In this episode of the We Are The Mighty podcast Army special operations veteran and subject of “That Which I Love Destroys Me” documentary Tyler Grey shares his experience and wisdom for transitioning out of the military. Grey left the military at the height of his career due to injuries he sustained while serving in Iraq. Today, Grey spends his time as a technical advisor in Hollywood and mentoring veterans. Recently, he worked on the set of the DC Comics supervillain movie “Suicide Squad.”
Grey’s advice is valuable for any transition, not just the military. Whether you’re switching careers, going through a rough personal patch, or approaching the next chapter in your life, these words of wisdom will prepare you for those trying moments.
In this #DefendYourVote bonus episode of the WATM podcast, we catch up with our editor-in-chief Ward Carroll live from the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ward also covered the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, and so we asked him to compare and contrast the two.
The months and weeks leading up to separation or retirement can be exciting and terrifying. Some of you have a post-military career lined up, and others of you are faced with the overwhelming reality that there is no obvious and predictable next step.
To ensure you control as much of the career transition process as possible, you will need to do some deep thinking, self-reflection, and self-marketing to make yourself attractive to potential employers. Whether you are starting your own business, working for the government, joining a non-profit organization, or seeking employment in a private company, here are four important actions you can take to position yourself for success:
1. Define your goal and set a strategy
Defining your career goal to closely tie to the industry or job you are pursuing. For instance, if you want to be a journalist, it would help if your first job was in writing or editorial work. Your strategy might include getting connected to influencers and decision makers in journalism or publishing, demonstrating your abilities (perhaps you’ll write a blog, publish an article or write an essay showing your skills), and preparing a portfolio of your work that highlights your abilities and talents.
Next, get more detailed in your plan. Your first step might be to get lists of key publications you would like to work for, identifying the right person to contact for an informational interview (see number 3 below), and reading through their website to understand the opportunities and challenges facing that publication.
2. Make yourself findable online
As you transition out of military service (even if you will join the Guard and Reserve), your social networking will evolve. Now, more than ever, pay attention to your online presence. Recruiters, employers and hiring managers scour online profiles to find potential candidates, evaluate them, and find consistency in their values, experience, and talents.
Follow these rules to make yourself findable online:
Create a profile that genuinely represents you. From your headshot to your summary of your experiences and goals, make sure you represent your goals and values authentically. Recruiters are looking for real people with real ideas and credible experience.
Work your online networks. Platforms like Monster.com, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter are best used for business and career, so keep them professional. Have a plan for adding your voice to important conversations, and building your visibility in key groups and forums where recruiters for companies in your target industries participate.
Remember that everything you post is public. Nothing typed into or shared on a computer, smart phone, or tablet is private – ever! Anyone can share a screen shot of your instant message or “offline” post. Assume the hiring manager for your dream job is seeing that photo or that post… would they still want to hire you?
3. Request informational interviews
Instead of asking for a job, consider asking professionals for informational interviews. This type of meeting is an opportunity for you to spend 15-30 minutes with people in the industries, companies, or jobs you want to pursue, asking them about their field, career and insights. Because you are not asking for employment, it is a more relaxed meeting where you might inquire: “How did you get into this career?” or “Where do you see this industry headed over the next 10 years?”
4. Enlist champions
Use the contacts you make in the informational interviews, online connections, and mentors you connected with during your service to become your advocates. They can write your recommendations, introduce you to key contacts that might be helpful to your strategy, and endorse you when asked about your talents, character, and skills.
Nurture the relationship with your champions – send handwritten notes to say thank you, and let them know what you’re up to (successes and frustrations). Keep your energy level high and optimistic in your communications with them; people want to back a winner, so make sure you communicate that you are a good investment for them to support.
The transition process is not easy. Even those who have a career path lined up after taking off the uniform will find many nuances of the civilian work place different, frustrating and exciting. Start with a strategy for building your career, instead of just finding “a job” and you will reap the rewards of your hard work!
