Air Force Veteran Turned Veteran Advocate
Kim Petters is an Air Force Veteran, who has turned into a Veteran Advocate after overcoming her own struggles with PTSD. I wanted to have Kim on the show to talk about how she became an advocate for veteran issues.
Scott 00:00 Hey everybody. This is the Drive on Podcast where we talk about issues affecting veterans after they get out of the military. I'm your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let's get on with the show.
Scott 00:15 Hey everyone, thanks for joining us on the Drive on Podcast. Today we have, a friend from high school. Actually we went, we graduated high school together and, I don't really know about you, but I don't really want to think about how long ago that was. I start feeling old when I start thinking about how long it will go. That was but anyways Kim is an air force vet who has been involved with a lot of different causes since getting out of the air force and she's here today to, talk a little bit about her story and, and all the things she's been up to. So, Kim, welcome to the show. And, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Kim 00:57 Yeah, sure. So first, thanks for having me. Um, let's see. So I grew up in Glastonbury, Connecticut and I joined the Air Force and I was in for 10 years. I had one deployment. I always liked to start off with, I am not a combat veteran. You know, and a lot of people are like, you know, well, how did you end up with PTSD? And, it was while I was deployed, I worked with the Human Remains missions and I kinda took that home with me and, I dunno, I, I, you know, I did everything that I was supposed to do. You know, I joined the, the military to go to school. I ended up finishing my degree in knees before I got out. You know, I had a job lined up, an amazing job. I was working with a child savings institute in Omaha, Nebraska. I transitioned right into that job day one out of the military. But you know, life threw me a few curve balls and just things got difficult. And my transition going from 10 years in the military to the civilian worlds was a rocky one to start for a few years. Actually.
Scott 02:13 Okay. Okay. And, and so tell us a little bit about the kind of, the, that, that transition kind of the some of the struggles that you kind of went through during, during that time when you were transitioning between your, your military career and, you know, trying to get into reintegrate back into the civilian world.
Kim 02:37 Yeah. So, okay. So reintegration, so I had a job and I was working as a teacher at the Child Saving's Institute and you know, I, I got along with everyone pretty well. There was a few girls that I met that I'm still friends with to this day. But I noticed right away that I had a hard time fitting in with the other girls. I was just, my personality I guess was, hm. I don't know how, how do you describe it? I guess too much. I don't know how to like, you know, I guess in the military when we talk to each other, we skip the fluff. We get straight to the point and no one's offended by it. But in the civilian world, it's not quite the same. And so just even that was different for me.
Scott 03:30 It's a bit more intense when you're dealing with a military like a veteran, you know, where like you said, you skip the fluff, you kind of just get right to the point. You don't, you know, beat around the bush at all. You're just going straight to whatever it is that you, you're trying to talk about or whatever.
Kim 03:47 Right, right. And then the way I noticed a few other small differences, you know, you know, if say we had a meeting at the end of the day and everyone had to stay 15 minutes later, you know, some of the women, I don't mean to offend anyone, but some of the women, you would think it was the end of their world. I mean, God forbid they had to stay 15 minutes and I can just remember, you know, working 24 hours straight. And I, I sort of thought it was a joke and I don't know if I vocalized it or not. I've knowing me, I probably did. And that too creates a difference because I, oh, another thing. So that leads me to another thing I noticed in the military. We're not offended by things. You know, we're used to being around very, very strong personalities from all walks of life all over the world. And we laugh at each other more than anything. We don't get offended by each other. And that was another thing that I, I really had a hard time getting used to with civilians and fitting in with them. You know, I just kind of, Oh, I don't know. I just said I had a rocky start.
Scott 04:49 It seems like these days people get offended by just about everything. It's almost like you can get offended by getting offended and like so much of that going on. And, and you're absolutely right in the military, it's a completely different world where, you know, you can call people names and they just brushes right off of them. And it's as if it's just a normal part of life.
