Wednesday, November 27, 2013


WANTED: Veterans
Our mission is simple--to educate Veterans with no prior computer and network experience to the level of Information Technology experts in a matter of months. This program is open to all Veterans including those who served in Active Duty forces, as well as in the Reserves and National Guard, from every branch of the service. This school has been approved to accept Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) benefits from eligible Veterans; full and partial scholarships will be available for students not eligible for Chapter 31 benefits.
After completing the Acuitus Information Technology School in Palo Alto, CA, Veterans will be ready for placement in Information Technology, System and Network Administration careers across a broad range of industries including high-tech but also health care, insurance, finance, telecomm, energy, and manufacturing. We work closely with our Fortune 500 corporate partners to ensure that each of our students will graduate with high-value, high-wage employment opportunities. Our graduation rate is 97%, most are employed within several months of graduation, and our graduate's starting salaries are close to the industry average salaries for all ITs.
This totally immersive school is a five-month commitment. Our school is supported by the White House, the Department of Veteran Affairs, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and our corporate partners.
We are currently accepting applications from all interested individuals.
REGISTER NOW for classes starting in January 2014, and every month thereafter at:
Find more information regarding this program at the VA Center for Innovation site: •OK to highlight this job opening for persons with disabilities •Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster. •Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.
Posting ID: 4215914269

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dream Big

The further I get away, in time that is, from that moment I decided to leave Active Duty, the closer I come to realizing that I should have stuck to my guns and my initial plan.

We have a skill set and an attitude that no one else on the planet has.  Save one country and there's a good book out there that I recommend, "Start up Nation".  It really does say it all and I believe whole-heartedly that GallantFew is capitalizing on two of it's cornerstones.  Entrepreneurship and the Veteran network. Check out 1KVets and the whole idea behind it.  What Karl and Sudy are doing is spot on.

We have created great things and accomplished monumental feats with little more than the will to do so.  We inspired others to follow us in the face of almost certain failure and come out on top. Over and over and over again.

Our economy sucks.  The government, it's agencies and a lot of civilian corporation post positions to cover their backs; building a "Look at me, I'm doing great things for Veterans and our economy" facade.  Yet we see through the BS.  ACAP, well intentioned as it is, is a joke.  Career advice from folks with little to no experience in the civilian market and job fairs with companies that have little to no experience with the military...that recipe ain't gonna taste too good.

So what are YOU going to do about it?

My whole life, folks have told me that I couldn't or wouldn't.  Too small, too slow, not smart enough.  Well I did.  Still am doing.  But somewhere along the way I lost sight.

We need to dream again.  We need to hold on to that dream and be willing to suffer to make it work.  People gravitate towards us.  Capitalize on that.

The transition is hard.  We lose our network of friends and support.  We lose our mission.  The jobs we take don't take care of us and don't mean as much to us.

That's fine.  When you realize that a job is nothing more than a means to an end and you have an ultimate goal or DREAM, life becomes a little more clear and a lot less stressful.

My goal is to support my family and be able to spend time with them.  I want to support myself, be my own man.  100% self made and sustaining.  My mission is to get there.  My dream...I let it slip away and I was miserable.

I started to dream again.  I read only things that help me imagine more and support my dream.  Here's another blog that I read (  This guy is out of control.  Just my style.  It's going to take a lot of time.  I'm OK with that.  It's going to take even more work.  I'm enjoying that work.

What are you going to do?  Figure it out.  Don't stop until you get there and surround yourself by only those that will help you get there.  Everyone else and everything else is irrelevant.

Over the last few weeks, things have been coming into my view about this whole topic.  Certain celebrities telling kids that no one owes them a damn thing and to just get a job.  That dreams take a lot of work.  That they suck as people because they only care about themselves.  Athletes that are told they aren't good enough to play college or professional ball and write angry letters to powerful people and constantly prove everyone wrong.