John Ford, Frank Capra, and Oliver Stone are just a few the historic filmmakers who had a significant impact on Hollywood but who also swore an oath to protect our nation against all enemies foreign and domestic.
During their service, veterans experience life-changing events that can provide them with character development, a deep inner sense of self-confidence, and… a full arsenal of TV and film ideas.
More and more veterans are making the journey from warfighter to artist or storyteller.
Founded in 1992, the New York Film Academy (NYFA), is one of the largest independent film and acting schools in the world, offering innovative curriculum, award-winning instructors, and the highest quality professional equipment, classrooms, and studios at our campuses in New York City, Los Angeles, and South Beach, Fla.
There are many schools where veterans can use their G.I. Bill benefits and/or the Yellow Ribbon Program, but one film school located in Los Angeles goes above and beyond to develop and promote veteran success as they enter the entertainment industry.
Legendary Hollywood actor Joe Mantegna films The Soldier’s Project PSA using the veteran students from the New York Film Academy. (Source: Eric Milzarski)
“Whether your ambitions are to write films, direct, produce, or star, the New York Film Academy has a place for you. NYFA gave me the skills I needed to transition into of narrative filmmaking,” Army veteran and New York Film Academy alumni Eric Milzarski says.
At any given time, NYFA caters to over 200 veterans in the student body and the school takes pride in putting a camera in their hands on the first day of class.
The increasing strength of their veteran community allowed NYFA to create the V.S.A., or the Veteran Student Association, which brings students from the different branches together to collaborate on various filming projects.
With satellite schools located all over the world, the NYFA administration devotes itself to constructing a class structure that enables students more one-on-one time with their experienced film instructors.
The honorable Colonel Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient and on-air military strategist for NBC/MSNBC, is the Chair of the NYFA Veterans Advancement Program.
As in the military, the film industry uses a precise chain of command for its operational purposes, so vets feel right at home on set — hierarchy and order (and yes, even paperwork) have been branded into their solid work ethic.
NYFA has been privileged to enroll more than 1500 veteran students and military dependents at our campuses in New York City, NY; Los Angeles, California and South Beach, FL., since 2009.
The Los Angeles and South Beach campuses also participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program which allows eligible veterans and dependents in many cases the opportunity to go to school for tuition and fee free.
We have welcomed numerous industry colleagues of yours at NYFA to meet with our veteran students – including Stephen Lang, Joe Mantegna, Mel Gibson, and Joe Lisi.
Veteran Students have interned with WATM, Voltage Pictures, Lionsgate, NFL Films, Mar Vista Entertainment, and at We Are The Mighty.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Tim, O.V., and Blake speak with The Marine Rapper a.k.a. TMR about all the A-level training our service members receive but don’t capitalize on it when they get out.
Every veteran’s journey after the military is different.
While some of us pursue the career along the lines in which the military trained us for, others take a different path and sometimes fall short of their full potential.
“They [veterans] have a set of skills, they have leadership abilities, and there is so much more we can do,” Blake passionately states. “Granted, I’m a writer, and I have five degrees, and none of them have to do with writing.”
A veteran finding his or her purpose is essential to life outside of the military.
So when did TMR decide to become a rapper after serving the Corps?
“When I started getting better at it,” TMR jokingly admits. “In the Corps, I wasn’t at the level I am now.
If you’ve ever surfed the internet looking for military rap songs, chances are you’ve come across the unique sound of “The Marine Rapper.”
Known for sporting a red mohawk and wearing an American flag bandana, TMR served 10 years in the Marine Corps as a Combat Correspondent where he earned a Combat Action Ribbon and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals during his service.
After successful tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, TMR left the Marine Corps in February 2014. After entering back into civilian life, TMR began focusing on music as a profession and for cathartic expression.
That satisfying “Ping!” of bullets on target is as regular as a metronome when former Green Beret sniper, Aaron Barruga, is running tactical marksmanship drills on his home turf in Santa Clarita, CA. With his company, Guerrilla Approach, Barruga trains civilians, military, and law enforcement in proper and effective tactical firearm deployment.
