Importance of Telling Your Story

Drive On Podcast
Drive On Podcast
Importance of Telling Your Story

Aaron Lee Marshall served with the military police in Iraq, and has written a book about his experiences over there. His book is written in a way to help the reader better understand the causes of the traumas that modern soldiers face.

Aaron talks about why it's so important to share your story. He discusses a time when he read a book by an old friend, which inspired him to finish his story. After reading that story he realized how his story could take a life of it's own and help others.

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Scott DeLuzio:    00:00:00    Thanks for tuning in to a Drive On Podcast where we're focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community, whether you're a Veteran, Active Duty, Guard, Reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I'm your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let's get on with the show  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:00:23    Hi everybody. Today my guest is Aaron Marshall. Aaron served as a military police officer in Iraq and has written a book called Baqubah Bones and Blood, which is about his experiences over there.  The book is written in a way that helps the reader better understand the root causes of the traumas that are facing the modern day soldiers.  I have him on the show today to talk a little bit about his book and some of the things that he's up to. So welcome to the show, Aaron.  I'm gonna just go out on a limb here and say I butchered the title of the book.  

Aaron Marshall:  No you didn’t actually.

Scott DeLuzio:  No, I didn't. Okay. That's surprising. 

Aaron Marshall:    00:00:59    You know, I'm actually changing the name of it when it's released next year. It's going to be called Orchard of Bones because so many people have trouble with that, myself included and I lived there; changing the name to Orchard of Bones.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:01:13    Okay. So anyways, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background and what you are up to? 

Aaron Marshall:  Originally I was in the Army National Guard in Plymouth, New Hampshire, and right after basic training for that and AIT, they retrained me as an MP and sent me to the front lines. So,  that was quite the experience.  After that I spent 10 years as a musician touring New England.  I just kind of gave it up because about seven years ago, I quit drinking. I hadn't been able to play music without alcohol. I am now playing without alcohol. I play with my oldest daughter who is better than I am. She teaches me every time we meet, she's like, dad, you know what you're doing? And I say, no. And she's like, well, then she gives the musical term for it, you know? So that's pretty cool. And now I'm a stay at home dad too. That's my biggest position right now. And I love it. I feel like I'm in heaven. Like, my kids are happy, I'm happy, it's weird for me to be happy. So, I'm slowly learning to enjoy it.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:02:28    That's awesome. And I'm glad that you found that thing that brings you happiness and and a sense of purpose and meaning in your life too, because I know that that's something that a lot of times,  people getting out of the military will struggle with, finding a sense of purpose or something that gives them a reason to get out of bed in the morning.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:02:51    Yeah. And what's something that gives me purpose now is I also volunteer for a Veterans organization called Operation Reboot Outdoors. They take Veterans, Active Duty members out for free fishing and hunting.  It's pretty amazing. So, I'm proud to be a part of that organization.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:03:08    Yeah. Well, we'll have to talk a little bit more about that too.  First I want to get into a little bit more of your background, and your story.  So you served in Iraq, in Baqubah. I assume I'm pronouncing it correctly.   

Aaron Marshall:    00:03:25    Butcher it like this. I call it Ba-ku-ba  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:03:27    Okay. Baqubah. Okay. All right. Well, that works for me. So anyways regardless of what it's called; it was in Iraq, it's a city, like kind of Northeast of Baghdad,  

Aaron Marshall:    00:03:41    50 kilometers Northeast on the Diyala River.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:03:45    Okay. And so tell us a little bit about your time there in Iraq and what your experience was like over there and what you did over there.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:03:53     Well first can I just read one thing here? I think it would kind of set it up. Oh, I don't have it with me. Nevermind. I grabbed the wrong edition of my book and I had some...Baqubah was hell, there's no way to say it. Other than that there was a VB IED that went off every day in that city. I think there might've been one day in a year where it didn't go off.  It was I don't know, it was quite the experience because I was originally New Hampshire Army National Guard. And so I was trained on the big guns, and then they took my whole unit and retrained into MPs and just let us loose. And I couldn't have picked a shorter straw for where I ended up.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:04:39    Right. So, what was your original MOS when you were in the Guard? 

