Chad Robichaux: You know, I’ve been speaking this message on fear lately and, t- that was scary. We had to go help. Like, we had the ability to, and I believe we are all prompted to do things. But when God opens the doors for you to go do things and, you know, the only thing that’s keeping you back is the, you know, the whispering in your ear from Satan saying, “You’re not good enough. You’re not going. This is dangerous.” We had to, and, and we did.
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John Fuller: That’s Chad Robichaux, and he’s our guest today on Focus on the Family, talking about his service to America in Afghanistan. He’s gonna inspire you to support those you know who are veterans and military members, so stay with us. This is Focus on the Family with your host, Focus president and author, Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, tomorrow’s Veterans Day and veterans deserve so much respect as they have sacrificed so much, uh, so we can live in a free country. And it should never become trite for us to hear that. We need to think about what that means. Many of them have a difficult transition out of the service, which Chad experienced and we’re gonna talk about that today. And he’s now doing a lotta great work to help those veterans, being a veteran himself. And he’ll share today how we, uh, can participate in supporting veterans as well. Chad also has incredible stories of his time working to rescue people during the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Uh, we’ve had Chad on the broadcast before.
Jim: But it’s always interesting and a pleasure to have him here. Uh, he showed radical courage. That’s a good description of it, uh, so that we can all learn from his commitment to defending what is right. And we’re gonna get into that.
John: Mm-hmm. And Chad Robichaux is a veteran Marine. He’s an expert in veteran care and issues, and, uh, he and his wife Kathy have an adult daughter and two grown sons. Uh, the boys are also Marines, and a newborn daughter as well. Uh, he’s written a book called Saving Aziz: How the Mission to Help One Became a Calling to Rescue Thousands From the Taliban. This is an incredible book, and we’ve got it at our website, and, uh, all the details are at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: Chad, welcome back to Focus.
Chad: No, thanks for having me on. I’m, I’m excited to be here.
Jim: It’s so good to have you, and congratulations on this newborn. Now, there’s a bit of a twist to this.
Jim: What, what happened?
Chad: Yes. Well, you know, Kathy and I have been married 28 years, uh, our, our adult children are, are 26, 25 and 23. We have three granddaughters through that. Uh-
Chad: All our kids are married. We have three granddaughters, and then, uh, you know, we had always prayed, uh, and especially Kathy, just we always prayed that, that we would have the chance to be parents again, ’cause we made the decision really early on to, you know, I, I ended up getting, uh, a vasectomy and, and, when I was 24 years old, which was probably way too young. And so through the years, we just, you know, h-, longed to parents again. And, uh-
Chad: And then, it never, so when we had grandchildren we thought, okay, this is it. But, uh, you know, God, uh, brought an opportunity through our niece, who, uh, was just not in a great situation.
Chad: She became pregnant. Kathy’s kinda talked through or maybe mentored her a little bit about not aborting, uh, and then if that she needed help with the baby when the baby was born, to call us. And about three and a half months into that, uh, Summer being, you know, here with her mom, she, uh, she called us and she said, “Does that offer still stand?” And we stepped in and, uh, God just created a amazing opportunity for us to adopt Summer.
Jim: Well, and that’s not the theme we were gonna talk about, but what a great example of what it means to be for life, right?
Jim: In every way. I mean, this is not something that is negative at all.
Jim: This is a great situation and-
Chad: Well, first of all-
Jim: … God bless you for doing it.
Chad: … empty, empty nesting is overrated.
Chad: And, uh, you know, we made it, we were empty nesting for like five year, five years.
Jim: You don’t look like the golfing type.
Chad: Empty nesting was, it was like five years of it and I just, I, I longed for that chaos, the, in the home and laughter. And, uh, and, and I just felt like we had mo- more to give as parents.
Chad: And, and God’s really blessed us and put us in a position to be able to do it, so we thought, naively, that we were blessing her. It turns out the other way around. She’s been just a blessing to us.
Jim: Well, you know, again, it’s such a great definition of what you have fought for your adult life. You know, becoming special forces and doing what you do, and we’ll get into that. But isn’t it interesting even in that, it’s a demonstration of being for life.
Jim: And all of it. Fighting in the battlefield for life as well.
