Episode 371 John Berry The Value of Military Leadership Skills in Civilian Life Transcript

This transcript is from episode 371 with guest John Berry.

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.

Hey everybody, welcome back to Drive On. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And in this episode, we have the privilege of hosting John Barry, a, uh, distinguished army veteran, accomplished trial lawyer and CEO of Barry Law, uh, with a 20 year military career, including service as an infantry officer in Bosnia and a company commander in Iraq. John brings a wealth of leadership and experience to the table. Um, behind the courtroom, he is a, uh, dedicated to empowering veterans through his podcast, Veteran Led, inspiring them to apply military lessons in civilian [00:01:00] life, so. Welcome to the show, John. I’m really glad to have you here.

John Berry: And thanks so much for having me, Scott. It’s an honor.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, absolutely. So let’s just jump right into it. Um, let’s, let’s talk about, um, kind of some of the lessons, uh, that, that we all have learned during our time in the military, um, in leadership roles. Right. Um, how do you think that these lessons, uh, can be applied to civilian businesses? Uh, and.

And even, you know, day to day life and community, uh, you know, in, in your community, in your household, um, you know, different things like that. How, how, how are these things transferred from the military to the civilian side?

John Berry: The short version is, if you served even one enlistment, you have the basic skills to succeed, right? To survive, thrive, and dominate in your field because most civilians lack those skills. And it was, you know, this is one of these [00:02:00] epiphanies, you know, that took me a long time to realize. A lot of struggling before I got to the point where I realized that this is true.

So my father, a Vietnam veteran, um, defended the 5th Special Forces in Vietnam. There’s a murder case, it was called the Green Beret Affair, and he was successful.

And he came back, and he was practicing law, and he continued to help veterans with issues. Whether it was a divorce or, uh, say a DUI, something related to drugs or alcohol, or crimes of violence. And it all came back to post traumatic stress. But at the time, we didn’t call it post traumatic stress disorder.

It was called shell shock. Um, and, you know, the VA was constantly denying our Vietnam veterans. I mean, it’s bad enough the way we treated them when they came back. But a lot of them came back and no one was there to help them. My dad was representing a veteran, we’ll call him Tommy, who was homeless, living under a bridge in a major city, and Tommy [00:03:00] was an alcoholic, had a problem with drugs.

He had went to the VA in the 70s and filed a claim. Nothing happened with that claim, and one of my dad’s clients asked me to help him, and my dad helped him, and eventually Tommy got VA disability benefits, but more importantly, he got help. And he got clean. And so he got a large back pay award. He was able to buy a house, get treatment, get sober, start a family, and start a business.

And he had those skills the entire decade or more that he was under the bridge.

Scott DeLuzio: Right.

John Berry: And so, I mean, that’s really the genesis of it. Because everybody who’s represented veterans has that same story. And my dad’s story just goes back to He’d been helping veterans for such a long time. He was just doing it pro bono because that’s, that’s what you did back then and the law prevented lawyers from getting paid.

So that’s just, that was part of his practice because he was known as a trial lawyer and he was a Vietnam veteran. He just [00:04:00] wanted to help and so I was, you know, I became an infantry, my dad was an infantry officer first too, then he went JAG. I was an infantry officer that came off active duty and was told I was going to go logistics, uh, but So, while I was in the guard, I, you know, went through some tough times.

I was going through law school. I was starting to run the law, help my dad run the law firm, and I really didn’t know anything about business. I’d never taken a business class. And there was a, one of my commanders, I was telling him, I said, this is so tough. I, I just, I can’t keep up. I’m drowning. I don’t know how to do any of this stuff.

And this commander said, well, John, I got some good news for you. You don’t have to worry about that. You’re deployed with your company to Iraq. So, my orders are going south. But then I came back from Iraq, and I still had the same problem. And I had another commander who was a Scrum Master. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Scrum.

Jeff Sutherland, uh, yes, from The Arnum, but doing twice as much in half the time. He talks about the OO loop, the feedback loop. And this guy was a Scrum Master, and he’s like, John, like, this stuff is actually really easy. It’s [00:05:00] all basic leadership stuff. You learn in the military. If you can do that, you’re an officer.

Like, you know, NCOs can run huge companies because they have the basic skills. There’s really no reason why you can’t do this. And so, I listened to him and he, and he, Talked me through some of my, what I thought were major problems, and they really weren’t. They were simple leadership issues that we’ve all dealt with in the military.

And on my journey, I’ve had some of my, one of my prior, uh, previous squad leaders from when I, I was in infantry, ended up owning five CrossFit gyms and selling them, and then starting a logistics company. And so even, you know, it’s not just officers, even at the, the junior enlisted level. Like, look at J Dog Hollinger.

