Lex Fridman Podcast - #230 - Kelsi Sheren: War, Artillery, PTSD, and Love

The following is a conversation with Kelsey Sharon, Canadian Forces veteran, artillery

gunner who served in Afghanistan at 18 years old and came home with severe PTSD.

She went on to found Brass in Unity which creates unique jewellery, large part of the

proceeds from which go to help rehabilitate the lives, limbs and mental health of veterans

and first responders.

She has a big personality, big heart and an intense passion for life.

So when our paths happened to cross, I knew we needed to talk.

This is the Lex Friedman Podcast, to support it please check out our sponsors in the description.

And now here’s my conversation with Kelsey Sharon.

You mentioned that studying history had a big impact on you and that your grandfather

was a World War II vet.

So people that have gone through World War II, in my family too, they don’t seem to talk

about it much.

Like the worse the tragedy, the less they talk about it.

I mean it’s understandable, I can respect that, but I don’t think people fully understood

the value in human stories over time and sharing that, that certain civilizations don’t have

written language.

The value in that being passed down is extraordinary, but we didn’t really have that with the World

War II vets it seems like.

Well, they kind of want to protect you from the pain.

My grandmother went through Holland and Moore, which is the Ukrainian starvation of millions

of people, and then obviously went through World War II with the Nazi occupation.

And same on the grandfather’s side who, on my dad’s side, grandfather fought in World

War II.

So they seem to not want to talk about those experiences to protect you from the suffering,

to protect you from the evil that they’ve experienced, which is sad because the lessons

from that history are not then propagated through you.

And also there’s something about the strength you carry with you knowing that that’s in

your blood.

Those great heroes are in your blood and that’s suffering, overcoming that suffering is in

your blood.

I would argue that’s exactly correct.

If you have someone you know that comes from your lineage that has done something super

gnarly, that’s just been a badass and in so many different ways, you want to know about

that person.

You have that person’s blood in you.

That’s important to acknowledge and when that isn’t shared, I feel like it’s just a detriment

to that individual.

What do you make of World War II?

In terms of history, do you think about those kinds of wars where two times more civilians

died than the number of military personnel?

So most of the war is basically just the death of civilians and the invasion of homes, the

burning of homes, the bombing of homes, all of that.

World War II for me, I find that was the first experience where I became just obsessed with


World War II really did it for me.

I’m not sure if it’s because of the dramatization of film and TV and the way that our generation

has looked at it, but for me, it was more than that.

I felt a deep connection to it and I still can’t figure out why, like a pull almost.

People joke around about those past lives and those things or those connections and

there’s something deeper within me that feels a pull towards that and I’m not quite sure

if it’s because I had family that escaped Hungary once the Soviets came in, so thanks

for that, or if it was because my grandfather served in it or for whatever reason, I have

this pull to it.

And so when you think about the mass casualty of the civilian population, that’s very difficult

for me to wrap my brain around after being in a war and seeing when you have a small

subset of civilians die, how much of an impact that has on that community right there in

just a tiny area.

So to try to wrap my brain around what happened in Europe and all across and all of that,

I really struggle with that because I don’t know that I can comprehend what that would

truly mean to somebody if I didn’t experience it or see it for what it is.

Does that make sense?


So first of all, you’re right, a lot of people are drawn to World War II for different reasons.

The one is Hitler and Stalin trying to understand how it’s possible to have that scale of evil

in very different flavors of evil.

It’s almost fascinating that human nature can allow for that.

And then also it’s fascinating that so many people can follow leaders like that with a

pride and with a love of country.

And that’s like, it’s almost like this weird experiment, it’s like, wow, I wonder if I’m

made from the same cloth as those people.

Like would I be a good German if I lived in Germany and was, you know, during the time

of Hitler?

Would I believe that Germany has been done wrong, I’m Jewish by the way, which makes

me a little bit more comfortable talking about this, is would I believe in the dream sold

by a charismatic dictator who says that wrongs have been done and we need to correct those


That to me, this is the compelling thing that draws me to World War II, the human nature


I would agree with you on that.

I think there’s a way to look at people like that.

And at that time there was no real, well, there wasn’t a full understanding of the psyche

the way that we’re starting to, I mean, we still don’t understand any of it, but it seems

like the time gap back then, there was no real understanding of sociopaths and narcissists

and psychopaths and really what those traits were.

And I feel like people will follow blindly if they’re given a good enough reason.

Well, if you have an individual who is ranting and screaming at the top of his lungs in the

middle of these town squares and he’s getting this attention, it’s human nature to want

to understand and be a part of a group mentality.

It’s human nature to want to fit in.

And so I don’t know if it’s more of people were at the beginning were just, this is the

cool thing to do.

Or if it was, they were genuinely terrified.

Or if there was an aspect that was like, this guy is saying something that resonates with


There could be a lot of different things.

I think it’s unfortunate that we didn’t get to, or no one got to really examine this individual’s

brain and this person and why they thought the way they thought.

Because that’s always been the biggest thing for me is I’m really curious about why people

do what they do, like deeply, deeply curious about it.

I’m not sure who’s more interesting, the people that follow Hitler or Hitler himself.

So I mean, the question that’s coupled with that is, would history roll out in similar

ways even if there wasn’t a Hitler?

It’s the people that created Hitler or did Hitler create the events of World War II?

I think the people would be more interesting in my opinion.

That seems to be the, that the charismatic leaders are all out there.

The failed artists in the case of Hitler, they’re all out there and it’s just when there’s

this environment of anger and fear, charismatic leaders can take over and it doesn’t matter

if they’re evil or good.

It’s like a roll of the dice in terms of history, how evil, how truly insane they are.

I think Stalin was much more cold in calculating.

He wasn’t as insane as Hitler.

Hitler was legitimately insane, like especially later on in the war where he would do irrational

actions I would say.

But that’s like a weird roll of the dice.

You could have gotten a totally different leader.

Wanting to take over the entirety of Europe and then invading Russia, that’s like insanity.

Yeah, just even, just the first part of that wanting to take over Europe, if you really

think about the scale, if you really sit down and go, this one individual was like, I want

all of this.

If you really sat down and you were to sit down and put him in his traits that we know

of into any sort of document nowadays that deems somebody a psychopath or a narcissist,

this guy would set it on fire.

He himself was so, I think so damaged and he reminds me a lot of people now who struggle

to find their way.

He reminds me a lot of angry individuals who are told no, either by women or by business

or by whatever the sector they’re in.

He reminds me very much of that like, what’s the word I’m looking for?

Just that individual who’s just like, the world is shit and the world owes me everything.

It’s that mentality.

He really came from that it seems like.

And when you foster that too long, you get that.

There’s a book called, what is it, Man From Underground by Dostoevsky, I might be misnaming

the book, but it’s about the bitterness of a man.

It breeds within his mind and it just grows, that bitterness.

I mean, we all have that sort of resenting of the world when you’re younger, when you

have a choice.

When you fail, do you blame the world or do you hold, it’s the Jaco thing, do you carry

the responsibility of that and become a better man or woman because of that?

That’s the decision.

And in some sense, I mean, unfortunately, see that’s because he took responsibility

and leadership.

I know you can’t say he wasn’t a leader.

So it’s not that he’s a failure.

He’s not a failure, but you can’t say he’s powerless, did not take action.

I think he’s just basically a embodiment of the anger and the fear of people at the time.

But the insanity of, obviously, many of my relatives, not just murdering them, but putting

them in camps and torturing them, but many of those people, Jewish people, were also

some of the best scientists.

The insanity of murdering some of the best Germans, it makes no sense.

So that’s why it’s fascinating to kind of look back at that time in history and think,

are these the same humans?

And also, are there echoes of that now?

And is that going to happen again?

Is there going to be a World War III in some other kind of way?

Is there going to be some mass scale injustice in some other kind of way, which we’re not

yet, because of our blindness and maybe not learning the lessons of history, will allow

it to happen again?

And then obviously, it’s a very common thing to whatever political leader you don’t like,

to call them Hitler.

Of course.

Which is, that to me, I got to tell you, when somebody calls somebody Hitler, the weight

behind that has been completely lost in this generation.

This generation does not understand what that truly means to call someone Hitler or a Nazi.

Or Stalin.

To be honest, the starvation, I’ve just been talking to a lot of folks recently, especially

like North Korea, with Wyoming Park, starvation.

And I remember from my grandmother, it wasn’t, time and time again, not having food to eat

is the thing that people say is the worst, everything.

It’s way worse than murder, not having food, and the places that takes your mind and the

actions that forces you to do, that’s terrifying.

And all of that seems very distant in our history.

Yeah, I love her.

I watched that interview with her.

She is, I want to talk to that woman so bad, because when she was on Joe and she sat there

and said, Joe’s like, do you, have you done any therapy?

And she laughed.

I was like, oh, that’s my girl.

It’s such a fascinating, I mean, I would love for you to kind of talk to her and explore

her mind, because we kind of explored her story and that’s, there’s power and importance

to her story, but it’s so difficult to understand, like, how does she become healthier and better?

Even more so than she’s already, she’s, she’s recovered quite a bit, you know, she’s found

herself quite a bit, but I wonder, is she haunted?

You’re saying questions I want to ask.

Like, that’s what I mean, because after being in a war, there are certain things, there

are certain atrocities that you see that, it doesn’t matter the therapy that you do.

And I don’t care what all the special ops guys say, like, I know plenty of them that

have a light switch and they turn it off and they can function, but I also know them when

they’ve been out for 10 years.

There’s things that haunt people differently, but there’s no way, there’s not something

going on there deeply.

Yeah, but there’s also extra levels of complexity in her case because, I mean, this is what,

just looking at history about family, is she spent much of her early life loving the dictator,



We like the water or something.


We like water or we like this because there is no, like, individual, like, when they said

there was no love or anything.

But there is a love for the…

Just that individual.

For that individual.

And so, I mean, it’s like the ultimate abusive relationship.

Oh, yeah.

But it’s still love, like you don’t know the alternative.

So it’s not even, it’s complicated because, like, I wonder if she truly explored it what

you would find because the trauma, much of her trauma, I think comes from when she was

escaping North Korea, treatment by China.

It’s like the…

And her mom and what she had to witness within that and being helpless with that on her own.

So it’s like evil men essentially abusing her, trading her, you know, and doing so nonchalantly,

like it’s part of just the way of life that I wonder if she sees kind of, yeah, it’s so

complicated because childhood…

It would be normal to her because she didn’t know any different.


Like there’s…

Like I grew up poor, but I never sensed that.

Because your parents didn’t make you.

Well, and everyone else around was too.


And so you don’t notice it.

I mean, it’s a cultural thing.

So the way you grow up, you only start to notice it when you compare yourself to others,

when you learn of the alternative.

That’s the dark reality when you’re abused.

You truly begin to suffer in some kind of way when you understand that you were being


That’s a dark kind of thought that I wonder if you live your whole life just in that abuse,

if you don’t know better, that that’s a safer…

That’s like, what’s a better life, suffering and then learning that you were suffering

or just suffering until your last days.

There’s two ways to look at this.

I’d argue on one side that suffering and suffering until you die, you know no different.

So you can’t have hope.

You can’t have this idea that there’s better.

And sometimes that’s…

Keep that in its box.

But then if you have kind of what you have with Park where she knows now that there’s

different, she knows that there’s better, then you run into those.

What is the damage that has been done?

What is going to be passed on as intergenerational trauma?

I know she’s a mom.

So it’s like, now you got to look long term a little bit because now she’s an influence

on a child.

And there’s a positive to looking at both, I would say.

And I know that sounds horrible for the living in trauma your whole life and just not knowing

any better.

But there’s…

I don’t know if that saves the brain and the body and just that overall or if it actually

would be better because there’s no way to really find that out.

I don’t think.

Yeah, I think.

But the reality is when you give people hope and you make them realize that they’re suffering,

you’re putting a burden on them.

That’s the first step on a long journey.

And so, and obviously now that she knows that the suffering she wants to make people in

North Korea currently suffer less.

And that’s an admirable goal.

It’s what we do to each other is try to like, when you see suffering in the world, you try

to make it better and unmask that’s probably in a long arc of history going to make for

a better world.

I’m hopeful at that idea for North Korea.

I’m hopeful for that because you never want to leave individuals suffering when you know

that they’re actively suffering while you’re just living your day to day life in the Western

world just out grocery shopping and you see all this food and you know in the back of

your mind…

Like that interview fucked me up a little bit, I won’t lie.

And I had some of the girls in my office listen to it, they’re just bawling.

Because we’re all parents and there’s this idea that not being able to feed our children,

just the idea of that damages the psyche.

It brings up the pain in the chest, just the idea of it.

And so going to the grocery store for about a week after that, I just remember standing

there looking and just going, fuck are we doing?

But then there’s that snap reality that comes into play and goes, so how do we fix that?

You got to take on China, that’s never going to happen.

And the reason that’s not going to happen, it’s happening again.

So Akhani comes down through Afghanistan, Chinese are all through Afghanistan, Iran

makes the deal with China for the roadway to get the oil, well that’s done in the blink

of an eye without anyone knowing.

There’s no way.

There’s just so much at play with China, they control such a large aspect of our world,

unfortunately that to take and free North Korea, a drastic action would have to happen.

And then your people would come in, it would be a mess.

What do you mean your people?

Your Russians.

Did you hear what she said about Russians?

Did you hear what she says?


I love Russians.

You know what I didn’t love?

The Russian recruiting video that came out, that shit was terrifying.

Did you watch it?


I told you about it and of course you didn’t watch it.

I didn’t watch it, I’m sorry.

The USA put out a recruiting video and then like a day or two later Russia put one out.

And the recruiting video in the States was an animation of a female soldier with two

moms and she was going to go change the world, right?

Russia came out with one.

It’s like, it’s the character from like Rocky essentially and they’re guys in the mud and

just in the rain just fucking doing pushups, just pushing it out.

They’re just like, they see their boot, they’re just like crushing things and I’m like, and

it’s all like, and the deep Russian voice, I’m like, oh my God.

Which one is better would you say?

Which bothered you more?

What do you mean by bother, specify.

So deception is a funny thing because when you’re young and you’re choosing to go to

the military or not, it’s not like you know, like none of us know what the best trajectory

for a life is.

For many people going to the military is a really, makes them incredible human beings.

Some of the best people in this world I know are soldiers.

So it’s, I’m not, I don’t mean like it’s somehow bad to go to the military.

I think it’s a great choice, but there is something, the honest truth is I just don’t

like marketing people.

And so this is essentially a marketing effort.

Yeah, it is a marketing effort.

So which one do you like as a marketing effort better?


Oh, yeah, I do.

There you go.

I do.

Cause Canada doesn’t, you know what our recruiting videos are?

It’s like, I love it.

They’re the best.

Sorry, eh?


Oh, fuck.

Here we go.

It’s starting.

It started.


So Canada does these ones where it’s like, it’ll have a bunch of like soldiers doing

movements and then they’ll like snip it together really quick.

It’ll be like a Navy one and a guy jumping out of a plane and then it’ll be like an artillery

and then like an armored and it’d be like, join the Canadian forces today.

And like, that’s like their, their videos.

So it’s like very marketable, very palatable to Canadians who don’t really want war and

who don’t really acknowledge their military in the first place and do everything they

can to make sure that vets don’t get any support when they come home.

So they, I can see why that one is acceptable.

What Russia did was meant to be more of an intimidation tactic in my opinion.

I like that style better though.

I think we need harder, I think we need people to be harder.

I think it’s acceptable and okay to say that our soldiers need to have a harder mindset,

a stronger mindset, a better mentality and mental health support going into the service

and a harder body because I know when you go to the US, I’ve also encountered plenty

of soldiers that are 600 pounds.

What are you going to do?

So we should say that you, when you joined the military, you were in incredible shape

or not maybe incredible, but very good shape.

No, I was in incredible shape.

It was the best shape of my life.



I’m okay with that.

It’s okay.

I, you know what?

I used to do sit ups.

Like no, I would do sit ups in the morning when I was little until I could see my six.

Like I always had a six pack because all I did was train.

But like if I couldn’t like see it, I would just sit there in morning cartoons and just

do sit ups.

And my mom and dad thought that was like normal acceptable behavior.

So if you had like Instagram back then, you’d be a David Goggins, you would be just like


Without the cursing.

That cursing started once the military started.


Got it.

So I mean, the people should know, is it probably already know that you also competed in Taekwondo,

like you were an athlete of all kinds.

They even saw rugby in there.


I was, I was, I was good at rugby.

I played that for seven, six years, I guess you could say total.

I think the worst injury I ever ended up having was I tore my right eyelid off.

We were doing an exhibition game.

I don’t do exhibition games well.

I don’t do like for fun well.

I don’t do like.

So you’re very competitive.

No, not me.

So you’re being funny.

Ah, there it is.

He gets it.

You see, he’s not, he’s not a robot.

What I was saying though to you was that we did an exhibition game and the team ahead

was winning.

The team we were playing was winning, which was annoying.

And so there was an opportunity to take out a girl that was going one end of the field

to the other and she just kept hitting tries left, right and center.

She was fast.

So I figured if I just aimed her up, like she’s a target and I just run full force at

her because she was really, she was a tall individual, but I just, if I do that, I’ll

take her out of the knees.

So I did that.

But that, what that resulted in was she put her tooth through her mouth guard and knocked

out and didn’t just, she just stayed there.

But when I stood up, I tore the right eyelid off and it was hanging from the inner corner.


My mom was there cause mom was my mom’s, my biggest fan and she’s supportive of everything

and she didn’t miss a game.

She didn’t miss an anything.

And um, I stood up and I kind of turned around and we already had a girl break her nose that


So she was on the sideline with her nose sideways and just bloody.

My mom was like, I’ll take her to the emergency after once the game’s over.

And so I turned around and looked at her and she just, she almost vomited on the spot and

I was like, what’s wrong?

She’s like, don’t move your eyelids off.

I’m like, but I can see like I was trying to blink, but like it was just down so I could

just constantly see.

She’s like, we’re just, we’re just going to go to the emergency.

We’re just going to go there now.

Was there blood?


There’s lots of it, but I couldn’t really tell.


Were you okay with blood at that point?


I mean, I guess you did taekwondo and all that.


I didn’t get knocked out very often.

Like when I was younger in taekwondo, I was really good.

I only lost a handful of times.

So when I did lose, that was bad.

But I never had like a broken nose or a lot of blood on my face, like nothing like that


So nothing freaked me out too much.

Was there aggression there or just purely competition over skill?

A mix of both.

I was, this was right after, not too long after my coach went to prison for statutory

rape and that was like how you talk about Park talking about how that was like she knew

love because of that person.

That person was like a God to me.

And so when that happened, I was just an angry individual from that point on.

So there was competition and aggression mixed in there.

Oh, like it was betrayal that there’s just somebody that is, was a symbol of love for

you, could also be a very bad person.

I used to eat, sleep, and breathe whatever that man said from four years old on.

I lived with my coaches at a point so I could train that much.

I helped look after their daughter.

I was at the club 24 seven.

It just the idea that somebody could do something like that, yeah, that really messed me up.

Where were you on 9 11?

I was 11 and I was in my parents basement.

In where?


Ontario, Canada.

What did you think of 9 11 at that age from Canada that have an impact on you in terms

of changing the level of evil you thought is there in the world today?

Not initially.

I remember it really vividly.

I have a decent memory for certain things.

It seems like stuff like that I stick with really well.

I remember watching it.

I was sitting on the couch and my mom called my dad because my parents are truck drivers.

My dad was on the road, if I’m not mistaken, and he would go in and out of cities all the


I think he was on the East Coast.

My mom was a little panicky.

She tried to get a hold of him.

I think at the time it was beepers and yeah, so he would get a beep, he would go to a payphone

and call us.

He was fine.

I remember my mom being really upset and I couldn’t quite grasp why she was so upset.

I knew something really bad had happened.

It’s when I then saw the second plane go into the tower and I remember her just like the

stereotypical like hand over her mouth and she just felt sick and she just was so confused

and I knew it was bad, but I didn’t fully grasp it.

We went to school that day and they had talked about it briefly.

You could hear the teachers kind of reminiscing about it.

There was a point that week that all of a sudden all of the children who were from a

Middle Eastern family were not at school.

I just remember them saying like a lot of people aren’t coming to school, but it was

in particular.

I think parents were afraid once it got out that it was of a certain group.

They were afraid for their own kids and fair enough, I mean, you never know.

You don’t know and I knew it impacted me enough that I did write.

I remember the school was doing a memorial for it and I remember they asked, I wrote

a poem and a reporter was there and I read it on air.

I remember it was a very short one, but I remember I wanted to do something, but I didn’t

know why or for what reason.

I knew I wanted to do something to honor it, but I couldn’t grasp why.

You eventually went to Afghanistan.

Did that begin to plant the seed of thinking about conflict in the world?

It’s a good question.

I never thought about it that in depth.

I mean, I’ve done 12 years of therapy.

You think that would have come up, Dr. Passi, but apparently not.

We’ll work on it though.

I mean, when did the idea of war start entering your mind?

Late high school, I think it was for me.

I finished high school at 17.

I moved away and went to college, I went to Algonquin College because I wasn’t smart enough

to get into Ottawa U. I was like, well, Algonquin, cheers.

I just wanted to play sports and frankly, I wanted away from my small town that I was

living in.

I went through a bad high school breakup as a kid and you know that where you think that’s

like the love of your life and you just can’t bear to be anywhere near anybody.

I moved away as fast as I possibly could.

I didn’t grasp it still at that point.

Love and heartbreak.


Why did you become a soldier?

Why did you want to become a soldier?

My parents told me from an early age, they always figured I would either be a cop.

I would do, they didn’t think military, but they thought it would be like a type A personality,

possibly carry a gun situation and I’d never hunted before.

We never had guns in our house.

I was never exposed to weapons of any kind.

If anything, it was the opposite.

All the hunters on the property, like all the deer would come to our property and all

the hunters would be, no, I’m not, my mom would put salt licks out so that they wouldn’t

get killed.

Your property was the safe space for the deer.


It was 17 acres of forest and they just, we had two turkeys that used to walk up and down

the driveway every day.

We had bears in there and nobody bothered them.

And so there was no aspect of like, I want to go kill shit, that was not like a thing.

I had no idea I wanted to take anybody off the face of the earth or any thing.

I went to school and because I’m a history person, my parents has always made it really

important that Remembrance Day is the thing in our life.

So that’s Veterans Day for you.

So it’s November 11th and it’s, you go, you honor.

I don’t care if you don’t want to go, I don’t care if it’s raining, you go.

And so I went to the Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa that year, which was, it’s our capital,

which is, yeah, it’s our capital and it’s really small.

And so I went, but I took the bus and I was on the bus back to Algonquin.

And I met a lady who was like a World War II vet, really old lady, she had an Air Force

uniform on and just like this row of medals.

And I mean, I think you can tell by our limited to extreme interactions we’ve had over the

short period of time, I’m curious and I’ll just ask you.

And so I just got up and talked to her and just started talking to her.

And she didn’t say like, I don’t remember exactly her words, but she served, she was

one of the first females to fly and all of these kinds of things that stuck in my head.

And we just kind of kept talking and I missed my stop.

And then I finished talking to her and I got back on the bus and went back to the college

and walked into my small apartment where I had two roommates, these two guys I went to

high school with, one of them I went to high school with, one was from out of town.

And I just didn’t like what I was, I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do.

And I didn’t know what I wanted to do truthfully.

Something just said, why don’t you join the army?