Chad: Yeah. I think, I think a lotta times, especially those of us, you know, who are Christians and believers and believe that, you know, God created us at, at conception, that’s, that’s life.
Chad: That’s what, that’s what-
Chad: … I believe. I’m abo-, I’m a abolitionist when it comes to abortion unapologetically. And, uh, we could say that, but action means more than just speaking that. Like, it means stepping in when we can to actually not just see that birth, but see someone raised and, and alive.
Chad: And, so, it, it, to me and Kathy it wasn’t even a question. No, she was just telling you this. It wasn’t even a question between us. Like, we were just like, we have the opportunity to do this, God’s equipped us to be able to do this. We’re, we’re blessed and privileged to be able to provide a home and love this little girl, and we’re gonna do it. And, uh-
Jim: Yeah. To both of you, again, congratulations. What a great thing.
Jim: And to your niece, congratulations to her for making a hard choice, but a good choice.
Jim: Um, let’s turn to the book, Saving Aziz. Who is Aziz?
Chad: Well, uh, Aziz was my, to say he’s a interpreter is a understatement, but I gotta start there. I was, I was a Force Recon Marine. I was very privileged to try out for what’s called the JSOC, Joint Special Operations Command Taskforce. Uh, if people aren’t familiar with JSOC, JSOC’s where the premier special operations units are housed. Seal Team Six, Delta Force, uh, a old or- organization called Taskforce Orange, it’s got a new name now that I can’t s-, I don’t think I can say. But, uh, all these amazing, you know, premier special operations units are there. So I tried out, got accepted and went and represent the Marine Corps in that capacity at that unit. And I, I did eight deployments to Afghanistan.
Jim: Eight deployments?
Chad: Yeah. Well, m- my job was a little different. So, most people might imagine a big military unit, you know, uniform. I was what’s called a AFO, Advanced Force Operator, which meant, it’s the closest thing you could describe to being undercover-
Chad: … in the military. So, you work in a singleton capacity, I mean, by yourself. You partner with a local national and you go ahead of your unit, uh, in non-permissive areas, meaning areas where the conventional military is not allowed to go. I’d go ahead of my unit and build all the clandestine infrastructure to get our soldiers on target to capture or kill bad guys. And the unit I was at was looking for whoever the top 10 was. You know, from Bin Laden to number one, to number 10. And, so, Aziz was my interpreter for that, and for continuity purposes, he stayed my interpreter for all eight of those deployments. He, uh, he saved my life numerous times. Uh, he went from being not just my interpreter, by my teammate and ultimately my friend. And, uh, like, I could name several times that he saved my life, but he probably saved my life every day. Like, don’t walk there, don’t eat that, don’t talk to the person, if you talk right now, they’re gonna kill us. When we were out operating in those mountains, I didn’t go back to base when he went home, I went to his home. I lived in his home. His wife, Hatra, made our first warm meal after coming out of those frozen mountains and, and I held Mashoud, his oldest son, and Mashouda when they were babies, I held them as babies. So they’re family to me. And, uh-
Jim: Um, Aziz also took you to a place that made a, a deep impact on you. I th-, I think it was the killing pool, was its name.
Jim: What, what was that and how did it impact you?
Chad: Well, it, it started, we were, we were watching the, I was in his home for the 2004 election with Bush and Kerry.
Chad: A- and, uh, it was like Superbowl party. And I’m like, what is going on here? Like, why’d they care more about this election than we do back home?
Chad: And it really showed me America’s impact in the world and how our decisions impact people that don’t even, that aren’t even citizens here. And so I really wanted to understand that, and so Aziz took me on this tour of showing me some of this history. And, uh, he took me to, uh, several places, uh, one of them being the killing pool. And it was a Olympic pool that the Russians had built during the Russian invasion. They trained at high altitude, and uh, and it had been drained, and the Taliban had used that pool as a execution pit. And so, it was just, you know, uh, littered with thousands of holes from 7.62 caliber bullets where they would execute people. And, uh, and, you know, I even pulled some of those casings out with my Leatherman and kept them as a reminder. But, uh, you know, just a v- very morbid but very real sense of what actually happened there and why Afghan people were fighting for, uh, democracy and freedom that they’d never even seen before, most of them.