He was knee four. There are this, the basic skills to get us there. Seeing that over and over again. So that’s what, what Veteran Lead is about. It’s just empowering veterans saying, you know what you need to do to get there. You know what you need to do to be successful. I don’t care whether it’s a nonprofit or a business, you have the basic skills because most importantly, [00:06:00] you know how to build a tribe.

You don’t have to build a team. You know how to build something that has a purpose. And, you know, for many of our veterans, the clients, they would get their VA disability benefits. It’s kind of like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. All of a sudden they’re getting that money. Now what? Now what? Now I can, I can feed myself, I can take care of my family, uh, where’s my purpose?

And so that was, that was my position, because I had a lot of clients come back to us and say, this is awesome, thank you, they get the big back pay award, the VA is now paying them money every month, they’re getting medical treatment, and things are good, but then it’s like, but what’s next? And, and so You know, I thought a lot about that, and I thought, well, you have all these skills that this, our civilian counterparts absolutely lack.

This is your opportunity. And it also disgusts me the way society looks down on the veteran community. They should look up at us. We have the skills. We’ve done it. You know, we’ve raised our hand. Support and defend the Constitution of the United [00:07:00] States. And many people didn’t, and it was open to all of us, and those of us that chose to do that showed that we could be committed to something.

And so that’s why at very low, we love to hire veterans because they understand leadership, they understand how to accomplish a mission, mission first, people always. These are things that look like this is easy in the military, but in the civilian world, you forget that most people have never experienced this.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right. And I think so many of us who have served, we take some of this stuff for granted. Some of the, um, the, the training that we’ve had, some of the experiences that we’ve had, um, even, even like you said, on a junior enlisted, uh, person that they, you know, when, when I was in, um, they, they told us, you know, That you should be expected to be able to do the job of two ranks above you, or in some cases more.

Um, and so if you’re, you’re like, Oh, [00:08:00] I was just a, you know, an E3 or, or something like that. Well, okay, well that E3 at some point may have been expected to do an E5’s job. Uh, at some point, so you probably had, maybe you didn’t have all the training and everything that the E5 had, maybe you didn’t go off to, you know, the NCO school or whatever, you know, from each branch, they all have, you know, their own, uh, you know, different training and stuff, but maybe you didn’t go through that, but you’ve had some experience anyways, where you’ve, you’ve had people that you had to, uh, lead and influence and, uh, you know, get.

Results from, you know, whatever it was that you were doing. And so, uh, you know, even some of the most junior people have these skills. We just don’t realize it because we think I, in my, my opinion, anyways, we’re, we’re, we’ve got like blinders, like military blinders where it’s. It’s just the military, uh, that this stuff applies to, but what you’re saying, and, and I think a lot of [00:09:00] us can, can maybe understand is it doesn’t just apply to the military.

Um, this applies to all aspects of our life and especially, you know, in a business sense, um, it’s, it’s real easy to, uh, apply some of this stuff, uh, to, to the civilian side of things as well. In, in your opinion, your experience, what aspects of the military training, um, do you think had the most, uh, impact on, uh, individual growth past the military?

John Berry: Team building.

Scott DeLuzio: Team building. Yeah. I was going to say it was probably going to be something along those lines, team building, right? Because you don’t like, especially in the military, you don’t accomplish anything on your own. It’s always a team effort. Right. And, um, when. You have, uh, you know, a business, the business of one person isn’t going to go very far.

Um, you, you’re going to [00:10:00] have to rely on a team of people of, you know, even if you’re an entrepreneur and you’re starting your business, you know, a solo, uh, business, you’re going to have to, you know, hire some people, even if they’re. Third party contractors, right? Where you’re going to, you’re going to have to have your, your accounting and your finance and finances and your legal and your marketing and, and sales and all different things like that.

You’re gonna have to figure out, uh, how to get that done. And maybe you’re part of that. Um, you’re definitely going to be part of it, but you have to have other people. Who are better, smarter than, than you are at some of those other things to be able to accomplish what it is that, that you want to do, which is, you know, running a successful business.


John Berry: Well, and Scott, I mean, let’s even go back to basic training. What’s the first thing you do? You had your buddy team, right? And that buddy was there, and you had to lead that buddy. And sometimes your buddy was a superstar. Sometimes your buddy was a dirtbag, and you had to carry that buddy. The thing is this, right, if [00:11:00] you can, if you can lead, if you can’t lead yourself, you can’t lead anybody else.

If you can’t meet the standards, the individual standards, then you’re not even going to be on the buddy team. They’re going to, they’re going to kick you out. They’re going to re, or maybe get retrained, recycled. But you have to lead yourself. But once you can have the discipline to lead yourself, then you’ve got to lead a buddy.

And then once you can show you can be part of a buddy team, then You eventually, you may get some leadership positions in basic training, but eventually you get to your line unit or your, your, your, your initial duty station. And now Now you’re part of a team, and you have to function as part of a team.