I'm surrounded by Veterans like Mike Schlitz and read articles about Cory Remsburg.  These two men inspire the hell out of me.  "Never tell a Ranger what he can't do."  Are you kidding me?  The dude said it with a smile too.  The audacity.  I love it.  Mike pours every ounce of energy he has into others.  In a recent interview he did, Mike told us what made him turn that corner, and I'll paraphrase here...."That spoon saved my life."  Immense challenges, ungodly pain and they shrug it off like it's nothing.  Hell it seems like they enjoy the challenge.  And on top of it all, I'll bet those two men smile more than anyone they meet.

The safety of our country is still on our shoulders.  We just don't need an M-4 to ensure that safety.  The development and mentoring of our brothers and sisters in arms are still our responsibility.  But we're more spread out now.  Find them.  Actively seek them out.  Be that person that never stops riding their butts.  You might be the one to save their life or jump start the next big idea.

It's up to us.  I've seen the competition; it's not very impressive.  We all see what is being "done" to fix the economy and "our" situation.  No one can do what we do.  So, let's get to work and redefine the 1% that everyone is so pissed about.  We're the 1% that matters and no one is going to see us coming.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Veteran Employment??

Often times reverting back to your military training to push through obstacles is necessary. Sometimes I feel like guys get stuck with trying to get as far away from military customs as possible. Over time and through many of my experiences I still lean on my military training to push through obstacles. Something that I find is very helpful in working through important tasks. I have learned that priorities of work and staying healthy keep me on top of things.

As I start to work with more and more veterans, I keep reminding them not to lose sight of where they came from. Showing men and women that what they learned throughout their military experiences can actually put them ahead. But on the other hand it can be a struggle to persuade civilians that military service has its pay off.

I am getting ready to graduate in May and right now I have been stuck with finding a job. Marketing myself to civilian employers is something I find very frustrating. Making myself look appealing using civilian verbiage and translating my military jobs into civilian skills is also a daunting task. I have found a few resources helpful but the most frustrating about all of this is what the VA has not done.

I have visited the job board at my local VA multiple times. There are anywhere from 2-5 postings a month.  I found out that the most government entities have the authority to hire veterans on the spot if they meet certain qualifications. Most of which I meet unless its at a higher GS level position. After I spent numerous hours of researching how to fill out a government job application online I figured out that some of the jobs the VA posts are not necessarily available. Most of the jobs they showcase are just jobs that can only be accessed if you are already employed by them. This to me is very frustrating. I went to the HR department to discuss this issue and they basically talked in circles to get me out the door. The lady told me that the VA was on a hiring freeze. Fair enough by why do they say they are hiring veterans? I have also talked to the Army Wounded Warrior representative here in my home state about the same issue. He confirmed that the VA only posts the positions to cover their back. Basically saying that the jobs are there to check a box so the VA can say they are veteran friendly. This is only my experience, maybe someone has had better luck?

So if America is saying that veterans have an opportunity to integrate back into the work place I want to know how that all works. The VA is not the only place that has talked in circles about hiring veterans. Its going on in many places and the veteran unemployment numbers reflect my frustration. I am tired of hearing that veterans have a way to get jobs and are wanted but in reality nothing is happening. I don't want to work at McDonald's and I did not use my Post 9/11 school benefit to flip burgers. Enlighten me, America!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fraud Alert Warning - VA Phone Numbers

FRAUD ALERT:  Veterans should be aware of a marketing scam targeting callers trying to reach the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Call Center or GI Bill Call Center.  A marketing company has established two fraudulent numbers that differ from the two official VA call center numbers by one digit.  If the fraudulent number is dialed by mistake, the answering party will offer a gift card and try to obtain personal and financial information, including credit card information, from the caller.  The answering party may even transfer the caller to the VA after the caller’s information is obtained.  Note that VA will never ask you for a credit card number or banking information over the phone. Before giving personal sensitive information over the phone make sure you know who you are taking to.

                The numbers to be avoided are:

                800-872-1000  (the VA National Call Center number is 800-827-1000)

                888-442-4511 (the VA GI Bill Call Center number is 888-442-4551)

                VA has notified law enforcement authorities to address this situation.  Please pass this information along and post on your websites.


