THOSE THAT SERVE

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INTRODUCTION

 

When I was thinking about starting a new interview series focusing on those from the military, the first person that came to mind was  retired Army Colonel who I interviewed back in 2018. It is an honor that he was so gracious to write the opening for this series featuring those who have and do serve in our military. 


It’s no coincidence that when people think of leadership they think of the military. Often the scene is one where a soldier is leading his or her troops through a life and death situation in combat. This scene is essence of what the military prepares for, to fight and win its nations wars and care for its people and their families. Military units live and die (quite literally) by the strength of their leaders. Because of this there is such a large investment leadership training, education and evaluation. Servicemembers spend their years in uniform learning time-tested leadership concepts and growing and improving as leaders. Leadership seeps into their DNA and they carry it into their personal and professional lives far beyond their military years. There is much to be learned from this and thanks to Anthony Eaton’s “Those Who Serve” series we can all benefit. Tune in as Anthony shines a spotlight on the link between military service and leadership.  ~Retired Colonel Rob Cambell

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THOSE THAT SERVE | Paul Mocarski

AE: What was it about the military that attracted you to join?


PM: I had a number of friends that joined the National Guard after high school. They enjoyed hearing their stories about the training they received and the experiences they had through the military. I wanted to have the same type of challenges and experiences.


The National Guard is a unique and essential element of the U.S. military. Founded in 1636 as a citizen force organized to protect families and towns from hostile attacks.


AE: How did the military change your perception of service and leadership?


PM: The military didn’t change my perception of service it provided the foundation for my understanding of service. I am a third-generation Soldier. My father and grandfather both served in the U.S. Army. My grandfather joined the Army in 1917 to fight in World War I and to earn his U.S. citizenship. Two of my uncles served in World War II and my cousin served in Viet Nam. 


I was lucky growing up that I had a number of leadership role models that helped me understand what good leadership looked like. This really helped when I entered basic training and was given leadership opportunities as part of training. However, whatever leadership knowledge I had at this point was only scratching the surface. The U.S. Army is the biggest and most successful leadership academy in the world. Every experience I have had in the military has made me a better leader. The NCO and Officer education programs are outstanding and the opportunities to learn and grow as a leader through experience are exceptional. I have been able to take this knowledge and skill from the military and use it to excel in my civilian career.


AE: I like the way you explain that. Everything is a trade off, what was the biggest challenge in being a service member?


PM: The hardest part of being an active reservist is managing the work-life balance. Most reservist juggle two or more jobs, one of them being the military, along with family and other priorities. There is no magic formula on how to manage these competing priorities and when you figure it out something changes. You get a new role in the military that changes your schedule and requirements or you have another child or you get a new civilian job. Maintaining this balance requires constant attention and care.


AE: We, civilians, forget that our service members face unique challenges. With that said, what have some of the rewards been for you?


PM: I have already mentioned the leadership opportunities and skills I have gained through the military. I would not have been as successful in life without that foundation. In addition, I have made great friends through the years. I have met some of the best men and women in the military and have established lifelong friendships. 


AE: Was it a challenge to transition from service to civilian life?


PM: As a reservist, the biggest challenge is maintaining work-life balance throughout service. The transition challenges are when a Soldier returns from deployment. While the Soldier may have been missed, the family has gotten used to running things on their own. The dynamics have changed a Soldier needs to consider this and understand the best way to reintegrate with the family while minimizing disruptive. 


AE: That is another thing I think we take for granted, that it is not just an adjustment for the service member. How has serving in the military prepared you for where you are today?


PM: I wouldn’t be where I am at today without the military. The challenges and successes I had in the military helped me expand my vision of what was possible. The training and experience gave me skills and confidence that my civilian peers didn’t have. As opposed to being a “part-time” Soldier I like to think of myself as a Soldier that works in the civilian sector. It gives me an edge.

When looking for a job outside of the military you need to be able to translate your military accomplishments, experiences, and skills so they related to the business world.


AE: There are so skills you have to master in service; what are some of those that stand our for you personally?


PM: The mission command concepts of mutual trust, shared understanding, and commander’s intent are very powerful. Civilian organizations talk about “empowering” employees but don’t really understand how to do it. The military has figured it out and mission command gives a framework for making it happen.


