Ep 17: Navy SEAL Mikal Vega on Traumatic Brain Injury, Surviving PTSD, and How Doctors Nearly Killed Him

"We are shaped by our thoughts. We become what we think." - Buddha

Mikal Vega is an interesting guy who has led an amazing life. Unlike the last few guests, he’s not in law enforcement though he is certainly a supporter of our profession.

If his face looks familiar, it’s because you might have seen him on TV or in movies. He’s actually a professional actor, and he’s been in movies like Transformers 3 and 4, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and TV shows like Dallas and Chuck amongst other projects. He is an action movie star.

But really, that’s not why I wanted to talk to him.

Long before Mikal was standing in front of the cameras, he was standing in front of IED’s and other bombs as part of the U.S. Navy’s EOD Team. Mikal spent 10 years in EOD before deciding to try his hand at BUD/S, the qualifying course to start towards the SEAL teams. Mikal graduated with class 224 before being assigned to Seal Team 8 on the East Coast. As you’ll hear in this episode, Mikal suffered through some amazing trials.

What’s amazing is, Mikal, took control of his own life and his own diagnosis and solved his problems without, and actually in spite of, professional medical interventions. Navy EOD, Chief Petty Officer in the SEAL teams, awarded the Bronze Star with Valor TWO TIMES, a Purple Heart, and over 22 years of service…and an action-movie star…it’s a great conversation.,

Mikal is the founder of Vital Warrior, a non-profit devoted to alleviating the detrimental effects of acute stress through non-pharmaceutical re-balancing methods. Through his own interventions, experiments, and searching, Mikal developed 8 modalities that he used in concert with each other to relieve his diagnosis of Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD.

Mikal earned his Purple Heart when the convoy he was traveling in was struck by an IED. What Mikal didn’t know was that his neck was broken. It took 4 years before he was able to figure that out. Soon, he began to suffer the signs and symptoms of serious psychological impediments. Suicidal, he sought a better way out than pharmaceuticals. He found it.

Follow Mikal on Twitter and Instagram at @mikalvega and check out Vital Warrior at vitalwarrior.org.

This episode is sponsored by SB Tactical and the iCombat Active Shooter Training System. 

The iCombat Training System is an active-shooter and firearms qualification system. Each officer is outfitted with a molle-style tac vest, headband and receiver that all have sensors on them. You’re also given a replica AR-15 and a replica Glock pistol. Now, replica isn’t really a good word here because the AR-15 and Glock both cycle like real guns, emit gunshot sounds and muzzle flashes. They each have ammo accountability too, meaning that you have to keep track of your shots like a real firefight. What I really like is there’s even a mag release and it’s weighted like a Glock. You don’t feel like you’re holding a water gun. The AR also has a functioning safety and can be used in single shot, or burst modes.

This is not a simulation system, it’s a replication system. Because of this, you can take it anywhere. There’s no site preparation, no ammo costs, and none of the safety issues that come with live-fire or SIMS training. I hate SIMS training and to me, this system has all the benefits and none of the liabilities.

To prove that point, watch the video at sbtactical.com where they used a functioning terminal at the Burbank Airport for active shooter training. They used a functioning terminal, with real as you can get concealment and cover and multiple agencies went through the training scenarios.

So, if you’re not getting shot at like SIMS, and you don’t see holes in a paper target, how do you know you succeeded? Well, 5000 volts is how.

This is what adds the last element of replication, not simulation. If you’re struck by the opposing force during a scenario, you’re going to get a short *cough* tickle *cough.*  It’s enough to make you flinch and get inside your reaction cycle but not nearly enough to hurt.

This is an important piece because as you’ll see in the video how people break from their objective when they start receiving fire.

As I said in the past, I’ve used this equipment in my own department’s training and I think it’s fantastic. If you’re part of your department’s training cadre or are just bored of standing on a static line and shooting 5 rounds into a paper target as part of your firearms quals, check out the system at sbtactical.com. They’re American made, and veteran-owned.

Check out this video of two SWAT Teams reviewing the iCombat system.

And here’s a good video to walk you through how it all works.

 

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