The third season of MOAA’s Never Stop Serving Podcast shares first-person accounts from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. You will hear directly from the men and women who survived these battles, and how their combat experiences shaped the people they are today.
Each episode can be streamed below, or download/follow/subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, PodChaser, or TuneIn. Check back for even more platforms!
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Season 3: War Stories is sponsored by MOAA Insurance Plans, administered by Association Member Benefits Advisors (AMBA).
Episode 9: MOAA member Col. Nicole Malachowski, USAF (Ret), discusses a dynamic career cut short by a surprising illness. After several deployments flying the F-15E Strike Eagle, Malachowski became the first female pilot in the Thunderbirds, the Air Force's demonstration team, and would later be named a White House Fellow and Executive Director of the Joining Forces Initiative to support military families. Malachowski was forced to medically retire due to the debilitating effects of a tick-borne illness, and has since become an advocate for wounded warriors and patients suffering the effects of such diseases.
Episode 8: Host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), speaks with Silver Star recipient Maj. Josh Glover, USMC (Ret). During his second deployment to Iraq, Glover, then a first lieutenant, was serving as a Quick Reaction Force platoon commander when they were sent out to secure a downed CH-53 helicopter. During the mission, the QRF platoon was ambushed but able to fight through and return back to friendly lines, inflicting numerous enemy casualties on the way. Later that same day, they were called out to rescue a rifle platoon fighting behind enemy lines. Lt. Glover and his platoon engaged and defeated a company-sized enemy element to reach the besieged Marines.
Episode 7: Host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), speaks with Maj. Brian Cillessen, USMC (Ret). In January 2005, then-Capt. Cillessen was attached to a Special Forces ODA as an embedded trainer and Marine adviser for Afghan National Army commandos. While returning from a mission, his convoy was ambushed. Cillessen, now a television producer and host on The Sportsman Channel, details the actions in this battle that earned him the Silver Star.
Episode 6: In April 2004, Joe Ruggiero was a petty officer serving with a Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment aboard the Navy’s USS Firebolt in the Persian Gulf. Ruggiero and a team of Coast Guardsmen and sailors were conducting a boarding operation near an oil terminal when the boat they were intercepting detonated in an apparent suicide bombing, killing two sailors and one Coast Guardsman. For his actions that day, Ruggiero, now a chief warrant officer, became the first Coast Guardsman since the Vietnam War to earn a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star with "V" device for valor.
Episode 5: As Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in 2021, Elliot Ackerman, a former Marine Corps infantry officer and MARSOC team leader, found himself in the middle of an unofficial evacuation effort to help Afghan allies escape the country. Ackerman, a Silver Star recipient and author, wrote about the effort and his experiences in Afghanistan in his latest book, The Fifth Act: America's End in Afghanistan.
Episode 4: Melissa May didn’t grow up with fighter pilot dreams but the self-described "tree hugger and snowboarder" was recruited to swim at the the Air Force Academy. In due time May found herself flying combat missions over Libya by day and changing diapers by night. Now a retired lieutenant colonel, May talks about these adventures, the mission over Baghdad that earned her a Distinguished Flying Cross, and her transition to a commercial pilot for United.
Episode 3: Retired Col. Chris Barnett, an Air Force Pave Hawk pilot, was pulled off an instructor assignment and sent to Afghanistan to fly combat rescue missions in Helmand Province. His life-saving actions in the spring of 2009 resulted in two Silver Stars. Chris speaks about the high op tempo his unit faced, and the challenge of returning home.
Episode 2: Silver Star recipient Delorean Sheridan, a retired Air Force senior master sergeant, walks listeners through an insider attack he stopped on March 11, 2013, in Afghanistan. After serving more than 20 years, Sheridan now works on Capitol Hill.
Episode 1: CW5 Doug Englen, an Army Chinook pilot with more than 2,500 combat missions under his belt, co-piloted the first helicopter into Afghanistan following the Sept. 11 attacks. Englen was later chosen by Adm. William McRaven, then head of U.S. Special Operations Command, to plan the air component of the mission to capture or kill Osama Bin laden; McRaven called him "without a doubt, the finest Army aviator of our generation."
