Vet With A Mic

Drive On Podcast
Drive On Podcast
Vet With A Mic
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Ryan is a Navy veteran and has since focused on studying psychology, and turned to podcasting to help veterans.

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Transcript

Scott DeLuzio   00:00:00    Thanks for tuning into the 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 we’ll 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. Everybody. Welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today, my guest is Ryan from the Vet with a Mic podcast. Ryan is a Navy veteran and has since focused studying psychology and practicing psychology after getting out of the Navy. So welcome to the show, Ryan. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?  

Ryan    00:00:45    Well, yeah, I guess I should clarify one little thing. I did study clinical psychology at the university, I’m not a psychologist, so I don’t practice psychology, just okay. It’s more of a legal standard. You have to train to the doctoral level in order to be a psychologist. So I am not a psychologist just to kind of clear that up really quickly.  I spent five years in the United States Navy, the world’s finest Navy. I bounced around a little bit, my time in the uniform. So I got a lot of experiences, saw a big chunk of the world. Not all of it. Still, some bucket list left to check, to check off there. But I really noticed that I didn’t think that I could really make this a lifestyle for me forever.  

Ryan   00:01:39    So I separated in 2013 and much like most of us, I kind of floundered a bit for the first year. So whenever I got out, I had no idea really what was next. I had a plan. I thought I was going to be able to execute, but when you’re trying to make plans at this point, I was in Italy trying to make plans in Tennessee. It’s really difficult to navigate that transition from a thousand miles away or from several thousand miles away in my case. So I found that as I tried to navigate that space,  with my plan after the uniform, it just didn’t really pan out for me. Luckily I had some family members that kind of stepped in on my behalf, so I didn’t end up on the streets so to speak, but it was pretty close. It was a pretty rough transition for me.  

Ryan   00:02:32    But what I started to notice, after the uniform was, I just really felt alienated and disconnected from everybody. And I didn’t understand why. I thought maybe it was because I had changed after the uniform. I wasn’t really sure. So I eventually said, well, I’ve got to do something. I feel like I’m just spinning my wheels here. So I said, well, I tried my hand at college time or two before, might as well go back and see if there’s anything that I can find interest, in that domain. So I went back for psychology courses and it was like, Hey, you know what? I really like this. I don’t know what I’m going to be able to do with it, but I really liked this. So I finished a bachelor’s degree in psychology, got some really cool opportunities to do some research with like projects like non-suicidal self-injury.  

Ryan    00:03:29    And I was like, wow, I think this is probably something that I would like to go a little further in. So I applied for grad school and did some more higher-level courses within clinical psychology.  And then I did some more research specifically with the veterans and I went, there’s a problem here. There’s a huge problem. And I don’t know how to solve it, but I can at least do something to address a part of it. And so that’s where I kind of introduced the two domains, so to speak to each other, my time in the uniform and then clinical psychology training, I noticed that others were feeling just as disconnected and alienated from the civilian population as I was. And so that was, that was apparent within the clinical literature. There’s just the same kind of statements that were being made from people that were being interviewed.  

Ryan   00:04:32    So I went well, there’s something to this social support element here. I don’t know what we’ll do. We’ll have to see exactly where this course kind of takes us. But social support was a huge part of our identity within the uniform. We don’t call it comradery, right? But social support is a huge element. We rely on each other so much to just get through the daily tasks, but we also rely on each other a lot to help deal with the problems and the crisis that we have in our life every day. The buddies are going through a divorce. We go through the divorce with them, especially if you’re in the uniform and you’re overseas or your donor changes. That is your stressor too. It’s not just theirs, because it can literally impact your life. So we suffer with each other in those regards. I’ve noticed that maybe this is something that’s going on in life after the uniform. We don’t have that same surrogate family that we did before. And often people reporting, not feeling as connected to social support elements that they had before the uniform. And so I went, well, what is going on here? Why would you feel disconnected from family members after the uniform?   

Scott DeLuzio     00:06:04    Yeah. It’s a funny thing because I, through all the people that I’ve talked to on this podcast, the same theme that you’re talking about here has come up several times, People just feel disconnected from family or from friends when they go back to their hometown or know people that they grew up with, They just feel that that disconnect. It’s strange because, at one point, everyone,  whether you’re actively serving or you’re a veteran or whatever, all of us at one point or another were civilians- never associated with the military. And so we knew how to function as a civilian at one point or another, we knew how to interact with other people. We knew we knew all of this stuff now. So fast forward a few years, whether it’s five years or 10 years or 20 or, or more. And now all of a sudden we are like a lost month and we have no idea how to find a way back home and find a way back into our place in society.  