Well there's the motivator so now it's time for the lesson.  I wrote a while back on taking care of yourself and some of the things that I do to take care of myself.  What I've learned is that there are only a few things that you have more control over than anything else in life.  Your morals and principles.  Your health.  And your personal hygiene.

Health, attitude and hygiene are all intertwined.  This is hitting home for me more and more recently.  I've had two folks that I work with be admitted to the hospital for some form of heart disease (and I use disease very lightly).  Don't get me wrong, they're in a bad spot health wise and it's not a joke.  Not only are they sick but I suffer production wise as well. I spend more time with them than I do with my family so yeah, I care.  I see the fear in their face. I see how they carry themselves and the level of effort they put into their work performance.  And it's their fault.  They ask for help and don't follow through and wonder why this is happening to them.

People generally eat like crap and the end result is a lot of things or conditions that can be easily prevented.  Poor diet and no exercise equals low energy, poor health and injuries.  And for me, I'm grumpy.

A few months ago, my wife got the genius idea that she wanted to do a body building competition.  Although I genuinely disagree with what those folks do to their bodies, she needed something to focus on and focus she did. I am very proud of the discipline that she showed with her diet and working out.  I ate  the same things she did with the exception of the "blood" that runs through my  I cut way way back on that though.

End result, both of us shed unneeded body fat, felt better and we actually saved a lot of money.  She looked fantastic and I cannot begin to tell you how much her attitude changed.    I, on the other hand still looked like I got beat with a bag of nickels but I was in great shape and felt awesome.  See, cooking for yourself is rewarding and batch cooking, then packing your meals prevents you from buying garbage snacks or lunches.  Winner Winner, chicken most of the time for dinner.  And I'm not a tree hugger by any means but the amount of garbage that we produced dropped by almost 2/3's.  Yes, I did the math.

So, here's some advice.  Diets don't work.  Don't believe the hype.  "Oh but Susie lost all this weight in 30 days"'s she doing now?  Probably fat again, starving and lost as to why it happened.  Eat fresh food, lots of green veggies and cut out the sugar and fat.  Educate yourself on what is actually in your food.  Processed generally means garbage.  If you can't pronounce the long list of ingredients....chemical poo storm.  

Can you cheat and eat the bad stuff still?  Heck yeah you can.  Just not all the time and not in huge quantities.  Food is fuel and that's it.  When you eat what is also just as important as what you eat.  Eat consistently throughout the day.  If you starve yourself or cut too many calories, you're body is going to start wondering when it's gonna get food again.  Then it starts storing fat to protect itself.

Water is good.  Gatorade, supplements, Mio's, whatever....garbage.  Think about it, it's not sugar but tastes like sugar.  Why?  It tricks your mind into believing it's sugar.  What do you think your body is going to do with it?  Use it like it would sugar that's what.

Getting up and moving or getting on the elliptical for 8 hours then "pumping iron" on a machine that has a rubber belt is crap.  Put in the work.  If you lift weights and you don't go to failure...not going anywhere.

The idea that there is a quick fix or a miracle product for being healthy is a marketing ploy.  It'll lead to nothing but an emotional roller coaster and for some folks, that's the exact opposite of what they need.  What works is a solid plan executed through hard work and discipline.  There are no short cuts in our previous professions and there aren't any out here.

The focus here is that you are in control.  And there are two simple ways that you can start moving in a direction that will have direct and indirect impacts on how you feel mentally, emotionally and physically.

I'm happy to say that I'm back to eating right and working out.  And studying, cooking, cleaning and getting beat up by my 4 year old son after I work a full day.  I'm more energetic and even tempered.  It really is up to ourselves.  I like quotes, so here's one by I don't know who.  "The only respect that matters is self-respect".  When you accomplish something, it means more than if someone had given it to you.

People treat you differently when you are confident and happy.  Why?  Probably because you're treating them in a positive way.  Food for thought.

There's a stud Ranger out there right now that has a mission.  He wasn't doing so hot a while back.  PTSD cannot be seen and it's tricky to deal with to say the least.  He got off of his duff, went and saw some friends, drove across the country and went sky diving.  He's fired up now and I'm sure he's gonna do just fine.  In fact, I'm pretty sure he's gonna take one hell of a lead on fighting PTSD.  And that's what it is.  A fight.  When in doubt, attack.  He's attacking and from what I can tell, he's enjoying the hell out of it.  It's amazing what changing your environment and being with good folks will do for you.

