We Happy Few

We Happy Few is a podcast created by a veteran, for veterans and it explores the complexities of what military service means through the stories of veterans, their families and their friends. The stories span all types of experience, from the monotony of training to the long-term impact of combat to the difficulty in adjusting to civilian life, as well as the challenges families face when one member volunteers to serve in the armed forces. The podcast is hosted by Air Force and Army National Guard veteran Jason Comstock. He offers veterans the chance to tell their stories in hopes of creating an understanding of just how complex and nuanced the issues facing veterans, especially in this modern era, are. With less than 3 percent of the population serving in the military today, it is critical that civilians understand what it means to "thank" a veteran for his or her service. The Loudmouth project is proud to offer veterans and their families this opportunity to tell their stories and help create a new, more effective system of support.

Episodes

  • November 11, 2020

    Veterans Day Special: The Oath

    The Oath of Enlistment is something all branches of the military have in common. In this special Veterans Day episode, we invited service members and their families to share their thoughts on what the oath means in their lives. Those who share their feelings are:Tracy Brinkman, Carl Churchill, Lloyd Hicken, Thea Jorgensen, David Buffaloe, Sofia Olds, Jody Hanks, and David Hollingsworth. The Oath is more than a promise to most service members, and the commitment made doesn't end when they leave military service. And while service members swear the Oath, their families also learn they are part of honoring that pledge. It is a guiding light and constant reminder of what binds us together as Americans.

    I, (state name of enlistee), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. (So help me God)."

    (The oath for officers is slightly different.)



    Play Episode
  • October 22, 2020

    Lessons Learned Serving during peace time

    David Hollingsworth joined the U.S. Army to get away from a broken heart. But in 1982, there wasn't much "going on" in the military. Still, it was serving in a time of peace that he learned life lessons that still resonate in his life. One of the things he learned as an MP is that there is always a job to be done - even if it's not the job you expect to be doing. This would become more important later in life when a motorcycle accident would change his life.

    Read more from David here, and get information about his upcoming book:

    http://holliworks.com/



    Play Episode
  • September 30, 2020

    When you've served, you can judge

    When Tracy Brinkmann joined the US Army he knew he was carrying on a legacy that started with his grandfather serving in the German Army during WWII. In spite of learning at a young age of the traumatic experiences that both his grandfather and father had, he still wanted to serve and follow their example.

    Play Episode
  • September 24, 2020

    Soldier and Business Owner

    Thea Jorgensen was a little older than her fellow soldiers in Basic Training, being almost 10 years older than most recruits, and because of that, she felt she had a lot to prove. That desire to outwork those around her has persisted. Serving in the Public Relation field has given her the chance to meet the family members of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. On top of all of that she is also a business owner, the pandemic has introduced new challenges, but she is always willing to give 100%, knowing that each day might be a little different.

    Play Episode
  • September 16, 2020

    Leadership and Non-conformity

    Retired Chief Master Sergeant Jody Hanks always saw himself as a non-conformist, but that didn’t stop him from joining the AirForce and making a career out of it. Over the years he learned that real leadership takes leaders that are willing to say what some might not have the courage to say and listening to those you have responsibility for. Serving at Keeler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina introduced unique challenges trying to help not only rebuild the infrastructure but more importantly rebuilding the morale of the airman serving in the aftermath of such a destructive natural disaster.

    Check out Jody Hank’s podcast, The Digression Podcast - https://thedigressionpodcast.com/



    Play Episode
  • September 11, 2020

    Memories of 9/11

    On September 11, 2001 terrorists hijacked four U.S. passenger planes, flying two of them into the World Trade Towers in Manhattan and another into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. The fourth plane crashed in rural Pennsylvania, when passengers overpowered the hijackers, ensuring it didn't make it to its intended target. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in the Sept. 11th attacks.

