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Scott DeLuzio: 00:00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting Veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I'd like to ask a favor if you haven't done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcast. If you've already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you're there, click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes as soon as they come out; if you don't use Apple podcasts, you can visit DriveOnPodcast.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email list. I'm your host, Scott DeLuzio and now let's get on with the show. Hey everybody. Today, my guest is Steven Break. Steven and I found each other through a post on the Veterans helping Veterans Facebook group, where he was looking for guests on his podcast. The Lucky Break podcast and his podcast is all about telling other people's stories. So I figured let's have him on and you know, maybe you give him a chance to tell his story and see how we can help each other out. So welcome to the show, Steven let's hear a little bit about yourself and your background and all that kind of stuff.
Steven Break: 00:01:16 All right. Well, I was born and raised in Northern Arkansas and then my mother passed away when I was seven. And so my granny lived in Illinois, and that is where I lived the other half of my life until I joined the Army when I was 21. And I went to the St. Louis Mets and had no clue what I was doing. Matter of fact, I remember running from the recruiters before I decided to join the Army because the recruiters were after me. And I was just smoking weed and skateboarding. And they were knocking on my door, didn't answer the door, skateboarding down the sidewalk, see him walking out my door would turn around and run. Then when I turned 21, I was like, what the hell am I going to do in my life? Then I was going to do, and tried a couple of jobs.
Steven Break: 00:02:14 Now. I know how it goes. And I'm like, all right, I'll try to join the Marines. So I tried to join the Marines. I failed the piss test and I was like, no, go. I was like, you're not even going to give me a chance to get clean. Nope, no way. So the Army is like, you got 30 days to get clean, I was like, deal three days later, I was on a plane to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. That's where I went to basic training and AIT. I forget if they changed it, did they change the basic training? It was nine weeks, but now it's like, well, 13.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:02:56 I forget what it is now. Even when I was in, this is back in 2006 or so when I went through basic training, I forgot what the whole program was.
Steven Break: 00:03:09 So, then I think it was nine weeks basic training. You know when you're with a bunch of people, you get to know them, then you all split up and go to AIT, made a bunch of other new people, get to know each other, then you all split up. Finally, there's your duty station for three weeks, your brothers and your everybody. And I had one guy that actually went to basic training, AIT, and to my duty station with me, that was Paul Marks, every single one with me when we were in the non Bravos as the ammunition specialist. So we got to play with the explosives and stuff and in 05, as soon as we got there, we deployed right over there. And 04/05, it was still pretty rough.
Steven Break: 00:04:13 Like, not like it is today. Over there today, they have actual bases built up. When I first went, they just had barbed wire around; understand that's all your head and plastic, plastic on bees and all of that. Yeah. I remember Tecrete Iraq was where we first were and it was just in a field with conexes around us. And what is it? The ammunition's FivePoint and ASB. I remember, Oh man. I had a lot of stories. I got blown up on a Port-a- shitter.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:05:00 That sounds like a pretty interesting one.
Steven Break: 00:05:03 Oh, cool. I swear to God it did happen. It was like 10 30 at night, your bubble guts over there. So I had a porta John like 50 yards from our twos. And I heard the noise from the mortar, like a humph, when it goes out of the tube
Scott DeLuzio: 00:05:25 Yeah, when it leaves the tube.
Steven Break: 00:05:27 But then I say, what the hell was that? And then all of a sudden you hear the little whistle right around me and I was like, yeah, everybody else came out of their chews. I didn't have my weapon on either. I left my weapon in my tube with my roommate. So with all the chaos, I remember being blown over and I had bootie shit all over me. I had shit, shit all over me. And I had to run back to get my weapon, get in the bunker and you know how it goes from there. Right.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:06:01 But that's definitely not fun. And probably everyone was not super excited to be next to you in that bunker covered in shit.
Steven Break: 00:06:10 Does that smell? I was like, sorry.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:06:15 Good aim at the shitter.
Steven Break: 00:06:18 All right. I don't know how, and I don't know how I didn't get any shrapnel in either.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:06:25 Yeah. That's pretty amazing. Yeah. But I mean, it's fortunate that it worked out that way, that the worst of your injuries was your pride. What else went on that you said you had a bunch of stories over there. What other kind of stories do you have to share with people?
