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 has as private practice in Antioch, CA.

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.

Kira Serna, LCSW, Air Force Veteran

Kira is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and currently has a private practice in Antioch, CA.  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 specializes 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, RVDV founding creator, MA, Marine Corps Iraq Veteran

Ryan Berg, a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran deployed twice in Iraq. In 2004, he was an infantryman with 2/24 Echo Company, Weapons Platoon, in the Triangle of Death. In 2006, he served in various roles with 1/14 Task Force Military Police and deployed to Fallujah. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in rhetoric from UC Berkeley, a Master of Arts in leadership studies, and is a current student in the Ed.D. program at Saint Mary’s College of California. He’s married and lives in the SF Bay Area.  To reach him, email ryan(at)returningvetsofdiablovalley.org

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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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 had not yet gained enough experience to conduct a foot patrol that didn't leave us exhausted.  Despite having trained for...
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Do You Ever Feel Like A Part of You Died in Iraq?

Do You Ever Feel Like A Part of You Died in Iraq?

Connection after service among Marines can be tricky at times. Our relationships were fostered in an environment where feelings and emotions were mostly suppressed, or at least not acknowledged or talked about much. When we come together, it can feel...
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Wake Up Call

Wake Up Call

I felt sickened. While I could see the need to move the man, seeing a machine do it was so disrespectful to human life. I quickly pushed these thoughts down since there was nothing I could do about it, and...
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Warrior…for Love

Warrior…for Love

I served 7 years in the Marine Corps Reserves, deploying twice to Iraq in some of the most dangerous areas, including the Triangle of Death. This is the same place that the modern day terror group, ISIS, was hiding out...
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Remembering to Remember

Remembering to Remember

My point is we’re on edge. We’re worried about those still fighting; we’re trying to find ourselves and other vets; and we’re seeking the care and treatment we need without feeling like it’s a threat to our warrior ethos. We...
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