Oct 22

Our Next Mission

Are you tired and frustrated with the current job market?  I think it falls to us now, the “Warrior Class,” to once again answer the call of our nation.  It is up to us to change the landscape of our country’s economy.  That’s where CONUS Battle Drills and companies like Lucas Group come into play.  We cannot change it from the outside, but we can enter into Corporate America and into positions of authority in order to hire more of our veteran brothers and sisters.  If we outperform our counterparts and move into positions which allow us to influence and develop the hiring practices of the company then that is where we can make real change.  We will not only be helping the veteran community but the American economy as well.  It seems all too often once we transition, we forget all about the others going through the struggle to land a great career opportunity.  We don’t want to lose that sense of teamwork and camaraderie, the sense of taking care of your buddy.  Your performance everyday at your job sets the conditions for the next group of transitioning veterans.  You don’t have to be the CEO to make this change.  Be the employee who your bosses use as the model for all future hires.  They are going to look at your background and realize that what sets you apart from others is most likely your military service.  Regardless, you can’t be that employee until you get your foot in the door.  Be humble, be gracious, and be better than anyone you’re up against.  Prepare effectively for your transition.  Save money, network as much as possible, and chase opportunities over location or titles.  Become an expert at interviewing.  It’s like PT: you can’t skip PT everyday and expect to score a 300 on the APFT.  The only thing you can control in this process is your own attitude.  Here are a few lessons learned from helping veterans for the last 10 years to help set your expectations.

#1 – You need to go where the opportunities are.

A FORTUNE 500 Company doesn’t concern itself about your preference on location.  They are looking for the right person who is willing to go where they are needed (sound familiar?).  Go where you can help the company/team the most.  You don’t need to be open to relocating anywhere in the world, but be as open as you possibly can. I promise it will be better than Fort Benning, Fort Bragg, Fort Sill, etc…


#2 – You’re not worth $100K right now.

It doesn’t matter what Unit you were in or how many badges and ribbons you earned.  You are entering into this new corporate career with nothing but potential and raw talent. This is important, but it’s not everything.  If a Private enlists at 32 years old with a college degree and work experience, the Army is not going to make them a Company Commander.  The same rules apply in the corporate sector. Most job opportunities are not going to pay $100K to start, because you don’t have the industry experience or the institutional knowledge yet.  However, you will learn very quickly and, as you get better, you will be compensated for it.  I advise candidates I’m working with to have a long term goal of becoming the person you were in your last unit after 3-4 years.  You were the person who people knew could get the job done, had a network of people who could rally in any circumstance, and you were someone who could be counted on to do the job right and on time.  That’s the person everyone wants to hire, and you know you already are that person.

#3 – Get your foot in the door.

If you are lucky enough to land a career with a FORTUNE 100 or 500 Company seize these opportunities. My first boss, mentor, and fellow Infantryman here at Lucas Group, Andrew Hollitt, would say “you should be willing to clean the toilets at a company like this”. I always found that funny, but the longer I do this the more I think it’s true.  Most of folks have no idea how many positions a big company fills every year internally.  The opportunities you see on the job boards or LinkedIn are the ones they’re struggling to fill.  Once you are hired, you’ll see how many places and directions you can go.  I’ve placed job candidates just like you as productions supervisors and a year later they’re in Human Resources, Information Technology, Research & Development, etc.…  That never happens if you don’t get your foot in the door.  As Wayne Gretzky once said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

This section is for those of you who have already transitioned.  I’ve been placing veterans for the past 10 years at Lucas Group, yet it always surprises me how little we hear from folks again when it’s their turn to hire.  The entire veteran community needs your help!  If you’re already out there in the workforce, hire a Veteran and, more importantly, set the conditions for his/her success.  Your example sets the tone for future hires.  It is so disheartening when we place a candidate and after 3 months on the job they make a poor decision, such as failing a drug test.  Do you think that company is ever going to be excited to hire another veteran with that as a previous experience?  That person has made it harder for future veterans to get a job there.  We can never hire enough of our brothers and sisters.  It’s like Army Transportation, “There’s always room for one more!”

Spend money where veterans are employed and with companies who support Veteran causes.  That’s our power as consumers.  I love companies such as Ranger Up, ART 15 Clothing, Grunt Style, The Chive, and I spend my money there.  I can buy t-shirts and hoodies anywhere, but I’d rather spend my money knowing it’s going to companies that are veteran owned and operated and/or support our community.  That is one of the most effective ways we can create real change.

