Episode 358 Paul Vann Leadership and Military Family Support Transcript

This transcript is from episode 358 with guest Paul Vann.

Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast where we are focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio, and now let’s get on with the show.

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Hey, everybody. Welcome back to Drive On. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And today, my guest is Paul Vann. Paul is the founder and president of Wealth Building Academy, which is a leadership consultancy based in Fort Washington, near Washington, D. C. Before [00:02:00] he became an entrepreneur, though, Paul served over 20 years in the U.

S. Air Force. He retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after serving 12 consecutive years in the Pentagon and a year as a Capitol Hill fellow working with a member of Congress in the US House of Representatives. So definitely a distinguished career there. So welcome to the show, Paul. I’m really glad to have you here.

Paul Vann: But Scott, first of all, thank you so much for inviting me to be a guest on your show. Amazing show because you’re helping military people and I love that. But it’s my honor to be here and also the fact that you’re also a fellow veteran makes it even great. We’re going to have a lot of fun, Scott.

Scott DeLuzio: I think so. Yeah, this, I, you know, I just through talking with you, uh, we, we met, uh, you know, a few weeks ago, obviously we, we talked for a little bit and, um, just kind of hearing a little bit of, of your story back then kind of just, uh, made me, made me think this is going to be a great episode. We’re going to, we’re going to have that, uh, episode.

Just that good connection, I think. And [00:03:00] we’ll be able to, to share quite a bit about your background and what it is that you’re doing now, uh, to, to help out folks, uh, you know, through, through your stuff, but we’ll get into that in just a bit. So, um, so I mentioned earlier, uh, you. Served 20 years in the Air Force.

Um, can you tell us a little bit about that? Um, you know, what inspired you to join the military? How did those experiences, uh, you know, kind of shape your, what you’re doing now?

Paul Vann: Well, Scott, great question. And when it comes to me joining the military, it didn’t start out too good for me, Scott. Here’s what we have. When I was growing up My parents had a black and white TV, and in the evening, the great Walter Cronkite would come on and he would be talking about the Vietnam veteran casualties.

And I told my parents, I’ll never serve in the military. Never did I know that I would serve 20 years, but what really changed my mind, I was a first [00:04:00] generation high school graduate, first generation college graduate, and two years into college, I decided I would go into the ROTC program, two year program at North Carolina State University. And I went to basic training for six weeks in Dover, Delaware. Close to the beach, Scott. What happened, I got up there, I did not know whether I would join ROTC when I returned. I had never flown on a plane before, and three weeks into the training, after getting up at five in the morning to Reveille, Inspections every morning, doing a mile and a half run, exercise, and then marching to breakfast.

Third week into the program, we flew on the flight. C5, the largest aircraft in the world, the length of a football field. We flew over Bermuda, which made me a little bit nervous, but I survived. I survived. And I thought, you know, this wasn’t so bad. And two weeks later, the entire training camp was flown to [00:05:00] Columbus, Mississippi, and we had what was called flight orientation, which meant we put on the uniform of a pilot in a two seat aircraft, and we flew up to 10, 000 feet.

And then all of a sudden the pilot said, Take the stick, this jet. So I took the stick and I flew a little while and then he started doing maneuvers Upside down wheelbarrows, and he asked me, he said, Paul, are you okay? I said, I think so, but I just can’t breathe that good right now. Well, we landed, everything worked out great.

We went back, finished off the encampment. I went back to ROTC and I just decided My buddy, Gary Hamby, is a fellow I met at basic training. He raised his hand, I raised mine. And so I went through the two year program. Fast forward, I graduated, received my business degree from Shaw University, and then a distinguished graduate of ROTC at North Carolina State University.

And then I came on active duty [00:06:00] and served my first four years at Scott Air Force Base in Dayton doing a lot of acquisition work, purchasing aircraft, that type of thing. And then I went to a program called Education for Industry in Atlanta, then I went to a Scott Air Force Base, and Scott Air Force Base was Headquarters Communications Command, and then after eight years, Scott, something just came to my mind and said, Hey, you know, I always wanted to work for the Fortune 500 company, and so I actually got recruited by Mobile Oil, and I worked in Houston and Beaumont, Texas for Mobile Chemical. And then, two years later, I received a recall to come back on active duty by this colonel from the Pentagon, from the Air National Guard, from the National Guard Bureau. And I thought, really? He said, yeah. Only problem, Scott, I was 30 pounds overweight, physically, in San Antonio in three weeks. And so in three weeks, I lost 33 pounds.

Scott DeLuzio: Wow. Okay.

Paul Vann: They’re just running and cutting out all the good Cajun food. [00:07:00] Worked over in New Orleans, eating all that good food over there. But I lost the weight and I came back on duty. And I served 12 straight years in the Pentagon. And worked for National Guard Bureau, Air National Guard Directors, Army Guard Directors, Foreign Military Sales Program.

And it was quite a experience. I would not trade, not one day, For that experience, I would do it again. I’d do it three more times because I just really enjoyed it. It was exciting. There was so much to do. Sometimes there were foreign military sales programs. We work with foreign governments or one day I find myself negotiating in the Dutch embassy.

on behalf of the U. S. government. And then eventually I came in with that, uh, that one year program with the Capitol Hill Fellowship Program. So I worked for a member of Congress in the U. S. House of Representatives, and he happened to be working on the House Armed Services Committee. So that’s really the reason why I ended up working with

Scott DeLuzio: Sure. Sure. [00:08:00] Well, I mean, that sounds like a pretty interesting career, especially, um, you know, getting out, you know, dipping your toe into the corporate world. And then, um, you know, like many of us do, we, um, we don’t keep up with the PT and the strict diets and, and, uh, you know, all the, the things that we’re supposed to do while we’re serving.

Right. We don’t, um, Necessarily keep up with that a hundred percent. I mean, some people do, but not everybody. And, uh, yeah, we track a bit and, uh, you get that recall notice and you realize you

Paul Vann: Oh yeah.

Scott DeLuzio: you gotta do something quick to fix that. Yeah. And, and you did though, and that’s the incredible part is you only had a few weeks to drop that weight.