Aaron Marshall:  13B

Scott DeLuzio: Okay, so I was just curious, what that transition was like, what the background is of that transition and how that came about.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:04:59    Oh, we have a lot of people in our unit that are cops and correctional officers.  So that was one of the reasons why they trained us as MPs plus they needed it. They didn't need gun bunnies, so we got trained in a rather short period of time, maybe five weeks. And just the basics, you know that whole experience, that's the beginning of the journey. I mean, I almost forget about it because it was like the last peaceful moments of my former life, you know? But I'm happy where I'm at today. 

Scott DeLuzio:    00:05:37    No, well, that is a good thing. I know a few MPs who were in Iraq probably I would imagine around the same timeframe as you were, and they said that their experience was kind of bordering on an Infantry deployment with the types of missions that they were on and the things that they were asked to do  

Aaron Marshall:    00:05:59    Kicking doors in and stuff. 

Scott DeLuzio:    00:06:03    Yeah. So, it's probably not too far off from the other guys that I've spoken to who've been over there and yeah, they were kicking doors, tossing grenades in the rooms and things like that to clear the houses and everything.  Like you said, it is hell.  It's not a glorious experience or anything.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:06:27    No,  I think at its base is nothing less than the death of humanity.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:06:35    Yeah, exactly. I mean, that's when all the other forms of  negotiations and stuff have just broken down where communication, like, let's try to talk us through these problems and stuff, and we've just broken down and we got to the point where,  no one is really able to do anything other than just kill each other.

Aaron Marshall:  It's not good. 

Scott DeLuzio:  So, let's switch gears just a little bit here and talk a little bit about your book.  I know it's about your time over there, but it has other messages in the book as well, as far as talking about the traumas and things like that. So, let's talk a little bit about the book, what prompted you to write it and what it's all about and go from there.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:07:26    Okay. Well, actually, the idea started when I was 18. I fell in love with Hunter S Thompson and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I love that book. I loved how it was written, but not the book by Hunter, the screenplay by Tony Grisoni. I liked that writing better. So that's where I got the idea for recording. I have hours and hours of recordings from the front lines.  My wife sent me this little recorder, so I could hear my daughter's heartbeat. And after I heard it, I used the rest of the tape to record stuff. So I have hours and hours of tapes of me just bullshitting with friends and stuff over there. I interviewed Iraqis over there too. So, I had a lot of close Iraqi friends. There's actually a chapter in my book dedicated to all my Iraqi friends.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:08:15    Cool. Awesome. Yeah. So, with that recorder, you would just go around basically and just keep it rolling basically during your interactions.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:08:28    If I didn't catch anything, I would just start over, I actually took out one of my magazines and I put it in there, probably not supposed to do that, but you know,  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:08:39    Well, you know, they give you enough pockets on your uniform, you could probably shove it in one of the cargo pockets or backpack, you can find places for magazines. I know when we went out on patrol, sometimes we got a little creative with where we were putting magazines or, you know, whatever else we needed to carry, we'd find places for it because you always get overloaded.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:09:05    Yeah. That's part of the game. Right. But then the book idea basically started when I was a senior in high school in Winthrop and something I always wanted to do was write a book like that. So, I made some bad decisions and did a lot of drugs along the way, but I'm sober now and will be seven years clean this August 1st. Okay. And I think part of the reason why I struggled for so long is I was writing this book because it was really hard to go back to some of those moments and go over them. Like there was a car bomb that went off that killed 72 people. I was one of the first people there on scene, but I don't remember anything from that day. It's like, my memory just clicks off, which is probably a good thing.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:09:49    Probably. Considering how many people were killed in that, I'm sure that it was quite the gruesome experience to witness and, you know, our brains sometimes we'll just shut off both experiences. So you don't have to relive them over and over.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:10:07    Yeah. In this book, I basically just want to help as many people as I can. And I already had people messaging me and saying how, they're just blown away by how candid I am. And I don't leave anything out, even the bad stuff that I did, the stuff that isn't part of my ideal story. It still is in there, because that's how people get through their hard times is knowing that somebody else has been through it. 

