We’re back with another episode of the Chasing Happiness Podcast!
In this episode, we have special guest, Rich LaMonica. Rich is a 22-year veteran of the United States Army who was deployed on multiple occasions in support of the Global War on Terrorism. He retired in 2015 and went through an entire year of self-reflection as he transitioned to civilian life again. Those 365 days from retiring to finding a job taught him valuable lessons about transitioning. This has powered his drive to help other veterans as they go through the transition and any other roadblocks they are hitting.
In this episode, we talk about:
-When did you get out, and what resources were available?
-What was your biggest challenge during your transition?
-What did you learn about yourself during this transition process?
Challenge Accepted: 5 Valuable Lessons From Transitioning From Military Life with Rich LaMonica
[00:00:00] Ryan: Hey guys, Ryan DeMent from Chasing Happiness Podcast. I hope you guys are having a great day today on the show we have, Rich LaMonica. Rich is a 22-year veteran. He served in the army and was deployed multiple times. Once he retired in 2015, he took about a year off to gather himself and come back to civilian life.
[00:00:23] Ryan: And in between, he found some things to do. And one of the things he has is The Misfitnation Podcast. Rich, welcome to the show.
[00:00:33] Rich: Thanks, Ryan. I’m glad. We can get this thing going. I know we hooked up a, probably about a month ago. We talked on our pre-show talk for chasing happiness. I’ve been looking forward to this since then.
[00:00:42] Rich: It was great meeting you then. I’d love to come on and share my story. And of course the story of the misfit nation with the audience.
[00:00:49] Ryan: So tell me,
[00:00:50] Ryan: Tell us a little bit about yourself and then we’ll get into your story and where you’ve been because military veterans are near and dear to my heart.
[00:00:56] Ryan: So before we even start, thank you for your service, we need that. We need a lot more of you guys out there. I get a little choked up, man. It’s it’s a big deal.
[00:01:05] Rich: No problem. I loved what I did and I know my sisters and brothers love what they do and they also did in the past as well. I appreciate that.
[00:01:13] Ryan: You’re welcome. So what let’s hear about you is this show’s all about
[00:01:17] Rich: you. All right. I was born and raised in Jersey city, New Jersey. Okay. I was the fourth of four children. The youngest. we lived in a railroad apartment not far from the major hub of the railroad there to path station, the port authority train station.
[00:01:32] Rich: So all the rooms in our apartment went from living room to three bedrooms straight through in no hallway. So really not a lot of privacy. So our sister had her own room. My mom and dad had her own room and then three boys in one room. So you can imagine what happens in one room with three boys, it gets a little wild.
[00:01:47] Rich: It’s WWE WWF back then. And no holds BARR. You either become tough or you become broken and you, and there’s sometimes in the middle of you. I lost my adult teeth. I got knocked out playing basketball in that room. So I learned some life lessons from my two brothers. And but we all made it outta there.
[00:02:01] Rich: We had a very good parents. Both parents worked. Mom didn’t make that high school, but she worked her tail off. She worked multiple jobs to make sure we had stuff. My dad worked multiple jobs. At one point he was working. He owned a bar, worked at the morgue and drove a truck. All at the same time, so he can get his small family growing and keep them in the right direction and show us the value of hard work and hustling to make sure that your family is doing well.
[00:02:27] Rich: So he taught us that early and those lessons while we didn’t appreciate ’em then we appreciate ’em more now. Cause you know, you learn more as you grow older about the things that you thought were jokes or dads, dumb dad, that dumb mom, but as you get older, you become the mom and dad and you understand, Hey, that was pretty cool.
[00:02:44] Rich: So as I grew up, I went to Dickenson high school in Jersey city. One of the worst high schools at the time for violence and such if you’ve seen the movie leaned on me with story of Joe Clark , that was the voted the worst school in New Jersey, but they were able to get saved. We were the second worst at that time, and we were not save by the state.
[00:03:00] Rich: The state took us over. So state took over our school. The year I graduated, it was a pretty rough school. It’s much better now. And one of my friends is actually the principal there. Now it’s much. , but that’s a part of our growing up being tough in the city. I went from there as a junior, I had gone to all these, all the classes that you take to not go to college, just to go in the army.
[00:03:20] Rich: So I was taking shop and graphic arts and business typing, whatever. And then my dad said enough of us had joined the army cuz I was being the youngest. And I was born at a time when I can go to school earlier than most kids cuz the birth dates and stuff like that. So I couldn’t join the army without his permission.
