her and my kids and this and that?

And the other thing, um, you know, how am I going to be able to do all that? And so, yeah, I got to take care of myself. I got, I got to eat right. I have to exercise. I have to sleep, you know, get a good amount of sleep. I have to, uh, you know, do all those things that you normally do. Plus you got to add in this other stuff.

So you got to, you got to fit in time. And like you said, you, you schedule things out and you, you, you, um, do things, uh, you know, in a structured, uh, format and, and without that, uh, you, you’re going to be running around with your hair on fire because it’s just not going to end up

Zorina Pritchett: Scott, don’t you love it? Scott, don’t you love it though, that once you got it down packed and then you see your, your wife flourish, that she feels good in her skin and everything. Um, that’s the beauty of it. When I see my [00:28:00] brother doing things on his own, like now he can call and make his appointments. I was like, this is great.

But now I just need him to tell me about it, but we’re working on that. But just to see them, that suffering. Get part of their life back their normalcy back and you were a part of that It’s so rewarding, especially when Pete when he goes home to visit and people like oh, you look good, man You look good He’ll come back and tell me and I’m thinking I had something to do with that, you know And it just makes me feel good

Scott DeLuzio: And that’s great. Yeah. Um, it’s great that you’re, you’re able to do that. Um, and, and continue, uh, you know, doing the work that, that you do, um, which by the way, I wanted to get to that. Um, talk about your, your company and, and the, the, the work that you do. Um, talk, um, Tell us about your, your, your company and the types of products that you, you, uh, offer and the things that you do.

Um, I’d [00:29:00] like to kind of get into that a little bit.

Zorina Pritchett: Well, back in December 21, after I got my actually, after I got my brother stabilized, it was like, okay, what’s next? I needed something for myself. And so in December 21, um, I had a dream of a game. And so I developed a prototype and I played it and tested it and I liked the game, right? And so, um, I realized that with my granddaughters, they like digital games.

Every time I went over there, they were always looking at some screen time. And so when I introduced the game, I found out they like playing it. And so it was my granddaughter that thought the game was really neat. And she said, Gigi, you should share this with other kids. And so the more I played the game and the more I started thinking of other things, my storytelling background, it just, I don’t know, guys, it gave me purpose again.

It just gave me another win in life to be impactful. And so then I just started looking [00:30:00] around and I noticed so many kids. are looking at digital or looking at something. And I say, wait a minute, we need balance. And I know that COVID had a lot to do with it because they were separated from their peers.

And so when I developed the game and put it out there, I say, you know what? I want to help busy families because there are families out there that’s not taking time to interact with their kids. And they’re like, Oh, They did their chores. They ate their meal. Oh, you can go play with your digital, right?

Just sit there for hours. Well, no, they’re only supposed to have one or two hours per day. They recommend that for their social and emotional wellbeing. So I came up with the idea, I’m going to help parents. I’m going to come up with some products that they can play, um, 10 minutes or less with their kids.

That’s for your busy families. But then I also want to make educational products, um, that’s fun too, uh, particularly for the black community because our kids continue to struggle according to teachers and their math and [00:31:00] science. So, if I can help in that area, that would be great. And finally, I hope Zochey grows so we can have some parent conferences with their children.

Wouldn’t that be great, Scott, that parents can go to a low cost conference and learn some things about parenting and kids learn how to talk to their parents. And then we bring you back together and you bond over dinner or something and having fun and you get to talk about What you learn and take those skills back to your home and create that happy, safe space.

So that’s what Xochitl wants to do. She wants to engage. She wants to educate and she wants to entertain our children during their development while connecting with family and friends. So my products I have out now. It’s two card games, Crazy Name Zomatic Shift, um, that one’s for ages 11 and older, and Pass and Play is for kids [00:32:00] 4 and 10.

And so, um, this entrepreneurial stuff is really fun. It’s really fun.

Scott DeLuzio: It is, it is. We were talking before we started recording about, you know, being an entrepreneur and, uh, you know, all the, the challenges that go along with it. And, and, uh. You know, sometimes it feels like it’s a gamble, but you know, a lot of times it’s exciting too. And, and, uh, you get to experiment with different things, see, see how, uh, you know, customers react and, and make adjustments and change things around and, and, and.

Really you just get to have fun, uh, and, and do the thing that you, you, like you said, gave you a purpose, um, you know, again, and, and that was, uh, uh, trying to help out families, connect with their kids, help the kids connect with their peers and, and things like that, which I think, especially after COVID, um, you know, when so many kids were out of school, uh, they were [00:33:00] stuck at home.