    Social Media is being flooded with messages that we should never forget this day. For this special episode I wanted to ask people what they remembered about 9/11. A huge thank you to Jasen Lee and Amy Donaldson for sharing their memories. I also want to thank US Navy Commander David Bettinson (Retired) for providing Taps, something he has done for many years at the Sandy, Utah Healing Fields a tribute made possible by Colonial Flag Foundation.

    Play Episode
  • September 10, 2020

    Sofia Olds: Staff Sergeant and Mom

    To look at Sofia Olds you wouldn’t think she was a Staff Sergeant in the US Army Reserves or the mother of seven beautiful children. But it wouldn’t be the first time she shattered preconceived notions about who she is or what she is capable of accomplishing. She's spent her life surpassing expectations.

    In this episode, SSgt Sofia Olds talks about the influence the military has had on her life, from deploying to Iraq with her husband to how it helps as she raises her children. And check out Sofia’s podcast at - https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/sofias-social-segments/id1514537835

    Play Episode
  • September 10, 2020

    Veterans Issues in a Pandemic

    Isolation is an issue I have experienced first-hand as a veteran who lives with depression and PTSD, as a result of military service. I've battled that by creating connections through service organizations that help veterans reconnect to their purpose and community. Now all of us find ourselves in a situation where we are isolated. So how have these organizations adjusted their mission of helping and supporting veterans when so many aspects of what they have offered is unavailable in many places.

    In this episode, I discuss these issues with the leaders of three veterans' service groups - Team Rubicon, Continue Mission and Team Red, White and blue. In normal times, these groups provide a lifeline that offers camaraderie and opportunity for renewed purpose. The outbreak of COVID-19 and the associated precautions haven't changed their missions, but it has changed how they serve veterans and their families. 

    For more information on Team Rubicon:

    https://teamrubiconusa.org/

    For more information on Continue Mission:

    https://www.continuemission.org/

    For more information on Team Red, White and Blue

    https://www.teamrwb.org/



    Play Episode
  • December 11, 2019

    Twice a veteran - from enlisted to officer

    David Moss started his military career in the Idaho Army National Guard and wanted to serve until he could retire. Always outspoken, Dave had a run in a 1st Sergeant and ended his career after 10 years of service. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Dave wanted to serve in the military again, but he knew this time it would be as an officer. Dave served in Iraq and after returning home got a job as an active guard member in Alaska. However once again his dream of serving until retirement ended with he was determined not longer medically able to serve in the Army. He talks about fulfilling a dream of serving in the military and the realities of life after service.

    Play Episode
  • December 3, 2019

    Telling Veterans Stories: Filmmaker Zane O'Gwin

    When an opportunity to capture a historical parachute jump into Normandy on the 75th anniversary, Utah filmmaker Zane O'Gwin knew he wanted to be part of it. He quickly learned there was more to the story than the decision of a group of veterans to try and honor World War II veterans who parachuted into France as part of the Normandy invasion by the allied troops.

    From telling the story of a Gold Star mom to the many others that each participated for their own reasons, Zane and his team capture those and many more. 
    Here Am I, Send Me is available for free on YouTube.

    Here is a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUuL5ksxPT0&t=2051s

    Play Episode
  • November 25, 2019

    From a dairy farm to caring for animals in the U.S. Army

    Growing up Casey Talbot always thought he'd be an Idaho dairy farmer, even though he also dreamed about serving his country as a soldier. After going to school to study veterinary medicine he got a job in Fairgrove, Missouri, where a colleague was preparing to leave on an Army deployment. Shortly after that, circumstances in his life allowed the father of five to reconsider military service. He joined the Army and has had the chance to work with the Army's working dogs, as well as a number of other aspects of service that might surprise some. Capt. Talbot discusses how his service has changed him and how the animals he treats deal with some of the same issues as our dedicated soldiers. 

    Play Episode
  • November 18, 2019

    A Marine's Wife

    As a newlywed in 1968, the last thing Jean Donaldson expected was for her husband of five months to come home from a trip to Salt Lake City with news that he was leaving college to join the U.S. Marine Corps. She was five months pregnant with their first child (who happens to be Loudmouth's own Amy Donaldson) when he enlisted, and she delivered their second child as he slept in field in Vietnam on Christmas Eve 1969. 