Kim 05:12 Yeah. Yeah. Well, even just small things you don't think of, you know, say so, say like another teacher's late, I'll be like, hey, you know, you gotta be on time. What do you, you can't be here late in the military. We'd laugh at it. And in the civilian world it was like, I can't believe she had the nerve to, I mean, I was just five minutes late. What's the big deal? And in the military that's like, you know, if you're not there 20 minutes early, you're already late. You know, I just, yeah, yeah. And I think I was just too military when I got out. I'm not sure.
Scott 05:41 Well I think in a way that's a good thing that, that you, you kept some of that you know, because you know, things like being on time, like that's not a bad thing. I'm never gonna say like, Oh, you're on time much. Yeah.
Kim 05:58 You know what I mean? That's, that's a good thing. Yeah. Yeah. But, you know, so, you know, I ended up, you know, it was okay, you know, there was a few, a few personality clashes, differences, whatever. But then, you know, life happens also. And I ended up inheriting two children overnight. They were my niece and nephew and both their parents passed away. And so I went from two to four children, which then made me quit the job that I had worked for to stay home. And my husband who was in school, quit school to go to work. We sold our house out in Nebraska and then we moved to across the country to be closer to family. You know, during time of family crisis you want to be closer to family and we ended up settling down right outside Dover, Delaware.
Kim 06:47 And you know, so I just sort of put my life on hold. I think we're really good in the military. If you're struggling with something or something's hard, you can really, really just put that on the back burner and literally numb it out and focus on, you know, the mission that's in front of you. What do you have to get done? And in that case, for me, it became this family needs me, these children need me. And so that became my focus. But while that was my focus for a few years I was taking, you know, I'd gotten out of the military and I'd gotten retired out for PTSD. And so I was taking all these medications, that typical concoction, the antidepressant, the antianxiety, something to sleep, something for nightmares and you know, so I took care of the kids. I, we, you know, my husband and I, we worked together, we got our family where we needed to be.
Kim 07:38 Everyone's good, everyone's thriving. And I just turned around one day and I'm like, oh my God, I had put myself aside so much. I had pretty fledged like had my ass kicked by life. I was just exhausted. I had not reintegrated at all with the civilian world at that point because I just focused on my family. And we moved to a state where I did not know a soul. And I don't know, I just turned around one day and I was one of those veterans on all these medications and it just, it wasn't okay. And, so I had heard about medical marijuana and I'd heard that veterans were, you know, doing well with it. And, but for me, okay, so I'm, I'm very conservative. And to me, I thought any mother who smoked pot, like she must really be a piece of work, you know?
Kim 08:28 And so I believed all the stigmas. I thought it was terrible, but I was desperate, right. And so I, you know, and plus the meds weren't really working and it was just taking a toll on me. So I asked my brother in law, in New Jersey, I said, Danny, can you help me out? You think you can get me some pot, you know, because it's working for all these other veterans. Maybe it's gonna work for me. And, so I tried it and it literally, it worked right. Instantly. I felt better. I laughed, I was laughing. I just, you know, I hadn't felt that good in, in, I couldn't remember the last time. And so I was like, okay, I'm going to need you to get me more of this. And so, but because of the stigma and because it's illegal, you know, and I've never broken a law.
Kim 09:13 I've never been arrested. I'm like literally hiding upstairs in my bathroom with this like little bowl and this weed and I'm like, you know, I'm thinking I'm a terrible person. But meanwhile I'm like, wow, I stopped taking my anxiety medication. Wow. I haven't needed that sleep, that ambien. I wow. I, I haven't had a nightmare in a while. Like, you know, this is really working. And so it was like, okay, our state, we have a program, PTSD is a qualifying condition for this medical marijuana program. Let me get access. And, you know, I was, I already had the diagnosis. This should be easy. I wanted to make an honest woman out of myself. I was afraid. I was, you know, I was breaking the law and I couldn't get access. It was just the program sucked. It was just so hard to get into the program.
