Full Transcript is Below:
– [Greg Sher] I’m NFM TV’s Greg Sher. Our January, 2022, NFM Salute, Army Veteran Staff Sergeant, Danny Farrar, has had many ups and downs since leaving the military in 2006. His lowest point came when he tried to take his own life in 2011. Thankfully, he was unsuccessful and when he awoke to a sobering reality that he lived, he vowed to make the rest of his life about saving the lives of other veterans in despair. Danny, thanks for being with us on NFM TV and thank you for your service.
– [Danny Farrar] Thank y’all for having us. We appreciate it.
– Really appreciate you, and we’ve got so much ground to cover. Why don’t we start by talking about your years served, 1998 to 2006, what do you remember about those times?
– I mean, hey, I did what happens to most people coming from Southern Virginia that don’t have a lot of money. I wasn’t great in school. So, enlisted in 1998, served as an infantry paratrooper. The times saw me take the first team to the Pentagon on 9/11, first to secure the site and then to remove remains, and then a combat tour in Iraq, from 05 to 06, and what you really learn when you go through that entire process is that you form bonds with people that you wouldn’t form otherwise, because you know, you take that private from Texas and you put them with a private from New York and, you know, they might not have anything in common on the surface, but you give them a few hundred miles walking in rucking and then they start to find out that they do have common ground.
– And there’s also an overhang, unfortunately, for many that come back after serving, PTSD, and other things that are lingering and for you, it was really bad and really dark. What happened and how did you pull through?
– You go into the military by far and large, the vast majority go in, you know, 18, 19 years old. Your brain isn’t even finished fully developing at that point in time, and you spend really some pretty formative years of your young life, part of an institution that is so unlike that in the civilian world. Bootcamp, the entire purpose is really to take you from being a civilian, to becoming a member of the United States Armed Forces. We don’t do a really good job of the reverse engineering that process, and so, anywhere from two to three months after you get out, you start to look around and realize, man, this isn’t what I thought it was going to be, and you do start to feel like an outcast, and so, a lot of us suffer in transition. I suffered in transition. I got fired from the first job I ever got outside of the army and, you know, wound up homeless, evicted. And it all just became a downward spiral.
– So, after you had gone through all of those difficult, challenging times, there was a moment in December of 2014 that really turned your life around where you knew right then and there what every day of your life would be like helping others. Take us through that, that moment and what you’ve done with it.
– It was really close to when Robin Williams had committed suicide, and, you know, my newsfeed blew up and then everybody was like, well, everyone cares about Robin Williams, but nobody cares about the veterans. And, you know, I entered the conversation saying, “Listen, we shouldn’t be trying to compare suicides.” Robin Williams did a ton for the veteran community, but what the real problem was was that everybody knew Robin Williams. Nobody knew that 22 were committing suicide a day. And so, what we really started off as was an awareness movement because you can’t fix a problem, if you don’t know there’s a problem that exists. And what took place from there, is we started to do the awareness side of the house and I started getting calls and I would go meet veterans out at bars. I would go talk guns out of guys’ hands. I’d pick people up off the street, and I realized that what was happening is these guys and girls were having a real hard time struggling with transition, and that’s when we began to have the idea for a veteran services center.
– And, around that time you founded as the executive director, Platoon 22, and 22 obviously, stands for that number, 22 veterans that commit suicide every day. Depending on what statistic you look at, that number is either getting better or getting worse. How do you view that number?
– So, again, the numbers can be anywhere from 20 to 22. What I will always argue is that, listen, they’ll never gonna know the numbers. There’s such a stigma around suicide that people don’t want to admit it was a suicide. So, the numbers could very, very well be much, much higher. I highly doubt that they’re lower.
– You’re also involved in something really exciting, groundbreaking, in fact, literally and figuratively in your backyard, in the Frederick, Maryland area. You’ve partnered with Goodwill to open the first ever vet center of its kind. It’s going to be multifaceted, all encompassing, center for veterans. Please, tell us about that and when those doors will be open.
– We’re targeting anywhere between April and June for the doors to actually be open and we’ll start to get to work. But, inside the center is going to be a host of partners. Arguably, the most important partner is the Maryland Department of Veteran Affairs. They see 3,500 veterans a year, and now, those veterans will be coming through our doors in a much more welcoming environment. We’re also going to have the Martinsburg Vet Clinic, which is going to be our psychological and counseling arm. They will be there to provide services and counseling for veterans. We have Warrior Canine Connection, who will be having their service dogs on site. We also have Thrive, which Thrive is really focused on in-home care for veterans that need it. We have a chaplain service that’s gonna be comin’ in that’s gonna be attacking the spiritual side of the house, and then, we have with our partnership with Goodwill, on-site job training and transitional training programs. So, we expect just through year one to see at least 4,000 veterans through the door.
– And, the idea is to build others around the country?
– Yes. The next thing from here is roughly 36 months after the opening of this, we’ll be opening another one in Phoenix, Arizona and then, we’re in the process of trademarking this service, and then being able to offer it to other Goodwills throughout the nation.
– In addition to all of this, you’re authoring a book, you ran for office, you’re a mixed martial arts expert. How do you have enough hours in the day to do all this?
– It’s all about allocation. You know, I think a lot of times people look at, you know, the size of something and try to move the whole mountain, instead of one rock at a time. I’m not exceptionally smart, I just pick up the little rock and move that first.
– Hey, Danny, before we let you go, what, what do you want people out there to know about veterans?
– They have leadership training. They have capabilities that our community and our country needs desperately. To lose that, because we failed to honor our social contract, and provide actual transitional support for the men and women that put on the uniform and say they would fight for us, I think that’s a travesty. I think it’s a national travesty.
– How can people help? What’s the number one thing people can do monetarily or otherwise?
– They can always head over to platoon22.org. We have an option to be able to donate there. We also have a Red Tie Gala that is coming up in February. We have a very awesome keynote speaker, so, I can’t announce them quite yet, but, I promise you it’s worth the price of admission. And then, once the center opens, if they’re interested in volunteering, by all means, reach out to us, again, through platoon22.org, and we can get you to work.
– As part of this interview, NFM is going to be donating 2,500 dollars-
– Appreciate it.
– To Platoon 22. Keep up the great work, Army Veteran Staff Sergeant, Danny Farrar, you’re a remarkable man and we’re so honored to have featured you as our January, 2022, NFM Salute, continued success and good health.
– Thank you. We appreciate all the support NFM and you have given to us. Y’all have a good one.
– I’m NFM TV’s, Greg Sher. We’ll see you next time.