Scott DeLuzio:    00:10:29    Right. Yeah. And that's honestly, the reason why I do this podcast is to talk to people like you and other Veterans who've had a hard time with something, whether it's substance abuse or some mental health issues or they struggled with something and they've come out on the other side of that struggle a better person. They're a changed person, obviously you're not the same person that you were before you joined the Army. And you've changed over the years, but we all change in one way or another. And, so life changes, good changes. Okay.  but it's how you change that you want to make sure it's a positive change. You don't want to end up going down some rabbit hole of destruction, self destructive behaviors you know, that ended up hurting you more than anything. So, you said a lot of people have reached out saying that it was great for you to be so candid and open about your experiences.  What makes you telling your story, such an important thing to do? Why do you think it will help other people?  

Aaron Marshall:    00:11:48    Well, I've had a book help me in the same way and that's when it really drove the point home. I have a friend who I went to high school with. She wrote a book called After the Eclipse. It's about her mother's murder. When she was 12 years old, she was there and she wrote about it and she writes beautifully about the memory of her mother and all these little moments. And I never thought I'd finish this thing, but I read that book and it inspired me so much. And I finished this and I mean, I've been working on it for 15 years and then I read her book and I'm done like the next month. So it was so inspiring that if she can do it, I can do it. So I'm trying to just help people.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:12:28    Yeah, exactly. And I think sometimes you don't even realize how one story, your story could impact other people like your friend there. You know, obviously that's a terrible experience to have to go through losing a family member that way. But in writing it, it also helps other people and yourself included. And then, by that person writing that book, you were able to finish your book and now it's helping other people too. So it almost has an exponential effect where it's ballooning out and reaching other people, which is pretty amazing. 

Aaron Marshall:    00:13:12    Exactly. Yeah. It takes a life of its own really when you put it out in the world there. So, mine has a lot of swear words in it. This is really like, I tried to write like you're having a candid conversation with a friend. So then these aren’t detailed technical things that I'm talking about. I really break it down so that if anybody was in my position, they're going to know what it was like. I say what I was feeling, what I was thinking, like there was one time where I was trying to keep Iraqis back. We had a helicopter crash near us trying to keep them back. This was like my third day there. And I was pointing my machine gun, I dunno, M16 and nobody was really listening. So, get the F back and that made them go back. But I remember thinking at the time like, Oh my God, I wish we could go have some tea and talk about the weather. This is not what I want to be doing with my life. You know?  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:14:09    Yeah. I remember situations like that too, where there's a language barrier. And so I was in Afghanistan, not Iraq, but there's a few universal, true signs in terms of language that people will understand.  One time I was standing on the side of a road and there was a car driving pretty quickly towards our area. And I kind of motion with my hand, like slow down, slow down, slow down. And all of a sudden they just slammed on the brakes and I'm thinking, wow, that really worked, you know, just kind of motion. I just expected them to kind of maybe slow down a little bit or, whatever. But they slammed on the brakes and came to a dead stop. Well, I turned around and one of the other guys that I was with, he was pointing his pistol right at them. And so that's what got them to stop. Me motioning like that, they would have completely ignored that.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:15:05    Like, wow!  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:15:07    That was like a magical thing. Like how did I get them to stop? No, it was just a pistol being shoved in their face, basically to get them to back up and to stop.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:15:15    I have a story like that from my book where I talk about, I pulled a pistol out on, I was at the front gate of the police station and all these Iraqis were lining up every day to conduct their business. It was just me and one other guy up there, and there were over a hundred people lined up and they kept getting closer and bunching up. And I just freaked out, grabbed my gun and pointed it at the first Iraqi in front of me and everyone calmed down. I didn't have to say anything, everyone just calmed down and chilled, but I wish I could have handled that better, you know, but that's just how I handled that moment.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:15:48    The things that we learned, just through the experience of being over there is that a lot of times that the Afghans that we were dealing with, the last interactions with like foreign troops that they had were Russians that back when the Russians invaded the country. And the only thing that they really took seriously was threats of violence. And like, if you just said, Hey, can you please do this? They were like, maybe, you know, who knows? You know, we don't necessarily,   