AE: What advice would you give to employers who may have a hard time making the connection between the skills you learned in the military to how they apply in civilian life?


PM: Storytelling is a good way to make that connection. As part of this, translate the “military speak” to understandable business turns. As an example, “I was giving a presentation to the Commanding General. You can think of him as the CEO of a company with 10,000 employees.” These comparisons help frame the information so that it is better understood by a civilian audience.


AE: That is great advice, I can certainly see the comparison and had not thought of it in that way. What advice would you give to someone considering enlisting?


PM: I would want to talk to them about their short-term and long-term goals a, and understand what they are, to help them identify the right branch and career field to get into.


AE: What advice would you give to someone who will be leaving the military and going back to civilian life?


PM: Don’t wait until you are 6 months or a year out to plan your transition. You should be thinking of your plan throughout your term of service. However, if you are not that proactive, don’t panic. Leverage all the resources the military gives you to prepare. Get on LinkedIn and start building a network in your target market and career area. Take advantage of the non-profit organizations out there that help veteran’s transition. Also, be willing to adjust your plan as required. Things seldom work out the way you’d like so adjust your goals and strategy as required.


“The veterans of our military services have put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms that we enjoy. They have dedicated their lives to their country and deserve to be recognized for their commitment.”

~Judd Gregg


Paul is a retired Army National Guard Colonel with 31 years of service and is a recipient of two Bronze Star Medals, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals, the Ohio Distinguished Service Medal, and four Ohio Commendation Medals. His final assignment was as the Commander of the 147th Regiment (Regional Training Institute). 


Paul is a native of Cleveland, Ohio and earned a Master of Science in Physics and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Cleveland State University. A life-long learner, he has also completed a Master of Strategic Studies degree at the U.S. Army War College and an MBA from the American Military University. He holds over 25 industry standard certifications which include the CISSP-ISSAP, CISSP, CRISC, CASP, and ITIL V3 Foundations certifications.

THOSE WHO SERVE | Slater Waltz

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AE: What was it about the military that attracted you to join?


SW: It started with my grandfathers. They both served in WWII. My paternal grandfather served in the Navy and my maternal grandfather served in the Army.


During HS, I attended a military boarding school (Carson Long Military Academy)


After attending college for two years, I was bored and wanted adventure. That led me to join the Marine Corps.


A Pentagon report detailing 2012-2013 recruits shows that 86% of new Air Force airmen had a close relative (parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle or cousin) who had served. The Navy rate was 82%; Army, 79%; and Marines, 77%.


AE: That is very honorable that you followed in the steps of your grandfathers; and being bored can be a motivator. Given that your grandfathers served, did the military change your perception of service and leadership?


SW: I don’t know if my perception of service changed as I always looked up to my grandfather’s and their service. However, leadership in the Marines is different than other services. They believe in and enforce small unit leadership. 

I think the biggest takeaway for me was the ability to lead my friends. We might be friends in the barracks, but that ends the minute we stepped into the field or were at work. The other was putting your mission in front of your personal needs. 


Being able to take care of those under you and the task at hand over what you need. If that is giving up your last MRE or working later so that you can accomplish your mission, whatever it takes.


AE: It is certainly a leadership skill to be able to separate friendship from leading. Caring for those that you lead as you describe is truly an example of servant leadership. For all leaders there is a trade off, what was the biggest challenge in being a service member?


SW: I was older when I joined (21 years old and had went to college for several years). I was not married nor did I have children. I grew up hunting and fishing in PA and had attended a military boarding school. A lot of challenges that many go through: home sick, being out in the cold or discipline was not an issue for me.

The biggest challenge for me was the repetitive “games” that we played on a weekly basis: Police Calls, Working parties, Field Day, being at formation 15 minutes prior to the 15 minutes prior to the 15 minutes prior that you needed to be there. When one gets in trouble, we all suffer!


AE: As with trade offs and challenges, there are great rewards, what have those been for you?


SW: The biggest for me is learning that your body can accept more pain and push through with little sleep.


Mentally you can push yourself way past what you “think” your body can do and this is a great lesson to take with you throughout life. Never quit, keep a positive mindset and know you can move past it has helped my career many times.


