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Drive On Podcast
45 minutes | 8 days ago
Feel like you’re experiencing burnout or just don’t have enough time in the day? This episode will give you tips and strategies to help avoid burnout in your life. Links & Resources A Better Place Consulting on Facebook A Better Place Consulting on Instagram Bunny Young on Instagram Bunny Young on YouTube Bunny Young on LinkedIn A Better Place Consulting Website Transcript Scott DeLuzio: 00:00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting Veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I’d like to ask a favor if you haven’t done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcast. If you’ve already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you’re there, click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes. As soon as they come out, if you don’t use Apple podcasts, you can visit Drive On Podcasts.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email list. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let’s get on with the show. Hi everyone. Thanks for joining us today. My guest is Bunny Young, who is an Army wife and founder of A Better Place Consulting, where she teaches burnout prevention strategies to military and law enforcement personnel. So welcome to the show. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? Bunny Young: 00:01:03 Yeah, so I think you nailed it with Army wife. I’m a third generation, actually fourth generation Army wife, granddaughter daughter, and great-granddaughter. So, we have a Fort named after our family. I’d say it’s definitely the Army in my blood. I’ll be the first one to harass anybody who’s not Army. And the first one to stand up for anybody who messes with any of us. I often tell people I hold the highest-ranking position in the United States military and that’s wife. I can speak to anyone in any certain manner and the repercussions will be pushups upon my spouse, not upon me. So I went to school to be a therapist. That’s when I got my master’s degree; I lived in China for about a year. I volunteered in Ecuador at an orphanage and just really through those experiences was exposed to a lot of trauma. Bunny Young: 00:02:05 And when you grow up in a military family, there are certain things that seem par for the course for you. And when you’re asked to give a sit rep, it’s like just the basics. It’s no feelings, no emotion. The worst thing my father ever told me was that he was disappointed in me and that’s just because of the trust and respect that was built. But my entire childhood was definitely built on these core values and service to a purpose higher than yourself. And I have a heart condition. So, I know everybody’s going to give me a hard time about this in my family, but the Air Force turned me down because of my heart condition. I’ll have I scored really high on my ASFAB and so the way that we figure it out is if you’re brilliant, you can go Air Force or Chair Force, as we like to call it. If you’re brilliant and strong, then you can go Army. If you’re not brilliant, but strong, you got Marines. If you’re not brilliant, not strong and you can swim, it’s Coast Guard. And if you’re not brilliant, not strong and you can’t swim. It’s the Navy. Scott DeLuzio: 00:03:16 That’s an interesting hierarchy there. I like that. Bunny Young: 00:03:19 That’s how the recruiters figure it out. That really brought me to this aspect of an organizational psychology approach, where a lot of people were burning out because of their professional demands and then having marital or familial issues because of the stress of their professional demands, whether it be first responders or military, or just a job in corporate America and also being able to tie the purpose. I don’t know a corporate situation that puts you through the brainwashing that the military does in order to say, the life that you had prior to when you step foot off of that school bus with your rucksack and everything is over, we own you now. And here’s your new definition, here’s your new identity, here’s your new call to life. And I think that’s also something that a lot of families struggle with because as a spouse, you’re supposed to be the most important thing to your loved one. And as coming into this, I understood that it was going to be the Army before me and the Army before our children. And it all changes in a matter of a moment. So, just the two people that laugh when I make plans are God and the Army. That’s really my background and kind of the approach that I took was how can we bring basic training and the thought process around core values, purpose, mission, vision, and your abilities and your MOS into a work-life alignment. Scott DeLuzio: 00:05:07 So, how do you do that? What does that process look like where you bring these values together and work towards the goal of ultimately reducing the amount of burnout and the overall stress and creating a better wellbeing for these individuals. Bunny Young: 00:05:29 So, if you go past six years in the military, PSY OPs is going to show you that if I asked you what your core values are, they’re going to be the military branch that you serve, core values, you have fully adopted that identity, which makes transition back to civilian life very difficult. It’s very difficult to find a company that stands at that high level of core values. And so from a civilian side, we help individuals identify what their core values are. What’s going to make them feel fulfilled in life. And from the military side, being able to hear the only time that I really feel fulfilled is when I’m flat on my belly, looking through a scope and how do we apply that to the civilian side to say, basically that’s a career in law enforcement or special ops within law enforcement and first responders, or as a trainer, but even that sometimes doesn’t fulfill you. Bunny Young: 00:06:33 And so it’s that constant analysis and self-awareness and that’s really something that is difficult when you’re transitioning out of the military is that self-awareness. Nobody asks you what you think. And so, to be able to say, how do you feel about this, is very difficult and in the civilian life, believe it or not, we’re not asked what we want to be when we grow up anymore. We’re not asked what we think. You’re given this onboarding procedure that is like drinking out of a fire hose to say, here’s all the boundaries. And here’s all the things that are important to our company, but nobody says what’s really important to you and that’s supposed to be what your therapist deals with. And so, when we infiltrate companies, we say, no, you’re a human and we have to address the human aspect of it. Bunny Young: 00:07:25 And even from the military aspect of it, we’re doing more proactive planning. So, to hopefully decrease the amount of military and veteran suicide and to combat post traumatic stress, because that’s really where you’re supposed to be fine. Well, on the therapeutic world fine stands for F’d up, insecure, neurotic, and emotional. And we’ve found even from the structure of support groups sometimes where you’re coming in and it’s like, well, I had this blow up next to me and I was shot 15 times. And then you’ve got somebody who just suffered the trauma of just watching somebody die. And it’s like, your broken arm doesn’t necessarily hurt any less than my splinter, but the structure of the current support groups or the support groups of the past can feel a little bit like I want to use an inappropriate word, but like a pissing match. Bunny Young: 00:08:25 That’s not what we want. We want to create an environment where it feels open and we can share, and we’re not retraumatized by sharing and not feeling like our feelings are valid. My husband and I had this conversation the other day because I was in a car accident last year and I have posttraumatic stress around driving. I had post traumatic stress from a sexual assault prior to that. And my neural pathways didn’t differentiate those two things. They just process them together as if in the car accident somehow I was retraumatized and our daughter was just messing with me and I walked out of her room and she jumped on my back and I immediately had a reaction that most of you probably can empathize with of I got her off of me and was not in my body at that moment. Bunny Young: 00:09:22 And so I had to sit down and have a conversation with my husband and he’s comparing that I was just in an accident. I know people who are blown up but my body and my brain don’t know that. And so how do we approach it from the human perspective and identify that each human is different. And regardless of the fact that we’re all going to have the same uniform, we’re all going to have the same haircut. We’re all going to have the same credos; we are different humans. And how do we process that? Scott DeLuzio: 00:09:49 Right. And so, I appreciate you sharing the story of your experience and how different situations can create some sort of post-traumatic stress in different individuals where one person may have had post-traumatic stress from watching someone blow up or themselves getting injured, or even in your case, a car accident or a sexual assault or something along those lines, those all are traumatic events. And if you were to take any one of those and look at them in and of themselves, they’re all traumatic. It makes sense that there would be some sort of post-traumatic stress that happens during those. And so, just because you weren’t blown up in that car accident, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t deserving of, I don’t want to say recognition because that’s not the right word, but the treatment that comes with the posttraumatic stress. Maybe it comes from some sort of counseling or therapy or whatever the case may be but you’re just as deserving for something like that as someone else who was in combat and saw atrocious things happening as well. Scott DeLuzio: 00:11:14 It makes that that type of thing happens. I appreciate that you shared the differences between the different levels that people might think of, but they’re not really different levels; they are really one in the same. Bunny Young: 00:11:31 Yeah. And one of my favorite therapeutic sayings is, I have not walked in your shoes, but I’m willing to sit here and listen to you helping me understand what that felt like. And sometimes that’s just a magical space. And for Army families that are listening to this and military families that are listening to this, there is something called compassion fatigue, or secondary trauma, where no, you were not there, you were not deployed with your loved one, but you are experiencing secondary trauma from watching your loved one go through the struggle of this trauma. And so those are both very real things and whatever route you feel necessary in order to get support, my encouragement would be to get support. It doesn’t make you weak. In fact, I think for the most part I’ve experienced, it takes more courage and bravery to sit down and say, I’ve got stuff going on, then it does to say, I’m fine. Scott DeLuzio: 00:12:33 For sure it does. Yeah. The easiest thing you can do is just ignore things and keep doing what you’ve always been doing, but it’s not always the right thing. And sometimes it’s hard to admit that you have a problem with some post-traumatic stress or whatever your individual case may be and to go get that type of help that you need. It’s not the most comfortable thing to do. I will say from my own personal experience, once when you do pick up the phone and make that appointment, and you actually verbalize saying that whatever the problem is, it does feel like a weight’s being lifted off your shoulders. It did in my case anyways, where I picked up the phone, I called and I immediately felt like I’m no longer carrying this weight by myself. Scott DeLuzio: 00:13:26 I now have somebody else who’s going to be there. I haven’t necessarily met with the person yet, but I have that person who’s going to be there. Who’s going to help me carry some of it and figure out what to do with it too, so it’s not constantly sitting on my shoulders. So, that’s another analogy that people can make as well, whether or not they are in the midst of trying to decide whether or not they want to go to therapy or whatever treatment type thing that they need. It could actually be very beneficial. We’re here really talking about burnout and how you help people with the strategies that they can use to prevent burnout. Before we started recording, I was looking at your bio and you have quite a lot going on between running four companies currently, I think is what your bio was saying. If you run four companies and you’re also a mother with two kids and an Army wife, and I have to imagine there’s probably other things going on, but I also imagine that at some point you felt burnt out yourself. Have you ever dealt with the burnout and how did that look? Bunny Young: 00:14:45 Oh, I would say dozens of times I think I have a PhD in burnout just from experience. We did an analogy of how many tours of burnout I’ve had. It would be a lot; so, I think a lot of that goes to not being able to differentiate what my emotions are versus what I’m experiencing from others. And as a therapist, it was very difficult for me, especially in social services to separate my emotions from that of my clients. I cared too much and that some people will be like, that’s not possible. Well, when it negatively impacts your health, your wellbeing and your ability to function. Yes, it is possible. And so, there’s five stages of burnout and the first one’s that honeymoon stage. And so, if we want to take it through a military analogy you’re going to be deployed to Kosovo, right? Bunny Young: 00:15:46 And so there’s that initial dump of adrenaline. It’s like, yeah, we’re going to go do this, and it’s your body’s natural reaction to be like, yes, this is going to be hard. This is going to be stressful, but I’m doing this with my brothers and sisters. And let’s go do this. And then we get into the stress phase of burnout, and then we get into the chronic stress phase, and then we get into actual burnout. And so this is where you start to see the disengagement. And this is where you start to see more of the agitation and more of the person’s not who they once were. And then you get into the habitual burnout, which is not a place that you can never return from, but it’s a place that ends up having possibly permanent impact on your mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing, and a person who is in habitual burnout, is not fulfilling their potential in a way that is prioritizing their own health. Bunny Young: 00:16:58 And so, I often tell people when you think about burnout; you think, Oh, it’s the worst thing in the world? Well, burnout is something that we all experienced at certain periods of time, I’m sure after watching Princess Bride for the 15th time with my daughter, I’m a little burned out of it. Like that’s okay. And just to be over it. But if I’m sitting there and start to just not even have those associations or feelings or responses, and I’m not even engaged with the movie anymore, I’m not even engaged with her and I’m not laughing. I’m not experiencing the emotions. And after the movie’s done, I’m just kind of a shell of myself. And all of my reactions are pretty extreme. Like it’s either zero reaction or extreme. That’s a sign of habitual burnout, and you can see that with multiple tours and multiple deployments in quick and rapid succession. Bunny Young: 00:18:00 Then you can also see it in individuals that have been at a job that they don’t feel fulfills their calling and fulfills their purpose. And they end up applying themselves initially with that excitement and honeymoon phase of, Oh, this is going to be such a well-paying job. And then very quickly years, if not sooner down the road, they’re in habitual burnout. And it doesn’t always have to go in that order. I mean, this is an order that some therapists somewhere put together and said, here are the phases of burnout, but you could easily jump into habitual burnout, and then find some kind of vacation and get back into just chronic stress. Scott DeLuzio: 00:18:48 So, you can jump between these stages, but these are the different degrees of burnout that you might be experiencing. And the honeymoon stage that you’re talking about that first stage actually sounds pretty fun to a lot of people. This is like, yeah, it’s going to suck, but I’m going to enjoy it. It’s almost like the basic training. If you’re looking forward to going to that, it’s like, it’s going to suck, there’s going to be people screaming in your face or you’re going to be tired and dirty and all this stuff, but when you’re going through that, it sucks, but you can look back on it later and be proud of the thing that you accomplished, whatever it is. I use basic training as an example, but there’s plenty of other things that suck. There’s “embrace the suck” mindset. Bunny Young: 00:19:39 There you go. Scott DeLuzio: 00:19:41 And it’s perfect. It’s a perfect analogy. That’s for the honeymoon stage. I can definitely see how people slip into these other stages that I wrote down here, and especially with the disengagement that you’re talking about when you get to that burnout stage, that is definitely a thing that people deal with. So, how do you balance these things? Everybody has a lot of things going on in their life. They oftentimes don’t feel like they have enough time to do all of the things, whether it’s their job or their family or other things in between that they don’t have time for all of this stuff. How do you balance all of these things so that you can avoid burning out? Bunny Young: 00:20:30 So I don’t balance anything. I align it. I think balance is BS because if you think about a Teeter Totter, somebody down somebody up, I’ve never been on a Teeter totter where we’ve been able to perfectly balance it. And me being six foot three, I’m normally the one who is sitting on their butt on the bottom as the person is teetering high up in the air. So, I like to think about alignment when you wake up. Your first priority is always to yourself, even as a soldier as you know, a military service individual, your first priority is to yourself. You cannot be the best that you can be without being the best mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. And so, we’re bringing a lot more meditation ironically enough, starting with the Marines on the meditation and being able to have that self- awareness and self- awareness is different than thinking for yourself. Bunny Young: 00:21:35 And because we would never ask a Marine to think for themselves, but it’s an awareness of what’s going on. I know the comments you’re going to get on this podcast, and I just can’t wait for it, especially from my own Marine friends; they know I love them. So, being able to be aware of your physiological reactions to stress and to emotions and how you wake up in the morning, and then also what you’re saying to yourself. So that moves into self-management. So, you go self-awareness and self-management, and then after you have those abilities, and you’ve taught that to everybody on your team or your unit, then you go into team awareness and team management. And this is where I can look at my battle buddy and know when there’s disengagement, when there’s habitual burnout and when I know that they’re not going to be the best for that day. Bunny Young: 00:22:36 And then I need them to get their shit straight so that we can move on. And so we have this culture of suck it up and we’re changing that, and that is being changed because there’s only so many times that you can suck it up. And so being able to move through that self-awareness, self-management team awareness, team management. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing that I’m going to do is make sure that I’m doing a meditation. I have a journal; I’m doing some fitness. I try to fill all four parts of the self, which are physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, and whatever spiritual means to you, even if it’s just, this is my rifle, there are many like them, and this is the only one, this one’s mine, that’s spiritual for some people. Bunny Young: 00:23:32 For others, it may be prayer. And so that’s the four parts of the self, and that’s really to make sure that those are in alignment and then the rest of your day align it around through that focus. What gets you through the day? I’d imagine, because I have not been there in anyone’s boots on the battlefield, but what gets you through the day and pulling that trigger are your battle buddies. And in knowing that ultimately, you’re fulfilling a higher purpose and that’s what gets you through all the rest of the tough crap. And so if you can align your day on, I’m going to get through the tough stuff and not say that my whole day is going to go to crap because I had this bad experience, but that I’m still here and I’m going to go home and today’s going to be a better day. Bunny Young: 00:24:20 We have this amazing capacity to change our minds and our attitudes in the blink of an eye. And so you choose what you’re going, what your perspective is going to be. And that is how you can wake up and say, today’s going to suck. I need a cough drop and I need some tissues because I’m not feeling well. No one’s going to bring you cough drops and tissues in the sandbox, it’s not going to happen. So what are you going to tell yourself so that your day can get better from there? Scott DeLuzio: 00:24:54 There’s something I heard a little while ago, to kind of put what you were saying into some sort of perspective about not letting your day just go to shit because something bad happened. If someone wants to give you $86,400, and I know that’s an oddly specific number, but bear with me. If someone gave you $86,400 today, I’d imagine you’d be very happy with receiving all of this. So you’d be very happy, but then all of a sudden someone came around and stole a hundred dollars from you. Would you throw away the rest of the $86,300 to go chase after that hundred dollars? No, you wouldn’t. That wouldn’t make sense because you’re leaving a whole lot on the table to go chase after that hundred dollars, but we all have 86,400 seconds in a day. And if someone stole a hundred seconds of happiness from you in that day, would you throw away the rest of the day? Just because someone decided to take away a couple minutes of happiness from you? That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. And so, to what you were saying about how you can’t just throw all that away, while you’re going through your day. Bunny Young: 00:26:19 Remember that the six inches between your ears is precious real estate, and don’t let somebody live rent free in your head. Also, when somebody says something to you that pisses you off, chances are the meanest voice that you have ever heard on the face of this planet comes from that voice in the back of your head. And so, take stock in and why what they said pissed you off, and either agree that they don’t need to be a part of your life or deal with the trigger that just happened in the back of your head. Scott DeLuzio: 00:26:52 Yeah, absolutely. And how could people deal with some of those triggers that come up? Bunny Young: 00:26:59 I mean, for me, sometimes it’s so funny. I have a variety of exercises for this, but sometimes I tell people to imagine that the voice in the back of your head is just that shitty roommate. And you just tell them to go to the room, shut the door, and you don’t want to talk to them anymore. And it’s a funny analogy, but at the same time, that’s fine. For Harry Potter fans, I often think about the Albus Dumbledore scene where he takes this memory or whatever, and he pulls his wand and pulls it out of his brain and throws it away. And I’ve literally done this at a stoplight and the guy next to me looks to see where the litter was that landed out of that. And so, what I say to the person is, thank you for that feedback. Bunny Young: 00:27:49 I’m going to need some time to process that, or I don’t necessarily agree with what you said, but I respect your ability to have that opinion. And we went through this with the Kaepernick situation. I was hot. We have a thing in our household that says, we interrupt this marriage to bring you football season. I am the football fanatic. My husband, not, he doesn’t really care. So, my husband and my dad are over and it’s Sunday afternoon and I watched this go down and I am just fricking hot. And my husband and my dad just looked at me and they’re like, Nope, that’s why we do this so that he has the ability to take a knee. If he wants to, it’s his freedom. And I’m like, “Oh my gosh, that’s human perspective. Little did I know, come to find out that he actually went to a veteran and said, “I want to make the stand, but I want to do it in the most respectful way possible.” Bunny Young: 00:28:48 And I don’t think sitting on the bench is, and he actually received that feedback that taking a knee would be the most respectful way to bring awareness to that. So, just when somebody says something and you want to react, it’s okay to react, but don’t react with emotion, react with information. I needed more information in that moment rather than just getting totally hot. First off, I’m sitting there ready to go to blows because it’s my family that you’re disrespecting. And my family has a completely different perspective than I do. Secondly, I didn’t know this person’s story who is doing this. I knew why he was doing this, but it wasn’t his intention to disrespect our flag or disrespect our country. And so, I think that there’s in this world, it’s a really incredible time to be able to just say, what did you mean by that? Scott DeLuzio: 00:29:46 Yeah, absolutely. And I think that, especially these days, it needs to happen more often because people are very quick to jump to conclusions on all sorts of issues, whether it’s political or social issues that are going on, people just jump to conclusions. They assume that the other people have the worst of intentions and they don’t. I have to imagine that most people are probably pretty good people. There are definitely some people out there who have bad intentions, and they actually want to see the world burn, but I don’t think that that’s the vast majority of people. Bunny Young: 00:30:22 Well, and with burnout, to your point, as far as the hundred dollars, how much money did I just burn and how many seconds did I burn going to coaching Kaepernick, first off, he definitely didn’t hear me; none of my teams have ever heard me, but I’m the best coach in the world. That’s the thing, check your emotions and how much you’re dumping into that, because that can significantly save you time and energy in the burnout space. Scott DeLuzio: 00:30:55 Exactly. Yeah. Because you end up losing more than that in that analogy, you ended up losing more than that hundred dollars, because someone stole that hundred dollars from you, but you ended up losing 200, 300, 400, 500 as you’re chasing it down and trying to, like in your case, yelling at the television about whatever was going on, you ended up losing more than whatever was initially lost, instead of the flip side to that is, Hey, I don’t really agree with that. That sucks, whatever the thing is and just let it go. Bunny Young: 00:31:35 And what are you modeling for your children and how many seconds are you stealing from other people? Because how many of us leave work pissed off and come home and take it out on the closest things to us. So, my husband calls me on it all the time because I’ll come home and have a shit day. I’m in a crappy mood, but then here’s the service dog behind me. I crawl in bed and just cuddle with him. He’s the best thing since sliced bread. My husband’s like, why does he get that treatment when you have a crap day? But I’m having to deal with everything else. And I’m like, well, you know, I don’t know, he’s cuter. So, just think about that from a real estate perspective, from your own brain and then how it impacts those around you. Scott DeLuzio: 00:32:26 So some of the things that you were talking about earlier, the morning routine, maybe the meditation, the journaling, the spiritual, whether it’s praying or whatever the case may be; all those things are good ways to start the day. What about for somebody who already feels like they don’t have enough time in the day and it feels like that’s just adding more things onto their plate and that might sound a little cumbersome to them. What would you say to people who feel like they don’t have enough time in the day for really anything? Bunny Young: 00:33:04 So what are you going to say no to? Your calendar is yours. There’s a magical white space on your calendar sometime in the next few weeks or months or whenever it is. And so, if that’s where you start by planning to wake up at 5:00 AM, New Year’s resolutions, it doesn’t matter. You can start tomorrow. So, when I was diagnosed with my heart condition, if you knew that your time on earth was limited, what would you stop doing? And stop wasting time on right now? And I guarantee you, if you’re like me, Facebook would be the first thing to go. If you have a digital wellbeing app on your phone, how much time you waste on social media and email and all that kind of stuff, I check my email once a day, once every couple days; you emailed me, there’s an autoresponder that just says good luck and Godspeed, Bunny Young: 00:34:06 if you’re going to get a response to this. And so, it’s like email doesn’t make me happy. Facebook really doesn’t make me happy. And so what are you going to stop doing? You have the same amount of time as Elon Musk, Dwight Eisenhower, any of these individuals that, yes, I’m an Ike fan. Go ahead and leave your comments on that too, but he’s a better golfer than you. So, that’s the thing I had a friend of mine, my company sent me journals and different kinds of professional and personal development products to try out. And ironically enough, I had this journal that was sent to me and then a lawyer friend of mine was like, you need to start using this journal. And I had the same response of, when would you like me to start taking the time to write down my thoughts and put little, pretty hearts next to it. Bunny Young: 00:35:01 This is not middle school, I’m an adult. I’m not doing this. The key thing about the journal is that every morning and every night there’s gratitude. So, every morning and every night I’m starting and stopping my day with what I’m grateful for, huge mindset shift and in today’s targets, there’s only three instead of a to do list that’s a mile long. And so, I think that asking yourself what you’re willing to stop doing in order to prioritize what you want to be doing and what you want to be left with that legacy. You know, they talk about the dash on your tombstone. So do you want that dash to be that you pull 8,020 hour weeks? Or do you want that dash to be that you never miss a softball game or baseball game that you’re staying frozen too. Bunny Young: 00:35:55 This is me personally at the top of my lungs to my kids last night. I’m so glad that you weren’t there to record this. Those are the things that, what was I actually doing at night that prevented me from doing that watching, I don’t know what we were watching, drunk history, I think is what we were watching. It’s hilarious by the way, if you ever want to waste some time on your life, but like at the same time, drunk history versus my kids stop telling yourself that you don’t have time for it because you do have time for it. You have the same amount of time as the rest of us. And remember that you may have some more time than other people around you. And so it’s not so much about making time. It’s about making an impact. Scott DeLuzio: 00:36:39 That’s a great way to put it. When you’re talking about people who are working 80 hour weeks, or long hours and they’re just slightly slaving away in killing themselves, basically just through this work; they don’t wind up any happier, they maybe have a bigger paycheck than you or I or somebody else and that’s fine. That’s nice. I might be able to buy a fancy house and fancy cars and clothes and all this other stuff, but when do they get a chance to enjoy any of that stuff and actually sit down and relax and just be present in that moment. And so, that doesn’t necessarily contribute to their happiness. They may feel like it’s going to, but it doesn’t always. Scott DeLuzio: 00:37:36 So some people have their happiness strictly tied to money and more power to them, but not in the military. They probably don’t have a family of their own or not a great family life to begin with. And so, where they’re not focused on building their relationship and spending time with their kids, singing songs from frozen or whatever the case may be, they’re not there present in that moment. So, I love how you put that, that was really well put. Bunny Young: 00:38:17 Quick trick is, I guess now it’s your OCP is slide journal, and when you’re sitting there waiting, because you never sitting around and waiting in the Army, right? Just write notes to yourself, to your kids, to your family, get the stuff that’s in between your ears out on a piece of paper. The other thing is switch your cell phone, the black and white mode. It makes it less attractive. And it’s a huge psychological shift when you open your phone and it’s in black and white, and it reminds you that you’re trying to break up with that relationship and that codependency on your phone. It’s very easy to make phone calls in black and white, because remember we used to do it when cell phones first came out and all the way back when we had landlines and rotary phones and all that kind of stuff, but switching your smartphone and turning it into a dumb phone by making it black and white and shutting off the mobile data, you can still make phone calls and texts. And then what else do you really need to be doing in that moment? What else could you be doing that would be making an impact instead of just wasting time? Scott DeLuzio: 00:39:30 Yeah, that actually hits on a point that I’ve been toying with, the idea for myself of ditching my smartphone and just going back to an old dumb phone that flip phone, you can make phone calls. And if you needed to text someone, you sat there and tapped the numbers 27 times to get through the letters and everything like that. That would really reduce the amount of screen time that I have in my day. I haven’t pulled the trigger on that yet and made the switch, but it’s been something that I’ve been considering for a little while now. But you’re right. We do spend too much time doing things that don’t matter, Facebook, games on your cell phone, Angry birds, whatever people are playing on their phones; it’s stuff that just doesn’t matter. Scott DeLuzio: 00:40:23 And so when you do that, it takes up time and time is a valuable resource and once when it’s gone, you can’t get it back; and so when you find how much time you’re actually spending doing these things on these screens and devices, you’re absolutely right. I don’t it could hurt to reduce the amount of time that you’re spending on these things. So, is there anything else that you had that you wanted to talk about? I do want to give people a chance to find out more about where they can get in touch with you and things like that, but, was there anything else that you had that you wanted to cover before we wrap up? Bunny Young: 00:41:08 You know, as we’re recording this for five or six months into COVID and this pandemic, and also a lot of civil unrest. And so, we put together the team, and I put together this e-book called “How to Stay Sane During Insane Times.” The one thing I want you to know about that book is that it’s free and it’s an eBook. You download it; it has video content in it from my life. And it’s there to try to help you cope with whatever it is that you’re going through. And I know that this is not going to be the last insane time that we have. And so, being able to offer you that resource is an honor and a pleasure to be able to do that. And I hope that thousands, hundreds of thousands of people take advantage of it, because sometimes when you feel like you’re in the foxhole and you feel like you’re totally alone, if somebody just handed you a shovel, you can either stop digging, or you can figure out how to get your way out. And so, if that eBook is not your resource, find your resource, Scott DeLuzio: 00:42:19 And this episode is scheduled right now anyways, to be coming out a couple of weeks after the election in the U.S. So, hopefully the eBook is not needed in response to that election, but you never know, these are crazy times 2020 has been crazy. And you never know. So, anyways, thank you again, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you. Could you share where people can go to get in touch with you, find out more about what you do, maybe a website or things like that? Bunny Young: 00:42:52 So, A Better Place in Consulting.com or BunnyYoung.com. Will both take you straight to that eBook. And you can hear Guinness dreaming in the background. If you want to connect on Instagram, it’s @ bunnyhassixlegs because I have a service dog. I’ll also make sure that I give you all the links for the social, for those that are driving while they’re listening to this and just want to be able to get it afterwards. But, if you message me, if you comment on something that’s on social media, I’ll be there for you. I have no problem making sure that I’m that person that you can rely on. Scott DeLuzio: 00:43:34 I will have links to all of this your website, social media, where to find the eBook, and everything else that you do. I have all that linked up in the show notes. So, everyone can find that, please don’t crash while you’re driving trying to write this stuff down. It’ll all be there for you later. So, thank you again very much. It’s been a pleasure and I really do appreciate the information that you had to share with us today. Bunny Young: 00:44:04 Thank you so much for having me. Scott DeLuzio: 00:44:11 Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website, Drive On Podcast.com. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at Drive On Podcast.
16 minutes | 15 days ago
This episode is all about Veterans Day. In the COVID era, many schools are cancelling their traditional Veterans Day assemblies, so I thought I’d put together a little something that parents and teachers could use. In this episode: History of Veterans Day How we celebrate Veterans Day Difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day Why we celebrate Veterans Day on November 11th Ideas for celebrating Veterans Day Links & Resources Anthem Veterans Memorial Arlington National Cemetery Celebrate Veterans Day with Your Children Military Themed Pumpkin Carving Stencils Transcript This past Memorial Day I did an episode that talked about what Memorial Day was all about, and probably more importantly what it isn’t about. Considering tomorrow, as of the date that this episode will be released, is Veterans Day, I figured I would do a similar episode today. With all of the kids who are doing some sort of remote learning, homeschooling, or some other variation on what we might consider a normal education experience, I thought an episode like this might be good for all those teachers and parents who may not be able to do a Veterans Day assembly like they had done in previous years, and also for those who just want to know more about Veterans Day. Veterans Day is observed on November 11th each year in the United States. It is a day where we pause to give thanks to everyone who served in the United States military and celebrate the sacrifices they have made for us, and the freedom they fought for. Originally, Veterans Day was known as Armistice Day. Armistice Day was created to celebrate the end of the fighting in World War One. The fighting in that war ended at 11 o’clock on November 11, 1918. In other words, the fighting ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month. Across Europe, the day is still known as Armistice Day, and it’s known as Remembrance Day in Canada. They’re different names for essentially the same thing. So, you might be wondering, if Armistice Day was created to celebrate the end of World War One, why is it now called Veterans Day, since Veterans have fought in other wars. Armistice Day became a legal holiday in 1938 20 years after the fighting ended. That’s the speed of the Federal Government for you. A few years later the United States entered World War Two. That war was even more significant in terms of the number of deaths and wounded American troops. World War One had about 117,000 deaths while World War Two had about 405,000 deaths. World War One had about 204,000 wounded, while World War Two had about 671,000 wounded. There was a movement that started in 1945 by a World War Two veteran named Raymond Weeks to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, which started to gain momentum. Eventually in 1954 Congress amended the name of the day to Veterans Day so that the day could recognize veterans from all eras, past, present, and future. Again, the Federal Government is amazingly efficient when it comes to these sorts of things, aren’t they? This time it was only 9 years after that movement started, so it’s progress I suppose. In 1968 a Uniform Monday Holiday act was put into effect, which made three-day weekends for federal employees on several holidays including Washington’s birthday in February, Memorial Day in May, Labor Day in September, as well as Veterans Day and Columbus Day in October. Yes, both Veterans Day and Columbus Day were celebrated in October. Each of those holidays were to be celebrated on a Monday, which in effect would create a three-day weekend for federal employees and anyone who followed the federal holiday guidelines. The reason for this was to encourage people to travel on their long weekends rather than just getting a random day off in the middle of the week. It actually sort of makes sense, because when people have an extra day off on the weekend they’ll be more likely to take a weekend trip somewhere, which encourages them to spend money on touristy stuff, hotels, entertainment, restaurants, and things like that. So Veterans Day observations were moved to the fourth Monday in October starting in 1968. So why do we celebrate it on November 11th now? The reason why is because it was such an unpopular change to the holiday that Congress moved Veterans Day back to November 11th starting in 1978. November 11th, afterall was the date that fighting ended in World War One, so by moving the holiday, it lost some of its historical significance. Moving the holiday back to the 11th continued to recognize veterans as well as the historical significance of the day. Really, the day has two purposes. One to serve as the anniversary of the end of the fighting in World War One, and the second is to celebrate veterans for their service. Now, while I’m on the topic of the purpose of the holiday, I want to bring up something that I talked about in the Memorial Day episode I did a few months back. I want to reiterate this point again in case you missed that episode. There are several military holidays throughout the year, which honor different groups of people connected to the military, and I don’t know if it’s patriotism or confusion, or whatever but people have a tendency to thank veterans on all of these military holidays. In particular I’m talking about two holidays. Veterans Day, and Memorial Day. As I mentioned at the top of the show, Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11th, and is a day to thank military veterans and service members for their service. Memorial Day on the other hand is celebrated on the last Monday in May. This is a day to honor and remember all of those who died while serving their country. The reason why I bring up the difference between these two holidays is because when you thank a veteran on Memorial Day, it is looked at as an odd thing to do from the veteran’s perspective. That day isn’t for us. It’s almost like if I were to wish you a Happy Birthday on someone else’s birthday. That would just be weird wouldn’t it? I mean it’s the thought that counts, but I probably could have waited a little while for your actual birthday to wish you a happy birthday. It’s the same idea with Memorial Day. That day is for honoring the people who died in war. Last I checked, I still have a pulse so I don’t fit that criteria. However I, and others like me, do fit the criteria for the veterans who are honored on Veterans Day. Most veterans won’t have a problem with being thanked for their service on Veterans Day. As a matter of fact, most enjoy the celebrations that occur on Veterans Day. With that said though, there are some veterans who don’t like the attention they get on Veterans Day. It may bring up bad memories for them and be hard to deal with, so thank a veteran but if you notice that they are uneasy when you offer your thanks, you may want to back off a bit with that particular veteran. Don’t feel bad about it, just sometimes veterans have done things that they aren’t particularly proud of and holidays like this bring up bad memories. You didn’t do anything wrong or inappropriate by offering your thanks, it’s just not something that particular veteran wants to acknowledge. No big deal, just move on. On the topic of celebrations and customs, every Veterans Day, there are ceremonies and parades all throughout the country, although I don’t know if it will quite look the same this year. Arlington National Cemetery, where service members from every one of America’s major wars from the Revolutionary War to today’s wars are buried, holds an annual service at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Schools across the country hold Veterans Day assemblies, which will probably be less common of an occurrence this year, but hopefully will pick back up next year. Additionally, parades are held in communities throughout the country, in which veterans from all generations as well as members of veteran and other patriotic organizations march. Some parades end with speeches by local veterans. In addition to the parades and ceremonies, there are other ways you can celebrate Veterans Day. Some people put together care packages for deployed troops, which not only is a good way to show your appreciation, it also can provide some much needed supplies to service members who can’t just run out to the store to pick up a few essentials. Some people visit veterans’ hospitals to brighten the day of the veterans there who may not have family nearby, or at all. For parents and teachers, you can do patriotic crafts with your kids or students. I’ve even seen some pretty cool looking pumpkin carvings with soldiers and American flags that could be cool to try. If you do something like that, be sure to take a photo and tag Drive On Podcast in your social media posts, I want to see what you come up with. Other people will invite a veteran to speak to their community or organization. I’m actually giving a talk on Veterans Day this year to a nearby community, which consists of mostly older veterans but they wanted to get the perspective of a veteran from the post 9/11 era, so I’ll be talking to them about that. If you work in an office you can take a little time out of the day to acknowledge the vets in your office. Maybe it’s something as simple as sending an email out reminding everyone in the office who the veterans are so that everyone can thank them for their service, or bring in some patriotic themed snacks to show your appreciation. Or, if you know of veteran owned businesses in your area give Amazon a rest and go shop with them for a change. Some businesses may even offer special discounts to veterans on Veterans Day as a way to show their appreciation for their service. I mentioned earlier that Armistice Day was originally celebrating the anniversary of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when fighting formally ended in World War One. Traditionally, a pause is given at 11am on Veterans Day to honor and remember those who served with a silent thanks for our freedom. And if you haven’t heard of this, there is a cool memorial in Anthem Arizona, which is designed to let the sun’s rays pass through in a certain way so that it creates the Great Seal of The United States on the other end of the memorial. This happens at 11am every Veterans Day. Thanks for listening. Hopefully this episode provided some background on what Veterans Day is all about, and gave you some ideas on how to celebrate the veterans in your life.
