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No Barriers Podcast Episode 83: Healing Through Art with Richard Casper

Part two of our Veterans Series features Richard Casper, co-founder and Executive Director of CreatiVets, a non-profit that provides art, music, and writing programs for wounded veterans with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries. Our hosts today are Jeff Evans and Dave Shurna. They chat with Richard about his personal experience utilizing the power of art to process his pain and the creation of his non-profit. Special thanks to CoBank for sponsoring this series of podcasts focusing on Veterans.

Show Description:

Richard Casper is a United States Marine Veteran, Purple Heart recipient, Artist, and Entrepreneur. He is the co-founder and Executive Director of CreatiVets, a non-profit that provides art, music, and writing programs for wounded veterans with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries.

Richard was named one of TIME magazine’s ​Next Generation Leaders,​ is the feature of TIME’s documentary​ ​Evidence of Things Unseen,​ ​and recognized by President George W. Bush and The Bush Institute for his passion and work helping combat veterans. He was one of the thirty-three scholars chosen to be in President Bush’s Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program.

Richard served in the USMC from 2003-2007. During the first portion of his enlistment, Casper served as Presidential guard at Camp David. Later in 2006-2007 during his tour in Iraq, Richard survived four IED blasts which left him with a left-traumatic brain injury and witnessed the death of his friend which caused his post-traumatic stress. After nearly giving up, he discovered art and song-writing as therapeutic forms of expression and went on to attend and graduate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. From his experiences, he later created art and songwriting programs for CreatiVets to help other combat wounded veterans heal.

Richard has taught art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the University of Southern California. He is a keynote speaker, songwriter, and entrepreneur. He resides in Nashville TN with his wife Ashley and son Barrett.


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“We need people to know what we went through. But we don’t want people to know what we went through”

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Richard: We need people to know what we went through but we don't want people to know what we went through. The beauty behind abstract art, songwriting and all this other stuff is you get to hide these images but they could still connect with the emotion of the subject. So we still feel like we're getting things off of our chest and they feel like they're understanding us a little bit better. So it kind of, it's a win-win.

Erik: It's easy to talk about the successes, but what doesn't get talked about enough is the struggle. My name is Erik Weihenmayer. I've gotten a chance to ascend Mount Everest, to climb the tallest mountain in every continent, to kayak the Grand Canyon and I happen to be blind. It's been a struggle to live what I call a no barriers life. To define it, to push the parameters of what it means and part of the equation is diving into the learning process and trying to aluminate the universal elements that exist along the way, and not unexplored terrain between those dark places we find ourselves in, in the summit exists a map. That map, that way forward, is what we call no barriers.

Dave: America's rural communities are home to millions of men and women who have served in our armed forces. CoBank, a cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America is a proud sponsor of the No Barriers Warriors Program. Their partnership with No Barriers is one way they give back to the men and women who have served their country through military service. We are grateful for their generosity.

Dave: Today we meet Richard Casper, who is a United States Marine veteran, Purple Heart recipient, artists and entrepreneur. During a tour in Iraq, Richard survived four IED blasts which left him with a left traumatic brain injury and he witnessed the death of his friend which caused his post-traumatic stress. After nearly giving up he discovered art and songwriting as therapeutic forms of expression. He went on to attend and graduate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Dave: He is now the co-founder and executive director of CreatiVets, a nonprofit that provides art, music and writing programs to help other combat wounded veterans heal. Richard was named one of Time Magazine's next generation leaders and as the feature of Times Documentary Evidence of Things Unseen. Please stay tuned after this episode for a song clip from one of our No Barriers warriors, Paul Smith. Paul worked with CreatiVets at our No Barriers summit in 2019 and we are proud to share his original song called Purpose. Enjoy the conversation.

Dave: Well welcome to another edition of our No Barriers podcast. This is going to be a part of a short series we're doing tied to veterans day that is going to focus on our veteran community. Jeff, it's good to have you here. Richard thanks for joining us.

