Disabled Veteran Travis Barnes, his wife Hilary, and some friends started Hotel Tango in 2014. To honor Travis’ military service, they named their distillery based on the NATO phonetic alphabet - Hotel for Hilary, Tango for Travis. Surrounding themselves with exceptional people at every level, they focus on crafting equally exceptional spirits. Spirits that reflect Travis’s exacting standards. Spirits that are fit to serve and made to share. In this episode, we interview Ginger Barnes (Vice President of Operations) and Kelsey Strohmeyer (Brand Manager) at Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery. They share the story of the company, the culture there, and the amazing work that the company did to produce sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Special Guests: Ginger Barnes and Kelsey Strohmeyer.
In this episode Douglas interviews Gulf War Enlisted Veteran, John Qualls. John has had an incredible career launching and leading several technology startups. His most recent company is Purposely (https://purpose.ly), a platform to empower employees or individuals to optimize their talents. Talent optimization is one of the most critical factors that will determine if your business is able to reach and exceed your desired business results. While most business strategies focus on technical and functional aspects talent optimization should be a central part of your business strategy. With talent optimization, use a human lens to convert your business strategy into a compelling story that will engage employees. Having found his strengths and blazed a path in the technology industry, John is now sharing his wisdom with other people and then putting the tools in place to help them. We discuss how critical this is to both individuals and to companies - especially in times of economic challenges. Special Guest: John Qualls.
HVAF was first incorporated as a Far From Home Chapter in June, 1993. In 1995, the organization completed its first housing project, establishing a residence for five homeless veterans. The project became the first transitional housing unit for homeless veterans in Indianapolis. In 1998, the organization adopted the name Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation, Inc. (HVAF). In April, 2000, HVAF developed its Veteran Services Center, extending supportive services to homeless veterans and their families. The center provides food, clothing, furniture, household items and personal hygiene supplies. In 2005, the Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation became HVAF of Indiana, Inc. HVAF operates 13 distinct transitional housing properties including substance abuse and addiction counseling services. In September 2011, HVAF opened another apartment complex that houses 51 veterans, bringing HVAF’s total bed capacity to over 200. Still, the need for services greatly exceeds even this capacity. HVAF of Indiana houses, supports, and advocates for all veterans and their families to help them achieve the best possible quality of life. They fight veteran homelessness in 5 ways: 1. Housing - they operate 13 distinct housing properties across Indianapolis. 2. Employment - they have employment specialists who help veterans hold employment. 3. Pantry - they stock and provide clothing, hygiene products, and food items all year. 4. Advocacy - they engage in activities to raise awareness in the community. 5. Outreach - Every day, workers go into the community to help those in need. If you're a veteran, a supporter, or a company in the region that wishes to help, please connect with HVAF of Indiana. They have opportunities to donate funds, donate pantry items, or even donate time to assist in the upkeep of the housing and assistance in their other work. Special Guests: Andrea DeCamp and Robert White.