We can find plenty to complain about with the current job market, our current jobs, etc., or we can roll up our sleeves and get to work.  It’s really one of the only choices we have.  It requires real hard work and, as veterans, we know that none of us are allergic to hard work!  We have the ability to change lives and to make Veterans feel needed and wanted.  Maybe it will help some of our brothers and sisters feel valued and needed enough to help prevent the rampant suicides we see amongst our veteran family. Maybe it will provide a fellow veteran with the means to take amazing care of his/her family and help him/her to be a better parent or spouse.  We are capable of this and so much more.  Let’s get to work!


Click the image below to find out what we’re doing here at CONUS Battle Drills!


Oct 07

Important Marriage Conversations during Transition

I have told you before that you have to treat your marriage like a team event, not a contract.  If you win an argument against your wife, your marriage loses, and ipso facto, you lose too.  The only way to win is to work as a team and win together.  Today I want to focus a bit on the important conversations you need to have and how to have them.

Answering the 4 big questions together

How anyone of you does this without your partner is absolutely beyond me, but it happens all the time because answering these questions means you might have to have some tough conversations.  You need to start having these conversations at least one year before you get out, so you have time to prepare and adjust as needed.

Big Question #1- Are you financially ready to get out?

If one of you is a big spender, or maybe you have student loans, credit card debt, car payments, etc. you need to get together and figure out a budget that allows you to clear out as much of that debt as possible. Right now you have no idea how much money you will be making next year, or to put it more bluntly: you have no idea what someone will be willing to pay you next year.  If you decide to get out of the military and carry with you a ton of debt, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

I know what I am suggesting here is a tough pill to swallow because it implies you might need to stay in longer.  Then again, if you have a very compelling answer to Big Question #2 and can’t wait any longer, then you and your partner need to be perfectly aligned with every dollar you decide to spend (down to whether you’re buying lunch).

Big Question #2- Do you know Why you’re getting out?

Although couples often talk about the reasons for leaving the military, sometimes they aren’t aligned.  I’ve seen where one person was ready to get out and the other wasn’t, but capitulated to satisfy their partner.  If you’re getting out, you need to have a better reason than “my wife hates the military.”   Sorry to drop that one on you, but if you’re not all in also, when life gets hard on the outside, you’re going to blame her for it.  That blame will lead to resentment and eventually the relationship is going to suffer anyway.  You both need to be ok with the decision!  See if there’s a compromise: is there a PCS location that would help, or maybe you decide on a number of years.  Regardless, it needs to work for both of you, and if you’re not OK with it, you need to speak up.

Big Question #3- Do you know where you want to live?

I had a buddy that followed his wife to her hometown because she wanted to be near family.  Because he was so geographically limited, it was hard to find a job.  This put them in financial strain which resulted in constant arguments in the house.  In the end they ended up with an ugly divorce and their kids are stuck in the middle.  It’s a terrible situation for everyone.  A recommendation from a corporate recruiter is to have “gates” set up:  At 12 months you want a job in San Antonio (for example), 9 months out you open it up to Texas, 6 months out you open it up to the southwest, 3 months out something stateside.  If you both agree to this strategy ahead of time, then she will know you’re doing your best to meet her needs, but also keeping a pragmatic approach and protecting your finances.

Big Question #4- Do you know what you want to do?

You and your wife should be very clear about the parameters of your work so there is no confusion when you get a job offer.  If you want to be a cop, or work an off-shift, she needs to be clear on the requirements of that job. If you want to work as a contractor and deploy some more, she should be on the same page as you.  If she expects you to take a 9 to 5 and help her with the kids in the morning, you better be willing to do it.  Regardless, it’s a conversation you need to have.

Financial Decisions

I will always harp on financial decisions because finances are the number one reason for arguments within a marriage.  Regular arguments over finances can eventually lead to resentment and other arguments over minor stuff.  This can then result in a marriage beyond repair and a family gets broken.  Losing a family then puts a veteran into extremely high risk category for suicide, particularly when coupled with substance abuse and depression (very common after divorce).  So you see, answering question #1 and being on the same page with your wife financially could very well be a life or death decision.  Just don’t take this shit lightly ok?

