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Category Archives: Philanthropy

Recently I’ve been tossing around this idea of a “Third Identity” for Veterans when referring to career and life, post-military.  I call it a “Third Identity” because Veterans typically had an identity of who they were before the military; they then assume a new identity in the military (as their life and experience in uniform would warrant).  Finally one exits the military and who the Veteran identifies himself to be post-military is rarely the same person he was before or during his time of service.  With all the variables that come with it – there is one common trait that builds the person, and should be minded: Integrity.

I don’t mean just integrity as in honesty; I mean “integrity” as in the consistency, or truancy of behavior.  For this, I’m going to attempt to weave a common thread through the theories, observations and expertise of three gentlemen far smarter than myself – as I’ve interpreted from their books.

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My Personal Jim Joseph Collection, Hardbacks and Kindle combined.

What do Jim Joseph, Joe Navarro, and Charles L. Allen all have in common?  They’ve all stressed the importance of consistency in behavior.  Why?

Jim Joseph is the largely successful, global branding guru – who has experienced success as an entrepreneur, corporate leader, professor, father and author – penning 4 great books (of which I’ve finished three and am due to order his latest “Out and About Dad”).  Jim’s series of “The Experience Effect” reiterates the need for consistency in business, employee, and personal behavior in order to gain positive rapport with a target audience (That is a gross over-simplification, but feel free to read up yourself J).  Jim says it best when wrapping up “The Experience Effect for Small Business”:

Live life consistently with the brand you’ve established for yourself and link it to your small business.  Make personal choices that are consistent with your brand, and make personal decisions that reinforce and support the decisions of the business that will aid in its success.”

Joe Navarro is an acclaimed FBI Interrogator and Investigator and has literally, written the book on detecting deception for the FBI.  You can read his work in “What Every Body is Saying”.  When Joe goes deeper into identifying deception, he repeats both the difficulty in doing so – but also, the importance of “Synchrony”.

Synchrony is as it sounds, when all elements of communication are synchronized in delivering a consistent message.  But, when the verbal message doesn’t match the non-verbal message (body language) something is off.  As Joe will explain, seeing this sort of “asynchrony” will cause discomfort in both the communicator and who the person is communicating with.  It makes sense – how uncomfortable is it to just say the word “No” while nodding your head yes?

Lastly, Charles Lawrence Allen is a published Psychotherapist and Counselor.  In his book, “Why Good People Make Bad Choices”, Charles describes the constant argument all people face.  The argument between stated (and ideally behaved/demonstrated) values, and one’s ego.  The ego, as Charles will tell you, has a purpose that contributes to human survival.  It also has a strong penchant for questioning one’s integrity.

In his book, Charles emphasizes, that peace within one’s self is found as consistency is established with stated values and demonstrated behaviors.  It’s a good read for anyone thinking about how their own brain operates, or why they keep grabbing the King Size candy even though they know beach season is coming up.

The common thread?  Consistency is good; Inconsistency is not.  Inconsistent brand experiences will end up losing your company money; enough so to constitute a national shutdown to commence a day of training (like Starbucks did).  Inconsistent body language – or non-verbal communication that doesn’t match what your mouth is saying, will result in discomfort and distrust with whom you are speaking.  Inconsistent actions that do not agree with your own stated values will cause stress and hyper-tension, discomfort, and lack of happiness.  These are all issues that we all face – and issues that Veterans must face in a condensed timeline when searching for their Third Identity.

That search will likely take longer than your savings account will cover.  However, making it through that identification phase as you find your identity will be much more likely if you take a moment to establish your priorities, and make conscious decisions to reinforce those priorities.  It will be visible with friends, families and on interviews; and to someone searching for a sense of purpose – it will be most importantly visible – in the mirror.

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On May 28th, 2014 Stop Soldier Suicide (SSS) will be hosting its 2nd Annual “Night for Life” fund-raising and awareness event aboard the USS Intrepid in Manhattan.  The name of the organization says it all.  It is a very harsh reality that after one of the nation’s most unique and longest armed conflicts, we are losing more Service members and Veterans to suicide than to combat – SSS claims that to be at the rate of 22 Service members and Veterans per day!  Needless to say, that is an astonishing number – but after spending more time than I’d like to admit to thinking about it, I feel like I unfortunately understand.

I’d like to reference something from my 2013 in Review Article posted here at LifebyDamien:

In the year that ensued I began to realize my greatest, most debilitating fear yet:  At 28 years old, I have already lived through the most rewarding, fulfilling, and greatest part of my life.  Now what? … realize[d] that MANY Military Veterans have feared the same after beginning their transition back into civilian life.

I’ve been separated from the Marine Corps, physically, for nearly 2 years now – after being a Marine for nearly 10 years.  I spent ages 18-28, critical development years (per insurance company actuaries and doctoral studies, the male brain doesn’t complete its development in reason and rational ability until the age of 25).  During that time I was exposed to a “normal” that nobody other than Vets will understand… and I’m not talking about combat.  I’m talking about love and companionship.

I’ve noticed that I’ve become a huge baby since leaving the Marine Corps – when I see heroic acts on TV, or examples of highly cohesive teams on Prime Time drama – I get mushy.  Seriously, NCIS, Hawaii Five-O, Band of Brothers, etc…  it’s not because of the psychological trauma the characters are exposed to – but because I see the unspeakable bond that can’t be put into words – and I miss it.  I miss it dearly.  I look back and from the outside, realize that the way we showed our appreciation for the sacrifices we made for each other were rather arrogant.  It was as if unspeakable sacrifice was not just the expectation – but deserved.  In the moment, the appropriate response to someone saving your life – or giving you the last canteen of water in the desert was “told you this was a bad idea – now what”.  Or “Thanks, I would have been fine anyways”.

