Stigma Free Vet Zone

Michael Orban , Bob Bach, Erin Schraufnagel

Veterans discuss stigma and how it affected readjustment

All Episodes

Dr. Chia Vang: Professor of History University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Teaching and researching the impact of the Vietnam War especially on refugees. Chris Pettis: Marine Veteran and Executive Director of the Highground Veterans Memorial Park at Neillsville, Wisconsin. Chris Swift: Veteran Combat Medic w/ 3 tours in Iraq and One tour in Afghanistan. Certified Peer […]

Nov 19

59 min 18 sec

The Capt. John D. Mason Program aims to save lives by utilizing Veteran peers that go into the community and locate Veterans in need engaging them in VA health services, and other community resources, to live a healthy, productive life. Captain John D. Mason served in Vietnam with the Second Battalion, Twelfth Marines, Third Marine […]

Nov 12

52 min 54 sec

A native of Grafton, Wisconsin, Joe Pospichal graduated high school in 1984. The events of 9/11 — along with other incentives — made his military enlistment an easy decision. Joe deployed to Iraq leaving behind a pregnant wife. Working the roads outside the wire would profoundly alter Pospichal’s outlook on life with many nights the […]

Nov 5

1 hr

In this segment of the Stigma Free Vet Zone, Vietnam veteran Joe Campbell reflects on his family’s experience during his active duty and beyond. We hear how Joe’s family grappled with the fear associated with not knowing where he was, what danger he might be facing, and if and when they might receive word that […]

Oct 29

57 min 45 sec

Doug Sandberg and a friend combined their curiosity and creativity with electronic parts they bought at supply stores in New York city and built a small radio station when they were teenagers. Sandberg did not know then of the unique experiences ahead in his life. The Vietnam-era veteran served at Minot Air Force base in […]

Oct 22

47 min 7 sec

With great pride and patriotism Erin Schraufnagel joined the United States Marines Corps after the 9/11 attack in New York City in 2001. Twelve years later, Staff Sergeant Schraufnagel left the military life behind her. She shares her expectations for deployments to Iraq, a marriage strained between deployments, the unexpected enemies in her own ranks, […]

Oct 15

1 hr 12 min

As the daughter of an active US Marine, Kim followed her father into service. Becoming a US Marine was a defining moment for Kim. She said it was one of the greatest achievements of her life outside of having her daughters. While serving, Kim was sexually assaulted. The trauma of that action left her feeling […]

Oct 8

1 hr 13 min

Larry Sorce’s reverence for life is linked to an experience that happened more than 60 years ago. He survived a fire that ignited just before dismissal on December 1, 1958 at Our Lady of the Angels school in Chicago. The blaze engulfed the building and claimed the lives of 92 children and 3 nuns. A […]

Oct 1

40 min 25 sec

Dawn Strobel grew up in Milwaukee and Cedarburg, WI. Her parents divorced when she was young. Dawns father is a Vietnam veteran who never spoke of his military experience and who Dawn did not have much interaction with while growing up. She would come to know him later in life. Dawn’s mother remarried and yet […]

Sep 24

1 hr 4 min

Kenneth Lee immigrated to the United States with his family as a young boy. The son of a South Korean Army career soldier and Vietnam War Veteran, Lee developed a sense of duty to his new country. Completing medical school and determined to serve and “give back” he joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard. There, […]

Sep 17

1 hr 2 min

 His 3rd OWI sent him to inpatient rehab and seven months in jail. On his release Chris joined The Captain John D. Mason Veteran Peer Support Program with the Medical College of Wisconsin. Becoming a Certified Peer Specialist Chris found his purpose in life again. He shares his story so that others don’t make his poor […]

Sep 10

33 min 22 sec

I was born in Milwaukee and grew up on the northwest side.  My childhood was like many others, hanging out with neighborhood friends and playing sports and getting into our mischief.  I graduated from Milwaukee Madison HS in 1993, went to Carthage College, but at the time I was only worried about playing football and […]

Sep 3

54 min 44 sec

Chris Swift sits down with Michael Orban to speak about what had happened with the with drawl of the U.S. Military from Afghanistan. This 15 min, but educational Podcast is very informational.         DISCLAIMER: The information and content shared in each episode of the Stigma Free Vet Zone are for informational purposes […]

Sep 2

16 min 28 sec

I was born in Milwaukee and grew up on the northwest side.  My childhood was like many others, hanging out with neighborhood friends and playing sports and getting into our mischief.  I graduated from Milwaukee Madison HS in 1993, went to Carthage College, but at the time I was only worried about playing football and […]

Aug 27

54 min 48 sec

Arianna Cirincione is from La Crosse, WI, born and raised until leaving home at the age of 18 to join the Air Force. Arianna served on Active Duty as a Security Forces member from 2005 until 2018, until she was medically retired. Arianna began her career at Spangdahlem, Germany, followed by RAF Lakenheath, Fort Leonard […]

