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So its been over a week and a half since my last post and I have been itching to get back on here and write, yet it seems life likes to throw curveballs in the way of our best laid plans.  Not that this post was going to be a quick and easy little haiku or something… I had planned to recap the deployment with pictures and also run through my entire post deployment leave (almost a month long vacation haha) so I have my work cut out for me…

ImageThe Marines of Marine Wing Support Squadron 373 have landed! Say hello to your new home for the next seven months.

First things first we need to let the enemy know the “Aces” have arrived! 

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Now that our name is over the door, let’s kick off our deployment.

As you would imagine there is a great deal of work to do, but living where you work also means that you are going to have a great deal of downtime as well.  For me I filled this time with work on Green Collar Vets social media marketing strategy and started the Push4Likes campaign to help their Facebook fan page gain more followers https://www.facebook.com/GreenCollarVets 

Each week I would total up the number of likes the page got that week and every 10 likes meant a pushup for me.  It wasn’t really rocket surgery but it gave my family and friends a way to see me each week while I was gone and also went to a good cause.  To watch all of the videos from that campaign you can visit my new fan page https://www.facebook.com/1greenmarine and work your way back in time from my very last video in country (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10200329883323237) to my very first (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=4487813846974&set=vb.453668764666362&type=2&theater).  

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So with 280 pushups in the books and on camera I felt good about packing things up and heading back home for some rest and relaxation.  Of course to do that I would first have to survive the 30 something hour trip home with a few days spent at Manass Air Force Base in Kyrgyzstan… http://instagram.com/p/XbwUqPqrn4/ http://instagram.com/p/XZnj-NKroP/ few hour layover in Germany after they overfilled our plane with fuel (you can do that?) and finally a great greeting by the Pease Greeters in New Hampshire! http://www.peasegreeters.org/ and finally we landed in the evening back in Miramar!!!

 

The first week was mostly admin stuff, turning in gear, getting medical exams and ensuring that all the Marines were mentally and physically good to head off on post deployment leave. When the gun sounded and the leave papers were signed I made myself scarce as I headed off for Boston to visit the family and see home for the first time in a year and a half. Image

getting to see Mom!

http://instagram.com/p/YGFlRSqri3/  my brother!

http://instagram.com/p/YFwwUIKruo/ and my grandparents!

http://instagram.com/p/YQLRzmKrnP/ the house was done up like Uncle Sam’s place and my parents were very proud and excited to have me back in the States and away from the Taliban… little did they know that while we were visiting my brother in Boston we would be driving past a scene of devastation only 24 hours later as the Boston Marathon bombing would happen the very next day… I want my sidearm back haha!

Got to take a trip up to Umass and visit my old school as well as my brother who is a senior there… http://instagram.com/p/YVU6eyqruU/ (we did what anyone on post deployment leave should do… go fishing for trout and cook them up while drinking beer).  http://instagram.com/p/YVT1WWqrsK/  after a great week at home it was time to return to San Diego and see these cute little gentlemen who call me dad 😉 http://instagram.com/p/YV9qNWKrmn/  

Only home for 3-4 days I departed using a Space A flight from Coronado to Oahu for a week in Maui… Image

after a quick half hour flight to Maui I parked my Cadillac http://instagram.com/p/YirYeIqrp7/ and settled into my condo http://instagram.com/p/YhHPzCKrtH/ ahh now the only thing I could use is a cigar and a sunset http://instagram.com/p/ZMDQc7Krpe/

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Maui-

Day 1:  Took a drive out to West Maui to hike a trail called http://instagram.com/p/YizTfxKrkh/ which led me to views like this… http://instagram.com/p/Yi2xpLKrp4/ http://instagram.com/p/Yi4pZRKrsq/ http://instagram.com/p/Yi4t_rKrsv/ and http://instagram.com/p/Yi4zxXqrs1/.  On the way back I randomly saw this little fella on the side of the road and had to stop and take a picture http://instagram.com/p/YjIoHTqrkB/. 

Day 2:  Took a drive down to the old lava flows and stopped for a bit at a State Park http://instagram.com/p/ZMDOq8qrpZ/ … good ole adventurous me I started climbing some rocks and found myself on a nude beach! 