The man does not miss.
“Oscar Mike” host Ryan Curtis paid a visit to Barruga’s training facility to bone up on his sharpshooting and found himself in good hands, drilling shoulder to shoulder with this veteran entrepreneurial success story. Barruga’s advice?
“I would definitely say that, if they have the opportunity, use that G.I. Bill. Get that piece of paper that says, “I’m smart and employable.” And just grind away, basically. You gotta hustle.”
As the day progresses, the sweat beading on Ryan’s brow is a testament to his hustle, if not his dead shot accuracy. And when he challenges Barruga to an Old West-style duel, our host quickly learns what high noon looks like at the Less-than-OK Corral.
Watch as Barruga makes plinking targets look easy, and Curtis proves his monkey is definitely the drunkest, in the video embedded at the top.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, we speak with standup comedian turned actor Tone Bell.
Tone isn’t a veteran, but on the Netflix show Disjointed he plays a soldier with multiple combat deployments under his belt who deals with everyday veteran issues like trauma and transitioning out of the military.
You may remember Tone from a few other shows he’s been on like 9JKL, The Flash, Truth Be Told, and Bad Judge with Kate Walsh.
Disjointed’ s producers and creative minds went to great lengths to develop his character and to get the veteran portion right. One of his character advisors on the show is WATM’s resident Green Beret Chase Millsap.
Tone Bell as Carter in Disjointed doing what he does best — create comedy.
In the show, “Carter” works as a security guard in a marijuana dispensary at Ruth’s Alternative Caring owned by Ruth Feldman (played by Kathy Bates).
To play the role, Tone spent countless hours prepping the character by talking with veterans throughout his creative process and combing through the script with Chase.
In the event, Tone reads a portion of the script where he felt the “Carter” character felt synthetic — he’d immediately voice his concerns with the producers.
Tone receives several direct messages daily on social media from veterans who respect how he has portrayed the veterans on the screen. This notion promotes that aspect that showcasing veteran issues in a witty and comedic way is possible without the actor going too over-the-top with their performance.
This unique process of prepping for a military role with the help of veterans will hopefully create a shift throughout the entertainment space that departs from Hollywood’s version of the armed forces.
All of Disjointed episodes are currently streaming on Netflix — so check it out. It’s freakin’ hilarious.
You might think that, somewhere along the way, someone in the staff of a senior senator from Kentucky would have figured out what Duffel Blog really was. Instead, in 2012, a concerned constituent actually had the Senator’s office send a formal letter to the Pentagon concerning Duffel Blog’s report of the VA extending benefits to Guantanamo Bay detainees.
Duffel Blog and its writers are more than brilliant. What it does at its best is play the role of court jester – delivering hard truths hidden inside jokes. In the case of Senator McConnell’s office sending a letter of concern to the Pentagon over a Duffel Blog piece, the site was hammering the VA, equating using its services to punishing accused terrorists in one of the most notorious prisons in the world.
We laugh, but they’re talking about the VA we all use – and we laugh because there’s truth to the premise.
Paul Szoldra is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Duffel Blog, former Military and Defense Editor at Business Insider, and was instrumental in the creation of We Are The Mighty. He’s now a columnist at Task & Purpose.
Speaking truth to power is not difficult for Szoldra, even when the power he speaks to is one that is so revered by the American people that it’s nearly untouchable by most other media. We live in an age where criticizing politicians is the order of the day, but criticizing the military can be a career-ending endeavor. You don’t have to be a veteran to criticize military leadership, but it helps.
“If you go back on the timeline far enough, you’ll find a lot of bullsh*t,” Szoldra says, referring specifically to comments made by generals about the now 17-year-old war in Afghanistan. “And I have no problem calling it out, highlighting it where need be.”