Aaron Marshall:    00:16:20    Different culture with that. They do everything on their own time, which is tomorrow, always tomorrow.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:16:27    A lot of times, even our interpreters, not to fault them because they were, for the most part, really great.  But a lot of times they would use the inshallah, God-willing,  phrase with us. So we'd ask them to do something and they'd say, inshallah, like God willing it'll get done. And if it's not God's will it won't get done. But it's like, no, I'm asking you to go do this thing now,  

Aaron Marshall:    00:16:51    But that's the difference of the culture. I remember that so vividly, like my superiors would bitch to me about the fact that nobody did anything until tomorrow, God willing we'll get it done. And it was like, well, we're trying to set up a government here. We kind of just did it today. You know? So it was hard to balance that out.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:17:12    It was like security, we need these people to move away for security purposes. It's like, well, inshallah, they'll move well, no, they're moving; it's either that, or we're going to start shooting.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:17:23    Yeah. Get them out of here. We had orders, we were dropping in and doing missions on the road. We could put it in somebody's trunk if they didn't get out of my way. So yeah.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:17:34    Yeah. We probably had a little more tight rules of engagement when we were over there in Afghanistan,  

Aaron Marshall:    00:17:42    Four Oh five.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:17:43    Yeah. This was 2010. So this was a few years later.  We weren't able to do that stuff unless it was like they're driving right at you. And that type of thing, you know, and it became like a threat, but if they were just driving too slow, that was not exactly the best way to do it. A lot of times they would drive with their windows open because their cars didn't have air conditioning or whatever, and we'd throw water bottles into their car, like the gunners for it. We just like chuck them in and then they'd bounce all over the inside of the car and they freak out and swerve off the road.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:18:21    Oh man, I forgot what I was gonna say,  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:18:26    It really is a different culture over there.  I think it's kind of like, a little sidetrack a little bit, here, but I think it's important for people who haven't been over there to understand that, when you go over to another country like Iraq or Afghanistan you're not dealing with people with the same mindset as other Americans. You know, a lot of times, here in America, even within America, we have different mindsets on different things. There's different political views and there's different cultures and people from different backgrounds and stuff like that. But over there, it's kind of different because everyone is part of that culture, the Afghan or Iraqi culture. And they're all part of that.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:19:14    And they all have a very similar mindset with a lot of the things that they do.  There's this one time where a guy pulled up to our checkpoint between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and we were stopping some vehicles just to check to see, kind of random checks to see if they're carrying weapons or anything like that. And we had the guy pop the trunk and he had his dog in the trunk and Afghanistan probably just like Iraq is hot as hell over there? And the dog was looking rough. He was in rough shape.  It was just so hot in the back of that trunk. There's no air conditioning, there's no ventilation or anything like that. So, I popped open a water bottle and I sprayed it into the dog's mouth, but the guy was asking for water for himself. And so I was like, no, I'm giving your dog water before I'm going to give you water. You're going to treat this thing like crap, you know, but that's just the culture, here in America, people leave a dog in a parking lot. When you run into a store, people break your windows to go rescue the dog. Over there, they're not treated the same.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:20:23    Yeah. And Iraq, we had a situation where, and this happened a lot where there were people driving, like the man would be driving and he'd have his dog next to him. He'd be driving a truck and he'd have his wife and kid in the back of a truck in the bed, so often. And I'm like, what is going on here? 

