Top Menu
Menu
Podcast

Veterans Day Special: Former Marine and politician Nathan Fletcher on PTSD and Helping Veterans

By November 9, 2016 No Comments

“But I was at the mental health summit a week ago, and they were clicking through the slides, and they put one up and I said ‘Whoah, stop, backup.’ I said, ‘Is that slide correct that over 70% of the veterans who commit suicide never ask for help from anybody?’” –Nathan Fletcher

In this podcast, Commander Divine talks to Nathan Fletcher, a USMC combat Vet, an American politician who served two terms in the California State Assembly, a businessman, and a professor. He talks to Nathan about his time in the Marines and most recently, his work helping vets with PTSD to find help. He is founder of the Three Wise Men Veterans Foundation, which is dedicated to helping veterans who fought for us… it’s our turn to help fight for them. Hear about their latest event in conjunction with Crossfit, a special WOD on the U.S.S. Midway on the 11th.  Find out how you can participate in the special event. If you’d like to donate directly to the foundation, click here for their donation page.

Love the Unbeatable Mind Podcast? Click here to subscribe on iTunes. We’d love your feedback, please leave a rating and review.

Other episodes of our podcast that you might be interested in are  Captain Bob SchoultzMitch Hall or Dr. Sue Sisley.

Transcript & Shownotes

Hey folks, this is Commander Mark Divine. Welcome back to the Unbeatable Mind podcast. I’m super-stoked to have Nathan Fletcher as my guest today. Thanks very much for coming.

Nathan Fletcher: Yeah, it’s a pleasure. It’s an honor.

Mark: Really cool to meet you. Hey, before we get started, couple of things, please support our sponsors–Powerdot and Energy Patch, and we got a few more coming online. Because that helps. And go to iTunes to rate the podcast, because when people search for Tim Ferris, we want them to find Mark Divine. (laughing) And then eventually Tim Ferris is gonna say, “Hey go rate my podcast because when people search for Mark Divine they can re-find me.”

Introduction

01:19

Anyways, I’m gonna do like the formal intro here of what I’ve got written down, and then we’re gonna have a good chat with Nathan. Really neat guy. So Nathan Fletcher, former US Marine–thank you for your service–served in Iraq as a counter-intelligence specialist–we’re gonna have some fun conversations about that. Two terms as a California State Assemblyman. Wow. Adjunct professor UCSD, businessman, Crosfitter and now the founding chairman of the 3 Wise Men foundation. The mission of which is to stand and fight for vets returning home from tour of duty. Awesome.

So Nathan, welcome.

Nathan: Thank you. I’ve been listening…I told you this, I’ve been listening for a long time, and I’ve always enjoyed it, and then when I got an email I was like, “Oh my gosh. I’ve made it! My life is complete!” I’m on the same thing as like Josh Bridges,and Eric Greitens and Jesse Ventura and…

Mark: We’ve collected guests, so the next in a long line of eclectic guests. I know we learned a lot this year. Didn’t we? I mean, coffee and nuts… oh, and sunshine.

Nathan: Well, and sunshine, but even the whole… I think all of us in life, you’re constantly trying to say, “Okay, what can I do better? What can I learn? How can I get better?”

And so even some of the solo ones, you know, on breathing and hydration and nutrition…

Mark: Yeah, do you like those? I never really get any feedback, but I wanna keep doing those.

Nathan: No, I do.

Mark: It’s the only way I can really have a conversation. Most of these podcasts are about you. Or other people.

Nathan: No, but it’s good. And it’s helpful. And there’s so many out there, there’s so many that you subscribe to and you listen for a little bit, and you’re like, “Meh”…

Mark: Too formal…

Nathan: Well, it’s just fill-in time, it’s not contributing anything. There’s nothing useful. And I feel like whether this one in particular–and I’ve told a lot of folks this–whether it’s a guest, you know, I’m getting something interesting, and then the solo ones I feel like it’s not taking a chance of like, am I getting something from the guest? It’s like 18, 20, 30 minute period of stuff that I’m gonna take with me.

Mark: Right.

Nathan: No, I think they’re great.

Beginnings

03:23

Mark: Cool. So you… did you grow up in San Diego?

Nathan: No, so I grew up… I was born in Nevada, in Carson City. As a little guy, and I remember in Carson City…

Mark: Wait, you were born as a little guy?

Nathan: (laughing) I was born as a little guy. I was born about 8 pounds. But Carson City was interesting. I remember people walking around with 6 shooters on their hips. I mean literally with 6 shooters. And then my family was all from Southern California, but then I moved to Arkansas around the second, third grade. Tiny little town in Arkansas. Twelve hundred people.

Mark: Was that because your parents moved out there?

Nathan: Yeah. People asked if we were in the military and I’m like, “No, they are just dysfunctional.”

Mark: (laughing) Okay.

Nathan: Yeah, yeah. Well you gotta remember… the whole debate about gay marriage and it was like “gays are going to destroy the institution of marriage.” And I’m like, “no, my family already did.” Like…

Mark: (laughing) Way ahead of you.

Nathan: I love them. I love my family but… So I moved… Big culture shock though, to a small oil-producing town in Arkansas. And grew up there all the way through high school. And looking back I think growing up in a small town is a wonderful thing. At the time…

Mark: I grew up in a really small town too. It was great. I mean I didn’t like it while I was there.

Nathan: No, I hated it. I hated it.

Mark: Couldn’t wait to get out, but in retrospect there’s a lot of good lessons. Taught us basically how to be creative. You know what I mean? Like, I didn’t have any friends. There was one guy am I age in town.

Nathan: Oh, no way.

Mark: There were only three hundred and eighty people.

Nathan: Oh my gosh. Well we were a boom town. We had twelve hundred people. You would come to us to go to the market.

Mark: Did you have a stoplight?

Nathan: One. And it worked… It worked more than it didn’t.

Mark: We didn’t have a stoplight.

Nathan: But you know what I think is interesting about a small town is, like, you know everyone and everyone knows you and so as a kid I just wanted out of that. And I wasn’t… I didn’t feel like I want to go to California. That’s why family was from and I go in the summers and I felt more in tune there. But when I look back on it now I always tell people in the small town you can’t cut someone off, when you’re driving. Because they know you, and you know them.

Mark: And it really it is like that… I mean, not to invoke Hillary’s name, but when she said it takes a village, that’s what it’s like. Everyone is there to support you…

Nathan: You wave at people, they wave that you. And you know you have a neighbor that if you’re sick they’ll take your trash out for you. And in big cities now, you don’t even know our neighbors.

Mark: Never locked our doors

Nathan: No, never locked our doors. My mom is still there. She’s still there so I still go back and a lot of my friends from high school… We’ve all kind of reconnected over the years and so I stay in touch. I think it was positive, but no, I came out here, Boot Camp…

Marines

05:52

Mark: So you trained in the marines to get out of small towns…

Nathan: Yeah, well I came out here for college and then did Marine reserves here in college, and had every intention when I finished of kind of going on active duty and going the officer route. But I had a great job in the Marine corps. Counter-intelligence, human intelligence.