And, um, I think. I don’t think if I just stopped eating for three weeks altogether, I would lose that much weight that quickly. I don’t know. Maybe I would, but, um, it just seemed like a, uh, you know, a huge task, but you, you were up to the challenge. So, uh, so that’s awesome. Um, so you’re [00:09:00] also. Involved in the, uh, the, the family readiness program as well.

Um, uh, through, uh, through the national guard. Is that correct?

Paul Vann: That’s correct. After I retired, um, I was offered the opportunity to come on as a contractor because I have a financial background, so I know how to move the money around. With the air guard, we had maybe 105 different units spread throughout the U. S. So. They knew by bringing me on Family Readiness, I can also do the budget piece for the Army Guard as well, which I had worked closely with the Army Guard anyway.

And, uh, what happened, I decided to go into the Family Readiness, and here’s the irony of it, I’m one of ten children, so I’m used to family, right? Five boys and five girls. So it was fitting for me to be working with Family Readiness. And what was great about it, Scott, is that it really gave me that hands on opportunity to work with families and make a difference.

At the time I was working with them [00:10:00] was Desert Shield, Desert Storm, after that. And so there were a lot of deployments taking place, so it really helped that I worked with those families at that time, because actually that’s part of what I did when I was, uh, On Active Duty, before that doing the legislative work, especially work with the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.

Scott DeLuzio: Now, could you tell us for the, for the listeners, maybe who aren’t familiar with what the family readiness program’s all about? Could you tell us, uh, what the program’s all about, uh, any specific support or, or things like that, that it provides to military families?

Paul Vann: Sure, and in fact, um, it’s one thing that I was not aware of even when I was on active duty. It really kind of came about, uh, probably over the last couple of decades, if you will, for the Guard. I know the active duty have it, but what they provide is connection with, let’s use the guardsmen as an example, and their families.

It guides them [00:11:00] from the first day they’re on duty throughout their career. And we know everyone is not Title 10, which is four time active duty versus a Title 5. It’s different. And what happens is they provide different services, health and wellness, financial. Uh, with housing, uh, education, spouse education, child care, all types of things, uh, even a person gets hurt with TRICARE and the children, uh, so they provide all kinds of services and for the Guard Reserve, they are part of, an intricate part of the community because everything is local.

They drill once a month, and, uh, the Guard and Reserve, and as a result, They ended up needing services. So when they meet on those weekends, these are the issues that they talk about, but it makes a big difference. And the source for them to get this information for military people, not only veterans, but, but active duty and the Guard and Reserve [00:12:00] is to go to Military OneSource.

So it’s www. MilitaryOneSource. com. Yeah, that’s www. MilitaryOneSource. And people say, okay, so how do I find the Guard and Reserve? They have a little box in there to ask, what are you trying to find? And what you do is you type in the words, National Guard Family Programs, and it will pull up the National Guard piece. And then you can find out the different locations by state.

Scott DeLuzio: Okay.

Paul Vann: And for, let’s say for the state of Arizona or the state of North Carolina, where I’m from, I would type in North Carolina, it would show me my unit, the 145th Airlift Wing out of Charlotte, North Carolina. So, uh, it would show everything. And I used to work in Arizona and Tucson with the 167th. And so I looked up there today just to make sure they’re still there.

They’re still there. And, [00:13:00] uh, a lot of my good friends and I looked that up. And so it will show you everywhere. And then for the Garden Reserve, you can look at the unit, at the unit level as well. And you can look that up. It has the phone numbers and everything in there.

Scott DeLuzio: And I think that’s especially important. I think it’s important across the entire military to have these family programs available, uh, to, to help out with things, especially when there’s deployments involved. Right. But, um, I think especially with regards to the National Guard, um, and reserve components where, uh, you may, you’re not, you’re not going to necessarily be in a military community when your, Your spouse or, you know, a loved one or something is deploying and having that connection to a military community where you may have people spread out across, you know, a pretty wide geographic area, maybe, um, Where they, they’re able to come together and, and meet and help each other and do different things together.[00:14:00]

Whatever those types of things are that they, uh, might, whatever types of services they might need. Um, you know, there is a place, uh, you know, where I was, uh, I was from, I was in the National Guard in Connecticut and

Paul Vann: right?

Scott DeLuzio: It’s not a big military community in Connecticut. I mean, there’s a, there’s a Navy sub base in, uh, in Connecticut, but outside of that, there’s not too much as far as, uh, you know, active duty or anything like that.

Military bases, you have to travel to New York, Massachusetts, somewhere around there to find other bases. And it’s, it’s pretty spread out, right? So, um, so when we deployed, um, It was kind of relying on the family readiness programs to kind of bring some of those families together, uh, as far as the resources go and things like that.

There was no, uh, base that they could go to and, you know, go, go seek services on, on the base or anything like that, at least not nearby [00:15:00] anyways. So, um, so those, those family programs are certainly important. Um, now in, in your experience dealing with these, uh, the, the families in these programs, what are some of the Challenges that these military families are facing, and how does the Family Readiness Program, uh, help them out with these challenges?

Paul Vann: and a great question because what happens is, uh, we know today that one of the greatest challenges that the military as a whole is facing is, uh, the mortgages. About 6, 000 people went through forbearance, which means they’re heading towards mortgage foreclosure. And then another 34, 000 are delinquent, meaning that they may possibly lose their house in the future unless the government does something to help them.

The government is part of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and they are the people who work with the VA, [00:16:00] and they put a pause on the mortgage foreclosures. But for about six months, so in May of 2024, uh, they are going to have to make a decision. The VA and the Congress in terms of how they’re going to handle the families.

So housing is number one. We don’t have a place to stay. Well, it’s just going to add up to the number of homeless veterans and the families. The second part is food insecurity. And this is something that just kind of blew me away because I did not know it was that bad, but it’s at 24 percent of all military have food insecurity.

In other words, what inflation has done for us, it has created a situation that it can’t keep up pace with it. So when the Federal Reserve was increasing those interest rates, they were doing harm to the readiness at the same time. Because they just don’t get pay raises that often.

Scott DeLuzio: Right, and when they do, it’s not enough, you know, to match that, right?

