From the long wait for benefits claims to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ growing painkiller epidemic, veterans returning home from service often face new battles in civilian life. This Veterans Day, we’re teaming up with The Takeaway to hear from veterans about how they’ve tackled such obstacles.

We want to know: What advice do you have for veterans who have recently returned? What advice do you wish you’d been given after your service? We also want to hear from veterans who have recently returned: What questions do you have? What advice are you seeking?

You can participate in the following ways: 

  1. Call 877-8-MY-TAKE to record your comments. Your message may be used on-air by The Takeaway and featured on our websites.
  2. Submit your comments by filling out this form.
  3. Send us your comments and photos or videos with your advice on Twitter and Facebook by using the hashtag #VetAdvice.

Disclaimer: By participating, you give CIR and The Takeaway permission to publish and broadcast your comments. Have questions? Email Kelly Chen at

Listen to Jason Wasieleski, a former Army medic who served in Afghanistan in 2012, and David Retske, a former drone pilot who served in Iraq from 2004 to 2005, share advice for returning veterans. 

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Kelly Chen is a news engagement specialist at The Center for Investigative Reporting. She manages the day-to-day social media strategies and online engagement for CIR. In addition, she works to break down complex issues and ideas and create content for CIR's online communities. Kelly also works to increase engagement on and on other online platforms. Previously, she produced discussion segments for PBS NewsHour and oversaw social media and engagement efforts for the American Graduate project, a public media initiative on the high school dropout crisis. She's also worked at Southern California Public Radio and National Geographic TV. A native of Los Angeles, she studied international relations and English at UC Davis.

Alessandra Ram

Alessandra is an engagement intern at The Center for Investigative Reporting. She joined CIR in August 2013, eager to make the transition to long-form investigative journalism. As an intern, she creates content for online communities and works with the engagement team on various projects, most notably the relaunch of the Junior Watchdogs program and the Hairnet Hero video game. Previously, she worked as an editorial fellow at The Atlantic in Washington, D.C., manning the social media platforms as well as writing and producing content for the website’s video channel. She also has interned at The New Republic and Foreign Policy. Raised in Northern California, she graduated from UC Berkeley in May 2011 with a dual degree in media studies and French.

Cole Goins is the director of community engagement for Reveal, where he cultivates partnerships that blend in-depth journalism and creative public engagement. He has built and supported distribution networks, spearheaded arts-based initiatives such as the Off/Page Project, led social media and audience strategy, and facilitated statewide media collaborations. He was a senior fellow in the 2015 USC Annenberg Health Journalism Fellowships, mentoring five journalists on approaches to community engagement. Previously, Goins was the engagement editor at the Center for Public Integrity, where he led audience development initiatives and multimedia features for award-winning investigative projects. He earned a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he worked as music director for WXYC, the student-run radio station. He is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.