If Things Don’t Exactly Workout
Life just happens even when if we’d like to slow it down. I think a wise person somewhere said that what happens to us isn’t as important as what we do next.
Family Absent Without Leave
There can be dozens of reasons why but sometimes while members of the military serve their country, the families they love can slip away. When the Veteran opens the front door, a silence
Blog Post - Crime Ridden Area Veterans
This is the city much like the cities where a lot of Veterans come from including me. Walk back with me in this blog to a time when thousands of Americans were getting killed in Vietnam. Troops were injured and died in Vietnam fighting a known enemy while the street gangs were killing in my city over drugs, money and power.
I heard about them but didn’t think a whole lot about them. I thought they were just a few trouble makers trying to be bad and fighting to make a name for themselves. You heard the names like the Crips, the Bloods and the Piru but they were just a fleeting thought. A fleeting thought until my friends, classmates and neighbors started getting shot and killed. One day while walking home from school with a friend, we were stopped by 4 guys in a 1963 Chevy Impala.
I heard about them but didn’t think a whole lot about them. I thought they were just a few trouble makers trying to be bad and fighting to make a name for themselves. You heard the names like the Crips, the Bloods and the Piru but they were just a fleeting thought. A fleeting thought until my friends, classmates and neighbors started getting shot and killed.
One day while walking home from school with a friend, we were stopped by 4 guys in a 1963 Chevy Impala. Two of the guys, one seated in the front and the other in back on the passenger side pointed guns at us. They demanded that I give them my leather jacket. Can you imagine being held up for a jacket? If the same thing happened to me today, I would probably make a different decision but in that moment, I refused to give up my leather jacket. The guy in the front seat cocked his revolver and threatened to kill us if I didn’t give him the jacket. After I refused again, he told my friend to leave. To my surprise, the person I thought was a friend walked away and left me standing alone.
I considered my options in that moment but I knew I couldn’t outrun a bullet or the car they were driving so I stood my ground. After what seemed like an eternity, they put their guns away and told me to get lost. I calmly walked away trying not to show fear but I really wanted to run like hell. In the days and weeks that followed, what angered me as much about the attempted robbery was the lack of action on the part of this “friend” I was with that day. He didn’t seek the help of anybody at my house, our neighbors or to my knowledge initiate a call to the police. What he did do is leave me high and dry and appeared to never look back.
That event marked the end of my relationship with the guy I called a friend. He always crossed the street or changed direction when he saw me after that day and I never reached out to him for an explanation. In the days and weeks that followed, what angered me as much about the attempted robbery was the lack of action on the part of this friend I was with that day. He didn’t seek the help of anybody at my house, our neighbors or to my knowledge initiate a call to the police. What he did do is leave me high and dry and appeared to never look back. That event marked the end of my relationship with the guy I called a friend. He always crossed the street or changed direction when he saw me after that day and I never reached out to him for an explanation.
In the months and years that followed, I began to hear many reports by the local radio stations, newspapers and TV news stations, (blogs didn’t exist then) about crimes being committed by gangs. People were getting beaten up for no apparent reason. There were drive-by shootings and random killings taking place on a regular basis. Los Angeles, Watts, Compton, Long Beach and Inglewood, California were exploding with gang related crimes.
When you live in crime-ridden neighborhoods, inner city war zones like mine where police helicopters run circular patterns in the sky over your neighborhood almost every night, you don’t think you have many options. The women often end up pregnant and often single parents while the man end up in jail. If you’re fortunate enough to avoid those scenarios, the legal prospects for making money usually lean toward some variation of getting a job at the post office, the county, city government or joining the military.
Veterans Family - Absent Without Leave
When the Veteran opens the front door, a silence just hits in places you never knew existed. This silence is different because you’ve never experienced this before. You might have experienced another kind of quiet from the battlefield. The one that warned you when all hell was about to break out but you knew how to fight your way out of that. This silence comes with a quiet that hurts like hell because you’re all alone.
Scenes like this are experienced in real time all over the world when veterans return home to an empty house where their friends or family once lived. Maybe all this is nobody’s fault or maybe it’s everybody’s fault but I think the military makes people angry.
Your spouse gets mad because you’re not there at night to help with the kids when they’re crying or fix the water heater when it breaks. Your friends are angry because you can’t party with them the way you used to do it. Last but not least, the time you spent alone in places where you didn’t want to be and doing things you didn’t want to do made you angry. Veterans pay a very high price for doing the right thing.
Blog Post - Preparing To Exit The Military
What you learned in the military can help you with the rest of your life but now it’s time to move on. Implementing all of these things before you walk through those exit gates might not be necessary but having the weapons in your arsenal will help you avoid some of the very expensive land mines that Veterans often stubble on.
The military taught you many things but at the core of everything you learned was to think and function as a team. The team effort was the best way to complete your mission. With that in mind, begin right now the process of communicating with your family and friends. Family and friends are your team that can help you transition back to civilian life.
1. Notify friends and family of your future intent to discharge from the military.
2. Sign up for classes on your base that provide transition assistance.
3. Open lines of communication with your supervisor and get recommendation letters.
4. Begin networking before you leave to utilize available resources and personnel.
5. Take care of all medical issues now and maintain your records.
6. Start working on your resume while everything is still fresh in your mind.
7. Make sure you get your DD 214 during your out processing.
8. Be certain that you have a substantial savings. Leaving without money won’t be fun.
9. The best time to get a job is when you already have one. Find a job before you discharge.
10. Don’t try to make your civilian job function like the military. People in the workplace hate it & you’ll probably get fired.
11. If you joined the military from a bad neighborhood, plan your transition to a better area.
What we can do next (take note that I said “we”) is turn to one of our teams. In a another post I mentioned friends and family but now the team members I mean are fellow Veterans. I don’t believe that a stronger more united group can be found anyplace on earth. Former members of the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corp are trained to support their brothers and the day you returned to civilian life, you became part of the brotherhood.
Identifying yourself as a Veteran almost automatically inspires other Vets to extend a hand if they can so you are not alone. My next recommendation is to be prepared and willing to step outside your comfort zone. Do what you can do until you can do what you want to do. Trust and believe that hundreds of opportunities are available through other Veterans willing to help so don’t be too quick to refuse offers.
Your light at the end of the tunnel might just be your train headed to someplace you would’ve never considered. If you need a place to live, the Veterans Administration has resources for you. If you’re sick, disabled, homeless, unemployed, suicidal or just lonely there is help available.