Paul Vann: [00:17:00] Exactly. So we have the national, the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, which just passed last week.

And, uh, it looks like the pay raise may be 5. 2%. Um, you’re going to have some increases in the E 6 and below where they’ll get increases, the junior enlisted. Um, they’re going to get some increases in the separation pay going from 250, 250 to 400. And then if a person is overseas. So there are some increases coming in, but even at 5.

2%, It still doesn’t keep pace with those half a percentage increases over the last 24 to 36 months. It’s just been too much. Some other challenges they’re facing is from a health and wellness standpoint. Everybody knows that that That pandemic did a lot of damage to all of us. We didn’t see it coming.

Not even me. I keep up with everything. I didn’t see it coming. And the next thing we know, we’re at home. Well, when we’re at home, that impacts [00:18:00] everything. Um, the supply lines. That were impacted with food, with, uh, everyday, uh, what we call kitchen table issues, bread, milk, etc. All of those things were impacted.

But when we look at the military families, it’s even more stagnant because we oftentimes have that separation. And, uh, what is also impacted, Scott, is the enlisted ranks. Military enlistments are down in all branches of the service except the Space Force. Because it’s a brand new, shiny object, right?

Everyone, if I was going back in time, I could do the Scott, you and I, we’d be trying to get to

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right. That’s right.

Paul Vann: We have the big budgets and everything. And, uh, but all the services I experienced in that, in fact, uh, about a month ago, maybe a little bit over a month ago, Uh, Dwayne, the Rock Johnson. He came to the Senate. He was heading to the Pentagon as well, went over there and spoke to them because he’s trying to help in his [00:19:00] efforts to increase the enlistment rate with our, uh, young troops. Uh, what’s happening is that they’re having problems with barriers to entry. And the barriers to entry include things such as not being able to pass the entrance exam. Obesity, um, criminal records, and drug use are just some of the things, so we’re trying to find ways to really get them excited about it again, and joining the military, that is a good thing. Now, granted, you know, Walter Cronkite scared the bejeevers off of me. He scared the hair off of me. I used to have long hair, but he scared the hair off of me. He’s a casualty, so the young people, just like I was, watching Walter Cronkite, were afraid of getting hurt, injured. are dying. And I’ll tell them, I said, well, I had that same fear, but I had it no more. I ended up serving 20 years. Unbeknownst to me.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right. Yeah. And, you know, that is a fear, [00:20:00] um, that, you know, anyone who’s enlisting or, you know, uh, Going into the, uh, to become an officer of any sort, they, that’s something that you have to realistically consider. It’s like, am I willing to do this? You know, and that’s, that’s a big ask to ask

Paul Vann: It is.

Scott DeLuzio: right.

But, um, but then you also have to think like, what is it that I’m actually doing? I’m, I’m serving something that’s way bigger than myself. Uh, and, um, you know, it’s, is this something that I’m willing to fight in? And die for, you know, by serving, serving my country or my community in cases of, you know, like National Guard, uh, troops, you know, where they, they are, um, uh, able to be deployed, uh, locally in their, within their state, you know, um, that, that’s, that’s something you got to think about.

Paul Vann: Absolutely. Absolutely. So, um, when we look at, uh, how families impact that, uh, we know when, uh, a guardsman or reservist, they go from that, um, part time status to full [00:21:00] time, Title X, then, uh, the family themselves are moved up as well. So they have to get some ID cards. They’ll need to get that because now they’re coming from the federal side.

And the way the tours have been happening, let’s say over the last maybe 36 months, there have been more Guard and Reserve deployments than active duty. And so we look at the Guard, the Army and Air Guard, we’re looking at about a little bit over 430, 000 people. Air Guard, maybe 100, 000. The Army Guard, maybe more in the three area, just looking at that, with a total population of active of 1.

5 for all services. So, Um, we could do a lot more to help, help our members of the military. Uh, we, we have to look at, uh, things such as taxes when tax season rolls around. They need financial assistance. Uh, again, uh, the finances is the really big issue now. Healthcare is [00:22:00] a big issue because we have fewer doctors now.

A lot of them retired. The pandemic really took a toll on them. They retired. Many of them just decided to stop altogether. They moved away, and that’s impacted the military as well. We have a shortage of pilots, of course, in the, in the Air Force, but we have an even larger In the healthcare arena because everyone saw that what happened and then the cases, people who didn’t take the, the, the vaccines and everything.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right. And you mentioned the pilot shortage. I think, uh, not too long ago, I saw a, a thing that they’re offering pilots, uh, like a 600, 000 bonus or something like that to stay on or, or, you know, uh, extend their, their, their contract or whatever. I was like, man, I went into the wrong field.

Paul Vann: I was in the right, but I couldn’t see.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, right, right. Yeah. I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t be able to do it [00:23:00] now, but, um, you know, back then, uh, I, I probably would have been able to, to, to do that, but, um, man, that, that, that is crazy. And, and it’s,

Paul Vann: That’s an incentive there.

Scott DeLuzio: that is, that’s a huge incentive, uh, that, that, that type of money. I mean, um, you know, there’s always some sort of bonuses out there for, you know, depending on the, uh, the MOS that, that you’re, you’re talking about, but, um, But that’s the biggest one I think I’ve ever heard, is, is that kind of money?

Paul Vann: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. That’s quite a bit.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. So, so we’ve been talking about the families and, and the family readiness and, and things like that. Um, with regards to community engagement, maybe outside of the military community, but just folks in, you know, towns or cities and, and things like that, uh, just folks being aware of what military families are in need of.

[00:24:00] Um. You did recently a, a speaking tour in support, in support of the, uh, National Military Family Association. Um, how did that, uh, that speaking tour impact, uh, those, those places that you visited and, and as far as raising awareness and what types of stuff did you, did you talk about with those, uh, communities?

Paul Vann: Sure. And, and thank you for asking that, Scott. Uh, the National Military Family Association has been around for about 50 years and it’s a non profit organization. And, um, I’ll give you their website. It’s www. militaryfamily. org because they’re of course a non profit, but what they do is they connect. and provide oversight for all the military families.

