Focusing on ‘What Is Real’

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Annie Nelson and Seth Griffith stand in front of Aerial Recovery Group sign

By Annie Nelson

Sitting across the table from him, you see a handsome well trained, dark-haired dark-eyed, well-built man. Staring off into the windows with a gaze I could tell was of a land far away. Former Air Force TACP officer Seth Griffith is at dinner with friends, but his heart and thoughts are back in Ukraine, where he just returned from. I have the honor of calling this veteran hero —  friend and wanted to share his story, especially since he and so many of his brothers in arms are still serving as civilians in the war zone of Ukraine. Serving not in the fight but in the humanitarian rescue of the children caught up in this war. Saving the orphans. However, to understand how Seth got to the front lines of Ukraine, you should first know his journey.

Seth grew up in the suburbs of St Louis, Mo. He chose the military path because he was in a place where he felt he needed to grow up. As an athlete, the military offered him a way to use his athletics and teamwork mentality to excel in a team environment.

His stepfather was in the Air Force and had always told him there were some unique jobs the Air Force could offer him, and he should investigate them. He did just that, and the TACP job excited him. For those not familiar, a Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) officer directs lethal and nonlethal joint firepower anywhere, anytime battle calls for it. They are also the primary Air Force advisors to the U.S. Army, joint multinational and special operations ground force commanders for the integration of air, space and cyber power. They are considered Special Warfare Airmen. Seth felt he could go to Army schools and work alongside the combat arms side of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps — all of which got his blood pumping!

He served for just over 20 years before he retired, serving seven deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq between 2002 and 2012.

His transition away from this military into civilian life was a struggle. A struggle until now. Where he has landed into a new team! He struggled to connect with a lot of people in corporate America. “I met some great people, don’t get me wrong, but the mentality was a very different ‘team’ environment or lack thereof than I was used to. I excelled in each position but spent several years in the construction and homebuilding industry bouncing around, trying to find the right fit. Turns out if it wasn’t the fit, I just had other passions of serving.

Finding my current position with the Ariel Recovery Group has truly filled a void and brought fulfillment back into my professional life.”

Our conversation continued, and I decided to cross the bridge of PTS and ask if he had any challenges with it. Seth’s response was very candid.

I do. Triggers hit us all differently, and I do not use any PTS as an excuse for behaviors and dislike any victim mentalities. I knew what I was signing up for — volunteered. My triggers are centered around emotional numbness and past alcohol consumption. Deployments and crazy schedules, once you get home from deployments to keep you proficient for your next deployment date (that you sometimes knew before your current deployment was even complete), is a hard pace for someone who is struggling with PTS, mental or financial issues or adjusting to a divorce. And we do not want to miss the next deployment, so we underplay injuries so that we can go do our jobs when we are counted on.

I try to focus on “what is real” to power through. My amazing wife Jenna taught me that phrase and has provided me with a far better understanding of trauma and trauma-related responses than I had before. Living with PTS is very doable; you are newlywed with a new RIGHT job and thriving just proves you can succeed. You just have to keep the never-quit mentality and keep doing the work.

Now to Ukraine, how did you get there? Please tell me about the Ariel Recovery Group.

Aerial Recovery Group is comprised primarily of retired or separated special operations vets who are highly skilled, trained and have the outside-of-the-box mindset to rapidly deploy into sometimes very dynamic situations and be the ultimate humanitarian operators to deploy at a moment’s notice. We deployed to natural disasters like the earthquakes in Haiti last year, the flash flood in Waverly, Tenn., Hurricane Ida, the tornadoes in Mayfield, Ky. and anything we had the bandwidth to respond to.

We also respond to manmade disasters like the Afghanistan crisis that occurred late summer last year (we were very involved) and Ukraine. I’m currently back for my second deployment to rescue orphans and refugees from areas under attack and evacuate them into safe zones in the country where we can keep them secure and move them again quickly if the ground situation changes drastically from where it currently is.

What specifically is your role with the organization? I understand this organization is a nonprofit.

I am the Director of Disaster Response for Aerial Recovery Group/Aerial Recovery.

Seth, how did you guys decide to get involved in Ukraine?

Anytime there is an event in the world, we immediately look at how our company can go and serve. We have some very strong NGO partners, and we mutually support each other. In Ukraine, it was a no-brainer, just like Afghanistan was, to rapidly deploy and start saving lives. We already knew we would be getting involved in the crisis. Preexisting partnerships gave us an additional reason to be there so we could get in with the government and start rescuing orphans and anyone who wanted to be immediately evacuated from areas currently in high threat.

Last but not least, what is next for you?

Personally, I would love to travel more with my wife and family and unwind and unplug from the world a little bit. I love my job and have found a renewed purpose for me. In general, my family and friends have become my hobby, and I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing. When your free time is limited, you make the most of it or at least try to after you’ve had a cool-off period.

So, if a buddy wants to go shooting, I go shooting. Hiking, count me in. Family dinner — that’s the priority hobby for that moment! But other than that, my hobbies are pretty much anything outdoors, or enjoying on, in or under water sports during the warm weather months or in the part of the world we are in at that minute. Lastly, and this is the one thing I really do just for me, football. I love the sport, and it’s a way for me to unplug from everything else for around three hours and be a big kid again.

Photo: Annie Nelson and Seth Griffith

Post Military Life – Reflecting Over a Decade

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Bobby McDonald -

Post Military Life  – Much has changed in the world and in our country since our publication was founded. Everywhere we look, times are shifting, and it’s our goal to always be a part of learning from the past to make the future better and brighter for those who have been called to serve. The impact of veterans in their communities is multifold. They bring their skills, expertise, values and work ethic to local business, politics and the community at large. However, they have, unfortunately, not always received the aid and respect that is due to someone who honorably served in our armed forces.

As U.S. Veterans Magazine celebrates 10 years of supporting those who have been called to serve, we asked some of our partners about the difference they’ve seen in the veteran experience over the last decade.

U.S. Veterans Magazine: What do you believe has been the most significant change or benefit to veterans in the last 10 years?

