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Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1717

This week on “Oklahoma Horizon,” we examine how those who serve in the military transition back into civilian life.
Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1717

Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1717

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Show Details

Show 1717: Oklahoma Horizon TV
Air Date: April 23, 2017



Austin Moore: Here is what is coming up on your “Horizon.” The U.S. Military is the largest, best-trained fighting force in the world. But what happens when soldiers take off the boots?

You put in your time, you did the hard tours, and you want to go home and enjoy your family.

Will your military experience be able to cross over? Will it be enough to secure a job on the civilian sector?

To turn that into a civilian-understood piece of paper that you are going to hire me on? It is really intimidating.

Austin: Today, we examine the transition from solider to civilian. Stay with us for “Oklahoma Horizon.”

Female Announcer: “Oklahoma Horizon” is made possible by CareerTech – a job for every Oklahoman and a workforce for every company -- with additional support from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

Austin Moore: Welcome to “Oklahoma Horizon.” I’m Austin Moore, in for Rob McClendon. Well, our military trains relentlessly to take raw young men and women and craft them into focused, driven soldiers. Nothing quite sums up the effort, the goal and the result of this process, quite like the Soldiers Creed recited for us here by Private Second Class David Perez.

David Perez: The Soldier’s Creed. I am an American soldier. I am a warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the United States and live the Army values. I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade. I am disciplined and physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills. I will always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself. I am an expert, and I am a professional. I stand ready to deploy, engage and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat. I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life. I am an American soldier.

Austin Moore: So soldiers are taught to adapt and overcome any obstacle. But there may be none more daunting than the civilian world waiting for them once they step back from the line. Still, every career must end, whether from retirement, medical issues or simply a desire to try something new. But just because you see it coming doesn’t make it any easier.

I started this battalion as a private back when it was in Germany, 4th Battalion, 3rd Air Defense Regiment, 27 some years ago. And then now I’m back as the battalion sergeant major, which kind of for me looks like a full circle. And it might be God’s way of opening the door for me to walk out.

You put in your time, you did the hard tours, and you want to go home and enjoy your family. The stresses in the military is different from when you go home to that spouse or those loved ones and those kids. And, oh, by the way, she puts pressures or the children put pressures on you that the Army can never match up. Most people don’t understand that family sacrifice. The spouse feels it, but no one else can see it, but your kids have to live through it. So when you’re gone for the birthdays and you’re gone for all the different events and things like that, you come back, and you realize you missed out on so much, you want to redeem that time back. So you can deal with the military aspect, but you go home, and that stress is there, and it’s real. And if you don’t connect with someone else that can help you to relate to what you are dealing with and kind of guide you through it, it can be overwhelming.

They treat volunteer work as actual work.

I am a spouse. I’m a military spouse of an active duty soldier. You go from a life where you are guaranteed a roof over your head, you’re guaranteed a paycheck. And basically, right now, we are guaranteed food to eat. But once you get out, you are guaranteed none of that. Uncle Sam is not there to feed you or clothe you or house you.

I came into the military when I was 19, so in essence I matured in the Army. And when you are serving in the military, you always hear there is going to be a difference when you become a civilian. It is not going to be the same. And will your military experience be able to cross over, will it be enough to secure a job on the civilian sector? I mean, the last time I worked in the civilian sector I was a teenager. I was working in, you know, mom and pop fast food from home.

I know what I have done, but to turn that into a civilian-understood piece of paper that you are going to hire me on? It’s really intimidating.

It is not as simple as taking a job description from the military’s website and putting it down on my resume. You need to really think about what it is that I truly do and how that translates into the civilian workforce. It is partly translating that military into civilian jargon. It is also capturing all the small things that we do in the military that we don’t think that we do. We just say, oh, it is part of my job. Yeah, it is part of your job, put it on paper.

You have to cater each resume to a job. So job A, resume A; job B, resume B; job C, resume C. And it takes a lot of time to do each resume, and a lot of people don’t realize that, and they just hand out this generic resume.

I was a platoon sergeant, and I had a soldier lose his dorm room key. I just handed him a cinder block and tied the key to it and was like, now will you forget your key? I can’t do that here in this environment. So I have to find other ways to encourage them. I first enlisted in 2005 in the 145th Army National Guard Band. I have been in the Reserves, it will be a year in March. I’ve had employers in the past who just get really frustrated with that commitment that I have made. And so they don’t see the physical strain, they don’t see the mental strain and the emotional strain. I have already been away from my family. I am just coming back; I have to go back to work. I have to turn off Army and turn on civilian. That is hard to do. That is hard to do; it is sometimes very difficult to make that switch. And you are like, OK, I am dealing with real people now, so now I need to calm down and not tell them what I think with my command hand. When you have those challenges with employers who aren’t willing to work with you, it really burdens the soldier. I know it burdened me, because I felt like I wasn’t doing my best in my military profession because I was so worried about losing my civilian profession.