Things such as the continuity within the communities. They go to Capitol Hill and they advocate on behalf of the military families. They advocate on behalf of pay increases, better health care, child care. [00:25:00] They provide scholarships to the spouses, the women. Uh, provide them with scholarships and some with also with job opportunities.

So, they are a critical part of the process. Now, when I went on the 12th City Speaking Tour, it was the very first time this was ever conducted. And they have these programs you may have heard of called Operation Purple. And they’re summer camps and they’re for youth. But of course, if we’re talking youth, we’re talking about the family as well, because we want the students to have a great experience and their parents happen to be in the military, so I went on this 12 City Speaking Tour.

I’ll tell you where I went. Started out in Pennsylvania, um, and the young lady who was captured in Iraq, Jessica, uh, she was there, um, and she was, she was captured, I believe, in Iraq.

Scott DeLuzio: Yes. Yeah. Uh, it was a Jessica, uh, Lynch. Is that what?

Paul Vann: He was one of the speakers on the first part there in Pennsylvania. Then when I left there, I went to [00:26:00] Utah, out to Hill Air Force Base. Then I went to Ohio, where I actually had my first duty station at Wright Patterson. in that area. Then I went to Georgia, well, North Carolina, uh, my home state. Then I went to Georgia, Warner Robins, Georgia, which I used to work at when I was, uh, just starting out in the Air Force.

Then I went to Florida. Then I left there and I went to Montana. The most beautiful state on the planet, a beautiful place. And we, I spent several days there. Then I went to Tacoma, Washington. I spent about nine days out there in the Seattle area. And at that point I broke my luggage. The wheel just broke from all the travel. bought a new bag at Fairchild Air Force Base. Then I flew to Hawaii. Then I went out to Guam. And I spoke at Pearl Harbor out there in Honolulu. And, uh, then I left there and I went to [00:27:00] Oklahoma, and then I went to Texas. And finished up in Texas, beautiful place up in Texas, and what I talked to the youth about was resilience, how to be resilient in the absence of your parent who is serving a duty, getting them to think in terms of just being more responsible.

Volunteering to help in the community, help their family, uh, doing the right thing, uh, with their grades, uh, some who are old enough to get jobs, applying for college, and, uh, just being a, a, a asset to the family more than anything else. So I, I gave them that, that resilience piece, and this is actually a book that I created for them.

You can see it

Scott DeLuzio: Okay. Yeah.

Paul Vann: Our military youth, our greatest asset, and so I talked to them. I’ll just pass on just a few items here, um, trying to have normalcy in their life, uh, reassurance that everything is going to be fine, which we know is [00:28:00] tough when you and your parent is gone in war, um, have humor in their life, uh, find, uh, creative outlets and, uh, communication, being able to communicate and then have courage Uh, be outstanding at whatever they do, excellence, perseverance, and, uh, that’s primarily, uh, what that was about.

And, of course, the families were there as well, and, uh, these camps are still going on, uh, to this day. Uh, they’re not as many of them, but they’re still taking place. But overall, uh, what, what, uh, we’re doing is just, uh, giving the young children an opportunity to, uh, get some of that pressure out of their lives.

And then, of course, when the service member comes back, in some cases, both the mother and the father that were deployed. And so, coming back, you have to reintegrate the parents into that family. One or the other, or both. And so, that’s also a piece of it.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. I know when I [00:29:00] deployed, uh, coming back home, uh, we had, uh, my wife had just given birth to our first son, uh, probably a month or so before a month and a half, two months before I deployed. And so I came home and the whole family dynamic had changed because now we have this, this new little baby who’s living in our house.

And, and where, where do I fit in now? And, and trying to figure that out, that was not. That was not an easy thing to figure out, but I mean, my wife was great, uh, you know, not, not throwing me in the deep end with, with everything, parenting duties and all that kind of stuff. But, um, you know, it was, it was a struggle.

I’ve talked to other people that it’s a real struggle coming back home and trying to figure out how do I fit back in, especially when, you know, you might’ve left when. When your kids, uh, you know, obviously a little bit younger and he grows up over the course of a year, year and a half or however long it is that you’re gone and their personalities change.

How do you, how do [00:30:00] you get back into their lives and how do you, uh, you know, figure out your place, your role in the family again? And that, that’s, that’s a difficult thing. And so, yeah, having those conversations I think is, is definitely, uh, you know, a, a necessary thing to do.

Paul Vann: Oh, sure. And again, that’s where the Military OneSource come in because they do offer free counseling and that’s one of the great things, and they have wellness programs and de stress apps that people, you don’t even have to go anywhere. You can do it just like we’re doing this, you know, virtually. And so it works out really great.

But like you said, there’s that re engagement and the experience of that military member and what they saw. For And what they had to do, I mean, it is not easy. It’s not easy.

Scott DeLuzio: You know, when you’re living together with somebody, and you’re, you’re living Life day after day after day, you’re, you’re in the same house. You, you see people every day, maybe not 24 hours a day [00:31:00] because you know, you go to school, you go to work, you know, whatever, but you, you’re growing together. Things happen to you and they change, but that other person’s there with you and they see that change and they understand, okay, that’s why dad is a little bit different because this happened to him.

Maybe a car accident or got laid off from work or something. Maybe we can, we can rationalize that, right? But when you’re not there together and you know, somebody is deployed, they’re You know, uh, in a combat situation and, and then the rest of the family is at home and they’re going to school and they’re going to work and they’re going to do all the things that they normally do when mom or dad comes back and they’re.

A lot different than they were when they left, um, you know, a lot of things are different. It’s sometimes hard to be like, well, what,

Paul Vann: It’s very

Scott DeLuzio: what’s wrong with them? You know, uh, that’s, that’s a tricky thing. So I’m glad that those resources exist, like the counseling and the, um, you know, all the, the tools that are available for, for folks, uh, you know, like you said, like the, [00:32:00] the de stressing kind of apps and things like that, things that could just help.

Make things just that much easier to to get back into it. Right?