Basically put in front of a screen, uh, you know, they’re, those devices to, uh, you know, interact with their, their teachers and other students and things like that. That was about the, the amount of interaction that they had socially, uh, that couldn’t have been good for, for them developmentally. So having, uh, you know, something like, like what you’re putting together to be able to, um, You know, reconnect with people, whether it’s friends or, or family.

Uh, I know, uh, sometimes I’ll, I’ll, I’ll go around the neighborhood and I’ll see kids waiting for the school bus, uh, in, in our neighborhood. And I’ll see all these kids down on their phone, staring at there’s this, it’s, it’s dark out, right? When, when the buses are coming a lot of times, and there’s this glow coming up and you just see, it’s like these aliens with these glows coming up in their face.

Cause they’re just staring at all, staring at their phones. And, uh. You know, none of them are, are talking to each other. No, there’s no interaction going on there. They’re all on their phones. Um, but I think [00:34:00] lost the, the in person, uh, communication. They’ve, they’ve, they don’t know how to do that, uh, as much anymore.

And it’s, it’s kind of sad to see it.

Zorina Pritchett: It is sad. You know why it’s sad? It’s going to be sad for us in the future because we understand that right now with the economics, parents are struggling. And so they want to get to work, provide for their children. And what we’re doing, and this is just my opinion, we are opening our children To be very vulnerable to all kinds of things that can come out, whether it’s sex trafficking or is making a dollar off of digital.

How do you raise kids with social isolation and not encouraging that social interaction and then expect them to grow up and form communities when they’re not used to you form, you know, that. The benefit of friendship or just relationships [00:35:00] bonding. So when we have to do something communal, right, come together for a cause, we know what that feels like because we bonded in these individual relationships.

Well, our children today, many of them, their bond is digital. Their screen time. They’ll tell you, Oh, I got a hundred and some friends. No, you do not. You got bodies, but you don’t have friends. And so. It opens them up to accept all kinds of things as being normal because they want to belong to something.

And so as parents, you are the gatekeepers of your children. You are the protectors of their well being. So you cannot allow digital to take up so much of their time in development, you know. So when you get older, it’s like, okay, who are you? Oh, you know, I’m gonna say my last thing right here. You got parents who allow their kids to text them and say, and they’re in the house.[00:36:00]

Oh, I’m home, mom. What are we having for dinner? I was like, what? tell my granddaughters, like your parents, where your parents at? Oh, they’re upstairs. So I don’t know how successful. Zochey will be, but I’m going to tell you something, ladies and gentlemen, just like I wanted to fight in the military for my country, I’m going to fight for these kids because I see the danger that is happening right now.

If we do not pull them in and spend time with them and teach them their social skills, they need it. They just don’t know it, but they do.

Scott DeLuzio: I know. And it’s one of those things where I think you, as a kid. You think, okay, yeah, whatever, mom, whatever, dad, you know, uh, you know, what do you know, that kind of thing, and then you look back later on in life, it’s like, man, I hate to admit it, but they were right, you know, uh,

Zorina Pritchett: You know what? One thing too, my [00:37:00] granddaughter is um, in middle school, and she was so excited to go to her first dance, right? And I was excited for her, and I was just curious, a nosy grandmother. I said, so did she dance with any boys? Oh! We don’t do that. I’m like, what? You don’t dance with boys? She said, no.

The girls are with the girls, and the boys are with the boys. Now you’re probably saying, that’s safe. But how about if that’s something that’s a norm for them? It’s like, really? How are they going to learn how to interact with people? But she said that’s how they like it. So, everything’s changing, Scott. We have to change with them, but I still say that we got to get them that balance.

You know, you got to take them around good family, you know, um, Encourage your child to make friends, you know, um, because we always hear about these children, um, who are isolated, who get bullied and they don’t [00:38:00] know how to ask for help because they’re so used to being solo. But if they had a friend, maybe their friend can help them to navigate through that crisis.

So again, I hope Zochey can grow where we can really start tackling. Parenting, not to say you’re doing a bad job, but to give you the tools and the resources that you can strengthen the family so we can have strong community in the future.

Scott DeLuzio: and, and quite frankly, I mean, being a parent doesn’t come with a, a handbook, you Uh, you know, a guidebook, you don’t, you don’t get told like, Hey, this is what you should do with your kids. And sometimes parents are like, I just don’t know what to do with, with these kids. And, um, sometimes it’s, it’s easier to give, give them the digital stuff and, and let them just be entertained by those things.

