Blue Grit Podcast

The Blue Grit Podcast features conversations with current and former military leaders, mental health experts, elite athletes, veterans and other individuals who have overcome significant adversity. Each podcast will highlight tactics, techniques and procedures guests used to overcome profound challenges and how those TTPs may be employed to help current Airmen deal with their struggles. As a corollary, podcast will increase awareness of psychological health and assist in de-stigmatizing mental illness, normalize Airmen's own struggles and internalize the message of hope and recovery. All episodes are also available on i-Tunes, SoundCloud, and Spotify.


Episode 1 features an interview with Colonel David Hammiel. Col Hammiel is the commander of the 61st Medical Squadron at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California. He is a board certified and licensed clinical social worker. He has served in a variety of positions, to include mental health, family advocacy, family support, operational health, air mobility command, behavioral health consultant, medical support squadron command, Air Force medical operations agency, mental health division chief, and clinical social work consultant to the Air Force Surgeon General.


Episode 2 features an interview with the former POW, Dr. (Ret Lt Col) Hector Acosta who discusses his experiences of continuing to build grit after being shot down and held captive in Vietnam.


Episode 3 features an interview with a wounded warrior, Maj Kat Portillo, and 18 year Air Force veteran. She is a former bodybuilder, triathlete, and an advocate for fitness and health. In 2015, she was involved in a motor vehicle accident that left her paralyzed from the shoulders down.


Episode 4 features Maj Alea Nadeem who was kidnapped as a child and held against her will in Iraq. She eventually was able to get back to the US. As an adult, she joined the USAF and has a unique perspective on freedom and resilience.


Episode 5 is an interview with Orb Greenwald an Olympic level pentathlete, a swim coach for the USAF special forces selection course. This interview is just weeks after his wife Cordy passed away. Coach Greenwald talks about his failures, grief, being a warrior, and developing grit through setting goals and staying active.


Episode 6 features an interview with Abby Schroeder, the widow of Col Bill Schroeder who was shot, defending the lives of others. Abby discusses her life after losing the love of her life. She continues to use strategies she has learned from the Air Force resiliency trainings, relying heavily and deliberately on the 4 pillars.


Episode 7 is an interview with Lt Col Jaime Humphries, a Public Affairs officer who discusses the aftermath of dealing with the deadliest shooting in Iraq. He has an interesting perspective on moving forward and becoming productive in the midst of chaos and trauma.


Episode 8 is dedicated to the Suicide Prevention efforts and features a moving conversation with Capt Brock McNabb, an Air Force social worker. He talks about coping with losing his best friend, an Army psychologist, who committed suicide.


Episode 9 is an interview with Dr. Gary Percival, a SERE psychologist who has an extensive first-hand experience working with the survivors of captivity and isolation. He offers a comprehensive conceptualization of grit, draws a distinction between grit and hardiness, and offers concrete techniques of staying tough through difficult times.

Episode 10 features Col. (Ret.) Lee Ellis, who spent  5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi and surrounding areas with Sen. John McCain and other military leaders. He is the author of the 2016 award winning books "Engage with Honor: Building a Culture of Courageous Accountability"  and "Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton." He shares his dramatic story and stories of his fellow POWs filled with selfless honor, integrity and character as the foundation for daily decision making.

Episode 11 features Lt. Col. Cynthia Rutherford who shares a powerful story of overcoming childhood abuse including sexual trauma. She discusses how her painful life experiences taught her to be a better physician and an Air Force officer.