Respect your partner and their ideas of what you should be doing with your money.  Don’t make any decisions without consulting her first.  When you talk to your wife about a financial decision, don’t say, “this is what we’re doing,” because that doesn’t count as a conversation.  You guys are a team and you don’t need to be giving orders.  Instead try, “I’m thinking of doing X, does that align with your financial goals too?”  If you decide to work at your marriage and treat it like a covenant and not a contract, you will find it to be so rewarding!

Remember that this is your partner and teammate that you are talking to.  If you hurt your wife in order to win an argument, your marriage loses.  Keep your words soft and sweet because you never know when you’re going to have to eat them.

Good luck and God Bless!


Click the image below to find out what we’re doing here at CONUS Battle Drills!


Oct 01

When should you start preparing to ETS?

It’s really frustrating as someone who is trying to help guys have a smooth transition when I get a message from a guy who is one or two months from ETS and asks me to look at his resume.  There’s really no time anymore, and you are way behind schedule, but I really can’t blame you because no one has told you otherwise…until now!

12 Months, 9 Months, 6 Months, 3 Months

Alright, so I’m going to try and break this one down barney style so you can remember easy and share with your buddies that aren’t as far ahead of the power curve as you and aren’t reading this blog.

12 Months out

Answer the 4 Big questions:

  1. Are you financially ready to get out?
  2. Do you know WHY you’re getting out?
  3. Do you know where you want to live?
  4. Do you know what you want to do?

You may click on any one of those for details, and if you haven’t read it before, please click on each one now.  Go on.  I’ll wait…

Alright, good, so now you know how to answer the 4 Big questions.  You have to take care of that 12 months out because everything you do next is going to be driven by those answers.  Particularly if you’re not ready in #1, you’re going to need at least a year to square yourself away (some of you might need more than that).

9 Months Out

At this point, I want you to contact your recruiter.  Yes, you need a recruiter.  No, you are not going to have more success finding a job on your own.  Look, there are a lot of shady folks out there and crappy companies.  I only recommend Lucas Group because that was who I decided to work with and they were awesome.  The bottom line is that these guys make a living out of finding you a job, they are the best at it.  They understand the job market better than anyone, they know how to translate your skills, and they have inside leads to what jobs are out there.

You need to make contact 9 months out because of the answer to big question # 3.  If you want to move back home and are severely restricted geographically, you’re going to need a long time for them to find you a job.  You’re also going to relieve a lot of stress and pressure on yourself if you don’t NEED to find a job in the next two days.

6 Months out

Take some leave.  Seriously, go on a vacation, enjoy some stress free time.  I know you want to save it up for terminal leave, but shit is about to get crazy, and you are not going to be on vacation after you get out, you’re going to be starting a whole new life.  So take a bit of that saved up cash and go spend some alone time with your significant other, visit the family, go on a cruise, whatever makes you relaxed, do that.

As soon as you get home, you need to start preparing for your interview.  Read more about that here.  Your recruiter will be calling you and inviting you to hiring conferences, and you want to be prepared.

3 Months out

Interview time!  Hopefully you’ve already had one or two interviews, but if not, this is when you really need to start devoting a significant amount of time to interview preparation and conducting interviews.  If you haven’t gotten any interviews and your location restrictions were too narrow, you should open them up to a region or a state at an absolute minimum.  This means you might need to revisit the four big questions with your wife.  If she was expecting to move back home near mom and dad, but you’re three months out and haven’t had one interview there, you need to open up that geography or you’re going to be in a financial shitstorm pretty quick.

1 Month out

At this point you better have a damn job offer in hand, know where you’re moving, and have a budget set up for your new job.  Transition needs to be your full time job.  Do not allow your command to pressure you to do your job, in a few weeks you’re not going to be around at all, and guess what?  The military is going to survive without you.

Alright, I know that things may be different in your exact scenario, and there are a lot of good reasons for that, but I want to highlight a couple things:

  1. You need to be planning at least 1 year out
  2. This is an absolutely critical time in your life and you need to take it seriously, keep the lines of communication open with your family, and prepare ahead of time so you can adapt to the challenges you will face

Good luck!


Getting out of the military is hard!  Don’t make it harder on yourself by not being prepared!  Buy CONUS Battle Drills:  A Guide for Combat Veterans to Corporate Life, Parenthood, and Caging the Beast Inside!

