I was handed my DD-214 by an E-4 that I never knew, had no connection to, and would not remember the moment after I walked out of his cubicle at Personnel. But, upon walking out, I was officially a civilian, and immediately lost the community and network of brothers and sisters with whom I felt I shared some common DNA. Starting a veteran-focused podcast 11 years later, and having the pleasure of reconnecting with veterans – some I knew from my time in uniform, some I have met since, I’m immediately reminded of the common DNA and community that veterans provide to each other. When I begin recording a podcast, I notice that I let my guard down and feel at ease when talking to fellow service members. And the value that a network of veterans can add to your life simply cannot be overstated. Beyond the obvious reason – no civilian can fully understand life in uniform and the sacrifices that go along with it, fellow veterans are likely enduring the same struggles, confusion and angst as you in CivilianLand. I was not the first or last service member to suddenly walk out of Personnel unceremoniously into a completely foreign and new terrain. So, while veterans are all shouldering the transition into a new Area of Responsibility (AOR), we can be each other’s greatest supporters and, also beneficially, each other’s harshest critics. I absolutely place more value on feedback, even negative, coming from another vet, and I’d go so far as to say that s/he will better know how to deliver a message to motivate or calibrate me, and in a way that I’ll understand, acknowledge and move forward. There is also an instant credibility that another vet brings to the table, a bargaining chip, if you will. Think back to a time when you knew someone, and had already formed some opinions of them; then, upon learning that they also served, did your biases not change? I can look back upon my life and find few civilians who didn’t disappoint me or drop the ball at some point. But, the quality of my interactions and relationships with veterans, even here in CivLand, has far exceeded anything I’ve found with those who’ve never “raise your right hand and repeat after me: I, state your name…” As warriors-turned-civilians, our obligation is no longer directly to the Constitution, but it is now to each other – to be the ear to listen, the sounding board when a veteran needs advice… or calibration! If you’ve earned a DD-214, you should be standing on the sandbar, with every other veteran, together in a strong, connected community; not as a one-person island – alone, confused and missing the camaraderie we all knew when together in service to this great country. Build a strong network of fellow veterans. It may be the best thing you do in CivLand! Make sure you don’t miss anything by following us on social media, and subscribing to the podcast! https:/linktr.ee/veteransinthewild
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