Leadership Lessons From The Great Books

Leadership Lessons From The Great Books - (Bonus) - A Conversation with Calen Bullard - TVC Healthcare Advocate
00:00 Welcome and Introduction - Calen Bullard - Texas Veterans Commission Healthcare Advocate for the Granbury VA OPC.
05:38 Insights from Calen Bullard's Personal Journey.
11:40 Calen Bullard's Military Journey. 
19:27 Effective Leadership through Adaptability and Empathy.
25:36 Meaning and the Crisis of Males in the Western World. 
29:09 What Paves the Leadership Path: Lived Experience and Adaptation.
34:18 The Chaos of Two Combat Tours in Iraq.
38:10 Calen Bullard's Lessons Learned.
44:07 Leading When You're Outranked.
51:49 Leading From a Place of Moral Authority.
57:06 Counseling From Moral Authority and Life Experience.
01:02:59 Suicide Prevention and Veterans' Mental Health.
01:09:25 How the Human Brain Works.
01:10:52 Human Desire for War. 
01:20:12 The Psychological Impact of Warfare on Human Beings.
01:24:38 Transition Advice from a Retired Officer.
01:29:07 Addressing and Mitigating Leadership Failures.
01:36:17 Leadership Lessons from Robert Cialdini.
01:37:52 Leadership Lessons from Gregory L. Jantz and Keith Wall.
01:46:21 Peer service coordinators cover all of Texas.
01:48:20 Staying on the Leadership Path with Support for Military Veterans in Crisis.
Connect with Calen Bullard:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline -
Help is available
Speak with someone today
Call 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
Languages: English, Spanish
Hours: Available 24 hours
Opening themes composed by Brian Sanyshyn of Brian Sanyshyn Music.

Creators & Guests

Jesan Sorrells
CEO of HSCT Publishing, home of Leadership ToolBox and LeadingKeys
Leadership Toolbox
The home of Leadership ToolBox, LeaderBuzz, and LeadingKeys. Leadership Lessons From The Great Books podcast link here: https://t.co/3VmtjgqTUz

What is Leadership Lessons From The Great Books?

Because understanding great literature is better than trying to read and understand (yet) another business book, Leadership Lessons From The Great Books leverages insights from the GREAT BOOKS of the Western canon to explain, dissect, and analyze leadership best practices for the post-modern leader.


My name is Jesan Sorrells, and this is the Leadership Lessons from the Great

Books podcast. Bonus.

There's no book reading usually on these

bonus episodes. These typically tend to

be interviews, rants, raves, insights, and other gentle

and sometimes more confrontational audio musings and, of

course, conversations with interesting people about

leadership. Because listening to me add an

interesting guest talk about leadership for at least a couple of

hours fourth maybe as little as an hour and a half is still better

than reading and trying to understand yet another

business book. Especially that business book

written by a large language algorithm that calls itself

ai that thinks it's smarter than you.

That's going to be a real problem coming up. We'll talk more about that on

the podcast, but not today. Our

guests today, has an extensive background,

only some of which I will read and then we will get into at

a deeper level. As we continue fourth

as we draw out as we have our conversation, today.

So he enlisted into the United States army in 1998,

which makes him a member of the tail end of Generation X. Like myself, I

graduated high school in 1997, Jesan he has served

with a plethora of companies, task forces, and

teams across the length and breadth of the United States

Army, including brigade s 9 non commissioned officer in

headquarters and headquarters company, 1st Brigade Combat Team,

5104th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division,

instructor for civil affairs qualifications course and operations

in the OIC fourth Bravo Company, 3rd

battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group a, and

battalion schools noncommissioned officer and battalion leadership development instructor

in headquarters and headquarters company, 51st Signal

Battalion A, 35th Signal Brigade A, Fort Bragg,

North Carolina. And if you think I just said a mouthful there,

you're correct. His deployment experience

includes 2 deployments to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi

Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom with Bravo

Company, 51st Signal Battalion A, 35th Signal

Brigade A, as well as 3 deployments in the southern Philippines,

one deployment to Afghanistan and 2 deployments to Hawaii.

And out of all those places, you could probably guess which one I've

actually been Tom, and it wasn't the Philippines or

Afghanistan. He is a graduate

of Warrior Leaders Fourth, Advanced Leaders Course with honors, and Senior

Leaders Course with honors. Also holds a certificate in business administration

and operations leadership, a certificate in leadership and management, as well as

an associate's in general education, all fourth Fayetteville

Technical Community College. He is a graduate of the University of Charleston,

West Virginia, and holds a bachelor of science in organizational

leadership. His awards and decorations are manifold,

including the Bronze Star Medal and the Philippine Bronze Cross

Medal. In addition to all of that, my guest today is

married to the former Candace Williams Daley and has 2 sons, Ethan and

Thomas, and 2 daughters, Kennedy and Catherine.

Just like myself, he's got 4 kids. I would presume, that

they are all well, they're all of the age where he's still in

it. He's still in the game and the game is

DMX used to say the game is deep and the pain is brief

and it happens every day. And so

I would like to welcome to the podcast, Kalen Buller. How you

doing, Kalen? Doing fairly well. Thank you. Yeah.

Alright. So what's it like to have your entire resume read to you? What's that


I mean, it's unfamiliar, I

guess. I mean, most of the time, you're you're reading it, and I'm I'm

remembering stuff. Well, you're reading it off, and it's just all

flooding back. So it's Right. It's, you

know, a little weird, I guess. Little weird.

Little weird. But that's weird. I mean, when you when you start rattling it

off. So and you go through it when you say 51st signal battalion

a. Every single one of those a's, that's a that's an airborne unit. So it's

51st Single Battalion Airborne, 82nd Airborne Division,

50 4th Parachute Infantry Regiment. So, I mean, it all reads right,

but it's either special operations or it's airborne,

and you'll see those at the end of a variety of units all

across. I mean, you got Mhmm. Anything from SF groups to,

you know, tab units. It just depends on

it's military. Military lingo is tough to follow.

Sometimes Tom is for those of us in the, in the civilian

world. And, you know, on this podcast, we've interviewed

several folks, either around books, and had conversations with

them around their favorite books fourth just straight interviews with folks

that, do have a a a strong military

background because, quite frankly, and

I always kind of have to say this on the podcast because there's always new

listeners and people who just don't they just don't have an awareness of where we

are at or what we're doing in the world. For the last 25 years, we've

been war making, all across the globe, for good

or ill, and we don't get into the politics of that here.

I always say though, and actually I said this to somebody else fourth private

conversation yesterday. I always say that there's

only things you can learn in a certain kind of wailing Jesan you can learn

in a certain kind of way for having a bullet fly past your ear and

then having to deliver a bullet podcast the ear of somebody else, and you cannot

learn them in any other kind of way, including leadership

lessons. And so I value, people who come from that

background, and I value their experiences. And I like to bring them to my listeners

and talk about them on the podcast, but also to sort of

figure out how we can synthesize all of those lessons together,

into not only into the civilian world, but how we can merge those 2 spheres

together. And so I hope to be able to do some of that today.

So it's it's always a learning process. Exactly.

Always a learning process. And when you're dealing with leadership,

when you're dealing with people, it's a constant

adapting and and learning because that's what that's what

adapting is, is learning. So Exactly. Exactly. Well and

we are in a time of adaptation. One of the ideas that

I've been really focused on this last year on the podcast has been

the idea that and it is a challenging idea, and I just want you

to before I ask you the first question because I've really asked your question Jesan,

but, as as we kind of go through the podcast, I want you to sort

of roll this idea over in your head. But I think historically

we're at the end of a chaotic period. And I know it seems weird because

everybody looks out and all they see is chaos, But I think this is

the last dregs of the old chaos, kind of like a

cornered rat. You know? It's gonna fight all the way to the end, but

then it's when it's done, it's done. And I think we're getting to the end

of that in what I call the 4th turning. And on the other

side of that will be a spring, a springtime of awakening,

and a springtime of advancement. And I think that that's gonna be a great

thing for America. And so I like bringing on people who are coming out of,

as I mentioned in the opening, Generation X, who I believe

will be those future leaders in this in this upcoming

spring. And, I think their insights are going to be valuable

for the 2 younger generations we have floating around the world right now, the millennials

and Gen Zers, who have had significantly

different life experiences than the ones that we had. So,

I don't know if you agree with that thesis or if you wanna challenge that,

but I want to let you float it around in your head

as I ask you this first question. So for our listeners,

what is it that you do exactly? Like,

professionally? Professionally, personally, wherever you wanna

start. No. Professionally,

I'm a retired retired soldier,

and I now essentially take care of veterans the

same way I took care of soldiers when I was in the military. You know,

I teach, coach, and mentor, veterans and,

service members and their families on benefits,

be it health care Tom education to you name

it. They need it. I'll connect them to it. Mhmm. So

my official title is, veteran peer services

coordinator certified by the Texas Veterans Commission.

That is a position that is falls under the

veterans mental health department whose mission is

to reduce veteran suicide. That's essentially what we

are in the business of doing is mitigating crisis,

that veteran service members and their families are experiencing as

quickly in real time as we possibly can so that we

can combat that, that sue veteran

suicide number that's consistently

on the up and down, you know, depending on time of year, depending

on politics, economics, a

variety of things cause that that that stuff Tom happen. So,

what I essentially do is teach, coach, and mentor. I'm just doing it for veterans

instead of instead of soldiers now. Mhmm.

Mhmm. So let's go

into the background of that because that's a that's a tough

area to talk about out loud. When I was working in

higher education, I worked with a lot of students,

living in high rise apartment buildings. I did that fourth, well,

close to a decade. And when you do that, a

percentage of those students is going to engage in self harm and is going to

engage in suicidal ideation. It just comes with the, with the, with the territory.

Writers? And so I've had those,

conversations and I'm not minimizing them. I've had those conversations with people

who are on the edge or on the brink or ready to go over,

or even in some cases tried to go over and maybe it

didn't succeed.

So from their perspective, not from the perspective of others.

Right. And so I've had those conversations that have been in

that space, but not nearly to the depth that you've been in that space. So

my follow-up question there to that is how did you wind up

in this space? Sort of walk us through how you wound up in that

space starting in 1998? Because I'm sure you didn't come into the US Army in

19 90 and going, hey, I'm gonna ultimately work with veterans in their own suicide.

