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Retired from the Military

After 22 years of military service, I officially retired from the U.S. Army on May 1, 2019. This blog is a little late because I originally didn’t want to write about it because I was ready to close that chapter of my life. But now that the dust has settled, I am more comfortable with it.

This story will take you through the five locations I was stationed, starting in 1997, when I was 18 years old.

Basic Training:

I entered the Army (Active Duty) in July of 1997. I was fresh out of High School and ready to take on the world. That is, until I arrived at Fort Benning, Georgia for my Infantry Basic Training. I won’t lie, it was a complete culture shock for me. I needed that.

“Follow me”

I graduated Basic Training, Advanced Individual Training (AIT), and 11M (Mechanized) school in November of 1997.

First Duty Station:

My first duty station was at Fort Hood, Texas (1997-1999). I was with the 4th Infantry Division (4ID) 1-22 INF (M). During that time period, my duties were:

  • Bradley Driver
  • M249 SAW Gunner
  • Dismount Team Leader
PV2 Hughes – Operation Desert Shield (ODS) Bradley Driver
Mechanized Infantry Gunnery – Leader Board
CBRN Exercise at the National Training Center (NTC) Fort Irwin, CA

I met some fantastic leaders and friends, while stationed at Fort Hood. I still communicate with two of my friends so it is pretty safe to say, we are friends for life.

Second Duty Station:

My second duty station was at Camp Casey, South Korea (1999-2000). I was with the 2nd Infantry Division (2ID) 2-9 Infantry (M). During that time period, my duties were:

  • M249 SAW Gunner
  • M240B Gunner
  • Team Leader
Training on mountains in South Korea
Some of the best training I’ve ever experienced, thanks to the leadership.

I will always consider my time in South Korea special because it helped me develop a better understanding of the world. Plus, it made me appreciate what I had back in the United States. That was a great teaching tool.

Mandatory requirement: The Manchu mile (road march) – 25 miles.

Third Duty Station:

My third duty station was at Xenia, Ohio (2000-2003). I was with the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (BCT) 1-148th INF. During that time period, my duties were:

  • Team Leader
  • Squad Leader

Professional Development courses:

  • Primary Leadership Development Course (PLDC) at Fort Knox, KY
Training Exercise at the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, CA
Operation Noble Eagle

After the tragedies of September 11, 2001, we deployed to support the Operation Noble Eagle mission. During this mission, I determined it was time to switch my Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), even though I knew I would miss being Infantry (11B).

Fourth Duty Station:

My fourth duty station was at Columbus, Ohio (2003-2007). I was with the 52nd Civil Support Team (CST) Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). This gave me the opportunity to change my MOS from 11B to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) Specialist.

Elementis Regamus Proelium

During that time period, my duties were:

  • Survey Team Member
  • Survey Team Chief

Professional Development courses:

  • Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course (BNCOC) at Fort Leonard Wood, MO
  • Technical Escort at Redstone Arsenal, AL
  • Civil Support Skills Course (CSCC) at Fort Leonard Wood, MO
  • 74D Reclass at Fort Leonard Wood, MO
Level A Suit – Training Exercise
Level B Suit – Training Exercise
Training with the Coast Guard in Buffalo, NY

I had the pleasure of working with multiple civilian agencies, to include: fire departments, HazMat teams, and local/state/federal law enforcement.

The Ohio State Buckeyes stadium

Fifth | Final Duty Station:

My fifth | final duty station was also at Columbus, Ohio (2007-2019). I was with 73rd Troop Command.

During that (long) time period, my duties were:

  • Readiness Noncommissioned Officer (NCO)
  • Training NCO
  • Detachment NCO
  • Brigade Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC)
  • Unit Victim Advocate (UVA)
  • Suicide Intervention Officer (SIO)
  • Master Resilience Trainer (MRT)
  • Brigade Operational Security Operations Officer (OPSEC)

Professional Development courses:

  • Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course (ANCOC) at Fort Leonard Wood, MO
  • Master Resilience Trainer (MRT) at Fort Custer, MI
  • Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention (SHARP) Foundation Course at Columbus, OH
  • Unit Victim Advocate (UVA) at Columbus, OH
During a flight in a Blackhawk Helicopter
Facilitating a Resilience Trainer Assistant (RTA) course
Supporting the Brigade Best Warrior Competition (BWC)
We hosted the Sexual Assault & Prevention Month (SAAPM) events (2016-2018)

Given that I was with 73rd Troop Command for 12 years, it was without question my favorite unit. The mission was incredibly important and an honor to support.

I was getting closer…
Raising my right hand in 3 different versions of the Army uniform

A few of my great friends set up a phenomenal retirement lunch for me, back in early February. The food was incredibly good but the people are what made it special, for me.