Aug 20

1 hr 10 min

I have had two parallel career tracks: one in public radio, the other as a government/military worker or civilian contractor. In radio I prepared and hosted music shifts and news shifts, interviewed arts, science, and political figures, written scripts and web posts, and engineered live broadcasts. For the US government, I spent 4 years as […]

Aug 13

52 min 43 sec

Upon graduation from college Allen was drafted into the US Army, and attended infantry basic and advanced training then on to OFFICER’S CANDIDATE SCHOLL at the Infantry School at Fort Banning,  GA.  His duty assignment includes Fort Jackson as a training officer and Fort Banning as a trainee in the Heavy Motor Platoon leader school.  Upon graduation Allen was assign to the Republic of Vietnam where He severed as a […]

Aug 6

1 hr 1 min

Dawn Strobel grew up in Milwaukee and Cedarburg, WI. Her parents divorced when she was young. Dawns father is a Vietnam veteran who never spoke of his military experience and who Dawn did not have much interaction with while growing up. She would come to know him later in life. Dawn’s mother remarried and yet […]

Jul 30

1 hr 4 min

Mark was born and raised in central Wisconsin to a large family. Mark is the eldest male child of 14 total siblings – 8 boys and 6 girls. Mark graduated from Necedah High School in 1998 and joined the Marines in 1999 where he served 8 years of active duty and achieved the rank of […]

Jul 23

35 min 50 sec

Mark was born and raised in central Wisconsin to a large family. Mark is the eldest male child of 14 total siblings – 8 boys and 6 girls. Mark graduated from Necedah High School in 1998 and joined the Marines in 1999 where he served 8 years of active duty and achieved the rank of […]

Jul 16

48 min 28 sec

In part one, Bob Bach joins us today to share his experiences while serving his country through the Vietnam War era. He discusses how television and movies often glamorize the true colors of war, often leading to unrealistic expectations for young military recruits. He shares his experiences of being on patrol while under enemy fire […]

Jul 9

1 hr 18 min

Peter Boruski was adopted into a loving family with a strong military history. Honored by this history and influenced by it Peter enlisted in the U.S, Army at age 17, and began active duty just after turning 18. Peter had enlisted in the infantry and that is where he served on his tour in Afghanistan. […]

Jul 2

1 hr 13 min

Victor Kilpatrick was born in East Chicago Indiana. His parents were loving yet strict disciplined leaders providing good healthy structure. A good athlete his childhood was for the most part happy. Victor chose to enlist in the U.S.Navy where he became the ships cook. While his time in service was educational and positive and he […]

Jun 25

1 hr 7 min

Episode 2 Returning to civilian life. Our Guest is Matt McDonell a former Airborne Infantryman  with the 173rd IBCT having served primarily in Germany and Afghanistan. Matt took advantage of educational opportunities available in the military suited to his plans for post military life.  Matt returned home enthusiastic and anxious to get on with life […]

Jun 18

1 hr 1 min

Matt McDonell is from Detroit, Michigan and now lives in Fox Point, WI.  Matt served in the US Army from Mar 2011 – December 2015 as an Airborne Inftantryman with the 173rd IBCT. Matt deployed to Afghanistan in a combat role in 2012/13.  He was medically retired in late 2015.  Medications initially intended to treat […]

Jun 11

1 hr

Heidi Carlson’s father was a Marine, her family had a history of substance abuse and addiction. Her marriage to a Vietnam War veteran — scarred by abuse — ended in divorce. The loves of her life would be her two sons and her six grandchildren. When her son David announced his decision to enlist in […]

Jun 4

54 min 8 sec

A native of Grafton, Wisconsin, Joe Pospichal graduated high school in 1984. The events of 9/11 — along with other incentives — made his military enlistment an easy decision. Joe deployed to Iraq leaving behind a pregnant wife. Working the roads outside the wire would profoundly alter Pospichal’s outlook on life with many nights the […]

May 28

1 hr

Former Marine and Vietnam veteran Larry Winters’ journey to confront his past led him to a remarkable career: namely, decades spent counseling veterans. He has also recorded his thoughts and feelings through poetry and other forms of expression and helped facilitate a writers’ workshop. In the concluding segment for our conversation, Winters’ describes the significance […]

May 21

49 min 16 sec

Experiences he encountered in basic training transformed him in ways that have lasted a lifetime. Some of his exploits in Vietnam delivered similar effects. In this segment of the Stigma Free Vet Zone podcast we meet Larry Winters, author of the book, “The Making and Unmaking of a Marine: One Man’s Struggle for Forgiveness.” Winters’ […]