Scott DeLuzio:    00:20:41    Yeah. It's definitely a different world. It's a different culture.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:20:45    Yeah. Oh yeah. I read a lot of Eastern philosophy recently and that has really made me understand my time in Iraq, I think more than anything. Because they have religion as their base in their culture. Like that's intertwined with everything that they do. So that's why it's God-willing  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:21:02    Right. I mean, we do have that to some extent here in the Western culture, but it's on a different level over there. I think everything that they do is religious based and there's not too many people who you would meet that would not have religion as the center point of their life or if they didn't, at least they wouldn't admit it because of culture. So as far as telling your story, obviously you've gone through the process of writing the book. I know you said it was a long process to get there.  What advice would you have for other Veterans who are thinking about writing a book, maybe they're in the process of writing the book. They've jotted down some notes maybe, and they have an idea, but they just haven't really gotten there yet.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:22:03    Well, I think something that's really important that I should have done is I didn't only check in with myself to see how I was doing before I worked on this, because it's going to trigger you, even if you don't think it's going to trigger you. It is; and if you don't believe in PTSD, you don't want to be one of the people like me who finds out the hard way. So you want to be in a good mental space before you even start on something like this. But a big thing is if you remember a story, write it down, start typing it out, saying it immediately. When you think about it, get it on paper, on a computer, and don't worry about the whole, what the book's going to look like at the end. Just write down all your stories and then that's going to come to you afterwards, you know?  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:22:46    Yeah. I think that's great advice, because your mind will play tricks on you. You know, if you have a story that is happening right now, like write it down because a year from now, you're going to remember that story a little bit differently than it actually took place.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:23:04    Exactly. That's where the tapes come in handy for my book. Because I know exactly what people said and it's pretty cool. I have conversations with interpreters and it was one conversation where they were mad at me for using toilets. They said it was healthier to just shit in the hole in the bathroom. And we had a long discussion about this and stuff like that. It's just wild that something so simple as a toilet, they don't use one and they don't think it's a good idea. Well, I think one of the first toilets ever made was actually near Akubra Iraq a couple thousand years ago. There's evidence of that. So it just blows my mind that they lost that.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:23:46    Yeah. And talk about cultural differences like that. That's huge. You know, like I remember seeing guys just stopping on the side of the road and taking a dump and then wiping their ass with their hand, Left-hand, they know they'll never touch your left hand, or grab food or anything like that with their left hand. Because they don't do anything with their left hand except to wipe their ass. But yeah, it was like, I see this guy just like squatting down and taking a dump and I was like, this is disgusting. It's common. Like, it happens all over the place over there.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:24:27    Yeah. And pulling lookout duty. I'm going to say once a week, I'd see somebody taking a shit on the side of the road.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:24:33    Yeah, exactly. And why wouldn't you use the toilets or have them available, but the modern plumbing that we take for granted, they don't have it the way we have it here. 

Aaron Marshall:    00:24:50    Not even close, we didn't even have regular electricity where we were at. 

