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A Veteran's Journey to Health and Wellness through BHRT

"I felt in my time with Dr. Brannon that I had a health and wellness partner, somebody who cared about me, he knew what my name was, and he knew...

Jennifer: Welcome to Qualgen podcast where we talk about all things health and wellness related, including hormones, pharmaceuticals, health trends and ways you can help better your life. Hi everyone, thank you for taking time out of your day to listen in today. I am joined with Derek Nadalini. Derek, thank you so much for joining me today.  

Derek: Thanks for having me.  

Jennifer: Absolutely. You know, you're the first person outside of any Qualgen employees that has been on this podcast that is not actually a medical provider. So that's exciting.   

Derek: Okay.  

Jennifer: Yeah, Yeah. No pressure, no pressure.  

Derek: I'll try to stay in my lane. 

Jennifer: I would love to share your background, but I definitely think you would do a better job at it. So, can you just share your background and what got you to where you are today?  

Derek: Yeah, sure. Thank you for asking. I'm a ranger infantryman by trade. I started my army career at the 75th ranger Regiment, first ranger Battalion. And then, I took an assignment for a couple of years of JSTOR and their command group. And then from there I assessed to go to the first special forces operational detachment delta known as Delta Force and I was an operator at delta from late 2004 until I retired in the fall of 2017.   

Jennifer: Okay, so how was it transitioning from being in the armed forces to reality? And how did that take a toll on your mental health?  

Derek: Yeah, I really, really appreciate that question. Ostensibly, it looked good. It ostensibly it went well. I was successful, but it was not good. There were people on the outside who are kind and supportive in hiring me and gave me chances to work in their companies and be successful there. And it was certainly those things, but it has taken a while to find my way as a civilian. Probably taken every bit of 4 1/2, almost five years.  

Jennifer: And what kind of help have you received from you know, the outside world that has helped you?  

Derek: People are kind and people try to be as kind and as helpful as they can. We come from, you know, branches of service, you know, with a certain batch of experiences that are hard for, hard for anyone who hasn't done it to understand and yet they've been so kind in trying to do that and then try to be supportive. To be fair, there are things that we take into that experience and then there are things that compound and we take out of it and we come out in the civilian world, we get acculturated into the service. There's a very specific methodology, the branches use to do that, you become acculturated into the service, but you do not become acculturated into being a civilian and when it's, you know, after double digit number of years, or any number of years, because the acculturation process into the military is as intense and effective as it is. The lack of an acculturation process back into the civilian world is a significant deficiency in our preparation for transition. I was fortunate to come across quite a few people who were kind and supportive, but ultimately, the places that I needed to find the kind of support that would really allow me to integrate effectively back into civilian life and deliver value that I felt was on par with the kind of value I felt that I got to deliver with my unit mates when I was in the unit. You know, that took a specific group of people that I found, you know, through depending on a listener’s orientation, something between serendipity and grace. 

Jennifer:  So why is it in your opinion that there's not more resources to help those that have been in service get back into reality, whether it be with your jobs or just your health and wellness, everything like that, why is there not more resources for you all?  

Derek: you know, I just came back from the VA today and I have been fortunate to have a great experience with the VA with the professionals and the folks in the VA with whom I've been blessed to deal. But, to answer your question is that I'm at this point I'm a certified life coach and I'm studying to be a certified integrated wellness coach. So, I'll be both and what I've learned in my coaching experience, in training, is that we have to be, we have to be responsible for our outcomes. I wonder if it is not better for veterans to organize in a perhaps different way and help organize the market with an understanding of what our population needs and we on the outside take more, play a more active role, in helping our sisters and brothers coming out of the service to make the transition. So succinctly put, I think there are a lot of resources, my experience with the VA being one of them, you know, and my experience with other people, you know, being as kind as it has been. It really takes veterans who understand it and it takes veterans who can convey for lack of a better phrase, the value proposition, the product market fit, that is necessary for someone who needs to acculturate back into the civilian world. I have felt strongly for some time that we as veterans need to organize ourselves and organize the market in support of the veterans coming out and I think that we need to do that sooner rather than later.  

