The state of the all volunteer force is not well. In 2018, the army failed to meet recruiting objectives for the first time in 13 years. So, when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent to serve in the Armed Forces, we need to start looking for creative solutions in unsuspecting places. Instead of scrutinizing the quality of the military recruit, it might be time to showcase the quality of our veterans. Maybe we need to stop paying so much attention to how people come into the service and start paying more attention to their success after they leave.Read More
The military has its own version of the F-word. Like the other word you might be thinking of, this F-word is considered an obscenity in our culture. It represents something that is not to be tolerated. If you used this F-word to describe a fellow service member, he or she would definitely be offended. It represents what lurks underneath our persona and warrior ethic. We don't like to talk about it, but trust me, we all know it's there.
The last enemy you confront in your military journey is the one you face when you drive out the main gate for the last time. The F-word that haunts you during military transition is FEAR.Read More
As you approach your separation or retirement date, you will remember the many faces and places that shaped your military journey. You may remember the excitement and anticipation you felt on the day you reported for duty. You may recall the confidence of assuming that command and the pride of relinquishing that authority after a job well done. Remember what it felt like when you boarded that flight on your first trip into combat, and who could ever forget the satisfaction and joy of seeing your family for the first time when you returned home? As you approach the day when you will no longer wear the uniform, don't be surprised if you relive everything you felt from the experiences while wearing the uniform.Read More
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.Read More
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?Read More
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?Read More
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…Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
This question - or versions of this question - represents the number one thing I am asked by military leaders in the transition process. I think am asked this question so often because I demonstrated what not to do. I am that guy - I had 8 jobs over the course of 3 years. Future veterans don't want to repeat my mistakes, but I'll have you know that I am not alone!Read More
I remember what it felt like to get that last stamp on my clearing papers. After more than two decades of service, the subtlety of that final act seemed somewhat anticlimactic, but I was finished! The day that seemed so elusive for so long had finally arrived. I was overcome with a sense of accomplishment and nostalgia. Like you, I had my fair share of difficult days, but I was grateful for the fond memories and the wonderful people I met through the military. I couldn't contain my smile as I walked proudly out of the personnel processing center for the last time.Read More
I have a unique perspective on military transition. I did twice. I also did it poorly, twice. The first time I left the military as a junior captain. I put my faith in a junior officer recruiting company to find the best job opportunity. By "best" I meant the option with the most prestigious title and highest paying salary. They did. Unfortunately, it was the wrong job for me, and within a year of my separation, I was miserable. To make matters worse, I was laid off when the tech bubble burst. It was a total disaster. My second transition was my retirement after 21 years of military service. Once again, I ended up in the wrong job. Once again, I was unemployed. Once again, I was miserable.Read More