Bobby McDonald, OC Black Chamber of Commerce:

Orange Country Black Chamber of Commerce Member in a White Shirt and Black spotted tie smiling - Post Military LifePhoto Credit: Courtesy of Orange Country Black Chamber of Commerce

“In the year 2012, in the county of Orange, in the State of California, there were over 150,000 veterans living in the county. Orange County was the third largest county in California behind Los Angeles and San Diego and had no outside funding or support other than the Veterans Service Office, which came basically from the California Department of Veterans Affairs, through the County of Orange. The Orange County Veterans Advisory Council (OCVAC) was formed and comprised of members appointed by the OC Board of Supervisors. The board was made up of nine members that were U.S. military veterans with honorable discharges. In 2012, the OCVAC was injected with [a] couple of Vietnam veterans that were of the mindset to make a positive change in the veterans environment and set a course of involvement, awareness, outreach, resource availability and positive outcomes. Armed with the theme ‘Have We Helped A Veteran Today’ and a commitment to help veterans get housing, education, health, employment and legal support, the group set forth to make positive measurable changes with partnerships.”

Keith King, National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC):

Photo Credit: Courtesy of NVBDC

“The inclusion of veteran-owned businesses in the supplier diversity programs of America’s leading corporations is the most significant change of the past 10 years of successful post military life. When veteran businesses were first identified as legal contracting entities in the federal government, many veteran businesses celebrated. But the hype never lived up to the promise. As the National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC) was forming in late 2012, it was clear that, if a third-party certification organization could create a certification program for veteran business owners that met corporate supplier diversity standards, the corporations would give certified veterans a chance to compete for contracts. In 2014, when the NVBDC presented its certification program to a group of corporations, they all gave NVBDC their tacit approval. By 2017, when the 28 corporations of the Billion Dollar Roundtable named NVBDC as the only acceptable veteran business certification to use to capture and report their veteran business spend amounts, they created an $80 billion opportunity for our veteran businesses.”

Phil Kowalczyk, President and CEO of Camp Corral:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Camp Corral

A man standing in from of his military service medals - Post Military Life
National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC)

The awareness and understanding of mental health challenges veterans, caregivers and their families are facing has been the most evolving trend over the last decade. Furthermore, the demographics of military and veteran communities continue to change rapidly, especially among caregivers. Camp Corral’s research has indicated that 70 percent of military children perform at least one caregiving task in wounded warrior households. Many of them experience similar emotional health challenges as their adult counterparts and caregiver responsibility can affect a child’s ability to participate in activities non-military children typically pursue. The Biden Administration recognizes these challenges and is dedicating more resources to serving military and veteran families through the ‘Joining Forces’ initiative. Commitments include support for caregiver economic opportunities and respite as well as increasing access to quality behavioral, social and emotional health resources for military and veteran families. These initiatives will be essential post military life  steps in ensuring community providers have the resources they need to provide culturally competent and evidence-based care for both children and adult caregivers of our country’s ill, wounded and fallen military heroes and veterans.”

The Rosie Network:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Rosie Network

“The U.S. offers the most extensive veteran benefits in the world. Despite this, there remain much-needed improvements and one of the most significant is the Mission Act (2019) allowing veterans to seek treatment of the VA. As the daughter of a Vietnam veteran, I watched my mother sacrifice her nursing career to support my father’s 20 years of active-duty service. Living on a single enlisted income meant falling below the poverty line and [into] financial hardship. While military spouses continue to struggle with employment, there has been a significant shift over the past 10 years to address this issue. Today, military and veteran spouses have access to organizations and resources from Military OneSource to those seeking self-employment support from The Rosie Network.”

Patrick Alcorn, UTAVBOC:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of UTAVBOC

“The most significant benefit to veterans over the last 10 years includes the expansion of the Veterans Business Outreach Center program. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Veterans Business Development created this program, specifically, to empower post military Life veterans and military spouses who are interested in starting anl growing

Women in the Military – First Career Accomplishments for Females in the Military

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Women in the Military - Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson

Women in the Military – In recent years, there have been numerous firsts for women in the military. Women are shattering barriers and inspiring others through their dedication to serving our country and their commitment to mission readiness. Demonstrating that grit and perseverance combined with a passion for service and adherence to excellence are the cornerstones of success for women in the military, we celebrate them as they continue to reach new heights.

 

First Woman Leads SOUTHCOM: Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson

Photo Caption and Credit: Gen. Laura J. Richardson (Courtesy of U.S. Southern Command)

Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson is a four-star general in the U.S. Army and commander of U.S. Southern Command where she oversees U.S. military operations across Central and South America and the Caribbean. Prior to leading SOUTHCOM, she was the commanding general of U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

During her Senate confirmation hearing Richardson said, “We must hasten to pick up the pieces left by the pandemic and transform our relationships to meet 21st-century security challenges. Put simply, winning together with our allies and partners matters.” Richardson continued, “We will draw upon the strength in our neighborhood from partners who share our values of freedom, democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law and gender equality.”

According to SOUTHCOM, “Over her career, General Richardson has commanded from the Company to Theater Army level as a notable women in the military . She commanded an Assault Helicopter Battalion in combat in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), deploying her unit from Fort Campbell, Ky. to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She has also served in numerous staff assignments at a myriad of locations, including Military Aide to the Vice President at the White House in Washington, D.C., the Army’s Legislative Liaison to Congress at the U.S. Capitol and at the Pentagon as an Army Campaign Planner.”

Source: southcom.mil

 

First Female State Command Chief for Minnesota Air National Guard

Chief Master Sgt. Lisa Erikson -Women in the Military - Women in the MilitaryPhoto Caption and Credit: Master Sergeant Lisa Erikson (MN Air National Guard)
Master Sergeant Lisa Erikson is the most senior enlisted member of the Minnesota Air National Guard. As the State Command Chief, she plays a vital role in the development and readiness of the force. Since October 2021, she has been responsible for leading and managing roughly 2,000 Airmen located at two separate wings and one headquarters across Minnesota.

“My priorities are to build relationships to improve the resiliency of the force so we may provide this state and nation a ready force,” said Erikson. “I will also provide opportunities for development and growth” for women in the military.

According to the Minnesota Air National Guard, “Erikson brings tremendous diversity of experience having held six very different duty positions throughout her 32 years of service. She began her career as a Jet Engine Mechanic on the C-141 cargo aircraft. She succeeded in this traditionally male career field in a time when there were only five to six percent females in the U.S. Air Force. She transitioned into administrative roles include training manager, personnel systems manager and 148th Recruiting Office Supervisor. She served as the Senior Noncommissioned-Officer-In-Charge of the 148th Medical Group for 10 years. In this role, she deployed to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom as part of the Wing’s aviation deployment.”