Ryan   00:07:10    I think you and I talked about before we started recording.  I was on the morning formation with KP and he echoed the same kind of sentiment. And I said, well, look, you’re from Connecticut, right. So are you from a big town or a little town?

Scott DeLuzio      00:07:28    Bigger town, but not, not a city. It’s a bigger size.   

Ryan   00:07:34    So how many people did you graduate from high school with?  

Scott DeLuzio     00:07:36, I think in our class there were about four or 500 people.  

Ryan  00:07:45    Okay. So around the same size as mine. All right. So everybody, then I grew up with, pretty much has stayed in the same part of the world that they were born into. And that’s completely normal. That’s the norm. Right? But when you enter into the military, your life starts to really dramatically shift from everybody else’s trajectory. And I say, I was from a small little town in east Tennessee.  I don’t think I’d even had sushi before the military.  Not to say that there weren’t sushi places there, I think, but it was just, I wasn’t exposed to just everyday little things like that. So within the military, all of a sudden in the uniform, you are just thrust into all these different types of people and different experiences that they’ve all had different backgrounds. And then of course, like for me, I went from my small town in east Tennessee to just to the Chicago area for basic great lakes and from the Chicago area to San Antonio for a school and from San Antonio to San Diego, for some more training.  

Ryan   00:08:56    So on those just a few stops alone. I was never going to see east Tennessee the same way. How could you, right. I mean, I’d seen beautiful Latino women in California. Are you kidding me? I was never going to be able to go back to east Tennessee and not know that.  So, I think that just by the kind of experiences that we have, it shifts our perspective. It’s a paradigm shift. We have a shift of worldview and just through exposure, it changes you. Now, obviously, if you spend any time overseas, that’s like another magnitude of change that happens. And I think that’s what happens to a lot of people in uniform. They just have so many different types of experiences that their peers that they had before the uniform, they can’t relate to. I joke a lot about lessons and I’m not disparaging Panama City Beach at all, because Lord knows I’ve spent my time there, but that’s where everybody goes to vacation for my east Tennessee town. Well, my last duty station was in Sicily. I laid out on a beach and you know, and Tara Amina, like it was a beautiful Sicilian beach. Panama city beach is never going to be the same to me.   

Ryan   00:10:13    It be? Right. There’s just so many paradigm shifts that happened in the uniform. And so I think just on that surface level alone, goodness, how could you relate and connect to people who were so much more worldly after those experiences.  

Scott DeLuzio      00:10:29    Yeah, you are. And when you have people who have never left there, I can’t say never left their hometown, but they live there. We call them townies.  They grew up there. They graduated high school there. They might’ve gone away to college for four years or something like that five years. And then they came back and they bought a house in the town that they grew up in and they raised their own family. . And so their worldview is kind of limited, maybe they only went an hour or two away to school. And so they were still coming home on the weekends to do laundry and to get a nice home-cooked meal for mom and. So that they’re not, they’re not getting too far out, You’re talking about being in Italy on a beach and other places around the world that you’ve been to. And you just get such a different perspective on the world because it’s a much bigger place than just your hometown, wherever that may be.  

Ryan    00:11:34    And yeah. And you’re right. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that conventional wisdom there. That’s a look that would have been me if I didn’t join the uniform and would have been, but because I joined the informant, I had those experiences, it profoundly changed me. I’m not saying that they have limitations. If they had the same experiences, they would have adjusted just like you. And I did. It’s just the exposure to different things changes you. And I think a lot of times we’re not prepared for that. We truly aren’t when we go from the uniform and we transition, then we try to go back to those conventional routes that all the people in our peer groups have stayed in. And they’re just laying out the glitter isn’t gold; it’s just not the same to you. And  like I said, I appreciate that lifestyle of living the con conventional lifestyle, it’s just a military lifestyle can’t be compared to  

Scott DeLuzio      00:12:39    No, it can’t. And I talked about this in another episode that I just recorded recently. And  I forgot exactly what I was talking to you now. But, even just small things, that certain people in certain parts of the country, we know when you go to basic training in another part of the country than where you grew up and you, you experienced certain things. I remember when I was in basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, Georgia, there were people from the Northwest who had never seen fireflies or lightning, bugs, whatever you want to call them. And we were out camping out in the woods one night and they started seeing all these little lights flashing in and they were freaking the hell out. They didn’t know where these things were coming. They didn’t know what they were and they weren’t, they were, they thought they were tripping or something. I don’t know what, but they just had no clue. And that’s a little thing, but there’s so many things like that. So many experiences that you have in other cultures, other, other parts of the world, parts of the country that, that you, you just take away with you, and now you have this bigger worldview, picture that you’re taking with you. So it definitely is different.  