May 14

48 min 42 sec

As the daughter of an active US Marine, Kim followed her father into service. Becoming a US Marine was a defining moment for Kim. She said it was one of the greatest achievements of her life outside of having her daughters. While serving, Kim was sexually assaulted. The trauma of that action left her feeling […]

May 7

1 hr 13 min

David Carlson joins me today to discuss his troubling childhood upbringing – from being raised in chronic toxic environments, acting out and trouble with the law to joining the military and rebuilding his life. He shares his battles with substance abuse, why he chose to join the Army National Guard, and how the structure and discipline he received during basic and infantry training improved his perspective about his self-worth and his sense of identity. He shares his experiences while serving two tours in Iraq and the stark differences in structure and discipline between military life and civilian culture. He also shares his experiences with losing sight of his purpose in life, how CrossFit and what inspired him to dedicate his life to serving and helping others. Working with the Orban Foundation for Veterans to instill hope in those seeking it.

Apr 30

1 hr 6 min

Bob Nevin is a native of Queens in New York. At an early age Bob, his parents and family moved to UpState New York. Bob’s mom was home raising the family while his dad, a WWII veteran of the war in the South Pacific, built his career in aviation. Bob’s dream of a life in aviation […]

Apr 23

47 min 19 sec

Growing up listening to his Fathers stories, Sgt. Dave Arensdorf knew he’d serve in the armed forces as well. Joining the US Marines as a sophomore in high school, he was only 16 when he enlisted. Sgt. Arensdorf deployed to Fallujah in 2004-2005, and spent time working as a mechanic, guard, and operator for motor-T. […]

Apr 16

57 min 39 sec

Otis arrived in Milwaukee “on a stick” and homeless . It had been over thirty years since Otis had accepted a mainline injection of heroin as payment fora debt owed him. people, places and things were hard to make sense of. He had grown up as one of only eight African American families in rural […]

Apr 9

1 hr 5 min

She is the past president of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Student Veterans Organization. Lia Coryell is a former U.S. Army Soldier who was diagnosed with MS. “I spent my time at home trying to stay alive” says Lia. Through courage, determination and with extreme physical challenges Lia is now a star U.S. paraolympian in archery. […]

Mar 29

23 min 30 sec

Jon Christensen’s tour of duty in Vietnam featured several roles. His unit coordinated the distribution of thousands of tons of supplies from ports near Saigon to every corner of the country. He rode shotgun on supply truck convoys. And he survived perhaps the most famous enemy uprising of the war, the 1968 Tet offensive. Christensen […]

Mar 26

55 min 32 sec

Erin Schraufnagel is joining Mike Orban and Bob Bach as an interview host for the Stigma Free Vet Zone podcast. Erin logged 12 years with the Marines and two tours of duty to Iraq. Upon return she faced her demons and won. Erin will undoubtedly ask good questions and bring insight to the sometimes not […]

Jan 29

13 min 30 sec

Mark Flower enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduation from High School. He served, then lived life gaily until issues took hold, bringing him to homelessness and addiction. The hardest step – seeking help – started Mark on his journey in recovery. This recovery is maintained by giving back and by being of service to […]

Jan 22

1 hr 1 min

Punishing challenges to life, with his wife and two children, would lead to divorce and many regrets for Pospichal. A still-present battle with cancer arose which has gone into remission, but not without trailing health issues -- including total double-hip replacement at 36. From the glorious invisibility of a 20 year old soldier in a combat tanker division, through events leaving scars he could never not have foreseen: today, Pospichal is of positive mind and spirit.

Jan 8

1 hr

Being a veteran and being hired, means you are a liability, right? Wrong. Michael Kirchner is the director of Military Student Services at Purdue University Fort Wayne and an Assistant Professor of Organizational Leadership where he teaches courses in leadership, training and human resource development geared towards veterans entering the workforce and the challenges they face. Kirchner was the first director of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Military and Veterans Resource Center (MAVRC) where he guided programming for the 1,500+ military-affiliated student population on campus. From 2013 to 2016, the campus built a nationally-recognized “military-college-career” framework focusing on supporting student veteran transitions. Kirchner earned his Ph.D. in Human Resource Development from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and his research on veteran career transitions and applications of military leader development in non-military contexts has been published in numerous peer reviewed journals including Human Resource Development Quarterly, New Horizons in Adult Education and Human Resource Development, Industrial and Commercial Training, Organization Management Journal and the Journal of Military Learning. Dr. Kirchner frequently provides consulting to small, medium and large organizations on military-friendly programing and new employee onboarding. He served a year in Baghdad, Iraq from 2004-2005 as part of the US Army National Guard.