Episode 11: Project Enlist -- the Concussion Legacy Foundation. The Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF) was founded by Chris Nowinski, Ph.D., and Robert Cantu, M.D. The work that Nowinski has started is vital to the military community; after 20 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, our veterans are working through mental health issues, and many still do not understand the signs and symptoms associated with brain injury. Listen to host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), speak to Nowinski about the foundation's efforts.
Episode 10: Mental Health With Headstrong. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Unfortunately, for many of us in the military, it has been a taboo topic. It's been part of our world, but we don't talk about it for fear of losing our jobs, our clearances, and our identities. Listen to host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), speak to retired Marine veteran and retired 1st responder Matt Kress, chief strategy officer at Headstrong, about why their organization can tackle the topic "head" on and do it well.
Episode 9: Life After Service With Zachary Bell - You've served your nation honorably, and you've hung up your uniform and tucked away your boots... so, now what? Life after service can be challenging. Leaving the structure of the military can be scary and stressful. Owning your transition is essential, but what happens when your transition doesn't go as planned? Host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), speaks with Marine veteran Zachary Bell about his experience after leaving the Marine Corps. Zachary shares his challenges and how he ended up in the medical industry, and how that led to being known as the "Veteran with a Sign."
Episode 8: Diversity in Today's Military - Diversity, equality, and inclusion -- are these just the latest buzzwords, or do they actually mean something in the military? Is the military a diverse fighting force? How do we grow a diverse fighting force? Does diversity matter? Host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), speaks with Capt. Pat L. Williams, USN (Ret), MOAA's program director, engagement and transition services, and a 35-year Navy veteran, and Anselm Beach, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for equity and inclusion and an Army veteran, about DEI.
Episode 7: Why the First Job Rarely Is a Fit - Roughly 44% of veterans leave their first civilian job within a year of employment, according to Hiring Our Heroes’ veteran employment survey. Reasons vary: 31% said they accepted their first job to make ends meet and never intended to stay, another 30% left for a better job, and 19% left because the job did not align with their expectations. Host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), speaks to Virginia Department of Veteran Services experts Katie Spinazzola and Alfredo Torres about why your first job may not be a good fit and what to do about it.
Episode 6: How Community is the Key in the War on Mental Health with Dr. David Tharp - When many of us leave the military, we hear that our identity and the sense of giving back are lost. We also know that this sense of loss can impact our mental health. So how do we give back? What is "community"? Host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), speaks with Dr. David Tharp, CEO and co-founder of Project Healing Heroes, on why giving back to the community is vital.
Episode 5: Merging Vets and Players - Host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), speaks with Army veteran Nate Boyer, who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as a Green Beret, played football at the University of Texas, suited up for the Seattle Seahawks, and co-founded Merging Vets and Players (MVP), a program that brings veterans and athletes together for shared mentorship and focus on a new mission.
Episode 4: Financial Wealth Management: Planning for Your Rainy Day With MOAA - What exactly are you planning for your future? Is there a difference between savings and investment planning? Is having a 401(k) or a Roth IRA essential? Host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), speaks with Lila Quintiliani, ChFC®, AFC®, MOAA's program director for finance and benefits education/counseling, on these topics and others. Want more? Sign up for MOAA's free April 20 financial webinar.
Episode 3: Olivia's Story - This week we turn the tables on podcast host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), and she shares her story. Find out why she wanted to serve in the Army, why giving back matters to her, and, more importantly, why mental health in the military community matters.
Episode 2: Holding Down the Fort - The Military Family and the Backbone that Keeps it Together. In most cases, the military spouse tends to be the mom: The unsung hero that runs the household that plays nanny, caregiver, boo-boo fixer, carpool driver, after-school sports practice pick up, homework enforcer, chef, and so much more. But what we don't talk about is how all of these titles weigh heavily on the military spouse -- how all of these responsibilities day in and day out, year after year, impact their mental health. Listen to host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), speak to Jen Amos and Jenny Lynne, two amazing military spouses and podcast hosts from Holding Down the Fort.