Jennifer: Absolutely. So, what were some of the symptoms you had made you realize you needed to look for help?  

Derek: So, I have, I have TBI As many of my professional friends do.  

Jennifer: Can you explain what TBI is for those that don't know?  

Derek: Yep, sorry, traumatic brain injury. It's brain damage. And in the case of my, certainly my trip mates and I, portion of the unit I was in for quite some time. We absorbed an extraordinary number of explosions and so in my place it was, I was on demo status. We were all on demo status for double digit number of years. The amount of overpressure that we each absorb as a function of, of the thing that we volunteered to do is something that we gave some thought to but didn't give a lot of thought to as the global war on terror. And then the time after that, you know, went on, we had the opportunity to become really well aware of the symptoms of what we would come to understand to be traumatic brain injury or TBI. I had, it was from the time that I ate - There were five charges in particular. I ate that were really, really pretty big. Well, two of them were enormous and then three were surgical breaching charges, but I was unfortunately in a position to have to be inside the minimum safe distance along with a teammate of mine. The overpressure from those five charges was enough to, I don't, I'm not sure that I could have spelled my name for a little bit afterwards. I shook it off. We're highly trained. There's a lot of muscle memory, that stuff kicks in and you're able to “Charlie Mike” as we say, right, continue mission keep working. I ate my last charge in 2009 and then went into a low visibility program, where it's not blowing things up as often, and I did not get diagnosed with traumatic brain injury until 2016. So, for seven years, you know, I haven't. So, to answer a question about the symptoms, I didn't realize until the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed explained it to me. I hadn't slept in, I don't know, God knows how long so I was. I never made it into phase three sleep. I bounce out after the, after the third phase for years, for we don't even know how many years. So I was, I became very easily confused, very easily, easily, easily, easily frustrated. I self-medicated with alcohol. I did and found a way to come out of that, eventually. My mood was terrible. I was angry. I didn't know what to attribute those things too because there was so much going on. I mean my wife and I and our unit family had been to Arlington. I mean a number of times that if I said to you, you know, you wouldn't really believe it. I mean we buried a lot of our friends in the unit family. We had a lot of deployments, a lot of experiences over there that I didn't think bothered me. I still am not sure if they bothered me or not, policy changes all those things. So, it's really was hard at the end of the day to look back on the day of being frustrated in a day of and a lot of us to answer your question too - there was a tendency to, we all stick together, you know, the wagons are almost permanently circle in terms of us supporting each other. But we didn't talk about what was going on with ourselves separately really properly. And we were in a special missions unit where the phrases, selection and assessment is an ongoing process. You can be removed from that organization if you don't pass selection, you can be removed from the organization. If you don't do well in the training course that leads up to an assignment to squadron, you can be removed from that organization after 10, 12 years of really honorable duty because you do something that violates some core principle or anything that is a fireable offense that you know, your selection and assessment is an ongoing process, because everything is done to a no fail mission standard in our place and in the other organization within the task force that has a similar mission set. You've got to be able to trust everybody and everyone's got to be able to trust you. And so nobody really wants to talk about it, because you don't want to you don't want to run the risk of losing your clearance and you don't want to run the risk of being pulled off the line and your guys are getting ready to, you know, you're doing pre deployment train ups because that C 17 with your squadron is going in six months and you've been hitting targets with this same group of people for years and years and years, the same guys. And the idea of that plane taking off with them in it and you not - is just unbearable. And so, you just continue to train and to manage and to keep going. But the glide path is a downward glide path. I was very angry, very, very, very angry, very frustrated. There was just a darkness, you know, Jennifer was just this, this awful darkness to me and I thought everything was my fault. I was going to school, I was going to graduate school, you know, by 4-5 o’clock, I just literally would sit there and just stare into space. I had no cognitive bandwidth left. Things confused me. It was graduate school peer reviewed literature at that stage, utterly confused me. And that frustrated me. So, I got frustrated about being frustrated.  

Jennifer: That's an endless loop.  