[00:03:37] Rich: And he said no enough of us to join the army. So you gotta go to college. I said, whoa, haven’t done anything to go to college. So my senior year, I had to take multiple maths, multiple sciences, just to get the right classes in order to go to college. So while all my friends were having a great senior year, maybe having two classes, going to get jobs and having fun.
[00:03:55] Rich: I was in class with freshman and sophomores and juniors studying and trying to get through this. The day of my standard up two tests, I nearly slept in. He woke me up. I had to run all the way to the school, take the test. Somehow I passed it and I got into college. I went to a business school in New York for a year and then went.
[00:04:12] Rich: St. Peter’s college in Jersey city. If you watch the final four this year, you’ve seen St Peter’s make it to the elite eight. And that was big pride moment for us. So I played football there for two years, lost every game, but that was also life lessons. You learn to fall down that many times, learn to get up that many times as well.
[00:04:28] Rich: And we fell down a lot in that team and always had the peacock pride for a long time. And seeing that this year really burst that pride. but after about two years, I realized I wasn’t ready for college. Like most kids you realize I’m not ready. I wasn’t ready to go to college. So at that time I can join the army on my own.
[00:04:45] Rich: And I did, I signed up and then told my dad after. And I, my first duty station was Fort Stewart, Georgia, and I got there. And that was my first days on active duty were the days that black Hawk down occurred a battle from Moga. And I was just a wide eyed kid and I had no idea what was going on.
[00:05:03] Rich: Oh, you’re on alert for what? I have no idea what this means or we’re going to help these guys. I had no idea what that meant. So we wound up not going our unit, but our sister units went to go help them. We went through this grind of learning and lessons learned throughout time there from there to Korea, back to here to Fort Campbell, had my daughter in 96 here at Fort Campbell.
[00:05:23] Rich: So now I have a, an army brat with me, stayed here a few years deployed one time from here to stop. The Sadam was acting up. So we got sent to the desert to stop him at that time. And it was 98 before 2001. From here to Fort Riley, Kansas and Fort Riley, Kansas is where I was when nine 11 occurred.
[00:05:42] Rich: That’s where I was stationed, but I was actually in Kuwait when nine 11 occurred, we were on the border with Iraq doing another operation of Southern watch there in 2001 when nine 11 occurred. So we went from a, basically a peace time mission with limited ammo and just being a deterrent to being the tip of the spear in the matter of seconds.
[00:05:59] Rich: It, so we lost our ice cream privileges. We were actually having to be soldiers now. And it was weird to see the dynamic of people who were hard charging up until it had to be a hard charging time. And then the focus back into being actual soldiers. So we returned back to the states and they made us go to the desert to train, to go back to Iraq from the desert.
[00:06:18] Rich: It was it was a weird dynamic and I never understood. Why we had to redeploy in order to go to the desert to train, to go back to the desert, but that’s for the army. You understand? Not me. I just did what I was told. 2003, I went back to Iraq to Ramat Iraq. I’m sure you’ve heard of Ramat.
[00:06:34] Rich: Yes, but if you’ve seen the American sniper, he spent a few tours there to a lot of books had been written on it. Oliver north was there. We actually got to hang out with him a few times, post security for him. Great guy. But it, they described it as restive, Ramat, beautiful Ramat. The place was not restive, not beautiful.
[00:06:51] Rich: It was it was horrible. They hated us as much as possible. They hated us. The kids loved us and the older generation loved us, but everyone in the middle really did not like us there because there was a Saddam loyalists start there. And it was a real hard time. And it was stayed a hard time probably to about 2010 in that area.
[00:07:07] Rich: From there, back to the states got stationed Alabama for a few years, Korea for a few years. And then back to Fort Campbell and I went right to Afghanistan. So when I first in Afghanistan, it was 2010 to 11 in 2010 is when I met the misfits. So where the misfit nation comes from, I was a new guy on the block.
[00:07:26] Rich: My actual platoon was already split up to multiple platoons. Excuse me. And my first Sergeant told me, Hey, just walk around, see if you’ve seen anything that needs fixed. So I walked around the fob, the Ford operat operating base, and I looked around, I was taking notes. I was trying to be studious, trying to understand security, defaults security efforts that were going on.
[00:07:44] Rich: I found the two young sergeants that said, Hey guys, how you doing? They were all dirty from head to toe. I, what are you guys doing? And they’re building a tower to, to secure the base. I said you guys look like hard workers. You have soldiers that can do. But I looked to the left. All their soldiers were dirty too.
