In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, we speak with poet, activist, filmmaker, actor, and Navy SEAL veteran of 22 years, Mikal Vega.
Vega joined the Navy at 17, entered the EOD profession for roughly nine-years, and deployed multiple times around the world in support of SEAL teams. After working with SEALs, he decided that's what he wanted to do with the rest of his career.
At 28, Vega earned a spot on SEAL teams and added a few more tours of duty to his already impressive resume.
After being honorable discharged in 2012, Vega started a non-profit called Vital Warrior, providing Kundalini Yoga for veterans, first responders, and active duty service members.
But, this wasn't enough for the motivated sailor.
Vega went on to express his creative side by entering the world of film and television and now serves as a military advisor on the hit NBC military-drama, The Brave.
The Brave — "Stealth" Episode 108 —Pictured: (l-r) Noah Mills as Sergeant Joseph "McG" McGuire, Natacha Karam as Sergeant Jasmine "Jaz" Khan, Mike Vogel as Captain Adam Dalton, Hadi Tabbal as Agent Amir Al-Raisani, Demetrius Grosse as CPO Ezekiel "Preach" Carter (Photo by Lewis Jacobs via NBC)
As veterans, we have a surplus of talent and creativity that we can draw from stemming from our unique military service and experiences.
Like many combat vets who are fans of narrative filmmaking, Vega uses his in-depth training to bring the realism of combat tactics to the screen.
The Brave cast — Pictured: (l-r) Tate Ellington, Demetrius Grosse, Anne Heche, Dean Georgaris, Executive Producer/Co-Showrunner/Creator; Mike Vogel, Sophia Pernas, Hadi Tabbal, Natacha Karam, Noah Mills, Mikal Vega, Technical Advisor. (Photo by Paul Drinkwater via NBC)
NBC's The Brave focuses on a group of elite Special Operatives who embark on the most challenging and dangerous missions around the world to save the innocent lives behind enemy lines.
During his service, Vega held many positions, such as a SEAL Platoon Leading Chief Petty Officer, Personal Security Detail Shift Leader, U.S. Navy SEAL Combatives Instructor, U.S. Navy SEAL Demolitions Instructor, and Senior Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician.
He's earned many awards, including the Purple Heart for injuries sustained during Operation Iraqi Freedom, two Bronze Stars with combat valor, the Army Achievement Medal for Operation Joint Guardian Kosovo, and the Navy Achievement Medal.
Vega on the set of Transformers 3. (Image from IMDB)
Vega's qualifications include, but are not limited to, Navy SEAL, Senior EOD Technician (Bomb Squad), Breacher RSO, HRST Master, free-fall parachutist, U.S. Secret Service, Presidential Security Detail Operations, combat leadership, precision driver, dynamic firearms, SCUBA and closed-circuit diving supervisor, Cold Weather Environment Survival, demolitions instructor, and martial artist.
Following his lifelong passion for acting, he used his career successes to fund Vital Warrior, a system that increases performance and resiliency through non-pharmaceutical stress mitigation techniques that can help veterans and their families recover from wartime trauma.
He was recently elected as president of AK Waters Productions and has acted in film and television productions that include Transformers 3 and Hawaii Five-O among others. Vega lives in Los Angeles with his wife, daughter, and son.
Blake Stilwell: Air Force veteran and Managing Editor
Tim Kirkpatrick: Navy veteran and Editorial Coordinator
Orvelin Valle (aka O.V.): Navy veteran and Podcast Producer
Special Guest: Navy SEAL veteran Mikal Vega