But, you know, with my kids, I tell them, uh, You know, that stuff is fine for entertainment purposes, like, you know, [00:39:00] like watching a movie or, or something like that, where it’s, you’re being entertained, like there’s information coming to you. You don’t have to do anything to be entertained. It just happens.

And it, and you get entertained, right. Um, with, with that kind of stuff, but, but sometimes you need to be the one who. Creates those experiences too. You need to, uh, have those conversations with people and, and maybe sometimes have a disagreement with somebody and learn how to navigate that too. Right. Um, and maybe it’s with a friend, maybe it’s with a family member, you know, but, um, you know, one of the things that we do at our house, we, we don’t have any, uh, you know, digital devices at the table, uh, when we have dinner and we make it a point to have dinner.

With each other every night, and we talk about, you know, what happened in your day, what’s going on in the world. What’s, you know, things that are, you know, relevant to our family, to our, our community and, and things like that. We’ll, we’ll talk about it. And, um, you know, we, we have all sorts of [00:40:00] conversations.

Our kids know about all sorts of things that, that maybe some other kids. aren’t aware of, uh, that that’s maybe going on in the world. Um, but we make it a point that have those conversations with them and let them know, how does this stuff impact you? And, and, you know, I’m not, am I a perfect parent? No, but you know, I’m trying to, uh, you know, do the best that I can to make sure that they have the resources to be able to, um, uh, you know, kind of.

Have those, those conversations, sometimes difficult conversations, uh, you know, in, in the future when, when, uh, they’re on their own.

Zorina Pritchett: Well, I think the thing that we can always, for you young parents, I just want you to remember you have a family. Little adults. That’s what you got. Little adults. And so whatever behaviors or things like that is just going to keep festering as they get older. And so, uh, do you think that’s going to be an asset in the community, that behavior?

If you know it’s not, you better [00:41:00] Train them while you got control of them or you’ll be crying later like oh my god, where did these kids come from? Oh, we didn’t we gave them too much. We spoiled them and then to one last thing Parenting is a life sentence. It’s a life sentence You’re going to always want to give them the best and wish the best for them and anything that goes wrong with them as an adult, it breaks your heart just as much as when they fell down and scraped their knee for the first time.

You want to shelter them and, um, but you don’t have to be perfect. You just want to make sure you’re doing right by them and yourself.

Scott DeLuzio: absolutely. Yeah. Nobody’s going to be perfect. You’re not going to get it right the first time. Uh, you’re probably not going to get it right the second time. And, uh, you know, you’re gonna, you’re gonna just keep learning and evolving. And, and, uh, you know, as, as you, uh, go through, you, you’ll eventually get more right than, uh, [00:42:00] Get more right than wrong.

And, and hopefully you’ll, you’ll, uh, take those lessons and, and move forward and, and your kids will be better off for it. But, you know, I think it’s great that you’re, you’re putting together these products to help families, help children, uh, become better people. And, um, you know, it’s, it’s a nice, um, uh, breath of fresh air when you think about the, the different.

Activities and different entertainment options that are available for families, for children. Uh, it’s nice to think about, uh, the. The low tech option, you know, it’s, it doesn’t need a cell phone. It doesn’t need an X Box or, uh, you know, any of those kinds of things. It, it’s something you could just sit down a deck of cards.

You don’t even need electricity. The power could be out and you could still play this game and still have a good time. And I

Zorina Pritchett: That’s true, and I’m going to tell you something, um, Zomatic Shift is a new game experience. [00:43:00] Everybody says it plays totally different, and that’s one of the things I like about it because the replayability, um, is there and has that suspense for our digital kids because you don’t know who’s going to win.

Um, the objective of the game is you have to be the last That’s player holding a hand. So there’s so many cards that would eliminate play cards out your hand and you never keep your original hand. There’s a card that will tell you you have to give a card to the person to the left, to the right, or everybody have to shift their cards.

And I think it’s designed that way because You want to keep kids attention span, you know, if you’re busy and they don’t have the attention span, you need a fast game. You don’t need these long drawn out games in the world that we are in now. You need it to be quickly. And then if you can conversate with them to find out why they’re having a quick game about what’s going on with them, how’s school, anything bothering while they’re having fun.

And then too, [00:44:00] it’s a chance style game and they love the opportunity of beating their parents. They love it. And so I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing because I believe in it. And someone asked me, well, what happens if Zochey doesn’t, um, catch on? Well, guess what? I got a lot of games to donate to some wonderful families.