47 minutes | 22 days ago
Succeeding In A Post Military Career
Renita Kalhorn talks to us about her experience coaching high achieving executives at Fortune 500 companies as well as those in Special Operations. She talks about the ways that many of these “alpha” personalities get in their own way when they become too mission driven and don’t focus on the big picture. To be successful you need to be agile and be able to switch between a hard hitting approach and a softer touch. We talked about some of the parallels between entrepreneurs and special forces operators, who tend to be resourceful, resilient, not fragile, and look at the challenges they face as a way to get stronger. For leaders and managers, one of the keys to success is managing your ego and being open to feedback. We talk about all of this and more in the episode. Give it a listen! Links & Resources Renita Kalhorn on LinkedIn Renita Kalhorn on Instagram Renita Kalhorn on Twitter Jocko Podcast episode discussed in this episode Transcript Scott DeLuzio: 00:00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I’d like to ask a favor if you haven’t done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcast. If you’ve already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you’re there click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes. As soon as they come out. If you don’t use Apple podcasts, you can visit DriveOnPodcast.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email list. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio and now let’s get on with the show. Hey everyone. Today, my guest is Ranita Kalhorn who is a leadership coach and mental trainer who works with fortune 500 executives and Navy Seals. Today I’m going to talk with her about how she helps those high achieving individuals succeed. So, Ranita welcome to the show. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? Renita Kalhorn: 00:01:06 Sure. Well, I’ve been coaching for over 10 years now and in the beginning I was working more with corporate professionals at the fortune 500 organizations, but as time went on, I went back to my previous life, which was working in dot com or more entrepreneurial organizations. And I started shifting my coaching more towards the entrepreneurs and CEOs who are starting new companies. So, I basically had experienced across the whole spectrum from the large fortune 500 global multinationals to the tiny startups just beginning. And then as you mentioned, I also work with Special Forces. So, I’m working with future Navy Seals, over probably 500 Navy Seal candidates at this point. And I’ve also worked with active duty Green Berets. So, I often talk about the parallels between the Special Forces and entrepreneurs, because both very much have to be agile, have to be nimble, especially in the world that we live in now, which is so uncertain and so turbulent and just looking for the best practices to share across both groups. Scott DeLuzio: 00:02:21 Yeah, that’s great. That’s a good background and a lot of stuff that you are doing certainly pertains to more than just the Special Forces; probably could pertain to a good deal of people who are coming out of the military and the reason why I wanted to have you on the show is because of your experience working with these high performing individuals, whether it’s people in the military or the corporate world. The people you work with tend to be the alpha personality types. And I think a lot of the people who are in the military, a larger percentage anyway, of the people who are in the military will have those alpha characteristics versus the bulk of the typical population as a percentage. So, I figured this would be a pretty good fit for the audience that we have here on the show. One of the things that you talk about with these people is how they sometimes end up getting in their own way, tripping over their own features, or becoming their own roadblock in a way. What are some of the things that those alpha personalities do to get in their own way? Renita Kalhorn: 00:03:34 Well, the first one that comes to mind is that they are too mission-driven, which might sound funny to someone in the military. Who’s very much all about accomplishing the mission. And so, what I’ve noticed is that, of course the mission is important, but sometimes the quickest way to accomplish the mission isn’t just to go from point A to point B. What I mean by that is increasingly what I’m seeing in the world in general and in the military world is where it’s not just about going in and taking out the target. There’s a lot more emotional intelligence involved. There’s a lot more diplomatic conversation negotiations, actually having conversations with people or it could be internal where you’re trying to get resources from someone up above you who manages those resources. And so, what I’ve seen is people who have this sort of alpha personality are very focused on achieving the goal. They’re just so laser focused on the goal that they’re forgetting the human connection side, and if they could make that human connection first, then they would reach their goal much more easily, much quicker in many cases because they’re so mission-focused, that don’t achieve their goal. Scott DeLuzio: 00:04:59 And one of the things that I noticed when I was deployed to Afghanistan back in 2010, one of the things that we were told was we were given this information about a counterinsurgency strategy, which was all about going out and meeting with the people the local people, the residents in the area of our operations and trying to win them over, win over the hearts and minds and things like that. And I’ll be perfectly honest as an infantry man, our job that we trained for, it was kicking in doors, shooting bad guys. That’s what we trained for. And then you started coming out with all of this; to us, it sounded like some froo froo nonsense. Scott DeLuzio: 00:05:49 We have to go and talk to these people and try to win them over and not kick the doors in and things like that. It just didn’t quite sit right with us. And I think that’s what you’re talking about here, where we felt like our job was to go and kick the doors in and shoot the bad guys and do all that heavy lifting stuff and not deal with the softer side of things. But, as it turns out, that’s actually the right way to achieve that goal of going against these insurgents that we were trying to fight against was we really needed to gain the support of that local population. So it sounds like that’s sort of what you’re talking about here Renita Kalhorn: 00:06:35 It is. And I can sympathize because if you’re not trained for that, dealing with humans from a different culture, strangers, you don’t know what could happen, and so it’s natural to default to what you’ve been trained for, what you know works. I think what people are going to have to learn now, this is in the military and there is a certain agility to go into a situation and know when do I need to be decisive and just be target focused. And when do I need to be able to relax, focus on building rapport, connecting with this person, because what if you connect with someone in that village and they give you this valuable Intel, because they trust you because they want to help you and you wouldn’t have gotten that otherwise. Scott DeLuzio: 00:07:27 Yeah, exactly and that’s what people ended up finding out is that’s the type of thing that ended up happening. They would find out that, “Hey, these Americans are treating us pretty well here that we were safe, relatively safe, or getting the things that we need to fix up our village and maybe even building a school to educate our children and that type of stuff. And you know, they would attend to start to provide some information to the Americans. Renita Kalhorn: 00:08:04 And there’s an example that I like to give that just demonstrates an emotional intelligence. So, let’s call them the Special Forces guy goes in, he’s got his gun, he’s got his sunglasses on, he’s standing tall and he’s talking to the villagers. You can imagine how intimidating that is. The other Special Forces guy goes in. He takes off his sunglasses. He kneels down maybe to be at the same height. He puts his gun down. Just these little physical gestures, they communicate, I want to connect with you. You can trust me. And so that’s the emotional intelligence, emotional agility that people are going to need to develop to be successful. Scott DeLuzio: 00:08:51 Yeah. I remember the first time we went into a village and we walked in one of the houses; we were invited in, but it was set up a meeting where we were going to go talk to one of the villages, the people in the village that was near our base. And when we walked in, we all took off our helmets, which was weird in and of itself. And then we had a place outside where we had somebody standing over us, standing guard over our weapons. So we didn’t even have our weapons with us. And that was just, to me, a nervous thing. But we did it to show we trust you; you can trust us. Like we’re not here to cause this type of chaos that you might have experienced in the past with other people who might have come through here, including the Russians back years ago and things like that. So, you can trust us and that’s sort of what we wanted to get across and it ended up developing a pretty good relationship. Renita Kalhorn: 00:09:56 Oh, I’m sure. I love that. Because you put aside your own comfort, you probably would have been more comfortable with your helmet, with your weapons. Right? Scott DeLuzio: 00:10:03 Yup. For sure. Renita Kalhorn: 00:10:06 That’s a great demonstration of just putting aside your own comfort to create trust. Scott DeLuzio: 00:10:12 So, let’s talk about it transitioning people who might have already transitioned out of the military, who might be carrying some of their leadership experiences into the corporate world, or people who are thinking about transitioning soon. How can they translate some of this stuff? I know all the examples that we’ve been giving so far have been military focused, but how can they translate this stuff into a career focus where they can apply this to their career? Renita Kalhorn: 00:10:45 It seems to be a big challenge for the military as a translator transitioning out of active duty. I’ve helped quite a few clients make that transition because everything the military personnel does is very useful in a corporate environment. It’s just a matter of changing the language. So I’ve seen many resumes that are full of military acronyms and terminology. And yet I know that what they’re doing is very valuable in a workplace. So that would be the first step, really just understanding what the essence is of what I did. I managed resources, I made decisions under high stakes pressure. I dealt with difficult personalities, whether they’re in your own team or on the enemy side. So all of these skills are very relevant. It’s just a matter of framing them because we can say that there’s people in the business world they’re a little bit intimidated, or as soon they see something that they don’t understand, they’re just going to shut down all that this person doesn’t have what we need. And so, the burden is on you, the military person to make your experience relevant to the HR person that you are speaking with. Scott DeLuzio: 00:12:10 I was actually listening to a podcast earlier this week. It was the Jocko Podcast, which I’m not sure if any of the audience is familiar with, but he’s a former Navy Seal who has started a consulting business and he has other things going on as well. But one of the things that they were talking about on this particular episode was about how companies hire people. And a lot of times they go out and they’re looking to hire people who have certain experience or they worked for a competitor and things like that. And then they go out and they’re looking for things like that, but that’s not really what is going to make these people successful in the organization. It’s going to be things like, their character and are they willing to go the extra mile and be a team player and things like that. Scott DeLuzio: 00:13:10 And that’s sort of like what you were talking about when you’re talking about people who are looking to transition out of the military. They have a lot of this experience of being a team player and thinking outside the box and all that stuff. And if you don’t lean into that and use that to your advantage on your applications, resume, whatever the case may be, you’re probably doing yourself a disservice I would think. Renita Kalhorn: 00:13:40 Exactly. I would think that you have as a military person, all this experience, getting people to do something they may not inherently want to do. That’s a hard life in the military. And yet you got all these people to do these things synchronized or to focus on one target. And so that’s a very valuable skill to bring to the business environment. So, it’s your job to tell the stories that illustrate that skill. You can’t just tell somebody, “I can do this.” You need to tell the stories. And that’s really where I’ve seen clients succeed is when they’re able to go from just saying, “here’s what I did or here’s my job description. And then here’s what I actually did in terms of, here was a situation, here was the challenge we had. Here’s what I did, or my team did. And then here are the results that we produced.” Scott DeLuzio: 00:14:38 I think that’s the key takeaway here is you can fill out your resume and put in all the technical things that you did on the paper, what your job description was, but that doesn’t fill in the blanks to the person who’s hiring you, who’s reading that resume, that doesn’t fill in those blanks for them. And you’re basically assuming that they know what you’re talking about and that they’ve done those things too and they weren’t in your shoes necessarily unless they happened to do that same job in the military at one point in the past. But do you really want to bet on that? That’s what they had, that type of experience. So, you know, you’re absolutely right. You do want to tell the story of what it is that you did and how that applies to this job. That makes a ton of sense. You talked a little bit earlier about some of the parallels between entrepreneurs and Special Forces and military personnel. What are some of those parallels between those two groups of people? Renita Kalhorn: 00:16:02 So the ability to go in knowing that the plan is not going to survive first contact, and that’s just what’s going to happen. So you try something, it doesn’t work. So, you try something else that doesn’t work, you try something else that doesn’t work. So, entrepreneurs really need to hone that ability to be resourceful and bounce back quickly. That’s what I’ve seen in the military is that they’re just trained to do that. They’re not even saying, “Oh, shoot, it didn’t work.” They’re just like, “okay, that didn’t work now.” The best entrepreneurs naturally have that. And then I help the ones who don’t naturally have it to develop it, to develop that mindset. Scott DeLuzio: 00:16:47 Yeah, for sure. And I think as an entrepreneur myself and coming out of the military, I know that sometimes, in my business, I’ll try to launch a new product and maybe that product launch didn’t go quite as well as I thought it would. And then it’s like, okay, well, I can sit here and I can continue doing the same thing over and over again. And it’s still not going to work, or I can try to figure out what went wrong and I can try to adjust course and try something new. That is certainly a way to think about resourcefulness, but it’s also a little bit of resiliency, where people are able to bounce back from setbacks and I think that super. Renita Kalhorn: 00:17:36 I would add on that is, sorry I spoke over you. So, the piece I would add onto resilience is being even anti fragile where not only are you bouncing back from challenges, you’re actually using them to get stronger. I think the next phase that we’re in now in this world, that’s going to have so many challenges where it’s not about, can you survive this challenge? It’s how can you use this challenge to be even stronger for the next challenge that is guaranteed going to come? It’s just a totally different mindset. Scott DeLuzio: 00:18:13 Yeah. And that is actually a good segue into the next topic that I wanted to talk with you about a little bit here. You’ve talked about some of the traits that leaders need to have in order to succeed in what you call a volatile, uncertain, complex ambiguous world, which this year certainly has been full of a lot of uncertainty and volatility with COVID and businesses getting shut down. And actually, the day that I have this episode scheduled to be aired is going to be election day. So, there’s more uncertainty there as well. So, what do leaders and teams need to do to be able to adapt to this fast changing and uncertain world that we’re living in? Renita Kalhorn: 00:18:57 So what they really need to develop is, I mean, there’s so many ways to answer this question. Basically, they need to be able to be more open to feedback. Now, everybody hearing that as like going to be nodding their head. But what that really means is they’re going to have to manage their ego because it’s really ego that keeps us from taking feedback and doing something with it. And the quicker we can take feedback and incorporate it into our behavior, change direction, maybe give up something we put already a lot of effort into make those changes quickly in an agile way. That’s what’s going to be really important for leaders and then to develop that in their teams as well. Scott DeLuzio: 00:19:46 Yeah, for sure. One of the things that I’ve seen lately in society, in general, not necessarily in any particular class, but just in general in society is a lot of a victim mentality that people have and something doesn’t go right. I was talking about how a product launch doesn’t go right and sometimes people, instead of trying to figure out what went wrong and focusing on that, on how to make that situation better, they whine and moan about how it didn’t go right. And it’s really a counterproductive mentality. It’s like, “Oh, I tried everything. I did everything I thought I should.” Well, there’s obviously something else out there. There are very successful product launches out there and it just so happened to be that yours didn’t hit the mark. So, there’s something else that you need to try. So, yeah, but I haven’t seen a lot of that going on lately where people just don’t take ownership and responsibility to try to figure out what went wrong. Renita Kalhorn: 00:20:55 Yeah. I think, there’s just all kinds of factors that are coming into play, but our society in general is just very much about instant gratification. We just want things yesterday. I mean, look how fast we expect things. And so, we expect that to happen in our projects, in our work as well. And so, we’ve developed this muscle, this reflex, where we need it instantly, and that’s not going to serve people who really want to do big things because big things are not going to happen instantly. Scott DeLuzio: 00:21:28 No, for sure. They take time. And I think that’s a problem too, that people have is exactly what you said that they expect this thing to happen right now. You see people who, seemingly are overnight successes and it’s like, well, why can’t I be like that? Why can’t I be an overnight success, but what they don’t see is that the overnight success took decades sometimes to become an overnight success. So, you just haven’t seen all of the work that went into it; sometimes it’s their time in the military or whatever, Renita Kalhorn: 00:22:00 You’re a magazine cover about somebody who’s just still struggling, right. Or a podcast where somebody hasn’t made it yet. All that activity is the iceberg under the water. And you don’t see that until somebody has what others consider a noteworthy success. Scott DeLuzio: 00:22:18 Yeah. And I shared this on this podcast a while back, probably a few months ago, but there was a talk that I gave a few years ago where we’re talking about success in this overnight success type of phenomenon. And I equated it to a bamboo tree. When someone first plants a seed for a bamboo tree, they have to water that seed almost daily for about five years for the seed to start growing and start to take root. And after that five years, the seeds finally start to break ground and after it breaks ground within about a month and a half or so, the tree will have grown about 80 or 90 feet. Scott DeLuzio: 00:23:15 And so it seems that that’s in my mind, the overnight success where the first time you’re actually seeing this tree is when it’s breaking ground, when it’s coming up out of the earth. And then next thing you know, a few weeks later, it’s towering high above you. What you don’t see is all the work and effort that went into weeding the area around it and watering and all the other things that people would need to do to make sure that this tree had an opportunity to grow in that scenario. So I like to equate the bamboo tree to that overnight success phenomenon. It’s really not an overnight success. It really does require a lot of effort to be put into it, to get to that point. Renita Kalhorn: 00:24:00 Yeah. And there’s another trait that the military people have is that they’re used to training. They’re used to doing things that are “boring” in the name of training, in the name of habituation. They know that repetition done right, is very important. You don’t want to go out and be shooting weapons after one or two times. I just want to mention this to the audience listening that that is a trait that you have that is quite uncommon or often uncommon in the workplace. And so that’s something to really notice that you do well and to show people how that will serve them, but just as this ability to do what’s “boring”, it goes along with that instant gratification. I don’t want to do anything that’s boring. I only want to do new stuff, whereas Instagram, and I want it now. Scott DeLuzio: 00:24:57 Yeah, for sure. Let’s see the Amazon order it today and have it on your doorstep tomorrow morning or something like that. It’s that instant gratification. It’s like, I want it now type of thing you mentioned earlier that leaders need to be open to feedback and manage their egos. What do leaders or managers of people get wrong about feedback when they receive feedback? What do they do wrong with that feedback? Renita Kalhorn: 00:25:30 Well, I talk a lot about our biology. It really comes back to basic survival instincts. Our brain is just focused on survival even though in the world today, especially once you’re out of active duty, there are very few threats to your physical survival. And yet all of us are seeing potential threats in our social environment. And one of those threats is to our status, our standing, either in the group or whoever we’re talking to or interacting with. And so if somebody is telling us we didn’t do it right, we could have done it better. We did it wrong. We made a mistake. Those all get translated by the brain as a threat to our survival because hundreds of thousands of years ago, if we made a mistake, that very much was a question of survival. And so, I think we’re just still wired that way to see any sort of questioning of our ability to do something right as a threat. And so that’s why people just react and they don’t actually go past the reaction to be rational and think about the actual information they are getting. Scott DeLuzio: 00:26:45 And so how can these people, these leaders get more learning out of their mistakes. How can they learn from these mistakes if they’re always in that defensive survival mode that you were talking about? How they can learn more from this? Renita Kalhorn: 00:27:03 Good question? I think one way to trick your brain is to ask for it actively. So, if you ask, I was just talking to Dave Cooper, a former Navy Seal. He used to put out the plan and say, all right, what did I miss? There’s sort of this presumptive question. Have I missed something? What is it? So, leaders could be doing the same thing, just ask, “what did I miss?” or “what did I get wrong here?” or telling them proactively, “okay, I screwed up. Here’s what I did. Here’s what I’m going to do differently going forward.” And so in a way you’re just owning that mistake. And I think by doing that, it’s a way of maintaining that sense of status and still opening up a safe space for people to give you feedback. Scott DeLuzio: 00:27:59 And I think that ownership mentality where you take ownership of mistakes that were made or negative feedback that you’ve received, things like that when you have that mentality, and it combines itself with that survival mentality that you had talked about just a little while ago, you don’t want those mistakes to happen again. And so, you’re going to come up with ways to make sure that those things don’t happen again as opposed to getting defensive about it and trying to stop that negativity and that harsh feedback from coming to you. I was talking about this the other day. Years ago, our house got broken into and a lot of people will be like, “Oh, I feel bad for you” and all that stuff. Scott DeLuzio: 00:28:56 They feel sorry for all the things that they lost and they’re just sad and upset about all of that. But instead, one of the things that we did was we made sure that we had a security alarm and that we made sure all of our doors were locked at night. And we made sure that there were lights on and all the things that you’re supposed to do. We just were lackadaisical with some of that stuff beforehand. And it bit us in the butt and that was our fault. Renita Kalhorn: 00:29:28 Way to use the mistake, that’s what a business leader can be doing as well. Scott DeLuzio: 00:29:33 Exactly. You know, I think that it illustrates that you can use that same mentality for really anything. If you’re in your business and let’s go back to a failed product launch, okay. Instead of crying about it, let’s figure out what went wrong and what else could we do to make this better? Look at all the things. Renita Kalhorn: 00:29:56 Really good mindset to develop it. This is just information. So if you were playing basketball, you went to shoot the basket, it just bounced off the back board. You don’t get mad at the back board, right? It’s just information. You didn’t get it in the basket. And yet, somehow when we’re dealing with people, we take it personally, like we create a lot more of a story around it. And so if you can just get into the habit of just saying, this is just information, maybe you don’t like the way it was delivered. Maybe it was a little harsh, it’s still valuable information and it’s way better than nothing Scott DeLuzio: 00:30:36 It is for sure. And taking that information and using that information is only going to help you. And if you dismiss it or you get angry about it or whatever the case may be, it’s not going to help you. It’s there; you’re spot on with all of this. Renita Kalhorn: 00:30:59 You do that if you do get mad. So, if you show people that if they give you feedback, they’re not going to be rewarded for it, or they’re going to be punished for it. Then you’ve just killed your information source. Scott DeLuzio: 00:31:12 Exactly. Yeah, that was a good point there. The next time that there is something going on that someone sees a problem they’re not going to raise the red flags about whatever that problem is, because they know that you’re going to fly off the handle. And they’re not going to want to give that information to you. They don’t want to be on the receiving end of whatever the backlash is for that. Renita Kalhorn: 00:31:36 So just to add some nuance to this, sometimes there are leaders who will say, don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions because they get tired of people just whining about problems, but there’s a middle ground between that because you don’t want people to just not tell you when there’s a problem that maybe needs your attention. So you need to bring some nuance around it. Here’s the kinds of problems to bring, here’s what I’m looking for from you in terms of when you bring me a problem, get as far as you can in solving the problem before you bring it to me, tell me what you tried, tell me what didn’t work, what did, right? So, there’s a lot of nuance that I think leaders could also be bringing into their communications instead of this all or nothing approach. Scott DeLuzio: 00:32:19 And I think another thing too, that leaders can do to help mitigate some of these potential problems, where people are coming to them with this negative feedback, is to trust in their employees and trusting their teams more. Allow them to make decisions on their own. And that way they can own those decisions. What I was talking about before is when you own something and it doesn’t quite go right, you want to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. So, you’re going to make sure that the process or whatever the thing is that you’re doing, you’re going to make sure that it’s right on track. And so, if you’re giving some responsibility to your subordinates and you’re allowing them to make the decisions without necessarily getting the buy in or the feedback from the whole organization or from their bosses and things like that, it allows them to try things. Sometimes they’re going to fail. Sometimes they’ll make mistakes and it’s not going to quite work out. But when they do that, they’ll be able to learn from those mistakes and get better over time. And so they’ll be invested in making sure that the problem doesn’t happen again, as opposed to being able to just point the finger up the chain of command, if you will, to someone else because, “Oh, well, he told me to do it that way.” Renita Kalhorn: 00:33:42 Right. And another phenomenon I see is sort of the CEO, is hero, or the leader’s hero, where they feel like they need to rush in and rescue their team. And so they don’t really allow their team to develop the skills of handling problems on their own. So, I love the idea of extreme ownership that Jocko talks about where everyone on the team takes ownership of a problem and when you do that, you just raise the tide for everyone. And now your ability to handle problems is just at a much higher level. Scott DeLuzio: 00:34:17 And when everybody is taking ownership of the things that they’re responsible for, it will make the end result be so much better because they don’t want to fail and it goes back to that survival mode where they don’t want to end up losing their job because they are screwing up all the time. They’re going to make sure that, okay, is this really the best decision? Is this really the best move to make? Let’s make sure that it is. And we’ll dive into it from there, but when you don’t have that survival instinct where you want to protect your job or your position; if you just didn’t care because you’re passing the buck off to somebody else; well, that’s the type of work that you’re going to end up producing. Renita Kalhorn: 00:35:05 Well, I would add some nuance to that as well. So when I work with high performers, it’s not about coming from a place of fear. So a fear of losing something of making a mistake, it’s more about moving towards something. So, my clients want to develop this inherent desire to perform at their best, just for the inherent joy of performing at their best. And then, you take the fear out of it. It’s just like, I want to figure out the best solution to this problem, or this problem is going to help me become a better performer, a better decision maker, a better whatever. Otherwise your people are focused on self-protection, and once you take away the thing that they’re not afraid of losing, then you lose their desire for progress. So, I would love to see more people develop this inherent love of the process, love of growth for its own sake, because that’s really where we are in the world. Now we have this luxury of being able to express ourselves to our full human potential. You don’t have to worry about survival. Scott DeLuzio: 00:36:19 And that growth mentality too, especially like you’re saying these people are not necessarily worried about the failure aspect of it; they’re looking to grow. And that includes the people who are on your team. I know in the military, we all tried to build each other up and help each other out. It’s not like you want to go into combat with a suboptimal team. You don’t want to have someone who is not as good of a shot as it could be, or who hasn’t had the amount of practice and exposure to the real- life scenarios. You don’t want those types of people on your team. You want the best and the fastest and the strongest and all the other things that you could throw at it. Scott DeLuzio: 00:37:10 You want the absolute best on your team while you’re going into these potentially life and death situations. It makes a lot of sense to do the same thing in a business scenario where you want to have an A+ team. You want to have the best people supporting you on your journey through whatever it is that you’re doing. If there’s infighting and there’s all of that corporate politics that sometimes goes on that’s not helping anybody except for the one individual who might get ahead because they stepped on somebody’s toes or whatever. Renita Kalhorn: 00:37:52 Very shortsighted because nobody can get anywhere today without a team. And so, I have seen A+ players who together do not make an A+ team. And so that’s the challenge I’m focused on now is how you get A+ players to be an A+ team where they really do see that by lifting the others, they’re just going to lift the level of performance for everyone. And it can be hard because of the egos because of the need for personal recognition. But those who have been on an A+ team, as you know in the military, there’s nothing like that. And that’s just exhilarating. Scott DeLuzio: 00:38:33 And so how do get these A+ players to work together to form that A+ team? How do you go about doing that? Renita Kalhorn: 00:38:43 So, you need to create psychological safety, which is basically making people get out of survival mode so that they’re not focused on status, or autonomy or getting things done quickly, right? There’s always somebody who just wants to do it themselves, because they think they can do it best. So you need to create a place that’s safe, where everybody actively wants to find the best solution. And they’ll have the patients; they’ll be willing to have conflict, to have healthy, productive conflict, because they know it’s going to produce the best ideas and solutions. And so you have to create an environment for that. The leader has to create that environment and also not be saying, “well, you missed the deadline! So there has to be a balance between giving them space to have this healthy conflict, try different things, experiment, make a mistake and say, “okay, I made a mistake.” What did you learn from it? So, there are all these things. All the information is out there. There’s no shortage of information. It’s how do you actually execute on that? And I would say it starts with the leader. The leader has to actually practice what they preach. So if they want people to make mistakes, they have to make it safe for people to experiment and make mistakes. Scott DeLuzio: 00:40:04 Yeah, for sure. And showing people how to react because it’s inevitable. No one’s perfect. Everyone’s going to make a mistake at some point; but showing your team and your people how to react when you do make a mistake, is important too, to lead by example, like you just said. I think that’s a great way to put it. Is there anything else that you would tell people who are in the process of transitioning out of the military or just recently got out of the military? They’re looking to get into the civilian world and work, whatever type of job. What type of things would you tell them as advice to help them in this transition period? Renita Kalhorn: 00:40:53 I think at a mindset level, I would just want to encourage them because I have seen a lot of military people who feel discouraged because their skills don’t seem to be recognized in the corporate or business world. And that’s just not the case. It’s just simply a gap between explaining or telling it, helping people understand what you can do. So, first of all, you have a very valuable transferable relevant skill. That’s the first piece. Then you’re now your job is to understand how to communicate, what you can do to the people who, who can hire you. And so just to be very tactical about it, I would sit down and just write down all the stories of what you’ve done, the times that whether it was a mission and you got people on board and there were all these challenges and you just had to be very resourceful in finding solutions or talk about resources. Renita Kalhorn: 00:41:57 That’s a very valuable skill for the business world. Talk about all the resources you manage, whether it was equipment, whether it was people, whether it was weapons. I had one client who was a Captain who managed basically a town. She was literally the equivalent of a mayor. And so, she was managing all the facilities, all the utilities, all the conflicts. I think what people really need to do is sit down and reflect on all their experience and just write it down as scenarios and one that will help them realize, “wow, I did do a lot.” Plus, they did all of this with all the different cultural aspects, geographic moving, probably weather, there’s all these challenges that they overcame that people in the business world don’t even have to deal with. So they need to really figure that out for themselves, because what I found is most people don’t know their own experience as well as they could, because they’re just living it and then they’re moving on to the next thing. So I would just create a list of all the situations that you’ve handled, the results that you produced. And then that’s a great thing. Scott DeLuzio: 00:43:17 Yeah. I think that’s a perfect start to that for these people who are either just getting out of the military or have been out for a little bit and I think doing stuff like writing down the times that you maybe you went out on a mission and things didn’t go quite as planned, like you said, your plan is not going to survive the first contact, something is going to go wrong at some point. And what did you do about it? So, to show that you can think outside of the box and adapt to difficult situations that that’s certainly valuable. Talk about the people that you’ve managed, if you were in a leadership role, you likely had plenty of people reporting to you. Talk about that; how you manage people even on a lower NCO level, you still have a decent number of people who are reporting to you. Scott DeLuzio: 00:44:15 And at times you may have even been in a position where you had many people. I know, as a Sergeant in the Army, I sometimes had 40 or 50 people that I was responsible for on certain missions where I was in charge of the mission and we’d be out. And we’d have people from our platoon, we’d have civilian contractors, we’d have a bunch of people who would be in this scenario, including local Afghans and things like that, who we were in charge of. So, you keep all of those people in mind and think about what it took to lead that mission and what you needed to do and how that could possibly translate to your civilian career that you’re looking for. This was really great information and, it’s really been a pleasure speaking with you. I want to give you a chance to let people know where they can go to find out more about what you do and how to get in touch with you if they’re interested in speaking more with you about this type of thing. Renita Kalhorn: 00:45:28 I think the best place is to find me on LinkedIn. That’s where I’m most active. I’m posting daily, talking about leadership, about managing teams, about creating psychological safety. So, connect with me there, follow me there, engage in some of the posts and, if I can be a support to you or your team feel free to reach out. Scott DeLuzio: 00:45:55 Yeah, for sure. And I’ll have a link to your LinkedIn profile and all your social media profiles and things like that in the show notes. So, people can find it there. Again, thank you very much for taking the time to share this information with us. I really did enjoy the conversation that we had and hopefully this will help people in their civilian careers as they’re transitioning out of the military. Renita Kalhorn: Thank you. Scott DeLuzio: Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website, DriveOnPodcast.com. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @ DriveOnPodcast.
33 minutes | a month ago
Laura Briggs talks to us about a great way for military spouses and veterans to start their own freelance careers through her nonprofit Operation Freelance. Links & Resources Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business (Book) Laura Briggs on Twitter Laura Briggs on Facebook Operation Freelance Operation Freelance on Facebook Transcript Scott DeLuzio: 00:00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting Veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I’d like to ask a favor if you haven’t done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcast. If you’ve already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you’re there, click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes. As soon as they come out. If you don’t use Apple podcasts, you can visit DriveOnPodcast.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email list. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let’s get on with the show. Hey everyone. Thanks for joining us today. My guest is Laura Briggs. Laura teaches others how to build their own businesses from home and is the author of Lunch, your own freelance writing business. Laura also runs, Operation Freelance, which is a nonprofit focused on creating business opportunities for military spouses and Veterans. So, Laura, thank you for joining me. Why don’t you go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? Laura Briggs: 00:01:11 Sure. I had every plan in the world of becoming a professor. I’ve done everything for my PhD except my dissertation. Then I met and fell in love with a man in the Navy. So as is often the case with military spouses, our career gets a little bit turned upside down. Through many PCs I realized that I was going to have to have a career that was a little bit more flexible. Tenure track professor at one university just wasn’t going to work with the Navy’s needs. And so, I started freelancing as a side hustle and grew that to a full-time business that followed me over the last eight years. And now on both the business and the nonprofit side, I teach other people, not just how to start, but also experienced freelancers, how to scale, how to decide what your business is going to look like for you and have it work for your life and not the other way around. Scott DeLuzio: 00:02:01 Awesome. Yeah. And that sounds like a common thing with other military spouses, one of the reasons why I wanted to have you on the show is because I live near an Air Force base. So, a lot of our neighbors and friends are in the Air Force and through talking with them, getting to know their families and everything, they find it difficult for the spouse. So the one who’s not in the Air Force whether it’s the husband or the wife and in whichever situation they have, they find it difficult for that spouse to find a good job because they end up moving every couple of years. Employers don’t tend to be too keen on hiring someone for a year, a year and a half or whatever the case may be for a professional job. Scott DeLuzio: 00:02:45 Like in your case, you’re saying that that’s not exactly something that was in the cards for you with your career path. They want to know that this hire that they’re making is in it for the long haul, which totally makes sense. So, what I wanted to talk to you about was Operation Freelance and it seems like it’s a great way to help out some of these spouses start businesses that they can do from pretty much anywhere as long as they have a computer and an internet connection, they can probably do it from just about anywhere. So, could you tell us a little bit more about the Operation Freelance and what sparked that and what it is that you do? Laura Briggs: 00:03:29 Yeah. I’ve come across so many spouses in this situation where they’re either unemployed or they’re severely underemployed because they’re very highly educated. Lots of them have tons of experience. And if they’re lucky, maybe in one move or base where they’re at, they have a really great job, but then they find it hard to sustain that when they move somewhere else. And so I coach freelancers one-on-one on the business side and for about a year and a half, once a quarter, I would take on one to two military spouses totally for free to teach them the same things I was teaching my paid students, but just to help them get a jumpstart because I’ve been there. And my only regret is that I wish I’d started sooner in building something for myself that was really flexible and was freedom-based. And so, I realized quickly at the end of 2019, I opened up applications for my one or two spots in January. Laura Briggs: 00:04:20 And I had like 52 applications overnight. And I’m like, “yeah, this is bigger than what Laura can just do on an ad hoc basis. And I was really lucky because that same month I had been invited to travel out to Upwork’s global headquarters in San Francisco. That’s the biggest freelance job board site in the world. I’ve had a really good relationship with Upwork as a freelancer. And they had invited me to talk about something else. They wanted to hear about my freelance journey, how I’ve used the site, what has this meant for my life? And at the end, I casually mentioned like freelancing has opened all these doors for me. The latest one is starting a nonprofit, and it was really crazy. I came off stage and someone’s like, the new Upwork CEO wants to talk to you. And they pulled me in this room and she’s like, we want to give you $20,000 to jumpstart this this year. Laura Briggs: 00:05:04 Would you be able to take on more people this year, if we did that? And I was like, Oh, I was going to take a full year just to file all the paperwork, build the board of directors. So, we have moved at warp speed. We are almost done with our first cohort of 10 freelancers. We have some incredible people in the program who are getting new opportunities for themselves. They’re building confidence, they’re bringing home extra money. A lot of them are spouses that are reentering the workforce after just doing jobs to make ends meet or not being employed at all. And so, we’re opening up applications right now. We’re accepting applications for our fall cohort of members. And it’s just been a real joy to be able to do this and to give back in a bigger way, rather than just helping one or two people. Scott DeLuzio: 00:05:51 Yeah, absolutely. And that seems like a great trajectory that you’re on and being able to get that benefit of helping out more people than you originally started off thinking that you’d be able to do. It is amazing. So, I think that that’s really great. And I know the people who are looking for this type of work to be able to do some sort of work from home, especially on a military salary, which, I don’t care what rank you are, you’re not raking in the big bucks with a career in the military. And that type of thing sometimes it is necessary to have a second income in order to afford the housing. Scott DeLuzio: 00:06:39 Especially if you’re off base or something like that, you may not be able to afford it with the cost of living with all the food and utilities and everything like that. I know there’s pay that the military gives for housing and things like that but there’s expenses. You have kids and you have all this other stuff that goes into it. And when you’re not making a ton of money in the military, one salary sometimes it’s just not going to cut it, especially in certain areas. So, this is really a great opportunity for a lot of these military families to be able to branch off on their own and start something that they can take with them and not have to leave behind. Scott DeLuzio: 00:07:23 Because a lot of these transitions where they’re moving from one place to another is hard enough as it is, they have to leave friends behind or things like that, but also to leave behind a career that you’re working on and building is even harder, I can imagine. So, now there’s all sorts of things that people can do while they are working from home. What does the process look like? I’m not talking about like, if you’re going to be a writer or a bookkeeper or whatever, I’m not talking about specifics on that. What is the process to get started with a freelance business for someone who maybe never really thought of this as a potential avenue for them? What are some of the steps that they’re going to have to think about? Laura Briggs: 00:08:08 Yeah, I think the first one is what do you already have experience in? And if that answer is something where you’re like, I have experience, but I don’t want to do that anymore, then that’s also helpful to know as well. And then also, what are you interested in learning? Because one of the things that’s unique about freelancing is you don’t have to go back and get a four-year degree to feel qualified enough to do the thing. We have access to so many different online courses, free podcasts books, and things that can teach you how to do the actual service area. So, it comes down to what are you interested in? What would light you up to learn about? And so that’s usually where we start and then we match that by looking at people’s past resumes to start pulling out skills that they have from other jobs or other volunteer positions that will also translate really well over to being a freelancer. Laura Briggs: 00:08:58 So anything, project management, all your soft skills, like communication and prioritization, meeting deadlines, collaborating with diverse teams. A lot of times people don’t think of these as well. Yeah, but I did that like in a dentist office. So, what the heck does that have to do with graphic design? It actually has a lot to do with graphic design. Because you’re used to working in fast paced environments with a variety of different type of people, achieving goals and deadlines that does really transfer over to a freelance business. So, once you know what you’re interested in, we encourage our participants to go out there and take a look at market demand and see what your competition is doing. Is there enough of a demand for you to step into the marketplace? Is there some way for you to be unique and not just a generic provider of services? Laura Briggs: 00:09:41 And you also want to think about your goals too. For some people, you know, I did this full time for eight years, that was the right fit for our family at that time for other people, what makes freelancing such a good fit is because it’s so flexible. You can do it five hours a week. You can do it 50 hours a week and anything in between, but you have to know what that looks like for you so that you can adjust your schedule accordingly to do enough time on the marketing end to actually have clients and work on client projects. Scott DeLuzio: 00:10:08 Yeah, for sure and that’s something that I think people who are getting into a freelance type job don’t really foresee as being the situation where they’re going to have to deal with the marketing and the accounting and all the other things that go into running a business but that’s not always going to be the case. There are situations, you know, I own my business that I have outside of doing this podcast. I started off doing website design, type stuff. And it was just me, building websites for mostly small businesses around the area that I lived in. Then it started to grow and it got out to businesses in other states and all over the place. Scott DeLuzio: 00:11:00 And what I started to learn is that I can’t do all of the things on my own. So, it required me to outsource some of the work to other people, other developers, some of the marketing type work and all that kind of stuff. For someone who is in this position where they’re looking at starting a freelance business but they might feel like it’s overwhelming. I can’t do this all on my own. What kind of advice would you have for someone like that? Laura Briggs: 2 00:11:32 Yeah, it is owning your own business, which when you think of it, from that perspective, it can be kind of overwhelming because everything is on you. You have to create your own paycheck. You also have to pay your own taxes. You have to figure out what tools and materials and software you already have versus which ones you need to invest in. And so, what I always tell new freelancers is don’t overthink it. You do not need to act like you’ve been in business for five years when you’re just getting started. So, you don’t need a huge fancy website. If you really can’t afford that, then build an amazing LinkedIn profile, establish a profile on Upwork. I didn’t have a website for three years, so you don’t need one. And I was telling people to just start small, and then once you have the revenue coming in and your confidence is growing from doing that, that’s when you can start thinking about how do I invest in different tools that are going to help me get to where I want to go? But the most important thing as a new freelancer is that drive a really good pitch and work samples. Or if you’re in a category like virtual assistant or project manager where you wouldn’t really have work samples, how can you get some early experience to have some really amazing testimonials to bolster you into those first couple of jobs? Scott DeLuzio: 00:12:41 Yeah, that’s great advice. Whenever I’m looking for someone to help me on a project or whatever, I like to see some of their prior work, if it’s maybe a graphic designer or a marketing company or something along those lines, I want to see, get a feel for the type of work that they do, what kind of quality they have. So having some sort of a portfolio, if you will, to put out there, even in, like you said, even if it is on a LinkedIn profile or Upwork or whatever the profile may be is fine, as long as you give the people an opportunity to take a look at what it is that you do and are capable of. Scott DeLuzio: 00:13:21 So that’s really good advice. When these people start off, freelance businesses, and this could be anyone, not just a military spouse or a Veteran or anything like that, but when people start off a freelance business, a lot of times they think small, I feel they think like, well, it’s just me. So, it’s not going to grow to be this big company where I now have employees, and that might be the case where they don’t want it to grow. They want it to stay small because they don’t want to deal with the hassle of payroll and taxes and all this other stuff that they have to deal with if they have employees and benefits and all that kind of stuff. But there’s going to be the other side to where there’s going to be some people who get to a point where they’re doing more and they can do more than they have the capacity for it, and they want to grow it, and they want to keep servicing more people. Like in the situation where you found yourself, where you were only planning on helping one or two people, and then now you’re helping dozens of people. Scott DeLuzio: 00:14:29 How can someone scale and grow their business, especially when they may not be in the same location for long periods of time. So, they’re not going to set up a brick and mortar store off base or anything like that. What kind of things can people do to help grow and scale that business? Laura Briggs: 00:14:49 Yeah, there’s a really important mindset that happens when you go from being a beginner to being what I call a more intermediate freelancer. And that’s when you really have to start thinking of yourself as a CEO and questioning all of the things that you do on a daily basis that were necessary for you to do when you got started, when you have enough revenue. Some of them are keeping you from bringing in more money, right? So, if I’m spending time managing my calendar or answering emails that could really have a canned response, or that my virtual assistant could respond to, that’s not a good use of my time. So, start thinking about what things you could pull off your plate after you’ve been at it for a while and make your process as fast as possible. And I often hear from freelancers, “well, I don’t want to subcontract to other freelancers to do my client’s work.” Laura Briggs: 00:15:35 And I always tell them, you don’t have to, I don’t work with other writers. I write all the work for my clients’ projects, but do I choose all the keywords? Do I pick all the titles? Do I pull all the resource links and proofread them? No, I do the part that I do, which is the writing, and I can outsource some of those other things to make it faster or more effective for me to write. And I think that really helps you as you scale. And for me, it was focusing in on a niche. If I tried to do four or five different freelance services, it’s really hard to schedule your day. So, when you can pick one type of client or one type of project that you’d like to stay focused on, you can get that one streamlined and optimized as much as possible. Scott DeLuzio: 00:16:16 Yeah. And that brings up actually an interesting point that I wasn’t thinking about, until you just mentioned it. Focusing on a niche, a specific type of client that you’re looking for can be tremendously beneficial to your business. You could become known as the writer, in a writer’s case, the writer for law firms or something like that, whatever the case may be. And you’re narrowing down to a very specific market, and there’s not as big of a pool of customers in that market, but your marketing message is going to be on point to cover those people and you’re going to be talking their language when they come to your website, they’re going to be like, okay, this person knows what I need, and they’re going to go most likely go with you, as opposed to someone who’s just more broad in general and can fill a Jack of all trades kind of category where they can handle and any type of customer and some people shy away from niching down to a specific audience because they’re afraid that they’re just not going to get any customers. Scott DeLuzio: 00:17:37 Have you seen that to be the case with any of the freelancers that you work with or what have people tended to be drawn towards, as far as their businesses? Laura Briggs: 00:17:50 You can definitely go too narrow if there’s not enough of a demand for what you offer. But what I like to do is start by being a generalist, see how you feel though, projects and people that you work on or work with that you go, “I don’t ever care to do that again. That’s not my niche, or that company was way too big. And so, there was too much red tape to get through to effectively communicate.” File that away mentally. And it’ll help you whittle down what your niche is, and you can always expand your niche back out, right? So, if you go too narrow, when you realize there’s not enough, you can always go one level up. So, there’s really two ways to niche by project type or by client type. And then you can also niche by both of those, right? So, for years I wrote blogs for law firms. So, I was very niche, but just like you said, that made the clients who landed on my LinkedIn profile, my Upwork profile, getting cold pitched from me. They were like, “Oh, this is the person to go to for this service in my industry. I can really trust this person.” So, it is a careful balance, but I like to start general and then start to narrow down. And that way you can find your sweet spot in there. Scott DeLuzio: 00:18:57 Yeah, absolutely. And another guest that I had on the show a few months ago, her business started off as a SEO consultant, search engine optimization consultant. And she narrowed her focus down to just the wedding industry. Things that, revolve around the wedding industry are the types of clients that she takes. And so, it’s very narrowly focused, but it’s still broad enough. There’s a good number of clients out there. There’s the florist and the caterers and the photographers and the wedding venues and all the other things that go into it. So, there’s still a good number out there but she’s getting her foot in the door, being known as the wedding SEO kind of specialists. So, it’s a good way to think about it too. Scott DeLuzio: 00:19:52 And I like how you described it as starting off more general and then getting an idea for the types of clients that you want to work with, types and probably even more importantly, the types that you don’t want to work with. So, you don’t make that mistake and go down that road again. You have talked in the past about some of the issues that some freelancers face and more on after they’ve been established a little longer in business. What are some of the issues that people might be able to expect to see in the future? And then, what can they do about these types of issues? Laura Briggs: 00:20:32 Yeah, the big one is overwhelmed. So, I like to tell the freelancers that are in the like $60 to $80,000 a year revenue mark, what got you here isn’t going to get you there. So, a lot of them are looking to scale past six, they’re looking to give themselves a little bit of a cushion to accommodate for taxes. And some of the things that we pay as self-employed individuals, and we don’t have health insurance unless it’s through our spouse or something like that. So, I’m doing all the things in your business doesn’t work. So usually it is almost always coming to terms with the idea of hiring at least one virtual assistant. If you’re not going to hire subcontractors, I think another one is saying no to clients, because the way that you grew your business was probably just, I’m so grateful to have anybody say yes to working with me, especially when you’re a beginner. Laura Briggs: 00:21:21 And then what you come to find out is you can’t afford to work with everybody and you have to be selective. I tell freelancers all the time, the only things you control are your time and your energy. And if you give both of those to the wrong people, you will feel drained, exhausted, not want to be part of your business at all anymore. So, knowing when and how to say no to people, ideally you want to say no to them before you’re under contract with them. But I also work with a lot of six-figure freelancers who are navigating challenges with communication, with enforcing contracts, with scope creep and people who are pushing the boundaries with what’s being asked. And so, there’s a big role that advanced freelancers have to pay and play when they jump into these teams as an outside party. But you might be stepping into a team that’s totally dysfunctional with project management skills. And so, you’re not just there to deliver the thing. You almost have to be like, “okay, guys, we’re using a project management tool and this is the flow that we’re going to turn things in.” And I think that catches some advanced freelancers by surprise, because it’s like, “well, you are just hiring me to write blogs or create social media images or whatever it might be,” but you often have to play that blended role of service provider and strategist all the time. Scott DeLuzio: 00:22:34 Sure, absolutely. And you talked about that overwhelming feeling where you can’t do all of the things in your business and you mentioned a little bit about outsourcing some of that work to a VA. How would you go about doing that if you don’t have anybody? VA being a virtual assistant, not the Veterans affairs, in this particular episode is what we’re talking about. So what would you do to find somebody, if you don’t know someone who is capable of doing that type of job? Where did you go and find somebody and what are some of the things that you should be looking for in a VA? Laura Briggs: 00:23:15 The first step is figuring out what it is you want to offload, because that will determine that second step of who are you going to hire? One of the biggest mistakes that people make is thinking there’s this magic unicorn virtual assistant that does all the things and does all of them extremely well and can take them off your plate tomorrow. And it just doesn’t work like that. So, bucketing your tasks together. My online business manager, Melissa, who’s also a military spouse is really good at setting up systems, keeping things organized and streamlined. And so, she manages all of my podcasts. She manages all of my email newsletter. She manages posting things in my Facebook group. Those are different tasks and software, but they’re all very related because they’re a consistent process of the same thing that happens every week with different content. Laura Briggs: 00:24:01 And so you’re looking for a person who has the skill set to think about somewhat related things together and be able to claim ownership over it. There’s my favorite way to find new VAs is always going to be through referrals. So if you know of somebody else who is an online business owner who leverages VA’s, I would ask them first and say, if you don’t know someone personally, do you have a recommendation of a place I can look, there are a couple of places that for free will allow you to post a job. And it’s a qualified pool of virtual assistants that are paying to be in that leads community. And I’ve had really good luck there. I always go first to our military spouse, remote working groups on Facebook, because I’m always going to try to give the edge to someone in the military community before I open it up to the rest of the world. And so that’s another nice way to give back to recognize there might be somebody who has these skills and maybe isn’t formally calling themselves a VA yet, but could with some training step in. Scott DeLuzio: 00:25:01 Sure, absolutely. Yeah. And in the intro, I briefly mentioned that you wrote a book and what prompted you to write that book so that the Launch, your own freelance writing business is, the name of the book, what prompted you to write that and, and get that out there. Laura Briggs: 00:25:25 I used to be a teacher as I think I mentioned at the beginning of this episode. And so, I was also a graduate student. I had a lot of colleagues from those worlds who saw my freelance journey go from one or two clients to I have to leave my day job because I’m fully booked. They were all very curious about what that process looked like. And I couldn’t do any more coffee chats. Like everyone I knew was like, Hey Laura, can I pick your brain? I was like, okay, guys, I got to put this together in a thing. I’m going to make it affordable for you to get a lot of my advice. I went out and got a literary agent. We were actually trying to sell another book, which is my second book that’s coming out in October of 2020. Laura Briggs: 00:26:07 And my agent was pitching this book everywhere. I was a debut author. It’s a really hard time to break in as a debut author. And one publisher came back and said, we really like Laura, but we have this other book that needs to be written first in our catalog, a beginner’s book on a freelance writing business. Would she like to do that? And my agent was like, let’s do this. You knock them out of the water, blow their socks off with how good you can market this thing. And I bet we can sell the second one. And so that’s exactly what we did. And I’m really glad I wrote the beginner one first, because there’s been a lot of people who have been able to leverage that resource who are at more beginner point. And I really just wanted people to have access to a resource that was less than $20. That with a little bit of DIY work on their own, they’d have a guidebook of the mistakes I wish I’d avoided. And some of the things you can do to supercharge your success when you get started. Scott DeLuzio: 00:27:01 So what are some of those mistakes that you wish you avoided? Laura Briggs: 2 00:27:05 Yeah. Taking on the wrong clients, huge one. I mean, we’ve all done it. And every freelancer will bring on some of the wrong clients. I think another one for me was believing that, especially as a writer that I needed to have been published somewhere else before selling work to clients and the three work samples that I used to land my first several dozen jobs were never published anywhere. I just made blogs like; this is my writing style. It’s never been published anywhere, but if you like what you see, and that was a big wake up call for me. I didn’t actually need to hold myself to this much higher standard of, I’ve got to go back and get an MFA. And I’ve got to be published in a magazine before I can ask other people to pay me for my work. So those are two and the third one, which sounds so silly, but it is the number one thing that holds people back. Laura Briggs: 00:27:52 They just don’t start. There’s always a reason, well, maybe in three months or maybe when this thing happens. And I think one of the things that’s interesting about the pandemic is don’t you wish you started sooner, right? If your job was in question before the pandemic, you gotta really think about, I think more people are aware of that now, how do you build multiple sources of income so that if you take a big hit on one, you get laid off, you have a family business that struggles for several months or goes under. That’s the way I like to think of online business. And so, don’t wait to get started. You’ll never regret getting started, but you will regret not getting started. I actually bought that book or that course two years before. And there was no good reason for me to sit around and write my pitch that would have taken me two hours over the course of that two years. So just take the forward action step. You can always decide with very little money or time invested; this isn’t for me. That is not true of a brick and mortar business. After you’ve taken out a loan, signed the lease, done all these things. Scott DeLuzio: 00:28:56 Bought the inventory and all that stuff. And that’s one of the reasons why I liked the idea of going into business for myself and doing the type of work that I do is because I can work from home, as long as I have a computer and an internet connection pretty much good to go. It makes it easier, like you were saying earlier, that you can just pick up and go, if you want, you don’t have to work 80 hours a week. You can work 10 hours this week or take a vacation and not work this week. It’s really up to you. It’s not to say that it’s easy and that you can just not work and money continues to flow in. You still need to do the work Scott DeLuzio: 00:29:47 but you have that flexibility and that freedom; there’s no boss that you need to report to that’s going to tell you no or whatever. You can have a little more flexibility in your life which, for my family and our lives, just makes more sense. I would imagine, for military spouses who are looking for some type of employment where they need to be sort of flexible where the military dictates where you’re going to be when you need to be there and that type of thing. Having a freelance job in your back pocket that you can rely on for some income sounds to me like a great way to go. And it’s primarily why I wanted you to be on the podcast to talk about that type of thing. I really do appreciate everything that you’ve talked about with us today. It’s really been a pleasure speaking with you. Where can people go to find out more about Operation Freelance, see if they can get involved with that and your book and everything else that you do. Laura Briggs: 00:30:55 So, the website URL that will take you directly to the Amazon page for the book is freelance writing101.com and then Operation Freelance firstname.lastname@example.org. And you should be able to subscribe, you can also usually find our application form for our next cohort. If you are interested in applying, we just ask that you’re military affiliated caregiver, Veteran, military spouse, it’s open to all, it’s a completely virtual training and it’s 90 days. And it’s been really cool to do so. I hope that more people will apply and we’ll have more in the program. Scott DeLuzio: 00:31:30 And so we’ll have links to all of this in the show notes to get people in touch with you, for applying for the cohorts and to hopefully grab your book too, and read that in the meantime. If they miss the cutoff for a cohort or whatever, they can jump in and get started, but we’ll have all that in the show notes, so you can check that out there and definitely check out both of those and get in touch because it seems like a great way to make a little extra money, and potentially a lot of extra money depending on how much time and effort you want to put it in. So, thank you again, Laura, for joining us on the show today. Laura Briggs: Yeah. Thank you. Scott DeLuzio: Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website DriveOnPodcast.com. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @DriveOnPodcast