Kim 10:05 And Yeah. And so, but meanwhile, I've become this veteran that is completely isolated. You know, I definitely did that. I isolated for a few years and partially because of, you know, what happened in the family and they needed me, but really because the PTSD was truly kicking my ass. Those around me couldn't tell. I was very highly functioning but I was dying on the inside. And so that's actually what pulls me out of my shell was the fact that I found something that worked, something that helped me feel better. And meanwhile veterans are dropping like flies, like no medication has helped. No suicide prevention program has helped. But I found what helped but it's going to require me to come out of the closet and everyone's going to find out that I've been smoking pot. But it was that drive to help my veteran community that helped me come out of my shell and helped me get involved in my community.
Kim 11:04 Helped me find those other veteran groups because again, I didn't know a single soul in Delaware, but I was going to need help and I was going to need other veterans to help me. But how do you, how do you bring this up? How do you, how do you say, hey, we need better access to, to weed, to marijuana? You know? And honestly, if it wasn't for my drive to want to help other people, I don't think I ever would have came out of my shell. I don't think I ever would've stopped isolating, to be honest with you, because it was really hard. It was so hard at first. Oh my gosh, you have no idea. I would even go out. So the first time I came out, I googled marijuana in Delaware and I found this group, this activist group, and that's how I got involved.
Kim 11:48 I went to this meeting and when I, when mind you, I mean I was really isolating for years. It had been like at least three years. And I went, I walked into this meeting and I was literally trembling. And anyone who knows me now wouldn't even believe it, but I swear on everything. That's the truth. I was literally trembling. I saw the one guy, his name's Sam Chick, who is now a very good friend of mine, but I didn't know him at the time. He looked like a veteran and I was like, I need to go sit next to him. Like just because the fact that he was a veteran, I knew I'd be comfortable around him. And so anyway so that's how I got involved and Kinda came out of my shell and we passed that bill successfully.
Scott 12:31 And that's good. Like I like the way you said that how you kinda came out of your shell was that, that kind of drive to help other veterans find kind of the solution that you found. It's that sort of going back to your military service that, that selfless service that, that you talk about you know, where you're, you're trying to put yourself out there in the case that it might help somebody else hopefully down the road.
Kim 12:58 It's exactly that, but it's also, well, I didn't realize at the time and all those years is that I needed a mission. You know, when you're in the military, you're doing important stuff. I mean, I don't care what your job is, it's contributing somehow to the overall mission that you have. You know suspenses you have to meet trainings this and that. You get out of the military and all of a sudden like what is it that you're doing? What you know, crazy, powerful meaning or what, what thing is that you're working on? And for me, helping my veteran community ended up becoming my mission. And it's also what kind of, what pulled me out of my shell, what got me reintegrated, what, and I'll tell you another thing for anybody that is struggling, you need to get involved with other veteran groups. You, you absolutely need to, these guys and gals have already been through it.
Kim 13:51 They've already done the whole isolating, self-medicating, all that. They can help you if you can't find a job, let me tell you. You get involved in the veteran community. They're going to help you find employment. They are going to help you get back on your feet. And we're all fully qualified. Every, I mean come on you. If you could do everything you could do while you were in the military, you can find yourself, you can become strong again. You can heal again and you can go on and you can find your new mission and it's not easy and you do stumble and fall. I've fallen him on my face more times than I can count. But you keep getting back up and you keep trying. And I mean, now I can walk into any room and I promise you there is no trembling. You know?
Scott 14:34 And that's, that's great too. Like, like when you look back on all the things that you've done through, through your career, your, your military career, and then, you know, obviously, you know, transitioning then into civilian career, all the things that you've, you've accomplished. And this goes for anybody really. But everything, even basic training, like when you're in that moment, it's hard and it's not something that's easy that's just happening and it's not fun and everything like that. But it's hard and you struggle through it and you can look back on it and say, you know, that's something I'm proud of. And you can do that with other things too. Now that you're out you can go and learn a trade or, you know, learn a new skill or whatever to get a job. It doesn't necessarily have to be the thing that you did in the military.