Szoldra doesn’t like that the top leadership of the U.S. military exists in what he calls a “bubble” and can get away with a lot because of American support for its fighting men and women — those fighting the war on the ground. Szoldra, who left the Marine Corps as a sergeant in 2010, was one of those lower-enlisted who fought the war. When he writes, he writes from that perspective.
“If we’re talking about sending troops into Syria… I wonder what does that feel like to the grunt on the ground,” Szoldra says. “I don’t really care too much about the general and how he’s going to deal with the strategy, I wonder about the 20-something lance corporal that I used to be trying to find IEDs with their feet.”
His work is thoughtful and, at times, intense, but always well-founded. Szoldra also does a semi-regular podcast with Terminal Lance creator, Max Uriarte, where they have honest discussion about similar topics. Those discussions often take more of a cultural turn and it feels more like you’re listening to Marine grunts wax on about the way things are changing – because that’s exactly what it is, with just as much honesty as you’d come to expect from Paul Szoldra and his ongoing body of work.
The times Duffel Blog articles were mistaken for real news
Duffel Blog’s new party game
Audible: For you, the listeners of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out some of the books and authors featured on Mandatory Fun. To download your free audiobook today go to audibletrial.com/MandatoryFun.
Directed by Nicolai Fuglsig, the film chronicles one of the first Special Forces teams to deploy to Afghanistan after the attacks on 9/11. The SF team joins forces with the Afghan Northern Alliance and rides into battle against the Taliban on horseback.
12 Strong brilliantly captures how difficult it is for ground troops to work and fight alongside Afghan freedom fighters against the insurgents due to the language and cultural barrier.
The film stars WATM friend Rob Riggle, Chris Hemsworth, Michael Pena, and Michael Shannon.
2. The 15:17 to Paris
Directed by Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood, the film focuses on the American soldiers who discover a terrorist plot on a train headed to Paris.
Interesting enough, the three Americans who thwarted a terrorist attack play themselves in the film alongside actress Jenna Fischer — and we like Jenna Fischer.
3. Tough As They Come
Starring and directed by Hollywood legend Sylvester Stallone, the film tracks Travis Mills (played by Marine veteran Adam Driver), a quadriplegic soldier returning from Afghanistan after his horrific injury.
Back in the U.S., Mills has to reconcile with his stepfather while coping with his new life using prosthetic legs and arms.
Directed by Todd Robinson, the film showcases a Pentagon investigator who teams up with a few veterans of “Operation Abilene” to persuade Congress to award deceased Air Force medic, William Pitsenbarger, the Medal of Honor 35 years later.
Pitsenbarger is accredited with saving over 60 ambushed service members in one of the bloodiest campaigns of the Vietnam War.
The film stars Sebastian Stan, William Hurt, and Samual L. Jackson.
Directed by Justin Kurzel, the film chronicles a nameless ex-Nazi captain who navigates the ruins of post-WWII Germany to atone for the crimes he committed during the war by hunting the surviving members of his former SS Death Squad.
Gal Gadot is rumored to have a role, but additional information hasn’t been released.
6. The 34th Battalion
Directed and produced by Luke Sparke, the film follows four friends from Maitland, New South Wales who join the 34th Battalion to serve on the Western Front. The film depicts the experiences of the unit, which was recruited in 1916.
IT jobs are some of the fastest growing, most secure jobs around today. Although they require a lot of education and experience, military veterans who held similar roles in the military tend to transfer extremely well. We did some research on the IT jobs the Bureau of Labor Statistics say are growing the fastest, and these are the most in demand, and will be in the future.
1. Software Developer
What software developers do
Software developers are the technical and creative minds who design and develop software for computer programs and applications.
Duties of software developers:
Analyze users’ needs and then design, test, and develop software to meet those needs
Recommend software upgrades for customers’ existing programs and systems
Design each piece of an application or system and plan how the pieces will work together
Create a variety of models and diagrams (such as flowcharts) that show programmers the software code needed for an application
Document every aspect of an application or system as a reference for future maintenance and upgrades
Collaborate with other computer specialists to create optimum software
Software developers are responsible for overseeing the entire development process for computer systems and applications. One of their main responsibilities is to identify how the users of the software will interact with it. Software developers must also keep in mind the type of security that their software will need in order to protect users.
