What Bothers Me About Veterans 'Day'​

If veterans need anything, it is your active involvement in the reintegration process. The military tradition is an inseparable part of our national conscience, but veterans are a shrinking minority across our population. The civil-military cultural gap continues to widen as the percentage of service members, veterans, and their families continues to fall. Let’s facilitate their continued growth beyond the military by harnessing their intrinsic drive, addressing the cultural nuances of the military style, and expanding the aperture for commensurate leadership opportunities as veterans in the civilian workplace.

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How To Make the Most Difficult Part of Military Transition A Little Easier

Who have you lost touch with along your journey through the military? A defining aspect of our culture is the shared adversity that forges deep relationships. Hardship strengthens those bonds. The team becomes greater than the self because of what each member is willing to give so that unit perseveres and achieves. These are the defining moments of the military experience. Soldiers become more than comrades. They become a band of brothers and sisters. They become family. And even when you leave the military, they are still your family.

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The Disability Trap in Military Transition

Why is there such a stark contrast between how society sees its warriors and its veterans? Why do we see ourselves so differently? Sometimes we feel inclined to point the finger at society. It seems easier to attribute the negative stereotypes to a civilian populace increasingly separated from the military experience, but if I'm being honest, it isn't their fault. It's ours.

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Playing to Win: The Value Proposition for Hiring Senior Military Leaders

Let's be honest. The reasons for hiring veterans has become . . . cliche. You've read the same article or listened to the same pitch before. The usual justifications typically involve some combination of the words leadership, teamwork, performance under pressure, integrity, accountability, adaptability . . . and the list goes on. It's time to change the dynamics of post-military employment and veteran utilization across the corporate landscape.

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A Hero's Journey or Just a Military One - What Game Are You Playing?

When men and women decide to separate or retire from the military, we begin a countdown - the countdown to transition from the military. The obvious temptation is to mistaken separation or retirement as the final goal, but it is not the end. Depending on which game you are playing, it is only the halfway point. If you view military transition as the end of the game, then you accept that your best days are behind you. But, if you view your military experience as just one part of a broader journey - a Hero's Journey - to achieve lifelong goals with a broader impact of service to society, then you still have half a lifetime to go.

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3 Signs That Tell You When It's Time to Leave the Military

I know you've asked yourself this question at least once during your journey through the military. You might have asked it each time that you received orders for a new duty assignment. Maybe you are asking yourself this question now as you consider uprooting your family for either an unattractive duty location or the prospect of another deployment. So, how do you know when the time is right to remove your body armor, unlace your boots, and remove the uniform that shaped your identity for the last decade or so?

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How to Write YOUR Commander's Intent for the Mission of Transition

The Commander's Intent facilitates disciplined initiative and decentralized execution for complex operations under evolving conditions. Stated another way - Intent provides focus when everything else goes to hell. The more dangerous the mission or uncertain the environment, the more important it is to understand and communicate intent. The final set of orders you receive from the military are the ones that separate you from the service. For you and your family, you have the more ambitious objective of achieving a successful reintegration back into society. So, in the tradition of everything you did while wearing the uniform: What is YOUR Commander's Intent for life beyond the military?

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Dispelling 3 Myths about Hiring Senior Military Leaders

When it comes to the value of hiring senior military leaders, we've lost the narrative. Employers, hiring managers, and recruiters try to fit someone with 20 or more years of service into a 10 or less years of service box. When we consider these leaders for positions commensurate with the level of authority and responsibility they enjoyed through the military, we retreat to the usual excuses hidden in the civil-military cultural divide. But, what if these assessments are wrong?

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How Would You Change the Military Transition Program for Senior Leaders?

I recently wrote an article about why transition is harder for senior military leaders(O4-O6, E8-E9, and W4-W5). That discussion and ensuing comments begged the question (which many of you have asked directly) about what a transition program should look like for senior military leaders. Great question, and well, here goes…

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Call to Action: Remembering the Day After the Day that Changed the World

This year - as we have every year since 2001 - we will reflect on the traumatic events of that day. Beginning at 8:46 Eastern Standard Time, we will recount the play by play that culminated in the worst attack in the history of our nation. By lunchtime, we will forget where we were and what we were doing in 2001 to focus on the urgency of our 2018 problems. But this year, I challenge you to do something different…

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3 Reasons Why Transition is Harder on Senior Leaders and 3 Things You Can Do About It

Thank you for your service. You've had an impressive career . . . but you're not what we're looking for.