That's gonna be where I'm gonna end up. No. That was that was

far from it. So

I I'd like to say everything goes back to childhood. Right? I mean,

I was raised drinking out the garden hose and riding my bike,

you know, all across town, going to Blockbuster, and renting

video games to bring back home to play for the weekend Tom drop off on,

you know, Sunday night, but let's say you don't get a late fee. You know,

that that that kind of generation is what I came up with, and,

not really having any idea what exactly I

was wanting to do. You know, I didn't really figure I still don't

even know what I wanna do when I talk about it. So it's like it

comes down to, I was a sophomore in high

school, and my high school

invited and approved for junior ROTC for air Force

to be, added to the curriculum at my high school,

which was great, but it was also the 1st year that they started block scheduling.

So I ended up joining, Junior ROTC Air

Force Edition for, for the PE credit

because I was not very athletically inclined. Right? So I

was, you know, couch potato, Friday night, Family Writers,

watching, you know, home improvement, all that stuff, where

it was like, Friday night, you're watching TV. Right? So On ABC.

That's right. There you go. So that that was the thing that I grew up

with. So when I was trying to go, you know, play football or whatever, I

was not interested in sports. It just completely turned me off.

And so when I got to high school, I was like, wait a minute. You

mean I cannot get all sweaty and nasty and still get a PE credit?

Okay. Cool. Yeah. I'll do that. So for the 1st 6 months fourth the

1st semester of that, and it was also the 1st block schedule, so we went

from 7 credits per year to 8 credits per

year, with 4 per semester. And so I was grandfathered

in, being that my 1st freshman year, I only needed a certain number

of credits to graduate. So I was able to pick up extra credits junior, so

you know, sophomore, junior, senior year. So I actually graduated high school 6

months early in December. And then I joined

the military in March, and I graduated and

walked the stage at basic training the same week that my graduating

class walked the stage at high school. So I was already

in service, when by the time my class

graduated. But the the thing that comes down to it is is,

I went during junior ROTC. I went from being, my

first actual positive affirmation

came from that right up there. That top

one that's right up there is actually a certificate for,

my first accomplishment in Junior ROTC, which which

was, most improved cadet. Right? So I went

from being in the the gray man, like, in the book, not

doing anything at the beginning of the year Tom at the end of the year,

I'm out in front, like, calling commands for drill

team and color guard. Okay. Tom summer camps,

I went to the ROTC summer camps, for junior ROTC

that was then, ended up my senior year.

Because I was graduating early, I ended up as the cadet corps commander for the

1st semester. I left, I got a letter of recommendation from

my ROTC instructor. I enlisted. I was

the youngest guy in my basic training

company, but I was also one of the highest ranking.

Nice. So I kinda had it pretty bad from the get go. But,

I mean, all in all, joining when I did was essentially

my way out. Right? I wanted to get out of,

my hometown. I wanted to get away from where I grew up. I wanted to

go out and see some other things, but also, I mean, I was 17, and

I needed a job. Right? I mean, not everybody

makes, you know, good choices when they're when they're growing up.

I ended up having, being 17 and listening to

military with a wife and child on the way. So I had my

child about 3 weeks before I turned 18

while I was at AIT at Fort Gordon. So my oldest son, Ethan,

is now 25, going Tom 26. So it's no coincidence

that I retired at 21 years, the year that my son turned 21.

Right. So, you know, when you're 17 and you can't get a job anywhere, it

kind of, like, restart sun. Now I would have joined a lot sooner,

had the Air Force recruiter not essays me around a little bit.

January, February time frame, he pushed me off too much. And I was like, you

know what? I ain't got time to wait around. So, the

army started looking pretty nice, but I did. I enlisted, and,

I ended up going to the spent 8 years in my first

unit at Fort Bragg as a non airborne personnel. And then

after 2 tours to Iraq, I ended up essentially,

got tired of, what what they like to call the the big green

weenie Mhmm. And ended up being told

by the, the branch manager for my

MOS, I was a radio operator, was pretty much like, hey. We're gonna

force reclass you, and you're gonna go over to across the

street at the 82nd Airborne Division and carry a manpack for the lieutenant. And I

was just like, no. I'm not. Yeah. I had I had about a year I

had about a year and a half and some change left before, after, you

know, I was contemplating getting out at 8 years and being done.

And a buddy of mine, he said, no, man. You need to you need to

talk to this guy who gave me a business card for, Sergeant First Class

Jamie Rodriguez. And I called up this dude, and I was

like, hey, man. What do you got for me? He's like he's like, well,

come on over here and talk to me. And I'm gonna tell you, when I

met dude, he had the most beautiful mane of hair that I've ever

seen in my entire life, and I was like, there's no way this dude is

our first class with hair like that. And I'm I'm gonna tell you,

he's like, ma'am. Well, civil affairs, man. Let me tell you about what it is.

So I I did civil affairs, which was essentially,

if you look at the triad of the special operations

community, you got a pyramid. Right? And the tip of the spear, that pyramid

at the top, you got the green beret, you got the SF, the ODAs.

You got the big, mean, ugly guys that bag and tag and do all kinds

of bad things to bad people. Right? And then supporting them

underneath on the other corners, you got the psychological operations.

They're the voice and the essays, essentially, for for operations,

for special operations. So and then you've got the civil

affairs side, which they're essentially they're the face in the handshake. So

you got these 3 entities working together in order to,

complete the mission, which most of the time was along some type of

counterterrorism activity of sorts

or support the host nation government at, you know, aid and assist type

missions, depending on where you're at. You know, if you're over in Afghanistan,

you're doing a completely different mission than if you're over in the Philippines. Right? Of

course. Combat combat zone versus host nation support

stuff. So but that that triad, of

individuals being able to support each other and understanding, like, what your

role is in in the task at hand,

when out there doing you're not gonna find a better team. Right? So most of

what I learned leadership wise So there's 2

there's 2 folds to this. There is the

as the example of what not to do as a

leaders, and then the example of what it you

are supposed to do as a leader. So fourth my 1st 8 years, I'd only

knew one flavor of leadership. Right? Just that one, and that

was, you know, coercive

dictator. Hey. Let's tell you, Paper Book rank. I

win. Libby do what you're told kinda turning, to,

the actual effective, deliberate leadership that comes from being

a special operations where it's, you know, people are more important than equipment.

You have the you know, you follow basically the 12 self imperatives.

And as long as you are operating within those 12

soft imperatives and you're taking care of your people,

you're gonna have a smooth ride and everybody's gonna be having you know, everybody's gonna

be taking care of everybody else. So it just comes down to seeing both

sides of that coin and being able to tailor,

various leadership styles from throughout my career, I think,

is what really has allowed me to become

adaptable as I am to the situations that I find myself in when

I'm dealing with a variety of individuals, be

it a veteran who is suffering a mental health crisis in the

moment, to a grieving surviving spouse,

for, you know, a fallen veteran, to

that service member who who got picked up for DUI

back home, you know, in in, Erath County,

who was just home on leave and just made a poor choice, you know. It

just turns into there's a variety of opportunity

to, you know, make an impact as to how you approach

all those situations, as a, you

know, as a leader, as a veteran, as a peer, as a

you name it, that's what I can be in that moment just based on

the the the two sides of that

leadership coin that I've been able to to to use. To use.

Yeah. I actually prefer I actually prefer the you

know, nobody wants to be in that dictatorship type leadership role where the

only reason somebody's doing it is because they have respect for the position and the

rank and not the person. So I think that that you you can

run-in and identify a lot of different, like, toxic leadership traits

to identify people who are there for selfish reasons and doing it for

individual versus team, you know,

advancement. So it just comes down to I'd I like to

be the team player and give credit where credit's

due. Mhmm. Right? So it is

the going all the way back and all the experience that

I've had, my my childhood

was a big impact. My first duty station,

which was my last duty station. Right? And I'll talk about that later, but when

I say that, my first unit that I went to Mhmm.

And then that transition piece where I decided, you know, I

don't I don't wanna stop doing army.

Mhmm. But I don't wanna be where I'm at anymore. Really

set something, you know? Because, I mean, it comes down to retention writers, you know?

If you guys just like any business that has a company that

just turnover's high, you've got

poor reviews coming in from clients or customers, whatever

whatever it is you're selling, whatever you're doing. I mean, most likely,

it's not the it's not the product, you know, and it's not the

employees. It's it's your middle management, your senior

management not not doing their job as a effective

leader to, you know, provide proper

motivation and direction and guidance to get the job done effectively. I mean,

nobody wants their time wasted. And that's that's the one thing that I learned in

the military. Like, you really wanna piss off some solar,

waste their time. Waste their time. Waste their time. And,

and that's the one thing the military is known for is hurry up and wait.

Like, government in general, hurry up and wait. You you owe Uncle Sam

something, they'll reach in your bank account, take it from you. But, man, if you

don't Uncle Sam owes you something, you can take a number and stand in line.

We'll get to you next year. Right. So it just depends on,

that those kinds of perspectives. But

So there's a lot there that you that you gave me. No. It was great.

It was fabulous. I was taking notes the whole time you were talking.

And, you know, I find it interesting that, you know, you started

out as a 17 year old who just wanted to sort of get away from

where you were and get out and have new experience.

And that opened the door

Tom. Not to make it sound heroic,

but this is the word. It opened the door to further adventures. Right? It opened

the door to further things that you probably couldn't have, couldn't have


Going back to that for just a Jesan, one of the challenges of our

current era, of our current Tom, and this podcast does focus,

focused heavily on in our 2nd year, was the meaning

crisis among, or is the meaning crisis among young men.

Right now, you know, you talk about suicides among veterans.

Suicides among young men overall are way up.

Young men are struggling in our culture, and I have a a heart for this.

Young men are struggling in our culture to find meaning and to

define themselves. And so as an American society,

we've done a really awesome job of elevating

our girls and our women and putting them in positions of leadership,

education, all that kind of good stuff. We've done a really good job of that.

We have not done a good job. We just haven't. And this is where I'm

coming at it from this angle. We have not done a good job of

defining what meaning looks

like for young males. And so

the question that I have for you is this, every young

male, when you were 17, you were the same way,

needs a task to go on

in order to develop meaning. And you said you had a wife and a

kid, on the way, and and and, you know,

and and I'm not saying that I said between every 17 year old male needs

to have a wife and a child, is that what I'm saying? But I'm saying

that that sense of the the the

gas in the tank, right, being, hey, these people gotta

eat, and they're looking at me. You know? Yeah. That gave you meaning.

Talk a little bit about how maybe we can not

solve the turning crisis, but what are the ways that young men can get meaning

in this culture, in particular when you have less than I

believe it's less than 1 tenth of

1 percent of the available male population in America serves in the military.