And people don’t care whether you as the individual fail, so long as the team succeeds. And I’ve known some horrible officers with strong NCOs who make it. And I’ve made, I’ve known some strong officers with horrible NCOs who fail. And it really comes down to being able to lead that team. And some of it does have to do with, with luck.

Fortunately, in the civilian world, we get to choose our team members. But, yes, if you, you know, I see all these Young kids, and they want to go out there, and they [00:12:00] want to be entrepreneurs, and run these big companies. And they’re not even disciplined enough to lead themselves. So when I talk about team building, I say the first thing is you have to have the discipline to lead yourself.

But then you have to be able to build and lead the team. Build your tribe. I’ve noticed that a lot of young leaders want to immediately be in charge of everything, and you know, it’s like, hey, if you can’t get results on your own, You can’t lead a team. And when you have that buddy there, those results should be amplified or magnified.

That buddy should be helping you. It shouldn’t be 1 plus 1 is 2. It should be, you know, One, one plus one is 56 because you’ve got a buddy right there who, who all of a sudden is making you better. Right. It is. And you’re growing along with him. And you know, I, I hate hearing from the people who say, well, you know, yeah, I can’t really work well with this guy, but man, I could lead a team of a hundred.

I’m like, look, if you can’t work well with one person, you aren’t in charge of Jack shit. And Jack just left town

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right.

John Berry: from nothing learned that, you know, it [00:13:00] starts with personal accountability, but man, I would just tell you that is the key to scaling is to build a team. And to do that, you have to have some humility to say that if I really want to be successful, I need to surround myself with people that are better than me.

And I may have a unique ability that I bring to the fight that I can contribute, but I’m foolish if I start, if I’m going to build a team of people who I consider to be lesser, uh, I shouldn’t say, well, I would say less, less successful or have less potential for success than me. Because as, as we develop a team, the team wants to win.

And if you’re the best at everything, it’s never going to happen. You are the constraint. You’re the bottleneck. You’re the choke point.

Scott DeLuzio: And you, you almost become the competition against those other people if you don’t bring them into the circle. Right. And, and then now they’re not on your team trying to help you. Now they’re, they’re off. Helping other people who may be, uh, competitors, right? And, and that might not be [00:14:00] in your best interest.

And I think everybody is good at something. They have that core thing that they are, they’re really good at, but not everyone is really good at everything. And you want to get people who are really good at those other things that you’re not really good at, and you want to bring those people onto your team.

Right. And I know when, when we went to Afghanistan, when, when we were deployed to Afghanistan, um, we were, you know, trying to get like the best. Everything for our platoon, for our squad, for our team. Like as we were, as we were going over there, it’s like, okay, I want, I want the best equipment. I want the best, uh, people on my team.

I want the best. Of everything, because we wanted to be successful. We wanted to go out and, and kick [00:15:00] some ass, you’re not going to do that with mediocre subpar, uh, you know, equipment or team in general, the team makeup that, that you are going out there with. So we wanted, we wanted to make sure we had the best of everything and, you know, go out and.

And kick some ass. Right? That’s, that’s the way you do it is make sure that your team is, is solid. And, and that’s, you know, what you’re, you’re talking about here is, is that teamwork. Um, and whether you’re the leader or you’re an individual contributor, the You’ve been on a team at some point in the military, you know how teams work, um, you know, and, and that’s why I think even, um, taking even back a step further from the military, even before you even get into the military, that’s why I’m a big proponent of, like, for my children, uh, you know, Having them play sports, like team sports, [00:16:00] you get to know how a team works together and you get to know how that one weak link, uh, you know, who can’t throw a ball or can’t catch or can’t whatever, you know how that weak link affects the whole team, um, because that one person It could be the difference between you winning a game and losing a game.

And, and so you want to be that team player who’s, who’s helping those people out to build them up. You don’t want to knock them down because there’s, whether you like it or not, they’re on your team. And you want to, you want to make sure that, um, that those people are put in positions where they. Are strong or stronger, you know, and not going to be, uh, you know, a detriment to the overall team and the success of the team.


John Berry: Absolutely. I mean, your fragile ego will probably be the thing that if your team fails, that’ll be it. Because you’re too scared to get people who are better than you on the team. Look, right [00:17:00] now, uh, my Chief Information Officer, she knows more about IT than I will ever know. I mean, I am incompetent in her world, right?

Same thing for my Chief Operating Officer. He knows more about operations. My CFO knows more about finance than I will ever know. Um, my HRO, she knows Everything about HR, benefits, all the stuff I don’t even want to know about in terms of policies, regulations that just make my head spin, right? My head of marketing, my head of sales, they are all better than me.

And I owe the team that. I said, look, we’re putting together a championship team. That’s it. And I only want the best. And if you join my team, my promise to you is I will continue to hire the best people I can. I will do what I can to pay for them. I’ll try to afford them. But, uh, you know, this is my biggest investment as a team.