Source: 133aw.ang.af.mil

 

Utah National Guard Promoted First Brigadier General

Photo Caption and Credit: Brig. Gen. Charlene Dalto (Courtesy of Utah National Guard)

In May 2021, Col. Charlene Dalto became the first female to be promoted to brigadier general in the Utah Army National Guard, assuming the role of commander of the Utah National Guard Land Component Command.

She served the first 20 years of her military career as an enlisted Soldier, attaining the second-highest rank as a master sergeant. Dalto then commissioned as a first lieutenant working with the U.S. Army Nurse Corps for 18 years as an officer.

Dalto shared, “Throughout my military career, I have been privileged to know many great Soldiers and be mentored by outstanding leaders. I pledge to continue that tradition for the Soldiers under my command. Together, we will dedicate ourselves to the great tradition of the Utah Army National Guard for excellence in serving the citizens of Utah and our great nation.”

Source: ut.ng.mil

 

First Latina Earns Expert Infantryman Badge

Photo Caption and Credit: 1st Lt. Maria Eggers (Spc. Johnathan Touhey/U.S. Army)

Army 1st Lt. Maria Eggers earned the expert infantryman badge in April 2021when she completed the five-day test that gauges the ability to execute a variety of critical infantry skills and a Soldier’s physical fitness. The test evaluates skill mastery in various environments and under stress. While all combat roles opened to women in 2016, fewer than 100 women serving in the U.S. Army have received the expert infantryman badge.

Eggers was raised in a military family with both of her parents serving, which inspired her to join the military. She is currently serving at Fort Hood as a platoon leader.

When asked about her experience and upon learning that she was the first Latina to earn the award in the regiment, Eggers said, “I was shocked by how few females have had the opportunity or who have tried. I definitely think it is amazing that we have females that are in this profession and that we’re succeeding. There is a lot of good talk that happens whenever somebody is successful. It just shows that we can do it, and that females are strong, and we can handle this job too.”

Soldiers begin the five-day test by running four miles in 40 minutes then demonstrating their weapons skills. On day two they wear their combat gear while completing day and night land navigation courses. On the third and fourth days, the Soldiers are evaluated on their ability to care for injured personnel. On day five, they complete the ruck, a 12-mile foot march completed in three hours while wearing full body armor. The test is both a challenge, both physically and mentally.

Source: NBC

 

First Female General Strengthens West Virginia Army National Guard

Col. Michaelle M. Munger - Women in the MilitaryPhoto Caption and Credit: Then Col. Michaelle M. Munger (Courtesy of West Virginia National Guard)

Col. Michaelle M. Munger was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in December 2021, making her the first female general officer for the West Virginia Army National Guard. Munger has served in every component of the U.S. Army — active duty, U.S. Army Reserves and the Army National Guard throughout her 27-year career.

“Having a female voice at the table is critical in strengthening our National Guard,” Munger said. “What we bring to the mission is unique not because we are females, but because of our ability to approach the mission in perhaps a different perspective and viewpoint. Additionally, by being at the table, we can display our competency and capabilities, and to dispel stereotypes to help younger Soldiers not face the same gender-related limitations and hurdles we might have faced in our own careers. Every Soldier needs to be heard and judged based not on their sex, but by their ideas and vision.”
Munger serves as Special Assistant to the Adjutant General of West Virginia where she assists with special projects, mentorship, inclusion and diversity initiatives and leadership development within the WVNG.

“My own method to success has been perseverance and self-reflection,” she said. “And I try to instill in every Soldier I work with to be the 4 Ps: Productive, Present, Prompt, Professional. I am super-excited for the talented, smart, bright, energetic younger crop of women now entering the military and the opportunities and doors that are continually opening to them. They inspire me, and hopefully, I inspire them too. But I want to be a role model for all Soldiers, not just females, that doing the right thing, growing where you are planted and making the effort will allow you to succeed.”

Source: wv.ng.mil

 

Alabama Air National Guard Named First Female General

Brigadier General Tara D. McKennie - Women in the MilitaryPhoto Caption and Credit: Tara D. McKennie (then-Air Force Col.) (Courtesy of Alabama National Guard)
Brigadier General Tara D. McKennie, the Assistant Adjutant General-Air and Air Component Commander, Joint Force Headquarters, Montgomery, Ala., commands all units of the Alabama Air National Guard, and serves as the key advisor to the Adjutant General of Alabama on all matters relating to the air mission. She is the first Black female general officer in either component of the Alabama National Guard.
McKennie enlisted in the Air Force in 1989 as an airman basic, serving six years on active duty before commissioning as a second lieutenant through the Army’s Officer Candidate School in 1999.
McKennie’s entire professional career has been in health care operations focusing on optimization theory, implementation of management processes and developing and leading people. In addition to her military service, McKennie is currently Vice President of Culture and Leadership Development for a national physician practice, supporting and leading operations for 5000+ employees.

Source: al.ng.mil

 

MCRD San Diego Celebrates First Female Boot Camp Graduates

Photo Caption & Credit: Female Marines from Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, congratulate each other after graduating from boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, Calif. For the first time in MCRD San Diego’s history, male and female platoons completed their 13-week training concurrently in a gender-integrated company. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

In May 2021, dozens of women graduated from boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego, marking a first for the Marine Corps. This milestone event is part of the Marine Corps’ efforts to expand training opportunities for female Marines. Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, was the camp’s first ever co-ed company. In 2019, Congress ordered the Marine Corps to make both boot camps, Parris Island, S.C., and San Diego co-ed. In the past, women could only train and become enlisted Marines at Parris Island, training apart from the men in their battalion. With the passage of the 2019 law, Parris Island was required to integrate women into training alongside men within five years and San Diego was given eight years. San Diego adopted the change six years sooner than required.

Fifty-three women completed the grueling Crucible, a three-day training exercise, and earned the name Marine while also making history. According to military.com, “The platoon of female recruits won the final drill competition last month; they also had the highest Physical and Combat Fitness Test scores in their company. And their rifle range scores were higher than the average female platoon at Parris Island.”