Jan 1

1 hr 2 min

Jim Hackbarth grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was drafted into the Army shortly after graduating from high school. Hackbarth was trained first as a helicopter maintenance specialist and later as the door gunner on a UH-1 (Huey) helicopter. Hackbarth arrived in Vietnam in October of 1968 and served a one-year tour of duty as […]

Dec 2020

48 min 50 sec

After a childhood with emotional and psychological challenges, Deeatra Kajfosz enlisted in the Idaho National Guard and found a home, but a move to Wisconsin, a change in military occupation and an unfamiliar culture unraveled her military experience. Cycles of chronic major depression and anxiety and a near-fatal suicide attempt would follow and denial became her key to survival. She experienced suicide loss from a unique perspective and came to fully understand how little she knew about suicide. Kajfosz began a quest for answers. Now, Kajfosz dedicates her life to raising awareness, providing education and supporting others affected by suicide ideation, attempt and loss. It is through her own life journey her story connects with her audience in highly personal and inspiring ways. Hers is an extraordinary tribute to the gift of adversity, the power to rise above it, and the ability to share a life-saving message of hope with others. Deeatra Kajfosz is an award winning suicide awareness and prevention advocate, public speaker, and Founder of the LiFE OF HOPE organization, serving as a comprehensive approach to the prevention of suicide attempts and death.

Dec 2020

57 min 46 sec

Kenneth Lee immigrated to the United States with his family as a young boy. The son of a South Korean Army career soldier and Vietnam War Veteran, Lee developed a sense of duty to his new country. Completing medical school and determined to serve and “give back” he joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard. There, […]

Dec 2020

1 hr 1 min

Heidi Carlson’s father was a Marine, her family had a history of substance abuse and addiction. Her marriage to a Vietnam War veteran -- scarred by abuse -- ended in divorce. The loves of her life would be her two sons and her six grandchildren. When her son David announced his decision to enlist in the US Army, Heidi was frightened yet proud. David, an infantryman, returned from his first deployment to Iraq in good spirit and health. When Meeting David at the airport returning from his second tour she immediately noticed, as a mother would, that his eyes were different and evasive. While hugging her son he said to her, “your son did not come home this time.” Heartbroken and afraid, what waited for them both were many years of suffering, substance abuse, severe mental health issues and prison punished them, but a mothers love would never surrender.

Dec 2020

54 min 8 sec

Jerry Witt was born and raised in southeastern Wisconsin and graduated from Milwaukee Custer High School in 1964. After earning an Associate Degree at a local community college, Witt was drafted into the U.S. Army and assigned to a scout dog training program. He served as a dog handler in Vietnam beginning in May of […]

Nov 2020

50 min 11 sec

With great pride and patriotism Erin Schraufnagel joined the United States Marines Corps after the 9/11 attack in New York City in 2001. Twelve years later, Staff Sergeant Schraufnagel left the military life behind her. She shares her expectations for deployments to Iraq, a marriage strained between deployments, the unexpected enemies in her own ranks, […]

Nov 2020

1 hr 11 min

In this segment of the Stigma Free Vet Zone, Vietnam veteran Joe Campbell reflects on his family’s experience during his active duty and beyond. We hear how Joe’s family grappled with the fear associated with not knowing where he was, what danger he might be facing, and if and when they might receive word that Joe had been killed. Campbell describes his mother’s torment as her emotions swung from her unending fear for his safety overseas to gnawing heartache and helplessness for the man who returned home. Relentlessly driven by rage, Joe’s family watched for decades as he descended further into isolation and violent nightmares fueled by alcohol. “Quit drinking or this is over,” demanded his wife. Listen, as Campbell narrates what happens next (and guides us on his path to reconciliation).

Nov 2020

57 min 23 sec

n the finale of this three-part series, Mark Foreman reflects thirty years later. Now allergic to morphine, osteomyelitis has returned to Foreman’s hip. He has had three major surgeries, all performed without pain killers. The resulting agony caused Mark to desperately search for any instrument within reach to end his pain by ending his existence. That is until once more the power of love saves his life.

Nov 2020

49 min 34 sec

The pain of his wound -- so severe -- he wished only for another bullet to end his life. In this episode, Mark Foreman’s greatest insight is recognizing his only success in life would come from taking responsibility for his actions and goals. No mental health professional, family member nor university -- no one -- but he would ever again build his vision of what his life is and his place in that life. This is profoundly courageous and significant thinking. When understood this is the most fulfilling path in life.

Oct 2020

1 hr 6 min

Eighty percent of his Marine company was killed in the first ten minutes of a battle that lasted six days. Foreman was wounded on the second day and sustained such intense pain he wished only for another bullet to end his life. He laid on the jungle floor for nearly a week with a shattered hip that prevented him from responding to the screams of wounded and dying Marines scattered around him. Foreman’s evacuation from the battlefield marked the end of one war and the beginning of another.

Oct 2020

59 min 54 sec