Ryan    00:13:57    You go back to Kansas, man. I mean. Once you’ve seen Oz, man, it’s just not the same. I think that within itself is alienating. You just have those types, and it’s not an elitist thing. You can’t un-see the parts of the world in which you experienced. You can’t have those relationships that you make with people, even from different parts of the country. Though, those frames of reference, still stick with you. Like I remember the first time I heard somebody say five of, yo it was in basic training actually. And I had to, ’cause you’re probably more familiar with this being from that part of the world. I had no idea what the hell he was talking about five, whoa, what are you talking about? And he was like, and he thought I was being sarcastic to him. He goes, what are you? You know what I’m talking about? It’s five of Ryan, no idea what you mean.  

Scott DeLuzio      00:14:55    Yeah. And, to me that just never occurred to me, that’s just something I would say normally, and that just is part of a vernacular, I guess, for other people, I guess.. You’re right. When you come back, you definitely have a changed perspective and then add on top of just the normal military lifestyle. If you have deployed or have seen combat,  or things like that, where now your perspective is even more skewed because now you’re probably more of a head-on the swivel kind of guy and  you’re paying attention to all these things around you and you’re maybe trying to figure out why isn’t everyone else

Ryan   00:15:47    I remember my first leave from the desert. I was standing at a watering hole around my own town and I just got out of prison because  I understood that. I just say the posturing is the same. Constantly orienting to everything and the environment. Totally, you are looking, checking everything out. And so I make that joke a lot, comparing the military to the prison, but you’re right. I remember God, it was that same leave period after my first break in the desert, in which the Navy does things a little differently for those who may not know,  because I hear this a lot from civilians, at least you didn’t do anything dangerous. You were just in the Navy, but they left us there for a lot longer than most of the other branches, like my orders were for two years.  

Ryan   00:16:43    I was in mobile security and we were doing anti-terrorism and force protection taskings. So we would go up into Iraq or protect the oil terminals that are there. Or we would go do anti-piracy of the coast of Africa. And that was my reality for two years. So, that was a long time. I make the joke that my brain was baked in the sun after that long, but I remember coming back. And of course, when you’re on base, you’re lucky if you get like a wishbone and a craft ranch dressing. Right.  I was walking through a hometown grocery store and there were just 46 different types of ranch dressing. I remember feeling disgusted by it really.  There’s so much that we have. And my view of the world had shifted after that because I had gone without, for so long. And I knew that the rest of the world doesn’t live like that. So I felt like an alien in the culture. I didn’t really feel American anymore, which was an odd thing to think about as a military member, I didn’t feel American.  

Ryan    00:18:06    And I remember almost feeling a visceral kind of response to do people really need this many types of ranch dressing, like what happens when you don’t get it? Are you just, is that going to mess up your day? They don’t have your avocado ranch like this was, and I remember feeling pretty, like, angry about it. And I think that’s just another magnitude. What changes you in the uniform? If this is what it’s like to be in a nation where they don’t speak your native tongue, what it’s like to be the outsider, as soon as you understand what it’s like to be the outsider, can’t go back, man. When you’re the outgroup, you can’t go back.  

Scott DeLuzio      00:18:52    Yeah. But that’s definitely true. You can’t go back and I don’t think you should either. Those experiences that you’ve taken away. They make you who you are. The type of person that you are. I think that that’s true with everything, all the experiences that you have throughout your life, that you’re the sum of those experiences. You can’t take any of that stuff away. Unless you had a traumatic brain injury, then you can’t remember certain things, but  all that stuff just adds on it makes you who you are. And some of the stuff that might make you feel like an outsider or some of the trauma that you might have experienced, makes you hopefully more resilient. In the long run. Some people, it may not, but hopefully, you can use those experiences to become more resilient.  

Ryan    00:19:54    I agree. And I guess what you’re kind of circling there is post-traumatic growth, right? Because there’s something about the military lifestyle on it’s just on its surface. That is, I hate to use a trigger word like this, but it’s trauma.  It’s traumatic because you have to leave everything you’ve ever known and be okay with being away from it and never potentially seeing it again, up to that, that ultimate sacrifice. That kind of guts you and a lot of ways because you, no one really ever has to do that. Think about, at the time of this recording, it’s December 30, we just had a holiday. 

