Veteran 2 Veteran: A Veteran’s Day Interview

November 11th is a day that everyone who has served this great country knows and cherishes. A day of remembrance of the times we have shared with fellow brothers and sisters. For many of us, the day will include a free hair cut and a meal. I wonder, though, how many of us pick up the phone and call our fellow veterans and check-in? How is veteran’s day for the unemployed, homeless, or struggling veteran? How can those who aren’t veterans show their support to those who have served on this day? 

He served three combat tours and came home eight years ago. He had a successful transition, no real hiccups. Then 2020 took his job, the consequence of a global pandemic. This veteran’s day, he spends his day networking on Linkedin. This veteran’s day, he gets a hair cut to square away for the interview he has spent the last few months networking for. “Adapt and overcome,” he says to himself. As he sits down in the barbershop chair, a couple in their late 70s come up and thank him for his service. A handshake, a smile, and a card, “Marine, if you know anyone who is struggling, give them my number. When I came home from Vietnam, they spit on us. You are not alone. The brotherhood doesn’t end when you take the uniform off. We must take care of each other. Call your brothers and sisters.”

In barbershops and diners across America today, you could very well meet a veteran who is battling a war at home. A war that you cannot see but is very real. “Thank you for your service” can also be an action instead of just words. Five minutes of your time could reveal that you are, in fact, in a position to thank that veteran for their service. Maybe all you can offer is your time and your presence. Perhaps you know a family friend who is hiring. Perhaps you are an HR professional with fifteen years of experience in hiring and could provide a resume review or some interviewing tips. On veteran’s day, the last thing a veteran expects to happen is for someone to stop what they are doing and talk to us. A feeling has crept inside me as I write this paragraph. “You’re telling these people to “give” you all this. There are no handouts; all you have is you. All you have is your brother and sisters”. I mention all of these things not for myself but my brothers and sisters because I know what it’s like to be homeless, broke, and fighting the war at home. I was there only a few short years ago. I mention these things because I have asked what more can I do on veterans day. For the past three years, I have been blessed to work alongside 192 fellow veterans in their time of need for free because I could not afford to pay for any help during my time of need. It is the most rewarding part of my personal and professional life. I have met so many veterans who have become friends, family, and coworkers. Veterans such as fellow navy veteran James Roehling. 

James Roehling | US Navy Veteran | Technical Consultant

James and I sat down to discuss veterans’ day, transitioning, 22, culture, and tips for veterans seeking a tech career. Thank you to the ISM team for creating the best culture I have been a part of in my post-military career. Below is a write up of our brief discussion.

1.)  How was your transition out of the military? What are 3 of the biggest lessons you have learned?

1)For me, it will always be an ongoing experience. It’s been interesting, to say the least. That being said, the biggest lesson learned is that you are no longer in the service, and a “team” in the civilian world is not the same as your team in the service. Remember, it is about the journey, not the destination, so keep that in mind.

2.) Ask for help. An example is to ask how to translate your military experience into the civilian workforce. 

3.) Ensure you have a support group of other veterans, active duty, retired, and support in general.

2.)  As a veteran in tech, what advice would you give to those who are fellow veterans and are pursuing a career in tech? 

If you have the time, start your studies at least a year before getting out. That way, you’re looking for work with certifications/degrees before getting out. Find your resources, utilize the TAP program. The only stupid question is the question you didn’t ask!

3.)   What would you say to a fellow veteran struggling either physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, or a combination of all the above?

Don’t be afraid to reach out; find someone to talk to. I promise you’re not the only one feeling this way, and you will come in contact with someone that can guide you through it. For me, it was Project Refit.

4.)  Define culture in your own words?

Thats is a tough one. I can’t label it, but I can describe the feeling when you find a group of folks whose ideas, thought processes, and intentions align with your own. Like when serving in your unit, there was a bond you felt. That is how I would describe a good culture.

5.)  How has your experience been as a part of the ISM family? Why ISM?

I will relate this to my service background. ISM’s culture is one I am incredibly proud to be a part of and would never trade it for anything. I was introduced to ISM, the methodology, and the culture through Joseph Laudon. As a fellow veteran, we had that connection immediately, and the trust was well placed. ISM has been the best fit for me in a long time.

6.)   22. What does that number represent? Have you experienced a stigma regarding seeking any form of support or assistance? How do we make it stop?

22 is like the number 13 for a lot of us. Some don’t want to believe; others want to ignore it. I cannot speak for others when I say it, but I didn’t think I deserved the resources out there for me, even having earned it. That was MY battle. In my time outside of service, there wasn’t always an easy way to resources. That is no longer the case. There are discussion boards designed for veterans, groups, and buddy checks. Find the one that you connect with and stay connected!! 

Again for me, that is Project Refit. Additionally, I had a hard time making real friends at work. I would be friendly and helpful when it related to work but did not hang out or talk to others outside of work. Because of that, my list of friends dwindled, as did my ability to release anything I had bottled up.

7.)  What value does a veteran bring to an organization? What about a team that consists of 1 or more veterans?

Veterans have a unique bond regardless of the branch they served. It’s a tip of the hat, a glimmer of respect in the eye. With veterans, you get someone that upheld an oath from Day 1 that never expires. Honesty and trustworthiness go a long way. We’ve also been through things others have not, and have overcome many obstacles; this translates well into work ethic. Work hard; play hard!

8.)  How has mentorship affected your post-military career?

It has helped me put a name to a lot of “nuances” and issues I have. Having identified these has helped me correct where correction is needed or point out differences that I haven’t figured out. 

9.)  Veteran to veteran, if I needed someone to talk to, could I call you?

Absolutely, without question. My phone is never off. 702-820-#### ( Please send James a direct message on Linkedin for the last four https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-roehling/) 

10.)  Shout three fellow veterans or veteran support organizations who have played a significant part in your post-military success.

BuddyCheck22 (not sure if they’re around anymore)

Project Refit

Keri Millwater

Joseph Carlopoli

Joseph Laudon

Jarrod Tomasi

I want to thank James Roehling again for sitting down to chat with me. To all our brothers and sisters worldwide, I pray that this article will beneficially serve you. You are never alone. Feel free to connect with James (https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-roehling/) and I (https://www.linkedin.com/in/josephlaudon/) on Linkedin anytime. We are here for you. Happy Veteran’s Day. 

To those who are not veterans and have taken the time to read this, I want to thank you personally. For the time you take to thank us. For the parades, the ceremonies, the haircuts, the meals, the appreciation, and so much more. If you ever have questions or have a loved one that is a veteran who needs support, please contact me at your earliest convenience. Together we can end veteran suicide. 22 is 22 too many.

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