Trigger Warning: This article discusses multiple forms of trauma, including combat-related death and mental health.
On this episode of Return to Base, we welcome Army Veteran Scott DeLuzio.
In Surviving Son, he speaks about his service as a National Guard infantryman and about losing his younger brother just miles away while they were both deployed to Afghanistan. Let this be a warning – some audience members may find this conversation troubling.
As the host of the DriveOn Podcast, Scott is committed to connecting with current and prior Servicemembers and civilians to discuss and share personal triumphs, life experiences, and emotional hardships to give hope and strength to the Military community.
Scott DeLuzio and DriveOn can be found on the socials below.
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/driveonpodcast
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/driveonpodcast/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/driveonpodcast
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkO9JA_H1z2A8zbvadyhglQ
If you are having a difficult time as a result of your service – remember, there is always someone to talk to. You can check out the blog I wrote about recognizing the symptoms of PTSD or listen to our podcast with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk.
Remember, the VA Crisis Line is always available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 (ext. 1).
Return to Base Podcast Ep. #5: Scott DeLuzio: Driving On as a Surviving Son
Welcome back to the Return to Base podcast. This episode I’m talking to Scott DeLuzio, an Army veteran, and the author of the book Surviving Son. He’s also the host of the DriveOn Podcast, which I got an opportunity to be on a couple months ago. Little bit of a warning,
“On this episode, we’re going to go into some pretty graphic detail about combat operations and firefights and Afghanistan. So, if that’s something that you don’t think you’re up for today, then go ahead and skip it.”
We have a lot of great content on veteranlife.com, and if you just skip it, we’ll see you in a couple weeks with next episode.
This is Return to Base: a VeteranLife podcast.
Welcome back to the Return to Base podcast, today we got a great guest, Scott DeLuzio is an Army National Guard veteran, OEF veteran, if I’m not mistaken, is also the host of the DriveOn Podcast which I had the honor and privilege to record with him not too long ago. He’s also the author of a new book, Surviving Son. I get all that right, Scott?
You got it all right. Yes, you even got the name right. Which a lot of people [Crosstalk 01:32] Yes, you got it.
Yes, I’ve actually served with a couple DeLuzios. So, I guess it’s in my vernacular. How’s it been going Scott?
Yes, it’s been great. Yes, since the last time we talked, what’s happened, with the book coming out about a back at the end of August, it really is kind of taken off. And it’s really been a kind of a whirlwind after that book came out. So, I’m really excited to be here and to talk about that, and other stuff too.
Yes, excellent. And your book came out, kind of at an interesting time with the United States leaving Afghanistan is almost like it was made to come out at that time. Won’t get into the book and all but the interest was piqued at least for anything related to Afghanistan, anything related to service. So, it came at the right time. And hopefully– I know that you’re having success by and hopefully it’ll continue.
Yes, I’m hopeful. It’s been a great ride so far. I’m just– I’m hoping it to continue, so we’ll see.
Great, so Scott a little bit of background about yourself. I know you were in the Army National Guard once, give us a brief overview of where you served? How you served? And what brought you to where you are now?
Yes, sure. So, my brother and I growing up, we were raised in very patriotic family. There’s videos of us as kids, where we would be holding American flags and singing the national anthem, and all that kind of stuff before we could even really get the words out, like we were that young. I remember, as kids, we would go, when the troops are coming back from Desert Storm, we went up to an Air Force Base near us and we greeted the troops coming back home from over there. They were our superheroes back then, it wasn’t like Superman, or whatever. It was, like the soldiers, the military, the police and things like that. That’s who we looked up to, and that’s what we respected.
So, fast forward a few years, I’m in college, when 911 happened, and that just really– It really pissed me off, and I think like a lot of Americans, we were really pissed off at what had happened. And I have considered like, right then and there just dropping out of school and joining the military, but I was already a couple years in, and I figured I’m close enough to just getting out– Sometimes the hardest thing to do is starting something and if you stop it, and then try to start it again, you’re probably not going to do it. So, it’s okay, I’m already here. This war is not going to be a quick in and out like Desert Storm was. So let me stay in get my degree and I’ll at least finish that I’ll have that behind me.
During that time, right around the time that I was getting out of school, my brother started going to a Military College up in Vermont, Norwich University, and he met a couple guys there who were already in the National Guard. So, he was like, You know what, that sounds cool, I want to do that too. So, he was already– He was a cadet in ROTC up there and so he already had a little bit of the military kind of background with the training that they do there, but he decided to enlist in the National Guard, he went infantry.
So, I was growing up in this patriotic Family, here’s why I gave you the backstory of how we grew up, I was like, over the moon, I was so proud of him, and I was just so thrilled that he made that kind of decision. Especially during a time of war, when most soldiers were getting deployed especially in the combat arms, even National Guard were getting deployed.
So, he knew there was a very real possibility he’d get deployed shortly after enlisting, and so I was just extremely proud of that. But then, I don’t know, six, nine months later, I started hearing these reports on the news that the Army was struggling to meet their recruiting numbers for– This was probably 2005 or so.
Right about the first surge, right?
Yes, exactly. Yes, it totally makes sense, but it pissed me off, because I was like, Why? Why are they struggling to meet their numbers? Where are all those people from September 12, who were ready to move mountains to go get some payback. Where were all those people?
Then I had a good, long, hard look in the mirror, and I said to myself, I am those people, and I still haven’t done shit about it. I haven’t put on a uniform. I haven’t done anything, and my little brother, he joined, he’s at least doing something about it. So, I was like, if he could do it, I can do it. I’m young enough and I’m healthy enough, Why not me? Why don’t I join? There’s no good reason why I shouldn’t.
So, before your brother served, you mentioned you came from a patriotic family growing up Desert Storm. I remember those days, with Whitney Houston singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl, or getting goosebumps everybody across the country. Everybody very proud of what we did. We got in, got out. Of course, we had to go back later. But was your brother, the first person in your family to serve? That you were directly connected to, and it was just people in your family were just proud to be American but hadn’t served? Our parent’s generation came from a different time.
Right. Yes, so my– Neither one of my parents served, they grew up during the Vietnam era, and the military was not looked at, in the same way as it is now. And not to say that they were anti-military or anything like that, but they were on the younger side for Vietnam. So, they were turning 18, as the war was ending, and as the draft was ending and things like that. So–
The 80s first [Unintelligible 07:36].
Yes. [Crosstalk 07:40]. So, when they were looking at the military, they were looking at people that they went to high school with, maybe were a little bit older, who were lived in their neighborhoods, who were coming back from overseas, either disfigured or not coming back at all, and things like that. So, there was that healthy respect for what they did over there, but also a little bit of fear about, I don’t want to end up like that. That type of thing, too.
My grandfather on my dad’s side, he served in the Navy during World War Two. He was at Iwo Jima, and in the Philippines, he was out in the Pacific area. And my grandfather on my mother’s side, he grew up in Poland, during World War Two. He wasn’t in the Polish Army or anything like that, but he got still got captured by Nazi, I guess, a general or whatever, over there. He was like, forced into kind of slave labor almost, while he was over there.