Developers design and write the instructions for a program, and then give the instructions to the programmers to actually write the code. Some developers, however, might even write the code for the software.
(Photo by Farzad Nazifi)
Work environment of software developer jobs
Software developers typically work in teams that also consist of programmers. They must be able to work together and exchange ideas freely in order for the product to work. Typically, software developers work in an office and work 40 or more hours per week.
How to become a software developer
Software developers usually have a bachelors degree in computer science, software engineering or a related field. If you are going to school for software development you can expect to take courses that focus more on building the software. Many students gain experience by completing an internship with a software company while they are in college.
Even though writing code is typically not the responsibility of the developer, they still must have a strong background in computer programming. Through the course of their career developers will need to stay familiar with the newest computer tools and languages.
Software developers must also have knowledge of the industry they work in. For example, a developer working on digital recruitment software should probably have some knowledge about how the recruiting industry works.
Looking closer, the employment of applications developers is expected to grow by 31%, while system developers is expected to grow by 11%. The need for new applications on smart phones and tablets contributes to the high demand for applications developers.
The insurance industry is expected to need new software to help their policy holders enroll. As the number of people who use this software grows over time, so will the demand for developers.
Growing concerns with cybersecurity will contribute to the demand for software developers to design security systems and programs.
Job applicants who are proficient in multiple computer programs and languages will have the best opportunity to secure employment.
2. Information Security Analyst
What information security analysts do
Information security analysts are responsible for creating and overseeing security measures to protect an organization’s computer systems and digital assets from cyberattacks.
Duties of information security analysts:
Monitor their organization’s networks for security breaches and investigate a violation when one occurs
Install and use software, such as firewalls and data encryption programs, to protect sensitive information
Prepare reports that document security breaches and the extent of the damage caused by the breaches
Conduct penetration testing, which is when analysts simulate attacks to look for vulnerabilities in their systems before they can be exploited
Research the latest information technology (IT) security trends
Develop security standards and best practices for their organization
Recommend security enhancements to management or senior IT staff
Help computer users when they need to install or learn about new security products and procedures
Information security analysts are heavily leaned upon to create their organization’s disaster recovery procedures, which allow an IT department to continue operating in the face of an emergency. Because cyberattacks are so common and dangerous now, these measures are extremely important to the stability of an organization.
Analysts must be familiar with how cyber attackers are operating, and be prepared for new ways they may infiltrate a computer system.
(Photo by Markus Spiske)
Work environment of information security analysts
The work environment of IT security analysts is typically set in the headquarters of a company so that they can monitor the computer systems, unless the company has a separate office strictly for their computer networks. As you can imagine, the majority of their work involves being on computers and monitoring for unusual activity.
Most IT security analysts work at least 40 hours per week, and some work more than that. They often work in teams and may even have specific people assigned to monitoring different aspects of a network.
How to become an information security analyst
To become an IT security analyst you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in a computer-focused field, and many employers prefer a masters degree and some work related experience. A Master of Business Administration in information systems is the preferred degree for upper level positions. This is where military experience comes into play. If you had experience in this field in the military, you will have a great edge over your competition.
Information security analysts are very well paid and will enjoy great job security and profession growth in the coming years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary of information security analysts was ,510 as of May 2017. Employment of information security analysts is expected to increase 28% by 2026, which is considerable faster than the average occupation is expected to grow over that same time period.
Because cyberattacks are so common now, information security analysts will see a high demand for their job in the future. They will be expected to come up with innovative solutions to combat cyberattacks. As banks and other financial institutions continue to increase their online presence, they will need to ensure the safety of their own data and that of their users. This is true for many organizations, which makes information security analysts valuable.