Jeff: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Dave: Well I thought I'd start Jeff just with you because you were part of the team that founded our veterans program and I thought I'd pass over to you and just share a little bit about why you did that and then let's talk about Richard.

Jeff: Yeah, it's probably challenging to make it short but I guess the synopsis is celebrating our Everest summit in 2001. It was our 10 year anniversary of standing on top of Everest with Eric and we basically decided we wanted to celebrate by honoring a demographic of people and individuals that we held in high esteem and we narrowed it down to recruiting a group of injured veterans and taking them on a big mountain in DePaul and that was sort of the Genesis of what would now become the No Barriers Warriors Program, 11 years later or 10 years later,

Jeff: So it's been quite an honor to be a part of it and sort of watch it grow and I guess Richard is a part of the sort of virtual component that we've had to pivot to and just the other night I was on a call with the group and I was thinking the same thing that you mentioned Dave. I was unclear of the engagement of the group and I came on as just as a guest and just spoke about the program and the history of the program and I was just overwhelmed by the positivity and the engagement of the community and how they were really just still super stoked to just feel connected to somebody. I think that that is in a way the embodiment of the whole program.

Dave: So true Jeff, I would say of all my 20 years of doing the various summit every year, one of my most powerful moments was watching what Richard and his team did with one of our vets and then they perform live in front of hundreds of people and nobody in the room had a dry eye. It was so powerful and most importantly for the vet that they worked with, it was transformative. So Richard tell us about the role that you play in helping veterans through some stages of their recovery process.

Richard: Yeah. Thanks for that, the intro too because that's what I like to show people and tell people about is it seems like on the surface that we're just writing songs with veterans or doing art with veterans but really what we're doing is we're repurposing emotional memories about past conflicts. We're remapping the way that their brain thinks about negative experiences as positive ones but people just hear we're writing a song with them. So it's not until you get in a room with us or you see what we do like you did in New York, until you see the ultimate power in songwriting and art. So it started back... I got back from Iraq in 2007, I was in the Marine Corps. While I was in Fallujah my Humvee was blown up four separate times which left me with a left traumatic brain injury and my buddy was shot and killed beside me so I came home just struggling like no other.

Richard: Previous to that I was... I'm from a town of 1100 people, farm town. Art, music wasn't a thing. I didn't play guitar. I didn't do art. I'm six foot five you can't see via the screen but big guy, not the one that rode a Harley, wasn't the guy that you'd see being an artist. And I went to college thinking that... Oh, actually, because this is important this is a story too. Previous to Iraq I was at Camp David and under George W. Bush. So for 14 months I lived and worked at security up there because I had a clearance and that goes into this next part of the story where I came home and I was struggling really bad and I started failing all my classes.

Richard: Once I found out I had a brain injury, I would physically throw up. I had to do one-on-one speech with my speech teacher. So I was about to give up on life and I said you know what? I have this awesome experience at camp David with a clearance, maybe if I just get an easy degree, I can just get out and join one of the three letter agencies. Just try to use that experience, my Marine Corps time and just do something I feel comfortable with. So my easy degree was Art. I was like screw it, I could draw [bithen 00:07:27] I'm just going to do art at a community college then go to a four year college in Art.

Jeff: Did you even dabble? Did you draw on a piece of paper, Gigi heard you picked up a guitar, have anything at all?

Richard: Guitar no, drawing I would doodle like crazy in high school and then I was decent at drawing, confident enough at drawing to where I was like I'll just take a drawing class and do a few of these. But not the conceptual side of it, never. I didn't study artists. I had no idea who most of the artists that were referenced in my life were. When I started going there they'd be like, "who's your inspiration?" I'll be like, "Me, I have no inspiration."

Dave: What did you family and friends think at that time. You come back, you've had a very traumatic experience and all of a sudden you're taking your art degree. What was their response?

