When Your Transition Out Of The Military Gets Tough, Stack A Pile Of Wood

I recently was fortunate enough to seize an opportunity to help a friend who just started a tree-clearing business. He’s a First Sergeant for an artillery battery, a family man, and an all-around great person.

I was excited to help a friend out and jumped at the offer to do the “pack mule” part of the job that would free him up to concentrate on the skilled part of the work, which I am not very familiar.

I was also trying to earn some much-needed extra money to prepare for my impending transition.

My friend was called to handle a family emergency, so there I was: a 41-year-old out-of-shape Paratrooper, a wheelbarrow and a ton of wood to chop and move by myself.

What I did in that situation, and what I have done in every challenging situation, embodies an old Army cliché: “Suck it up and drive on.”

As I wiped sweat from my brow and visualized a top-down mental picture of what needed to be done, I had an epiphany.

As I was working in the unnaturally hot 80-degree day in March, and trying to ignore my lower back and biceps screaming for mercy, I took a quick breather. As I wiped sweat from my brow and visualized a top-down mental picture of what needed to be done, I had an epiphany.

 I can do anything I set my mind to do.

No matter how tough the circumstances are, how challenging the conditions are, or what odds are stacked against me, the standard never changes with the conditions. The standard always remains the same.

My standard is always to use whatever resources I have available to me to get the job done, on time, and done right. The only resource I had available at this particular moment was my heart, my legs, and my pack-mule mentality.

I decided to refuse to let this set of circumstances defeat me, and I pressed on, load-by-load, up the hill, until my stack was a wonder to behold by the neighborhood watchers, and the yard started looking a lot more like a yard than the lumber section at Lowe’s.

By the time my friend and foreman had come back in the late afternoon from his emergency, I had accomplished more than he expected. He took a look at my woodpile and exclaimed, “Wow!”

We worked until sundown, and I took my bruised and battered exterior to my truck and headed home.

I thought a little bit more about what I had accomplished that day. I saw what I thought were overwhelming odds stacked against just one man, and I overcame them. I accomplished a lot more than a man half my age would have done and I am proud of that fact.

 

That woodpile reignited my desire to be someone great; who can look in the mirror and be immensely proud. It reinvigorated my efforts to stay on top of my studies and win at all costs.

I thought of my impending transition, and I asked myself, “Have I approached my transition like I approached this woodpile?

Have I used the same guiding principles in my journey from military to civilian life?

Have I given my all in this endeavor?”

The answer to that was I didn’t.

I mean, I didn’t skate through the process, but there are times that I haven’t gone with the extreme violence-of-action that this dire life-changing situation demands from you at all times.

There were times when I took the easy left, the family time, the “insert-something-here-that-is-more-fun-to-do.”

That woodpile reignited my desire to be someone great; who can look in the mirror and be immensely proud. It reinvigorated my efforts to stay on top of my studies and win at all costs.

I came to that job site as someone who wasn’t as focused as I needed to be.  Before I left, I took this snapshot of the woodpile that I created and resolved to use it as motivation when my mind tells me the situation is too tough, the problem is unsolvable, or the material I am studying is too complex for a simple grunt’s understanding.

Your woodpile may be a very important mission that you and your team accomplished against insane odds.

It may be overcoming a disability and still driving forward daily to be the best you can be.

It could take the form of simply reworking a process that helped a lot of troopers out.

It could be anything that took your entire focus, attention and drive to accomplish.

I hope it becomes your effort when it becomes time for you to transition.

My woodpile? Well, my woodpile is literally a pile of wood.

All kidding aside, don’t ever sell yourself short; whatever the task-at-hand happens to be, methodically and steadily work towards your desired end-state. If you put your whole heart, mind, and body into achieving your goals, you will succeed at anything you want to do.

What makes this hard to do sometimes are the many distractors and your own worst enemy: self-doubt. Cast that doubt aside and put your best foot forward. Believe in yourself, focus on reaching your goals, and win at all costs.

I am stressed out, frightened beyond belief, and intimidated by the date that looms closer and closer every day.

I am leaving behind all of my friends, my way of life for the last two decades, and an organization that I know intimately and love deeply.

As I steel myself for the next interview, work on the next project that will help propel me to a job in tech; and maybe make the contact with someone who will value what I have to bring to the table enough to give this veteran a shot.

I will take a look at this pile of wood and know in my heart that I can do it, and do it well.

I can do anything that I set my mind to do, and so can you.

Good luck in all of your endeavors, and I hope that you stack your woodpile way higher than mine when it’s time for you to transition.

God bless you, and the job that you do.

Don’t Let Military Burnout Keep You From Achieving Your Desired Career Path

By: Elayseah Woodard-Hinton

Outside of the fact that I have recruiting experience in the civilian sector, I am also a Veteran. Even with this experience under my belt, and it took me a month to land a job after I left the Army in 2012.

Don’t be disheartened by what I just said, it wasn’t that I couldn’t find work, because the jobs are definitely out here. To be honest, I was burnt out with the Military life and wanted to take a mental and physical vacation from thinking about my work life. Continue reading

Veterans Learn Skills By Hitting The Ground Running

By: Elayseah Woodard-Hinton

Here I am back in 2008 as a new recruit.

Here I am back in 2008 as a new recruit. I am preparing for my first work day with my unit.

Upon completing my Basic Combat Training in 2007, the physical indoctrination to my becoming a Soldier in the U.S. Army, I had moved on to exercising my mind through my Advanced Individual Training at the Defense Information School in Fort Meade, Md. Continue reading