Ryan    00:20:41    How many Christmases did you spend away from your family? How many people that are civilians could even fathom that? I’d be hard-pressed to know any because if they even have to, like, if they worked in retail and they have to work like that day, they really lose their mind over it. But that’s our norm. And I think that the military lifestyle itself can be a stressor, maybe not traumatic. I mean, not to be dramatic, but it is a stressor unto itself that changes you in pretty profound ways because you’re used to severing. So to speak, certain parts of yourself, or at least your subjective experience. Yeah,  

Scott DeLuzio    00:21:34    Yeah, definitely. For sure. So that’s boarding a little bit here. So you got into studying psychology and when you initially started that, that was in the transition period where you thought you had a plan but didn’t really have a plan and all that Murphy’s law comes in and pokes its ugly head in and messes things up. When you decided to test the waters with psychology, was it your plan to start working with veterans or was it one of those things where you just kind of discovered some of the things that veterans were struggling with after you got into this?  

Ryan   00:22:24    Why I’m so glad you asked that? I guess the answer was hell no, I, because I knew our culture, our culture is pretty standoffish about talking about things that, make us feel vulnerable and talking about our feelings and our emotions. And, all of that kind of content really does make us, once bitten, twice shy and the culture within itself too. It has a reinforcing kind of principle to it because if there was ever somebody who said, Hey, I need to talk to somebody. Often the chain of command did not respond favorably to those kinds of requests. Often you would see somebody just get picked up out of the section or out of the workspace and put sorting mail or whatnot, where they could keep an eye on them. And once somebody saw somebody have that experience, there was just a chilling effect.  

Ryan    00:23:25    I mean, there was no way anybody else was going to step forward after that. And it looked like reprisal. I don’t know if the chain of command realized that that was the tone of that, a move like that, but it was definitely what was communicated to us like, oh shit, don’t say anything, man, just, I’m not going to say anything. So we just kind of had to like to eat it so to speak and not ever talk about it. Because as soon as you did, there was reprisal from your job. Now, something else that happens too is, and I’m glad you mentioned this specific part is confidentiality is something that happens within the military health sphere. Now confidentiality, in a nutshell, is your privileged communication, and that whatever is said within a therapy session stays within the therapy session with a few caveats. If you say something that makes the person believe that you are in danger, like you’re a danger to yourself, well then they have to break confidentiality to make sure that you don’t do that.  

Ryan   00:24:33    If they feel as if you have a credible threat against another person, they have to break confidentiality to protect that person’s life. Or if they believe that a child or somebody else that’s a protected class, if they believe that they’re at risk, whether you’re abusing the child or whatnot, they have to break confidentiality outside of those three things. And they’re pretty solid. Three things like the clinician has to really have a good reason for breaking confidentiality. You’re safe to talk about whatever you want to, but the problem is that the uniform has a different rule set for confidentiality than civilians do. So when you go to a military mental health provider, you may not know that the mission comes first. So if you say something that makes the person believe that the mission could be in jeopardy, they may have to break confidentiality.  

Ryan    00:25:31    And so once that happens, you feel betrayed, but there is a mispairing of the expectations for the situation. They give you that informed consent, which most people probably don’t pay attention to as much as they should. They give you the parameters of what you can expect within the relationship, but people don’t necessarily attend to those details as well. And so they’re surprised when a military mental health provider has to talk to their chain of command about something that’s said in therapy. Now they are often pretty limited in what they say to the chain of command, but just the notification sets the military member on edge. They know they feel betrayed. So that’s number one, number two, the civilians.  You are the client in that interaction. So that ultimate fidelity lies with you. There is nothing besides there’s three caveats in which a clinician would be justified in breaking confidentiality.  

Ryan    00:26:38    So I think a lot of times veterans bring this baggage into the mental health space, not knowing that, Hey, this was just a very specific thing that happened in the uniform because of the mission first orientation. That’s not the same. There’s not the same rules that apply within the civilian sector or even at the VA. So a lot of times I think guys and gals, they operate with the wrong expectations within mental health. And then that puts up a huge wall between their therapeutic alliance is what we call it. So to say all that, to say this, I knew all of those things about our military culture. I didn’t want to weigh into that stuff, but then I had a negative experience myself with a provider and I thought, well now what do I do? Because I understand what it’s like to be in uniform.  