Richard: Because I was such a recluse when I came home. Even prior to that I was class clown, Prom King. Marine Corps grunt could do anything in front of anybody but when I came home I became extreme recluse like I wouldn't leave my house ever and I just didn't want to leave. I didn't want to talk to people so the only thing I did was play video games with my friends, my Marines from around the country and I didn't have a lot of close family and friends that I would reach out to that knew when I was doing, they just knew I was going to college. Because I went to study business but I failed the first class and that's actually why I went to the VA and ended up getting diagnosed with the TBI because I left the Marine Corps without knowing I had it.

Richard: I was hit four times. They considered me unfit for duty but I just stayed on camp Fallujah for another three months just waiting to go home and I got home and I just checked out the Marine Corps and left. It wasn't a thing back then and so I just started doing art on a whim and nobody really knew it because I wasn't shouting it off the rooftop to my buddies. The only people that knew it were like my mom and she's just been all, just pretty much, whatever, she trusted me. She said, "whatever you want to do you just do it." But for two years there, I got my associates in drawing, in art and there's this one pivotal moment where I'm just doing it just to do it.

Richard: And there's these 18, 19 year old kids in these classes with me and I don't want to tell them crap about what I went through. They don't know anything. The only person that even knows a little bit about my story is my teacher because I had to tell him about my disability because I had a problem speaking in front of people. And so I was doing this piece... I go to Houston every single year to my Gunner's grave who shot and killed in Iraq. Haven't missed a year since I've been home and I had this photo of me at his grave that I just wanted to color in for me. I wanted to draw this thing and it was my project. I needed it to get off of my chest. So I started doing this thing it's like I was wearing cutoff Camy shorts, cut off black Harley shirt and I have my tattoo visible and I'm coloring all this stuff in the color's supposed to be.

Richard: The only thing that wasn't colored in was the background which is grass and the teacher's walking around and I'm in my own little corner again being like I don't want anybody to know my story. And he said, "Hey Richard, I know you're going to do the grass green because that's the color of it but I want to encourage you to do a color that doesn't make sense to what grass would be but it makes sense to the weight you feel about this emotion and what that will do is if you ever hang this up anywhere and you're not around, people will see it, they'll identify that the color that's not natural and they'll pull an emotion out of it and they'll say, 'Oh, the artists that created this must have been in this experience.'"

Richard: So I thought it was dumb at first because I was like I really liked what the photo is looking or the image is looking like but just as a good Marine I just did everything red and then there's things that I didn't even know, critiques were a thing. And then they're like, "Hey, we're going to do a critique of our artwork. Hey, do you want to talk about Richard piece?" At first they asked me, they're like, "do you want to talk about your piece?" I was like, "Heck no, I'm not talking about my piece. I know nothing of this piece."

Richard: And then they're like, " Okay, students what do you think about Richard's piece?" And one by one it was, I think you put red in there because you saw him die, you saw the blood. I think you put red in there because you loved him. I think you put red in there because you're angry. All over sudden it just hits me I'm like, I didn't say one word and I put one color in there and they understand me even for a split second. It was the weirdest feeling I ever had but I knew there was something there because for a moment I felt connected to these kids I never felt connected to before. And then I was thinking like, wait, how do I tell them about my brain injury? It was weird because I was starting to think, I don't want people to know about my brain injury now I'm an artist and I want people to know about my brain injury.

Richard: I'm like there's something weird to this so I go all in and I just start kind of research and do my own thing. Taking some creative writing classes. At the same time I'm doing all this, I really want people to know about my gunner Luke Yelps and that he was shot and killed beside me. He is such a good person I just want to know everyone that he lived and I still have this problem where I'd start balling if I started talking about it. So I said how cool it would be to have a song about him that if someone comes up and Dave's like, "Hey, tell me about your buddy Luke.? I can just be, " Here's a song, peace out, listen to this, you'll know all about him." And it was again my way of healing without taking it head on.

Richard: I was like I'm not confronting this, I'm just giving it a year and I'm going to walk away. So for about a year I'm studying art, I'm trying to write music, I'm looking on YouTube, learning how to play guitar for the first time just because now I have a mission to write songs and I graduate with my associates from this community college and the only school I applied for is the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The number one art school in the country, Walt Disney's, Georgia O'Keeffe, all these people went there. Even my teacher told me not to apply for there but I was like hey, I'm a Marine. I'm just all in. That's the only school I'm applying for and it took some negotiating but I got in.