Scott 15:21 There's, you know, I was infantry, there's not too many infantry jobs around, so I'm not going to do that same thing. Right? It's translatable. Like, in terms of the effort that went into the training, put that same effort and go through a little bit of that suck and you can look back, you know, a year or two later and say like, Gosh, I did all that. I like, that's something to be proud of. And then that's that thing that can help drive you to the next, you know, to your next career or, you know, whatever it is that you end up doing it. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. So, so tell us a little bit about some of the, you've mentioned some organizations maybe that you were kind of involved in and other groups that you, you have kind of kind of worked with. Tell us a little bit about that.
Kim 16:12 Yeah, so I kind of work with all groups. So I am not a cannabis advocate. I am a veteran advocate and so I will work with different, different groups, different orgs and different people working on different legislation as it pertains to veterans. So firearms is something that, you know, a lot of veterans are big on Second Amendment rights. So I work with everyone from local, grassroots groups here in Delaware to more recently I just got back from DC. It was a project, it was called the DC Project. And it was 50 women, one from each state going to DC and putting a different face on firearms and, those who are for firearms, you know, there's so much, so much legislation coming out, chipping away at those rights and we're there to say, hey, look, you know, we're not the traditional gun nuts and to break stigma and kinda share our experience with firearms.
Scott 17:15 Sure. And you had so that was just a few weeks ago that you went to to DC and you spoke with, you know, legislators and, and other people, in DC. But, recently on Facebook, you shared a story of, your time while you were deployed, kind of going off base with another, another airman I believe was, was the story and a few of the, the, the local nationals who kinda went along with you on a journey. Would you mind sharing a little bit of, of that story as well and how that sort of kind of relates to the firearms debate?
Kim 18:04 Oh yeah, absolutely. Okay. So, so while I was deployed, I was deployed for TCN duty and that was to guard third country nationals that was supposed to be and still actually was my main job, I wore a few hats when I was out there. And so one day our job was simply, we were going to follow these third country nationals. There was two of them. And we were going to follow them off base to a cement factory and it was really simple. All we had to do was make sure it was cement that they were putting into the trucks and not weapons or explosives, you know, because we don't know if these TCNs are good guys, bad guys or whatever. And so we went and it was, it was in the middle of nowhere. And you know how it is when you're deployed, you can drive for miles and miles and miles and miles and not see anyone or anything.
Kim 18:53 And so it was an outdoors cement factory. I had never been to one of those. The whole place was empty except for four other men were there waiting for us. So it was me, my partner, the two third country nationals we were with and the four men we met there and I, I couldn't understand their language. They couldn't understand mine. It didn't matter. We had a job to do. And so they backed the trucks up to this like big long hose that empties all the cement, like a big tube that empties all the cement to the truck and it's Kinda a little bit of a time consuming process. And I don't really remember how long, but it's, you know, you sit there and you wait for the trucks to fill up for a little while. And so my partner, he's like, hey, he's like, I gotta go use the bathroom.
Kim 19:37 And I'm like, are you serious dude? Like, okay, all right, fine, whatever. Go. And as soon as he turns the bend, it's this big cement like building. As soon as he turned around, the six men literally circled around me, each of them, ah, I don't know, maybe like 20 feet away from me circled around me and I was like, what is happening? And so they all started moving in on me. No one said a word. They all started moving in on me, like kind of like closing in on me all at the same speed and I was not taking any chances. I pulled my M-16 right around my shoulder. And you know what's crazy? I never even had to point that at one of them. Really. As soon as I pulled it around and I got in position and I got my finger ready to be on that trigger or if need be, and it was Kinda, you know, I, I had it kind of pointed at the ground in front of me.
