Transition support for Veterans in Bay Area

                                                 Transition support for Veterans in Bay Area

Returning Veterans of Diablo Valley provides transition coaching, writing workshops, and a publishing platform to Veterans in service of cultivating community, healing, transformation, and leadership.

 

“I think that RVDV has figured out what Veterans value. It’s simple; a place to build community”. – Octavious Scott, U.S. Navy Veteran

Why can transitions be difficult?

A Second Class Citizen: My Time as a Woman in the Marine Corps

When I joined the Marines, I never imagined I would suffer from persistent loneliness, or that I'd have to travel down one of the darkest paths of my lifeMy recruiter told me I would find brotherhood, lifelong friendship, and treasured memories. I did, eventually,  but it took me four difficult years. During that time, I endured endless sexism, harassment, and bullying. I couldn’t have friends, and when I tried, I was labeled as lesbian or a whore. All I wanted was friendship. Instead of being called a bitch and being looked at as nothing more than a sex object, I needed to be treated like a human. I needed to be treated with respect and care as most of the males had treated each other with on some level or another.

Read

How to Stop Smoking Marijuana

Perhaps you feel desperate.  Up to this point, you use marijuana compulsively.  You've often felt guilty about the habit, tried to stop, but the substance continues to hang around in your life.  You know that, technically, it's not physically addictive, but in other ways -- it's entirely enslaving.  Deep down, you really want to stop.  You sense it holds you back.  I should warn you, however, the answer you seek on this page is one you may not want to hear.  Why?  Because it will likely hit your defenses, and that defense is what composes the thread which binds the substance to your life.  You use cannabis to avoid feeling emotional and psychological pain. 

Read

Scraping the Skull of My Psyche with a Scalpel

I've traveled to the center of my soul.  Doing this has been the single most profoundly difficult, exhaustive, and emotionally arduous inward journey of my entire life.  As I write this, my heart feels battered, bruised, its veins are sore, the wound still bleeds through capillary walls -- has yet to clot.  This is all a welcome change from the deep-water arterial surges of depression, anxiety, an panic that have crashed over me as I lay at the mercy of grief.  I understand more fully now why we humans tend to avoid experiencing pain, particularly the soul-shocking fear, anger, and sadness pang waves that begin in the gut, travel up to the brain stem, and settle in for the heavy haul at the core of the amygdala. "Who would pay to feel this way?" I've often asked myself rhetorically.  It's difficult, tiring, pulverizing, and requires inconceivable endurance. 

Read

The Soul Crushing Pain of Family Estrangement

My mother was sexually abused by her father.  Growing up, I was completely blind of this horrible fact.  Yet I experienced its profoundly devastating ripple affects: from countless men entering and exiting our lives and home, exposure to my mother's rampant sexual life, a gaping void of maternal and paternal nurturance, constant instability, role reversal -- where I often behaved like a father to my mother -- to pervasive feelings of depression, worthlessness, anxiety, stress, worry, rage, sadness, confusion, guilt, shame, and self-blame, which all flourished under a thick dome of denial.

Read

How I Transformed My Relationship

I met my wife on the internet.  Eharmony to be precise. It was early 2015 and I just got out of a tumultuous short-term relationship, which ended because the woman forgot my middle name -- I became enraged, packed up, and left her.

Read

Torture in Mahmudiyah: An Unbearable Chamber of Suffering

Standing a few steps into the room, we both watched in horror, yet were mesmerized as we traded smirks.  We'd never seen anything like this before.  "If this person was responsible for plotting to kill us", we reasoned, "perhaps he's getting what he deserves."  We walked out feeling concerned and debated whether to tell someone.  We returned a moment later to see that one of the interrogators was urgently fumbling with a small battery one long red wire.  "What are you going to do with that?" I asked the young Iraqi Army soldier.  "We're going to electrocute him" he replied.  "Then, he will tell us everything."  I felt a knot form in the pit of my stomach.  "This is not a good idea, but I want to see" I thought -- as my desire to tell our captain strengthened equally.

Read

Ali Baba: A Marine Squad’s Brush With Death

The boy came up to our first team and yelled out “Ali Baba!” while pointing northward. Long radioed details back to me and I made the decision to take the team in that direction, the target would have to wait, since there was an Ali Baba that called for our attention. The young man walked forward with our point team while I stayed near the center of our patrol with Lcpl. Schlehr, our radioman, to my side. Long remembers that as the team made its way north, more and more kids joined the parade, and eventually two adults joined in. We didn’t have an interpreter in our patrol that day, but Long could tell that Iraqis were trying to tell us there was danger ahead.

Read

For Me, The Marine Corps Was a Suicide Mission

I joined the Marine Corps in hopes of dying an honorable death and restoring dignity to my family name.  My reaction to knowing that I would be deployed to Iraq in 2004 was nothing short of hysteria.  "Finally", I thought, "If all goes right (or "wrong") I can put an end to feeling unworthy and living this miserable life in one of the most honorable ways possible."

