They are relied on as America’s backbone, but it comes at a cost. Many return home and find themselves lost without connection. More than ever, Veteran Voices need to be heard. BACKBONE will AMPLIFY those Voices.

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When I share my stories with Veterans and they share their stories with me, it affirms that we need to lean into each other. Lift someone up when they need a helping hand. It’s what we learned in the military and we need to do the same for ourselves as veterans. We created this BACKBONE website so we can tell Veteran stories from within our communities. You need to be willing to speak your truth and we all need to listen. Not just Veterans, but civilians as well. That’s how we all move forward from our experiences. ROGER SPARKS
AIR FORCE PARARESCUEMAN, RECON MARINE
SILVER STAR RECIPIENT

After 25 years of deployments

His mission to heal his mind, body & spirit was just beginning

Join Roger Sparks on his Quest to unite Veterans through the power of story and human identification.

"In my 50 years as a Veteran advocate, I’ve never seen anything that shows the full nature of what Veterans take on when they commit to protect our freedom and each other. Americans need to be shown the raw power of Veterans giving body and soul. We live the creed: “No Vet Left Behind.” Theirs is an eloquent expression of what it means to be human."

SHAD MESHAD
FOUNDER NATIONAL VETERANS FOUNDATION

"We talk about Veteran transition and how to do it well. I wanted to build a bridge between the military and the civilian worlds, because that's what I needed. And over time, there were just more people that wanted to be part of building that bridge. And it's been a great ride, not because we're done, but because we keep moving forward. "

JASON MCCARTHY
FOUNDER GORUCK

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Episode List

Rogers Sparks embarks on his health quest from his home in Anchorage, Alaska, with his first stop in New Hampshire and Jack Heath’s Military Matters podcast. Dr. Stephen Franson introduces Roger to Ralph Fatello, a USMC Vietnam War veteran who runs a healing surfing program. D. On the other end of the country in Malibu, California, Roger experiences High Performance Training (XPT) with surfing legend Laird Hamilton.

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This episode jumpstarts with Roger doing his first civilian sky dive in Middletown, Ohio, after over 3,000 military jumps with Team Fastrax. In Alexandria, Virginia, Gregory Gadson, Commander US Army (Ret.) explains to Roger how his team saved his life after an IED exploded, resulting in Gadson losing both his legs. Rocky Bleier, Vietnam War Veteran and four-time Super Bowl Champion gives Roger a tour of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. On Long Island, New York, Roger shares intimate combat stories with JC Glick, LTC, U.S. Army (Ret.).

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Sensei’s Robert Chodo Campbell and Koshin Paley Ellison have trained over 1100 medical professionals from across the world in contemplative approaches to grieving and dying. Shawn Ganther had the determination to go back to college after serving in the U.S. Air Force. That is where he reconnected with his passion for art. Sarah Rossetti grew up on Guam where her mother owned a bar that we frequented by the large population of military men and women. What started out as a cathartic sharing experience turned into a full-time job for Sarah- aka Invader Girl. Dr. Ken Harris, DC decided to write a book on the subject of “SYNCHRONICITY: The Magic. The Mystery. The Meaning.”

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04
50 MINS The Price Paid

For 50 years, Shad Meshad has been working relentlessly with Veterans, helping to reintegrate them back into civilian life. He has personally assisted over 100,000 Veterans...and counting. Rocky Bleier had first been drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers then he was drafted by the US Army. Despite a serious leg injury Rocky set his mind on recovery and rejoining the Steelers - winning four Super Bowl Championships. On Shilo Harris’ 2nd deployment his armored vehicle was struck by an IED. Shilo survived but with severe third degree burns on 35% of his body. He is a testament to the strength of the human spirit. James “Sneaky” White was one of the most decorated war fighters of Vietnam. Back on native soil, Sneaky killed the man who raped his wife. Sneaky was sentenced to life without parole. In prison he started his own educational platform where 1,500 inmates earned their Associates Degree through Sneaky’s platform.

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05
49 MINS A Better Way

There are few people who understand the opioid epidemic more than Dr. John Rosa who has been on this frontline for years. Rebecca Koch explains Compassionate Integrity Training. Charles DuBois, the President and CEO of Standard Process explains the difference between whole food supplements and synthetic supplements of very little nutritional value. Dr. Stephen Franson, DC whiteboards the basics of the chiropractic healthcare paradigm. Shilo Harris brings Roger to meet Dr. Tim Novelli, DC and founder of The Patriot Project. There are 9,200 chiropractors across the country providing complimentary chiropractic care to military veterans. NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton admits to his secret weapon: Dr. Craig Buhler, DC

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06
68 MINS Brain Matters

Dr. Michael Longyear explaines that using the principles of neuroplasticity can improve the brain and nervous system for the purpose of correcting neurologic problems, preventing neurologic degeneration and optimizing neurologic performance to improve quality of life. Doctors Dr. Scharlene Gaudet, DC, Dr. Michelle Eisenmann, DC and Dr. Leonard Wright, DC put Roger through the neurological ringer at Synapse: Human Performance Centers’ state-of-the-art facility. Dr. Bruce Harmon, DC uses an Anatomage Table, a state of the art, life sized LED computer system with detailed anatomy visualization and surgical simulation tools.