Source: military.com

Oath of Enlistment & Veterans – Thank You for Your Service

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Oath of Enlistment - John Regester stands and smiles on a city street smiling in a black and white color only photo

Oath of Enlistment – As a retired combat disabled veteran, I have heard this heartfelt statement from many proud American citizens. I always hear it in terms of deep respect for the sacrifices men and women have made to defend our nation.

Yet, now, in this time in history in our nation, I have been thinking deeper about what these words, “thank you for your service,” and what the Oath of Enlistment actually mean.

Here’s what I mean. When I ask a person who has just thanked me for my service, what do you mean by your words? They often tell me, “well, you protected our nation,” or will say, “you fought for our country.”

Both of those are true; however, they are also byproducts of the service oath I took when I enlisted into the United States Army.

I believe what we’re missing in American Society today is honor, respect and truth for what the military service member has signed on to do. There appears to be an assumption of what “thank you for your service” means. There is no recollection or call back to the oath of service each enlisted, or officer takes to begin the process of service to our country.

The oath I took was “to support and defend the United States Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

What this means is my combat service was in defense of the United States Constitution. It was not to an individual or a group. Even though the next lines say that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States, there is always an exception to the policy if an order is in contrast to the defense of the United States Constitution or is unlawful. That is the Oath of Enlistment

The next question I asked myself was when was the last time I read the United States Constitution? I realized I had not done so in quite some time. So, I downloaded the app and read through the document on Memorial Day.

What fascinates me about Article 5 is that despite the best efforts to get it right, the framers of the constitution wrote this Article to let future generations know it could be amended. They knew that what they wrote had to be a living document to stand long beyond their years on this earth.

Another interesting point about “thank you for your service” is the assumption that my amputation came due to my combat experience.

Often amputees, who served or have not served, will be mistakenly identified as service members because of their disability. I represent 70 percent of those who were not injured in combat — though my disability occurred while on active duty.

When building the United States Olympic and Paralympic Military Sports Program, the issue that gave me the greatest concern was well-meaning charitable organizations that only wanted to serve those who were injured in combat. They had no idea the rift they were causing in the hospitals because they were separating who was more worthy of their “thank you for your service.”

I was recently talking with a business coach friend of mine who served in Vietnam. When I shared with him my sentiments around, “thank you for your service,” he shared with me that when he got out, he was never un-oathed.

This oath of enlistment, I believe, is the bond that connects every service member, regardless of branch, together. Just because service members transition back to civilian life, hopefully with an honorable discharge, it does not mean we have thrown away the oath to protect the United States Constitution.

So, the next time you either hear, “thank you for your service,” or you say it to somebody, remember what the oath of service says and what it protects. Our democracy will stand or fall not on one leader but on our vigilance to defend the United States Constitution.

There remains deep respect in America for the sacrifices men and women have made to defend our nation. Let us honor those who served by understanding the United States Constitution is the depth of our defense.

Professional Athletes with Military Service – Meet Your Patriotic Superstars

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Professional Athlete with Military Service - Dusty Baker

Professional Athletes with Military Service are some of the jobs our nation’s veterans transition to, besides a multitude of different and exciting industries once they’ve completed their military service. Several have become some of the biggest names in sports. Here are some of your favorite athletes who also spent time in the military.

 Dusty Baker – Professional Athletes with Military Service

Photo Credit: Adam Glanzman/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Johnnie B. “Dusty” Baker Jr. has been a baseball phenom for his entire career. He played baseball from 1976 to 1986 for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics. Baker coached for the San Francisco Giants from 1988 to 1992; and has managed five major league teams since 1993, currently managing for the Houston Astros. Throughout his career, he has become a two-time All-Star, a World Series Champion and has been recognized three times as National League Manager of the Year. Dusty Baker is also a U.S. Marine. Baker served in the Marine Corps Reserve as a mechanic motor transport from 1968 to 1974 during the Vietnam War. “Out here on the baseball diamond, it’s like teammates are your brothers,” Baker said of the similarities between baseball and the service, “I learned more about teamwork in the Marines, more than anything else. If we get in a fight or whatever there is, you better not touch my teammate.”

Source: Department of Defense

 

Alejandro Villanueva – Professional Athletes with Military Service

Photo Credit: Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Alejandro Villanueva - Professional Athletes with Military ServiceAlejandro Villanueva played for the Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens before his recent retirement from the NFL. He mainly played offensive tackle, becoming one of the Steelers’ starting players and ranking 24th out of all of the offensive tackles in the NFL. Before his football career, Villanueva served in the Army. The son of a Spanish Naval Officer, Villanueva enrolled and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army upon graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He was eventually assigned to the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y., where he served his first deployment, which earned him a Bronze Star Medal for rescuing wounded soldiers while under enemy fire. Villanueva served three tours in Afghanistan. During his five years of service, Villanueva received the National Defense Service Medal, NATO Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, among other recognitions.

Sources: Department of Defense, Wikipedia

 

David Robinson – Professional Athletes with Military Service

Photo Credit: Sporting News via Getty Images

David Robinson - Professional Athletes with Military ServiceDavid Robinson was one of the greatest basketball players of the 1990s. During his time in the NBA, playing for the San Antonio Spurs, Robinson became a two-time NBA champion, the 1995 MVP, a 10-time NBA All-Star and a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist. But before he became one of the most admired ball players on the court, Robinson served in the U.S. Navy. Upon receiving his commission from the U.S. Naval Academy, Robinson was assigned to the Civil Engineering Corps at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia, where he did engineer work and recruiting campaigns. Keeping his days of service close to his heart, Robinson supports military families in any way he can. He was also a military child whose father was deployed during his upbringing. “I know the price that people pay to serve our country,” Robinson stated to the Department of Defense, “and so it’s just a blessing to be able to come in and encourage the families here that are paying that price for us.”