Paul Vann: And they also have a lot of, um, health and fitness, too. To me, that also helps a lot, because that takes away a lot of stress, and one can focus in on their own person, their own being, and they didn’t really have these programs when I was in there. They just didn’t exist. But with things being more virtual, it’s actually worked out to be a really great thing.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah It’s it’s nice that that the technology does exist that we can do things virtually like that I mean, there’s there’s pros and cons to it, right? Like obviously you don’t want to just be totally Isolated and just doing things on your phone or on your computer or whatever you want to be able to get out and And see people, but there might be that period of time where, where you’re like, I’m just not quite ready.

I’m not there yet, but I have this thing that can kind of help me get to that point and then I can go find [00:33:00] those other resources, you know, out in person, that type of thing.

Paul Vann: Absolutely.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Um, so going back to your, your days working on Capitol Hill, um, you also just kind of changing gears a little bit, but you also worked on a bill that was related to military funeral honor, uh, duties.

Can you talk about this bill and the impact on, uh, the military families and their loved ones and things like that?

Paul Vann: Sure. Well, um, one day I’m sitting at my desk on Capitol Hill and I get this tasking and the tasking comes in is that we have a constituent who is a World War II veteran and they had his funeral and they were trying to, the, the, um, funeral home was trying to schedule for the military honor duty. Work with the military to get them there, the VA to get them there, where they were not able to come up with.

Number one, uh, they had a problem. They didn’t have enough Buglers. Buglers were [00:34:00] retiring, they didn’t have people to come in and actually perform the duty. What’s required is two members at a minimum, and one from the service in which the deceased served in. So if there’s Air Force, it would be one Air Force, one Army, or Marine Navy, whoever.

And, uh, what happened, they didn’t have the budget for it either. And so this bill, House Resolution 2283, was a bill to enhance the military funeral honor. So now we’re gonna go, we’re gonna pay these service members, I think it started out at about 50 for them to come out. And so they would come out and perform that duty, have the bugler, or they would have a recording.

People prefer not having a recording, actually having the bugler there. And then having the military funeral honor detailed. And they have the flag, and they present Present that flag to the family. And so I work with the VA. I work, I never thought I’d work with the funeral directors from the whole country, Scott, but I did. [00:35:00] It was really interesting because, you know, we know death is a part of life. It’s, it’s gonna, it’s gonna happen to all of us. And so I learned a lot in that, that particular, um, uh, experience. And, and so what it did, it’s made it so it’s better. So I look up the military funeral honor duty process today just to see how everything is going.

But they have it in the, the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, which will be signed by the president very soon. And so they’re still trying to make it even more modernized and even more. So all members receive it. If you receive an honorable discharge, then you’re going to have a military funeral either at Arlington Cemetery, or you’re going to have it in a state cemetery for veterans, Veterans Cemetery.

And so that, that’s, that’s really how it worked. But to me, The military funeral honor detail, going back to the story that, remember, you can only do it right one [00:36:00] time. In other words, if you blow it, and they don’t show up, you can never redo that. And that’s why it’s so important, but, uh, the bill that I wrote, I drafted the language up, and then I had to give it to a legislative lawyer, and then he put it in the legal lease, uh, how it’s supposed to read, you know, for the, uh, budget. And, uh, it, it did make a difference. And I’m fortunate that when I was being promoted, I got promoted when I was on Capitol Hill, when I was in that Capitol Hill fellowship. And I, unbeknownst to me, I had a picture where I was actually being pinned on and a picture of the bill.

Scott DeLuzio: Really? That’s awesome. Yeah. That’s a, that’s a great combination to have, right?

Paul Vann: Blew me away because I, they surprised me. They caught me off guard.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s, that’s great that, that’s a nice, uh, little surprise to, to have there. Um, but the reason why I, I wanted to bring this up. Obviously this does impact military [00:37:00] families because, you know, the, the loss of their loved one, um, that is a stressful, it’s a. Possibly traumatic time. It, uh, you know, it, a lot of emotions are going into this.

And one of the things that you want to do, um, for anyone who’s served is you want to be able to honor that military service, if that’s the wishes of that, that person and, um, you know, having the proper. Military honors there and especially having their, their branch represented there. I think it’s really important.

Um, you know, you can’t, but I understand you also can’t do it for free and have, you know, you know, there there’s costs involved and, and, and there are things like that. So there, unfortunately, you know, a bill like this does need to, to exist to, you know, provide the funding and that type of thing. But, um, But now that it [00:38:00] exists, um, you know, I’ve been to several military funerals, um, and everyone that I’ve been to, uh, there’s, and I, I’m not sure when this, this bill passed, um, but.

Paul Vann: Yeah, this one, it was in 1999.

Scott DeLuzio: Okay. So

Paul Vann: There have been some that have come after that, of

Scott DeLuzio: sure. So maybe they improved upon it, uh, you know, since then, but, um, every single one that I’ve been to, there’s been, uh, a live bugler there. Uh, you know, the, the 21 gun salute, they had the, you know, the, the flag, the every, the whole nine yards, what you would imagine a military field to be like all the bells and whistles that it was there for every single one of them.

And, um, you know, so from a, uh, yeah. Uh, a Gold Star family member. I lost my brother in Afghanistan. And so that was one of the funerals that I’m referring to. Um, I want to

Paul Vann: my, you know,

Scott DeLuzio: for doing all

Paul Vann: You and your mother and your family, because I know that’s not [00:39:00] easy, Scott. That’s not easy,

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, and it’s not, right, it’s not easy for anyone, but I think having that, um, that respect, that honor, uh, that, you know, bestowed upon him was, uh, I don’t want to say it made it easy, obviously, it was still a hard time, but, um, but it was, it was good knowing that there were people there who, quite frankly, who gave a damn, and,

Paul Vann: right? Who care.

Scott DeLuzio: exactly.

You know, so, and, and they were willing to come out, uh, you know, and, and do the, the proper honors, you know, um.

Paul Vann: And, and he deserved it. And your family deserved to have that honor bestowed upon him because, um, to say they did not provide it that way. It would have been not a good situation and, and that’s really the reason why I ended up writing that bill to help that process along. Um, for example, the member [00:40:00] I work for, they were in the minority in terms of their, the House was concerned.

