“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

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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