Mark: That is a great job.

Nathan: At the time I was in, there were no commissioned officers. And so I stayed my whole time, I stayed enlisted.

Mark: It’s a very small community in the marine corps. We worked with the HET team. You know those guys?

Nathan: Sure, that’s what I was.

Mark: You were a HET guy? So when I did the proof of concept with this first SOCOMDAT, or the only SOCOMDAT. It was a proof of concept for the Marines to become part of SPECOPs. So they had a couple of their HET guys on the team, and I was talking to them, and they said there was only, like, 20 of them. In the entire marine corps.

Nathan. Yeah, it was small. And it wasn’t a place you went… and it probably still isn’t a place you would go for career advancement, you know? It was a place that… it was real specialized and it had, you know, the kind of Marine corps recon… you know, the tension the Marines had about joining the special operations community? Goes back to the core of “everyone’s a rifleman.”

Mark: Everyone’s a rifleman, and we’re all special.

Nathan: And we’re all special. I mean, for the longest time the Marines objected to the names on the camis. ‘Cause they said, “Well you don’t have a name, and you’re no different.” And they don’t like the badges and they don’t like any of the special type things. And certainly that culture carries through to today, and it applied to our field. And so for the longest time I would meet senior marines and they’d say, “What did you do?” and I said “Human intelligence/counter-intelligence.” And I would get one of two responses. They’d either go, “What’s that? I didn’t know we did that.” Or they would roll their eyes and they would go, “Oh, you’re one of those guys, with the long hair and the beard. You think you’re cooler than everyone.” And I would say, “No, it’s not… we’re no cooler than anyone, it’s just a different job.”

And I was really good. When we were on deployment we do what we do. And then when you come back, who cares? And you get your hair cut, you put your uniform on and you’re a marine again. It’s no different than the team guys I worked with.

Mark: So how long did you do that?

Nathan: So I was doing 10 total. Little bit more than half of that was human. And I think, particularly in today’s world, and in today’s wars it’s so vital, because you can’t drive around and find the enemy…

Mark: It’s critical. We’ve created entire teams around that now in the SEALs. It’s classified, so I can’t say anymore than that…

Nathan: No. No, no, it’s true. And a lot of them went through the same schools that we went through, and a lot of that was being talked about when I was there. But to really try and understand, “Okay, why are you the enemy?”

Mark: Right. You gotta get in their heads. You gotta get down on the ground with them, and eat their food and you know what I mean?

Nathan: Yup. And that’s what we would do. Is it tribal? Is it religious? Is it ideology? Is it financial?

Iraq and Africa

08:20

Mark: So you were deployed to Iraq for Iraqi freedom?

Nathan: 2004.

Mark: Oh, that’s when I was there. I was in Baghdad in 2004.

Nathan: So we had the western edge of Fallujah, over towards Ramadi. We called it the fish-hook. And so we would go out and develop our networks of folks, and then when we’d find them, we’d grab someone–depending upon who it was–maybe…

Mark: Were you there when the battle of Fallujah… to retake Fallujah took place?

Nathan: No, we got pulled out right as that was going. So we… I left in November. So I was there February to November. In that area. We started down south, which was interesting, ’cause it was literally the Shia/Sunni split. They had them fighting each other and then fighting us. And it was really… for human purposes it was great. And then we moved up to Habanea, which is right across from TQ. And we were there for a year. And then I was an interrogator. So when we’d find them, we’d go get them, and then I’d have them for… I don’t know, the rules have changed–3, 4, 5 days.

And then I did a year in Africa. Where I think we were called external billet…

Mark: Horn of Africa?

Nathan: Yeah, yeah. So spent some time roaming around out there and it was… you know, that was wild. There were villages I went to, when I get into taxis anywhere in the world, there are predominantly Eritrean, Ethiopian, and they’ll say… I say, “Oh, I lived there.” and they’ll say “Where?” And I tell them, and they say, “No, no white mans been there.” And I say, “No, you call, ’cause they’ll remember me.” ‘Cause the kids would come up and they would rub me to see if it came off. And we were out shooting gazelles…

Mark: Was there a lot of suspicion or…?

Nathan: Oh, yeah. There hasn’t been a white person there in a hundred years and so…

And in some ways, I think of that deployment was more stressful.

Mark: I bet. Did you have a team with you, or were you just…?

Nathan: There was 4 of us. So it was me, it was another military person, and then a couple of other folks. But there was…

Mark: They didn’t have any black HET guys to send in?

Nathan: (laughing) No. We were two white guys, we had one black guy and a Latino. And I’m like, you just dropped the United Nations down in an area that is monolithically something else. Where they’ve never seen… and we’re the only people with Land Rovers…

Mark: What about language preparation for that? Did you…

Nathan: Well, you know, it’s tough. This is one of my, I think, strategic criticisms of the military in general, is that we don’t invest enough in this.

And I was sitting at dinner next to a colonel, kind of hard-charging, high and tight colonel, and I mean wonderful heart and intention. But I said, “So if you could build a marine corps from scratch today, to fight today’s war, would it include tanks?” And he’s like, “Yeah.” And I’m like, “Why?” “Well we kill enemy tanks.” “Well, they don’t have any tanks.” I mean, maybe we should have some, but like… And so I said in a nine month workup for a deployment for an infantry battalion, I said, “How much time of that nine months do you spend shooting things? You shoot mortars, you shoot tanks, you shoot AT-4s, you do all the pistols. How much do you spend on language?” And he said, “3 hours before we go.” And I said, “Now in that 9 month deployment, how much do you spend talking to locals? Versus shooting?” I mean the training…

Mark: They’re still equipping and training for mass, you know, force on force.

Nathan: Right. Force on force. Perhaps that happens one day. It certainly hasn’t in our lifetime. It could happen again and you should be prepared for it, but… so to answer your question directly, I had very limited language… formal language capabilities. I would do my best to pick up conversational and then we would have these very exotic, TS/SCI, who spoke multiple languages because some of the areas we were in we would need Arabic, we would need Somali, occasionally Muharek, maybe Farsi, and so there were some folks the US government paid handsomely, because they had those native language skills, and the capacity to get a TS clearance.

Mark: These were the interpreters. How did you develop like a trust relationship with them? Did you trust what they were…?