Like in myself, my self talk was like, let’s just join the military, let’s do it.

Are you in general somebody that just follows the gut, like when your heart tells you something,

you go with it?

For the most part, because I figured out, at least now I figured out what parts I could,

like what feeling I can trust and which one I can’t.

Which one’s anxiety versus which one’s my actual intuition talking.

So why did you sign up to be an artillery gunner?

Because they wouldn’t let me be infantry.

I mean, why would you want to be infantry?

I mean, you’re naming a lot of dangerous activities.

Yeah, but that wasn’t a thought in my mind at the time.

My idea was if I was going to do this and I was going to put myself through the bullshit

and the training and all of the hell and the pushups and the screaming dad, I wanted to

do something that I know was actually going to be affecting something.

And what I knew was making change or affecting or on the front lines was infantry, artillery

or armored.

So I was like, one of those.

Can you explain the difference, infantry, artillery and armored?

Do you want like the layman’s term or do you want me to actually explain, explain?

Well, listening to your conversation with Jaco, especially, I love how you get into


Okay, so let’s detail this then.


So infantry is your frontline door kicking, you know, blasting the door open, running

and get the fuck on the ground, just that, that, that, that, that.

They’re the guys that, you know, double tap you in the face and they show up in the middle

of the night and put a barrel in your head.

Like those are the guys that are sleeping in the trenches, that are eating MREs, who

are being shot at, who are being blown up, who are doing the dirty work and not sleeping

and carrying the a hundred pound pack and, and are side by side with your buddies in

the trenches.

I wanted that.


They said it was too small for that.

So then…

You were, sorry to interrupt, you were too small under a hundred pounds?

At the time I was about 103 and I’m, I’m five foot, like on a, if you roll my back out,

like I really try, I’m five foot.

At the time though, I think my, my license said 411, so.

So you were too small for infantry.


They just, like, there was no mandate at which they said you can’t be, but they said, you

know, we don’t want to put you through training that you’re going to fail out of and then

have to recourse you and then find a new job for you.

And they want to try to, this is what you’re going in for.

They want to have you follow through that path.

So then there was armored, which are your tanks.

So that’s your movie like Fury where your tank battles and, which we don’t really do

anymore, but you’re rolling around in tanks, you’ve got guys in the back or you’re a driver,

you’re a turret gunner, which I would have enjoyed, but the idea of being in a closed

metal box, something about it made me panic.

So I was like, maybe not for me.

There’s of course power to that kind of a big gun.

Well, that’s why I went for the bigger one.


By the way, think of Russia leads the world in number of tanks.

We’re still, it’s very like, what is it, alpha demonstration of like, look, we have largest

number of tanks.

You know what takes tanks out though?


Some gasoline, some old batteries and a wire.

Yeah, but tanks still look badass.

They look great, but they don’t last.

But so much of the military, like we said with the recruiting videos, it’s a display

of power versus the actual implementation of power.




So I’m doing my best here.

I don’t know what double tap means, which you said earlier, it means two shots to the


Why two?

To be sure.


All right.

You guys, taxpayers pay for the ammo.

It’s fine.

So, but you don’t want to do three because that’s wasting the ammo.

Well, that’s now that’s a waste.


Double tap to the face.

There’s so much awesome terminology here or gruesome terminology, depending on your



So artillery.


So that’s the hand of God.


No, that’s intensely a romanticized version, but okay, artillery, the hand of God.

So it will reach out and touch you from wherever we want.

It’s like F18 pilots or bombers.

You won’t know they’re there until they’re there.

And so for artillery, I really honestly didn’t think artillery would be a fit for me.

I didn’t know much about it.

They were just like, these are what you can pick from.

And I was like, I’ll go here.

So in World War II, they used much closer artillery.

So we’re called the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery because the Queen made us Royal Canadian Artillery.

And we shoot these rounds.

When you’re in training, you shoot smaller, smaller ammunition.

They’re about 40 pounds.

They go, I’m going to get this wrong, 20 K, 20 kilometers.

So whatever that is in your mile things.

And they have a casing on them and they’re much easier.

They’re easier to handle.

The guns are smaller.

You need less people for them.

They’re basically what you train on nowadays.

It’s not what we use overseas.

What we use overseas, now those things are beautiful.

Those are just a sheer work of the engineering behind them just makes my heart skip a beat.

Yeah, the engineering on modern guns is amazing.

So are we talking about machine guns here?

So fully automatic?

No, you’re talking about an artillery gun.

So what it is, it’s a 155 millimeter howitzer that shoots up to up to 40 kilometers accurately,

45 unrecorded and it shoots a hundred pound round.

Oh, okay.

So that, but there is still precision.

Accurate as hell.



Accurate if the people behind it that are shooting it and aiming it are accurate.


So how, at which stage of the warfare do they come in?

Are they saving you?

Like say a bunch of people get raided, a bunch of the sole infantry get raided and then the

artillery saves them or are they the first line of attack or what are they, where does

the artillery go?

Like the hand of God presumes they’re helping.


That’s, well, that’s it.

So depending on the operation or whomever is running it or how they want it done, sometimes

if they just know there’s targets, they’ll use us, you know, high value targets.

So we have this round, it’s called the Excalibur round.

It costs about half a million dollars per round.

It comes in a special tube that is like sealed and locked and you have to get permission

from Ottawa to shoot it and it’s only used for VIP targets.

So like we have VIP for everyone and it will, it’s GPS guided, it’s rocket propelled and

when you fire it, it will, if this is a wall and somebody’s standing on this side of it,

we’ll hit you right there.

We won’t touch that wall, it will hit you pinpoint.

It’ll go right through whatever concrete, whatever and it will destroy.

So it’s basically the same thing as being a sniper, but with a much more damaging weapon.

We don’t use that round often.

I think it’s only been used a handful of times max in Afghanistan that I’m aware of.

Again, I haven’t, I wasn’t there from 2009 until 21, but I, I know people that still

deployed in that, in those units and I don’t know that it was used very often, but the

regular rounds, so there’s HE, there’s loom, so HE is high explosive, there’s loom.

You shoot that, it explodes in the sky, it lights up the sky for the infantry below and

then there’s shrapnel rounds that will explode in the sky and then shrapnel just rains down

hell on you.

HE is what you use normally in my, I’m trying to say this right because I know people squawked

at me about some of the stuff on Jocko, so I’m trying to be very accurate.

In my experience, we used HE rounds to wipe people off the face of the earth when the

infantry needed us.

So we would get a call at any time and there’s always two guns together.

So you never, you never go solo gun ever.

If you are, it’s, there’s, it’s sketchy and there’s bad shits happening.

Can you explain that?

So there’s two gun, two people, two guns?

No, two guns with each gun troop.

So each gun troop has five to seven people running a gun at all times.

Oh wow.

It takes a lot of people to run one of those.

How much electronics is there?

The GPS, like the computer system that’s on it itself, I never ran that much, but it is

completely technologically, it’s GPS guided.

All you have to do is literally type in the coordinates.

Then you’ve got the two big, um, there’s a, there’s a technical word, word for it, but

basically wheels and one does the trajectory, you know, you do your, and you’re just kind

of doing this and you’re watching the watch in it.

And once you hit your target, that’s, you know, it’ll tell you that’s where you need

to hit.

Do you know if there’s any like AI stuff like computer vision, like where there’s cameras

and they help you target using like all different kinds of cameras to see through like the fog,

all those kinds of things.

We use, um, the FOO, which are Forward Observation Officers, which are an artillery individual

that is embedded with an infantry unit.

Oh wow.


They call from the front, give us their grid coordinates and basically say like, don’t

drop this on us.

Got it.

So, well, you know what not to shoot, which parts not to shoot.


And then.

As long as no one moves.

Don’t move.

Stay still.

But you can hear it coming, but you can’t hear it until it’s too close.

So like when I went, sorry, go ahead, you were going to say something.

No, I was going to say, what’s the experience on the other, like, what does it feel like

to be maybe infantry or underneath it, underneath the artillery?

Well, I, I had the rare opportunity to do that and I have a video I’ll show you after.

It’s terrifying because I know the people that are shooting it and I know them personally

and I know what they’re like as humans and for the most part they’re dialed.

Well, you get the odd duck where you’re like, I’ve seen people have an ND, which is a negligent


You basically get charged for it.

You get in a lot of trouble because you can blow people up and it like accidents happen.

And so I know accidents can happen in stressful situations.

And when I was with the Brits, we had to call danger, close artillery.

And when it goes over top of you, it sounds like thunder and lightning.

So you fire it and it’s not the stereotype that you hear in World War II where it kind

of like that, it’s more of like a crackle.

And then you just hear like a whiz and it shit just goes everywhere.

It’s loud.

It shakes the ground.

It shakes you.

It, you feel it.


Is there some more words you can put to like the experience of what it’s like to be in

the heat of, of, of battle there?

So what is, is there literally, is it hot?

Is it

like being under it or shooting it?

Under it.

Oh yeah.

It, 55 degree heat.

You’re, you know that you’re waiting for it to be called.

You feel an overwhelming excitement to start because for me, I’d never been under it.

So I was like, okay, I had my camera ready.

Like I was a kid at a candy store and I’m like, I want to watch this happen.

And once you hear the crackle, I got really fearful.

My anxiety kicked up significantly.

I got to the point where I got numb.

Like I was, my nerves were on overdrive so much that like my body would go like numb.

Like I couldn’t move, but like my nerves were numb.

If that makes sense.

What, what were the nerves like and we’re talking about fear or is it just anxious excitement?

Anxious excitement, hopeful that they wouldn’t blow it up on us.

And there was this, there was this excitement that’s hard to describe because you don’t

want to be excited that you’re dropping bombs on people.

But when you just saw their faces and they’re shooting at you, there’s this overwhelming

feeling of got you motherfucker.


Well, we’ll talk about that because that’s such a difficult thing about wars.

You forget that it’s other human beings because those other human beings are doing really

bad things to you.

And so the very basic anger takes over, hate can take over.

And then also just the excitement of almost like video game like, you know, aspect of

war, like sport, it’s like sport that all of those elements are all baked in and it’s

hard to be philosophical in that situation it seems like.

I’ve never played video games so I can’t compare it to that.

But like from, from like a sports perspective, yeah, I could, I could argue that.

Like I felt like we won there for a second and it’s, it’s not just like a heat from outside.

It’s like this radiation within you that is something I’ve never felt since.

You just to take a small step back to the weapons training, what, what kind of guns

did you train on?

Because you also mentioned a rocket launcher.

I love Carl Grossoff’s.

What are those?

Carl G.

Carl G’s?

What’s that?

What’s it like, my only experience with the rocket launchers is from the movie Commando

with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Oh yeah.

And we’ve all discussed.

I haven’t seen that yet.

And I’ve heard about it and people have made me tell.

Yeah, I know.

I feel like you haven’t seen a single movie that’s relevant to war military because every

time anyone brings it up, you say you haven’t seen it.

I don’t have time to watch movies, Lex.


You haven’t seen Platoon, which is, you’re the scientist.

How do you have the time?

I’m not a scientist.

I just play one on TV.



So what, can you talk about the rocket launcher and maybe any other, for both engineering

actually, to me, those guns are very interesting from an engineering perspective too.

Well, they should be.

They’re fascinating when you take them apart and you see how small the parts get down to

and how necessary every single little piece is to make that thing run.

And even without the tiniest little BB smaller than a piece on there, an artillery gun might

not run.

So we were trained on Carl G’s, I think called M72s, which are disposable rocket launchers.

I’ll back up.

Carl G’s are around, I don’t know the exact millimeter of the round.

It’s been a while since I shot them.

We only did those in training.

But essentially it takes, most people, one person can fire it, effectively hold it and

fire it.

It takes another person to load it.

So you put it onto your shoulder and it weighs, I would, I don’t know, 30 pounds, 40 pounds.

Oh, wow.

Can’t remember.

It’s been a minute.

But one person can carry it.

Oh, yeah.


I don’t know.

It just seems like a rocket launcher is a pretty intense kind of device that just.

It for sure is.

I mean, it’s the diameter, I can’t even tell you the diameter, they’re about that big.

I mean.

And it goes on your shoulder.

It goes on your shoulder and then it has a little sight that pops out.

That’s almost like plastic like, which is kind of funny because it reminds me of like

the little green army men.

I just felt so flimsy to me.

I was like, this is hilarious.

And then another person stands behind you and opens the hatch.

And so there’s this, there’s these two levers and you just kind of open it.

And then the back end, which is flared, so it’s just a tube and then it’s flared.

That will open it and drop down and you load a round into that and then you load it back


Got it.

And you’re never supposed to stand behind it because the blast behind it will kill you.

It’s yeah.

But in my case, when I fired it, it was me and another individual, I want to say it wasn’t

Sarah Pellegrin, but it was another girl that was smaller.

And the person is supposed to wrap around your waist and tuck low and hold your stability.

And we were just aiming at tanks that day and they were just concrete heads.

So they would just either, they would hit and bounce off or whatever.

And so when my sergeant saw that, he just kind of looked at both of us and was like,

no, I’m just going to.

And he got real low and just like wrapped both of us and then we’d fire it.

And it feels like you’re getting punched in the side of the head on repeat by Jocko.

You lose all your hearing, like just, snot comes out of your nose and you’re just kind

of discombobulated for a minute.

It’s a real mind fuck.

Is there any other kind of guns that at that time, because you were new to this, you haven’t

shot guns when you were younger that were really impressive to you in the training process?

All of them, because I’ve never fired a weapon.

So we had the C7s, which are like your M16s, I believe, the long barrel.

The cute thing about those is when I have that slung, my barrel drags on the ground.

So that’s fun.

And they shoot your 7.62 or your 5.56 round.

I loved that.

I preferred the C8, which was a short barrel, which is what the SF guys use.

Not because it’s cooler looking, which it obviously is, but because it was functional

for my body height and it didn’t drag on the ground when I ran.

I loved those.

They’re your personal weapon.

Being an artillery gunner, if you’re not an officer, at least in our unit, you didn’t

get a side piece.

I didn’t have a slide piece, Lex.

So I never had a handgun of any type.

I fired those in training.

You can’t get over that side piece comment.

Look at you.

I was going to say, I know what a side piece is.

You don’t have to explain to me.

But you’re single.

So how do you even have a side piece if you don’t have a main piece?

The joke would be the fact that we have a total misunderstanding what side piece is.

Okay, great.

So you didn’t have a side piece as a non officer.


So I never fired those much.

We did grenades in training.

Oh, cool.

Yeah, grenades are fun.

I love grenades.

I have a massive one tattooed on me.

I have them all over my office.

How does a grenade work?

There’s the spoon and the pin.

So this the pin holds the spoon in place when you pull that pin, the firing mechanism inside

as long as that the spoon is up against it, it won’t fire as soon as that spoon goes.

I believe it causes a reaction on the inside.

And you’ve got about five seconds to check it.

You’d be better to ask that question too.

I don’t mean to get philosophical on this.

No, you’re not.

There’s something about a grenade, because you’re essentially committing suicide.

Unless you get rid of the thing.

There’s something like

or if you’re unlucky, and it just goes off when you pull the pin, which has happened

to tons of people.

So it just feels like a very kind of leap.

It’s a dangerous leap into the abyss every time you use the thing.

Because when you shoot a gun, like the gun is much less likely to malfunction in terms

of like all the possible ways to go wrong.

It just seems like grenade is like

primitive almost.

Yeah, it’s primitive.

It’s also real, like in a way that like a bar fight is like being punched in the face

is real.

It’s like you’re here with a weapon of destruction.

It’s just you and the thing.

Yeah, you have to get rid of it.

I don’t know.

Is that is that terrifying to you?

Like do people still use grenades in warfare?

Oh, yeah.


Yeah, those are fantastic.

The Taliban were throwing them over the wall at the airport in Kabul.

People use them all the time because when you’re in Afghanistan, if you’re in a rural

area, you’re going from village to village and they’re, they’re, you know, they’re mud

hot walls, like they’re tall, but you’re walking through corridors and stuff, all you got to

lob one of those is going to take the whole unit out that just walked by like it’s, they’re

accurate if you’re close enough and they’re effective if you’re close enough.

I love them though.

I think they’re fascinating to me because they’re such a tiny little thing with such


Yeah, they just can cause such devastation.

But for me, when I had them, the some of the Canadians would make fun of me because when

I did go outside the wire with the British, I had two right here.

And I remember I put a piece of tape over the spoons because in my mind, I could picture

myself searching someone and grabbing me and pulling that and that would be me that that

would have been like, yep, that if anyone that was going to happen to was her for sure.

So you were deployed to Afghanistan in 2009, okay.

And like we said, you were in great, no, perfect physical shape.

Fucking epic shape.

Epic shape, six pack or, I mean, yeah, okay.

So you could do pull up, a lot of pull ups and push ups and yeah, okay.

And well trained, would you say, were you already what like, no, no, no, I’ll argue

that point till I’m blue in the face.

I spoke to recently, I actually spoke to my sergeant.

He’s not a sergeant anymore.

But Sergeant Mark LeBlanc, he’s in Africa right now on a deployment.

He gave me a call the other day.

And I remember talking to him about this.

And it’s frustrating because we were at an active war.

We were sorry, we were involved in an active war where we the units that I were in were

tagged red, which meant they needed people.

So when you need people, things go quick, whether or not that’s right.

I mean, you could argue that’s the similar thing to what’s happening in the world right


We needed a vaccine.

We got a vaccine.

Is it the best it could be?

Could it be better?

Could it do more things?

Sure, probably.

But with the time that we had, we did the best that we could.

That’s my logic on that.

For me, I joined the military in November of 2007.

I was in basic training in January of 2008.

I was graduated basic SQ, which is all your weapons training.

Your DP1, which is your trade specific training.

So whatever trade you’re going to go into, whether it’s infantry, armored, artillery,

medic, whatever, that’s your DP1.

It’s called different things in different units.

And then I got posted to my unit in September.

So January to September, I had done all my training.

And I’m an English speaking individual.

I got posted to a French unit that only speaks French and had to learn all of the weapons

systems, everything, again, that I just learned in that short time frame in French.

This part of your story that you’re telling this to Jaco is one way to say it is very

impressive that you had to learn all of this in French.

So there’s also the camaraderie, the social aspect of it, which is difficult, probably.

I didn’t have any.

Yeah, I didn’t have any.

But it also would make you a more effective soldier to be socially, for that cohesion

to be there, right?

But also just understanding the basic terminology.


The right way to say something on the radio, the right way to run a gun, the right way

to, because you got to move with those guns, you got seven people.

It’s really magical.

I’ll send you a video.

When we did some live fire in workup training in Texas before we left, we did a competition

between the other gun to see who could fire 10 rounds faster.

It is truly beautiful to watch an artillery unit fire a gun because it’s like a symphony.

Everyone has their parts and everyone knows and everyone’s yelling, but they know why

they’re yelling and everyone, this guy’s got to do this in order for this guy to load the


It’s just, it’s beautiful.

It really is.

It is gorgeous to watch.

I miss it deeply.

Is there, by the way, for a gun, is there like one person responsible for the, for

the aim and the, or like the specification of the location and somebody else that pulls

it, presses the button?

The lanyard.

Is that the lanyard?

The button.

Is there a button?

It’s better than a button.

You’ll like it.

I’ll tell you in a second.


There’s your Sergeant in charge and then they have their two IC and so the comms come in

to the Sergeant and the Sergeant is the, or your Master Bombardier, Bombardier Chef.




Bombardier Chef?


Bombardier Chef.

Oh, that’s the French.

Master Bombardier.


So it goes like private in the North, like in an infantry or in a regular unit, it’s

like private corporal, Master Corporal Sergeant.

In artillery, it goes Gunner, Bombardier, Master Bombardier, Sergeant and off like that.

So you have two people, but the Sarge is like, you don’t move till he says move.

You don’t fire till he says fire.

Like he’s your guy.

He’ll give you the coordinates.

He’ll feed them to the guy that’s doing the GPS, that portion.

I really never did it much.

I wasn’t tall enough to see it.

Like legitimately the way, how high it is up on the gun.

Like it was, I couldn’t see clearly enough.

It was not good.

So obviously you have a big personality, you’re a strong person.

You don’t say.

And you have a big hat currently.

I always wear a hat, Lex.

It seems like your height and your size was a factor.

Oh, for sure.

How were you able to step up in all those moments and how difficult was it?

I don’t know that I realized it was difficult while I was doing it because that’s just the

way it’s been.

I’ve always been the short person.

That’s life.

Nothing I can do to fix that.

So there was no point.

Am I going to whine about it?

I’m going to break my femurs and insert things to make me grow a little bit.

Maybe, maybe since you’re in robotics, you can figure that out.

That’s your task now.

Make me be five foot three, that’d be great.

For artillery, really what it came down to was the unit when I got there, there was only

a couple of people who spoke any sort of English and my Sergeant was not one of them.

But once he kind of started to get to know me a little bit, the best that he could, he

started to put effort into making sure I could lift the rounds, make sure my capacity to

do my job was there.

And so he took me under his wing in that aspect.

So he would take me to the gym with him and he would show me exercises that would specifically

help me load the round.

So pick the round up from the ground, pick it up like a trick to put your knee under

it, use your legs instead of just pick it up, use your back, pull your back out.

He would work on that.

And then depending on the position I was running the gun in, if I was running the side that

had the charge bags, I’ll explain that in a second, but if I was running the side that

had the charge bags, I could step up onto the gun and if I leaned inward enough with

my right hand with the charge and I kind of kicked off, I could kind of jump and shove

it up the tube.

Almost enough.


If I was running the lanyard, which is the thing that makes it go boom, it’s really easy.

It’s a long rope.

You hook it on and you put your right hand on your hip and on your left and you hold

it there and you just stare at your Sergeant like this and you just wait for him to yell

fire and he points at you when he does it.

And when you do it, you turn your whole body with it.

And when you do that, it alleviates a misfire essentially because if you just pull it sometimes

that’s not enough.

You got to really give it your whole body into it.

And so he would train me on how to do things differently so that I could do them effectively

and I wasn’t a shit pump.

A what?

So shit pump is a term that we use in Canada to call somebody useless.

A shit pump is a useless soldier who is just, you’re there and that’s the shit pump and

so we all just deal with it.

But somehow they’re still there.


What were we talking about?

The lanyard.



We were talking about the artillery guns.

So those things though, what you would find fascinating is just how they break down when

you have to take one of those apart.

I think your mind would really find it fascinating how a breach comes apart all the way down

to like ball bearing size and the only, and there’s a way to just make that gun complete

ineffective and all you have to do when you’re on the charge side, there’s a magazine that’s

a long linear magazine and it holds like 15 little rounds.

If you just take that thing out, that thing’s not firing.

How many people does it take to move that?

Like how easy is it to move that thing?

To move a triple seven?

A triple seven.

I like it.

Well that’s what they’re called.

M triple sevens.

Is a lot of the terminology crossover the same in English and French?


I mean, M triple seven does cause it’s an obvious how it’s, or I’m sure it has a separate

word, but like if you’re running it, you’re running it in French.

So like when I’d be running the, when I’m doing the charge bags and I’m doing, I’m doing,

you know, I’m loading everything and I’m getting that ready and that’s my position that day,

I’m also controlling the breach.

So like how it opens, how it closes when it locks.

And so, but you have to yell that as you do it.

So you’re yelling like, like you have to yell all these things.

You have to learn them though.

And so for a long time, it’s, it’s, it’s, it was a little frustrating.

I won’t lie.