So clearly that's a nonstarter with the vast

majority of gen Z ers and millennials for a

whole variety of reasons that we don't need to get into. That's a nonstarter. So

how do we solve for that meeting crisis? Because I do ask folks when they

come on and I was asking about last year in our last season, what do

we do around this? How do we solve this challenge? Because it is the challenge

of our time. Because if you have young women who are accomplished,

quite frankly, they're gonna wanna marry young men who are accomplished. They're not gonna wanna

marry young men who are not accomplished. And you have writers. I have daughters,

and we don't want them marrying young men that are unaccomplished. Right? So how do

we resolve this? What were some ideas you have maybe? And I know this is

a challenge question. It's not on the list, but it is something that pops up

from your experience. Yeah. Yeah. No. It's it's absolute I think it's valid,

actually. What what what you're talking about is actually extremely

valid, especially in today's, like, society. And I'm

speaking specifically just our culture in America, society.

Sure. Yeah. I mean, you could go macro all day, and we can go, you

know, down to micro. But I'm just so I just in just in,

American culture today with the and being a

parent, like, I have 2 adult children that are out in the world

already doing their thing. Right? Right. And I have

2 young children that are still at the home that are in you know, they're

not even in middle school yet. Yeah. So kinda turns

into when I look at

what needs to be done, like, I have control over what I have

control over. Absolutely. And I think what turns into is I

know the expectation that I have for my

children. Mhmm. The problem is is

being from the generation that I'm from and having the

experience I have, it has taken everything

for me to turn off the

the NCO, the noncommissioned officer that I have buried inside of me

Tom treat them as, you know, 7 9 year old children and

not soldiers. Because they don't they don't they don't have that expect

they don't know that expectation when they're there's no basic training for

them. No. Accomplish any of that. So everything that

they know, they know from the

parent. So when it comes to, like, children in general, and you we're talking

we talk about strong male role model in the house. We talk

about, you know, be the example in the home.

Like, I I try to exhibit,

a demeanor and a persona, for my son to

reflect as the man that he should try to strive to

be. Mhmm. And for my daughter, I try to do the same for the

type of man that she wants to marry. Right? So it really just comes

down to morals, ethics, values,

establishing accountability and responsibility at a

young age, and not, placating

to those feelings that, you know, most

people would placate to at that young age. If they're wrong,

they're wrong. Sure. And being identified as such and saying, hey,

no, this is wrong. But given given children, you know, you

gotta give them enough grace to learn. Right. So it just comes

down to the crisis that we're having with young men

today not, not stepping up to the plate

or not being capable or not having the motivation or the

drive or the whatever. I mean, at the end of the day, it's

all an individual event. I mean, you can turn to your

left, you can turn to your right, and you can point fingers all you want,

but you have the everybody has the ultimate,

you know, I'm gonna make this happen. Right? And it's more one of

those kind of, like it's the difference in

in, stepping up to a challenge, right, and

saying, I'm gonna continue to just do

this because I'm comfortable with it, versus stepping up to a

challenge and saying, you know what? I I I think I got this down. I'm

ready for something a little bit harder. I'm gonna go for the next thing and

the next thing and the next thing. And that's gonna be the difference between, like,

you know, the development and growth versus just stagnation and

death. So those two things kind of go hand in hand. So if you're

not actually pushing pushing forward to the next

thing, then why are you even bothering

doing anything? Like, don't even bother. Just you might as well just stop breathing. I

think that's really what's happened with a lot of them is they just see what

is going on around them in society. They think that, you know, it's

not gonna get any better. Right. Especially with the when they look at

it from an economy side of the house to the

political side to, you know,

everything from wages Tom interest rates to, you

know, credit ratings. You know, everything just starts to build on, and you're

taking you know, kids are not being prepared for that

by their parents Mhmm. Nor the education system.

So it really comes down to I think there's an unrealistic

expectation that most parents in America

today have on what the education system is supposed to

be doing for them. Mhmm. And so that unrealistic expectation

is ending in failure and not preparing the individuals

to go out into society and actually be successful. And, I mean, it turns

into there's a number of other dynamics that can you can go into and

really whittle down to those individual

opportunities and situations, or what if this, what if that. But really I think

it really just comes down to

providing the right example

Mhmm. For the child in the home. I don't care who their parent

is. As long as their parent is doing the right thing and doing things right

Mhmm. They're gonna they're gonna get what they need out of it.

And it just kinda turns into the they're gonna have that

internal drive or they're not, and they're either gonna get that

from the right example or the wrong example. But they're gonna

emulate what it is that they see every single day.

Right. So it just comes down to if you want your kids to do

better, you do better. Right.

Yeah. Well, you know, I I one of the things that I do say on

this podcast is all of our leadership problems, and quite frankly, all of our

leadership solutions, really do begin at the smallest level, and

family is the fourth organizational culture. It's the very first one,

you know? It's where you learn everything right off

the bat. And then to your point about school,

you're shoved out into the world where you find out that there's all these other

representatives from all these other organizations and they run-in their organization the same

way you came out of. And now that's where that's where the

friction begins. You know? That's where the learning the learning begins.

The learning begins. That's right. But you never you'll never stop learning.

It's it's Right. Yep. You would you could get to a point to where you

refuse to learn For sure. But that

opportunity to learn is never gonna go away. It just depends on,

the individuals who are in those positions of leadership or in those positions. I

mean, it just comes down to there's there's a variety of personalities,

and there's a variety of leadership styles,

and there's just it just comes down to

human beings. We're unique just like everyone else.

So So one other thing in your background that

I put a star next to that I wanna talk about is,

well, for fourth both you and I, there was an event

that occurred in September of 2,001 that sort of

shaped our generation. And it it it

ping ponged me with one direction. It ping ponged me in another direction. As a

matter of fact, that event, September 11th,

occurred literally 13 days before I turned 21.

And for me, I've characterized that as

literally the beginning of chaos for the last 20 years fourth. Like, it's been just

non nonstop chaos ever since up until about this point.

And and I'm comfortable. You talked about the word adaptable. I'm adaptable

to chaos. And I think a lot of us who are in this generation are

adaptable to chaos because it's all we've it's all we've ever known. And that, of

course, gets back to my my thesis that I had you I challenged you with

a little bit floating around in your head there about the 4th turning and about

getting to the end of all this. You were already in

service in, in, in, in, in, when, when September 11th

happened. Talk with us a little bit about

the 2 tours in Iraq and sort of what were some of the lessons you

learned, from book, because previous to that,

you know, the last major American,

deployment to the Middle East was the 1st Persian Gulf. And that was over in

like, I don't wanna say 10 seconds. But, I mean, like, I knew I knew

people who went there who were older older brothers and sisters of ours. Right?

Yeah. And then after that 3 days. Last about 3 essays. And then they

were walking around in and I'm not again, I don't wanna minimize anybody's service, but

they were walking around Bosnia in the mid nineties. There was

some discussion of sending American troops to Rwanda. Bill Clinton

could never get the public support for that, so that never got up off the

ground. But then, you know, we're, we're right into, into

the biggest deployment or I shouldn't say the biggest, the most serious

deployment of men and materiel to a place overseas since

probably Vietnam, where we actually

as a country decided, via our leaders, our

civilian leadership, Donald Rumsfeld, and, you know, George W.

Bush that, oh, okay. You got all of our

attention. Now you, you, you claimed you wanted it. Now you got

it and we're going to do the man dance. And the first

dance, I guess, is going to be ours. And you were part

of that, that push you were part of that engagement. So talk with us

a little bit about, because again, you were already in the thing. You

were already in the in the in the you were already 3 years in the

thing when September 11th happened. So how was that for you? How impactful was

that for you? How did that shift your thinking about,

leadership or or maybe even reinforce things as you think about leadership?


yeah. So at the time, September

11th, I was serving I was a I was a sergeant,

e 5, and I was a I

was very quickly, like, I very quickly made

e 5, once I made my unit. So it kinda

turned into I I started off as a PFC in basic

training. I had automatic promotion to e fourth 12

months. I was promoted to e 5. I was 19

years old. Mhmm. And then a week later, I turned 20.

And I'm gonna tell you, it is difficult having a

safety brief with a team of 6 guys who are

all in their mid twenties or late twenties, early

thirties, and I'm telling them, alright, guys. No drinking and driving this weekend.

Call me if you need me. And they're like, yeah. We'll we'll definitely call you

because we know you're gonna be sober because you can't even buy alcohol yet. So,

being a leader of of older people

Mhmm. Was was a very difficult and daunting task that I had

to deal with. So I very rarely, with new,

incoming soldiers, would express, like, let them know, like, what my

age was. But I carried myself very maturely

because I I had to. And it was the, you

know, I had the knowledge and I had the the training and I had

the the promotion orders. I had the things backing me up saying that, you

know, this is this is who I am. This is what I am. Mhmm.

And going at the time, I was actually the the school's

NCO for the battalion, and I ran the leadership

development course. That was a pre course to the Sorrells Leaders fourth that they

have now. It used to be called, the PLDC or the primary

leadership development course. It was a 30 day lockdown

course that you would go into, and in 30

days, you would go in as a specialist,

e 4 promotable, and you would come out as a e 5.

Okay. Most of the time getting promoted as soon as you graduated. So you

would leave the unit for 30 days and go, you know, live,

train, and learn with a bunch of other e fourth promotables,

spy, you know, staff sergeants, sergeant first classes, giving

you all the ins and outs on, you know, leadership stuff. Mostly a heavy

focus on land navigation. Right? But a lot everything else

everything else is pretty much leadership stuff.

That's where you go through, you memorize the NCO creed, you memorize the soldiers

creed, you go through basically, you have all check all these books, and then you

graduate, then you get promoted. So coming back to that, I was

currently dropping soldiers off at

PLDC. I was waiting and we get there early, like,

2 30, 3 o'clock in the morning because, you know, you've got so many people

that have hard slots, but then you got a whole plethora of other people for,

like, standby in case someone doesn't pass the weigh in fourth

somebody doesn't have all their writers, you know. Because if you show up and you're

missing an item, they they, nope. You're done. Go go back to your unit. See

you next class. That kind of thing. So I'm I'm I was sitting in my

car waiting for my attendees who had

already been accepted. They had already passed. I'm just setting with the

rest of their gear, waiting on them to come

and actually grab their weapon and grab their stuff and go to training. Right?