So, they, that generation definitely knew the horrors of war. My parents saw, what they saw on television, and people coming back from over there. But yes, as far as my brother goes, he was the first one to join from our close family. My cousin, he joined the Marines, and I forget the timeline that if he joined first or my brother joined first. I’m not sure which one was which, but they–
So, the three of us were the ones who really kind of joined the military and [Crosstalk 09:18] our family. I grew up in Connecticut.
Real hotbed of military recruiting there and [Unintelligible 09:26] right?
Yes, there were like, there’s one military base. There’s one Navy base down in Groton New London area in Connecticut, where the subbase. [Crosstalk 09:39]. Yes exactly, that’s what it’s known for. Other than that, it was basically nothing.
So, if you wanted to serve in Connecticut, it was basically on the subbase or the National Guard or Reserves or whatever. That’s what my brother and I ended up doing. We ended up joining the National Guard. He stayed up in Vermont, where he trained. He just got to know the guys up there. It was great culture, that he fit in with. I stayed in Connecticut. I wanted to stay a little closer to home, but–
Did he serve in the National Guard while he was going to Norwich?
I know you can do that.
You know what we didn’t either, when he first said he wanted to go to that school. It was one of those things where, we’re thinking,
“Okay, that means he’s going to be in the military. This is a time of war, he’s going to go overseas, and whatever.”
He’s like, No, it’s not like that, you don’t even have to join the military after graduating. But then he joined the National Guard. We’re like,
“Okay, well, now you’re definitely going.”
Right. So, you decided to join the National Guard in kind of response to the needs of the United States? You saw that– Around 2005, you said, you saw that, that there was a shortage, you’re already still pretty hot from September 11. Then there was 2003, the invasion in Iraq, and you just felt the call to serve in the National Guard. So did you just go to the local recruiter and say, “I’m here to sign up college.”
It was the easiest sell that recruiter that ever had. It was like, I walked in, I said, “Where do I sign?” And he’s like, “Well, don’t you want to know about career opportunities? Or whatever.” I was like, “No, I want to do infantry.”
That’s what I know, my brother did it. If he could do it, I could do it. I know it’s not the easiest MOS to join, but screw it. If my little brother can do it, then there’s no way I’m going to let him one up me on that. So yes, I’m going to do that too. I had to get paperwork together, I didn’t really go fully prepared, because I– There’s a bunch of stuff I needed to get together and everything before I could actually sign on the dotted line or whatever.
That took me a couple days to get all that stuff together. And then from there, it was just [Crosstalk 12:09] Off to Fort Benning. Yes, actually I had a couple months they gave me. They said, “You have like a year window that you can go off to basic training from the time that you enlist.”
So, with the job that I had just started out of college, it was like an incredibly busy time of year. I worked as an accountant at a CPA firm, and during tax season it’s just incredibly busy. I didn’t want to leave them short staffed during that time period. So I, I decided to kind of delay my entry into basic training by just not doing that until after the dust kind of settled with all that.
So, end up going to basic training did all that. During that time period my brother was an Iraq, he did get deployed with his unit. He was in Ramadi; this was in 2006. That was like a really hot time over there in Ramadi. He wrote me a couple of letters and told me what was going on over there. And it was bad, they were getting in contact almost on a daily basis. It was just really crazy over there.
I remember going to one of my drill sergeants, and anyone who’s been to basic training, you don’t ask the drill sergeant for a favor for anything, but I was like, look– I wrote down my brother’s name and his information on a piece of paper. I said, “Look, I don’t have access to the news or telephone or anything like that.” I said, “Would you be able to just take a look, and if anything came out about him–” And I didn’t know anything about Red Cross messages or any of that kind of stuff at the time. But I said, “Could you just let me know?” And he’s like, “Yeah, no worries. I got you.” So that was a weird situation. But I was just like, fuck it I’m going to ask.
You have to. What’s the worst he could say is like, “Shut up private.” Get back to where you were. Did you join as a specialist by the way?
Yes. So, because I had a college degree I got in as a specialist, and [Crosstalk 14:16].
Yes. Well, the very first thing they said to me, as I was getting off the bus, they looked at the rank of my shirt, and they’re like, “You want to die?” Is that why you’re here? You want to die? And I was like, “Oh, how do I answer that?” But yes, the reason why I enlisted versus going the officer route was because, like I said, I was extremely proud of my brother in the decision he made.
I didn’t want anything that I was going to do to kind of overshadow what he had done. I didn’t want to be a higher officer rank or anything like that. Quite frankly, I didn’t really care about the rank at the time like that. That didn’t mean anything to me.
I thought it might to him, so I was like, I’m just going to enlist in our entire time that we are in the military. We stayed at just about the same rank all the way through, he got promoted to E4 while he was in Iraq. When he came back, he came to my graduation. We’re both specialists, and then we both got promoted to sergeant at about same time to–
Oh man, was he upset about that was he a little salty? There’s all [Crosstalk 15:22] wherever I come, my brothers in the military too, so–
Yes. No, he was good with it. But one of the things I never wanted to do was like to outrank him. When we got promoted, it was within, a couple of weeks of each other, so it was really close. So–
In the same unit in the National Guard?
Well, so we were in two different units, but they fell under the same brigade. When we got deployed in 2010, it was a whole brigade wide deployment, so it encompassed the Vermont National Guard and the Connecticut National Guard. So, we all got deployed at the same time. That’s how my brother and I ended up in in Afghanistan in 2010 at the same time.
Okay, so you ended up serving how long in the National Guard?
Just under six years, so when I was in Afghanistan, I had gotten injured. This was towards the end of my enlistment anyways, but I had gotten injured with my knee and when I came back home, I had knee surgery. It was going to take me right to the end of my enlistment with recovery. So, I felt like the biggest piece of crap to sitting there, at our trainings doing nothing while everyone else is running around doing whatever.
Because I couldn’t carry weight, I couldn’t run, I couldn’t rock, I couldn’t do anything. I would just be sitting there watching everyone else do it. So, I felt like biggest piece of crap. So, I eventually, I got out a little bit before my enlistment was up just because of that injury, but [Crosstalk 17:03] It was only a couple months.
Hey, having had knee surgery myself and had that lay around for a bit I understand. Hey, Scott, one thing I’d like to do is, we have a lot of serious things that go on in the military, obviously, but there’s also a lot of really funny times and good memories and always ask people. What’s something that happened to you there, that just got to be something that’s embarrassing, something interesting that confided me here? Come on Scott.
So, I actually got a couple things. One, we were in Fort Polk training up before we got out to Afghanistan. And anyone who’s ever been down there knows–
It’s a great place.
[Crosstalk 17:50 to 17:53] Beach and everything, Yes, it’s perfect. Okay, so on one of the rare days when it was pouring rain, and the ground is soft as anything. Our platoon leader had the great idea to go take some of the guys out with the Humvees, and by the way, the up armored Humvee, so really heavy, which does great on soft ground.