Dave: The story you told about how you returned. Well, one, you had this injury, you didn't really know you had the injury. You didn't want to leave the military but you had to leave the military. You kind of just got dropped off. You isolated. You only spend time with your other veteran friends who really got it and understood it. This is a fairly classic story that we see over and over again in our No Barriers Programming.

Dave: But for me it's fascinating that there was this moment for you because you were in that retreating, I don't want to tell anyone. None of these stupid young kids are going to get it. They haven't lived life. They don't know what this is about. They won't understand but you had sort of this fairly... It sounds like a fairly quick moment where once the art opened that door for you, you were willing to be open again. So can you talk a little bit about... I think that for those folks who haven't spent a lot of time around veterans or been a veteran themselves, it's hard to understand like, okay, I'd like to get to know more about what goes on in the veterans mind but they're also isolating and I can't really get it because I've never done it. So talk about that dynamic and how it changed for you?

Richard: We don't want to talk to the other side ever and the other side are the people who don't know what our experiences feel and look like. So the moment I created a piece of art and I'm like, none of these people get me. None of them have my experiences. All of them suck pretty much. I'm never talking to them. The moment that they told me how I felt without me saying a word was that, wait a minute, they can understand me. I didn't think it possible for people to understand me and even us as veterans, no matter what situation we go through we're still like well, they'll never understand it. But what they can understand is the emotion because every scenario is different. Even in war, Vietnam veterans, World War two veterans, Iraq, Afghanistan veterans. We all go through so many different situations but the emotions are exactly the same.

Richard: Our biggest thing is we need people to know what we went through but we don't want people to know what we went through because that's why we went and fought. Was to protect them from these thoughts and these processes but the beauty behind abstract art, songwriting and all this other stuff is you get to hide these images in these but they could still connect with the emotion of the loss or the subject matter. They just don't see the details. So we still feel like we're getting things off of our chest and they feel like they're understanding us a little bit better. So it kind of, it's a win-win.

Jeff: When did you realize that that self-reflection was truly a form of therapy for you personally? I know you said your first piece was about your gunner and that was just for you and you were doing that as a form of therapy really just for you. And then you started to marry these two concepts of sharing and educating really and then self-reflection and I mean was this married all along or was there an epiphany for you? Was it that day, was it that moment when these random kids started to really just say Hey, I get you. I understand what you're saying

Richard: For me and I always feel bad because when I first came home like a lot of veterans, I didn't want to interact with anybody, any other veterans too. I kind of didn't like other veterans. I didn't like other Marines. I didn't like other people who weren't in my crew and when this hit me, I was definitely not thinking anybody else either except for myself. Just thinking, Oh, this is interesting because everything else I've ever tried didn't have a good effect on me.

Richard: This felt good. Like I felt a sense of normalcy so everything I did from that moment on was just selfishly for me, obviously in my healing but I don't even know if I knew it was healing in the moment. If that makes sense, I just felt good and so I wanted to chase that and I wanted to say. Well, it was a challenge to me because I was starting to think kind of like it just... In the military when you have to take a Hill, it's up to you how you take that. You're not just like, Oh, I'm going to go here and I'm going to do this.

Richard: You have to really think about the mission as a whole and how you're going to operate. I feel like art and music can be the same way when you're taught intentionally how to use it. So when I say I'm going to do this piece on loss of innocence in war, that could be a million different things. It's like, how am I going to put this together? How am I going to piece this thing together but the cool thing about it is once I figured out how to piece it together and you see it and you recognize it, I get so pumped that I was like, yes, he understood what I was talking about.

Richard: Make me just continuously trying to be creative and kind of trying to show you new ways to think the way I thought, especially civilians. I was like, how else can I get them to think the way that I think? And so it took a long time before I even thought about anybody else besides me just because I was in this mode of oh, this is awesome. What else can I learn?

