On this week’s episode of the Scuttlebutt, we’re going inside the Air Force. We talk to retired Air Force veteran Ben Wright about his service and his perspective on how the Air Force has changed over time. We’re also joined by Gold Star Wife Becky Nyren and Marine Corps vet James Martin, who offer their perspectives. Tune in for this week’s military headlines, our conversation about the Air Force, and some Scuttlebutt, including the upcoming 35 year anniversary of Top Gun and Iron Eagle!

Further Reading

Messerschmitt BF-109

POLISH WWII Bomb Detonated: 

USS Stout spends 215 days at sea:

The Candy Bomber turns 100!

University of Pittsburgh involved in Marine Corps study on gender integration in training

Air Force:

Why no apostrophe in Veterans Day?,

Tom Cruise and Jerry Bruckheimer made honorary Navy aviators ahead of Top Gun release.

Welcome to The Scuttlebutt: Understanding Military Culture, a weekly pre-recorded program presented by The Veterans Breakfast Club.
“Scuttlebutt” is a military term (specifically Navy) for talk or gossip around the watercooler below decks. The staff at VBC arrived at this title as a way of defining what our new program is about –  an informed conversation about the military experience, past and present. 


You’ve most likely heard of Call of Duty or Halo, even if you’ve never played them. What’s behind these military style video games, and why do many veterans enjoy them? Today on the Scuttlebutt, we talk to Marine Corps veterans and gamers James Martin (@Ryuknights0848) and Gabriel Beltrez (@AnubisAbadabupi) about military video games. We’re also joined by Army veteran and CEO of Operation Strong Mind Tom Stokes, who offers his insight into the effect of games on mental health and the veteran community. Join us for a fascinating conversation about the uniting power of military style video games and just what they’re all about.

Additional reading for this week’s episode:

Operation Strong Mind:

Journey to Normal:

Combat Social Work:

Find James Martin @Ryuknights0848

Find Gabriel Beltrez @AnubisAbadabupi

What Happens when the joint chiefs go into quarantine? a.

End Strength Goal Met with Growth in Diversity This Year, Army Says,Lt.%20Gen.%20Gary%20Brito

New Parris Island Protection Act Would Prohibit Marines Closing East Coast Boot Camp

With “shark attacks” a thing of the past, soldiers recall these classic drill sergeant one-liners


(Video) The Debate Behind Video Game Violence

Realistic Military Video Games:

First Air Refueling:,Virgil%20Hine%20and%20Frank%20W.

Adaptive sports resources from

Wheelchair Games – A Department of Veterans Affairs athletic competition held in various regions around the United States for wounded service members and veterans.

Adaptive Sports Clinics – See for when and where these clinics in a variety of skills and sports take place around the United States.

Adaptive Sports Schedule – See for games, clinics, and camps on Adaptive Sports for 2016.

Adaptive Sports Facebook Page – Join and get inspired by our athletes and see how you can participate.

This week on the Scuttlebutt, we ask the question, “Should You Join the Military?” Shaun, James, Danny, and Ryan discuss the benefits to service, as well as some drawbacks. We also discuss the potential closing of Parris Island and San Diego, what “gedunk” is, and the age-old question: how many Ripits is too many Ripits? READ MORE in this week’s Scuttlebutt Blog!

Further Reading

Cappello, L. (2017). How are 9/11-era veterans faring in the modern economy? A quantitative study by sex, race and ethnicity 2005-2015. NY: Graduate Center at the City University of New York.

The Children of Kauai

This week on The Scuttlebutt, we challenge some of the most common assumptions made about veterans and examine the truth behind these stereotypes. Do all veterans know how to fire a weapon? Do all Navy vets know how to swim? Are all Marine veterans tattooed? Tune in as we debunk some common myths, as well as review this week’s military headlines and finish with some scuttlebutt. “Shark Attack” audio clip featured in this week’s episode via “Army Drill Sergeants Launch Shark Attack On New Recruits,” Gung Ho Videos,, October 26, 2016.