Get network into resources, get network into programs that will help in that transition. Because for many of us, you don’t have the programs and/or those network abilities to get out there and do that before you get out.

But you can’t just go out there and say I want a job, any job. You have to be passionate about what you are doing. And if you can make some money doing something that you like doing, why not?

It is about what is your goal for your family. And how can we help you, and I say we meaning the resources, the abundance of experiences. I’m here on this side of the uniform to help you achieve what your goals are.

Don’t be afraid to hit apply now and put yourself out there.

Austin Moore: When we return, we will take a look at a program designed to smooth that transition and the partners that are making it work.

Female Announcer: You are watching “Oklahoma Horizon” with Rob McClendon – weekly insight into your changing world.

Austin Moore: Soldier for Life is an Army program designed to connect with government, educational institutions and employers. The goal is to help veterans and their families reintegrate into civilian society. Now, while the program has had success in connecting exiting soldiers and jobs, there is a recognition that more can, and should, be done. That led to a recent Military Transition Summit at Oklahoma’s Fort Sill. Rob McClendon has the story.

Rob McClendon: It was a packed house in Fort Sill’s Snow Hall when Staff Sgt. Carlos Muniz took the floor.

Carlos Muniz: I joined the Army in October of 2000 as a member of the Puerto Rico National Guard as a 14 Sierra Avenger crew member. Down the road, I transferred over a 14 Hotel, which is early warning system operator.

Rob: Addressing military, government and education leaders at the Soldier for Life Military Transition Summit, Muniz says he left the service, only to re-enlist a year later.

Muniz: Well, the hardest part I think is being away from the family. With the Guard, I did two deployments. I did eight months and I did a 15-month to Afghanistan. So being away from them is always hard. It seems that when you are gone things start happening. You know, kids get sick. And you got trouble, you know, in school.

Muniz: I decided to try my luck in the civilian world. As you can see, it didn’t go too well for me. I got out of the Army, and I was like “What did I do?” I was not prepared to get out.

Rob: A problem not unusual for service members. But one the Soldier for Life program hopes to address both with hiring events like the one here at Fort Sill and by encouraging employer-military partnerships like the United Association Veterans in Piping program.

Robert Carr: This program has been explained to me as trying to drink from a fire hydrant. You just kind of put your head in there and get as much as you can and then back out and take a breath for a second.

Rob: This is an 18-week program delivered to active-duty service men and women here on base that replaces the first year of a five-year apprenticeship in sprinkler fitting.

Roy Barnes: We get a great deal out of this by getting the military people because of the discipline that they already have.

Carr: When they leave here, they have more tools than what they need to be successful. We train them in here on valve training, soldering, braising, crane signaling, rigging, OSHA-30. We are finding the employer before they get there. So they are not getting training and then having to find employment like most schooling does. Here we have employment for them. So we go out, we do the groundwork, find where they are going to be, the best contractors for them, the best areas to go back to.

Rob: And a similar partnership has been built with Ryder trucks.

Duane Houston: The guys all finished four engine manufacturers, Cummins, Detroit, Navistar and Mac Volvo. And then up here, we come up here, and we are doing the hands-on portion. And these guys will actually get out and work in the shop with the guys in the shop just like they would at a normal Ryder location. When they get out of this program then, well, when they graduate from this program, they are going to go to a Ryder shop and actually go to work.

Josue Umanzor: I have a little book about this thick of certifications now. I had my first paycheck from Ryder before I even collected my last paycheck from the Army, so, I mean, there was never a break in pay at all, so, you know, that is usually a huge stress factor when you are getting out of the military is, you know, financially, am I going to be OK?

Houston: It is absolutely a perfect fit. In fact, the first group we had, four of the guys have already been promoted. That is how well they fit into the program so far. These guys already know what they are going to do. They already know where they are going to go. It takes all that stress. So when they come into Ryder, I mean, it’s just, you can just come in and go to work, fully trained and ready to go.

Rob: The non-profit Warriors-4-Wireless doesn’t hire veterans directly, but does train them for a career with a sky-high limit.

Izzy Abbass: The industry overall has an aging population of tower technicians and broadband technicians. We are training veterans to fill those roles going forward. There is a huge demand out there. We have over a thousand openings around the country. So one of the things we always ask veterans is, like, where do you want to live? And then we find a tower company in that area that needs an employee right now.

Kendall Dan: They were able to get me into the program, get me started, get me trained, get my certs transitioned over from the military into the wireless industry. And now I have a job where I provide for my two kids without any hesitation and very successful. The Marine Corps teaches you leadership. It teaches you, take fear, put it behind you and get the mission done. And in the wireless industry that is something that you definitely have to be able to do. I mean, your office is on the ground; mine is 300 feet in the air.