So, when I had a guy named,

staff sergeant fourth it was, sergeant Ryan

Austin comes over. He knocked on the fourth, and he was he was

there. He wasn't there as a

student, I don't believe, but he was there on

detail helping me move all the stuff. Because it's a big muscle movement to get

from to get a little bit and get set up. Over, knocks

on the window. He's like, hey, man. Something's happening. Turn on the radio. And I

was just like, what's what? He's like, yeah. Some plane hit the u the, you

know, the trade trade towers in in New York. I was like, no, man. And

then I turned on the radio, started listening. I was like, oh, man. This is

this is not good with what's going on. And so I didn't

actually, process what was

happening at the moment. I still had task at hand. Hey, I

still got soldiers that's gotta be somewhere. I got things going on. I'm just like

everybody. They, you know, put the blinders on and focus on what you got

going on and worry about New York and what's happening

later. But the only question came up that came out really quick

was if there's anybody that has anybody

or connection to anybody that works or lives in

Manhattan, New York where the World Trade Center was happening on, the the command

wanted to know. Who are the people who are gonna be greatest greatly

affected by this are gonna be those who have family relatives that are

in that area. So and and it was fourth where we were at, I mean,

there was a couple of people that, yeah, they had, you know, family members that

were, you know, you know, either worked in the area or worked in

the building or did something like that. So but going from there, it

was pretty much when I got back to the battalion headquarters and walked

in and dropped my stuff off on my desk, and I walked around to the

CQ where the TV was on, and I looked at the TV and saw the

news. Mhmm. I was just like I looked over at the the

guy that was sitting on staff duty at the time, and I was just like

you know what this means. Right? Mhmm. It is like it is like some

private. He's like, I don't know, sir. And I was like, means we're going to

war what this means. Like, from then, it was just pretty

much, everything

changed that day in regards to

training, in regards Tom discipline, in regards

to, like, there was no more,

laps on the wrist article 15 for, you know,

anything. It was like, if you were going in for an article 15, you did

some heinous something or other, we're not taking any crap. You're you gotta go because

we gotta we gotta we're going overseas. This is happening.

So my unit, the the 51st signal battalion, we

were slated to support the 22nd signal brigade,

out of the gate. So we rolled in we rolled in to

Iraq from Kuwait. I deployed out March

of 03. We,

we deployed March of 03, and then within 3

weeks, we headed north and crossed the border from Kuwait to Iraq,

and it was a terrible ride.

Right? Because, I mean, the signal equipment, we got big trucks, and we got gas.

We got antennas. We got jet fuel. We got You got all that good all

the work. You got all that good table work equipment. Yeah. We got all the

and we're and we're rolling through. We're in our our Humvees. We don't have

there's no alarm or anything. We don't know what that even is at the time.

So we we've got no doors on hanging up this side.

We got flak jackets on that are basically just

the shrapnel is all they're gonna stop. They're not gonna stop anything serious, but,

I mean, we rolled through after, you know,

after, I wanna say it was 3rd entry division. It could have been 4th entry

division. 4th ID or 3rd ID. I can't remember which one. But we rolled through

right after they rolled through. Let's just say that they decimated

everything. It was the sheer like,

I had never seen a level of carnage as up at

that point. Like, and then just that's when it was just like, this

is surreal. Like, this is like no other. And

then, you know, and at the time, I was, you know, I was

just the e five. I had 5 people on my team.

2 of them were NCOs. I just so happen to outrank them by data rank,

so they were just bodies. Right? And the

the equipment that I was on was the remote access unit. So I

was in charge of the team that would go out and set up

an omnidirectional antenna out

away from everything in the middle of nowhere,

just put this antenna up that shoots, that is actually

transmitting in all directions so everyone can have access to

this and they're, you know, so they can make phone calls from their Humvees and

stuff. And we we rolled that equipment fourth,

and we never set it up. So from that point, essentially,

my radio trucks were used to connect node

centers to node centers across. So I was actually a part of

the 22nd Signal Brigades historic moment of creating

the most fourth the

largest tactical communications

network in history in 2003.

So, I did that job for about about 4

months Mhmm. Of just manning radios Manning radio tower.

Soldiers. I, you know, I spent my 23rd birthday in a guard tower, you

know, on overwatch. So it just turned in like it was, you know, you were

there we were soldiering. That's what we were doing. Mhmm.

And everybody, you know we made the best of what we had.

Mhmm. We had terrible living conditions. Mail was always slow. I mean, it

was just the beginning of the war. It was there was Right. Dirt dirt floors

and winter tents is what we were living in. Yeah. So, I mean, it

was just miserable. So you had to have a certain level of,

like, sense of humor when it comes to the heat of the

day. Like like yeah. Alright. Hey, man.

Hey. The fourth song's coming over. Everybody get your tops on. Book look over here.

It looks right. It's like, everybody get your stuff together. It's like, hey, man. Wake

him up, man. He's like, get get him up. Get him up. Get him up.

Because we would just be like, we'd be passing out from the heat in the

middle of the day just just gone. So it kinda turned into we that's

where we really learned and came together as a as a team and

really built, you know, those bonds that were gonna get us through the

rest of deployment. But it was tough. The

first two tours the Jesan tour was not as

bad as the first one. It was more infrastructure, better organized,

better food, better every better everything pretty much. And it was like

no other like, you go to the field at Fort Bragg, formerly known as Fort

Bragg You go to this field for 2, 3

weeks and live in the woods and play army, pretty much. Right. Yeah.

Paint the faces up and do all the things, and

then you go to Iraq, and you're in the desert, and it is nothing like

what you trained in. Right? So you're just like, why are we even doing this

garbage back here in the rear? Like, this doesn't make any sense. Well, we're

doing this, and we're deploying to the desert. I mean, this is

completely asinine and stupid. And so after you

know, when I joined up, I mean, it turned into the, like,

the combat the combat recognition and combat patch that came from

those deployments. Those first deployments,

were probably the first one was probably the hardest. Right? 1st, 2nd,

3rd year end always, because you're establishing everything, staying in everything up.

Going back in because I was there from 03 to 04, came home

for 9 months, did a bunch of marriage counseling and stuff. I had some

issues on the on the home front there. Deployed again, came

home single. So the

by the time I was 24, 20

by the time I was 25 years of age, I'd been

divorced twice, filed bankruptcy once Mhmm.

And still doing the job and

trying to figure it out. And and at the same time, yeah, I

was you know, alcohol was kind of like a crutch.

Like Mhmm. Is this kinda, like, part of the the Yep.

The whole the whole system is, you know, you go out,

you're at Fort Bragg, you're running 4 miles every

week, You're doing PT you're doing physical training 5 days

a week. You know? Mhmm. And you're rocking at least

6 to to 8 miles a week, and then you've got a 12

mile validation every 3 months. You've got

the North Carolina sweltering humidity in the summer that is

just astronomical. And, by the way,

you're going out for, you know, nickel pitcher night at the,

you know, at the bar downtown on Bragg Boulevard, you know, Saturday,

Sunday night book to back, and then you're out running 6 miles Monday

turning, down our ends with, you know, 82nd Airborne

Division and everybody trying to do all their things. So

it it kinda turned into after those first two

deployments, I was really

it really messed me up. I really came into a place where I was just

like, there is no God. Mhmm. I was very

agnostic in everything and was just like, there's no purpose in

any of this kind of deal from everything that I'd seen and everything that

I witnessed and done. It was just like, there's this just this doesn't

make sense to me. It was very difficult to process, you know, at 25 years

of age. And now I'm looking at my Jesan, who's 25, and I'm just

like, the problems that you have can in comparison,

there is no comparison, but I'm not gonna, like, hold you to the same

standard because you didn't have the same upbringing that I had. You didn't have the

Yeah. The same experiences that I had. So it's no there's no real

comparison. So when you start talking about, like, that whole ending of the crisis rotation

type thing Mhmm. Yeah, you can see it in the generation of today that

that's probably accurate. It's gonna be pretty mellow

for, you know, upcoming before it starts getting gnarly again.

But, that period of time,

I really didn't experience growth

because I was not focused on development or growth. Okay. I

was in fact, I was stagnant at that point.

Yeah. Because my my I wanna say it was my 2nd

tour to Iraq. I was an e 5 promotable. I'd been in e

5 for about fourth and a half

years as a sergeant e five. And I've and

for, you know, 2 of those years, I've been promotable, and I just couldn't make

points. I didn't have the civilian education to make the points with the way the

rank structure works with how the promotion system worked Tom make e

6. So I'm sitting here looking at, like, e 5p,

pretty stagnant. I'm sitting here, and then, you know, there's this

this this guy oh, his name was Sarna First Class Letts.

And I was at The Joint. This is when I was at the end of

my Jesan rotation, I think it was, and this guy, sergeant first

class let's he was 82nd airborne division signal guy Mhmm. And

he was the signal liaison for the the 82nd signal

battalion Mhmm. Supporting the 22nd signal brigade.

And I was tasked just Tom be the 51st signal battalion

liaison. So we're all sitting in this big room, and at the end of the

night every night, we're briefing the brigade colonel or the s 3, you

know, major on what's going on with the

network. And this guy, Soren Letts, comes over, and

he's I I can't even remember what the argument was over, but he came over

and he said something. I was just like, sorry. I I was like, I know

what I'm doing. I've been in e book for, like, 5 years now. He looked

at me and he was just like, that ain't something to brag about, man.