[Unintelligible 18:17] have the great idea to take us out driving through this course that he mapped out through the woods. There’s this trail that went through this dirt road, supposedly a dirt road, it was mud by the time we got there. And it was flooded and everything and he’s like now just push through, we pushed through, we followed what he was saying. We got all of our trucks stuck in the mud, and so we left around like, I don’t know, five or six at night. We’re only supposed to be out for like an hour or two. We weren’t going to be out like all night.
We ended up not getting back to our platoons’ area until probably about lunchtime the next day, like sometime around noon, the next day. We were out all-night pushing trucks through the mud. We were chopping– We luckily had some axes in the truck, and we chopped some trees down to wedge under the wheels to get traction.
It was the most miserable experience, it was so long we were wet, we were frustrated and everything but the cool thing about that was– So our entire platoon was on this drive around. It brought us together so much, like sometimes that shared suck experience just brings people together. It unites you in that– I’m in– [Crosstalk 19:41] Yes, exactly. Yes, it was something like that.
Was their first– The first commanding officer. The one they all hated on [Unintelligible 19:50] I can’t think of it right now. But–
Yes, I can’t think of who it was, but I know what you’re talking about. It was like that, but what we hated was that experience, we hated the fact that we were in well past our knees in mud, trying to walk through this and get our trucks out. It was so exhausting; it was just terrible.
At one point, I think we were actually off of the base somehow. I don’t know how we got off because there was this footbridge over this little stream that we came across. and it was beautiful. I mean, whoever built this, put some time and effort into it. We took those axes and we destroyed it. We destroyed it, we took the bridge and we brought it over and we shoved it under the tires, and we use that to get the trucks out.
All right, we knew one who built the footbridge at Fort Polk. We now know who destroyed it, Scott DeLuzio. I’ll send you his address if you ask.
Yes, if you get any hate mail over that, I’ll go back and I’ll build them a new bridge or something. [Crosstalk 20:50] Probably not, but we’ll see. The email is strongly worded enough, maybe I will.
He said, yes another one.
I had another one. So, before we went to Fort Polk, we’re both my unit and my brother’s unit. We were in Camp Atterbury, Indiana.
I’ve been there, Haunted House.
Yes, that thing was freaking crazy. Oh, my God. Yes, that was a nightmare. It definitely is haunted; no one will ever convince me otherwise.
Definitely. So that place is creepy. Give it a weird name Muscat attack [Phonetic 21:25].
Yes. Oh, my God, we were freaked out, and we, we did all sorts of stuff at night there too, that was crazy. But anyway, so we were at Camp Atterbury, and the day that we were leaving Camp Atterbury we were driving down to Fort Polk our company missed, or at least my squatter, or whatever. We missed our time, like a lot of time for like dinner chow.
So, we had a few minutes before the buses were going to leave. So, we decided to sneak in and go grab some food. My brother’s unit happened to be in there. That happened to be his time that he was in there. So, he called me over, and so I had my assault pack on because everything else was loaded up on the trucks and I had no room for everything. They gave us like way more stuff than we had space for. I had like crap hanging off in my bag. I look like a hobo, like a homeless guy, like just wandering around.
He calls me over, he’s like, “Oh, come on, come on, sit with me or whatever.” So, I’m sitting there with him and the rest of his squad. He’s just ripping into me, about how I look like a homeless dude, and he’s making fun of me so much. But this is just like, if you knew him, that’s just who he was. Like he would– He find out the little thread that was coming undone and he would pull on it.
Is he your younger brother?
Unravel the whole thing. Yes. Oh, yes. Yes, he would just– but if anyone else started trying to pick on it, on anything about me, he’d jump down their throat. It’s like, you get the fuck out of my brother like that. But he was just laying into me, and I was taking it because I knew I look like a jackass with all the crap hanging off my bag and everything. But yes, it was just funny, it’s a good memory. [Crosstalk 23:20]
Like a walking yard sale [Phonetic 23:21], right?
Yes, and I had a target painted on my back, it was an easy target. It was low hanging fruit for him.
Please tell me he also had birth control glasses on.
Oh, I didn’t know. At the time I did not wear glasses. But he did, when he was in basic training, he got issued the birth control glasses.
For those who don’t know these are glasses that are so ugly, that there’s no way you’re going to get anybody pregnant. So, they call them birth control glasses. It’s a fashion now probably.
They probably are. Yes, because the military stuff they should notice, and they turn to something else. So yeah, they’re probably cool.
In like, Easter Village wearing them right now.
They find them at like Goodwill. Like these are cool and Yes– But there’s actually a picture of him and I wearing, he had two pairs of these glasses. Him and I wearing them, and I was just screwing around. I was like acting like a jackass with them on. He came over and we took a picture now it’s pretty funny.
Wow, that’s a good times good stories. So, I know that– Well, what do I say? I don’t know what it’s like to leave the National Guard, right? I don’t– It’s a different situation for me. So in between your– In the six years that you served, what’s that, like, going off to be a soldier and coming back to be an accountant?
Yes, it’s weird. When you have one week in a month and two weeks, so you’re training, so sometimes you have to report in like Friday night or whatever. You’re going into work, and you have this big ACU camouflage bag and stuff, and you’re bringing that into work, but your change of clothes that you’re going to change out of. So, you can report in uniform on time and everything. It’s weird, like everyone else is talking about their weekend plans, like what they’re going to do and where they’re going to go and all that kind of stuff. I’m like, “Yeah, I’m going to go sleep in the woods this weekend, because that’s just what we’re doing.”
So, it’s definitely, like a different lifestyle when you’re in the National Guard. Even though it’s not a full-time deal, it’s just different, because there are things that you miss out on, there’s things that you do with your family on the weekend. You miss out on some of that, because you’re not going to be there for all of them. And even social interactions and other things like that. You’re just not going to be around for them. So, it was definitely different. But–
[Crosstalk 26:05] Your path out does you think, like when you did decide to get out? And I know we’ll talk about some of the other challenges you had when you were leaving the military. But as far as just transitioning into full on civilian mode, so it’s almost like drills over and I’m never gone back, it’s the way I think of it.
Yes, it was kind of weird, because when I got back from Afghanistan, and I started going back to work at my civilian job. I felt like I just couldn’t relate to those, the people that I was working with, my coworkers anymore. Like I just had– And there was definitely some PTSD and some other stuff going on there. When I was at work and people do, they show up late to meetings, or they’re not prepared and everything like that. I was just like; I was ready to jump down their throats. I was like, these people– Like, “Who are these people?” They’re supposedly professionals, but what the hell is this?
It just was mind boggling to me. I had just a hard time relating in general to people when we were back home. Part of that was PTSD, some of that was the grief, and we’ll get into that, but there’s just, there was a lot going on. And so, I got back in like, August of 2010. When I ended up getting out of the National Guard, it was in June of 2011. I had submitted my paperwork to be discharged early.