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Dr. Lance Cummings, former Navy SEAL, DC believes that anyone can train their bodies to perform but without mental toughness you cannot become the best version of yourself. Dr. Tony Brooks, DC was part of the Army Ranger Regiment that first went into rescuing 16 Special Forces soldiers after their Chinook helicopter was shot down during Operation Red Wings.. George Casuse and Roger have an ntense conversation about PTSD and veteran suicides. After a prestigious career in a leadership role in the Air Force, Tony Negron’s new mission is to “educate” the private sector on how lucky they would be to hire veterans in their corporations. When warfighter Dr. Barry McAlpine, DC focused his passions into chiropractic and has helped countless veterans and civilians.

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08
42 MINS Never Forget

There are two very powerful images from the battle of Iwo Jima: one is the American flag being raised at Mount Suribachi and the other one is of the American flamethrower. Roger to sits face to face with Woody “Hershel” Williams, the Medal of Honor Recipient who was the actual flamethrower from Iwo Jima!. Roger and fellow Pararescueman Jimmy Settle visit the Korean and Vietnam War memorials in Washington DC to pay their respects. They go to the National Guard museum to see Roger’s flack jacket and hoist cable from Operation Bulldog Bite on display. Roger received the Silver Star for selflessly saving 5 lives and returning 4 soldiers who were killed on the battlefield. He visits with his mother Ann, and sister Tracy in the house where he grew in Fort Worth, Texas before returning home to Alaska and his wife Jennifer. Our audience learns that Roger’s special needs son Oz, has been making his own behind-the-scenes film called the “Oz Reports”. This “quest” is just the beginning for Roger’s pursuit of optimum health.

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09
42 MINS The Mad Man

The Mad Man tells the story of veteran advocate and founder of the Vet Centers and The National Veterans Foundation, Shad Meshad. Shad has been called The Mad Man because of the passion and drive he brings to the fight for his fellow veterans’ rights, specifically veterans who are at risk of spiraling down into despair. Shad’s been fighting for nearly 50 years to keep his peers from committing suicide. While the film explores Shad’s background and how he came to dedicate his life to service for veterans, it is more a film about character and compassion, resolve and intent in an age when it seems there is little of either to be found.

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10
85 Mins Force Blue

The story of Force Blue grew out of a dive trip co-founders Jim Ritterhoff and Rudy Reyes took to the Cayman Islands for a scuba diving vacation. Reyes, a former Recon Marine who struggled with PTSD and depression since returning home from multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, the experience was nothing short of life changing. To him diving meant hauling 200 lbs. of gear underwater to destroy a potentially dangerous target. What Cayman offered was transformative. Reyes immediately proposed scheduling another trip so that he could bring down more of his Recon brothers, including Roger Sparks who trained Rudy as a Recon Marine, for the same experience. Jim and Rudy expanded the idea to pair up combat divers with marine scientists, conservationists and journalists to unite these very different worlds. “

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11
34 Mins GORUCK

Jason and Emily McCarthy found a like-minded community of people who proudly proclaim that the easy life is not for them. GORUCK sends special operations veterans all over the country and world to lead very challenging endurance events. Veterans and civilians go through the grueling events together. They share pain and suffering and learn that adversity breeds a strong bond where everyone helps each other move forward. At the moment, there are over 400 GORUCK clubs now around the world.

Silver Star Recipient Roger Sparks joins Jason McCarthy for a raw conversation about resolve and intentions. From his wild upbringing and early struggles with his physical limits, through diverse experiences in the tip of the spear of two military branches pushing his body and mind to aid and train others, Roger’s life focus has been to “grow mentally, physically and spiritually as much as possible.” He speaks about how in his 15-year career as a PJ, helping rescue and save others in both Alaska and in Afghanistan. Now as a father and tattoo artist, GORUCK Tribe Cadre and Force Blue volunteer, he seeks to heal others to help heal him.

In keeping with the Pararescueman’s motto: “These Things We Do, That Others May Live,” Roger Sparks went on a Quest. While the world went into COVID quarantine, Roger embarked on a reconnaissance mission to create a network of individuals and organizations that are working with veterans to help them make positive impact across the country. His Quest took him across 21 states covering 28,000 miles as he interviewed a wide range of fellow American military heroes, including Medal of Honor recipients from the World War 2, Korean War, Vietnam War, the post 9/11 Wars.

In this short film Roger Sparks explains the true nature of combat. His pragmatic tone of the horrors that he has endured is chilling. Underneath his calm demeanor you sense the intensity and pain lurking inside this man’s very essence. In watching his raw testimony you understand we Roger has continued servicing his fellow combat veterans and has become advocate.

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