And maybe I could still get some sponsors that help me have these conferences. To really help our parents who are struggling, who may not feel like they’re good parents and they’re doing everything Scott that they can do. I want to know that there are people that believe in them and that’s trying to find a solution to make your world better as a parent.

That’s me, Zochey.

Scott DeLuzio: there you go. And so you’re doing all this, uh, you know, it seems like. You know, when do you have the time to do all of this stuff? It seems like you got so much going on, but it’s, it’s just really, it’s, it’s amazing, uh, that, [00:45:00] that you’re doing all of this and, and, um, continuing to serve in a way to, to help other people.

Uh, you know, like you said. Part of your, uh, military service, you did what you did because you just liked doing things to help other people. And to me, that, that’s just a, you know, a continuation of what you’re doing now. You’re, you’re continuing to help other people, uh, through this and that’s, you know, the, the new, uh, sense of purpose that you have.

So, uh, I appreciate you coming on the show. Sharing your, your experiences, um, your, your personal experiences, your, your, your experiences with your family and, uh, in what you’re doing now, um, with, with your company and these products that you’re creating, um, where can people go to find, uh, the, the products that you, you offer, uh, the games that you just mentioned, and I’m sure you have some other, uh, things kind of in the works as well.

Uh, where can people go to find out more about the products that you offer?

Zorina Pritchett: Yeah, I [00:46:00] just started Zochey in July of this year, so I’m a little slow, but I, I’m on Walmart online. You gotta really look for me now. Something happened. You can’t find me like you’re used to, so I recommend, if you’re really interested in learning more about ZCI and my games, visit www dot. That’s Z O C H E Y dot com.

I’m gonna say it one more time. W W W dot Zochey, Z O C H E Y dot com. Come and then you can learn everything about the game and um, where to purchase it. And yes, I’m very excited. I wrote a children’s book. It’s supposed to be coming out next, this year. Um, it’s called Dancing Teardrops. It’s a book about, um, A grandmother and her daughter, the little girl wanted to have a tea party in the rain, and her grandmother cheers [00:47:00] her up by telling her when she’s standing in the rain and her tears are mixed in the rain that she has dancing teardrops.

And so she just thought that was so delightful. And, um, That was a stretch for me. I wanted to challenge myself. That’s something else I think about the military. We’re so used to challenges. And so I find myself wanting to challenge myself to stretch myself to grow. And so, um, that writing that book really helped me to stretch it because I wanted, I never felt comfortable in writing.

And so I wanted to do that and my granddaughter, uh, collabed with me. And so here we are. So veterans, we can do so much out there. We have so much things that we can bring to the table, um, to be, to make a positive impact into the world that we live in, you know, and it started with our military experience and, um, it’s great.

It’s really great, man. I’m applying all of it.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s great. And take [00:48:00] advantage of it. Why not? You got the experiences, you got the resources, you know, the grit and determination, all that stuff. You got it in you. Why not use it to the best, uh, of your ability? So, um, before we wrap this episode up, I always like to end, uh, an episode with a little bit of humor.

Um, and. Whenever I have another veteran on the show, I like to do a segment that I call, is it service connected? It’s kind of just a fun way to kind of laugh at, at the misfortune of some other service members and we can all laugh at each other and it’s all good. Cause we know it’s all in good fun. We, we all, we all know it’s, uh, you know, just, just part of the.

Part of the game of being a veteran, being a service member, we get to laugh at each other and it’s fine. So I’m going to, I’m going to share this video real quick so that, um, so that you can see it. Um, and, and this is, uh, for the, the audio listeners who can’t see what we’re looking at. I’ll try to, [00:49:00] uh, describe it as best as I can right now.

It looks like there’s a soldier standing in a doorway. It looks like maybe a training exercise cause he’s not really wearing any. Protective equipment other than maybe some gloves. Maybe if, if I, if I’m looking at that, right. Um, doesn’t look like he has any body armor helmet or anything like that on. So, um, guessing it’s a training exercise.

We’re going to take a look and see what happens in this video. I’m going to press play now. So it looks like they’re all lined up, uh, outside of his doorway. Um, it looks like a smoke grenade or, uh, maybe a flashbang grenade. Um. Kick in the door and that grenade did not quite make it into the doorway and it exploded right at the guy’s feet.

So it looks like they all, um, you know, kind of got, got smoked by that grenade. That was probably not the best. Um, that was probably not the outcome that he was looking for, uh, with that grenade. It [00:50:00] like, it just hit off the side of the door, the, the, the wall there and it bounced right back. Uh, it landed, what?