ImageWell when in Rome I always say, plus I was hot from climbing all those rocks… so I stripped down and jumped in the water to cool off.  After my nudist adventure I kept going until I reached the old lava flows. Image

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 That evening I drove up to Kaanapali Beach to the Hyatt Regancy for a luau!!! http://instagram.com/p/ZMBx7IKrmr/, http://instagram.com/p/ZMBzTxKrmv/, http://instagram.com/p/ZMB9JBKrnE/, http://instagram.com/p/ZMCK2uKrnZ/, http://instagram.com/p/ZMCPDkKrnl/ and http://instagram.com/p/ZMCW97Krn5/.  Nothing beats a Mai Tai http://instagram.com/p/ZMC_o3KrpA/. 

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Day 3:  The search for waterfalls commences as I drive down Hana Highway in search of a place to venture off the beaten path.  http://instagram.com/p/YoPo0Jqrml/ http://instagram.com/p/YoQNAPqrnV/ http://instagram.com/p/YoPcdaKrmA/ and http://instagram.com/p/YoPhbDKrmQ/.  Not only do I find a stream that leads me to waterfall after waterfall, but I follow it up with a drive up to the top of Mt Haleakala where I spent some time above the clouds! http://instagram.com/p/YoWu_YKrhu/ http://instagram.com/p/Yo_bAyKriJ/ http://instagram.com/p/ZL5uhbKrlm/ http://instagram.com/p/ZL6ZdcKrmq/ http://instagram.com/p/ZL6GtbqrmQ/ and http://instagram.com/p/ZL8PpMqrps/.  I stopped off at the Dog and Duck Irish pub http://theworldfamousdogandduck.com/ for a quick beer after an adventurous day and had a blast beating bar tricks with my favorite bartender Kat ;-).  

 

Day 4:  I took a trip up to visit a great friend and fellow CEO Space member, Eve Hogan at her Sacred Garden up the road from me.  What a spiritual visit it was to walk the labyrinth and sit in the garden and talk to Eve about all the great work she does with relationship counseling and spiritual guidance.  Image

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To learn more about the amazing work that Eve does, visit her website http://www.evehogan.com/ and learn how she can transform your life as well!

http://www.heartpath.com/home.htm 

Ended the day with a black light party where I met a former Marine and we danced like tribal warriors lol 

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Day 5:  A day of relaxation, walks on the beach and hot tub therapy!

A quick stop at the Pearl Harbor museum while waiting for my flight back from Oahu to San diego, what a powerful monument… I certainly could still feel the loss…

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A quick trip back to San Diego and it was time to “get to work” haha tiled the kitchen floor and got my life back in order so I would be ready to hit the ground running for my first day back at work on Monday as well as starting to work toward a fast paced education in the commercial green building arena!  Thanks for coming along on my post deployment journey, here are a couple extra pictures to finish this up!

 

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on the flight!

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Fenway being Boston strong!

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haha looking wild in Maui!

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Pearl Harbor submarine musuem

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Oorah!

 

 

 

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Back home to Bombs in Boston

14 April 2013 began a week like any week Veterans may encounter upon a return from a deployment, packing in the visits and meetings with friends and family who have worried and waited to see you safely arrive back on American soil…

A trip out to Boston to see my younger brother had us stuck in miserable traffic trying to navigate Mass Ave and Washington St amidst the already restricted routes for the next days marathon. We finally made it and had a great visit with him as he spoke about the positive volunteer work he has been doing for a church he attends and his thoughts of coming back to Cali (he had lived with me before the deployment). Little did we know that where we sat and ate turkey wraps we were no more than a block or two from a scene of devastation only 24 hours into the future…

First hearing the reports of two bombs detonating at the finish line of the Boston Marathon I was shocked… my mind instantly goes into a logical Marine mode… what was their target, motive… gain from this? Of course it is a highly populated area but the logistical strain that carrying out an attack like this requires is not usually wasted on simply a large crowd… typically there needs to be a symbolic message as well. There just didn’t seem to be that sort of message as you examine a well-known race that features world class athletes from all over the globe… not just the wicked wicked West.
Reports are swirling about a possible suspect of middle eastern descent, but at this point it just doesn’t read to me like the sort of attack carried out by the usual suspects. I could very well be wrong but everything I saw of the scene and aftermath just didn’t seem to fit.

There were initial reports of video showing a man placing a backpack into a trash can, but the descriptions of the blast were not in alignment with this as it was described as a wall of glass exploding out into the sidewalk, meaning the blast came from inside the storefront and not on the side walk itself (glass does not move toward a blast epicenter). Needless to say I will be following the PBA (post blast analysis) with some interest and I will continue to keep my readers informed from a former Counter IED standpoint.