[00:07:59] Rich: And I was saw wham H and saw Beckman at the time. First time I met them and I turned around and went back to their first song. I said that’s your platoon? That’s what is, that’s your platoon? You’re gonna be the quick reaction for us and force protection, the platoon SART. I said thank you so much.
[00:08:11] Rich: He said, I had the plan the whole time. I just wanted to see you if you can find it. Oh, thanks a lot. So for the next what, six, seven months we built that fob and we secured it and there was no attacks on the fob after our efforts. Secured. We did patrols every day. We did, I think 120 straight days of patrolling outside into neighborhoods, into the villages to meet the people, make sure they knew we were there for them, not against them and build that rapport.
[00:08:34] Rich: But on December 31st, 2010 SARM Beckerman, who I just mentioned. He was working with the engineers and he was on a mission with them and him and a Lieutenant walked through a door and they hit an IED and we lost SAR Beckham into December 31st, 2010, about eight 30 in the morning, Afghanistan. So that was the first soldier I lost in war in four combat tour and it hit hard and I had to keep it all together at that point, not just for me, but for my soldiers and for everyone around me.
[00:09:01] Rich: So I went individually to each NCO non-commission officer and told ’em, Hey, we lost arm back. Hey, we lost arm back. Won’t give him a hug, said, let’s keep it calm until we know his, as family was been notified and then we’ll have a good, a big group get together and we’ll talk this out and we’ll try to keep everyone straight.
[00:09:15] Rich: So from December till December 31st of April, when we left. It was keeping everyone calm and not making them get on CNN. That was my goal. Keeping everyone else whole and not go on CNN and come home. But that’s when the misfit nation really became whole with the, we started with the building of that fob.
[00:09:34] Rich: But when we lost arm Bement that brought us all together. Like the glue and then. We’ve been together ever since we stay in contact, even though we all went to the four wins after that, cause everyone PCs is in the army and we stayed together, stay calm and cool collective. And they’ve been on the show, some of them.
[00:09:50] Rich: So it’s great to keep that connection. I got back to Fort camp 11 2012, right back to Afghanistan. I was in country two days and I got wounded. Mortar hit behind me, went through my left leg threw the back of my left leg out the front. Wow. At that time, I had went in very negative cuz after multiple deployments and seeing all your friends that have gone before you, that you’ve lost, most of them were taken away from us on your third or fourth deployment.
[00:10:15] Rich: So this is my fourth deployment. I said, this is it. I’m done. There’s no way I’m coming home. There’s no way I can Dodge the bullet this many times without getting the meeting, the boat they’ll get the rooster this time. So when that happened, it turned his light on to me and said, Hey, you’re better than this.
[00:10:31] Rich: Lean forward, get that positive mindset and lead your way to victory here. So I got, I had surgery in country, refused evac back to Germany into the states, went right back to the fight and then, and led my team until the end there with my commander captain crew and the rest of the guys, everyone, there was also, we had probably the best team out there at time.
[00:10:48] Rich: At the time advisor teams, we came back no incidents with the Afghan army that we were training. So that’s a plus and none of us were, we didn’t lose anybody. I was the only one that got wound. So that’s a major plus came back. And about three years later I retired in 2015, June 30th, 2015. I retired my daughter graduated high school that same month.
[00:11:11] Rich: So that was my goal to stay in until she graduated. She graduated, I retired. And then for 365 days, I was home. I was unemployable unemployed, not unemployable unemployed. Many businesses passed on me because they thought I wanted a lot of money. They thought I wanted something more. I never asked for any money.
[00:11:28] Rich: I just wanted a job. I wanted something to do. I wanted a purpose. And then finally, I got a job with the mission continues. It’s a veteran nonprofit based outta St. Louis and I was mentoring veterans on how to transition their first six months outta the army, basically outta the military and get back into society.
[00:11:45] Rich: And. I found it ironic that it took me a year to get a job, to help people do things when they get out. But it also helped me to become a better human and find that sense of purpose and see that their success made me feel good. Seeing them make that successful transition made me feel good that, yeah, mine was a, not the best transition, but I’m still here and I’m able to help others.
[00:12:08] Rich: And that’s, that was the best thing of that right there. During that time I started my master’s degree at Georgetown. Got my master’s degree in a 2020, I thought I’d walk across stage when I got my bachelor’s, it was Dan in my army career. So I couldn’t walk across stage. So I got my diploma mail to me.