Chad: They’d never seen that kinda democracy and freedom before. Why they were so, uh, thankful for America being there and why they were so resilient to fight a- alongside of us against the Taliban.
Jim: You know, in that context though, how did, uh, Aziz spur you into a rescue mission, a rescue mentality Describe what was going on. This is during or right before, uh, the US military pulled out of Afghanistan. What were the circumstances and, and again, how did Aziz-
Jim: … become the, I guess the, the reason that-
Jim: … you decided to do something?
Chad: Can I share one story of him saving my life?
Chad: Uh, because that, that g-, that ties to this. This is to say who he is. Uh, we were, that he and I were in a place called Badakhud, Afghanistan, and, uh, in 2005. Uh, the, the command we were working for was going after number six on the top 10 list, and so we went ahead to build all the infrastructure to get our command on target to, to capture or kill that guy. We get out this truck. We’re walking across this open field, it’s muddy, it’s snowy, the wind’s blowing. I remember being mad at Aziz, drag, who I made walk through this sloshy mud, which ended up saving our life later. We get through this muddy field and on the other side was this farmer, and he told us that the Taliban was there and looking for a foreigner, which is me. And so Aziz is like, “Hey, brother, we have to go.” And so we start walking back across this open field to get to our truck, which now is a large open danger area. We’re about 100 yards away from the road, which is behind us, and three trucks, uh, boldy enough flying Taliban flags, drove past us. They hit the brakes, they backed up. About 20 to 30 guys jump out and they begin yelling, yelling at us. And we talked about what we would do if they did attack us, uh, the immediate action drill we would do. So as we were talking, and, uh, we were just gonna ignore, but I heard, uh, the sound, I don’t know if I heard first the, the sound of the rifle fire or if you’ve ever, hopefully you haven’t, uh, ever heard a bullet fly over your head. You hear that (snaps) crack, the pop of the air over your head went… And I knew right, you know, they had shot at us. And, uh, and in that moment you can either run and probably die, ’cause you’re in this open field, or stop and you’re gonna be captured and/or killed, or fight. Aziz saw something that I didn’t. He saw a Taliban fighter pop up with a RPG, a rocket propelled grenade launcher, and that fire had been drawn to me. And he stopped in the middle of being covered by me, and, uh, and he shot that guy and dropped him before he launched that RPG. And, uh, that rocket never went off. At that point, I just yelled run, ’cause we broke our rhythm of our drill, and we ran into the woods and got back to our safe house. They couldn’t drive across the field to us. We reported to our command. They, uh, they asked if we were compromised. I said, “I don’t think we are.” They said, “Hey, it’s up to you guys if we stay.” And Aziz was like, “We’re staying. We’re finishing this.”
John: Yeah. Well, what a heart pounding story. That’s Chad Robichaux, uh, on today’s Focus on the Family. And, uh, he’s talking about the book he’s written, Saving Aziz, and all the experiences that went into the making o- of this story, this real life story. And there’s so much here. Uh, we’re glad you’ve joined us. If you wanna learn more about Chad and Mighty Oaks Foundation, his outreach and this great book, Saving Aziz, uh, stop by our website. We’ve got, uh, all of the details at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: Uh, Chad, let’s talk about saving your friend Aziz. Uh, you were back home in the states. You saw the news about this withdrawal from Afghanistan taking place, and you decide, “Okay, I’ve gotta make sure my friend and my interpreter, who worked with me, somehow gets out of this mess.” Uh, so what did you do?
Chad: Well, the one thing I knew is there’s no way I could live with myself if I sat on the couch and watched Fox News and just was mad, uh, knowing that I had the ability to, to do stuff like this. Uh, I’m a veteran. I’m not in the military anymore, but I still had the connections, I had the ability, of being part of, uh, other stuff like this before. I have to go get my friend. And so luckily I’m, um, I have a lotta, uh, great friends in the veteran communities, particularly special operations community, and I called in, uh, some favors and said, “Hey, will you come help me go get Aziz?” Uh, I owe him my life and, uh, and we can’t leave him behind.
Jim: How many men are you talking about?