Sound familiar? I've heard that before, and if you're a senior leader, perhaps you've heard it too. Interestingly enough, I didn't hear it when I left the army as a junior captain. I remember attending only one hiring conference about three months before my separation date. From that one event, I had eleven follow-up interviews that landed six job offers! Three of the six offers had compensation packages that exceeded what I was making in the army. Finding a job as a junior officer was easy. But this was not the case when I left the army for a second time after more than 20 years of service. So why does this happen?

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Reintegration from the Inside-Out: How to Tell a Better Story about Life Beyond the Military

Given the relatively low unemployment rate, veterans don't seem to have a hard time finding a job. Given the high turnover and underemployment, they do have a hard time finding that sense of fulfillment and connection in life beyond the military. Perhaps we think that when we start a new job, we can just stop being the soldier. Changing your external reality in order to change your internal state of being doesn't work. Maybe we should invert that process. Successful reintegration from the inside-out is how we discover our sense of purpose, meaning, and connection in the right job for a better story about life beyond the military.

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A Healthy DOSE of Reality for Transitioning Military Leaders

One of the things we love about the military is our sense of belonging. We've grown accustomed to the trust and relationships within the ranks of our formations. Being in a close knit unit feels like … family. Once we hang up that uniform, we are disconnected from that family. Who would've thought that I would actually miss waking up at 0300 for the division run that started at 0630? The impact of departing the trusted, social network in the military has significant repercussions on the body and mind of a new veteran.

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Securing the Rights for the Next Generation of Veterans

When I wore the uniform, no date on the calendar had more meaning for me than the Fourth of July. I was inspired by the courage of colonial settlers who risked everything for the hope of a better life. They founded a new nation on the belief that we were born to be free. Ordinary citizens became the first soldiers to fight for that belief. We celebrate them as heroes in the birth of our nation, and for the next 242 years, soldiers have deployed to far away lands and dangerous places to protect and defend that belief. I may no longer wear the uniform, but I still feel that sense of connection to soldiers past and present.

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How to Conquer the Fear of Military Transition

Do you remember the first time you saw yourself as a leader? Maybe it was through sports or a similar activity from high school. Maybe you assumed a leadership role in your family or community. Perhaps it happened before you were even a teenager. You hardly noticed it because it didn’t really require you to do much of anything. You were just being yourself. Others were drawn to your energy. People were inclined to follow you. Through your leadership, you discovered a genuine passion to serve others. You believed that you could make a difference, so you did.

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Learning to Fly: A Metaphor for Leaving the Military

I always wanted to fly. It was the main reason why I volunteered for military service in the first place, and for the better part of 21 years, I did just that. I had the opportunity to fly three different types of helicopters (five if you count the A-L-M variants of the UH-60 Blackhawk). I flew during peacetime and combat. I executed nearly every mission a helicopter could perform. I thought that I was finished flying when I was permanently grounded for medical reasons, but I recently discovered that I had to learn how to fly all over again to find purpose and meaning in life beyond the military.

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How Do You Measure Success When You Leave the Military?

I recently celebrated my 47th birthday, a rather unremarkable milestone. With each passing year, it becomes harder to convince myself that I am on the windward side of middle age. These occasions have become more of a time for reflection than celebration. Birthdays are the time of year when I assess how I am progressing along the journey of life. I typically include familiar metrics like wealth and status in my assessment, but this year was different…

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3 Reasons Why 'Taking a Step Back' is Terrible Advice for Transitioning Military Leaders

When I went to my first career conference as a junior officer, I had 11 one-on-one interviews that resulted in 6 job offers. I crushed it! Some of the offers included starting salaries that exceeded what I was making as a captain at the time. My luck changed when I attended my second career conference as a retiring battalion commander. I didn't have any offers. I had three times the education, more than twice the leadership experience, and a resume crafted by one of the top business schools in the country, and yet I didn't have a single interview. Not one.

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A Veteran's Message for Memorial Day

Make It Matter. To be honest, those aren't my words. Those are the words of Retired General Martin Dempsey, the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As a former member of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, I used to work for him. By "work for him," I mean to say that I was one among the herd of lieutenant colonels who spoke with him in ten-minute intervals as he was being ushered to his next meeting with someone of much greater importance. Like every officer on the Joint Staff, I had heard the story behind the words of his personal mantra and I was reminded of that story this past weekend.

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