Read

Phoenix Rising: Becoming a Survivor

It’s November 6, 1993, and I’m enjoying a beautiful evening on base in San Diego. I’m 19 years old - out with shipmates dancing and having a few drinks at the club on base. Feeling tired as the night went on, I decided to walk back to the ship early without my friends. It was raining sporadically that week, like it often does, so I was looking down towards the concrete, dodging puddles in the parking lot. What happened next was the most traumatic event of my life and would alter it forever.

Read

I Understand Your Deep Sadness

A few days ago I was having a really rough time emotionally, feeling heartbroken.  To be up front, today isn't all that glorious either.  Things periodically get difficult since I'm currently in psychotherapy talking about very painful things - not to mention the fact that I'm human and inherently vulnerable to a universal spectrum of suffering.

Read

“I want to start doing my homework.”

5th grader at Oak Grove Elementary 4/8/2019

As an educator myself, I understand the importance of giving students of all ages unique and captivating learning experiences; and the RVDV speaker’s bureau delivers.  Whether it be Veterans reading excerpts of personal war narratives, talking about confronting difficulty at home, question and answer sessions, presenting military artifacts, or simply reminding each student about their own inner brilliance and resources, as a teacher, you’ll be glad we came.

Semper Fidelis,

Ryan Berg

Marine Corps Combat Veteran

Creator, Returning Veterans of Diablo Valley

'Take off' with Returning Veterans of Diablo Valley

“The RVDV blog blows me away. The bravery of these Veterans to look at themselves and deal with their pain, especially publicly, amazes me.  For every misguided, negative response, I bet there are many more who are inspired, even if they don’t share it.  Thank you RVDV for what you are doing.” — Ehren Tool, Gulf War Marine Veteran, UC Berkeley staff and ceramic artist

“Each time I read the RVDV blog, I see bravery for putting that stuff out there because it might help someone else.” — Charlie Harrison, military Veterans Yoga teacher

This post is heartbreaking to read.  Your willingness to open and heal all of this is inspiring to me, as I wrestle with the physical loss of my mom, and the grief about the mother she was never able to be.”  — Doug Paxton, Ph.D., Leadership Studies Professor, Saint Mary’s College of California

READ MORE

Let's touch base. Call or email.

415.852.2734

ryan@returningvetsofdiablovalley.org

Military Veteran Transition Support • Bay Area

Website by Ryan Berg

A Second Class Citizen: My Time as a Woman in the Marine Corps

A Second Class Citizen: My Time as a Woman in the Marine Corps

When I joined the Marines, I never imagined I would suffer from persistent loneliness, or that I'd have to travel...
Read
How to Stop Smoking Marijuana

How to Stop Smoking Marijuana

Perhaps you feel desperate.  Up to this point, you use marijuana compulsively.  You've often felt guilty about the habit, tried...
Read
Scraping the Skull of My Psyche with a Scalpel

Scraping the Skull of My Psyche with a Scalpel

I've traveled to the center of my soul.  Doing this has been the single most profoundly difficult, exhaustive, and emotionally...
Read
The Soul Crushing Pain of Family Estrangement

The Soul Crushing Pain of Family Estrangement

My mother was sexually abused by her father.  Growing up, I was completely blind of this horrible fact.  Yet I...
Read
How I Transformed My Relationship

How I Transformed My Relationship

I met my wife on the internet.  Eharmony to be precise. It was early 2015 and I just got out...
Read
Torture in Mahmudiyah: An Unbearable Chamber of Suffering

Torture in Mahmudiyah: An Unbearable Chamber of Suffering

Standing a few steps into the room, we both watched in horror, yet were mesmerized as we traded smirks.  We'd...
Read
Ali Baba: A Marine Squad’s Brush With Death

Ali Baba: A Marine Squad’s Brush With Death

The boy came up to our first team and yelled out “Ali Baba!” while pointing northward. Long radioed details back...
Read
For Me, The Marine Corps Was a Suicide Mission

For Me, The Marine Corps Was a Suicide Mission

I joined the Marine Corps in hopes of dying an honorable death and restoring dignity to my family name.  My...
Read
Phoenix Rising: Becoming a Survivor

Phoenix Rising: Becoming a Survivor

It’s November 6, 1993, and I’m enjoying a beautiful evening on base in San Diego. I’m 19 years old -...
Read
I Understand Your Deep Sadness

I Understand Your Deep Sadness

A few days ago I was having a really rough time emotionally, feeling heartbroken.  To be up front, today isn't...
Read
The Heartbreak of Leaving the Marine Corps

The Heartbreak of Leaving the Marine Corps

Just a few hours prior, I sat in the confines of a fluorescent lit conference room with 3 field grade...
Read
Pain Is Never Weakness Leaving the Body

Pain Is Never Weakness Leaving the Body

...You walk into your bedroom and clang your pinky toe on the sturdy, round wooden leg of the bed frame....
Read
Thank God for Emotional Pain

Thank God for Emotional Pain

“Thank God for emotional pain”… was a thought that I had as I entered the park on an afternoon walk...
Read
Leadership and Healing: Creating Space for Transformation

Leadership and Healing: Creating Space for Transformation

The first time we took enemy contact was on our first patrol. We had just arrived in country, and we...
Read