On this episode, we interview Alison Barber Bell, Chancellor of WGU Indiana, and Andrew Nagel, Registered Nurse and Graduate of WGU's Nursing Degree Program. We discuss WGU's unique non-profit, accredited online degree program and how it's especially good for active duty military, transitioning military, veterans, and their families. WGU Indiana is an online, competency-based university established to expand access to higher education for Indiana residents. The university offers more than 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the fields of business, K-12 teacher education, information technology, and health professions, including nursing. Degrees are granted under the accreditation of WGU, which is accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Teachers College programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), College of Business programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). WGU Indiana has helped 7,500 Hoosiers achieve their dream of completing a college degree. Another 5,900 students are currently enrolled. Facts about WGU Indiana: In 2010, Western Governors University was approached by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels about creating a state-based model for the university. Indiana became the very first state model and the first state-endorsed online university, creating positions for a local chancellor and local advisory board. * WGU Indiana serves more than 520 active-duty military members, veterans or military family members. * WGU Indiana is a nonprofit, accredited, online university that serves students from all different backgrounds * WGU Indiana is currently serving about 5,600 Hoosiers – a 166 percent increase in enrollment since 2011. * WGU Indiana has awarded degrees to more than 7,500 Indiana residents. * WGU Indiana serves students who are not well-served by traditional colleges and universities; 72 percent are classified as underserved in one or more of four categories: ethnic minority, low income, rural residents, or first-generation college students. * As of 2018, 86 percent of WGU Indiana’s students work full-time jobs while pursuing a degree. * According to a recent Gallup-Purdue index, which provides insight into the relationship between the college experience and outcomes, WGU consistently scored higher than the national average when measuring school compatibility, mentorship, challenging curriculum, cost-worthiness and more. WGU Indiana’s tuition fees are nearly half the national average. Tuition is about $6,500 per 12-month year for most programs, and it is charged at a flat rate, which means students can complete as many courses as they are able in any term, at no additional cost. On average, WGU graduates increase their pre-enrollment income by $12,600 within two years of graduation and by $18,400 within four years. With an average cost of $16,500 for a bachelor's degree, most WGU graduates see a positive return on their investment within two to three years. Special Guests: Allison Barber Bell and Andrew Nagel.
Joe Biggs is a combat veteran of the United States Army, twice awarded a Purple Heart while serving several tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Post-retirement, SSGT Biggs is a political investigative reporter who has a huge following online. This isn't an interview about politics, though. Joe has been transparent about his post-combat struggles with post traumatic stress disorder. Since the holidays are often a struggle, I asked Joe to share his story as well as his advice for other veterans, family members, and friends. Please take the time to listen and share this podcast. Special Guest: Joe Biggs.
In a previous episode (https://www.veterancast.com/9) about the Eleven Fifty Academy, we interviewed Marine Veteran John Qualls about the opportunities for Veterans in the technology industry. Since that time, the Eleven Fifty Academy has historically acquired approval from the federal government for GI Bill usage. We returned to the Eleven Fifty Academy to speak to David Whitt, the first GI Bill graduate of the Eleven Fifty Academy, and Shawn Gardner, Eleven Fifty's Executive Vice President of Business Development about turning Veterans into Developers. We discuss how training in development is a perfect career path for Veterans to enter the technology sector - either as a coder, project manager, or other supporting leadership position. We also discuss the incentives for Veterans to move to Indiana to take advantage of this opportunity. Within just a few months, academy training in the technology field can open job opportunities that pay well above averages for Veterans. And within a few years, those careers drive some of the highest incomes under demand in the country. Special Guests: David Whitt and Shawn Gardner.
In this episode, we speak to Angela Allen. Angela is the daughter of one of the first 100 Navy SEALs, Howard Wesley Allen. Howard was a Navy Frogman in the Korean and Vietnam war. He also assisted with the Mercury Missions. After losing her father at a young age, Angela dedicated her life to volunteering and assisting Veterans however they needed. Listen to her unique story in this episode. As well, we discuss VA Loans in great detail. This is an incredible benefit that goes unused by 94% of Veterans! The benefits of a VA Loan include: * 100% financing * No monthly private mortgage insurance required * A limitation on buyer's closing costs * The loan is assumable, subject to VA approval of the assumer's credit * 30 year, fixed loan with interest rates similar to FHA rates * Seller can pay up to 4% of the Veteran's closing costs and even pay down the buyer's debt to help lower their debt-to-income ratio * You can have less than perfect credit Angela will share her story, discuss the American Warrior Initiative, and let us know all the updates regarding upcoming VA Loan program changes. Special Guest: Angela Allen.