Derek: Yeah, exactly. I didn't know how to separate my thoughts from my feelings. And so that also contributed to the, you know, and I know that sounds very new agey, but there's a really intense pragmatism to that, you know, I think this and I feel this - nobody ever taught me that and when I had TBI that was undiagnosed and I hadn't slept in years and I was three scotches into the evening so that I would just stop thinking about the things I was thinking and go to sleep for a little while or I was angsty and I would work out, you know, we are very fit people generally as a population, there was not a lot of balance to my workout routine, you know. So, even the workout routines, I probably kicked off a cortisol response just in doing physical fitness, it would be years before I learned how to do that. Though I looked fit, thought I was fit. It was towards the end of nothing had any meaning, nothing mattered to me anymore. Nothing amounted to anything. And my civilian work experiences though I met really nice people and I was ostensibly good at my jobs and fared well. I had to find a way to feel satisfied because I didn't. Ultimately, my friend, dear dear friend, Greg killed himself. We'd had him at the house for thanksgiving dinner, just the thanksgiving before. And I had spoken with him and things were, you know, fine. And then I didn't find out Greg was dead until five weeks after he killed himself. A lot that bothered me about it. I missed the chance to talk to him and be there for him, you know, I missed, I missed finding out in a timely manner that had happened. I missed his funeral. And it was by the time Greg killed himself, I remember sitting on the couch in my living room in Fayetteville, you know, and I was considering going and working out and it was before I found out Greg killed himself, I realized like the walk from my living from my couch to my garage gym, which was an awesome, you know, home gym setup, felt like it was five miles long. And another symptom was that my body, you know what I would work out, I just, I would feel like I came out of a bar fight and lost and it would take days and days and days to recover from that. Just like standard workouts I had done for years and then just the just utter dark sadness and really not knowing why I was doing anything I was doing at that point, Greg's death got my attention and so then I decided to really up my health and wellness game, you know, in any way that I could that made sense. 

Jennifer: So, how did you find Dr. Brannon? Which for those of you that don't know Dr. Gregory Brannon, he's based out of North Carolina. I've actually done a podcast with him. So - how did you find him? And what treatments did he use on you? How did he help diagnose you?  

 Derek: It's just you know, it's one of those kind of stories about grace or and for the secular among the audience, you know, serendipity. I was a gun guy, a big gun guy, right? And I grew up around guns, I was in gun culture, we were on the range on the weekends. That was where my dad spent his weekends and you know, I knew all the great gunsmiths in our area and all of that growing up. And then at the unit I started as an assaulter and then became a sniper. Which that was the job I wanted. The job I ended up doing in the end was pretty was different in interesting ways, but I was a sniper. And so that is a lifestyle. So, I was reading that year's copy because they did one - that year's copy of Sniper Magazine and for anyone who's listening, it's um, these are real students of the game, long distance rifle shooters, precision rifle shooters. These are people who do math, they pay attention to wind, they are very specific about low data. There is a community of them, they're very there, they generally get along very well, they're very social with each other. And these are thinkers and it's really cool. So, when we say sniping, it's not the super violent thing, although we all understand how that turns out - these are very intentional people. And so, Sniper Magazine was put together by a few people, for that year, in particular, Shawn Wiseman, who I knew Tom Beckstrand, who shot with my father at that, they're they belong to the same range and Tom Beckstrand wrote an article in that year's edition of Sniper Magazine, it was the very last article, and it was about Dr. Brannon - 

Jennifer: Oh, wow.  

Derek: and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. I very rarely make it to the end of a magazine without losing without, you know, just moving on something to at this point. I read and and to be fair, the guys put together a great magazine and I read it, I was like, whoa, okay, that got my attention and there were there were books that were mentioned, Dr. Brannon’s books and I got his books and I read them, I said to myself that's I feel all of that, right? I never was a person who thought I was going to get testosterone replacement therapy. It never, I was never that guy, I never thought about, I wasn't someone who used supplements, none of it, but I read the books and Jennifer that really got my attention and I shared it with my wife and she's yeah, yeah, I mean that's like I get it right, Like sure I see that. My wife has always been so gracious, I was, she was never been like, oh yeah, that's totally, it was like just pure empathy. And so from after reading the books, I don't, I couldn't call Dr. B fast enough. And the thing that really, really got me initially because you don't feel the effects of it for certain periods, some period of time, you know, the thing that got me and that changed my outlook on everything as a civilian was that I got in there and he talked to me in a way I could understand and he drew things out and he just spoke, he spoke ranger, you know, and he was very inclusive in, he just walks with you immediately. And I felt in my time with Dr. Brannon that I had a health and wellness partner, somebody who cared about me, he knew what my name was, and he knew where I was at health and wellness wise. The very, very first thing that worked before, testosterone, bioidentical hormones ever worked was the fact that somebody in the health and wellness space cared enough about me and hardly knew me to walk with me on my wellness journey - that really got my attention.  