Scott DeLuzio:    00:24:55    Yeah, exactly. And a lot of places are like that too. They don't have the electricity running to the villages and the houses and plumbing with the water, they have to walk the way you would think of early settlers of this country, that they would go and get water.  They'd go walk to a lake or a river or something like that. And they'd go collect their water and bring it back to their house. Like, that's pretty much how they have to do it there. They have a trek to do it, you know?  So you briefly mentioned earlier, Operation Reboot Outdoors. And I’d love to talk to you a little bit about that, unless there's anything else about your book that you wanted to say.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:25:37    Oh, I can talk about my book for days, but I can move on as well. I probably know every word in it by heart because I've been focusing on it for 15 years or so. Operation Reboot Outdoors is an organization that saves lives.  Veterans, Active Duty military, and Leo's that's Law Enforcement Officers. They take them out hunting and fishing with a Maine guide for free every day of the year, almost every day of the year. And they have been blowing up. We raised $60,000 in one weekend for the ice fishing Derby.  The year before we raised $25,000 in a weekend. And the year before that, I don't think it was half that for the entire year. So we're really building steam. I help out with their marketing and stuff like that.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:26:23    They were on a show with Mike Rowe, I think it is called Returning the Favor. They got gifted side-by-side for the missions. So that was pretty cool. The president/founder, I went to middle school with and we never liked each other at all in middle school, high school. We were always fighting. Because we were both competitive, you know? And now, I mean, he inspires me more than almost anybody, you know? It's so weird. He wrote in my yearbook, I'm going to kick the shit out of you. I still have it.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:27:10    We all grow up and we all have different experiences and everything. And it turns out you guys have some shared experiences.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:27:19    No, he was in the military and he didn't know I was in the military. My senior year I switched schools to another school to get more exposure because I played basketball and we just never clicked before, but now it's like, I understand him. I can get where he's coming from, you know? Yeah. It's a beautiful thing.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:27:39    And that's an interesting thing too about Veterans. I talked to a lot of Veterans, like you, prior to today, we've never spoken face-to-face or we're over a zoom call now recording, but we're able to just pick up and shoot the shit and tell stories, talk about deployments and stuff. And we have like a shared experience in terms of being in the military and being deployed and stuff. And we're able to just have those conversations, fairly easily. And, maybe if we knew each other back in middle school, maybe we wouldn't have been best friends or anything like that but now after all these years later, we're a little bit older, we have this experience, we're able to have these conversations. I found that to be true with a lot of the Veterans I speak with, it's just really easy to speak with each other.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:28:38    You don't even realize it sometimes that you're telling stories about your tour, because you're just so comfortable talking. I'm comfortable now talking with you so you could ask me anything and I would answer it.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:28:52    Yeah, exactly. And I think that's the point. And the reason why I bring that up is because there are some people out there who they're struggling with something, and thinking, Oh, nobody's gonna understand me. No one knows what I'm going through.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:29:05    You're not alone. That's what I say to them. You are not alone. I've been there. Trust me, I've been in a lot of down situations and life gets good. When you start, you know, working on yourself, don't judge other people, just judge yourself and only judge from yourself the day before, you know?  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:29:22    Yeah. Just try to get that 1% better every day, whatever it is. And it seems like that's not a lot. It's not going to move the needle, but after a year, you're going to see some improvement, after two, three, four years, you're going to be a changed person. If you focus on that one thing and just change, try to change a little bit. Don't try to do any earth shattering changes in a day or in a week, because it's not going to work. It doesn't stick. That's why people who make new year's resolutions quit on them by mid February. They're trying to do too much; bite off too much at once. And it just doesn't work. So take small steps, baby steps,  you know, in the military, they do the crawl, walk, run phase. You don't start off running on anything. You crawl, you have to start off that way.  It's the same way as a baby. Baby's not gonna jump out of their crib one day and start running around the house, they have to learn how to crawl first, and have to learn how to walk. And then they'll eventually start running around the house and driving me crazy.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:30:27    Mine don't drive me crazy. Believe it or not. They really don't. I got lucky there, they're good kids. They're great.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:30:34    Yeah, I say that a little tongue in cheek, my kids are great too. I mean, they have their days, but they're good. Everyone does. So, anyways, all of the stuff that you've been doing I think is really great.  The Operation Reboot Outdoors, your book talking about the different experiences that you've had and everything.  From my perspective I think people like you who write your stories down, tell your stories, they help other people opening up the same way that your friend did, who wrote that book that you talked about earlier and that helped you to be able to tell your story. And I think by writing your story, it's going to help somebody else to tell their story.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:31:25    And it's going to have a snowball effect where there's just going to be stories that get told. And I think another thing that we have going in the post 9/11 era, that people from previous generations, maybe the WWI and WWII, you know, even earlier, Korean War, they may have had a story to tell, but the barrier to entry to write a book was pretty high back then. Like it was not an easy thing to get done, to find a publisher who's willing to invest in it and publish the book and put it out there. And so, I gotta imagine a lot of stories that just went untold because it was just that mindset of, well, my story is not going to get published. Why am I going to put all this effort into writing this book?  But, nowadays it's so much easier.  Amazon has ways of self publishing, there's tons of self-publishing options.