Ryan   00:27:36    I understand these military cultural elements and if not me, then who, so that really changed my trajectory because this person worked for the VA. They were not prior service, but they didn’t understand our military culture. They were not culturally competent as we say in the biz. And that really laid heavy on my heart because I went,  because at this point I was already being trained in these approaches. I know what’s supposed to happen in this environment and she did not follow the protocols. But if I didn’t know that I would think that that was completely normal. And I would have tried to put myself in the place of my buddies that if they were sitting there, they were just gone, yes, ma’am the hell with that? I’m never going back and they just wouldn’t have ever sought services again. So I went, I got to do something to kind of demystify the mental health process, which is what we’ve talked about, confidentiality and how there’s to make sure of your expectations.  

Ryan   00:28:47    But then also I wanted to act as a kind of a public health ambassador of sorts to, Hey, listen, this isn’t a reason why your mental health clients that are prior service feel this way about this stuff. So maybe there’s some onus that you can kind of take on here and make sure that you’re doing the things necessary to culturally attend to your clients. And I think that both of those things are, are necessary that kind of the consultation to make sure that people are more culturally competent, as within mental health services and also letting the consumer know what they can expect and why, if you come into it with baggage, it’s not going to be as fruitful for you as you would like. Yeah. I mean, that’s some good insight. 

Scott DeLuzio    00:29:41    I like how you realize that if not me, then that kind of mindset where you could end up having some other person who liked your situation, who didn’t understand the military lifestyle and things like that. And so by taking that on and saying maybe I do need to go this route. I think with your own military experiences,  you’re able to leverage those in order to help out some of these other veterans and become that ambassador like you’re saying to pave the way to help, help people get into the treatment that they need. Right.  

Ryan    00:30:28    In one of the previous episodes of my podcast, we talked about a natural grieving process that happens after the uniform, in which you almost have some contempt towards the military. You have contempt over anything that’s military-affiliated. You just like, I don’t want to be anywhere around that ever again. And it’s funny, me and a buddy of mine were just talking about that earlier today about like the IRR stuff. And like just how much, how much contempt you have for having to go through that and like that they talked to you about, Hey, you want to come back in all that kind of stuff.  I think that was a part of it too, which guide, which kind of informed my decision within education. I was still in that grieving period. I didn’t want to be anywhere on it.  

Ryan   00:31:18    I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. But then once I started kind of integrating the military self and me after the uniform because it was almost like two separate entities that were kind of walking around in the same person. There was this is who I am now. And this is who I was. And I think that’s where the veteran identity really starts to come into play. That’s the integration of this was your military. So this is who you are now. And they don’t have to be at odds with each other. You can absolutely blend those two parts of yourself and come up with something new. And I love talking to people like you because you were in the national guard, but you were downrange. And I love talking to people like you because a lot of the civilian population don’t realize within the veteran identity, that it’s a continuum that you can be a national guardsman and have deployments to Afghanistan, or you can be an infantry soldier and never leave the states.  

Ryan    00:32:29    It does not mean that just because you’re in the national guard, that means you didn’t do enough, or you didn’t see you weren’t in the real military. And it does not mean that just because you were trained to be a ranger, that you’re going to automatically be engaged in combat all every day of your life. So, and of course all across there are all the different types of jobs that we have in the uniform. And while I think you and I are talking very lightly about this, only about 85, 80 5% of the uniform is in non-combat roles. 85% of people who serve the country are not going to be in a position where they carry a rifle every day for their job. So that leaves this 15% that are in combat roles and of the 15%, an even smaller percentage of those have combat experiences.  

Ryan    00:33:24    So what we’re talking about here is a very small subset of the population that meets certain stereotypes and standards for that the civilian population walk around with. And I enjoy having conversations like this with people like you, who were of that National Guard and also deployed because it shines a light on it to people who are not aware of how different your experiences can be within the continuum of the veteran identity. Understanding that even from people who did serve helps us integrate this idea of the veteran identity as a continuum, you do not have to be a combat veteran who saw the shit to be a veteran. And you certainly don’t have to step away from the veteran community because you didn’t have this very small set of the population’s experiences. Because when you do that, you lose a lot of social capital. The fact that you and I now know each other, everybody that I know, I know everybody that you know. If there’s something that happens to you, you need help, for example, because in your day job, you’re really tech-savvy, right?  