Jennifer: Absolutely. I always tell people all the time that it's so important to find a provider that actually listens to you and wants to help you. And is not just trying to, you know, give you medications and send you out the door, but wants to listen to you sincerely. 

Derek: Yeah, yeah.  

Jennifer: How have these treatments changed your life?  

Derek: Well, at the risk of sounding melodramatic, let's underscore that it changed my life. It was 180 degree change. How did it do it? So, the way it works? Or at least the way it worked for me was get the test, find out where your various levels are hormone, you know the testosterone, vitamin D, you know, etcetera etcetera. They do blood panels that my primary care providers typically didn't do. So, it starts with that blood test and then you go back, and he explains what's on there and it all makes you know sense and then you get placed if you need it and then go a certain period, have a follow up blood test. And I needed a booster because I tore through my first load of testosterone really within about six weeks I got the booster and this is when it changed. I used to make a drive up 95 from Fayetteville to a company I worked for in northern Virginia and I would work all day in my home office, and then when it was when I had to go up to the headquarters office at the end of the day, make the drive from Fayetteville to the place in northern Virginia about 5.5 hour drive. And I remember being exhausting. We have this thing in certainly in the ranger regiment when you're tired and you start droning you know remembering in your eyes and you know you start to you know we call that being chased by the z monster And I remember I would work out of my home office and then to make the run up night the cannonball run of 95 to northern Virginia and I always felt like I was just being chased up 95 by the z monster. And you've crossed the border from North Carolina into Virginia and there was a rest stop. It was notable because, well any rest stop is notable when you need one, but this one had a sign in front of it. You know, the Virginia is for lovers type sensibly, right? And I always, when I passed it, it always occurred to me that I had like another three hours in the car, and I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. But after I got my booster placement, I passed it, I wasn't thinking about anything other than work. I remember looking over at the sign at the rest stop, my inner monkey would normally be like, okay, it's gut check time. But I looked over and then I was just and then I looked back in front of me and, Jennifer, I had this feeling of zero fatigue. I wasn't tired. It was the first time in years I wasn't exhausted, and I knew I could go all three hours or four hours by the time I checked into a hotel. That was when I realized this was working. That was by about week eight after my first placement. The second thing that happened, I was, I was laughing man. Like I wasn't angry. I didn't feel dark about anything. My wife, again who's just the sweetest, she doesn't cast aspersions, she doesn't judge. So that's not what I'm saying when I say this. But she said to me because we've always had you know, a really happy marriage even when I was, you know, feeling pretty dark, but she said you laugh a lot more and you've got your sense of humor back and you're smiling and you're happier. Like it really was obviously. And in our marriage, we like funny, my wife likes funny and when she got her boyfriend back, you know me like and then there was laughter, the two of us looked at each other and you're like, wow, this stuff works, and I'd say by about month nine or 10 it worked so well that that's some family members who were very close. Well, my wife actually was like I'm not down the needles and I'm not down with knives, but this works so well that I'm ready to look at the lady’s version of this, and we've been BHRT patients at Optimal Bio ever since. 

Jennifer: That's amazing. I love hearing those stories. It just makes my heart so happy. I'm so happy that it's worked so well for you. So, let's talk about Reargärd. Reargärd is a new company that you just recently started. Can you just give us a breakdown of what it is and what led you to create it? 