Nathan: No, I did. ‘Cause they were all US citizens. To get the clearance levels for the work we were doing…

Mark: So they were immigrants or…

Nathan: Immigrants and most of them had been pulled out of the military. They had enlisted and they had gone through at some point, and they said, “Oh wow. You speak this language.” And then they would go through the clearance process. But they were more valuable than any of us. I mean, I can recall being in fire fights literally laying on top of my ‘terp. ‘Cause, I mean, there aren’t a lot of HET guys, but there’s more. There’s only one other one of you that exists. And I wish as a society in general we would… I wish more Americans had passports and traveled more and thought more about language. And certainly in the military…

Mark: You know, that is starting to free up. A lot of colleges now have far more than when I went to college–have these overseas programs. And now it’s becoming more of a cultural thing, I notice. Which is good. We need our folks to get out there and see the world.

So that’s really cool. So how many… how long were you in Iraq?

Nathan: I did about 4 in Iraq. I did ’06 in Africa. I was in Yemen for a while. I did a little time in Yemen, working out of the embassy there. And then tooled around South America a little bit and then at the 10 year mark, I had that kinda decision…

Inflection point

13:19

Mark: That’s an inflection point. If I go 11, I’m staying for 20.

Nathan: It really was. I’m staying for 20. And I probably would have deviated from military and gone with one of the other agencies, and continued to do it. And I really wanted to. But, you know, it’s hard. I was married at the time, we wanted to have kids and have a family and you face these horrible choices of what you’re going to do. And I think… I always tell… I talk a lot to young service members and marines and, you know, the marines was my experience. But I just tell them that like what it means to you will increase more every day you’re out. So without doubt the lessons I learned from my service and the folks I served with are more impactful, more meaningful today.

Mark: You take it for granted when you’re in it. And you’re also caught up in the drama and the stories and the bureaucracy. You’re always bristling against the next dumb thing that happens, right? But when you get away from it, all these dumb things are no part of your life.

Nathan: You remember that purpose.

Mark: You remember the good stuff.

Nathan: That team, and that purpose, and I always tell people in the context of what the marine corps gave me, and what I gave it, I didn’t get even. I never balanced out at that level.

Mark: You mean the corps gave you more than you gave it?

Nathan: By far, by far. No doubt. No doubt. And so the question is how do you every day, how do you try and give back. How do you continue to try and make a difference.

Mark: And also live up to the ethos and expectations of the corps.

Nathan: Of the corps. Sure.

Mark: Because, you know, a lot of people don’t do that. They let themselves go. And that’s one of the things with the SEALs that I try to teach is you know, it’s an incredible system, incredible guys. Incredible training. Why let all that go when you leave? Why not keep that momentum and pay it forward…

Nathan: Well, I think a lot of it too comes… especially for my generation that served in these periods of conflict where we lost friends, and I think with that there’s that survivor’s guilt that is overwhelming at times. And I can’t meet… for some reason it’s that mom, if I meet the mom who lost a son or daughter, I just sob. I just sob. And it’s uncontrollable and it’s embarassing….

Mark: It’s a sad thing.

Nathan: It’s a sad thing. and the guilt you feel, like, “Gosh, you know, I’m still here.” And so I think what I try and impart to a lot of vets is the way I channel that is saying, “Look, your life is a gift. And my friends, they didn’t get to keep living it. And so I can’t waste it. Right, you can’t waste it ’cause you’re dishonoring them. You can’t waste it. You have to live a life of purpose and progress, and a fulfilled environment to say that, “Look, I am doing my part.” To continue to do good.

3 Wise Men

16:05

I think about Jeremy and Ben Wise. And what would they have done with their lives had they been here. And how…

Mark: Were those your cousins?

Nathan: Yeah, those were my cousins, It was like Jeremy Wise, Ben Wise… this was the 3 wise men.

Mark: Okay, that’s where the 3 wise men came from.

Nathan: We all grew up in Arkansas. Rural and small towns, so your cousins are it. So it was Jeremy Wise, Ben Wise and Beau Wise. And we always called them the 3 wise men. And that was the foundation. And it was my little brother… we all joined the military. So Jeremy and I were the oldest. He was my best friend growing up. I went first, marines and counter-intelligence, and then Jeremy joined the Navy. He was a team guy. West coast. West coast team guy.

Ben Wise joined the Army, Green Beret. And then baby Beau–we always cal him baby Beau–he’s a big, strong… he brought it home strong, he did the right thing, he joined the marines.

Mark: (laughing) Someone had to.

Nathan: (laughing) Someone had to. And then my little brother is a pilot in the Navy.

Mark: Still is?

Nathan: Yeah, and he’s your typical… I’m like, “How do you get your whole head inside the cockpit? He’s insufferable.

Mark: (laughing) Had to build a special plane for him.

Nathan: He’s insufferable. He’s like 200 Navy guys, you know how to tell who the pilots are? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Mark: That’s hilarious.

Nathan: But… so all 5 of us served. And we did… we estimate about 3000 days in combat. And so the odds aren’t in your favor. So Jeremy had taken a contract with the agency–and if you remember Khost, December 30th, 2009, it’s depciptd in the movie… oh, what’s the Bin Laden movie?

Mark: “Zero Dark Thirty?”

Nathan: “Zero Dark Thirty.” The Jordanian came on the base. So the Navy SEAL who was on security goes “Hey, we need to search him at the gate. We have these procedures for a reason.” so that was Jeremy, in real life.

So Jeremy was killed at Khost, December 30th, 2009. And you know as the car pulled in, the Jordanian had all the agency folks lined up on what would have been the driver’s side. He was on the backseat driver’s side–he slid across to the passenger seat. Which was an unnatural movement and Jeremy came around. And then he reached across with his left hand to open the door, which is clearly… no one reaches across their body with their left hand to open a door that’s on your right. And Jeremy was just getting around the door frame to get a shot and he blew himself.

And, I mean, it was awful. It was just tragic, and it was horrible and it was all that. So I go to Virginia, and spend a couple weeks sorting everything out. He had a widow and child and all that and family. Get all the affairs… but I spent forever with Ben because he viewed me as Jeremy. We were the oldest, and a lot of time you gotta be strong. And we’re gonna deal with the grief, but you’re going to channel that grief into being there for your Mom and your Dad, and everything. And we talked a lot about “out of the marine corps, which way would you run?” There are those among us who run towards the sound of danger and oppression and injustice. And we talked about that was Jeremy. He was running towards a sound, and that’s what we’re gonna do. And 2 years later he literally did that. He ran into a cave in Afghanistan and he didn’t come out. So we lost Ben.

And so now we’re back. We’re doing it all over again, so when you open the forms we fill out, Ben’s request was to buried in a service uniform next to his brother. And so we go through that and so what I realized was in a lot of ways was that every day, we think about the Ben and Jeremies of the world. And in the Crossfit world we do workouts, hero WODs. And we wear bracelets for them and we get tattoos for them , and we do all of those things to remind us, to remember. But they’re gone, they’re gone.

Veterans and PTSD

19:41

And everyday in America between 22 and 50 Beau Wises of the world, those who survived combat, take their own life.

