Updated: Oct 23, 2018
Welcome to the Dharmic Bridge Blog! This is where we’ll post some thoughts on mindful management, mindfulness, and basically whatever strikes our fancy as being indicative of a good message. As soon as I learn the trick, several blurbs from our Loose Change page will be linked here with either an explanation of applicability or a story … have fun, everyone!
For our first post, I would like to talk to the WHY behind Dharmic Bridge to provide y'all with some background context … settle in, and please excuse my semi-lax vernacular ...
I’ve heard about the plight of our separating veterans a lot in the news the past couple of years, and maybe more so now that the opioid epidemic is being addressed, but what I’m not hearing is a real response. There are many (too many) of our service members separating from active duty, entering the private sector, and struggling to succeed in their new positions of leadership. The challenges these veterans face aren’t always easy, and missteps frequently lead to a snowball effect of shaken confidence, increased stress, and poor life decisions.
So yeah - I think we can all agree that it’s not easy for our separating service members, and the numbers of veterans that end up in dire straits indicates we have a bit of a societal mess on our hands. And, like most everybody else, I watch the news and I was doing what I could when I could, not really mindful of the situation but still noticing ‘what a shame it is’ nonetheless …
And, as happens all too often in life, it became personal.
My youngest recently had a medical separation (Capt USMC (ret)), which - besides disrupting life plans - necessitated relocation of the family and finding work ‘somewhere.’ In being a father, I found myself suddenly immersed in this national issue - if even peripherally.
As I was working what I refer to as ‘Civilian 101’ with my son and really doing nothing more than I’d ever done with anybody else I’ve had the honor to work beside, it dawned on me (the morning of May 24th, in the shower, to be exact) that what I was thinking might just be something of importance. If I can help my kid doing what I know how to do, why can't I help other kids?
What's the point in finding your gift if not to give it away, amirite?
The more aware I became of my son's (and his family's) situation, the more I could break down what he was experiencing. So I went off to find and talk to other separating veterans and discovered several common hurdles to success they face once leaving active duty. Most prominent among the difficulties found include the resolution of ethical differences, process acceptance/improvement, and stereotyping.
And when I got serious and really started into work looking up stats and sh*t (which is everywhere, btw) it took me all of about ten minutes to realize my peripheral experiences and interviews only scratched the surface of this issue - it’s way more pervasive than I had ever thought. The more research I did, the more folks I reached out to, and the more stories I heard literally overwhelmed me … they still do. There’s so many cases of poor decisions based on shaken self-confidence and confusion; downward spirals and broken homes; depression, dependencies, and worse. Not cool, gang.
In my localized research, I especially noticed a host of challenges our separating veterans routinely have to tackle that most new ‘civilian’ managers don’t have to overcome. Issues that make our transitioning leaders unique include:
Most are working with a government agency’s bureaucracy in some way, shape, or form and that often necessitates having to keep (or lose) ad hoc appointments, which means unexpected absences at work, which then creates a whole host of other issues.
Most are having to relocate and having to find decent neighborhoods and get a young family settled - quickly, and usually on a shoestring budget.
Most end up in businesses and industry that have little to no actual direct bearing on their past experiences.
Several simply accept their situations and believe their work/life happiness 'is what it is' and that the 'house' adjusts to work obligations (considering their previous lives, where work was a much higher calling, this is completely understandable, right?). Most of us understand that personal happiness is largely dependent on professional happiness, but few of us realize that professional happiness can be self-directed. And for our separating veterans, it's much easier to do in the private sector than it is in DoD.
It’s a new everything in a new professional world for these heroes, with unique challenges and uphill climbs. When considering the thousands of separating veterans and becoming aware of everything on their plates, it comes as no surprise to me to that so many don’t quite succeed at remaining positive, strong, and sane.
One of my neighbors is recently out of the Air Force, relocated here from across the country, and works as a shift supervisor at a fairly prominent local business. So I see him out on his lawnmower one day and I decided to share with him my joy in deciding to start Dharmic Bridge. As I’m telling him what we’re about and about what I'm learning about the impacts of shaken self-confidence (keep trying, keep getting whacked, can’t figure out why), I see this great guy sitting there on that tractor and his shoulders start to slump, his head starts to hang, can't see his eyes as they're hidden under the brim of his cap, but yeah - he quietly starts nodding in agreement.
Damn, I thought - you too, brother? Damn damn damn …
I cannot comprehend the scope of this issue - that’s not my job, nor is it my calling. But I have learned how the game is played and how to be happy and successful at it, no matter the j-o-b. I've learned how our separating heroes think, what they respect, and that 'a little extra work' is part of their normal vocabulary.
Best of all, I've learned a boatload of mindful shortcuts our separating veterans can use to make this life transition work for them. And to have an opportunity to maybe help out a little? Gratefully count me in.
Dharmic Bridge is about helping our separating service members, and it’s something I just can’t NOT do.
And btw - the youngest is doing great. The road was a bit bumpy for a while with lessons learned, but the family is doing wonderfully and Nick is on track to doing what he’s always wanted to do (teach). Right on, right?
Thanks so much for getting this far and allowing me to share - I'm grateful for all of you, and I know this journey is going to be enlightening and cool as hell for all of us ... hang on!