Dave: Tell us how you came up with the idea for CreatiVets .

Richard: I met a songwriter in a bar called Joe's Bar in Chicago because I was bouncing there and he has a ton of number one hits and I just came up to him after the show and I said, Hey, have you ever written a with a veteran or for veteran before and he's like, "Yeah, I actually wrote a song with Billy Ray Cyrus called Runway Lights about a staff Sergeant coming home from war." I have so much going on inside me. I tried to write a song about my buddy who was shot and killed but I just can't do it. I was like if I come to you in Nashville, will you help me tell my story? And he said, yes. This huge writer, I mean, he wrote Alan Jackson's first number one hit. He wrote Redneck Crazy. He wrote Highway Don't Care. Tim got a Taylor Swift song.

Richard: He has like eight number ones I think it is and he said yes to me and nobody in Chicago to drive down and tell my story. Well, I came down and we wrote a song and a half just based off of the conversation I was having with him. So that's when it instantly clicked in my head that I could help other veterans do this. I knew I wanted to do art but the first thought was, I can get veterans to do this. I can get my friends who are suffering, who don't like talking about it to come to Nashville to write with the number one writer, that's a no brainer. So I thought about it... My buddy who lost his leg when he was at Iraq and has burns over 60% of his body, hates telling the story but he's the first dude I called up.

Richard: I said, "Hey, if I work with you, I'll be your banner boy throughout this whole process and you'd come down to Nashville with me, would you sit down and write with a number one songwriter? And he's like, "dude, yes." Because he loved country music so much that he was willing to come down and tell a story and so that's what I did. I did a GoFund me, raised like 300 bucks, I went to Jesse's house. I was prepping him. I wanted him to be just as prepared as I was when I was thinking about my song so I said, what do you need to talk about? What are you going through? What's the thing that you need to scream out of the rooftops or that people don't understand about you and he was telling me and I was like, okay. What we got to at the end of it was that he's been through hell for so long that it feels like home.

Richard: So he just wanted people to understand that I can't do a normal job without... I can't feel comfortable back home because this is what I was born and bred to do and that's what I feel comfortable with. So we come down to Nashville, link up with a band called Blackjack Billy and two of the writers on that team have number ones with [Marvin Theft 00:00:20:05] and so Jesse's just down, just kind of still worried about it and I'm in the room with them because I said, I'm not going to leave your side. Anything you need to say that's too heavy just look at me and talk to me, we'll talk about it. And he starts saying how I'm from a little town and people knew I was injured before I came home. They always said, Oh, you must feel so blessed your home.

Richard: You must feel so good. And like you're looking great. And he said what they don't see is when I have to go pee at four in the morning, I don't have time to put my leg on. I'm low crawling in the bathroom just to get up on the toilet or they don't see the war when I close my eyes and all this stuff. And so the band has a guitar and they're just sitting there okay, cool. What about something like this? "Hey boy you looking good, you know we're glad you're back, man I heard you got hurt real bad. How's that sound?

Richard: Jesse's eyes just lit up because he just heard his words in a song. Played great acoustically. He's just word vomited everything that's happening to him. Stuff I've never even heard of, we didn't talk about. I'm like what just happened? It just turned on the flood Gates so these songs are the people who say I've never told my wife this and I've shot a kid or I did this or I watched my friend... They put that in a song. The first person they text to is their wife like "Babe, listen to the song I just wrote." Because again, it's remapping, repurposing that memory as a positive because they just wrote a song with the number one writer.

Richard: So after that, that's when I went back to Chicago, I met this awesome lady who she was a philanthropist. Again, that story is just its own podcast in itself, how we met. I knew she was a wealthy older lady that was just giving to veterans and that she sat on a board so I just said, "I've discovered something that doesn't exist. I've never seen programs like this. I want to teach veterans how to do art and music especially specifically combat veterans. I was like but I just don't know how to start a nonprofit. She said, "well, I do. And I can help set up the board and do all this stuff so.

Jeff: What year was this Richard?