Chad: Uh, 12 men and, and one woman. Uh, 12 special operations veterans and, and one, uh, woman, uh, Sarah Verardo, um, that, that came together to make this team.
Chad: And so when I say I knew Aziz was in danger, we had to go get him, it wasn’t just because he was a interpreter, it was specifically because of that-
Jim: He was targeted.
Chad: He was targeted. And so, again, my friends said yes. We put together his team. As we were preparing this operation, a very incredible group of people. Force recon Marines, Navy Seals, uh, Green Berets, guys from the CIA Ground Branch, which is our paramilitary unit. Very experienced individuals. We’re putting together this team and, and one of our teammates say, “Hey, it’s great we’re gonna get Aziz, but there’s these 3000 orphaned kids that were just abandoned because people were surviving, survival mode.”
Jim: Yeah. Running.
Chad: And, uh, and, uh, we have to get these kids too. In that moment, we kinda all stopped. Everybody were people of faith, and, uh, you know, the Bible has a verse, Isaiah 6:8, “Hear am I, send me.” We all felt our hearts burdened-
Chad: … for that, that calling. And we, that’s why I called it Save Our Allies Coalition was called Taskforce 68 from, from Isaiah 6:8. And we all just in that moment said, “Let’s get as many Americans, women, children, interpreters, Christians and let’s get as many people as we can. Let’s just see what God does.” And we leaned forward and said yes. Uh, we’ve gotten a lot of credit for this, like, we were awarded for a lot, nominated for a lot of big awards. I got the Bonhoeffer Achievement Award. But the truth is, Jim, I, I’m not smart enough or capable enough to pull off what happened. Eh, I feel like-
Jim: Uh, maybe courageous enough. That’s the point.
Chad: S- some people would say stupid enough.
Chad: I mean, I, I mean, um, ’cause it was, it was bold and we just knew we had, we were being obedient to what God put in our heart. But what, what happened, the only way I know how to explain it, I’ve been asked a lot how we did it, is to point to God. Because what happened was a orchestrated miracle, modern day miracle that God did.
Jim: Describe some of those, uh, orchestrated points.
Chad: Well, I mean, first of all, we’re civilians. We’re the only civilians allowed to do that. And I called some Congressmen, some Senators, got a audience with the royal family. We all got a, I put a conference call together. We briefed them and they were quiet over a hour long call. I’m thinking, these people will think we’re crazy. By the end of that call they said, “Yes, you can bring them here. We’ll open up our humanitarian center. Doctors, food, like care for the children. Everything. The red carpet. In addition to that, we’ll give you a C-17 plane.” Which is the large military planes. “And if you fill that one up, we’ll give you another one.” So that was like miracle number two. The next miracle, I believe, was only on day three I get a unsolicited call from Glenn Beck, uh, who I’ve done a lot of work with at Mercury One. And Glenn Beck called me and said, “Chad, I went on the radio…” Like, much like you with your, your voice here, and he’s, “… to inspire people to help. I went on the radio to get people to help. That’s, I wanted to do something. I thought I’d raise a few thousand dollars.” In three days, he’d already raised $21 million I think.
Chad: Over $40 million total. He’s like, “What do I do with it?” I’m like, “I need you to start chartering planes.” Because we were thinking, how are we gonna pay for this? It’s gonna be not thousands, it’s gonna be millions of dollars.
Chad: And it was just incredible to watch so many people come together just for nothing else than to come together in a moment where, you know, a wrong injustice was done and people did the right thing.
Jim: Yeah. And I guess the, the question everybody’s asking right now is, what happened to Aziz?
Chad: He’s here.
Chad: He’s in Texas. He’s, uh, we hired him on Mighty Oaks Foundation. And one of the things that was, uh, really on my heart was I wanted to see this through. I didn’t just wanna get people out, because you gotta think, these people did, you know, most of them fought for 20 years, then they lost everything. They left with their family and a backpack, and many of them, the families are broken, people were killed, they lost family members behind. So when a SIV that served with us for 20 years makes it to America, they don’t get access to VA care, they don’t get-
Chad: They can’t get care for what they, so how are they supposed to, uh, assimilate and reintegrate into society? The VA won’t care, our government won’t care for them, they won’t treat them any different than anyone else. In fact, they treat them less being a legal process than those who were coming in illegally.