Lastly my thoughts and prayers go out to those individuals and their families directly affected by this attack. I was talking with my mom about how this felt like a post-blast moment in Afghanistan or Iraq… why we train Marines on dispursion (maintaining space between each other) so that a blast claims one and not a whole crowd, and how civilians at an event like this never even have a chance to protect themselves. Despite excellent work done in both Iraq and Afghanistan it is plain to see… the world still contains bad people willing to risk their own life to do bad things to those who have never done anything to them, yet believe in different ideals. With all the budget cuts to our military I hope the right people in the right places remember this when it comes time to cut the number of bullets being shot on ranges, the amount of schooling and training specialists get in CIED and anti-terrorism training and finally how charity begins at home… sending billions to ungrateful countries could be utilized to secure our own.

It is a sad day when my homecoming is highlighted by the actions of a few with a purpose to destroy…

Turning the efforts inward

So a week or so of the home life and I finally feel like I’m back in the groove of normal 1st world country living… As I wrap up my volunteer work with Green Collar Vets I took some time to look back and review the work I managed to accomplish while deployed. It seems like just yesterday that I was laying out a social marketing plan to create from scratch an interactive presence online. My reasons for focusing on social media were three pronged… 1. build a community that could shape our strategy by acting as a sound board/Q&A forum 2. create a strong network of Veterans/Supporters/Employers/Educators that would solve some of its own problems 3. Finally create a strong social crowd funding platform that could be utilized to fund future programs

At the start this is what we had… a website…
Yes only a website, no Facebook, no Twitter, no LinkedIn or Youtube or anything sounding like Pinterest or Tumblr…
So as I hit the deck in Afghanistan on 23 August 2012 I went to work in my off time, building links with other avid Veteran supporters, reaching out to military spouses, family members and former/current service members from all branches. This doesn’t sound like much I suppose until you realize that my off time was after I finished three separate billets (jobs)… I was the Intelligence Officer, Supply Officer and Contracting Liaison for my undermanned unit. So after that I was busy working to grow a social media marketing strategy from the ground up. Knowing that my access to social media was limited (I had to walk a mile to get to a computer lab where I could get on FB/Twitter etc) I hired a Virtual Assistant from the Philipines to help me with my daily tasks. I also hired another VA to do the SEO work to drive traffic to the website and help build the community of followers and interested Vets.

Our Twitter handle picked up speed fastest and we were quickly over 10k followers, we currently sit just about 25,000 followers and a healthy network of folks who retweet and endorse our efforts. http://www.twitter.com/greencollarvet
I have since started my own Twitter handle to elaborate on additional Veteran affairs and green technology issues as I transition from the military into a green career. https://twitter.com/Nottahobbie7777

The real effort came with promoting our Facebook fan page http://www.facebook.com/greencollarvets as the Likes were just not rolling in with the speed I would have liked. I had dreams of Likes pouring by the thousands but each week we would only gain tens, not even hundreds… Finally after a month or two I put my mind to figuring out how to create a page that produces interactive conversation with the very people I am working to help with. Voila… an idea! Push4Likes campaign! In Afghanistan I really didn’t have a lot of resources but I could certainly sacrifice some physical exertion to thank the supporters who came out to say that they “Liked” what we were doing and supported our efforts. So it begin, a weekly video to update the followers of the Fb page on how many Likes we had gotten that week, for each 10 Likes I would do a pushup… at this point we are over 5,800 Likes and the page is now growing organically simply due to the number of individuals talking about it and sharing it with others solely out of a desire to see an improved landscape for our nation’s heroes. Also I have started a fan page for this blog and my writing to continue the work http://www.facebook.com/1greenmarine

In regard to LinkedIn, we didn’t have a profile and I recently received an email that http://www.linkedin.com/greencollarvets was in the top 10% most visited profiles on the top social media site for networking. I have my own personal profile and I will be continuing to update it as I make my way toward the finish of my military career… working to translate the last 6 years into civilian terms http://www.linkedin.com/pub/lt-justin-leblanc/3a/42a/525

Suffice to say the last seven months were an all out effort to crack the social media marketing nut and do a multitude of things… explain what we do and why it is important, educate people on the need for assistance for Veterans as they transfer into a new aspect of their lives and finally engaged those going through the process to learn what they need, what they are getting and how the gap can be better filled in terms of preparing them for successful and sustainable lives after the military. All being said we wound up pulling together more than 30,000 followers and supporters that participated in an engaged and interactive experience that gave Green Collar Vets further insight into the current challenges facing each Marine/Sailor/Soldier/Airman that is EAS’ing. This is by no means a chance to toot my own horn, instead it is a perfect example of how urgent and understood the needs of the Veteran community are as more than a decade of war continues on.