Kim 20:34 Literally at that moment, they all put their hands up immediately. We didn't understand each other's language, but they understood that. So I line them all up and I waited for my partner to get back. Who by the way, took forever because when he was done, he just stayed over there to chill for a little while. So I'm like standing here with the six men, like waiting. So he comes back around, he's like, oh, hey, are we done? Yeah. I'm like, Oh my God, you gotta be kidding me, right? So whatever. So everything was fine. We get back. I never ended up going on one of those missions again anyways, but I do, I do know this that day, the only thing that saved me was the fact that I had that M-16 with me. I do not know what they were going to do, but that was, I don't, I have no idea, but, and there was no one else around. I mean we were in the middle of nowhere and so, no, so, you know, so you have someone like myself who I've, I've been in the military, I have a pretty little green ribbon. I've shot marksman sharpshooter different branches, call it different things. You know, trained by the Department of Defense, the DOD, yet I get out of the military and because I choose medical cannabis, medical marijuana, I cannot have a firearm. You cannot legally purchase possess or carry a firearm. Right,
Scott 21:58 Right, exactly. Yeah. And even on, on the, the form too, like when you purchase a firearm, one of the questions, I actually pulled up the form here cause I had a feeling this was going to kind of come up in this conversation, but the, so on the form it says are you an unlawful user of or addicted to marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug or any other controlled substance which, you know, so that question, that would be one of those questions like, okay, yet, so technically it's a yes.
Kim 22:30 Well it is a yes because it's the federal government asking. And so even though I have a medical marijuana card, I'm following doctor's orders or I'm following state laws, it is the one medication in the entire world where you lose your second amendment rights
Scott 22:47 For example, like I had a surgery after getting out of the military on my knee and the doctor prescribed me Oxycontin, which is considered a controlled substance under federal law. But I think the key word in that whole line there is, are you an “unlawful” user is that key phrase there. So because it was prescribed to me and under, you know, the regulations from, from the, you know, federal and state laws and everything like that, it was okay. I still could technically own a gun at that point, but it's still considered a controlled substance, just like, you know, marijuana is, is considered. So, I, to me, I see a little bit of a kind of disconnect there in terms of how the law is written and everything like that.
Kim 23:36 Right. Well, certainly, and so for me it's frustrating because had I stayed on those anti-anxiety pills, those antidepressants to sleep meds, the nightmare meds, I could keep my right to bear arms, you know, so, so anyways, so then, so still, but because I am a law abiding citizen, I do not own a firearm. I do not carry a firearm. And so last year I was in downtown Dover and it was broad daylight and I asked a man, I'm on my way back to my car. I parked at a firehouse a fire station. I thought, that's a you know, safe place, you know, police, fires. And I asked the man, I said, hey, do you, do you see tow trucks around here very often? You know, trying to find out that's a good place for me to park in the future. And he's like, no, I don't see any around here.
Kim 24:26 I'm like, okay, well great, thanks. And so, you know, I turn and I, I go to walk back to my car and I'm about halfway through the parking lot and the man is following me. Well, he grabbed me, he literally put his entire, like his arms around me and grabbed me. And so I pushed him back and I yelled a few things and he laughed at me. He literally laughed at me like, almost like, what are you going to do little girl? I mean I, what do I weigh? 120 pounds. And He, and he almost, he lunged back at me except there was a police officer or right across the parking lot on a bicycle. And he saw the cop and I saw the cop and I looked at him and he like, at that moment I had decided I actually wasn't going to make a thing out of this.
Kim 25:09 And I don't know why I didn't, but I didn't. And I just looked at him and I said, you're lucky. But then when he left, I did tell the police officer, I, you know, when I was leaving I said, hey, that guy, you know, or, I said, hey, a man just grabbed me bla bla bla. And he turned around and saw the guy still and he said that guy. And I said yes and I, I or no, I didn't answer. And I just didn't want to start a thing. Like I knew that this was going to turn into a thing and I just didn't want to do anything about it. But what really upset me was if that police officer had not been there, I don't know what would have happened to me because that man had just come out of a house that he could have easily dragged me back into and nobody would've known I can't have a firearm to protect myself because I choose the safest medicinal option out there.