Lunch was so good!
My retirement gift (1 of 2)
My retirement gift (2 of 2)
Saying goodbye to 73rd Troop Command and Rickenbacker

I out-processed at Fort Knox, Kentucky. I was excited, happy, sad, nervous, and optimistic (all at the same time) when I was handed my final paperwork. 22 years had finally come to fruition. 22 years – It is true what they say about time; it goes by so fast.

There are so many stories I could share. But for now, these images and short paragraphs will have to do. I want to thank every service member I had the honor and privilege to serve with, throughout my career.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

You are not a Robot | Train Yourself to Think Outside of the Box

Have you ever stopped and wondered, “Why do some people go through their entire life, working aimlessly like robots?” Is this their personal choice or are they conditioned to be this way? Well, you could make a pretty good argument that both of these reasons are a contributing factor. Obviously, no one wants to be considered a robot. However, people do not realize that our society is slowly training you to be one, at a very early age.

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When you were a child, you were conditioned to wait for a sound or a voice to tell you when to move, start, and finish.

“Don’t touch that.”

“Wait until I tell you to start.”

“Don’t express your opinion, even if you believe you’re right.”

When you were in school, the sound of a bell controlled your actions. The first bell was designed to tell you when to start. As soon as you heard the bell, you were conditioned to get serious and focus on your work. [“Pay attention.”]

The bells after that, indicated it was time to transition to the next class. Once you arrived there, once again–you were required to get serious and focus on the next subject. Your school day would end at the sound of the final bell. [“You can leave, now.”] This was always an indication you could finally relax. That is, until you arrived home or at practice (sport, etc.) We have been using the bell system since the 19th century. For more detailed information about it, visit: http://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/-school-bells

Make no mistake, I’m not saying anything negative about the education system. I am simply pointing out the fact that from a very early age, our lives are structured. We are told when to do things, how to do them, how long we can do them, and when to stop doing them.

Your Adult Life

The same concepts apply in the workplace. You rely on a time clock to dertimine when you get serious and when you’re allowed to relax. Even if you dont use a time clock, things called “deadlines” or “suspenses” have the same impact on you.

Don’t clock in 1 minute early and don’t clock out, 1 minute late.

Although you can’t necessarily change or influence the way your employer or organization operates, you can change the way you operate. At some point, you must understand that change starts with you. Going through life like a robot does not serve you or anyone in your circle of influence.

My recommendation: make a schedule or write down your daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly goals. By taking the initiative to write these things down, you will place yourself back in the driver seat of your life. You establish what your day will look like so you can have the day you want, instead of settling for what the day gives you. When you operate like a robot, you’re in the passenger seat or sometimes in the back seat. Meaning, you’re not in change of where you’re going in your life.

Making a schedule is not where it stops, though. You must learn to rediscover your voice. Remember, you were conditioned at a very early age not to speak your mind.

“Don’t say that. Just keep quiet.”

Instead of sitting back in the meeting listening to the wrong information being discussed, you have the courage and professionalism to say, “Mike, the packet actually consists of five documents and not three.” The robot mentality would have kept you quiet and allowed the major mistake to occur. “I’m not speaking up.”

This is called thinking outside of the box. The box is your comfort zone, aka where you were conditioned to stay so you can function like a robot. Thinking outside of the box is how you grow in both your personal and professional life. Therefore, it is incredibly important for you to take control of your life sooner than later. The older you get, the more habits you build. When you’re functioning like a robot, your habits are based on robot principles.

Thinking outside of the box will make you unique.

Something to consider: once you step out of your comfort zone, several things will change. Some people will misunderstand you, roll their eyes at you (negative body language), some may even avoid you, and overall dislike you. Why? Because you no longer function as a robot. Therefore, you’re a threat or an outsider because you’re not part of the norm.

When this happens, you must stay the course. The obstacle is the path. You’re are not a robot. You are a unique person that has value.

For more tips on breaking away from the norm:

The Best Version of You | My new book is available

I am very excited about finally having this book in my hands. Hard work is always worth it, regardless of how long it takes.

The Best Version of You is a self-help book designed to introduce new skills and concepts for anyone to use when they’re facing adversity, feeling lost and out of focus, wanting to make changes in their lives, or simply wanting to update themselves.

We update our phones, our computers, and our software, but honestly, when was the last time we updated ourselves?

The book is available on Amazon.com and Amazon Kindle:

Xlibris Publishing:

Are you in the driver or passenger seat of your RAS?

What you think about the most, will consume you. It will activate your Reticular Activating System (RAS).

The reticular activating system is a short, pencil-sized piece of the brain located just above where the spinal cord is attached to the brain. It acts as the gatekeeper of information between most sensory systems and the conscious mind.