Chad: And so, th- they really get, you know, the, the short end of the stick. So, we felt as a ministry at Mighty Oaks, we felt burden to say, “We need to create a program for them.” Even though they may be, uh, Muslims at the time, like, we’re not gonna hide who we are. We’re gonna tell ’em we’re a Christian program. We’re gonna teach them Biblical principles, and we’re gonna come together with them and show them the love of Jesus and help them and their families get back on their feet. So, we put Aziz in charge of that, and so for the last year, by the way, Aziz is, is a Christian. He’s been baptized and, and, uh, and, and so we just completed the first SIV program at Mighty Oaks Foundation at SkyRose Ranch in California. We had over 20, uh, of those who served with us and fought alongside of us for 20 years-
Chad: … uh, just get shown the, the love of God and, and, and Biblical principles to work past the issues they have. Not only fighting, uh, for their freedoms, but losing their country and losing m- many of their family members. And it’s just incredible to see Aziz’s leadership in that.
Jim: You know, Chad, uh, for those of us that sit and watch the news, it’s hard sometimes to humanize what’s going on. When you’re there and you’re with their families, you’re fighting alongside them, they’re saving your life, you’re saving their life, I mean, that’s a bond that most people don’t have the experience of.
Jim: But it certainly does create a friendship that is probably deeper than family in many ways.
Chad: Well, uh, I mean, if you ever go on a 10 hour car ride with someone, you probably, you either love that person or you hate them at the end of that car ride. Like, me and Aziz did a lot of those car rides together.
Chad: We spent weeks, months by ourselves, just the two of us, sleeping on the side of mountains at night just staring, talking. I, I was so interested in him talking about democracy and, and the freedom for his daughters and sons that he hadn’t even had yet. Like, to learn about who he was and, and him learn about who I was. And, and see him r- risk his life for me, for us, uh, for us to be sitting here doing this podcast and for all of us to be able to go to church on Sunday and protect the freedoms in America. He was willing to do that and-
Chad: And, so, yeah, the bond that you get from that and, and the bond that other, uh, you know, US service members have with their interpreters is just, you know, something that’s hard to explain. But, uh-
Jim: Yeah. At the same time, I mean, just that thirst that you’re describing for freedom.
Jim: I mean, this is the great battle.
Chad: My heart breaks most for the Afghan people. And people might not share that with me and I, I get it. You don’t have that same personal connection. But how could you… I, I, I think it’s hard to be human and not have your heart break for these 20 million women and little girls that are left behind. Women as young as, little girls as young as 9 years old being drug away until they’re, you know, discarded. Uh, if you can’t have compassion for that and know that America played a part in that from the decisions we made, then, you know, I, I don’t know if there’s any human in you. I mean-
Chad: Like, I mean, how could your heart not break for that? I remember the last part of the evacuation and, and, and we c-, I don’t know if you wanna go into how, the stages we did in the evacuation. But the last part of the evacuation was me and Dennis Price, we were going into Tajikistan and we would spend 10 days swimming across, the, the two of us swim, 10 days swimming across the Panj River to help women and little girls get out. And, uh, Taliban was there. The Chinese military was there. The Russians were there. And the Tajikistan border guard was there. And, and it was super scary. And as Kathy was driving me to the airport and, you know, I don’t know if anybody’s ever droven to the airport for a long trip before and they get in a fight with their spouse, but me and Kathy were, didn’t have a good conversation. ‘Cause she was upset at me for going through that. She’s like, “You got Aziz already.” Aziz had already been rescued. We had already got 17,000 people out. Like, “Why are you doing this? What are you trying to prove?” And, and I just felt so convicted to go and I was trying to explain to her like why it was so important. And the only way I really knew how to put words into it was to say, “What if it was us? Like, what if our sons would be there forced to be pushing a madras to become t- terrorists? Wouldn’t we be praying that someone somewhere would come help us?” I, I know I would be. And, uh, and I just felt in my heart that somewhere over there was, was a dad, was a mom praying that someone would come get their daughter. That’s what compelled us to go back that last time and, and go into Tajikistan and swim across the river every night for 10 days to, to help. Like, uh, you know, I’ve been speaking this message on fear lately and, and that was scary. But on the other side of that river was way, something way more important than my fear or the danger of it, was to go, we had to go help. Like, we had the ability to and I believe we are all prompted to do things. But when God opens the doors for you to go do things and, you know, the only thing that’s keeping you back is the, you know, the whispering in your ear from Satan saying, “You’re not good enough. You’re not going. This is dangerous.” We had to and, and we did.