Kim 26:00 You cannot overdose on cannabis. It is not. It is not addictive it I am not going to wake up the next day and not remember what happened yesterday. It's not like that I'm not going to wake up groggy the next day and I don't want to take the pills that do all that stuff, but because of it, I can't have a firearm when I've already been deployed and learned how that firearm truly can save me. I don't have that option back here on American soil when, what's crazy is I'm a veteran that fought to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Scott 26:44 And the crazy thing is you probably have more training than a lot of the people who do carry a firearm. Regular civilians who do choose to carry a firearm. So you'd probably have a, you know, more training, more experience, more, you know, trigger time and everything like that. And the thing is like, so your story back when you were, you were deployed where you pulled your, your rifle and you know, the guys kind of backed off and everything immediately. It basically immediately. But to me like some people may get hung up like, oh, of course you're like you pulling an M-16 on somebody they're going to back off. But you know, like that to me, you can replace that with any gun, you know, whether it was a pistol or a shotgun or a rifle. To me it doesn't really matter. Like it's the same thing. You pull a gun on someone, they're there. If they have two brain cells in their head, they're probably going to back off. Yes. And if not, that's the reason why you have it is to.
Kim 27:39 In case I need it. That's right. That's right. And part of my problem with this too is you know, a lot of veterans. So I see a lot of veterans struggling and because of my involvement with cannabis and PTSD and firearms, I hear from a lot of veterans, they share their stories with me and I cannot even express to you how many won't get a card because they don't want to give their, give up their right to bear arms, which in turn makes them one have to stay on the pills to choose to buy it illegally, which on the street you don't know what you're getting or if as mold or mildew in it it's just not exactly a medicinal way of life. Or three, they say, screw it, I'm going to have both. And now you have this veteran facing a felony charge because they got pulled over and they have both. And that's a very serious charge. That's enough to make any veterans life spiral out of control. I mean, you know, our statistics, our are our divorce rates, our homelessness rates, our unemployment rates. And now you wanna throw in charges, you know? Exactly.
Scott 28:44 Sorry. That's just stacking the odds against, you know, the, that particular veteran,
Kim 28:49 Then, you know, it becomes a downward spiral and it happens. It happens. I mean more than we know and you know, so there is a bill at the federal level to change this and make an exemption for patients. And that's HR 2071. Let me just throw that out there in case anyone wants to go ahead and call their state, you know, elected their state congressman, congresswoman, and tell them to support this bill because there is no other medication where you lose your right to bear arms. It's not right. It's not right for me. It's not right for anybody. It's not right for the cancer patient who just wants to use, you know, cannabis to help them get through chemo. They what now they lose their rights to defend themselves. You know, it's just, it's not right
Scott 29:33 At a time when they're, they're probably more frail and probably need that, that little bit of extra, you know, protection, you know, should something, you know, similar to the situation that happened with you, you know, come up. You know, they should have that ability, but they should also have that ability regardless to defend themselves. It is a constitutionally protected, right, you know, and that shouldn't be taken away. You know, provided that you're doing everything right, you're following your doctor's orders and everything like that. And which, you know, to me it seems like that's kind of what you're, you're doing in this situation. So, I, sorry, I, I see where, where all of this is coming from and I could definitely see how that, how it can help other veterans and not just other veterans but other, you know, Americans who are, are going through similar situations where they, they, between them and their doctor they decided that this is the, the right course of action.
Scott 30:32 But because of what's going on at the federal level, they, they end up not being able to do it fully or you know, having to make a choice. Like, do I give up my right to bear arms or do I give up this medical treatment that you know, my doctor suggested might, might be helpful in my particular circumstance. So it's, it's a it's interesting how, how all this works and I'm, I'm very interested to see how it will end up flushing out, you know, in the, in the long run once when you know, some of these bills go through, Congress and everything to see how that ends up working out.
Kim 31:16 Yeah, the, you know, the odds are definitely stacked against us. But I'll tell you the two most supportive groups are veterans and police officers, police officers. Isn't it interesting they've been one of the largest, the biggest groups to reach out and that have been, you know, reaching out as constituents and saying, Hey, pass this bill. I mean, that's just, I, I never expected that, but I, I mean, I guess it makes sense. You know,
Scott 31:44 They sort of see, you know, firsthand you know the pros and cons of, of a lot of the situations and you know, maybe they, maybe they're onto something there, you know.