Steven Break: 00:06:50 I actually had some fun stories, fun memories over there. Okay. I just like telling the fun stories better than I like telling the bad stories. There are more bad than there are fun. I am going to stick with fun. My squad, we call ourselves the animal dogs. We got in trouble a lot; we were the mischievous group of the unit. And there were only like eight of us in our area. We just did our thing. But when we'd go to like chow or anything like that, we'd hear people say here comes the animal dogs.
Steven Break: 00:07:41 Our commander, I forgot her name, but I got in so much trouble because I built a swing on stacked-up comics like three feet high. They stacked up, we had three connected, we took some pallets and made it high enough where I could reach the top. And I had a rope. I made myself a swing about 3 feet high and I was like, there's no work, no doubt. I jumped off those pallets and wrapped my legs around the rope and up, I went about 30 feet. And I look at, and I can see five other people standing there, like he's done. And I come down. I didn't let go of the rope one time and I slammed into the conexs and I thought I broke my back, but I did something because my whole back was black and blue. And then we went to chow, my commander comes and pats me on the back, like, Hey Break. I was like, Oh shit.
Steven Break: 00:08:50 The commander asked “what happened to you?” nothing, nothing, nothing. Just lift up your shirt. I was like, Oh my God, what'd you do? I was like, I made up the story to tell her something different. I forgot what I told her, but because I didn't want him to get my staff Sergeant in trouble because he was the one that allowed me to do it. He said, you ain't going to do it. And so I made up something, I forgot what it was. And we used to get in trouble for riding wheelies in our Bobcat. We totalled a few Bobcat's. But when it came down to it, we got serious and got our shit done. And that's a lot of fun. We went out on a couple of missions and some stuff happened, but I always liked being inside of the base, better than being outside of the base.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:09:52 Yeah. It tends to be a bit safer inside the base until the mortar starts dropping.
Steven Break: 00:09:59 Yeah. People call everybody like people that don't go outside the wire a lot. Call them hobbits. Yeah. They're still in danger too, man.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:10:14 Yeah. But there's plenty of danger on the base.
Steven Break: 00:10:16 Yeah. July 30th of 2008 I was on guard tower and a guy named Martinez replaced me and I was just coming off the guard tower and it was like eight o'clock in the morning. As soon as we replaced, I got to the bottom of the stairs. I heard him yell, RPG, RPG, fuck all ready and right through the window of the guard tower where he was standing out the door to a HESCO barrier above my head. And that made a big old hole in the wall where our base was just trying to come in. So we all started firing away and there were about 12 guys at that time trying to rush the base. And luckily before that, because we're the animal dogs, we've got to go all the way around the base.
Steven Break: 00:11:18 And instead of Claymores around all the other places. So whenever I grabbed that clicker, man, boom, I got them and I didn't want to look at what it did and it caused a lot of damage, but I saw it. I didn't want to look at what I did, but I remember Martinez, he got hurt, got hurt, pretty bad. Because of that RPG, he was messed up pretty bad, but he survived. He held that tower down too. Right. You didn't let anybody in. Nobody came in and then because they had all around the base the guard tower they were written three at once and then was trying to get in; a couple of them did get in, they got inside the base, they didn't make it very far.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:12:20 And it all depends really on where you're located and what the bad guys who are in the area, because you could be on another base, similar setup to what you're on and not hardly see anybody the entire time that you're there while you're on the base. And other places you might see them every day or a few times a week. It's really a crap shoot and sometimes they just wait to see what they can do and wait for an opportunity. And it sucks when it happens, but it's part of the job. Unfortunately,
Steven Break: 00:13:01 I remember my second deployment, we were able to schedule when they were going to have that happen so much, like get ready for it. Sure enough, boom. Here they come. So it got predictable there for a while, but then they realized, they were being predictable and they changed it up, but they were always doing stuff, like a spy run and stuff like that. And I liked seeing the nice people out there because Iraq is like everywhere else and Afghanistan there's good or bad, but all the good people there, man. I liked it. And, again, back to my first deployment, 04/05 remember buddy died. Our first deployment was over there. He drank a lot, but that was a dry country. So, he replaced it with pain pills, pharmacy, and over there you can buy pills on the street.