Like, being an E5 for 5, that isn't something that you should be bragging

about. Like, what what the hell is wrong with you? Like,

why would you think that that's okay? That doesn't make me feel any better

about this conversation. Like, and I'm just like not even processing

what he's saying as far as like, you know, what are you

talking about? So but then it kinda came it dawned on me

later whenever I actually,

was leaving that position and we were getting replaced with another unit that

came in. That's whenever, he came, you know, he

came over and said, hey, man. You've got a lot of potential. Mhmm. You

have you have unlimited potential with your

with what you have already. You need to

he and he was based on the ones, like, you need to get away

from this signal stuff, and you need to go across the

street, and you need to go do something a special ops

guy. So and and it was basically just like he's just

like he he's like, there's no reason that you should be in e 5 for

5 years. He's just like, you're right. You know exactly what you're doing,

and you're up here. And at and at the time, man, you're at I'm at

the liaison. I'm, like, with the joint networking

operation center. 22nd center brigade running and

every battalion attached under that brigade that they have command and

control over, operational command and control over. I mean, there was, like,

15 different battalions, and every single like, there

were captains that were sitting as liaisons

next to me. Right? There were sergeant first classes

and master sergeants. We're talking, like, e 8, e 7,

o three level ranking guy. I'm the the

lowest ranking liaison guy. Yeah. And I'm an

e 5. And I'm just like and

going up and briefing the brigade colonel like it's nothing. But, you know, the

first couple of briefings I had that I had to get through, I was really,

like, hesitant on what it was. But I had some I had some great

mentorship there that basically was, like, hey, man. Here's here's how you breathe. Here's what

you need to focus on. Let me see your slides. Okay. This is what you're

gonna show them. This is what you're gonna say. This is what you're gonna show

them. This is what you're gonna say. This is what you're gonna show them. This

is what you're gonna say. Ask any questions. If they ask any questions, just

say, sir, I don't know, but I'll get back to you as soon as I

get back from my s 3. And then you go and you send that question

to your s 3, and then you report back to a v. You know? You

know? Just basically, I had a a a, you know, Sergeant First Class let

really that dude really set me straight. So there

are people like that in that early

years that really set up my success for

advancement later because they got me out of the the

wrong mindset. Right? So Bingo. Bingo. And

that's something that that's something

that I think and, and again, this

is sort of an offshoot of the young men, you know, kind of commentary or

comment that I had before Tom set up my previous question, but it

does sort of relate to this for young people in general. I think that

every young person and I've I've had experiences in my life where,

particularly in my twenties where I was stagnating, just like you

were. And somebody came along and said, you're

wasting your time here. You need to do something else. Yeah. And I looked

around just like you did. I looked around and went, you're talking to me?

What? Hey. Who? Who? I can sometimes jump at my

kids, you know? And

that, it's like the jay

Z song or the jay z rap song, that moment of clarity.

Writers? Jay Z raps. Thank God for granting me this moment of clarity,

this moment of honesty. And it is

that moment of clarity that I think

really people need in their twenties. And I think both young men and young

women need it. You need it less so in your thirties.

If you're looking for a moment of clarity in your forties, if

right. Right. That's how it could look. That's what they call that's what they call

that midlife crisis. That's a midlife crisis. Right. Exactly.

Exactly. Turning over at fourth is is it can be done,

but it is not comfortable. It is it is rough. Something that

you're yeah. It's gonna be a rough deal. And that that's that's what I

see on a regular basis doing what I'm doing now is

Right. And so that's where we're, yeah, that's where we're pulling this now.

Exactly. So, you know, I also

believe that folks in their twenties, and and you kinda talked

about this Tom, when you talked about alcohol as a crutch,

You're going to have and then I found this in my life

and and and when we talk with other folks on the podcast about this as

well, you're gonna have a get tougher a Johnny Cash

get tougher die moment. Like, you either have to figure it out

fourth you're gonna fall off the table and that's and that's it.

I had my moment in, you know, the upper Midwest,

in a little town you'd never heard of, you know, walking back home drunk in

the middle of winter when it was like, you

know, 12 below. And I was ill dressed for the weather. You're

either gonna get tough or you're gonna die. Like, that's the those are your only

two options at that point. But I think those kinds of

moments stick with people. And they do become the fundamental

foundational moments that allow you to then you use the word mentor,

mentor and coach others later on because you could speak from those experiences or pull

from those experiences. And so I want to talk about that

because you said the core of what you're doing with, with

Pecan Valley Writers is is reducing veteran suicide rates and

trying to bring that down and try to work with folks that are impacted by

this, by this phenomenon.

And the types of things that you that you have

experienced allow you to speak into those folks, those folks'

lives with a credibility,

and b, also, a genuine sense of

care. And I don't mean care in terms of

a feminist ethic of care or some like scholarly idea of

care. I mean, what I call hard headed empathy, right? Because you

could talk with them from a hard headed position and you can essays,

yeah, I've been down the road that you've been down and I know what

the clearing at the end of that path is. And you know what the clearing

at the end of that path is. And so let's have a credible, no


works a works a couple of different ways. It

works if you could pull it off because you genuinely have had those experiences, which

you have had, or it works if you could pull it off

where, maybe you haven't had those experiences,

but you have enough to your point about authoritarianism fourth

lack of adaptability. You have enough

Sorrells authority. That's something we talk about on this podcast, moral and ethical authority

to be able to pull that off. Right. And

it's either gonna be one of those 2 approaches. Anything outside of those 2, either

experience or moral authority, isn't gonna get you there. And

so priests and pastors and counselors,

they have that moral authority. Even though they may not

have the experiences, writers. They just have that authority because of

the weight we give those positions in our culture. You're coming out of that,

that, that authority, or you're getting that authority from experience. So

talk with us a little bit about working with the veterans. What do you

see inside of, well, let's actually, let's,

let's make this very, very tiny to start with, and then we can sort of

blossom out from there. What are the

writers for pushing veterans

towards that clearing at the end of the path of suicide?

What are the drivers towards that? I mean, you mentioned

in your own life, you know, being twice divorced, alcohol, those types of things,

financial issues, all of those kinds of things. The common things that we sort of

think of is, are those the main drivers fourth is something else that we're not

aware of? So

it comes down to when you

really the fundamentals of just individuals

who died by suicide. If you look into their

if you look into what they were doing right up until fourth what was going

on right before, you're you're most likely, you're gonna see

signs. You're gonna see things. You're gonna you're gonna they're either gonna

say or do something that is gonna lead

to that outreach and help. Right? Unless

they are, like, just dead set on

they they put a mark on the calendar and say, you know what? This is

that's the day when it gets here. I've made a decision, and I'm gonna stick

to it. And they just live until that day, and they don't show any signs

or something. They're just they just accept. Right? Mhmm.

So, normally, that's not the case. Normally, it's a manifestation of a

fleeting thought that, is

just the right moment, right time where they actually have

access, and Tom little to no barriers or mitigations

to a legal means. Right? And it just ends up

being, what was most of the time

probably meant to be an attempt or an outreach to cry

just it becomes legal. Right? So, I mean, 70% of sue

of suicide deaths are via

firearms. Right? Okay. But you have

way more attempts with

other means, such as, you know, sharp objects or or

overdoses, pills, ingesting, some, you know, poisons fourth medications and stuff like

that, where it comes down to those are just it it's not that I

don't I don't believe that it has anything to do

with they just had more time or more

or less fourth that time was of the essence kind of thing. I think it

really just comes down to just that access to that lethal means in

that moment. Right? So it comes down to that

understanding, and that's one of the things that, you know, I'm I'm a certified instructor

on is counseling on access to those legal means. So that when I'm dealing

with a veteran who is experiencing, you know, the some kind

of depression, anxiety, or, combating post traumatic

stress disorder fourth something like that, where they're in that hazard moment,

that's when you turn to those closest to them and say, okay.

You know where all the firearms are? Go get them. Let's

remove those from the equation. Let's put time and distance between them,

so that this moment will pass. Right? So

it's calculated right now. The average is about 10 minutes.

10 minutes from the time the turning thought arrives, the execution of

of of the, of the suicide,

that every minute beyond 10 minutes increases

the likelihood of survivability by, like, 35% per minute,

you know, for 10 minutes. So Okay. Really getting into that that

that time crunch is, like, that's why it's so important that we get

the the veterans out there to know, you know, I if you're

having those thoughts, those fleeting thoughts, this is who you need to call, this is

what you need to call. And that, you know, 988 and press 1 is the

national suicide hotline. And there's,

you know, there's mobile crisis outreach teams at all the local

mental health authorities across Essays, you know. So, I mean, there's there are

organizations and and mitigations in place,

but it just comes down to educating the veterans, the the families,

and the service members on what those things are. Right? Mhmm. And

then getting them that understanding of, you know, well

yeah. I mean, if your if your if your veteran is talking to you about,

you know, they're not feeling they're not feeling very good today, and they don't really

feel like, you know, they just they start making comments along the lines that they

wanna go to sleep and not wake up. That those are, like, telltale signs that

you may wanna go ahead and start removing medications,

you know, sharp objects or firearms out of the

vicinity and put them under lock and key somewhere where they're gonna have

to, you know, time and time and distance between those.

Writers? So but but if you don't if you don't educate the family on that

kind of stuff beforehand, they see that, they're gonna you know? No one's gonna

think, oh, they would never do something like that. Right? So it just turns

into like, there's a lot of preparation and and

thought that can go into what can be done beforehand

to mitigate something that could be a potential threat,

in regards to the Let me ask you a question. So

very often in these types of conversations,

people will essays, Particularly

civilians will say. We seemed to not

have this problem with World War 2 vets, We seemed to not have this problem

with Korean War vets. We seemed to not have writers? And I'm I'm just setting

up the question. I'm not saying I believe it. I'm saying this is the question

that is often posed. Right? I'm

merely standing in because you gotta bring in other people, right, you know, with other

thoughts. Right. We seem to not have had this this this real

challenge until Vietnam. Is there something

in the social culture that broke since World War

2? Or or has this always been you mentioned

PTSD. Has this always been an issue, and we're just better at

catching it now? I wanna say that we have

defined mental health a lot.

Like, just the way that psychology and

psychiatry and mental health in general over the last,

you know, 20, 40 years, the improvements and advancements and understanding

of those different those

different types of wait. What are they called? There's different there's, like,

7 different parts itself.

You know, like intelligence, emotional functions, those different

levels of whatever. So but being able to break down and understand and

having the the a mental health professional that is trained and understanding

in those different domains, that's what they're called, those different domains.

Domains. Yep. In order to better

better understand and guide the individual into

understanding of what they're dealing with. Mhmm. And what they're dealing with

is manageable and treatable, and, you know,

it's it's not something that they have to continue to suffer

from by themself. Right. That there are that there are other

things that an individual can do in order to overcome those types of mental health

challenges. Now, but, yeah, I mean, World

War 2, Korean Korean War, you know, I

mean, yeah, I'm not gonna say that they didn't have their own mental

health issues coming back from those periods of Tom, but, I

mean, it was a different generation. I mean, you got you had the great

depression that led into, you know, World War 2. So if you wanna talk about

tough times, those individuals were

already hard. Right? Well, iron sharpens

iron when it comes down to it. And you're dealing with now,

you're dealing with a generation that is, you know, Cabbage Patch

Kids and GI Joes and, you know, carnivals on the

weekends and whatever. And now you're you're having a different a

different type of life, and then you're going in and

you're witnessing and experiencing,

traumas at such a depth that you'd

only seen in movies knowing it was fake.