Each year, nearly 200,000 Service members transition from the military back to their civilian communities.


AE: Was it a challenge to transition from service to civilian life?


SW: Yes, I transitioned out in ’00 (I went back in after 9/11). At that time there wasn’t a LinkedIn or companies with full blown military outreach programs. 

I went back to college to finish my degree, but lacked the mentoring that is available to transitioning veterans now.


There is a wealth of information, online courses and career mentoring available through simple Google searches that I encourage all veterans to take advantage of as they move throughout their career.


AE: We forget and take for granted the advances in technology and how they have made it easier on our service members transitioning out. How has serving in the military prepared you for where you are today?


SW: My position directly relates to my military experience, but the path that led me here was supported by my military experience. I started out in sales. 

I think veterans have the drive and independence, along with the work ethic, to push through all the “No’s” and succeed in sales. 


This helped me break into the HR field through staffing sales. I built upon that which led me to where I am today building enterprise military programs.


AE: I can see that connection, the structure and the discipline that it takes being in sales is very similar to what it takes to be a successful sales person. Beside the discipline, are there any leadership skills you attribute to learning from your time in the military?


SW: I was told by a SSgt in the Marines “Cpl Waltz, you get more bees with honey”. Getting past that bees produce the honey, I didn’t understand at first. 

I am an NCO, why can’t I yell at my Marines. It was a great lesson that I learned as a JR Marine. 


You do not have to yell to motivate your people. Find out what makes them tick and run with that. You have to be a chameleon as a leader. A one size fits all approach does not always work. 


AE: That is a great leadership lesson. I think we all have an image of a Marine leader getting in the face of his soldiers. This is a great example of where leaders don’t always see the connection between their actions and the results and is a great segway to my next question. What advice would you give to employers who may have a hard time making the connection between the skills you learned in the military to how they apply in civilian life?


SW: If you do not have a dedicated resource for military recruiting, seek out a veteran(s) in your company and have them help you screen applicants, decipher resumes and prepare engaging questions.


Use open ended questions and be patient with the answer.


I had a long-time college friend that went on to retire as a LtCol in the Army explain it to me when he started applying to positions in the private sector:

“I went to college, I received my commission and I worked my way up in the Army over a 20-year career. I have handled global logistics issues for two theaters of war, but I have NEVER applied to a JOB before in the private sector”

Do not assume, no matter what the rank/responsibility was in the military that they have done this before. Exercise patience and help understand the process from the veteran’s perspective!


Each year, more than 150,000 people enlist in the U.S. military.


AE: What advice would you give to someone considering enlisting?

SW: Speak to multiple branches!


I spoke to the Army, took the initial ASVAB and physical for the Air Force and wound up joining the Marines…and then went Open Contract (mistake on the contract part by me).


Approach it like you would applying to college. Speak to all of them, ask great questions, reach out to current military members and veterans. 


I would highly encourage anyone going to college to join the National Guard or Reserves. Experience the enlisted side before making a decision to become an officer.


Then make your decision after you have done your research! 


In 2017 there was1,281,900 service members, with an additional 801,200 people in the seven reserve components.


AE: What advice would you give to someone who will be leaving the military and going back to civilian life?


SW: If you are waiting until the last 6 months to start looking for a job, you might have a rough landing!


You need to research what certifications you need, degrees you want at least 2 years prior to your transition. 


Build your professional network!


Utilize Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to research companies and connect with professionals in the private sector. Reach out to former military colleagues that have already transitioned and leverage their network.


Transitioning takes years of planning. Which means if you are only doing four years, you need to start at your 2 year mark!


**Read the “Two Hour Job Search”. This will help you a lot. Join the “Veteran Mentor Network” on LinkedIn.**


The 2-Hour Job Search shows job-seekers how to work smarter (and faster) to secure first interviews. 


AE: I like to end my interviews with a quote, do you have a favorite?


SW: “We’re surrounded. That simplifies the problem!”-Chesty Puller


Slater is an Award-winning enterprise military outreach program manager and Marine veteran having served eight years. Today Slater is a Veteran Recruiting Program Manager creating, building and implementing military outreach programs.

THOSE THAT SERVE | Adam Bratz

Adam Braatz

An interview by Anthony T. Eaton, March 2019

  

AE: What was it about the military that attracted you to join?