It’s really exciting.

I took a lot of French, but I forgot all of it, but I think it’s a beautiful romantic


It’s a good language.

If it’s from Quebec, it’s a, yeah, that’s true.

It’s a good language to fall in love with.

Not as good as Russian, but I mean, English is, all right.

I mean, Russian, are we really, is that like a love language?

It is to me.

I mean, because you’re Russian, but like if somebody walked up to me, it was like, Hey,

Kelsey, I like you, I’d be like, Oh God, he’s going to put me in a camp.

That’s because you don’t understand love, Kelsey.

I don’t.

We’ll talk about that.


How many people does it take to move the M777?

It depends.

If you’re moving it by ground, you’re moving it on a truck and when you’re moving it on

a truck, you’re hooking the back of it onto, you’re hooking the front of the barrel onto

one of those big transport looking trucks that has those cargo tents that’s got soldiers

in it.

You don’t want to ever move an M777 by that way, if you don’t have to.

The barrel is worth a million dollars.



So this is like a serious piece of equipment.

You don’t want to move them.


When we got to Kandahar, we were there for a couple of days.

We got flown out to the FOB we were going to be at, forward observation base.

Kandahar is the safe space or was the major base in Afghanistan that we were at.

There’s things like Tim Hortons there.

There’s Canada house.

There’s a British side, an American side, a Canadian side, and that’s where you see

all the different countries in the world kind of come together.

You would see Italians, you would see Germans, you would see French, you would see all these

different uniforms and you never know who to salute because you don’t know what each

thing means.

It doesn’t feel like a war zone.


Oh God, no.

There’s a boardwalk.

There’s hockey there, like floor hockey because Canada had to have that.

There’s a Tim Hortons, a Subway, a Pizza Hut, a PX.

I think there’s a restaurant there somewhere, but I didn’t get to go.

Stuff like that.

There’s gyms.

You can run around it.

You feel fairly safe.

You always have a weapon on you, but you can live your life.

When you get out to the FOB, the guns are already there.

Those M777s get lifted by a Chinook.

Normally if they’re going by air, they go by Chinook because they’re heavy as hell.

And Chinooks can hook them under the bottom and they fly them and then they’ll drop them


They have wheels on them, but you don’t need them if you’re going to leave it in place.

Got it.

And you’re getting information about IEDs.

You’re getting a lay of the land as to what’s been going on in the country for the past

six months.

And this, you know nothing, you’re just like, this is your first time you’re getting deployed.

So what was your deployment like?

Can you tell the story of your deployment to Afghanistan?

Like the whole deployment?

Getting like actual deploying, not the deployment itself.

What’s the difference between the two?

Well actually getting ready to deploy is a little different.

So I mean the emotional buildup to it and some of the memorable things that kind of

you remember from that experience, both on the excitement, I get to see battle, I get

to be part of this and the fear and also like being surprised like with the Tim Hortons

and all those kinds of things.

So like the lead up before everything like shit hit the fan, okay cool.


You’re such a fascinating person, but yes, yes.

Something like that.


I’ve been called…

Many things.

Yeah, fascinating.

That start with the letter F.


No, I don’t know.

I don’t know many words with F. Okay, so the buildup to the deployment.

So for the buildup for the deployment, I was in Quebec and my unit was deploying from Quebec.

And at that time you kind of get your marching orders, you know you’re deploying.

I knew I was deploying before I even graduated.

That’s how much they needed people.

So once I did all that training, on graduation parade day, a couple men from Quebec in uniforms

came over and said, you, you, you and you are all being posted back here today and you’re

going to deploy with us in April.

So that’s how I found out I was deploying.

Why was there such a need for troops in Afghanistan?

That was a well known thing that there’s a scaling up of troops.

2007 on, Canada really started taking a combat role.

Before it was very much more a UN type deal where doing what we normally do in most wars

where we just, we wear blue and we don’t shoot anyone.

And so we’re there to help.

And so they were really, they were scaling up and there wasn’t a lot of people in those

trades initially, I think when the war kind of started.

So Canada really started to scale.

And so when I got to Quebec, we’ve kind of found, oh yeah, we’re deploying.

And it was a weird situation because I’ve never actually been at a unit on a non deployable


I don’t know what they do day to day.

That’s different from what I did.

I just know what I did.

So we would do things like in the morning we would get up and we would meet for PT at

5 a.m. and that would include going for a 10k run or playing ball hockey for a few hours

in the gym or lifting weights together or just going on a rock march, a long rock march.

Just stuff like that.

You would have a shower, you would meet and then you would just sit around the regiment.

You would just sit around the regiment and you would, if there was busy work, you’d mop

the floors, you would clean weapons.

There wasn’t a whole lot until there was a whole lot to do.

We did a lot for a while and then we went away on workup training to Texas for a week.

We came down here and we did live fire with our other troop that was gonna be with us.

So Alpha had two guns and two guns has two groups of people and so we all would go down

to Texas and we did live fire here for a week and I ended up getting gastro which was awesome.

So thanks for that.

Oh apparently there was, they were having water problems and sanitary problems so everyone

was getting it on the base.

Okay so it just makes your life way harder.

I didn’t get it towards the end, till towards the end so that was fortunate.

So we would fire live fire, we would go out to the middle of nowhere, the guns would be

there and we would get offloaded truck of rounds and we would do live fire and we would

practice, just constant practice.

What’s that saying?

Perfect practice makes perfect.

Yeah so this is a sensory, like a shooting range for artillery, for long range.

So what does practice look like?

So you roll up in your trucks and you’re, you know, you’ve got each group of people.

You’ve got two trucks and then you’ve got like a medic vehicle and then you’ve got like

an officer vehicle and a comms vehicle and you go to your perspective guns and then you

offload your ammo and then you basically wait for them to send you like a fire mission.

Wow, get that together.

They would call, they would say a mission, so it would be a fire mission.

So we’d wait for that and once we got that then you all run like a bunch of scattered

rats to the gun like it’s like the greatest thing you’ve ever seen and then you just wait,

you wait for the call for the sergeants to say and then you’ll hear it because it’s not


You can hear it on a speaker and it’d be like, I’m not going to do it in French, don’t ask.

It’d be like so and so, 10 rounds, fire when ready and then you would get your rounds ready

and everyone would have them ready and would be in their respective positions and then

you would wait and then they would say fire when ready and as soon as they say fire when

ready that means just start going.

Just start and then that’s when the magic starts.

You go like the loop, like you shoot one or whatever, there’s a reloading process.

Yeah, there’s a loop.

So what you would do, you get the fire mission, you would find out the rounds, the 2IC would

be standing by the rounds and it was his job to make sure the amount of rounds that was

told would be the only rounds that would go downrange and so he’d stand there and on each

round depending on the type of round is a fuse which gets screwed onto the top of the round.

So they’re about that big and it’s just a point and then you would have to put it on,

give it a spin and depending if it was a time release, you had a little, what do you call


You get those at IKEA when you have to build everything.

Allen wrench?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Allen wrench.

Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.


But like a big one or something?

No, just a little one because it’s a tiny little hole and you just got to click it to

where it’s supposed to go and it depended on what the call was for and it was a timer.

When you said like wheel, you mean like a little thing then?

Is that what we’re talking about?

No, no.

I’m talking about the round itself.

So you would put a fuse on top of the round.

So you would unload the ammo and then you would put fuses on them and the fuses are

on the top and they’re like a little ice cream topper kind of thing and you would spin those


Oh, okay.

And then once they’re on, depending if it’s a time release or not, you would take this

little thing and you would move it the top and that would, it’s almost like a little



That’s what I did.

So you’re assembling a bullet.


A very big one that goes up to my waist.



This is very cool.

And you’re a fascinating person.


So just that you still even years later have all this in your memory.

It’s not all perfectly accurate and that’s what irritates me though is because it bothers

me when I can’t remember things accurately but I have a lot of, I’ve had a lot of memory

issues and problems after like having too many hits to the head and…

This is from earlier in childhood or later?

But both.



The military did not help it.

Where was the hits in the head in the military?

Well when you have a Carl Gustav beside your face like this and it shoots around, it gives

you a concussive blast.

Also there’s new research being done, I’ll find out exactly what it is, but there’s new

research that’s being done that shows that if you’re an artillery gunner and you stand

within a certain range of that gun, you get the same amount of concussive blasts and there’s

a range.

I had no idea but you feel it when it goes off, like it hurt, your whole body feels it.

Your mind is fascinating because it’s like literally the opposite of mine.

One you’re able to speak very quickly, very clearly, very sharply.

Sorry, sorry.

No, what?

I talk too fast and I’m pretty loud.

No that’s perfect.

Because of my hearing.

I admire, I mean I admire that very much.

I can’t do any of that and you listen extremely well and you’re extremely attentive and you

have a good memory.

Anyway, it’s just fun to watch you and I can tell you’re a great soldier in just all different

aspects of it.

Thank you, I appreciate it.

But what the heck we’re talking about?

Oh, build up to the deployment.

How did we get to Texas?

Because that was part of the build up to my deployment.

And live fire you got to, did that feel good?

Oh yeah.

It was so good.

What’s the favorite, what’s the best part about like shooting artillery?

Like what’s the thing that feels good?

Which part?


Well the feeling of power.

When is the best moment of, the highest moment of the feeling of power?

Is it the whole process that you love or is there like when you actually shoot it?

It’s symbiotic.

It’s a beautiful thing to watch.

To know that a gun can fire and it takes kind of a dance to make it work.

There’s something about that to me that just got my heart racing.

When you actually shoot the round and you see it go and you hear it, it’s unlike, you

can’t describe.

There’s no, I’ve never felt another feeling.

I’ve also never been in like an F18 or an F like 16 or like any, I’ve never been in

anything like that.

And I’ve, you know, I’ve never, trying to think of something else that’d be comparable.

I’ve never been in like a Formula One car.

Those are the only things I can picture being that much for me because to shoot one of those

and to know that you’ve done your job right means that you’ve helped.

And that to me was really what did it for me.

When you hear your sergeant say, mission accomplished, target hit, tired acquired, then you’re like,

that’s a good feeling, that’s the stuff.

Quick pause.

Take a break Lex.

Okay, so live fire in Texas, we’re in Texas by the way.

Fort Worth or Fort Hood, one of them.

Well, okay, so like it’s what, is that close to a big major city?

Do you remember visiting a city?

Oh God, no, we fly right into the tarmac and they’re like, don’t touch the snakes.

And then they send you out to the field.

Got it.

Let’s see the instructions.

No, really, we went into a classroom and they’re like, these are the animals that are in the

wildlife in Texas.

If you see any of them, do not approach.

Do not go pee outside.

Do not squat down.

It is snake season people.

And I was like, I have to pee and squat down.

Why Texas and from like Canada, is it a simulation of Afghanistan?


Okay, so that’s, okay, so you’re getting, and that’s the way the live fire was seen

in artilleries, like you’re trying to simulate certain aspects of what you might actually

see in Afghanistan.

I would think so.

I mean, we, it, it looks like it’s hot, like it, you’re out in the middle of nowhere.

Very similar terrain.

That’s the first time we started to get to wear our tan boots and our tan, like our combat

tan stuff before you couldn’t wear that.

So it gave us an opportunity to kind of break in, break in how we were going to be doing

this, what it was going to look like, how the guns were going to work and all of those

lovely things.

How do you go from there to being deployed?

What was the next part of the journey?

So then we go to Wainwright, Alberta, often called or referenced as Waincock because it

sucks so bad.

It is a massive open space in Alberta, which most of Alberta is, and it’s outside of a

small town called Wainwright.

And it is a field X training area for all of the Canadian military.

And it’s where you do live fire, but you also do workup training.

So you go out there for a month or two, I think it is.

I don’t remember the exact time we were there because it was just, you sleep in a tent,

you’re in your cot, you’re in like full mission mode.

And you go outside and we did this operation called Operation Maple Leaf, I think it was.

And you put on these little suits, they have haptic, you can feel when you’re shot.

And then there’s a little camera, sorry, screen in the front of it, and it’s got button options.

And so it’s to mimic if you get shot, it’ll say gunshot wound.

And then you have to choose, okay, do I do this or do I do this?

And depending on your response, person dies or lives.

And they have other people who aren’t on a rotation for deployment come and act as the

Taliban and attack you in the middle of the night.

Is there a good understanding of the tactics that the Taliban used to attack?

I mean, this may be fast forwards to our conversation a little bit, but is there predictable strategies

on the other side that are being used in Afghanistan?

By the Taliban?

By the Taliban.

Oh, 100%.

They had suicide bombers, vehicle born IEDs.

Their standard way to hit people really was IEDs and vehicle born IEDs, suicide bombers.

They’d put like backpacks full of an IED and then put like toys around it and then just

be like.

So they will conceal it certain ways and probably use civilians.

Oh, 100%.


And women were a great way to get close to the soldiers because women seem nonthreatening.

When you see a burqa walk up to you, you’re not expecting an AK 47 to roll out of that

and then, or, you know, but there are great ways to get close.


So what is it, Wayne something?


No, that’s not how, Wayne Wright.

Let’s go to Alberta.


I mean, we don’t have to go to Alberta.

Nobody wants to.

No, let’s, in our minds, in our imagination.

So okay.

So that’s getting you closer to Afghanistan.


What was that like?

I mean, are you getting anxious at this point?

Is there a buildup?

What are you thinking?

Or is this just all part of the training?

For me, it was more part of the training.

I was excited to go because I did know that we were going to do some live fire.

I did know that we were going to be doing more of the military type job I thought we

were going to be doing because up until that point, I had just done training.

So I was learning how to march and salute and who to salute and not salute.

Like that was the focus of, that was my experience of the military.

And then the next experience was sitting in a regiment, just working out a lot and going

for breakfast a lot and drinking.

Like that was, I was like, this is the army.

So when I actually got to go to Wainwright, I got my first full taste of, okay, well,

there’s fire picket duty.

So one person gets picked every night to do sentry.

There’s a little less sleep.

You’re eating out of a canteen now.

You’re drinking out of canteen.

You’re in your kit more.

You’re in your deployable kit.

Now you’re in your, you know, you’re wearing your tack vest.

You’re getting ready to practice having plates on.

You’re having ammunition on you.

You’ve got your weapon with you all the time.

When you’re on base in Quebec, you’re, you’re just like an everyday job.

Maybe you can paint a clearer picture to me.

When was there an understanding that you’re actually getting deployed?

Was it just a sense that you’re getting deployed or was this officially told to you?

I was officially told on graduation day, you’re deploying in April with Vac Hits.

Oh, okay.

There’s a date.

Like they, they knew, so what had happened is the reason that Vac Hits unit needed more


So they came to that and they picked five people.

There was five English speaking people that went to Vac Hits.

It wasn’t just myself.

There was a couple other people I knew that were English speaking that got put on other

guns within the regiment.

I wasn’t with any of them.

We all kind of got split up.

And so there was an understanding that we were going to always be deploying.

Next year, it was like 2009, you’re deploying.

Whether you left in May or April, we were deploying because that was the rotation time.

So each Canadian unit did between six and nine months.

And then you knew right around that point, another base of individuals would then deploy.

So you would go on these rotations.

And so even when I was on my deployment then, I was slated to go again the following year,

but towards the end of the year.

So there was always a rotation.

If you were in a combat arms unit and you were in one that was a deployable unit.

So if you were from Edmonton, a PPCLI, which were the Princess Patricia’s, which were their

infantry unit.

If you were RCR out of Petawawa, Ontario, you knew you were deploying.

If you were at Vac Hits, you knew you were deploying.

There’s combat arms bases, and then there’s like naval bases.

I didn’t know their deployment structure.

I didn’t know how they worked.

I’m on the ground.

Don’t worry about the boats.

So I didn’t know how the Air Force deployed.

I knew Vac Hits was deploying in April.

You were going, get ready.

That was that.

So you show up to Afghanistan.

What is a combat arms unit look like?

What’s the situation look like?

How much chaos is there?

How much clarity about mission is there?

What are your feelings about the whole thing?

So when you leave, the day you leave, we left Quebec, we got driven to the airport and then

we walked onto the tarmac and we load our own bags and we got on a plane and it’s just


It’s just, it’s our plane.

And you don’t go right to Afghanistan.

You go to a stopover point, which I don’t know if I’m allowed to say where that is frankly.

So I just say it’s somewhere overseas.

And you go there and you go there for a couple of days, I think it’s like a day or two.

And that’s where you get like your kit.

That’s where you get your bulletproof plates for the first time and realize how heavy those

fucking things are.

It’s where you get your weapon and your ammunition, your first few mags.

It’s where you get your helmet and your vests and you get everything that you need.

While you’re there, it’s pretty nonchalant.

It’s hot as hell.

It’s your first time being in that kind of heat.

So you just never stop sweating.

The place we were in, it’s just the second you got out of the shower, you were still

wet after you got out.

What the hell is happening?

It’s so humid.

And I’m like, is this going to be like this in Afghanistan?

They’re like, no, it’s not humid there at all.

I’m like, why is it so bad here?

They’re like, it’ll be fine.

Don’t worry about it.

So and where we were there, it was kind of cute.

We were like in a base, within a base and they had like turf and we had like ice cream

and fruit and you could go get on a computer, you could go make calls, you had showers,

you had a real bed.

It was very kind of okay for that point.

And then you got all your stuff and then okay, we’re rolling out, which is about a five hour


Again, my experience with helicopters is mostly from another Arnold Schwarzenegger movie,

The Predator.

I’m not, do you want me to say I’ve never seen it?

I’ve never seen it.

Lex, do you feel better about yourself?

No, you want to tell the audience the, all the excellent shows that you mentioned me

offline that you watch instead, instead of Platoon.


Yeah, this, nine is Sex and the City.

Was that more important than Platoon?

Oh no, I’ve never seen that.

Don’t, don’t put me in that category.


Did you just put me in a box?

I did.

I watch like Homeland.

I watch, no, I watch like, I watch a lot of documentaries.

I watch, I like to watch real, real things more than, than, than just film.

I did a little bit of film stuff when I got back into Canada and I was like, once you’re,

once you’ve seen how it’s made, I’m like, I don’t want to do that.


I mean, I’m the same way as superhero movies.

It doesn’t, I want, I want, I want something closer to reality, but then movies like Platoon

reveal some deep aspect of reality without it.

I did Superman Man of Steel.

Wait, you, sorry, you, you were, what do you mean you did?

I was not a military expert, but I was a stunt expert, even though I didn’t actually have

to do any stunts.

It’s just because I had previous military experience and they were going to have me

as an extra as a military person.

But if you have previous experience, they have to make it as like a stunt role, like

so you get paid more.

Got it.

So I got to sit at a desk and I was in that, I was in that like, you’d see me like, whew,

for like two seconds.

So what you’re saying is you were the mastermind behind that movie.

For the entire thing.

You’re so accurate.



Your representation of me is just fantastic.

The combat arms unit of Afghanistan, the ice cream machine.

What like when you actually get closer and closer to the mission, what, when does that


When I, you know, got to where we were before we were leaving to get on the plane, I don’t

really, I don’t think I realized what the hell I was doing.

Truthfully, like you’re asking me all these, like, what did you feel, how did you, like

when I really think about it, if I sit there and really think about it, I was deploying.

I was aware.

I knew what I was going to do.

I knew my job, but once we actually stepped onto that Herc to leave, to get into the Afghan

airspace, I think that’s when it hit me.

I think it smacked me in the face so hard.

And that’s when the overwhelming just reality was that, oh fuck, oh, oh, oh.

When they said, make weapons ready, put the barrel to the ground, put your helmets on.

That’s when they start flying tactically, which means they’re going between the mountains.

That means we’re going to land soon.

Which means if you’re flying like this, it’s because RPGs can hit you.

So that was my first moment of, oh, I could like just be shot down right now.

Like I, I couldn’t, I didn’t grasp it.

I was, how old was I?





So I’m trying to explain to you cause it’s hard because I don’t know that I actually

did grasp it until I was in the air getting ready to land in Kandahar.

When was the first time you heard bullets, enemy, enemy bullets or enemy explosions?

Well, when you’re in Kandahar, when you’re in Kandahar, when you’re at CAF, there’s a,

you’re fairly insulated away from the main walls.

You would hear stuff go off or you would hear the rocket sirens would go off.

So you would hear the, and everyone just kind of got down on the ground and just waited

for the all clear.

And then we got back up.

I didn’t hear any actual live fire until I got to the FOB.

It was more just a lot of noise.

You would hear a lot of helicopters, a lot of planes going in and out of the base.

So there was that sense you could feel the ground shake when they took off, but there

was that sense, you know, things were going around, things were happening.

You just weren’t far enough.

You were not close enough to the edges of CAF to see it.

So what’s the FOB?

FOB is a Forward Observation Base, which is a small little base out in the middle of wherever.

And that’s, that’s specific to artillery?


That’s in general, just an observation base from which combat.

For infantry to go in and out of, for armor to go in and out of, special ops go in and

out of them.

They fly, they’ll stop there.

They’ll pick people up or do whatever, then they’ll go out.

So it’s, a Forward Observation Base is used essentially to have eyes in that area without

having to be doing patrols every five seconds.

But there’s not, is it like, is there like medics there?

Oh yeah.


So it was.

Actual base?


I was, it’s a, I don’t call it an actual base.

You sleep in tents and cots.

And it is, the walls are this mesh material that are filled with gravel.

And that’s the walls.

And then you have towers.

You had five, I think we had five towers because the Americans ran four and we ran one.

And so it was an American FOB.

It’s called FOB Ramrod.

And there was a, were there Marines?

No, I think they were the 101st.

They were out of there.

This is where I get dicey because I was moved a lot.

So when people are like, who are you with?

I’m like, I know what their patches looked like.

I don’t know the full ins and outs.

So I’m working on getting that back so that I can tell it accurately because I believe

it deserves that type of respect.

But that being said, I’m still trying to wrap my brain around all of this.


You almost have to go back and do like research to understand the full details of all the

things you were experiencing.

And so I reached out to actually a bunch of people even before I wrote the book and I

didn’t get a lot of answers.

Well, once I did Jocko, all the people have reached out to me and were like, hey, and

I’m like, called you.

So now I’m working, that’s why I’m doing the rewrite is I’m working on making sure that

things are exact.

And so there was infantry units going in at that FOB and it was a really tiny FOB.

It was run by the Americans and then there was a tiny little corner that was the Canadian

artillery unit.

And the Americans, normally it’s Americans shooting for Americans, Canadians shooting

for Canadians.

The rest of the regiment that deployed, so Bravo and Charlie, they were at Canadian FOBs,

Massom Guard and another one and these were huge FOBs.

Ours was this tiny like three kilometer around place and we had this tiny little subsection

of it and the rest was so it was like this and then all American here.

And when we got there, we landed, the guns were already there.

So you ripped out the unit before you.

So those guys were just leaving and we were just replacing them.

So that we knew the guns, they were Canadian guns, we understood, you know, how to run


That was fine.

When we got there, though, we had come in on Chinook and Chinooks are super loud and

they’re like, we’re hearing protection.

They don’t, you’re not, no, this is not reality.

Like this is why I’m partially deaf now.

Like it’s not reality.

So sorry to take a tangent, but do you usually wear ear protection in any aspects of warfare

of this whole process?

You wear comms, like you have a comm on like in a radio if you’re outside the wire.

So comms, is that like a Bluetooth headset?

Yes, it’s a Bluetooth headset.



Like from Nike or like?

I was gonna say Adidas.


I don’t know if anyone was involved at some point.