Prospects who have prior experience, such as military veterans, are expected to have the best chance at gaining employment. Additionally, having special certifications and advanced degrees will be preferred moving forward.
Companies hiring for information security jobs
AECOM: AECOM is built to deliver a better world. We design, build, finance and operate infrastructure assets for governments, businesses and organizations in more than 150 countries.
ORACLE: At Oracle, our vision is to foster an inclusive environment that leverages the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of all of our employees, suppliers, customers and partners to drive a sustainable global competitive advantage.
Oracle: At Oracle, our vision is to foster an inclusive environment that leverages the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of all of our employees, suppliers, customers and partners to drive a sustainable global competitive advantage.
Rob retired from the Marine Corps in 2013 after 23 years of service, departing as a lieutenant colonel, but was recently promoted to full-bird colonel by virtue of his role as Colonel Sanders in the KFC commercials. (See what we did there?)
Outside of his movie roles — “The Hangover”, “The Other Guys”, and the “Jump Street” movies, to name a few — as well as appearances on Fox NFL Sunday — Rob is best-known from his time on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”
The veteran-celebrity golf tournament will raise money and awareness for Semper Fi Fund, one of our nation’s most respected veteran nonprofit organizations, in support of wounded, critically ill and injured service members and their families.
The tournament will take place at the world-class Valencia Country Club in Los Angeles on Dec. 5, 2016. During this exclusive golf tourney, veteran and celebrity teams contend for the lowest scores and most laughs to raise funds and awareness for the renowned Semper Fi Fund. Semper Fi Fund provides immediate and lifetime support to post-911 wounded, critically ill and injured service members from all branches of the military. Since inception, Semper Fi Fund has assisted over 16,800 service members and their families totaling more than $133 million in assistance to veterans and their families. Semper Fi (“always faithful”) is the motto of the U.S. Marine Corps. Semper Fi Fund’s goal is to always be there faithfully helping Heroes in need.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake speaks once again with Jimmy Blackmon, the author of Pale Horse, a book about his time commanding an Army aviation task force with the 101st Airborne Division at the height of combat in the Afghan War.
The book is set in the very valleys where the 9/11 attacks were conceived and where 10 Medals of Honor were earned.
These are the stories of the pilots behind the lethal Apache helicopters who strike fear into the heart of their enemies as they work with medevac crews who risk their lives to save their fellow troops.
Jimmy was also in the area when Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl decided to go for a stroll in Afghanistan.
In this episode, we talk on a wide-range of topics including:
[1:45] Jimmy humorously explains why he decided to join the military.
[5:50] How growing up in Georgia prepared Jimmy for a career in the Army.
[7:55] This is how playing Cowboys and Indians as a child helps develop skills for combat operations.
[11:45] Jimmy compares his life as an enlisted soldier to growing up in Georgia.
[13:45] The difference between situational awareness and situational curiosity.
[15:05] The combat rules of flying vs. the combat rules on the ground.
[17:15] The most challenging aspect of war according to a pilot.
[24:30] How pilots develop skills to read the enemies’ intention from high above.
[27:50] How the enemy uses their terrain and weather to combat allied forces.
[30:10] Jimmy’s coolest memory from the battle at Observation Post Bari Alai.
[35:00] What Jimmy’s been doing since exiting the military.
Green on blue attacks — used to describe attacks by Afghan soldiers on Coalition forces — are one of the many dangers our troops in the Middle East face every day.
These deadly morale-sapping attacks are difficult to predict and leave lasting negative trust issues between the locals — and American forces. As many as 91 incidents resulted in 148 Coalition troops killed and as many 186 wounded between 2008 and 2015.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Marine infantry officer turned Army Green Beret Chase Millsap, and our Navy corpsman smartass Tim Kirkpatrick share their experiences working with the locals. Millsap with the Iraqi Police and Kirkpatrick with the Afghan National Army. As you’ll listen, their experiences differ.