“What ‘Embrace the Suck’ Means to the Military,” by Taylor Baldwin Kiland and Peter Fretwell, Sept 22, 2020,,

“Infantry School ends traditional ‘shark attack,’ adopts new way of instilling warrior ethos in recruits,” by Franklin Fisher,, Sept 17, 2020 

Video: “Army Drill Sergeants Launch Shark Attack On New Recruits,” Gung Ho Vids,,

Video: “Warrior Corner: The First 100 Yards,” Fort Benning, “Altamonte Man Dies in Army Training,” by Amy C. Rippel and Sentinel Staff Writer, NY Daily News, Dec. 3, 2003

“Congress Questions Navy’s Plan to Phase Out Iconic Peacoat” by Sam LaGrone, USNI News, July 6, 2017

“Bipartisan bill would waive rules keeping iraq hero receiving medal of honor” by Daniel Villarreal, Newsweek, Sept 16, 2020

It is common nowadays to say to a veteran or service member, “thank you for your service”. This is a far cry from the way returning Vietnam vets were treated. Even so, some veterans bristle at this well-intended phrase.

I didn’t understand why a post-9/11 vet would feel uneasy about my show of gratitude but after spending time at Veterans Breakfast Club events and now working for the VBC, I’ve begun to understand the issue.

Imagine being a veteran in uniform and everywhere you go you hear the same thank you from numerous strangers. After a while, the repetition can lose its meaning. The service member may wonder, “What do they really know about my service?” “What do they know about the military?”

But if saying, “thank you” isn’t quite right, how should civilians show gratitude to veterans who sacrifice for our country?

I’ve asked some veterans what they would like to see civilians do to support them. Here’s what they suggest:

  • Ask questions about their service. Don’t say thank you and walk away.
  • Have a conversation about what’s going on in the military today. There are many different websites that provide good information.
  • Vote and choose your elected officials carefully. After all, that’s one of the freedoms our military protects.
  • Finally: serve others. Respect your fellow citizens and serve the community.
  • Make it so veterans can thank you for your service. That would help all of us be more worthy of their sacrifice.

Further reading:

Unstoppable Robot Dogs Join US Air Force

The main story in our first Scuttlebutt episode centers around: Who Serves? To answer that question, we narrow our focus through two lenses: Geographically and Demographically. I highly recommend listening to our findings or you can watching the episode on YouTube.

This week we are taking a closer look at the people who serve and asking the question: why would a civilian risk making the ultimate sacrifice by joining the military? As a non-veteran, I admit that the military was never a part of the conversation as I researched possible careers. I received calls from recruiters but my knowledge of the modern military was limited by the historical facts presented in my American History class and I never gave it a serious thought. It’s one of the reasons I am so enamored with the answers I get when asking a veteran why they chose to serve. 

Depending on the era in which a veteran served, you can get a range of insightful answers. From veterans who served before 1973, you may hear that they were drafted or conscripted into the military. I can’t imagine a more nerve wracking letter to receive. My government is ordering me to put my life on hold and risk life and limb by going to war. The lives of those brave enough to answer the call were never the same and amazingly enough, many of those draftees look back favorably on their service and the skills they acquired. 

Once the draft ended though, the decision to enlist fell to our brave young men and women. My thoughts on the current debate over our all-volunteer force aside, (one that I will come back to in a future blog post) I’ve noticed that this decision is an incredibly personal one and is life-altering to say the least. 

Some look at the military as a chance for adventure. A means to escape their hometowns and see the world. There are some who have a warrior mentality. They wanted to go to war and experience the battlefield. Family military history plays a huge role in one’s decision to enlist: an uncle who served in Korea, a grandfather who fought bravely in WWII. Some idolize the hero’s journey. Seeing themselves in the role of commander from a war film they experienced in their youth. Some have something to prove to themselves. Enlisting to tackle the ultimate physical, emotional, and mental challenge. Still others seek the specialized training of the military as a means to advance their careers and gain invaluable skills for a life in the civilian workforce. Many will “stay in” and make a career out of the military, gaining in rank and ability until they have the opportunity to retire. I am reminded of one amazing reason I heard from a Vietnam vet – The other guys from his neighborhood were joining and he was no better than them so he felt a responsibility to enlist. Astounding! Whatever the reason, our veterans have sworn to protect our rights and freedoms and their patriotism is inspiring! 

Do yourself a favor, the next time you speak with a veteran (or a member of our active duty force), ask them why they chose to serve and simply listen. It’s one of the most important things we can do.

Please be sure to like, share, and subscribe to help spread the scuttlebutt!


“Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are “Losers” and “Suckers”” by Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, September 3, 2020. 

“Trump’s popularity slips in latest Military Times poll – and more troops say they’ll vote for Biden” by Leo Shane III, Military Times, August 31, 2020. 

“Despite scandals, Trump support grows stronger in latest poll of troops” by George R. Altman and Leo Shane III, Military Times, October 19, 2016.

“Trump reverses Defense Dept. order to shut down Stars and Stripes newspaper” by Oliver Darcy, CNN Business, September 4, 2020.