Derek: You know what, I'm not what I haven't told your audience is that the pellets that Dr. Brannon places are Qualgen pellets Dr. Brannon, who my wife and I trust with our health and wellness in a big way. Trusts the products that he gets from your company, like emphatically, so yeah.  

Jennifer: I love to hear that.  

Derek: I'm glad, but you've got to bear in mind like the listeners, I ask the listeners to bear in mind, I come from a business where you've got to trust your equipment, you jump out of a plane, military freefall operation 18,000 ft at 3 in the morning - you need that military javelin parachute to work and if it doesn't work you need the reserve parachute to work. You need your 02 system to work when you get on the ground you need your car beam to work. If that goes down, you pull a handgun it needs to work - like everything needs to work. You've got to have trust in your equipment. So I come from a trust based background in that regard so that really really matters to us, and the fact that it mattered to Dr. Brannon particularly the way it does really got my attention. But to answer your question, Dr. Brannon helped me to understand how BHRT works and how to employ it in my life and my health and wellness life. But it also is you know there's it's an integrated wellness approach. And so the other thing that he was great about helping me understand was nutraceutical supplementation you know, D3K, magnesium, iodine, you know, things that this guy who didn't take supplements before, you know, got a great education in why that stuff matters. Ultimately, he introduced me to peptides which were like the last mile for me that got me up and over, you know, the top. I became acquainted on my own with the Sinclair Method and Naltrexone, I really wanted to get control, I wanted to take control of my life back from Johnny Walker and it was, I was ashamed of myself and I didn't really want to talk about it to anybody and so I wanted to, I wanted access to my own power and the Sinclair method did that, and Naltrexone did that. I tell you all that because once this collection of things worked, alright, once Nico well, once Nico explained sleep to me and I, which is the most addictive thing I have ever tried in my life. The most addictive thing I've ever tried is eight hours of sleep for days on end. It is crazy how good it makes you feel, you know, coming from the special operations world, coming from the ranger regiment, ranger school, you know, the seals will tell you this the hell week guys and all of that - sleep is treated like a crutch. 

 Jennifer: Yeah, I bet.  

Derek: Just made to go and go and go and go and if you fall asleep, it's considered a sign of weakness or require some sort of disciplinary action. So, I never, I did not in my acculturation process in the military, along with so many other guys thought if you're falling asleep, you’re weak. You're a problem. It never occurred to you that it was like a health and wellness thing really. So, we just rangered up and got after it and just fought through, you know, being chased by the z monster. So, when Nico explained sleep to me and I finally got to. I have central nervous system-oriented type apnea of some kind. Right? I'm very fit. I stay engaged, you know, with fitness, but I need a C-Pap. I do. I don't love it. I don't love that I have to do it, but I can't live without it. And the quality of the sleep and the quality of life afterwards is a big deal.  

Jennifer: Absolutely. 