Source: Department of Defense

 Arnold Palmer – Professional Athletes with Military Service

Arnold Palmer - Professional Athletes with Military Service

Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/WireImage

Although his claim to fame happened decades ago, ardent golfers of any age know the name Arnold Palmer. He won 62 PGA tour titles from 1955 to 1973, making him one of the top five golfers of all time. But before he became a golf superstar, Palmer served with the U.S. Coast Guard for four years. After losing his college friend and roommate to a car accident, Palmer enlisted in the service as a way to give back to his community and save lives. He served from 1951 to 1954 as a lifeguard at Cape May, N.J., and as a photographer at Cleveland East Pierhead Lighthouse in Cleveland, Ohio. Palmer heavily credits his time with the Coast Guard as one of the main influences in his upbringing. In a conversation with Coast Guard historian Richard A. Stephenson, Palmer shared, “I’m very proud of the fact that I was in the Coast Guard… The knowledge that I gained, the maturity that I gained in the Coast Guard made me a better person. The military isn’t just about restrictions, it’s a learning experience, and it’s very important that young people have that opportunity to learn and to know themselves a little better. I think the military helps put that in the right perspective.”

Source: Department of Defense

 

Harris “Hurley” Haywood – Professional Athletes with Military Service

Photo Credit: Army/Terrance Bell-

Harris “Hurley” Haywood - Professional Athletes with Military ServiceHarris “Hurley” Haywood is a world-class race car driver with over 35 years of professional experience under his belt. Haywood has won multiple events, including five overall victories at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, three at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and two at the 12 Hours of Sebring. He is credited with the 1988 Trans-Am title, two IMSA GT Championship titles and 23 wins, three Norelco Cup championships, a SuperCar title and 18 IndyCar starts. But before his racing career began, Haywood was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving as a specialist 4 with the 164th Aviation Group near Saigon, Vietnam. After serving his one tour, Haywood returned to the United States and began his racing career, where he used many of the lessons he learned in Vietnam to help him become a better driver. Haywood credits his service for giving him one of the most critical skills to have as a racecar driver: the ability to adapt.

Sources: Department of Defense, Wikipedia

 

Melissa Stockwell – Professional Athletes with Military Service

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images

Melissa Stockwell - Professional Athletes with Military ServiceMelissa Stockwell is no stranger to athletic successes. A paralympic triathlete swimmer, Stockwell has competed in the Paralympics twice, one of which earned her a bronze medal. She is a three-time gold medalist in the ICU Triathlon World Championships. Before her athletic successes, Stockwell served as an Army Officer in the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. She served from 2002 to 2005 and spent the latter part of her military career deployed in Iraq. While leading a convoy in Baghdad, Stockwell was struck by a roadside bomb, resulting in the loss of her left leg. She retired from the military after the accident, earning a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for her service. Along with taking an interest in swimming, Stockwell worked as a prosthetist and served on the board of directors of the Wounded Warrior Project. Besides her numerous achievements in triathlons, Stockwell holds the title of the first Iraq veteran to be chosen for the Paralympics.

Source: Wikipedia

Veteran Suicide & Focusing on Suicide Prevention in the Military

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A marine sits with his hands in his faceon the ground contemplating veteran suicide

Since the beginning of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III’s tenure, he has been adamant about the importance of mental health in the military and prevention of veteran suicide. Secretary Austin has announced the establishment of a new program aimed at tackling one of the greatest issues surrounding mental health and military personnel: suicide prevention.

Secretary Austin’s newly established program, the Suicide Prevention and Response Independent Review Committee (SPRIRC), will address and prevent suicide in the military pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022.

“We have the strongest military in the world because we have the strongest team in the world,” Secretary Austin stated upon establishing the program, “It is imperative that we take care of all our teammates and continue to reinforce that mental health and suicide prevention remain a key priority. One death by suicide is one too many. And suicide rates among our service members are still too high. So, clearly, we have more work to do.”

a military servicemember holds a pistol struggling with veteran suicideThe SPRIRC will be responsible for addressing and preventing suicide in the military, beginning with a comprehensive review of the Department’s efforts to address and prevent suicide. The SPRIRC will review relevant suicide prevention and response activities, immediate actions on addressing sexual assault and recommendations of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military to ensure SPRIRC recommendations are synchronized with current prevention activities and capabilities. The review will be conducted through visits to numerous military installations, focus groups, individuals and confidential surveys with servicemembers contemplating veteran suicide.

 

The SPRIRC recently started installation visits to prevent veteran suicide. The installations that will be utilized in this study will be:

  • Fort Campbell, Ky.
  • Camp Lejeune, N.C.
  • North Carolina National Guard
  • Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
  • Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska
  • Fort Wainwright, Alaska
  • Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska
  • Camp Humphreys, South Korea

By December 20, 2022, the SPRIRC will send an initial report for review in advance of sending a report of findings and recommendations to Congress by February 18, 2023.

“As I have said many times, mental health is health — period,” Secretary Austin additionally stated, “I know that senior leaders throughout the Department share my sense of commitment to this notion and to making sure we do everything possible to heal all wounds, those you can see and those you can’t. We owe it to our people, their families and to honor the memory of those we have lost.”

To view Secretary Austin’s full memorandum on veteran suicide prevention and updates on the SPRIRC, visit the Department of Defense’s website at defense.gov.

Source: Department of Defense

Celebrating the Career of General Joane Mathews

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Gen Joane Mathews

A 36-year military career filled with firsts concluded when Brig. General Joane Mathews — the first female Native American general officer in the Army National Guard — retired from her position as Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant general for Army.

“As much as I absolutely love my job, the Soldiers and families I work for and with, we have so many outstanding leaders who are ready for that next step,” Mathews said in explaining her decision. “I’ve never been one to hold anyone up.”

Mathews’ military career began in 1986 when she completed the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks. She spent 11 years on active duty as a helicopter pilot and flew numerous missions in northern Iraq’s no-fly zone as part of Operation Provide Comfort. When her time on active duty concluded, she joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

“It was a bit of a culture shock,” she recalled. “But what impressed me the most were the Soldiers. It amazed me how dedicated our Guard members were, then and now — having to comply with the same active-duty regulations and policies, with a lot less time to meet those requirements.”

Mathews spent time during her first drill weekends talking with and learning about her fellow Soldiers.

“I remember being so impressed with what they do on the civilian side,” Mathews said. “It reinforced to me, again, not to judge people by their rank — because a private, a specialist or second lieutenant with just a few years in the military may have years of leadership experience or be a subject matter expert in their career field. Everyone has something to offer and to give.”

Descendants of Red Arrow mark 40th PowWow, 100th anniversary of 32nd Division
Brig. Gen. Joane Mathews, the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s assistant adjutant general for readiness and training, receives a ceremonial blanket – photo by Capt. Brian Faltinson

During her time in the Wisconsin Army National Guard, Mathews earned numerous awards and achieved several milestones. She was the state’s first non-medical female colonel, the first female commander of the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment and the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s first female brigade commander when she assumed command of the 64th Troop Command brigade.