And so a lot of times your bills don’t get presented, but I was able to get it bipartisan, you know, in the House and the Senate. So,

Scott DeLuzio: And I, I

Paul Vann: because everybody knows

Scott DeLuzio: I think that’s a, a, a good thing that, that, that went bipartisan, that, that, that politics didn’t come into it, like, like, uh, uh, like, we’re going to use this as some sort of, uh, you know, uh, leverage for, for some other bill or something, no, no, no, we’re going to come together on this one because it’s the right thing to do.

Paul Vann: That’s the right thing to do.

Scott DeLuzio: Exactly, exactly. So that’s great. I’m glad, uh, I’m glad to hear that, that that’s the way that turned out. Um, for folks who are unfamiliar with the Family Readiness Program, um, and maybe they’re, they’re listening to this and they’re like, Okay, I didn’t even know that this thing existed. Uh, how can military families get involved?

What are You know, what does, uh, that entail as far as like, how do they get [00:41:00] involved? Who do they reach out to? I know you mentioned there was a website, uh, but is there any other, uh, things that they should know?

Paul Vann: Well, what’ll happen, uh, they can go to the unit level and for example, I could go to Charlotte the hundred 45th and they will have a family program there and, uh, they will have the opportunity. Even, even now I can go in if I wanted to and volunteer with them. Um, and, and they might have a food pantry as an example, or they could have a PTA.

I was the PTA president for two years, Scott. I didn’t know I was that brave. Right there, Joint Base Andrews, and I was elected the first PTA president for a brand new school where my two kids attended school. I did it for two years. Um, first year we raised 25, 000 and second year we raised 25, 000. And a lot of it because there were competitions for if we sold cookie dough.

Cookie dough is a big thing. We [00:42:00] sold 13, 000 for cookie dough because the units on the base, Guard and Reserve and Active, were competing to see who could purchase the most. I loved it.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s great. That’s great. Well, you know, it’s raising money for a good cause and, uh, put a little, little competition in there, especially amongst military units. Um, you’re gonna, you’re gonna see those, those numbers take up real high.

Paul Vann: But going back to what you were saying, if we look at some of the units, they’re a little bit further out, they’re away from the active duty, then there’s a community right there. And it’s a guard or reserve community. And so they go to the family readiness at that unit level, and they can also go at the state level because everything kind of trickles up or down and, uh, they can go and volunteer or someone can help them with housing.

You know, a lot of people have that food insecurity, uh, healthcare. And then, you [00:43:00] know, the health and wellness aspect. That’s, that’s probably bigger than anything right now because, again, the pandemic was just overwhelming. It really was. It really

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. I mean, overwhelming for everybody. Um, but, but just trying to navigate life after, after all of that craziness, uh, you know, without some support, sometimes it, it might be, might be too difficult for some people, right?

Paul Vann: exactly, exactly. I think of most all the branches of service, though, the Guard and Reserve probably fared better because they’re used to that. They’re more used to not having as much as the active duty.

Scott DeLuzio: that’s right.

Paul Vann: And so, in my opinion, their coping skills will be stronger. Because they had less to lean on, or less resources, fewer resources, and I know through doing the budget I know they had fewer resources. Yeah, because I was made a comparison with Gene Cells, Levi’s Gene.

Scott DeLuzio: Okay.

Paul Vann: They sold [00:44:00] five billion a year. The Air National Guard’s budget was 5 billion.

Scott DeLuzio: Oh, wow. Wow. That’s an interesting comparison. Uh,

Paul Vann: Yeah. I was sitting there looking at it like, genes, readiness, genes, military readiness. It just didn’t add up. I’m like, you need more money in the budget.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. So, so you, you do have a finance background then looking at these numbers and making these kinds of comparisons. Right. Um, but, but that’s, that is an interesting way to look at it. Um, you know, how much you spend on one thing versus another. And, um, you know, Thank you. Yeah, those genes, uh, versus, you know, family readiness, what, what really is more important.

I mean, although I will say, depending on what year you’re looking at those numbers for, um, and probably when, when folks were, uh, you know, dealing with the COVID situation, they’re working from home, they probably weren’t buying all the dress clothes as much. They might have been in their jeans or maybe even sweatpants or [00:45:00] whatever, you know, whatever you can’t see on the camera.

Paul Vann: Yeah, and what I was just sharing is that was the Air National Guard’s total budget.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, yeah,

Paul Vann: Total family readiness. And I looked at it and I was like, something is not adding up.

Scott DeLuzio: that’s, and so you’re talking total budget for, uh,

Paul Vann: Total budget for the Air Guard.

Scott DeLuzio: the whole air guard. That is incredible. Um,

Paul Vann: Yeah, that was probably over 20 years ago, but just in comparison, I would love to see what it is today.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Yeah.

Paul Vann: The jeans,

Scott DeLuzio: would be interesting.

Paul Vann: the price of jeans have gone up.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, they, I mean, the price of jeans have gone up, but the price of everything has gone up too. So

Paul Vann: so I would say, uh, when we look at, uh, working in the community, there’s not, there’s never enough volunteers, but volunteers make the big positive difference. And [00:46:00] so, uh, when we look at it, there’s more than enough to go around, but there’s also a greater need now. I think the focus now should really be on the children because they, of course, are going to be, people say they’re going to be leaders tomorrow.

They’re leaders today because they have to make tougher decisions than I did when I was their age.

Scott DeLuzio: that’s

Paul Vann: Yeah, there’s uh, so we gotta work, gotta work things up through the children and get them into, because you know, I have a leadership background. And so we have to get our youth to understand leadership a lot better as well, because they’re going to be the ones running the country.

Scott DeLuzio: Well, and you know, it’s, it’s interesting too, because I was having a similar conversation to, uh, to this with my wife the other night, and we were talking about how even just the. Art of communication. Just the verbal conversation like we’re having, having right now where, uh, just being able to talk to somebody to maybe even find out what, [00:47:00] Hey, you got something going on that that’s, that’s maybe wrong with you.

