I joined the army when I was 19 years old after realizing I had no plan for the rest
of my life…I took the MOS of 13F, forward observer, without knowing what the role
even was. It just so happened to be the coolest job the Army had to offer in my
humble opinion. Lucky for me, I was afforded the ability to go Airborne and was
given Vicenza, Italy(home of my beloved 173d) as my first duty station. There is no
better group of men out there, anyone who has served with them will agree.
I did two deployments to Afghanistan for over a year each time. The first was
coordinating artillery and aircraft from the battalion level operations center. I
did not know at the time how significant my role was, as all I really wanted was to
be on the front line with the grunts.

My second deployment brought me that reality and although it was grueling,
frightening, and inexplicably frustrating at times, my company came back with
everyone we deployed with, and that is more than anyone could have asked for.
Once we got back to Italy the second time, I was given news that my wife and I would
be headed to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina to finish out my last year of enlistment. We
both knew I wouldn’t be reenlisting. I had developed osteoarthritis in my back, and
my right knee swelled up quite a bit during runs and rucks. I ETS’d without much of a
plan other than for me to use the GI Bill and get a degree in business.

I had a tough time finding my place. It was difficult going from a key role on my
team, to being some guy stocking liquor bottles for ten dollars an hour. Luckily I
had my wife to support me, and I found someone with experience to mentor me who knew
how to “speakN my language”, as he was prior LAPD.

I learned how to work with people to get results and began focusing on how to move
the business forward. I learned my new objectives and took action. Veterans have a
way of identifying problems, and finding quick actions in order to resolve them.
That type of mentality is rare these days, harness it.

In the six years since I started working as a civilian, I’ve transitioned to a much
better company, lived in 3 different states, and am now working at country level
developing logistics routines and working methods.

The first couple years were rough but focusing on the task at hand, knowing what the
expectations of me were, and realizing that there is no place reserved for us in the
civilian world, we need to create the space are what kept me going. Work hard, do
what is expected of you, and stay positive to prove you’re an asset and everything
will start falling into place!