Mark: That’s insane. That’s one of the most insidious problems that we have. And nobody’s really doing anything, besides charities. The VA–it’s completely beyond their control. They’re just doping them up and making it worse. As good intentions as they have.

Nathan: Yeah, well their heart’s in the right place. So that’s when I said, “Hey, we’re gonna focus on this epidemic of suicide.” So I literally spent a year and a half trying to figure out, like, “Okay, now what do we do?” I mean, what do we do? We know statistically whether the numbers 22 or 50, it’s a lot. I mean, we’re going to lose more to suicide than we lost in combat. So you dive into this issue a little bit, and the natural thing… so everyone says, “So what do you do?” And it’s one of two things–we’ll make the VA work better. Which is fine, we should do that. We should make the VA work better.

Mark: Yeah, but that’s big money, lobbying things. There’s not much a small charity can do.

Nathan: No. Well then they say, “we should provide services.” But when you actually dig into the numbers… and so I went through, and I found everything I could find about this. Because I said, “Well, that can’t be. Is it just that there’s no services, or the VA’s bad? Is that it?” Rand Corporation did an extensive study that the overwhelming majority of veterans who are getting treatment for the unseen wounds of war, it took them years and years and years to get there, because of the stigma. They say, “Well, I don’t want people to think I’m crazy. I don’t want people to think I’m violent.” Although, we know that veterans suffering from post-Traumatic Stress are less likely to commit workplace violence than those who aren’t. I mean, veterans with the Post-Traumatic Stress might hurt themselves, but they don’t… it’s white kids from the suburbs who listen to too much rap music who show up and kill everyone at school. It’s not vets.

Mark: Right.

Nathan: So like we know that’s not true but that stigma exists and it’s real. American Psychological Association did an extensive one. And talked about why won’t they get help, and so the real crux of the problem… there’s a problem that the VA needs to better, and services need to get better, and we need to have a better handle of what it does. But I was at the VA Mental Health Summit a week ago, and they were clicking through the slides, and they put one up and I said, “whoa, stop, backup.” I said, “Is that slide correct that over 70% of the veterans who commit suicide never asked for help from anybody?” Over 70%. Think about that. So you can have the VA be perfect and you could have a charity on every corner, and 70% of the problem would still exist. So why is that 70% not asking for help?

Well it’s not because they don’t know help is there. It’s because we have this huge stigma. We’re bred into our core, you just suck it up.

Mark: Well, the other thing is they just don’t know where to ask for help. They don’t want to go to the VA and so where do you go? Most vets are very independent and figure they can gut through it or self-medicate. Problem will go away.

Nathan: And it doesn’t it doesn’t go away. It gets worse. So we try and tackle that… So I started this three Wise men veterans foundation, and it started with the WOD, Veterans Day WOD. And I went out on the deck of the Midway with a couple of friends…

Mark: You said Josh Bridges was with you.

Nathan: Yeah, Josh was there. He’s a stud, he’s amazing. And the whole Invictus community where I go was wonderful. But I said, “hey, I wanted to work out the Saturday before Veterans Day on the deck of the Midway. And I’m gonna call it the 3 Wise Men Veterans Day tribute. And it’s Jeremy, Ben and Beau, two minutes or four minutes of work, 2 minutes off. And the point of it is that we honor Jeremy, we honor Ben, but we finish on Beau. Because that’s we fight for, because he’s still here. And Veterans Day is appropriate, Memorial Day is appropriate to do Murph, because that’s for those who died. But Veterans Day is for those who served. And so the point of it was this is who we do, and so we get affiliates to register for free on Veterans Day to make that their work outs of the day and we give them a little thing to read. And then we do our event on the deck of the Midway. So that day two years ago I put down my personal credit card and I bots the deck of the Midway.

Mark: How much that cost?

Nathan: It’s expensive. It was a lot. It was more… It was about what I had on my card. It was an act of faith. So I’m sending with these people and they say, “when you want to do it?” And I’m like… It’s coming up… It’s five weeks away. We’re gonna get rogue, we’re gonna get them to set up a big pull-up bar, pull-up rig. And they said, “Do you know anyone there, and I’m like “No. We’ll find someone” We’re just going to move these planes, we’re gonna put bleachers around. And they said, “why don’t we wait ’til next year?” And I said, “No, I’m not waiting ’til next year, we’re doing it this year.” ‘Cause it’s always… you know, wait ’til tomorrow, I mean, tomorrow never comes. Like you say we’ll do it tomorrow, tomorrow’s always the next day.

Mark: It may never come.

Nathan: Yeah. I mean, so… Anyway on an act of faith we did it. It was amazing. We had a ton of elite athletes come out and kick DOS something. And so we do that event we do a cycling events and the real purpose of those events is to raise money for us to go fight for… We have a serious of kind of public service announcements type things that are directed that that threatens so we get veterans who have post-traumatic stress.

Mark: Advertisements?

Nathan: Yeah, but we do online. Spending money on TV is… There aren’t enough vets. It’s a waste of money. So we rolled one out earlier this year and it’s just vets looking directly into the camera saying I fought for my country because I had the courage to stand for something bigger than me. Because of what I went through my brain is injured. An injury called post-traumatic stress. If you had the courage to fight for your country, have the courage to make the call.

Mark: So you try to get them to go to the VA?

Nathan: Just anywhere. Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter. I mean, all the vets who participated who I’ve talked to, all of their… What works for them is different. A lot of them is working out.

Mark yeah. Exercise, yoga…

Nathan: Yoga, surfing, mountain climbing. But they’re around folks like themselves and they talk about it. And they just said that act of saying…

Mark: I need help.

Nathan: Yeah. “There’s something wrong with me.”

Mark: That’s huge.

We gotta follow-up on this because we just started the Courage Foundation. And so literally just got our docs filed recently and one of my core audiences I want to support is our vets. Kind of the integrated training, mental, physical, emotional that we do that’s been so successful with seal fit and unbeatable mind. And I think there could be a real, I don’t know, there’s a way that we could work together.

Nathan: That’d be huge

Mark: Our first project was the prison population. I really had a connection and we are providing 1500 books and trying to get Unbeatable Mind into the prison system. How cool. But I want to help vets. And I’m not really sure… I don’t really want to go to work with the VA…

Nathan: There could be a partnership. Well, because what we see, we also know when you look at the facts and the numbers that veterans once they say, “Hey, all right, there’s an injury here. I need some help treating it.” The probability of suicide it still happens, but it’s exponentially less. And the recovery process is and eventually greater. And so our thing is just getting… Think about this for a second…

Mark: Just knowing that people care and that there’s…

Nathan: They’re not the only one…

Mark: All that are going to dramatically reduce the risk of a suicide’s

Nathan: But think about this. Think about how we view mental and physical injuries, right?

