Introducing the NEW veteran connection
I was stationed in Japan when I first considered splitting from active duty. I’d been enlisted for roughly a decade — this is in addition to the 18 years I spent growing up as an Air Force dependent. I’d already had a great career and I was only halfway to retirement.
My first six years were spent as a loadmaster in the back of a C-130, loading pallets upon pallets and watching jumpers walk out the doors as we soared hundreds of feet above the ground. I took the opportunity to retrain and work my second term as a broadcast journalist, which is what took me to Japan — also back to Afghanistan, then to Cambodia, Nepal, Australia, the Philippines, and Singapore.
I was enjoying my service but I also knew that after ten more years I would likely be less valuable in the broadcast market. I had the skills, experience, and the degree to make my move. According to everyone around me, I was extremely marketable. So what was I waiting for?
I was waiting for direction. I didn’t know how to transition! How was I supposed to survive out there in the wild civilian world? As a matter of fact, that security was part of what drove me into the military to begin with. I didn’t know any other life! So I went through the Department of Defense-mandated Transition Assistance Program (TAP) twice. I encouraged everyone around me to follow my lead and sign up as well, even if they weren’t necessarily planning to separate — you never truly know what’s going to happen in your military career. Plus there was so much information to digest in the four and a half days of the class, there was no way someone would be even 80% prepared to walk out the gate and be left to his or her own devices. Did the DOD honestly think that the TAP class sufficed? Or was this just a box to check and make the Washington D.C. bureaucrats feel like they were showing us out the door properly?
I was washing dishes one evening, in the kitchen of the sixth floor apartment my family and I were assigned, when had an idea. I would find a way to get more transition information to service men and women so they could feel more comfortable in every possible way. Over the next couple years, that concept developed into a podcast: The Boots Off Podcast (available for free on Anchor Podcasts, iTunes, and more platforms). Each episode is a conversation with an actual military veteran who experienced his or her own unique career, learned countless lessons from their transition, and is willing to share those lessons to help others find success. I’ve hosted veteran representatives from each branch, to include the Coast Guard, who come from various backgrounds and who have found themselves traveling down incredible paths into the future.
Due to my second post-active duty career transition, the podcast went into hiatus, but I still wanted to have a voice to help military veterans avoid mistakes that I made — mistakes which so many others can relate. I considered how I had recently discovered a lifestyle that allowed me to simplify my life, internally and externally. So that concept is in development as a book, of which I will release more details when the time is appropriate.
More ideas are sure to follow. Under Lahrmedia, MikeLahrman.com will function as a blog for written (Off The Mike) content, while new episodes of The Boots Off Podcast (Miked Up content) will return very soon. I’m always looking for guests to share their military-to-civilian transition stories, so please share this with anyone you know who may be interested. Also, go to Facebook and ‘Like’ the “Boots Off Podcast” and “Lahrmedia” pages so you can stay up-to-date. You can click the social buttons at the top of the website for easier access.
Thank you for your time.