    She talks about how the Marines gave her husband, Dan, purpose and direction, as he'd struggled most of his life with losing his father at age 13. She talks about how she found out he'd been wounded, and what it was like to work with veterans when she became a community mental health specialist in her 50s.

    Check out this article that Amy wrote for the Deseret News about running with her Mom:  https://www.deseret.com/2016/10/23/20598898/amy-donaldson-running-ragnar-hawaii-with-my-69-year-old-mother-offers-lessons-in-perseverance#a-post-race-selfie-with-from-left-to-right-my-mom-jean-donaldson-69-sisters-michelyn-pylilo-46-and-loralee-faucheux-38-and-amy-donaldson-48  

    And check out this episode of We Happy Few with Dan Donaldson:

    https://loudmouthproject.com/semper-fi-understanding-the-marine-who-raised-me/  

    Play Episode
  • November 11, 2019

    What does the Oath of Enlistment mean?

    The Oath of Enlistment is something all branches of the military have in common. In this special Veterans Day episode, we invited service members and their families to share their thoughts on what the oath means in their lives. Those who share their feelings are: Keimon Dixson, Krista Palmer, Josh Hanson, Marcy Henly, Ninzel Rassmuson, Layne Morris, Maj. Gen. Stacey Hawkins, Fred Tapia, Dan Bucio, Arlo Doyle, and Amy Alleman. The Oath is more than a promise to most service members, and the commitment made doesn't end when they leave military service. And while service members swear the Oath, their families also learn they are part of honoring that pledge. It is a guiding light and constant reminder of what binds us together as Americans.

    I, (state name of enlistee), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. (So help me God)."

    (The oath for officers is slightly different.)

    Play Episode
  • November 5, 2019

    Finding family in 'the suck'

    Sgt. Mike Hendry joined the U.S. Army after deciding college wasn't the path for him. He gravitated to the grittiest assignments and found purpose alongside his brothers in the 82nd Airborne and 10th Mountain Division (light infantry) for "six years and 16 weeks to the day." He served in both Iraq and Afghanistan in two different deployments, and in this episode he talks about serving in Iraq and how his service transformed the man he is today.

    Play Episode
  • August 27, 2019

    A mother's sacrifice

    Teota Coppock shares the story of her son Army Sgt. Brandon Parr in this conversation with Jason Comstock and Amy Donaldson. Like many Americans Ain the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, Brandon Parr felt like he had to serve his country in the only way he knew how. While his mother was worried, she was proud of him for putting into action a mantra they'd developed in his childhood - if something needs done, be the one to do it. During Brandon's second deployment, he was killed, and Teota talks about what it was like before and after she lost her only child. She discusses how she tried to join the military herself, the bond she forged with her daughter-in-law and grandson, and why she'd support her grandson if he decides to follow in his father's footsteps. The pain for Gold Star parents like Teota never goes away, but it is eased by the pride she feels in the life he lived and the sacrifices he made.

    Play Episode
  • August 19, 2019

    A lifetime commitment

    Ninzel Rasmuson's desire to serve her brothers and sisters in the Armed Forces didn't end when her service in the Air National Guard ended. In this episode, she talks about the impacts of working as a mishap investigator, having sons that serve in the U.S. Marine Corps, and starting a nonprofit (Honor365) that helps veterans navigate the labyrinth of service providers and non-profits as they try to adjust to life after military service.

    For more information on her organization, visit https://honor365.org/

    Play Episode
  • August 15, 2019

    The Family Service Creates

    Homeless and broke, Marcy Hehnly decided to meet with an Army recruiter when she was 20-years old. Four years earlier, she'd lost her mother to cancer, which led to struggles with her father as they both tried to rebuild their lives. It was a decision that not only changed her life, but it showed her the value of service and created a family structure that shaped her career decisions and sustains her emotionally today. After leaving the Army, she became a police officer, and then after that, she felt called to become a university professor. All of her career opportunities have taught her to be of service to the world, and that's something she tries to teach her students as an educator. Each of her careers has marked a chapter in her life, teaching her something about herself, especially spiritually. 