Richard: 2013. So July, 2013, we incorporated and by January we had our 51C3 status and we just started rolling out. We started the whole first year doing songwriting sessions where again I said, well, suicide doesn't have a geolocation. So from day one, we're going to pay for the flights, the food, the housing, everything. We're going to get rid of all the friction points so at least that's what I call a friction point to a veteran not seeking help. I was for one I had to outweigh their anxieties, depression with excitement. How do we do that? We're going to fly them to Nashville to write with a number one songwriter.

Richard: Second thing is a lot of them don't have money. So we're going to pay for everything to food, their flights, everything. The third thing was they need a battle buddy. So every single veteran that applied for programs I would call and say, I was blown up. I have a brain injury, I watched my best friend die. This is how I felt, what's wrong with you. They tell me I'm like, well, when you touched down in Nashville, I'm the one that picks you up. Just me and you, we'll tell us war stories that first day, we'll go listen to music on Broadway and then we go into that writer's room with the number one writer and we write your song. And so now they're pumped up, took away every friction point. So we've had a hundred percent veterans who apply and get accepted to our songwriting and our programs actually come out. Nobody's ever missed a flight or copped out of everything.

Dave: That's incredible Jeff, that we can take some pointers.

Jeff: So say a veteran comes with you, spend some time in Nashville, you record the song. The veteran has the song. Then what happens to that art, what happens to that song after that point?

Richard: So they would just get their song, I'm like this is yours. Do whatever you want. If you don't want to share with a soul don't, this is for you. If you want to share it with the world, share it with the world and that was it. Just recently and this is one of the real big news that we just launched. I've always had a dream that for one, I wanted to release these songs so that the veteran would get a paycheck in the mail one day and my story is worth something. And then I also thought, well, what if our organization can also get a paycheck that could cover our admin and fundraising and marketing so everything that comes to us is a straight donation to program. And lastly, what if a veteran who's never sought help before would hear one of these songs and Google us and find us and come through our programs.

Richard: Because I knew that we had to meet veterans where they were. 20 suicides a day in the veteran military space. 14 of those don't seek help. How do we get in those homes because they're not going to help, they're not going to No Barriers. They're not going to the VA. They're not doing this stuff and it's like we need them to do that. So I partnered just this year with Big Machine Records, who they have Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw, Florida, Georgia line, Justin Moore, Aaron Lewis, the list goes on. They are now putting out our music, the veteran music written by veterans for veterans. It's insane, we released our first album, July 3rd and then I went a step further and I said, Hey Amazon, I know you have these devices that are inside of homes. What if we were able to say something like, and you might hear this happen but, wait hold on. Alexa, play music by veterans.

Alexa: Veteran songs by CreatiVets, on Amazon music.

Richard: So then it goes right into our music. Amazing.

Jeff: Okay. All right. So everything, every genre that I've heard so far, this is a little bit of a parallel but every genre it sounds a little country-ish. How many dudes do you or girls too you have coming in wanting to throw down some just filthy rock and roll, like metal.

Richard: So we actually only one and they just applied. We try to do anything, when we first contact the veteran after they applied, we say what's your favorite type of music because that's what we want to write. So we've written sublime music, we have this single leg amputee who's still in the military who was like, "Hey, I love sublime, if we can get something like that." And the song is very, it's awesome. The song we release July 3rd on the album, there's a song called sunshine you should listen to.

Richard: So you can either say that to the Alexis or you can look up on any streaming platform so iTunes, Amazon, Spotify. Anywhere music is just search creatiVets veteran songs, listen to sunshine. It's the most soulful song. This guy's from Cleveland, Mississippi and it's just bluesy.It's awesome so-

Jeff: It's called sunshine?

Richard: Yeah, it's called sunshine.

Dave: So tell our listeners, hopefully we have some listeners who are hearing this and thinking I need to do this for myself and I'm a vet and this is what I need. What's the process, what do they need to do ?