She was the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s first female chief of staff for Army, and the first female assistant adjutant general for readiness and training when she was promoted to brigadier general. The Fish Clan member of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians became the first female Native American general officer in the entire Army National Guard.

In June 2018, after two years as assistant adjutant general, Mathews became the deputy adjutant general for Army, responsible to the adjutant general for the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s performance and readiness for federal and state missions.

“The deputy adjutant general Army position carries a lot of responsibility,” Mathews said. “I care so much for our Soldiers, and I hurt when they hurt. People have and always will be my No. 1 priority.”

Mathews understood that many Soldiers are reluctant to speak to a general officer, so she tried to be as approachable as possible.

“I didn’t let the position go to my head,” she said. “I do my best to try and keep people at ease when speaking with them. I also speak from the heart when I am in front of Soldiers or even one-on-one. I really believe people know when one is being honest and sincere, showing care and concern. They can also see right through you when you’re not.”

Wisconsin Army National Guard names first female brigade commander
Col. Joane Mathews returns the 64th Troop Command brigade colors to Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Marks – photo by Vaughn R. Larson

Her attitude will undoubtedly serve her well in her current role as director of the Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy. She began the position in late April, upon the selection of her replacement as deputy adjutant general for Army.

Mathews said she advised Wisconsin’s new deputy adjutant general for Army to stay out of the office and away from the desk as much as possible.

“Walk around the building, talk to Soldiers, Airmen and our civilian employees and retiree volunteers,” she said. “Get out and travel — visit our Soldiers in their environment. And most importantly, when you speak with folks, listen to what they have to say. Be an active listener and a voice of change for them — a change for the better.”

Mathews carried on a legacy of military service in her family and expressed hope when she was promoted to brigadier general that she would be a positive role model for other female service members. She credited her success to her family, both biological and military.

“I have been so very blessed to have worked with so many dedicated Soldiers, Airmen and civilians throughout my career,” Mathews said. “I am grateful for my military career and am happy I will still be a part of the Department of Military Affairs family in my next adventure in life.”

The Journey Home

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Every year about 200,000 military service members transition from active duty to civilian life, with most of these valuable members of our communities experiencing significant and, at times, painful life changes.

While some return to their “home of record,” most will relocate to a new place offering meaningful employment or job-related education.

During reintegration, each veteran and their loved ones face unique challenges and circumstances. They need adaptable, customized support in vital areas, such as navigating VA services, education, employment, physical and emotional wellness, financial literacy and housing.

In 2018, the VA issued a report, The Military to Civilian Transition: A Review of Historical, Current, and Future Trends. More than 8,500 veterans, active-duty, National Guard and Reserve members and dependents identified their transition challenges:

  • Navigating VA programs, benefits and services 60%
  • Finding a job 55%
  • Adjusting to civilian culture 41%
  • Addressing financial challenges 40%
  • Applying military-learned skills to civilian life 39%

A Pew Research Center survey published in September 2019 indicates that 26 percent of veteran respondents found transitioning to civilian life was very or somewhat difficult. That percentage jumped to 48 percent for veterans who served after 9/11.

A military transitioning veteran at a job fair talking to a woman about future civilian employment
Photo Credit: 143d Sustainment Command

After years of high veteran unemployment, the tide appears to be turning, at least for finding a job. A Bureau of Labor Statistics report in April 2022 shows that veteran unemployment was 4.4 percent in 2021, compared with 5.3 percent for nonveterans. Unemployment for both white and Black veterans was lower than for their nonveteran counterparts. The picture continues to brighten, with veteran unemployment at 3.7 percent in April 2022, compared with 3.9 percent for the country.

Getting a job is just one challenge. Another challenge is keeping it or using it as a launchpad into a rewarding career. Pre-COVID-19 job attrition for veterans is alarming. Forty-three percent of veterans left their first civilian job within a year, and 80 percent before their second anniversary.

Civilian recruiters are increasingly better at matching a veteran’s former Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) in job placement. However, MOS assignment is driven not only by a service member’s Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) but also by the military’s needs.

In short, a veteran’s former MOS might not reflect current passions or career aspirations. Is there a way to improve job retention?

The National Veterans Transition Services, Inc. (NVTSI), or REBOOT for short, a San Diego nonprofit focused on reintegration, is collaborating with the scientific community to develop and test Job-Set, a smart app providing veterans a chance to be matched with actual jobs they qualify for that they might not otherwise find or consider. Using an artificial intelligence-based algorithm to help a user build a profile based on 600+ attributes, Job-Set finds matches in a database of millions of jobs by capitalizing on O*NET, the Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL) program and the National Labor Exchange. Currently in beta testing, Job-Set is free for veteran and military spouse job seekers.

A military service member in camo carrying his daughter as he arrives home at an airport
Photo Source: Defense Visual Information Distribution Service

Reintegration delays cause problems. Homelessness, drug addiction, divorce and incarceration are symptoms of a disjointed support system for transitioning veterans. Today roughly 45,000 nonprofits and numerous federal, state and local government agencies offer support. Navigating through this huge network is both confusing and frustrating.

To help navigate the transition process, NVTSI recently transformed DoD’s Managing Your Transition Timeline manual into an app to help service members manage their transition as early as 24 months before their release. The app also connects users directly to participating local veteran service organizations for a warm hand-off.

In its White Paper After the Sea of Goodwill: A Collective Approach to Veteran Reintegration, published in October 2014, the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Office of Reintegration stated:

Written By Kate Karniouchina, Maurice Wilson and Jim Wong

“Now is the time to create a national structure — characterized by functional cooperation, cross-sector collaboration and an integrated network — to establish a no-wrong-door capacity that allows our country to reintegrate effectively veterans and their families as a matter of course.”

 

With this in mind, NVTSI created a prototype Center for Military Veterans Reintegration (CMVR). Designed to be owned and staffed by the local community, the first CMVR opened in Downey, Calif., in May 2022 as both a physical location and an electronic portal (Eco-Center) with easy access for veterans and their families in greater Los Angeles. The CMVR’s purpose is to spur public-private partnerships to streamline the journey home for veterans and ease the burden on loved ones.