I don’t know.

This equipment looked like it was from World War II.

So it’s comms, but is that having ear protection?



And I didn’t wear them.

That’s just what some people wore.

People when you were as low as me, like we weren’t privy to conversate.

Like we were just told what to do and you do it.

So when you’re doing like on the OP tower, you have a radio, you pick up and you call

in and then you put the radio down.

But for hearing protection, I mean, I would put in earplugs, but those things are so violently

loud that earplugs, they don’t do it justice.

I feel like when you go shooting, there’s a certain kinds of earplugs that you, it blocks

out the gut, like certain kinds of sounds associated with guns and you can still hear

other types of stuff.

So the ones they issued us were these big things that had like a headpiece like here,

but you have to wear your helmet when you’re firing.


So you can’t have both on.


So how much are you aware of the logistics of the whole thing?

That’s always fascinating with warfare.

Like in terms of setting up, you mentioned gravel and the fobs, like setting all those

bases out.

Were you seeing any of this or again, it’s a 19 year old kind of just.

Well, it’s not that I was oblivious.

That’s the one thing I would say I wasn’t.

I was, I’m very aware of my surroundings.

That’s something that’s always been taught to me from a very early age because I travel

a lot with my dad in the truck.

And so my dad would be like, you’re going to go into that bathroom and I’m going to

watch you come out and you’re going to watch everyone around you because people get kidnapped.

Like that’s just the reality.

I was always very paranoid.

So you were paying attention to surroundings.

But the fob was already built up when we got there.

This is already like well established bases already.

Like there’s.

Established enough.

All right.

And that is one of the first times you’ve heard actual fire.


That was like the, I mean, I’d heard it on the, when we, when we shoot and when we zero

in weapons and we do all that stuff.

But I had never heard it, heard it like that before.

And then you would see the, the, the guys, the Americans would roll out every day and

go on patrol and come back, back, back.

And so you would see them, you would hear them, they would tell the stories, those types

of things.

But I never experienced it because we never, we never got attacked.

Like our base never got hit.

We were really lucky that way.

There were other ones around us that were getting hit, but we weren’t, we weren’t getting


We were very fortunate.

At least we didn’t get hit when I was there.

I believe the entry got, there was an attempt.

There was an attempt at some point in a past, but I wasn’t privy to that.

But we were in the OP tower, so we had to do our own security.

But because we were such a small subset of Canadians and we always had to have people

running the guns and ready to run the guns at all times.

We only had to man one tower.

So you would do four hour shifts with a fire team partner in the tower, depending on whatever,

but you would do it every day.

So I would look out into the rest of Afghanistan at that opportunity.

Otherwise it was just like your walls.

What did it look like?

Is it beautiful?

Just the full landscape?

Or is it?

Where I was, there was mountains in the distance.

It was just very sandy, very flat.

And there was a couple of small compounds on the outside.

It wasn’t a lot to look at.

There was a long road that you knew that got hit all the time.

There wasn’t a lot to look at.

Such a strange place to be the center of superpowers over the decades.

It really is.

And the fact that the populace, the civilians are almost completely clueless to the full

history of things in terms of globally, the geopolitics of it all.


Well, if you look at the location of it, right, on a map, it makes more sense.


You can wrap your brain around it.

But I met plenty of people who had never even seen a picture of themselves when I was in

that country.

I mean, how much more are they going to understand if they don’t know what even exists outside?

You tell a small story of taking a picture of a girl and showing it to her, an Afghani



We were, I was with the British at that time, and we were on that operation that gets highlighted

quite a bit.

And we had stopped and the ICOM radios were pinging.

And ICOM radios are a radio that we have an interpreter on that the Taliban, basically

we can hear what they’re saying.

It’s their comms.

It’s us tapped in.

When it’s really clear, they’re close.

When it’s scatty and they’re far enough away, normally they’re not planning an attack, although

you never know, really.

And we were going door to door, kind of like what they’re doing now.

And we were pulling people out of their houses.

And we knew there were, there was people in there that were active Taliban and we knew

the ICOMs were pinging.

When we got in there, they had hidden all the women and kids and locked them inside

the house because often nowadays women, the women, they would hide things on them that

they shouldn’t have because no one would be ever there to search them because there isn’t

a lot of women on the front lines.

But I got borrowed to go specifically search women and children.

So they had me and one of the little girls kind of snuck out and was kind of sitting

near me and I was eating something and I had these little candies, I think they’re called

little sweeties.

The British have them in the ration packs.

I don’t know.

They’re good though.

And she saw me eating them and so I gave them to her and then her brother came over and

slapped her upside the head and took them from her.

So then I just went over and slapped him upside the head and just pointed my gun at her while

she ate them all because I was like, no, you can have these.

I’m going to stand here and make sure you do.

And I remember asking, can I take a picture with her?

I asked the trip, can you ask her, can I take a picture with her?

And she was very confused and when you look at the photo, you see her face, she’s very


She’s very stunned.

And it wasn’t my camera.

It was my officer’s camera.

It was a hot pink, like fluorescent pink camera.

So I pulled this like a huge pink thing and I’m like, let’s take a picture.

And so she stood there and took a picture, but then she grabbed the camera because I

flipped it and showed it to her and her eyes got huge and she grabbed it and she ran inside

and they’re like, oh, that’s gone forever.

Like that’s, it’s over for you.

And then she came out and she kind of snuck out and I went in and grabbed it and the mom

lifted up her burqa and was showing me that she like shaved her legs to be more Western.

And I was just, at that moment, I don’t know that I could have realized how much that moment

affected me, how much that moment would affect me later on in my life until it’s been later

on in my life.


There’s little like glimmers like that in parts of the world that are basically you’re

taking away everything from the populace, like freedoms and so on.

And when they, when you see that glimmer of humanity, like yeah, shaved legs or like using

technology for the first time, it’s magic or like food being presented with certain

kinds of foods that you’ve never tried.

I mean, you want to see true, like joy of discovery is you bring basically the American

supermarket, anything from it to most parts of the world.

And they, I just, I mean, I remember even, I mean, we weren’t like in poverty in Russia,

just poor, but just the supermarket was full of joy.

I thought I could just die happy in an American supermarket when I first saw it.

And how old were you when you came here?


Did you speak English?


Not well, I thought I was, I never was good at languages.

So I, it was very much like why would I need to learn another language?


It was that attitude is very like, doesn’t, I don’t, well, no, I think culturally in,

not only in America, but everywhere else in the world, it’s constantly kind of seen, it’s

a good thing to do to learn other languages, especially English, because it’s like, that’s

the language of the world.

And I just thought like, I don’t need English to discover the beauty of the world.

Like this doesn’t like, I enjoy life.

I enjoy soccer.

I enjoy, I don’t remember what else I enjoyed in life, but math, like why do I need English

for this?

So that kind of attitude got me in a lot of trouble when I came here because I couldn’t.

You were reluctant?


But also just couldn’t speak well.

And when you move 13 years old, it’s middle school, you get made fun of a lot.

You get bullied and all those kinds of things, which in retrospect is a very positive thing

because it makes you harder.

I thought being Russian would be like hard enough.

No, well, me, everyone is different.

I mean, the part of the Russian thing is kind of, I’m joking because if you know me, I admire

being hard.

I admire fighting and these kinds of things, these, what would you call them?

Struggle in all of its forms, martial arts, wrestling, all those kinds of things.

But I’m ultimately like, I’m so much about love.

Like I’m clearly sensitive to the world in some weird genetic way that it was important

for me to harden up when I came here and I was in love with people and everybody’s being

mean to me.

And it’s like, what, that, it’s a little like slap, like, oh, okay, life is not often fair.

And then that’s when for me personally, everybody has different journeys of hardship that are

much, much more difficult, like your story is much more difficult.

I started to read a lot.

Something happens, some kind of challenge where you start to think about the world,

start to think about yourself, that can ultimately create really interesting minds.

It can break some people.

It can create interesting minds.

And it’s ultimately your choice.

But those people are weak and then they just need to be weeded out.

I thought we talked about this, you know, the strong will survive, the weak will die



Now you’re talking Russian to me.

I’m not speaking Russian.

I’m just giving solid life advice.

Just be harder and then everyone will be fine.


That’s your inner David Goggins coming out real quick here.


The fob.


And then I was just explaining to you that the way it is run, you’re going to love this.

When we walked up to those tents for the first time, the people that were there before us

left us a noose.

I have a photo of it, like hanging from the tent, like at the front of the tent, like


So you were also mentioning like the dark humor of it is a basically a funny joke.



It was funny at first.

That’s pretty funny.

It was funny during the time.

Now when I look back at it, I was like, come on.

I mean, I get it because they had already been there.

And like, so afterwards I can see how it’s funny.

Now with like the suicide epidemic in the veteran community, now I’m like, oh, I don’t

post that photo.



Doesn’t that dark humor still somehow help even when you’re considering suicide?

Doesn’t it?

Some of it.


It makes it copable.



It’s like you’re not hiding it.

It’s like humor is one of the ways to reveal the reality of abuse, of suffering.

If you look at, there’s this photo that generates right around suicide prevention month, which

is September.

And it’s always like a photo of like Robin Williams and Bourdain and all of these other

individuals who were comedians who all took their lives and they’re all smiling.

And they’re like, this is the face of depression.

There’s a way our brains work where humor is a necessary part of survival, whether it’s

used for joyous things or it’s used for ways to cope through life.

For me in the military, humor was one of the things that helped get me through.

And it still does to this day, frankly, because humor, humor makes some of the horrific things

I say not seem so horrific.

And people can digest it rather than being like, you need to be locked up somewhere.


That’s why, I mean, one of the aspects of Russian humor, there’s a darkness to it because

through it reverberates all the millions of people who died.

And it seems like the only way to make sense of it is to joke about it.

I still love it.

Because if you don’t, it’ll break you.

Something like that.

Or also humor just seems to be the highest form of us humans and the human experience.

It just seems, it seems to somehow accumulate the full thing, the absurdity of it, the unfairness

of it, because like ultimately all the suffering is like, it’s all just apes fighting for power

and love and somehow torturing each other in the process.

Hello podcast listener, Lex here.

Quick intermission to say that some of the names in the following story have been silenced

out to protect their privacy.

The story of, and witnessing, I think your first, somebody you met, somebody you saw,

somebody you began to be close with, his life, him dying, can you tell the story of him dying?


That’s no problem.

I will tell you that I am going to leave some of the names out of the people because they

have reached out and asked that I do such.

I’ve also been informed of other things I forgot that happened during the thing that

were way worse than I thought.

So I’ll try to add those in because that’s new information to me because my brain has

blocked it out.

But I’ve been told, which is good because it’s better detail.

So we were doing a movement that morning and we were going from compound to compound.

I was never told what we were doing.

I knew what my job was.

I didn’t know the operational overview.

I didn’t know who we were looking for.

I wasn’t there for that.

My job was specifically to look after the women and children and to provide support

if need be.

And when you have certain people, so i.e. the bomb dog handler and the bomb dog, and

then you have the medics and then you have a female searcher, there’s only one of those

in each unit or if there’s even one in each unit.

I got passed between units so that they could have access to me for both.

And we were kind of sitting and we were waiting for the all clear to move.

And at that time, the compound wall I was leaning up against, I had my back up against.

I wasn’t facing the direct direction where it actually blew up.

I had my back to it and I had happened to turn and look to the left.

And on the right hand side across the road of where we were leaned up against was another

compound two stories high, people inside, a sniper on the roof and a spotter.

There was a handful of us on this wall and in front of me, there was a road.

The road went straight.

That compounds here.

There’s another road here on the right hand side in front of it.

And then this road went along here and this was a wide open space.

Just a huge.

We hate those.

You hate those because it’s too much space.

It’s too easy.

It’s like fish in a barrel.

You don’t want to be in that field.

Because there’s too much line of sight line of sight.

Could be IEDs.

It could be.

It could be anything.

And so when I was leaning up against the wall, we had sent a couple of people ahead to go

and clear the road so that we could all go along it and then clear the gray pup off to

the left hand side.

We are doing that because they use those locations to put IEDs so that when you’re going to search

it, it’s just it’s a better chance of you blowing into a million pieces, essentially

why they love that.

Put bombs in small places, send people into small places.

Small places go boom, they paint the walls.

So we were just kind of sitting and waiting.

And then I turned, I happened to turn, I was looking in that direction and I heard the

ground shake before I even realized what I was seeing with my own eyes.

The ground shook and I saw a big piece of a body, I think it was the torso, just kind

of fly through the air and land into the field.

And as soon as that happened, all hell broke loose.

It was like the, they were sitting and watching and waiting and they do that.

And I say they, I mean the Taliban, they do that.

They love that because then they can record it for propaganda and they can use it against

us and they just love being able to take our people out.

And we had the interpreter sitting beside me and he had the ICOM radio on.

And as soon as the blast went off, I heard just the scream of, I heard it.

And I knew what that meant, but I couldn’t, I didn’t understand what was about to happen.

I couldn’t, I couldn’t wrap my brain around what was about to happen because I had never

been outside the wire.

And people are like, people say to me now, they’re like, no, no, there’s no way that

shit’s true.

There’s no way that she was involved in that and then that, and then in that, and then

in that.

Well, let me explain.

I was one person.

I was being passed around to units.

I was with a ton of different people.

I had no comms and I was just being told where to go.

And I just happened to be like a shit hit the fan magnet, it felt like.

And then I found out later it was not just me, it was all of us were getting it.

So that made me feel better because then I was like, well, I have a lot of survivor’s


That’s like a thing that’s still stuck with me.

I’ve worked through a lot of shit, but survivor’s guilt, that’s a big one for me.

And food is a big one for me and my food skin on food.

So like chicken with skin on it, just because of the biology of death, just when you hold

people’s bodies in your hands with no gloves on, you know what that feels like when you

touch raw meat again, it’s the same thing.

That’s what that feels like when, when it’s a dying or dead body.

Well, my friend was blown into a million pieces, so I just had pieces of him.

So there was no, there was no differentiator of like, this was his thigh, or this was his

torso, or there was like, there was none of that.

There’s only one instance with the boot, but at that point we had been in some firefights,

and we had been taking some rounds, but it was more like take around, you know, get hit

and then we duck into a compound and we would set up and then we’d be firing.

I wasn’t, I wasn’t really involved in a lot of the firefights until after this.

After that, the rest of the week, I was like, I was angry and I wanted them all to go.

And I wanted to be in every position to take them out myself.

So I put myself in every position.

So I made sure I was on the roof.

I made sure I was there.

I made sure, Hey, you need something, I’ll fucking run it.

I don’t care if I die anymore, because as soon as that happened, my light switch went


It didn’t matter anymore to me.

Can you go through what happens?


So are you hearing the, these screams?


So the ID went off and what had happened was they put an ID inside of a grape hut and the

grape hut has rectangular wall, rectangular holes in the wall.

And there’s just like one door and it’s this tall mud hut with just all these like holes

in it.

And they had put an ID underneath a pile of sticks and had a metal detector, the Brits

carry them.

I’ve never seen, I think other countries have them, but I’ve only ever seen them use it.

And that’s how we were kind of detecting if there was an ID, we must’ve hit it, the sticks

or something and it set it off.

And it just, it was over.

There’s no way he felt anything.

And then there was another guy at the door bent down on one knee and he was facing and

kind of watching for, and then a blast hit him on this side.

And so it took him out and pulled his kid off, pulled his helmet off, pulled everything

off, fucked him all up.

Big time.

This is one ID.


But it was in a contained area and he was in the doorway, up and out.

Can you explain what an ID is and how does it work?

I can do my best.

They’re improvised explosive devices.

They can be used pretty much out of anything to make anything.

So garbage, when we got to Afghanistan, they did the ID meeting with us.

They’re like, these are what we’re finding that they would show us diffused IDs.

So they would see those big blue drums filled with gasoline buried in the ground.

You would see a wire, it would go to a pressure plate.

You hit the pressure plate, that would hit that and it would go.

You would see IDs.

Some of them were ridiculous.

The engineering that went into some of these was hilarious because they were thinking,

they were thinking to use everything they could.

There was a cigarette pack they had used.

They lined the inside with tinfoil and when you stepped on the tinfoil, it had a piece

of wire and it was enough of a spark to set off a line of batteries that we had thrown

out that were all dead.

When you fuse them all together, there was enough juice to make it go.

Then they would attach that to like, like phosphorus or gasoline or whatever they could

that would make a big boom.

They would use, yeah, that’s why you never kick garbage on the ground.

You’ll never see me kick something on the ground.

You’ll see me walk around it always.

If I ever see a pile of rocks or something that looks like it shouldn’t be there, I won’t

walk near it.

Even now, because they use that pile of rocks to remind people there’s something there.

We don’t know what that means, but we know that something’s there.

And very often they would use anything, garbage, wires.

We were very, we had to burn everything for a reason.

It’s so terrifying to not, for the source of death to be like little parts of the environment

and then people that don’t look like that.

They’re not dressed as soldiers, like civilians and like regular, because then you, when you

have to come back or even there is you’re just surrounded by danger and then you distrust

everything essentially.

That’s the problem and that’s why you have such PTSD issues with the soldiers we have

now because you’re in the environment in which it’s very similar.

So there’s this one IED.

So this one IED, I still don’t know what it was, went off, body flew, the guy at the door,

he kicked out.

He was all broken and bleeding and a mess.

At that point, the radio started going crazy.

I could hear the guys yelling and screaming, trying to figure it out and then you could

hear the numbers being called.

KIA number, number, number, number.

I don’t know anybody’s service number.

I don’t know what’s going on.

Next thing you know, mortar rounds start coming down and live fire starts happening and I’m

like, holy fuck, things are popping off.

And I remember just looking at and being like, we need to go, we need to go now.

And I just got this like, I was like, we’re going and they’re like, hold on Burns and

I’m like, we’re fucking going.

I wasn’t dealing with it well and they’re like, all right, all right, go, go, go, go.

So we went and I helped out with that other individual, kind of held him down, started

doing medic work on him and he just kept saying, where’s, where’s, where’s, he was in such

a state of shock.

I’ve seen somebody’s eyeballs so big in my life.

She’s like, where’s, where’s, where’s, he’s good buddy, he’s good, he’s good.

Picture like a super thick Scottish accent though, because these guys were just, and

when they talk fast, it’s even worse.

And then so I ran over and we jumped down into the ditch along the side of the road

because the road hadn’t been cleared and we’re running through these tall, they look like

cannabis plants, but they’re not, but it just very thick bush and I felt like I was running

in slow motion.

So if you picture one of your video games where like the tunnel vision and you’re just,

you can hear your breathing is like that and you’re running and you can’t move fast enough

and you’re like trying to get there and we hit the road and the rounds are coming down

and mortars are coming down and they’re like, okay, on three run.

So we run on three and we run into the compound, I mean, into the great putt.

And I remember looking around and very seriously going, where is he?

Just genuinely asking, I think it was been messaging me and he’s been incredible.

He’s one of the best soldiers I’ve ever served with.

He was a higher up, so he was running part of this.

He’s messaged me and he was giving me some information and he’s like, I was in there

with you and he goes, I remember cause you handed me the boot and cause I walked over

and I, all the rounds were like, we were being shot at, mortars were coming down, but it

was this slow motion and I remember walking over to the hole in the ground and seeing

his boot in the ground, but it was, his leg was still hanging, like just below his knee

was still in it, but the boot was perfectly laced up, like the boot was fine.

And I just, I held it and I turned and I looked at the guys and I was like, we could reuse

the boot.

Now that wasn’t even, what is, what is that?

Was that, was that actually an intelligent attempt at humor or was it some kind of deeply


Like you were completely just lost.

I think my brain broke.

I think my, that’s the moment I call my light switch went off.

Did you understand that he was dead at that point?

Like intellectually, you were just something, it just broke.

No emotion.

Like it just broke.

It just shattered.

It shattered.

I felt it happen.


I didn’t feel, I didn’t feel anything.

It just broke.

And at that moment, because later there’s some anger almost at that moment, none of


I couldn’t comprehend what happened.

I knew he wasn’t there anymore because they looked at me and said, what’s here is here.

Start grabbing pieces.

We need to fucking move.

And so I handed the boot over, they took it and then I started just grabbing anything

out of the walls because those little rectangular just had flesh hanging from it.

And I didn’t have my gloves on because I only used them to search.

So you want to bring everything back.

This is what, even if they’re dead, do you want to save, save those you served with?


Because they deserve that.

They don’t deserve to have a piece of them drug behind a truck for propaganda.

It’s not, it’s not fair.

What are the others?

I mean, was there just a focus on mission or was there a panic?

No panic with these guys.

These guys were the most switched on motherfuckers I’ve ever seen in my life.

They, we started grabbing and remind me, he said, you know, you, uh, that’s not, he goes,

when people say that’s the worst part of your day, that wasn’t even the worst part of your


Do you remember when you handed me the bag of intestines?


No, I do though.

Thank you for that.

So there’s parts you don’t even, they’re just not.

They don’t register.

Because I had some people contact me and be like, you didn’t tell it right.

And war is subjective and war is from your perspective and war is messy and horrific

and war is graphic and violent and painful.

Your brain remembers what it wants to remember and your brain allows you to remember what

it allows you to remember and there’s reasons that you don’t remember everything.

And so we were getting, we were really getting hit.

We were getting, it was bad.

And some of the guys, machine gunners had come up to do cover fire and I know, uh, we

were calling in for air support to come pick up the guys, uh, because they had to go.

And we, we just collected everything we could, but I did remember screaming like, we didn’t

get them all.

We didn’t get them all.

There’s no way we got them all.

We did not fucking get them all.

And I remember one of the guys looking at me being like, we got them, we got them.

I’m like, we didn’t fucking get them.

We didn’t get them.

Like, no, we got them.

And I couldn’t say it enough.

And so I grabbed as much as I could.

I, I, I, um, I slung one of their weapons and it was just a twisted heap and I had his

helmet and someone else’s helmet in my arm.

And then I had, um, my weapon in front of me and I was carrying it.

And then we, we piled everything we had onto a stretcher.

Those things are super fucking flimsy anyway.

And there was a couple of guys in front of us and there were a couple behind me and I

was kind of in the middle and we, we said, okay, we’re just gonna have to run.

We’re gonna have to fucking run the road.

We’re gonna have to have to run it.

It was a chance.

We ran it and that was the closest, well, that was I guess not the closest, but it felt

like it was the closest I could hear the, the whiz of the rounds going by me.

It’s a weird noise when they’re coming at you than when you’re, they’re leaving you.

And so they, that slowed everything down for me.

And then one of the guys accidentally dropped the edge of the stretcher and everything fell

off into the ditch and then we had to go back down and get it back up.

And then so we kept running and we finally got back into the compound that that sniper

was sitting off on the right hand side and we got all in there.

And I know the, I think said there was two flights.

I only thought there was one, but apparently there was two flights.

So went on one, his body went on one.

And then I think, I think he said went on the other and and then they took off.

And then when they leave though, they rain hell down on anything they can see on the


And that is a beautiful sight because they had mortar rounds coming down and it just,

it was getting really, really bad.

And then as soon as the black ox took off, all of a sudden it just stopped and went quiet,

like deafening quiet.

And we were sitting inside the compound and I, one of the medics looked at me and you

could see, and I still do it now and I, I’m working on not doing it, but I do it when

I get really overwhelmed.

Because I didn’t have any gloves on, I had blood all over my hands and just like body

and stuff.

So he came over and he just gave me like sanitizer and I started rubbing.