Richard: For now when they apply, we reach out to them and we say, Hey, right now we're doing obviously online music. You can listen to our music online but you can also go to our Twitch or YouTube or Facebook and watch a stream live. We have a bunch of YouTube videos. We have a guitar lesson set that we could send you. Again, just to get them started with the process of understanding that their story's important. That they could use art and music to heal and then we just want to be a part of that journey

Dave: And for our listeners who want to make a contribution so you can help close that gap. How do they do?

Richard: Yeah. Thanks for that, creativets.org and when they first hear CreatiVets it's not two words. Some people put two V's in it but if you spell out creative and add a T S to the end, creativets.org.

Dave: Well Richard, thank you so much for joining us. There were many things mentioned throughout this conversation that our listeners can find in the show notes. If you'd like to go to make a contribution which we encourage you to do. If you'd like to learn more, if you'd like to listen to some of the music, we saw you can do it in Alexa just right now, you could go listen to it or you can go buy the CD that's come out. Richard we really appreciate your partnership with No Bearers and all the amazing work that you're doing. Thank you for sharing your story with us today.

Richard: Thank you so much. I love sharing it. Hope it helps someone.

Jeff: You're extraordinary Richard. Thank you, man.

Dave: Yeah. Thanks so much. Jeff, another great conversation today. What stood out for you?

Jeff: Well, I took a bunch of notes and I don't know if I'm going to be able to get to all of them but let me just first say that guys like Richard, you listened to him talk and I just want to get up and go do some pushups and go start a new company. I mean, that dude is driven and it was like he almost got a sense that, he just wields shit to happen. I want this to happen, not so sure how but I'm going to make it happen. And he does and the wonderful thing is he's doing it in such a philanthropic method. The other thing that I think is so remarkable is that I think his story mirrors a lot of what we've heard in the warriors program and that there is this sort of symphony of emotions and things that are happening with our returning veterans.

Jeff: They're not quite sure how to channel it. Richard is a great example of not even having a art background but finding something that he could tap into that allowed him to open that fire hydrant up. And as soon as he opened that fire hydrant up, it just came flooding out of him and that process of sort of having a release valve I think is something that is really important in a therapeutic way. And I hope that when people listen to this especially our veterans space, they can really sort of understand and maybe not everybody's is as hard driven as Richard is but we all can can learn from him and how he channeled that, how he found that. And I commend him for that. What about you, Dave?

Dave: Yeah, I mean, I'd say for me what really stood out about Richard and the work he does is a commitment to the power of one, one life changed. I think it's something you kind of heard him allude to in his talk about there's sometimes a challenge with getting donors to believe that, okay, well there's millions of vets who need your help but you only serve a few hundred. I think what I love about the work of CreatiVets is it's yeah but one person matters.

Dave: Every single person that we can do this for is going to change another person's life. And I think that power of... I think a lot of our listeners have been on a No Barriers transformative experience and you know that there's no value you can put on that. It's incredible. It forever changes how you think about yourself and the world around you and that's the kind of work that Richard is doing as well. And so I just encourage everyone to support organizations that are really going deep with individuals and causing true transformation because it's what people need.

Dave: Well, thank you Richard. Thank you, Jeff. Another great episode, as always you can find our show notes. If you enjoyed this conversation please share it with a friend and for the month of November we are focusing on veterans themes in all of our podcasts episodes so please check those out.

Jeff: Thanks everybody. Till next time.

Dave: And now, here is a live performance of CreatiVets' Alum, Paul Smith song from our No Barriers summit, enjoy.

Speaker 7: (Singing).

Dave: The production team behind this podcast includes senior producer, Pauline Schaffer, executive producer Diedrich junk. Sound design, editing and mixing by Tyler Cottman. Graphics by Sam Davis and marketing support by Megan Lee and Carly sands Mark. Special thanks to the DN Ryan band for our intro song, Guidance. And thanks to all of you for listening, we know that you've got a lot of choices about how you can spend your time and we appreciate you spending it with us. If you enjoy this podcast, we encourage you to subscribe to it, share it and give us a review. Show notes can be found at nobarrierspodcast.com

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