Abbass: There is a lot of work going forward. And if we look at how many towers we have in the U.S., there is 30,000 towers in the United States. Of those, 27 percent are really aging and need to be replaced. On top of that, we know that with small cell technology and all these other things, the demand is expected to be 130,000 towers by 2030. That is a huge growth industry, and they are looking to hire veterans.

Scott Smith: The state of Oklahoma is fortunate in that we have got an outstanding workforce and a great work ethic. The unfortunate thing is, we simply don’t have enough workforce.

Rob: Scott Smith is with Oklahoma CareerTech and sees veterans as a great opportunity to expand the number of employable Oklahomans.

Smith: We want them to have a great career. That is what CareerTech’s focus is, is to help get folks skilled and get them hooked up with the right companies. But also, we are trying to find creative ways to reach into pipelines of outstanding workers to help them to leverage the training that we offer, but also leverage the jobs we have in the great state of Oklahoma.

Rob: Pairing industry, education and government with veterans who often don’t know their own worth.

So like we say, you don’t have a career ladder, you’ve got a career cargo net. Did you ever climb the cargo net?

Yeah, yeah.

Well, you don’t climb straight up, right? You’ve got to get over and you’ve got to move it up and get your best foothold.

Rob: To better understand that challenge, I spoke with Oklahoma’s secretary of veteran affairs, retired Maj. Gen. Myles Deering.

Rob: How important is it to bring industry, military, education all together in an event like this?

Myles Deering: Well, it is tremendously important because it enables us to create a collaborative effort in helping these young soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines transition from the military life to the civilian life.

Rob: What type of asset are veterans to just Oklahoma’s economy?

Deering: They are a tremendous asset to our economy and to the state of Oklahoma. I mean, these young men and women bring the values that they have lived and they practiced in the military to the community. And those kind of values are what we value most as a society.

Rob: How can the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, how can it help Oklahoma veterans?

Deering: Well, I think we can help in the transition and the linkage. And once that soldier leaves military duty, active duty and goes to his home station, what helps him make that link-up. And I think that we as the State Department of Veterans Affairs can help them with that link-up. In other words, where he leaves the active duty and where he enters the civilian life, we still need to have that continuity of care. We need to insure there is a link there that insures that his future is assured as well.

Rob: What is that first, what’s the first step that needs to happen then, when someone, you know, leaves the military?

Deering: Well, that first step is that person needs to make contact with his, in my opinion, needs to make contact with his State Department of Veterans Affairs. This insures that if he wants to go to college or he wants to go to CareerTech, or she wants to go to college or CareerTech, that they understand the resources that are available in this state. If they want to apply for their claims and benefits with the VA, we can help them do that. If they are seeking employment, we can help them do that as well.

Muniz: I’m going to use all the tools that the Army has to offer to get ready to be a successful civilian once I transition out.

Rob: And for Sgt. Muniz, seeing all these opportunities and taking the reins on what he can accomplish now, he is much more confident about his eventual retirement.

Muniz: I’m working on a bachelor’s degree in sports psychology. So I know I am going to be prepared when I leave the military. Plus, the military has a lot of great programs to help you prep for when you decide to hang those boots for good. And I’ll be ready.

Female Announcer: “Horizon” is at your fingertips – join us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to catch the segments you may have missed and our latest new content as it happens.

Austin Moore: So far, we’ve talked today about hiring from the soldiers perspective, and they can gain a great deal, but they also have a great deal to offer. Soldiers train daily in areas far broader than most of us realize. But rather than have me explain why you should hire soldiers, we thought they could tell you better themselves.

In the military, when soldiers get to do something new or they get the chance to show what they learned or use what they’ve been trained to do, that’s a really great feeling, because soldiers want to go. Soldiers want to go, and they want to do their job, and they want to do it expertly, and they want to get it done, and they want to move on, and they want to do the next thing because that’s, that’s how we soldier.

Well, it’s an amazing thing. I talked with a couple of them one time, and they said they were looking for three things. Somebody that can show up on time that can accomplish the mission inside of a timeframe and get along with others. And I told them, I said, “That’s it. I can do that falling out of bed.” Because our soldiers are that. They are disciplined; they are accountable; they have attention to detail. And this is my junior level, from specialist and below. Those soldiers come in here, and they are just ready to get after it. They are meticulous. And like I said, you know, I can count on them. I give them a mission; I know it will be done.

We’re in a day and time now people are just not showing up for work. So for you to have someone that sort of, you can, you know, draw the reins and rein people back in and set the standard in the office, it makes for a better workplace.

I know that I get frustrated when I’m not challenged. And that’s a problem that I have come across with just about every job that I’ve had is, I’m like, I can be more. I can do more. I know how to do this. Let me do this. And it kind of feels like a bridled horse because you’ve got to slow down, because soldiers know, we know how to do things.

