Senator Max Cleland was a true American hero. One of the finest, most selfless leaders of our time. He was a titan. And his tremendous impact was second only to his huge heart. Even in these last few difficult months before he died, he was a fighter—and a happy warrior. And Max’s passing comes the week of Veterans Day. Max defined what it means to be an American veteran. And what it means for veterans to continue to serve after they take off the uniform. And after tragedy. He’s the godfather of modern veterans affairs and advocacy–and he’s forever stronger at the broken places.
In this Veterans Day special episode, our host and Army veteran Paul Rieckhoff reflects on the life and legacy of his friend, mentor and personal hero, Max Cleland.
And in order to even begin to properly tell Max’s story, we hear from a man who knew him better than almost anyone else. Another hero, another mentor, another Vietnam veteran, another son of the south, another true American hero: Shad Meshad. Shad has known Max for over 45 years. And in this time of mourning, and reflection, and especially this Veterans Day, he is the person we most need to hear from.
They call him the Mad Man. For more than five decades, National Veterans Foundation Founder and President Shad Meshad has been one of the most important veterans advocates in the world. He is a therapist for Veterans and an advocate for Veterans’ rights. After getting his master’s degree in psychiatric social work from Florida State University, he enlisted in the army in 1970 and served as a counselor for U.S. soldiers in Vietnam. That was years before we knew this was really a thing. He’ll tell you more about that, the Max Cleland most people never knew, and all the lessons we can all learn from Max’s amazing life.
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Stay vigilant, America.