Chad: And, uh-
Jim: Chad, I’m just, I mean, I mean it’s, I’m in awe because it is such an amazing thing. And, you know, it can go to year head. It hasn’t, and that’s a good thing. But when you’re capable of doing something like that, when you’re capable of taking somebody’s life in the military or that kinda situation, that’s a lotta power that you have. And, uh, but to hear you speak about using it for good, I think that’s what God’s heart is.
Jim: Man, does he have the power?
Chad: Of course, yeah.
Jim: Of course.
Chad: He’s all powerful. He h- hung the heavens and earth. He could-
Jim: Right, but he restrains himself-
Jim: … so that more could be saved. And that’s what you’re describing. It, to me, I mean, even with all of the combat description and all the, you know, attributes of war, there is something in there that is God-like to go into that kinda danger and put it on the line and save someone, save a woman, save a little girl from the torment of what you’re talking about. And, wow, I mean, it’s just, I wish I could go back and do it with you. (laughs) That’s what it makes me feel like.
Jim: I wanna do that. I wanna be that.
Chad: Well, as a selected, i- it’s really, uh, humbling you say that, first of all, and, and it speaks to who I picked to go. I wanted mature men who were capable of violence but willing to put that violence on a shelf to do, a, a humanitarian need that was, that was at, that was in front of us at that time.
Chad: That was very important in who I picked.
Jim: It’s such an amazing description. In fact, we had a, a little discussion before we, uh, went to air on this, but when you look at the, the word meek in the New Testament where the beatitudes, “The meek shall inherit the earth.” Meek there, that word is, i- interpreted to mean you have the capacity to bring force, to bring harm, to bring, uh, bodily injury, but you choose not to for the better good. That’s a very different description than what we have come to understand in terms of meek being effeminate or rolling over. That’s not what that’s talking about, and you so embody that. You know, you could choose to kill somebody standing in front of you, but you restrain that for the greater good. That’s a very different description.
Chad: Well, I think that’s the man that God wants in His Kingdom because y- you’re not really meek if you’re not capable. If you’re not capable of doing violence, you’re not really meek, you’re, you’re passive and you’re, you’re kind of a participant in life. You’re not really, you don’t really have the choice. You’re meek by, because that’s who you’ve chosen to be, not, not the decision you’re making at the time whether you’re gonna stand up and fight for good or evil. Like, I, I think the, the men that God wants in His Kingdom are men that are capable of violence but able to keep that under restraint. Because then y- you have, you have strength behind that meekness.
Chad: You have a, there, there’s a, you know, there’s, there’s a strength that you could bring forward in times that, that you need to. And Jordan Peterson talks about this, uh-
Chad: … in a, in a incredible interview. He talks about, you know, the necessity for that, uh, in, in this world. And I think, I, I personally believe that’s why the church is in so much trouble right now, ’cause you have passive, weak men in the church that can’t stand up against culture. They don’t even have the courage to stand on the pulpit or stand in front of their congregation or community to speak for the children and have… If you’re a pastor and, you know, this may sound harsh, but if you’re a pastor and you stand on a pulpit, you can’t speak to that issue ’cause you think it’s political, uh, then you are weak and you probably should stand, step, step down off that pulpit and leave it to someone that can speak to that.
Jim: Well, that’s a hard charge, but I hear exactly what you’re saying.
Chad: Yeah. Hm.
Jim: And, you know, again, I think everything we’re seeing here is how to rescue people. This is the Lord’s heart for all of humanity.
Chad: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Jim: Uh, that’s why you send Jesus, right? To rescue us.
Jim: To save us.
Chad: There was nothing weak about Jesus, by the way.
Jim: I don’t think so.
Chad: I mean, I mean, you’re talking about a guy that walked, you know, thousands and thousands of miles in some rough sandals his whole life. I mean-
Jim: Well, and then went to the cross.
Chad: Went to the cr-… Yeah. I mean, what do you-
Jim: And died for us.
Chad: Knowing what he was gonna face.
Jim: Yeah. And, uh, Chad, you’re, uh, you know, you’re doing so much in the name of Christ to help people. Mighty Oaks, uh, what is it all about? Uh, describe the ministry and some people I’m sure might say, “I’d like to help you in that.”
Chad: Yeah. Well, I mean, m- Mighty Oaks has been around for 12 years. It came out of me coming back from those eight deployments. And, uh, you know, Aziz and I, obviously you heard some of the hard things we went through. I c-, I came home and, and, um, dealt with debilitating panic attacks, anxiety, depression-
Chad: Diagnosed with PTSD. Uh, shame from that because I thought I was beyond ever dealing with something like that. That led to a downward spiral that ended in, uh, me separating from my family, facing divorce and an affair. Uh, just totally treating my family like the enemy. A lot of people came around me to help, uh, bring restoration to my life, but, but and they did a lotta things, but nothing more, uh, uh, instrumental than the restoration of my life through a encounter with Jesus, surrendering my life to Christ, being discipled for a year by a man named Steve Toth. And at the end of that discipleship led to me having a deep burden on my heart to pay that forward to others, and God just, uh, not only burdened me, but equipped me to start the Mighty Oaks Foundation. That was 12 years ago, uh, and through that last 12 years we’ve done, we do four things really. We do resiliency programs with bases around the world. So, I have, we have access to active duty troops. And then, and then on the recovery side, we have five ranches around our country. California, Ohio, Virginia and Texas. And we do, uh, uh, recovery programs that are six days long and active duty, all four active duty branches send people on orders to us. We pay for everything. We do about $8 million a year in programming to where we bring active duty service members, veterans, spouses and first responders to these program, tied in a ongoing aftercare and Biblical counseling. And it’s just been incredible. We’ve had almost 6000 graduates now, but we’re doing about 1000 per year moving forward. And again, it’s all free to them. And, uh-
Jim: Chad, thank you so much. Thank you for your courage.
Chad: Of course, man.
Jim: Thanks for being with us. Thanks for writing Saving Aziz. And when you see him, which hopefully will be probably tomorrow or the next day-
Jim: … tell him hello and give him a big hug.
Chad: I will.
Jim: And I hope someday I can meet him.
Jim: And again, on Veterans Day here let me say thank you. And to your sons too, who are serving now.
Jim: In the Marine Corps. Thank you so much for what your family has done.
Chad: Yeah, and from me and myself and Mighty Oaks as well, thanks to all the veterans out there.
Jim: Yeah. Amen.
John: Hm. Well, what a remarkable conversation with Chad Robichaux. And, uh, we can’t encourage you enough to get a copy of his book, Saving Aziz: How the Mission to Help One Became a Calling to Rescue Thousands from the Taliban. Uh, it is a fascinating read and I know you’ll wanna get a copy of that. Contact us, uh, to learn how. Also, we mentioned Mighty Oaks Foundation. We’ll have a link in the description, uh, for the show, uh, so you can learn more about what Chad’s doing and some of the great work they’re achieving. Our number is 800 the letter A and the word FAMILY. And again, we’ve got details at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: And John, like we often do, if you can make a gift of any amount, we’ll send you a copy of the book, Saving Aziz, as our way of saying thank you for getting involved in the Focus ministry. When you donate to Focus, you give families hope, and right now through a special matching opportunity, your gift will be doubled dollar for dollar, so your gift can bring healing and redemption to twice as many families.
John: Yeah. Your donation will help us create programs like this, shine the light on, uh, life and, uh, offer help to families particularly veterans’ families, as, uh, we’re observing, uh, that holiday this weekend. So, donate as you can. Our number is 800 the letter A and the word FAMILY. And, uh, when you do, just request that book, Saving Aziz, by Chad Robichaux.
Jim: Hey Chad, again, thank you so much for being with us. It’s always good to see you.
Chad: Oh, a- any time.
Chad: I love b-, I love being here.
John: And thank you for joining us today for Focus on the Family. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, I’m John Fuller inviting you back next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.