    Play Episode
  • August 5, 2019

    The Ghost Army Secret

    On this episode of We Happy Few Amy Donaldson and Jason Comstock visit with WWII veteran SSgt Stanley Nance and his great granddaughter Madeline about his service and the secret she recently learned. SSgt Nance served in a unit during the war the German High Command dubbed the Ghost Army. His war experience was classified until 1996. The one time he shared it with his daughter she didn't believe him, and he never told his wife what he did during the war. SSgt Nance is another example ordinary men doing extraordinary things.
    Play Episode
  • July 30, 2019

    Serving an Adopted Homeland

    In this episode, Jason Comstock talks with Daniel and Angie Bucio about his service in the U.S. Navy Reserves. Dan immigrated to the United States from Mexico after his family learned that his grandfather was a U.S. citizen and had served in World War II. Like many Americans, Dan felt a desire to serve his adopted homeland after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He's served all over the world, but his first deployment came in 2014 when he was deployed to Northern Africa, with responsibilities that took him all over Northern Africa and the Middle East. Like most service members, deployment had a profound impact on Dan and his family.

    The Bucios are learning to embrace their "new normal" and haven't shied away from challenges - old and new - that they've faced.
    Play Episode
  • July 22, 2019

    Too Small to be a Marine

    In this episode, Amy Donaldson talks Kelli Pacheco about joining the U.S. Marine Corps, being in the second groups of women to participate in the Crucible - a test recruits must endure after they join. Although she wanted to fly, she ended up going into a computer field. Kelli struggled when she had a child, and had to make the difficult decision to leave her daughter in daycare for long stretches of the day or rely on her family back in Utah to help raise her. Medical issues forced her to leave the Marine Corps, but she cherishes the time she had and the friendships she forged.
     
     
    Play Episode
  • July 15, 2019

    The sacrifice of sons

    In this episode, host Jason Comstock has a conversation with his children about how his military service impacted them. When Comstock was deployed (2004), David was 11, and Mason was 8 - and they had three sisters - who all had to deal with their father being sent to combat. They discuss why they felt angry and lost, where they found hope, and what advice they'd give to parents thinking of joining the military.  They discuss how they saw their father's return as something that would help them find normal again, but because Comstock suffered from PTSD, they experienced confusion, resentment, and isolation.   To learn more about Mason Comstock's band Rebel Rebel and hear some of their music:  https://rebelrebelslc.bandcamp.com/
    Play Episode
  • July 9, 2019

    The Impact of deployment on Family

    In this episode, John Ellis shares what he is doing to prepare his children for his upcoming deployment. John serves in the Air Force Reserves and this will be his first deployment. With young children at home, a large part of his own preparation is helping his children understand why Dad will be gone for some time.
    Additionally, he has to deal with a lot of difficult subjects, including making sure his will is in order and that his finances are manageable for his family. His choice to serve cost him his marriage, but he's become a better father throughout the difficulties. Through all of this, he hopes his children will understand why he serves in the military and that he keeps his word.
     
    Play Episode
  • July 1, 2019

    Semper Fi: Understanding the Marine who raised me

    This episode features a conversation I've wanted to have all my life. I was raised by a Vietnam Veteran - a Marine. Throughout my childhood, pieces of my father's service manifest in what he said, what he believed and sometimes in how he treated us. I learned the Marines' Hymn and understood my dad's political beliefs very well by the time I was in elementary school. 

    Throughout the years, I've asked him about his service, about being wounded, why he volunteered and how it changed who he became, but he always refused to discuss in any detail his time in the United States Marine Corps. After suffering three heart attacks in three weeks, he changed his mind and, under some duress, agreed to let me interview him for the podcast. 