That’s because it IS expected – because the bond, the love, the camaraderie was so thick and inclusive that anything less would be disrespectful!  I was so incredibly naive to realize my “normal” was the exception.  Service members get out of the military – and that camaraderie is gone.  We realize that our coworkers don’t care if you have to work late – they have their own plans.  The new normal of compassion is “Oh man, I’m sorry to hear that – I hope everything goes well” and 5 minutes later they are on and about their business.  People are afraid to ask for a ride from the one person in the group who has a car.

How do you go from a culture that is so incredibly cohesive, so incredibly driven by camaraderie, that lives by the idea that your primary responsibility is the mission, and the well-being of everyone else OTHER than you – to a culture where meeting once a week for a beer is the norm for “best friends”?  This isn’t PTSD, this isn’t TBI, this – is depression.  This is isolation.  Have you ever felt alone everywhere you went – regardless of who is around you?

Now, take that isolated, beaten down feeling and add it to the thought that you have already lived through the most rewarding part of your life.  Add that, to the memories of experiences you can’t stop reliving but won’t verbalize because you wouldn’t wish the visual on anyone you care about – or anyone with a pulse.  I might say “add” but the effect is compounding, exponential – and enough to convince 22 people a day that their life is better left – behind them.

I don’t ask you to truly feel and comprehend what I am writing about – but I ask you to recognize that there are many out there who do.  Stop Solider Suicide is one organization trying to take the number “22” and instead say, “Not today”.

RIP Uncle Charlie

With Uncle Charlie – 2007 Post-Fallujah

As I write this – I fight, to not repeatedly look at the single picture on my desk… it is not of my wife, my kids or my dog… it is of me standing beside one of the best friends I ever had; who felt life was better left behind him.  RIP Charles B Lock, or as my son knew him as “Uncle Charlie” 19 Jun 1985 – 9 March 2009.

Deltas Walking

My Last Day in Uniform along side my Transition Support Team.

While I decide on the next series of articles for LifebyDamien, I wanted to give an update on the world of Damien Bertolo as it will affect the focus of the next series of articles.

As those of you who follow are aware, I was working to build a Veteran Recruitment Division for a Staffing Agency in Manhattan.  While continuing on with that division is no longer in the immediate future plans for that agency, I have been debating the depth at which I will continue to move forward with it.  As it stands, I intend to work on two “fronts”.  First, I will focus my efforts, as an Independent Consultant, to help employers develop hiring, and on-boarding programs that will provide opportunities to Veterans. Second, I will use my own personal time, at no charge (in sort of an unofficial, self-funded NFP function) to aid Veterans who are transitioning out of the military.

Currently, I will be working for the New York Stock Exchange as in Independent Consultant, aiding (while also learning) in their Talent Acquisition of qualified candidates for needed roles.  I am very excited to be offered this opportunity as it provides benefits to me on MANY fronts!

To continue consulting additional organizations, I want to move away from Talent Acquisition, aka Recruiting, in an operational function.  Instead of giving employers “fish” when they are hungry, I want to give them the pole, line and tackle box.  From those I have talked to, it seems employers don’t have a solid grasp on how to identify the solid Veteran Talent, how to interview Combat Veterans, what to look for, what to dismiss, and what to keep.  I’d like to help employers develop their HR functions to be able to do all of the above, successfully.  This way they will see the direct, short and long-term value that the unique traits offered by Veterans provide to an organization.  Then they can continue with their efforts long after I am gone and WITHOUT having to pay a recruiter fee each time they are seeking a qualified Veteran to add to their organization.

As a Not-For-Profit function, I haven’t decided on a name, but I am thinking “DPB Transitions” might be it.  I have already done it before, and I’d like to position myself to do even more of it in an official capacity.  I want to help Veterans see the smoothest of transitions to the “civilian world” as possible.  In an effort to do so, I intend to offer my knowledge learned in HR, recruiting, and professional development to pass on to Vets, so they aren’t reinventing the wheel.  I will offer my help, and my network to any Vet transitioning.  This includes but is not limited to, Networking, Resume Construction (not just a template, but actually understanding the coded 8.5” x 11” grail), Interview Prep, Salary Negotiations, Professional Development, Life Coaching and any additional odds and ends that help the Veteran stay focused on a successful mission of transition.

Why do I think my two-laned approach will work?  Simple – this is Fire and Maneuver, not Attrition, nor Fire and Movement.  When a Recruiting Agency markets their military talent, they offer it one time, with one success per contract, and more importantly, one fee.  They will seek through as many candidates as possible until they find one that “makes it through the lines” and gets placed (Attrition, or maybe Fire and Movement if actually done well).

I will develop a sense of employers’ needs, through consulting and developing their HR functions with the ability to seek, screen and on-board Veterans. This gives me a look at the clients’ positions.  In Military tactics jargon – I’m turning the map around.  Then, I am in touch with Military Talent, Veterans eager to be of value to society.  I am able to help them, and guide them, with the insider’s view of the other side of the “battlefield”.  Then, Employers can trust I will refer quality talent to them, without any fees per hire.  I pin down the employers needs as a Consultant; and I aid the Veterans to move around and penetrate their lines (get hired) as a NPO – Fire and Maneuver.

Advice, support and resources to recommend are always appreciated!

Don’t forget, find me at: Damien B on LinkedIn or on Twitter @Mr_DamienB

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