Kim 31:58 Well, you know, and I think oftentimes they're the ones that show up and it's a crime scene, you know. So right now we have a situation in my neighborhood and I live in a beautiful development and it's, you know, used to be a really safe place. I'm not sure exactly what's happening, but lately there have been a lot of break ins. I was the most recent one where someone broke into my garage. While my family was inside sleeping and rummaged around, well, we don't have town police, Delaware. This town just doesn't have the resources. All we have are the state police who only after you make a call, it's not like they can be here patrolling through. It's not like they can help be a deterrent. Our community, our development, we are literally left to defend ourselves. Let me tell you how many people in my development also have cannabis in their homes. You know, it's a very, it's a large fraction. And those people, nor should myself lose their right to bear arms, especially in a situation like this where police officers, the only thing they can do is respond
Scott 33:10 Afterwards, after the fact. Right. Or the fact that's the key is you've already been either robbed or mugged or worse. Who knows who, yeah, exactly. Right. So then they show up.
Kim 33:26 Right, right, right. And so, you know we actually were able to pass a bill here at the state level that just a few weeks ago it passed our state Senate unanimously. That restores firearms rights to those who have medical marijuana cards by unfortunately all it does at the state level is make it so that no one's going to get arrested. We can't change federal forms if someone can't be, whether this bill passes all the way through and get signed by the governor or not it's not gonna make someone like myself be able to walk into a gun shop and, and still be able to purchase a firearm and that's the problem. And that's why it's got to get changed at the federal level for all Americans, you know.
Scott 34:10 So, yeah. Understood. Yeah. So it looks like we're kind of coming up on a time here. We've been talking about all this kind of great stuff that you've been involved with and sort of your journey. One question I like to ask to kind of round off the conversation and, and this, this question, you can, you can answer it seriously, answer it, you know, with a joke or whatever combination of the two, whatever, whatever you want, but is there anything that you wish someone would have told you before you joined the military? Any advice or you know, stuff like that, or things that you discovered after the fact after you joined the military? Like, Gosh, I wish someone told me this so I didn't have to struggle through, you know, something or whatever.
Kim 34:56 Yeah, actually there is, so we'll maybe not necessarily told me before I joined, but I wish someone would have told me before I got out that part of the reason the transition is so hard is because when you're in the military, you're surrounded by people who, you know, essentially become your family. I mean, you work together, you eat together, you sleep together, you are all the way from your families back home. So you become each other's family and, and when you get out, it's not like that in the civilian world. Friends. I mean, sure you can have good friends, but it's not the same. You don't have that family unit surrounding you. And that in itself can be a huge culture shock. And I think that actually greatly contributes to, you know, when veterans aren't prepared for that or don't even consider that happening.
Kim 35:48 It, it's really hard. I mean, especially if you don't have a strong family unit that you're returning to. You know, for me, the military was my family and when I got out, you know, I was kind of on my own again and that definitely helped me stumble and fall plenty of times. You know, but if you keep getting that, getting back out there, you find a way, you start making friends again and, and, and you find a new family quite frankly on top of their own little one, you may have yourself. So I, you know, I never thought I would get back to feeling better. I never thought I would come this far. I wouldn't have believed anyone if they would have told me that it does get better, but it really does. It really does. You just gotta try. You gotta keep getting out there. It may get worse before it gets better. Oh, well, just, just keep trying, do it for yourself. Do it because there are so many more good moments in life to have and you deserve it.
Scott 36:44 Absolutely. Yeah. I totally agree. And I, I, I love that, that, that little bit of advice there in terms of how everyone kind of comes together as a family, especially, you know, on a deployment where you don't have access to, you know, call home every day or, or whatever. You kind of have to lean on each other and, and be each other's Kinda support group. And we have a strange way in the military of supporting each other, you know, you might, yeah, you might, you know, call each other names and things like that and, just in a way joking around, but you know, it's coming from a place of love. Like, yeah, you guys are all in it together. You you mean, well you may may call someone something cause they they screwed up or whatever but, but you know, it's like, alright, I get it like this, this guy or gal or whatever, is they got my back
Kim 37:38 Through it through anything through, through the craziest, craziest situations. You've got each other's back and exactly. And when you get into the civilian world and you realize it's not quite the same. Ah, ah, it's like almost heartbreaking to be honest with you.