Maybe a foot away from his feet, and then went off. That, uh, that probably rang his bell a little bit. He probably was, uh, was kind of cursing himself for, for, uh, not having better control over that. Um, but lesson learned, uh, make sure that thing gets inside the doorway before you let it go.

Zorina Pritchett: that is so true. And, you know, you said service connection. Now, there’s a possibility if it was loud enough to hurt their ears or it was loud, they were close enough where some debris hit them in the face.

Scott DeLuzio: Very well could have, it didn’t look,

Zorina Pritchett: be a service connection with that.

Scott DeLuzio: it did not look like anybody in that video had any sort of like eye protection or, Oh no, I take that back. No, they did have some eye protection. Um, maybe they had some ear protection. The video is kind of grainy. It’s hard to tell if they had anything like that, but yeah, that, that thing, [00:51:00] that thing went off, I mean, it could have been more than a foot or so away from this, this guy’s, uh, his legs.

So, uh, yeah, definitely. I could imagine. Uh, Probably if it was loud enough, uh, some hearing issues,

Zorina Pritchett: loud enough.

Scott DeLuzio: tinnitus maybe, um, it could, I mean, it could even have some, uh, you know, maybe a mild TBI or, or, or something like that cause it was a pretty enclosed space.

Zorina Pritchett: And then the one that was going in there initially, then he stepped back and then the other one through. We don’t know what happened to him because he went out the picture frame. We could have knocked him down and he could have hit his head and rolled over and start foaming at the mouth. We don’t know.

Scott DeLuzio: You don’t know. You don’t know. But if that happened, um. You know, they, they definitely got a case for some sort of a service connection. And they also have a case for not letting this guy live it down, who, uh, didn’t get that grenade inside that doorway. He’s gonna,

Zorina Pritchett: you [00:52:00] doing?

Scott DeLuzio: he is not going to be able to live that down.

And you know what? It’s on, it’s on, uh, this show now. And so anyone who’s watching it gets to get to laugh

Zorina Pritchett: Or can you imagine though, uh, when it happened, Scott, and it went like that and the fellas like, okay, you guys, you know what happened last time? Okay, we just gonna step over here. You just gonna do what you do. We gonna step over here first.

Scott DeLuzio: Let us know, let us know when it’s done.

Zorina Pritchett: Yeah.

Scott DeLuzio: We’ll show up now that you know what? They’re more likely than not. They probably got somebody else to do it the next time. You know, you’re, you’re fired. You’re out of here. Somebody

Zorina Pritchett: would have just said, oh, it’s a defect. It wasn’t my fault. We’re not taking any chances

Scott DeLuzio: No, no, no. We don’t want to deal with that. No, especially, especially not in a, in a real life situation. You want to make sure that thing gets inside the door and does its job. So,

Zorina Pritchett: And it looked like they were in a foreign country, so it’s so important you get it right.

Scott DeLuzio: You want to make sure it’s done right. Yeah, it looked like it was a training exercise in this [00:53:00] scenario because they really didn’t have the type of protective equipment that they should have had if they were deployed, you know, so, so it’s looking like it’s a training exercise, but, um, you know, maybe they, they, uh, you know, mocked up the walls and everything just to make it look

Zorina Pritchett: make it look real.

Scott DeLuzio: like they’re in Iraq or Afghanistan or something like that.

Just with the. You know, that was on the walls and that kind of stuff, but, um, you never know. Um, always, always train like it’s a real thing, I guess, is, is the, uh, the key. They, they should have had probably everything on it. They should have had the helmets. They should have had the body armor and all their, their full kit.

They should have had had going, but you know what?

Zorina Pritchett: have been too hot for them, Scott. Might have been saying, ooh, it’s too hot for all of that. We know what we’re supposed to do. Let’s not do that right now.

Scott DeLuzio: Oh, they clearly, they clearly did not know what they were supposed to do. Anyways, thank you so much again for taking the time to come on the show and share everything, uh, [00:54:00] that you’ve gone through your experiences and, and, uh, what you’re doing now with your company. I think it’s, uh, definitely awesome work that you’re doing and I’m glad to be able to highlight it on the show.

Hopefully we get, uh, some more eyes, uh, on the products and get more folks interested and, and, and help some families out along the way. So thank you again.

Zorina Pritchett: Thank you so much for having me. It has truly been an enjoyable experience.

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.

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