“The Top 5 Reasons Soldiers Really Join The Army, According to Junior Enlisted” by Jared Keller, Task and Purpose, May 14, 2018.

Studies tackle who joins the military and why, but their findings aren’t what many assume” by Meghann Myers, Military Times, April 27, 2020.

“Who Signs Up to Fight? makeup of U.S. Recruits Shows Glaring Disparity” by Dave Philipps and Tim Arango, The New York Times, January 10, 2020. 

“Marines get moldy sandwiches, drones crash over Syria, and uniforms get unwanted attention”, August 24, 2020.

“Double amputee canoes the entire Mississippi River to raise money for disabled veterans,” Fox News, September 7, 2020.

“Mail-in ballots were part of a plot to deny Lincoln reelection in 1864,” by Dustin Waters, The Washington Post, August 22, 2020.

Welcome to The Scuttlebutt: Understanding Military Culture, a weekly pre-recorded program presented by The Veterans Breakfast Club.

“Scuttlebutt” is a military term (specifically Navy) for talk or gossip around the watercooler below decks. The staff at VBC arrived at this title as a way of defining what our new program is about –  an informed conversation about the military experience, past and present. 

Unlike our very own, Lauren DelRicci (Navy), our other hosts, Todd, and I (Shaun) are not veterans. However, we all passionately serve the mission of The Veterans Breakfast Club by creating communities of listening around veterans’ stories to connect, educate, heal, and inspire. We conceived The Scuttlebutt to educate the average Joe and Jane about current affairs and issues facing not only the American military but all of us. We start from that premise: military matters, veterans affairs, are never simply military matters or veterans affairs. They’re the business of every citizen. Each week, we’ll develop discussions by asking big questions about our military and our veterans. Each episode will range from the topical to the historical and from the big picture to the everyday. 

We want The Scuttlebutt to bridge the divide between those who serve and those who don’t. Currently less than one-half of one percent of the American population serves in the military. A percentage that hasn’t been seen in nearly a century and is occurring during the longest sustained conflict in American history: The Global War on Terror. We believe this divide negatively affects our collective knowledge of military norms and culture. The Scuttlebutt is here to help. It is our job as United State citizens and voters to know about our military and think critically about the ways in which our military is being used in the world through an apolitical lens.

We’ll tackle military headlines from across the branches (including the newly formed Space Force) from a mostly civilian perspective. Joining us weekly will be special guests from VBC’s extensive veteran network to get behind these headlines and tell us why we should care about them.

We’ll ask questions like   Is the all-volunteer force model effective? Who serves in our military? Why do they enlist? Is it appropriate to say, “Thank you for your service”? How is the military a mirror of our society and culture? Does racism exist in the military? Is the military a meritocracy? Is the US an empire? How has the role of women in the military changed over the last century? Are MREs actually any good? And many more!

We examine these questions with engaging guests and entertaining conversation. Each week’s episode will be accompanied by a blog post with show notes, links, and reading and viewing recommendations. We welcome comments, questions, and informed ideas to help build our discussions in the future. So please join us on this journey and comment, like, share, and subscribe (on YouTube) to spread the scuttlebutt.


Further Reading:

“Sailor Investigated for Arson in U.S.S. Bonhomme Richard”:

“Navy Warship is Still Ablaze”

“Here’s what we know about 8 of the soldiers who have died this year at Fort Hood”:

“Murder, sexual harassment rates at Fort Hood among highest in the service, Army secretary says”:

“Too many stories” of murders, sexual assault and harassment at Fort Hood prompt outside investigation”:

“Fort Hood gets new acting commander; Army orders ‘in-depth investigation’ into the chain of command”:

“Two special ops soldiers killed, three injured in helicopter accident”:

“Remains of Sailor and 7 Marines Killed in Training Accident…”:

“Sergeant at Fort Bliss dies in vehicle collision during training”:

“Navy surveillance plane crashes in Virginia, crew bails out ‘OK’”:

Demographics of the U.S. Military:

DOD 2018 Demographics Profile: Active Duty Members:

“The changing profile of the U.S. military: Smaller in size, more diverse, more women in leadership”:,grown%20steadily%20in%20recent%20decades

“Meet the ‘deadliest recruit on Parris Island’”:

“Unsafe, unprofessional intercept of US bomber by Russian aircraft over the Black Sea”:

“The Coast Guard has launhed ‘Operation Bubba Gump.’ No, seriously”:

“Sound-powered telephone”: