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Blue Grit podcast features stories of resilience, strength

Maj. Anna Fedotova interviews Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro for her podcast, Blue Grit. The Blue Grit podcast, which is available on the Air Force Portal, features individuals with an Air Force connection who have overcome significant adversity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Van Ha)

Maj. Anna Fedotova interviews Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro for her podcast, Blue Grit. The Blue Grit podcast, which is available on the Air Force Portal, features individuals with an Air Force connection who have overcome significant adversity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Van Ha)

Blue Grit logo (U.S. Air Force graphic)

Blue Grit logo (U.S. Air Force graphic)


You may have noticed a recent addition to the Air Force Portal homepage. A logo depicting a warrior looking over his shoulder with a fighter jet above him. It’s the face of the Blue Grit podcast. The podcast is the brainchild of Maj. Anna Fedotova, Los Angeles Air Force Base psychologist. The first of its kind in the Air Force, Blue Grit features conversations with current and former military leaders, mental health experts, elite athletes, veterans and other individuals who have overcome significant adversity.

The idea for the podcast first occurred to Fedotova in 2017. On a daily basis, she was humbled and inspired by the stories of resilience and strength she heard from patients and colleagues.

“The idea of growth and perseverance has always been captivating to me. My job is to ask questions and listen, so why not try a podcast?” she said.

The fact the she had no funding, official support, experience or equipment didn’t deter her from pushing forward with her podcast. Looking back, she laughs, “In retrospect, it was the ideal beginning for a podcast about grit. There was only one way – up!”

Eight months later, with the podcast off and running, Fedotova found herself briefing Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, about her podcast.

“I didn’t do it alone,” she is quick to add. “My leadership supported me from the beginning and there have been a hundred helping hands.”

Her guests have included author and speaker retired Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro, who suffered burns over 80 percent of his body from a roadside bomb blast but continues to serve, and Dr. Gary Percival, whom many consider to be the father of survival, evasion, resistance and escape psychology.

“Blue Grit guests have included several former prisoners of war, mental health practitioners and guests such as Maj. (ret.) Kat Portello, who in the blink of an eye went from being a competitive bodybuilder to being a quadriplegic,” Fedotova said. “All of my guests have had unique experiences, but I continue to be surprised at how simple and consistent their techniques are for developing grit.”

Blue Grit is not only an opportunity for Fedotova to share techniques, tactics and procedures for developing grit. She also views it as a venue to have a broader conversation about mental health.

“I wanted a platform to steer the conversation from mental illness towards mental health,” she said. “I’m not implying happiness-ever-after. Mental health is about living a meaningful life, having an impact, deliberate practice, discomfort. That is grit.”

The Blue Grit podcast can be found on the Air Force Portal, iTunes, SoundCloud, Spotify, Stitcher and Google Podcast.


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