Ryan    00:34:46    You’d build websites. Now, if I needed somebody to do that, like, well, hell I could call up Scott and ask him a couple of questions that as soon as that happens, the stress of whatever demand that you’re trying to navigate just immediately diminishes because you have somebody to go to that can help you navigate that demand. When veterans retreat from the veteran identity, they retreat from the people too. And the people are what really help you form this new cell after the uniform. And I think one of our biggest mistakes in life after the uniform is to retreat from the natural social capital that we all have available to us just by service. That’s it? Cause we’re only about seven to 8% of the entire US population has put the uniform on. So we are already elite. And so we need to utilize the resources, the people that are available to us.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:35:53    Yeah, we do. And when we have so many veterans who are out there who want to help each other out, yeah. They want to network and get to know other people so that the whole notion of selfless service continues. When you’re in the military, you have that, obviously mission first and all that kind of stuff. That’s why selfless service comes in. But, afterwards you have the ability to serve something bigger than yourself. And I feel like that’s what you’re doing with your podcast and what you do and what I’m doing with my podcast. And just really trying to help out people. I don’t even have to know these people who might be tuning into the podcast. And to me, it doesn’t matter whether I know them or not. I want to help if there’s a way I can spread a message, the stuff that you’re talking about today or any of the other guests that I’ve had on the podcast, any of their stories, any, any of the things I share, if I can help somebody by sharing these things,  then I think it’s a great thing.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:37:11    There’s tons of other ways that people are helping out veterans. The same idea is that they’re out there and they’re using those resources, those connections that they have, and they might find somebody who needs help with one thing or another. And, oh, you know what? I have this veteran buddy of mine who does that thing that you’re looking for, let me, let me put you two in contact. And here you go. And now you have that, that weight lifted off your shoulders. And now you have that, that type of person who is going to take care of you because of that, that shared connection as veterans.

Ryan   00:37:56    So when we talk about social support, there’s a couple of different types of social support that are rendered. There’s team support, which is just the more empathic I’m here for you, buddy. Then there’s informational support and saying that when you render support of either time, it’s a reciprocal experience, meaning you get something out of it as the sender and the receiver gets something out of it as the receiver. So just kind of reworking how we frame that helping your brothers and sisters from the uniform is not only good for you but good for them. It’s also good for you. And I’ll use a metaphor about this topic quite often. So if anybody’s heard it before, I apologize when you’re on the side of the road and you have a flat tire now for the sake of this illustration, we’re going to say, you don’t know how to fix that tire, right? As soon as you have a few people that you can just immediately conjure up into your mind of somebody who will come help you, that stressor already becomes less threatening. Now, the person comes to help you. They render your aid and they show you how to change that tire. You never have to worry about that stressor ever again. So it’s, it’s something that is synergistic. It carries gains into the future.  

Ryan    00:39:36    When you utilize social support from your veteran identity, you do not know of the future gains in which you may be giving to a person. You have no idea. It may seem like a small act to you, like changing a tire. But if you make their life less threatening, moving into the future, you have made an impact in their life, more profound than you will know in that moment. It’s something that you’re absolutely going to make. It’s gonna make you feel better. You’re gonna feel like a better person, but also it’s going to be something that they’re going to be untold gains in that person’s life. And guess what they pay it forward. Now, when somebody calls them to change a tire, they’re that person for them, they show up, show them it’s something that just has a profound effect across numerous interactions.  

Ryan   00:40:34    But we just don’t know about it in the time I talk a lot about man’s search for meaning and my podcast, which is a book that was written by Victor Frankl, who was a Holocaust survivor. This guy went through some terrible things. And there was, a couple basic tenants that he came up with from this experience, but in this pursuit for meaning, he said that you can find meaning in three ways. Contending with a worthwhile goal, basically just channeling your intellectual pursuits into something, but you can also find it in people, the social elements that we’re talking about. And the third way was which ironically is, maybe not so ironic for some, but through creative pursuits to contend with like the artistic process that can be profoundly meaningful for people and meaningful for people. The thing about is that you’re rarely going to find any interaction that doesn’t use all three at once in some kind of way. Like we just talked about this podcasting thing.  

Ryan   00:41:46    It is a goal in which we are contending with, but we meet some awesome people. Here’s some great stories and we help facilitate change in other people’s lives. And then obviously it’s an art form to this podcasting thing. I didn’t realize how much of an art it was. It’s an art form. So you kind of find them and they, they build upon each other. And you, when you go out looking for some new activity to do some new hobby that you’re just trying to take some joy in the world for you often feel connected with whoever else does that too. So you can see that I won’t bury the lead here. These are the ways in which how we transition life six or after the uniform successfully, we have to be integrated. We have to find new social networks to plug into.  