Mark: It’s all subjective. It’s all part of… It’s brain, it’s not emotions, psychology…

Nathan: No. It’s something changed you. And when you’ve had friends who’ve gone through this, you know that they’re not themselves. Something has changed them. And so you hear this notion all the time, “Well, people are faking it.” Well, look, I don’t know… I don’t know a single marine that would lie about something to get something they don’t deserve. I don’t know one. Now can I say definitively that anyone getting a claim for PTSD, sure maybe they’re faking it. But I don’t care. I don’t care because what I know is between twenty-two and fifty are blowing their brains out. And they’re not blowing the brains out cause their leg hurts. And they’re not…we know empirically, they’re not blowing their brains out because they couldn’t get treatment. Because we know if you’re in treatment you do better. Its this issue. Think about’s this for a second… So Marines destroyed my hip at Bridgeport in peacetime. I had six massive hip surgeries, I was any patient for a month in Balboa, I didn’t walk for seven months. They tried to medically discharge me, I fought it, I came back. I won’t, but I would pull down my pants and show you the scar. It’s a really impressive scar. It’s 14 inches up and around the hip. I won’t do it. But I don’t feel any shame talking about that. Because I climbed an Ollie last year. I did the Ironman. I can back-squat 400 pounds. I have no shame. Because our injuries we overcome. My hip is stronger today than any other man my age.

Mark: But the psychological injuries, we don’t have the tools to overcome…

Nathan: And we don’t view it the same. So we want to coin this term post-traumatic growth.” So imagine if your employer and someone shows up and they lost their legs in combat. And they said, “Oh, but I ran a marathon last week.” You hire him, why? Because they have grit and they have determination. Right, and you can see it.

But imagine if someone showed up and said hey, I had really bad post-traumatic stress. But, you know once, I meditate every day.” Or I do whatever. They’d be like, “I don’t know.” And that’s a stigma, because there is no difference. And so we wants veterans… And so in our ads we talk about “hey, it gets better. You’re strong and you’re stronger today than you were yesterday and you’ll be stronger tomorrow than you are today.” As want to take that same warrior mindset… I mean it’s in injury but I’m gonna be stronger, right? And we want to apply that’s…

Mark: Fortunately the recent research that’s come out in the last three years around neural plasticity, and the brain’s ability to reform itself and re-create new pathways if you train it. And if you’re doing other things such as nutrition, and exercise, and diet…

Nathan: And you have purpose in your life…

Mark: Right, and all that. But you could literally, your brain is an extraordinarily powerful part… And the brain injury obviously will limit you, and if you take out an area that deals with the specific motor function, then that might not be so easy to come over with, like speech or hearing. But when it comes to just basic TBI and most PTSD, it’s very… It’s not easy but it’s recoverable. So I agree with you 100%. We don’t look at it as a permanent condition. It’s just like in injury that we can work around. Get a therapist, massage therapist for your brain. It’s basically what we do…

Nathan: Figure it out.

Mark: Here’s the breathing. Here’s the movement. Here’s the meditation. Here’s the purpose. Do this every day, and come see me in six months. You know what I mean? And boom, they’re like new people.

Nathan: Yeah. So that’s what we do. That’s our little foundation. It’s small and it’s… Supportive of all the other groups. My thing is if you provide housing, or employment, or education, those are all good. But if they don’t deal with the underlying issues then they’re not gonna keep the job or the housing…

Mark: And all these work together. The mission continues. We talked about Eric Greitens… that gives people a purpose, right?

Nathan: Purpose. Purpose.

Mark: But if they have a purpose and they’re still broke and they need help so they can fulfill that purpose. So let’s use that to transition back to your purpose.

Nathan’s purpose

30:18

So you served, you come out of Africa and at the 10 year mark you decide to get out of the marines. Now what did you… I know a lot of that was structural, because of the retirement and pay system, but what was it that was driving you at that point? What was your new purpose?

Nathan: So I came back and was a little unsure of exactly where or what I wanted to go… But I knew that sense of team and fight and purpose was what I wanted to do. And after college, when I was in the reserves before I went back in on active, I had done some democracy building abroad, some human rights work, election violence monitoring. I’d done some domestic political work, some campaign work, some policy work some things like that. And I think for all the bullshit that is politics, it is the place where the rules are made. And if you want to drive a large, substantive change, not exclusively… but it’s the place you gotta go. And you know, whether you think the change is good or bad, a lot of the big driving things that have macro-impact, happen there. And so I came back and I said, “hey, I’m going to go do that.” And so I was young, I don’t know anyone, I had never run for anything before. So I said, “I’m gonna run for the California legislature.” And I kicked off the campaign and I won. And when elected, I was the youngest member of the Legislature up there. Not in history. Not the youngest in history. But the youngest currently serving.

Mark: Did you like, research a district and settle their?

Nathan: No, it was where I lived. It was where I lived. It was the City of San Diego, kind of the Northern part, kind of La Hoya, Clermont’s, University City, went up into Sorrento Valley.

Mark: What did that look like? Running for California legislature?

Nathan: Well, you know, running is an interesting thing. So politics in general is interesting because a lot of folks say… I have a lot of friends who are athletes at some of the highest levels, but they say it’s zero sum. And I say, “Well, it’s not zero sum, because even if you lose the Super Bowl you still have training year. You still of a job.” Political campaign is the ultimate because some he wins in some he loses.

Mark: Hundred percent focus and then nothing…

Nathan: And then if you lose there’s nothing. I mean think about a presidential race. People will work their entire life and then they get right to that point, I mean, Mitt Romney’s a perfect example. Wonderful man. I’ve met him when he was here in San Diego. Gets right to that points and it was close. It was close. And then the next day he has to drive himself to whole foods to buy groceries. And Obama gets on the plane with like Secret Service and the leader of the free world. And so it’s the ultimate zero sum… And I like that, I’m gonna be honest, I liked that. I mean I like that’s pressure and it’s the ultimate scoreboard, everyone sees who wins and who loses. And so I tackled that campaign and I walked door to door, and I raise money and I would tell people… Is no one wants to raise money, you don’t like raising money, but you have to. And if you want to go make the change, you gotta go raise money. And so I would tell people I would call and I would say, “hey look, I’m gonna go fight every day for your interests, to make your community safer and your cleaner and your beaches nicer. More cops, and better jobs and all that kind of stuff.” And I said, “I’ll fly back and forth from Sacramento and Southwest, and I’ll get criticized and second-guessed and I’ll spend my evenings out doing the things that you do. People say mean things about me. And I’ll do it all and all you need to do is give me a thousand dollars.” And they’d say, “well I don’t know.” And I’d say, “Well then you run. And I’ll give you a thousand… Oh, you don’t want to do it? Then, you…”

And so I raised money, and it was all that type of stuff. So I won, and went to Sacramento and really had an eye-opening experience.