‘A True Profile in Courage’

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Celebrity and former Army Ranger Noah Galloway poses for a portrait during the Tough Mudder's

By Kellie Speed

If ever there was a true profile in courage that is Noah Galloway’s story to tell.

While the U.S. Army veteran lost both his left arm above the elbow and left leg above the knee to an IED attack during Operation Iraqi Freedom, that hasn’t stopped him from pushing his own limits becoming a nationwide inspiration as a result.

Although his injuries certainly posed many unforeseen challenges and his life was forever changed, the Purple Heart recipient believes now he is mentally and physically stronger than ever.

“My mother always told me to join the military, but I never joined until I wanted to,” he said in a recent phone interview. “I told her if something happens, I chose this. I’ll never forget that conversation. When I got injured and I went through my depression that was the worst shape I had ever been in in my life. I wasn’t taking care of myself and that was a reflection of my whole life — I wasn’t being a good father; I wasn’t being a good husband or anything. It was my children who were the motivation for me to get back and start taking care of myself.

The first thing I did was change the way I was eating then I joined a 24-hour gym because I was embarrassed, and I think a lot of people can relate to that if they have never been into fitness. It’s hard to walk into a gym for the first time. I would go in at 2:00 in the morning because there were no books, magazines or anything on the internet that told you how to work out missing an arm and a leg. Actually, I would say that was a benefit because it motivated me, and I had to figure it out. I kind of fed off of that and I have met amputees from all over the world who told me they have seen my videos and pictures and that’s how they got into fitness. For me, that’s pure motivation to know that something I did inspired them, and it drives me to just keep wanting to do more and more. Getting back into shape was so critical with my recovery in accepting myself.”

In 2014, the Alabama native became the first amputee veteran to appear on the cover of Men’s Health. “When I was in the military, I used to say I wanted to be on the cover of Men’s Health because fitness has been a part of my life since I was 12 years old,” he said. After earning the magazine’s “Ultimate Guy” title, he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and later became a finalist on Dancing With The Stars.

Noah Galloway Book Signing For
Noah Galloway attends his book signing for “Living With No Excuses” at Barnes & Noble in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tasia Wells/FilmMagic)

“Once I went on Ellen, things just took off,” he told us. “As soon as that episode aired, I got phone calls from Survivor, which I was excited about, but I couldn’t do that because I have three kids who were young at the time, so I turned it down. When Dancing With The Stars called, I told them I had no dancing experience and had to stay in Alabama. They didn’t even hesitate. They said they would send a dancer to Birmingham where we would rehearse then they would fly me back and forth to LA for the live show. Then, I didn’t think I’d last long, but halfway through the season, I was still there. The fifth week, I did a dance to Toby Keith’s “American Soldier” and I did a one-arm lift and I got a standing ovation from all of the judges and the studio audience; it was incredible. I had veterans start reaching out to me, and that changed everything. But I didn’t become a better dancer.”

On September 16, Galloway’s No Excuses Charitable Fund is hosting their second annual charity golf tournament at Timberline Golf Club in Calera, Ala. with proceeds this year benefitting Homes for Our Troops.

“I know there are people who are more inspirational, but people reach out to me and say they got into fitness because of me,” Galloway said. “To know that you have done something, even if it’s for one person to improve their life, is just so motivating.”

To check out his book, Living With No Excuses: The Remarkable Rebirth of An American Soldier, visit noahgalloway.com.

1,000 Cups of Coffee: My Journey from Soldier to Civilian Employment

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Army Captain Reserve Ian Newell speaking into mic

By Army Captain Reserve Ian Newell

Approximately 62,000 active-duty Soldiers transition out of the U.S. Army every year. For me, that process began when I started my terminal leave in May 2021. After nearly a decade with the U.S. military, serving in Iraq, South Korea and Fort Hood, I finally found myself settling down in Austin, Texas. Although I had years of experience in leading global operations and project management, I still had no idea what I wanted to do, and I had the thought every transitioning Soldier experiences.

I need a job, and I need it now!

Thankfully, my father, Peter Newell, a successful Army officer turned entrepreneur, gave me solid advice: Be comfortable with being uncomfortable in order to reach your potential.

I started with a severe case of imposter syndrome, with the unshakable feeling that the skills and talents I accrued in my eight years in the Army wouldn’t translate to the civilian world. In units where commanders valued innovation, as in deployments, I exceeded expectations and helped drive mission success because I was able to try new approaches. But under other commanders, my ideas and abilities were limited to the rank on my chest. To quote a former commander the first time I had met him: “Defense Innovation is a 2030 vision which isn’t a real thing. If you care about this stuff, you should stop wasting time and get out of the military.”

Upon starting terminal leave, I began my journey of having conversations over “1,000 cups of coffee” to find my path.

Phase 1: Fact-Finding, Expanding Aperture, Discovering “Me”

(May to June: Cups of Coffee 1-250)

My first 100 conversations were a mess. I was all over the place, with no structure for who I was reaching out to or how to prepare or build relationships.

Army Captain Reserve Ian Newell with group of soldiers at awards presentation
Army Captain Reserve Ian Newell is presented with a military award

When I first transitioned, I thought that I had to go to UT Austin for an MBA because I loved Austin, Texas, and wanted to stay in the city. My first 10 conversations were with my family and close mentors I’ve known for years — the next 15 included leaders in military transition at UT Austin. For conversations 26-50, my network expanded from family friends to members of my dad’s company (BMNT) and startup founders who had launched the Hacking 4 Defense academic course. It became clear receiving an MBA was not the only way a transitioning officer could be successful in civilian life.

The following 200 coffees were incredibly difficult. Conversations 51-100 included tech VPs, startup founders and seasoned military officers about to transition themselves. A VP from a large tech company told me he would never hire me because my resume sounded like an “Army ******bag,” and a startup founder told me not to waste someone’s time by not doing research into the company and preparing questions.

I realized I needed to not only expand my education but to better prepare myself to answer people who look past my previous achievements and ask, “OK, what are you going to provide me now?” This led me to take my first few certification courses from Coursera. After completing the Google Project Manager certification, I dove headfirst into innovation, artificial intelligence and blockchain. And I dedicated myself to completing transition support services such as those provided by the COMMIT Foundation.