And so I rub, I do this when I’m stressed, I’ll rub my hands.

And I still can’t, I still can’t do, I still can’t eat food with skin on it.

And I can’t like, like salmon and stuff, like I can’t, anything with skin, I can’t touch


And I’m making meat at home, like for my husband and my son, like I have like meat gloves and

then I have like a fork and a knife and I’m like cutting it.

Like I never touch it, I can’t touch it.

So there’s something almost like the texture of the biology of a human flesh that just,

that’s at the level of, that’s the level of your trauma.


And it’s been, I mean, it’s 2021, this was in 09.

And I’ve worked on this, like, and I mean, I’ve been in like treatment religiously,

just to be able to keep me alive for this decade.

And so it’s not like, it’s like, oh, I’ve never, you never even tried to get better.

It’s like, I never really used to leave my house.

I used to call people that looked like that horrific names in public.

I used to want to kill people on a regular basis.

I’m a fairly happy individual now.

What about, so you’re, you’re talking about sort of skin and parts and, but there’s also

just the fact that we’re mortal and there’s somebody close to you who dies.

So you watch, walk up and then never come back out again?


It’s like you’re facing mortality in a very real way.

And if, in a, in a way that’s not the same as somebody dying from cancer in a hospital,

so it has echoes of that because that’s also absurd.

And like, it doesn’t feel like there’s justice to it in any kind of way, but it’s so sudden.

Like, have you been able to make sense of that, of your feelings about it?

Like how do you feel about it or, or is everything just shrouded in this like trauma that you’re

not able to just feel for the loss of a human being, like mourn the loss of a human being?

I think I had, when he, when I realized he wasn’t there, when I realized that he, um,

that was the, I, that was what was left of him, I found out afterwards there was other

parts that were outside and went back.

I think, I think he said went back and they got, they ended up getting the rest of him.

So that made me happy because I just found this out this week.

Uh, so that, that means, so that means you have a feeling like you still feel like parts

of them were left behind.


On the ramp ceremony, when I lost my mind, literally I, I lost my mind and I was screaming

that he wasn’t all in there.

I’m happy now knowing that he was, but I held onto that for 10 years.


This, um, yeah, the sandbags, like, like it’s the bulk of the weight is, is not from human



He was a young kid too.

It was, I think it was his first deployment as well.

Like he was, he was a young kid and he was just, just going to clear the road for the

rest of us.


Like not like, you know, you’re in war and you know that you’re outside the wire and

you know, things could happen.

You understand that to the extent you can understand that when it’s happening, it’s

something very different.

Also maybe you can correct me, but, um, there’s something much more like brutal about an IED.

It’s proficuous.

Versus like a bullet, cause a bullet, you still watching somebody close to you die from

a bullet, you still get to the basic humanity.

Like so IED basically converted a human being into sort of parts by biological parts.

A cheeseburger.

Versus, yeah, I mean, I don’t, that’s, that’s tough.

That’s tough because that’s like, um, because it’s hard for you to remember them as a human.

You remember them as parts.

For me, that’s how I remember him.

I would like to, I have a picture that I post every year about him.

I see that, but I don’t put two and two together.

Does that make sense?

Yeah, no, it does.

So I, even I listening to your story and, you know, um, thank you for sharing it first

of all, but, um, it’s not my, it’s, well, I’m just the one to tell it.

I was just involved one, one set of eyes on this particular human being.

But even I get angry.

I can’t tell if it’s exhaustion or anger.

I’m sorry.

I look always exhausted.

Oh, that’s okay.

You’re, you’re into robotics.

Isn’t that like your guys’s thing?

You guys are just always working on, I think because I feel so much for the world.

I just don’t do, we were talking about resting bitch face earlier.

I just don’t feel the need to maintain, um, all the effort of the musculature for presenting

myself to you visually.

It’s exhausting.

So I just focus on the feeling.

No way.

Face show, whatever the hell it shows.

Fair enough.


Was there anger?

Was there hate?


Can you just talk to your feelings of what you remember?


So after that operation with the British, I went back to the Canadians and I didn’t

go back as even remotely close to who I was when I left.

And that was really troublesome for a lot of people around me because the level of anger

and hate that came out of me was palpable when I just walked by, um, I got shockingly

quiet and you understand how you’re learning how to be terrified if you are quiet.

And I don’t know if hate and anger do that justice.

I don’t know another word, but I don’t think those two words do it justice to the extent

that I was feeling like I got to a point when I got attacked by a woman, um, with some scissors,

like the idea crossed my mind, like I could boot stomp her to death and not feel anything

about it in front of her, all of her family and her kids.

Was it more like just not recognizing the basic humanity or was it legit hatred?

No, it was legit hatred, but also I no longer saw those people as humans.

It took one event.

And when that happened, the rest of the operation that was echoed in my, in the way I was to

those people.

But to what level can you see those people as human?

So this is where, well, like this is where Jaco shut down, um, I still think I’m right.

Um, there’s a dire straight song called, uh, brothers in arms and, um, actually anyway,

we’re fools to make war on our brothers in arms.

And I brought that up to Jaco because it’s humans on both sides, but he said, not in

Iraq like to him, he’s like, no, that’s the enemy.

These are people who use the civilians.

They rape, they torture, they they’ll do anything.

And they put evil onto the world.

And then it’s like, so they’re, they’re stood on at that moment.

Like the, these two were humans and it’s politicians waging war and it’s, it’s kids on both sides.

But then Jaco was like, no, he’s not wrong.

So which can you carry both things with you as a soldier?

I think when I was a soldier, I could only carry one thing with me.

I think my perspective has changed drastically, but not because I’ve lost the reality that

they are the enemy, but I’ve, I’ve gained my humanity back again.

And that’s what I lost when I was there.

I lost all humanity.

I lost all hope for humanity.

He’s not wrong when he says the Taliban or like when he was in Iraq, but for me, the

Taliban are evil.

I still hold a spot of hatred for them that could set this building on fire.

You don’t, I don’t know that anybody can fully understand that when you watch what they do

to women and do kids and they do it in the name of God, they are the enemy.

They are less than, they don’t exist.

They’re barely worth the bullets we put into them.

But then because they use civilians, so like then everybody becomes the enemy.

And how are you supposed to make sense of that?

Like what you get, but here, Lex, you can’t make sense of it.

This is why they’ve done a really good job of blending into the civilian population.

They’ve done it intentionally.

They’ve done it on purpose.

So they’re brilliant.

This is why you guys couldn’t beat them.

This is why we couldn’t fucking beat them.

They use their people so effectively.

They have no shame in that.

They have no issue with that.

They take no qualms with wiping a kid off the face of the earth.

If it means they can get close enough to a soldier to throw a fucking bomb into their


This is why they’re affected.

How do you beat them then?

There’s this, there’s no winning that you just basically do policeman type work or you

do your best.

I mean, that’s one way.

So the other is you come from an artillery background.

A fucking hellfire missile hit the whole place off the face of the earth.

You can’t beat radicalism like that right now.

The problem is, is we’ve, we’ve let it go unchecked.

We had it kind of in check for 20 years.

We just shot ourselves in the foot, the chest and the face.

So the problem with force is it creates longterm hate because young kids and propaganda and

like propaganda works.

So you, you see your father, your brother die because of a bomb.

It’s very easy to convince that person that they died because of evil Americans and tell

whatever story you want about America or Canada, Russia.

That’s the biggest problem.

So it seems like there gotta be better solutions because I mean, I talk about love, but it’s,

it’s honestly basically figuring out sneaky ways of empowering women, of educating people

of like, and like, and not in a cheesy way, but like in the same level of like mass warfare,

but with love.

You’re talking about DARPA budgets, DOD budgets, but like do that where you educate and empower

women by force.

And it, you know, they want to learn, right?

I mean, you’re not like forcing anybody, you’re setting them free.

That’s exactly it.

Like combat flip flops does this.

They do this.

They give literacy.

They teach girls to read nothing else to read because as soon as you can read, you know

what that happens.

You know what happens then.

What’s combat flip flops?

That’s the scarf right there.

That’s made in Afghanistan.

So when you buy something from them, the proceeds go to literacy in Afghanistan for girls.

They’ve given literacy to 800 girls over there.


They’re really cool.

Uh, Griff owns the one, he was an army ranger and his buddy, but Lee, I think is his name.

They were on Shark Tank a long time ago, but they, um, they do shoes and I think they’re

called Schmongs.

I don’t know how to say it properly.

Built in Afghanistan.


And then the proceeds go back there.

They do great work for literacy and you know, as well as anyone, if you can teach someone

to read good color, dark, like your soul lacks matches on the inside, just on the inside.

All right.

The outside is just the, it’s just the suit.

I feel like you think that’s your suit of armor, but I feel like it’s, it’s there.

See what were you saying?

Sorry, what were you saying?

I was saying go on.

I will allow this.

All right, I think there is room if you teach education.

The problem is we’ve taken a massive step backwards.

I know that the Taliban have just instituted, uh, this week honor killings will be back.

Stonings are back and, um, uh, dismemberment as well.

Holly McKay is the reporter that’s been reporting that from the ground.

She’s still there.

The way to pull people, in my opinion, out of something like that is through education.

Well we just took all of that away, which is pretty horrific in my opinion because you’ve

taught over 20 years.

You’re perfectly right, Lex.

When you say that hate and violence won’t work, it won’t because you see dad get killed

on the battlefield.

Well that 14 year old little boy is going to pick up an AK 47 and go avenge dad’s death.

That’s just the way it’s going to be.

Well, we think about it, you were there for 20 years.

There’s a couple of generations in there.

There’s another generation that’s either grown up in this or has seen enough of this.

So there are always going to be a subset that think that we’re the enemy and fair.

We haven’t done always the greatest things, but the one thing that we have done that I

did participate in was giving literacy, giving girls an opportunity, letting them know that

you aren’t second class citizens.

You can do things too.

And that’s why we have to look at war differently.

There’s times for violence.

Oh, there is time for violence and there is time for missiles and there is time for detainees

and there’s times for bagging tags and double tops of the fucking face.

There’s times for all of that, but there needs to be more time to educate.

The problem is you can’t educate if you’re in a country where their culture doesn’t believe

in that.

There’s so many different things that you, it’s an almost an impossible situation.

When you look at the 20 years in Afghanistan and we just pulled out, there’s a sudden pull

out of troops.

What do you think about those 20 years?

Let me ask hard question, which is, was it worth it going into Afghanistan?

And you’re sort of, you’re one person.

My limited capacity.

You have experienced specific set of extremely difficult things.

You’ve met a lot of humans.

You understand certain aspects of the way this war is carried out.

But if you zoomed out at the big story, like you’re, you like history too.

When you think of the history, a hundred years from now, we look at the invasion of Afghanistan.

I don’t even think you need to go far that back to know that it was, we went in on false


We did.

That’s not, that’s not a good start.

What’s that saying?

Future behavior is a good, was it past behavior is a good indicator of future behavior.

So I struggle with that because when I first found out that the pullout was going to happen,

I got really angry because my government skated the whole situation because he’s having a


He’s having a snap election.

It’s happening on the 20th.

So that was beautifully planned by my government to hold no accountability, zero accountability.

And the media won’t talk about it.

They reached out to me to do an interview about Afghanistan.

And then I told them what was going on after I talked to my people that were on the ground

and then they canceled the interview.

When you say my government, is America any better at this, like it feels like there’s

no accountability.

No, no.

The government, no, no, the American government is a dumpster fire.

I’m not saying, I’m not saying that, but what I am saying is at least they sent people to

pull people or pull some people.

We sent no one to pull anyone.

And I know for a fact, because I helped move a family, I was fortunate enough to be given

an opportunity to help move a high value nine person family out of that country that worked

in the government, that worked in prosecuting the Taliban, that were on the top of the list.

I learned really quickly the ins and outs of things and I’m really disgusted by it.

I learned that Canada had the one email address that all Canadian Afghani visa holders were

supposed to email, Ottawa put two people on that email address.

That’s confirmed.

Canada put no more than 70 people on the ground for that pullout and they were not allowed

to leave the airport and they left well before the pullout date.

They left on the Thursday before the Tuesday that was the 31st.

There were high value Canadian visa holders that are still in that country that are on

the top of the kill list.

Canada’s not doing anything about it.

I’m disgusted in the way my government has acted because number one, there’s an active

lawsuit with veterans against the Supreme Court of Canada right now.

We are leaving our vets and our Canadians stranded over there and we are leaving the

vets that have been maimed by this war in Canada.

They’re turned down for everything.

I’ve been turned down for hearing loss.

They’re saying it’s not military related.

They have PIs follow me.

This is normal behavior.

There’s a veteran named Brock who was told by Trudeau in a meeting that after he lost

his leg, he was just trying to get a new prosthetic because it was just killing him.

Trudeau stood up in a meeting and said, you’re just asking for too much.

Less than six months later, he gave $10.4 million to an Afghan terrorist that was in

the Canadian prison system.

He won and got 10.4 of our million taxpayer dollars.

I don’t know that American government’s any better, but what I do know is that the absolute

fucking machines of human beings that stepped outside of the chain of command to pull my

family out for me, I know they were there.

The British that stayed on the ground that I contacted to literally confirm my biometric

data and passports to get that family moved, they weren’t there.

That family would still be there.

That three year old that got the shit kicked out of him by the Taliban that I was trying

to exfil, Canada left him.

What is it about politicians and governments not willing to do their job?

Well, not willing to do a big part of the job, which is you send people to war, these

are heroes, and then you should spend most of the time repaying the debts to those, right?

What is it about, why can’t we?

Because we’re disposable numbers, and we hire them out of high school when they’re stupid

enough to not understand what they’re going to get themselves into, and then we blame

it on themselves for making that decision by volunteering.

Yeah, but I mean, this still doesn’t make sense to me.

No, it’s a cop out.

I mean, Trudeau, I feel like he is a good human being that wants to do good for, I mean,

I tend to, I want to believe that leaders want to do good by the heroes of this world,

and it doesn’t, like, I don’t understand the system of delusion you have to live in to

not understand who the heroes are.

Like, I refuse to believe Trudeau is somehow a bad person.

You haven’t met him though, have you?

I don’t, actually.

I’m speaking about Trudeau without knowing, but I mean, in general, think that way about


Like, they surround themselves by people who delude them, who like, they’re yes people,

yes people that lead them into a kind of reality that becomes detached from actual reality.

And so they misunderstand the priorities of this world.

They think maybe some kind of special interest, they focus on that versus like the humans.

If you look back, was there a way we could have done something better in Afghanistan,

assuming we do the invasion?

Also, is it ultimately about taking care of the veterans, like, investing more money in

the education of women and liberating people who are suffering injustice in those parts

of the world?

Like, what’s a better way to do it?

And one other aspect is, on the US side, paid over $6 trillion for the wars in the Middle

East since 9 11, so the financial side as well.

Is there something you can comment on things we could have done better?

That’s a loaded question because you’re talking to someone who had no hand in what happened

other than do this and do that.

So I can go from my perspective, which is there was probably plenty of things that we

could have been doing better.

I think there was a lack of leadership from the get go.

I think the preparation that the Canadian military gave me was nowhere sufficient for

a deployment of that level.

Mind you, things happen.

They didn’t realize things would happen, but yet they happen.

With little to absolutely no cultural idea was that I was walking into.

Like when the one male in the family grabbed the back of my vest because my hair was tucked

and he thought it was a man going into a room with a bunch of women, I couldn’t understand

why he was attacking me.

There was no real breakdown of this is what you’re going into, this is the culture, this

is why they do what they do, this is how they do it, this is how you should handle a situation

like that.

There was none of that.

Something I speak about frequently and I think it’s important to acknowledge is when you’re

doing any of that training, we are giving none of our soldiers proper mental health

training, tools in that fucking toolbox or ways or things to look for on their buddy

because we’ve created a system and a problem where if you say that you’re ill or that you’re

struggling with PTSD, you’re done.

No one’s going to say that, they’re going to keep struggling with it and that’s when

you get loose cannons, when you get problems happen, so you get fractures start to happen

in leadership and that’s being seen and has been seen now for a while.

In terms of what we could have done, say for a better way to go into the country, a better

way to help the country, I can’t speak to that as much as I wish I could because I don’t

know that I would have all the answers.

What about withdrawal?

Oh my God.

That’s a cold.

Do you think more gradual, you think it’s better to maintain presence there for indefinitely?

I don’t know about that, but I do know we have bases, I say weeks, I serve with them,

Americans have bases in Japan, Americans have bases in Korea, Americans have bases in Germany.

There’s reasons there’s bases everywhere.

There’s a smart, there’s an intellectual way to look at this.

You want to be able to have eyes and ears, can’t have eyes and ears when you do things

like you just did.

The way that we pulled out of that country, that’s right, the way that, I hate saying

American British because it puts like a blame on them.

I say we because I’m a soldier, I’m a NATO soldier.

The way we pulled out of that country, my five year old could have done it better.

He could have said, mommy, why are we not keeping that Bagram base?

Mommy, why are we not keeping that base just until we get everyone else that we need?

Why are we going to a civilian airport that we don’t control, that we don’t understand?

Mommy, why are we doing this when there’s only one road to it?

My five year old would have that conversation with me.

It was so poorly done.

It was so poorly executed and no fault of the soldiers on the ground on their own.

My God, I can tell you there’s operators, I just call them A, I don’t say who he is

because he’s told me not to.

There’s a guy named A and there’s another guy named R and there’s a few other named

D and these guys, they gave everything to try to pull my family when no one else would

pull my family for me.

They just got me on the phone and said, I don’t know who the fuck you’re talking to.

I don’t know how many people you’re trying to get ahold of here, but you’ve got everyone

looking for your family.

Six, I’ve gone to everyone I know.

I’ve done stuff on Instagram.

I’ve got a contact.

The contact called me.

I called them.

I was handling this family and when they call you and say, we can’t go back to the gate,

my three year old just got beat up by the Taliban and they say, what do we do now?

I’m in Vancouver.

Why am I being left to deal with this?

Why is the civilian and ex military population being left to deal with this?

Why was this not thought out?

We knew this was coming.

We knew the timeframe.

Yeah, I ultimately blame, it almost starts at the top always at the leadership, sorry,

this is the civilian leadership.

I think probably the generals know the right thing to do here.

Even if they’re sometimes overzealous in terms of being, wanting to increase, I think the

great generals understand what’s needed.

And then it takes great leadership on the civilian side to listen to the generals and

understand that war is not just about like.

It’s not binary.

Yeah, and it’s not about the invasion and saying mission accomplished.

It’s not about the PR.

It’s about the full complexity of geopolitics.

Can I ask you this?

You can ask me whatever you want.

I’m looking at a book that you gave me, Do the Fucking Work.

It’s very motivating.

Good Fucking Design Advice.

That’s their company called Good Fucking Design Advice.

That’s great.

I know, they’re great.

What’s the website?


Okay, so the F is for friendship.

Something like that.

They are a design company.

They’ve worked with Apple and Nike, and this is their book.

It’s been published by HarperCollins.

And it is really just, it’s an incredible, they’re an incredible company.

They’re artistically, like they’re a design company, so you can see that.

You can see it’s a design company.

Oh yeah, they signed it for you.

And the pages are beautiful, but they have a saying and then a paragraph about each saying.

Get fucking started, obstacles are fucking opportunities, fail, fail, and fucking fail


Ask for fucking help, show some fucking passion, finish the fucking job.

That’s right.

So we should send that to Biden.

So I…

She said it, I didn’t say it.

Lex said it.

I didn’t say it.

Lex said it.

It’s fine.

I’ll say it.

I should also send it to Trudeau as well.

So, but I mean, he probably won’t know how to read it.

He just taught drama instead.

So I’ll send it to the previous four presidents.

How about that?

That’s fine.

We can also send it to them too.

Cause they’re all just as much at fault.

So, and they, most of them have all the same last names, but okay.

Let me tell you about them quickly.

Cause we did a mug with them and I was really excited about it.

Not because it was a mug.

I’m a mug person, but you are, that’s your mug obsessive.

I’m obsessive about my mugs.

What’s your favorite mug?

Currently it’s mine right now.

The one that I have with them.


The GMT mug.

What does it say on it?

Can I, do you want me to read what it says on it?

Yeah, please.


Cause I’m really happy about it because we created this with them, with GFDA.

I found out about them because my husband’s office, Atlas Neck Brace, he had his very

first office, he had one of their prints done and it was their original, like do the fucking


And I was really excited about them once I found out because I’m like, well, fuck is

my middle name.

And I want to make sure that I am going to, whoever I work with, I want to make sure that

I’m working with people that I believe in, that I believe what they stand for and I just

think they’re brilliant.

So I got on the phone with them and I said, hi, I would like you to sponsor my podcast.

And they said, cool.

What’s your podcast?

And I was like, it’s called Brass in Unity podcast and I want to work with you guys somewhere.

And they’re like, okay, so like, what are you thinking?

And I said, you know, I’m looking to do, I would love one day to do something with you.

I don’t know what it would be, but I would like it to be something.

And they said, you know, we do like, we have this book, but we also have like shirts and

mugs with our sayings on them and prints.

And so I was thinking to myself, I was like, well, if I just did like a mug with them,

well then I could, you know, that could work for what my company does, which is it’s a

jewelry company and sunglass company, but it could be like an add on kind of deal.

These guys are really good designers.

I can already tell.


I knew you would like this.

That’s why I brought it.

So I’m like, certain people would appreciate this.

And so my whole thing, my, my like hashtag is work hard, help harder.

And that’s the whole concept of what I do now.

And so we did a mug and it’s called fucking help somebody.

That’s their like first tag.

And then the rest is kindness is a wealth that increases as it is given away.

What you get in return isn’t passed between hands, but felt between hearts.

It’s precisely because you’ve been at the bottom that you can raise others up.

It’s because you’ve, sorry, I’m reading a photo here.

You’ve been lost in the dark.

You can lead others to the light.

It’s because you fought with yourself that you can bring peace to someone else.

You now have the strength because you’ve once struggled the best you have to come, the best

you have to come from the fucking worst you’ve had to take.

So it’s, this is the mug there and we’re sold out of them.

We just got a bunch of.

What does it say?

Fucking help.

Fucking help somebody.

And so we did, they were so gracious enough to sit with me and be like, what do you want

the copy to be like?

And I said, what do you think I want it to be like?

What would you, if you could write one for me, what it’d be?

And they’re like, it’s going to be around lifting people up.

And I was like, okay, cool.

And they’re like, do you want fuck in the title?

And I was like, every other word, if we can have it.

And they said, we’ll just do once.

And I was like, okay, I compromise.

And so we came up with that copy and we put it on a mug and we’re going to be doing a

shirt with them.

But the, the whole thing to me was that, that embodied what I stand for now and the healing

I’ve gotten to now and the point I’ve gotten to now in my life, because that fucking sand

pit almost broke me, like off the face of the earth broke me.

First of all, can we go through the full journey of that in terms of your psychological development?

Who were you before?

Who were you after?

Can you think about that?

Like what was your, if you had to put a brain on the table before and after and try to analyze


Well, they both have CTE.

So we know that they’re both bruised and gray matter is a little dicey on them.

And it may sound the same and it’s, it’s not, so I’ll try to explain it to you.

Before that, don’t you laugh because I can, I know it’s coming.

I was even louder, even more obnoxious, even more outgoing.

I know it’s hard to believe.

This is you humble and quiet right now.

This is normal me now.

This is who I am now.

And I love that.