Right. But then it's in front of you, and it's this is not fake. This

is not fake. Yeah. Real. Very like, it it is a

different level that an individual

steps into when they go from,

watching watching a movie, like Rambo to

going over and actually seeing what war really looks like.

And I'm gonna tell you, it's not always it's not always bodies and burning

bodies and that stuff. No. Most of the time you're dealing you're

you're looking at just, like, 15 to 20 emaciated

children that are barely closed. Yeah. That are

just filthy head to toe, that are just out with their hands out. Just

there's food food, you know, they're just and it's just those are

the kinds of things that just witnessing and seeing, you're just like, man, this

is this is a bad way. And then you come back to the first world,

and you're just like, where's the TV remote? Right. I can't find the

TV remote. Where is it? First world problem. Man, you got kids on the other

side of country, on the other side of the world that don't have water to

drink, and you're worried about what your damn TV remote is. Well, this is

the and this is the disconnect. I and I'm glad you brought this up because

you're right. Like, my so

my grandfather and my

yeah. My grandfather on my mother's side served in World War 2. And

then my I have a bunch of uncles and, who

served in, in Korea, bunch of them. And

then, by the time Vietnam came around, my father

was, was a Vietnam Vietnam vet. Writers. And,

you know, one of the things I push back on when people say,

well, what is this? Is this a new thing? Like, no,

But this is no. It's not a new thing because the human brain is the

same as it's it's been for a while now, at least

10000 years. If you wanna go by that by that fact

fact, factoring of time. And so we've been

dealing emotionally with trauma Tom your point, pretty much the same.

Our understanding of that has gotten better. The difference

between 80 years ago and now is to your point, yeah, those guys

were tough. I mean, book, I remember my

grandmother telling me stories of her father, you know,

having to, she was a sharecropper's daughter, one of like 12 kids,

writers? Having to, you know, get on a train and go get a job

somewhere that picking cotton. Right. And that job wasn't

available because he was in the fourth and he was African American, so that

job wasn't available. And then getting back on the train and coming back home and

having to eat his shoes coming back home. That's what my grandmother's

generation, who was the generation that went and fought Fourth War 2, was raised

with. That kind of poverty is

something that we can't even comprehend.

Even with everything going on right now in our culture, that kind of chaos that

we have, the moral, social, political chaos, we still can't comprehend that kind of

poverty. We just can't. We wouldn't even tolerate it now. There'd be riots in the

street if you had that kind of poverty.

Well, a person coming out of that is quite frankly, to

your point, like you said, iron sharpens iron, go to look at, oh, wait.

All I gotta do is go to Germany or go to Japan and kill a

bunch of people. Are you gonna give me 3 hots and a cot? Where do

I sign up? Where how how hard is this going to be? And, you know,

we've talked about, Peleliu and Okinawa on

this podcast. We've talked about, not only the invasion of

Normandy, but we talked about the Battle of the Bulge. We've talked about, like

I mentioned before, Colonel David Hackworth and his experiences in, in in

the Korean War. We've talked about Vietnam and we've talked about the Persian Gulf

War. And as the generations have gone on, that hardening,

I think, of the mind Tom your

point has shifted in America. And I

also think the knock on effect of us

understanding PTSD and mental health that came out of how Vietnam veterans

were treated, the the the the the sort of opposite effect.

There's a whack a mole. Right? So veterans Vietnam veterans are treated in one

way, and that was the whack, but then the mole popped up in a different

spot. And so I think that civilians like myself and folks who

have not had those experiences are extremely careful now

to, disintermediate

the soldier from the policy. We're very

careful to do that, I think. And we do it naturally now. We now

have 2 generations of people that just do that naturally. They don't even well,

I think we're crossing the Rubicon back in some sort of ways book to to

uniting those two things together, which I think is dangerous. But I think for a

while, we did. We separated the soldier fourth the policy. Like,

George Bush is over here to to paraphrase a ranger Jesan. George Bush made

his, made his thing and then this person had to go deal with it and

we could go deal with this person without having to talk about George Bush. We

don't have to talk about him at all. We can just go deal with this

person Jesan had to deal with the thing. And I think that that's an interesting

switch in our society and culture around mental health but also around

PTSD and how we deal with these deal with these areas.

You talked about the impact of

sort of the essays, well, the ways in

which time and distance sort of set up for people,

what they will do.

And you said any minute over 10 minutes is readers. You said what you said,

30% an increase in in survivability.

What are the if someone's listening to this, what are the and

they maybe don't know anything about Pecan Valley. They don't know anything about what you

do. This is the first time they're hearing about this. Maybe they've got somebody in

their house or they've got somebody in their life. They've seen some weird

things. What are the signs along that

path that they need to be paying attention to, that are just

common, right, that that they would just need to know?

We talked about for an individual who may experience a suicidal ideation

or someone who may be close to someone who's gonna be experiencing suicidal

ideation. Okay. That's a great distinction with a difference, I think, for

both of those, who close to and may be on the path to.

So, normally, and from from

what I've grown to learn over the years, I

have had a handful

of individuals. I could I couldn't count them on one hand. The number of

people that I know, who were either

service members or veterans who,

died by suicide. Mhmm. It really comes down


to paying attention to the

individual and where they're at and what they're doing. But, normally, what

ends up happening that leads to that kind of

behavior of, you know,

the the I'm gonna, you know, I'm gonna I'm gonna

just end it. Right? Just f it. I'm just gonna just go. Yep.

Normally, there is some kind of breakdown of a relationship

somewhere. Okay. Right? So no it doesn't just they don't just be

like, oh, my life's terrible. I'm just gonna go do this today. No. Normally, it's

because there is there is a

network of support that is no longer there.

Right? So there was something that they were they were tethered onto

that they were leaning on, and it could be, you know, a marriage.

It could be, loss of

a child. It could be a number of things. Right? But, normally, there's some, like,

significant loss Mhmm. Of

something, be it a relationship or be it, you know,

itself value, like, value, like, individually. I'm gonna go and tell you, like,

my biggest and hardest period of time

in the military was during transition from military

back into the civilian side. And I and I'm gonna go and I'm gonna go

and invite you. Like, we do, the Texas Veterans Commission

has a a course that is about

3 and a half hours long. It's called military cultural

competency that I teach at least once a month in

Granbury. And I'd like to invite you to come and sit in on that so

you can get some more clarity on, you know, military

culture from start to finish. Because it's very, very broad

stroke of everything that an individual goes through from the

day that they, sign their contract all the way

to the day that they're applying for VA benefits. You know, a very

very quick down and dirty broad stroke, and it it's

normally about 2 and a half, 3 hours long. It used to be 8 hours,

but it's been condensed to make it a little bit more palatable

for people who have no military background whatsoever. And it

Sorrells starts with, like, who here has got military experience

personally? Who has military parents? Who has military cousins

and family, distant family leaders, those kinds of things. And it's they're

trying to draw on some of the military experience they have. But

from my darkest time when was during

transition, when I went from having value and purpose,

doing a job, to all of the sudden,

no purpose anymore. Right? So and it basically and that's

just my own personal side of it of it because, I mean, I ended

up, very,

I was very upset with how my transition went when

it when it occurred because I was actually trying to develop

and grow. I was I found out that at 18 and a

half years of military service that I actually

possess a a medical birth defect,

unbeknownst to me, that I should have never been allowed to join the

military. Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah. So it's kinda like not that I'm

missing a kidney or anything, but it's on that level. Sure. Right? But if it

had been caught during my in processing, they would have been like, oh, you gotta

go because Yeah. You can't do this. Say 18a half

is because at 18 years, I had developed an issue

that I went I say 18a half is because at 18 years, I had developed

an issue that I went to the doctor on. He's like, we don't know what

this is. Mhmm. We're gonna send you over to general surgery. They sent me

Tom dermatology. Dermatology sent me back to general surgery. Sent me to cardiovascular.

CardioVascular is like, oh, I I think I know what this

is, but I'm not the I'm not the guy to really diagnose it. You

need to go talk to a vascular surgeon. Mhmm. So I

went and I talked to a guy, and he's pretty much like, hey, man. You

know, what what's going on? I said, well, I just need you to sign off

on this so that I can go to Sears School so that I can get

promoted next year to sergeant Major because I'm trying

to advance my career. Right? I was the 1st sergeant trying to make the next

grade, and the only school that I did not have and the only

experience I did not have was SEER School, which is essentially that's the POW,

Camp Slappy turning, you know, where you go through the the what

happens if you how do you do or respond, or what goes through when you

do POW training? I don't know what goes on there because I didn't actually get

to go. Right. Without that, the doc said, well,

you know, I got some good news or bad news. Good news is is you're

gonna retire at 20 years. I was just like, that's the good

news? Yeah. What's the bad news? What's the bad news?

Bad news is is you cannot jump out of air wear

body armor anymore. You can't, you can't shoot a a

rifle in your shoulder anymore. You can't, you can't

do combatives anymore. You really need to stop

lifting heavy weights, like, specifically no more

push ups, no more bench press, no more Wow. Anything like that. Then

I was just like, are you serious? What I was like, what are you? That

that that can't be the deal. Right. What he's like, well so

I got diagnosed with, what I thought was a birthmark

on my chest that kinda looks like varicose veins.

I got diagnosed at 18 and a half years with what's called

an AVM. It's arterial venous

malformation. So this Okay. Venous malform it's essentially

the varicose veins, and Sorrells they're just venous malformations.

Yeah. Mine's unique because it's on my trunk, like, specifically,

it's on my on my right pec. Yep. And, it

and it's being fed by an artery. So Okay.

If I'd gotten hit in the chest too hard or if I got, you know,

an opening shock without a parachute harness comes down and it's, like, quite

over it and, you know, the rucksack straps come in, the pocket of the

shoulder with the with the m fourth 2 40 or whatever I'm

shooting. I mean, if I had ruptured that feeding vein

to this AVL, which is literally, like, just under the

skin, Like, it just barely pops out under under my

my pec muscle. It's just like if you had ruptured

that that artery during any of these activities over the

last eighteen and a half years, you would potentially bleed out internally in

minutes. And so that's when I my

darkest days kinda fell on me. So I was like, well, I think I've cheated

death enough. Yeah. I'm gonna go ahead and retire.