Those first 250 conversations helped me learn I was drawn to space and that my strengths lie in my ability to learn and innovate in complex environments rapidly. These realizations culminated in me applying for an internship with the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Phase 2: Transformational Phase

(July to September: Cups of Coffee 251-500)

It didn’t get any easier. I had depleted half of my savings and was starting a new internship in an unfamiliar field with the Air Force Research Laboratory, and I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I “grew up.”

There were victories along the way — I received a full scholarship to U.C. Berkeley’s venture capital program and was accepted to AFRL’s SPECTRE fellowship. But it all suddenly stopped clicking. I had taken on way more than I could handle until one day, I sat on the floor of my closet, paralyzed with anxiety because I couldn’t choose an outfit to wear to a networking event. It was my “come to Jesus” moment.

Mental health is important in any transition into civilian life. But I ignored the signs and instead leaned into going out, eating poorly and working myself to exhaustion to try and manage the stress of transition without acknowledging what I was feeling.

To jumpstart my process, I signed up for local conferences I was interested in. Then, one evening after the Joint All Domain Command and Control conference, I headed to a local bar to get some work done for SpaceWERX. A group of men from the conference walked in, and I decided to introduce myself. A couple of beers and hours of conversation later, I had my first meaningful job offer in the artificial intelligence industry with a company called BigBear.ai, which uses AI and machine learning to facilitate data-driven decision support for government leaders.

Phase 3: Networking and Personal Growth

(September to January: Cups of Coffee 501-1,000+)

My number of “coffees” exponentially increased between September and January. I ended up accepting the job offer from BigBear.ai as the Senior Account Executive for Defense Innovation. I turned the offer with BigBear.ai down twice before accepting, when I finally stopped doubting my own skill set.

After being hired, conversations 501-1,000 were focused on networking for work and personal growth. The first half of these were internal in the company. I treated the first month with BigBear.ai as if my job was to get to know the people in the company and their challenges. My biggest takeaway: Companies need to be steadfast in their support of hiring veterans to give veterans the confidence and reassurance that their service would be an asset in their careers.

I’m a Vietnam War Veteran. Here’s How Writing My Memoir Has Helped Me Heal

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Bill Taylor, Vietnam Veteran, dressed in suit coat smiling in a library

I fought in Vietnam for 13 months at the age of 18. After my tour in Vietnam, I returned home a changed man. And while there was nothing extraordinary about my experience compared with others who had fought, I remain changed by my experiences there.

It’s estimated that around 30 percent of Vietnam Veterans have experienced PTSD in their lifetime. The disorder, however, doesn’t have to be as a result of war; it can be caused by any traumatic experience. For veterans who have fought in wars, PTSD can be lurking just under the surface and ready to take the place of rational thought. It pushes you into an uncontrollable urge to win the perceived battle. My urges are deep-seated and come from just over a year of constant combat.

I Had to Get My Story Out 

When I came home, I knew I had an amazing story to tell. It took me nearly 50 years, but last year, I published my memoir, On Full Automatic: Surviving 13 Months in Vietnam. I always knew getting my story down on paper would be a great way to explain to those who have never fought in a war, what it’s like to actually be there. What I didn’t expect was that the whole process would be so cathartic.

Here’s How Writing My Book Has Been Healing:

I’ve Found a Way to Honor the Heroes I Knew in Vietnam

I’m not the hero in my book. People have said to me, “Thank you for your service. You are a hero in my eyes.” But I’m thinking, “I’m not the hero. The guys in my book that I wrote about are the heroes. Especially those that gave their all, they are the real heroes.” I was just a scared kid and in a lot of ways it was pure luck that brought me home at the end of my tour. Many guys weren’t as lucky.

Bill Taylor in battle uniform early Vietnam war days
Just south of the DMZ before our battle during Operation Buffalo

In writing my book, I’ve been able to tell the story of all the men I knew. Many of them lost their lives but writing about them is a way of honoring them. They are back with us forever. My story is their story, and it’s finally being told.

I’ve Helped Other Survivors Process Their Own Experiences 

So many veterans come home from war and can’t talk about it. They keep their experiences bottled up inside, where they can do real harm. But people respond to shared experiences. When I’ve talked to other vets who have been through war, our stories just come out automatically. It completes, verifies and justifies something inside us. I’ve had a lot of feedback from other vets who have read my book and feel that by telling my story, they have found healing too. In a way it’s their story, the one they weren’t able to tell themselves or to their families.

I’ve Given Those Who Weren’t There a New Understanding of War

On the flip side, many people who haven’t experienced war don’t know why the vet acts the way they do. They may see erratic behavior in a loved one and not know why their behavior has changed. I’ve also heard from a lot of readers who in reading the book finally understand. If you haven’t experienced it, you just don’t know. My book has given people the experience of being there. It has opened their eyes like never before.

I wanted people to know what happened. I wanted to get those memories out of me. And now that it’s all out in the open, it’s there for everyone to see and experience. When I’ve traveled to talk at book clubs, I’ve had some amazing experiences. At times I’ve had up to 20 people surrounding me asking questions. And that’s 20 more people that have a better insight of what veterans have been through.

I’ve Learned How to Process and Control My Own Emotions 

When I first sat down and actually wrote my book, I didn’t experience healing immediately. It wasn’t until I started going through rounds of editing that the real healing set in. The first time I edited my manuscript, I cried after each story. Then the second time, I cried. Third and fourth times the same thing would happen. But the more I edited the less I would cry. And now I can tell the stories when I speak to crowds of people and for the most part, do not have a problem anymore.

A lot of veterans attend support groups and share their stories. But for those guys who just can’t talk about it for whatever reason, writing can be very therapeutic. I’m not suggesting that everyone write a book. And grammar or spelling shouldn’t be a concern. A lot of guys are just like me; they went into the military straight from high school. But it’s about getting your story out on paper. Once it’s there you have a choice. You can save it and share it with your children or grandchildren, or you just tear it up. The important thing is that you got your story out.

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. Multiple Hire GI Hiring Events During June-December!
    June 21, 2022 - December 8, 2022
  4. REBOOT WORKSHOP – VIRTUAL
    September 12, 2022 @ 8:00 am - January 20, 2023 @ 5:00 pm
  5. Americas Warrior Partnership 9th Annual Symposium
    October 4, 2022 - October 6, 2022