[00:12:24] Rich: So I didn’t walk across stage. Then 2020, I started gonna walk across stage and this guy named COVID came. So there was no walking across stage. So again, I got my diploma mail to me and they told me you’ll never make it that’s this is the best you can do, you are not an academic, don’t go for your doctorate.
[00:12:40] Rich: I said challenge accepted. So I started my doctorate at Liberty university about halfway through it right now. So I took that challenge and I’m pushing myself to that right now as a, a lifetime learner. And I currently work training soldiers out in Fort Campbell. And I’m the co-leader for the Travis man foundation chapter here in Clarksville right now.
[00:12:58] Ryan: I think that makes . You’ve you’ve done a lot and you’ve served our country, our. You’ve gone through so much. So thank you for everything you’ve done, but I’ve gotta ask how do you hold it together with that many deployments to the middle east and everything that you saw? I know those resources are finite for veterans and we can get into a deeper conversation, but how did you personally handle it going back and forth?
[00:13:22] Ryan: I know you talked about the positive mindset, but even positive, it’s. Wears on you. I’ve never been in a combat situation, so I can’t tell you. But you saw a lot experienced a lot and dealt with a lot. How do you compartmentalize that and work with it and in what are some outlets for you?
[00:13:42] Rich: So in the moment it’s you rely on your train, so you’re rely on everything you’ve trained upon and you understand that everything you’ve been trained. Like with my dad’s advice earlier, I said, you, yeah, whatever. But like the training, when you go through it, it’s ah, whatever, it’s just ain’t gonna work.
[00:13:53] Rich: And then when things happen and that training works, that light bulb clicks on and say, oh, all this stuff was worthwhile. So you just go through the motions, do it. And an adrenaline kind of carries you through the moment. Adrenaline keep carries you through. And you’re always on when you deploy you’re on 24 7, it’s when you get home is when you realize something’s.
[00:14:12] Rich: When I came home in 2004 from the Iraq deployment, my wife and daughter both said, something’s different about you? I said, nah, you crazy. Nothing’s wrong with me? I’m good. Your something’s wrong with you. And then when I came back after 10 11 in Afghanistan, I knew something was wrong with me after losing my soldier.
[00:14:29] Rich: So I went and asked for help and they told me you’re a, so first class go back and lead soldiers. You need to be in the fight. I said, I’m asking for help. I’m absolutely asking for help. And they didn’t do it. They wouldn’t help me. So it wasn’t until just before I retired that someone in the army actually sat me down and talked to me to try to get my thoughts together.
[00:14:46] Rich: and it wasn’t really, until after I got out and a doctor in the community, I sat with him multiple sessions and he list had me talk through everything and gave me some exercises to do and to clear my mind and to see that I could move forward and not rely on everything in the past to remember it.
[00:15:04] Rich: But don’t rely on it I guess, or let it weigh you down. Some of the outlets that help most people is doing stuff. So finding that purpose, helping in the community, helping the mentor, youth mentor, fellow veterans for me, a lot of times I would just go wake up and go running. And it’s the release of running the, get the endorphins going when you run.
[00:15:22] Rich: And next thing you feel much better as some people do yoga. Some people build things, but you gotta find a thing that helps you release and get escape from the reality of what’s going. And that usually clears your head, but never, ever keep it silent. If you feel like if you feel like you’re heading towards that darkness, that’s what we referred to.
[00:15:42] Rich: As you go toward darkness, don’t become a statistic phone, a friend to use the cliche of a, that thing to who wants to be a millionaire phone, a friend, and the ask for help say, Hey I’m going. Everyone says, they’ll be there for you. Call ’em on it. Hey brother. Hey sister. I’m here. I’m need help. And my mind’s not right now.
[00:16:02] Rich: Get me out of this and they’ll do it. They’re not gonna hang up on you. And if they do there’s something wrong with them, or just go to the hotline, call 9, 8, 8, and take option one. And someone will help you do not be make a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
[00:16:15] Ryan: I gotta go back to the question or the thought, what you said was knowing the army would really help.
[00:16:20] Ryan: Is that a rampant thing across all branches of the
[00:16:23] Rich: military at that time? Yes, it was. Now it’s getting a lot better as they realize that the problem as they see how many people go wind up in the VA and have to get care at the VA for multiple issues due to a multiple deployments PTSD or other things associated with it, they realize that they need to start helping earlier and build that mindset.