Work hard.  Play hard.  Look good.  Feel good.  Get moving.  Take care of yourself and if you need some help on whatever, just give me a shout.

This picture was taken around 0300 during a 12 hour GoRuck Event.  I went from 155 lbs and around 20% body fat to 140 lbs and 8% body fat in about 2 months while training for it.  And yes, I wear RPs every chance I get.

listen to Friday afternoon to hear more about the Ranger that changed the direction of his life.  km

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Don't Wait.

Two nights ago I got a text no one wants to get.

"Hey man, XXXX is dead!"

"Whoa, what happened?"

"I don't know but you know I've been working with him for a long time and I went to his Facebook and there are lots of RIP, 'Sorry you're gone' messages."

Turns out the young combat veteran, who has struggled with his transition from the day he stepped back in the USA, had overdosed.

The outpouring of love, respect and camaraderie being posted on his Facebook page is heart-warming.

And too late.

I can't help but believe that if his brothers-in-arms had stayed in contact with him after discharge - and I don't mean sharing videos of getting shot at while getting wasted together on the phone in contact - I mean let's figure out how to work through our transitions together, because despite all the government programs, the companies spouting jobs for veterans, despite all that the most powerful influence in a veteran's life is that of the men and women with whom he bled.

I watched this young veteran reject the assistance of nearly every person in his life.  He lost his wife and young child to divorce.  He failed to get employment.  He carried massive emotions, memories and guilt - and shouldered it alone and when it became too much to bear, he got high.

Just a couple weeks ago he told a GallantFew volunteer: "If it weren't for you in my life I'd be dead".

Then he overdosed.

They developed a relationship because both were combat veterans - but they didn't deploy together.  The GallantFew volunteer couldn't really, truly challenge this young man because they weren't in the shit together.

I don't believe he did it intentionally, but he might have subconsciously.  Someone from his squad or platoon might have been able to kick his ass just enough to get him to get sober - to get help. Or maybe not.  But we won't know now.

But we will have some nice, heart-warming posts on Facebook.

Don't wait.

Reach out, and reach out now.

Find that Ranger buddy, Battle buddy, the person who had your back while they had yours.  Tell them you love them.  Tell them you respect them.  Tell them your transition was harder than you ever imagined it would be - then tell them you need them.

Watch the Spartan Pledge here.  Get your Battle to watch it too.  Take the pledge.

Stay alive - both of you.

Post pictures of the camping trips you'll take together, the movies you'll see, the grandkids you'll have... not Rest in Peace, brother.

Don't wait.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Army Dad fights for custody

I have been meaning to bring this story to The New American Veteran blog for some time now.  It hits close to home with me, and I am sure there are many of you out there that have experienced something similar.

Quick story for anyone who is a first time reader and/or may not know me.  When I was still in the military, stationed down in Georgia, my daughter's mother decided to separate from me and take my one year old with her back to Indianapolis.  I did everything I could in order to keep her with me, but I was limited in power because I had my obligation to the military.  It was a horrible waiting game, but it was all I could do.

Last year, there was a story that was ran on multiple media outlets.  It was the story of an Army father who was fighting for custody of his daughter, but this was a much more complex case than my own:

"Lynne and Jeff Chafin had married in Germany in 2006, and Eris was born in that country a year later. Lynne Chafin took her daughter to Scotland when Jeff Chafin was deployed to Afghanistan. He was transferred to Huntsville in 2010, and Lynne Chafin visited Alabama with her daughter in an effort to reconcile. The attempt proved unsuccessful; Jeff Chafin filed for divorce and custody. Lynne Chafin was deported in February 2011 for overstaying her visa after she was arrested on a domestic violence charge. Jeff Chafin cared for his daughter for several months until a federal court ruled against him later that year (ABA Journal)."

