Return to Base | A VeteranLife Podcast

VeteranLife

On Return to Base, we rip off the 550 cord and 100mph tape that holds us all together and explore topics that veterans can relate to: calls to service, transition stories, memories of skin and blood left in sand and boots. We'll chat with professionals, philanthropists, businesspeople, and just good f**kin' dudes and gals. Strap in for Return to Base hosted by retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant and former Special Forces (Green Beret) Cliff VR.

Dave Duffy | From Smooth Operator to Making Smoothies; Green Beret Turns Franchise Owner
May 3 2022
Dave Duffy | From Smooth Operator to Making Smoothies; Green Beret Turns Franchise Owner
On this installment of Return to Base, I welcome Dave Duffy. Dave is a retired Special Forces officer who now, in addition to doing business development in the defense contractor industry, is the proud owner/operator of two Tropical Smoothie franchises in Columbia, SC. Dave and I dig into his service, to include his time at the United States Military Academy at West Point where he played football before moving onto rugby. We discuss how his career in Special Forces helped him build a network that continues to do right by him even 14 years after leaving the service. It really is “who you know;” his network and experience helped him land several jobs contracting for the U.S. Military. Eventually, Dave and his wife found an investment opportunity with a business they frequently patronized - the Tropical Smoothie. Dave walks us through what being a franchise owner is like, the day to day, the annoying, and the rewards. As a fellow veteran, I’ve received way too many calls asking me if I was interested in becoming a franchise owner. Why? Well, as it turns out, veterans are great business owners and franchise partners. Franchises understand that and see veteran ownership as a risk mitigation strategy.So sit back. Relax. Blend some fruit. And welcome Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Dave Duffy.If you are interested in connecting with Dave to ask him about defense contracting or franchise ownership, his LinkedIn is: episode was made possible in part by the good AMERICANS at Black Rifle Coffee Company.
Dean Wegner | Becoming Authentically American
Mar 1 2022
Dean Wegner | Becoming Authentically American
On this episode of Return to Base, we talk to Dean Wegner, the founder and CEO of Authentically American, a Veteran owned, American made, premium apparel brand. Dean graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point where he played hockey before going on to fly helicopters. During his service, Dean did what very few aviation officers get to do, attend and pass the grueling U.S. Army Ranger School, where he learned first hand that he preferred a life in the sky over an existence in the dirt.Upon transitioning from the army, Dean did what many junior grade officers do, he enlisted the help of a JMO headhunter and went to work for a top tier consulting firm. He soon realized that consulting meant seeing his family even less than he had become accustomed to. He needed to make a change and soon realized that entrepreneurship had always been something he desired.In 2017 Dean created Authentically American with a vision to build an iconic American brand that is truly American made. So far he’s weathered getting out of the starting blocks, and a global pandemic; but, Dean and his team continue to work hard to create amazing American made products.You can shop for Authentically American products at Be sure to use the coupon code FOUNDER to collect a 25% discount off of your total purchase.You can also reach Dean at his LinkedIn at be sure to follow Authentically American at the links below.Instagram: episode was made possible in part by the good AMERICANS at Black Rifle Coffee Company.
Alex Bertelli | Creating a Safe Haven
Jan 2 2022
Alex Bertelli | Creating a Safe Haven
On this episode of Return to Base we are pleased to present Alex Bertelli, the CEO, founder, and inventor of HavenLock.Before kicking down doors, literally, on Shark Tank, Alex was flying the world’s most advanced helicopters as a member of the fabled 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment -- The Night Stalkers. It was there that he first ideated what would become the HavenLock. Alex noted bad guys overseas were fortifying compounds by welding steel bars at the bottom, middle, and top of their doors. What a novel concept.Back home in Tennessee, Alex’s neighborhood saw a rash of burglaries where the criminals literally kicked in the door rendering the dead-bolt basically useless. An average sized man can kick a door open in just 4-5 kicks. Alex recalled his experience overseas and HavenLock was born. Havenlock is a home security device that installs at the base of the door and prevents intruders from accessing your home by kicking in the front door. The idea is simple, create an actuating wedge that drives the force of an unwanted entry into the ground. After years of development, the world was introduced to this innovative product when Alex literally did a flying kick through a door on national television. Though they didn’t secure a deal, HavenLock gained national notoriety.To learn more about HavenLock you can visit their website: information about the HavenLockdown version designed for schools, places of worship, or other public places visit: them out on Instagram at: with Alex on LinkedIn at episode was made possible in part by the good AMERICANS at Black Rifle Coffee Company.
Bessel van der Kolk | Keeping The Score
Oct 1 2021
Bessel van der Kolk | Keeping The Score
In this, the inaugural episode of Return to Base podcast, we welcome Dr. Bessel van der Kolk M.D.. Van der Kolk is a psychiatrist that has been conducting research in the field of Traumatic Stress Studies for decades. He’s also the best selling author of The Body Keeps the Score.In Return to Bases’ first ever podcast with Bessel van der Kolk, we discuss the nature of trauma, how trauma rewires the brain as a defense mechanism, and touch on various treatment options. We also discuss the recent collapse of the 20 year mission in Afghanistan.Van der Kolk got his start treating veterans while working at the Boston VA Hospital where he observed extremely troubled veterans of the Vietnam War. Having not found any academic literature to prepare one for treating these veterans, van der Kolk began proposing studies that would examine traumatic memories and PTSD. After being rejected by the Veterans Administration, who stated ““It has never been shown that PTSD is relevant to the mission of the Veterans Administration,” van der Kolk left the VA and went to work at Harvard’s Massachusetts Mental Health Center. There he encountered trauma of a different source; namely, child abuse and family violence. It was then he realized that trauma is trauma, regardless of the method of acquirement. Since then van der Kolk has researched and advocated for alternative forms of treatment that help those suffering from PTSD. Treatments like yoga, or mindfulness, and neuro-feedback. Sign up for Dr. van der Kolk's 4-week seminar HERE. Don't forget to use coupon code VETLIFECOMMUNITY to save $150 on registration.This episode was made possible in part by the good AMERICANS at Black Rifle Coffee Company.