On 18 June 1938, at a Navy Veterans Reunion in Quincy, Illinois, a new and powerful organization, the Navy Club of the United States of America, was launched. On that day, a Constitution and By-Laws was adopted to govern this unique and distinguished group, speaking the language of the men who go down to the sea in ships. The original organizational committee drew up a broad administrative charter that envisioned a new concept in collectively bringing together the many private Navy Clubs and Navy Veteran Organizations that had sprung up across the country, and by so doing, give each member and prospective member, a powerful voice as a Nationally Recognized Organization. With the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard men and women of the United States formed together in one great powerful service organization, it was concluded that there should come a more extensive and widespread observance of NAVY DAY, now celebrated on the 13th of October each year, a watchful eye on all legislation and laws that concerns a strong United States Navy and National Defense, a guarantee that our Navy will always be kept at such strengths that there will be no more "Pearl Harbors", a more powerful influence on American thinking on the importance of a "First Class Navy", a better and more informed medium through which the Navy Department can convey its problems to all American citizens, and to join together all sailors, marines and Coast Guard personnel into a closer comradeship. Special Guest: Geoff McCuen.
Marine For Life is an extension of the Marine ethos “Once a Marine, Always a Marine”. Marine For Life is a continuation of the Marine Corps’ strategic engagement with Marines and their families across the continuum of the Marine For Lifecycle - commencing with their transformational entry into the Corps, symbolized in their earning the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, through their transition to Veteran Marine status and the return of these quality citizens back to their communities. Marine For Life Network connects transitioning Marines and their family members to education resources, employment opportunities, and other Veterans services that aid in their career and life goals outside of military service. Special Guests: Andrew Janovicz and Nathan Bibler.
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing is unique in that their volunteers are teaching classes on an on-going, long term basis. It is much more than a one-time fishing trip. Their program provides basic fly fishing, fly casting, fly tying and rod building classes for participants whose skills range from beginners who have never fished before, to those with prior fly fishing and tying experience. All fly fishing and tying equipment is provided to the participants at no cost. Fishing trips, both one day and multi-day, are also provided free of charge to participants. Special Guest: Chris Jackson.
On this week's Veteran Cast, we are joined by Michael Fickert, Senior Project Manager of Purple Heart 3, a Veteran Owned & Veteran employed security company out of Indianapolis. Michael joins Veteran Cast to talk about his background in the Army, and then trying to find his purpose again after transitioning into the civilian world. Purple Heart 3 helped Michael find that purpose, and his passion for the organization & their mission is prevalent when he talks. PH3’s main mission is to ensure that the suicide rate among returning combat veterans is reduced. Special Guest: Michael Fickert.
On this week's Veteran Cast, we take a bit of a break from Veteran's affairs and speak to entrepreneur Scott Melby. Scott is a US Marine who founded Indy Custom Cornhole. Indy Custom Cornhole is the first and largest cornhole business in Indiana, starting in 2003, Scott has run over 1400 tournaments, sold thousands of boards and bags and now focus more on the rental sets and monthly competetive cornhole tournaments which feed into a national rankings of over 7000 players that qualify to compete at World Championships every summer. Special Guest: Scott Melby.
Team Rubicon’s primary mission is providing disaster relief to those affected by natural disasters, be they domestic or international. By pairing the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders, medical professionals, and technology solutions, Team Rubicon aims to provide the greatest service and impact possible. Through continued service, Team Rubicon seeks to provide our veterans with three things they lose after leaving the military: a purpose, gained through disaster relief; community, built by serving with others; and identity, from recognizing the impact one individual can make. Coupled with leadership development and other opportunities, Team Rubicon looks to help veterans transition from military to civilian life. Serving the Underserved. Across the world, disasters are a part of life. No corner of the globe is spared from severe weather – be it crippling winter storms, catastrophic hurricanes, or unchecked wildfires. By focusing on underserved or economically-challenged communities, Team Rubicon seeks to makes the largest impact possible. Disasters represent a massive financial cost, and by providing immediate relief work, free of cost, TR aims to help communities begin recovery sooner. Special Guest: Barry Pemberton.