Derek: I have experienced a sleep medicine industry that was a little too disorganized for me. I really struggled to find sleep medicine options. I struggled to find sleep medicine options as a civilian that really worked for me, and the information was hard to come by and the services were hard to come by and there's no shortage of sleep clinics varying shades. But there's not a lot of good information for guys like me. There is, but you've really got to search for it, you know, the hormone, the supplementation space writ large, the hormone space will, you know, we deal with guys that are on all sorts of things. There are doctors who are, I'm sure trying to take the best care of them that they know how put them on certain things and they either work or they don't. My experience has been that when I became acquainted with how well sleep medicine as I experienced it when it worked hormone BHRT, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, how that made me feel, how I felt after my vitamin D level for example, got to where it needed to be. Knowing how I felt when I finally gained access to the steaming pile of garbage, you know, in my limbic brain and was really able to address it properly, you know, put another way, getting, achieving balance, as we say in my coaching, in the coaching space, I meant achieving balance in the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual parts of your of yourself and that when I experienced that, I was like, man, I need to tell, I need to tell guys about this. But I would wait, right? I'd wait to see you see a guy with hangover eyes or be in a group where if you just you know, hey introduce yourselves, it was just a couple of times where it was sort of the introduce yourself type thing and I was like, you know what, I'm just going to tell him the truth. I'm just going to I'm just going to lay it out. I never I've been hiding everything about myself for 16 straight years now, coming from the sneaky beaky business. I'm just going to see what it feels like to just hear myself tell a room full of people - really introduce myself. And when I did that during breakaway sessions or breaks, you know, between sessions, some people came up to me and said, “hey, can I talk to you?” And they would say I'm experiencing this when I sleep. My doctor has me on these things because of this, that and the other thing, and one guy in particular who has become a dear dear friend of mine said this is what I am experiencing sleep wise. These are the nightmares; I've had the nightmares all of that. It's nightmares and thrashing around and I'm waking up gasping and I'm on this and this and this and this. And I said to him, I said, you know you're gasping. I said I don't, I'm no doctor, but like have you had a sleep study done? And he said, I don't know. I mean what is that? I said, well then I described to him, I said it's probably maybe it's worth doing because you're talking about gasping. I hear you talking about PTSD and I hear you talking about nightmares, but it's possible you're just not breathing man, right? And you're not going to know until you get a sleep study and that ultimately happened. And what he thought was some sort of psychological thing, and it may be that in part, what he thought was a psychological thing when he slept turned out to be as he described it as a severe case of obstructive sleep apnea, severe. And this is a guy who's on Selectin for things like that. So, I talked to him about hormones and nutraceuticals and then he and I became students of the game together and became accountability partners for wellness. He became acquainted with hormone therapy and peptide therapy, and he said, man, I really am upset that none of my doctors talked to me about this is an option that this is what they put me on instead of even just even just telling me these things existed.  

Jennifer: Yeah.  

Derek: You know, it was that first one where but then I called him, hey, how are you feeling with? How are you doing with? And I, you know, in the beginning part of his journey and you know, just call once a week and then after we'll call, you know, every other week and then, you know, maybe call once every three or four weeks and go that way and he said, you know, man, the fact that you call me regularly makes all the difference in the world. It sets what you're doing with me, for me, apart from everything else. And that was pure brotherhood. That was pure fraternal affection, and you know, it's a ranger thing, I'm sure it's a seal thing too. But it's a ranger thing. You don't, you're always looking after each other. You've got to be. That's the only way that you were taught to live that way. You're constantly looking after the guys and the guys are looking after you. And so, I would say that I don't know any better really. Right? But it's easy to start caring about these guys. So what happened then was that more guys would talk to me? Hey, I need, I need to talk to you right? And just spend some time just really laying out whatever their regrets or whatever issues they were having at that point in their lives. And they called every 6 to 8 weeks and I just would refer them to the vetted health and wellness providers that I was aware of who could help them with the things that they were describing and then those medical professionals could get them on the path. And then I followed up with them - how are you doing? And I realized in that, that you've got the vanguard, right? It's the force that is out front that's out on the battlefield and then you've got the rear guard and the rear guard is two things. One is, it's back, you know, it's back in the mission support side, or the garrison unit ready to receive the vanguard when it comes back, help it with rest refit, provide a reserve force if necessary. It's there to take care of them. The rearguard is there to take care of the vanguard. The other thing, the rearguard is that it's all just talking like a rear-guard action. We've got this force, you know, in behind doing things in an asymmetric, more innovative, you know, sort of way. And so, I realized that what we were doing together, you know, I could describe in one word, which was that we were establishing a rear guard and so I gradually just would describe it to guys because what I wanted to see happen Jennifer was that because the pain is really, really significant. It's like a constant ache in a person's life and my heart is on fire for you know, guys and guys in relationships and you know, whether it's relationships with spouses, girlfriends, their children, certainly relationships with themselves. And I felt like every single one person that we could help understand how to be responsible for his own outcomes with the proper support that he could find quickly as opposed to me. You know, I took years to piece it all together. I was blessed to get the access that I got - but help somebody get access to that stuff right after they call and then walk with them personally and then get him to a point where he has his aha moment, like I had mine or like, you know, the initial few guys had, theirs. The moment they get there they want to tell everybody. And the thing about that, that's really important is that if for every one person we can get to that place, then they are going to keep their eyes peeled for the person they remember they were when they needed help and they help one more person or they helped five more people - then the Reargärd concept creates a, there's just this exponential health effect and help people get healthy and that's, that was what Reargärd was and for probably 2-2 and a half years I did it, I did it for nothing. did it for free.  