Again, we didn’t get into all the details of what went on in Afghanistan. I’m not going to give any spoiler alerts quite yet, but so that I put in the paperwork. When it got approved, I got a phone call and said, “Yes, by the way, your paperwork got approved.” So, I went to bed the night before, still thinking I’m in the National Guard. I’m still soldier all that. And then the very next morning, I got a phone call. It was like a light switch. It’s like all of a sudden, no, I’m not anymore. And there was no [Crosstalk 28:21]. Yes, kind of. Yes, it was just like, here you go you’re done and goodbye.
Did you get to keep your ping pong paddle though?
I never got to shoot one. I never got to shoot a ping pong paddle. So that’s too bad. But yes, they’re like, “Yes, that’s it, just drop off your whatever equipment you still have.” And that’s it.
[Crosstalk 28:48] or being an accountant. Is that right?
Yes, pretty much.
With the experience and the frustration of having to deal with people again, normal people who you can’t nice hand, right?
Yes, well, I mean, you could, but they look on it. They frown on that. [Crosstalk 29:05]
You’re not allowed to call anybody numbnuts. But I think without delaying any further, I think it’s important at this juncture to get into the book, why you wrote that book? So, Scott, you, it was August, right? That you had released Surviving Son.
Obviously, Surviving Son tells a story of, unfortunately the grief of losing your brother being a Gold Star family member, having lost your brother. You want to talk a little bit about that?
Yes, so I kind of talked about like, what my brother was doing and what he was up to over there and what led to those events, what led up to his death. He was operating out of an area in eastern Afghanistan, and his unit was aware of this, this village had a lot of Taliban activity, a lot of out Taliban soldiers going into this village and either they’re living there, or they just frequented there or whatever.
They went to go patrol through this village and see what they could find. And they had some intelligence that there would be some people there, so they went to go check it out. And like anyone who’s been to Afghanistan know there’s hills and mountains all over the place, right. So, as they’re approaching this village, they’ve gone through like one section that clear, some of the buildings and everything. As they’re approaching the southern part of the village, they’re coming around this mountain, or this hill, or whatever.
So, part of the unit they got split up, they were part of it was on top of the hill, and the other part was down lower on the hill as they’re coming around. As they’re coming around–
Dismounted I assume or?
Yes, yes, dismounted. Yes. As they’re coming around my– They walked into an ambush, basically. They all kind of scrambled for cover, return fire, all that kind of stuff. As a returning fire, my brother turned around and look back to someone who’s near him and want to go, say something to him. As he was about to start talking, his head kind of jerked back, and he slumped back on his assault pack that he had add on, and he was killed pretty much instantly.
The person who saw it happen called for Medic, Medic did what they could do to get there. But anyone who’s ever been under fire knows it’s not easy moving as you’re running in dodging bullets at the same time. So, they got to him realize he was a– Nothing they could do for him. So, then the mission switched into a recovery mission now.
Now they had to get him out of there and get his body out and then do whatever they could to make sure that no one else got killed. Another Afghan, I think it was Afghan army or border patrol or something like that, but one of them got killed as well in that initial ambush, and several others got injured. But then, as they were removing my brother’s body from that area, and trying to evacuate him out, another soldier, his name is Tristan Southworth, he was killed in action as well. He got hit during that recovery process.
So now it got that much worse, because now they had two people that they had to evacuate from there. The easiest way for them to get out of that situation was to go down the hill. And there was a house that was built into the hill, so like the roof was partway up the hill. They went straight down the hill. And that was the terrain over there is [Crosstalk 33:12] shale, whatever, it’s very loose, and it’s very difficult to walk downhill, as unless it’s a paved trail or whatever like that. But it’s very hard to do.
Most of the way down, everybody was just kind of falling down the hill. The two bodies were basically slid down the hill to get them out, and they got onto the roof of this house. They cleared the house and use that as their casualty collection point to figure out what to do next from there. But that day for them lasted hours and hours and hours, and it just went on and on. And they were not able to leave because they couldn’t get back to their trucks. There was still such a huge presence of the enemy fighters that were around them. It was just a bad situation for them. So–
That’s what makes it bad situation, obviously worse.
Yes, for sure. And it was– It just got compounded, when they hit the two and everything. It was just so much worse. So–
And this being a National Guard unit. Are these folks from your area, right? Or from your state or a combination of some small states, right?
Yes, and like I said earlier, my brother had deployed previously to Iraq and a lot of the people who were in his unit were deployed with him. So, there was that real close bond that he had with those people. Anyone who’s spending in combat knows the bond that you formed between the people that you served with. So, he really had that close bond and one of the first people to get to him after he was shot was one of his best friends. And he got there, and he tried to do whatever he could to help them, but there really wasn’t much that he could do so. So yes, that was what happened with him.
You were in Afghanistan at the same time, right?
I was, yes. And [Crosstalk 35:25] I was on a mission that same day, in a different part of Afghanistan, but we’re still in eastern Afghanistan. So, we’re relatively close but we weren’t like part of the same operation or anything like that. So, we had flown into this remote village on helicopters the night before, and it’s where I injured my knee was getting off of the helicopter. Because we were carrying rucksacks with about 100 pounds of stuff in it plus all of our body armor and all that kind of stuff.
He has a plan on staying on the Southside?
Yes, we were. Yes, we had food and water and ammo and all that kind of stuff, we are going to be there for a while. And as I was getting off the helicopter, I got the green light to walk off, like they tell you to go ahead and get off. And this was at night, so there’s no sunlight or anything like that. I just had my eye nods on. And [Crosstalk 36:22] I couldn’t see– No depth perception. So, I couldn’t see how far off the ground we were. And we were still probably about maybe three, four feet off the ground, and I step off thinking I’m stepping onto solid ground and then I fall, and that’s where I bust up my knee was on that fall. And [Crosstalk 36:40]
It got me bad. Plus, I was the first one off, so I had entire platoon of guys about to come walking on top of me. So, I feel– [Crosstalk 36:50] Well, I think the first one, like tripped over me. Then I was like, I got a whole ass and get out here because I can’t have 30, 40 guys walking all over me.
So, we were working with the Afghan army during this mission. So we went down in the village, and I like to describe it as for anyone who hasn’t worked with porn, [unintelligible 37:14] troops. I like to think of it as we were the driver’s ed instructor, where we’re there to kind of pump the brakes if things got out of control, but they were the one behind the wheel and it didn’t really work out all that well. But it was what it was. That was what we were told to do so we did it.
So anyways, we go down into this village, we have to wait until daybreak because the Afghan army didn’t have any night vision technology or anything like that. So, they couldn’t see what they were doing. [Crosstalk 37:42] That well. Well, yes. Pause there, and fast forward a few years. Now they have plenty of it. But–
It did. Yes, go ahead I’m Sorry I interrupted.