I hope that those who read what I write will take the time to Like/Follow my personal pages and continue to support the effort to provide solutions for our Veteran community.

The best things about home…

The best things about home….

As the wheels of the plane touch down and the reality that we might actually be home washes over us it is only natural to start to think through seeing those we care about most.  Will they be excited?  Will they have gotten used to us not being around?  The first impression of that meeting is not only the subject of numerous classic photos, but is a very meaningful moment for many service members arriving back home… 

The second I opened the door to home I had man’s best friend literally bouncing off the ceiling with excitement to see me… this my friends is what makes coming home worth while. In fact my little buddy was so happy to see me that the door could barely contain him, barely keep us apart.  Such loyalty and dedication was a blessing, this is what we as service members pray for, that when we arrive back home the world hasn’t decided to completely abandoned ship… switched directions and spoke out of both sides of their mouthes.  Sadly for some Vets, this is not the case as they arrive back home to empty bank accounts, broken promises and a feeling of having to start over.  

Only a few days after getting back home I was able to reward my Guido (part Chihuahua/ part Min Pin) by bringing him a friend.  Outside of Petco there were rescue dogs in need of a good home… when you see a dog as cute as this little guy boy is it hard to say no… and there you have it now Scout (he likes to stand up on his hind legs like he is scouting the area) who is Guido’s little brother.  Nothing makes arriving back home better than bumming it up with cheap gym shorts, doing projects around the house and then relaxing with the two cutest little balls of fur.  Thank you to everyone who commented on my posts while I was deployed… I will continue to be writing as complete the last 5-6 months of my military career and appreciate all of your support.

 

 

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Playing the waiting game

So we have left a combat zone!  sort of I suppose… here we sit at Manas Air Force base in Kyrgzstan counting down the hours/days till our much anticipated flight back toward the modern western world.  As our excitement rose with the C-17 leaving Bastion airfield it has quickly been put on ice as we live through a handful of possibly the longest days of our lives.  Nothing is worse than anticipation, if there were grass here we would be watching it grow, yet all we have is this paint and that wall… might as well watch it dry.

Don’t get me wrong there is much to do here, there are two “movie theatres” and places to play video games and heck the whole base is a Wifi hotspot which I had forgot existed.  The chowhall is open 24/7 and you can pretty much get yourself fat and happy without much trouble.  If you wish to take the other route, the gym is actually pretty nice and if you dont mind running small circles I suppose you could run the fenceline and pray that there isn’t a wild cat sitting up on the Hesco barriers as you run by (has happened I’m being told).  But when all you want to do is finally be home, the hours can be relentless.  

Fortunately for me I am a workaholic and can always find something to pass the time, whether it be writing this now or researching grad schools, travel destinations for my post-deployment trip to Hawaii or just being a fixed object on social media… I keep myself busy.  Yet even for me I feel the urge to sit on my own couch, watch my tv and finally drop my pack… or maybe even unpack, as living out of a bag gets old quick (not sure how those global backpackers do it).  

I suppose I should be fairly official with this in some way, but I am formerly putting myself out to the world for employment/business opportunities as my military ride is now a solid six months from its expiration date.  I am interested in opportunities requiring a dynamic leader capable of bringing together a group of people to solve problems, accomplish milestones and generally raise the level of excellence in an organization.  I am well suited for start-ups and have the energy and drive to work my way to results as I learn to be more efficient.  I am as the blog states quite interested in green technology, most specifically alternative energies and creating more innovative and sustainable systems (whether it be a building, car or industry).  Formally I am educated in pre-medical studies and liked the practicality of kinesiology, yet the health field does not interest me as the business one does.  I have been working in Supply and logistics for the last 6 years and currently act as the “CFO” for my Squadron… managing a 2-3 million dollar a year budget, accounting for more than 80 million dollars in equipment and running an office of more than 15 Marines with everywhere from 1 year to 17 years of experience.    

