Adam Youngson, Army Reserve, Iraq Veteran

Adam was a Sergeant with the Army Reserves and was attached to the 1st Cavalry Division, Engineer Brigade during his deployment to Baghdad, Iraq from 2004-2005. He later graduated with a BS in civil engineering from Sacramento State, and currently works as a construction superintendent. Adam is passionate about bringing SCUBA and free-diving opportunities to Veterans through his non-profit organization, Dive Tribe, as a way to promote mindfulness, ease transition and foster connection with other Veterans.

Dr. Felisa Gaffney, PsyD, Air Force Veteran

“Doc G,” as she is known by Veterans, served twenty years in the Air Force, and deployed twice to Kuwait. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and currently serves as a readjustment counselor at the Concord Vet Center.

Matthew Pruett, U.S. Army, Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran

Matt served in the U.S. Army from February 2000 to April 2010 as a Vehicle Mechanic.  He deployed to Iraq in 2004 and Afghanistan in 2006.  In 2014, he graduated from CSU East Bay with a Bachelors in Criminal Justice.

Noha Basilious. Program Coordinator, Diablo Valley College

Noha currently serves as Program Coordinator for First Year Experience and Student Engagement at Diablo Valley College (DVC).  Her interest in working with Veterans began when she served as the VA Certifying Official at DVC in 2006.  Her passion and care were integral to the founding of the Veterans Alliance on campus in 2007.  Noha also planned and coordinated the 1st and 2nd Veterans annual conference at DVC, providing Veterans with resources, support, and access to a variety of services.

Kira Serna, LCSW, Air Force Veteran

Kira is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and currently works for the Department of Veterans Affairs in the Transition and Care Management Program assisting post-911 Veterans transitioning out of the military. Prior to that she provided trauma-focused psychotherapy services for over 1,000 combat Veterans, military sexual trauma Veterans and their family members in the VA’s Vet Center Program. She also provides psychotherapy services in a private practice, specializing in Veterans’ issues and trauma-related disorders. Kira received her Master of Social Work from USC with a concentration in mental health and a sub-concentration in Military and Veteran Social Work.

Ryan Berg, MA, Marine, Iraq Veteran

Ryan served two tours in Iraq as a Marine, and has worked to support the Veteran community since 2007. He is one of the founding creators of Returning Veterans of Diablo Valley and is managing editor of the RVDV blog, Broken and Unreadable.  Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree in rhetorical theory from UC Berkeley and a master’s in Leadership Studies from Saint Mary’s College of California.  In June of 2020, he will begin Saint Mary’s Doctorate in Educational Leadership program.

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 reaction to knowing that I would be deployed to Iraq in 2004 was nothing short of hysteria.  "Finally", I thought,...
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For U.S. veterans, what does it mean to heal a moral injury?

For U.S. veterans, what does it mean to heal a moral injury?

The two corporals smiled at the chance meeting, their first in the war zone. “Happy birthday, Marines,” Giannopoulos said to Berg and a few others seated by him. Berg chatted with him for a minute before Gino, as most called...
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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 - out with shipmates dancing and having a few drinks at the club on base. Feeling tired as the night went...
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As It Turns Out, I Am Worthy of Love

As It Turns Out, I Am Worthy of Love

The first time I saw a Marine I was seven years old at a college baseball game in my hometown, Omaha, Nebraska at Rosenblatt Stadium.  They were in the outfield, frozen, wearing crisp white pants, holding a rifle salute during...
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“The Mask”

“The Mask”

I am sad and lonely, I have nobody to comfort me, So I wear a mask that always smiles, To hide my feelings behind my hurt.
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The Fear Within: Nightmares’ Womb

The Fear Within: Nightmares’ Womb

Iraq was hellish.  It was insanely hot, extremely physically and mentally demanding, and imminently dangerous all of the time.  Our late battalion commander, Lt. Col. Mark Smith, a man for whose picture adorns the wall in my study, was pushing...
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Pumping the Breaks on Tears

Pumping the Breaks on Tears

My friend Alex committed suicide a month ago. For context, he was not a Veteran. A week prior to his death, he visited my wife and I at our home. I met Alex in community college in 2007, and we...
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Psychotherapy Has Profoundly Deepened My Sleep

Psychotherapy Has Profoundly Deepened My Sleep

As the whole world knows by now, I am a patient and advocate of psychotherapy. And ever since about nine months into treatment, there was a major shift. There have been several major, profound life-changing positive shifts in my outlook,...
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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 all that glorious either.  Things periodically get difficult since I'm currently in psychotherapy talking about very painful things - not...
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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 officers, all built like brick shithouses, chizzled, professional, determined, yet compassionate, staring back at me.  They had just stated their...
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Therapy and Shame – Veterans’ Voices

Therapy and Shame – Veterans’ Voices

In this clip, RVDV co-creator, Ryan Berg, talks about his journey though psychotherapy, and why having a therapist is like having and "executive coach.....on steroids".
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The Damaging Affects of Patriarchy

The Damaging Affects of Patriarchy

When I was in Iraq, I saw men holding hands all the time. As you might imagine, most of us Marines assumed there was something homosexual about doing this, and all sorts of jokes sprung up as a result. After...
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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. A mind-numbing ache ascends instantly from your foot to your skull. You lie down on your mattress and clinch hard...
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As a U.S. Marine Infantryman, Psychotherapy Has Made Me Even Stronger

As a U.S. Marine Infantryman, Psychotherapy Has Made Me Even Stronger

The experience of therapy was new to me.  I wasn't used to someone listening.  To caring.  To someone asking questions about my feelings, and affirming the validity of them.  To someone simply being present as I cried about hurtful events...
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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 a few weeks ago. “Wait, what?”, I said to myself internally. “Did I really just utter that?” Something within me...
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I Stopped Smoking Weed and I’ve Never Felt Happier

I Stopped Smoking Weed and I’ve Never Felt Happier

So I smoked in college, after I graduated, and off an on when I entered professional life.  I would quit because I felt ashamed, and then fire back up again.  It became a vicious cycle.  I realize now that this...
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Veterans’ Next Mission: Topple Patriarchy, Reduce Suicides

Veterans’ Next Mission: Topple Patriarchy, Reduce Suicides

As Veterans, we know all to well what it means to suck it up.  "Embrace the suck" has become so common place that we often live our lives from this place, and even tell our friends in one way or...
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These Muslims Wanted Me to Live

These Muslims Wanted Me to Live

As I sat up against the wall of the roof with my back towards the street where the car was, I was rocked by the most powerful explosion I've ever experienced.  It shook my chest cavity. I passed out for...
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Disobeying Orders: One Man Lives

Disobeying Orders: One Man Lives

It was a bright and sunny morning in 2007 at the downtown Fallujah, Iraq, police station where a dozen or so Marines and I were tasked with providing security for a day of police recruiting.  There seemed to be a...
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On The Road To Nabatiya

On The Road To Nabatiya

ON THE ROAD TO NABATIYA THEY COME TO ME AS IF I’VE CALLED THEM BACK FROM A PLACE I’VE LEFT BEHIND THEIR FACES, YOUNG...
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