Examples:

  1. You purchase new shoes for the gym. You honestly believe they are unique but over the next couple of days, you start noticing other people have the same shoes. Did they buy them because you did? No, obviously not. They’ve always had them but now these shoes are in your awareness. Therefore, you notice them. It turns out, these must be great shoes because other people are buying them, too.
  2. You start believing that people always get hurt in the gym, regardless of their skill set. Therefore, you take notice every time someone gets dinged up or seriously injured. It is all you can focus on. Do people get injured in the gym? Of course, that’s part of Murphy’s Law. However, because injuries are in your awareness, you notice them more than usual. Because of this mindset, you hold back in the gym because you don’t want to be the next person to get hurt. This is also your confirmation bias working against you.

These examples demonstrate how you need to be careful about what you’re thinking. If it upsets you, disappoints you, or goes against your values–why are you wasting your time with it? What is the:

  • Purpose
  • Goal
  • Objective
  • Benefit
  • Value

If it doesn’t support any of these things, eliminate it from your life.

“Where focus goes, energy flows.” -Tony Robbins

My dislike for video games does not consume me.

I don’t care for video games. But I won’t make the mistake of constantly thinking (or talking) about why I don’t like them. It serves no purpose and takes valuable time away from things that I value. I would rather reallocate my time to focus on things that help me win at life.

I love people that are focused on maximizing their potential. They don’t spend their day focusing on what they don’t like. Instead, they focus on what they do like and how they can multiply it. Because my filter is calibrated on this mindset, I notice people that are like this. If I didn’t like these kind of people, I would never notice them even if they were all around me.

Driver seat: You focus on positivity, it is in your awareness, and you set yourself up to win.

Passenger seat: You focus on things you don’t like, you hunt them down because they’re in your awareness, and you fuel disappointment.

Recognize What You Love | An Attitude For Gratitude

The world would be a better place if we focused on things that we love, instead of what hate or dislike. That is why I highly recommend you develop an attitude for gratitude. Here are just a few things to consider:

  • I love people regardless of their gender.
  • I love people regardless of their age.
  • I love people regardless of the color of their skin.
  • I love people regardless of their sexual orientation.
  • I love people regardless of their political affiliation.
  • I love people regardless of their abilities and disabilities.
  • I love people regardless of their looks.
  • I love people that have a different opinion as me.
  • I love people for their uniqueness.
  • I love people for their originality.
  • I love people that challenge me and other people.
  • I love people that are obsessed with success.
  • I love people that are comfortable in their own skin.
  • I love people that value doing what’s right.
  • I love people that understand and practice selfless service.
  • I love people that choose not to conform to society.
  • I love people that support equality.
  • I love people that take ownership of the failures and success.
  • I love people that don’t settle for their comfort zones.
  • I love people that crave self-development and self-improvement.
  • I love people that understand when love is not always the answer.
  • I love people that recognize when something is not for them.
  • I love people that welcome the next chapter in their life.
  • I love people that are not afraid to take a stand.
  • I love people that challenge themselves.
  • I love people that can control their confirmation bias.
  • I love people that can identify their thinking traps.
  • I love people that own their happiness.
  • I love people that can fight off the comparison trap.
  • I love people.
Love, happiness, and positivity create winning streaks.

This list could go on and on because once you recognize what you love or what you’re grateful for, you will begin to notice more and more things. Love, happiness, and positivity create winning streaks. Set yourself up to win.

The Best Version of You (Update) | My 3rd Book

I have officially signed with Xlibris Publishing (The same Publisher I used for my 1st book, Crematory.) My new book is called:

The Best Version of You

Although the book is in the (publishing) production phase, it still could be 1-3 months before it is available. This process usually takes some time, due to the attention to detail aspect.

Note: The official cover will be released at a later date.

The Best Version of You is a Self-Help book designed to introduce new skills and concepts for anyone to use when they’re: facing adversity, feeling lost, out of focus, wanting to make changes in their life, or simply wanting to update themselves. We update our phones, our computers, and software but honestly—when is the last time we updated ourselves?

Own your happiness.

Books, currently available:

Self-Help Books | What I Recommend

I love to read. In 2018, my major focus is Self-Help books.

My goal for 2018: 45 books

So far, I am reading book #19. I do count the books I read for my job as a victim advocate because I target books that teach me new things and help make me a better advocate and facilitator.

Here are the Self-Help books I recommend:

1. Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People

Vanessa Van Edwards

2. What Every BODY is Saying

Joe Navarro

3. The Like Switch

Jack Schafer, PhD

4. The Mask of Masculinity

Lewis Howes

5. The School of Greatness

Lewis Howes

6. The Millionaire Booklet

Grant Cardone

7. It’s Not all About “Me”

Robin Dreeke

8. Mastery

Robert Greene

9. How Successful People Think

John Maxwell

10. The Science of Likability

Patrick King

What books do you recommend?