But who I was before I was, you know, motocross, taekwondo, tomboy.

I didn’t know how to dress.

I thought that if you just wore like the same jeans and t shirt all the time, that was like

acceptable behavior as a woman.

I wore skate shoes.

I went to a Catholic school that I refused to wear skirt at.

I wore pants.

I played hacky sack.

I was so into sports, I cut and split wood with my dad on weekends.

We heated our house that way.

I would go on the transport.

I stayed out of trouble for the most part.

I think I was a fairly good kid.

I was pretty angry though for most of my teenage life after my coach.

I lost my way a little bit there.

I was just crazier.

But happy?

I don’t know if I was happy.

I’m realizing that now.

I think I was, I think anger overtook who I was, and I think that’s why I was such an

angry individual towards my parents when I was in high school.

So parents, was it a little rough relationship with parents?

I mean, yeah.

I mean, my dad was gone a couple of weeks at a time.

So my mom, stay at home mom, had to handle me and my brother, who were both competitive

athletes at the time, by herself.

And when you come home and you have a daughter that just calls you like a bitch to your face

because she can’t, she’s being bullied so bad that she can’t understand why, but also

doesn’t know how to fix it, but has no other outlet anymore to kind of get rid of it.

I was not nice.

I was a really mean person.

I broke my mom.

I remember the day she stopped yelling.

That’s the day I know I broke her.

I broke her.

Did you have a source of discipline in your life?

Like, what, like maybe like your dad, somebody who says you’re being a bitch.

Oh, like who would call me like that?

Oh no, no, no, no.

My parents were incredible.

And my dad came from like a family of like a bajillion kids who lived in a farm with

no running water with like super, my dad was brash and abrupt.

So like I’ve caught myself doing that once in a while.

So like if I did one thing wrong, if he was just in a mood, I would know it.

So you weren’t, okay.

So that anger just took different forms.

It took different forms, but it mostly would be directed at my mom because I know she would

take it and that was who I had.

And I feel bad about it to the day.

Like I still, she listened to the Jocko podcast and so did my dad.

And my mom promised me she would never read my book because there’s certain parts.

I just, my dad on my deployment, when I called him and told him some of the stuff, he started


My dad doesn’t cry.

And he just said, please never tell your mother this.

Don’t do that to your mom.

My mom, like my grandfather came from Hungary.

He escaped when the Nazis left, when the Soviets came in.

He wasn’t great as a dad.

My mom went through a lot as a kid and that was because her dad was in the war.

That was because her dad didn’t know any better and she knew she couldn’t be like that.

So her way would be yelling.

And then I hit about 16 and I wore her down and I broke her, shattered her ability to

think that she could have any sort of relationship with me.

You wouldn’t want to have had a relationship with me.

But the funny thing is you’ve rediscovered that now.

So she, is she, are you guys close now?


She’s, she’s so funny.

She’s coming out to help out again.

She comes out to help out with Jack all the time and my dad, they’re still, they’re still

truck drivers.

They’re still on the road.

They team drive.

They have their little dogs and they go and they do their thing.

And I’ve had that relationship now it’s, it’s, it’s still strenuous.

Like I still, when I’m having a hard time, she’ll be the person I’ll take it out on because

I know she can take it.

Even though I know I shouldn’t, it’s like, she’s my safe space to be like, blah, about


And she’ll just be like, well, that’s not nice.

I’m like, well, you’re not, fuck it.

Like I, and I’ll take it out on her.

She knows I don’t mean it and I try, um, but for whatever reason, she just, she takes it

and um,

And it brings it out of you.


Can you describe sort of the various characteristics, the, the shape of your PTSD, the trauma, how

the anger and hate took shape in you in the, in the seconds, minutes, hours, months, years

after and after the, the full trauma of all the things you’ve experienced in Afghanistan.

So it’s funny because Jocko asked me something and it made me, it’s made me, I’ve really

been thinking a lot about it and he’s like, do you think if somebody of the leadership

would have just sat you down and said, Hey, Burns, what you’re feeling is okay, what you’re

feeling is normal, what you’re feeling is what happens when you’re in something like


Do you think you would be where you are?

And I said, well, I thought about it and I’m like, you know, I don’t think I would

be because I wouldn’t have been medicated out of my mind.

I wasn’t able to process anything because I was just given medication right from the


And for me, what happened was once that light switch was off, um, I was sent back to Kandahar

to what I, once the operation was over, we, we flew back to Kandahar, like with the Brits.

And then because there was deaths and we lost people on that operation, I had to go to the

British side for the next, I think three or four days and recant word for word why, what

happened to a British MP who hand wrote statements, but we had to do that on repeat to make sure

we all had the same story and so nobody shot anybody in the back.

And so that I don’t think is a great way to do that after an after action, after action

reports happen, but I don’t think beating a dead horse and having somebody repeat, repeat,

repeat, and then just imprint more and more and more.

I don’t, I don’t know that that is a great way of doing that.


And especially from a perspective of what are they, uh, liability almost like legal,

that kind of that perspective as opposed to the full perspective.

I mean, so, so for people who don’t know, uh, one is the, the, the overmedication and

that you had to undergo.

And then the other is the social isolation in terms of, I mean, more than what Jaco,

what you just mentioned, you also kind of, uh, mentioned that just being with, um, with

other soldiers you’re close with, just sitting there in silence and, um, just sitting in

that shared understanding, even that in itself communicates like these feelings are normal.

Like you don’t have to talk and you were robbed of that as well, essentially.


Because I was, because I was borrowed, I think Jaco had a name for us when we get borrowed.

It was like, there was like a, I don’t know what they call us, but it’s like when you

take a person and you put them in another unit, there’s a name for it.

I don’t remember what it was.

You never see those people again.

But because I was in Kanderhart, the doctors gave me the medication because I, I think

I was the one who said, I don’t, this isn’t right.

I don’t feel right.

This is wrong.

Cause when I got back that night, there was supposed to be somebody there to pick me up,

to take me to the other side of the base and no one showed.

So I, I humped on my kit back to the Canada house and I remember getting in the shower

and the rule was quick fucking showers, no water.

I must’ve sat on that floor, that shower for half an hour, 45 minutes.

I just held myself and cried and didn’t even know why I was crying.

I just knew I needed to cry and I still this day, I, and when they sent me back to the

FOB, they sent me back with all this medication after spending that time with the Brits and

they put me back on the guns, medicated out of my fucking tree.

I almost shot someone, but they didn’t tell my staff that I was on meds.

So when the artillery gun was going off and I didn’t run to the gun and I was still asleep

inside the tent with the gun beside my head, they didn’t know I was just drugged.

They just thought I was fucking off somewhere, hanging out with some Americans.

They just thought I wasn’t doing any of what I should be doing.

And then I remember the moment my Sergeant, we did a night shoot and he, he’s so funny

because he called me and goes, ah, fuck, Burns, I remember this, yes, you were standing there

with me and I look at you and go, hey, Burns, are you okay?

Because your eyes are all fucked.

And I, I looked at Sergeant LeBlanc and I just remember going, yeah, I’m good.

Like just huh.

He’s like, I still remember that.

And I’m like, I know.

And he goes, they never tell me anything, fuck, Burns, I did not know the drugs you

were on.

And as I was on all of them, he goes, I know I walk in, you show me the bottles, ah, fuck,

Burns, you shouldn’t have been there.

I guarantee he sounds just like that.

You’ll find out.

He’s brilliant.

Yeah, so what, I mean, I suppose this is a lazy way of dealing with trauma and it’s for

the military in some sense.

If you don’t have a good program in place, this makes sense, but you should have a good

program in place.

Just like you said, on the prep, on the mental prep side, like just any prep, like training

people, training people on the, I suppose to, I guess train the fact that you’re going

to have somebody close to you blow up, like you have to probably visualize that.

You have to think through that.

You have to have a process of how to deal with something like that, with that kind of


And then that’s it.

Tools in the toolbox is what the doctors call it.


I mean, and it’s not like weakness, it’s actually strength.

It’s like you have to be mentally strong enough to process that.

That probably takes a lot of training, but it’s a great training, right?

Well worth it to protect your investment training.


That’s a very cold, but correct way to put it.

I mean, it’s cold.

I thought you would appreciate the coldness of the way I articulated that.

Well, yeah.

I mean, I’m of two minds in this.

I don’t, I sometimes wonder like what I would be like as a soldier, actually.

I don’t know, because I love country and I love all the things you’re mentioning.

Like I could see myself probably dying for my country and also enjoying the skill of


The very like OCD, like very proficient.


But then also the human side, I fall in love with people.

I fall in love with everything.

So I don’t know, I suppose you have to shut off the part of your brain when you’re executing

a mission that cares about other humans outside your close knit group.

Like there’s no time for philosophical thinking.

I don’t know.

I suppose that’s why it’s better to be young.

Young and dumb.

You’re not necessarily dumb.

It’s just like you were over that energy of excitement of proficiency and excellence is

just higher than it is later in life.

You’re not dumb.

I was not dumb, but I was naive, uneducated, not well trained and had an arrogance because

we were told we were the fucking shit.


You’re amazing.


I’m amazing.

So I wonder, do they think if we do mental training?

That makes you weak.

Do you think the military thinks that makes you weak?

Well, yes.

And the reason I can say that is because it’s obvious in the way that they handle it now.

So like if a soldier says, hey, I’m really struggling with that last op we were on, man,

it’s just really, it’s getting to me, I’m having a hard time sleeping.

They’re going to go, okay, well, how, how hard of a time sleeping are you having?

And then you get that re and you go, oh no, I’m not, it’s not that bad.

I’m not, I don’t need anything for it.

Like I’m just like once in a while I’m losing some sleep.

They’re like, okay.

Because you know that pen moves, it’s all getting written down and then you’re dead

red, you’re dead red, which means you’re not deploying again.


And then you’re not able to do the thing you love the most with the people you love the



I mean, but also this is really difficult and I’d love to talk to you about PTSD, but




I keep going off.

No, please.

So I’m, I’m hoping to, um, like launch a company, you know, in the engineering space and the,

and I currently lead, I’ve led a few people and it’s always this kind of, um, like how

much are you supposed to push people because people are, everyone is weak and lazy.

Are you quoting her text messages from earlier?

Yeah, exactly.

I’m quoting, all I have is just quotes from you.

That’s okay.

Uh, tells me how much we’ve spoken in the past week, poor soul.

I just, I don’t know what to do because sometimes people are really struggling, like really

struggling in a way with their being there.

Like it’s the, it’s the Goggins thing is like, where’s the line to where you’re actually

breaking the human being versus where you’re breaking them at the places where they will

grow back stronger.

Like in that line is tricky, uh, to, to truly understand.

I think the military eras on the side of like, they, you know, like push them beyond all

limits, physical, physical, but mental, they don’t, they need to respect the mental more.

Uh, they fuck with the brain a little bit.

I mean, in basic training, they like scream in your face and to see who’s going to crack

and they, they put you on sleep deprivation to see who’s weak enough that they can’t handle

sleep depth.

They’ll, they do stuff to you.

Like I know if you’re a downed pilot, you have to go and you have to do this training

and like it’s, you’ll get captured.

It’s like this whole thing and they fuck with your brain, but there’s a line.

There’s a line.

My issue is go to the line, cross the line, give them the tools to come back from the




We don’t do that.

We don’t, we, we know there’s PTSD.

We know there’s a, such a thing.

We understand there’s anxiety and depression.

We understand there’s major depressive disorder.

We understand that there are precursors.

There are signs and symptoms.

We understand that.

So why are we not building enough of a toolkit, whether that be, I’m not talking medication.

I’m talking, it sounds woo woo, but fucking trust me, it works.

I’m talking meditation.

I’m talking yoga.

I’m talking about peer group support.

I’m talking about if you go to your doctor and report this, there’s, you’re not automatically

going to be losing your job.

Why aren’t we giving the proper tools and the education needed?

These things are not difficult to teach.

They don’t take a lot of time.

They don’t take a lot of money.

The only time it takes a lot of money is when you want to medicate.

We don’t need to medicate you yet.

You only need to be medicated if you’re a danger to someone else or yourself.

And most of the time, because of the way the system is set, you’ll lie about it through

your fucking teeth, just so that no one touches you.

So from the perspective of the military, do you think you can still be a bad motherfucker

and do all the mental work?


Some of the baddest dudes I’ve ever known are like, I gotta go to yoga.

I gotta go meditate.

I go do ayah with those guys.


Because they know that that’s not okay to be like that in your life.

Can you answer the ridiculously big question of what is PTSD?

Do you understand the basic characteristics of it?

Is there universal characteristics from your own unique experience, from what you’ve understood

about it?

Yeah, of course there are.

So there’s the basic things that a doctor looks for when they’re diagnosing PTSD.

I’m not a doctor.

Let me make that fucking clear.

But there are things that you look for.

You look for insomnia.

You look for anger and aggression.

You look for people to fly off the handle.

You look for avoidance.

You can tell in somebody’s body.

People who can’t sleep.

If you can’t sleep, you know that after a certain amount of time, they’re just going

to deteriorate.

You know, sleeplessness, triggers.

When you say avoidance, do you mean…


So like, when I first got back to Canada, I avoided everybody that was Middle Eastern

at all costs, no matter how much of a difference it made in my day.

If I had to not go somewhere for one of the greatest events of my life, I wouldn’t have


But isn’t there some aspect that are combined with the triggers?

Maybe it’s wise to avoid triggers even like for your own personal health, well being.

Well that’s it.

For me, that was one of my triggers.

So you have triggers.

And then you also deal with things like sounds and smells.

You can tell.

You can tell when someone’s triggered.

A lot of vets don’t like fireworks.

It’s like, okay, well remove yourself from the situation.

So there’s other things within PTSD that kind of rear its head that with PTSD kind of attach

other things.

So like when I was diagnosed with PTSD, I think it was like four years later, I was

diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

And that was kind of a compilation of things that was just like a shit show there.

What is major depressive disorder?

Good question.

Is there an answer?

I don’t have one.

I was told I had it.

Okay, so I mean, what does your mind go through?

Where are the places that my mind goes, your mind goes like the dark places when I get

triggered and when it was like really bad?




So you thought about suicide every minute of every day.

What are the pros of suicide in your mind at that time?

At that time, the pros were no one has to deal with this anymore, I don’t have to feel

this way anymore, I’m a burden to my family, I’m a burden to the military system, I’m weak,

I’m a bad soldier, I didn’t do my job, I don’t deserve to be alive, I don’t deserve veterans

affairs support, my parents don’t deserve to watch me go through this, the guy I was

dating didn’t deserve to put up with the bullshit I put him through, the people who drive with

me in cars didn’t deserve to almost hit medians because I swerved because of a piece of garbage,

people didn’t deserve my racist outburst, people didn’t deserve, people didn’t, I did

not deserve to be breathing anymore.

I should have died there and I wished I died there.

So self hate there too.

So that’s at the core of it, that’s like this, so how do you escape from that place?

How do you overcome that depression essentially at the core of the desire to kill yourself?

What basic principles, I mean, we could talk about ayahuasca, but basic principles of literally

how do you escape that moment?

Yeah, previous to any of that, I did from 2009, I got out, so I was medically, I was

3B medical honorable discharge in 2011, May 23rd, 2011, so I left the military then.

And so it’s been 10 years, just over 10 years, oh my God, it’s 10 and a half years, I just

realized that right now.

Oh my God.

Happy anniversary.

Thanks, man.


So I’ve been out for 10 years and I would say the reason I didn’t kill myself for the

longest time was the individual I was dating.

That was straight across the board, that was it.

For me, there was no relief for about six years of the thought of just kill yourself,

kill yourself, kill yourself.

It’s easier if you just do it.

That voice was so strong for that long, there was really no relief.

What there was though was implementation of different medications, realizing they weren’t

working, trying different things, getting myself to a point where I could leave my house

comfortably ish again, and I wasn’t triggered, which then allowed me to travel, which then

allowed me to slowly try to go back to school, which by the way, it was a very bad idea.

That was a bad idea, that was bad.

I went too early, they started practicing active shooter drills in our school.

It was bad, my professors understood.

School was full of triggers, it turns out.

It is when you live in Vancouver.

There’s a theme to this conversation about your love for Canada.

Look at me, I love my fucking country, I am one of the most patriotic people you will

meet in it.

I think Canada is one of the greatest fucking places on the earth.

I think in the past two years or three years, I have seen what I loved so deeply, so proudly

preached about so…

I’m so proud of what I did there.

And I’m so proud of the country I got to represent, because I was good at my job.

Being great at your job for a country you love, you just don’t like some of the politicians

some of the time.

It’s not even the politicians anymore, it’s the state of the country.

I’m a second class citizen in my own country right now.

I can’t travel to see my parents within my own country.

I’m not allowed to step foot in my son’s school.

I am not allowed to go to a restaurant with my family.

I’m not allowed to leave Canada without, I told you all the stuff I have to do to get


To even get home, I have to do the same.

I’m watched by the RCMP, neighbors rat you out.

So for somebody who fought for their country.

I hate it, it makes me so sad.

To go through this process of what many consider to be power overreach by government in the

face of this particular pandemic.

I always knew I had a hard time, I loved Canada, the day I got spit on when I got home was

not ideal.

But the thing was, I knew long enough that if I just put one foot in front of the other

and kept going to treatment, and kept doing what my doctor told me to do, that I could

pull out of this if I tried.

I was told that I could do anything in my life.

It didn’t matter.

As long as I tried.

Was trying really hard?

Trying was harder than breathing.

It was exhausting.

It was, I would be awake for like half a day and every minute of that day, I’d just stare

at the wall and just want to kill myself.

That’s what I’ve had people close to me who suffer from depression and it was like, it’s

unclear how to escape, but it’s clear that you need to try something.

And they didn’t want to even try.

Because you have no try in you.

I’m watching a person who has no energy essentially to like do any of it and it’s like so hopeless.

But you have to try and I think some of that has to do with all the different physical

feeds you have to do.

Like when you have nothing left, you still keep going.

That same like weird drive when you’re empty, you still keep going.

I wanted to give up.

I tried.

It’s, I did.

I’m really lucky because it really was the one person that I’d wake up to next every

day and he’d be like, hey, so that new drug you’re on?

Fun fact, if you don’t go to sleep right away, you talk and when you talk, you just don’t

fucking stop and you go off about everything that’s horrible and I’m like, what are you

talking about?

No, last night.


You took that pill.

Guess what?

You just, you just, you didn’t stop.

I’m like, I have no recollection.

I’d get up in the middle of the night.

I would cook food like on a stove and it would be, hopefully we don’t die because I would

have no recollection because of the drugs.

The idea that when people say, well, just put yourself out of depression, I’m a highly

motivated individual.

The idea of lifting my head up to turnover was daunting.

It’s terrifying.

It’s like for somebody so as driven as you to completely lose all of that for moments

of time, for stretches of time.

Fuck the mind is a motherfucker.

It is.

I can’t, for somebody like, I can’t, I can’t, I’m so, I’m so grateful for people like you

to be able to pull out of that.

I’ve been always the opposite.

Like I’ve been very fortunate to just always find joy, meaning in everything, even the

stupidest shit.

Can I ask you something?


Do you think that’s because of how you were raised, where you came from?

No, no, it was my own person.

I honestly think it’s the biology, the, this, cause I had my parents, I’m very cognizant

of had nothing to do with that.

They, they never understood this little engine I had.

I just, I always liked just sitting, looking at people and just enjoying how amazing they

are and just like looking at, like it’s, I think it’s straight up just biology, whatever

the neurochemistry is.

Like I’m just getting like a good drug from, yeah, I’m getting hits all the time from stupid


And it doesn’t, and yeah, so that’s why I can be, sometimes I’ll talk like very self

critically about myself because that’s almost makes me, it makes life more fun and challenges

stuff and it makes you more productive.

But ultimately it’s because I’m getting that like good, I’m getting the good stuff all

the time.

I wondered about that.

I was thinking about that when I listened to you for the first time on, I think when

you’re on Rogan for the first time, water shouldn’t do that.

Oh, it’s not water.

You shouldn’t trust.

See, this is the thing with the Russians.

It’s Dessani.

It’s owned by Coca Cola.

Well, no, I had it resealed.

I mean, I didn’t go that far, but now I’m really certain to question what’s in this,

but that’s okay.

If I offered you tea, you should really be worried.



I mean, that’s the, no, that’s the, like the more famous way that Russians usually assassinate


They put poison in the tea.

Cause a lot of Russians drink tea and you know, all right, well, I mean there is a blade

right there.

So I thought was somebody, um, Andrew Huberman gave that to me.

He’s also good.

I don’t know if you know him, but he’s a cool, I don’t know all the people, you know, I’m



I’m new here, Lex.

You’re going to have to send instructions.


I’m going to have to let my friends say, he says, uh, he’s an ex operator and he’ll message

me once in a while and ask me something and I’ll answer back.

If I answer in the correct way, he’ll go candidate meets expectations.

I’m like, fuck you.

I’m not a candidate of anything.


But yeah, it’s essentially.

Well, Andrew Huberman is kind of a celebrity.

Andrew, you should check her out.

Uh, you’re, you’re an interesting person.

You guys should connect.

He’s a Stanford neuroscientist was a, I think the number one podcast in the world in health.

Uh, he’s a, does he have like a, a beard thing going?

Uh, yeah.

I mean, I’m knocking him down to like, does he have a beard?

I don’t, I don’t look, I don’t look at people’s visual appearance, man.

No, I don’t.

Uh, does he have a beard?

I think he has a beard.


He’s a very handsome gentleman.

I think I know you’re talking about, cause I think I was looking at his stuff this morning.

Yeah, exactly.

No, seriously on Instagram.

No, no, no.



I know him.

But it’s very, very humble, very intelligent.


Probably you would understand, like I’m very kind of poetic and so on.

He’s, he’s probably the most like rigorous, um, reference machine of science.

Like he’s a legit scientist.

Like he knows every paper and everything has to do with the mind and neuroscience.

Like performance.


He’s much more, he’s, he’s, he’s much more actually, and the focus is always on, um,

how to help, how that helps people.

So like protocols, like, like here’s what you need to do to get better sleep.


Yes, I know who it is.

Here’s like a thousand papers.


And he just goes like hammers nonstop.

I mean, he, um, he spent a week in Austin, he’s coming back and spending, uh, a couple

of weeks in Austin.

We just hang out.

And it’s like, you think that was like a teleprompter or something, like the way he does his podcast.


Like in person, he’s the same, like, all right, this is, this is intense, but I like it.


Uh, why did we bring him up?

I don’t know.

Brought up knives.

We were talking about.

He gave it to me.

That’s right.



And then you talk about poison and how you were poisoning me.

And I said, knives.

We’re talking about Russians.

And then we were kind of talking about the brain and PTSD.


I think for, for most people though, the biggest thing when they see somebody who’s struggling

with PTSD there, their first, you know, reaction is how do I help them?

Well, often just saying, Hey, I’m here when you’re ready to talk and you’re going through

something, whether you want to talk about it right now or not, I’m here.

And then keeping a close eye on behaviors.

When you start to see somebody having, you know, four, five, six beers at night, let’s

ask why.

When you see somebody, you can tell they’re not sleeping.

Hey buddy, you sleeping?

I just am not sleeping.

Instead of just going, Oh, that sucks.

Hey, why aren’t you sleeping?

You having nightmares?

Are you, you just have an insomnia?

Are you just eating sugar before bed?

Like care enough about your people to just ask one followup question.

Cause often that’s really all it takes.