[00:16:42] Rich: So they have a whole physical, mental, and like a whole body. Healthcare thing, whole body maintenance thing now for the army, especially the army. I know the Marines do it as well. I’m sure the Navy and air force have been doing it for a while, but now they focus on the entire Bo the entire person and not just the push forward and click pull triggers.
[00:17:00] Rich: It’s Hey, let’s make them smart. Let’s make them strong. Let’s make sure we’re taking care of the whole person.
[00:17:06] Ryan: When did that all shift? Is that, is
[00:17:08] Rich: it go ahead. Within the last five years.
[00:17:12] Ryan: Okay. Are veterans getting, we, I hear it in the news and I’d rather just hear it from somebody that experienced or there is, we hear in the news that, the VA is one overwhelmed and two, you’re not getting the benefits in the services you are needed.
[00:17:27] Ryan: Is that getting better or is that truly a, an obstacle or a problem for veterans?
[00:17:33] Rich: I think it’s. The best way to say is it depends. Depends on the veterans, especially for me. When I first got out, I had to drive 45 minutes to the VA to get seen in Nashville instead of seeing the one here in Clarksville.
[00:17:46] Rich: Cause the corner Clarksville was a small office and there’s about 30,000 veterans in this town ranging from probably Korea where we’re all the way up to present. So you have a large population of veterans up. And so they’re yes, they get overwhelmed. So they had to build a whole new facility up here, but while they were doing that, every, all the new veterans were getting sent to Nashville or down to another town called Dover.
[00:18:07] Rich: So you’d have to drive. And then it’s the willingness to drive that far to go to a doctor and hope you get the care or hope that they listened to you. When I walked into Nashville and I’ve seen the veterans walking outta the hallway, built like Zo. Because they were all just handed all these pills, Hey, this will take care of this.
[00:18:23] Rich: This’ll take care of that. And they walked around like a zombies and I went to my doctor’s office the first time he didn’t look at me, he looked at his computer and then he said, yeah, I’m gonna prescribe all this to you. I said, you didn’t touch me. And didn’t look at me. And then the mail came this big bag of drugs.
[00:18:37] Rich: I never took them because one, I seen those other guys from gal. And two, I didn’t trust that he knew whatever was actually wrong with me cause he didn’t touch me. Didn’t evaluate it. Wasn’t until I got to back to the Clarksville office about four, 2019, I think just before the pandemic, I got a good doctor and he started taking care of each issue individually making sure things were right.
[00:18:59] Rich: They started sending me an acupuncture, gave me a chiropractor and doing all the holistic health instead of all the medicated health. And I feel much better.
[00:19:06] Ryan: That’s great. But how many stories are out there? Like you said, of the veterans that are walking down the hallways of the VA that are just zombies there’s, they’re just treat ’em with treat ’em with medication.
[00:19:15] Ryan: So what are you doing with, what are you getting your PhD in?
[00:19:19] Rich: Homeland security.
[00:19:20] Ryan: Oh, okay, cool. All about change, man. I’m I was a life learner, too myself. I went, got a bachelor’s degree. I got a master’s degree said, oh, I want to go be an attorney. And then I. I got rubbed the wrong way with law school and just saw it as a license to steal.
[00:19:35] Ryan: So I stopped, but I get it. I’m always thirsty for knowledge, but something I’ve learned along this journey of chasing happiness is you’ve gotta, you’ve gotta be able to find your own voice in your own passion, whether it be going to school, going to the military, whatever the case is.
[00:19:48] Ryan: But until you find that passion and it resonates in your. You’re not truly happy. And people don’t realize that it’s like you have to tune out the negative and the positive and you have to find your path and come down the middle. And then once you’re secure with that path, life changes. It’s life altering.
[00:20:04] Ryan: That’s what I’ve experienced. I still struggle with it on a daily basis. And we have this thing called the internet and social media that we’ve lost generations to because they think what happens on the internet or social media is life. And that’s how it’s supposed to be. And it’s just.
[00:20:18] Rich: Definitely. And I can’t agree to more that the interwebs is really de socialized us. It’s called social media, but if you take any of those massive typers off of social media and put ’em in a person to person’s environment, they can’t speak, they can, they don’t even know how look at someone and talk if, look down and make like they’re touching their thumbs to talk to somebody.
[00:20:38] Rich: I had a family come visit. Two of them were texting each other at the table while we’re eating dinner.