Simply put I am looking for a challenge, whether it arrive in the form of a W-2 employment opportunity, a franchise or an upstart team of innovators where my work would result in the growth and development of a new opportunity.  I have thoughts of getting an MBA within the next five years but have received plenty of good advice in regard to arriving at an MBA program with plenty of real world business experience if I want to get the most out of it… so this is in short what I am looking to get a crack at, rolling up the sleeves and stepping into a role that matters, that is constantly changing, with a team that is ready to change the world or at least take a solid crack at it…

I suppose this rant is every bit as much for me to shape what I am looking for as it is to advertise to anyone following this blog that I am looking.  My Dad always said, “you miss 100% of the shots you never take” and him and Wayne Gretzky cant be too far off.  So here goes I am not tied to any one area geographically, I love to travel in fact, and I am ready to do something noteworthy!

Pete's Place watching some cornhole

Pete’s Place watching some cornhole


Cornhole, a military past time

Cornhole, a military past time

As a deployment comes to an end there are all manners of “housekeeping” that present themselves in terms of taking care of your Marines and rewarding those who went above and beyond during the course of the 7 month period.  Evaluations, fitness reports and award submissions are a tedious but very necessary aspect of closing out a deployment and ensuring that invididuals feel that their work was appreciated by the powers to be.  Now it is hard to not want to award each and every Marine with something, especially after a deployment such as ours where we replaced more than 500 Marines with less than 200.  We brought our “A” team this is for sure and so many of these individuals stepped up and completed work that was either well above their rank, outside of their specialities or both.  

The award process is designed to be objective, taking a Marine’s accomplishments and comparing them to what their peers have typically done to receive an award of this level or that.  Needless to say the award process, along with many similiar processes in the military isn’t perfect and many factors manage to make themselves felt as the process unfolds.  Each commander brings with him/her past experiences, a determination of what they believe is most important to the success of the unit and a bias toward how awards should be or shouldn’t be handed out.  All of this in conjunction with the seniority of those individuals submitting the awards and the sway they may hold over the awards board that will ultimately decide whether this award or that award is worthy of being given all play significant roles.  Coming from a logistics support role, I have told my Marines numerous times that what we do is much like playing defense in football… no one notices you until you give up a big score, and if you do your job well it goes largely unnoticed.  This does not bode well for awards where the write up needs to sound about as sexy as it can in order to win the favor of the awards board (typically not comprised of many logistics support savy individuals) in order to be 1. understood 2. once understood it can be appreciated 3. awarded appropriately.  Case in point if I were to tell you how an individual maintained a 99% accuracy on a 50 million dollar equipment account, conducting 34,000 sub-custody transactions in the process, the numbers may sound large but not ever having done that work you have no idea if that is impressive or routine for a Marine in that position.  

In the end I made sure to express to my Marines specifically that their work was of the highest caliber and regardless of what awards got approved for them, they would have my respect and appreciation.  As a token of that appreciation I made sure to give each of them a flag flown over the compound here encased for them to send home for their parents to hang up or keep with them as a sign of the work they had done.  Years from now they may only have the stories and hopefully a few keepsakes from this deployment and I think a flag flown here will be one they will treasure as time passes.

 

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From left to right: Cpl Micha Davis, Cpl Eriberto Bravo, Cpl Derek Bauer and LCpl Randy Garcia

ImageFrom left to right: Cpl Micha Davis, Cpl Eriberto Bravo, me, Cpl Derek Bauer and LCpl Randy Garcia

 

I can see the finish now

There may be nothing worse than hope, ok well maybe there are worse things but man as we make our way through the last month of the deployment it seems the closer to the plane ride home we get the harder and harder it is to keep pushing on. For months we remained level headed, optimistic and even found ways to enjoy the time, but a little bit of hope, whether it be the thought of a cold beer as I sit overlooking the ocean in San Diego or the sight of friends and family, has suddenly made all of us acutely aware of each passing minute as it slowly crawls by. There must be some sort of mathematical equation to explain the ratio of time left deployed to the sanity of the individual, and if I stay sane long enough to make it on the plane home, perhaps I’ll work on it as we fly home.

My saving grace in this whole process is simply a noticeable uptick in the volume of work I have to complete each day. Our replacements are here on deck and in order for me to slap the table at the end of all this and go home there is a laundry list of items I have to complete. Without this burst of work though I don’t know how some Marines are managing. For instance many of our operational commitments diminish during this turnover period as the focus shifts to the internal tasks of getting the next unit set up for success vs. completing missions external to us. Many of the operators and individuals who have been busy the entire deployment with this work are now wandering around waiting for the time to clear customs and get out of dodge, but man the waiting is boring.