No, that’s okay. Yes, so we let them do their thing and go try to clear the village and make sure that– We had intelligence that there was Afghan army uniforms that were stolen by the Taliban in some of these villages. So, we went in, we were searching for all that we found some stuff, but no people. We just found the uniforms and a few weapons and things like that. Which is super suspicious. Like why would that stuff be there but no people. So, we were like, “Okay, what, what’s going on with that.”
Then later on that day, I got a call on the radio from my commanding officer, and he’s looking specifically for me. I was an E5 sergeant, Captain doesn’t usually pick a chain of command like that and go straight down to a sergeant unless there’s something either really, really good or really bad. That happened, so I’m like, I just did my job. We didn’t do anything spectacular today. So, what got screwed up and I started checking my guy’s equipment, like who lost something, whatever. I’m trying to run it through my mind what went wrong?
Eventually I linked back up with him. I couldn’t figure it out. And he’s like, “Once you come on over here, take your helmet off and take a knee.” And I was like, “What? Take my helmet off. We’re outside the wire. Like, you’d never do that.” Like, that’s just weird. And then I just busted up my knee earlier that day. I was like, “I don’t want to take a knee. But okay, I’ll do it anyways.” So, I take a knee and he’s like, “Yes, so your brother’s unit got ambushed, and he got hit in the attack.”
So, my mind just jumps to Big brother mode, like, how do I get to him? What can I do to help him? That if he needs blood? I think we’re the same blood type, like if he need blood, or an organ or whatever. Get me to him, get me a helicopter, get me to him, and I’m going to help him however I can.
What I didn’t understand was that he was killed in that ambush. So, when that realization hit me, I just broke down, I was a complete mess.
Did your commanding officer explain it at that point like, no it’s–
He explained it. He explained it to me, because I think throughout that whole deployment, I had this almost like denial that anything bad could happen to him. I was– It’s almost like one of those things where– It’s just like, well that just happens to other people. [Crosstalk 40:23] Right, exactly. And Afghanistan, maybe it was heating up around that time, but it wasn’t Ramadi. If he got through that, like, he’s going to be fine.
I think I had to almost lie to myself and tell myself that there’s no possibility that he would get injured or killed because I wouldn’t be able to focus on my job. If I told myself otherwise, I’d be worried about him the whole time. When he told me what had actually happened, I was just a wreck. I had– Guys come, like, stay with me, I was never left alone after that, people were always around me and everything.
Shortly after finding out, about 20 minutes after finding out, the people that we missed out in the village, well, they started shooting at us. And we started taking RPG and small arms fire. So, I was like, “Holy crap, I got to put this grief aside, put all my personal issues aside right now. And literally and figuratively, put the army hat back on and go be a soldier and leave my guys and make sure–”
Some anger, like, “Alright it’s time to take it out on the enemy.”
Oh, my God, yes. I was beyond angry. I was angry at every single person who lives in Afghanistan. I was angry at them for not taking care of this on their own and requiring good people like my brother to come there and get killed. It was just my grief turned to straight anger and hatred towards– I even hated the people I was friends with, our interpreters. I hated them. I was like, “why aren’t you doing more? Why aren’t you out there getting shot?” And meanwhile, they were getting shot out of the middle of this. So, I just wasn’t in my right head. But–
It’s you’re saying that in that instance, obviously, every man or woman who could handle a firearm at that time or a weapon system, you’re needed. And like you said you had to put your grief aside as heavy as it was, and then go exact some vengeance. They let you near the 50 Cal or the 240 I guess you probably you had at that point?
We didn’t have the 50 Cal with us on that, we were all dismounted. So that was a little much to carry around. But I was a squad leader at the time. So, I had my whole squad that I was in charge of. And there wasn’t much cover, where we were in, we took some rocks and built them up.
Well, we were up on top of the hill. So, we had that going for us, we had the high ground. We had a direct line of sight, wherever the fire was coming from. And one of my saw gunners, he was near me, he was right next to me. And he looks down the mountain, and he’s like,” Oh, crap, I see this guy.” He starts like describing, where it is, and everything like that. I was like, “you got a saw just shoot, just kill him and just keep shooting until he stops moving.” So that was satisfying to be able to tell him to just unload and just unleash some fire down that way.
There was this small building off in the distance. We thought that there were some people in there hiding out. So, we had our twos threes. Just lob some grenades over there and try to take that out. Our CO wasn’t exactly confident that they had rotated all of them out. So, he called in for air support and had that building completely leveled. It was also satisfying.
Right. How long this firefight last?
It’s hard to say, it’s one of those things where, when you’re in it, it feels like an eternity. But when you look back on it, it feels like it was two seconds. So, it’s really hard for me to say, I didn’t even look at my watch at the time, but– [Crosstalk 4439]
So, you’re in this firefight. At this point, consciously trying not to think of the grief that you’re holding, ready to just get into that fight.
And I’m thinking to myself, I need to make sure that I stay alive so that my parents don’t get a second knock on the door. So that my newborn son, he was born just before I left for Afghanistan, so he doesn’t grow up without a father and my wife doesn’t grow up without a husband. And then I thought about all the guys in my squad, and I was like, if anything happens to any of them– Because I didn’t have my head in the right place, then I don’t know how I’ll be able to handle that.
So, I was like, “Okay, I just need to focus on do my job.” I went through a checklist of all the things I need to do, good squad leader knows what they need to do. I went through this checklist, I was like, “Okay, I need to make sure that they’re positioned in the right areas, so that we don’t have any green and green kind of thing going on, or whatever, make sure that we got ammo and everything else that they need.” I was just going through this mental checklist; I think it was just a way to keep myself grounded and focused on what I needed to do.
Yes. So, firefight ends, and I’m sure you felt like the whole world was sitting on you. Did they evacuate to– Out of the country pretty quickly after that, or–?
Yes, pretty quickly. So, after the firefight took place, I got flown out to Bagram Airbase, and that’s where my brother also happened to be taken to as well. And the next morning, I was– so after I got there, they took all my weapons away, my shotgun, I had M4, I had all the ammo, and all that kind of stuff, they took all that away from me. I didn’t realize at the time; I was still processing what was going on.
But I was on like, a suicide watch, they didn’t want me to do anything stupid or hurt myself. I wasn’t suicidal, but I totally get where they can see that someone could get there really quickly to, especially when you have all sorts of weapons available to you. So, they took all that stuff away, and they had someone stay with me the entire time. There was always someone with me.
The next morning was ramp ceremony for my brother and the other soldier who was killed. And anyone who’s not familiar with a ramp ceremony, if you haven’t been to one, it’s where they bring the boxes that are holding the transfer cases that are holding the Fallen Soldiers onto the plane that’s going to take them out of the country. So, they are bringing them up the ramp onto the plane. Then there’s a little bit of a ceremony where there’s a receiving line almost where people go through.
It’s like a Catholic wake, where people go through pay their respects and everything. I felt very fortunate to be able to be a part of that, because most fallen soldiers do not get the opportunity to have a family member there present during that. So, I felt very fortunate that I was able to be there and represent him that way.