So, but being told that you can't that you can't

jump out of airplanes anymore when you're, when you're, you

know, a jump master in an airborne unit, if you can't jump, you

can't jump master. If you can't jump master, you can't lead paratroopers. So

it kinda you know, basically, I had to, you know, I had to roll it

in. So, that was when I went from from

having, you know, growth and development and a plan, and I was gonna,

you know, I was gonna make sergeant major, and I was gonna stay in 26,

27 Jesan, and I was gonna, you know, retire, you

know, between 27 30 years of service depending on how high up I

got. Went to being

Bye. Yeah. We're done we're done with you. So, like, here here's your

retirement check. Here's your here's your VA benefits. You know, go

have a good life. Do whatever. And I'm just like, what

will I do now? I don't know what to do. Like, what can I

do? So it it just really was a hard

transition for me seeing that I wasn't ready

to take a knee, face out, and drink water, and then, you know, find something

else. It was I was pretty much retired. Mhmm. I did

not choose literature than if I continue to do it, I was gonna be riding

the desk. Right. Up at fourth special forces

command doing, you know, school with NCO or something like

this is just something that was not fulfilling. Right? So

I think it really comes down to, like, that thought of, well, my life

is over. Right? Because I'm transitioning, and I

don't have a plan. I don't know it's basically the unknown is is in front

of me. You know, when you get the rug pulled out from underneath you and

fourth what you thought was, gonna happen is

no longer plausible or gonna happen. You know? When things change

abruptly and you don't

see any light at the end of the tunnel, you pretty much you're

just like, okay. Well, screw it. Now what do I do? That's Right. I

turning to alcohol heavily. You know? Mhmm. And that's where

that's what I turned to for a number of years until, you know, I

was seeing therapists. I was, you know, on antidepressants

and medications, and I would you know, I went through, like, 3 different

therapists and probably 4 different medications, and, you know, I've

been sober now for 2 years and some change. February 27,

2020 2. I gave up alcohol. I gave up social media. I

gave up caffeine. I gave up a whole bunch of things all at once just

to just to start over and hit reset. Yep.

So and it was it was probably the best decision that I ever

made was putting down alcohol and just hurting that off because

that allowed me to actually deal with the traumas

that I have. Right? And not just the military ones, but all the way back

to childhood traumas. Every bit of them. You know? So and I

probably have had more growth in

development in the last 2 years that I've been sober than I had in the

previous 20 Yep. In the military just because of

clarity of mind and and having that,

but and and doing a job like what I'm doing now, you know,

it it comes down to I really love what I'm doing. I

really do have a passion for what I'm doing. And I'm really and I

feel like, you know, it's, like, my calling kinda. Like, this is what I'm called

to do. Mhmm. Because I can actually, you know

I'm good at it. Right? So it it just turns into

one of my when I left service,

I was given I had a guy that hired me on. He was,

he was the guy that started his own VA claims consulting firm

for profit, which we'll get into later. I don't recommend anybody go and

use a for profit company at all.

There are there are plenty of free services out there, but you can,

you know, talk about that another day. It just kinda turns into this guy

was a retired, you know, officer, lieutenant

colonel, and he basically said that probably the best advice that I

ever heard in regards to transition that

really got me focused on stop

dwelling dwelling in the darkness of you no longer have

purpose or, you know, your vision is completely gone,

of what you wanted to do. You know, just get a new vision. And it's

basically when you transition out, and the and

the military is done with you, I don't care what branch you're in. And this

is something I would tell to any single service member that's currently

serving active duty fourth reservist or national guard was

that machine is gonna continue to run after you're

gone without issue. It is bigger than you are, and it

does not need you as bad as you think it needs

you. So when you do

decide to transition, you're gonna have 3 options to pick

from. And you pick 2 that you

want and just know you're gonna get the opposite of the third and be

satisfied with it. Right? Mhmm. So those those three options

are location, job satisfaction,

or money. So you work where you wanna work and be live where

you wanna live. Doing a job you love, you're gonna get paid

garbage money. Right? But if you wanna if you wanna do a job you

love and make the money you wanna make, you're gonna do it in a place

you don't wanna be. Right? So it just comes down to you pick the 2

that you want, you get the opposite of the 3rd. And it it really just

comes down to when,

doing what I'm doing. I'm I'm living where I wanna live. You know, I'm in

the Hill Country of Texas. You know, just a little bit south of Granbury.

Beautiful town, dinosaur capital Mhmm. Texas, Glen

Rose. And, I mean, it's beautiful here. So this

is this is where I wanna be. Right? Yep. This is the this is the

kinda atmosphere that I wanna raise my kids in. Right? Right. Small

town, great school district, great community,

great weather, and great people. Right?

And then the job that I'm doing is by far probably

the best job that I've ever found. Right? Just

being able to impact so many different people

towards goodness. Right? Because that's really what I'm

doing. I'm taking the veterans who are in a despair and

turmoil, and I'm providing them access Jesan the resources

that are gonna mitigate and allow them to

recover and recoup and regain control over, you know,

their future again, be it Mhmm. Through health care benefits fourth

education benefits or disability benefits or mental

health, access to to good mental health

treatments. Just those those things that I can and and and that, I

do way more than just that. I mean, there are several other categories that that

I cover, but just being that

that person that is the go to to take care

of somebody who I identify

with. Mhmm. Alright? So this comes down just like I

said, I'm I'm teach, coach, and mentor veterans,

service members, and families like I did my own soldiers. So

Right. Just basically get them where they need to go. But the transition

piece is really what I think

most people come out of the military. They don't

have if they don't have a plan and it turns

into loss of something Mhmm. It only

starts pushing them towards the what is called the coping mechanisms.

Could be anything from alcohol Tom drugs

to risky behaviors to whatever. Could be a number of different things

that they do in order to, fill the

void is what I like to call it. Hey. What are you filling the void

with that is that that you have inside? Right?

You gotta find something healthy to fill that void with. Well, doing this job is

what's filling that void for me. So, I that's

why I enjoy doing it as much. So that is

that is that reflects something that, not only have I heard

before, but that I that that I know just from even

working with individuals that I've worked with, you know, when I coach, you know, in

my consultancy, we coach the much put upon middle

manager. And when they lose purpose, when they lose mission, when they

lose the vision, or when that's no longer articulated for

them, then there is a long

decline, a long drop, and and then

failures of leadership begin to compound, and then it becomes a whole it

becomes a whole mess. Right? The whole dominoes begin to fall. And sometimes even

those dominoes fall into, into their personal lives.

That idea of having a mission, that idea of having a purpose is I want

to turn the corner here as we get ready to close. And I want to

talk about you know, leadership. And I wanna talk about sort of how

you see how how for you leadership linked into that

purpose admission. Now that's clearly something you've been doing and studying

and thinking about for a long, long Tom,

but now it's become closer to the core of your purpose and your mission.

So talk with us a little bit about how how that happened.

And here's a just anywhere book podcast. I'm gonna

gonna ask you the book question too. I'm gonna wrap it into this as well.

But, what are some books you would recommend for folks to to read that are

your favorite books that are around leadership? Okay.

Two parts on that one. Yeah. Sorrells, I'll answer the book question

Jesan. Yeah. Yeah. Because I I can go in-depth on it. Okay.

So the first part then from a

leadership perspective, I'm doing

what I'm doing and how it kinda translates over. So here's the deal. I have

27,000 plus veterans in my 6 counties that I cover.

Mhmm. That's that's estimated roundabout plus or minus, you

know, a1000 27,000. Mhmm.

Knowing what I know from networks and my my

work in civil affairs and doing, you know, counterterrorism

operations and humanitarian assistance over in the Philippines.

My my ultimate job there was

mapping the human terrain. Right? Who's who? Who's in power?

Where are the vacuums? Who where's the nepotism? Who's the

who's the behind the scenes power broker, this and that? So

I've essentially taken what I did while I was in the military, and I've applied

it to my 6 counties. And now here's the deal. I don't need 27,000

veterans to know who I am or I am. Right. Because

27,000 probably aren't gonna need me. Right. That one one or

2% of the veterans who are struggling are probably

gonna be the ones that are needing me. So,

I focus, on the community

leadership. Like, those individuals within the

community who are faith based leaders, business

owners, council members, first

readers. Those types of individuals are the ones that

I go and I meet with and I shake hands with. I get business cards.

I build relationships with those individuals. That's why you see me

at the that's why you see me at the, you know, the

Friday events for the Sure. Chamber of Commerce type stuff. You know? And I

do that across 6 counties. Right? So Right. It it just comes down to I

don't need 27 7,000 people to know who I am. I need those

250 specific individuals and positions of leadership that

those veterans are gonna turning in a time of crisis to know who I am

so that they can pass them to me because I'm gonna solve the problem.

Right. Right? So it just turns in and then at the end of the day,

I'm not even really the one that's solving the problem. I'm the one that knows

where all I hold all the keys to all the doors to

walk them down the hall to say, what are you looking for? Education? Alright. Come

on. This is door number 3. Let's go on down a couple more. Okay. Here

you go. Alright. What else do you need? Oh, okay. You need,

access to health care. Okay. Cool. Let's go on down. We're gonna knock on Tom.

We're gonna knock on VA. We're gonna go down and Tom to, you know, wherever

we gotta go. So it just turns into my my,

leadership style and what I did, and being

the face and the handshake of special operations really put me

in a position to build those relationships within my community Mhmm.

To establish, maintain, and grow

my network so that I can be the one that they're

calling when it's, you know, to mitigate that crisis that

veteran has. And I mean, I've done everything from Lorraine, you know, I've

connected a surviving spouse to a nonprofit in Crowley that

put a $30,000 roof on her home that was, like, completely dilapidated. Right? Right. All

the way to I've got a Tom building a ramp tomorrow for

a veteran on hospice who's got 6 to 12 months to live. I'm

putting a small porch in a deck, you know, a small deck in a

ramp for him and his wife so that she can just take him outside for

fresh air on, you know, on nice days. So it just really comes there's

a plethora of things that I have available to do, and I don't do it

all myself. That's never the case. It's always

partnership. It's always enterprise. It's always,

you know, bringing those entities together through

the, what do you call it, deliberate

intent Mhmm. Like, leadership approach.

Right? Hey. I'm I'm here. I always introduce myself as, hey. I'm the I am

your veteran peer service coordinator certified by the Texas Veterans Commission.