Steven Break: 00:14:18 And we see the little kiosks like the little kiosks that we have inside the base. That's what they have in town and there, along with the RX on it, he's like, “Oh yeah.” And he bought valium, a bunch of hydrocodone and he came back with this stuff. I didn't go on that one. He said, look what I got and he was my roommate. I was like, Oh shit, anyhow, Oh, you got some weed, you got some hasheesh. And we smoked weed. And man that was there. That was the early days of it. But I remember that was a fun time. I remember hiding behind a Humvee from Sergeant Jeffrey smoking a joint. I didn’t see him as well. Parker, both walking in Dublin, you know, down at that. I hope they don't smell it, but they were too far away. They can’t smell it.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:15:17 Yeah. And that happens. You hear stories of Vietnam vets who were finding drugs over there and it was so much worse over there. It was heroin and all sorts of stuff. And it's unfortunate, but it happens, it's not the best situation to be in, but it does happen. So it's kind of a reality of war and combat, especially in those areas where it's easy to access that stuff, especially Afghanistan, Iraq, that's where some of that stuff comes from, they grow it there.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:16:05 So let's switch gears a little bit and talk a little bit about what you're doing with your podcast and what you're up to. You're just getting started with it. The Lucky Break.
Steven Break: 00:16:19 I've always wanted to do it ever since podcasts came out, I've been wanting to do it, but everybody always said, if you want to do it, just jump in. And I was always nervous. Like you just want to think I'm just trying to get attention or some shit like that. But so I didn't do it for years. And finally I was just like, I'll do it later. I kind of have this app called anchor. I put on that. I was like, all right, but I didn't have any idea what I was going to do. I thought I was just going to do interviews and stuff like that. And luckily I ran into a guy down here named Don Diesel, he's a music producer. And he helped me with my very first episode about being my guest. And he edited it, produced it, everything.
Steven Break: 00:17:05 And so my first episode is probably my best episode so far, but it’s mainly just telling people's stories like I just did and whatever they want to share. Or if I I don't have a guest on the day that I am supposed to have a podcast, I'll look up a story like a murder or a true crime story. I tell some of those. I like telling the true crime stories. I did one on the Carnation murders. That one sounded pretty good. So I'm working on one right now called the John Kaiser case. And he's from here. My uncle Joe got me to look them up, but he was a veterinarian in 1936. And finally started working on people, but he would cash out life insurance policies and slowly kill them by injecting them with something somehow. It was crazy. And he got away with it. Didn't go to prison, didn’t get the chair, or nothing and got away with it. Collected on nine somehow got away with it.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:18:18 And you also have a wide range of people on the show. It's not just Veterans or anything like that. It's all walks of life basically.
Steven Break: 00:18:28 Oh yeah. Everybody, anybody that has something interesting; I've got after the John Kaiser case, tomorrow as a matter of fact, I got an episode with two tight Timmy. He's kind of a local celebrity. He's so patriotic that he'll be out in the rain, snow, shine, anything; he'll be out there with the hardy Arkansas flag running around. And he makes funny YouTube videos. But I never knew who he was. My brother said, Oh, that's too tight Timmy. I want to try to get him on my show. And I looked him up. They told me his real name <inaudible> I looked him up <inaudible> gave him my phone number. And he called me like, Hey man, it's Timmy. This is Tim. I was like, Tim, is that too tight Timmy? I was like, Oh yes. No way and finally I felt like I'm going to be going somewhere with it. So I'm gonna keep on going with it only have five episodes.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:19:36 Yeah. But the other day when we were talking, you were saying that your schedule is filling up quite a bit with a bunch of people that were reaching out. So I think these episodes will be continuing.
Steven Break: 00:19:45 Since I did that on that Veterans page, everybody's like, I've had more people in my life. That's never called me. I just got a text from somebody that said they would do it. That's fine.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:20:08 Yeah. Social media really does make it a small world. It makes it so that people who otherwise probably would never meet, I'm in Arizona, you're over in Arkansas. Our paths would vary. It would be very unlikely for our paths to cross otherwise. So, getting on social media, it's not all bad, it has its downsides, but it's not all bad. And it definitely can bring people together like this, which I think in a way is a good thing.