AB: I was always drawn to military service. My Dad served, my Uncle served, my Grandfather served. I was the black sheep that went to the Air Force (the rest of my family was Army). Like many, I was looking for a stable career, and some direction.


A little more than a quarter of new recruits indicate they have a parent that served in the military.


AE: So you carried on the family tradition as many do, yet you still went your own way. How did the military change your perception of service and leadership?


AB: Simply put, I was an immature and self-centered teenager. In fact, I was largely that way into my early twenties. The military helped me to grow up on the quick. Truth be told, I needed it. I started to understand to true meaning and value of service. General leadership has always been an innate ability of mine, but the military helped to cultivate in me an understanding of supervision, development, and group dynamics.


AE: Sometimes structure is required; you clearly made a sound decision. What did you find was the biggest challenge in being a service member?


AB: The biggest challenge for me was the time away from my family, which ultimately led to my decision to separate.


AE: Not having been in the service I can only imagine that it is hard especially if you have a close-knit family. As with tradeoffs and challenges, there are great rewards, what have those been for you?


AB: I met and worked with some of the greatest professionals in the nation, helped people in communities all over the world, and helped to train the next generation of warrior Airmen. It was an honor to serve.


It’s estimated that more than 200,000 U.S. service members return to civilian life each year.


AE: Was it a challenge to transition from service to civilian life?


AB: I had perceptions about post-service employment that were incorrect. It took some time to come to terms with the salary conditions of my first civilian job. Underemployment is an epidemic that faces veterans in the civilian workforce. Additionally, like many vets I had a hard time feeling like I had value. After working in an elite, fast-paced environment with hundreds of young enlisted Airmen relying on me for direction, working in an office was a blow to the ego.


AE: I have read and heard that, there is certainly a gap that can be filled to help soldiers and employers with that transition. How has serving in the military prepared you for where you are today?


AB: I look back to my professional military education as my foundation. At the time, PME can sometimes be arduous, but in hindsight each experience was trans-formative. In particular, the training I received as a Military Training Instructor prepared me like nothing else could.


When service members become veterans, they exit an institution which trained them in very specific skills, behaviors, and values.


AE: It is most often once we have some distance from something that we can see and appreciate it’s value and use to us. Are there any leadership skills you attribute to learning from your time in the military?


AB: Being able to deliberate and take decisive action on the quick. Alternately, understanding when to ask questions to seek clarification before taking corrective measures.


AE: Those skills are useful and transferable everywhere. What advice would you give to employers who may have a hard time making the connection between the skills you learned in the military to how they apply in civilian life?


AB: You will never find an employee that will fit the need for your posted position perfectly. They will not fulfill every single bullet. Every new employee will need training and time to adapt to their new position. Veterans are no exception, however, they come from a system that cultivates adaptability, train-ability, and accountability. Veterans, generally speaking, will show up on time, in uniform, with a good attitude. Focus on these things and throw away any preconceptions or prejudices you may have towards someone that has served. They’ll be the best employees you have ever had.

Soft skills are extremely valuable to employers and are some of the most sought-after qualities interviewers look for in potential hires.


AE: Those are exceptional qualities. Sometimes employers need to remember that or they miss out on great talent. What advice would you give to someone considering enlisting?


AB: Do research. Do not use your enlisted recruiter as a sole source of information.


AE: What advice would you give to someone who will be leaving the military and going back to civilian life?


AB: Start networking, like, yesterday. Network online and in person. Start and develop a LinkedIn presence. Every job I’ve gotten since I left the military has been from a personal connection, not a resume – and I have sent out hundreds.


AE: That is excellent advice, more and more it is about relationships and knowing someone. I like to end my interviews with a quote, do you have a favorite?


AB: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.


A 7+ year Air Force service man Adam has dedicated his career to mentoring, educating, connecting, and supporting those in need, namely at-risk youth and fellow military veterans.
 

Adam is the Director of Communications for Green Up Solutions, LLC — a veteran owned and operated business committed to empowering veterans through meaningful employment, serving our community, and protecting the environment.
 

Additionally, he is the author and founder of www.postmilitarypro.com, a professional resource for veterans that focuses on the transition to civilian life.