[00:20:44] Ryan: That happens all the time. I have nephews that do that. Ah, man, that pisses me
[00:20:48] Rich: off. I was so irritated. I got up and I’m gonna just go sit somewhere else. I don’t know what’s going on here. This is the weirdest thing ever.
[00:20:55] Rich: yeah.
[00:20:56] Ryan: Cause they just can’t have a normal conversation. I get that and it’s I don’t get that. I just, it makes no sense. And. The whole piece in, in coming back to your service in veterans, cuz my dad’s a Korean veteran, so it’s near and dear to my heart. Being able to help veterans.
[00:21:11] Ryan: And one of the things that I do or we do as an entity is we’re in the affordable housing space and we focus on helping individual. Like veterans become homeowners because it’s become so unaffordable. It doesn’t matter who you are. Veteran first responder nurses, doctors, whoever. It doesn’t matter who you are.
[00:21:30] Ryan: It’s just unaffordable and veterans have a great benefit that they seem to not know about. It’s, VA benefits. You literally can get into a home, no money down outta your pocket. Closing costs no money down or no money outta your pocket. Literally walk in and get approved. And when I talk to veterans about that, they’re like, I knew I had VA benefits, but I didn’t know they’re that good?
[00:21:57] Ryan: And I’m like I wish I could educate more and help you guys because. if you want to be a homeowner, there’s ways to find it and we’ve even taken it. Another step is we found through this thing called COVID prices, went through the roof for lumber and we just couldn’t. We couldn’t not pass along our additional costs to our home buyers.
[00:22:19] Ryan: It just unfortunate that way, but then we thought, how else do we get around this? And we formed a nonprofit and that’s just a whole nother, that’s a whole nother game, just in the self of getting a 5 0 1 C three. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that is it’s truly a nonprofit. It’s. We can raise, depending on your application that you put in, you can raise unlimited funds or you can have the short form and you can raise $50,000 worth of grants or funds in an annual basis.
[00:22:43] Ryan: We went unlimited cuz we were building houses. The process to go through that is an arm and a leg, and I see why people don’t do it. But once we came out on the other side and the resources that opened up from the state, sorry, the local state and federal was huge. And I, and we’re talking to a couple cities that are in Indiana in Kentucky that specifically want veteran only developments.
[00:23:09] Ryan: And it’s I’m honored. But at the same time, I joke about it. I’ve never put up a hundred or 150 houses at the same time. So I’m scared shitless. So we’ll get through it, but I’m honored. It’s just so cool, but I’ll stop talking cuz I, I love this stuff, but veterans need to understand some of the benefits they have and I’m not just talking about home ownership.
[00:23:27] Ryan: There’s so many other benefits you get and they don’t take advantage of it.
[00:23:31] Rich: There’s tons in and a lot of it, unless you talk to another veteran, that’s used it. No, one’s gonna come out and say, Hey, it’s. The veteran home loan. I knew about that from the time I first joined. So when I first joined, you had to make an application, they’d send you an actual certificate for the veteran home loan and had a date on it and stuff.
[00:23:48] Rich: But by the time I bought my first house in 2010 here at, for, in Clarksville, Tennessee, all I had to do is I think when we did our application for the loan, it just did veteran home loan. And once I did that, easy, they came in, the VA comes in, does the inspection. they do the assessment and all that, and they take care of all the back end stuff.
[00:24:06] Rich: And all you do is sign the papers at the end and it was simple. And then of course, during Mr. COVID, Me and my wife decided to move from that house to another house on the south side of town. And so right in March of 20 torn may or 2020, I think is when we sold that one and bought this one within a day, both of them were picked up contract signed and they both closed the same day, which is it’s very hard to do, but it happened.
[00:24:28] Rich: And again, it was the VA loan. Again, once that one was signed for the other house, I was able to use the VA loan again with no money down and push into this house. So it’s a great system with the VA loan education benefits of. Most states give, if you are from like, say Texas, and you’re a veteran, you go to school for free.
[00:24:44] Rich: think Florida might be the same way. I think Tennessee, they have a lot of steep discounts for veterans. They’re trying to push that. If you did a whole career in Tennessee, they’ll give you an honorary degree at the university of your choice within the state. So you just gotta look into the state systems and see what’s out there.