Scott 37:55 It is. And the strange thing too about all of that is like anyone who's ever been in the military has also been a civilian before being a veteran. And so it's almost like we should know this but don't want to get retrained. We get retrained in our brains. Like this is how life is now. And then we get out and it's like, wait, no, that's not true. It was like this, but now it's something else. But it's something else that it was, you know, five, eight, 10 years ago, 20 years ago when, you know, before you got into the military. And yeah, it's crazy how that all works. But if you're that type of person who is sitting there thinking like, Gosh, the civilian world is just so foreign and weird and everything, like you're not alone because we all kind of feel that way.
Scott 38:47 I felt that way for the longest time too. And, you know, it's, yeah, it's bizarre how that works. But yeah. Well, one last thing before we wrap this up. You actually mentioned this, last week when we were talking about having you on the show. And you said that tomorrow, actually at the time of this recording, we're recording on July 31st, but tomorrow, August 1st is the anniversary of Sergeant David Coullard’s passing. Sergeant David Coullard is also from, from Connecticut. He was a marine. And just a real brief, info about him. I'm just gonna kind of read off of his, his website. They have a memorial fund set up for him at, http://www.sgtdavidcoullard.com/. On August 1st, 2005 in a small village northeast of Baghdad, Sergeant David Coullard was part of a six man marine sniper unit on the outskirts of Haditha, if I'm saying that pronouncing that correct correctly.
Scott 39:49 They were ambushed by a large insurgent force and all members of their unit were killed. The Organization of the Sergeant David Coullard Memorial Fund was born out of this tragic event and, and their pledges to never forget. If you happen to be in the Connecticut area, and you're listening to this on Friday, September 13th, 2019 this year, they are having a memorial golf tournament to, kind of fundraise for this, this fund that supports, veterans and other veteran organizations and bunch of, of good stuff like that. If you can't attend the golf tournament, they do have a donation form on the website there. So you can, contribute to the fund if, if that's something that you're interested in. It looks like it is a, nonprofit tax deductible, type type thing too.
Scott 40:43 So if, if that's what you're into you can certainly do that at http://www.sgtdavidcoullard.com/ and I'll, I'll link that in the show notes too after we're done recording here, but, just wanted to, Kinda pay a little bit of a tribute to him and make sure that his memory kind of lives on in, in our own little way here with this, with this episode. So, thank you for, Kim for having that great idea, to, kind of incorporate him with this episode. And, you know, we'll have his, memory Kinda live on a little bit longer through, through this.
Kim 41:19 That's right. It was, August 1st, 2005 is when that happened. And Coullard was awesome. He was actually, I was friends with him. He is actually the one who convinced me to join the, he was trying to, yeah, he was trying to get me to go marines, but I was too scared to chicken shit. And I'm so I went air force instead, but he is the person who convinced me to join.
Scott 41:49 Wow. That's awesome.
Kim 41:50 Yeah.
Scott 41:52 Wow. Anyway, so that is your story is a, is is great. I love how you know, you opened up and shared about all that and, and I think, you know, hopefully that gives a lot of other veterans, some inspiration to, to say, you know, things do get better. It's not a always going to be a struggle. Like you might be struggling right now, but there are better times coming if you can just get over this hurdle and get, get through that. And so I loved, how are you, you know, we're able to share all of that, so, so thank you for that, Kim.
Kim 42:28 Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And thank you for having me on.
Scott 42:32 Absolutely. All right. And so that is the Drive on Podcast and you can get more information about this episode in the show notes at driveonpodcast.com And in future episodes we'll be coming out with interviews with other veterans like Kim and hopefully you'll tune in and subscribe. Thank you.
Scott 42:56 Thanks for listening to the Drive on Podcast. Do you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show? You can visit our website, driveonpodcast.com we're on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at driveonpodcast.
Thank you for sharing your story. Knowing Anita Dziedzic, it was interesting to see how David Coullard influenced your decision to join the military.