It doesn’t help either that most if not all of our personal morale devices (computers/video games/movies) are in the mail and enroute back to the states. I have read at least 10-15 books while deployed here, but when I get done with the today and see that all there is to do is read I honestly can’t get myself to crack a book for the life of me. Something about having options makes everything more enjoyable. I’m almost running out of Sudoku puzzles to solve and I’m scared of what I will do once they are gone…

On a completely unrelated note, for anyone who is deploying and will be turning over with another unit, here is a bit of free advice to make the process as smooth and painless as possible…

1. Everything the previous unit did during their time was not wrong and as the incoming unit it is easy for you to see the discrepancies, but remember you also can’t see the volume of work they were tasked with when they made mistakes or had to choose to do something one way or another. Pointing out all these mistakes to them is not beneficial, note them for yourself and fix or change what you want once you have officially taken over. The more you feel it is your job to point out their shortcomings, the less likely they will be to provide you the best turnover possible, which only hurts you in the long run as they will be back home sipping cool drinks and laughing at you…

2. You are new to theatre and we have been here for 7 months, you can know everything there is to know about your job, publications and manuals for the work etc, but that doesn’t mean it applies exactly here. So many times units arrive with the desire to make an impact, change the way things are done and basically show positive change… all these things are great unless your initiative is incorrectly placed. There are plenty of policies and directives that only apply in country and have been forged from several experiences of new units coming in changing things and then getting hit with the reality of the difference between garrison life and work in a combat zone. Listen to the unit you are replacing, even if they are a bunch of window lickers there is value in knowing which windows you shouldn’t lick…

3. If you are fortunate to be replacing a unit that still has any shred of motivation left in it and you are offerred a dynamic and informative turnover, do not ignore it/be lazy or generally just act like its not a big deal. That unit can just as easily say “ok here is your turnover binder, good luck”. The truly important things you need to learn from the outgoing unit are not the basics you already know, they are the specific nuances of how to accomplish something, the transfer of valuable relationships built over time and the small nuggets of wisdom that will keep you sane long after you are sick of sand…

As we prepare to pop green smoke and get the f’ outta dodge, I hope you have enjoyed sharing this experience with me as I describe, bitch and moan the process of a 7 month deployment. I will be starting much more heavily into the process of transitioning out of the military once home and the next 6 months should be quite interesting as I face some major life changing decisions. If you know a service member who is in a similiar situation, please send them the link to this blog and who knows it might actually help one or two, which is all I can hope for…

Budget Cuts in the DoD

By no means is this breaking news, but the budget cuts have hit the DoD and specifically the Department of the Navy in ways that will make transitioning from military service that much more perilous for our young warriors.  

As I sat down with each of my Marines this past week to discuss their personal and professional goals in regard to returning home and for some of them the last year and a half of active duty service, they all said in their own words the exact same thing.  My goal is to begin to take pre-requisite classes at the local community college utilizing the tuition assistance program so that when my four years are up I can transition smoothly into finishing my college degree and being competitive for employment.  I happen to think that this idea of knocking out generic english, math and science courses at a local college for nothing or close to it will ultimately allow them to maximize their GI Bill benefits and also give them the chance to hone in on exactly what they might like to study once the time comes to go full time in school and declare a major.  I advise them to take at least one or two classes in a subject that interests them in order to better know if this will be something they would want to invest another 2-3 years of education in before they are locked into that pathway.  

With the removal of the tuition assistance program from the USMC, Army and Navy education programs, these service members will be forced to tackle college, not in a slow and controlled format while serving, but instead in one giant leap at the end of their service.  This creates relatively minor differences in their transition, with major consequences.  Instead of getting to feel the water and slowly shape their plan for a transition, building confidence in what career path they want to venture into after their service, more and more of the decision will be a leap-and-see strategy that will place them in the shoes of so many high school graduates who leave for college with no more of an idea what they want to study than when they were born.  Veterans have always utilized this gradual progression from active duty to civilian education as a great way to mitigate the risks associated with this transition, filling the gap between two very different worlds.

Many people will simply turn to the GI Bill as the solution for the disappearing act pulled by tuition assistance in the wake of the fiscal sequestration budget cuts, but a wave of late payments on GI Bill benefits shows that those individuals seeking to use that resource will not see smooth sailing either.  The sad and ultimate consequence will be fewer Veterans with college courses, degrees and higher education experience under their belt as they try and compete in a tight job market with their civilian counterparts.  We can point fingers to the right and to the left, but in the end we just want to say thank you to all involved, for making what is already a difficult transition, just that much harder…

 

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