    My father is the toughest, bravest, most loyal person I know, and now I understand him just a little bit better. I encourage veterans to share their stories with their families. Let them know you. Let them understand you. Semper Fi

    Here is a column I wrote about my dad after we ran a relay race as a family in 2011 - https://www.deseretnews.com/article/700145476/The-trick-is-to-see-past-the-prickly-outside.html

    Play Episode
  • June 20, 2019

    The meaning of the Purple Heart

    In this episode of We Happy Few, Jason Comstock and Amy Donaldson speak with Army veteran Layne Morris and his wife Leisl about the impact of military service on the family, especially the spouse. Layne shares his experience of serving in Afghanistan at the beginning of the war on terror, being wounded and dealing with the recovery processes from returning to civilian life to reestablishing his place at home as a husband and father.

    Play Episode
  • June 12, 2019

    Saved by service

    In this episode Dan Paget, veteran US Army Tanker, talks about the lessons he learned while serving in the military. He shares how leaders had an impact on his life, not only while he served but long after his military service ended. In spite of being diagnosed with a condition called alexithymia that makes it difficult for him to relate emotionally or make social attachments, he credits the Army with saving his life and acknowledges that if he hadn't made the decision to serve, he wouldn't have ended up in a good place. 

    Play Episode
  • June 3, 2019

    Military Intelligence: Serving to protect

    Story Notes - In this episode, Levi Lee tells how serving in the Army helped him take control of his career. He discusses how serving as an intelligence analyst boosted his career and helped him feel like he was protecting his fellow soldiers, including his brother, who served in the Marine Corps. He completed his mission with accomplishments and a new world view.
    Play Episode
  • May 27, 2019

    Still my guys: Continue-ing Mission

    In this episode, Sgt. Josh Hansen talks about the purpose he felt working to keep his fellow soldiers safe as he cleared explosive devices from roadways as they traveled throughout Iraq. After being wounded and leaving the Army, he realized his responsibility to the men and women with whom he'd served never ended. He found a new way to help protect and serve by starting a charity that helps veterans find new purpose and camaraderie.

    Continue Mission helps veterans and their families for free through social and physical experiences. If you are a veteran, even if you're just struggling with how to find services or deal with the VA, Continue Mission and the Hansens want to help you. To support the efforts of Continue Mission, you can donate here: https://www.continuemission.org/

    Play Episode
  • May 20, 2019

    No such thing as a former Marine

    In this episode, 20-year-old Kimono Dixson shares his excitement about becoming a United States Marine at age 18. He talks about what he learned from deployments to the Philippines and Guantanamo Bay, and how he enjoyed seeing the world and being part of something larger than himself. But he also suffered harassment and was ostracized for being an openly bi-sexual black Mormon. 
    Play Episode
  • May 14, 2019

    The Best Worst Day

    In this episode Jason Comstock and Amy Donaldson talk to Retired Sergeant 1st Class Arlo Doyle about his military career, the impact of multiple deployments, and a long-running joke that nearly became reality. Just days before Arlo was scheduled to return home from his fourth deployment, an attack left him with a traumatic brain injury. He talks about regaining his life and the perspective services has given him.
    Play Episode
  • May 6, 2019

    The Realities of Women in the Military

    In this episode Krista Palmer shares her dream of helping others by joining the Air Force with host Tom Luoma. Krista found great joy and satisfaction serving in security forces. Sadly, like an estimated 25% of her fellow female service members, Krista was sexually assaulted; and like so many, no one listened or did anything to help. As a female soldier, she deal with many issues, her male counterparts never even considered. As a result of the assault and a back injury, her military career ended after 6 years, and it took years and two suicide attempts before she found hope through a new passion.  WARNING: This episode discusses and describes an incident of sexual assault.

    Play Episode
  • April 29, 2019

    A soldier's Olympic journey

    In this episode, Amy Donaldson talks with Army Captain (soon-to-be Major) Chris Fogt about why he joined the military, what it was like to be competing as an Olympic bobsledder for Team USA when the men he trained with were deployed to Iraq, and why he left the sport after the 2010 Games to serve a year in Iraq. Fogt talks about what it was like to represent his country in two Olympic Games, and how it felt to finally earn an Olympic medal in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. We caught up with Chris when he came to Utah to accept an award as Male Olympian of the Year for the state of Utah. 