Steven Break: 00:20:35 So are you around the same age as me, I'm 38.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:20:41 Yeah. I'm 38. Yeah. So we're, we're right in the same ballpark there.
Steven Break: 00:20:48 So, we are the generation that grew up half our life without the internet and the other half with the internet. So we're kind of the mixture of both, because when we were kids, we didn't have shit, but we still like it, but we were young enough to get into it and still like it. And now they're still coming out with new shit. I feel old as hell; my son is 14 and he’s like have you ever done Twitch, I don’t know what Twitch is. They just came out with Facebook 10 years ago.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:21:23 Yeah. There's all sorts of new stuff coming out and different ways of connecting with people and that's one of the things I like about the podcast is that we can connect with people, tell people stories and share information about all sorts of stuff. That's really a great thing about it. And there's really no end in sight in terms of the types of podcasts that people can do. Yours is a nice wide variety. You know, mine is focused on Veterans, but there's all sorts of things out there. I really would encourage people who are out there who have a story to tell, have a message, something that they're passionate about
Scott DeLuzio: 00:22:07 to think about starting a podcast. It's really not a half bad way to go. It's not super difficult once you figure it out and like the other day, when we talked on the phone, I gave you some advice and some things like that, one thing I've noticed is that people are very open to helping each other out, other podcasters and stuff. So if you have questions, you don't know where to start, find a group of people who already are doing it; whether it's a podcast or whatever it is that you want to do, whatever you're interested in and just start asking questions and get out there and try to help each other out, you know?
Steven Break: 00:22:47 Yeah. And that's what I do. I do that. Are you on the podcast for stage two? Do you have those on Facebook?
Scott DeLuzio: 00:22:54 Yeah. Yeah. So there's a bunch of podcasts or on pages on Facebook that I'm in and it's cool. People have questions about where's the best place to host your podcast. What's the best microphone or the best way of recording. And you know, everyone has their own opinions. It's almost like fingerprints, the different ways that people do things and how they have their setup. It's all different, but it's really good because then you get a variety of options from all these different people, and then you can play around with the different options that they give and see what works best for you. And I think ultimately, that's really what you need to focus on is what's going to work for you.
Steven Break: 00:23:39 Like, so far my wife doesn't know anything about podcasts. She knows that I'm doing this. She surprised me and she tried to surprise me and ordered me some microphones and she did, neither of us knew anything about good microphones. So she just Googled the podcasts microphones and I got the snowball ice microphone. She bought me two of them. And they work pretty good. So I guess I will stick with them for a while.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:24:08 Yeah, exactly. And that's the one thing I've found with podcasting is as far as the microphones go and the technology that you put into it, start with what you have and it doesn't have to be crazy. It doesn't have to be super expensive or anything like that. And start with what you have, see if it's even something that you want to continue doing. You may do three or four episodes and say, Nope, this isn't for me. And then, you don't want to blow hundreds of dollars on equipment that you're not going to end up using. So start with what you have, see if you like it, if you do then, consider investing a little bit of money into it and see where it goes from there.
Steven Break: 00:24:46 That's what I do. I just like it, I don't even care if people don't like it. I like doing it.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:24:56 Great. Yeah. And you'll find an audience for it too. There's an audience for just about everything, as far as the podcast goes, as long as the content is good and people are getting something out of it; it's informative or entertaining or whatever the case may be. People will subscribe to it; it may not be Joe Rogan kind of podcasts with millions of followers and subscribers and everything like that. But at the same time, that doesn't really matter either. I was talking to another guy that I know that does a podcast and he was saying, even if you get 50 people to listen to an episode on average; you get 50 listeners per episode, think about that. If it's a weekly podcast think about you getting up in front of a room full of 50 people and talking to them for an hour or a half hour or whatever the length of the episode is, and you have their undivided attention for that period of time every single week.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:25:57 Like that's actually pretty good, being able to have that type of audience. So you know, no matter how small it is, even if it's five or 10 people you still have an audience of people who are actually engaged in listening to what you have to say. And you know, even if you're helping one of those people out with the stories that you're sharing or the advice that you're giving or entertaining them somehow, then, that’s good.