61 minutes | a month ago
Burden of Command & Drive On Collaboration
Earl Breon, a USMC veteran and host of the Burden of Command podcast joins me for a rather unique episode – the first for this podcast anyway – where we do joint collaborative episode. In this episode both Earl and I introduce ourselves to each other’s respective audiences so that you can learn more about us, our stories, and what we have to offer to you as a listener. I would encourage you to also check out his podcast Burden of Command wherever you listen to podcasts. Links & Resources The Burden of Command Podcast Leadership Phalanx Extreme Ownership – by Jocko Willink LTC David Grossman Transcript Scott DeLuzio: 00:00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I’d like to ask a favor if you haven’t done so, already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcast. If you’ve already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so, it can reach a wider audience. And while you’re there click the subscribe button so, that you get notified of new episodes as soon as they come out. If you don’t use Apple podcasts, you can visit Drive On Podcasts.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email list. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let’s get on with the show. Hi, my name is Scott DeLuzio with the Drive On Podcast, Earl Breon: 00:00:49 And my name is Earl Breon with the Burden of Command Podcast. Scott DeLuzio: 00:00:53 And we’re doing a joint episode today where we’re combining forces and this episode will be played on both of our podcasts today. So, we’ll do a little back and forth and get to know each other and we’ll be able to tell you a little bit about ourselves and if you’re not familiar with us, you’ll learn a bit about us through this episode and a little bit of what we got going on. So, Earl, I would say welcome to the show, but it is also your show as well. So, we’ll skip over those formalities, I suppose. Welcome to our show, right? Yeah. So, let’s jump right in. Scott DeLuzio: 00:01:39 We had been talking offline a little bit, but before we started recording and we’re talking about a few different topics and I think all of these topics are really important topics that each of us have some experience with. But one of them that I thought was especially important is the topic of the transition out of the military. I know a lot of people get out of the military and when they’re in that transition period, it almost feels like a light switch is going off where they have this military identity, they’re either a soldier or Marine or airman, whatever the case may be and then the next day they wake up and all of a sudden they’re a civilian, and now they have to figure out how to go back and navigate civilian life. You have an interesting story about that. Would you mind talking to us a little bit about that story a little bit about how that went for you? Earl Breon: 00:02:37 Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for asking, and I’ve shared this story I think at the beginning of my podcast, but it’s good to revisit and for your listeners, my story is not the stereotypical story that’s out there right now, where we have a lot of say Navy seals and Air Force recon and Rangers that are writing books, and they’ve got all these glorious metals and combat experience. I served pre 9/11, and my career was abruptly cut short due to the anthrax vaccine situation. Essentially I went through the medical board process, having some issues and the Navy board came back and said, when you’re in weather you don’t have to worry about passing out when you run well, being a Marine, you do have to worry about passing out when you run my CEO made it very clear. Earl Breon: 00:03:26 And so, he processed me for an administrative separation. So, I went from being a Marine to being told you’ve got 10 days and you’re no longer a Marine. And I didn’t have a lot of time to really process it. You know, I wasn’t looking forward to an EAs date. Luckily, I got into some of the transition classes and that helped me get a job in federal civilian service eventually. But in between I had to stop; I was working at a faucet factory in Northern Michigan, my wife’s hometown, and it’s stuck with me. They’re going from this rigid, structured kind of environment where you could rely on the person next to you to being in a place where people showed up to work late, they took off early, and it just grated on me and then eventually getting into the federal workforce, I saw some of those same things. And I’m like, this is your starting time you’re supposed to be here then. And I was working with a Navy veteran and he’s like, son, you gotta realize you’re not in the Marines anymore. Well, dang it. Shouldn’t everybody show up to work on time. That’s something, I think. Scott DeLuzio: 00:04:38 Exactly. Earl Breon: 00:04:40 It took me a while to come to grips with, he was right. I’m not in the Marines anymore. I had to adjust my thinking and I’ll tell you I’m sad to admit that I took a little too far the other direction. Because it was like four or five years down the road, I was working with an air force veteran for the first time. And he’s like, you were in the Marines. I was like, yeah. Why? He’s like, well, you don’t act like a Marine and that stung. Scott DeLuzio: 00:05:08 Right, Yeah. Because once a Marine always a Marine. Earl Breon: 00:05:12 So, y’all struggled with that balance for a little bit of finding where in the civilian world, where that line of not being the stereotypical Marine is versus being able to hold people accountable. Scott DeLuzio: 00:05:26 For sure. Right. And that’s a struggle that a lot of people go through when they come out. I have posted a question on a Facebook group a few days ago just asking, what are some of the biggest troubles that people have when they get out of the military? And one of the most common things that people were posting was just dealing with civilians and their mindset and their attitude about things, like you were saying about work and things like that. And the other was just that readjustment period and trying to find their place in the world. And the missing the comradery that you have in the service and so, your story is probably not too far from what a lot of other people are going through. And that’s why I wanted to bring it up because, I feel like some people might be sitting there thinking, Oh, it is just me. I’m all alone in this, but that’s not the case at all. There’s a lot of people who are going through this, so, that’s really a good background on you and your situation was like when you got out of the military Earl Breon: 00:06:45 Now really quick, for my listeners, I want to give you the same courtesy here. Take a second, introduce yourself really quick, give your backstory and who you are. Scott DeLuzio: 00:06:58 Yeah, sure. So, hi again, my name is Scott DeLuzio. My podcast is the Drive On Podcast and I served in the Connecticut Army National Guard as an infantryman for about six years. I got in around 2005, and for the most part, it was just the one weekend a month, two weeks a year training that the national guard does. We had some state level things that we got called up for natural disasters and that type of thing but nothing too crazy. And in late 2009, we were getting ready for deployment to Afghanistan and I should preface this by saying that my younger brother was enlisted in the Vermont Army National Guard, also, infantryman, and our units fell under the same brigade. Scott DeLuzio: 00:08:04 So, despite the fact that we were in two separate States, we all fell into the same brigade. And then that whole brigade was deployed to Afghanistan at the same time. So, him and I both we were located in different bases, different parts of the country but we were both deployed to Afghanistan at the same time. We get to Afghanistan in February 2010. And by August, 2010, my brother was killed in action; and so, that’s a big part of my story and my background after coming home dealing with the mental health issues that just naturally come with being in combat and also dealing with the grief of losing a loved one and all the complications that came with it is a big part of my story and where I got the incentive to try to help other people out because it really wasn’t easy for me those first few months, even the first couple of years after coming back home with dealing with things like the stresses from combat some of the moral injuries that you might have. Scott DeLuzio: 00:09:18 We talked about that before we started recording a little bit which I’m sure we can jump into that topic too, because that’s an interesting topic and dealing with all that stuff and then the thing that really eats me up inside is seeing the number of veterans who are committing suicide on a daily basis. The company that I was in was fortunate enough not to have any combat related deaths over in Afghanistan, but since coming back home, we’ve lost several soldiers to suicide. And to me that’s just unacceptable. Like there needs to be more going on and more to be done about that. And that’s the basis for why I started the podcast a little over a year ago now is that I know there’s people in the VA there’s people who are out there, mental health professionals who are well meaning they’re doing their jobs, are doing the best that they can, Scott DeLuzio: 00:10:17 maybe they just don’t have the resources they need. Maybe they don’t have the availability to help everyone and do all the things that they need to do. So, I figured, I’m just one person, how can I reach the most people out there? And I figured, Hey, start a podcast. It’s pretty accessible, it’s free for anyone to listen to. And I’ll talk about things like, what you talked about in your little intro there; talk about the transition periods, the struggles that people go through and bring on real people, not people who have only experienced this stuff in the classroom. People who’ve actually experienced it in real life, bring them on and talk to them in person talk about their experiences, what they went through, how they overcame these things, or if they haven’t overcome them, what they’re doing to work on that, to get through there so, that the people who are listening know that they’re not alone, that there’s other people out there who are going through the same things Scott DeLuzio: 00:11:16 and for the people who have come through this, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that there’s better solutions than some of those permanent solutions that sometimes people decide to choose. So, that’s me in a nutshell a little bit about my background and everything. Earl Breon: 00:11:37 I love that. And it’s great. I want to touch on all those, but if you don’t mind you know, there’s one static question I ask all the guests on my show and I’m sure my listeners are eager to hear your response. When you hear the term Burden of Command with all of your experiences you just shared, what does that phrase mean to you? Scott DeLuzio: 00:11:59 Burden of Command. That’s a good question. The first thing that just jumped in my head was, so, the day that my brother was killed, my commanding officer was the one who informed me that my brother was killed and having known him, my commanding officer and been on a friendly basis with him and everything, that had to be one of the hardest things that he had to do. I never really spoke to him about this afterwards. I feel a little bit bad about that, but I never really spoke to him about it, but that had to have been one of the hardest things that he’s really had to do is sit down with another soldier and tell him that a family member was killed. Scott DeLuzio: 00:12:53 Not a friend, not a distant relative or something like that, but it’s like the little kid that you grew up playing in the backyard with, he’s not a kid anymore, he’s gone and so, I think of the reason why I tell that is I think of this burden that these people who are in charge in the leadership positions that they need to put aside their own emotions and their own personal feelings about certain situations and do what’s right for the people who are in their command and take care of those people. That’s a heavy burden to carry sometimes. And I think it’s not an easy job; obviously, someone has to do these types of things and there’s other situations out there. I use one from my own personal background but there’s other situations where the leaders have to take charge and put their own feelings and personal situations aside to be able to lead their people, but that’s kind of what jumped in my mind when you said that phrase and hopefully that’s an acceptable answer for what we’re talking about here. Earl Breon: 00:14:17 Definitely. I mean, that’s what I tell folks there’s no right or wrong answer. I’ve gotten a lot of different answers to that question, again for my listeners, they’ve heard, I’ve had your dad on the show, Mark DeLuzio, he introduced us. And I’ll say the same thing to you that I said to him, sorry for your loss. You know, we talked about that comradery and that brothership, but for you, it was a literal brothership. And as much as it hurts, I’m empathizing with you here on that, as much as it hurts to lose a I’m using air quotes here, brother, as we use the term in the service it had to be a whole other level losing a literal brother. Scott DeLuzio: 00:15:00 Yeah, for sure. And I remember I think I might’ve just been in shock like the whole next day. The next day, if anyone’s familiar with this, it’s called the ramp ceremony where they bring the bodies onto the plane to be flown out of country. And there’s a ceremony where lots of officials, there were generals and there were people from other countries, other soldiers from other countries and civilian contractors and things like that all came to pay their respects. Think of it sort of like a wake the way you traditionally would see that. But you know, I was just in shock that day and I had a complete lack of emotions. Like I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t angry. It just was like emotions were just shut off, I think for me, and it was a surreal kind of experience going through all that. So, anyways… Earl Breon: 00:15:58 Yeah, well, I don’t want to hog up all the time since especially this being a joint show. So, where would you like to take the conversation now? Scott DeLuzio: 00:16:08 Well, you had mentioned that you wanted to talk a little bit about the moral injuries and things like that earlier, before we started recording. What were your thoughts on that? What did you want to say on that? Earl Breon: 00:16:21 Well, it’s something I wish more employers and just leaders, period wrapped their minds around. It’s an interesting concept and I heard you talk about it a little bit, so, I know you get it, but you know, for the listeners who haven’t heard me talk about this before, they call it moral injuries because while there’s no physical assault, pain going on your brain lights up the same as if you’ve had some kind of physical stimulus and it creates that type of pain. When we’re talking about things like veterans’ suicide. (A) It’s not all combat related (B) it’s not all limited to the time and service, and (C) it’s real. And it’s like any other injury, right? Earl Breon: 00:17:12 You know, if you get a small fracture in your shin, that’s not going to do much. If you get a second one, that’s going to put you at more risk of total breakage. But as these things compound, you end up with a total breakage, and that’s where we get folks who end up, as you mentioned, committing suicide, the ultimate way out. And, especially in our world, in the veteran world, a lot of people think it’s automatic. You were in the service, you were overseas, you have seen some stuff, you’ve got to have all this baggage. And, I’ve heard employers verbally say, I’m a little hesitant to hire veterans because the whole PTSD thing. Well, not everybody has PTSD and not all PTSD is combat related. You’re just as likely to have somebody with PTSD because they were a victim of childhood rape or something like that. Scott DeLuzio: 00:18:12 Even a car accident or something like that. Like you could get into an accident on the way to work and then you have some issues where you can’t drive down that street anymore, because it just is too much for you to handle. And it’s definitely not limited to combat veterans or veterans of any sort. Earl Breon: 00:18:36 And this has given the skill set to be able to deal with that. You wouldn’t tell a victim of sexual assault; I’m not going to hire you because you might have PTSD. So, why would you say it to a veteran? But it’s a skillset that a lot of leaders need and it is empathy. And I think that’s the thing that shocks a lot of people when they hear veterans talk about this is that’s why we use the term brotherhood. We love one another. And are you familiar with the works of Lieutenant Colonel David Grossman? Scott DeLuzio: 00:19:12 I’m not, no, but I’m making a note now to check it out. Earl Breon: 00:19:17 He’s great. He’s a I think the term that they coined for him as a combat psychologist, he’s an army veteran. And he really studies the question that got him going was how one can human being kill another human being. And he goes through the whole thing and he’s got all these statistics. He shows that all through history, even in war humans will go out of their way to not kill another human being, even in combat. While these incidents from the civil war the rifles were double loaded and they weren’t used on the battlefield, double loaded Romans not using the Gladius the way it’s supposed to. They were taught to stab instead of a slash, but they would slash going back to that with that brotherhood. Earl Breon: 00:20:12 We saw a sharp increase in PTSD rates going from WWII, and there was a slight increase in Korea, but there was a sharp increase in Vietnam. And he says that the really big difference in there was mobility, right after WWII, arguably soldiers saw much worse atrocities, whether you were in the European or the Japanese theater of the war, you saw more terrible things then what you saw even as bad as Vietnam was the difference was that comradery, when it was over, you got put on a ship, you had a couple months steaming back to the USA amongst your brothers and sisters. And there were some in the nurse Corps at the time, sisters to decompress and talk about it. In Vietnam, you were literally in it one day on a plane and back home the next, and you had no decompression time, Scott DeLuzio: 00:21:15 Right? Yeah. Yeah. And that’s something that people are seeing these days too, where they’re coming back from overseas and they’re not getting the time to have that decompression at least maybe not a sufficient amount of time for that decompression. And I think that’s something as a society we can probably have a little more empathy for. I know my return back home was definitely abrupt. I was out running a mission and then the next day I was on a plane on my way back home. And granted that the flight from Afghanistan is not the quickest flight around back home or whatever. But still, I had very little time with any other soldiers that I knew because after I left the mission that I was on, I was basically with other soldiers but I didn’t really know any of them. Scott DeLuzio: 00:22:21 And so, I didn’t really have anyone I could talk to that I trusted and knew and things like that. And the next people that I saw that I could talk to and I really trusted was my family when I got back home. And that to me was a problem because I didn’t have that chance to decompress and turn off. And when you’re in a combat environment, you’re on alert 24/7, pretty much you’re in that always on always ready mode. You’re always head on a swivel. You’re looking for potential problems. And then you come home and people might expect you to just flip that off, like it’s a light switch and you really need a dimmer. You need something to slowly turn it down to a lower level and you need to be able to handle that with people that you trust and know, and who also have been through the same experiences as you. So, that’s very true. Earl Breon: 00:23:16 Yeah, and that’s extremely valuable, and again myself right. You know, I was pre 9/11. I never saw combat. I had a lot of training, just in case it ever happened. But even though I’m a veteran, I’m never going to fully identify with it. And we see that a lot in the veteran community and this lack of understanding about how different people are affected differently. I always get a kick out of and I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but the fireworks, holidays, 4th of July, things like that, you always get somebody who’s well-meaning, that’ll pose, Hey, think of veterans as you’re setting up your fireworks, this could trigger something. And then you get some salty crusty veteran and it’s you don’t know the difference Earl Breon: 00:24:02 between a Roman candle. And it’s like, that’s not the point. You have been able to process that and at the very least think you’re okay, there are veterans that just the slightest noise, what happened and it sets them off, and I’ve heard, again, I’ve talked with veterans, I’ve heard, sometimes it’s a smell, there is a guy, he was in a particularly what’s a good way to put this fecal infested area of Afghanistan. And he said, to this day, anytime somebody around just passes gas or like if there’s a baby and they fill their diaper, whatever, just that smell of that fecal matter takes him right back to where that area was. So, you never know, what’s going to set somebody off. Scott DeLuzio: 00:25:00 Yeah. And they’re the senses that we have are very strongly tied to your memories and the thoughts that you carry with you, things like smells and sights and noises. I had somebody else on the podcast that had talked about how he was in Vietnam and he later went on to learn how to fly helicopters in the army. And he was on a training mission where he was flying the helicopters, a live-fire training mission, and the sounds of the guns going off and the explosions of the missiles and everything else that he was shooting off triggered a PTSD attack on him and brought him back to being in Vietnam where all these explosions and gunfire and things like that were going off. And it was really hard for him to go through all of that and live through that. Scott DeLuzio: 00:25:57 All of these senses sounds, sights, smells, tastes even could bring you back to something, even myself. I was listening to a song a few months ago that I hadn’t heard since I had been in Afghanistan. And it took me right back to the last time that I remembered hearing that song. And I was like, I felt like I was there. Like I was actually in Afghanistan and it was kind of an interesting thing to see that powerful effect of how closely memory is tied to those senses. Earl Breon: 00:26:35 Well, yeah. You know, and that’s the thing is our brains are weird, wonderful things, right? Like so, what we do a lot here at the leadership failings we do leadership and tie it in with diversity and inclusion training. Our kind of standard motto, if you will, is if you understand all the things it takes to be a good leader, you understand how important diversity and inclusiveness is to build a strong functioning team. And we talk about a lot of these same things as far as from the employer standpoint and how our brain works with neuroscience and those biases. And there’s some crazy research you’re talking about the senses; there’s a gentleman, John Barge out of Harvard, and he’s almost made a game if you will, out of finding what influences human decision making. Earl Breon: 00:27:38 And he did this one study where he proved through this study, that the temperature of your drink influences how you view your next interaction. If you have a cold drink in your hand, you’re more likely to view your next interaction a little bit more harshly, a little bit more coldly, in his specific scenario, he was talking about the likelihood of hiring someone. And so, leading up to that question, he would give people random drinks. Some people, it was cold, some people it was hot and there was a direct correlation. If you gave somebody a cold drink, they were more likely to not hire that person. If he gave them a hot drink, those feelings of warmth and love and calmness and all that we talked about being warm and fuzzy, they were more likely to hire that person. That’s not something you think about. Scott DeLuzio: 00:28:35 Yeah. And then, tying all this back into a leadership standpoint is that, I mean, you’re not dealing with robots here. You know, you’re dealing with living, breathing human beings and they have their own backgrounds, their own stories, their own unique set of circumstances that make them who they are and you might look at someone who was in the service and a veteran and say, “Oh, well, I want to stay away from that person because of the PTSD aspect or things like that.” They might be unstable or whatever, but they bring a lot of other things to the table, and you can’t dismiss them for one thing that may or may not even be an issue. You know, it’s just a little bit of a bias that you might have. And so, we all have our own unique set of issues that we’re carrying around with us, whether you served or not. And I think that’s just something that you have to learn how to work around. Do you have any background on that and anything that you want to add to that? Earl Breon: 00:29:48 Well, you know, I mean, you hit the nail on the head, it is a bias and the hardest thing for us to do is get people to admit that they have biases. You know, we’ve seen classic example, few years back, Paula Dean, she tried to admit and come clean that maybe she had, or that she had used some racial insensitive language, 20 years ago. Nobody found this, nobody stumbled upon it. She admitted it and apologized for it, but she got beat over the head. And basically, Paula Dean went from being everywhere to now, you hardly ever hear of her. But it shouldn’t be okay to admit these biases because we all have them. And if your bias as a hiring official is, I’m not going to hire veterans because I don’t want to deal with these issues. Earl Breon: 00:30:38 Okay. Fine. Be forward about that and talk to people. Right. Educate yourself. What is it that is unique about veterans and how can you better lead them? Because like you said, we bring a ton of skills. You know every one of us we have, as we talked about in the opening, there’s a set of standards that we love to live up to. We’re going to show up on time. We’re going to do the job to the best of our ability based on the guidelines that are set out in front of us and we’re going to bring a set of leadership skills to the table that most of the people on your team, whether they have a college degree or not have never been exposed to. I mean, you know, for instance you take a Marine versus a straight out of college, that out of college is going to be good, but you’re passing up on a lot of experience, leadership, adaptability, all of these things. And companies like Google just did this whole, over the past six, seven, eight years on their hiring practices. They’ve stopped looking at GPA. They’ve stopped looking at your level of degree and all that. And they look for, are you dependable? Are you adaptable? Can you get along? Do you have teamwork skills? And they show that those are much more valuable and much better indicator of somebody’s success as an employee. And we bring all of those things to the table Scott DeLuzio: 00:32:09 Yeah. Well, there’s always going to be exceptions for every rule, but yeah, I think you’re right. You did hit the nail there on the head that most of us will be coming out of the military with those types of leadership traits. And one of the other things too, that I don’t think a lot of people realize, I know this is true in the army. I don’t know about the Marine Corps, other branches of the service, but in the army, they always told us that you should be able to do that job above you and the job two jobs above you and including your own and everything below you is in terms of the rank structure and I found that to be very true when I was in Afghanistan. Scott DeLuzio: 00:32:54 I was a team leader on paper that was in charge of three or four guys at any given time but realistically we’d go out on missions and sometimes I would be in charge of the entire mission and I’d be in charge of 20 or 30 guys at that point. So, I was doing much more than the job that I was supposed to have “on paper.” There’s that adaptability that you were talking about where just because something changes and a situation comes up, you need to still be able to do whatever job is presented to you. If everyone in an army unit goes out and does the job that they’re doing on paper they’re in charge of X number of people and they’re doing whatever their job is. Scott DeLuzio: 00:33:54 and then an enemy attack happens and someone gets taken out, you have to adapt right away. There’s no transition period there. It’s now you’re stepping up into that next guy shoes and taking over his job because that’s just how things have to happen. And if you don’t, people are, if you hesitate, people are going to end up getting hurt and so, with that sort of training, a lot of veterans I think, are going to have that mindset where that’s not in my job description, but it’s still a job that needs to get done and I’m going to do it because I see it needs to be done. And I’m just going to take care of it until it gets done. I think that’s something that people will miss out on if they pass over veterans for the fact that they’re veterans. Earl Breon: 00:34:44 Yeah, no, a hundred percent. And I like to throw in movie quotes because a lot of people’s experiences with the military are through movies. And for the folks who are having trouble, maybe completely grasping on what Scott’s talking about here, they have that great scene in the movie, We Were Soldiers with Mel Gibson where they’re doing the landing for air Cav. And like, he just walks up to the skid plate and he slams the Sergeant on the chest, you’re dead. And he points to the corporal and says, you’re in charge. What do you do? And he hesitates, he smacks him in the chest. So, your dead, and he points the next guy and says, okay, he’s dead. What do you do? And yeah, you’ve gotta be willing. We do the same thing, in the Marines we talked about, everybody’s a leader and we’re supposed to hold each other accountable and it’s true. Earl Breon: 00:35:33 And I think that’s another thing in the civilian world where it’s kind of an irony. Because yes, we have a rank structure we’re supposed to respect the rank and the command, and maybe the army is a little bit different, but in the Marines, if you see somebody, it doesn’t matter if you’re a private and you see somebody who’s not doing something right. You have a responsibility to look out for them and say something. And in the corporate world, they’re almost religious, we’re going to stick to the chain of command. And if you jump at it, it’s this Cardinal sin. Or if you talk above your pay grade, how many organizations have you ever been in where the janitor feels free to talk to the CEO? Scott DeLuzio: 00:36:17 Right, exactly. Yeah. I mean, other than are you done with that? Can I take that for you? You know, that type of thing, like outside of that, but there’s very little interaction, but one of the things that you have to do is be able to trust your people and interest them to make decisions on their own, delegate decision making abilities to those people because otherwise you’re going to start creating some bottlenecks at the top and things are just not going to get done. You have to allow people to be able to make those types of decisions. And that’s something that I noticed in the army is something that was very heavily relied upon is the ability for the boots on the ground, the people who are actually in the mission, not the higher ups, the commanders and all the brass who were sitting on the sidelines, who were just hearing what’s going on over the radio. Scott DeLuzio: 00:37:14 They weren’t necessarily making all the decisions. They might chime in from time to time, if they have something pertinent to say, but with our missions that we’d be on, we’re on the ground. We make the decisions as we see it. And I was a Sergeant an enlisted rank and sometimes I was the highest-ranking person there, and I was making the decisions on what needed to be done. And so, that’s not the case in every situation there; there’s usually people who are higher ranking out on these missions, but it’s not always the case. So, they rely on the people who are there to make those types of decisions. And I think that’s something that could definitely be applied to the corporate world. Especially with your audience, the people that you’ve talked to on a regular basis here, it seems like that’s something that they need to be able to let go of and allow those people to take charge and take responsibility for those types of things. Earl Breon: 00:38:19 Yeah, absolutely. I served in peace time and to make it worse, I was weather. So, I was I think the army used the same acronym. I was opposed personnel other than grunt and, you know, but you’re right. I mean, even in my situation, I was in weather and I was in Biloxi when hurricane George hit. Here I am a 19-year-old, just freshly promoted. No, I hadn’t even been promoted Lance corporal yet. I was still an E2. And it was my turn to do the brief to the major general to start air force general in charge of the whole base. And my responsibility was giving him a brief on the hurricane track and make a recommendation on what we should do with the millions, maybe even close to a billion dollars’ worth of material and personnel we had on base. Not many corporations are going to invest that level of authority in somebody who has been with the organization less than six months. And in some cases, they shouldn’t, but in some cases they should because that instance, I briefed out what was going to happen. And we were able to bug out and lock things down and get aircraft out and Biloxi took pretty close to a direct hit and it was the right call. They could have easily said, look, I’m a major general, I’m the CEO of this thing. Come on. Scott DeLuzio: 00:39:32 Yeah. What do you really know? Come on. Yeah. Earl Breon: 00:39:34 But, he listened and again, I think that’s the thing that a lot of people don’t get about military service is yes, the rank is there, almost more of an administrative purpose. Everybody has the same responsibilities and on the same mission and looking for the same things. And you have to have that boots on the ground. Just imagine if you get into an altercation and well, “Hey, this machine gun nest isn’t where Intel said it was, I’m going to have to adapt the plan. Let me call HQ. HQ has got a call set com, set coms, got a call from the Pentagon. t would be terrible. Before anybody even got the message up the chain hustle, lesson decision came back down, right? Scott DeLuzio: 00:40:19 Yeah. That machine guns gone by the time that message gets to the president or whoever all the way at the top of the chain that is going to, that it’s going to get to. And then it has to work its way back down. So, yeah, that would be a terrible situation. But the other thing that it does by allowing the people who are on the ground, who are on the front lines, if you will in and taking, being able to take responsibility and make their own decisions is it makes them take ownership of the situation too. And so, when they see things start to go sideways, they know, okay, this is on me because this was my call. This was my decision, my idea, or whatever to go about this route. And you know, they’ll take ownership as opposed to pointing fingers at somebody else, which we all know it doesn’t really solve anything. It doesn’t fix it, the situation, but when I see that things are starting to go sideways, they’re going to make darn sure that they’re going to fix it and they’re going to, they’re going to make it work, you know? Earl Breon: 00:41:23 Yeah, no you know, a hundred percent and I get pushback on that. You know, when we’re talking to folks, they’re like, well, you know, I just, I don’t have, I don’t have people on my team that I can trust that level of. Well, that’s your fault. Scott DeLuzio: 00:41:36 That’s the leadership problem. Earl Breon: 00:41:39 If you don’t have those people on your team, you did a shitty job of putting your team together, Scott DeLuzio: 00:41:42 or training your team. You know, maybe you have a bunch of junior people who are not capable of doing that, but they need the training. So, invest in the training, get them the training that they need. If they need experience, get them experience, hold their hand for a little bit to get them trained up to the point where they can make these decisions and you’re confident that I don’t want to say that they’re going to make the right decision because you can’t have an absolute, a hundred percent guarantee of that all the time but that they have the ability to make the right decision. And if they don’t have that ability, then like you said, you made a poor decision in creating that team, right? Earl Breon: 00:42:21 No. And we talked kind of poked funded Navy seals earlier but there is a Navy seal, Jocko Willink. He and his friend Lane Bev, and they wrote the book, Extreme Ownership, fantastic book, it was a fantastic book, but even he had to go on this mission afterwards, because what happened was a lot of people read the book and he heard extreme ownership is I need to say, it’s my fault. And you had a lot of people’s going to say, it’s my fault. It’s my fault. I take ownership. That is kind of what I was saying. But you still have to do kind of what you’re talking here. You still have to do that analysis. Sure. It’s your fault. As a leader, you should have put your team together. Earl Breon: 00:42:59 You should have made better decisions. You should have given better instructions. You said that all these things, but you have to go deeper and figure out why and why, where you failed the team. And even if the team failed, like we’re talking about here, even if Tommy didn’t do his job, you still failed because you didn’t understand Tommy’s capabilities and you didn’t put him in a position to succeed. You put him in the position to fail. And so that’s the thing with ownership. It’s not just, it’s my fault. It’s yes, it is your fault. But do you understand why it’s your fault? It’s a question. My wife asks me all the time. Do you understand why, what you did? And that goes back to the whole thing where wives are much smarter, and better leaders than we give them credit for. Scott DeLuzio: 00:43:46 For sure. Absolutely. You’re not going to catch me saying anything other than that. Earl Breon: 00:43:52 But I mean, it’s the truth. You don’t understand what you did? When our wives ask us that we feel challenged. I mean, me, I know I do. When my wife asks me, I was like, wait, of course I do. But I really don’t. You know, and in my mind, I don’t have a clue, but when we talk about ownership, it’s not just saying yes, it’s saying yes, and I’m going to figure out what went wrong and I’m going to take the responsibility to make a corrective action moving forward. As you mentioned, do I need to train somebody up more? Did I do a terrible job at what the expected outcomes were going to be? Did I just pick the wrong team? We’ll go back to the moral injuries and tie that in. Did I not understand that Johnny’s dad is in stage four cancer and could die at any second, but you put a high stress task on him. That’s not the time to put people in high stress. Scott DeLuzio: 00:44:45 Right? Exactly. Yeah. That’s for sure a great point. I don’t think people think about that. They might sit on a pedestal or whatever. They might sit there looking at wargaming look at all the pieces of their puzzle and looking at them at the individuals that they have on their team as tools a means to an end, to get a particular job accomplished or job done. And they may not be thinking of, Oh, well, like you said, Johnny’s dad is going through cancer treatment and he’s probably stressed out. Or his wife just had a baby and he probably didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before, those types of things. These are people, like I said before, we’re not dealing with robots here that are just tools that accomplish jobs. Earl Breon: 00:45:37 One of the reasons veterans have some of the stigma that they do is the homelessness piece, right? You know, there’s a large segment of veterans that are homeless. Well, why when you go back and you look at how in the early stages of the global war on terror, the standard method of treatment was here, take a fist full of pills until the pain goes away. And we’re just going to keep giving you a fist full of pills, and then you get people addicted to pills, and then you realize, Hey, it’s not a good idea to get people addicted to pills. And so, we’re going to stop giving you pills. Now you’ve got a whole bunch of people who are addicted to opioids, but now they have no way of getting opioids when you don’t take the time to fix the addiction that you created. And then you just expect them to fend for themselves. Scott DeLuzio: 00:46:37 Yeah. It’s the law of unintended consequences where you’re trying to fix one thing and you don’t look two or three steps down the road to see what problems are going to end up coming up from all of this. Earl Breon: 00:46:54 There’s a lot of things, this will show my nerdy side, I was a big Star Trek fan and they’re talking about tri-level chess on there. We got a lot of people, especially when it comes to these types of issues, they’re playing checkers when it’s a tri-level chess kind of game. Scott DeLuzio: 00:47:13 Okay. Yeah, yeah. Earl Breon: 00:47:15 We need to do some deeper thinking and deeper understanding and that’s why shows like Drive On, I’ve listened to several episodes, haven’t listen to every one, but your show Drive On with some of the guests and some of the topics you’ve talked. It is a great service and I really hope and believe that some veterans have heard that and hopefully made some better decisions because of the information you shared. So, I appreciate you doing that and taking that opportunity. Scott DeLuzio: 00:47:46 I appreciate that and even for people who are not veterans who are like we’re talking about here in a leadership role where they might have veterans on their team, or they might have people who are going through a stressful time, maybe it’s grief, or the loss of a loved one, or some other situations that they’re going through. The topics that we talk about on my podcast might help bring some understanding to the human side of things and really I’m trying to reduce the stigma around the mental health topics and other things that traditionally, like I know growing up, just suck it up and deal with it and move on with whatever it is that, in some cases, you just gotta suck it up and deal with certain things, but there’s other situations where that’s not the right attitude to have and there might be a fine line there, but to help people understand what’s going on I think is a big goal of mine help people get a better picture of the mental health that were issues that we’re facing. Earl Breon: 00:49:01 Yeah. Well, you said the key thing right there, a few episodes back I had the fortune of interviewing Jason Armstrong, the chief of police for Ferguson, Missouri. And we started talking about mental health a little bit, obviously around race issues and all that. And he told me they had an officer involved shooting. It was a couple of his officers. He was, I think deputy chief outside of Atlanta and they put out a call for mental health services. And he said, the first thing I did, as soon as I got his, I responded to everybody make me an appointment. And he said, the whole point was I wanted my people at my department to see from somebody in senior leadership, that it was okay to take advantage of. And that’s what we need more, I believe in the veteran community, we’ve got a lot of great personalities. Earl Breon: 00:49:54 We’ve got a lot of very influential people and some of them are doing this, but we need more to sit back and say, look, you’re here. And General Mattis tried this in a way, several years back, but it got taken out of context. The thing is, you’re not broken. You’re not weird. You’re not weak, you’re not any of these things you’ve seen. You’ve seen stuff that most human beings shouldn’t see even exposed the situation that most human beings should never be in. You shouldn’t be ashamed of the fact that you need some help coping with that. And so, we need more people in positions of authority to tell people how to tough it up, suck it up, put their arm around her shoulder and help them find help. That’s how you’re going to help bring 22 a day down. Scott DeLuzio: 00:50:50 Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And I I’d like to see that number go away entirely. That’s a big number to chip away at, but every number that we can bring it down, everyone that we can bring it down is great. But yeah, you’re absolutely right with that. Earl Breon: 00:51:10 Yeah. I follow a lot of the folks. I think it was Tim Kennedy, Mr. MMA, Mr. Everything. And he even said, you know, I’d be lying to you if I said that there were times in combat where I didn’t freeze and get stuck behind a wall because I couldn’t get myself to move. Everybody goes through it. You’re in terrible situations. And it bugs me to no end when we see other veterans eating our own. Scott DeLuzio: 00:51:46 Yeah. For sure. And one of the things that I like to do on my podcast is get very personal what it is that I’m talking about. And I’ll tell the stuff that’s not the pleasant pretty stuff and I’ll talk about my own experiences. I’ll talk about how I went to go get some counseling after I got back from overseas. I don’t really want to use the term lead by example, but like to show people that it’s okay to do that, I’ve done it and I didn’t come out as some weak sissy whatever, like I feel like I came out actually stronger. Scott DeLuzio: 00:52:29 We talked about this on my podcast too, one of the earlier episodes where it’s not selfish to take care of yourself, because if you’re dealing with things, mental health issues or any other kind of health issues and you’re dealing with these things and you don’t take care of them, they’re going to end up making it so that you can’t do your job, you can’t take care of your family. You can’t do the things that you need to do. You can’t be present for different things. So, it’s not selfish for you to go talk to somebody, to a counselor or to focus on yourself for a period of time, because you need to in order to do that, it’s kind of like the example of when you get on an airplane and they tell you about the oxygen mask set, dropped down, and they tell you to put your mask on first before helping others. Scott DeLuzio: 00:53:20 And if you’re sitting there flying with kids, you might think, well, I’m going to do anything to protect my kids. But if your kids are scared, now that these things are falling out of the ceiling and they’ve never seen them, and there are noises that they’re not familiar with. And you try to put that mask on them and they’re fighting you along the way. You don’t end up getting a mask on. Well, both of you are going to pass out and then you’re no good to them. You’re not going to help them out at all. So, put your mask on first, take care of yourself first, and then you can help them so, that you both don’t end up in trouble, same thing in combat, if someone gets shot or is wounded or whatever you don’t just run out to go help them as much as you might want to; you take care of security first, make sure that that threat is eliminated. It’s out of the way. And then you can go help that person make sure you get rid of that. You take care of security first and make sure you do it quickly but take care of it so that you don’t end up becoming a casualty as well. But now somebody else has to go out and drag you out from the danger zone as well. Earl Breon: 00:54:24 A hundred percent. And you said it right there, when you went, you felt kind of stronger on the backend and the airplane analogy is great. Another one I like to use is, and it’s something that most of us in the military know what I mean? You can’t tell it, but looking at me now, I’ve been out for 20 plus years. So, not as lean and mean as I used to be, but before the anthrax issues hit, I was fairly big into bodybuilding. And you know how that process works and anybody who’s into lifting weights knows. When you lift the weights, you put a heavy strain on the muscles and you tear and fatigue them, right? And then we know that we need to take supplements to help aid that healing process. So, when the muscles grow back, they’re stronger, bigger, healthier. And so, you can do more going forward. Your mind is a muscle. It’s the same thing. These things that we went through are putting our minds under immense stress loads. They’re getting broken down in a lot of different ways going and seeking help. It’s like taking that supplement. You get through there; you can deal with it. Now you understand more of what you can deal with. So, your mind comes out stronger on the other end, and it’s not a fluke that you felt that way. That’s actually what happened. Scott DeLuzio: 00:55:30 That’s showing that it worked. Exactly. Earl Breon: 00:55:33 And so, we know this about fitness. We know this about muscle building. We know this about all this good stuff. We just got to transition. Hey, the things that work for physical fitness work the same for mental fitness and see those services, there’s the veterans suicide hotline. There’s a what is it? 22 kills is another one that’s out there. The VA offers a host of services, take advantage of those. Scott DeLuzio: 00:56:04 For sure. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And that’s the best thing you could do really. And if you feel like you don’t want to put that burden on anyone else. That’s what those people’s jobs are. They’re there for that; that’s what their purpose is. And by denying that, then the ability to help you is kind of denying them their purpose in life. They’re there for that. So, take advantage of it; I don’t think there’s any problem with that. Earl Breon: 00:56:33 I agree. I agree. Scott DeLuzio: 00:56:36 Okay. Earl Breon: 00:56:37 We’ve been talking here for about 50 minutes or so, Scott DeLuzio: 00:56:40 Yeah. It seems that way. Time does fly when we get going on some of these topics and I probably could talk about this for quite a while. I think for this episode anyways, it’s probably a good point to wrap up. What do you want to give people who are may be listening on my podcast, where they can find out more about your company and what you do and your podcast and everything like that. So, if they want to tune in, they can find it there. Earl Breon: 00:57:07 Sure. Appreciate it. My company, my partner is an army veteran. We were the Leadership Phalanx. We rely heavily on some of that Spartan iconography there that is so popular in the military. The podcast that I produce is called the Burden of Command podcast. You can find a link to it there on that show. And yeah, if you want to reach out to me, typically on my show, I give out burdened.command, but given what we’re doing a email@example.com, but given what we’re doing here, if there is a veteran, especially a veteran who’s listening, but really anybody who’s dealing with some of these issues, I’m not going to be able to talk intelligently about combat related stuff because I’ve never saw it. Earl Breon: 00:57:59 But I do understand some of these other things that are going on, I’m not a trained clinical psychologist or any of that, but, I could be a sounding board if you just need somebody to bounce ideas off of, or just talk to Earl@leadershipphalanx.com is my personal email address and feel free to hit me up there. And if you need to talk, we can work them in setting up a zoom call or something like that. But, if you’re suffering if you’re on the edge, reach out to me. Scott DeLuzio: 00:58:28 Yeah, absolutely. And I appreciate that you’re putting that out there. Earl Breon: 00:58:34 No, absolutely. And for my listeners on the Burden of Command, how can they find your show and get in touch with you? Scott DeLuzio: 00:58:41 Yeah. So, again, it’s Drive On Podcast. You can go to DriveOnPodcast.com and you can find all the recent episodes listed on there. I have them broken out by category. So, depending on what your into what you want to listen to you can check out those various categories and you can just listen to those episodes that are related to that topic, as opposed to chronologically on all social media, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, all those platforms, all @DriveOnPodcast and you can find contact information on the website and where to subscribe and listen to the podcast all right there. Earl Breon: 00:59:22 And please listeners, make sure you do that for both of us subscribe, rate, review, do all that good stuff. I don’t think people who don’t do podcasts, they have a hard time understanding how important that really is right with the algorithms. Scott had some great guests every time you rate and review one of those shows it gets them more exposure and same thing on my show. So, please do that for us. We’d really appreciate it for sure. Scott DeLuzio: Absolutely. Yeah. That would be a huge help to do that. So, thanks again, Earl for joining me and I’m glad to be able to join you as well. It’s a great conference conversation. Earl Breon: Yeah, no, absolutely. And thanks for the folks listening and thank you for coming up with this idea. We kind of glossed over it, but just when we were talking to Scott, it’s like, well let’s do a joint episode. And so, we did this on the fly and I really hope you all enjoy it. And for my listeners really thank you for sticking with us. I hope you enjoyed this format. Definitely let us know. And on my side, I’ll just sign off with, I’ll look forward to speaking with you again in the next episode. Scott DeLuzio: 01:00:39 Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website, DriveOnPodcast.com. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @DriveOnPodcast.