[00:25:00] Rich: If you don’t, if you don’t look for it, they’re not gonna come to you and say, Hey, we got this for you because that’s not how they work. And it’s usually a network of veterans that tell each other what’s. So
[00:25:09] Ryan: How can we get, and how can I help? I want to help get that message out there to veterans, cuz ultimately in the news and the last several days it looks like Florida is trying to recruit veterans for teachers.
[00:25:21] Ryan: Yes. And it’s okay, that’s cool. The that’s another opportunity, but like you said, you took a year off after you got out and you wanted to get your life. A lot of veterans when they get out, I’m guessing you guys lose. You lose purpose. Cuz now you ha you went from total structure to where you’re free for all.
[00:25:37] Ryan: And are you guys given any tools when you get out to say, okay here’s some options to help you with transitioning or is it basically Auste a pasta and here
[00:25:46] Rich: you. Every service has a what’s called transition of systems. You, everyone has a different name for it. The Army’s called soldier for life And you go through there multiple classes you can go through as as you get to your last six months in the military or year to six months in the military, and depending on your unit and their operation tempo at the time, like for me, I was pretty lucky. I went to the class did the resume building networking.
[00:26:08] Rich: They taught us everything about the VA and that was up in Maryland. I stayed there. I was there two years and then came back here for two days to retire. But if you don’t take advantage of that stuff, if you don’t listen in those classes, you just go in there and checking the block and thinking about something else you’re gonna miss some stuff.
[00:26:22] Rich: And some of it, when I went, came out was check the block teaching they were doing to us. now they have an option where you can actually do an internship with a, in the industry of your choice. So as long as it’s close to the base, you’re at, so like we’ve had three interns at our office on post that wanna learn how to be a contractor, had to learn how to teach the soldier.
[00:26:39] Rich: So we have them come in, they intern with us, the Army’s still paying them, so we don’t have to pay ’em, but we’re just giving, paying ’em in knowledge, paying ’em stuff, they can’t get outside for. So we’ve given them a knowledge how to teach, how to do the job we do and added the think three. We had two have been hired into other contracts right out of the box.
[00:26:57] Rich: So I see it, it’s moving in a way better direction than it was. It is stagnant for a long time. And they’ve seen the mark on the wall that, Hey, we have to adjust and be flexible and understand that we need to be where the modern society is. You need to push people in the right directions. And I think the army is, I think all the services right now are doing the.
[00:27:14] Ryan: That’s great. At least it’s getting in the right direction and going, because having direction and purpose. I understand it. If you don’t find it, you’re lost without it. And that’s huge. Your podcast we start, you started talk a little bit about it. Why don’t you talk a little bit more about what you’re doing in how that’s impacting veterans.
[00:27:31] Rich: Awesome. Yes. Thank you. The misfit nation was born in a. Like I said 2010, but the podcast didn’t come out till 2021, January. Yeah. 2021 in January was the first episode. I had an idea in 2020 since, with COVID that he had your minds going so many different directions. How can I do something different?
[00:27:48] Rich: How can I do this? So I had just finished my master. I was applying for my PhD. So I figured I had about eight hours left a week. I said, why not start a podcast? So I talked to a couple of the other misfits. That’s a great idea, man. Let’s do it. Let’s. you should do it. And so I started writing the, I guess the pilot or whatever in December.
[00:28:07] Rich: And I got it on anchor. I did it, and my focus in the beginning was to come on and let veterans come on with me and tell their story. Just have a voice, cuz a lot of times just telling their story that helps veterans and anyone who’s been through a trauma, it helps ’em get that off their chest and be able to say, oh, all right.
[00:28:25] Rich: I feel a little better now that I’ve told my story to someone else and I was doing that. And then a couple of ’em called me back and said, Hey, that’s great. I love that you’re doing that, but we need help in other areas. How do we start a business? How do we get into real estate? How do I become an author?
[00:28:40] Rich: I want get into music. How do I do it? How do I get to Hollywood? Why should you drive? I don’t know, but but I actually know a veteran that is in Hollywood. He’s an actor he’s been on N C I S he’s been on. Brooklyn 99. He’s been on a bunch of shows. So I had him on to tell about his journey. He was a Navy veteran and he’s a great guy, Herme Castillo.
[00:28:59] Rich: So he came on and he talked about it. So I try to bring experts in the fields that I think will help veterans a lot of mental health professionals I bring on so they can tell em, tool, tips and tricks. And of course, anytime a veteran reaches out to me and say, Hey, I have this business or I have this idea.