Aaron Marshall:    00:32:22    Yeah. I self published. I published my own stuff. I have poetry books too that I publish and I do it all myself through the publishing company called Lulu. And basically you do all your own work and you set up everything, the prices and every part of it is in your control. And the best thing I like about Lulu is you don't have to pay in advance for the books when somebody buys it, then they'll make it.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:32:46    Perfect. Yeah. So it's a print on demand kind of thing.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:32:49    Yeah, exactly. And that's saved me a lot of money and time.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:32:52    Right. And so, it's a much lower barrier to entry to get your work out there. And so if you have a story to tell, for the listeners out there, if you have a story to tell, write it down, you don't have to be a great writer. It doesn't have to be the next blockbuster hit movie that it's going to get turned into or anything like that. But it's a story and your story is important because it could help other people, it could, you know, make somebody else inspired to write their story, which then goes on and helps somebody else. And yeah, exactly. And, also we're not going to be here forever. And somebody is going to want to know what happened in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. And without these stories being written down to hand on to the next generation, where are we going to have these stories situated? So, I think it's important to do.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:33:55    It was a quote that I had in my book. I was looking for basically a message for you. And it's before the book starts and basically says, you're not alone. If you think you are, you're not, you know, I've been there and there is help. You just have to want to accept it.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:34:16    Exactly. Yeah. And a lot of times people get turned off by the VA, for example, people don't trust the VA, they don't want to deal with the VA and they think that there's problems with it. And it's fine if that's your mindset or whatever, but there's part of the reason why these podcasts do a lot of good.  Part of the reason why this podcast even exists is to highlight other organizations that do work with Veterans. So the VA is not your only source of help that's out there. There are other organizations and a lot of them are free of cost. They're non-profits, and they're out there taking people, like you were talking about earlier, going hunting and fishing and doing those types of things.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:35:05    And they're a nonprofit too. Exactly. Yeah. And so those organizations exist to help out and they're there. Their whole mission is to help out Veterans and people who are just like the people who might be listening to this. So listen to some of the previous episodes that I've had on here and listen to what organizations are out there and do your own research. There might be some organizations that are local to your area that will help out Veterans, whether it's therapy or outdoor activities or any number of other things, check it out and see if there's organizations that offer things for Veterans. I think you'd be pretty surprised to find out just how many there are in your area. 

Aaron Marshall:  That's true. 

Scott DeLuzio: Well, Aaron, it has been a pleasure speaking with you today, learning about you,, your time in Iraq and the things that you've done in the journey that you've gone through writing your book and everything. Where can people go to get a copy of your book and to follow you and learn more about you and what you're doing?  

Aaron Marshall:    00:36:12    You can follow me on Instagram.  My name is combat dads. My book, Baqubah Bones and Blood. It's out right now at Barnes and Noble, you can get it through Walmart. You can get it through anywhere books are sold.  I'm going to be doing a hardcover release. And that will be the spring of 2022.  I just got a new editor on board. She's Sarah Perry, the one I taught the one whose book she's going to be editing now, but she's busy. So it's going to be a few months. So I delayed the time it was going to be released, but she's on board now and I couldn't be happier. Like she said, when she said she was down for doing it. And I was just like, I think I felt high for a day.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:37:00    Yeah. I know that feeling when you get good news like that, that goal that you wanted to have, that you get that rush of just feels good. And so if for nothing else, write a book so you can get those kinds of rushes. So you can have like a sense of accomplishment, you know,  

Aaron Marshall:    00:37:18    That's what it is too. I think you just feel accomplished immediately. It's like your subconscious goes, Oh my God, you did it.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:37:26    Well, I'll have links to all of that, your social media and links to get the book in the show notes. So anyone who's looking to get a copy of the book, go check out the show notes. You can click through there. 

Aaron Marshall:    00:37:40    Sorry to cut you off. But if anybody wants the book for free, I send free PDFs of it so just DM me and I'll send you a free PDF so you can check it out, see if it's something that you want to buy.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:37:54    Absolutely. Yeah, that's awesome. And if you do buy the book,  leave reviews and help out Aaron, those reviews are the way these sites, whether it's Amazon or Barnes and Noble, that's the way they recommend books to other people. So leave reviews. If you've checked out that book, give him some love with those reviews and help them out there. So, Aaron, it's been a pleasure speaking with you, and I really do appreciate you taking the time to join us.  

Aaron Marshall:    00:38:27    Same to you, sir.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:38:29    Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:38:36    Drive On We're also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at Drive On Podcast.


  1. Aaron Marshall on 30 June 2021 at 14:02

    If anyone is ants to get a hold of me feel free to connect with me through my Instagram. Thanks for having me on Scott! ????

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