35 minutes | a month ago
Kevin Rose talks to us about a rather unique approach that helps veterans learn to de-stress and be more present in the moment. The technique involves the use of predatory animals like tigers, bobcats, panthers, bears, and other animals who have the potential for being extremely dangerous. I mention this so that you realize that this is not to be done on your own. This technique needs to be done under the supervision of professionals like our guest Kevin Rose. Do not attempt this technique on your own. Links & Resources Catalyst Refuge Website Catalyst Refuge on Facebook Catalyst Refuge on Instagram Catalyst Refuge on Twitter Catalyst Refuge on YouTube Transcript Scott DeLuzio: 00:00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting Veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I’d like to ask a favor if you haven’t done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcast. If you’ve already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you’re there click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes. As soon as they come out, if you don’t use Apple podcasts, you can visit Drive On Podcast.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email lists. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio and now let’s get on with the show. Hi everyone. today, my guest is Kevin Rose, who is the founder of The Catalyst and author of the book, The Catalyst Experience, How Rescued Tigers Heal Trauma Scarred Souls. So, Kevin, welcome to the show. I think I may have gotten some people’s attention when I mentioned tigers and the title of your book. So maybe you can tell us a little bit about your background and what it is that you do. Kevin Rose: 00:01:09 Absolutely. Thanks for having me, Scott. So, I am a manual therapist. I’m licensed as a massage therapist and I’ve been doing that for about 25 years. And I noticed many years ago that I could help people relax but there was something missing. And I’m going to take you through a really quick rundown. I started a program, started actually right after 9/11 when I felt like I was called to do something for those returning home from war and the program eventually became The Catalyst and The Catalyst is a human-animal interaction experience where we bring people face to face with tigers to help them relax. Now I know that sounds perhaps a little reverse, but it actually works. The way it works is I work with a rescue animal sanctuary in the town where I live and I teach a very simple technique to help people relax. Kevin Rose: 00:02:17 So when someone shows up, I’ll have them think of something stressful, be able to feel it in their bodies. And then what we do is we work through the animal sanctuary and we go from enclosure to enclosure and as the person is feeling whatever they’re feeling, whether it’s anger, fear, whatever the emotion is, the animal will literally begin to mirror whatever that emotion is. They may start pacing, growling, moving away. Then I teach this really simple technique and as soon as the person begins to ground, which is what this is called a grounding technique, when they begin to ground into the present moment and settle, they watch the animal mirror that as well. So, it’s literally a live biofeedback, but we’re working with all kinds of animals. And what I found was, I started working with alpha predators, in order to match the dynamic that I experienced working with combat vets. Kevin Rose: 00:03:22 I had the opportunity clinic where I worked many years ago. The doctor provided free programs for returning Veterans to help reintegrate. And what I noticed, as I mentioned earlier, was I could help people settle down. I could help people calm down, but then when they got up, it was like the stress just shot right back up. So I thought there’s gotta be some way to change this dynamic and long story short, it was actually working with tigers working with wolves first that brought me that awareness, but then working with tigers that really helped to change that dynamic in the brain literally. Scott DeLuzio: 00:04:07 Okay. So, this might just be me but the thought of working with some of these large animals doesn’t give off much of a Zen or calming vibe to me. I think my blood pressure was rising as you were talking about working with some of these animals. So how does that work? How does the whole process work? Where are you in the enclosure with the animals? Are you just outside the enclosure or what is that process look like? And how does being with some of these alpha predator type animals help to teach people how to calm themselves down? Kevin Rose: 00:04:52 So if I can explain a couple things really quickly about why we are in heightened states of alert, and one reason is there is a functional, a structural component in our brains called the reticular activating system. Now what this reticular activating system does is it takes in all the environmental information and it processes it into basically one of two groups. It’s either known or unknown. And when that unknown gets signaled, what the reticular activating system does is it throws up a warning called the fight, flight, or freeze response. You’re familiar with that, right? So, the fight flight or freeze response now puts you in this place of reaction. You have to be ready for everything. And so, but what happens is if you’re in this constant state of alert, basically the fight or freeze response gets stuck. And so even when you’re in a calm situation, you’re heightened in that fight, flight, or freeze response, because you’re always ready for something to happen. Kevin Rose: 00:06:10 All right. So, what I found was, and I’ll tell you a quick story. I had the opportunity to work hands on with wolves and I entered the enclosure with the wolves with other people having been a little training beforehand, but it’s a place called Wolf park. And it’s an anthology park where they study the wolves in their “natural habitat.” So, there’s a main pack of about seven wolves in a 25-30-acre enclosure. And so, they study them. How they hunt, how they mate, how they interact with each other. And so, I’m walking into this enclosure and my role there was to actually work on the wolves with whatever their injuries were. So, I’m walking into this enclosure and I look down this hill and there’s this pack of seven wolves flying up the hill at me. Kevin Rose: 00:07:09 Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a wolf in real life, but they’re about 150 pounds and are massive animals. And they’re all coming up the hill tongues hanging out focused on me because I’m the new guy, right? So, you can imagine my fight, flight, or freeze response is way high. Okay. So, they approached me and they come around me and because I’m so nervous, they start bumping and grounding because my nervousness is actually heightening their response. And I’m challenging the hierarchical situation by my heightened presence. So, I had to do something. I didn’t know what I should do, but the voice of my grandmother comes into my head. She taught me this technique, which I’m going to teach it in a little while, but she taught me this technique, how to use my senses and how to ground into the present moment to settle myself. Kevin Rose: 00:08:04 So I thought, well, that’s all I can do here. I can’t run obviously. And so, I start grounding myself. And as I did, the wolves just began moving away. They dissipated, they just oil and water. They just moved away. And I thought, wow, that is amazing. I wonder if I could do it again. So, I got myself all riled up again, and sure enough, they came right back around and started circling being bumping and grounding. And I grounded myself again, as soon as I did, they moved away. And then this time they allow me to work hands on with them one at a time coming up one at a time. And even the alpha submitted himself to me that day to work on, which is pretty amazing because I could keep myself grounded, they felt comfortable. So, the reason I started working with tigers was the availability. Kevin Rose: 00:08:53 I began volunteering at this animal sanctuary because I was looking for a place to do this. And I spoke to the owner and told her, “I have this idea for this project. I want to offer it free to combat Veterans. It may sound a little weird, but here’s what I want to do.” And her father was a combat vet who committed suicide as a result of PTSD. So, the doors were opening as they came. So, I started working with these tigers. And here’s what happens when you’re around a tiger. You’ve probably never been close up to any big alpha predator like that. Correct? Scott DeLuzio: Right. Kevin Rose: Right. So, what happens is when we step into this enclosure, we are not in the enclosure, we’re up next to the fence. Kevin Rose: 00:09:44 And when we step into this area where we’re that close to a tiger, what happens is your fight, flight, or freeze response naturally goes up? I don’t have to elicit it. I don’t have to tell you to think about anything other than something I always say, bring the stressful thought to mind and that’s as far as I have to go. And so that’s just natural excitement, whether it’s excitement or fear, it elicits that fight, flight, or freeze. And when you’re in that state, I teach this really simple technique that brings you down really quickly. And you begin to see and notice how the tiger reacts and responds to where you are. Does that make sense? Scott DeLuzio: I think so. Yeah. Kevin Rose: And so, it’s not about creating fear, but what it is about is replicating a feeling. If I can replicate a feeling of stress that you’re dealing with constantly, anyway; if I can replicate it really quickly and in a relatively safe and controlled environment, then I can show you how to systematically turn that down. Kevin Rose: 00:10:56 Every time it comes up, the body choose us, it’s got biological cues. So, when you’re hungry, what do you do? You eat. Thirsty, drink; when you’re tired, you sleep. You don’t really think about those things. The body just gives a cue, and then you follow that cue. Well, stress and pain are the exact same. Wait, the body is just trying to get your attention and it gives you a cue. So, it begins to elevate that stress level. But what we’ve learned in this culture is to immediately go to our brains and try to figure it out. What that does is it just adds to the stress. Because if we ask our brain a question, it’ll give us an answer, but it’s probably not the most workable answer. So, when you’re cued, then the best thing to do with stress and pain is to follow that cue and go back into your body. Kevin Rose: 00:11:59 That’s all your body’s asking you to do when you get stressed. So not asking you to do anything else, but to come fully present in the moment and just like hunger, thirst, and fatigue, if you don’t listen and respond with eating, drinking, and sleeping, your body will speak louder until you do; it’s the same way with stress and pain. But if you hear that cue from stress and pain or feel that cue, and you totally become grounded in your body, the biological cue begins to satiate. Now it may come back, right? Eating, drinking, and sleeping. We don’t do that one time in life, and then it’s over, right? So, it’s a repetitive process, right? And so that’s what I teach is this is not a onetime thing. This is a repetitive process that when you begin to identify the cues, you have a way to change that dynamic. Can I teach you this, Scott? Scott DeLuzio: 00:12:59 Yeah. I think that would actually be very helpful to people who might be listening to this and not necessarily have the ability to, if they don’t have access to a tiger or other things like that? So, where they can maybe practice this type of thing on their own. Kevin Rose: 00:13:18 Absolutely. So, do you have anything there to drink with you? Scott DeLuzio: 00:13:22 Yeah, I do. Kevin Rose: Awesome. What is it in the cup? Let me see what you’re like a water bottle. Okay, great. I just want to know Kevin Rose: 00:13:29 to be able to reference it correctly. So here you can just set it down for now, but the way I’d like to start is just feel yourself sitting in the chair, wiggle your toes a little bit. When you wiggle your toes, what that does is it brings your awareness all the way down through your body, right? This is step one. Your body is just calling you inside. Hey, just come in. You wiggle your toes. Now, as you’re sitting there feeling the chair against you, bring to mind something that creates stress. Scott DeLuzio: Okay. Kevin Rose: You have something. Scott DeLuzio: Yep. Kevin Rose: All right. Now, as you’re thinking about this stressful thought, begin to notice, where do you feel the stress in your body? Where does it translate for you? Scott DeLuzio: 00:14:13 In my neck, actually, as soon as I thought of that thing, it was in my neck that I literally had a pain in the neck. Kevin Rose: 00:14:26 So if I were to ask you to quantify that zero out of 10, zero being not stressful at all, 10 is excruciatingly stressful. Where would you say it is in this moment? Scott DeLuzio: 00:14:35 Right now, it’s a three or four. It’s not super stressful. Kevin Rose: Yeah. Very good. So, pick up the water bottle. Kevin Rose: 00:14:44 Yup. Hold it in your hand. And I want you to really bring your awareness to your fingertips. Notice the texture of the bottle. Notice temperature. Scott DeLuzio: Okay. Kevin Rose: I want you to take a drink. And as you’re drinking, tastes the water, smell the water, listen to the sound of the water going down your throat. Scott DeLuzio: Right. Kevin Rose: And bring your awareness back to your fingertips. Really notice the texture of the bottle. Now, zero out of 10, measure that again? Scott DeLuzio: 00:15:13 The stress it’s not, I’m focusing more on the water bottle now than the stress. Kevin Rose: So how is the pain? So yeah, it’s like not there. Kevin Rose: 00:15:28 Here’s the thing. This isn’t a trick. We’re not distracting you away from this stress. This stress actually distracts you out of your body. All I’m doing is bringing you back in. Scott DeLuzio: Right. Okay. Kevin Rose: So, using all five senses at once, what that does is it brings you fully present in your body. And so, when you do that, then the body goes just like you’ve had a good meal, a nice long drink, a nice nap, whatever it is, right; same reaction and same response. And so that’s what I teach people. When they come and work with me, I teach people on the phone. I teach people on Zoom. However, the mechanism is just this simple. It’s no more complicated than this, but what happens is if you begin replicating it throughout the day; so for example, I wear a necklace, not as a fashion statement, but what happens is I feel that necklace touching my chest. And when I do it reminds me to ground. It reminds me to wiggle my toes, engage all five senses when I’m in the car, start getting heated from the traffic immediately that’s my cue, wiggle my toes engage all my senses. What do I see, smell, taste? And as you do that, you drop back down into the body and the distraction in the brain begins to quiet. Okay. Scott DeLuzio: 00:17:04 So I previously had someone on the show who talked about using horses for a similar form of therapy that because a horse mirrors your behavior the same way that you were talking about here. So, that was, for anyone who might want to go back and listen to that episode. So, that was episode 54 with Jennifer O’Neill. You can go back and listen to that if you want, after listening to this episode. But, for example, if you’re being standoffish and the horse will display similar behaviors but if you’re being calm and relaxed, the horse will be more approachable and it sounds like, well, I’m sure there’s more to it than that. There’s a lot more to it, but it is pretty simple. Yeah. In a nutshell, that’s sort of what we’re talking about here. It seems like that’s kind of the same situation that you’re talking about with the tigers and the wolves and other animals that you’ve worked with. Kevin Rose: 00:18:03 I’ve worked with horses and dogs and it works with all animals, right? We’re not limited because at the sanctuary we have monkeys and fox and birds and there are all kinds of animals and the difference is with the predator animals, they don’t back away. And so, with a horse if you’re upset, a horse will back away from you. A tiger will do just the exact opposite; it’ll come towards you. And so, what happens is the reason that I was so focused on doing it with combat Veterans is because in combat it’s in your face all the time. Right? I mean, it’s a constant thing. So, I’m working with the alpha predators. What it does, is it really kind of elicits that core feeling, whereas with working with prey animals, it seemed to me that you had to actually work harder to access that. Does that make sense? Scott DeLuzio: 00:19:14 Yeah, it does. I think, in a way too, with combat vets who, like you said in combat, you’re always on, it’s 24/7 kind of in your face type of thing. If your reaction to being around a tiger or an animal like that is causing that tiger to come towards you and start acting a little bit more aggressively or whatever the case may be towards you. It’s definitely going to make you have to rethink what it is that you’re doing in your own response. So that negative thing that tiger kind of acting more aggressively towards you is not going to continue happening. You can get that to maybe back away or de-escalate the situation. I’m sure that’s very similar to what happens in everyday life, where there aren’t these big predators looking around; well, not the furry ones now there may be a semi on the highway that you’re passing and that could be even more dangerous. Scott DeLuzio: 00:20:33 Is there something about you, you mentioned that all animals have some sort of senses like this, but is there something about working with these types of animals specifically that works for people versus maybe some other options, like maybe talk therapy or other animals, like the horses that I mentioned or dogs or anything like that? Kevin Rose: 00:20:54 Yeah. You know, I always say to people look, do what works for you. Right. Do what works for you. The only thing that I’ve noticed with this work is that it gives you a really grounded place to start from. So, if I teach you how to ground, right. If I teach you, and if you do talk therapy, you do whatever therapy. If you don’t stay in your body and you don’t stay grounded, then everything becomes mental. And so, I’ve witnessed not just in other people, but in my own self, I can create some fire just by the thought process. You know what I mean? And so learning how to ground into your body, learning how to ground in the present moment, when you do that, and you use that as your core functioning place, everything added on to that is going to be so much more effective. So, I don’t say that it’s a fix all by any means, but it’s an excellent place to start. Scott DeLuzio: 00:22:03 Yeah. That makes sense. And the way you described it, when I had the water bottle in my hand, I was feeling the texture of the water bottle and tasting the water and feeling it going down my throat and all that, that kind of stuff. And literally being present in the moment that feels like a meditation type practice. Is that sort of what you’re talking about? Kevin Rose: 00:22:27 Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I’ve tried to meditate and I can do it some, but who has time anymore? So that’s the downside. I hear people say, I just don’t have time and whether you do or not, that’s irrelevant. So, my whole approach was what can I share with people that they can do at any time in the day? I’m doing it right now while I’m talking to you, because I’m always trying to ground myself. And I said, my grandmother’s voice. So, my grandmother taught me this when I was 12 years old. And she taught me because she saw that I was having challenges in everyday life and at home and at school and all of that. And she just showed me this. She had a 50-acre farm and we used to take all the walks. Kevin Rose: 00:23:16 And so she showed me this in nature. And I think that’s the key to this is nature is always going to be truthful. It may not always be nice and fluffy, but it will always be truthful. And so when you learn the lessons there, I believe it’s so much more powerful, but she taught me this and I was doing this for years and didn’t even really know what I was doing until I started developing this program. And I needed something quick that people could do right now in the moment. So yes, it is a meditation and yes, that’s where people are reaching for when they meditate. At least that’s what I believe is to remain grounded. So, having something that’s accessible that you can do all the time, I think is super important. Scott DeLuzio: 00:24:10 It seems like that. And I know that there are people who, especially combat vets who are coming back and early on, when they first get back, people tend to think, “Oh, you should just be able to act normal again, you know?” And just why do you have to be on alert all the time? Well, because for the last six months, nine months to a year, whatever the case may be, you were in a combat zone and you had to be on all the time. And it’s hard to just turn that off. So of course, learning a process like this, to be able to de-escalate yourself and ground yourself down to a better baseline level, could be especially helpful for those people who are just returning from overseas where they were constantly on. And quite frankly, even while they are overseas and while they are deployed having this ability is also super helpful so that when they come off of patrol and they’re there on their base in a relatively safe and secure area, they’re not constantly on high alert and they can allow their brain to take a little vacation for a little while., anyways, not saying that they need to totally turn off, but Kevin Rose: 00:25:32 Right. And that, you know, and the thing about it is there are a lot of great points there. We, I actually did a program at Lemoore Naval station with the doctor that I worked with him. We were working with guys that were being sent back and, you know, they were saying, look, I, I can’t get to call, because I’m going back into this and it left an impression on me. But I remember thinking, I remember even saying to one guy, this isn’t about zenning out. It’s not about that. how much more effective are you when your call, right? You can be, you can be totally heightened, but calm at the same time. And so, we taught them this, and that’s what we said. And even if you can’t do it, you know, if you can’t do it all the time, at least when you’re down, it can give you some way to just create a moment of relief. Kevin Rose: 00:26:30 And that’s the biggest thing too, is you come home and people are like, well, why can’t you? Well, because you’ve been on red line for however long you were deployed. People don’t understand that. And it actually was the impetus to create the program because I saw that people didn’t understand that. And at the time I didn’t want to see anything close to what the Vietnam Vets faced when they came home with the public sentiment. I wanted to be able to create something that could teach how to come back, reintegrate with as much as possible. I think that it’s actually a crime that we send people to war and don’t do this immediately when they come home. I think that’s something we owe as a public, we owe anybody that risks their life for this country. Scott DeLuzio: 00:27:29 Yeah. And this actually answered my next question that I wanted to segue into, but you did mention earlier in the episode here that you felt like you were called to service after 9/11 to help these people who were coming back from Iraq, Afghanistan, wherever they were deployed to, and that’s something I feel like is missing these days. A lot of times people who feel like they have something to offer and provide that service to these people who are sacrificing quite a bit to go and defend us. I certainly thank you for doing that, especially, you offer the service to combat Veterans for free. So, it’s not cheap to keep tigers around or anything like that. And I know you’re using the sanctuary, but still there’s a cost involved there and it’s not probably insignificant either. Kevin Rose: 00:28:45 It’s the least that I can do. It is my service to the country. I wasn’t in the armed forces. I always felt like that as a citizen that we contribute. I’ve had really generous benefactors that have helped take care of some of the overhead. I’ve been able to teach classes and things to keep money coming in to help the sanctuary. They are great people. They take animals from adverse situations and give them forever homes. So, their overhead is high. It’s not cheap but it’s all done in service. So, it is absolutely our pleasure and yes, it’s always free to combat Vets. Scott DeLuzio: 00:29:37 That’s wonderful. So, with that said, it’s been a pleasure speaking to you about this today. And I want to give you the opportunity to let people know where they can go to find out more about what you do, about The Catalyst and your book and everything that you do, where they can go and find more information about all of that. Kevin Rose: 00:29:59 So everything can be found at on my website, www.CatalystRefuge.com. So that’s CA T a L Y S T refuge, R E F U G e.com. And there’s a link to the book and things like that on the website. I wanted to share one more thing with you. Scott DeLuzio: 00:30:23 Yeah, absolutely. Kevin Rose: 00:30:24 So, a lot of times when I talk about this, it seems a little woo for lack of better word. And so, I always want to throw in a little bit of physics. Scott DeLuzio: 00:30:38 Okay. Yeah, absolutely. Kevin Rose: 00:30:40 Are you familiar with the phenomenon of resonance? Scott DeLuzio: 00:30:46 Not intimately, but I know enough about it. Go ahead. Kevin Rose: 00:30:52 So if I may just really quickly, so there’s two objects that are attuned to the same frequency. If one object begins to move or oscillate, the other object will eventually begin moving an oscillating at that same pace. So, this is a physics phenomenon. So, an example of this is when you have two acoustic guitars in a room, you can pluck the string. And if they’re tuned to the same key, you can pluck the string on one. And the string on the other guitar will begin to resonate and make that sound without being touched. In an airplane, they attuned the metal to a different frequency of the engine, because if they didn’t, it would break apart in midair, right. That’s resonance. So, the reason I bring this up is because what we’re doing when I’m working with people, I’m actually bringing myself to that person’s frequency showing them a different frequency, and then we’re both going there together. So, we resonate, right? So, if you think about it this way, when you walk into a room and it feels weird, you’ve had that before, right? Tense, whatever, you can feel it, you don’t even know these people, but you can feel it, that’s resonance. But if I walk in this room and I ground myself, what happens is the person outside is already attuned to the same frequency, but they begin to feel my grounding and it invites them to oscillate at that same pace. So, when I teach one person go home, Kevin Rose: 00:32:40 they oscillate at a different frequency and their family, their friends. Do you know what I mean? So, it’s like this passing on of a different way of being. So, I just bring that up because that’s really what we’re trying to do is not just change and help one person, but when you help one person, it affects everyone. Scott DeLuzio: That’s great. And having that kind of almost infectious result, where it can spread the benefit to other people where that same kind of vibe is being felt by other people that’s phenomenal that that can happen. I can assume that only can help family lives and work situations and things like that. So, that’s wonderful. So, again, thank you for joining us, sharing about what you do. Scott DeLuzio: 00:33:41 Again, the website is CatalystRefuge.com. I’ll have links to that in the show notes so you don’t have to stop your car to write that down, and I’ll have links to all your social media, YouTube page and all that type of stuff in the show notes as well. So, people can go check that out and check out your book too. If you’re interested in that, I’ll have a link to that in the show notes as well. So, thank you again, Kevin. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you. Kevin Rose: Hey, thanks for the time Scott. I appreciate it. Thanks so much. Scott DeLuzio: 00:34:16 Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website, DriveOnPodcast.com. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @ DriveOnPodcast.
35 minutes | 2 months ago
Mental Resilience & Physical Fitness
Bradley Hecker is a law enforcement officer and an EMT who teaches law enforcement and military personnel the mental and physical skills they need to execute their missions. We talk about becoming mentally resilient and how to get back into physical fitness. Links & Resources Brad and Bash Brad and Bash on Instagram Brad and Bash on Facebook Transcript Scott DeLuzio: 00:00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting Veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I’d like to ask a favor if you haven’t done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcast. If you’ve already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you’re there click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes. As soon as they come out, if you don’t use Apple podcasts, you can visit Drive On Podcasts.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email lists. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let’s get on with the show. Hi everyone, today, my guest is Bradley Hecker. Bradley is a law enforcement officer and an EMT. He also teaches law enforcement and military personnel. So, the, the mental and physical skills that they’re going to need, in order to execute their missions. so Bradley, welcome to the show. maybe you can tell us a little bit more about your background, what you do and how you got started doing what you do. Bradley Hecker: 00:01:09 Well, thank you for having me. I really appreciate it. so, it all started right after high school. I grew up in a house with a dad who was a cop and a grandfather who was an Army medic. So, I knew I wanted to do something along those lines, right out of high school. I went to an EMT course through college, and that sort of started to steer the path of the lights and sirens. The high intensity stuff was fun and I worked on the ambulance for a few years. I had quite a few new EMT students coming onto my ambulance. And I noticed a trend of more and more EMT students who are graduating, were telling other EMT students to ride on my ambulance. And I was very good preceptor and I realized there was something there about teaching that I was good at. Bradley Hecker: 00:01:56 So I started teaching EMS and while all that was going on, I finally got the call from the state law enforcement agency that I worked for saying, “Hey, come on down, start the process.” And I went forward through the process and fast forward now I’m an EMT still. I actually am the team medic for a special unit that I serve on with my law enforcement agency. So, it all came roundabout and it’s really cool to start one place, change paths, and then it all connects together. So that’s the journey that I’ve been on. Scott DeLuzio: 00:02:33 Yeah. And that’s awesome to see how all of that blends together and how the skills that you took from one part of your life and you were able to apply that to your current career and what you’re doing now. So that’s pretty awesome to see how all of that blends together. Bradley Hecker: 00:02:49 Yeah, absolutely. It’s been a crazy journey so far and it’s been a pretty short one. It hasn’t been all that long, but it happens all very fast. Scott DeLuzio: 00:02:57 And so what is it you’re, Scott DeLuzio: 00:03:00 into now? I know you do some training with some of the EMTs or you’ve done that in the past, but what is it that you’re doing now in working with the military law enforcement to keep them on top of their game? Bradley Hecker: 00:03:16 Yeah. So after realizing that I was a pretty good instructor and getting a lot of that, also none on the law enforcement side, whether it was helping someone prep for qualifications or someone had a fitness test coming up and I was helping them prepare for that. I started a company called Bread and Bash with a friend of mine Bash from back in high school, who is purely civilian, but I needed someone who understood the finance world and understood the legalities of starting a company and insurance. And I was strictly the operation side of things. And I said, “Hey, I have an idea for this company, in a state like New York where firearm laws are very strict and you can’t exactly get the opportunities to train like you could outside in another state. I saw the opportunity here to start this program and see what we could do. Bradley Hecker: 00:04:02 And it started off in the beginning with just civilians and law enforcement, military and military personnel that were interested in taking a class, but it wasn’t mandatory. It was just, “Hey, if you want to get better at running an AR platform of the pistol shotgun, anything of the sort medical” they could, and slowly it evolved into them bringing that back to wherever they work, whether it’s a law enforcement agency or a unit they’re a part of, depending on what branch they’re in. And they said, “Hey, you guys gotta check this out.” And then they sent cadre members to come to the class. And once their cadre saw what we were doing. They said, “you know what? We’ve got to get a contract on with these guys.” And it’s been pretty cool. Recently, we taught a New York city corrections department, which is the second largest law enforcement agency in New York. We taught their transport division, the AR platform from the get-go. And they’ve never touched one before we put it in their hands. And we taught them how to not only feel confident with it, but confident enough to use it, as opposed to their sidearm, that became their new primary tool. So, it was a very cool thing to take someone who’s never seen that and make them feel comfortable with it and use it should they need to. Scott DeLuzio: 00:05:13 And so is there a physical component to what you do as well, nutrition, fitness, that type of thing as well? Bradley Hecker: 00:05:24 We do a lot of it. It all comes together because unlike conventional, I won’t use names of other companies, but some of their classes are very static, stand still at a target. That’s not the reality of it. And I wouldn’t say that majority of people listening to your show, who’ve been out there, whether they were combat arms or support MOS, they understood what it was like. They went through basic, they learned to be a soldier first. And going through all those challenges, they realized that was a big part of it. The entire time you have to be physically fit and physical fitness leads to mental fitness, right? When you are struggling through your day, that’s a very challenging goal. If you get into a very sedentary lifestyle, you don’t really have any mental fitness to gain through each day, but establishing a goal like physical fitness, which may not seem like much, it may be the same routine that you’re doing, but it’s a challenging goal. Bradley Hecker: 00:06:17 And putting yourself through that keeps yourself mentally fit. So having that physical and mental fitness is a mandatory requirement, especially in today’s world right now, with the way things are going at any second, it could basically turn into a combat zone, a war zone on a smaller scale for that officer who’s out there. So, it is super important to keep your head on a swivel and maintain that level, if not exceed that level, that you’re already at a physical and mental fitness to get there. So, a lot of the drills we run, they’re not static at all. It requires dragging a dummy 50 yards and then taking shots from different positions and then pulling someone out of her car and carrying them 30 yards forward. And we do a bunch of different drills to simulate what they would experience in real world and hopefully, over prepare them. So whatever they do experience is not as bad Scott DeLuzio: 00:07:08 And I guess the goal is to never have to actually use any of this type of training in a real world environment where you’re actually dragging someone out of a car or whatever the case may be, where they’re injured or incapacitated in some way. So hopefully these people never have to use it, but the mental preparation that they need to get into so that they know what to do. So they don’t freeze and panic that’s certainly valuable, but also realizing how much of a physical challenge it is to do that type of thing, is probably a challenge as well for a lot of these people, and probably an eyeopener, if they’ve never done some of this stuff with dragging a dummy, or whatever. Bradley Hecker: 00:07:55 It definitely is. And I think for even some of the guys who are like total meatheads in my classes; they’re showing up and their shirt is ripping right off their body, but they don’t realize because they’ve been used to conventional weightlifting, which is not the reality of dead weight of a person. So, you have to really teach your body to work in different ways. And there are certain suggestions that I make, I personally do Brazilian jujitsu twice a week, just because you hit muscles you’ll never hit besides learning a martial art learning to grapple, which is extremely important because every noncompliant arrest and law enforcement goes to the ground. So that teaches you to use your body in a different way than you’re used to. And obviously it’s a major part of fitness. My first few months in Brazilian jujitsu, I was so sore because I’ve never experienced muscle soreness in that way. Scott DeLuzio: 00:08:46 Yeah. And from what I understand too, is that they’re using muscles that you just don’t typically use in those types of movements when you’re on the floor and doing a jujitsu that way. So, a lot of the listeners of this show are Veterans, and I want to circle back to some of the fitness aspect of it. And it’s because when you’re in the military, there’s a big effort probably very similar to the law enforcement. There’s an effort to keep folks in shape but after you get out of the military, you sort of have to rely on your own willpower. People can come up with all sorts of excuses. Like they just can’t find the time, or they can’t afford a gym membership, things like that. So what advice do you have for people like that who might be in that type of situation? Bradley Hecker: 00:09:36 I think the most difficult thing is once you find yourself in that situation, the longer that you’re there, the easier it becomes to find those excuses, like you just mentioned, whether I can’t find the time or I can’t afford it, there’s always a way when you want it bad enough, there’s always a way to get whatever you want. And physical fitness is something that I look at quarantine right now. How many gyms have been closed across the world at least this country alone and people are making it work and you’re finding different ways? The most important thing I would say is if you’re not motivated enough, and you were reliant on whether it was an NCO who was on you about physical fitness or find that battle buddy that was the whole thing that kept you going, then you relied on your battle buddy. Bradley Hecker: 00:10:20 And they relied on you; find someone in the outside world. And if necessary, I think it’s even better to find someone who is in that same lifestyle that you were in, because they’ll understand it. A lot of people are not going to understand, not having the motivation or not understanding why they can’t get someone motivated the same way a drill Sergeant could in basic. That’s a very intimidating thing. And most people don’t understand that mentality and they need that extra push and it’s not wrong to need that extra push. It usually is why people are shaped in such a disciplined way after that. Once you fall out of it, because slowly they start to give you that freedom. And once you have your own true freedom, you get that DD214 and now you’re on your own. Bradley Hecker: 00:11:03 Again, it becomes very easy to say, you know what, I just got out a week ago. Why would I work out right now? I want to enjoy myself a little bit. I want to start drinking beer nonstop; I get it. So, it’s very easy to find yourself off that routine. And I would say the battle buddy is probably the number one option to keep yourself motivated. And it’s also going to keep you even motivated because if someone else is having the same issue and you’re pushing them, that’s motivation for yourself without realizing it because you’re trying to get them to the gym. So, you just trying to get them to the gym means that you’re going to have to be there too. Scott DeLuzio: 00:11:36 You can’t get to the gym and then not show up yourself. That would be the wrong thing and the gym could be good and I’m not knocking getting a gym membership at all. But one of the downsides is you could be faced with a situation like we’re in now where gyms just have to be closed and you can’t rely on the gym to be there. I also see how it can also be used as a crutch or making that a crutch, maybe in more of an excuse to not exercise for example, if it’s snowing outside and you don’t want to get in the car and drive to the gym, so you’re just going to stay in your nice warm bed or maybe you only have an hour to exercise or something like that Scott DeLuzio: 00:12:24 and it takes you 15 minutes to drive to the gym, “Oh, I’m just not going to do it tonight.” You can almost use the gym as an excuse to not exercise. If you allow yourself, the gym is good and it should be something that you continue to use if that’s what you want to use for exercising. But don’t let that become an excuse either to not exercise if it’s snowing out and you don’t want to drive there, it doesn’t mean that you can’t find some exercises that you could do at home and stuff like that to continue to exercise. Bradley Hecker: 00:13:02 Absolutely. I think the original fitness was calisthenics. It started off with people walking, right? People running, their training. If you’re training strictly for a sprinting marathon runner thing, you don’t need a treadmill. You’re just running on the ground. If you’re training for weightlifting and you don’t have weights, get creative; what objects are around you. And the nice thing about objects around you that aren’t conventional weights is that weight distribution isn’t there. So now you’re getting that new muscle soreness that you never experienced before. You’re lifting awkward objects, a backpack filled with heavy textbooks that maybe your kid uses for school. You’re using them for weightlifting. You have options like that as well as just pushups. How many times did you have to get on your face? You know, that’s exactly what it is that they work for a reason and there’s different kinds of pushups. Bradley Hecker: 00:13:51 And that luckily in today’s world, YouTube is a wonderful thing and there are so many things that you can learn off of YouTube. Exercises you didn’t know existed, even stretching when you feel that tightness. And you’re like, “wow, I didn’t know that was possible to get rid of!” You learn it because of YouTube. I would say a majority of people learn a lot of things through YouTube now that they didn’t even learn in school or in a classroom environment, that goes a long way, but you can definitely get creative. And like you said, it becomes another reason to say I’m not going to work out since the gym is closed. And that’s where that determination is going to come in. And if you don’t have it yourself, find someone else who’s going to push you equally and use that together. Scott DeLuzio: 00:14:32 Yeah. And so, you briefly mentioned a little bit earlier about how exercise and your physical fitness can have some pretty significant benefits outside of the obvious physical benefits. Could you talk a little bit about that? Some of the mental and things like that that come from exercise and being in good physical shape. Bradley Hecker: 00:14:57 Yeah, absolutely. So starting off, like I mentioned earlier, when you are physically fit, you are going to be mentally fit now, not completely mentally fit, but you are going to start to increase your mental fitness. There can always be certain distractions that are always going to stay there, right? That are going to affect your mental fitness, but accomplishing a difficult task helps you feel better about how your day is going, any difficult tasks. So, if you had something at work, a project at work that has been on your mind for a long time, once you accomplish that project, it’s a relief. It’s a let go. And that’s exactly what physical fitness can do. It. There are a lot of stressors that can build up in the human body. And physical fitness is actually one of the number one ways, according to studies to release those stresses, you release a lot of the chemicals that are bottled up inside the brain, similar to when you experience certain things in life that cause that same chemical release. Bradley Hecker: 00:15:57 So physical fitness is an easy way to target because we know exactly what’s going to happen when you work out. On top of that, there are a lot of times when you’re feeling down, you’re feeling out and you’re feeling sluggish is the number one thing that happens. A lot of people feel sluggish. And especially if you were in the military and you remember what it used to be like when you could run. And now you’re walking up one flight of stairs and you’re huffing and puffing; you’re starting to say. “what happened?” And I think a lot of times what deters people is they try to get back into it and they forget the struggle that it took to get to that point. And they start right from where they left off. And it’s a big setback because you say, “I can’t do this. This is too much!” Set those small goals. And those small goals will add up to where you were at. And along the way, each one of those small goals that you accomplish are another thing that make you feel better and feeling better leads to that better mental fitness. Scott DeLuzio: 00:16:47 For sure. I think I’ve shared on this podcast before in another episode, but a couple of years ago, I challenge myself to do 50,000 pushups and sit ups during the course of a year and it wasn’t exactly a year. It was actually a little bit less because I started a few months into the year, but by the end of the year, I wanted to do 50,000 pushups and sit ups. And there were some days where I just didn’t want to wake up and do the pushups and the sit ups. And I knew I had like a certain amount that I would do every single day. And I did the math out. And by the end of the year, I would be good to go if I did that much. Scott DeLuzio: 00:17:30 But if one morning I decided to wake up and just not do it and just skip it. I knew it would be impossible to hit that goal without doubling up the next day or increasing what I was doing the next day. So, I did it. I woke up every single day. I did the pushups. I did the ups and a small little achievement that I made that day towards the bigger picture of hitting this big goal of the pushups and sit ups at the end of the year. And to me each day that I did it, I woke up feeling like crap, I don’t want to do this, but after doing it, I felt good that I accomplished something. And it was just that little thing. Scott DeLuzio: 00:18:13 I mean, it was like 150 of each 150 sit ups, 150 pushups each day. And it was at first pretty difficult for me to do because I hadn’t really done very many pushups, sit ups at that point, but it started getting easier over time. And it just became that accomplishment that I hit early on in the day. And then I hit the rest of the day running with knowing that I can accomplish anything. I set my mind to even these difficult things or things that I just didn’t want to do. I could sit down and actually do it, because I gave myself that confidence by doing that. So that’s like what you’re saying. Bradley Hecker: 00:18:59 It’s absolutely exactly that. And on top of that, tell me that those days where it was a struggle to start off, but you finally got that over with didn’t feel better than days where you woke up feeling great and said, you know what, let me bang these out and get them over with. It’s totally different. Scott DeLuzio: 00:19:15 Yeah, absolutely. And yeah, because you would wake up and have that sluggish feeling like I just want to hit the snooze button. I just want to keep sleeping for another hour or whatever it was. And, then you force yourself to get out of bed and it sucks. And it doesn’t feel good while you’re doing that. I get that. But afterwards, once when it’s done and the energy is flowing, I’m up, I’m moving, I’m ready to go. It’s early enough in the morning that I’m up before my wife, my kids, and things like that. And so, I was just hitting the ground running, starting off my day that way. And it really helped my mental state that way too. And it was so much better to actually be able to achieve that. Bradley Hecker: 00:20:07 Absolutely. And the physical fitness side of it, when you’re working out that consistently, your body’s going to fall into a rhythm, it’s going to want to sleep. A lot of people who have trouble sleeping, and that’s why they have mental issues. When your body forces you to fall asleep, it starts to fall into a schedule. You’re getting true sleep. You’re hitting REM cycle sleep, which is super important. So when you’re hitting that, you’re waking up, you’re forcing yourself up, you fall into that cycle. And when you’re getting proper sleep, you’re getting proper nutrition and another big part of it. A lot of people hate that part of it. You can’t just lift weights and eat junk and expect to get results. But when you keep the nutrition, the sleep and the working out is your mental fitness will be through the roof. It’s incredible. And then once you’re at that point, what you can accomplish mentally is the biggest blockade pushing through that part. It’s not the physical part; your body can go a lot further than your mind can. So, once you get into that rhythm, it’s amazing how far you can get. Scott DeLuzio: 00:21:06 And there was a Navy seal a while ago, and I am drawing a blank on his name. Oh, I’ll try to look that up later on. But he had what he called the 40% rule. What that was, is when your mind has told you, I’ve had enough, I quit, I’m done maybe you’re lifting weights or maybe you’re running or whatever, and your body feels like it’s smoked. And it can’t do any more. What his theory was with this 40% rule is that you’ve only done about 40% of what your body is actually capable of doing at that point. And of course, that number varies person to person. Someone might be a lot more resilient and can push themselves a little bit further. But for the average person, they’ve really only done about 40% of what their body is actually truly capable of doing. It’s really just your mind getting in the way and screwing you up that way. Bradley Hecker: 00:22:03 That can’t be further from the truth. That is majority of the time why people give up is because they just physically don’t feel, “Oh, this hurts; I can’t keep going,” but you can. Scott DeLuzio: 00:22:13 Correct. I even saw that in my own life, the first time I ran a half marathon, I never ran that far before and so it was this big daunting task to move myself that 13. whatever miles and when I got about eight or nine miles in, I was like, I don’t know if I could keep doing it and I got another four miles left and I don’t know that I could keep going. But then I started taking a look at it as one mile was easy to run. And so, I just took a look at it as one mile at a time and I could just say, okay, I ran that mile and I’m just going to do it one more time. I’m just going to go run one more mile, and then I’m just going to run it. Bradley Hecker: 00:23:01 Let me do one more. That was a big thing. When I went through the police Academy, that was a big thing. One of the cadre members kept saying, all you got to do is one more pushup. Maybe it’s 25 times, maybe it’s 50 times, but it’s only one more. You can always do one more. And that mentality, it really can drive you. Scott DeLuzio: 00:23:16 It certainly could. And like you were saying like pushups or something like that, like one pushup is not impossible for anybody to do one. You could push yourself to do that even if you haven’t done them in years since you got out of the military. For me, it’s almost 10 years now, I’ve been out of the military and I could still do a pushup. I could do many pushups one time, exactly. If you think about it, that way you started talking a little bit about diet and nutrition; how does that play into your overall, fitness level? Bradley Hecker: 00:23:54 So it’s actually going to be more important than physical fitness itself. You can’t have one without the other, but when it breaks down to percentage, it’s somewhere around 80% nutrition, 20% physical fitness is the breakdown for a healthy lifestyle, because you’ll see there’s many people who don’t work out, but they’re in fairly good physical shape. And that’s just because they’re giving their body the proper nutrition it needs and nothing more. And it’s so easy in today’s world because it’s cheaper and it’s more convenient to get a lot of fast food to get a lot of processed food, sugar, it’s readily available. And the healthy stuff is usually more expensive, or it’s a little bit more out of the way. Or if you’re in a rush, it’s easy to grab a quick burger from a drive through than it is to make a salad. And I’m not a salad person at all. I don’t enjoy salads so I find other ways to get that same nutrition that I would need in a healthy way of doing it. Scott DeLuzio: 00:24:57 And that actually does make a lot of sense. I do know some people who are like the people that you’re talking about, who don’t really exercise all that much but they do eat healthy and they look healthy they’re not overweight. And they have good physical appearance as far as their body’s concerned and things like that. So, it makes a lot of sense. And I heard someone tell me a little while ago that they were talking to their doctor about their weight. And their doctor said that you can’t outrun the fork. Like you can exercise all you want, but those calories you can easily eat more than you could possibly burn off by running unless you’re just constantly running or swimming or whatever the case may be. The bottom line is you’re not going to go for a five-mile run and burn off the cake and the ice cream and the cookies and the donuts and everything else that you’re eating. Bradley Hecker: 00:26:07 It’s absolutely true. A calorie’s a calorie and where you get it from is not going to make the difference, but a donut that contains a thousand calories and celery, which is almost negative calories, it takes you burn more calories, chewing it. Then you do gain anything from it. So you can see how much food you can actually eat. So for someone who says, they like to eat a lot, you can put a lot of food into your body in one day, but putting the right food, which is low calorie, but the proper nutrition, the proper macros that you need are going to set yourself up for success. Scott DeLuzio: 00:26:37 Now, someone who maybe doesn’t know what the right amount of food or the right kinds of food or things like that and I imagine it might be a little bit different for each person in terms of what their calorie needs are, depending on their lifestyle, if they have an active job or things like that, someone in the military or law enforcement or something like that might be a little bit more physically active than someone who’s working an office job where they’re sitting behind a desk for eight hours a day. How would someone go about figuring that type of stuff out so that they know what the appropriate amount of food or types of food are for them? Bradley Hecker: 00:27:19 Sure. Well, like I said earlier, there’s an infinite amount of information on the internet. It’s a wonderful place. YouTube is a wonderful place. The thing that you have to be careful of is falling into these fad diets. It’s very easy to say “Oh, low carb is the way everybody says low carb.” You want to get good. Everybody knows protein is good for you and carbs are the enemy. But if you are one of those people who have one of those high intensity jobs, you’re on your feet all day, you work construction, you’re carrying a lot of heavy things. Carbs are energy, you rely on them. So all of a sudden you’re starting to feel sluggish. You’re starting to lose weight. You’re not losing healthy weight. You’re not losing the weight appropriately. You’re starving your body. You’re depleting it of what it needs. So when it comes to nutrition, it is very important to speak to someone in your area, whether it be your primary care physician or a nutritionist or a dietician, they can set you on the right path for your body mass index for your weight. So I had a friend who was a bodybuilder truly like ripped Jack beyond belief. And when he was weighing in at the police Academy, he was listed as obese and everybody laughed, Scott DeLuzio: 00:28:29 But probably not enough fat on him. Right? Bradley Hecker: 00:28:32 It’s exactly that because they’re going by a standard, which can’t be applied unless it’s the average person who is very minimally physically fit. Scott DeLuzio: 00:28:41 Right. To wrap all this up and tie everything together here, what would be some advice that you might have for someone who’s struggling with their health or fitness? Maybe even their mental health in terms of feeling low energy sluggish and that type of thing. Maybe someone who’s struggling to find the motivation to exercise or maybe they even feel like they’re doing all the right things, just aren’t seeing the results. What advice might you have for them? Bradley Hecker: 00:29:12 I think the best advice I’m going to have is it’s going to be asked for that help from whoever you think is going to be able to provide you that help. You know, a lot of times I think people get very frustrated. They see their friend on Instagram or Facebook, some social media platform who likes to post their workout of the day and they’re dripping sweat and with their six pack showing. And they’re talking about how they just completed a tough Mudder or some really difficult physical challenge. A lot of people who are not in that shape and don’t want to admit that they’re intimidated by and would get tired. I don’t want to see this post anymore. This guy is so annoying and you start blocking them out, embrace them. They’re the answer. They were probably where you are. And the reason they want to get physically fit is to accomplish those tasks. Bradley Hecker: 00:29:54 Maybe it was to show it off. You want to show off something you’re proud of. You bought a brand new Corvette. You want to show that off. It’s the same thing. You worked really hard on your tasks, which in your case may be physical fitness, show it off. It’s a good mentality. And you never know who you’re going to motivate after that. So those same people that might be frustrating, embrace them. “Hey, what are your secrets? What are you doing?” That guy in the barracks during basic whose bed was his rack was perfectly made. What are you doing that I can’t get this fold down? Same thing. You go to them and ask them what they’re doing. It’s that same mentality. Ask for help from people who seem to know what they’re doing. Scott DeLuzio: 00:30:30 Yeah, absolutely. That’s great advice. I think for, not just fitness or any of that type of stuff, it’s really good advice for anything. If you see someone who is hitting it out of the park with whatever it is that they’re doing and you want to be in that position, ask them. Go in and say, “Hey, what is it that you’re doing that is making this look so damn easy but asking for help is an okay thing to do. And, I think one thing though, I will caution people of is, if you are relying on social media for checking out what other people are doing and things like that, and you’re comparing yourself to that, just know that nobody posts their B or C game on there. It’s all their A games. So, if you’re comparing that and feeling inadequate or whatever, they screwed up too from time to time. And they just don’t post that. Bradley Hecker: 00:31:31 The people that usually are influencers and this does fall into myself, because I do try to influence people into positive things, into the lifestyle that I live. If they feel that they relate to my lifestyle, you’re always going to post that the most motivational ones are the ones who post their down days, but you don’t see them too often. That’s not the money shot that they’re trying to portray. So keep in mind, like you said, that they’re never going to post or very rarely are they going to post what they’re going through, but when you see shows like the Biggest Loser, where you’re seeing the before and you’re watching the journey, those are the ones that truly are looking to motivate you because they want to show you they’ve been there and they understand. Scott DeLuzio: 00:32:10 Sure. Yeah. And they’ve definitely been there and they know what’s going on. So, you mentioned your company, the Brad and Bash Company. Before we wrap up, do you want to tell people where they can find more information about what it is that you do and the services that you offer or how to get in touch with you? Bradley Hecker: 00:32:35 Absolutely. The best way to reach out to us in today’s world of social media is our number one thing. It’s @BradandBash. You can also visit our website, Bradandbash.com. If you’re interested in anything related to firearms, medicine, tactical training, it’s all right there. We have classes that we travel around the country doing. We do that mostly in the Tristate area, but we do go down South towards Florida. We’ve done some stuff in Texas, and we pop up regularly. So, if you’re a part of an organization that’s voluntary or it’s a government organization, you’re interested in having us come out and teach whatever it is, our cadre members vary all across from military law enforcement, special units, SWAT teams, some Rangers that we have. So, there’s a lot of guys with a lot of different experience from different areas that we all try to bring together program that’s best suited for what you’re looking for. And that can include physical fitness. If necessary, we do have some certified trainers on our staff. Scott DeLuzio: 00:33:36 Wonderful. I’ll have links to all of this in the show notes. So, anyone who’s listening can find it there and it’ll be there after this episode is posted. So, you can always come back and find it through the show notes there. Thank you again for joining me, really enjoyed the conversation and enjoyed the advice that you had. I think this type of stuff can really help some people out. So thank you for joining us. Thanks for having me. Scott DeLuzio: 00:34:10 Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website, Drive On Podcast.com. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @ Drive On Podcast.
