Full Transcript is Below:
– Welcome into our August, 2022, NFM Salute. I’m your host, Greg Sher. This one is going to be fascinating as we head down to Richmond, Virginia to welcome in Marine Corporal Jason Walters. Jason, thank you for being with us and thank you for your service.
– Pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me.
– You were assigned to Marine barracks, Washington DC also known as 8th & I. And I wanna start off by saying that this has been quite a lesson for me to learn just how prestigious this assignment was for you. It’s the oldest active post in the Marine Corps. It was founded by President Thomas Jefferson and Lieutenant Colonel William Burrows. Tell us what that is.
– It is the oldest post in the Marine Corps also home of the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, the Marine Corps Body Bearers, the Color Sergeant of the Marine Corps, the Colors of the Marine Corps, the Marine Corps Bugle Corps, President’s Own and the Commandant of the Marine Corps happens to reside at the end of the parade deck.
– And you served in this capacity from 1994 to 1998 in two platoons. The first one was the 3rd Platoon Company. Ceremonies at the White House were not foreign to you. Burials at the Arlington Cemetery as well. Tell us about that experience.
– We did a lot of the Friday Evening Parades, had the honor of presiding over funerals in Arlington National Cemetery, providing the firing party and the color guard. We also did events and when dignitaries and people would come to the White House, we would be there as representation of the military.
– How heavy was it on your heart to take part in those ceremonies where you’re burying hero after hero?
– Presiding over all the, you know, burials of our brothers and sisters and you can’t help but live in the gravity of what sacrifices are made. You know, that’s why it was such an honor to serve at the Marine barracks. We took this very personally and did this and represented them and the Marine Corps to the highest level.
– Let’s talk about your second platoon. You went to the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, and boy, did you go through the grinder to get in there.
– It was four and a half month process of seven days a week. 5:00 AM uniform inspections, stock inspections to go into Boeing Air Force Base and training from seven o’clock to eight o’clock every evening. And the whole time we are learning, immersing and getting cut down to about 20.
– What kind of skillset does it take to be able to March in sync and be able to handle those rifles with such precision?
– Doing anything that you need to do well, doing it in excess is always the key to learning and getting there. So, you know, it was constant. I mean, just because we got on the team didn’t mean that things stopped. I mean, again, now you’re in your spot. Now you’re out representing the Marine Corps and you know, we went, we performed in NFL football halftime shows, NBA events, private events, celebrity events. We trained the Fish Drill Team to represent us in “A Few Good Men”, the opener of that movie. So, I mean, it was nonstop 285 days a year. We were out wherever we were called to represent the Marine Corps.
– Well, and in some ways the Marine Corps may have saved your life.
– Oh no, there’s no, some ways about it. I’d say without the Marine Corps. I don’t think I would, I don’t. Well, I would just say that I may or may not be here today.
– Just to let people know why I say that. Let me just walk through a couple of the highlights or lowlights of your childhood. Your dad and mom divorced at a very young age. She wasn’t very supportive. You were four and a half years old at that time, basically without a mom. Your dad remarried when you were just 10 years old. Had to be kind of confusing to being immersed in a new family. You left home at 17 years old. Your dad lost a six and a half month battle with brain cancer in 1996. So you were all alone and really struggling. And in 2016, you hit a bottom. For three and a half months you were homeless.
– Yeah, that was a rough journey. Yeah, we were.. The drill team… we were getting ready to leave for England when I was called to report to my commanding officers. And he proceeded to tell me my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
– Tell us for a moment about your dad.
– He was in the 101st Airborne, served with the Screaming Eagles during Vietnam. I mean, he had an unfortunate event. He was a really great catcher playing on the farm league team for the Pirates before he was drafted into Vietnam. And, you know, during his workup for deployment, drug across the field and snapped his knees. And he was unable to ever go back and be a catcher again. And he was very proud to see me become a Marine and even prouder, he came to many, many, many Friday evening parades.
– How did you pull yourself out of the homelessness?
– I remember sitting when I was laying in the back of the car at night thinking about the day that I wasn’t there. The promise I’d made to myself and what I was going to do and what I wasn’t going to do and how I was never going to be outta the fight. And I’m sorry, I get a little teary eyed a little bit, cause it’s a lot. And you know, don’t really share those kind of things with your friends and family like you should. And my best friend came down to just randomly see me which he never comes down from DC very often. Anyways, he hired me. He, he took a chance on me ’cause he said that it was going to be very challenging but he thought that if anybody could do what I could.
– You co-founded Cloud Warriors in 2019 just as the onset of the pandemic was happening. So yet another blow that you had to overcome, but you now have 34 employees. And I asked you what your mission statement was, man did you keep it simple. The mission statement is to create jobs for vets. What is Cloud Warriors and how can people get involved?
– Cloud Warriors is now SkillBridge certified, allowing transitioning military to come and work with us for three months while they transition to get certifications and skills and job opportunity – something I didn’t have when I got out of the Marine Corps. So right now we have an exclusive deal with Zoom. We’re doing engineering for them and they are mainlining us business so we can hire veterans in as project managers and engineers and train them to do this. I mean, there’s so many homeless veterans and things and it’s just because nobody gave them a, nobody gave ’em a chance. I’m getting ready to have a conversation with a Marine that has a special needs child that is struggling right now and looking for extra income and I’m going to most likely hire him to be an engineer. And then he’s going to move from the east coast to Arizona where they have better assistance programs and support for disabled children. And he’ll be able to do this job. And the only thing keeping him from moving was the ability to earn income in a state where he didn’t live.
– I wanna lastly talk about the charity that you’ve chosen to donate $2,500 to. Shields and Stripes, it’s a treatment facility for PTS, for vets, first responders and also nurses coming off of the heels of COVID. Why Shields and Stripes?
– A lot for the man that created it. Steve is an Air Force para-rescue jumper, served with Marines in Afghanistan, Iraq, multiple tours. Comes out and he was so angry of the lack of ease that it was to get into a VA program or to get some type of quality initial care that he created Stars and Stripes. And he created that support. So how could I not give money to somebody that works so hard to help this community?
– Well, we certainly appreciate your time and your story and sharing so much with us today here and the great work that you’re doing at Cloud Warriors. Keep up the incredible work. We look forward to continuing to follow your journey.
– Thank you for having me here. And I really appreciate all the good work you do as well.
– All right, we’ll talk to you soon. I’m Greg Sher from NFM TV. We’ll see you again next time.