For many service members the military can open some unexpected doors. You learn unique and necessary skills, you forge unforgettable friendships and - on some occasions – you discover a talent or a passion that you didn’t even knew you had.
For Air Force veterans Keith Houin, Jason Tudor, and Michael J. Wistock, it was a passion for science fiction and a desire to help other veterans in need that provided the opportunity for a rather unique collaboration: a science fiction book that helps wounded warriors.
From Air Force veterans to science fiction writers? Seems like a natural transition to me. But I guess I’m not normal, so let’s take a look at this unique path for these three veterans.
It all started with a little science fiction podcast.
In many cases, there is a community connection amongst geeky members of society. Something that says “I get that 8-bit wreath on your door” or “that Yoda quote on your white board makes sense to me. Let’s be friends” (okay, maybe it’s not quite that black and white, but I have made more than one friend thanks to the TARDIS mug on my desk).
Keith and Jason became friends as a result of this kind of nerd magnetism, even though at first they didn’t even realize it.
“We were friends for eleven years and we had no clue that we were both geeks. Then at some point Keith and I discovered that we had similar interests, and that was that we were both nerds,” Jason says with a little laugh. “And I said that I itching to do a podcast. I love doing radio.”
Jason had experience in radio while doing some work for AFN during his public affairs days. He said it was this experience that created a passion for entertaining people on the airwaves. He asked his friend and fellow Air Force veteran Keith to join him in in creating a show about science fiction. One that ended up being aptly named “The Science Fiction Show”.
Jason invited his friend (and also fellow Air Force veteran) Michael to join the ranks of this burgeoning nerdfest. Before they knew it, the show went from a concept to a weekly podcast. The three geek veterans discuss everything science fiction, and according to Jason, The Science Fiction Show has been downloaded more than 12,000 times since May 2011.
And normally this would be the part where I’d say “the rest is history”. However, in this case, the story of what I’m calling the veteran SciFi triforce was just beginning.
The show is now a hit, and an outlet for the SciFi triforce to share their passion for science fiction in film, television, books and all things that make me want to jump up and down with excitement and unbridled fandom (except, I must say, they desperately need a Whovian on the show – wink, wink). It also has become a way for these three veterans to share their love of science fiction, public relations, and charity.
Charity, specifically, for wounded warriors.
As an Army veteran, things that help the service members and families are causes that strikes near and dear to my heart. The hosts of The Science Fiction Show are no different.
“We wanted to do something that would help wounded warriors in some way,” says Keith. So they set their SciFi sights on creativity. They wanted to produce something that they could do together and would also give back to the troops that were still struggling to recover their lives, or redefine their version of normal. In short, they wanted to do something that would give back to all he wounded warriors in a new and purposeful way.
And how did they accomplish this mission? By writing science fiction stories, of course.
The Air Force veteran cohosts have released a compilation of sci-fi stories in a book called “Battlespace” to raise money for the Warrior Cry Music Project charity.
“We know that there are a lot of service members and veterans that like science fiction,” says Jason. “We also know that there are a lot of them who are hurting.”
Battlespace is a compilation of short science fiction stories, and each one boasts a military theme. “All the stories have to have a military tie,” Jason explains. “We wanted to stay in that genre.”
“This has been a lot of fun to create and a lot of fun to read,” adds Michael. “I hope the people that pick up this book will enjoy it as much as we have.”
So, with all the great charities out there, why Warrior Cry? According to the triforce, it’s the power of creativity that could make a big difference when it comes to recovery.
“We’re creative guys,” Keith says enthusiastically. “Creative things are fun for us, and we figured what better way to help out wounded warriors than to give them something like music to love and learn?”
“A lot of these small charities get ignored,” Jason adds. “And this really is a great one. What Warrior Cry is doing is great. We’d love to give these guys a thousand bucks and say ‘go for it’, and that’s what we’re hoping Battlespace will achieve.”
This charity, according to Michael, allows veterans and service members to heal with the power of music. The Warrior Cry Music Project gives musical instruments to wounded warriors and disabled veterans. It also works with music teachers and therapists to teach them to use these instruments.
According to the website, “Warrior Cry gives wounded soldiers something positive to work toward and helps to get their minds off of their injuries. Music also helps get our wounded soldiers out of their shell and interested in socializing with others.”
Using music to work through the stresses and pain of rehabilitation? Now that’s what I call therapeutic.
Several different authors contributed to this compilation, and Keith said 100 percent of the profits from the book, which can be ordered online as a paperback or e-book, will be donated to Warrior Cry.
As the book continues to grow in popularity and sales, these three amigos are still “geeking out”, doing their weekly podcast, which garners more attention with each clever Battlestar Galactica reference and funny Star Trek supposition.
Since its inception, the show has grown and matured, but one thing has stayed the same: The Science Fiction Show is – and always will be – a place where three Air Force veterans get together to talk about what they love. And each show gets better and better.
Science Fiction, charity, and friendship. Now those are the kinds of things everyone should get out of their military service, don’t you think?
Jessica L. Tozer is a blogger for DoDLive and Armed With Science. She is an Army veteran and an avid science fiction fan, both of which contribute to her enthusiasm for technology in the military.