So now SFC Chafin finds himself in a difficult fight.  When the mother was ruled to return to Scotland, she took their daughter, Eris, with her.  Jeff has been fighting for custody ever since.  He tried to appeal the ruling over the custody, but was dismissed by the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals.  But, Jeff did not stop there, taking this case all the way to the US Supreme Court.  In February 2013, the ruling was overturned by by a 9-0 vote in the Supreme Court, giving him the ability to appeal the original custody ruling.  Two years of tiresome fighting just to be able to appeal the ruling, he is now back at square one.  

After reading about this story, I immediately looked Jeff up on Facebook.  I sent a message to him to keep pushing forward, of which he responded that he will never give up.  This morning, he updated his Facebook status stating:
Jeff and his daughter, photo from Bring Eris Home Facebook page

"Next Friday is the next stage in my fight for Eris. I will FINALLY get my appeal (of the original court order) 2 long years after Eris was sent away. It is sad I had to go all the way to the United States Supreme Court to have this chance but I will take it! Oral arguments will be heard by the 11th Circuit Appellate Court in Montgomery Alabama next Friday. If this court decides I wrongfully held Eris in the United States then I will have to fight custody in Scotland and also pay my ex’s lawyer fees of $94,000.00. If they decide I didn’t hold Eris here then the fight for custody will be here in the US and at the same time I will file paperwork in Scotland to try and get Eris brought back home. Plus, not having to pay the lawyer fees. If you are anywhere in the Alabama area, you are more than welcome to join us in an exciting day in court."

Many of us understand the burden of fighting for custody of our children.  SFC Jeff Chafin is a true fighter and his voice is finally being heard!

If you want to read more about SFC Jeff Chafin's story, please visit his Facebook group at

Also, here are some links to his story:

Landmark Insights: The three-part myth of "is, because, and I"

Landmark Insights: The three-part myth of "is, because, and I"
by Joe DiMaggio, Landmark Forum leader
November 12, 2013 09:00 PDT

Superman had issues with Kryptonite. For Achilles, it was his heel. For us, it's the three-part myth of "is, because, and I." With this myth in place, the freedom, power, and dimensionality available to us in being human are blocked—circumstances have the power, not us. The three-part myth manifests in ways that seem so logical, so accepted, that it's virtually impossible to recognize its presence, impact, and influence, let alone imagine that there's another whole reality available to us—another possibility in living.

How the three-part myth plays out:

"Is" implies there's a "fixed" world out there—that things are just "the way they are" and that the only option available is to adjust.
"Because" implies that the model of "cause and effect" is essentially a done deal—one thing causes another. Intervening or altering the course of events isn't logical or likely, and the only option is to adjust.
"I" implies that who we consider ourselves to be is who we actually are, when in fact it's just a compilation of responses and decisions unwittingly put together long ago to deal with failures to do or be something—that we now think of as our true and definitive nature. Again, the only option is to adjust.

But the myth is in fact a myth. "Reality" is not fixed—it's a phenomenon that arises in language. The world does not speak, only we do. Each moment's meaning "occurs" against a background of understanding, and how the world "occurs" to us lives in language—it's there that access to restoring our power lies. From there, we can reveal and dismantle old assumptions about the way things have been or the way we thought they had to be. Reality is declarative, interpretive, and actionable—we have dominion in the world of saying. Recognizing that shifts our relationship to the world. It doesn't just lead to a different view, it gives us hands-on access to a world that's malleable and open to being invented. It's where transformation lives.

So for me, there was an opportunity to change the status quo even though it seemed fixed in stone. Landmark is a multi national global company with revenues in the tens of millions of dollars. They have a policy to help police, fire and clergy through scholarship. So one day I asked about scholarships for military personnel and Veterans. I was told they didn't have an official policy, but I was welcome to take it up with corporate. So I did. I worked with the Landmark organization for over two years to create something from nothing.

