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To the veteran community – veterans, survivors, dependents, advocates and allies – welcome to the second episode of the Real Veteran® Podcast.

In the Real Veteran® podcast, we are going to kick open the doors on the veteran community, let in the sunlight of fresh ideas and faces, and explore what it means to be a Real Veteran.® If you want to learn more about the goal of the podcast, and what inspired it, please listen to Episode 0 (click here).

If you find this podcast to be helpful or interesting, or learned something from it, I ask that you please leave me a 5-star rating on Apple podcasts – it will really help me out.

I’m going to try to get a new episode every other week. If you are moved by the show and want to be a guest, or have ideas of people I should talk to, shoot me an email at

The theme for the first season is “Identity.”

I’m going to explore veterans’ lived experiences in their lives after military service, and try to understand how race, gender, gender identity or ethnicity shaped or influenced each veteran’s experience.

Episode 2 – Listen.

It’s one thing to hear what somebody says. It’s a completely different thing to listen.

In today’s episode, I start off with a monologue, and follow through on some of the lessons learned in my visit with Hill Pluviose in Episode 1. I explore one way – the use of the N-word – that white people pass on white supremacy from generation to generation.

I have a conversation with Aarika Gonzalez, an Army combat veteran, mother of three, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and psychotherapist who works with her fellow veterans working to improve their ability to connect with other people after military service.

Aarika is an amazing veteran with some powerful insights into life as a female veteran – why she doesn’t go to the VA for care, how men can understand the rigidity behind toxic masculinity, contextual awareness, listening, and so much more.

I first met Aarika when she shared a blog post with me that she had written about Vanessa Guillen. You should definitely check out her blog – Shifting Equanimity – it’s really something special.

After the visit, we were supposed to have an interview with a representative from the Wounded Warrior’s Home Base program, but due to some scheduling difficulties, we’ll have to circle back to that interview in a future episode. Instead, a try out a new segment, and share with you the Profile of a Real Veteran – Rabina Asti.

Rabina’s life reminds us that transgender veterans are everywhere – contributing to the veteran community, and American society as a whole, in amazing ways. Be sure to check out Rabina’s legacy, the non-profit CloudDancers.


  1. Judy King

    Here’s a concrete example of how the VA fails to serve female veterans. First, let me say I use VA health care because I have a woman doctor and she’s awesome. However.

    You know when you go in for “labs” and they want a urine sample. I decline. Because, and I’ve told this to more than one nurse, lab tech, and my doctor, “I can’t take it out of my pants and wash it off in the sink.” And that is the only option *in the entire building* for providing what they call a “clean catch” sample. I hope I haven’t offended anyone.

    My doctor said she had requested supplies to serve women correctly and was denied.

    • Chris Attig

      Thanks for this info. How would it look if the VA did this correctly, with female veterans in mind?



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