Ryan   00:42:40    And I think that the veteran identity is one of such tools in which you can use, but just getting out there and learning a new hobby or a new skill, you can also find people to connect with that about now it’s not just, well the buddies from high school, I don’t connect with anymore, but this welding class that I take, I really get along with those guys because we all know how hard welding is or what of an art form welding is. You see, that’s, that’s what we’re kind of getting to. That’s what makes life more tolerable after the uniform is connecting with people through activities that you do, you find enjoyable.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:43:26    So I totally agree with all of that, but I wanted to get into your podcast a little bit. We briefly mentioned that, throughout the episode a little bit here, and, I want to talk about how you got the idea for your podcast and what your goal for it is, and things like that. So, tell us a little bit about your podcast Vet with a Mic. 

Ryan   00:43:51    Well, you know, it’s so cleverly named, I was just kind of one of those moments that I was trying to figure out what was going to be the next chapter of my life now here after academia. I knew that my clinical skills, I felt underutilized and, but I also knew that spending one hour at a time with somebody may be impactful to their life, but I can only be in that one geographical location with them for that hour at a time. And of course, there needs to be something that can be more time-effective. I need to be able to reach deeper than just one interaction at a time. So that’s kind of where I came from. This idea of that with the mic is I wanted to do more public kind of interventions of sorts I wanted to put out psycho-education is what we biz so that I could make the most gains across my entire community, my entire veteran population.  

Ryan    00:45:05    I can speak to them wherever they are generally. And like I said, demystify this idea of the mental health process, because we come into it a lot of times thinking that we’re just going to go to a session, it’s going to fix me there. I’m going to be alright. They’re going to heal me whenever I go there. Mental health works. And if you go there with that general orientation, you’re going to be pretty disappointed. Because it’s a lot of hard work and you’re going to, it’s going to take a lot of invested effort from you. And so I wanted to kind of just reframe people so that they knew that going in so that they could readjust their expectations for it. And they wouldn’t feel so defeated when that didn’t happen for them. It wasn’t as easy or it wasn’t the way that Hollywood portrays it.  

Ryan    00:45:56    So I wanted to do that and just speak to my veteran brothers and sisters out there as is, as generally as I could to just reframe those expectations about it. But then I also wanted to do this. I mean, there are so many people that talk about problems and I’m not, I kind of lean more for the positive psychology as well. Luck as you kind of talked about post-traumatic growth, that’s a positive, psychological perspective. Not everything that comes after a traumatic event has to be negative. You can find some profound meaning as somebody would going through the Holocaust. And enduring that kind of suffering and letting the fire transform you coming through that process. So I wanted to also lift up the voices of people who were doing well after the uniform because there’s just so much emphasis on the negative, which I understand it’s evolutionarily sound to focus on the negative.  

Ryan    00:47:08    The negative is what hurts you, but I wanted to lift up models for people. Well, look, that guy’s doing that and he’s doing okay with it. Maybe I could do that too. And it just reframes and gets the mental aspect. The noodle is working on what are some creative ways to handle this navigational space. So that was kind of exactly where that with a Mike kind of evolved into was here’s some psychological content, but also here’s some people who are doing some really cool shit in the world after the uniform. You don’t have to just think about the homelessness, the substance abuse, the suicide. There’s a lot of people who are thriving too. And if you can take whatever is successful about them and apply it in your life, I promise you it’ll work for you too, because we all have that veteran military culture that we’re all plugging into. So that was about with a mic in a, in a nutshell, I guess.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:48:12    Yeah. And I think a lot of what you’re talking about there is similar to what I’m trying to do with this podcast as well, and give voices to people who have overcome tragedies or bad situations in their lives and, and have that inspiring, story to tell where they have, they have implemented something in their life that somebody else can take away and say, even if it’s just a small piece of it and say, okay, this is going to make my life better. And there’s hope for me because someone else has done it. And before I heard this, maybe I thought I was all alone in whatever it was that I was dealing with. And now here I am listening to this other person, going through something very similar to what I’ve gone through. And maybe I can make this work. And you know, so we don’t want people throwing in the towel and calling it quits because it’s getting too hard. And they think that there’s no way to solve the problems that they’re going through. And just knowing that you’re not alone, sometimes that could be enough to keep pushing through.  

Ryan    00:49:28    And to that point, that’s one of the reasons why getting a diagnosis is so powerful because now it has a name and there are people who also have endured this thing, this name. And because before you have that idea, you’re just thinking that these problems are only within you. And so you’re the only one that’s having to contend with them. But as soon as you hear, oh, that’s what depression looks like. Oh, that’s what PTSD is. Oh, that’s what anxiety is. So now it has a name and I can talk about it because I’ve been able to now clearly identify it and explain what the hell is going on with me to other people. This is what I need. This is why I’m feeling anxious. This is my anxiety. This is what I need from you at that moment. Because now it’s, it’s given you some frame of reference.  