Politics

33:50

Mark: Was Arnold…

Nathan: Arnold was there. I had a great relationship with him. And he was fun. I still stay in contact with them. I email and he hosts a couple of events at his house every year. He governed in a really difficult period. We had massive deficits. We had massive problems. He also just became the governor of California. He didn’t have a track record in government. And a lot of what you have to do as a successful governor is a lot of interaction with legislators, and he just wasn’t as comfortable doing that. You know, I mean, bodybuilding’s not a team sport. And neither is being a movie star. His heart was right, just wouldn’t spend the time. And I would tell him I would say, “governor, you’re so charming.” ‘Cause he could be so great. And kind of jockish. He’d grab me and he’d be like, “have you been working out?” And I’m like, “yeah” And he’s like, “Are you doing steroids?” And I’m like, “No, do you know why?” And he’s like, “Why?” And I’m like, “‘Cause you did ’em all. There’s none left.” And I remember one day we were sitting in his office working on a bill, and he goes, “Hey, you wanna see my sword.?” And I’m like, “No!” And it’s the Conan sword. He had it in a box in his office. And so he was there, but he was fair. I had a good relationship with him. I think, it’s easy well you should have done this or that. I wasn’t there.

But I had a lot of bills get through. I had 20 something plus bills–Chelsea’s law, the most sweeping sex offender bill in the history of California.

Mark: These are bills that you worked on or co-authored?

Nathan: No, I authored. I authored. I had more than 20 of them that I authored. We did some veteran stuff…

Mark: How do you author a bill? What does that mean?

Nathan: Well, so you get there and you just…

Mark: Like, do you have to write the damn thing?

Nathan: No. No, no, no.

Mark: Do you say, “Here’s what needs to happen. Let’s draft up a proposal, see if it’s got any…”

Nathan: That’s what you do. So I can take any idea I have, right? I can see something and say, “Well I think we should change that.”And there’s a place called the Office of legislative Council. And so you go to them and it’s just a bunch of lawyers. And you say, ” Hey, here’s what I want to do.” And then they go figure out… well you would change this section of code, that section of code.

Mark: And they might say, “wait, we already had this law, but…”

Nathan. Yeah, and then they do this and that. And then they write the technical kinda strike this, replace that. And…

Mark: (laughing) That sounds like a fun job.

Nathan: Yeah, oh my gosh. Horrible. I couldn’t imagine. I was like, “Oh, that’s awful.”

Mark: (laughing) Those people love that stuff.

Nathan: And then sometimes they would do… ‘Cause technically any idea you take them, they have to write it. But they have this cover letter that says, “Hey, by the way, this is horribly unconstitutional.” Like, they won’t tell you it’s a good idea or a bad idea, but they’re like, “By the way, this violates like 7 things in the constitution.”

Mark: They won’t tell you that upfront?

Nathan: No. They put it on the cover letter. “Here’s your bill, but you know… This is a bad idea.” So then you introduce it and then you start the committee process. It’s really hard. Getting things through is really hard.

Mark: Because everyone’s got their pet projects and all these other…

Nathan: Yeah, but it’s also designed that way. I worked in Bolivia and they had 600% inflation and stability and status quo isn’t so bad when you’ve been in a place that has 600% inflation. And so the system is designed to make it really hard. And so you really have to learn to think strategically. I had a whiteboard, literally the whole wall of my office. So when we have our big, controversial things, we would map out… Start at the end, what’s the bill we want signed? And then we would be to work backwards every step.

Mark: And like who you need…

Nathan: Who you need, how you get them, whose gonna oppose it? How do you take that opposition? How does that opposition help you? You know if you’re a group and you really hate it, will who hates you because now… Friend of my friend is my enemy. How can I potentially get you to support it or get you to neutral. And if you really think strategically about what are the things that I add to the bill that play a role through the process. “I know I’m gonna give this up here. Okay fine, you can have this.”

Mark: Is that how bridges to nowhere get into bills?

Nathan: Well, there just to nowhere… No, some of it is. Some of it is the reality in the trade-off. And the internal machinations of how it gets done… I was never someone who was obsessed with the process. We’ve become a processed abscess nation, not a results… I cared about the result. And is there some horse trading? Yeah there is. There is. I mean go watch the movie “Lincoln.” He ended slavery, but he had some tactics that I don’t know. And I wouldn’t have done some of the things he did. And so it’s not… I mean, you don’t break the law, you don’t do anything illegal, you’re certainly aboveboard. But there’s some brawling that happens. And there some behind the scenes fighting that happens. And sometimes it builds in support, and sometimes I try to get you to buy into why this is good. And sometimes I just bulldoze right over you. And knowing when to pick your moments and how to pick him is kind of the art of the craftsman in terms of how you get something through.

Mark: How long is a term by the way?

Nathan: Two years. Which is miserable.

Mark: That’s short.

Nathan: See you’re simultaneously running for reelection. Folks say that’s bad, well that’s bad except you’re responsive. If the public doesn’t like what you’re doing then they can replace you after two years. So I did one term, got reelected to a second term and was enjoying it, but then ran for mayor. Mayor of San Diego. That was the job I really wanted.

Mayoral candidacy and changing parties

39:04

Mark: But you ran for mayor while you were an assemblyman?

Nathan: Yeah. So instead of running for re-election for a third term. Instead of running for the assembly, I ran for mayor. And I lost. It was close, but close doesn’t matter.

Mark: Allison prepped me on this, so it’s not like I remember this, but she said there was some controversy around it. Because you changed parties in the middle of the race. Why did you do that?

Nathan: Yeah. Well I started as this now dead breed of progressive or liberal Republican. Fiscally responsible, focused on public safety and crime. Environmentally conscious, I mean I surf, I snorkle, I scuba dive. You know, really caring about things like the environment. More progressive on social issues. Equal rights for LGBT community, and those types of things. And I got elected pre-Tea Party. So then you saw…

Mark: Changed the Republican party.

Nathan: Yeah, but I changed too. I think it’s both. When I changed parties, everyone said, “No, no, no. Just say the party changed. You didn’t change, the party changed.” And that’s what Ronald Reagan said when he changed, and that’s what Howard Dean said when he changed, and Joe Biden… you know, it’s not an uncommon thing that people change.But I said, “But that would be dishonest. That’s half the story.”And so when I changed, I said, “Look, the Republican party changed. I’ve had these views, I’ve always had these views, they’ve never changed, but they’re now untenable as a Republican.”

But the other half of it was on some other issues I changed. And I governed in a period of tremendous budgetary strife. And I really had to sit and think about taxation and services. I had kids. My kids go to San Diego public schools. If putting your children in public schools doesn’t change how you think about public schools I think there’s something wrong with you.

Mark: My kid goes to public school, yeah.