I enrolled them in the possibility of creating a scholarship program for Veterans through the VA and Veteran Service Organizations. I wrestled with liability questions, policy questions, corporate  structural alignment issues and more. I could only do so much at a time, but I didn't quit. Once I got Landmark on board I realized that I just changed the way a multi national global company with revenues in the tens of millions of dollars does business with the government of the United State of America by creating a program where they officially recognize the VA as a customer and Veterans and military personnel for scholarship through VSO's. Now I had to find and enroll a VSO to funnel Veteran's and military personnel through to classes. That is how I cam to be a part of GallantFew.

The point is; the idea of a fixed reality is just an idea, a myth, a theory, a story. It's not real. False barriers get in our way of our ability to transform our perception of what is possible. If I don't believe I could do it and didn't take action to convince others to support what I was doing then it would not happen. The fact that I can create a new reality is an awesome feeling and you can too. You just have to believe you are more powerful than an idea, which you are. Business, social change, revolution, war, love, are all sparked by a notion, idea, a perception that in time becomes fixed and therefore perceived real. If we look beyond the perception we can see possibility. Possibility creates and opportunity for action.

What perceptions are you trapped in? What ideas are holding you back?  What space do you now see for action? What action will you take to transform your possibility into reality? Go forth and make it happen.

Here for you.
Larry Zabel

to learn more about the program Larry set up with Landmark, visit ~km

Friday, November 15, 2013

Quantity vs. Quality

This argument is ongoing and will never go away.

Ok, the first part of that statement is true.  The second part is not.  It's a balancing act for sure but why would producing a lot of things that are crap be acceptable in any arena?  Ok, cheapo Chinese toys maybe that you pay a nickel for.

We can take this in a million directions but let's just look at a few.  1. Physical fitness.  2. Professional schools and graduation rates. 3. Producing goods.  4. The last one that I want to talk about is networking.

Let's look at physical fitness first.  It's not necessarily what you do but how you do it.  You set a goal, so let's use a half marathon race you want to complete.  You can run a bunch of miles at a greater distance than the race requires and build confidence that you can run that far.  Good job, you can run a lot. Quantity.  But an approach that focuses on quality will yield greater results with less work.  Pace conditioning runs, stretching, strength training, circuit training and other endurance disciplines like cycling will give you a more balanced fitness level.  Less injuries along the way and you'll probably surpass your goal time for the race.  Each workout plays a specific role and all of them support the end result.  Endurance and fitness are an accumulative effect.

Ok, now let's look at schools.  It could be an university, NCOES or whatever.  What's going to benefit the organization or society as a whole; lots of graduates that are unqualified or a smaller number of graduates that actually learned something and are better off?  Standards are set and should be enforced.  I know a lot of folks that have very advanced degrees but have no idea how to convey what they've learned or worse, don't really know anything.  But they graduated.  Therefore, the ROI (return on investment) is pretty much "0".  Our job market is flooded with college graduates that can't find jobs.  Why?  We can point to a lot of things.  But aren't you glad you have that bachelors of arts degree?  The competition is stiffer and we're searching for more things to better qualify ourselves.  In my opinion, when a degree shows nothing more than the individual had the discipline to go a little further and is equated to a HS diploma, we're in a bad spot.  It also means that there are less folks out there doing something tangible.  But that "dumb" guy who joined the Army or went to tech school have jobs and "do" stuff.  Hmmm.

Producing goods is on the chopping block next.  I live this.  There's a lot more to just cutting a part.  But like in doing anything, if you rush through it and skip steps; you're going to end up with some good and some bad.  Why not slow down and make something great every time?  Sure, you're not going to be flying through jobs like crazy.  But as the part or parts flow through follow on processes or when you ship them will not be returned and create repairs or rework.  That first process' efficiency might be great.  But if you create more work for someone else and it doesn't ship on time, does that really help?  Do the hard work up front and pay attention.  Produce quality every time.  Quantity will happen and is a byproduct of quality in this case.

Ok, now networking.  I'm definitely not a professional in this realm by any means.  But here's what I've learned so far.  First, know who you are and what you want.  Second, always be yourself and professional.  Third, find folks that will make you better.  Surround yourself by great people and you'll inherently become better.  And last but not least, keep working to maintain that relationship or network.  What some folks fail to realize is that networking is nothing more than relationship building.  You don't want to build a relationship on a lie do you?  It might work for a while but sooner or later it's gonna get you.  So who do you associate with?  If you find out that they offer nothing to you and you cannot offer anything to them; put them in the "whatever bucket" or drop them.  Great, you have 500+ connections on LinkedIn.  Do you actually know and interact with them?  Probably not.