Sep 22

The first few months

I know it’s been a while since I’ve had a post.  This is mostly a one man show, and sometimes life grabs you by the balls and you have to focus all your energy in gingerly extricating yourself out of that particular conundrum.  That’s another way of saying I’ve been busy, but I’ve been thinking about you guys still.  So lets get to it.

When you first get out…

You have just uprooted everything in your life.  Most of you joined the military in your teens or early 20’s.  All of your friends are from the military, your free time, your hobbies, your interests were all molded by the time you served, even your haircut and the clothes you wore were influenced by the military.  Now you’re on your own.

Maybe you moved some place new.  You probably started a new job, and now you’re trying to make new friends.  Your wife no longer has an FRG support group, and your kids are in a new school.  Everyone is experiencing higher levels of stress, and most of the time, you’re going to have troubles in your job as well.

You need to give yourself a chance to figure this life out, take a breath, and make sure everyone in your family group is on the same page.  It’s not all sunshine and rainbows like you thought it was going to be, but just like the beginning of your military career: the first week at basic training is not what the rest of your career will be like.


Believe it or not, the military does an excellent job of training and preparing you for each new position compared to the civilian world.  Before every major leadership step, there is a training academy of some sort with a single standard that one must at least achieve before actually performing in that role.  From basic training to CGSC, every one of you went through some sort of training.  You were taught the basics that every soldier must know to survive, then you were taught the minimum requirement for the next leadership position you were going to take.  That training didn’t stop there though.  When you arrived at your unit, you were trained further, or maybe you went to MOS specific schooling, the bottom line is that you spent an assload of time just learning how to do your job.

When you get in the civilian world, you’re probably going to get a day or maybe two on safety information, some powerpoint on what your job is, and that’s pretty much it.  Yes, I understand there are exceptions, but most entry level jobs will require very little training and that is what you will get.  The end result is that when you start your job, you will have no fucking idea what you are doing for the first time in your life (or since you can remember) and that is going to be frustrating as hell.

I remember sitting in the office asking questions and trying to find things to do because I was so damn lost all the time.  One would think that as a former Infantry Lieutenant I would be comfortable being lost, but I hated it.  I hated not knowing and understanding the business.  It pissed me off that I didn’t know the intricacies of manufacturing, material flow, or what a Kanban was.  I certainly didn’t know how to use SAP or how to fill out employee time cards.  I felt like I was failing at a job that I knew I should have been able to do.

It gets better

Over time I learned about the business, and all my frustrations made me that much better at my job because I would not stop until I had answers.  Then once I understood what I was doing, I started working to make it better.  How can this process be improved?  What parallels can I draw from the military here?  Where are there efficiency gaps?

Once I was able to become a change agent because I understood the business, then the job became much more rewarding.  I was training other folks as they came in, anticipating problems before they occurred, and improving my sphere of influence.  This helped me get a great work/life balance, spend more time as a husband and father,  even find time to write a book and start the blog you’re reading which has brought me great joy (thanks for all the messages!).  Life is great, and I am so glad I made the decisions I did.

I’m better than you

I got an email from one of my old SSG’s who has a Bronze Star license plate.  Some dude asked him what the star meant and jokingly he answered, “It means I’m better than you.”  I loved this guy because of his unrelenting sarcasm regardless of the situation, but sometimes it’s missed.  “I laughed and smiled but he definitely didn’t think it was funny,” he told me in a message.

Now before all you keyboard warriors start typing away about how much a problem that attitude is with the military, let me tell you something:  No one gives a fuck what you think and you don’t have to tell the world when you don’t like something.  You can, in fact, shut the fuck up and move on.

So anyway…Many of us really do struggle with taking a step backwards responsibility wise.  You spent years making life or death decisions leading hundreds of men and accounting for millions of dollars of equipment, now you’re in charge of no one and the only property you have you can hold in one hand [queue the dick jokes].  It’s hard to stay motivated, particularly if you have a shitty boss too.  If you stick with it, if you can endure some bullshit while you learn about the business, I can tell you, you are going to move up fast.  The skills you learned in the military are going to make a huge difference, and you will see that the only limitation to your potential will your wants because few people out there can compete with you.



Getting out of the military is hard!  Don’t make it harder on yourself by not being prepared!  Buy CONUS Battle Drills:  A Guide for Combat Veterans to Corporate Life, Parenthood, and Caging the Beast Inside!

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