Incoming is a KPBS Explore series that tells true stories from the lives of America's military — told in their own words, straight from their own mouths. Produced by So Say We All, a literary and performing arts nonprofit, Incoming features voices of people from all walks of life associated with the armed forces. This series showcases the raw, honest voices of men and women who have served in every capacity and branch of the military. If you're interested in sharing your story, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our guest today is Marine Corps veteran, professor of political science, and former California State Assembly Speaker Nathan Fletcher. Nathan very publicly switched from Republican to Democrat after giving a speech in favor of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and allowing all persons to serve openly. And he paid for it politically. But he has no regrets, as you’ll hear in his interview.
This episode is split between two conversations–both about many things–but sharing the theme of protecting others and how that relates to one’s identity. In the second half of today’s show we’re going to be talking with two members of Veterans Respond, which mobilizes veteran volunteers to areas of natural or man-made disasters; but first up, we’re with writer and active duty Air Force officer Matthew Komatsu.
Today we’re going to be talking with Doug Bradley, Army veteran and author of We Gotta Get Outta This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War. I'm not being hyperbolic when I say that some of the insights Doug dropped on me about music and war and inter-generational conflicts changed my entire perspective on the matter. The man knows that of which he speaks.
On today’s show we’re talking with two enlisted veterans who rose to the top of their respective fields in civilian life: Navy veteran Chef Geoff Cole, and Army veteran and author Dr. Roy William Scranton.
Contributors: Roy Scranton and Chef Geoff Cole
We have two of the most entertaining, self-made, grunt-ass Marines on today’s show. Their upbringings made them perfect candidates for the United States Marine Corp, the USMC, an acronym Marines will often repurpose when referring to themselves as Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children.
Veteran and stand-up comedian Brian Simpson talks about maintaining identity while serving in the armed forces. And veteran Dan Lopez tells the true story about smoking pot with the Taliban.
Contributors: Brian Simpson and Dan Lopez
We’re spending this hour with our friend, writer, performer, and veteran Navy officer, James Seddon. James is one of the founding members of So Say We All’s Veteran Writers Program, is published in the first Incoming anthology, and has performed his writing all over San Diego. Though he’s been working diligently on his memoir, he came by to share some of his incredible stories about the labels placed upon service members, enemies, and veterans.
Contributor: James Seddon.
“Everything Is A War,” focuses on stories about how serving in a war zone can stick to a person, so deeply that traces of it will magically appear months, years after a service member returns home. And it doesn’t just impact service members, but the friends, lovers, and family of those connected to them. We’ve drafted two voices to tell you stories on that front today.
Musical theatre composer and performer Natalie Lovejoy joins us in the second half to talk about her experiences as a young military spouse, and how she was able to tell her story and connect with others through musical theatre. First up, Navy veteran and police officer Vance Voyles talks about how the war comes back for him, in some of the calls he’s responded to as a cop.
Contributors: Vance Voyles, Natalie Lovejoy.
We’re spending this episode with Iraq war veteran Matt Young. Matt’s debut novel Eat the Apple chronicles his journey as an aimless 18-year-old who enlists in the Marine Corps after driving drunk into a fire hydrant. It was a jolt that convinced him that he needed to find direction in his life, and, in his own words, “man up.” What follows is a brutal, self-aware story about being both the victim and perpetrator of hazing and abuse, feeling pressure to tell the lies he thought civilians wanted to hear, and the absurdist snapshots of war and training for it that most other accounts gloss over. Because they’re too ugly, too embarrassing, or just too honest. Contributor: Matt Young. His debut novel is "Eat The Apple."
Today’s show is titled, with our tongues lodged firmly in our cheeks, “The Undesirables,” because it features two wonderful veteran voices who speak on the subject of having to hide aspects of their personal identities which–at the time–could have been viewed as obstacles to their military careers.
Contributors: Lisbeth Prifogle and Anthony Moll.
Today’s episode takes its name after a quote by Lewis Carrol, “All That Is Really Worth Doing is Worth the Doing is What We do for Others,” and we chose it because our two contributors, Brian Turner and Mariah Smith of the US Army, have stories and poems that echo that sentiment. Mariah, because her story is about jumping through hurdles to be present for an important moment in the life of someone who was important to her, and Brian, because his poetry and stories consistently carry an element of sitting watch with someone in their darkest hours. We’re going to start off with Brian Turner.
Contributors: Brian Turner and Mariah Smith