39 minutes | 2 months ago
Rescue to Recovery
Tracey Brown is a US Coast Guard veteran and author who tells us about how she struggled with post traumatic stress after years of patrolling the coast and pulling bodies out of the water. We talk about how Tracey functioned with undiagnosed PTS, and how she came to realize that what she was dealing with was likely due to the high intensity job she had while in the Coast Guard. Links & Resources Rescue To Recovery Tracey Brown on Instagram Tracey Brown on Facebook Transcript Scott DeLuzio: 00:00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting Veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I’d like to ask a favor if you haven’t done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcasts. If you’ve already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you’re there click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes as soon as they come out. If you don’t use Apple podcasts, you can visit Drive On Podcast.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email list. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let’s get on with the show. Hi everyone. Thanks for joining us today. My guest is Tracey Brown. And let me tell you, I am pretty excited about having her on. I’m excited about what we’ll be talking about, of course which we’ll get into in a minute. Scott DeLuzio: 00:00:57 I’m also excited about checking the box for having a Coast Guard Veteran on the show. Tracey is the first one to represent the Coast Guard on the Drive On Podcast and so with this episode, I have spoken to someone from every branch of the U S military with the exception of the Space Force, but that’s relatively new. So, we’ll give them a little break there. If anyone from the Space Force is listening wants to join me on the podcast and talk about their Epic EAP battles or whatever, please reach out. That would be awesome too. In addition to being a Coast Guard Veteran, Tracey is also the number one bestselling author of Rescue to Recovery, Veteran’s Story of Hidden Scars and Personal Discovery. Tracey, welcome to the show. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, your military background and what it is that you do now? Tracey Brown: 00:01:49 I was in the Coast Guard a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. I went in in 1983 which was an interesting time to say the least as far as between drugs and the Coast Guard was under the Department of Transportation in those days. So, we didn’t have a lot of funding, not like they do today and then when I got out, I was in a place where a lot of people that get out are in where you’re really absolutely bored because you go from this high adrenaline, especially I was on small boats just to let you know, for the first couple of years, I was on small boats and we did everything. Tracey Brown: 00:02:37 I was up in San Francisco. We did everything from regular cruise around seeing if people are okay, safety stuff to rescues, to fires on bridges to picking up dead bodies. I mean, you name it, we did it. We did a lot; we were a lot of hats as I like to say. There was a lot of adrenaline every time you were on duty; you had a lot of adrenaline going. Getting out there was a big transition from being in this high adrenaline being able to jump off a boat at 15 knots to civilian life, which is really a big, big shift. So, I used to tell people that I was bored all the time. People would ask, “how are you? I’m kind of bored; it’s boring if you’re not on the water.” Tracey Brown: 00:03:24 So, I didn’t realize, but for 30 years I was undiagnosed with PTS and I didn’t understand going through the process. I didn’t understand why I was confused a lot or I would lash out or I would just go off on somebody. There’s a lot of anger, a lot of things going on that I wasn’t aware of where it was coming from; it’s just like, “gosh that was kind of stupid.” That was really a knee jerk reaction kind of thing. So, my journey really began when a friend of mine posted on Facebook of 16 characteristics of PTSD, and I’ve been kind of an information hound simply because I’ve always been trying to figure out why am I not reacting to things like everybody else does? Tracey Brown: 00:04:10 And so I read it and I had 14 of the 16. Then going through certain therapies, I realized that there’s a lot more. There’s about 40 some odd characteristics that are pretty common. And so, my journey really began and the book really is about my journey, my process of realizing, okay, this is something I have to deal with. How do I deal with this? How do I go through this? And it was really just a process of learning to talk to people and seeking help for an issue. What I do now fed into that because what I do now is, I’m a scar tissue therapist. I work on physical scar tissue to actually eradicate it from the body. Scar tissue is actually known as confused tissue. And so, it made a lot of sense. I connected a lot of dots between the physical scar tissue and the mental scar tissue, the emotional scar tissue that is really confused tissue, and you just need to reorganize it. So that’s really where the journey began, looking at, “Oh, this is what I’m doing in the physical world and how this is applying to my emotional state.” Scott DeLuzio: 00:05:22 That’s a great background story and how and I think a lot of other Veterans can probably relate to the experience that you had, where life just sort of seems boring after getting off that high intensity type of job, where maybe it’s a combat operation where your head’s on a swivel constantly, and you’re looking for these threats all the time. And then a short time later, you come back home and you’re walking into a Walmart or something, and you don’t necessarily need to have that same level of intensity going to the grocery store or to the mall or whatever the case may be. You still have that though. Life just seems boring because it’s not the same as what it was. It’s interesting. So, you had undiagnosed post traumatic stress from your time in the military. How did you cope with that? What were the steps that you went through to cope with that? Tracey Brown: 00:06:35 At the beginning it was more of a numbing situation. I would drink a little bit and do everything I could to shut my brain off because for me, it was really the rescues that turned into recoveries. Hence the name of the book, rescued recovery. On small boats back in those days, you had a much slower response time then if you went on a helicopter, or even these days, they’ve got much faster boats these days. Back then the boat could probably do 25 knots, but they really didn’t recommend it. It was a fast-moving boat, but San Francisco is a big bay. So, nine times out of 10, we’d be late. You’re always late. You’re preparing for a rescue; you’re preparing and you’ve got all your contingencies; we’re going to do this. Tracey Brown: 00:07:24 If they’re in this condition, we’re going to do this. If they’re in that condition and you’ve got this all prepared and lo and behold, you either go in for a body or you just don’t find anything and that is where <inaudible> is very damaging. So, I started realizing that that’s where that came from. You bury those things, we’re taught very much so in the military especially initially you don’t ask the questions, you just follow orders. You don’t ask, you just don’t ask questions. You just do. And we wouldn’t do any briefings. We would <inaudible> case go up would be this and this and this went wrong. You never talked about emotions. No, we never talked about, well, I feel after picking up those bodies and how do you feel about doing that? Tracey Brown: 00:08:16 You just buried it and moved on. So, I coped many times just try to quiet the voices in my head, if you will. I drank a lot just to numb it, I just wanted to numb it. I didn’t want to hear that stuff in my head. I didn’t want to hear it and see it and had a lot of nightmares. I had nightmares and night sweats, I guess night terrors, as they called it, for a good 10 to 15 years. And so, you struggle with it. One of the struggles with PTS is lack of sleep because usually you try not to go to sleep, because you don’t want to close your eyes because there’s going to be a nightmare. Or when you get to sleep, you don’t sleep well. Tracey Brown: 00:08:55 And so that lack of sleep is really a huge thing that domino effects too, irritability, anger put the fire off on things an inability to really take things in and plus your PTSD, you’re in a constant state of fight, flight, or freeze. So, there’s a lot of things physiologically going on with you that you don’t even realize on a physiological level. So, there’s a lot of stuff. So, my coping mechanism was to shut it off initially because I got out in 1987 and nobody was really talking about PTSD. Nobody was talking about, “Oh, how’s your mental health?” My first resume, what skills do you have? And I put I’m an expert with a 45. That’s not going to get you a lot of gigs. A friend of mine sat me down and said, you don’t put that on the resume, but in the military, that’s a skillset, you know? Scott DeLuzio: 00:09:54 So you coped by basically shutting everything off. And how did that allow you to function with this in society, at work, with your friends and family, things like that? Tracey Brown: 00:10:06 Not well, not well! I felt like I was walking around numb even if I didn’t numb it with something I was still in this numb state because I actually felt back at that time that if I were actually to even explore what was going on, I wouldn’t be able to function at all in society. So, I was in a place with family and friends and society. I was in a place where I’m barely functioning now. I’m just getting through each day. Every day was just, “I just want to get through today.” And that’s going from a place where you’re actually a contributor and doing things and doing things to help people and serve people to a place where I just want to get through the day that in itself starts another spiral. Tracey Brown: 00:10:58 So, I’m very fortunate. I have an amazing family. I have an amazing group of friends. They just didn’t know what was going on in my head. So, in the book, the part of the process was really figuring out how to talk about what was going on, thinking that, and feeling like it’s destroying me. I can’t talk about it to somebody else because I think it’ll destroy them. And so, one of the big fears that I didn’t even realize was a fear, but I didn’t want to hurt anybody else with the pains that I was feeling with the burdens that I had. I didn’t want to put the burden on them. So how do you reconcile that? And so, for many, many, many years, I just got through the nightmares, got through the days, just trying to figure out how to navigate life. And that post, probably was about 10 years, maybe 12 years ago. Now that post was just like, “Oh shit, maybe there’s something really going on here that I should probably take a look at. And so that was it. It was a journey of really, thinking how do I talk about this? I don’t know how to do this. Scott DeLuzio: 00:12:03 Right. Absolutely. And that makes a lot of sense. Was that the tipping point for you when you saw that Facebook post that made you go and seek out the help, was that kind of the tipping point? Tracey Brown: 00:12:24 It was actually the seed. It was a seed that was planted because when I called that meeting, I was like, Oh, this is very interesting. All of a sudden you get that, Oh, shit moment. And you’re like, wait a minute. There’s something going on here. And I had a job and it’s just like, I need to go to work now, you set it aside, but it’s a seed that’s planted inside of me. And so, I had the seed that was, okay, there’s something that I need to look at. I had to look at that and I don’t know if I’m going to survive looking at that because you feel like, whatever it is that’s going on in you was killing you. And so I don’t know if I put something else on top of that as if that’s just going to be less strong than what I’m doing, somebody just lock me up, put me somewhere that I’m not going to hurt me tomorrow or somebody else or shut down. Tracey Brown: 00:13:12 So through certain friends and a desire to contribute to life. I really wanted to be a part of something, but I couldn’t get out of myself. So, it was a seed that was planted and like any seed, there’s always water that comes along with it. So, there’ll be another watering and another water and another watering. And I decided to move forward in business and stuff. I was really realizing that I got so far in something, and then I couldn’t quite break through to the other side, I’d either give up or whatever. And so, I just finally got really frustrated with that. And also, I had been told that I do have benefits through the VA. So that was another thing I didn’t have any resources or any place to turn for help that somebody would maybe understand that. Tracey Brown: 00:14:08 So serendipitously people would come into my life and somebody finally about three or four years ago came along and said, by the way. And she was an advocate and I’d be happy to help anybody to talk to either that person or a Veteran service organization. But if you don’t even think you have benefits, you probably do. In 1989 was the first time that I actually called the VA. Because somebody said you do have benefits. And I’m like, okay. So, I called and I’ve come to learn that they were in disrepair back then. And a friend of mine, who’s a purple heart recipient, he’s so funny. He’s like, I’m surprised they even answered the phone in 1989. But I said, do I have benefits and stuff? And they go, “well, you’re not in our system.” And I’m like, “well, I served my country.” I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I didn’t know that you have to go from the military end of things, to the civilian end of things, which is the VA. You’ve got to make that bridge. Nobody told me that. I thought you just kind of mend. And so, for years I believe that I didn’t even have benefits because I was told by the VA that I wasn’t in their system. Scott DeLuzio: 00:15:23 Yeah. And that’s something that I think a lot of people transitioning out of the military, I think it’s probably better now, but you know, especially back then, even before people just didn’t realize that they necessarily had benefits or what those benefits were that they did have. And even for myself, when I was getting out of the military, I knew I had some benefits. I had served in Afghanistan, I had done a deployment. I knew I had some benefits through my service, but I couldn’t put me out there and say, okay, this is what I have available to me necessarily. You had no idea. I almost had the feeling like I had to just try and apply for certain benefits and see if I got accepted. And if I did, currently, I have access to those benefits. And if I didn’t, apparently, I don’t. So where did you end up going for help for your PTSD? Did you end up discovering that you did have the benefits through the VA or did you end up going someplace else? Tracey Brown: 00:16:32 I actually ended up going through the VA finally. A friend of mine, like I said, she helps Veterans transition from military to civilian life. And she’s like, “I’m telling you; you have benefits and here you gotta go here to get in there and then go in there. And I’m like, “Oh’, so she showed me the hoops and I jumped through and I have to say, they have some really great services for people that are dealing with PTS, that they’re so specific. They get it. And mind you some are better than others. You know, I’m very fortunate. The VA here in Long Beach, I’m in Long Beach, California, and the VA here is phenomenal. They have an amazing mental health center and I would not have been able to write a book. Tracey Brown: 00:17:23 I would not be able to do these podcasts. I wouldn’t be able to do any of this. I would still be basically trying to get through each day and I really appreciate what they do and they just, like any government agency, they really need a kick in the pants to get their shit together. But they’re getting there, you know? So, I encourage anybody. It’s just like, if you have served, just go talk to a Veteran service organization, just look a VSO on online and you will find one and they are there to serve you. They’re not a part of the VA, but they work with the VA. And that’s a great place to start. I’m not sure about your benefits. Scott DeLuzio: 00:18:07 A lot of these Veterans service organizations, like you said, they’re not a part of the VA, but they work with the VA and they have people there who know the tricks and know all the loopholes and all this. They know what hoops to jump through for your particular situation. So, reach out to them because they can be a tremendous help to you, especially when you’re trying to figure this stuff out on your own. And they write things in confusing language and it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Your situation might be a unique situation and do I qualify in this case and talk to somebody who’s been there, who knows who’s helped other people go through this type of stuff. There’s a page on the VA’s website that has a list of Veteran service organizations. Scott DeLuzio: 00:18:59 It’s actually like a PDF file that they update on a regular basis with a list of approved VSOC that can work with the VA and things like that. And there’s all sorts of organizations. There are dozens of them. So, check out that page and see if you can look up an organization that might be near you or whatever. I know, like American Legion or VFW posts, they probably point you in the right direction. If they don’t have someone there themselves, but they can definitely help you out with that type of stuff too. So, let’s, let’s switch gears a little bit here. You went to go get help and back in the days of your military career, there was definitely a stigma around mental health, and there was a lot of the just toughen up and stick it out, suck it up, that type of thing. I want to say that things have probably gotten a little bit better than it was back then. These days there’s still a little bit of that attitude lingering around especially in the military. So, there’s a stigma there surrounding posttraumatic stress and stuff like that. So, what would you say to someone who feels like they need help, but don’t want that negative stigma attached to them? Tracey Brown: 00:20:25 I completely understand, I was there myself? It’s just like, I don’t want the label <inaudible>. And I think part of it is definitions. I’m big on definitions in my life. And one of the things that you see PTSD and posttraumatic stress disorder, I think we’ve said that this part of it, it really is just PTS. Everybody, every human being and even animals deal with stress after a stress, after a trauma, everybody does, we do it. We deal physically, physiologically, emotionally. We deal with it on every level. There is always some kind of stress after a trauma. Now, whether it’s ongoing, whether it’s a chronic thing or depending upon the trauma and you can’t judge a trauma, what I go through is completely different. I mean, we can go through the same trauma. Tracey Brown: 00:21:28 We can experience it differently. Everybody is different. So, one of the things that I did for a long, long time, I was in combat. I wasn’t getting shot at the time. What do I have to be traumatized about myself, on the things we went through? For somebody picking up a dead body may not bother them but pick up a 50 or a hundred of them and they might be or not. Everybody deals with their own <inaudible>. So, the first thing I would say to anybody, don’t judge it. Don’t put the judgment on the trauma, look at where you are and look at how you’re functioning. And if you’re not functioning I just looked around me and I go through a situation whether I was in traffic, whatever it was my reactions are not the same as other people; in Maine, it’s generally the same, it wasn’t. Tracey Brown: 00:22:25 I would fly off the handle for something that was a big reaction to that. You know, self-awareness is a big thing, but don’t judge yourself. I would say try not to put a stigma on it. Try to understand that you <inaudible> stress after is very normal, just like fight, flight, or freeze. It’s a normal thing that we go through. And some people sit in it for a week or a day or a year or years, but don’t put a judgment on it. I don’t like to say don’t, but try not to; try to understand that one of the tools that I used was somebody told me, it’s like, would you talk to a five-year-old the way that you’re talking to yourself, your inner talk, “you should be over it, that was 30 years ago; you get over it.” Tracey Brown: 00:23:17 And it’s like, I would never say that to the five-year old “Oh, you skinned your knees that had happened five minutes ago, forget about it, get over it. I would never talk to five-year old like that, you know. So, maybe talking a little kindlier is a way to navigate. That’s always been a tough one for me, because I’ve always used tough love, suck it up and deal with it and move on. But you can’t because you’ve got this block. Scott DeLuzio: 00:23:46 I think I’ve talked about this in other episodes, but if you are having a problem of any sort whether you broke your arm or you had a concussion or whatever, you’re going to stop and you’re going to take care of yourself and it’s not selfish to do that. If your job is to lift heavy things and move them and you have a broken arm; well, I hate to break the news to you, you’re probably not going to be able to do your job very well. So, if you take the time to go and heal your arm, the proper way, you’ll be able to get back to work much quicker and not have lingering problems that are associated with that. It just makes sense. Now, if you have a job where you’re seeing dead bodies every day, or maybe not every day, but you know, on a regular enough basis, and you’re off to pull them out of the water and you’re dealing with terrible fires and other things like that, whether it’s a first responder or military or whatever the case may be, you have to prepare yourself for that. Scott DeLuzio: 00:24:48 You know, it’s going to come at some point you don’t know when or where, and that’s another issue too, that could come up, is that surprise factor as in your case, you might have pulled up to a situation where you were expecting that there would be some survivors and it turns out there were none. And that’s a surprise and it’s a shock to your system as well. But if you didn’t take the time to build up that resiliency in your own mind, then it’s going to be harder to bounce back from that. and same thing going forward once when you’ve experienced that trauma that seeing the dead bodies, or whatever the situation was going forward, it’s going to be hard to do your job, knowing that I might be rolling up on a scene where there’s more dead bodies, and I don’t want to deal with that. Scott DeLuzio: 00:25:43 So, if you’re not able to handle that in a healthy manner, it’s going to make it hard for you to do your job and hopefully people hear that message, especially in people who might be in a leadership position where they might have subordinates under them who might be dealing with this type of situation where they’ve had acts or exposure to traumatic events and you want those people to be able to do their job and do a good job. And if they are dealing with the mental health issues on top of also doing this difficult job, they’re probably not going to do as good of a job as they would if they were able to help in the healthy way, handle the, the mental health issues. Tracey Brown: 00:26:35 That’s absolutely right. I don’t know. I think, for us to be really helpful in this world and contribute in this world, it’s really important for us to allow our leaders and allow those first responders and allow these people that are serving us to be served without stigma. Scott DeLuzio: 00:26:55 What did you end up doing after going through your treatment onto be able to reconnect with people or find a purpose in your own life? Tracey Brown: 00:27:07 That’s a great question now. It’s really interesting because it took a lot once I went through the therapy that I went through, I felt as though I didn’t have to keep a secret anymore. I don’t know if that makes sense, but the trauma and all this stuff, and all the pains that I was going through, there’s a lot of shame around that. And so, you tend to hide those things. And so, you’re never allowed to fully be seen. There’s a great woman, who’s got a really wonderful thing called a call to courage. Her name is Renee Brown, and you’ve probably heard of her. She has one of the greatest things. When I heard that it was like, “Oh my gosh, the only way that we can really reconnect with people is to allow ourselves to be seen, is to see others and be seen because otherwise relationships don’t go very deep.” Tracey Brown: 00:28:02 And for many years, after getting out of the Coast Guard, people could only see so much of me. I’d only let them see so much because of the shame that I had around all the other crap it’s like, “okay, you can see this part of me. You can see where I’m doing well and I’m working out, I’m doing this, but you don’t get to see these dark places. You don’t get to see this stuff, which unfortunately it was a very large part of my existence at that point in time.” And so, they only got to see a small portion of me. So, the reconnecting is really in the being seen. And that’s really, really scary when you’ve got, what you think are a lot of secrets, even though I talked to my friends and they’re like, “yeah, there was something going on there”, but I was pretty much oblivious. It’s good. So, allowing seeing myself first and learning about that helped me to take the steps, to allow myself to be seen. And in that came the connection. Scott DeLuzio: 00:28:57 Yeah. And that’s one of the things that I tried to do on this podcast, by sharing stories like yours, to allow people to be seen, to be heard, I guess, in this case, to share their stories and their side of things. We were talking about this a little bit before we started recording, but that lets people realize that they’re not alone. Other people who are hearing these stories, they might resonate with a story like yours, for example, or mine or any of the other guests that I have on the show. They might resonate with that and realize that they’re not alone, that there are other people who have experienced these same types of traumas. There are things that can be done to get you through this. Scott DeLuzio: 00:29:47 These issues are temporary. We can get you through this, get the help that you need to get you over that hurdle and a lot of times people might see them as being a permanent situation where they’re never going to fix a situation they’re never going to get better or whatever, but with the right treatment, whether it’s therapy or medications, or things like that, you can usually get through a lot of this stuff, and live a happy life and not have to suffer with what it is that you’re dealing with. Tracey Brown: 00:30:28 One of the things that I mentioned in the book and even mentioned with people, I know it’s even if the thought of therapy is scary to you, I encourage people. Find someone you trust and at least talk to them, start with a baby step, start somewhere. But talk to somebody, tell somebody your pain, tell somebody your shame, or talk to somebody about your fears and find somebody that will be kind to you and try it because I’m telling you just saying things out loud and it sounds cliché but you’re not alone. It seems so cliche to me for so many years, but really, you’re not. And knowing that somebody else has gone through this is a huge comfort. Tracey Brown: 00:31:16 It’s hugely beneficial, but just saying things out loud takes a weight off of you. It takes this burden, and it lightens it. And every time you say it, it lightens the burden more. And if you can get somebody that understands and can navigate you through that, it lightens the burden even more. And so, if we can keep lightening this burden, I just think that our Veterans and our first responders have so much more to give and so much more to serve. And I think they have so much more that they want to give and serve, and they feel, I think myself, I know, I felt like I was shut down. I was boxed in; I didn’t know how to express myself anymore. And just getting that freedom was huge. Scott DeLuzio: 00:32:03 And I know for my own personal experience, when I first got back from Afghanistan, I was having a rough time. And ended up calling the Vet Center to get some help to talk with someone and just the act of picking up the phone and calling and making an appointment and verbalizing, that I’m having a tough time and talking about what it was that I was going through. When I hung up that phone, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I’m not carrying this by myself anymore. Someone else is there, that’s their job. They’re there to help you. They’re happy to do it and help you through the situation that you’re going through. And as soon as I hung up that phone, it really did feel like a big weight was lifted off my shoulders. Scott DeLuzio: 00:32:59 Didn’t mean that I was instantly cured or in a magical sense or anything like that. But it was like, I still have to carry this thing, but I don’t have to carry it alone anymore. I have somebody else who can help me out and carry it. So, it’s not quite as heavy of a load to carry anymore. So, you know, I really do encourage people to follow in your footsteps, following my footsteps and just pick up the phone or whatever schedule an appointment with someone or if you don’t want to go that route, talk to a friend or find somebody that you can trust that you can talk to and have a conversation like that. So, Tracey, it is been a pleasure speaking with you today and hearing about your story and your background and the journey that you went through. I briefly mentioned in the beginning that you have written a book and I’d like for you to maybe tell us a little bit about that book and let people know where they can go to find out more about it and where to get the book. Tracey Brown: 00:34:18 Yeah, the book is called Rescue to Recovery. Veteran’s Story of Hidden Scars and Personal Discoveries. And it really is that just that it’s my journey on how I came to understand where I was and get through it. And it was the beginning really. I believe that we all have a purpose on this planet and a lot of times these traumas are what shut us down. And so, the book is my journey, but it’s the beginning part of the journey. And to me, the whole point is to reconnect with family, with friends, with life, with dreams, with things that we want to do, and the reconnection, and really it all comes down to we all have a dream or a desire or something that we want to accomplish in this life, even if it’s just, I just want to breathe and be free and not have pain. Tracey Brown: 00:35:17 You know, my heart, that’s a great aspiration, but it all comes down to once you start, once you realize that. And I think, and it’s not just the first responders, I think a lot of people have a lot of traumas that they’re dealing with or not dealing with that are holding them back from the greater things that they can do in their life. And so, the book, the journey, but at the end of the book is the question of what do you want in this life? And what do you want in this time that you’re here and legally and ethically and morally, what are you willing to do to get it? You know, for me, it’s like I wanted more; I wanted more than just the pain I wanted more than just the nightmares. Tracey Brown: 00:35:55 I wanted more than just getting through the day. I wanted to be able to contribute somehow. And I think our first responders and our Veterans are those people that stepped up already they really wanted to be a part of something they really wanted to help. They really wanted to serve. And I think that they still have that desire in them, but they’ve been shut down by these traumas. So, let’s take a look at the traumas, get that out of the way so we can move forward into the things that we really want and then define what do you want? You know, so my life has really shifted from, writing the book because I really want people to start asking that question, what do you want and what am I willing to do to get it? And also, now I not only have the book, but I do consulting. Tracey Brown: 00:36:37 I help people find their path and I help people find ways to express that stuff, different paths. It’s like, “Hey this is a way that you can go, that you can really contribute or that you can do this and really contribute.” And so, it’s just been a natural progression for me to serve in that way. So yeah, the book is a journey and it gives some practical things. There are some stories, there’s some Coast Guard stories in there because you can’t write a book without story. And so, there’s some good stories in there. And I just hope it really helps people to go first. You know, like you said, understand that they’re not alone, that this is really normal stuff. Stress after trauma is normal, fight flight, or freeze are normal. These are normal physiological and emotional reactions. So, you’re not crazy. You’re not different than everybody else. You’re just dealing with it the way that you’re dealing with it and there is help for that. And so that’s the hope of the book to help people to do what I can to do this. And not only that I can actually go back to my dreams and follow them. So that’s my hope. Scott DeLuzio: 00:37:48 That’s great. And where can people go to find out more about where to get the book and the consulting work that you do? Tracey Brown: 00:37:58 Yeah. They can go to my website, it’s www.rescuetorecovery.com, they can go there. And the book is for sale there. And also, they can contact me and if they want to talk or go through some consulting and I’m pretty reasonable as far as my fees are concerned. So, I don’t like to kill people and stuff like that. So yeah, they can contact me and send me an email and we start the process that way. Scott DeLuzio: 00:38:28 Perfect. Okay. And there will be links to all of this in the show notes too. So, anyone who is in the car driving, please don’t get into an accident trying to write this stuff down, click on it later. So, thank you again for joining us and sharing your story and telling us about your journey that you went through. So, thank you again. Tracey Brown: Thank you so much, Scott. I really appreciate it. Scott DeLuzio: Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website, DriveOnPodcast.com. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @ Drive On Podcast.
35 minutes | 2 months ago
Vitanya Brain Performance
John Strickland is a 23 year Army veteran who served in Vietnam and later found himself suffering from PTSD. After discovering Vitanya Brain Performance Centers, John became a franchisee in order to help others increase their brain performance. Vitanya is a company that helps first responders and veterans in conjunction with the Heal the Hero Foundation. Vitanya’s program is a non-medical, non-intrusive, non-pharmaceutical option to help maximize health brain functions. Links & Resources Vitanya Mental Health America free online screening Heal The Hero Foundation (YouTube Channel) Transcript Scott DeLuzio: 00:00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting Veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I’d like to ask a favor if you haven’t done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcast. If you’ve already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you’re there click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes. As soon as they come out, if you don’t use Apple podcasts, you can visit DriveOnPodcast.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email list. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio and now let’s get on with the show. Hey everyone. Today, my guest is John Strickland, who is a franchisee of Vitanya Brain Performance Center in El Paso, Texas. He’s a 23-year Army Veteran who served in Vietnam and afterwards, suffered from PTSD. He’s here to talk about his background in the Army, his journey, finding treatment for PTSD and how Vitania has helped him through that journey. So, John, welcome to the show. Why don’t you, give us a little information about your background and your time in Vietnam and things like that. John Strickland: 00:01:20 Well, thank you for having me, Scott, and it’s a pleasure to be with you. I joined the Army in 1965 after one year of college. So, you can do the math. I’m not a spring chicken. I served three years in artillery, including a year in Vietnam. And, during that first tour in Vietnam, I met some helicopter pilots at that time. They needed a lot of helicopter pilots. So, I applied for flight school while in Vietnam, knowing that I would come back to the States, go to flight school, and go back to Vietnam. I spent, almost three years at Fort Sill before that tour in Vietnam and then a year at Fort Sill as a drill instructor, a platform instructor at the advanced training or artillery, waiting on my application for flight school. So, I went to flight school and graduated high enough in my class that I was offered advanced helicopters. John Strickland: 00:02:35 So I accepted that and here’s the reason, I could fly a Cobra helicopter. Well, I’d already been in Vietnam for a year. Hueys land out in the middle of the jungle. Cobras land where there’s fuel and ammunition. We had air superiority and my wife was pregnant and that kept me in the States for three more months. So, I went to Vietnam as a helicopter pilot, supporting long range, reconnaissance patrols. We were based at the same base. So, we had a lot of comradery. We met with one another and they would always talk about boy, how we love those helicopter pilots. They didn’t realize that they were so high on my list of people to admire. Can you imagine a six- or seven-man team going out looking for the enemy? And when they find them, they know that they’re outnumbered, that was just amazing to me. So, when you a call from troops in combat, we’re airborne within two minutes, that was our goal. And we’re out there to help them. So, I had a lot of admiration for the people that we were helping. Scott DeLuzio: 00:03:56 So when you started off as artillery in Vietnam and then you decided to apply for flight school while you were in Vietnam and learn how to fly helicopters. What made you decide to go about that transition? What made you want to get into flying helicopters? John Strickland: 00:04:21 Well, I had considered taking pilot lessons before I even joined the Army. I was just excited about being able to fly and I could stay in the Army and make a career out of flying helicopters. That seemed like a pretty good deal to me. Scott DeLuzio: 00:04:39 It seems like it’s pretty much every kid’s dream growing up is to fly planes and helicopters and things like that flying overhead. And it’s either that, or do you want to be an astronaut or something? As a kid growing up you see these things flying around. It’s like, wow, I would love to do that. And I know when I was a kid, we grew up, watch movies with fighter pilots and helicopter pilots and things like that. And my brother and I, we’d jump on the couch and we’d pretend like we’re flying in the planes or in the helicopters, whatever. And then when we crash landed, we land into a pile of pillows on the floor or whatever. And so, it’s kind of like the dream come true is you’re basically getting paid to learn how to fly these things. And then, turning that into a career in the Army and then you continued to fly helicopters after the Army, is that correct? John Strickland: 00:05:39 Yes, I did. I flew in the Gulf of Mexico for the oil and gas industry for about 11 years. And the company that I was flying for was an aeromedical company in Phoenix, and there was an opening there. So instead of being gone for seven days at a time, I could work the same kind of schedule seven days on seven days off, but I’d be home every day. So, when I mentioned that to my wife, she said, “yeah, let’s move to Phoenix.” We didn’t know how hot it was. Scott DeLuzio: 00:06:09 Well, yeah, they don’t put that in the sales pitch to get you into that job. You’re basically living on the surface of the sun here because I’m in the Phoenix area myself, for people who might be listening and don’t know that. And right now, today’s forecast is to be about 116 degrees. This is in mid-August. So, it feels like you’re living on the surface of the sun at times but thank God for air conditioning and cold water to keep us cool. So you got out of the military and you transitioned into this civilian job flying helicopters, which is awesome that you’re able to use the training that you got in the military to be able to continue on a civilian career and continue doing the thing that you enjoy doing Scott DeLuzio: 00:07:01 even after you got out of the military. A lot of times people get out of the military and their job isn’t necessarily translatable to the civilian world. An infantryman, for example, there’s not too many infantry types jobs or things like that. I mean, you can translate some of the skills into security and law enforcement and things like that. But you’re not going to be doing the same exact type of job once you get out of the military. But you had some struggles, during your time in the military and after getting out. Would you mind talking a little bit about that and what you experienced and what that, that caused, you know, afterwards, after you got out of the military? John Strickland: 00:07:43 Yes, I can. But I’d like to address one point that you brought up there. Oh, there’s one word that covers my career and that’s service. I always saw myself in a service role. You’re helping someone else. So, that’s why especially ending up playing in our medical helicopters, you for sure didn’t cause the accident, you’re there to help them get to a trauma center. To your question, I’m going to back up to the last three years of my military career. Although I was an attack helicopter pilot, I fell in love with flying by reference to instruments, but cobras don’t do that. So, my primary job was to fly cobras, but the job I really loved was flying Hueys by referenced instruments. And I became an examiner testing, all the other pilots on their abilities to do that. John Strickland: 00:08:40 So by the time I was a CW4 with 20 years’ experience and my wife wanted to go back to Germany one more time before we retired. I said, I don’t want to do that. The Army is going to send me to a school that I don’t want to go to. Well, that’s where the PTSD really began to manifest. They forced me to go to corporate school because I wasn’t qualified to fly any cobras in the inventory. And when we got to the gunnery session, I spent three days without sleeping. I was having flashbacks, nightmares. It was terrible. Now my generation was told, do your job, just suck it up. So, I didn’t go on sick call, but looking back on it after the fact, if I gone to the flight surgeon and said these are the problems I’m having, he would have taken me out of that course. John Strickland: 00:09:40 I would have gone to Germany and flown Hueys and been very happy. Instead. I was the worst soldier in the unit. I was so angry. And the unit that I flew with in Vietnam has a reunion every year, and I didn’t know it, but the battalion commander who I was the primary pilot for when we went to the field, was also in the same unit. So, he retired as a bird Colonel and I’m sitting across the banquet table at one of these reunions. And so, Dave, that officer efficiency report you gave me when I retired and he nodded, I said, that was the worst report I got in my career. And then I added and I deserved it. So, I recognized I was a terrible, he asked me to influence the young pilots right out of flight school. Well, I influenced them. All right. It’s not in the right direction. Negative way. So that was where the anger was really manifested that culminated in me diagnosed with severe PTSD. It wasn’t so much the flashbacks from the war. It was because I was forced to do something that I didn’t want to do that brought those reflections from earlier years back. I’m going through that gunnery, the three days of gunnery barring live ammunition and it was just terrible. Scott DeLuzio: 00:11:16 And things like that can bring you back to those bad times where there were things that happened that sometimes you might just rather forget happened. And it could be something, in this case, you were firing live ammunition and things like that. And so, there was the noise and there was the sites and things like that. And so that it probably the smell of the gunpowder, I don’t know exactly what it was that brought you back there, but all of that stuff combined can create those triggers on all of our senses, that sense of taste and smell and sight and hearing, all of those things can trigger memories. Scott DeLuzio: 00:12:05 I was just talking with my wife the other day. She was cutting up some vegetables for dinner and some peppers and just the smell of that caused me to say to her, I feel like I’m standing in my grandfather’s garden that he had when I was growing up as a kid, because he grew peppers in the garden and just that sense of smell brought me back there. And that was a happy time, it was a good time, I had good memories. So that’s good. But the same thing can happen on the negative side to where you experienced some trauma, you had some other issues that might’ve gone on during your time in Vietnam. Scott DeLuzio: 00:12:49 And then you go and have those same senses coming back to you and it takes you right back there. And I’m sure you’re not alone in that. And that’s why I do this podcast too. And it’s why I want people to know that they’re not alone, if they’re experiencing this type of stuff or not, they’re not crazy. Or anything else like that, it’s a normal human reaction. And if anything, they’re normal for being able to experience these types of things. So how long did you go before you were actually diagnosed with PTSD? John Strickland: 00:13:28 It wasn’t too long after I retired. I reconnected with a Vietnam Veteran flight nurse that I’d flown with 10 years prior and learn that he had liver cancer. Well, I had recently retired. I had plenty of time. He could no longer drive. So, I started taking him to his VA appointments, waiting a liver transplant in 2014. He died prior to a liver becoming available that sent me into a spiral of depression. I got to the point that I was thinking of hurting myself and I said, “no, I can’t, I gotta get some help.” So, I went to the VA and I remember the interview. I walked into the mental health clinic. They took me into a room and a young lady sat down and asked me six questions. And I answered yes to all six of them and was crying by the time I answered the last question. And she looked at me and said, I understand we can help you. Oh, there is help. There’s hope. So, I was diagnosed with severe PTSD. Scott DeLuzio: 00:14:43 Just a side note here, I’m glad that you’ve shared that story about going to the VA and getting the mental health facility and getting the treatment, because it does take some courage to admit that you have something wrong. You’re not Superman, there’s something not right. And you do need to go and get that worked on or checked out by someone who knows what they’re doing. And there are lots of good people who do work at the VA and in other facilities too that do this type of work and they can help, if you give it a chance, I think that’s the important thing. So, you went through, and so I’m imagining you went through the process of getting the mental health treatment through the VA for a period of time. How did that look for you? What was that process like? John Strickland: 00:15:50 I did the counseling, I took their medications and I got to the point that I wasn’t going to hurt myself, but then I was reflecting and I asked myself the question, is this as good as it gets, because there are still issues there. And that’s when I found Vitania. John Strickland: 00:16:27 I saw a video of how this technology helping Afghan war Veterans, and that was funded by a nonprofit associated with MIT, and it is called Heal the Hero Foundation, and this video was so impressive. The video is available on Heal the Hero Foundation’s YouTube channel. So, I’m not going to tell her whole story but that is my inspiration. I told my wife; I’m coming out of retirement. This can help so many people I’ve got to do this. Scott DeLuzio: 00:17:02 So, what is it about and how it works and what’s the process like John Strickland: 00:17:15 I’m going to give you a quick story about the whole process. Vitania is on the leading edge of neuroscience, we capitalize on advances in brain science by using software and advanced technologies to balance the brain. We’re nonmedical, non-intrusive, and we don’t use pharmaceuticals. We are not talk therapy. We’re using technology. The first advance we capitalize on is galvanic skin response. That’s the technology of an EKG, EEG, or polygraph. That technology has advanced to the point now that we can read the electrical signals the brain is sending through the skin. So, by placing your hand on a device that has sensors on it that connects our technology to your brain. The second advance we’re capitalizing on is the fact that we can now ask the brain questions. It’s called bio communications. So, let me use anxiety as an example. Someone comes to us and I access our software and tell it we’re investigating anxiety through that device that the person has their hands on with the sensors on it. John Strickland: 00:18:30 The technology asks the person’s brain, search yourself and find the electrical signals you’re sending concerning anxiety. And the brain does that process. It determines what is your normal range for this session and it reports to us the electrical signals. It’s sending this outside that normal range we call imbalances. The next step is through the technology we ask the brain to search yourself and find the electrical signals that will bring those imbalances back within your normal range. And the brain does. We’re going to ask the brain, send those signals instead of what you’ve been sending. We’re rebooting the brain like a computer, giving it a new norm. Scott DeLuzio: 00:19:13 Interesting. John Strickland: 00:19:15 Anxiety is going to be greatly reduced or eliminated. I’ve had people at the end of one session, take a deep breath and say, I feel so peaceful. Your brain just corrected the issues. Scott DeLuzio: 00:19:30 And now is this a system where, you used the example of a computer, so, if you have a problem with the computer, you reboot it or you install something, you do something to it, and then it’s fixed. And it continues operating normally until it doesn’t and then you might need to go reboot it again, or you might need to do something else to it. Is it sort of a similar process where you are fixing whatever the issue is, maybe it’s anxiety or whatever the case may be. You’re going and fixing the issue with the individual. Is it more of a permanent solution or is it something that needs some tweaking over time? John Strickland: 00:20:17 A prospective client will ask me, how long is this going to take? And my answer is, I can’t answer that. You’re going to tell me when you reached your wellness goal. So, I have long-term clients and I have clients that were with us for a few months, and I said, I’ve reached my goal. I’m not coming back anymore. Well, congratulations. The doors open if you find a need to come back. Scott DeLuzio: 00:20:40 So, I guess the answer is like anything it varies. John Strickland: 00:20:48 Let me give you our legal disclaimer that’ll answer that question. I’ll answer it. I’m sure we do not claim to heal, treat, cure, diagnose, or prescribe. Those are medical terms. We don’t use those. Scott DeLuzio: 00:20:59 So, in that case, it seems like it’s something that somebody needs to experience for themselves to see if this really something that’s going to work for me, and go through the process, and see how that affects them. And, whether or not it’s going to be something that they choose to continue with for their own personal wellbeing. In your situation, you went through this process, what was it like for you? And what happened when you first heard the story about the Afghanistan war Veteran who went through this process, and then you decided to give it a shot. What was the process like for you? And how did that look? John Strickland: 00:21:57 Before we opened our center? I had already decided I was going to be a franchisee. Before we opened the center, I tested myself using the technologies. And when I mentioned anxiety previously in our technology, we call this a panel there over 22,000 panels in the software. I tested myself for post-traumatic stress. That’s the only panel I looked at. It identified 47 biomarkers that were out of balance, panic disorders, depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, post-traumatic stress. But in that first session, the technology in my brain found a solution to all 47 of those items. I sent those solutions to my brain for six weeks, and I felt so different than I retested myself. The technology showed nothing out of balance concerning post traumatic stress. Okay. I don’t use the word cure, but my post traumatic stress is very well managed. Scott DeLuzio: 00:22:57 That makes sense that it isn’t necessarily cured. And I think that goes back to the question that I had before. It’s not necessarily cured, but it’s managed. And there could be things that happen in the future where, like I was saying before with the senses that could come back and trigger something, a memory or whatever that brings some of this stuff back up. But on a day to day basis you’re managing it well enough that it’s not affecting your day to day life. John Strickland: 00:23:32 Well, let me make another point. You know, trauma is just not occurring to soldiers and first responders, if someone’s in a car accident, they can experience trauma. So, I’m one of the long-term clients I mentioned. Scott DeLuzio: 00:23:51 And that’s a Testament to it, too. You know, you put your money where your mouth is and opened up the franchise and you’re helping people with the technology to get through this, whether they’re military, first responders or someone in a car accident or who was involved in some other sort of crime or something like that, they were robbed or whatever the case may be. They’re going to suffer from some mental anguish as well. John Strickland: 00:24:26 Well, we can talk about the pandemic in relation to this as well. Scott DeLuzio: 00:24:30 Certainly, with regards to anxiety and things like that. I can imagine that that’s a big thing. John Strickland: 00:24:36 It’s an organization called Mental Health America that does free scanning online or prescreening. They’ve been doing this for six years. And as of June 2020, over 169,000 additional participants reported having moderate to severe depression or anxiety compared with participants who completed the screening prior to the pandemic. Now that’s a very small sample, you know how many people go online looking for screenings for depression or anxiety? And there’s 169,000 additional people. Scott DeLuzio: 00:25:14 So it’s a significant bump. John Strickland: 00:25:17 Mental Health in America is a very important topic right now. Scott DeLuzio: 00:25:20 It certainly is. Going back to the Veterans. So, what other situations have you seen Veterans come in with? Obviously, PTSD is a big thing. I want to go back to what we were saying before about sharing your story and things like that and showing that it’s okay to share that type of thing. I want to highlight some examples of situations where this technology has helped other Veterans who’ve come through your office and gotten the assistance that they needed. And maybe if you can share some examples, obviously, without divulging too many deep personal details of the individuals, so that way someone else might hear this message and resonate with it and say, “yeah, that’s something I’m going through. And maybe this is something that can help me too. John Strickland: 00:26:18 Well, I believe instead of me taking the time and giving those examples, I would direct people to our YouTube channels. Heal the Hero Foundation on YouTube is the one that will have the Veterans, the first responder stories. And you will see five-minute videos there that are just very impressive. And that’s really what got me doing what I’m doing. So yes, I’ve had successes in our center, but it’s better if you can connect a face and hear the story from the person. Scott DeLuzio: 00:26:55 So I’ll put a link to Heal the Hero Foundation and their YouTube channel in the show notes for this episode. So, anyone who’s listening I will put that in the show notes. So, you can just click over to that relatively easily. John Strickland: 00:27:14 The YouTube channel for Vitania Brain Performance Center has videos more along the civilian sector and children that are suffering from ADHD and autism, those kinds of things, which is a very large client segment for us. The two YouTube channels are separated that way. Veterans are going to want to see the Heal the Hero Foundation videos. Scott DeLuzio: 00:27:40 Absolutely. Yeah. And I’ll have links to all of this stuff in the show notes, including links to Vitania’s website. So, you can look up the location, see if there’s a location near you that you might be able to check out and see if it’s something that is right for you. Ultimately that’s a personal decision you’re going to have to research it, do the due diligence on your own to see whether or not this is a program that you think will help you. Give it a try if like anything, if you don’t try it, you’ll never really know. I suppose you can look into the details of it and take a look to see if that’s something that you want to try out. One question they may have is can you explain the science behind what you’re doing? John Strickland: 00:28:26 Okay. Yeah. I’m not going to attempt to do that, but I’m going to tell people how they can find it. Our clinical director is Stacy Smith. If you’ll go to our company website vitania.com and click on the link, focus areas, then mental health, and there’s a place to get future notifications for the talks that he does. And if you’re working in the mental health field, you can get continuing education credits for watching his presentations. He will explain the science behind it and much more effectively than I can, but I’ve been asked not to attempt it. Scott DeLuzio: 00:29:13 Okay. John Strickland: 00:29:17 Dr. Stacy Smith is our client National Clinical Director at Vitania. Scott DeLuzio: 00:29:21 Okay. Anything else that you want to tell people about Vitania and what you do and how it works or anything else that we didn’t touch on yet that you might want to talk about? John Strickland: 00:29:42 Yes, there is, I’m located in El Paso, Texas but we have 19 centers in eight States. So, you can find those, firstname.lastname@example.org An exciting thing is that we have remote capabilities, that device that I told you about. If you had that in your office, we could instruct you how to download our software on your computer. And we could connect like we are on this zoom meeting and we could complete a remote session. I have clients across America, 50% of my clients are remote clients. I have clients in Washington state and New Hampshire and in between, so this is not something that you need to be fearful of. Oh, hell I look it up and it’s the closest franchises or hours away. I can’t do that. We can do this remotely, a Gulf war Veteran. And he lives in Illinois. Scott DeLuzio: 00:30:47 Oh, okay. And this is probably a great thing too, especially this time during the pandemic and everything, where people may just not want to go into an office where there’s other people, unnecessarily getting exposed to other people who may or may not be sick. Talking about anxiety and things like that certainly would add to it if they had to go in and do that as well. So, you know, being able to do that from the comfort of your home, where you’re maybe more likely to be on a normal baseline level of your mental health is probably a better option for a lot of people too. So that’s good if there’s no center nearby where you happen to live, the remote option is always there as well. So that works John Strickland: 00:31:42 For that reason, I have two clients in El Paso that are remote clients. They just don’t want to come into the office. People can learn more about us. If there are members of the VFW, there was a one-page article about our company and the June/July 2020 issue on page 53. And it talks about our remote capabilities. We did a pilot study with Veterans in a community college, somewhere up North, forget the state, and it was very successful. There are two things that we’ve accomplished in the El Paso market that we’re the only ones in the company that have accomplished this. We are now VA community care partners. Oh, wonderful Veterans can use our services and we can build a VA for it. So even if you’re remote, connect with me and I can teach you, I’ll give you the information you need to get to your primary care doctor to get a referral to us, and you can become a remote client and we can build a VA for him. Scott DeLuzio: 00:32:51 Oh, that’s outstanding for all the people who might be struggling with getting appointments through the VA or things just don’t seem to be working out with the provider that they’re working with, give this a shot and it doesn’t really cost. It doesn’t really cost you anything. If it’s going through the VA if you’re eligible for that. John Strickland: 00:33:12 That’s been about 18 months in the works, but I finally have the written agreement in hand. We’re just now starting this. And one more point before we’re off because we’re approved through the VA. Now we’re also being credentialed for other insurances. So that’s a big thing for a company like ours to be able to accept insurance. And we’re working in that direction. Scott DeLuzio: 00:33:39 Wonderful. Well, John, it has been a pleasure speaking to you about all of the technology that Vitania has available and the things that it’s done and your time in Vietnam and your service, which we are all very thankful for as well. And like you said, you’ve continued serving throughout your life. So, service is definitely a good word that I think you can be proud of using to describe your career and your life. Thank you for that. John Strickland: Thank you. John Strickland: 00:34:24 Can I end on a light note? Scott DeLuzio: Yes, sir. John Strickland: Would you like to know how a good conduct medal was taken back? Scott DeLuzio: 00:34:31 Go ahead. Yeah, let’s hear it. John Strickland: 00:34:34 Okay. I was enlisted before I went to flight school and I was awarded the good conduct medal. And at the end of flight school, I got a paper. They just handed it out in a formation and it’s the award of a good conduct medal. Well, knowing that it should have been the second award I went to personnel. And so, this should be the second award of a good conduct medal. And they said, Oh, we’re not authorized to award the second award. And they revoked my good conduct medal. Scott DeLuzio: 00:35:09 So, trying to straighten out the records ended up dropping one of those for you. So, the Army is good with messing up paperwork. So, well, thank you for sharing that story and the other stories. And, like I said, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you and talking about all of what Vitania has to offer. So, thank you again. Joh Strickland: Thank you very much, Scott. John Strickland: 00:35:38 Thank you for having me. Scott DeLuzio: 00:35:43 Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website, DriveOnPodcast.com. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @DriveOnPodcast.