Was there just a two Americans on that flight?
Yes, yes. So, it was just them. But they also use that same flight to transport other soldiers who are going home on leave or whatever. So, I was fortunate enough to be able to get a seat on that flight. They held everybody off of that flight until I got on the flight. And they said, “You get your pick of the seats on here.” So, I sat with the closest seat to my brother, and I was just playing these scenarios in my head. I still had that anger going on. But I was like, If anyone so much as like, sneezes in the wrong direction near there, and as like hints at disrespecting him, his body the flag that’s stripped over his transfer case. I was ready to just pounce on them.
I was just playing these scenarios up my head, it was weird. No one was even giving me any reason that anyone would be disrespectful. But I just had so much anger that I was just looking for a fight with anybody. I didn’t care if it was a general, I would have just pounced all over him.
At this point, had your family been notified? Had you– [Crosstalk 49:16] Oh.
Well, they had been notified. But we were still on that communications blackout because we didn’t know whether or not they had been notified. So, while I was in Afghanistan that entire time, I did not get to speak to anybody back home. It wasn’t until we landed in Kuwait, that I found out that my parents had been notified and that I was finally able to call home.
So, it was a very lonely time, where– I was around people, like I said, there’s always people there but I didn’t always know who they were. So, all I wanted to do is just call home and talk to my wife talk to my parents. Just find out how they’re doing? Obviously terrible, but I wanted to see for myself and talk to them and hear from them. Let them know that I’m okay, I was in Kuwait, I was safe. Let them know that they didn’t have to worry about me too, that I was on my way home. So yes, so good.
I was just going to say so that’s really an interesting situation that a lot of people don’t understand. If especially if they haven’t been in the military. The communications blackout in New York case is so unique. Because at this point, your parents are thinking– They might not even know that you guys are separated geographically, maybe it’s by Island or whatever. So, their first thoughts probably, is Scott also wounded? I haven’t heard from Scott. So really heavy circumstances your family had to go through.
Yes, and actually, the missions that I was working on. It had taken us out to a pretty remote area for a few weeks. And so, I hadn’t called home. So, when my brother was killed, it was August 22, and I don’t think I had called home since July, end of July, because we were just out, and I didn’t have an opportunity to call home. So, my dad’s first thought when he saw the uniformed officer standing at the door, he just said, “Is it Scott?” Because he just assumed it was me.
He had just talked to my brother a couple days earlier and he just assumed that I had been killed in whatever we were doing. They told him no, so he realized that was my brother. When my mom found out, she just collapsed onto the ground. She was just inconsolable but one of the first things she was able to say was, “Is Scott Okay?” Where’s Scott? So that’s just goes to show the type of person she was. Even in with this terrible news, she was still worried about where I was? And what I was doing and everything. So–
Did the notifying officer know that you were safe?
Yes. Yes, they knew that I had been notified and that I was on my way home, they didn’t know specifically where I was at the time, but they knew that I was on my way home. So, at that point, I was probably still in background waiting to leave. But yes, it all happened so quick, and it was hard.
Very sorry that you and your family had to go through that, obviously it’s such a traumatic event. And I appreciate you going through the details of that day. I know it’s hard. But I do want to get into fact that you wrote a book about this Surviving Son, and what led you to write the book? And is that a process of your own healing? Getting it out– [Crosstalk 53:08].
Yes, it definitely was a process, to process my emotions and my healing and all that. But what I started off, when I first started writing what became this book, it really was just me journaling and writing down notes of things that happened, places that I was at, and things that I was feeling, and all that kind of stuff. The reason why I did it was because I knew that our memories fade over time, and they play funny tricks, and they distort facts and reality and everything. I knew that my son he’d grow up, and I have two more kids since then. So, all my children, they would eventually grow up, and they probably have questions about what I did in the war? And what happened to their uncle? And things like that.
I wanted to just write down as much as I could remember back then. Then a few years ago I started thinking that this would be a pretty good book, it would be a good story, and it could possibly also not just be an entertaining story, or something that people read for the hell of it. It can also help people to– People who might be experiencing their own traumatic loss or grief or whatever. It can help them see somebody else’s point of view and see what they went through. I’m not saying I did everything right.
As a matter of fact, in the book, I talked about all the things I did wrong, drinking too much and sleeping too little. All the things that I did that were just so wrong and keeping everything bottled up inside and not going to talk to someone early on. I lied through my teeth when we have mandatory like mental health screenings and everything after coming back, because I didn’t want to talk to somebody, I want to just get back home to my family. I didn’t want to spend more time talking to somebody else who I didn’t know. And burden them with my problem. So, I lied. And– [Crosstalk 55:16].
Are you saying they still made you DEMOB?
So that’s interesting. I figured they would. Yes, take it home, buddy.
Yes, so I did, I came home when I was on my way home, I came home, and I stayed home. But when I was on my way home, they just gave me a two week leave, like anyone else would get like, they’re coming home. And they’re like, “No, you’re coming back.” The people who were–
Back to where?
To Afghanistan. I was like, the hell I am. Like, I’m in no shape to be coming back after this. And actually, at my brother’s funeral– So for people who are unfamiliar with the National Guard, National Guard falls under both the state and federal jurisdiction. So, our Commander in Chief, if you will, in addition to the President, it’s also the governor of the, whatever state you’re in.
So, the governor came to my brother’s funeral and told my family, she’s like, “I’m placing orders out that you’re not going back to Afghanistan.” So, I was like, “Cool.” Not that. I’m not going back. Thank you. Thank you for that. You got my vote next time. No, but yes, I didn’t think I was in any right mind to be going back over there. It wouldn’t have been a good situation.
I ended up getting a phone call about a week or so after his funeral. And it was from the Connecticut National Guard and they’re like, “Yes, you have to go back to Indiana Camp Atterbury for DEMOB and go through that whole process.” So, they’re like, “Okay, we’re going to send you next week, you’re going to be there for like, I forget what it was, like three days or something like that.” I’m like, again, the last thing I want to do is being away from my family, I came home, so I could be with my family. I just wanted to stay with them.
I was like, I didn’t understand why I had to go all the way to Indiana? Why couldn’t I do that in in Connecticut? Where my family was. It just didn’t make any sense to me. But I did what I was told, and I went there. They gave me three days to get through all of the screenings and everything like that and I was done in one day. I just flew through everything, I just got it all done.
I actually had to get my flight rearranged through the travel office and everything. I went back home the next day, which I was glad to do. The reason why I was able to get through everything so quickly is because I wasn’t 100% honest with all of the screenings. There’s the mental health screenings and all that. And–
These people didn’t even know probably.
They didn’t know who I was, my background, my story, and for me to sit there and explain all that to them. That would have taken three days, just as it was. So, like I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to be here anymore. I want to leave, and I want to go home. It just didn’t make any sense to me that they had to do all of this stuff.