Let’s try to help you out and try to talk to you and figure it out. Uh, my, my wife and I were saying, cause we, sometimes we’ll go, you know, walking around the neighborhood as early in the morning, um, you know, just before, before life starts happening. Right. But, but a lot of times you’ll see the kids waiting out for the bus at the bus stops and their, their faces are buried in their phones, you know?

And, and it’s like. Who are you talking to on that thing? Or what are you doing on it? There’s, there’s 10 kids standing there and nobody’s talking to each other. And, and so, like, as far, talk about leadership, I think one of the, one of the big things that you need to be able to do is communicate with people.

If you can’t do that, I mean, you’re, you’re shot, right? So, um, you know, I, that, I think, you know, I definitely think needs, needs some work. Um, you know, we,

Paul Vann: have two Generations Z children. I know exactly what you’re talking about. Here’s an example. I happen to see a payphone, you know, back in the day, you could put a quarter in there and talk to [00:48:00] someone.

Scott DeLuzio: I do. Yes, I do. Yeah.

Paul Vann: Show my kids that they freaked out. What? What? Then I said, what I did with my kid. My son is 17, so he’s still in high school.

My daughter is a sophomore in college. Okay, I want you to write me a letter. Not that you have to send it to me, but I want you to write me a letter. I want you to put the envelope the way it should be, okay? I want, here’s a check. I just want you to write a check to me and how to write check. And see, it’s those things is how I’m getting breakthroughs.

Well, you’re not, I’m going to actually pay this utility bill this month, but I’m going to get you to write it for me. I’ll sign. Okay, I want to send a book. I want to mail a book to someone. Okay, I need you to put the, the label on here and write down their address. See, I’m finding ways to kind of get around it.

And I need to really get you off that phone. So what I had my daughter do last year, she was, she finished up her freshman year. Each day, [00:49:00] I would give her a different tasking to write down. And I did that because I want to get her into the habit of writing.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah.

Paul Vann: And it works. And I have the notebook. And I told us what we’re going to do with this note, we can write a book. You’ve basically written a

Scott DeLuzio: Right. I, the other day I actually was working with my kids. I, I, I got the maps of our town and I said, okay, here’s three points that I want you to find on the map. And then I want you to highlight on the map, like what is the route that you would take to get from point A to point B to point C and then back to point A.

Um, and it was actually interesting because they were all able to find the points and their points that they’re familiar with anyway. So it wasn’t. Like, too difficult for them to do, but, um, they all came up with different routes, uh, going through the different streets and, and things like that. And, um, you know, some were, were more, uh, you know, just keep going on the straight line until you hit this road or whatever.

And others kind of looped around and, and squiggled, [00:50:00] you know, through, but, um, it was, it was actually pretty interesting and they enjoyed it too, you know?

Paul Vann: do it, but I’m like you, it’s gotta be communication because unless you dial a number to talk to someone, you will not be communicating,

Scott DeLuzio: Right.

Paul Vann: and um, but with a human being, you have to communicate. Or I would say, okay, when we sit down with my parents, you know, 10 kids, we rotate it whenever we ate. And so we communicated.

That was our parents way of communicating with us. So I said, okay, I want to do the same thing.

Scott DeLuzio: Interesting. Okay.

Paul Vann: of my children, she’ll talk. And, and, you know, we talk regularly, but one, he won’t talk. And again, he talked to the phone, but he won’t talk to a human. And I said, well, a phone can’t hire you for a job. I mean, you could talk to someone about a job, but that [00:51:00] phone, you have to communicate with people, a supervisor, the leader of the company, you have to communicate with people.

Scott DeLuzio: Sure.

Paul Vann: Yeah.

Scott DeLuzio: Absolutely. Yeah. Communication is key. Um, you know, and, and not just relying on the text messaging or the, you know, the, the social media or anything like that. It’s, it’s a conversation that we’re having right now, just getting a point across and, you know, maybe, maybe you say something that I don’t agree with and.

You know, I can tell you, hey, maybe here’s my point of view and we can talk and we can go back and forth and it’s just a way of communicating and, and as far as leadership goes, uh, you know, what you’re talking, bringing it back to that, um, it’s important, especially, uh, when there are disagreements to be able to communicate those and, and do that effectively.

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So, um, so you mentioned, uh, You know, sending out books and leadership, uh, stuff that you do, uh, tell us about the, the books that you have and, uh, workshops that you offer and the things that, that you do that people can get in touch with you and, uh, find out more about them.

Paul Vann: Fantastic. And I know, uh, people who are listening, they can’t see the book, but this is what it looks like here. I just, uh, published it. It came out in, uh, October and, uh, actually went to mass market in November. Leadership is Influence and I have here a three pronged approach. So if young people want to know how to become a leader, this is how they, they can learn right here.

And then, um, I’ve written two, three books total. I hit that point in my life where I just needed this. I was walking at, um, Joint Base Andrews. And Spirit came to me and said, write this book. I said, okay, I [00:54:00] can do that. It’s the toughest book I’ve ever written because I’ve, I didn’t ever write anything on spiritual, but I’m a spiritual coach.

Um, and so I just help people through how they can find what they’re about. And then this is the first book I wrote. This one talks a lot about what I did in the Pentagon and different things like that.

Scott DeLuzio: Excellent.

Paul Vann: uh, people can actually get the book at, uh, www. leadershipisbook. com. LeadershipIsInfluencedBook.

com And, uh, of course, someone else had the URL, so I had to add book in order to get it close.

Scott DeLuzio: I had the same problem with my book. I. Someone had it, and the thing was, they weren’t doing anything with it. Like when you go to it, it was just like a GoDaddy landing page kind of thing. Like there was no website to it. I was like, let the damn thing go so I can use it. Come on.

Paul Vann: Exactly, exactly. And so, you know, we go through that, and, uh, so, um, but [00:55:00] a book is just really a brochure. kind of introduction. And, uh, so what I do is provide leadership development programs. So a person, they want to learn about my program. They can go to www. paulvanspeaks. com. I was able to get that. There’s all the leadership. I have about eight modules in there and they can see all what I offer. I offer a lot of it to small businesses, corporations, colleges, and universities, and I can take people from A to Z in terms of how to help their talent management, how to coach people to success, open communication between a supervisor and the subordinate.