Now your network is cleaned up, you interact with them on a regular basis and you're learning from them.  Hopefully, they're learning or getting something from you as well.  People help people they like and trust.  It takes time and if you've never shook their hand or met face to face, it's going to take more time.  Do the hard work up front and keep working.  I know who I am and I know what I want.  I also know that how I act carries over to the folks I associate with.  So being professional and personable is very important.

It's all a learning process and failing is a good way to figure out something doesn't work.  It doesn't mean you are a failure or a bad person.  Thomas Edison said something to the effect of "I've never failed.  I've just found a million ways that didn't work."  Making the transition and finding that career is tough.  But every job is a means to an end.  You might have that ultimate goal in mind but you might have to shovel some dirt for a while to get there.

Or like me, you have an idea but not really. You plod along until that initial idea surfaces again and you realize that's what you really want.  In the mean time, you plan your scheme of maneuver and bore others with your words of wisdom and failure hoping it'll help them.  It's amazing how clear things become when you focus on quality vs quantity.

I recommend for anyone wanting to understand how a corporation works and how you can make yourself an important part of it, read the very short book "What the CEO Wants You to Know" by Ram Charan  ~ km

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Veterans Day Speech

I was invited to give a speech about being wounded in combat at Maize South Middle School in Kansas on November 8, 2013. This assembly was something the schools staff and students put together to honor our nation's veterans. It was a complete honor to be invited. But I was very apprehensive about going and talking about my injuries. I was nervous because I had not really shared much about my story, other than through blogs and small talk. This was a great test and challenge I completely accepted.

I was mostly worried about my delivery and keeping my emotions at bay. But as I entered the gymnasium I realized that most of what I was scared about seemed to dissipate. I felt at home again. I saw many familiar faces, recognized old coaches, and talked with young kids. (The Veterans) We ate, read some very funny cards from young students, and mostly enjoyed ourselves. It was a great time.

The atmosphere is just how I remember it; warm and welcoming.  I had the privilege to talk about my experiences at a school I found myself in. A place where I was pushed and encouraged to reach higher. Also was the place where I watched the Twin Towers fall. It came time for me to give my speech and as I grabbed the microphone my words just started flowing. I talked about how I trained and volunteered during a time of war. I talked about funny instances being young and stupid in the military. I challenged everyone in the room to make their life count. I had fun with it. It felt good.

When I wrapped up the speech, every single person stood up and began to cheer and clap. I felt great, but I was mostly proud of myself for simply doing it. I was happy I kept my emotions under control and was able to connect to the audience and the veterans in front of me. When I sat down, I felt relieved. I had overcome a huge obstacle that had been nagging me by turning down opportunities to tell my story. To honor the men that I had served with and to keep serving the veterans that transition is something I value. I am no longer afraid of telling my story, I am proud to tell my story.

After I handed the microphone off to Jim, the principal, he turned to the crowd and applauded my speech and pointed out some key messages. He then told Maize Middle School, "that I had a great story to tell and that what I have overcome made me a model American and a model Maize High School graduate." This statement completely wiped out my doubtful thoughts about my story and has sparked something new. I now have the ability to tell others why I am here and at the same time honor my Ranger buddies who never made it home. I never thought I would do this or overcome this fear. I never thought I would face my story and inspire others by it. But I found that even though there were 1,000 people inside that gym, I connected to everyone of them by something I experienced.

I dont think that the Middle Schoolers, Staff, and Administrators realize how much they helped me. They were not only a motivated bunch but they pushed me past a fear I have never faced. I want to tell them all "Thank You" for listening and helping me through that obstacle. I will never forget that experience.