Nathan: Yeah. So my boy, 3rd grade, it’s the only year he has to do 3rd grade. He doesn’t get to say, “Hey daddy, I tell you what, you go ahead and slash funding for schools, and I’ll just chill until funding comes back.” No, that’s his only year. And if he falls behind, he never catches up. You know, and so it changes. You go to war, it changes how you think about things. You have friends who deal with mental health, it changes how you think about mental health, and homelessness and addiction. And when you look at the vast gap in wealth in our country… you know, I came out of a working class family. My dad–my step-dad, the only positive father figure I knew–was a factory worker. He graduated high school on a Sunday, he showed up Monday morning, he got his union card and his lunch pail and he went to work.

And we were working class, but I was never hungry. We had health care, I knew that I would go on. And when you look at the erosion of that…

Mark: That dream has been slipping away…

Nathan: And if we lose that… I was in Atlanta recently. I was hanging out with the Kill Cliff guys, who are sponsors of ours. Their wonderful, wonderful guys. And my taxi driver–we were talking, because they’re always from Africa, somewhere I’ve been. And this is what’s most devastating. He said, “You know, it’s not what I thought it would be here.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “I knew I would work hard.” And he said, “I knew I wouldn’t get rich.”And he said, “But I thought if I worked harder and harder I would get a little bit further ahead for my kids.” And he said, “I’ve been here for 10 years. I work seven days a week. I work 14-16 hours a day. I make less money today than I made 5 years ago.”

Mark: That’s not right.

Nathan: And that’s the point. The point where hard work doesn’t equal success. We don’t take from one to just give to the other. You’ve gotta work hard. But… so anyway, my point is, like, when you look at all of those things. On some other issues, I changed. And so I became a Democrat and a member of the Democratic party. And very proud member of the Democratic party. Still have a lot of friends who are Republicans. They’re good folks, just some of these things we view differently.

But yeah, politics is rough though. It’s different. It’s different.

Mark: Yeah, it’s gotta be rough. So when was the major…

Nathan: So there were 2 races within a year. So it was 2012 and 2013, and I kinda got squeezed in the middle. And I couldn’t get out of a primary. So, yeah… just kinda nature of the beast….

Mark: What did you learn from that experience?

Nathan: I learned how much it sucks to lose. I also learned the value in going for it. I ran into someone that had always wanted to run for mayor. But never could quite get there. It was at an event, and they were talking a little shit. You know, and this guy is like, “Must suck to have lost.” And I looked at him, and I said, “Ahh, probably not as much as it sucks to not have the balls to run.” You know, because that’s… and what I learned is that failure is okay, failure is a part of life. And you know, I don’t embrace failure. It’s not like I say, “Hey, check it out, I lost.” But I do embrace the fact that I went for it.

And people say that you learn more from your failures than your successes. Sometimes I think that’s what those of us who fail tell us to make ourselves feel better. But you definitely think more about it. And I think as I look back on my time in politics, the lessons you always learn is when you really believe something and it’s core… you can’t delay it, you can’t deny it. I mean, the reality is I knew I didn’t belong in the Republican party for a year and a half before I left. And it’s hard.

Mark: Well, yeah, you gotta force the change. And that might have been the reason that you ran. To learn these lessons. I have a very different view about failure as well. I don’t… I think it’s an over-… washed up term. You know what I mean? You said, we do things because we need to, and to learn and it turns out the way it turns out. Sometimes you’re sitting in office, and sometimes you’re going to Whole Foods the next day, and you’re still the same fucking person.

Nathan: Same person.

Mark: You’re still the same person. And then you go for the next challenge. And guess what? That one might turn out different. You may be standing on top of the mountain, you know what I mean?

Nathan: Exactly. And sometimes it’s… you know, there were mistakes that I made. And there were definitely things that I would take with me as I go forward. But I think one of the core things for me is… as a marine, being a marine was what I did. It wasn’t who I was in the sense of when I left my life continued. When I was in elected office, it was what I did. It wasn’t… and that who you are. When you know that, I am a fighter, I am a warrior, I’m gonna go out and so whatever it is I’m doing in life, I’m gonna go all in. I’m not interested in better sameness. I want to do things that matter with my foundation. So I think when you have that you can absorb adversity better.

Mark: So how would you articulate your purpose?

Nathan: I would say my purpose is everyday to get up and live a life of purpose and progress. And one designed to fulfill my contribution to make the world a better place. To do good, and I find today’s world… when I was in the marines that was killing bad guys, killing and capturing bad guys. Making the world a better place. When I was in the legislature, I was authoring legislation to protect your kids from predators, or help you get a job. Now I think it’s out fighting for vets. And trying to do that.

And that’s what motivates me. I’m not motivated by money. I wish… I think those around me probably wish I was more motivated by that.

Mark: (laughing) Your wife.

Nathan: Yeah, and I have the same Ford F-150 and it’s got 170,000 miles. But, you know, my mountain bike fits in the back. And I don’t want anything else. And I so I think you figure that out as you go through life.

Mark: That’s good though. That’s the warrior’s way. Travel light and be non-attached. ‘Cause one day, one lifetime.

Nathan: Boom, then you go. Something comes up and you die.

Mark: Good for you. Well, so is there anything big on the horizon for you? Any offices for you in the future?

Nathan: I don’t know. I always say never for now. never for now is kinda it. You gotta really want it. You know when I was running for mayor, I woke up at 5 AM hearing “Welcome to the Jungle” playing in my head, and I was off, man. I wanted that and I don’t feel that way about that office today. Could I about some office at some point? Yeah, probably. ‘Cause, you know, if change is what you want to drive, that’s the position you gotta be in. And you realize when you get in there that if you’ll embrace… I get asked to train the freshman legislators, and I went up… ‘Cause we had gotten a lot of things through. And I told them a couple of things. I said, “First off, the attention you get is not for you. It’s for the position you hold.” And I said, “And you can really easily confuse that.”

And I was wearing a tie that day. And I said, “This tie I had, I had before I was a legislator and it was never beautiful. And then when i was up here for 4 years, ‘That’s a beautiul tie Mr. Fletcher.’ And now it’s not beautiful anymore, ’cause I don’t matter. But that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s how our system is designed. And I said, “So what you need to do is realize that you have this position of authority and potential for a limited period of time, so do something. And do something that when you’re gone and everything else is away, and the press doesn’t care who you are, and you’re not on parade and you’re not doing any of that nonsense–you can look back and say you did good.

And then the other thing I told them, was I said, “Power, influence, prestige. It’s not a continuum, it’s a pie.” And I said, “So if you wanna do something good for one group of folks, that money is gonna come from somewhere, or those rules are gonna come from somewhere.” So my point was, if you have a piece of legislation that has no opposition, it doesn’t do anything. But don’t be afraid of opposition. you know, I took on the tobacco industry, and they beat me 3 times. And every time I came back. I said, “I get a little closer. A little closer. A little closer.” And then we got it. And it was a big, substantive change. And so if you’re interested in doing those happen there.

In the interim, I see if that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m a profesor at UCSD, so I have a professor position there.