37 minutes | 2 months ago
Magical Order of Brave Knights
Colleen Marchi is the author of Magical Order of Brave Knights, which is a book that helps children with separation anxiety and other bedtime fears, which can be common in military families. Links & Resources Order the Magical Order of Brave Knights – save 15% and get a free gift with discount code SIRWILLIAM Also available on Amazon, but without free gift, etc. Magical Order of Brave Knights on Facebook Magical Order of Brave Knights on Instagram Transcript Scott DeLuzio 00:00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I’d like to ask a favor if you haven’t done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcasts. If you’ve already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you’re there click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes. As soon as they come out. If you don’t use Apple podcasts, you can visit Drive On Podcast.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email lists. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let’s get on with the show. Hey everybody. Today, my guest is Colleen Marchi. Colleen is the author of the Magical Order of Brave Knights, which is a children’s book designed to help develop strategies to conquer separation anxiety, and nighttime fears. So Colleen, welcome to the show. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? Colleen Marchi: 00:01:04 Thank so much for having me. I am wife to a veteran, retired Army Colonel, but lived the military life prior to him retiring. And I have a bachelor’s and master’s in psychology. I’ve worked in the field on and off with children throughout my career. When my husband was deployed, my own son started having some struggles with separation anxiety, and it was affecting all of our sleep and that’s a real big problem for a lot of military families and children. And so, after probably a year of not sleeping for both of my son and me, I came up with a solution to help him. Scott DeLuzio 00:01:49 Yeah, that’s great. And actually, I’m glad you touched on that because naturally I think listeners might be wondering why we might be talking about children’s psychology on a podcast that’s geared towards military veterans; but we were saying before we started recording here that I’ve had spouses on talking about relationship issues that military veterans go through and other types of things that don’t necessarily affect just the veteran themselves. It affects other people. And this is another one of those situations where the children oftentimes are forgotten in a lot of the services and support that the veterans are offered. Let’s take a step back and start from the beginning about what problem that the book is looking to address, which is the anxiety in children and why it’s a problem, especially with regards to military families. Colleen Marchi: 00:02:48 So military children tend to suffer from higher rates of separation anxiety due to all the transitions that they go through with our life. So, the different moves every few years, loss of friendships, parent being deployed and then the reintegration as they’re coming back into family life and how that disrupts it. So, our children tend to be more resilient because they go through so many transitions, but they do tend to have a little bit of that anxiety. And unfortunately for children and for families, for veterans too, as kids are starting to have that anxiety, it often comes up at nighttime. They can manage as they’re playing and keeping things going during the day and their schedules are busy, but when they’re in the room alone at night, that’s when it pops up. And so they tend to either take a long time to fall asleep or have frequent night waking, which can be really disruptive for a service member who is just trying to come home from deployment or who is now retired and a veteran and trying to manage just reentering into civilian life. Colleen Marchi: 00:03:56 That sleep schedule is often hard for them to find and when they are getting sleep, if it’s interrupted, then it creates a whole other set of problems, which is what we were dealing with. Scott DeLuzio 00:04:07 Right. And so, in your situation, you saw that there was this problem and decided there needs to be a solution to this problem. And so that’s where your book and the products that you have come into play. We’ll talk a little bit more about that in a little bit. I haven’t looked at any statistics lately about what’s going on and I don’t even know if there are any statistics available for this type of thing, but I would imagine that anxiety in general, not just for children is on the rise with everything that’s going on in the world right now with the COVID situation and other things that are going on in the world and around our country. Scott DeLuzio 00:04:51 So where do you see your book coming into play with kids who might be worried about things like, mom or dad or grandma and grandpa gets sick and die from this virus or something like that, or the uncertainty now we’re coming up on the tail end of summer here, with going back to the school in the fall, that’s probably something that’s typically stressful enough for some kids, worrying about, are they going to like their teacher or are they going to be in the same class? It’s a long-winded way of asking the question, how do you see this helping out kids in today’s environment? Colleen Marchi: 00:05:31 Well, you hit on it. Anxiety really thrives in uncertainty. And so, it’s just fear that can cycle up and rev up with uncertainty. So those, what if questions come up and create the stress at a much higher level, and right now we all are facing it. Like you said, from either illness, a worry about the illness and the virus, to change of schedule. And they were trying to change the term now from social distancing to physical distancing, because so many people are feeling isolated. And so that’s a huge thing. So, our mission is to try to help people identify what is worrying them. That can be one of the single biggest things to stop that cycle of anxiety is when you feel that, what if, say it, talk about it, tell it to your parents, tell it to your spouse, tell it to your significant other, tell it to someone where you can identify what it is that is wearing you, because keeping it in is the worst thing. Colleen Marchi: 00:06:38 And anybody who’s suffered from anxiety knows that if you keep it in, it starts with some tiny little kernel and it grows into something much, much bigger. So, our biggest thing is say it, identify it, put words to it, and it stops being so scary. And then you get somebody else’s perspective. And I think the important thing for a parent right now is to just listen. A lot of times as parents, we want to just jump in and fix, like, you’re fine. It’s okay. I don’t have time for like 12,000 questions right now. I need you to go to bed, but instead it’s like, you know what? Stop and listen. And for my husband, especially, he’s a problem solver. You guys all are protectors and problem solvers. That’s what draws you towards this life. And he wanted to solve it real quick, move on and do. Colleen Marchi: 00:07:23 And so he just keeps moving and anxiety sometimes doesn’t fit in this tight little package like that. And so, identifying it, having the kids say what’s wearing them. Having all of us just say it, I find myself saying, I know I’m stressed, but here’s what’s bothering me and I don’t need anyone to fix it. I just need someone to listen. And then it slows that cycle down. So, we can talk about the cycle of anxiety, which I think is so important for people to understand how you can manage that. But that’s where our book is and our product is rooted in is slowing that cycle down and making it more manageable for people no matter what is causing the anxiety right now. Scott DeLuzio 00:08:01 Yeah, absolutely and I totally agree with what you’re saying about being a problem solver. My tendency is to try to jump in and solve a problem, whether I’m talking to my wife or my kids, or friends or whatever. If they are coming to me and they’re talking to me about a problem, maybe it’s just the way I’m wired. Maybe it’s the way a lot of people are wired. But I feel like if they’re coming to me with a problem, it’s because they’re looking for a solution. And so, my mind just goes and jumps right into problem solving mode. Identify what the problem is, what is it that we can do to solve it and things like that. But what you’re saying, I know this to be true too. Scott DeLuzio 00:08:50 It’s just sometimes I don’t use my own advice that I have in the back of my head. What you’re saying is that sometimes you just need to listen and that’s really what the other person needs is that ear to listen and my wife and I say to our kids all the time, God gave us two years and one mouth so that we should listen twice as much as we talk. And sometimes I don’t take my own advice on that. What you’re saying makes complete sense. It could be the thing that the kids really need is just to have somebody to listen to their fears and whatever it is that that might be bothering them. You mentioned earlier the cycle of anxiety, and you’re talking about how important that is. So would you care to share a little bit more about that? Colleen Marchi: 00:09:43 Yeah. I think it’s important for all of us to understand how anxiety can spin up really quick and how we can all manage it. It’s not a thing. It’s not something that goes away. You can’t just say, well, I’m cured of anxiety. I used to have it before and now I’m over it. It pops up all the time. So the first thing that happens is you get that worried about that “What if”, and it can come out of nowhere for some people where all of a sudden, you just feel this wave and that worry thought starts to create some stress hormones and physical reaction. Our brain pumps those stress hormones in thinking it’s time for fight or flight. And so, we get the physical reaction that rapid heart rate that rapid breathing, the stomach upset for a little kid, the dry mouth. Colleen Marchi: 00:10:29 Can I have one more glass of water? That’s not just a stall technique for kids to not want to go to sleep. They really are fearful, headaches. I mean the symptoms can be severe to nausea, to dizziness, but that physical symptom really starts from one word that just spins up and then our body wants to avoid it. We want to get back to that rest and digest. So, there’s a behavior change, whether it’s a tantrum for a little kid or for an adult, maybe anger outbursts, reacting because your body’s just in a state of shock and survival mode for children. It’s a tantrum or avoidance of a behavior, not wanting to go to sleep, not wanting to leave mom and dad, if they are going to be back in school from a distance learning to that’s going to create some real anxiety, Colleen Marchi: 00:11:20 they’ve been home for so many months now with mom and dad. So that’s a whole other anxiety provoking for all of us, from moms and dads, the kids, it’s children, teachers, anyone in between, this is just the mere mention of school starting. You can spin that cycle up, but so then our body gets a reaction of a satisfaction of that avoidance. And it’s a short term gain, right? So you’re feeling a little bit better. You’re away from the scary situation, but then all you’re doing is reinforcing the fact that that fear has more power over you and you can’t control it. And your only way to eliminate the fear is to stay away from what’s causing it. In your day, right now, everything is anxiety provoking, mundane activities that normally wouldn’t create this fear are really scary for a lot of people. Colleen Marchi: 00:12:10 So the best thing to do is learn to manage that anxiety and cope with it. So come up with a strategy, come up with a plan so that they’re in small and steady progress. So identify what it is. It’s worrying. You come up with a plan of how you’re going to do it and implement it in small pieces. So that if things, it is school that you’re talking about it with the children, okay, so we’re not sure what’s happening every day, it’s going to change, but either way, you’re going to be okay, reassure them. You’re going to be okay, we’re going to talk about this. We’re going to check in and we are going to make this a great thing. So, when a child comes to you and says, I’m worried about this, you don’t want to be like, Oh yeah, man, that’s really scary. Colleen Marchi: 00:12:48 It’s more like, wow, that must be hard. What does it feel like? How can we make that better? And let them be part of the solution to it and come up with a plan. And when you see a child or an adult handling something that’s scary for them, acknowledge it because sometimes, we know the right path, but we won’t really recognize that we’re doing it. And it’s important to have a win and a victory because then you feel like, “Hey, I can do that again.” So, when I’d see my son sleeping through the night after we gave him, Sir William or Brave Knight, I would say, “gosh, I’m so proud of you. Look at what you did last night.” And he then would stand a little taller and puff his chest out and be proud of himself. And the next night he would say, I think I can do it because I did it last night. And it’s like a learned behavior rather than fleeing from the fear, addressing it. And so, it’s a small, slow change to help people slow the cycle down. Scott DeLuzio 00:13:46 I think parents probably have seen this type of behavior many other times with their own children, just in normal day to day things that you might have done, or different milestones that the kids might have made. Like, when they first learned to tie their shoes, when they’re frustrated, it’s not going the right way or whatever, and they they’re throwing their shoes because they’re angry at it. It’s like, “Oh, these shoes are stupid. Just can I get the old Velcro ones back” and that type of thing. But then once when it clicks and they get it and you give them that praise, like I actually did it, that’s something I could do, the same thing with riding their bike or any other thing that’s difficult at first, but they end up eventually conquering it and they get through that issue. Scott DeLuzio 00:14:40 I think that’s something that probably many parents, especially if children who are not infants or whatever they see that behavior in their children. So, your kids have this in them. You know, they have that ability to overcome a hard thing and kids are generally speaking, they’re pretty resilient. They can be if they’re given the right circumstances. And I think things that cause anxiety with children, especially things like deployments or whatever the case may be. I can only imagine what it would be like for a young kid to have to pack up and move every couple of years. And now am I going to find any friends in this new place? I’m not going to be able to see my old friends anymore from wherever I was before. There’s a lot of anxiety, but it does tend to create, from what I understand, some pretty resilient kids afterwards. Colleen Marchi: 00:15:51 Yeah, for sure. But in the meantime, while they’re struggling with it, when sleep is missing, because that’s generally where it comes up, they’re having these little victories during the day and then all of a sudden they’re in their room and it’s dark and they’re like, “Ooh, okay.” But that’s a real problem for any family, but especially for military families. When my husband was deployed, and my son was struggling and he was coming into my bed at night, I was like, this is my only time. We have three boys and I was like; this is my only time by myself. And even if I’m asleep, like it was my time to just let my body and brain just reset and rest and be ready mentally and physically for the next day of having to parent all on my own and handle everything. Colleen Marchi: 00:16:37 And that was wearing me down. But I knew that when my husband was coming home, that couldn’t be a situation because he needed that even more than I did. I mean that he was having such a hard time. He wanted to come back in and just be ready to be where we left off. But it took a minute and people don’t really talk about that, but that transition is hard. And, if a service member comes back and they’re struggling with situations that occurred, if they’re having PTSD and just stuff that they’re not even able to identify it yet, sleep is so important. And it’s really hard to come by. That’s the first thing that gets disrupted for anybody with any fears or anxiety and then it just makes the whole dynamic so much more stressful. Colleen Marchi: 00:17:21 When you guys are going on no sleep, a family is being disrupted of sleep, then everybody’s on edge and every little, tiny thing can set them off. So sleep right now is one of the most restorative things we can do. It’s the thing that’s going to keep us, honestly, the healthiest and our immune system up mentally able to conquer anything and so I can’t say enough for everybody who is struggling with any anxiety, make sure that you are working on a sleep hygiene program to where you were getting enough hours of restful sleep, your family and yourself. Scott DeLuzio 00:17:51 Yeah, absolutely. And just to go back and touch on the point that you made about how you need that time to yourself that that was your only time is basically when you’re sleeping in your room, in your own bed, and that’s time to yourself. I could see how somebody who’s listening to that might feel like they’re being selfish by not taking care of their children’s needs. And, you know, from my point of view, if you’re not taking care of your own needs you need to have sleep. It’s just a basic human need. Unless you’re a robot, you need to have sleep. If you’re not getting that sleep, then like you were saying, you’re not going to be on your A game the next day. Scott DeLuzio 00:18:41 And then your kids aren’t getting that A game behavior out of you the next day. And maybe it’s not even you’re bringing your A game. Maybe that’s not even the right phrase because we’re not all on top of our game, but if you’re not able to take care of yourself and get the sleep that you need, then you’re going to just snowball this into a much bigger problem down the road. And that’s not fair to yourself. It’s not fair to your kids and your family. So, for anyone who might be sitting there thinking, “Oh, I feel so selfish for taking care of myself and just telling my kids to go back to their room and sleep in their own beds. It really isn’t. If you think about it that way, you need to take care of yourself Colleen Marchi: 00:19:29 And there’s that old adage, and you’re on the airplane, put your mask on yourself first before, which is hard because as a mother, I don’t really do much for myself. That’s how all mothers are. I’m not anything particularly special. I’m just average, it’s just what we do. But there are definitely families who prefer a family bed and having the children in there. But if the children are coming in because of fear, then you’re not really even taking care of them. I know it’s hard to think then. And it took me a long time to think that I was giving him a short-term game and gain and myself a short-term game of like, let me just sleep just even three hours. If he’s kicking me and rolling around, but I wasn’t helping him. Colleen Marchi: 00:20:07 I really, really wasn’t. And I was seeing the fear that was happening at night, then it started to happen when I would bring him to school because he was learning, not that I could tie my shoes, not that I could go down the slide, not that I could sleep through the night in my own room, but that when something scares me, I should run from it. And that’s a much bigger issue. So it took me a long time. I was just dealing with it. I was like, okay, I’d walk him down some nights and he would stay in bed. And I was like, we’ve better fix this because I started getting anxiety at night. The sun would go down, dinner would be done, and I would be like, “Oh gosh, another night I don’t sleep.” Colleen Marchi: 00:20:43 So it really is so hard for us sometimes as parents to remember that we need to address that we need to take care of ourselves, but we also need to address that fear. And the way that we came up with it was because I finally had realized that same point that you were saying that it’s like, it’s okay. But I also have to help him. I have to figure out a way. And once we were all sleeping, I was such a happier mom. And he was a happier kid and my husband was a much happier dad. What we created was the same idea. It’s a protector and it’s a problem solver. And it’s in a way that a child can completely understand it. I kept telling him, “Hey, we’re safe. Daddy is so strong. And our house is so safe and you’re protected.” And he was like, “that’s weird lady because the dinosaur is coming in here scaring me every night.” That’s funny to say that. But, and so when I created something that matched his fear and he understood, it was like, finally, thank you. And then we all were just having a much happier existence asleep. Scott DeLuzio 00:21:51 Yeah, absolutely. And so, tell us a little bit more about the story, about the whole process and what is involved with it and how it can help other families. Colleen Marchi: 00:22:07 Yeah. So, after months and months and months of this struggle, one night, I thought, okay, I’ve got to find a way to address this fear with him. And so, I went back to my schooling and my career and thought, okay, I’ve got to find a way. So, we talked, I sat him down and I said, okay, what does it sound like at night? What does it feel like? What does it look like? And even though he was like four years old, I was like in his little way of just saying, gosh, he was able to really describe what his fear was. And it was so important for me to listen and just validate him like, “gosh, you really are struggling.” Even though I keep saying to you, you got to sleep tonight. Colleen Marchi: 00:22:47 You gotta be brave. And he really was seriously afraid. So, the next day, I woke up and I created the first Brave Knight. And his name is Sir William. He is a sweet plush, little Teddy bear, 12 inches. And he’s dressed in a medieval Knights armor, but he’s really brave, but lovable and huggable. And I picked my son up from school and sat down and I said, this is your Brave Knight. And he is going to watch over you tonight while you sleep. And before you go to bed, we’re going to give those words up to him. And we’re not going to sit and struggle with them. You don’t have to hold them in all night. We’re going to sit together and you’re going to tell Sir William everything that worries you tonight and he’s going to stand guard and he’s going to be up while you sleep. Colleen Marchi: 00:23:26 My son was so excited. Why have you not thought of this before? And I was like, yeah, no kidding. I lost sleep seriously over this. And so that night we talked about it and we told them everything, they had dinosaur that was coming in and we just were able to allow him to give up those fears. So, after the stories and the questions he asked about where the Knights came from and what training they went into and what their castles were like, I wrote a story, about it. And so, our product comes with our sweet little bear, along with the storybook, a professionally illustrated storybook. And it tells the tale of where the brave Knights come from and how they can help, and it’s friendship and bond and companionship and protection. Colleen Marchi: 00:24:18 The last part, which is where the magic, our name comes from Magical Order Brave Knights and this is my husband’s edition, which all of the military, personnel up there will appreciate this. We have a projecting flashlight and it comes in either pink or blue. And it has a wheel that projects eight different images, almost like a view master. They can click through and shine the images under their bed or in their closet. And it clears their room of anything that’s scared. So, a nightmare that comes in and hides in their closet once it’s cleared with Williams light, nothing will come in there and they can sleep. So they’re giving up their worries, they’re identifying them, they’re addressing them and then they’re conquering them by protecting it. And they feel like that’s a huge part of it because it’s William and them conquering these together. And he’s got their back and he’s on guard while they sleep. So, it’s a really great ritual each night for the kids. And they love to know that someone else is there while they’re sleeping. Scott DeLuzio 00:25:16 Yeah. That’s great. I know, one of my sons, when he was younger, used to get up in the middle of the night and just turn on the light in his room and just leave the light on like the full room light. It was super bright in his room and then he would try to go back to sleep and when you have a light on in the room, you don’t get the deep sleep that you need, and it’s not the best sleep to have. So, I really do like the fact that you have that flashlight. So, it’s a quick, there’s a “I’m afraid there’s a monster under the bed.” So let me take the flashlight and take a quick look, sweep it back and forth. Scott DeLuzio 00:26:00 Okay. There’s no monster there. Cool. Let’s go back to bed and then the lights off, and you don’t have to keep the light on the entire night to know that there’s no monster under the bed, because you already checked and there’s nothing there. The same thing with any other fears, dinosaur in my closet or whatever the case may be. So that’s probably a lot better for sleep than what my son was doing, turning on the light and leaving it on for the rest of the night. Colleen Marchi: 00:26:30 Yeah, that really affects the circadian rhythms. So, you’re supposed to have the room as dark as possible, which is hard for kids because they always want something on. It really does mess and it changes that melatonin schedule. So, the best thing you can do is as you’re getting them ready for bed, keep it as low lit as possible so that their brain is already producing melatonin naturally to get them because when the light is on your brain thinks it’s time to get up. And so, it really is a very unrestful sleep. There’s no deep REM sleep. The circadian rhythms are up and then trying to wake them in the morning. They’re a little groggy and sometimes trying to get ready for school in the morning or daycare can be an extra added thing. Scott DeLuzio 00:27:13 No, absolutely. Yeah. And that’s sort of what we realized and his room is tucked down the hall. And so, we didn’t necessarily see that the light was on when we were getting ourselves ready to go to bed. We recognized in him that he was having some issues in the morning, he was slow to get up and he was just cranky and tired and all that stuff. And so, we started trying to figure out, he’s going to bed early enough, he’s waking up late enough, what’s going on. We started just peeking in and then we put two and two together, figured out that the light was on and it really did make a difference. Scott DeLuzio 00:27:56 You know, he wakes up now more refreshed, and he’s gotten the full deep sleep that he needs, in order to wake up and be cheerful and not a grouch if you will. So, before we wrap up, I don’t know if there’s anything else that you had that you wanted to talk about the book or about the process that kids might go through and also, I want to make sure that we have a chance for you to tell people where they can go to find the book and how they can get their hands on it, if this is something that their family is struggling with, so if there’s anything else, please let us know. Colleen Marchi: 00:28:46 Yeah, well, we just had an amazing honor. We’ve received a few awards since we started this business, my husband and I are running this together. It’s small business, but this year we just received the 2020 product of the year from Child Creative magazine for products with fear and anxiety, which they really are highlighting because of 2020s, entire stretch of existence, as we’re all struggling with anxiety. So, to get product of the year from them for fear and anxiety, it’s huge and it’s a small business. It’s my husband and I, so we have some sweet, personal touches that we do. So, if you buy our product, which is the book, the bear and the flashlight that comes as a kit right now, we have some great free gifts with purchase just because everybody’s struggling right now. Colleen Marchi: 00:29:34 And, life is hard for everybody. So, we’re throwing some free gifts in but we also send, a booklet in the mail, kids love getting mail. And now that we’re even more isolated, we’ve done this from the beginning, but now it’s even more special. I feel like for children, we send a booklet in the mail address to the little Prince or princess about 10 days after they received their sir William. And it comes from the brave Knight castle. They’re so excited. It’s got some little extra tidbits about the game, Sir William likes to play and his favorite place to hide, play hide and seek in the castle and some fun stuff that they love. We also send a birthday card out during their birth month from the castle. Just another fun thing that kids love to see. It comes in a sweet envelope, a little paw print from Sir William on the back. Colleen Marchi: 00:30:19 And, lastly, we donate a portion of all of our sales to Steven Sellar Tunnels to Towers foundation. It’s an amazing charity that helps provide mortgage free homes for any military police or first responder families that have had a spouse die in the line of duty, or if they’re catastrophic injured. They help with smart homes for them. So, being a military family, my brother was killed while serving in 2003 in the Army, so we know what that’s like when you’ve lost everything. And then oftentimes the spouse loses their home. And their children are going through the worst time in their lives. So, to be able to provide some safety and protection for them in some small way from our sales, it’s a really big deal. So, by helping your child sleep, you’re also helping, give some peace to a family that needs it at the worst time in their life. Scott DeLuzio 00:31:14 Yeah, for sure. and I would want to express my condolences for you and your family, with your brother. I’ve also lost my brother in Afghanistan in 2010. I know how that feels and it’s a terrible situation but you’re right. We oftentimes don’t think about the families who are left behind when terrible tragedies like this occur and the foundation that you donate a portion of the proceeds to, I looked into it on your website. Would you mind telling people a little bit more about who that person is who’s being honored through that foundation and a little bit of the background on that story? It was amazing and I think if you can talk a little bit about that, that would be awesome too. Colleen Marchi: 00:32:10 So Steven Sellar was an FDNY firefighter. My husband’s a New Yorker, so it’s really near and dear to our hearts. At FDNY firefighter and on 9/11, he had just gotten off shift and lived in Brooklyn, which is just over the bridge of the tunnel, from Manhattan. He got the call and heard what had happened and he couldn’t get through, the tunnels were closed down because they weren’t sure what was happening and the bridges were just locked. And so he grabbed his gear and ran across, to get back into lower Manhattan and went into the World Trade Center and had saved hundreds of people before he died, unfortunately, in the towers when they came down and his heroic efforts and just amazing courage that day had his family started a foundation in his honor. Colleen Marchi: 00:33:08 He’s got, I think there’s a number of brothers and sisters. It’s a large family and they set up this foundation in his honor and started it small and it’s just grown. They’ve helped so many families who have lost someone while serving. So, it’s police, military and any first responder, fire, anything, and it’s great. And if they’re catastrophic really injured, they’ve branched out just from dealing with the spouses who have died to now being able to help them have a home that they can thrive in. When somebody dies, everybody’s there initially, and then people have to go back to their life. And the family members sometimes are often forgotten. And, if they’re catastrophically injured, that people are there in the beginning and then the families left to handle that. Colleen Marchi: 00:34:00 And so to have this foundation that has been so amazing, so supportive, my husband was down at 9/11. I had flown home to California. We were living in New York at the time. I’d flown home to California and my husband was there. And for the first 36 hours, I hadn’t heard from him. And I just sat up watching the screen and just sitting there and thinking, “okay,” so that day changed everybody’s life in our country, many people since with everything that has happened in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s changed their lives and so many families. So, this foundation is phenomenal. We looked, we knew we wanted a charitable piece. We knew that was something that was so important just to be able to give back, even though we’re small and we found them and it was just a perfect fit. I just can’t say enough. So, reach out, look at them. They used to have runs, which is great, and they’re not now, so now it’s hard. They’re not getting as much, because they can’t hold these large events. So, I encourage everyone to look out and see if you can give just a little to them to help because you really are making a difference in some family’s lives who really need it. Scott DeLuzio 00:35:12 Yeah, absolutely. And I will have a link to this foundation in the show notes and as well as everything else that we talked about today, a link to your website to help people find where they can get the book and the whole package deal that you have and help you out that way to hopefully get families out there who are listening and resonating with the message that Colleen has talked about here. Hopefully help you get your little one, some sleep and yourself as well, because it’s disruptive to the whole family. So, thank you again, Colleen, for joining me, and coming on the show, sharing this information and I really do appreciate what it is that you’re doing. Keep it up and, I’d be happy to talk with you again in the future to see how everything’s going and see how this evolves. That’d be awesome. Colleen Marchi: 00:36:19 Thank you so much. And I’ll give you a discount code, a 15% off discount code that can be for any of your listeners. There’s a fun discount wheel anyway, which you may even get 20%, but if not, at least you’re going to get 15% and a free gift. Scott DeLuzio 00:36:36 Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website, DriveOnPodcast.com. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @DriveOnPodcast.
56 minutes | 3 months ago
G. I. Low
Author, and illustrator P. S. Barlow, the creator of the popular G. I. Low comic joins me to talk about the comic, some of his experiences as a Drill Sergeant, and about how humor can help get people through difficult situations. I had a lot of fun on this interview. Give it a listen! Links & Resources Blank Firing Adapter: Origins and Basic Training Saga (Book) Blank Firing Adapter: Mosquito Wings and Tear Drops (Book) G. I. Low on Facebook G. I. Low on Instagram G. I. Low on Twitter Transcript Scott DeLuzio: 00:00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I’d like to ask a favor if you haven’t done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcast. If you’ve already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you’re there click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes as soon as they come out. If you don’t use Apple podcast, you can visit DriveOnPodcast.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email list. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio and now let’s get on with the show. Scott DeLuzio: Hey everybody. Today, my guest is an Army Drill Sergeant, so I made sure I got up early to get my PT in. I shaved, got my hair and regs and showed up for formation 15 minutes early. Not really. Anyways, my guess is PS Barlow, who is not just a Drill Sergeant, he’s also the creator of the popular G. I. Low comic. So, Pete, welcome to the show. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and things like that? P.S. Barlow: 00:01:10 Well, Scott, thank you for having me on the show. As mentioned before, I’m an active duty Drill Sergeant and I’m also the author and illustrator of the comic G. I. Low; I’ve been in the Army for 10 years and I just reenlisted for three more. So clearly, I’ve got a thing going. I had been writing the comic since I was in basic training. I had been sharing the comic online for about five of those 10 years. I have no intention of stopping. Scott DeLuzio: 00:01:40 That’s awesome. And so, for those listeners who might be living under a rock and don’t know your comic, tell us a little bit about what the comic is about and where you came up with the idea for it. P.S. Barlow: 00:01:55 The idea for the comic naturally was born of the fact that I joined the Army. As indicated by the title G. I. Low, the comic is a way of giving a shout out to the more unmemorable soldiers or at least the least qualified. I wanted to do an inverse of GI Joe, and that’s exemplified by the central character, Sergeant Low, who is out of shape, unqualified, overwhelmed by responsibilities. I don’t have any intention of making comic about super soldiers or the highest speed soldiers, because let’s just be honest, they’re not as funny. Scott DeLuzio: 00:02:40 Oh, that’s true. Yeah. P.S. Barlow: 00:02:42 So, the comic itself got started when I was in basic training. I had a notebook because when you first get there, you get your notebook, which you can use for studying, writing down notes or writing letters to your battle buddies who you got “killed” because of your negligence. That was actually a thing. I don’t know if that’s still a thing in BCT, but in AIT, we don’t do that. It’s probably too creepy. I had a notebook and I’ve always loved doodling. I’ve never been very good at it. People who read my comic all attest to that. I didn’t want to doodle because, I just thought everything going around with me, it was funny and I just made it into a little comic strip for the real fans, the full title used to be the adventures of GI Low and then everyone just called it G. I. Low. P.S. Barlow: 00:03:35 So I figures that I would just drop the adventures part. Bam gone. The first comic strips that I did, there was no story. There was no character. Low was just this very loose looking caricature of me. I’d been used to doing little characters and as the comic has evolved, Low has been able to stand up on his own two boots, and he looks less and less like me as the comic has gone on just because I wanted him to be his own standalone character. Scott DeLuzio: 00:04:07 It was probably a good thing too, that it doesn’t look so much like you, because he sort of gets into some trouble and some antics and things like that. You don’t want to exactly associate with that. P.S. Barlow: 00:04:17 People ask about when Low is going to get promoted to Staff Sergeant. He’s been a Buck Sergeant for six years now or something like that. I refuse to be the same rank as Low, not to mention he’s bad at his job, so he’s not going to get promoted really. So I’ve told people, if I ever make Sergeant First Class, which, knock on wood, happens sometime in my lifetime, then I’ll make him a Staff Sergeant, but again, I like that buffer room between myself and this character I created. Scott DeLuzio: 00:04:47 Right. And so your motivation then for creating this comic, not just creating it because, obviously back in basic training when you’re doing your doodles and stuff that the motivation has changed over the years, I’m sure, but for putting it out now. I’m looking at your Facebook page, you have over 25,000 followers who are checking it out on a regular basis. What’s your motivation for releasing this comic in this humorous medium? P.S. Barlow: 00:05:22 I love to make people laugh. I took a shot at standup comedy very early in my Army career and it didn’t go well. If I can give people something funny, like you touched upon “now,” I think he did that on purpose. Obviously 2020 has been a difficult year for everyone on the planet. I debated whether or not I should do comics about COVID-19, is that funny, especially since everyone knows the rules of comedy is tragedy plus time, and I haven’t really given it much time. But I like, none of us, thought this would go on as long as it has. So, I decided that I’m going to do one COVID-19 comic because I’m an active duty Drill Sergeant and COVID-19 has changed everything about TRADOC. P.S. Barlow: 00:06:18 I was like, well, there’s the one. And then it kept going. And I was like, “well, nothing has changed.” So, I kept going and going and going, especially since the news is so continuously grim in this country. If I can bring some levity to this really unpleasant situation, hopefully I am doing my job. The comic for those of you read it, I don’t write Doonesbury. This isn’t a political comic. I don’t like to really get into the heavy subject matters. It’s more like, what’s the deal with the Army combat fitness test? I did not want to curb the comic or just totally ignore COVID-19. Anyone who’s in TRADOC right now, whether you’re cadre or student, we went from marching to class every day and calling cadence to double arm interval. P.S. Barlow: 00:07:20 You’re not calling cadence; you’re eating your meals on the Drill pad and you’re standing on a block of tape to make sure that we’re spaced out properly. It’s surreal, but especially on this my second year as a Drill Sergeant. So, compared to the first year, everything is different. Just yesterday I was on a baggage detail because we can’t just have soldiers coming and going from commercial airplanes anymore. So, we have to go onto the flight and receive all their bags as though this is combat deployment. I want to document this too, just so that I don’t forget this. I mean, someday soon this will all be in the past and it’ll become like, Hey, do you remember the year 2020? It wasn’t that crazy. Remember Coronavirus. And it was weird. I just want to document what it was actually like. Scott DeLuzio: 00:08:13 So I’m guessing there’s no cattle car thing. People don’t get shoved in those things anymore. I don’t even know if that’s still a thing. It was definitely when I went through too. P.S. Barlow: It was a thing when I went through too. P.S. Barlow: 00:08:29 I’m an AIT Drill Sergeant too. I should probably mention that. If you read the comic, the comic would be very funny if Low was a BCT Drill Sergeant too because it’s more high, intense environment, but I’m an AIT Drill Sergeant and so guess what he gets to become an AIT Drill Sergeant. Scott DeLuzio: 00:08:48 Yeah. So, I want to go back to one question that I had. As far as how you create it and where you come up with everything. Is it true that you still make it in Microsoft paint? It is true? P.S. Barlow: 00:09:04 Much to the chagrin of all of my colleagues who have been trying to get me to join the 21st century. I just like it. I know how to use it. And back to the creation of the comic, when I first did it, it was a pen and paper and I was just cutting it out, mailing it to my friends, and then I got super advanced in pen and paper, and then I would scan it and then put it onto a computer and then share it. The beautiful thing about Microsoft Paint and I have this in common with PowerPoint Ranger, club knowledge, other people that use the really rudimentary stuff to make this is, I love that you can find it anywhere. Every computer has MS P.S. Barlow: 00:09:48 Paint, as long as it’s a MS computer. So, the comic took a huge break, five years. So, half of my Army career, I did not do the comic. Basically, I did it in basic training and then I took a five-year hiatus and then I was stationed in Germany and I would remember I was miserable. It was like all I wanted from the Army. I wanted to get stationed in Germany. And I finally got it and I was not happy. This was supposed to solve all my problems and it didn’t. I didn’t know how to articulate it without pissing off my friends and family that had heard me say for years, I want to get stationed in Germany. So, I thought a good way to do it, so it wouldn’t be too whiny was to do it in comic strip form. So, I was on staff duty once, I pulled up Microsoft Paint, but if you read the early comics, they are brutal. I mean, just P.S. Barlow: 00:10:46 the worst drawing ever. Because I hadn’t quite figured out Microsoft Paint. I was literally just taking the little pencil tool, P.S. Barlow: 00:10:53 drawing this stuff and then copy, pasting it because I’m lazy. I want to explain in a funny way, why I hate being stationed in Germany. By the way, I’m a completely shameless self-promoter. So, the relief for staff duty comes in and instead of briefing them on everything I’ve done, I’m like, “Hey, this comic I did, is this funny? Tell me it’s funny and they say, “yeah, yeah, P.S. Barlow: 00:11:20 it’s funny.” But you know, did you do all the checks?” “Yeah, yeah.” “You did the checks? I also drew a fun comic. P.S. Barlow: 00:11:27 And so immediately I just emailed it to myself, shared it on Facebook, tell me it’s funny. And then everyone’s like, it’s funny, it’s good. You should keep doing this. And so, really the first year of the comic, I was doing these things on my lunch break. I’m on a computer, there’s MS Paint and I could spend an hour and a half going to get food or I could just sit here and make a comic about something weird that happened at work and the earliest comics there was no story. There was no structure. I mean, Low goes from Germany to Afghanistan, to Fort Stewart, Georgia, without any through line; it’s complete shuffle mode of a comic. I would do little observations, things you don’t expect in the Army, like for example, having to watch two people pee. I don’t know where you noncommissioned officer. Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. P.S. Barlow: Alright. So yeah, they left that out of the go Army video. Scott DeLuzio: 00:12:25 Yeah, the recruiter left that out. P.S. Barlow: 00:12:27 See all that you can pee in the Army. You just expect to pee in a cup. You don’t expect a watch. A third of the males in your company have to pee. It’s weird just standing there. It’s like, okay, sir, how’s the family. Well, I can tell you’re hydrated. So just trying to find the little awkward moments that don’t often get reflected, like movies and TV shows, comic strips have always been great at finding the idiosyncrasies of the Army that people don’t think of. I am definitely coloring within the lines that were created by Bill Malden and Mort Walker, comic strips about the military have been around as long as the military. Scott DeLuzio: 00:13:14 Sure, absolutely. Back to your days in Germany, when you pick this back up, it probably served almost in a way, a therapeutic way of releasing that frustration that you had with your day to day activities and things like that. P.S. Barlow: It was my therapist. Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, exactly. That’s where I was getting with that. It seems like it probably was a great way for you to vent without necessarily pissing anyone off. P.S. Barlow: 00:13:50 Yeah. And that’s a very important point. Whenever you’re taking the piss out of the Army, you do run the risk of angering your leadership, which, God knows no soldier really wants. I think one of those moments where I, by the way, I’m still active duty, I’m still making the comic, I’m still prone to pissing people off. But one of my favorite moments ever was when my first book published through Divided by Zero, there’s my shout out. I published a book and it did very surprisingly well. I outsold all the Garfields for one weekend. Bam. You know, it’s going to be my tombstone, but I remember I was at my company and my company Commander called me into his office and I’m like, “Oh God, what did I do? What did my soldiers do?” And he goes, “can you autograph this?” P.S. Barlow: 00:14:42 And I was like, I think it’s going to be okay. Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. He wasn’t too upset with that. P.S. Barlow: 00:14:49 I know, Bill Mauldin managed to piss off General Patton. I’m friends with Mark Baker who writes Private Murphy and he’s explained that he has gotten angry emails from the Pentagon. I have avoided that so far. I think I’ve a less edgy comic than those two very talented cartoonists, but it’s still just always on that precipice, especially as a Drill Sergeant, my content is about the soldiers and training and the Drill Sergeant. I’m making fun of a bunch of teenagers that I’m in charge of, right? I’m waiting for the moment when one of the soldiers files a complaint against me because he didn’t like how I was portraying the comic and then I’d have to tell them, I don’t make comics about my soldiers that are still here. I wait until you leave. It’s a little gesture of professionalism. Scott DeLuzio: Sure. Yeah. And these days you might even get a call from their mom or something. And I would not be surprised. P.S. Barlow: Or like families of soldiers and training here would be like, P.S. Barlow: 00:16:00 “My little boy was publicly mocked on a public forum about the fact that he didn’t shave this morning is a very sensitive demeanor and he cannot take it. I demand the comic be canceled. Scott DeLuzio: So, the fear is a definite possibility. I can see that type of thing happening, but you seem to, excuse the pun, stay within the lines, and not get anyone too riled up with the stuff. But it’s funny too. And I think, part of it, there’s art and artistic side to it, where you’re using the medium, that you have to express yourself and your maybe frustrations or your things that you consider funny or whatever. But it’s also a good way to express yourself as well. P.S. Barlow: Absolutely. I would say, I don’t necessarily consider my comic necessarily art, but there’s that art therapy component of it, because if you read the comic, I’m dealing with so much of the comic is Low embarrassing himself out at work. P.S. Barlow: 00:17:12 And, I tell people Low isn’t me, but all of my worst qualities get put in, so all of my shortcomings as a noncommissioned officer and a soldier, anytime something happens where I’m just racked with shame for like a week. That’s funny, I think Low should do that. It’s a way of taking ownership of the embarrassment and ownership of just the feelings of, if you read the Drill Sergeant Academy comics, the Drill Sergeant Academy is challenging. I remember when I first found out I was on the work order for Drill Sergeant duties, I thought this is a mistake. No one who has met me has ever thought this is a Drill Sergeant candidate. I told people that and they were like, yeah, I never could picture you as a Drill Sergeant. Like, thanks, asshole. I got there and God bless my squad. They’re amazing people. I’m so glad I graduated with them, but they were like, “You, you I can’t…” P.S. Barlow: 00:18:14 “You seem so.” I’ve just looked the most POG human being you have ever met in your life. For those of you who don’t have a good visual, I look like Steve from Blue’s Clues. It doesn’t really conjure up the image of Arlie Army. So just like that, all of my insecurities were magnified at the Academy. I was just telling myself, you’re a non-commissioned officer. You can’t even do this. You can’t explain this. You can’t, good God, why do you keep bending your arms at the elbows when you’re March? I really tried, by the way, the whole time I was at the Academy, I did not bring my laptop. I didn’t bring anything to post the comic was online. I just gave myself that summer off, got back and immediately started making comics about all of my memories of the Drill Sergeant Academy. P.S. Barlow: 00:19:06 And I really wanted to touch upon that insecurity that kept me up at night at the Drill Sergeant Academy; I wanted to make it funny and own it, and then that’s continued throughout being a Drill Sergeant. I’m bragged with insecurity all the time. Like, did you do that right? Here’s a story. Drill Sergeants are known for their one-liners and the quips and whatnot. You’ll just have a moment. I had a soldier; I was in charge of remedial physical training and she was explaining to me what we could do that would help her out. And I just screamed at her, this isn’t Burger King, P.S. Barlow: 00:19:47 You can’t have it your way. And then they just walked away. Like what did I say? That was funny. P.S. Barlow: 00:19:57 Well, again, if I can put that on paper and the therapeutic component, and if others can find themselves in that comic or in the comics in general, then I feel like I’m doing my job. I’m so relieved that people have been so positive towards the comic. If you read the comic, you know Low is overweight and people have been like, “Oh, I’m so glad that there’s representation of that. The soldiers that always have to get tape in a comic strip. I’m glad I can do that for you. I had people getting ready for the Drill Sergeant Academy who messaged my page for about a year just saying, what advice do you have? How can you help me out? And I told them, “did you read the comics about Low at the Academy? Do the exact opposite.” Scott DeLuzio: 00:20:45 That’s perfect. That’s probably really great advice too. Scott DeLuzio: 00:20:48 especially for anyone who takes a look at the comics that shows he is doing the wrong thing more often than not in most cases. And it seems like not following in his footsteps is probably the right way to go. You mentioned earlier a couple of books that you said you have one book, I believe. P.S. Barlow: 00:21:12 Two books out. They’re both available on Amazon, and their published through Divided by Zero it’s a veteran owned publishing house. So, the first book is BFA. Um, so either Blank Firing Adaptor or a Bachelor of Fine Arts, that was basically created out of a mistake I made when I graduated from college with a degree in film production. I know it’s a weird through line, but again, it’s just proof that you can get great jobs when you have a degree in film production. I was in basic training and they issued us our BFA, and I was like, well, last year I got a BFA, a Bachelor of Fine Arts in this year, I get a blank firing adapter. I later got corrected that film production is a Bachelor of Arts, not a Bachelor of Fine Arts, because film is not fine. P.S. Barlow: 00:22:06 So, I had to change Low’s bachelor’s degree, so he’s a creative writing major. The second book is called and Mosquito Wings in Teardrops. I’ve got a third book in the works that we’re working on right now with Divided by Zero. It’s going to be called A New Low because I realized I don’t exploit the fact that there’s an easy pun in the name of my comic enough. And that was actually someone in the comment section. He just wrote like, well, this is the new low, and I was like, you know what? I love that that’s the next book title. Scott DeLuzio: 00:22:45 That’s awesome. I wanted to give you the opportunity to talk a little bit about them and say where people can pick up a copy of those books. And I’ll try to link those in the show notes too afterwards. P.S. Barlow: Thank you very much. Scott DeLuzio: So, when this episode eventually comes out, we’ll have those in there. And when the third book comes out, just let me know and I’ll be sure to update that too. So, before we started recording, you were talking a little bit about, I forgot the comic that you said, but he was talking about P.S. Barlow: Dave Chappelle. Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Dave Chappelle. Yeah. I’ll let you put it into words better than I will by asking the question. P.S. Barlow: 00:23:33 I will do my best to put it into words better than the both of us can. The formula of a tragedy comedy is tragedy plus time. A way of looking at it that I think was really beautiful, I just saw this interview with Dave Chappelle and he was talking about how he made the decision to leave the Chappelle show and how it was formed by his decision to go into comedy that he as a kid, he was bullied and he was always laughed at and by becoming funny, he found a way to control the laughter, which I think a lot of people can identify with. I was bullied a lot as a kid. I know it must be shocking, and it was a long arduous process before I could get people to laugh with me instead of at me. P.S. Barlow: 00:24:26 The formula right now is still about 60/40, but anytime I’ve listened to a standup comedian talk about why did you get into this? And it was because I was miserable and I wanted to own the people that were mocking me. I think that’s very true for the comic strip too. I mentioned this before, every time I meet someone they’re like, I can’t see you as a Drill Sergeant or something that affected me for years, I had people say, I can’t see you as a soldier. I think by magnifying that in the comic, like if I did a comic where a loose alter ego of mine was this bad-ass, who is going into Afghanistan, saving the day and he’s got beautiful women on both of his arms. P.S. Barlow: 00:25:22 People will be like, yeah, that’s a wish fulfillment. You seem desperate. This is sad. But by making a comic about someone who was terrible at his job, but it was so much worse as an NCO than I am. I think, it’s sort of like, “well, you think I’m a bad soldier, you should look at this guy.” I don’t know if that’s any less desperate, but that’s my thought, and it’s projecting that insecurity, hopefully in a funny manner for lots of people. Can you see THIS guy as a Drill Sergeant? Scott DeLuzio: 00:25:55 Well, I think a lot of us, myself included, grew up in a way that may be similar to you where people are going to say, I don’t see you as a Drill Sergeant. I don’t maybe not even as a soldier or whatever. And I think it was probably a shock to some people when I said I was joining the Army too. And I graduated with an Accounting degree, probably the most mundane nerd thing that you could possibly do. And then I went Infantry and they were like, what the hell are you doing? Why aren’t you sitting behind the desk somewhere crunching numbers? I could see that, but not necessarily this. P.S. Barlow: 00:26:44 Why did you join the Army, it’s like a real thing. You don’t need a film degree to become a film director, but Accounting that’s real. Scott DeLuzio: 00:26:54 Yeah, no. And, I had that before I even joined the Army. It was one of those things where, when I joined the Army, I was just angry at the country’s reaction to 9/11 where the Army’s recruiting members at the time were at all-time lows. And they were struggling to meet their numbers. And I was like, well, why are people just forgetting what was happening? Like just a couple of years ago when 9/11 happened and then I was like, well, I’m not really helping the situation either by sitting here on my ass and that’s pretty selfish not doing anything. So, I said, you know, well, screw it. I’m young enough, I’m healthy enough. I didn’t go active duty. Scott DeLuzio: 00:27:39 I went National Guard, but I still was able to continue working my accounting job that I had, but I did deploy to Afghanistan. I still did the things that I wanted to do to help out the country. And so, I hit that mark by doing that. But people looked at me back then and it was like, you might try, but I don’t know that you’re going to actually do this. So, good luck to you, but hats off, whatever. At the time I barely worked out, I was like out of shape and running a mile, I was about to double over and puke all over the place and stuff. I just was not that in shape or whatever, P.S. Barlow: 00:28:26 I think I was successfully able to do 20 pushups at my recruiting station. It was like, well, how many do I need to pass a 40, what? P.S. Barlow: 00:28:37 Oh God, I have to get twice as good shape as I am now. For four years at film school, won’t make you the most in-shape person ever. Scott DeLuzio: 00:28:46 No, no, no. 4 years of any school, I think any sort of college will not make you very in shape unless P.S. Barlow: you’re majoring in CrossFit or something like that. Scott DeLuzio: Or if you’re trying to get good at beer pong or something. So on that topic of people coming into the Army, maybe are not quite so sure of themselves, maybe they’re coming from a place like maybe you and I came from where they’re not so sure that they’re going to be able to make it through or whatever. Is there anything that you would like to tell the people who are considering joining the military, anything that helped make your job as a Drill Sergeant easier, or other people in your shoes to help them out before they even get to the Army? P.S. Barlow: 00:29:37 Absolutely. I think in terms of getting through it is to not lose your sense of humor. People tend to get very fatalistic when they’re in TRADOC and you’ll hear, Oh my God, I’ve ruined my life. Or, Oh, this is worse than prison. They’re being very dramatic if only because they’re teenagers and teenagers have one mode and it’s dramatic. A lot of them have behavioral health issues all the time. I’m like our poor chaplain, he’s the nicest man, he’s just exhausted from everything he has to do. Remember to laugh, this is funny, one of my favorite memories from basic training. And by the way, when I got to basic training, I was terrified. P.S. Barlow: 00:30:34 I never wanted to join the Army. It was just this decision that was born out of economic needs. I graduated into the great recession back in 2009 and it was like, “Oh God, I need to not be homeless. What can I do? Join the Army? All the stereotypes of bootcamp, I was just building up this big monster in my head about what it was going to be like, and you get there and it’s like, well, this isn’t as bad, but it’s still bad. And we had this one Drill Sergeant in my platoon and she was fear of wrath of God, terrifying, and she just never stopped screaming and she was always smoking us. P.S. Barlow: 00:31:18 And she was just exactly what you picture as a Drill Sergeant, she was it. She wasn’t in a platoon, but she came into our Bay once to find something and she’s just instantly honing in on every mistake that we have. She’s ripping open our wall lockers, tearing stuff down and just calling us a piece of shit. And we’re the dumbest morons she’s ever met in her life. And she comes up to someone and she goes, when I was a little girl, my mom had told me there were idiots like you, I didn’t believe her, but she was correct. And it took all of my self-control not to scream. That’s aliens. You just did the line from Aliens and you just changed monsters with idiots. And it was this moment of like clicking. It was like, Oh, they’re faking it. They’re doing what anyone else does, which if they want to sound intimidating, they quote James Cameron. Scott DeLuzio: 00:32:13 When I was in basic training, I have a terrible fear of heights. Like the worst. I was at Fort Benning. I could be on a step ladder changing a light bulb and my knees are shaking. So, we’re on the rappel tower. It’s like a three-story tower and I have to repel off that. P.S. Barlow: We had one of those at Jackson too, it was terrible. Scott DeLuzio: I get up to the top and there’s a Drill Sergeant at the top and to make sure you’re hooked into your harness and everything like that. He can tell I am scared shitless. And so, I take a step over the edge and I’m getting ready. I got the ropes where they’re supposed to be and everything. And as soon as both feet got over the edge, were touching the wall. The Drill Sergeant yells, “Holy Shit! Give me your hand; you’re not clipped in right! Scott DeLuzio: 00:33:13 I think I, I achieved flight that day, by how fast I got back up over the wall, I didn’t grab his hand. I just like jumped up and climbed back over the wall. And it was the scariest thing, but he couldn’t catch his breath. He was laughing so hard at my reaction to this. So, afterwards, now this is 15 some odd years later I can look back and I can laugh at it. P.S. Barlow: Oh, my God if I ever get an opportunity, I’m doing that. Scott DeLuzio: Oh yeah. That would be awesome. P.S. Barlow: If you can scare the people. Oh God. Scott DeLuzio: 00:33:52 It scared me so bad. And then I have to go back over the wall and actually repel down, which is even worse. I could totally laugh at that now. Oh, there’s humor in that. And I think he was trying to lighten the situation for me and make it not so serious. He failed miserably. That was a total fail, but he totally could have given me a heart attack that day. That was terrible. But I did it. I ended up going over the wall and I repelled down. I got down and every time I’ve repelled since then, we’ve done it in training and stuff like off mountains and things like that every time I think to myself, double check to make sure it’s all clipped in. Scott DeLuzio: 00:34:42 So even though he was just trying to be a jerk or whatever and make a scary situation funny or whatever the case may be. It still reminded me years and years later, double check, make sure you’re all hooked in. He did his job. P.S. Barlow: He did. Yeah. Scott DeLuzio: And the training worked, I’ve never had an incident where I got hurt rappelling or anything like that. It always scared me. I never liked doing it, but I could always do it safely. He definitely did his job better. So, that would be awesome if you do that. I might get in trouble, but I’m throwing some soldier under the bus right now by saying, totally do that to that kid who is scared shitless of going over the rappel tower, but I think it’s important to echo what you were saying, it’s important to have some fun with basic training. P.S. Barlow: 00:35:44 Basic training, AIT, it’s very insular. That’s what I tell my soldiers all the time when they’re like, you know, Drill Sergeant, I feel like I’m never going to leave this place or like the high school drama that happens. Oh, good gravy, like the soldiers, they’re constantly bullying each other and bickering with each other and they all hate living with each other and all this stuff. I tried to empathize with them because I was in their boots once. Most of them are right out of high school. And if you remember high school, the high school is the world. Both of us have internet presence where we produce content that we actually literally have access to the world as long as they’ve got the internet. P.S. Barlow: 00:36:38 But when you’re in high school, I mean like a bad reputation, it feels like just a life changer, because when you’re there, just everyone you know is there and then you graduate high school and you’re like, I don’t remember 90% of the names of anyone I went to high school with, but for four years I was really obsessed with impressing them. It’s like that because most of them graduated high school and then enlisted in the Army. There’s just this feeling of, “Oh, I don’t think they liked me. Oh, I embarrassed myself.” Guys, you’re here for six months. You will leave this place and you will immediately start forgetting and it’s going to be cool. And you’re going to be in duty stations all over the world and you’re only going to be there for a few years. And then you gotta go to the next duty station somewhere else in the world. Just lighten up a little bit. Scott DeLuzio: 00:37:34 Awesome reset button that you can screw up and then just suck it up and deal with it for the next few months and then move on to the next place. And no one’s going to remember you. P.S. Barlow: 00:37:45 Anyone who, especially if they’re younger, because when you’re younger, your brain is still forming and it’s still trying to figure out this whole being a human thing. I’m like, it just takes off and knowing that everything is very temporary and when you’re in TRADOC, it’s a drop of water in the ocean. That is your life. Just relax as much as you can. I mean, don’t let your standards go to the wayside, but again, I’ll say laughter’s the best medicine. As long as I’ve been alive, it’s helped me through the worst times. So if you’re having a really bad time while you’re in basic training or AIT, crack jokes, at the very end of your time and training, if the Drill Sergeant say, alright, I want to see impersonations of us, volunteer. Like I remember I didn’t do that when I was in basic cause I was too scared of the Drill sergeants. I did that at the Drill Sergeant Academy, and it was very much like getting to go through basic a second time, and at the very end they’re like, all right, let’s get impersonations of us. I was like, I’m not missing this opportunity again. Because guess what? I don’t want to go through basic again. P.S. Barlow: 00:39:01 Yeah. Yeah. And by the way, Drill Sergeants, we love those impersonations, if only because sometimes they’re so bad, they’re good. Scott DeLuzio: 00:39:08 Right? Yeah. And we definitely did that and I did not raise my hand. I was not going to volunteer for that. Throughout basic training I just tried to keep in the shadows and not be anyone who volunteered too much. P.S. Barlow: 00:39:30 I wanted that more than anything. Well actually I wanted more than anything to graduate basic training, but more than anything I wanted to be that forgotten person on day two of basic training, I choked on a waffle and a Drill Sergeant had to perform the Heimlich on me, which I couldn’t have very easily let break my morale. But instead I try to make that into my thing where self-deprecation is huge. We talk about comedy, but that’s so broad. Self-deprecation has always benefited me. It’s me making fun of me to take that away from the people that would make fun of me with like malicious intent. You can’t disassemble the 249 and I choked on a waffle and even I could do it. So, if you have embarrassing moments, make it your thing. That’s your mistake. You get that’s yours. So be the first one to crack jokes about it because otherwise a bunch of souls are going to do it for you. Scott DeLuzio: 00:40:38 Exactly. And you gotta get okay with that quick because it’s going to happen one way or the other either you need to be able to make those jokes about yourself or they’re coming one way or the other. P.S. Barlow: 00:40:49 Guess how many people from basic training, remember that? Probably me and only me. Don’t let it bog you down, because I had this great moment when I was back home for Christmas leave and I was seeing all my best friends from high school and we were just talking and I was like, Oh man, I was so awkward back then. And one of my best friends turns to me, he goes, Pete, shut up. We were all so awkward back then. I was like, Oh, alright so try not to beat yourself up too much either. Scott DeLuzio: 00:41:27 Yeah, absolutely. I was one of the older soldiers going through basic training. I had already graduated high school, graduated college a couple of years, working out of college. So, I was already in my mid-twenties or so 25, something like that, 25, 26, somewhere around there. So, I was already older. I saw the insecurities of the younger, 17, 18-year-old kids who are going through the late teens or whatever, going through it and how it resembled high school so much. And I felt like the joke of the old veteran who’s using his GI bill, he’s going to be a cop. And he’s almost like Billy Madison he’s in college. Scott DeLuzio: 00:42:19 And he feels like he’s so old with all these young kids in class with them and he’s looking around and it’s like, how you have to complain about, you got nothing to complain about, that type of thing. And then I look at some of these kids and I felt that way in basic training because I felt like I was the old guy and I think there’s like one other guy who’s older than me, but one or two, but I looked at all these young kids and I was like, you guys have absolutely nothing to worry about. Like you have your whole life. So, you’re going to be fine. P.S. Barlow: 00:42:50 You’re also in the best physical shape you will ever be in your Army career. People have asked me, what’s harder basic training or the Drill Sergeant Academy and it’s 50 50 either way, one cool thing about Drill Sergeant Academy that we didn’t have at basic was weekends off, bam was not expecting that and did not bring much civilian clothes. So, people thought I was CID, because we’d go out on our weekends, why are you wearing your uniform? I was like, I don’t have civvies. Are you CID? No, I’m just really awkward and cheap. The hardest part about basic training compared to Drill Sergeant Academy is your body has aged with you. It was about eight years between basic training and the Drill Sergeant Academy for me. And I remember in basic you get hurt and then the next day you’re fine. And then this time around on the confidence course, then the next day it’s like, “Oh, my knees don’t work.” We have a ruck. Okay, I’m just going to grin and bear it. Scott DeLuzio: 00:43:58 Right, exactly. Yeah. And I think, if I was to go through a second basic training, whether it was something like the Drill Sergeant Academy or if I decided to reenlist and I had to go through it all over again, I think that the hard thing for me would be the fact that I already did this and now I’ve got to go do it again. And I got to go get yelled at again, as if I’ve never done this before. And I don’t know what I’m doing, that type of thing. I’d probably be like mentally; I’d just be exhausted with that. P.S. Barlow: 00:44:32 I lucked out because my brain reverted back to being a private because I went to basic at Jackson. I went to the Drill Sergeant Academy at Jackson. I could see my old Bay from my barracks room at Jackson. It was very much a recall mode. I was a staff Sergeant at the time and I am still a Staff Sergeant. I remember you get there and people are like, “Oh, are you afraid of being yelled at by someone the same rank as you? The Drill Sergeant approached us, the same rank as me. There was no ego. It was just, Yes, Drill Sergeant, actually it’s worse. If any of you listening out there are going to go to The Drill Sergeant Academy do not say the following phrases Hooah, Roger, or negative, the Drill Sergeant leaders will destroy you because I said all of those things, if you read the comic about the Drill Sergeant Academy, that was one of the first things I did was make a comic about that awkward moment when I got there and you’re signing in and the Drill Sergeant is there, is this information correct to the best of your understanding? I say, Hoo-ha. P.S. Barlow: 00:45:41 And now, he goes, we don’t say Hooah here it’s Yes, Drill Sergeant, no Drill Sergeant. Roger, like, Oh my God, I didn’t mean to do that. P.S. Barlow: 00:45:50 Oh, I have never seen a Drill Sergeant angrier than a time that I said negative. And I’m like, Oh my God, Drill, Sergeant don’t kill me. I’m a staff Sergeant and a combat vet at this time. It was like, what? Oh my God. So yeah, if you’re going, don’t say any of those things just say yes, Drill Sergeant, no Drill Sergeant that is it. Scott DeLuzio: 00:46:13 And in basic training or AIT, are soldiers still not supposed to apologize to you? Like I know when I was in basic training and I did, I forget what I did, but I remember standing there and I was looking at the Drill Sergeant. I said, sorry, Drill Sergeant. And he goes, don’t say, sorry, P.S. Barlow: 00:46:32 Did you just call me a sorry Drill Sergeant. I said, of course I do. Scott DeLuzio: 00:46:36 But, but he said, don’t say, sorry. And I said, uh, I apologize, Drill Sergeant. Like I really was sorry. And I said, and he’s like, get the hell out of my face. P.S. Barlow: 00:46:48 Oh yeah, no, I steal all of the lines. I may be a writer, but damn like sometimes I just have to copy paste from my Drill Sergeant and Drill sergeant leaders from the past. Anytime someone says, sorry, I have to shout, did you just call me a sorry Drill Sergeant. It works, it’s effective. Anytime someone says, one of my favorites, if I’m going to do it so often, I like to at least do a turn of phrase occasionally. So, people will say, I appreciate you Drill Sergeant. I’m like, don’t appreciate me. Appreciate your recruiter. Just because it gets boring after a while. Scott DeLuzio: 00:47:27 Yeah. And if you’re doing same ones over and over and over, I’m sure. But also going back to what you were saying before, it’s good to have a sense of humor. And even for you even in your job, dealing with some of the craziness and stupidity, sometimes that might come with it, you can have to have a sense of humor. P.S. Barlow: 00:47:50 I don’t know if I’m the funny Drill Sergeant. I would certainly love it if I were, I think my reputation is I’m the bipolar Drill Sergeant, so I got something. Scott DeLuzio: 00:48:02 There is something there. That’s great. As we wrap this up here, do you have any last words of wisdom for people where they might be in a situation like you were in Germany? They thought that this is what they wanted maybe in their career or whatever. And they’re just sucking it up and dealing with it, but they’re not happy about it or anything like that, any last words of wisdom that might be able to help people out with that type of a situation? P.S. Barlow: 00:48:40 The advice I give my soldiers that are having a really bad time is the same advice I would give to any soldier that’s already a service members having a really rough time, create don’t consume, create. I’m as guilty as anyone about the consuming thing. I’ll spend hours scrolling through Facebook on my phone and realize, well, that was my morning, let me just shave and brush my teeth, but if you’re in a bad place, create something from that bad place. I talked to my soldiers all the time. Obviously, I have my thing, I have a comic strip, but if you don’t want to do something like that just draw or if you can’t draw, you have a musical instrument, play a musical instrument, sing, do something where you’re taking those feelings and you’re putting it out. P.S. Barlow: 00:49:34 What you put out there might be appreciated by more people than you realize. I created this comic thinking I’d make a few of my friends laugh. And as you said, at the top of the hour, I have 25,000 followers. Now I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be on podcasts, talking about doodles I made during my lunch break on Microsoft paint. But you might, I’m not even saying I’m necessarily tell them you might have a talent that people like. So, if you can take those horrible feelings and make something others want, and you might have this pride in yourself, but you might discover some hidden talent. I never aspired to make comic strips. And guess what? It’s the biggest thing I’m known for. So, if you want to dance, dance, if you want to cook, cook, if you want to become an architect, become an architect, but the point is take your feelings and make them tangible. Scott DeLuzio: 00:50:42 Yeah, I definitely agree. Do something with them. I do this podcast, you know, I create this and put it out there, and if it helps one person cool, if it helps a thousand people even better, but I had no expectations of really getting any huge following or anything. I just wanted to put some helpful information out there and get things like PTSD and suicide and things like that in a situation where people were more aware of it and can do something for the better with it. Things like drawing, dancing, playing the instrument, sculpting something out of clay or whatever is going to help express yourself and get those things out. It’s the same reason why people go to talk therapy where they’re getting those emotions out in there. They’re just doing it in a different format. You can draw, maybe somebody else can’t draw, but everyone could talk. P.S. Barlow: 00:52:04 For anyone out there who is scared to draw because they don’t think they’re very good. Look at my early artwork, look at any of my comics that I’ve ever done. And look at the hands, clearly an inability to draw does not hinder you from having a successful webcomic out there. So, for the love of God keep drawing Scott DeLuzio: 00:52:25 And like anything you get better with practice, when you’re a kid learning to tie your shoes, it was probably the hardest thing in the world for you at the time. But then once when you figured it out, you practice it and eventually figure it out. Now it’s second nature. Same thing with drawing or playing an instrument or whatever, you don’t think Jimi Hendrix just picked up a guitar and just started like jamming out. He had to practice like everybody else, P.S. Barlow: 00:52:52 If you’re out there and you’re a prodigy, I hate you. Scott DeLuzio: 00:52:56 Okay. P.S. Barlow: 00:52:57 The rest of us had to practice dammit. Scott DeLuzio: 00:53:00 This was, everyone else who’s listening is not going to be able to see this, but I’m going to show Pete. This was this morning. P.S. Barlow: I love it. Scott DeLuzio: This was my attempt at making a G. I. Low. P.S. Barlow: 00:53:15 That is so good. You showed me this. I was like, did I send that to you? Scott DeLuzio: 00:53:19 No. I took a look at your logo on the Facebook page. I copied off of that, but I’ve just recently started getting into sketching as an art form. I haven’t done too many sketches yet, but I figured this interview inspired me to do a quick sketch of that. P.S. Barlow: Scan that so that I can share it to the page. Scott DeLuzio: that’d be awesome. I posted it to my Instagram if anyone who’s listening wants to go check it out. You can go find a little doodle of GI Low on there too. P.S. Barlow: So, it definitely better than some of the drawings that I’ve done a Low, so, you got that going for you. Scott DeLuzio: 00:54:05 I will definitely send that to you. So that’d be awesome. Thank you, Pete for being on the show sharing what you’ve shared and I think the advice that you gave is really spot on. Hopefully, anyone who’s listening to this will understand that before we started recording, I was saying to you that I wanted to keep this lighthearted. And inject a little bit of humor in this, but I think that went along well with the advice that you’re giving, laugh and poke fun at yourself sometimes, make yourself the butt of the joke or whatever the case may be and make things funny, make life funny because it really is. P.S. Barlow: If you stop and look around, it’s not as serious as everyone makes it out to be, anytime you think the world is too serious, just remember this, the world created the duck-billed Platypus. Scott DeLuzio: Exactly. And, and that is probably the most absurd, a creature that has ever graced the planet. So, thank you again for joining us, I really appreciate it and keep doing the comic because it’s really great. P.S. Barlow: Keep doing the podcast. You’re doing a great job. Scott DeLuzio: Absolutely. Thank you very much. I appreciate that. Scott DeLuzio: 00:55:30 Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. Scott DeLuzio: 00:55:32 If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website, DriveOnPodcast.com. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
36 minutes | 3 months ago
The Veteran Professional
Mark Delaney of The Veteran Professional talks about career and educational options for service members as they are transitioning into civilian life. Links & Resources The Veteran Professional The Veteran Professional on LinkedIn The Veteran Professional on Facebook The Veteran Professional on Twitter The Veteran Professional on Instagram Transcript Scott DeLuzio: 00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive on Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting Veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I’d like to ask a favor if you haven’t done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcasts. If you’ve already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you’re there click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes as soon as they come out. If you don’t use Apple podcasts, you can visit DriveonPodcast.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email list. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let’s get on with the show. Scott DeLuzio: 00:44 Hi everybody. Today my guest is Mark Delaney. Mark runs the Veteran Professional website, which helps Veterans access things like higher education, help them pursue professional careers, and find meaning and purpose after hanging up the uniform. Mark, thanks for joining me and welcome to the show. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? Mark Delaney: 01:09 Scott, thanks for having me today. I’m really excited to talk to you and share my message with the audience. I joined the Army in 2011 after doing four years of ROTC at the University of Maryland. I started off as an Infantry officer in the 82nd Airborne and I did that for a few years, deployed to Iraq and then decided I wanted a change of pace and change of OPTEMPO for what I was doing. And so, I decided to go into the civil affairs realm. So, for those of you who may not be familiar with the Army, it’s a smaller function within a special operations umbrella. I went to CA route, I went to a selection and qualification course, and then was in the 96 Civil Affairs battalion, which is aligned with Sit-com each one of the battalions is aligned with a different COCOM. Mark Delaney: 01:57 And while I was there deployed to Syria in 2017 and then Saudi Arabia in 2018 to 2019, and then somewhere around 2017; honestly, is when I decided getting out of the military is the right decision for me for a variety of reasons. And then ultimately decided that that’s what I was going to do. So, I signed out and I was on terminal leave in December 2019, and then through that process I decided that there wasn’t enough information out there regarding the transition. And so, I started this website called the Veteran Professional, and I’m sure we’ll talk about this a bit more. My original game plan was to get out of the military and then put on a backpack, hop on a plane, and travel the world until I start my MBA this fall, it sounded really great on paper. And then in March, things are shutting down because the COVID, so that threw a giant wrench in my plan and I had to come back to the United States, moving in with some family. I’m helping take care of my niece and nephew working on the website right now. And then I’ll be starting my MBA at the University of Virginia this fall. Scott DeLuzio: 03:06 Okay, cool. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who have transitioned out of the military and one thing that I noticed is that we all end up taking somewhat different paths, whether it’s hiking around the world, or they’re starting a nonprofit, or they’re going back to school or whatever, we all have different paths and it’s interesting to hear stories like yours, you had this plan and it wasn’t that long ago that you were in the military, you had this plan to get out and travel the world. And now here you are, not traveling the world. What were some of the frustrations that you faced? This wasn’t too long ago that you got out of the military, but what were some of the frustrations that you faced when transitioning out of the military? Mark Delaney: 03:56 It fell into three different buckets from what I saw. I was getting out; I was fortunate enough to already have my undergraduate degree and I had the GI bill. Going to graduate school seemed to me like a logical option. My grandfather went to school on the GI bill, my dad went school on the GI bill. And my dad said, “if you don’t go to school on the GI Bill, you’re an idiot.” So, I used the GI Bill. It’s like, okay, I’m going to go to graduate school. But it was so hard to find information about getting that next level after your bachelor’s as a Vet and different programs. There’s a lot of different nuances to each different bit of the graduate application world where they’re going to med school, law school, or business school, or you want to go be a researcher of some type. Mark Delaney: 04:43 Veterans have unique challenges in translating military experience into an academic setting. Just like we do translate your military experience into a professional job setting on a resume or whatever. It’s the same set of problems. And so, I saw that was my first frustration was a lack of information about being a Vet, wanting to apply to graduate school. Then the next problem that I had was going through the transition process, especially what they put you through, with the military programming is. It felt very much like, just go get a J-O-B, go get a job. We just want you to get something. I don’t want to be so cynical as to say, just so we can have some of the numbers filled and some good stats for us. I know they’re better people than that, but that’s what it felt like sometimes. And everyone in uniform, part of the reason you did that is you wanted something bigger. You wanted a higher purpose, you wanted a mission and leaving, everyone has that fear you’re never going to regain that sense of service and camaraderie that you had. And I just didn’t like how we were being pushed into jobs. I think people wanted something a lot more. Scott DeLuzio: 05:59 Yeah. I definitely agree with that. It seems like you sort of backed away from saying it full out, but I’ll say it; it seems like they’re trying to check a box and say, “Hey, we helped you find a job and you’re going to be able to keep a roof over your head and food on the table. It may not be fulfilling work. It may not be what you’re necessarily trained to do and what you’re passionate about. And it’s not really sparking any major interest of yours, but at least you’ll have food on the table and a roof over your head. And that’s sort of what it sounds like sometimes happens with some of these Vets who are getting out, they end up just settling for a job that isn’t necessarily what they were meant to do or destined to do. Mark Delaney: 06:54 And I think part of that’s okay; you don’t have to have everything figured out the moment you get your DD 214 and head on out to the real world. It’s okay to embrace the uncertainty in that. But I just thought there’s room for improvement and helping people find something that was going to be meaningful and purposeful to them. And my third frustration was there are a gazillion resources out there to help Veterans, all kinds of nonprofits and different company initiatives and everything. And I realized that that’s a little ironic because I’m saying that, and then I’m only adding to the white noise, doing my website and everything. But what I try and do through the site is bring some of those better ones to the top and say, I’ve checked this organization out, I’ve personally used it, or I’ve had someone recommend it to me. I’ve checked it out and vetted it. And it’s really outstanding. And this is something that’s worth your time and effort into putting into this resource. And maybe some of these other ones, that time you spend on another organization comes in and opportunity cost of working with a better one that could be better for you. And so, I try and push those latter ones to the top for the audience. Scott DeLuzio: 08:09 And that’s great. So, I know you wanted to compile some of this information but what were some of the motivations behind starting the Veteran Professional website to put this information out there? Mark Delaney: 08:26 So I got out in December, so I was probably sitting around in October or so. And I was starting to go through the process and I could see that some of this stuff just isn’t out there. So, this information that I have, these questions just aren’t out there. Well, okay why don’t I just do something about it? So, at first, I just started writing on medium or putting stuff on LinkedIn or whatever. And then people were responding to what I like. I happen to like to write, I was an English major as an undergrad. So, I like to write, I have a bit of an entrepreneurial itch and then it’s like, okay, well, what do I do with these? What do I know about getting out of the military, that’s very timely. And I have a lot of good information out there. Why not lean into that and write about that and put information out about that, because I know it’s something I wanted going through. And so, I was trying to build something for myself, knowing that other people probably wanted it as well. Scott DeLuzio: 09:27 Yeah. And it’s a great resource to have to, with all this stuff in, in sort of one location, because I know, for me anyways, there’s plenty of programs out there. Even things like the GI bill and things like that. And sometimes people just don’t know whether or not they qualify for these things or whether or not they’ve served long enough in certain capacities or whatever, if it’s the difference between someone who’s National Guard or Reserves serving long enough time on active duty to have access to certain benefits or whatever the case may be. Trying to track some of that information down is sometimes like trying to track down a needle in a stack of needles, and it’s just not easy to do. So, having a resource like this, where someone can spell it out in plain English and say, here’s the benefits that are available, if you fit these criteria and that might be a good thing to have for these types of people. Mark Delaney: 10:43 And what I was trying to do, in my research of trying to look up the GI bill, or how do you use VocRehab or work at the VA or whatever it was, I would do my Google searching and I might find an article here or there. And usually I walked away with more questions than answers. And it comes from these big websites that either, led to two things and they’re going to lead to a big website that is like a content mill. That’s just like try to put crap out there to get your clicks and your views or it was like a law firm that wanted to then try and sell me their services. So, they didn’t want to give away too much information, but just enough to pique my interest to then get me to hire them. This stuff is all there, and there’s people going through it, it just needs to be shared. And so that’s what I wanted to do. Scott DeLuzio: 11:40 Just looking at your website, a quick overview of the website, you have lots of different content, and I like the way it’s laid out too. When you first come to the site, you may not know exactly what the site has to offer, what’s available there. So, you have this “new to the site” section, where it has a lot of information to transition into an MBA or books to read during your transition, that type of stuff. That’s great information to start off with. Once you’re there, you dig in a little bit more and have a lot more information about specific paths that you might end up taking, whether it’s college or other things that you might be looking into entrepreneurship or other things like that. So, it’s really a great resource that you have. Are there any people, I know this is relatively on the new side, but are there any people that have been success stories who have come to your site and learned some information and followed up with you and let you know Scott DeLuzio: 13:03 what they’re doing now in terms of their path and everything. Mark Delaney: 13:08 So, the site’s only been around for like seven months. So, my pool of potential is still relatively low, but I have had a few people who said, the site’s very MBA focused right now just because that’s been my personal path. So, I’ve been doing a lot of writing about going to the military to get an MBA. And I’ve had a few people reach out to me and say, I found your website, I followed your methodology and I got it to the school that I wanted too; and getting that has just been absolutely awesome. Some of my writing, I try and focus on the touchy-feely side. Mark Delaney: 13:47 I try and talk about the mental tough struggles of going through and getting out of the military and trying to figure out what you’re going to do next and just deciding whether you want to get out or not. I’ve had a few people reach out to me about those. I read this post today and it’s what I needed mentally; maybe only reached out to that person for that brief moment of time, but that’s been truly tremendous to get the feedback from people. Scott DeLuzio: 14:15 That’s great that people are getting the benefit out of it and especially if you’re going to put in all the work, which, looking at the website, it looks like you have put in quite a bit of work, especially in just about seven months or so; it seems like you have put in quite a bit of work. So, I’m glad that people are getting the benefits out of it. Someone who is in a position where they’re about to transition out of the military, and they’re uncertain about what their next steps are going to be. And I know next steps are going to be different for everybody. We talked about that a little bit earlier. What would your advice be to them to get them on the right path after leaving the military so that they can find a more fulfilling path as opposed to just checking the box and getting a job? Mark Delaney: 15:11 I would tell anyone to start off with thinking about what is truly meaningful to you and how are you going to create the best life for you and your family? If you really just want to be like a really good parent and stay coaching your kids’ soccer teams, and I can get a lot of time in with your significant other and everything, maybe you are looking more for that job and that’s okay; maybe you want something where you’re going to get off work every day at five o’clock and you can go pick your kids up at school or coach the football team or whatever then that’s what you need to do. The beauty of leaving the military is, it’s a blessing and a curse that you’re overwhelmed with options. Mark Delaney: 15:54 And you now get to chart your own adventure and figure out what life is going to look like for you. And if you want something that’s going to have a very regular schedule. You can do that. If you say, you know what, I’m at a good time in my life that I’ve had this idea for a company and I want to pursue it and go after it and try and build it. Now’s the time to do that. There are some really good resources. And so I encourage anyone to think about what’s important to you and how you’re going to make the best life for you and your family, and then figure out what resources are out there to help you leverage the opportunity of getting out. And that’s how I look at the process of getting out is an opportunity because you’re at this rare junction in your life, no matter what you’re doing, where you’re making this monumental change of leaving what you’ve been doing, and this identity that you’ve had as a service member. And you also had the blessing of having a lot of resources at your fingertips that you can use to make that a very successful transition. So leveraging that, thinking through what it is that you want to do and leveraging those resources to pursue what it is that you want to do can make you and your family the happiest, do it. Scott DeLuzio: 17:09 Yeah, absolutely. And what about the type of person who has been dreaming up this idea for a business or whatever the case may be and they want to dip their toe in the entrepreneurial waters. What resources are out there for people who are looking to jump into entrepreneurship, or would you even suggest that they jump straight into entrepreneurship or is there another path that maybe is better? Mark Delaney: 17:44 So the first way that I would suggest trying to dip your toes into the water, so there’s this program called the DOD Skills Bridge program, and it’s a super underused and only a few people know about it. And so essentially what it is if you’re a transitioning service member in your last six months, you can just go work at a regular company and that’s your job. So, me personally, I went to go work for a small tech startup. When I say small, I was the second person in the company and I worked there for three months. And so, I was getting on military paying benefits. I was still a Captain in the Army, but my job in the Army was to work at this startup for three months. Mark Delaney: 18:27 And it was awesome. I learned so much. And so, if you have any interest in doing entrepreneurship, I would highly recommend finding a startup in your area that’s looking for help. And I guarantee you, they’re looking for help. And it’s a super easy sales pitch to go to them and say, “Hey, I’m a Vet. I’m getting out. I want to learn. I’m ready to bust my butt and guess what? I can work for you for free.” And they’re going to say, “where do I sign? How do I hire you right now?” And it’s almost deceptive to the company because it’s all I needed was a memo from my battalion commander. It was super simple, very little paperwork. Everyone was actually weirded out by how little paperwork was in the process. But I would say, that’s the first place to start dipping your toes in the water. Mark Delaney: 19:12 Additionally, huge shout out to two organizations that I definitely want to let everyone know about. The first one, Bunker Labs, which is a national organization that has branches throughout the country and their entire mission is to get Vets into entrepreneurship. So, they do it in a number of different ways. They have meetings where there’s usually beer and free food. They have a speaker, maybe it’s a local entrepreneur. It may not even be like a Veteran entrepreneur, just a local entrepreneur. And that person comes and gives a talk about something. They also have free online classes you can take. And it’s really just an awesome organization to get anything started as a Veteran and the second big shout out that I want to give is this organization called Vet to CEO. And this is especially timely because actually the next cohort starts July 1st and it’s run by these three retired military dudes. Mark Delaney: 20:07 I think they were all Colonels or somewhere around there, but they’re really awesome. And they run you through this seven-week program and each week there’s a two and a half hour or three-hour class. And it provides all kinds of great resources. And they really walk you through how to be an entrepreneur, whether it’s buying a company or creating your own. I never seriously thought about buying a company. And so, I went to the course and they showed me that it’s a lot easier than you think that it is. And you don’t have to have $2 million in your bank account to go buy a company there are ways to do it. And they walk you through that process because they’ve done it themselves. And I can’t talk about those guys enough. They’re awesome. Scott DeLuzio: That’s great. I didn’t realize Scott DeLuzio: 20:48 some of these programs are available and here I am a Veteran entrepreneur myself, and I don’t even know that these things exist, so definitely if you’re considering taking the plunge into entrepreneurship, the DOD, the Skills Bridge program Bunker Labs and Vet to CEO, check those out. Those are great resources that are out there. And it seems like they’ll help you get your foot in the door and get you on the right path to go down that entrepreneurial journey. Now what about someone who’s in your shoes who has their undergrad, maybe an officer, maybe they’re enlisted, they got their degree and either while they’re serving or before they’re serving, and now they’re looking to getting their MBA or going for a higher education, get another degree or something like that on their, resume. Scott DeLuzio: 22:02 What’s your advice for those types of people who are looking to get into that? Mark Delaney: 22:09 I mean, obviously come check out the Veteran Professional website, that’s where all the best information is. I would recommend to anyone if you’re trying to figure that out. So, especially for business schools and most big graduate schools, they’re going to have a Veterans club. And the club usually has two main purposes. The first is helping Veteran applicants get into the school. And in the second one is helping Veterans at the school get jobs. And so, I found immense value in working with the Veterans clubs at schools. The Vet net is a real thing, and people just want to help. I very often would talk at school to the Veterans club there and they said, you know what? We don’t even care if you come to our school, we’re going to help you out any way. And we just want vets to go to schools and take advantage of the opportunities that are given to you, and we just want you to succeed. And so, I found a ton of value in reaching out to his organization. So, I would definitely start your search there. Scott DeLuzio: 23:13 Another resource that when I was in college, this was before I joined the military. So, the Veterans clubs and the different organizations that might have been involved in the school were not really anything that were of very much interest to me because I wasn’t a Veteran at the time. And didn’t really know too many people who were either. So, it’s another great resource. Mark Delaney: 23:47 I’m jumping in with one more. This is not for graduate school, but undergrad actually, there’s this new nonprofit called Next Step Inbound, and I’ve talked to and connected with those guys. They’re super cool. It’s three former enlisted Marines. I think one of them might still be on active duty, but enlisted Marines, and every one of them is starting at an Ivy league, undergrad school this fall. What I wanted to do for graduate school. They tried to do the same thing for vets looking into undergrad. So, they have a blog, they put out information, they put out some really great stuff for those interested in going to the application process. And then they have some plans in the pipeline to help you out in a more formalized manner as well. Scott DeLuzio: 24:37 That’s good. Scott DeLuzio: 24:42 What about the mindset switch when you’re getting out of the military, it’s a different world in the civilian world versus the military lifestyle that you might have grown accustomed to as you were in the military. What advice do you have for people making that transition and going through that switch to it; we’re not a light switch where you can just turn it off, what is that like for you? Mark Delaney: 25:15 Yeah, it’s tough. It’s a different world. You and I both were infantrymen and I can’t talk in the civilian world like I could when I was with my platoon. It’s a different language. I would recommend first, if you’re having concerns about it, reach out to someone that has left the military in the last 18, 12 months, something like that. You probably know someone like that; just reach out to them, call them. One, it’s good to talk to people and your friends anyway. It’s awesome. It’s good to reconnect with the people you served with and just say “Hey, how’s it going? What are some of the challenges you’re having?” So, I would start there. And then there’s two really fantastic mentoring organizations that I want to give a shout to. So one is a Veterati and then American Corporate Partners and they each have a different way they go about aligning a Veteran with a mentor, but their sole purpose is to align you with mentors to help you through the transition process. And both those organizations are highly top notch and I can’t recommend them enough. Scott DeLuzio: 26:23 That’s awesome that those organizations exist too. And you’re dropping names here like left and right. And it’s pretty awesome. It’s great. One of the reasons why I have this podcast is to make these resources available to people and when someone is going through whatever the struggles are that they’re going through, it doesn’t have to be necessarily as hard hitting as PTSD. It could just be a transition out of the military, but if you don’t know about these organizations that you’ve listed off at least half a dozen organizations that are out there that can help with one thing or another in this transition, whether it’s getting into entrepreneurship, whether it’s getting into school, getting out of the military in general, there’s all these organizations that are out there; they’re desperately trying to help these people out and let’s make it easy for them to do their job. Scott DeLuzio: 27:23 Let them help. So, the more information I can get out there on these organizations to connect people to these organizations, the better. I just interviewed somebody earlier today who’s going to be on another episode, but they were talking about how they reached out and made a connection with another former guest on this show. And it’s just great for me to hear that there’s people out there are making these connections through the show, even if it’s just the one person it’s still connections being made and things been done. So, I’m pretty happy to hear about that. And I’m hopeful that people who might be listening to this will reach out to some of these organizations and get to take advantage of the resources that they have available. One other thing that I know you talked a little bit about on your website and I don’t know how much you want to get into it, but one thing I know is there is a maze of information. It’s just not easy to figure out. It’s the VA filing for VA claims, VA benefits, things like that. Where does someone start with these types of things? Mark Delaney: 28:47 So, whenever I’m talking to people about working with the VA, I think back to a Maddus quote. It’s probably a madness quote, as some of the better quotes and it’s “be kind, be curious, have a plan to kill everyone.” And I say, take that attitude into the VA. I don’t literally mean kill people, please don’t do that. Scott DeLuzio: No, you didn’t have that here. Didn’t hear that here. Mark Delaney: What I mean is very often you’re working with the VA, the initial challenge is getting past, the first person you talked to. It might be calling in and you’re going to talk to the person that did the administration desk or the reception desk or something. And just the reality of it is like, they’re fairly low paid government worker. Mark Delaney: 29:40 Maybe you luck out and you have someone who really wants to help you, but the truth is that’s just not the case. And if you’ve been in the military, and you try to turn gear back in or something like you understand what these people are like. Be courteous, be kind, but have a plan to get what you want. And don’t be upset. Don’t be worried about pursuing what it is you need to do. And the difference in mental transition is like, when you’re in the department of defense, everything is told to you about what’s going to happen. Here’s your report. Wait a minute, you’re going to go here, you’re going to do this, you need to go get this done. You’re not often your own advocate within the system. Well, it changes when you get to the VA, you have to be your number one best advocate in that system in order to get the resources and the benefits that you need to have a successful transition. That’s why I say be courteous, be kind, but have a plan to be deliberate and get what it is that you need. Scott DeLuzio: 30:41 Right. And you really do. I know for myself going through VA claims and other things at the VA, you really do have to be your own advocate. You have to stand up for yourself. You have to keep fighting back and fighting. Maybe it’s not the right word, but keep pushing back when you get those no answers or when there’s something out there that is available to you and you’re getting pushback and the doors are closing on you, you keep pushing until you get through those doors and you get to where you need to be. I know several people who’ve gone through the VA process for one thing or another. And they kept having doors closed in their face and they’re just being told no; this is not available or whatever and they kept fighting until they eventually got what they deserved from that. So that’s great. Mark Delaney: 31:50 I know I personally had, before I left, I went through the disability claim with the VFW. They actually had an office on base. They were awesome. They were a huge help. They literally did everything for me. They were fantastic. I can’t talk too much beyond like that specific thing, but for that purpose, they were fantastic. Loved them. Scott DeLuzio: 32:12 And that’s something I’ve had people on from the VFW, the American Legion, and organizations like that. And it’s really great to find out that they’re doing stuff like that. It’s one of those things before I talked to them that I didn’t realize that that’s something that they were doing is helping out with these types of claims. Had I known prior to filing my own claim on my own, when I hit that, basically figuring out all this stuff on my own, it was a pain in the butt trying to figure it out. Had I known that there were these resources available, I would have been in a better position. So, maybe that’s something I need to revisit and go check those people out. Maybe they can help me. Is there anything else that you wanted to add about the transition process, things that you do and anything like that? Mark Delaney: 33:11 What I would encourage anyone to do is… So, a lot of the times that struggle, I think we all struggle with the change in identity and, you’ve been in the military and you wear the same thing every day. And you talk a certain way and you have a haircut and hanging out with military people and it’s your entire life. I always joke with my family, the Army wasn’t a job, it was a lifestyle choice. It defined everything about me. Changing to that next phase of your life, look at what it is that you want to do that’s going to make you and your family happy and be ready to adapt to that identity. You also don’t need to lose that identity as a Veteran. Mark Delaney: 33:57 You don’t need to be ashamed about being proud on Veterans day. You don’t have to be ashamed about having that time to yourself and the people you served with on Memorial day. When you’re thinking about someone that you’ve lost, you don’t need to be ashamed about having an Army mug in the office or whatever it is. You don’t have to make it overbearing, but it’s okay to say, yeah, I’m a Vet. And this is who I am, and this was a part of my life. And I don’t want to hide it. I don’t want to force it on people, but I don’t want to hide it either Scott DeLuzio: 34:28 For sure. Absolutely. I think that’s great advice. So, with that, we’re coming up on time on the episode here, but I definitely wanted to thank you for joining us and telling us your story and everything that you have going on over at the Veteran Professional. Where can people go to find out more about the Veteran Professional and everything that you’re doing over there to follow your journey? Mark Delaney: 34:56 So the first place to check it out is the website www.theVeteranPro.com and then from there, you can find links to all the appropriate social medias, and then my personal Instagram, as well is @ Mark B. Delaney. Scott DeLuzio: 35:09 Okay. And we’ll have links to all of this in the show notes so people can find it there. So, thank you Mark again for sharing your story with us. I look forward to hearing more about it in the future. Mark Delaney: 35:20 Yeah, absolutely. Scott, thanks for having me. Thank you. Scott DeLuzio: 35:29 Thanks for listening to the Drive on Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website DriveonPodcast.com. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @DriveonPodcast.