All the way, halfway across the country. Why couldn’t we just do that at home where– Yes, maybe it’s going to take me three days to get through all this stuff. But I can go home and sleep my own bed at night and be around my wife, my kid and all that kind of stuff. First world problems but still, it was traumatic. So, it was a tough situation to be in.
Right. So, you took these experiences of growing up, joining the military, serving with your brother and of course, ultimately, losing your brother and having to deal with your trauma, the experiences, the mistakes you’ve made along the way. Like you said, a lot of us fall into substance abuse, alcoholism and different things, anger. Your family having to put up with all the motions I’m sure right. And you managed or you thought it’d be a good idea to put this all on paper and share with the world?
Yes, I did and for me, it was a process of like a therapeutic process of writing all this stuff down and getting it all out there. And when I would get to the point where I was writing about the time of like my brother’s death and like how all that happened. I found my just like dancing around that and not really wanting to address that. And I jump off– [Crosstalk 01:00:07] It can’t be real if it’s not on paper, right?
Then eventually I was like, I need to do this, I need to put it out there. So, I just did it, I sat down I wrote it all down. It was like a big weight being lifted off my shoulders, like I wasn’t carrying around this burden by myself anymore. I had it down on this piece of paper and it was hard to write, but it was relieving. Like, once when I did it, it felt really good that I had this out there.
Part of the reason why I wanted to write the story is because I know that my brother doesn’t have a voice anymore. He can’t tell his own story; he can’t talk about his experiences and who he was and all that kind of stuff. His life, unfortunately, was cut short. So, I feel like, I can do that for him, I can be his voice. I talked about this in the book to where when I first came home, there were news vans lining all up and down my parent’s street, from a local television, radio, news, newspaper, all that kind of stuff.
At first, that anger was just raging inside of me. I was like, screw these people, they’re vultures, they’re just to pick apart any little piece of a story that they can. But then it dawned on me that if we don’t, my family didn’t tell them, give them a story to run, they were going to run a story one way or the other, they’re going to probably just go to some grocery store, parking lot, get a random sound bite from someone, “Oh, yeah, this is terrible. It’s a tragedy.” And that would be the end of the story. The book of Steven DeLuzio would be closed.
That would be– It would just start collecting dust. And I was like, “No, that’s not going to happen, we need to tell his story.” So, we told his story, the way we knew him. We knew him, and we told people who he was, what type of person he was all that kind of stuff. I do that in the book, too. I tell some funny stories about us growing up, and things that we experienced, even there’s even a funny story as crazy as this might sound. There’s even a funny story surrounding his death as well. Like, you have to read the book. I’m not going to give the spoiler alert. [Crosstalk 01:02:33]
You’ll never look at bubblegum the same way, I’ll just leave that. So, you know what I’m talking about. But yes, I was like, “Yes, we need to just tell his story.” That’s part of what I wanted to do with this book is tell his story and let his story and my story with outlive all of us. It’s now on paper, it’s in a printed format that this book will last for years and years and years.
It’s just one piece of a big puzzle of what went on over there. I hope that we can someday put a lot of these pieces together and figure out what the hell went wrong and why things ended up the way they did. It’s bigger than just my story or your story, or anybody else’s. But when we have all of these pieces that we can fit together, maybe that’ll help us understand the big picture down the road.
Yes, and before we move on, and I know we’re getting close on time, and I appreciate you extending your hour with me, but where’s the best place to buy the book? Where’s the place that’s going to get you the most in Amazon at least? No, I’m just kidding.
Yes, well, you mentioned Amazon, Amazon’s a good place to go. The nice thing about that is they handle all the fulfillment, delivery and all that kind of stuff. I am also selling the book on my website, survivingsonbooks.com. You can go there; you can get a signed copy if you want. If you care to have a signed copy, I’m more than happy to do that for people and I’ll ship that out as soon as I can.
I got a whole box of books sitting right behind me collecting dust. So might as well order for me. And yes, it’s available in Kindle paperback hardcover format. So however you prefer to read a book we have out there. And–
[Crosstalk01:04:35]. That’s how I read my Kindle.
I’ll totally do that right across the screen, so every time you open up the screen, you know who it came from.
Yes, so Scott, you alluded to it, so I’m going to go there. I also served in Afghanistan. My brother served in Afghanistan. My brother was actually on a team with a soldier who lost his life. Sometime after his brother actually lost his life in Afghanistan as well. So, my brother obviously dealt with that grief, still dealing with that grief, obviously, because we’re all brothers in arms. But now that Afghanistan is over, and we saw how we left Afghanistan, what were your feelings as all that was going on? And in August, by the way, right around the anniversary of your brother’s death?
Yes, it was right around that same time frame. So, there’s that time of year is for the last 11 years now, it’s always raw motion. And yes, it was fighting season too, but for me, it’s just turning–
[Crosstalk 01:05:52] the season probably, right?
Yes, yes, brings back a lot of memories and adding this on top of all that, it stung, it hurt, how we got out. You want to feel like, what we did, had a meaning and that there were some purpose behind all that. It was hard to really wrap your head around the meaning of it when we left the way we did, but my takeaway from all of it was, that we didn’t lose all these lives, and all this time, and money and everything like that, all for nothing. Including my brother’s life, he didn’t give his life for nothing.
There was I feel like a lot of good that was done over there. We took the fight to the enemy, and we prevented another 911 type attack here in America. So, I feel like these sacrifices that we made, and we all knew what we were signing up for when we joined the military, especially the ones who joined after 911. We knew that we’re going to go fight over there, and we knew that we’re going to fight so that we wouldn’t have another 911 here at home.
I chalked that up as Mission accomplished, we didn’t have another 911 here, we didn’t have planes falling out of the sky into our buildings and killing 1000s of innocent people. We took the fight over there and we did a good job at that we kept that fight over there. So, we save a lot of American lives. But we also save a lot of Afghan lives there. They didn’t have to live under the Taliban rule for those 20 years. We provided schools and infrastructure to the people of Afghanistan, little girls– [Crosstalk 01:07:52] Yes, roads. Yes, exactly. Yes. Usually– [Crosstalk 01:07:57] Well, yes, they were.
Little girls had a chance to go to school for the first time ever. Now some of those girls who went to school back when we were in Afghanistan, they’re adults now. And they may have kids of their own. I know, as a parent, I want better for my kids, and I ever had. I think talking to a lot of parents, like that’s almost a universal truth, most parents want that for their kids. I can only imagine that the people of Afghanistan, especially the ones who had the opportunity to go to school, that they want that for their kids as well.
Now that’s being taken away, I hope that that gives them a little something to fight for. I hope that the little bit of freedom that they got to enjoy for those 20 years is something that they can use as fuel to go and fight and take back their country from the Taliban. We’re not going to stand up for this, time will tell with that, maybe that just was wishful thinking on my part, but I really do hope that they will stand up and fight back.