Jennifer: Yeah. So, what would you recommend for those that find themselves in the same mindset you were in and/or relate to your story that you just told. I mean what would you recommend for them to do?  

Derek: Somebody needs to be in a safe place in their lives. If they're not in a good place in their lives, they need to think it over. It's very scary stuff. I'm going to answer your question and for once during this session I'll try and answer it succinctly, but you know, Reargärd, we're trying to scale into it. We're trying to scale into something that would really be able to do a lot of good, you know, at a larger scale than just me talking to one person at a time. You know, in a way that's just word of mouth. To answer your question is that somebody needs to go into their health and wellness journey considering a few things. One, what is your adverse childhood experience score? Do you have childhood trauma and like be honest about it, you know, there are places where you can get an assessment of your ace score, but that's significant trauma. So, it's important to understand that because our brains developed, you know, for females up to age 22 or so, for males up to age 24 - if you're a hard case like me, that Is more like 29. I have experienced that my experience in the Reargärd effort is that if you can understand aces in in a safe candid way, you've got to understand that first because if you're raised by someone, let me just leave it there. So, you've got to understand ACES. Next, if someone has a dependency issue, the question you've got to ask yourself is can I stop this and stay off this or no, because if the answer is no, then you need help being able to get control over it so it doesn't control you. And that, you know, Naltrexone, it could be, you know a 12 step program, it can be, whatever works for that person, but understand how you're wired, coming out of childhood by the time your brain is fully developed because that has an impact on everything you do in your life. Understand what your relationship is with the things that you use to self-medicate if you do. Can you control it and stay off of it or do you need help and if you need help you can get help and it's totally okay because a lot of us are addicted that stuff because it's addictive.  

Jennifer: Right. 

Derek: The next thing is, are you sleeping well? The number of people who don't sleep well is, and I don't have good peer reviewed or corroborated data to give you here, but the numbers are big. If you're not sleeping well, you're not making great decisions down the line because and they told us this in NICO, you really are essentially functioning in a way where you're cognitively inhibited in the same manner as if your blood alcohol content was at or above the legal limit. You've got to sleep well. The next thing you've got to do, particularly as we get older is we've got to look at where we're at with our hormone situation. It has been normalized for hormones to decrease and I struggle with the idea that that's become okay, I really do because nobody who has gone through the Reargärd pipeline, such as it is. None of them have had high hormone levels and I will tell you the vast majority have had total testosterone serum levels below 250 - a vast majority. So, we've got to got to get the hormone situation right. Our personal experience here in our household with appropriate bioidentical hormone replacement therapy that's gender appropriate was that it gives us our quality of life back that we envisioned for ourselves that we hoped for for ourselves. I really struggle with the idea that we are expected to live with the idea of a 400 or 300 or 215 being normal or a 239 being the point at which somebody would provide coverage for you for low T. I think that's just my experience has been that there's an optimal level and I feel like we should be able to pay attention.   

Jennifer: Absolutely. 

Derek: Our nutrients are the next thing then is we don't get enough nutrients from our food. Right? So, are you getting B12? Are you? What's your vitamin D level? That is a smoldering dumpster fire if it's not attended to properly and it should be - excuse me, I would like it if it was a much bigger deal than it is - if we paid attention to it like we pay attention to other things.  

Jennifer: Yes, I agree.   