Cause then somebody goes, somebody cares enough to ask and then they’ll just, yeah.

Just showing that you care.

Honestly, grocery store lineup.

I’ll say, Oh, I like your dress.

Oh, thank you.

And then I’ll go, how’s your day going?

They’re like, actually it’s going all right.

It’s not as great as I thought it would be today, but I’m doing okay.

But like they’ll give you a, instead of good you, instead of just giving you this fake,

false reaction.

If you just show any effort in somebody that you care at all about someone’s wellbeing,

you’d be amazed.


And some of that is just energy.

The reason honestly I moved to Austin is some lady at a Walmart said, honey, you look handsome

in that suit.

But the care that she put in that, she just looked at me and it wasn’t like hitting at

me or something.

She was like, the love.

Just love.


And I was like, Oh, okay.

I’m moving here.

I guess.

There was a, that’s so funny you said that.

Cause I told my, I told my husband this happened and it was, it threw me off.

There was an older lady at a store and this was right after we, we got a brief period

of no masks in Canada.

Just like a brief.

It’s like five minutes.

Oh yeah.

It was not even that.

And I, I had come from like an interview or something.

So I had actually had makeup on that day and I had my hat and I was, you know, just at

the grocery store.

She walked up to me and she got real close and I didn’t know what was happening.

And then she got closer and then she just grabbed my arm like this.

She goes, I love that hat on you.

And I looked at her and I was like, she touched me during a pandemic and she’s old.

Oh my God, I love you too.

Thank you so much.

I said, you’re so amazing.

And I just, and I just sparked a conversation.


That’s amazing.

Doesn’t take much.


That little moment of genuine care.

Maybe you can tell me actually the, um, the journey you took with ayahuasca, like what

that’s such a fascinating journey.

So like, uh, letting your mind go to different places in order to rediscover itself, like,

like, what is it like a rocket ship to somewhere else so you can land in a better place?

Here, how about I show you something that’ll help your brain.


This is not for you to lift up either and show on the camera because there’s leaves

in it.

Like there’s leaves in some pages.

So just don’t dump it out cause it’ll go all fucking everywhere.

Got it.


I like this.


Well, you feel like you need them.

Um, ayahuasca is a beautiful psychedelic that we have been so blessed to have on this earth

that we have so underutilized and could be, I don’t want to say saving humanity, but just

you ever hear that saying, if you could just give everyone mushrooms one time, the world

would be a better place.


So psilocybin is I use for microdosing, uh, for depression.

I did ayahuasca in January of this year.

Um, and I’ve at that point, that was the last time I was on a pharmaceutical drug.

I’ve been off everything ever since 10 different ones.

So if you backtrack a little bit, just to, so you’ll understand my doctor gave me the

opportunity, Dr. Greg Passi.

He is a veteran himself, served in Bosnia and Rwanda.

He’s a medic.

He’s a Colonel.

I think Colonel Lieutenant, he’s going to fucking punch me right in the face for that.

He’s high up officer.

Um, he is one of my saviors.

He’s like my old, I call him my old man.

He’s my favorite and, um, rides a Harley, like that kind of guy.



And, um, he said, you know, Kels, this is, I just don’t, I was hitting a wall.

I wasn’t getting any better.

And he goes, what, how do you feel about cannabis?

And I was like, I don’t feel good about it because family histories or my parents always

told me if I smoked weed, you know, it’s just this, this perception because I just want

you to try it.

Just would it, would you be willing to try it?

So I was like, okay, so I was willing to try it.

Then I started going to these groups called Women Grow and, um, learning about it.

And then I realized, oh, I’m starting to sleep a little bit.

I don’t feel groggy in the morning.

I don’t feel like a bag of shit.

And I also want to have a baby one day and I can’t have all this stuff in my system.

So I started using cannabis and then I started using it as a main medication and I’d been

using it now since 2014, got married, 2015, 2015, 2015 I started using it.

And then I’ve been using it ever since.

And that was the way I got off of all the pharmaceutical drugs was keeping cannabis

the constant, finding the right strains for me, and then slowly with the doctor’s advice

and under supervision going off of those medications.

Back to January of 2021, I had hit a really bad spell last year.

Um, and the year before it was a really big struggle.

Uh, I almost lost my company last year due to COVID just like many, many millions of

people did.

Um, and instead of me just laying down and taking it, I pivoted really quickly and called

the factory and said, do you guys make masks?

They’re like, yeah, we’re making masks.

I was like, I’m going to call the Canadian government.

I’m going to get my medical license and I’m going to try to sell the masks and see if

we can do that.

And so we did that.

And so we did 200,000 masks for Ontario hospitals, um, which ironically went to my entire community

I was born and raised in.

So it was really weird.

And that kept us afloat long enough.

Um, we lost 200 retail locations that I all single handedly spent five years going like

door to door getting myself.


and we should say this is brass and unity, jewelry,

the jewelry and sunglass company.

And um, I started,

speaking of which,

looks like a cereal.

I mean, you do look good in them.

I won’t lie to you.

Thank you.

Well, okay.

We’ll call them the Lex.

That’s those are now called the Lex.

Fuck the gunner.

They’re the Lex.

I like it.

The Lex.

I’m jumping around here, but just bear with me.

I, I started, my doctor suggested art therapy.

Dr. Patsy did.

And that’s really how the company started.

I bought beads and a pipe cutter and a hammer and a drill and I fucked up our kitchen table

and I taught myself how to put jewelry cause my husband was like, you can do it.

Go for it.

So I was like, okay, he says I can believes in me, so I guess I can do it.

No idea what I’m doing.

And then got to this point, um, you know, where COVID hit and people lost companies

and we pivoted and we did what we could.

And then I really started to go downhill psychologically.

I’ve found purpose again with this company.

I found a way to help again.

I found myself again.

And then that was in danger of being gone again.

So the company is 2015.

We started, I started building jewelry in 2015 under like a just, it was called her

wearables and it was really small and it was just, I was just trying to make stuff.

It wasn’t supposed to be a company.

And you were on a ton of medication throughout this whole process.

And my mom being the tenacious truck driver she is, she was driving for Kevin Hart’s what

now tour.

And so she got, she just harassed them was like, you need to meet my daughter.


I saw the picture of you and Kevin Hart, that’s cool.

But he just gave me a good piece of advice.

Hey, if you’re going to make this something, you can’t really, if you want it to be for

everyone, you can’t call it her wearables.

I was like, cool.

And then we drove home that night and then he tweeted it out to people to 24 million


And he was like, who is now?

And that was a giant deal.

And then my husband kind of looked at me and being, he’s so fucking brilliant.

He looked at me and goes, all right, yeah, we got to come up with a rename.

Let me start thinking.

Let me start brainstorming.

Like, let’s make, you want to make this real?

Let’s make this real.

And so we did.

And he was like, what do you think about like, we were doing like brass collective co, brass

this, but I just knew I wanted brass in the name.

And then he’s like, what about brass and unity?

You’re trying to like unify people.

Like why wouldn’t you do that?

I’m like, fucking million horses came up with it.

Like everything else.

That’s a great name.

Well, he’s a brilliant person.

It’s annoying.


So the idea of losing this thing that we had just built and just got me kind of functioning

with was devastating.

So I got this opportunity given to me by Griff, Combat Flip Flops.

Um, again, Brady, my husband was like, Hey, you should get sponsors for your podcast.

Hey, have you heard of this company, Combat Flip Flops?

Remember we watched them on Shark Tank.

And then I reached out, he emailed me back.

He’s like, yeah, we go to together like peanut butter and jelly are companies.

That sounds great.

And then I was like, Hey, also, like, do you think one of your owners would want to come

on the podcast?

Just like tossing it out there kind of like I did with you.

And he was like, yeah, I’d love to come on.

And I was like, oh my God.

And he came on the podcast and it went great.

And then at the end of it, we stopped recording and he just kind of did this thing.

He does this.

Just like leans in real close, looks into your soul and goes, how you doing?

And they’re like, great.

And he’s like, how you really doing?

And I’m like, I’m horrible.

I’ve done everything.

And just this whole, just like waterworks happen and he goes, listen, have you ever

heard of Ayahuasca?

And I was like, yeah, like in movies and like psychedelics in the seventies, you know, and

he’s like, no, no, no, no, no.

Let’s like have a talk.

And he goes, I’ve got an opportunity for a spot.

I’m going with this charity called Heroic Hearts.

They have spaces in UK, Canada and the United States.

They’re owned by an army ranger named Jesse Gould.

You know, they’re really trying to help vets.

And this has worked.

Would you want to come?

And before he even said, like, would you, before I even got like an invite, I was like,

can I come?

When can I, when, when, when do we, when do we go?

And he’s like, oh, it’s in like three weeks.

You can’t be on any SSRIs.

If you’re on any, you’re going to have to wean off.

And at the time I was on my last one.

And so I was like, I called my doctor and I was like, listen.

And he was like, what?

And I was like, guess what I’m about to do?

And he’s like, I’m like going to go do ayahuasca.

And he goes, you’re going to, he does this thing where he just goes, all right.

Because he knows he’s not going to win.

He knows I’ll just fight him on it.

That’s just called that, like the, the Jocko reset because he does a.

Pretty much.

Yeah, exactly.

And he goes, I said, but here’s the kicker.

I have to go off of this medication.

And he goes, well, you know, we’re supposed to do that in the summer months when the depression’s

not like bringing, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Listen, I hear you, but I’m doing it.

Whether you want me to or not.

So I’m letting you know, Hey, this is going to happen.

And he’s like, okay, just try to do it properly.

I was like, yeah, yeah, yeah.

I know the drill.

I know the drill, whatever, whatever.

I went to school to be a paramedic.

I know the drill.

I’ll go off of it properly.

So I can like drop that within a week that stuff was, I was done taking it.

And I was going through like the world’s worst just withdrawals.

It was like you were at a rock concert and your head was banging up and down, but you

were sitting perfectly still.

It was horrible.

But you had like a thing to look forward to with the sidewall.

I had a light at the end of the tunnel and I knew if I got to the light was the worst

that’s going to happen.

Just get to the light.

But at that point, like I, again, I had a son, I had a husband, I had a great company,

I have a great house, I have a nice car, I have everything.

Why did I want to die every minute of the day?

I was at that point again.

And I’m like, this has got it, something’s got to give.

And so I went and I got there and she is the most intense, beautiful, divine deity or entity

or visualization, whatever you want to deem ayahuasca as, mama ayahuasca is real.

And she takes no prisoners.

She shows you exactly what you need to see to help yourself, but she does not discriminate

against whether you’re ready or not.

If you’ve ingested it, she’s coming for you.

She’s going to be either gentle or she’s going to beat your ass.

And sometimes that’s what you need, but she does it in a way that is profound.

So what were some memorable, profound moments for you?

What what are the places it took you, these people had you meet?

For the first time, I got to be in a group of people who didn’t judge me or question

my service.

They just respect me.

That was number one.

So that group I lost, I just found again.

Big shocker, I was the only woman there again.

Seems to be the thing for me.

And so I was surrounded by all these special operators.

These aren’t like normal soldiers.

These guys that I’m with are like, Bronze Star, fucking Purple Heart, just the coolest


People I’ve always wanted to be like, that’s my buddy.

Now I can be like, those are my buddies, like those motherfuckers will go to bat for me.

They will bend over backwards.

They will exfil me out of anywhere.

They will take a bullet for me.

And these guys welcomed me in in a way I didn’t I didn’t expect.

So that hit me weird right off the get.

I was nervous.

And now I was just felt that home for a minute.

And then when I stepped into ceremony, the first night because you do you do three nights

over like over like Friday, Saturday, Sunday, the first night, I was so nervous and so anxious

because you go up in ceremony and you’re the shamans come in and they cleanse themselves

and then you get served the ayah individually, you go up, they give it to you, you can take

your time and pray, you can do whatever you want, then you drink it.

I was so just like, I got back to my mat and I sat there and I was like trying to keep

it in.

But I could feel that like heat come from my toes all the way up and you’re like your

mouth starts to water.

I’m gonna throw up, I’m gonna throw up, I’m gonna throw up.

And I looked over to Griff and I looked at Bishop and I was like, okay, and you can’t

talk or anything.

So I like my buddy, we call him the Viking, a soul Viking.

He looks like a Viking, his head’s tattooed, he’s been on the show.

He’s so cool.

He’s sitting directly across like you and I and he can see me, he’s looking at me and

I’m throwing up and I do it about three times and then the last time he just saw me and

I couldn’t do it, I threw it up.

And so I like to think that was her way of easing me in so I didn’t get like a full punch

to the face.

But I gotta, let me take your hand and show you what I’m gonna show you.

We’re gonna make you better, we’re gonna take the pain away.

Aren’t you supposed to eventually throw up no matter what?

It’s not supposed to, some people don’t.

You purge.

Yeah, if something’s happening, you’re going through something, yeah, you purge.

But it doesn’t have to happen.

But this, I mean, within like the first 20 minutes, no.

It just takes like, you gotta sit and meditate for, or sit still basically and meditate

in the pitch black for about 45 minutes before the effects even, before you even feel her.

So it’s very.

So here she figured out the right dose you need, maybe.

Well because I did the same dose as everyone else.

I think it was 20 mils, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you’ve never done hiatus.

Oh my god.

So I felt like such a bitch.

God, I felt like such a bitch.

Okay, that was the thought going through your mind.

Oh, you just fucked it all up.

You ruined it.

You ruined this again.

You couldn’t do this right?


And so at that point, we went through the meditation part and the shamans were, they

literally sing for like six hours straight.

So you sit there, you take it and then there’s just what you’re quietly listening to them.

Meditate and you wait and you wait and you’re in pitch black, like can’t see this far in

front of your face.

And you have a little puke bucket and then you have a little light that has a red filter

on it.

You have to get up to go to the bathroom to get out of the yurt and you use that so you

don’t turn lights on.

And me, I brought like what?

No, it’s just a cool visual of just a puke bucket and a little light for the, like I

can imagine these like little lights going every once in a while and then the rest is

just in darkness meditating with this singing.

It’s so beautiful.

It’s cool.

I would love to do that sometime.

Because trust me, you would, I wouldn’t offer if it wasn’t the group I would trust.

Yeah that’s in, you had a very interesting group.

So it’s the Heroic Hearts people.

Yeah, Heroic Hearts.

So they, yeah, this is my, Jesse gave us all these journals.

They’re like, you’re going to want these.

So he gave us all these journals and now this is like my Bible, like my work, my everything

goes in this with me everywhere.

It’s just this like silent reminder for me.

And so Heroic Hearts does fantastic work.

I’ll get into them after.

The thing with this group is there’s such care.

It’s not like go do AYA and like you’re done.

There’s like integration coaches and there’s like doctors and there’s like people to make

sure that you’re doing the work because AYA is just the, is just the gate.

Now you have to take it and you have to implement it into your life.

People don’t do that though.

Did you do like integration?

Did you do conversations with somebody?

Did you talk to, like, is there a process to, because similar with psilocybin you mentioned,

as I understand, it’s exceptionally beneficial for when you also do like talk therapy.

Like you couple that with the integration in some form where you talk through your experience

and you talk through different things.

Like that seems to be a really, you know, I need to do that more with basically every

substance I take.

Like if I get, which I have been every once in a while known to do, a bit of vodka or

whiskey or whatever, like do integration the next day.

What did you learn?

What did you get from that?

What did you get?

Because you learn a lot, but you sometimes kind of just move on and you celebrate that

that happened, but like really kind of think through it.

Write it down.


It’s important because that’s what this was.

So the first night, I’ll give like a very, because trust me, we could spend a whole podcast

on both of the, all three of those nights, but the first night, the biggest thing that

happened for me is I got to see my daughter, which was my first baby.

And so people say, well, you know, blah, blah, blah.

Fuck you.

That was my daughter.

And I’m very aware it was, I’m very conscious that it was.

And at that point, she just eased me in enough to let me know and showed me enough that this

wasn’t it.

This wasn’t the end all be all.

Where you are right now on this plane, on this dimension, in this life, this is, this

is a blip and it is, it is so minuscule to the big picture.

And so she really did that by, she showed me just a black and then like a crack.

And then these vibrant colors that I can’t describe because there aren’t words, Alex

Gray does really great art.

And that is like been the closest thing I’ve been able to find colors.

He’s a famous guy who does ayahuasca and he’s an artist.

I think he’s got stuff in New York as well.

But she just, she eased me in and gave me some relief and showed me enough that I could

go, I could wake up the next day and not want to die the next day.

And so what Heroic Heart said, because they gave us all these journals, they’re like,

you know, the next day you kind of wake up and you, you do a meet, like a meeting.

You do like a circle.

You just sit in a room and talk about what just happened the night before.

People are crying and people are quiet and you just listen and that’s what you do.

And then you write on your free time.

So after that, it’s like up to you what you want to do.

Do you want to just go walk in the woods?

Well, I chose to go find a fence post and lie on it for an hour.

I’m not kidding.

I lied there and stared up at these two eagles that were just in like the, I’ll tell you

where we were after and you’ll be like, oh, okay, I get it.

And then I found a forest and I just walked up with my book and I just lied there for


And then she all of a sudden started giving me what you call your downloads.

So the stuff you learn, the stuff that you were all of a sudden you’re remembering and

these messages that come through.

And that’s what this is.

What kind of things are we talking about?

So my biggest thing that she tried to reiterate to me at the beginning of that first night

was that I don’t breathe.

I just, I don’t, I don’t breathe.

I don’t fucking breathe at all.

I just, one thing to the next thing, the next thing, the next thing, the next thing just

to survive.

I don’t take a minute and breathe.

And so she made, when I say she and I say it because it’s hard for people to understand,

but I showed this to my husband, I showed it to my doctors and they’re like, bitch, that’s

not you.

You don’t write like that.

You don’t talk like that.

So like you can flip through it, but it was like, I’ll just give, I’ll just let Lex read

for a second and just, I’ll just do here.

Let me do, I’ll do an ad for heroic hearts.

Heroic hearts.

Here, I’ll get my papers while you read.

Connect to her, listen to her, open to her.

Do you mind if I read some of these?

You can read some of it.


Go right ahead.

The dark has lifted.

Judge my spelling and I’ll punch you right in the face.

So there’s like, it’s very sporadic, sporadically written.

It’s okay to be still.

It’s okay to be quiet.

This is good.

Like what, and these are over a stretch of, that was the first, the first couple of pages

were from the first night.

This was just that weekend.

And you’re just there laying looking at the Eagles.


With a pen, just frantic as well, Lex, not like writing where you’re like, Oh, I’m just


It’s like, I had to get it down or I was going to lose it.

You are warrior.

You are power.

You can choose now, breathe now, be now, be present, be warrior, be strength, breathe,

be the strength.

You are the strength.

There’s some soul searching going on here.

This is incredible.


We wait till you get through.

You get in there.

She gets deep, real aggressive, like.

Crack the door for I am the light, the giver, the taker.

I am warrior.

I am life.

I am air.

I am water.

I am fire.

I am light.

This will, this can.

For I am warrior.

For I am light.

And there’s a leaf here.

What’s the story with the leaf?

I don’t know.

I was walking and every single time over the, over those three days, anytime I like went

for a walk by myself, I would just hear like, take this, like just almost like as if a voice

was standing there and be like, you need this, take it, take it with you and keep it in your


Ground you.

And it just goes off.

So this is from there.


It’s cool to have sort of, it’s almost like time travel.

I have poppies from France too when I did a, I did a 75th anniversary D Day ride in France

where we rode 600 kilometers on our road bikes for charity.

And we landed on the beaches of Juneau on the 75th and we got to go by the poppy fields

and I’m like covered in poppies and I have some in a book.

I don’t know why I do that.

I just, I do that.

That’s cool because like, these are your thoughts and those are the physical items as it really

helps transport to that place somehow.

Let the light in, let her in.

And she would show me these visuals.

So my drawings are just like, yeah, there’s drawings here and you’re seeing this stuff.

Oh yeah.

I can’t draw either.

So that’s why they’re so, I wish I could draw because if only I could translate what I could

see visually onto paper.

And you’re talking to her.


It’s time.

I’m here to listen.

Is this Mama Aya?


We call her Mama Aya.

Mama Aya.

So what, who, who are you seeing?

Is this a woman?

So for me at first, it was just eyes floating in the sky.

These unbelievably gorgeous, beautiful eyes that I, and I was like literally looking up

at the top of the yurt and I kept going to myself, is anyone else seeing this?

There’s eyes in the sky.

And so there’s these eyes floating and they just kept looking at me.

And I remember when I kept telling myself like, oh, don’t worry about it, there’s nothing


She would get angry.

I’m right here.

Pay attention to me.

And I’d be like, okay, like forceful, like very forceful.

So at first it was just the eyes.

The second night, is I’m crazy when I say this, great, that’s going to be my clip, easy

on crazy.

It’s what I do when I get uncomfortable.

I do weird hand gestures and movements.

Voices, I like it.

Yeah, I do.


You would hate to be in my office because most of the day it’s just this weird lunges

and uncomfortable moments.

She turned me into a wolf.

I know I said it out loud.

I said, I hear it, I said it, head to toe.

And her takeaway for me was, I’m trying to be this pack leader, I’m trying to be this

leader in my life.

I’m trying to do these things, but I’m going about them the whole wrong way.

So like when the shamans call you up to do their special prayer over you, you go up,

you don’t touch them.

They flash their little light.

You see the little light spot, you walk to the light, you sit down on the light.

And then my shaman, he’s so funny because he’s got this great tone in his voice.

He goes, how are you doing Kelsey?

And I’m like, so hi, yeah, I have a problem.

I’m a wolf and I need it to stop.

And he’d be like, don’t you worry girl, I got you, you ready?

And I was like, uh huh, uh huh.

So I’m sitting there cross legged, I’ve got my palms out like this.

And I had a really traumatic shoulder injury.

So I don’t just sit slanted like this.

My shoulders actually permanently detached and no one in the world will touch it or fix


My collarbone comes out my back here and I don’t have any collarbone here.

So nobody will fix it.

No one will touch it.

Even I’ve had specialists, I’ve had surgeries, no one will do anything with it.

So I’m permanently down and forward.

So I slouch, it’s horrible.

So before I.

Functionally too.

Oh, there’s nothing.

I can’t do a pull up anymore.

Oh, so weak.

Oh, wow.

Oh, you should, I’ll show you how to do a pushup after you’ll fucking throw up in embarrassment.

Yeah, it’s bad.

So before I though, chronic pain, like had to drink a bottle of CBD every day just to

the pain is so bad because the trauma and it was so bad, the surgery went wrong.

The collarbone dissipated and no longer exists.

Like there’s just, and they’re not sure how I lift things with it and do stuff with it.

It’s like overcompensation everywhere.

Like my, the, my back, like, um, my trap, my scapula, like flares outward.

It’s I’m all messed up from it.

And so I was in chronic pain.

So he’s praying over me and all of a sudden all I feel is this arm just start just fucking

vibrating and my hair’s really long and I feel somebody grabbed the back of my ponytail

and snap my head back like this.

And it felt like something was coming out of my throat, like being pulled out of me

in the takeaway that I ended up in the whole, the rest of the night, there was a million

other things.

And the takeaway was you no longer need to bite.

You may only show your teeth.

You can be the leader that you want to be.

You do not always have to be the traditional type of leader.

You can be in the back of the pack.

You have to watch the rest around you be, be mindful of those around you instead of

just being upfront, be, be behind as well.

Make sure that every thing that you’re doing is all being looked after.

