“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


“RVDV’s post, The Soul Crushing Pain of Family Estrangement, really hit home for me.  — Patrick Ritter, USMC Veteran, Attorney


“…What a beautiful article you wrote about how you transformed your relationship, Ryan. You are really onto something.  Everything you write is so powerful and honest. Keep at it! — Dr. Shauna Springer, Author of, “Beyond the Military: A Leader’s Handbook for Warrior Reintegration


“I love everything about this blog post!… Thank you [blog author] for your transparency and the work you’ve put in to transform your relationship…This is relatable to so many and I’m happy for you.” — Erin Esquer, Master Sergeant, U.S. Air Force


“One of my 5th grade students said, ‘I think I’m going to start doing my work’, and he transformed, after RVDV’s visit to my classroom with their speaker’s bureau” — Monica Harris, 5th grade teacher at Oak Grove Elementary School, Concord, CA.


“I enjoy reading the Returning Veterans of Diablo Valley Blog. It’s good, raw, & inspiring.” — Zakariah Bass, U.S. Army Infantryman, Iraq Veteran


“Thanks for you all your help as I wrote my narrative on Returning Veterans of Diablo Valley Blog, Broken and Unreadable. — Eddie Diaz, Marine Corps, Iraq Veteran


“What a brave, heartbreaking piece of writing.  Your devotion to other veterans given what you’ve endured is nothing short of remarkable” — Martin Kuz, Correspondent, Christian Science Monitor, in response to a blog author’s post on the Broken and Unreadable Blog.


“The RVDV blog helps Veterans with words, sharing deep pain, and makes public the healing process.” — Angela Mortensen, Medical Social Worker, University of Nebraska


This is a very powerful blog post – the work RVDV does is meaningful and needed.” — Erin King, MBA


“This is powerful stuff on the RVDV Blog. It takes real courage to share this with the world.” — Michael Hudson, Ret. Marine Corps Col.


“Thank you for sharing your story on the RVDV Blog…I know it will help so many!” – Former Marine Corps Battalion Commander — Nathan Nastase


“Wow, incredible how many Veterans will relate to this article on the Returning Veterans of Diablo Valley Blog. — Former Marine Corps Infantryman, Kenneth Dickerson


“Returning Veterans of Diablo Valley is going to help someone with this article.”  — Sheri Mance


“I read nearly all of the posts on the Broken and Unreadable Blog.  It’s pretty powerful stuff.” — Heather Keevican, RVDV Member


“It was a hard but rewarding process to write about a traumatic experience on the Returning Veterans of Diablo Valley blog.  Working with the editor on the edits and rewrites, they helped me to tell my story, knew the right questions to ask, while also supporting me knowing this was a difficult process. My counselor had been telling me to write about it for awhile now and I didn’t believe it would be helpful. Yet writing it out was surprisingly very healing and helped me to continue the process of letting go. Sometimes we need to do things that are difficult to help us continue to move forward in healing.” — RVDV member and blog contributor, October, 2019


“So grateful to Returning Veterans of Diablo Valley & Pleasant hill YMCA for offering a free yoga class to Veterans on Sunday mornings so I can start my week of refreshed and relaxed! Love it so much!”  Tiffany Chinn — Veteran and Member of Returning Veterans of Diablo Valley


“I was recently contacted by a Veteran who attempted to end his life a couple years ago. One of the RVDV blog posts was a key asset in helping move this person to a place of openness to therapy.  I just wanted you to know that this is the kind of impact RVDV is having.” — Former VA Psychologist, September 2019


“I get involved with Returning Veterans of Diablo Valley because I can’t turn down helping a fellow Veteran” — Chad Dismuke, Marine Corps Veteran


“Reading the stories on RVDV’s blog brings back Vietnam experiences of my own. This is a good thing, very good thing, you all have created.” — Jim Hardy, Vietnam Veteran, Combat Artist


“Your blog post, “Thank God for Emotional Pain“, is my morning meditation for today.  I sit quietly in tears as I connect to my own feeling.  Thank you for your heartfelt gift to so many. —  Elva Castaneda, Saint Mary’s College of California, Leadership Studies Professor


“Dear RVDV, I have spent the last hour reading through your blog and website, and I’m so impressed with all that your organization does for Diablo Valley Veterans!” — Nanci Nicholson Gauthier


“I think that RVDV has figured out what Veterans value. It’s simple, a place to build community”. – Octavious Scott, RVDV co-creator


“Returning home from service in Iraq, it took awhile for me to realize that the fitting in thing wasn’t happening. There were weeks at a time when I couldn’t leave the house. Returning Veterans of Diablo Valley found a counselor for me. They said, “You want to be with this guy”. They picked me up and drove me to appointments several times. They basically just listened patiently to me, took me out to eat, and made me feel like it was OK. I wasn’t broke to a degree that couldn’t be fixed”.

Michael, Iraq Veteran, U.S. Army


“Because of RVDV reaching out to help support and guide me in my educational endeavor, I was able to attend UC Berkeley’s HAAS School of Business. They linked me up with the Cal Veterans Group, as well as transfer and mentor programs that gave applicants like me a leg up during the admissions process. Their mentorship and advice complimented my own hard work at community college – and they helped me to best represent my potential as a returning military veteran”.

Howard, Iraq Veteran, U.S. Army


I opened up my Contra Costa Times this morning and initially saw the story about RVDV but when I glanced at the photo, I realized it was my son that you were assisting. I no longer know how to help him without becoming a helicopter parent, or maybe worse, an enabler. I am hoping that he finds what he is looking for among those who share similar stories.

– Noel’s mother

Noel, Iraq Veteran, U.S. Navy


“Returning Veterans of Diablo Valley’s “Welcome Home” event helped connect me to employers of incredible interest. It was fascinating to know what kinds of opportunities await me as I’m about to graduate from college. With employers like Google and FBI showing up to provide instant resume feedback, it was extremely valuable for someone in my position”.

RVDV Update: Since shaking hands with the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office in this picture, Stephen went on to become a sheriff’s deputy in the county.

Stephen, Marine Veteran

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 arduous inward journey of my entire life.  As I write this, my heart feels battered, bruised, its veins are sore,...
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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 experienced its profoundly devastating ripple affects: from countless men entering and exiting our lives and home, exposure to my mother's...
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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 of a tumultuous short-term relationship, which ended because the woman forgot my middle name -- I became enraged, packed up,...
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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 never seen anything like this before.  "If this person was responsible for plotting to kill us", we reasoned, "perhaps he's...
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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 to me and I made the decision to take the team in that direction, the target would have to wait,...
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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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