And so those type of things and um, so yeah, but if they go to www. leadershipisinfluencedbook. com, they’d be able to find everything there and that would definitely help them [00:56:00] out.

Scott DeLuzio: Excellent. Yeah. And I’ll have links to all of that in the show notes for the listeners to, uh, check out those, those books and find out more about, uh, you know, the, the type of stuff that you do. Um, so before we wrap up this episode, I, um, I always

Paul Vann: ready Scott.

Scott DeLuzio: I always like doing some humor, um, and adding some humor to the end of the episode.

Um, I, I like to laugh, the guests usually like to laugh, especially having another veteran on the show. We, we can

Paul Vann: Oh yeah.

Scott DeLuzio: some of this stuff, right? Um, and, and so, uh, I’m going to do this segment. I like to call it, Is It Service Connected? Um, And for the folks who aren’t familiar with it, uh, is it service connected?

It’s kind of like America’s Funniest Home Videos, um, military edition. We look at someone doing something stupid, a service member doing something stupid, and we try to, we try to predict whether or not, uh, whatever happened in the video would qualify for disability down the line. Is it service connected?

That, that type of thing. So, um, for the. The audio listeners, [00:57:00] obviously you’re not going to be able to watch this video. I’ll try to describe it, but your best bet is to go check out the episode on YouTube, Twitter, wherever this episode ends up. So, um, check it out there and, and that’s going to be your best bet.

So I’m going to get this video pulled up here so we can all take a look at it. Um, pull up here. So right now, um, for the listeners, what we’re looking at is it says, Caption on the screen, when you, you don’t see your Sergeant standing behind you. And right now, uh, looks like, it’s like maybe a Marine Corps uniform, uh, standing in the corner there.

Um, and I’m just going to have to hit play and see what happens here. Uh, gotta imagine it’s going to be, uh, kind of embarrassing. Oh yeah, it’s embarrassing. The guy walks out wearing a dress. He, he clearly lost a bet or something. Um,

Paul Vann: huh.

Scott DeLuzio: and his sergeant’s just standing there. Yeah, it was a Marine Corps uniform.

And he’s doing all these poses and he’s acting, and now he realizes it. He [00:58:00] realizes sergeant, sarge is there. And, uh, yeah, man, he really wished he didn’t lose that bet at that point.

Paul Vann: goin That’s a

Scott DeLuzio: that one, There is, there’s no disability for that. Um, unless you, unless he’s going the, the, uh, you’re old enough to remember this,

Paul Vann: yeah. Absolutely.

Scott DeLuzio: unless he’s going that route and he’s trying to, uh, uh, you know, try to try to get out on, on that.

Although I don’t know that that would work out these days. So, uh,

Paul Vann: Hot Lips Houlihan would have straightened him out. Now Scott you know I watch that show every week, right?

Scott DeLuzio: I, I

Paul Vann: Man! That’s

Scott DeLuzio: on when, when I was a kid, um, I would watch it, but, uh, it didn’t, you know, it didn’t. Make a whole lot of sense to me back then, but since then I’ve watched it on streaming on Netflix or whatever. I forget whatever it’s on, but, um, my God, is that a funny show? And it is hilarious [00:59:00] and all the hijinks and everything that they get into.

So, um, mash for the younger, younger listeners who have no idea what we’re talking about. Check that show out. Um, that is something that. Yeah, yeah.

Paul Vann: that’s an interesting thing because, uh, when I was going through the summit recently and uh I was pulling in high energy, cause that’s who I am. And the lady asked me, she said, I’m not, I don’t Are you sure you’re in the military? Cause military people don’t laugh and they don’t have humor. I said, this is what we do.

Scott DeLuzio: Oh, yeah. No, there’s humor. It’s, I think, maybe a different kind of humor than what you might have been expecting, right?

Paul Vann: I told her, I said, what you see on TV or in the movies, I said, that’s just acting. I said, in the real life, we talk to each other, we communicate, we have fun. It’s family. Yeah.

Scott DeLuzio: and we can, we can make fun of the other branches too. And since, since there’s no other Marine Corps veteran on the show right now, we can totally make fun of the, the, the Marine guy who [01:00:00] was dancing around in a dress, right?

Paul Vann: Exactly. Absolutely. Absolutely. And of course with me, uh, I was in the Air Force. My brother was 33 in the Army. My uncle was 22 in the Navy. My cousin was 20 in the Marines. So we had all branches of the service.

Scott DeLuzio: And, and, and those numbers you were throwing out, that’s how long they were in, right? Yeah.

Paul Vann: Exactly. Yeah.

Scott DeLuzio: so none of those are, are short terms. Those are all, you said 33 was one of them. Uh,

Paul Vann: Yeah. My brother, he retired three years ago this month.

Scott DeLuzio: wow.

Paul Vann: Yeah.

Scott DeLuzio: Good for him. Good for him. Yeah, and definitely a strong military family that you’re coming from. So,

Paul Vann: without a doubt. Without a doubt.

Scott DeLuzio: so thank you so much for taking the time to join us, uh, sharing the information about, uh, you know, the family programs and everything that you do to, to support the military and, um, and, and the families, uh, that are, that are out there.

Um, I really do appreciate not only your service and everything that you, you do now, but, [01:01:00] uh, appreciate you also taking the time to come on. So thank you.

Paul Vann: Well, Scott, I just want to say that you’re my brother in arms. And I want to thank you for honoring me, giving me the opportunity to be a guest on the Drive On Podcast. And I’m going to let everybody I know, know about you and about your podcast. So I thank you very much and many blessings to you and your family during this holiday season.

And again, I hold your brother in high esteem, my friend. Trust me. Yes, absolutely. And your mom, your entire family. I really mean it.

Scott DeLuzio: I appreciate that so much. I really do. So thank you again.

Paul Vann: Okay, thank you. Have a great day and keep up the good work on your great show.

Scott DeLuzio: Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, Surviving Son on Amazon. All of the sales from that book go directly back into this podcast and work to help veterans in need. You can also follow the Drive On Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, [01:02:00] LinkedIn, YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

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