Derek: So nutraceuticals, and then you know the other stuff is sort of subjective but in the population I deal with remember we were acculturated to function as a community, you know in a container that is a unit, you know, and a branch of service and we identify with that. So, for us it was and in the Reargärd effort, we've, you know, we described four pillars, right? So, I've described the clinical to you, I think I've spoken to the mental piece, although I could probably do a better job, but it's fellowship. And I've said that like, we need to walk with each other on this journey and you know, it's very easy for us to meet. I'm not being judgy, right, man, I've been there, and I had a lot of fun doing it. It's very easy for us to meet up in bars and have fellowship over, you know, over drinks, you know, and that sort of thing. But, we don't have a lot of fellowship, at least I didn't, and admittedly I isolated myself more and more over the years until I got better. But fellowship is a key thing, you know, what would it look like if we had a fellowship culture going on and its impact then on active service members and veteran suicide?  So, for us then the next thing is fellowship. And then I've spoken to it a couple of times and again for the secular in the audience, I'll ask you to forgive me, but faith. Faith is a big deal to me and to the folks I've spoken with in the Reargärd premise, it's a big deal, but in order to be inclusive to everybody who's listening, I will say that it's spirituality. So, you have to have balanced mentally emotionally, physically and spiritually. And in the Reargärd, we describe, you know what we provide in four pillars, clinical, mental, fellowship and faith.  

Jennifer: And I love that. I think it's I mean it covers everything. Is there anything additionally you would like to add to it all? 

Derek: It takes a lot of people to take care of each other well. You know, when I went through ranger school, I graduated from ranger school, I did not graduate myself from ranger school, I had a platoon. I had a great platoon going through ranger school, had a great squad and great platoon. And in ranger school, your platoon gets you to graduation. You get the guys in your platoon to graduation and the sooner you figure out the model for that, and I'm not going to give that away here because there are guys that are going to have to find that out in Darby phase and Mountain phase. Hopefully it doesn't take too much longer than that. If you haven't figured out by swamp phase, then you've probably reached critical mass. But, what we have found is rangers is that we don't not look out for each other, you know, in the most extreme case, we say, we don't leave a fallen comrade. My civilian experience has been positive in many ways, but has not, it didn't serve my heart properly, but I also wasn't looking in the right place to do the right things for the right reasons. And it wasn't until I got back to my ranger roots, you know, thanks to the opportunities that I had to walk with guys to help them on their health and wellness journey after my own, which was really ugly, shameful and I'm embarrassed by most of it. It serves something well in the end. I say all of that to say this in order for me to get better in order for my, my associates from Reargärd, peers and friends to get better I it took a bunch of people do it. You know, my position on faith more or less, the very first thing I had to do was submit my heart to, you know, to the God that I believe in, that was the first thing I had to do. The second thing or the thing that happened at the same time was, was my marriage. My marriage is probably the entire reason that I was motivated and supported to come back from a pretty grotty place. And then there's what Dr. Brannon did. You know at this point, I'm a fan. Your audience knows I'm a fan, he's a great guy. He's just a great human being, but and this is not a shameless plug, but it took the team at Qualgen and I'm sitting here talking to you because I had an opportunity to get to know you guys and head shed the Reargärd concept. And if there was not the cohesive cross functional effort of my faith lifestyle, my marriage, because she was the only one who understood me well enough to take that walk with me, what Dr. Brannon did to show me how you walk with somebody in wellness properly and what the team Qualgen has done. I really need you to know that Reargärd believes and has tested the hypothesis that it takes all of these people to come together and look after each other for no other reason than because you just have to do it because it's right and it's good and it's, it's taken a bunch of caring people to just bring any singular person along. But the payoff is that as soon as you do, that person's going to help anywhere from 1 to 5 to 10 more and it's worth the effort. But, but just like I didn't graduate myself from ranger school, I didn't become balanced in health and wellness, assuming I am right now without the help of, of folks like Dr. Brannon and you frankly.  

Jennifer: Oh, well, thank you. I just love what you're doing, and I think it has the opportunity to benefit so many of those in need and I just, I think it's amazing and that you're probably godsend for many, many people out there. So, thank you for your service and thank you for your help with others. It's awesome.   

Derek: Yeah. Well thank you for everything. Thanks for your time today. I appreciate having the chance to speak to it here.   

Jennifer: Yes, absolutely. I've really enjoyed it. And thank you everyone for listening. Please make sure to subscribe and follow us on social media to stay up to date on Qualgen - If you'd like to learn more on Reargärd, or if you have any questions for Derek, please visit Thank you again, Derek, I appreciate it.  

Derek: Thank you. 

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