Ryan    00:50:23    Now you can’t then use it as well. I’m doing this because of this particular diagnosis. That doesn’t mean that it’s limited to you and that limits you in any way, but it does help you put a frame to it off, this is what I’m going through. And you’re right. A lot of times people think that they’re the only ones that are feeling that way about feeling disconnected or feeling a bit estranged in life after the uniform. And as soon as they hear other people talk about it, they’re like, oh shit, man. That’s me too. Okay. All right. There’s some relief that you feel just hearing two people talk about it in a similar fashion. You’re okay. All right. It’s not just me then. All right, cool. Yeah, I agree.  

Scott DeLuzio      00:51:13    But if you were to take a look back a year or two from now, a couple years from now, what is it that you hope people are going to be able to take away from your podcast? Where do you see it going? 

Ryan    00:51:25    I have some lofty goals for this. I really do. I hope that, and a couple of years from now, I won’t be sitting in my living room doing it anymore, but, I really hope that it becomes something that’s a part of a larger vision for me. I want this to be kind of the flagship for, a vision that is resource-driven, that people will be able to utilize a digital space under the vet with a mic kind of umbrella. And they will be able to connect with their fellow service members, but also spouses and just general information, helping them put veteran behaviors into context, so to speak, because that was a big thing that a lot of from my buddies, I answered those questions all the time and I’ll get a phone call here, talk to my wife and  I’ll spend an hour or so, just kind of explaining what the hell they’re going through.  

Ryan    00:52:35    And that just takes a little bit of stress off of them. A little bit of pressure from them. Because the wife will be like, or the husbands that I’ve got them on, both ends. It just happened to be that most recently it was a wife that would say, oh, well, if he would’ve just been able to tell me that, and then I have to explain to him, well sometimes it’s really hard for us to talk about these things. It’s easier for me to talk about it because number one, it’s not my problem. It’s their problem. And so I have some emotional distance from it. And number two, I’m not worried about what you think about me, but he is definitely going to be worried about what you think about him. So it’s just easier for me to put this information for you because I don’t, I have no skin in the game, so to speak, this is your marriage online. So I wanted to kind of echo those kinds of sentiments to spouses out there who are married to prior service people that, Hey, you’re also dealing with some pretty common themes to your marriage is not an isolation. It’s not an island either. So these are some of the things that you can kind of just say are culturally relevant for all of us salty veterans out there. 

Scott DeLuzio    00:53:53    Well, Ryan, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you today. I want to give you a chance to let people know where they can go to find more about your podcast, find out where they can subscribe to it and listen to it and follow you on social media and everything else that you might have out there.  

Ryan   00:54:12    Sure. Now I’m on all the social media platforms.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:54:17    I know what you mean. 

Ryan   00:54:19    I resisted it for so long, but I’m on the Twitter I’m on. I’m not gonna, I’m not going to sound too silly, but yeah, I guess the easiest way, I mean, obviously the podcast is delivered on all the major platforms, Spotify and Apple, and Amazon music. But you can find me on Instagram.  I guess the easiest thing about my Instagram handle is that’s underscore talks the number four, the letter you can find me there and I’m pretty responsive. But if you want to find me on the Facebook page too, you can do that. And of course, it’s just about Vet with a mic, it’s a page. And of course, I monitor it. So unfortunately you’ll probably end up having to talk to me if you reach off.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:55:06    Yeah, I know. I know what you mean, having to juggle all the social media stuff and, and run the podcast and everything else that you do. It’s a lot of work,, I will definitely have links to all of this stuff, your, your podcast and the social media links all in the show notes. So, anyone who wants to follow you and subscribe, I’d definitely encourage you to go check out the podcast. Ryan and I are doing a little, joint, episode kind of thing where, where the crossover, that’s the word I was looking for where we’re doing one episode here on this podcast. And we’re going to do another episode in, in a little bit on, on his podcast as well. So, definitely go check that episode out and all the other ones that he has had, he’s had a lot of great guests so far.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:55:56    I see a lot of, a lot of more great guests coming in, in the future. I’m sure. So you won’t be disappointed by subscribing and checking that out. Leave a rating and a review for the podcast while you’re at it while you’re subscribing, that always helps out.  While you’re at it, leave for this podcast too.  If you’re listening, we always appreciate those reviews. So, Ryan, again, it’s been great speaking with you and I’m looking forward to continuing our conversation on your podcast.  

Ryan    00:56:30    It has been all mine, sir. Yes.  

Scott DeLuzio      00:56:34    All right. Thank you. 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 also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at Drive On Podcast. 

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