And I think that most veterans of Afghanistan, feel the same way that it’s painful wound that we’ve just endured. But I think most of us hope that taste of freedom is still lingering in their mouth, and without it they’re going to maybe rise up and abort their dictatorship or their autocracy or whatever the Taliban wants to be right now. So yes, it’s tough, interesting time having like yourself. You’ve been to Iraq, right?
No, it’s just my brother who has been to Iraq. Yes.
So myself being a veteran in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s kind of like, “Man, spent a lot of time overseas in both those places are wreck.” Some other places are dead as well, looking at the news today, not doing so hot. But that’s neither here nor there. But yes, I think that’s something that we’re all going to have to deal with.
One of the things I want to touch on before we leave, before we wrap it up is your podcast, the DriveOn Podcast, which is a fantastic format, and in the conversation flows nice and smoothly. I was lucky enough to be on there a couple months ago. What brought you to doing a podcast? And how has that helped your journey?
Yes, so after coming back from Afghanistan, our company that I was in was fortunate enough not to have lost any soldiers over there. After we came home, we started losing soldiers that we served with to suicide and that just didn’t sit right with me, one is too many. But when that second one, and when you keep hearing about other people that you served with, whether it was in Afghanistan or not, taking their own lives. It’s like what’s going on here, or we just came from a place where people literally wanted to kill us, and they failed. Then we came home where people literally want the best for us, and now we’re failing again.
So, like, what is going on with this. I felt like I couldn’t just sit around and wait for someone else to take their life, whether I knew them or not, I felt like I needed to be proactive and do something about it. I wanted to reach as many people as possible, I wanted to reach as many veterans, their families, their loved ones, I wanted to reach as many people so I started the podcast, because it’s a pretty easy way to get in touch with a lot of people at once.
What we talk about on the podcast, we talk to other veterans, about their struggles and things that they’ve had to overcome, and how they overcame them. Because sometimes, all people need to do is hear that they’re not alone, if you’re suffering in silence over whatever it is, just knowing that you’re not alone is helpful to you. So, we talked to them about all of their struggles, and what they’ve done to get through them. Then we talk to people who represent nonprofits and other organizations that are providing services to veterans, things that are outside the VAs scope of care that they provide. Because sometimes you may not want to go to the VA, you may not be comfortable with that, or you may not be qualified to go to the VA for whatever reason.
We have all these guests that have all these other resources that are available to veterans who are doing great work. To help out veterans that often little or no cost to the veteran, and they’re out there fighting for us and trying to make sure that we have all the tools and resources available to succeed, and reduce that number that 22 a day number, that people keep throwing around.
It’s more than just PTSD and suicide prevention. It’s careers, talking about transitioning out of the military, it’s finding alternative ways to find buying purpose in meaning, what we did in the military had, it was incredibly meaningful and had a lot of purpose behind it. But when you get out of the military, sometimes you just, you feel lost, like you don’t have that sense of purpose or the camaraderie that you had with the people that you’re serving with.
So, we try to talk about those types of things and help people figure out how to have hope in themselves again.
Now, it’s an excellent podcast, it’s on my subscription list, or I guess that’s what you call it. But I enjoy it every time I listened to it, and I enjoyed being a guest. We really appreciate folks like you who are helping people get out there, learn, what resources there are, and hear from people, like you said, so they’re not alone or waterless, right?
So, one more thing, and that’s, I want to know what your advice is– What’s your recommendation for other veterans or spouses of veterans or just people who are going through some type of transition that away from one thing to another phase of their life? What’s your advice?
Yes, I think we all are going to face some sort of transition whether we are Military are not, you might work for 30, 40 years in a job, and all of a sudden you retire. That’s another transition that a lot of people don’t necessarily think about but that’s going to come up, and that’s going to creep up on you at some point too. When you’re struggling with whatever the transition is, if it’s grief, if it’s a loss, a loss of identity, things along those lines.
Recognize that it’s okay to struggle with this type of stuff. But also recognize that you don’t need to do it alone, you can ask for help. You’re not crazy for asking for help, to feel the things that you’re feeling. That’s normal, that’s human emotion. So, you’re showing that you’re human, by saying, “Hey, this is bothering me.” Well, of course, it’s bothering you, it’s hard. So, reach out for help. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a professional mental health counselor; it could be a close friend or family member that you’re comfortable with talking to. Just talk about things, be open and honest about what it is that’s going on with you. If it’s something where it’s more than that person can handle, and maybe lead with, “Hey, if you’re not comfortable with this, let me know. So, this doesn’t get weird.”
If you’re not able to find someone who can help you through it, a friend or a family member or whatever. Reach out, talk to somebody, find– You open up the phone book, and or that show my age right there, go to Google and put in whatever you’re feeling if it’s depression or anxiety, or PTSD, whatever it is, and like, just type in that plus counselor and your zip code, and you’ll come up with somebody who can help you.
It might be through the VA, it might be through some other private organization, but you’ll find somebody who can help you. Just don’t suffer alone let someone else know about it.
Definitely, you’re not a burden to the people. If they love you and care for you, you’re not a burden. They want you to be happy and healthy, and they’ll do whatever they can to help you. So, they’re in your life for a reason, lean on them if you need it.
Absolutely. So, I appreciate your time, Scott. I think we’re about out of time here we’re overtime. But I appreciate you sticking around a little bit longer, your story so compelling, and just really thankful that you agreed to come on the podcast. For everybody out there, go to the DriveOn Podcast, I’ll have the website in the show notes. And while you’re at it, subscribe to that and also get Scott’s book, which is [email protected] but preferably at the website, which I’ll also post in the show notes, get an autograph while you’re at it. And thank you, Scott, thank you for joining us and wish you the best of luck, friend.
Great, thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity to be on your show.
Everybody wants to thank you for joining us for this episode of Return to Base. That was Scott DeLuzio, the author of Surviving Son and the host of the DriveOn Podcast, please go out there and if you’re interested, find Surviving Son wherever you buy your books, amazon.com is one obviously, if you can go to his website and buy directly from him, that’s great too.
Also encourage everybody to check out his podcast the DriveOn Podcast, I want to thank Scott for really sharing with us some deep material, some very private things that he had go on in his life. Obviously, losing a sibling, a fellow soldier is a traumatic experience and really shows how strong Scott is for being able to talk about his experience for the betterment of others who might be going through something similar, whether it’s a sibling who passed away, or a fellow service member, a squad member, a team member.
It’s really important that as Scott said, “You don’t keep it bottled up. You have to talk to somebody you have to find a community to draw on, to take comfort in.” And he didn’t do it alone. I think he would encourage everybody else not to do it alone if you had the chance.
So again, thank you, Scott, for joining us on the podcast, and for sharing your story. It’s really great conversation. And hope one day we get to have him on the podcast again.
If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our podcast using whatever podcast service you listened to us on today. We’d really appreciate it. If you could, also follow us on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and all the other socials. Visit VeteranLife.com when you get a chance, read some of our blogs, make some comments, and share it with your friends. Until next time! Have a great day.
This is RTB signing off.