Steven Break: 00:26:21 I'm surprised; I've already got I don't even know how many people but I know it's not very many, I don't know it's considered low, but it makes me feel good. I think it's like 128 downloads or something like that. I was like, Hey, that's all right by me. And I just said that, I think of it like stand up comedy. If I had this many people watching me, I couldn't spend time in front of these people personally and talk about what I'm talking about. So I'll say to myself and do it right. Then I'll start getting less nervous, but I will think of it as just stand up comedy.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:27:10 What is the goal for you with your podcast and sharing these stories? What's it about the short stories that you hope to achieve to get the message out there?
Steven Break: 00:27:22 Oh, just that everybody has a story. Everybody's got one. Not one person has the same story.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:27:31 Exactly. And that's absolutely true. Everybody that I've had on this podcast I've had a few people who had similar backgrounds. Even their stories were totally different and they just went in different paths and different things affected them in different ways and the way they solve their own issues or whatever, they did it in different ways. So it's really unique and it's good to hear people who are actually going through some of the same stuff as you might be going through or whoever's listening to it might be going through because it also lets you know that you're not alone out there; you're not struggling on whatever, if it's an addiction or something that you're not struggling on this alone. Like there's other people out there who are struggling with it too. And it's inspiring to hear when people find their way out of the dark hole they are in sometimes too. So, but also it's good to hear the funny ones.
Steven Break: 00:28:37 Yeah. I do like the funny ones. I do have my dark hole and that would be a little bit of PTSD, but I moved back home and I thought that I was going to be alone. Like never meet anybody else like this. But when I moved to Myrtle, Missouri, I came across Tim something, I forgot the name of my friend, but I realized that we're everywhere. We're everywhere. Because he was a ranger sniper and he was messed up in the head. I was like, Aw, thank God somebody like me; it doesn't make me feel good.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:29:29 Before we wrap up, before we started recording, you mentioned that there was a Veteran outreach program that you wanted to talk a little bit about and give some information about, because they're doing some good stuff out in your area and if anyone out there is listening to it, it'd be good for them to know about what it's all about. So why don't you take a minute and tell a little bit about what that organization's up to and how they can help people in your area.
Steven Break: 00:29:58 Okay. Yeah. That's a buddy of mine, Kelly Tar started this with the BA you got in with the VA down here in Missouri. And he started what's called the Veterans’ outreach program. And he just basically is helping anybody that needs help in any type of way. Like if you need help just talking, call his number to talk. So if you are stuck in a ditch call his number, someone on his team will come and get you out of the ditch; If you're thinking about hurting yourself or someone else, I'll call you and whatever you want to do and reach out to them and they will help you.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:30:44 That's a good service to have. Sometimes people are there alone, especially at this time, with all the COVID stuff, with all the restrictions and stuff, people aren't seeing people the way they usually do. A lot of people feel isolated and alone. So knowing that there's someone out there who's willing to help.
Steven Break: 00:31:02 Go through anything just help, help.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:31:05 Yeah. Yeah. And knowing that there's someone out there who's willing to drop everything to come in and help you out is a big plus to have too. So that's great. And I'm glad you shared that organization and what they do. Are there any links or anything like that like a website or a phone number or anything that I could put in the show notes?
Steven Break: 00:31:31 I think it's www.VOP.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:31:38 Cool. I'll check that out and double check that and put that in the show notes, just so people can find that and access it when they need it.
Steven Break: 00:31:50 Well, it was not VOP then it's the full Veteran outreach program.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:31:57 Yeah. I will double check that and put it in the show notes. So Steven, it's been a pleasure speaking with you today. Where can people go to find out more about your podcast and subscribe and listen to that?
Steven Break: 00:32:12 Oh, well, I'm on a new podcast. My Apple podcasts, Spotify, I think Spotify is the main one that everybody goes to, I think. I think that's the majority. So I always say Spotify, but also anchor. That's why I record it and do everything and that's it.
Scott DeLuzio: That's awesome. But I'll put a link to
Scott DeLuzio: 00:32:40 some of those in the show notes and get people to hopefully start following and subscribing to your podcast, The Lucky Break podcast. You can search for it over there if you don't click on the links and again, it's been great speaking with you and hearing your story and what you have going on. So I really do appreciate it.
Steven Break: I appreciate it.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:33:09 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, DriveOnPodcast.com. We're on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @DriveOnPodcast.
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