Since their founding, The Mission Continues has always been a nonprofit, non-partisan organization dedicated to bringing together veterans and innovative community organizations to create transformational change for communities in need all across the country. Their operations in cities nationwide deploy veteran volunteers alongside non-profit partners and community leaders to solve some of the most challenging issues facing our communities: improving community education resources, eliminating food deserts, mentoring at-risk youth and more. Through this unique model, veterans build new skills and networks that help them successfully reintegrate to life after the military while making long-term, sustainable transformations in communities and inspiring future generations to serve. We interview an Indianapolis City Impact Manager (Emily) and regional Platoon Leader (Jonathan) to find out how Veterans can get involved and what the impact is to the community. Special Guests: Emily Ferstle Angus and Jonathan Vatovec.
Salesforce created the Vetforce program to build connections between our ecosystem and the military community. Veterans and spouses embark on one or more learning journeys where they receive structured, self-paced Salesforce training, collaborate in an online community, achieve Salesforce certification, and get connected to high-demand and high-wage employment opportunities in our ecosystem of more than 150,000 customers. Vetforce is also the internal employee resource group that fosters a strong military community at Salesforce. In this interview, we speak with James Deal, a Veteran and Salesforce employee about his transition, the Vetforce program, and how it impacts Veterans' lives. Special Guest: James Deal.
Operation: Job Ready Veterans™ (OJRV) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preparing veterans, service members and military families for successful employment by connecting them with employers that seek top quality, well-trained employees. We make a personal connection and assist veterans of all eras and ability levels with their employment and career goals. OJRV was founded in 2007 as the Crane Learning and Employment Center for Veterans with Disabilities – with a focus on helping veterans find employment at Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division, located in Southwest Indiana. As the organization grew to serve veterans in Central Indiana, the group changed its name to the Career Learning and Employment Center for Veterans (CLEC). CLEC is a 501(c)3 organization. In 2012, the organization opened the program to all veterans and moved its headquarters to Indianapolis. In 2013, CLEC adopted the d/b/a, Operation: Job Ready Veterans, to more clearly communicate our mission. Special Guests: Mike Espinda and Tom Reust.
Eleven Fifty's coding academy provides immersive learning programs that help you develop into polished entry-level professionals in weeks not years. They recognize that people in their program are looking to launch or change your career immediately. In this interview with John Qualls, he shares his experiences as an enlisted Marine, how that prepared him for a career in technology, and what his mission is at Eleven Fifty Academy. Special Guest: John Qualls.
The Taylor brothers both served in combat - Scott as an F-15 Fighter Pilot in the Air Force and Ted as an EOD Chief in the Navy. The experiences and transition for these two warriors were starkly different. We discuss the challenges of their journeys here, including post-traumatic stress, and encourage others to listen and get the assistance they need. As part of the conversation, we also discuss the YMCA's new initiative to serve all Veterans and are building a facility in Indiana specific to treating our warriors returning home. Special Guests: Scott Taylor and Ted Taylor.
In 2013, 3rd Ranger Battalion combat veteran Cory Smith highlighted the difficult transition so many veterans face by making a very difficult, public and personal transition. Cory ran from Columbus, GA to Indianapolis, IN – 565 miles - to his daughter. His example is now a national movement called Run Ranger Run where individuals and teams from around the country raise funds and awareness to assist in the transition from active military to civilian life. You can join Cory to make a difference right where you are, and bring awareness to the difficult transition many of our honored military veterans face. A team of up to ten individuals will pledge to walk, run and/or ride bicycles a combined total of 565 miles in the month of February (usually 28 days). Teams may be formed from anywhere in the world and your miles can be logged from the comfort of your own home. As a collective, all participants will raise funds for GallantFew and increase awareness for veteran issues surrounding the transition from active military service to civilian life. Special Guest: Cory Smith.
The Travis Manion Foundation (TMF) is strengthening America’s national character. In an increasingly divisive cultural climate, they unite and strengthen communities. Our nation needs role models that inspire and we should look no further than the civic assets already living in our communities. Veterans and families of the fallen are leading the charge, pushing us to be better versions of ourselves and improving our collective character. In this episode, we speak to Courtney Mitchell, Director of Development for the Travis Manion Foundation, where she manages the organization's growth and strategy through its national strategic partners. Special Guest: Courtney Mitchell.