Because my thing was I will rip your fucking head off if you just say the wrong thing to

me before.

The whole thing was you can just show your teeth and that is more than enough.

Stop trying to be, stop trying to overcompensate.

You don’t need to do that any longer.

And then I had this weird astral projection thing happen like where I was in my house

and there were these flyers all over my husband and my son and like I went ham on them.

I like shredded them to pieces.

Like I was this protector.

And it’s crazy because the guys told me after like someone would be like, there were flyers

all over you the whole night.

They were just all over you.

And I’m like, I was snarling when I was sitting there.

Like the shaman had to be like, I need you to try to calm your breathing after I could.

But before like I was like attacking things beside me that people could see and I could

see but couldn’t wrap my brain around that they were real.

Like it was weird.

This is a crazy man.

That’s day two.

And so what’s the big takeaway there?

My takeaway was I needed to be, I needed to stop trying to, stop trying to push everything

too hard.

Stop trying to force everything.

It’s all going to come.

It’s all going to happen.

But you are, you are too aggressive.

You are too, you’re trying so hard that you’re missing, you’re missing everything else.

Got it.

That’s just how to be a better human kind of thing.


This is getting intense.

Yeah, it gets aggressive.

I mean there’s love and light still.

It gets better.

Love and light.

Love and light the warrior within is calm.

She will test you daily.

Show her respect.

So that’s what I mean.

You’ve read my book.

You know I don’t write like that.


This is strange.



You get it.

Because people don’t understand when I say I didn’t, I don’t feel like I wrote that.

I feel like she gave me, like I reread this all of the time.

So I wonder, I mean, well not obviously, but this is somehow part of you.

I think it’s a part of me obviously.

Reconnecting you somehow to that part.

It kind of is incredible to think of what are the things that are part of us that we

haven’t really explored, you know.

And there’s so many.

We just get to talk.


To connect to her.

Feel her flow through them.

Use them for the strength for each day a new challenge will present itself.




Sorry I have too much hair.

Never enough.

I used to have long hair.

What about day three?

So day three is the, the stuff I talked about on Jocko.

When I got taken over to the other side.

I almost missed that night too.

I almost missed that ceremony.

I got a false positive on my COVID test and I got a call from the medical clinic that

night being like, you need to come in.

You got a false positive on your COVID test.

And if you’re going to travel, you have to, we got to figure this out.

You got to come do blood work.

You got to come do, you know, whatever it is you need to do if you want to get home,

but you got to come do something.

And so I didn’t think I was going to be in ceremony.

I had to leave.

So I left and you know, they waited, they waited for me.

And so I think the biggest takeaway from all of this for me was this isn’t it.

This isn’t everything.

This isn’t the end all be all.

You can fight through this.

This is possible.

It’s going to take work.

It’s going to be fucking hard.

It’s worth it though.

And if you just keep going in the right direction, everything that I wrote down, everything,

every goal, it’ll happen.

What about love?

Tell me about your husband.


He’s the best.

What role did he play in your life?

The most pivotal role.

He kept me alive and made me feel worthy enough to, until I knew that I was worthy enough

to be alive.

Can you dissect that a little bit?

Like what, I mean, what role does love play in the human condition?

I think love is the only reason that we haven’t destroyed ourselves.

I mean, we humans in general.


I think there is a subset of people where love will always be, you know, love conquers

all, you know, but that’s not always the reality.

The reality is life is messy and humans are messy and the way we choose to deal with things

are messy and complicated and difficult, but at the root of all good is love, I think.

And for me, I was fortunate enough to meet my husband through a friend, which you listened

to that podcast.

So I don’t know that we need to, unless you really want to go into that story again, how

I met my husband.

Well, the only part of that story I like, people should just go listen to the Jackal

podcast is how you made him uncomfortable.

I love it.

I, well, okay.

So how it works, let me explain.

In the supercross and motocross industry, it’s really small.

The people who are professional, there’s, it’s a small subset of people.

It’s kind of like formula one, 21 cars.

That’s what there is.

That’s the amount of riders.

And we should say your husband is a motocross guy.

My husband was a professional supercross and motocross racer for his whole life.

And he raced for Kawasaki and Suzuki.

He lived in California and raced all down there.

And when I met him, I met him at the tail end of his career.

And so I went to Montreal with a friend of mine to see somebody that I was currently

sleeping with, who was a friend of mine and end up meeting Brady instead.


And the funny moment in Jackal’s podcast was saying that I was fucking him instead

of just sleeping with him.

And then Jackal’s face exploded and Jackal was like, oh, sleeping.

So like he was, he was trying to get details of the sleeping quarters that you’re just

trying to get you to define as a good interviewer would, oh, sleeping, okay.

And then you were like, it’s fucking Jackal or something like that.

It was great.

But that’s true because in that industry, it’s like, we, it’s small.

We all share, trust me, is what it is.

And it was, so I met him there and he had broken his wrist really, really bad.

And I was, this was before I deployed.

So I met him and I, we stayed in touch and just became friends and just texted.

That was it.

Nothing weird.

And I was deploying though.

So we just agreed, you know, we’d be friends.

We weren’t actually talking about anything romantically at all.

And then I deployed and we got talking and to know each other a little more, a little


And then we decided that we liked each other and we wanted to try to give it at least a

semi shot.

And so when I got home from Afghanistan, I went and watched him race his last, one of

his last two races that he did professionally before he retired, excuse me.

And it was in Montreal and one was in Vegas and I hadn’t seen him and he didn’t really

know me.

We didn’t really know each other.

We met, I slept in the bed beside him because my girlfriend didn’t want to get in trouble

from her boyfriend from sleeping beside a random dude.

And then, yeah, we just, we started dating and he really slowly became my rock and he

understands trauma.

He had some stuff happen in his life and his family that he went through a lot of therapy.

He went through a lot of shit.

He went, he saw what traumatic situations can do to a family and to people and those

that are suffering with it.

And so he was well equipped to handle me, thankfully.

And it got to a point where we were doing the long distance back and forth, back and

forth and back and forth.

And I finally got the call that I was going to be released from the military and I wanted

to live near him, but I couldn’t afford to live in British Columbia because I was from

Ontario and BC is like, it means bring cash for a reason.

I’m like, there’s no way I can live there.

And then his family was like, come live with us.

They had a big enough house.

Trust me, it was fine.

So I was like, okay.

And so I went from dating this guy long distance to over from 2009 to 2011, just back and forth,

back and forth, back and forth.

And then finally his parents were like, should her get off the pot here with her?

Come on.

It’s obvious she loves you and I would never say it.

That word just as a love.

Like it was just, I couldn’t say for a long time, for a long time because I was dead inside.

I didn’t know what that meant because I couldn’t feel, I didn’t feel anything.

He loved it because he like, we go, we go do something.

You would never complain about anything.

You wouldn’t say a fucking word.

You would just sit there.

And now you got all your feelings back and your emotions back and now you’re too hot

and you’re too cold.

And anyways, so yeah, he loved it.

I was numb and dead inside.

Seriously, when I call him back.

Were you still able to have fun together?

That kind of thing?

Like when you say there’s no emotion, there’s more emotion around the basics of like everyday

life, but you’re still able to just like enjoy shit together?

I was enjoying stuff, but I wasn’t feeling.

I was like, this is fun.



That was it.

That was surface level like Lex, this is fun.

It wasn’t.

There’s nothing there.

Yeah, no, there’s nothing that, Hey, yeah, nothing.

And so we went through that for a long time and then I lived with his parents and we,

we lived there and that was, you know, God damn it.

His family was so good to me because I was a nightmare.

I was a nightmare.

Couldn’t cook certain food around me anymore.

Couldn’t, couldn’t go certain places anymore.

Couldn’t, you know, crowds were in hard no, we didn’t do Canada today.

And like, I just changed, I moved in and was like, shit’s got to change.

If you guys don’t want me to kill everyone, like, and they were willing and they were

accepting and they were amazing about it.

And then we finally said, okay, well like, does this, is this, we’re good.

We’re like, I said, I used to say like, I L you like, I couldn’t say love.

It freaked me out for a long time.

And then I finally said it and then that shit had said it like a month later and I was like,

that’s not fair.

That’s not the same exact time.

I wanted the response.


And he goes to treatment with me, he, whatever I need, he knows that like, hey, it’s more

for like him and like, how do I handle her?

And then we moved out and we bought a house and then he took a sweet ass time.

We were dating for four years before we were engaged because just to be sure the crazy

wasn’t too crazy, he waited four years on that.

Smart man.



Or you can, you could say he’s just terrified of commitment, but both.

A little bit of both.

Hey, when you were the guy on the posters that all the girls sign up to, that sent all

the dirty pictures, fucking why are you giving that up?

It’s easy.


Commitment is a real commitment then.



This is the Jaco reset.

We talked about Brass in Unity a little bit.

What’s the longterm mission goal and dream of your company and the podcast of the same


So for me, what I’ve been trying to do with this company is create a community that can

really work together to not only help vets, first responders, but to really bridge the

gap with the civilian population and letting them know what we kind of go through and why

it is such a epidemic and why there is over 22 suicides a day and we are losing people

like it’s going out of style, like the amount of vets that are questioning the last 20 years

of their life right now is terrifying.

I work with organizations that are doing this outreach and they’re overloaded right now

like they have never seen before because this whole thing is just, it’s hit ahead here.

And so what Brass in Unity tries to do is it is really just a vehicle to get the money

in the hands of the people that are doing the work with it.

I couldn’t start a nonprofit because I’m not good at fundraising.

I’m not good at being like, give me your money, I’m going to do this with it.

The least I could do is come up with a product that I know I could give to people or people

could purchase and if I gave pretty much all of the actual profit from it to those organizations

and I give them something to wear that is a touch piece or if they’re out and somebody

sees a bullet on the wrist they go, hey, what is that?

It’s a conversation starter and that’s exactly what it’s been and it’s done its job as that.

And so we, like I said, we are a way to get the vehicle, we’re the vehicle, we’re the

money in the hands of the people.

People don’t always want to just get a tax receipt.

It’s great to donate to something, great on you to do that but most people have a selfish

aspect and that’s okay but if you can tap into that you can then fund these charities

properly and give them the tools to do their jobs effectively.

Up until this point they just count on people’s goodness of their hearts.

Hate to break it to you, humanity is rough right now.

We need to look at something a little differently.

So these things spark, like a jewelry sparks conversations and then do you work with charities?

Yes, oh God, yeah, that’s what I do.

So my whole mission every day is I get up, I push jewelry and sunglasses on people and

say but now that you’re gonna wear that, now you’re a part of the B&U Army, now you’re

a part of this community.

Speaking of which, let me put it right back on, branded.

This is organic product placement.

Yeah, this isn’t like marketing at all, nothing weird about this at all and so we work with

a lot of organizations and I’m very particular about where we send our money because there

are, it feels like thousands of vet organizations right now and if we were able to consolidate,

it would be more ideal.

I spoke about that on another show but that’s not currently happening.

So I try to work with the nonprofits I know, number one, are not paying six figure salaries

which trust me, there’s lots, a lot.

Number two, I look at the actual resources that they’re providing and if they’re going

to be something that are gonna be useful, in my opinion, whether or not they’re actually

useful and I just don’t think they are, that’s up for debate.

I know it’s worked for me so I try to fund the things that I know have been helpful for

me and the people I associate with.

So that’s why I brought all the paper because I didn’t wanna be an idiot and forget anybody

that’s really important because I get caught up in things and I think it’s important to


So number one, Heroic Hearts, we just started working to talk about them and really make

them known but we’re gonna be donating to them as well.

Are they doing more stuff than the ayahuasca thing?

Yeah, so their points are, I got Jesse to actually, I’m like what are your talking points

because I need people to know exactly what you do.

So veterans have had to take their mental and general health into their own hands due

to the failure of the government system so that is why they were created but Heroic

Hearts is a peer supported mental health network involving full preparation, integration, coaching

and connection to vetted psychedelic treatments.

So they don’t just do ayahuasca, they deal with psilocybin, ketamine, ibogaine but they’ve

got protocols in place, they’ve got locations you go to that are safely vetted and they


They’ve got over right now, Jesse said they have 800 veterans on a waiting list for treatment.

That’s just before the spike of the end of this war.

They have over a hundred, they’ve helped over a hundred veterans including dozens of special

operation vets find effective care.

They’ve now got branches in the US, UK and Canada and the biggest thing about them and

why we talk about them is because the problem of psychedelics and the stigma around it is

so significant but because of great universities that are now stepping up and doing the research

behind it, it is being legitimized.

So like they’re doing that, in Canada there’s a group called Theracil, they are currently

fighting the government to get the rights for Canadians under section 56 of our laws

to get compassionate care for psilocybin use.

I’ve done a panel with them on that really great base out of Victoria, really smart people.

One of the other bigger charities that we work with and they’re honestly, they were

my first and foremost charity that I ever worked with and they’re a big component in

the veteran community in Canada.

They’re called Honour House and Honour House was started by honorary Colonel Aldi Genova.

It was started because of a guy named Trevor Green.

He was a Canadian soldier who deployed and he was, so Captain Trevor Green, sorry Trevor,

Captain Trevor Green, he got an ax in the middle of his head, a Taliban member came

up and put an ax directly into his head when his helmet was off and he survived.

He’s done work with Invictus Games and Prince Harry.

He has an exoskeleton he uses on the island.

He’s so cool.

He hasn’t changed one bit from like the infantry captain you expect him to be.

And Al saw there was a need for vets and first responders to get treatment because there’s

no real home away from home for people.

Picture Ronald McDonald for cancer and families, this is vets and first responders.

And so their whole thing, and I’ll read it so I say it exactly right because I used to

be on the board of their charity, but I ran out of time, so now I just consult.

But they are a home away from home for members of the Canadian Armed Forces, veterans and

first responders and their families to stay completely free of charge while they’re receiving

medical care and treatment in the Vancouver area.

But since then, they’ve expanded since I’ve come on board and they’ve opened Honour Ranch,

which is up in Ashcroft, BC and it’s 140 acres, 10 cabins and a main cabin.

They do equine therapy and they’re more focused on operational stress injury clinic.

So sorry, operational stress injury within the veteran community.

And they have specialists that do that.

They have their own bracelet with us.

So every time you buy an Honour House bracelet, all the proceeds go to them.

And it’s actually the green one.

So that one.

So when you buy one of those Honour House bracelets, they have those.

They go directly to them, which is really amazing.

They’ve been near and dear to my heart for a long time.

You’ve got the All Secure Foundation, which is these guys are these guys are super dope.

I’m going to read exactly because Jen text me.

So Jen and Tom Satterly, I’ve had them both on the podcast.

Tom was involved in Black Hawk Down.

Tom is a Delta.

Have you heard of them?


So, okay.

So Tom was involved in Black Hawk Down.

It was one of his first operations.

He’s a Delta operator.

And I asked her, I said, listen, I’m going to be doing these shows and I think it’s great

that we talk about you more.

So I said, give me your three points of importance.

So the All Secure Foundation serves special operations combat families in healing from

post traumatic stress injury and secondary post traumatic stress.

So that’s often what the wife or the other husband or the other spouse suffers from.

And we’re starting to see that be more and more of an issue now.

So they also are devoted to rebuilding the couple’s relationships on the home front after

the separations of war.

And 80% of their warriors want their families to be more involved in the healing.

The problem is, is very often vets don’t realize that they can have, or just because the system

doesn’t pay for it, actually have their spouse as a part of things.

And the biggest thing that we find with special operations families, I think the divorce rate

is like 95%.

And so they work so hard with these families.

They take them on retreats, these husband and wives, and they get them to connect again

after being separated over such a long period of time.

There’s other places like Children of Fallen Patriots out of DC, where they fund education,

university for people who have lost their parents in deployments, whether their kid’s

even born yet.

If they’re still in utero, they still pay.

They do not care.

Then you’ve got people like in Canada, you’ve got Vets Canada, you’ve got in the States,

you’ve got True Patriot Love, you’ve got, who else in the States is really great that

we’ve worked with.

I know there’s a Green Beret Foundation that’s great.

One More Wave gives amputees, teaches them to surf with amputees.

They’re really great.

There’s so many organizations.

But at the end of the day, I focus on a small subset because you cannot fix everyone’s problems.

The least you can do for people is focus.

If you can provide focus, you can provide the proper amount of funding.

Proper amount of funding can get the proper amount of tools.

Those tools can actually be implemented properly and then those people can go on to hopefully

have successful marriages and families and we don’t have to watch our parents drink themselves

to death and wonder why daddy’s yelling at mommy all the time and daddy storms out and


Well, daddy had some shit happen in his life and mommy had some shit happen, but that does

not mean that’s who they are.

And yes, so trauma has completely destructive effects on family and relationships and correcting

that as like ripple effects.

Oh, just astronomical ripple effects.

Because the problem is we are so quick to tell people they’re suffering from PTSD.

We’re so quick to give them drugs.

We’re so quick to kick them out of the military.

We’re so quick to let them be homeless on the street.

We’re so quick to let them fucking kill themselves.

We’re so quick.

And then all of a sudden, when when a politician goes, veteran suicide is an issue, that’s

when it’s a problem.

Well, if you prevent the problem from happening in the first place, or you give people the

right funding and tools to do the job, you won’t have this problem.

Do you have advice for young people, think high school students, maybe undergrads, college

students about career, life, how to live a life they can be proud of?

You’ve had one heck of a life.

Some of them are really cheesy, but they’re true.

Live a life you can be proud of, number one.

If you wake up every morning and you hate what you do, change the fucking station.

Do not live and stay in that perpetual cycle of bullshit.

It’s not worth it.

It’s not.

It’s not what you’re on this planet for.

You’re worth more than that, than the monotony of waking up, going to work, hating your life,

drinking yourself to sleep, and functioning.

Do yourself a favor.

The thing I scream about on the show so much is move your fucking body.

Move your body.

Get your blood moving.

Allow your body to do what it’s here for.

Go for a run.

Go for a walk.

If you can’t run, walk to the fridge three times more than maybe you did before, but

you’re moving.

Pay attention to the shit you look at.

More now than ever, we are seeing our younger generation just be force fed information from

one side or the other, and none of it makes sense.

None of it’s understandable.

It just causes chaos in the brain.

Really pay attention to what you listen to.

Something I’ve had to learn to do is make time for myself.

All of this working 18 hours a day, not sleeping, just work, work, work.

That doesn’t work.

That’s not sustainable.

That’s not healthy.

And it’s not anything anyone should be doing.

Balance is important.

But if you’re going to take the time to do something for yourself, don’t make it sitting

in front of the TV for six hours, eating a bag of chips, drinking a Coke.

Make it, I’m going to go for a walk, maybe listen to a podcast where I can learn something.

Make it, I’m going to go volunteer somewhere.

Nobody does that anymore, but make it I can go volunteer somewhere.

Honor House, they have no paid employees.

They have one, everybody is a volunteer.

They’re fucking phenomenal.

Just do whatever you’re going to do.

Do it with some fucking drive, put some goddamn effort into your life and pick something in

a career that’s going to make you happy.

Not something that’s just going to give you six figures because that’s not going to make

you happy.

I can tell you right now, I have everything in the world and the last thing I want is

more things.

I want less.

I want the woods and I want quiet because that’s what’s important to me.

I want my family to matter, the people around me to matter, and the small group I keep,

that tight knit I have, I want them to wake up every minute knowing that they have a friend

that they can call on the other line that isn’t just like, how’s it going?

That can actually have a conversation, a meaningful, intelligent, caring conversation.

We are just breeding these kids to be followers who digest bullshit, who reverberate things

they don’t fully understand and have opinions on stuff they have no business talking about.

Yeah, with an open mind, humbly think deeply about the world.

How has your relationship with death changed?

This is a Russian program, I have to ask you.

So you’ve considered suicide throughout your life.

You have been in the line of fire, you have witnessed death.

You as a human being, a mortal one, do you think about your death these days now that

you have begun the journey with dealing with your trauma?

Do you think about your death?

Are you afraid of your death?

Well you don’t die, so that’s why.

What do you mean you don’t die?

You move on.

Where do you go?

To another plane, and another vibration, and another whatever you want to call it.

This isn’t it.

This isn’t all of it.

This is a blip.

This is a moment.

This is a…

I used to be afraid of death before the military.

I was always afraid of dying.

I don’t know why.

I had this irrational fear that I was going to be kidnapped in my room, like seriously,

like irrational fear, like afraid.

And it’s funny because I talked to Michaela yesterday and she said the same thing and

I was like, oh my God, I know what you’re talking about.

Being afraid of being kidnapped?

Yeah, she had this fear that someone was going to come in and take her out of her room.

I had the same fear.

By a human being or a monster of some kind?

No, I think like by a human being.

And I had this irrational fear that something was going to happen to me.

And like I said, I don’t know if it was because my parents were always made me aware of my


People take people.

This is a real thing that happens.

I was really small and I looked like a little boy.

My hair was like that when I was training.

I had short, no hair, flat as a board.

You would have thought I was a 12 year old boy.

And so my mom’s like, people take people, sweetie, that’s just the reality of life.

You need to be aware.

So I don’t know if I had this ingrained in my mind.

I was always like training to protect myself or fight someone off.

So I was like afraid of like this irrational thing.

And then I went overseas and then I realized that I could just be literally there talking

to you, having a conversation, and I could just be taken off the face of the earth.

And there’s nothing I can do about it.

And then I adopted this idea that when it’s my time, it’ll be my time.

But the difference is now, at least I know that if I do go and I do cross and I am and

I do move on, I know that I live my life the way that I always hoped I would be proud to


Can I ask you a dark question because we, you mentioned Robin Williams, you mentioned

Anthony Bourdain and your own struggle with suicide.

Why do you think they ultimately lost the battle, that battle?

Why do you think they took their lives?

Man, that’s a, that’s a loaded question because you could look at everything from, from biomarkers

in the brain to know if their serotonin and dopamine levels were crashed in the ground.

Like there’s, there’s biological reasonings for some people where they’re born bipolar

and they have, or, you know, they’re schizophrenic, like there’s so many things we don’t fully

grasp about the brain.

But what we do know from my perspective, for me at least, there really is no rhyme or reason

why I survived and others didn’t.

Stuff and things don’t make you happy.

People don’t always know why they’re feeling the way they’re feeling, but they also are,

also are not always willing to talk about it or be, they put on a good front.

And if nobody knows any different, what do you expect?

And it’s especially clear with the, the two of them that on the surface they’re, you know,

exceptionally successful in so many dimensions and still that means nothing.

Well possessions, anything really is not, doesn’t guarantee you happiness.

No, it doesn’t.

Well that’s terrifying, but when it’s good, that’s what makes it joyful.

Like that’s what happiness is, is like holy shit somehow amidst all the absurdity, all

the things that you can’t predict, you, you nevertheless feel really good.

That’s why I feel really fortunate to be getting this feat of happiness all the time.

Well to be or not to be, that’s a good place to end it.

Kelsey, you’re an amazing human being.

I’m really fortunate that you would spend your valuable time with me.

As I said, you’re so good at not just talking, but listening.

So I definitely will listen to your podcast because I can tell you’re an incredible person

as an interviewer and as a storyteller.

So again, thank you for talking today.

Thank you so much, bye.

Thanks for listening to this conversation with Kelsey Sharon.

To support this podcast, please check out our sponsors in the description.

And now let me leave you with some words from Herbert Hoover.

Older men declare war, but it is the youth that must fight and die.

Thank you for listening and hope to see you next time.

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