For months, I’ve been promising a special bonus podcast episode for when “Borne the Battle received its 100th rating and/or review on iTunes.

We did it! But, before we get to Mel Brooks and the late Adrian Cronauer, I wanted to share my own BtB story, and explain where we’re going in the future.

In 2016, I was working at NASCAR Productions. It was a great experience, but I wanted to do more with my free time after work instead of just playing XBOX. I organized a podcast with some friends, called “The SmokePit,” a Veteran-themed show that centered around military and Veteran news.

The planning was there, but it fizzled out without even recording one episode.

Instead of starting the “The SmokePit,” I decided to go back to school. I used the GI Bill at Arizona State University. I hadn’t given up the idea of podcasting, but focused on completing my bachelor’s degree by 2018. When I came back around to a starting a podcast – a future guest of mine came up with a perfect name for his podcast – “The SmokePit.

Fast forward to March 2019. That’s when I was offered the “Borne the Battle” podcast reins from Tim Lawson. He asked me what the “Tanner Iskra” Borne the Battle would look like. I don’t remember what I said in the interview, just that I walked away thinking, “Time to get your (expletive) together, Tanner.”

So, I quickly made five goals:

  1. Bridge the gap between military Veterans and civilians.
  2. Educate VA employees on their customer base.
  3. Promote Veteran advocacy initiatives through the voice of the Veteran.
  4. Inspire and educate transitioning Veterans with positive stories.
  5. Inform listeners about new information from VA as it is released.

In these short five months since I took over BtB, I’ve learned A LOT about podcasting. One thing I learned is that your placement on iTunes correlates with a lot of other factors – ratings and reviews among them.

So, I held onto one of my most compelling pieces of content until we reached 100 reviews on iTunes. I didn’t want to bury it when the algorithms wouldn’t prioritize our reach. You, our listeners, got us over the hump, and now more Veterans each week are tuning into YOUR show.

In five months, our listenership has increased 500%. You’ve allowed more Veterans, VA employees and civilians to hear these amazing stories and to take advantage of all the benefit breakdowns in our archives.

Additionally, the production of the podcast has grown. We have always had a tremendous team of transcribers, but I used to be a the only one producing the content. We now have a dedicated team of interns from around the country. Some are Veterans, but many are students that have never connected with Veterans before – and they are learning about our community through these stories.

Finally, you may have seen the logo, but once we have finalized all the necessary directives – I can confidently say that we will soon be bringing a VA Podcast Network to your ears. All this is due to your continued support, so please keep those recommendations and reviews coming in!

Thank you,


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Published on Sep. 16, 2019

Estimated reading time is 2.8 min.

Views to date: 103


  1. Robert Crisp September 23, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    I was “Gunfighter 3”, 366th TFW, DaNang, “by the sea”, in 68-69. There to advise F-4 pilots how to avoid SAMs. Not content to stay safe on the ground and teach with “chalk talk”, I did an in-theater check out as a GIB and flew 89 missions over N & S Vietnam, Laos and “other countries”. Among the many great guys I flew with was Moody Suter. We made Major the same day in Vietnam. I retired as a Major: he retired as a Colonel. He returned to Las Vegas after his tour and I eventually ended up at Cannon AFB (F-111D) as the Wing EW. and retired at Beale AFB, CA. Moody is the reason Tom Cruise became the “hero” in TOP GUN, the movie. Moody is the Father/Creator of the TOP GUN ranges used to improve our fighter pilot capabilities. He died on the operating table–complications caused by “Agent Orange” in 1996. I contracted it as his back seater. I fought the VA for 4 1/2 years for Agent Orange medically related problems including temporary loss of vision caused by a golf-ball sized brain tumor, pressing on my optic nerves. Surgery to remove same done at UC San Diego, CA. Eventually, the VA awarded 160%%, that’s not a typo. However the max they ACTUALLY paid was 100% VA disability. The payments were retroactive back to the day the VA received my application.

  2. Michael Bigley September 19, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    Your Subscribe and Listen button/link is broken. It has to be specific to these podcasts and not VAdvantage in general.


  3. Michael Bigley September 19, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    Your stories are always about heros or people of notoriety(as the term is described) but what about us ordinary ground pounders, grunts, those who looked the enemy in the eyes and lived another day…but who were never the same?

    • Tanner Iskra September 19, 2019 at 1:53 pm

      Hey Michael,

      Check out our most recent or Jan Ohrstrom’s episode.

  4. John F Harris Jr September 19, 2019 at 11:08 am

    In the piece, “Born the Battle Milestone! “, the word “borne” is the correct verb form in this instance. Thank you. John Harris

    • Tanner Iskra September 20, 2019 at 3:01 pm

      Good Catch John,

      I wasn’t able to fix that until I landed in Hawaii. Don’t know how that happened. The name derives from the VA’s motto.

  5. Rick M September 19, 2019 at 9:10 am

    Awesome great to hear Mel Brooks was a vet. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Bill Baiocchi September 19, 2019 at 8:33 am

    Great goals. Congratulations!

    • Tanner Iskra September 20, 2019 at 3:02 pm

      Thanks Bill.

  7. Elijah September 19, 2019 at 8:22 am

    Why not include the actual video within this story? Being redirected to iTunes and other commercial entities seems as a deceptive practice.

    • Daniel G. September 19, 2019 at 10:18 am

      There’s a play button at the bottom of the article.

  8. Robert C Bogison September 19, 2019 at 8:19 am

    I have just published a memoir of my time as a Military Policeman in Vietnam should any of your followers be interested. The book is entitled, “UP-CLOSE & PERSONAL IN-COUNTRY, CHIEU HOI, VIETNAM 1969-1970” and has received several reviews. It is available on
    Respectfully, Robert C. Bogison Retired Los Angeles Police Department Homicide Detective

    The book is bigger than me. The exposure of this book will be the precursor for lobbying our lawmakers in Washington D.C. to recognize the Infantry Tactical Operations performed by the men assigned to the Ambush & Recon and the PBR/Boston Whaler Platoons of B Company “Bushwhackers”, 720th Military Police Company, during the Vietnam War. It is my belief the men serving with me richly earned the appropriate recognition for receiving the US Army Combat Infantry Badge they have been deprived. An uphill battle to be sure. This book along with other documents and photographs will be presented as evidence in obtaining this goal.
    Go to for more information.

  9. Clifford Gregory September 19, 2019 at 7:36 am

    Thanks for this show, I am a Vietnam Veteran in country from 1966-1971, retired in 1998, and my younger brother has 10 different kinds of cancer caused by Agent Orange in Vietnam as he is also a Vietnam Veteran. Your podcast has helped he and I understand his sacrifice, and mine. Great Job. My 30 year career in the us military has been the driver and my company was just sold to a major corporations, and I want to learn about how to help my brother who is dying; and for myself.

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