Mark: What do you teach?

Nathan: Political Science. So I did that, and then I do some work for Qualcomm. I was doing some cyber-work and probably looking to take on a couple consulting roles. And then we’re about to dive into an issue… The Three Wise Men Veterans Foundation, which is bi-partisan, 501(c)(3). No politics there. Its going to continue to work on suicide prevention.

I’m probably going to dive into an issue with deported veterans. We have a whole thing, I was always under the assumption that if you joined the military, you got citizenship. Not true.

Mark: I was too. Just a green card?

Nathan: You could get it if you’re command processes it, if they tell you right, if they do all those things. But a lot of times they don’t. And so what we have is we have hundreds of veterans who were honorably discharged, served–many of them in the recent conflicts. And then they go out, they get a DUI… One person was in a car with someone, that person had a gun. Whatever. They get deported.

Mark: No kidding.

Nathan: And so there’s an actual house in Tijuana–you should down with us one day–there’s a house in Tijuana where they all live. The deported veterans asisstance home. And they’re families are usually here, ’cause their kids are citizens, and maybe their wife…

Mark: Are these mostly Mexican guys?

Nathan: A lot of them are. Some of them are Jamaican, you know, they’re from all over. But, you know, given the breakdown of America, there’s more than that. I just flew back, I was in DC yesterday. I was at the White House and we’re trying to get a couple of executive orders. one we want, is just stop deporting veterans. just stop. Because we have a bunch that are in proceedings. Just stop. And look, if you’re a veteran and you did something wrong, you pay the crime. But we shouldn’t deport you. Right, if you’re willing to give your life for this country, this country should be willing to give you citizenship.

The second thing we want, is we want to make sure DoD has a firm policy in place for all recruits who are undocumented or don’t have permanent status. ‘Cause right now, it’s kinda, sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

And then the third thing–and this’ll be the hardest–we want to bring back the ones who’ve been deported. Because a lot of the things they were deported for–4, 5, 6, 7 years, as we’ve made adjustments around offences, particularly drug offences…

Mark: They’re minor offences.

Nathan: Well, today they’re minor offences. But 5 or 6 years ago, it might have been a felony. And so, if we could get them… so I’m gonna dive into that, and we’re going to look for congressional action.

Mark: Cool.

Nathan: Yeah, that’s kind of a righteous fight. And then just keep going everyday. Got 2 little boys..

Mark: Wake up, put your shield on…

Nathan: Ready to go. Everyday. Now I have to get a little workout in every now and then.

Mark: Yeah, come out some time. Or if you want to jump into a SEALfit program, 20x or Kokoro camp would be right up your alley. 50 hours of nonstop training.

Nathan: Clear my head. That would be good.

Then hopefully get back out in the mountains. I did Aconcagua, I did Denali. I did most of the California fourteeners. I got a few left I gotta do. That’s kinda my getaway. Turn the phone off and recharge a little bit.

Mark: Awesome. Do you have a website?

Veterans Day event

51:24

Nathan: Yeah, so the foundation is 3wm.org. Or you just Google 3 wise men veterans foundation. We have our big event… I know a lot of folks listening, so on November 11th, Veterans Day, we ask affiliates… last year we had about a thousand affiliate sign up to host the 3 Wise Men Veterans Day tribute. A little 3 part workout. 4 minutes, 2 minutes, 4 minutes. Jeremy, Ben and Beau. Affiliates sign up for free, it’s free. All we ask you to do is make that the workout of the day, we send you a little thing to read, and then we encourage you to try and get your members to sign up. You pay 25 bucks, we send you a t-shirt and it helps fund the operations. We do a contest for the 3 Wise Men cup. Goes to the affiliate that signs up the most people. So last year, Crossfit Central Houston won it. They crushed it. It was them and Salmon Creek were just having this epic battle back and forth and they won it.

Love to have you come out. You should come do the workout.

Mark: Definitely.

Nathan: Come do the workout. A little hang-squat snatch. Some burpees over the bar. Some pullups. Some dead cleans.

Mark: All my favorite stuff.

Nathan: Wall ball, some box jump-overs.

Mark: What’s the RX on the snatch?

Nathan: So… 135. So Jeremy is 5 hang-squat snatch, 10 burpees over the bar. For 4 minutes. 2 minutes off. And then Ben is 10 power cleans, same weight. 20 pullups. 4 minutes, 2 minutes off. And then Beau is 15 box jump-overs. 30 wall balls. 20 pound wall ball.

Mark: That’s a doozy.

Nathan: Yeah. I find… and I’m not… I get through the first one…

Mark: (laughing) Do you have a Master’s division?

Nathan: (laughing) We let people scale… you can scale, you can scale.

Mark: (laughing) I’m just worried about that 135 pound snatch.

Nathan: The hang-squat snatch. And for the elites its 185, and we had one of them last year, he weighs 160 pounds. And I’m like, “Tjhats insane.” Itr’s just insane. but I always do jeremy and then I fully recover, and then I do ben–and I think it the sets of 20 pullups. Like I just in the 2 minutes afterwards (gasping). I start Beau and I’m still hurting. And then the box jump-overs are fine, and then it’s those 30 wall-balls and you’re just like, “oh, this is awful. This is awful.” And then it’s even worse on the Midway, ’cause you have like a thousand people watching you, right? So I’m like, “They’re watching me.”

Mark: (laughing) You can’t stop.

Nathan: It’s horrible. But it’s fun. And it’s a tribute workout, we don’t score it. You know, have a judge, make sure you do it right. But it’s not a competition, it’s a tribute. And it’s appropriate on Veterans day. And all the funds we raise go to fund the ongoing operations of the foundation.

Mark: Terrific.

Nathan: Among which I don’t take a dime. I’ve never taken a dime, and I never will. It’s my volunteer capacity. There’s folks that work there, but I don’t.

Mark: Awesome, well thank you for everything. Thanks for coming here.

Nathan: Pleasure.

Mark: So cool to meet you. We’ll have to stay in touch and connect and support what you do.

Nathan: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. It’s a real honor to be here.

Mark: All right folks, you heard it. Nathan Fletcher. Go check out 3wm.org. If you’re in San Diego, just go down to the… gosh what’s the name of it again?

Nathan: The Midway. The USS Midway.

Mark: The Midway. I’ve never been on the Midway.

Nathan: Oh, you gotta come. Well you can’t get on the Midway for 25 bucks. It costs more than that to go, so buying a ticket to our event is 25 bucks. And you get to go on the Midway.

Mark: Boom.

Nathan: So there you go. It’s easy and it’s tax deductible.

Mark: Let’s do that. All right guys, so you know the deal. Stay focused, train hard, do the work. Show up and put out with a smile. The only easy day was yesterday.

Nathan: That’s right. I love it.

Mark: Hooyah!

Coach Divine out.