Teamwork, one team, one fight. One team, one fight. So team building, I mean that is the very core, the fabric of the Army, of any military force.

You have to make the team work. You learn how to lead. And leadership is a foundation for our units. You just need to be able to adapt and overcome, fit into the surrounding elements, but not lose yourself at the same time.

We don’t just solve the problem. We also look at other policies and procedures that are out there that may be a better way to work or to identify something else that could aid individuals along the transition and not just there in particular. So they come with big dynamics of flexibility, problem-solving skills, but also the ability to reach out and use resources that’s going to aid back into other employers as well.

So every soldier who comes out of the Army has done a PowerPoint. Every soldier who comes out of the Army has done stuff on Microsoft Word and Excel, so they have hands-on experience on office environment work that they don’t even realize. So I get a lot of soldiers who come into my office, and they say, “Missy, I only know how to blow things up.” And I’m like, “No, no, no, no, no. You know how to do many other things.”

So you’re getting someone who understands different leadership styles. You’re getting someone that understands different personality types. In the Army, people come from everywhere. And we have to learn how to work with all different kinds of people, different nationalities, different races, different skin color, you know, hair color, eye color, whatever. And you have to learn to work in that realm.

Well, diversity is a huge benefit. And we do it every day. Through classes and knowledge and teaching, people get to understand what diversity really means.

Whatever you grew up with, whatever notions or beliefs, when you come into the military, you come in contact with so many different people, good and bad, that you get, whatever your bias was, it could be disproven.

People that don’t believe in diversity don’t understand it because they haven’t been taught it. And I think us in the military teaching people’s backgrounds and actually going through it and understanding that, that person beside me is a person. That’s all they are is a person. And all I ask them to do is to have my back. I’ve got their six, they’ve got my six.

So I was deployed to Katrina back in 2005. I was in charge of refueling operations for the French Quarter. I never thought that I would have to be on guard at the level I was on American soil.

I think it’s entertaining when your peers at a civilian work environment get stressed out over something small. I can look at and laugh and say, “Nobody got shot, nobody lost an eye, and they’re going to be back tomorrow. Let’s move on and figure out a way to get through this problem. It’s not that bad.”

So the college personnel that come out, kids straight out of school, they don’t understand that you have to have courses of actions one, two and three, because the day is not perfect. So those are the things that my soldiers come into and are ready to do. And we’re doing it without even knowing that we’re doing it. That’s the greatest thing, you know.

Soldiers are resilient. So regardless of what you throw at us, we understand, you can’t give us too much, because you’re going to get tired. So we just endure the process until you’re tired, and we just eat it up. It’s like a plate of food. I’m always hungry; you can only bring so much because your cooks can’t keep up.

You wake up, and you’re 15 minutes prior to any meeting. And then when you’re there, you’re executing and taking notes. And then after the notes, you go back, and you follow up with the answers to those notes that were, you know, charged with you to understand. And there are times that I met civilian corporations that just did not do those things. It baffles me, and they wonder why their companies are hurting. And it just sounds like they need some good soldiers.

Female Announcer: Want to see more stories like this? All our segments are streaming on our YouTube channel at OklahomaHorizonTV.

Austin Moore: Over the years, we have covered any number of veteran’s stories, but none more inspiring that that of Noah Galloway. On his second tour of duty in Iraq, an IED took Galloway’s left arm and leg. Galloway worked his way back from those injuries and the depression that followed and now works as a personal trainer and motivational speaker. In 2015, Galloway rose to fame as a competitor on “Dancing with the Stars.”

[Music—Singer: I don’t do it for the money. And there’s bills that I can’t pay. I don’t do it for the glory. I just do it anyway. And I will always do my duty, and no matter what the price].

Noah Galloway: That was a pivotal moment for me, in, that was week five, halfway through the competition, and I wasn’t sure how long we were going to last, I was kind of losing motivation. But the reaction from people changed everything because of that one dance, that one song.

Austin Moore: Now, if you’d like to see our complete story with Galloway, or any of our other veteran stories, we have a special playlist available at our website,

Rob McClendon: They’ve been called an endangered species. Next time on “Oklahoma Horizon,” we look at small town downtowns and the people helping revive them.

So it’s been amazing. We help them with information around town about where to go and what to do. They say that once the money comes into a town, it passes at least three times through the town before it’s gone.

Rob: Small town downtowns on Oklahoma’s show for the heartland, “Oklahoma Horizon.”

Austin Moore: That is going to wrap us up for today, but you can see more of our stories on our website at Follow us throughout the week on Twitter at OKHorizonTV. Or like us on Facebook. Thanks for including us as part of your day. I’m Austin Moore. Rob McClendon will be back next week, and we hope to see you then.

Female Announcer: “Oklahoma Horizon” is made possible by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, with additional support from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.