Armed forces veterans come to the workforce with many of the attributes employers want most: maturity, experience, a can-do attitude and an understanding of teamwork and shared objectives. Conexus Indiana launched INVets to connect veterans with the thousands of opportunities in the advanced manufacturing and logistics industries, helping them find fulfilling employment in the civilian world and helping employers tap this rich reserve of solid employees. We interview Wesley Wood, INVets Program Director at Conexus Indiana, on the origins of the program and where they're going from here. Special Guest: Wesley Wood.
Michael Cook is the Director of Indianapolis' Team Red, White, Blue Chapter. Team RWB’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity. Enrichment is defined as creating quality relationships and experiences that contribute to life satisfaction and overall wellbeing. The concept of enrichment consists of three core components—health, people, and purpose—that define a rich life. Enrichment Equation: Enrichment = Health + People + Purpose - People: Creating authentic connections (defined as genuine, quality, supportive relationships that generate mutual trust and accountability), reflected in an increased number of close relationships and improvements in teammates’ sense of belonging, purpose, and community engagement. - Health: Creating frequent opportunities for team members to connect through fitness, sports, and recreation to improve physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. - Purpose: Engaging members in meaningful team and community-based experiences such as leadership and service that, beyond physical and social activities, renew self-identity and purpose in life. Special Guest: Michael Cook.
The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness. It is the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow servicemembers and veterans. Hundreds of local American Legion programs and activities strengthen the nation one community at a time. American Legion Baseball is one of the nation’s most successful amateur athletic programs, educating young people about the importance of sportsmanship, citizenship and fitness. The Operation Comfort Warriors program supports recovering wounded warriors and their families, providing them with "comfort items" and the kind of support that makes a hospital feel a little bit more like home. The Legion also raises millions of dollars in donations at the local, state and national levels to help veterans and their families during times of need and to provide college scholarship opportunities. The American Legion is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization with great political influence perpetuated by its grass-roots involvement in the legislation process from local districts to Capitol Hill. Legionnaires’ sense of obligation to community, state and nation drives an honest advocacy for veterans in Washington. The Legion stands behind the issues most important to the nation's veterans community, backed by resolutions passed by volunteer leadership. The American Legion’s success depends entirely on active membership, participation and volunteerism. The organization belongs to the people it serves and the communities in which it thrives. Special Guest: Eric Thomas.
No Greater Love depicts the combat deployment of the legendary “No Slack” Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, through the eyes of Army Chaplain Justin David Roberts. While deployed in Afghanistan, Justin decided to carry a camera to document the hardships his unit endured. He captured not only the gritty reality of war but also the incredibly strong bond that is forged between soldiers. Little did Justin know that his decision to carry a camera would culminate in No Greater Love (https://nogreaterlovemovie.com). While deployed in Afghanistan, Justin had no intention of making No Greater Love (https://nogreaterlovemovie.com); however, the truly courageous deeds he witnessed (the battalion returned home with over 200 purple hearts) got him thinking about what motivated “regular” guys to become heroes. He asked himself, what drives men to commit acts of valor and sacrifice? Justin discovered that the common thread running through each tragedy was love, and that was a story that deserved to be told. Layering real war footage with heartfelt interviews with soldiers and Gold Star family members, No Greater Love seeks to help others understand the experience of war and the personal struggles of soldiers, both on the battlefield and once they return home. There are over 20 suicides per day in the veteran population and countless struggles with depression, PTSD, and addiction. No Greater Love (https://nogreaterlovemovie.com) strives to create a dialogue about war and promote healing. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79FV7sm-Qas&w=560&h=315] Special Guest: Tom Gorup.
Blaine Zimmerman of Circle City Vets and Matt Hall, the Indianapolis Mayor's Veteran Service Officer join Harrison and Douglas Karr for the inaugural podcast, Veteran Cast. The mission of Veteran Cast is to educate, inform, and improve the lives of Veterans in our community. We're starting with Indianapolis, Indiana since that's our hometown - but the advice and information should be helpful to veterans throughout the United States.