This picture is a reminder that we all still have a purpose.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Veteran suicide: 22 a day and counting

During my first semester of Nursing School, I had the opportunity to research a sentinel event in the health care industry.  A sentinel event is any unanticipated event in a healthcare setting resulting in death or serious physical or psychological injury to a patient or patients, not related to the natural course of the patient's illness.  Performing surgery on the wrong patient, an instrument or object left in the patient following a procedure, and accidental death of a full-term infant are all examples of sentinel events.  Being a Veteran, I did a database search for any sentinel events at VA Hospitals.  The results of my search left me disgusted.  A majority of the first twenty results were involving the Atlanta VA Medical Center.  

Joseph Petit was an enlisted soldier who one day wanted to be an Army Ranger.  Following his initial entry training, Petit injured himself doing a parachute landing fall during Airborne School, and had to be medically separated from the military.  Over the next two decades, Petit not only battled physical pain, having to use a wheelchair to get around, but also mental illness.  He suffered from major depression, auditory hallucinations, and had suicidal ideation on a regular basis, attempting to take his life once before.  A little over a year ago, on November 8, 2012, Petit went into the emergency room to seek help to eliminate the voices that he was hearing that were telling him to hurt his mother.  As protocol is, the ER transferred him to the mental health inpatient unit.  The next morning, Petit was discharged by his psychiatrist.  

Petit's family had contacted the hospital to make sure that he was doing okay.  They were told that he was discharged and they anticipated his arrival back at home soon.  That day, Petit never came home.  Following his discharge, he wheeled himself into a bathroom on the eighth floor and locked the door behind himself, and committed suicide.  A staff member found his body twenty-four hours following his discharge, in the bathroom, in his wheelchair, with a trash bag over his head and a blue cord tied around his neck.  Petit had breathed his last breath in anger, frustration, and hopelessness..

When I did my run from Georgia to Indianapolis, the Department of Veteran Affairs stated that there were 18 Veterans committing suicide each day.  Now, two years later, the number of Veteran suicides per day is 22.  Let's do some math:
22 x 365 = 8,030/year 

According to Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), there are roughly 30,000 Americans that commit suicide each year.  So, if we take the amount of Veteran suicides per year (8,030) and compare it to the suicides by Americans, we get this:

27%, 1 out of every 4, one-quarter of all U.S. suicide is Veteran related.  There is no easy way to put it (I'm not a statistical genius, but these numbers are from two organizations and I just did the math).  This is a huge problem that we are facing.  If you are a Veteran who is successful in life and not doing anything to help out your battle buddies, you are WRONG.  You can be the greatest psychiatrist, social worker, or doctor in the world, but you are not going to get inside the mind of a war fighter like another Veteran can. 

In the time it took me to write this, another Veteran has taken their life.

For a great grassroots effort to prevent Veteran suicide, visit  km

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day 2013

On this Veterans Day it is my great honor and privilege to salute and say thank you to each of you who have worn the uniform and stood between us and those who would threaten our freedoms.

To those who served and fought in WWII and Korea - you set the standard and the example for us to follow.  Too many of you are crossing over to the patrol base on the other side every day.  Thank you for the sacrifices you made, years away from family, too many comrades lost.  We will always remember and honor you.

For those of you who served in Vietnam or during the Vietnam War, welcome home and thank you.  If we said thanks every day for the rest of our lives we would still not have said it enough to make up for the poor welcome you received when you came home.  Thank you.

Those of you who served during the Cold War, thank you for standing tall and for your part in rebuilding the military after Vietnam.  It was a challenge for our country to move from the draft to an all-volunteer force.  For those who volunteered, or who stayed on after being drafted, the professionalism and capabilities of our modern forces are your legacy.  Thank you.

Fewer than 1% of the US population has served in the military since 9/11.  Such a tiny fraction to bear such a tremendous burden - but bear it you did, and many of you volunteered to serve after 9/11, knowing we are a nation at war.  For your bravery, your courage, and your sacrifice, we say thank you from the very bottom of our hearts.

To all veterans - from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and the Coast Guard - again, thank you.  I wish for each of you a very happy Veterans Day.  Remember that regardless of where you are in your transition - whether it begins next year or has been ongoing the past twenty - GallantFew stands ready to help you.

V/R  Karl