71 minutes | 3 months ago
10 Year Anniversary
In this episode, I asked a few of my brother’s friends and family members to share stories about him to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of his death in Afghanistan. Links & Resources Episode 14: Wes Black Transcript Scott DeLuzio: 00:00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting Veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I’d like to ask a favor if you haven’t done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcasts. If you’ve already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you’re there, click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes. As soon as they come out, if you don’t use Apple podcasts, you can visit DriveOnPodcast.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email list. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let’s get on with the show. Over the weekend, on August 22nd, our family observed the 10th anniversary of my brother, Steven’s passing. For those listeners who might not be familiar with his story and how he died… Scott DeLuzio: 00:00:54 My brother and I were both deployed to Afghanistan in 2010. On August 22, 2010, his unit was out on a patrol and they began receiving enemy fire, and Steve was killed pretty much as soon as the fighting had started. There is obviously a lot more to that story, and one of Steven’s friends, Wes Black, talked more about that day back in Episode 14. So, if you’re interested in hearing the story of the events that went on that day, please go back, and give it a listen. That was a really good episode. Anyway, I thought I would do something different to honor my brother in this episode. I’m a firm believer that a person will continue to live on in our memories so long as their story is told by the people who knew them best. So, I asked some of Steve’s friends and family to record a few short stories about him. Scott DeLuzio: 00:01:49 Now, if you’re wondering why you might want to hear these stories, the stories serve two purposes. First and foremost, I wanted to share these stories for Steve’s friends and family. It offers them an opportunity to hear some of the stories that they may not have heard before or to reminisce on some familiar stories that will bring a smile to their faces. And second, for any listeners who didn’t know my brother or our family, it gives you an insight into a Soldier’s life. It makes at least one Soldier’s death, just a little bit more personal to you. That way, when you hear about a service member who was killed in the line of duty, you don’t dismiss it as just another news story. You take a moment to listen to the story and think about the Soldier, the Marine, the Airmen, the Sailor, the Coast Guardsmen, who was killed and think about them as a real person. Think about them as someone’s child or sibling or spouse, aunt, or uncle, even just as someone’s friend, those service members all have stories of their own to share. And these are just a few of my brother’s stories and I hope you enjoy them. Scott DeLuzio: 00:03:01 First off, we have Steve’s XO from the 2010 deployment, Micah Kidney. Micah Kidney: 00:03:07 Hello, my name is Micah Kidney and I served as a First Lieutenant and the company Executive Officer for Alpha Company during our deployment in 2010 to Afghanistan. Now I’m the battalion executive officer with a third of the 172nd, the battalion that Alpha company fell in under during the deployment. At this point I’m a Major. During the deployment in 2010, 3rd Battalion was attached to the 101st, 187th Airborne Taskforce Rakkasan. They were located at FOB Solerno, which was about 60 or 80 miles to our South. 187 Airborne, they fell in under the 101st Airborne. At the time 187th was commanded by then Colonel Viet Wong. He himself was a guy who immigrated to the United States as a child from Vietnam. Micah Kidney: 00:04:03 Pretty cool story. He was an incredible leader who came in after August 22nd to spend time with the platoon. I definitely will never forget sitting out on the LZ at combat outpost Herrera, when he flew in on his Black Hawk, his command Black Hawk, and looked into our eyes, he had tears in his eyes and he just wanted to share the fact that the loss that we felt, didn’t stop on a company level. He felt it up to his level and it meant a lot to us. We definitely, really appreciated it at the time and I still do. Anyways, Steve’s job in 2010 was a team leader with Alpha Company, 3rd Platoon, at combat outpost Herrera, which was in Jaji province, in Eastern Afghanistan along the Pakistan border. His platoon was fantastic. They had a great young platoon leader named Charlie Flood and a fire-breathing platoon Sergeant, Smitty, and a couple of incredible squad leaders and team leaders, Chuck Ames, Isaiah Gomez, Steve DeLuzio, was one of those guys and Rob Kocher. Micah Kidney: 00:05:20 So their leadership in that platoon, was top shelf. Combat outpost Herrera was at the apex of three legs of what would look like a tripod, each consisting of an MSR, like a supply route in a low ground with mountains on both sides. First platoon, owned to the Northwest up towards [inaudible] and Rockion, Second platoon owned the leg of the tripod to the South towards the Candor Cal Tarkanai and there was an outpost down there and the Ahmad Calc DC, the district center, a third platoon, Steve’s platoon, owned to the Northeast up through Ali kale, right to the East of our outpost through Bella up about 10 to 12 clicks up to BCP 12, 13, and 14, along the Pakistan border, looking down into the Pakistan city of Perishenar. Each platoon had a tough AO, but 3rd Platoon’s AO was pretty big. Micah Kidney: 00:06:23 And it was just a massive area of operations still. Our company AOF for the Taliban was like a web of mountain trails and go pass. For the most part it was a highway for Taliban fighters to enter Afghanistan from Pakistan during the fighting season, headed West towards Gosney North, towards Jalalabad, but mostly towards the Capitol and Kabul to the Northwest. And it was our company mission and each of the platoon’s mission to disrupt and interdict that Taliban infiltration into the heart of Afghanistan. We also had a secondary mission to train the ANA, the Afghan National Army, the ABP, the border police, and the ANP the Afghan national police in Jaji, where we were located. I didn’t know Steve before the deployment, but I was lucky enough to be out with platoons almost every day. Micah Kidney: 00:07:19 And I got to know Steve pretty well. We came to know each other as lifelong hockey players who loved, lived, and breathed the sport. And we both loved the Bruins. We had quite a few late night opportunities to watch the Bruins in the playoffs, as they coughed up that year, a 3-0 series lead to the, I think it was the Flyers, but it was a tough season for the Bs but that’s kind of how we came to know each other. We’d play hoops almost every night. We had a little tiny basketball court and Steve is a pretty horrible basketball player. It was definitely not his winter sport, hockey was that, obviously. And many of those games ended with one of us…and I remember Steve doing it like punting the basketball outside of the outpost inside of the local town after he, or one of us lost. Micah Kidney: 00:08:15 We also worked out a ton in the gym, but the story I’d like to share involved our nightly poker game. So, there’s about 10 or 12 of us who would play in my office. We had a good poker table set up and it was just a bunch of the leaders in the company just kind of blowing off steam, having some fun at night. Steve was a fairly, I would say pitiful poker player, but we were all just in there for fun. And we were frequent opponents, like heads up on a table. Steve had a curious habit of playing pretty poor hands and winning a lot, which was interesting. Also funny was when his 2 7 off suit or whatever it was didn’t pan out Micah Kidney: 00:09:08 and he lost. He’d become pretty furious. This is the setting of the story I’d like to tell. Steve talked a lot of junk when we were playing, obviously that was part of who he was and we loved it. And one night we were playing and he was so sure that he was going to win, that he was willing to make a bet with a few of us that if he lost, we could choose any outfit to our liking for him to work out in the next day. And of course, he lost. The outfit that we put together was like a Hawaiian hula outfit full to the nines, grass skirt, we had actual coconut bikini top for him. So, he had the bikini coconut top on and he was working out and I knew he was working out. Micah Kidney: 00:10:08 So, of course I was going to document the moment with a couple of pictures. So, he was on the Stairmaster, one of the machines that we had in our little gym and tooling away, and I busted through the door so he couldn’t hop off and try to look cool, and I just remember him as I snapped the pictures away, like staring down at me, just laughing so hard and embarrassed, but he was cool with it. I decided to take it a step further. And the next day I made up like 30 little posters, with the picture of him in the outfit, put them all around the outpost. And I turned it into like a like a fake call to action for all the Burka wearing Afghan females to shed their passion ways and full body coverings and start wearing this Hawaiian hula outfit. Micah Kidney: 00:11:07 And it was pretty funny. I put them all over the outpost and as we know, Steve is not going to lose a prank battle. So, he took it to the next level. And the next day, someone told me to go
30 minutes | 3 months ago
Lani Hankins talks to us about the struggles that service members face after leaving the military and coping with the loss of their friends. Links & Resources Kruse Corner on Facebook Kruse Corner on Instagram President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) Transcript Scott DeLuzio: 00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting Veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I’d like to ask a favor if you haven’t done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcasts. If you’ve already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you’re there click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes. As soon as they come out. If you don’t use Apple podcasts, you can visit Drive On Podcasts.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email list. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let’s get on with the show. Scott DeLuzio: 00:44 Everybody today, my guest is Lani Hankins. Lani is the host of the Kruse Corner Podcast and blog where she discusses stories of interest to the military. Lani, welcome to the show. Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself and who you are, your military background and things like that? Lani Hankins: 01:04 Well, first thanks for having me. My name is Lonnie Hankins, and I joined the Army when I was 22. I was in college working on an Art degree and people were telling me that wouldn’t go anywhere. And so, I started second guessing myself and I got down to that last semester and I had family that had done military time. So, I figured I’ll give it a try. And so, I did the four-year contract with the Army active duty, ended up switching over to the Reserves for the last two years. So, six total served out of Fort Riley, Kansas. I did one deployment with the 1st Squadron 4th Cavalry Regiment to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and then was out of Fort Myers, Florida for the Reserve. Scott DeLuzio: 01:53 And so now you’re the host of the Kruse Corner podcast and your mission with that podcast and what you’re doing over there probably started off similarly to how I started this podcast and why I started it. Could you tell us a little bit about the motivation behind the Kruse Corner and where the idea came from to do what you’re doing now? Lani Hankins: 02:22 So it originally started off just as a blog. It was something that I started because I was in my final year working on my Master’s degree. And you had to have a place to post your final research paper and mine was on the VA. So, I figured I’ll just post it to my own blog, a cheat thing. I didn’t want to have to ask anyone to put it on their stuff. And I didn’t want to just have this one random research paper by itself on a website. So, I padded it with some writing I had been doing and some of my friends saw it and they’re just like, you have to keep it going. And so, the name came from my buddy Cruz, who I served with at the Quarter Cav and he’d committed suicide my last month Lani Hankins: 03:08 I was inactive duty. And so, I wanted to do something as a homage to him little bit. I had been struggling myself and writing was just my therapy. And then people started telling me they didn’t like to read. So it turned into the podcast because people basically wanted me to read forums. So the podcast started off with me still doing the blog, but I was reading the articles basically for people. So, it was like the audio Kindle version. But I didn’t realize until I went to school with civilians that people did not understand the Veteran community and what was happening. And I got frustrated with it and with the suicide epidemic going on. How do you not know that 22 Veterans kill themselves a day? How is it possible that people don’t know this stuff? And I just needed a platform. And so that’s really where it started was I need to start talking about it and find people that will talk about it. Scott DeLuzio: 04:12 Yeah, absolutely. My assessment was probably spot on there because that’s pretty much where I started with this podcast. Our platoon was in Afghanistan in 2010 and we didn’t lose anybody over overseas, but we started losing people after we came home. And that to me just was unacceptable to think about that. There’s stuff being done; obviously people know that there’s a problem with suicide amongst the military and Veterans in terms of people maybe in the VA or other military circles, but the general public, like you said, doesn’t really understand that. There might be a better understanding now than there was maybe 10 years ago, but it’s still a problem and whatever is being done is just not enough in my opinion anyways. Scott DeLuzio: 05:10 That’s where this podcast came from and it sounds like that’s where you got started off with yours is to spread awareness. And that’s really the name of the game to me is to make more people aware of it and know that this is an actual problem, and there are people doing things. So, I don’t want to make it sound like whatever the VA’s doing or other organizations are doing. Is it not enough? Or is it, they’re not actually trying anything that’s working. I don’t want to make it sound like that. But I do feel like there’s more that needs to be done. Lani Hankins: 05:51 I do feel like there are a lot of organizations in the VA trying, but Veterans are stubborn and there’s resources that people won’t use and there’s options to talk about things. And from having a podcast where I have it open to guests, to come tell your story, and it’s hard to find people. And that was another part of the frustration was you have to talk about it, so people know because if you don’t, these civilians can’t understand your experience if they don’t know what that experience is. And if they’re basing it off of the movie Platoon or Blackhawk Down, it’s not going to get anyone anywhere because then they think it’s all combat. And it’s not always that. Scott DeLuzio: 06:31 And it’s not always combat related issues that cause some of the mental health problems that we experience in the military; there are people who have moral injuries where they’re in a position where they’re doing things that they never really thought that they’d have to do. I’ve shared on this podcast before time where I had to make a decision whether or not to shoot a child and even though I didn’t end up shooting the child, it still is something that I carry around with me, it’s never a situation I ever thought I’d have to be in. And you carry that with you and people just don’t really understand that these are things that the military, first responders, law enforcement, have to carry around with them. Scott DeLuzio: 07:28 And it’s hard. So, I applaud you for what you’re doing in terms of trying to raise awareness for this type of stuff, and one of the other things that I’ve noticed recently going on…this was just actually within the last couple of days, we’re recording now on June 19th, but sometime during this last week, and just a disclaimer here, I don’t get into politics on the show. I have my political beliefs just like I’m sure everyone else does. I don’t want to alienate anyone who might be listening to the show who might hear a political view that they don’t agree with and so I try to keep politics out of it, but with that said I think we can probably all get behind the plan that was recently unveiled by president Trump called the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End National Tragedy of Suicide, which is a mouthful. But I think they’re trying to fit that into an acronym…Prevents, for short. It’s basically a plan to raise awareness about mental health connect to suicide prevention, resources, things like that to coordinate research into suicide. So, have you heard about this plan at all? Or what are your thoughts about it? Lani Hankins: 08:47 I’ve heard about it. I didn’t really read into it a whole lot, because again, for me, just from doing things like the podcast, I realized that there are things that are already there. There’s a lot that exists and people aren’t utilizing it. And so, I feel like you can keep adding programs, you can keep adding initiatives and all these things, you can make the acronym as long as you want, but Veterans can be a tough group. And a lot of people feel burned by the VA. And so, this idea of, do you care? Yeah. Does anyone even want to listen? And then you still have to get through that mentality of you can’t talk about it. And so you break that idea that we can’t get out and talk about it and be open. Then I really don’t feel like there’s any program that’s going to work, I’ve used all of them. I’ve seen all kinds of stuff and there’s still stuff I don’t want to talk about it. I spent six years having it crammed down my throat. Don’t talk about it or you’re weak. And so, it was always this conflict of, if I get help, I’m showing that I̵
26 minutes | 3 months ago
Wellness for Vets
James Connor is a Marine Corps veteran who has been working to help veterans and first responders get off of the medications that they have been prescribed by replacing it with physical training, nutrition, and other alternative therapies that help them work through their PTSD or other causes of anxiety or depression. Links & Resources Wellness For Vets Wellness For Vets Instagram James Conner Twitter Trinity Fitness Life Facebook Transcript Scott DeLuzio: 00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting Veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I’d like to ask a favor if you haven’t done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcast. If you’ve already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you’re there, click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes. As soon as they come out. If you don’t use Apple podcasts, you can visit DriveOnPodcast.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email list. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio and now let’s get on with the show. Scott DeLuzio: 00:44 Hey everyone. Today, my guest is James Conner. James is a Marine Corps Veteran, a personal trainer and nutrition specialist. I actually think I’m over oversimplifying these things a little bit. He has a number of certifications and qualifications for both nutrition and fitness, and I’m sure I won’t do it all justice. So, James, I’ll let you introduce yourself and tell people a bit about your background. James Conner: 01:08 All right, Scott. Well, thanks for having me on the show. As you said, I am a Marine Corps Veteran. I did 20 years in the Marine Corps. I went in at the end of the 90s as an Infantryman. So, I did my first 10 years as a rifleman, got a bunch of deployments under my belt doing that, some peace time work, pre 9/11 post 9/11, and a few tours to Iraq. Probably the most important one was in 2004, when we went into Fallujah in November and secured the city that time. That was out of California and then I moved to the East coast and reactivated 19, which is known as the walking dead. That battalion had been deactivated and they were bringing it back. So, I went over there and help form that up as a Sergeant. James Conner: 01:59 And then I had an opportunity to jump into the brand-new Marine Corps, special operations command. They were trying to fill the units and then they also had a schoolhouse that they had to staff. And when I went over and met with their recruiter, he saw some of the work that I had done in the past. And he said, I see you need a break from deployments, but I could definitely use you at the schoolhouse. I said, cool. So, I went to the schoolhouse and it was a great experience, coming out of the infantry and then go into play with the big boys and playing by big boy rules. I went to airborne school and then when I came back, they had restructured the unit and I basically got promoted out of a job because I picked up a Staff Sergeant and they only had one billet for a non-reconnaissance staff sergeant. And so, I still had a regular infantryman designation. At that point I decided to switch jobs and move into counterintelligence and human intelligence. And that’s where I finished out my career in there. I did a few deployments with various special operations units. I did a tour in Germany managing Marine Corps, counterintelligence, operations in Europe and Africa. Then I came back to the States and pretty much was counting the days until I retired. Scott DeLuzio: 03:17 Like a lot of people do. I’m sure. Yeah. So, now you run a website, WellnessForVets.info is the website. And tell us a little bit about that. What’s the background on that and what is it that you do there? James Conner: 03:35 So, it ties in with how I ended up in Europe this time around. And somebody asked me that question one time and I gave a very long and convoluted answer. So, I’ll try to give you a better one. Basically, what happened was when I retired, I got a job. It was a very well-paying job and I loved the people that I worked with, but I hated the job itself. I was at a point in my life where I wanted to make some lifestyle changes. So, I started doing that. I really wanted to go back to Europe because when I was stationed in Europe, I spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe, but didn’t see much of Western Europe. So, I was trying to combine my newfound love of fitness and nutrition and everything with an opportunity to go back to Europe. James Conner: 04:22 So I decided to apply to school. And now I’m studying sports and exercise science at the University of Limerick in Ireland. How that ties into my website is during all this time leading up to school, going to school, I just started accumulating a lot of information and I thought it could be really helpful to active duty and Veteran personnel. It really started when I was celebrating Christmas with one of my friends and his family and I saw him taking some of his prescribed medications. And I was just like, there’s got to be a better way to deal with the stuff that a lot of Veterans are dealing with. And then, when I was making my own lifestyle changes, I started learning a lot about nutrition and exercise and all the different effects it has on the body. And someone said, “you’re so good at synthesizing information and explaining it to people. You should start a blog.” And then the blog turned into a website and then the website turned into a podcast. And so that’s how all that got started. Scott DeLuzio: 05:26 That’s how all that came together. Well that’s good, it’s taking some of the passions that you have and things that you’re good at and you’re using it to help out other people, other Veterans, and military personnel. It’s awesome. So from what I understand with all of this information that you’ve accumulated, you’ve been focusing on keeping Veterans and first responders and people like that off of the medications that they have been prescribed using things like physical training and nutrition and other alternative types of therapies to work through their PTSD or other causes of anxiety or depression and things like that. So how does all that work? What is it that you’re doing to help these people stay off these types of medications? James Conner: 06:17 Well, so my ultimate goal is, and of course being on the other side of the ocean, I don’t have a lot of hands on. I’m still building the website, so it’s kind of like, “Hey if people want to reach out, I can coach them through it.” But my goal is, and what I’ve been doing is because we have so much information available to us, I just read a lot about different stuff. And through that, I learned what happens to the brain when you actually exercise, whether you’re doing a robotics or resistance training, what happens to your body when you eat certain foods. A lot of the reasons why people take the medications is because they’re depleted or have some sort of instability of the natural chemicals in their brain. James Conner: 07:08 And a lot of that starts in their bowels basically. So, it’s just really crazy. You start looking at one thing and then you end up going down this rabbit hole of information, but what’s so great is, it’s kind of funny that with social media, people like to bag on other people and be like, “Oh, well, where’s your medical degree?” But the other thing is, if you’re in school, they’re going to tell you to use peer reviewed sources. So, okay. I’m going to use peer reviewed sources, it’s from professional scientists. So, the audience can’t see it, but I’ve got stacks and stacks of papers on branch chain, amino acids, and an equally sized stack on essential amino acids, stacks on probiotics. And I just read all this stuff and I just try to consume as much information as I can. James Conner: 07:59 And then in turn, share it with people. Because the folks that I’ve known who have been on prescription medications have never been happy. The meds didn’t do anything for them. And I don’t necessarily fault the system. I think there are people that are sincerely trying to help, but there’s a lot of other ways to do things that people either don’t want to accept or they don’t know about. And I just try to share that with them. And if it’s something they want to explore; I’ll try to work with them through it. Scott DeLuzio: 08:33 Exactly. Yeah. And I think there’s probably a time and a place for certain medications in certain circumstances for certain people, but what you’re saying is that it seems like that old song that we used to sing as kids, like the head bone is connected to the neck bone and the neck bone is connected to the shoulder bone. I’ll spare you the terrible singing or whatever, the point that all of this stuff is sort of connected together in some way. It seems like what you’re doing is figuring out how one thing affects another. And since they’re all connected how they affect each other in one way or another, in a big picture, is that the kind of accurate? James Conner: 09:10 Yeah, exactly. And when I started out
41 minutes | 4 months ago
Collie Turner talks to us about her company Heroic Gardens and how it helps veterans and service members “grow hope” by connecting them with plants and nature. Collie explains that even if you don’t have a green thumb, the process can be very therapeutic. Through Heroic Gardens, veterans and service members can get access to the knowledge, tools, as well as the materials that they need to set up their very own garden. If the individual doesn’t have access to a yard or outdoor area to plant a garden, they can get it set up inside their home on a space as small as a windowsill. If you’ve been considering getting into gardening or want to learn why it might be beneficial to you, give this episode a listen and head on over to Heroic Gardens’ website to find out more about it. Links & Resources Heroic Gardens Website Heroic Gardens on Facebook Heroic Gardens on Instagram Heroic Gardens on Twitter Transcript Scott DeLuzio: 00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting Veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I’d like to ask a favor if you haven’t done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcast. If you’ve already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you’re there click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes. As soon as they come out. If you don’t use Apple podcasts, you can visit DriveOnPodcast.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email lists. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let’s get on with the show. Scott DeLuzio: 00:45 Hey everybody. Today, my guest is Kali Turner. Kali is the founder of Heroic Gardens, which is a nonprofit whose mission is to connect Veterans, active duty, and their families with plants and nature. So welcome to the show. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? Collie Turner: 01:08 Sure. Hi Scott. Thanks for having me on. Heroic Gardens actually started two years ago. We started in 2018 and personally my background relating to even wanting to start this as I am a daughter of a Veteran, the granddaughter of a Veteran, I have grown up around the American Legion auxiliary and the VFW, my entire life, and the flip side of this is that gardening has always been the norm in my family. So, my grandparents were very big gardeners, very sustainable. My mother was a conservationist. So, combining the two, I had no idea, early on that this was something that I would be pursuing, but as time went on, it just made so much sense Collie Turner: 02:01 from a healing perspective. So thinking about what I’m doing in the garden, things I’m contemplating the Headspace that I’m clearing, and it wasn’t really until I was taking care of my grandmother and I had realized that she had never applied for my grandfather’s death benefits. So, I went through that whole process. It took about three years but I did meet somebody in my local, VA who actually helped me shepherd it through. And what was interesting about her is that wasn’t her primary job. Her job was actually to find homes for our servicemen and women when they were coming back from overseas. So that’s a huge job, right? She takes time out of her schedule to help me with my grandmother who at the time was about 93, receive these benefits. Collie Turner: 02:58 And initially when this happened, I wanted to figure out how can I help her? What can I do to give back, anybody can write a check. It was so much deeper of a connection than that. So, I started thinking about when these guys and gals are coming back and they are securing homes, is there an opportunity for us to add on to that and help them with their landscaping? So, it was this simple idea in my mind that I was swirling around for a couple of years. I didn’t know what I was really thinking about because it is so much deeper than that. It does play into what we offer now. I mean, we are a hundred percent volunteer based, but what we offer is that opportunity to come out and help a Veteran in need with the restoration of the property. And that helps with teaching them about sustainability, teaching them about the connection with plants and how it can help reduce stress and anxiety. but it also helps them with beautification and pride. So that’s just one service, but when we started, that was sort of our main function. Scott DeLuzio: 04:20 Awesome. That’s a great answer. I always like hearing the background stories, where people came from and how they got started doing what they’re doing and why they’re doing the type of stuff that they’re doing. Let’s talk about gardening specifically. What is it about the gardening, in and of itself that acts as a benefit to Veterans or the military community, the people that you’re working with; what is the benefit for them to get their hands in the dirt and work with the plants and things like that? What is the actual benefit that they are seeing from that? Collie Turner: 05:14 Yes, it’s a great question. So, first off let’s think about plants, everybody out there, just pause for a minute if you’re near a window, what are you looking at? What’s potentially outside, or what’s on your windowsill? There are plants everywhere around us, right? So, think back to seventh grade science class, and one of the many things that they are giving off is oxygen, right? We need that to breathe. So, plants are a part of who we are fundamentally in our fiber, but guess what? We eat them. We wear them, they’re in our building materials and their nature outside. They were meant to be hand in hand with who we are as humans. So what did they do to help us? Well when you’re working with plants, it’s actually scientifically proven that you can help reduce stress or fatigue, depression, pain, those sorts of elements, right? The symptoms of ADHD and where you see the improvements, it’s been proven are things like bone strength or your concentration, your ability to be a little bit more empathetic, and your overall mood and relaxation. So, you can get some of the elements that you might find in exercising or having an animal or painting. It has all of those elements. It’s just being out in nature, connecting with something that inherently as a human being you should be anyway. Scott DeLuzio: 07:10 It’s interesting on this show, I’ve had several people on talking about different things that they have done or are helping other people do too, you’re using alternative forms of therapy, whether it’s art or something else like getting outside and going on hikes and that type of thing that people are doing to reconnect with nature, getting outside with the artwork, maybe going out and painting a landscape or something, getting back out into nature and it’s interesting to see just another example of being outside, getting involved with the plants themselves and how that could possibly be helping people with these things like PTSD, anxiety, and other conditions like that. Scott DeLuzio: 08:25 So it’s interesting to hear how that works but I can imagine that a part of it is just being mindful of things that are going on around you if you’re tending to a garden, and you forget about it for a week or two or three, it’s probably not going to work out too well. You know, if you aren’t reading it and fertilizing and all this other stuff that it’s almost taking care of an animal or perhaps even a child or something along those lines where you do have to be present to take care of these things and be mindful of what’s going on is it getting too much water, not enough water, all that type of stuff, you really have to be thinking about it. I could see grounding, excuse the pun, but grounding people to be more present and focused on the world around them. Collie Turner: 09:33 Yeah, you absolutely got that right. You are caring for a living thing. It’s not just putting a plant in the ground and watching it grow. There are other aspects. There is this whole world and ecosystem going on in a garden. If you’ve ever seen a bug’s life, it is really true. Just being still and watching, you can learn so much about a plant, about the ground in front of you, the animals and insects that live there, the pollinators that live there, and what their functions are. Anybody can read all of this in the books or can go online, but why not experience it firsthand? Scott DeLuzio: 10:28 Yeah, sure. Yeah. And our neighborhood that we live in, there’s a gardening club of sorts. I forget the exact name of it now, and a few of the local parks that are in our neighborhood, they have these big, concrete planters that are filled with the dirt and everything. And every so often they go out and they plant new plants in there, whether it’s vegetables and there’s sometimes just different types of plants. And it’s there for the community to enjoy, the neighborhood to enjoy when you’re at the park with your kids, you can see the plants growing and things like that. But I imagine that the people who are involved in that community, can get together and they work together as a team. Scott DeLuzio: &nb
33 minutes | 4 months ago
The Spouse Angle
Natalie Gross and Andrea Scott host the Spouse Angle Podcast, where they bring news and relevant content to military spouses and their families. Links & Resources The Spouse Angle on Facebook The Spouse Angle on Instagram The Spouse Angle on Twitter The Spouse Angle on LinkedIn The Spouse Angle on YouTube The Spouse Angle Website Transcript Scott DeLuzio: 00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting Veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I’d like to ask a favor if you haven’t done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcast. If you’ve already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you’re there click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes as soon as they come out. If you don’t use Apple podcasts, you can visit DriveOnPodcast.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email list. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let’s get on with the show. Scott DeLuzio: 00:44 Hi everybody. Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast. Today my guests are Natalie Gross and Andrea Scott. Natalie and Andrea are co-founders of the Spouse Angle, a podcast and news site that brings trusted relevant news to military spouses and their families. So, Natalie and Andrea, welcome to the show. Why don’t you tell us a little about yourselves and your background? Natalie, maybe start with you. Natalie Gross 01:13 Sure. Thanks so much, Scott, for having us, we are excited to be here, so I am Natalie Gross. I am the host and producer of the Spouse Angle podcast, which, like you mentioned, is a podcast and a website breaking down the news for military spouses and their families. That’s our tagline. We launched last October. I’m a military kid. My dad was in the Army for 20 years. So, I moved around a lot as an Army brat. I’m taking these experiences as an Army brat then turned journalist and I’m bringing that into the Spouse Angle as well. Andrea and I met at Military Times when I was working there for two years. And I’m now a freelance journalist covering mostly the military, but also education as well. Scott DeLuzio: 01:59 Awesome. Andrea, how about you? Andrea Scott: 02:02 Yeah, thanks so much for having us here today, Scott. My family is also a military family. I like to joke and Natalie hates my joke, but I’m the loser of my family. My family is all Air Force and Navy pilots. And I am a journalist that sits behind the desk a lot of times and no one in my family can understand how I know how to read and write. I don’t understand how they all know how to fly airplanes, but my father was an A10 pilot in the Air Force when I was young and both my younger brothers right now are Air Force pilots flying the B 52 and the F35. I’m very proud of them and grew up with that military spirit, but it wasn’t necessarily my calling. So, my background is journalism. Like I said, reading and writing is what I’m good at. Andrea Scott 02:46 And I ended up at Military Times, as editor of Marine Corps Times. That’s where I met Natalie. I’m still there, but I think both Natalie and I were inspired by our military-spouse mothers and the perseverance and strength that they had and just being in the military space. Seeing that there hasn’t been an authoritative news site for military spouses to give them resources, to give them broader community other than just a Facebook page or something. So we really wanted to bring this as a service to our military spouses to give them the support that they deserve. Scott DeLuzio: 03:20 Yeah, absolutely. And it’s actually interesting. My story is just the opposite of yours where my parents did not serve in the military at all. And then my brother and I both decided to join the military. And so, their confusion was a little bit backwards. Why are you doing this? And you know, why aren’t you following in our footsteps and that type of stuff. It is interesting to hear everyone’s backgrounds and where people came from and how you got involved with this type of stuff. So, talking about the Spouse Angle, what was the inspiration behind that? I know you talked a little bit about your families and seeing how they live the military spouse life, but what was the inspiration to actually start this as a resource for military spouses? Andrea Scott 04:21 Well, I’ll start with that. I had an idea when I was in grad school. Natalie and I both actually got our master’s degree from Georgetown in the same program at different times. She inspired me to go to that program, but I took an entrepreneurship class, specifically for media and for our final project, we had to come up with an idea and I was thinking, “Oh, I know nothing about business. I’m going to fail this class.” I started looking at the statistics, at least in our Military Times newsroom and saying that a lot of the readership was male heavy, with the military, there’s a lot of male readership and saying that it was 75% male. Just thinking as far as a media outlet, that there’s not really something that’s serving that female service member or the spouse demographic. Andrea Scott 05:10 And so I pitched that as my project and was the only one in the class to get an A, not to brag, but I’m very proud of that. Scott DeLuzio: You should be. Andrea Scott: It was years later when Natalie, she can explain, but she was transitioning from working full time to working full time from home or taking a break with her first child that we realized she wanted to do a military spouse podcast and I wanted to do a military spouse brand that we thought they would go hand in hand together. Scott DeLuzio: Awesome. Natalie Gross: So, I’ll just add onto that. I had the inspiration to start a podcast, and I knew that I wanted to have it military related and reach the spouse community. And I didn’t quite decide on the journalism niche of that until I was talking to my military spouse friends, “what would you want to see what Natalie Gross 05:57 is missing out there?” And a lot of them were saying, “well, you know, as far as news goes, we’re reliant on our service member, on our spouse to tell us what’s going on as far as the latest military policy changes or different laws that would affect them.” And that information wasn’t always getting communicated to them at home. So, they’d be sifting through Facebook trying to piece together what actually applies to them, what doesn’t. And so, Andrea and I talked and we saw this information gap that we thought that a podcast could fill. You can listen to it on the go. Military spouses are always busy it seems. And so that’s why we decided on the podcast format to start with. We also have a website where we have other news and things like that. So that’s what the inspiration was, let’s fill this information gap and help military spouses stay connected to the changes in policy and different things in the news cycle that affect them and clear out the clutter. Scott DeLuzio: 07:02 Yeah. And speaking at this point now a veteran, but someone who was in the shoes of the service member, who oftentimes had to relay information to my wife, I didn’t always understand all of the information and how it applied to us as a family or to her as an individual who may have been at home while I was deployed and things like that. And, quite frankly, when you’re in the middle of a deployment and you’re training up to go overseas to go fight a war, you’re not always thinking of Tri-Care benefits or whatever the things that are being handed to you. You get all this information, this paperwork and all this stuff thrown at you, and sometimes it’s like drinking from a fire hose where you’re just getting so much information and trying to digest it all and make sense of it all, and it is really a hard thing to do. And so, having a resource like this available, I think is really valuable to the military spouses who can then go to a resource like yours and try to make sense of it all. They’re probably getting overwhelmed as well. Natalie Gross 08:29 Yeah, thanks for saying that. I will say even our core audience and our target audience is really military spouses and family members. We have some service members who listen to and have reached out and have said “thank you. I wanted to understand the certain thing that I’d heard about.” And so, that’s been really cool to see too, that we’ve been able to be a resource for even active duty service members who are getting this information in other places as well. Scott DeLuzio: 08:52 Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that was really hard to understand was after coming back from overseas, you have access to all these new benefits; you’re post 9/11 GI bill and all these other benefits that you now have access to, but there’s certain criteria and certain conditions and certain things have to be met. And when you go through this whole matrix of things, it’s like, “does this stuff even still apply to me? I don’t even know anymore.” And it’s just so much, and sometimes you just shut down and you
51 minutes | 4 months ago
Choosing To Find The Good
After losing his legs to an IED in Afghanistan, Julian Torres talks to us about how he has been able to find the good things in life and focus on the positives. When Julian lost his legs, he was faced with a choice to either sit on the couch and let life pass him by, or get up and take control of his life. Julian chose the latter. Not only is Julian a fellow podcaster who talks to other veterans, he’s also a father, husband, and has scaled the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro. And yes, that was after losing his legs. When I first spoke with Julian before we recorded this episode, I was truly inspired by his attitude. Give it a listen, I’m sure you will be too. Links & Resources JulianPTorres.net Coffee With Julian on Instagram Coffee With Julian Link Tree LCpl. Cody S. Childers Memorial Fund Transcript Scott DeLuzio: 00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting Veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I’d like to ask a favor if you haven’t done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcast. If you’ve already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you’re there, click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes. As soon as they come out. If you don’t use Apple podcasts, you can visit Drive On Podcast.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email lists. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let’s get on with the show. Scott DeLuzio: 00:44 Hey everyone. Today, my guest is Julian Torres. Julian is a Marine Corps Veteran and host of The Coffee with Julian podcast. Julian was wounded while serving overseas, and today we’re going to be talking to him about his journey through the Marine Corps and what life is like after being wounded. So Julian, welcome to the show. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and what your background is? Julian Torres: What’s going on, man? How you doing? Scott DeLuzio: Alright, good. Julian Torres: 01:12 I enlisted in 2007 and was a Marine Corps Infantryman. I was an 0331 machine gunner by trade. I got deployed in 2010 to Afghanistan. So, I stepped on an IED and lost both of my legs, the left leg below the knee, right leg is above which was really crazy and really unique. I think about my circumstance. I was only in country in full-blown about operations for about 2 ½ weeks. Julian Torres: 01:55 Yeah. I was there for like just shy of a month, total in Afghanistan when I got hurt. Scott DeLuzio: Right? Yeah. Sometimes these things come out of nowhere, and whether you’re there for a few weeks, you’re there for a few months or whatever, you can’t really time these things like they’ll just happen. Julian Torres: 02:22 It’s either like the very beginning or the end is like what you don’t want. Scott DeLuzio: 02:27 Sometimes you hear about these people, they have a week left or something and they’re like, “Oh yeah, we’ll go out on this one last mission.” And it’s like, no, no, no, you don’t want to go on that last mission. So, let’s talk about the lead up to that. So, you’re in country for about a month or so before getting injured. What did that look like? What did your time in Afghanistan look like before getting injured? Julian Torres: 03:00 Yeah, it was what I would call it almost as if all the Warriors of America were down inside large Afghanistan at the time; we had really thick overgrown Julian Torres: 03:22 canals or wattis that you couldn’t see six inches in front of me. So, I would imagine, from the things I’ve read, that was a lot like Vietnam, cutting yourself on the grass and stuff like that that was growing through there. Then we also had those canals. We were fighting in those canals and I was even thinking that was a little bit like fighting in WWI in the trenches, being muddy and being full of water and just disgustingness. What surprised me the most about it all was how kinetic it was. I didn’t imagine it being so full throttle like it really was. Julian Torres: 04:16 These people we were whipping it on. We’ll be able to hear them and be able to smell them; that’s how close we were. It was intense. At the end of the day, if I had to pick a word, it would be just intense, intense. Their fighting ability…I wasn’t really impressed by it. They had a lot of numbers, which was impressive, but other than that, our tactics were superior our fire power was superior, it was just intense. Scott DeLuzio: 04:57 Yeah, for sure. I know kind of what you’re talking about, walking through in an area where you can’t really see more than a few inches in front of you. I’ve been on missions in Afghanistan where we walked through a corn field and you see corn fields around here in the United States, same deal, corn taller than you are and you’re walking through and you can’t see too far ahead of you because it’s corn all over the place and the leaves and everything. Julian Torres: 05:29 You just see the stalks move and you think “there they are!” Scott DeLuzio: 05:35 And you don’t know what’s on the other side of that because you just can’t see. You’re walking through just hoping that there’s no trip wires or pressure plates or other crazy stuff like that that they could have put in there just to screw us up if we were going through there. So, thank God, in my case anyways, there wasn’t anything like that or at least if there was, we didn’t stumble across it. We got out relatively unscathed then, a few scrapes from walking up against some of these plants and things like that but that’s nothing in comparison to people like yourself who were severely wounded during their time overseas. Let’s talk about that day, the day of the injury. Maybe you could talk a little bit about the mission that you were on and how it led up to that event where you actually got wounded. Julian Torres: 06:43 Blasted. So, one thing you have to remember is that we had this inherent threat of an IED, but for the most part, that’s not what we were really looking for. We were getting a lot of Intel on sniper positions, sniper nest, machinegun nest, observation posts, IED caches. So, another thing too that was really crazy was the fact that we were finding a bunch of other things. We were finding caches of heroin. We were finding caches of giant stocks and marijuana, weapons, IED making material, and all along there are firefights, intense fire fights. We’re actually pinned down and maneuvering around the enemy or just waiting them out. We’re just like, “you guys aren’t moving; We’re just going to hunker down over here. We’re safe right here. We’ll just let this develop.” Julian Torres: 08:12 Fighting back, obviously, but we’re going to take our time with this, so, this particular day, I got hurt. It was really crazy. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen them, but they would make IED out of this yellow cooking oil, canola with the red top. And so, I found a bunch of those. And so, what I did was I pulled out my knife and I cut the bottoms out; made it to where these jugs are not usable anymore, or I’m going to make it more of a headache for you to use these. The Afghan people were very resourceful, making things out of nothing. Julian Torres: 09:04 I’m sure I didn’t damage it too much. I was also finding big giant bags of ammonium nitrate, big, giant, 50 kilos of ammonium nitrate. We were fighting all day, standard operation fighting all day pushing the enemy back, and then we were no more than 50 yards or maybe like a half a football field away from our patrol base. I just stepped on it and I remember it. Particularly, the sound I made getting propelled through the air, seeing my shadow on the ground, and realizing “Oh fuck man, this is it. I got hit.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know. Julian Torres: 10:06 And to realize that, if you see yourself on the ground from an aerial point of view, I got hit. I remember landing and the powder in my mouth from the blast because what had happened was, we had crossed over two canals. And so, imagine, we got one little shallow canal crossed over and we came onto another one. So, it was just consecutive canals running parallel to each other. And so, we cross one, cross the other one, and then my buddy who saw the indicator, the point guy, I was holding rear security for my machine gun. And then I was in charge of machine gun squad leader. And the point man says, “Hey, I see an indicator.” I’m closest to the junction, as a Sgt of Marines, I’m closest and I’m not going to ask someone else if I’m not willing to do hard decision work or hard work in general if I’m not willing to do that kind of stuff myself. Julian Torres: 11:23 So I said, “I got it, man. I’ll go take a look.” And I was looking. And I said, we weren’t really looking for IEDs; that wasn’t our main focus. We were finding things, we were
37 minutes | 4 months ago
Tango Alpha Lima
In this episode I talk to Jeff Daly who is one of the hosts of The American Legion’s Tango Alpha Lima podcast. Jeff talks about his time in the Marines, what lead him to join the American Legion, and why he felt a desire to start podcasting. We make some good natured jokes in this episode, and no one got offended. How refreshing! Links & Resources Tango Alpha Lima Podcast American Legion Why do Marines eat crayons? – we got deep on this episode Transcript Scott DeLuzio: 00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting Veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I’d like to ask a favor if you haven’t done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcast. If you’ve already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you’re there, click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes. As soon as they come out. If you don’t use Apple podcasts, you can visit DriveOnPodcast.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email lists. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let’s get on with the show. Scott DeLuzio: 00:44 Hey everyone. Today, my guest is Jeff Daley. Jeff is a Marine Corps Veteran and also a cohost of the Tango Alpha Lima podcast, which explores current events, interesting trends, and quirky stories of interest to the Veteran community. Tango Alpha Lima is produced by the American Legion and gives a Veteran’s view on current events, particularly as it relates to the military and Veteran community. So, Jeff, thanks for joining me today. Why don’t you tell everyone a little bit about yourself and your background? Jeff Daly: 01:17 All right. Well, you said my name and that I was a Marine. I grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, that big metropolis in the Midwest and I went to the Marine Corps, came back to Kalamazoo. I couldn’t get enough, went to college there and a brief stop in Chicago to do the second city conservatory and then moved to Los Angeles to pursue fame and fortune. And that pursuit is still happening. Scott DeLuzio: 01:53 Well, you’re on this podcast, so you’ve made it. Was Kalamazoo one of those cities that like when I was growing up, I grew up in Connecticut, I wasn’t very familiar with Michigan or really much of the other rest of the country. I know Kalamazoo, when I was growing up, it was just a made-up name for just someplace that someone went to. It never was an actual place to me, but then, over the years, I’ve started to meet people who have been to Kalamazoo. I have seen it on a map. Things have happened in Kalamazoo and this is actually a place. This is amazing to me. So anyways, that was just my little side note into where you’re from. Jeff Daly: 02:32 I’ve met people who thought that Kalamazoo was a place that their parents threatened to send them if they were bad. Scott DeLuzio: 02:38 Yeah. That’s pretty much what it was. You’re either going to military school or you’re going to Kalamazoo. And so, I’ve always been afraid of Kalamazoo and the people who come from it and, I’m shaking over here just talking. So, you talk about after you got out of the military, you went to college; based on your bio, on the Tango Alpha Lima podcast, I got to learn a little bit about you. I know that you like long walks on the beach, but that’s not what we’re talking about. Today we’re talking about you and your background and what it is that you do here. You went to school, you studied economics and political science back in Michigan. After college you got into acting, you said the second conservatory, is that what it was the second city in Chicago. Jeff Daly: Second City. Scott DeLuzio: Second City in Chicago. What pushed you in that direction? I know there are politicians who have acting backgrounds, but you have a political science degree and now you’re getting into acting. So, what pushed you in that direction? Jeff Daly: 03:52 It is interesting because I did act all along. I remember I was in a summer stock thing before going to bootcamp and they actually called me early and I had to miss the last performance of that summer. And I remember that it was very traumatic and it was one of the first times I uttered the phrase, “I think I’ve made a huge mistake.” So, I’ve always been doing the acting thing. And then when I got out, even in college, I did shows in college, because my mother didn’t think it would have been a wise use of funds, hers or mine to get a degree in acting. It’s like, if you can do it, you can just do it. So, I took classes and all that, but I did not major in it. Jeff Daly: 04:39 Like you said, I majored in economics and political science and then moved to Chicago for law school and angers my mother to this day, to make that pursuit and then came on out to Los Angeles. So, I think the military and the entertainment have a lot of things in common. There’s this whole teamwork mission thing that’s happening. They use things like, you shoot film, and trust me, hurry up and wait, “Oh my God, I am so well trained for that.” People would be annoyed like, “Oh my gosh, we’re just been sitting here for 20 minutes!” “That’s it, that’s it. I’m not even close to annoyed yet.” So, I think that there’s just a lot of people in that; I’m even involved in a group called Veterans and Military Entertainment here, BME, and there’s a lot of us and it seems to be a great fit. Scott DeLuzio: 05:40 It sounds like a great fit and it’s something that you’re clearly passionate about something that you’ve done before. And I definitely know that feeling of, “what have I done feeling?” When you step off the bus at bootcamp and you have all the drill sergeants screaming down your throat and they’re yelling at you and they’re telling you to move faster and do this and do that, and you start thinking to yourself, what in the heck did I just do? What did I sign up for? Jeff Daly: 06:13 My experience with that was literally the first sentence that an instructor said to us as a group off the bus and the main cars, these yellow footprints that you have to go stand on. He told us to get off his bus, mind you, this enlisted Marine owns everything. He said, get off my bus and stand on my yellow footprints because you’re too stupid to know how to stand properly. And I was like, “Oh no, I just don’t know.” Scott DeLuzio: 06:44 And I’m just going to be a little guest here. I’m going to go and guess that somebody screwed it up. Somebody was not standing on those yellow footprints the right way at first. I got it. Jeff Daly: 06:54 I think somebody stood in an area that didn’t have them. So yeah, you do have those and they had to be corrected and redirected. So, I guess maybe for the collective they’re speaking to the collective, not me directly. Scott DeLuzio: 07:09 Exactly. I know when I actually first pulled up to Fort Benning, the drill Sergeant got up on the bus, the first thing he said to us was that, given that we’re at a time of war, this was 2006 or so, we’re in a time of war. The other drill sergeants had nothing but respect for us for volunteering and signing up to serve our country. But with that said, get the hell off my bus. It was the last nice thing I heard for the next, however many weeks I was there; that was the last time that they said anything like that. Scott DeLuzio: 07:53 They said they respect us, but you’re going to learn. You’re going to learn much more. So ultimately you end up getting out to the West coast to LA where that’s kind of like the Holy Grail of the acting community. That’s where people go. You’re not the first person, I have this idea to go out to Hollywood and pursue acting. Eventually you reconnected with the Veterans through local Hollywood American Legion post and you mentioned earlier the Veterans in Media and Entertainment. What made you want to reconnect with the Veterans in that community? Jeff Daly: 08:35 Well, I would say first of all, reconnect is kind of a stretch, it was actually my first connection when I got out of the military. I didn’t identify with that community at all. I just finished with that chapter. It’s time to go to college and get the career thing happening. So, I went and did the college thing, and I got the GI Bill. I took the goodies, but I didn’t have the conversations. And except with people who realized, because I went to a very small little selective liberal arts college Clemson College. And then, so everybody there was traditional students. They were all 18 when they started, I’ve met one person who transferred into it. And so obviously I was older, I’m a freshman going to the bar. So, people had questions and that was the only time it ever came up. Jeff Daly: 09:30 But so mostly I got through college without thinking about it and then went to Chicago and thought less about the military and being a Veteran. So, I got here and it’s a big place. And you do seek out connections. If I s
44 minutes | 5 months ago
How Fisher House Supports The Military Community
Tom Flowers joins us to talk about how the Fisher House is there to help support the veteran and military community in some of their most critical times of need. Links & Resources Fisher House Transcript Scott DeLuzio: 00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting Veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I’d like to ask a favor if you haven’t done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcast. If you’ve already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you’re there, click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes. As soon as they come out. If you don’t use Apple podcasts, you can visit Drive On Podcast.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email list. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let’s get on with the show. Scott DeLuzio: 00:44 Hey everyone. Today, my guest is Tom flowers. Tom spent 27 years in the Air Force and he’s been working with the Fisher House for the last few years, which is what he’s here to talk to us about today. Tom, welcome to the show. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are your background with the military and the Fisher House. Tom Flowers: 01:04 Scott and thank you for having me. I enlisted in the Air Force in 1966 and I retired in 1993. I had many assignments, as you might imagine. I traveled all 50 States and I stopped counting countries at about 40. That was my military career. After that I joined the sales and marketing firm where our only customers were military installations. So, I kept on my association with the military for another 10 years after I retired. And after that I retired fully and I joined the Fisher House Foundation, if you will, specifically associated with the Fisher House in West Haven, Connecticut. And that was in 2010. I’m also immediate past commander of the American Legion for the State of Connecticut and our 18,000 members. And I’m the Chairman of the Veterans ceremony, Braid Commission for the City of Milford, where I live a city of 52,000 people. We plan and execute all the patriotic events for the City of Milford. So that’s what I do. Scott DeLuzio: 03:01 It sounds like you have your plate full of all of that stuff that you’re doing there. So, today we’re going to talk about the Fisher House. What I’d like to do is talk about how the Fisher House helps out Veterans and military families, and how it’s a resource that they can rely on in their times of need. Obviously with the COVID situation, things have been thrown a little off course, but under normal circumstances, Fisher Houses can have several families. I think I read on the Fisher House website up to 21 rooms in some of the Fisher Houses and so at that point to me, it doesn’t seem like it’s a house anymore, in my mind, anyway, it’s more like a hotel at that point, with the amount of families that could be in there. The benefit though is that these military and Veteran families can stay free of charge. So, tell us what it is that the Fisher House offers to military and Veteran families, and what kind of resource it is. Tom Flowers: 04:17 Well, first, Scott, I’d like to start with how the Fisher House started, which is a very interesting story. It started in 1986 when Mrs. Pauline Trost, who was the wife of the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral William Trost. She was at Bethesda Naval hospital back in 1986. She saw a family get off of that chopper. She asked what they were doing, and they were there to visit the lady’s husband who was hospitalized. And someone asked her where she wanted to stay. And she said, she didn’t know, and hotels are expensive in that area. So that kind of started it; she mentioned that to her husband, Admiral Trost contacted Zachary Fisher, Zach; he was developer, philanthropist, and Patriot out of New York City and independently wealthy. Ma’am an Admiral Trost mentioned to him what the issue was and that public/private association started. We’re both the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Administration came to an agreement that Fisher Houses could be built near Military installations with major medical facilities and VA hospital campuses across the country and overseas. Zachary, as a wealthy man and a Patriot, funded the first 15 or so Fisher Houses out of his own pocket. We opened up our first two Fisher Houses in 1991, Walter Reed army hospital in Washington, DC and one at Bethesda Naval hospital in Maryland. Tom Flowers: 07:06 And for a number of years, Zachary just built those houses with permission of the host units or departments. In 1993, the Fisher Foundation was formed. And that was because we needed a vehicle to ensure that funding to build our Fisher Houses would continue in perpetuity. So that was the beginning of the Fisher foundation in 1993. And right now, we have 87 Fisher Houses that are active. We have served over 400,000 military and Veterans families over 9.5 million days of free lodging, which translates to $500 million in savings to our military families and Veteran’s families. And on any given night in our 87 Fisher Houses, we’re serving over 1100 military families free of charge. Totally. And you mentioned Scott, that it was something like the hotel. Well, Fisher House is a comfort house, right? Believe me, it is like a four- or five-star hotel. Scott DeLuzio: 08:56 Give me the tour. Tom Flowers: 08:59 We consider it a comfort house, a home away from home. Scott DeLuzio: 09:03 Because the hotel aspect to me was just the sheer capacity. You know, you don’t typically fit 21 rooms in any given house filled with families from all over the country and all over the place. You don’t typically have that kind of situation in a normal house but how it is still a house in terms of the shared, common areas which are not typical in a hotel. There’s the kitchen and things like that are common in the Fisher Houses that people can come together in a community atmosphere, and they can have that sense of togetherness, as they’re staying in that place, which is great. Because there’s so many people who might be going through difficult times, their loved ones are sick or injured or whatever the case may be. And having some people there who are going through something similar could help each other out. Tom Flowers: 10:21 Oh, you’re absolutely correct. In your statement, Scott, we consider our Fisher Houses to be comfort houses. We believe very firmly that a family’s love is the best medicine. And our Fisher Houses come in different sizes. We have them in eight rooms, 12 rooms, 16 rooms. And in some cases, 21 rooms, as you mentioned, so they’re not all the same size, it’s all dependent upon the need at the installation, whether it be a DOD or VA. Scott DeLuzio: 11:06 And I’ve imagined some of the larger facilities that these Fisher Houses are at, whether it’s Walter Reed or something like that, those probably have the larger Fisher Houses nearby and some of the smaller installations throughout the country probably have the smaller eight or 12 room places too. So, that makes sense that based on the need of the location would justify the size of the house that comes through and looking just directly from the Fisher House website, I looked up some of the statistics, you mentioned that the daily capacity, there are 1100 families, which is amazing; but more than 32,000 families were served last year through Fisher Houses; you mentioned 400,000 families were served in total since it started. Scott DeLuzio: 12:02 Even more interesting to me is all of those are really great numbers. And I’m very thankful that there’s resources like the Fisher House out there that can help all of those families; but it’s more than just that, there are scholarships, things like airline tickets that are provided to some of these families, 12,000 students have received $24 million in scholarships from the Fisher House foundation, and over 70,000 airline tickets were provided by hero miles to service members and their families with estimated cost of around $105 million, which is huge. When your loved one is sick or injured, they’re in the hospital and you need to travel across the country to get there, figuring out how you’re going to get there is probably the last thing on your mind. And so being able to have a program like the hero miles, that’s a big benefit as well. Tom Flowers: 13:12 Well, you’ve certainly done your homework, Scott, and thank you. Scott DeLuzio: 13:16 Yeah, absolutely. Tom Flowers: 13:19 All of this information is email@example.com. It’s FISHER.org. We have a miles for heroes’ program where people donate their frequent flyer or airline miles to that particular cause. It’s just common sense. If a Veteran is hospitalized, the Fisher House, I’m Chairman of the Board of the community support group. No, I am Chairman of the Board. There’s no reason to believe that the parents or the brothers or sisters or loved ones of that Veteran gets hospitalized at West Haven, Connecticut live in Connecticut, right? And oftent
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