[00:29:14] Rich: I wanna come on. Hey, you’re coming on. I don’t, you don’t have to ask me you’re coming on. You’ll be on my warrior Wednesday show. So Tuesday and Thursdays for anyone warrior Wednesday is always my veterans. So if I have a veteran, it’ll always be a Wednesday show.
[00:29:25] Ryan: That’s awesome. If I can help you in any way to get your word out there, let me know.
[00:29:28] Ryan: I’d be honored. That’s huge. Especially if they’re trying to start their own business, real estate, whatever. We have resources and I have no problem.
[00:29:40] Rich: Can reach firstname.lastname@example.org our contacts on there, our shows on there and both audio and Al D underscore misfit nation. So you can watch either medium. You like to look at cuz some people either like the audio or
[00:29:56] Rich: all day. And I’m not bad looking guy, but you can look at my guest at least.
[00:30:03] Ryan: That’s awesome. So when it comes to veterans, what can we do to help, us non veterans can do to help veterans get to the, where they wanna be, whether it be, starting a business, helping them out, personally, whatever, what are some ideas that we can give our listeners or, and others to help veteran.
[00:30:23] Rich: I know it’s the common thing to welcome say thanks for serving and stuff like that. That’s wonderful. Most of us have no idea what to say when you say thank you, cuz it’s something we did. We wanted to do. And so like me, I say, no problem. It’s what I did. I appreciate you. But some people just look like deer in the headlights.
[00:30:36] Rich: When you say that, cause they don’t know what to do at the point. I say the best thing to do for veterans is give ’em a hand up out. They still wanna work. They still want that purpose. Like in a, for you, like you want to build the large community for veteran. Hey, you look like a guy that does engineering or you’re a carpenter.
[00:30:51] Rich: You wanna start a business. I like to give you a hand up and you can work on block a of this development. This is your block, the frame, or you like to mole on. I have this development over here. I don’t want give, put your name out there. Here’s a hand up, get out there and do that. Always give ’em a hand up.
[00:31:05] Rich: Don’t give ’em a handout. Once you start giving ’em a handout, they become dependent upon things and they lose their way and cause freedom. like you said, the structure we live in the military. Once you get. you don’t know what to do with your hands. And then if someone gives you something, you keep going back to that thing.
[00:31:20] Rich: And that’s a problem that like a wound warrior project, great organization. But for a while they were the handout, they were a handout organization. Yeah. And a lot of veterans got handicapped by that. They were, they felt like they, because they kept going there, they had to be a broken veteran. So they did that.
[00:31:34] Rich: And then I realized I don’t have to be broken. I’m not broken. I have purpose. I can get out there and do stuff. So just give ’em a hand up and push ’em in the right direction, teach them so they can teach the next generat.
[00:31:44] Ryan: That’s pretty easy to do. That’s just getting the message out there and helping.
[00:31:48] Ryan: So that’s one of the things that I’ve been discussing with my parents on the nonprofit is can we put a slice of the nonprofit out there for veterans and we’re working through that process. I’m gonna probably reach out to you at some point and say, okay, this is what we’re trying to do and get your feedback and understand where we’re at, cuz ultimately that’s gonna be a larger slice of the.
[00:32:08] Ryan: Of who we serve through the nonprofit is because of my dad and myself, wanting to help veterans. And if we can get them skills or connect them with people that can help ’em with skills we’re all for it.
[00:32:20] Rich: Oh, definitely. And I’m always, I’m open. You have my email, you have my phone, so you can get me as, as much as possible.
[00:32:25] Rich: I, if I don’t answer you right away, it’s cause I’m actually doing my day job. I can help in that way.
[00:32:30] Ryan: We all seem to have those day jobs, but then we have these side hustles that we’re on. I totally get it rich. It has been an honor to have you on the show best way to get ahold of you directly.
[00:32:39] Ryan: Is it through the misfit nation podcast or is there another way to get ahold of you?
[00:32:43] Rich: This nation podcast is probably the easiest way or rich Lamonica 1 0 1 gmail.com.
[00:32:49] Ryan: And I’ll share that email in the show notes so we can get that out there. Rich, thank you for your service. Thank you for your time.
[00:32:55] Ryan: Thank you for educating us. A little bit about what veterans go through once they transition into the private sector honored and great conversation really loved to having you on.
[00:33:06] Rich: I appreciate you having me on it was a great time hanging out with the chasing happiness and the audience here.
[00:33:11] Rich: Hope you got something out of it.
[00:33:13] Ryan: thank you, sir.