Episode 1: Stepping Back From Suicide. When we don't address our mental health journey, or seek help for the trauma we've experienced, it can lead to a dark place for many of us. Listen to host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), speak with Army veteran Sammy Villela about his journey and how he almost used a permanent solution that could have impacted his family and friends. The following episode contains content related to a suicide attempt. Discretion is advised. If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1) or via www.veteranscrisisline.net.
Episode 9: Special Operations - How Transitioning Programs Miss the Mark. As they prepare to transition from uniform, Special Operations servicemembers find the same challenges many transitioning service members have shared, and more. Why are today's transitioning programs missing the mark with Special Operations? Why are their challenges so unique? Listen to host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), speak to Sgt. Maj. Matt Parrish from U.S. Special Operations Command and Master Sgt. Yuma Barnett from the 75th Ranger Regiment, two soldiers who understand the unique challenges presented to the Special Operations community.
Episode 8: Exempting Military Retirement Pay and Pensions. Listen to host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), speak to MOAA Board Member Col. Jeri Graham, USA (Ret), and Col. Lee Lange, USMC (Ret), both of whom advocate in helping to get all 50 states to exempt military retired pay and pensions. Find out why that's important for not only the military member, but for the state and the economy.
Episode 7: Marketing Yourself for a Second Career. A successful career in the military is no easy feat, but for many, what's even more daunting is creating a second career beyond the uniform. Listen to host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), speak to Capt. Patricia Cole, USN (Ret), program director of career transition services at MOAA, and Tasha McCullar, a MOAA member, Army veteran, and someone who navigated the transition space and successfully marketed herself for a second career.
Episode 6: Arlington National Cemetery and the Proposed Tightened Eligibility. The nation’s premier military cemetery is at a critical crossroads in its history. Listen to host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), speak with Lt. Col. Mark Belinsky, USA (Ret), director of Government Relations for currently serving and retired affairs at MOAA, about the proposed changes, including how they could impact veterans and their families and the importance of calling your legislators to help advocate for our heroes.
Episode 5: TRICARE and Your Transition BEYOND Active Duty. Service to our nation includes so many great benefits, health care being one of them. But what happens when you retire from the military? Where does your health coverage come from? What will it cost? Will the coverage be the same? Listen to host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), speak with Capt. Paul J. Frost, AFC®, USN (Ret), MOAA's program director, financial and benefits education/counseling/veterans services.
Episode 4: From Agent Orange to Burn Pits: Toxic Exposure Advocacy. Listen to host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), speak with Cory Titus, the director of Government Relations for veteran benefits and Guard/Reserve affairs at MOAA, about the importance of understanding the work behind the push for policy and legislation surrounding toxic exposures for our military members.
Episode 3: Recruiting our Future Force: Challenges and Solutions. Joining the military can be an exciting and life-changing experience. There are many reasons why young men and women show an interest in wanting to join the armed forces. Some have multigenerational respect for the military and want to serve as their older relatives did. Others wish to take advantage of the job security and the benefits that come along with being in the military. Listen to host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), speak with head of Army Recruiting Command Maj. Gen. Kevin Vereen and head of Marine Corps Recruiting Command Maj. Gen. Jason Bohm.
Episode 2: Military Retirement 101: Getting Your Finances in Order. Transition or Transformation? However you frame it, it's a change, and change requires planning. Leaving the military after 20-plus years can be exciting but also daunting. One part of the planning phase must include your finances. If you are one of the annual 200,000 transitioning servicemembers and you find yourself wondering what you should be doing to prepare from a financial standpoint. Listen to host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), speak with Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), CFP®, MOAA's program director for financial and benefits education/counseling, on how you can prepare for your military retirement.
Episode 1: Why Military Pay Remains a Top Priority. MOAA exists to preserve the benefits earned by all servicemembers, past and present. When it comes to money, specifically pay and benefits, our servicemembers need to know organizations are advocating on their behalf. Every year the discussion of pay comes up as part of the DoD budget. Host Lt. Col. Olivia Nunn, USA (Ret), and Col. Dan Merry, USAF (Ret), MOAA's vice president of Government Relations, discuss the very important topic of pay and benefits and why pay and advocacy go hand in hand.