    Play Episode
  • April 22, 2019

    'A real veteran': Vietnam in a suitcase

    In this episode, Jason Comstock talks with Army Veteran Stan Taylor and his wife Anita about his service during the Vietnam War. Although Stan came from a family that served in the military he had no desire to serve but was drafted, and felt he needed to honor those who'd served by doing what was asked of him by his country. Stan discusses being drafted, adjusting to life in the Army, the realities of combat, the life-long pain of losing friends, and what it's like to come home after serving in an unpopular war.  For Stan, serving during the Vietnam, which he did with distinction, changed everything, including how he views his responsibilities as a citizen.

     

    Play Episode
  • April 15, 2019

    The view from a ship at war

    In this episode, hosts Jason Comstock and Tom Luoma talk with Navy Veteran Keith Gordon and his family about his service during World War II. Keith discusses being drafted and what life was like aboard a ship fighting the Japanese on the water and islands in the Pacific Ocean. He reads a letter sent to him by President Harry S. Truman, and shares his feelings about service and the impact it had on his life.

    Play Episode
  • April 8, 2019

    Roadside Uncertainty

    Story Notes - In this episode, US Army Veteran Jason Comstock tells his story about the unexpected impact of serving in the War on Terror during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Not until years after returning home, did he and his family feel the full weight of those experiences on Jason's heart and mind.  While driving home from work one afternoon in Pocatello, Idaho, the father of five saw what he believed might be a roadside bomb or improvised explosive device (IED). Even though he knew the possibility of a roadside bomb in his hometown was unlikely, it still caused him to grapple with fear, anxiety and the battle between what he felt and what was logical. The moment was seminal for Jason, as he realized he hadn't left everything behind in Iraq, and maybe he never would.
     
    Play Episode
  • April 1, 2019

    Unexpected Consequences

    In this episode, U.S. Army Veteran Frank DeVito shares a story about the unexpected sacrifices service members often make when they choose military service. For DeVito, a mistake on some paperwork meant not having the opportunity to say goodbye to a family member who'd loved and supported him, including his decision to join the military, when he was deployed to Afghanistan. In spite of the heartache, Frank continued to fulfill his responsibilities, and said he still feels like the sacrifices he made were worth the cost.

    Play Episode
  • March 25, 2019

    In D.C. on 9/11

    In this episode, U.S. Army Sgt. Mandee Stakely talks about being in Washington D.C. when terrorists flew into the Pentagon. As a sergeant in the Army, she had to help young soldiers do the job they’d been trained to do, as well as help them deal with the trauma of that day. Although not in the Pentagon, she was tasked with gathering supplies and food to support the rescue and recovery effort taking place. She shares the impact of that day and how the Army affected her life both while serving and after. 

    Play Episode
  • March 18, 2019

    Then and Now

    In this episode Tom Luoma and Amy Donaldson have a very candid and insightful conversation with Bart Thomassen whose Army career spans the front lines of the cold war, to Afghanistan and to Africa. Comparing how our warriors prepared and fought before the end of the cold war to how our warriors prepare and fight post 9/11 provides a picture into how our armed services have evolved over the past 30 years.

    Play Episode
  • March 13, 2019

    Sacrifice

    In this episode Amy Alleman talks about the decision she and her husband Micheal B. Alleman made to join the military in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Amy talks about why the history teacher wanted to volunteer with a pregnant wife and two small boys, and what sacrifice meant to both of them. She discusses the realities of that commitment when a solider dies in service to this country, and how her service, quite proudly, continues despite his death. Her sons, who know their father mostly through his writings and their relatives, read from their father's journals, as the entire family gives us insight into what sacrifice entails for thousands of American families. 

    Play Episode