How can I help you today? Like, I'm I belong to

you. Like, not I'm not part of the system. Writers? So

I'm part I'm just another gear in the in the in the machine

to kinda help you get to where you need to go. So as far as,

as far as books go, I'll then answer the question

number 1 for you fairly well. So and I know we're getting to the the

end here. As far as some some books, when in regards

to leadership, I would say that

some ones that that I've read multiple times,

a couple of them were recommended by mentors

of mine, and then the one of them recommended by my wife

to help me that I've read in just last year,

I would say Mindset by doctor Carol

Dweck. Yep. Really good book

with if you want to expand your

understanding of why people continue to do the same thing over and over

again and never move podcast. Turning, you know, they just

they're just stagnant. Then you really gotta go and and and,

get that book. It is on audiobook. Most of the books I do are audio

because I drive all day, and I listen to them in the car, you know.

Yep. So, so it turns into yeah. The

Mindset's a good one by doctor Carol Dweck. Another one that

I've read I read it at probably once a

year every year because there's always a new edition coming out,

is a book called Influence. Yes. The Psychology of

Persuasion. Yes. Oh, you did call that. You know? By doctor Robert

Cialdini. That was that book. What I read it for the

first time as a staff sergeant on a CA

team before my first deployment to the Philippines. Mhmm.

And I'm gonna tell you that book was money in the

bank when it came to what I was doing on

those islands over in the Southern Philippines on

leveraging influence within, you know,

that network of people and how to

how to actually because, I mean, my job was essentially, you

know, complete my mission's mission and intent, my commander's

mission intent, and get as much as I could for with

giving it the least amount possible into

these regions. And, I mean, I we spent a lot of money in the Philippines

too. I mean, most of it was USAID money, but we did spend,

you know, taxpayer money, you know, building schools, roads,

hospitals, those kinds of things. But, you know, money

is a good motivator for a lot of folks, but that's not always what it

is because just they don't they don't take money from just anybody.

They don't like you. You're not one of them,

then they, you know, then they're not gonna be the one to be part of

it, but it just comes down to, influence was a good

one. Another one that's a small read that's

real recent that I've I've just picked up, probably about

6 months ago. Small little book. I picked it

up at Walmart on, like, one of those, where they where you can go and

you pick up the Bibles. Oh, yeah. Over from the book out. It's a

book called How Tom Deal with Toxic People by by

Gregory l Jantz, the doctor doctor

Jantz, and is also, coauthored with, Keith Wall.

But, this really helped me understand,

some of the people that I've had in my life that I

thought were, like, some of my biggest supporters, which actually, in

the end, they were not. Mhmm. But but how to deal with toxic

people if you are in

a subordinate if you're a subordinate and you are dealing with

what seems to just be absolute

horrible people. Read that book and get some

perspective on how to deal with them. Right? And it comes not just and

it's not just for, like, work related. So I was talking about, like, relationships. Right?

Like, how to deal with talking people relationships, you know, and how to

deal with, the different types of

personalities that are toxic and being able to identify those things where, you know,

fourth anything from gaslighting to, you know, drama queen, crisis

king type scenario stuff. So it just comes down to the those

books are really good. Some fun

reads, and some ones that I haven't picked up in a while,

but I probably need to revisit.

Was it the Mark Munson, subtle art of not giving a

f? Because yes. That that one will

kinda give you it it'll help you count your spoons because you're not familiar

with spoons. Like, I only got so many spoons in a day to use, and

if I use this spoon, I can't do nothing else. It's pretty much the same

principle. Be very careful on what you, what you pay attention

to and how you do, because, you know, the important things,

what you might think is important might not be what's really important. Might not be

what's really important. Yeah. It just helps you focus a little bit on on

what your priorities are and figure that stuff out. Some

other books that are pretty good reads from the from

the military side of it.

Book called Spare Parts is pretty good. It's by

Buzz. First name, Buzz.

Anywhere he is. Can't be reading that. But Williams.

Buzz Williams. Okay. Buzz Williams.

He's a marine, and it's essentially it's his story from

going from, marine reserves of 1st Gulf Fourth all the

way through, his

career, prefacing his his,

you know, his his older brother who he idolized, who would

died in Vietnam. Mhmm. That's a that's a pretty good one. It's

it's it's got some tough stuff. And then probably one of

the best ones that I've readers, just because

I'm involved in it, is a book called The

Brave Ones by Michael McCloud.

Okay. And so and it is actually a story. So

Mike McCloud was a fourth,

42 year old, professor

that joined the army to gain perspective to

write a book, and he was, he was

a photographer and a journalist, in our public

affairs office when I was in 82nd Airborne Division in their special annex

as the s nine NCOIC. Mike,

sergeant McLeod was probably one of the most

physically fit individuals that I had seen in a

long time at his age, like, this dude without PT

and just a lot of folks. But he's also got


accolades from his photography. Mhmm. But the

book is from his entry into basic

training all the way through preparing for

deployment into Afghanistan, the the

experiences that he had with, 1st Brigade,

with, you know, 1st Battalion, 2nd Battalion, 504th,

it it's really goes in. And there's it's

it's tough to read. Mhmm. There's a lot of essays there, I've

you know, I was there for. So it's comes into the lot of what he

did and and how he did it. But, yeah, it's a

that's a good one to pick up, just to get a

perspective of not the leadership side

of it Mhmm. But from the subordinate side of like, the

soldiering side of it and their perspective of the

leadership Of the leadership. Happened. So it it it really

because, I mean, you can read a book all day long from numerous leaders that

are gonna talk about the decorum and the, you know, the

the elegance of, you know, being in that elevated position, looking down at

the troops marching along. But you don't ever get to read about the

the 5 hour journey it took to get to that 2 minute walk in front

of the leader. Right. And and it because it starts at 2

AM with weapons draw, and then, you know, you gotta think. If you got a

100 and 30, 140 paratroopers who draw

out weapons, and it takes 2 minutes to book one

in, that mission lasts 2 hours. 2 hours. 3 hours

just to turn in weapons, you know. And it doesn't matter. I mean, and it

just comes down like, the way that he writes, about

the the the experience from the lower level dealing

with, you know, that leadership. And you got a thing, man. We had great we

had great leadership in over in First Brigade. You know? Mhmm.

There was a lot of there was a lot of, you know, really

awesome, generals that came out of commanding 1st

Brigade 82nd. You know, General Petraeus, you know,

McCrystal. There's a number of guys that that started off at

Brigade Command at 82nd Airborne Division First Brigade.

So, just the history and the lineage of that

alone. And then you go in, you read about what

how how his perceptions were as a as a young e five, or I should

say as a mature Mature. Yeah. Mature e five.

Because, I mean, he did garner he garnered a lot of respect

from, the senior leadership because he was

their age, and he was also equally

educated at the like, he could have easily had

gone to officer candidacy school Mhmm. And become a

lieutenant and and probably blow past all of

the individuals there. But, I mean, that guy was

really, really awesome. He was probably one of the

best, paratroopers that I had the pleasure to serve

with. Awesome. Well, that is a heck of a list,

and, we will, have that list in

the show notes with links to those books, below

this episode, of the podcast, and you can catch

that in any player that you listen to this podcast on.

Before I let Calen go today, and I wanna thank him for being on the

podcast, I wanna ask him the final question of today.

What would you like to promote today? If anything?

So it really comes down


veterans in crisis. Right? You got so you got service

members. You got veterans. You got families. When it comes to

mental health, really wanna say if

you're specifically in Texas, right, every state has their

own Veterans Affairs state department. The Texas Veterans Commission

is the one from Texas. The VA has resources available

concerning mental health. Regardless of your discharge type, if you're in crisis,

you can go to any VA or ER and get immediate

crisis intervention for mental health.

All you do is go and say, I'm having a mental health crisis. This is

what I'm feeling, and I'm a a veteran. It does not matter what your

discharge type is. They will treat you. Right? There's a lot of stigma that comes

with the individuals who have other than honorable, dishonorable, or bad conduct

discharges who think, you know, they don't get normal VA benefits.

That's correct. But they do get, mental

health crisis intervention benefits from the VA, regardless. So

that is always an option. Local mental health

authorities across the state of Texas, 37, that covers every

single county, all 254, in the state of

Texas. There is a peer service coordinator that is aligned with

every single local mental health authority. There's a total of about

52 of us, and we all have volunteers that are part of what is known

as the Military Veteran Peer Network. So if you wanna

learn more on how to get involved with, taking care of veterans,

and that that's veterans of all ages, all

branches, as long as they're in Texas. I mean, I even

I talk to veterans who are not in Texas because they give my card to

their relatives up in Kansas or Colorado, and they call me. I

still set them in the right direction for what they need. But it just really

comes down Tom, there's a veteran in crisis, get on

the necessary stuff that they need, and you can find it at the

Veterans Mental Health Department through the Texas Veterans

Commission. You go to, the TDC website. You

can pretty much go on Google and type in TDC, and it'll should pop

up. Go to mental health, and that's that's basically where it

starts. But that's too much for you, just you can go on Writers Mental

Health Department and type in Military Veteran Peer Network, go

straight to the main page, and there's a nice easy map there. You can type

in your county, and it'll bring up the name, phone number, email, and

address for the peer service coordinator that covers the area that

you're in. It's not hard to find one of us.

It's, you know, that's what we're there for. We're we are

here to take care of veterans, families, and,

service members to get them the resources they need

to begin to live a life of joy and happiness,

get out of the turmoil and despair, and come over and actually have

a fulfilling life of happiness. Right? That's really what the goal is. I think

that's important for them to know is there are options, and they can

come on over and and get the help they need. Awesome.

And we will have links, to those websites. We will have

links to, the military veteran peer network, and we

will have links, of course, to the veterans crisis hotline,

that Kalen mentioned, previously. And of fourth,

we encourage, any one of our listeners, or the

friends or spouses or relatives of any of our

listeners, if you know a veteran in crisis,

even in your neighborhood, writers, please encourage them to

reach out to folks like Callan, and, and get in touch with

the military veteran peer network in your state, as

we are listened to in all 50 states, or,

if you are listening in or not, or and if you're listening in the state

of Texas, obviously, you wanna do that in the state of Texas.

988 is a nationwide for anybody.

Right. Fourth a veteran, they ask 988 and press 1 to

identify that you're a veteran. And that a lot of people don't

know. You can call 988 as a mental health professional and request

additional resources. Just let them know when you dial. I'm not in

crisis. I just need additional information. They will be more than happy to give

you any and all links and anything that you could possibly need or

want, mental health related. They'll be more than happy to provide that to

you. And we will have that number again in the show notes

below the player of this podcast that you are listening to

this podcast on. Once again, I would like to thank,

Kaelin Bullard for coming by today and for talking with us,

about his work and about his background and his experiences.

And my name is Essays Sorrells. And with that,

we're out.