Because I will tell you, from first lessons learned, there is nothing more expensive than a cheap employee. Not only when you get someone who you don’t want to pay, you know, when they say, uh, Pay Peanuts, Get Monkeys, but if you don’t pay them what they’re worth and you can’t bring in that real talent, [00:18:00] the entire team struggles.

And you, get the knife hand in here, you the leader, it’s your fault because you were too scared to bring in real talent. Maybe you didn’t want to pay them, maybe you were worried they were going to take over any better than you, but here’s the thing, if I have somebody leave and they’re good, that’s my fault.

I didn’t build that bigger future for them. I didn’t challenge them and I didn’t deliver on my promise. And so, For me, I take it personally, not in a bad way, but I’ll just tell you my last Chief Operating Officer, he left. He was, you know, to, to become the CEO of a company three times the size of ours.

That’s a good news story. He went from being a staff officer to a commander. I lost him because I couldn’t give him that opportunity. I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t big enough. I couldn’t, I couldn’t deliver. So do I hold that against him? No. That, is that a failure as a leader? I don’t know, maybe, but it’s a good news story.

Like, I want people who grow into something better. And it’s just like, you know, I mean, you were an NCO, you had soldiers that, you know, you would see them Become even better soldiers than you. And you didn’t get jealous, [00:19:00] you would be proud and say, Man, look at that soldier. I say that with one caveat. I was there for the sea change.

I was, my first deployment as a platoon leader in Bosnia, pre, you know, pre 911. A lot of the junior enlisted that were coming into the infantry those days, were, hey, it was either flip burgers or go to Job Corps, uh, or go in the military. And so, the, I would say that the skill sets were different. Then when I, uh.

Transition to the National Guard. I got out in the summer of 2000 because Bosnia and Kosovo blew up, and I’m like, oh, well, you know, nothing happened. Like, this was it, right? Like, this was, like, supposed to be the big thing, and it ended up being a peacekeeping mission. So summer of 2000, I decided I’m gonna go to law school, and I stayed in the Guard.

I got tuition assistance, and yeah, 9 11 happens, right? I’m thankful I’m still in the Guard. But, uh, then when I deployed as a company commander in 2005, the junior enlisted soldiers of my company had PhDs. These were smart kids. I, you know, it was, it was an E4 with a [00:20:00] PhD trying to pay off school or there because they want to serve their country.

All of a sudden the junior enlisted just got way smarter. And so as a commander, you know, I had to, I had to up my game because yeah, I’ve got a, I’ve got an E4 that’s smarter than me. You know, the E4 mafia was even stronger then because they were a whole lot smarter, uh, post 9 11.

Scott DeLuzio: And, and they, they would take advantage of the, that, uh, the smarts and, uh, I, I, I found that out as an NCO, uh, you know, all, all, all, all, all too often that they, uh, they could outsmart me and I was not going to, uh, you know, best them at their game. So, uh, it was like, almost like why bother even trying at that point.

But, you know, you brought up a point, you know, you know, if you’re, you’re paying, uh, you know, people peanuts and expecting, you know, greatness, um, it’s not going to happen, right? Um, you, you, you’re going to end up losing those people because they’re going to find a better opportunity where someone else is going to be willing to pay them more money.

Um, and. [00:21:00] You can’t fault them for that. I mean, you know, you’re going to do the same job one place versus another and you’re getting paid more, obviously you’re going to go where you’re going to get paid more unless there’s, you know, better opportunity at the place for advancement and growth and all that kind of stuff.

Right. But, um, you really can’t. Fault them for that. And there’s a saying, um, you know, that if you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur and, uh, that, that just goes to talk to the point that, um, you know, you might pay the amateur a whole lot less upfront, but the amateur is going to take 10 times longer to get the job done, or it’s going to be done wrong and it’s going to have to get redone two, three, four, five, six times, and it’s.

It’s just not going to be, uh, you know, worth the effort. So it’s better off going with the professional, uh, paying them, you know, the, the rate that they, they, uh, deserve and, and going from there. Right. But, um, it, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to, uh, um, [00:22:00] to skimp on that. And, and. And think that you’re going to get away with, with getting greatness out of, uh, out of that, you know, it may work for the time being, but it’s not going to last too long.


John Berry: No, it is, it’s the worst thing you can do. And I, I mean, I can give you so many examples of, uh, as one of my team members called it, uh, The gift that keeps on giving where you get somebody and screw up and you have to deal with those mistakes for years afterwards, right? And so it’s, uh, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

So if you, it’s just not, it’s not like, Oh yeah, you might save a little bit of money, but here’s where you lose the money. Your frustration and your time in dealing with it. It’s going to pull you the leader away from your mission and your objectives. And so. You, the growth of the company slows and your mental health, your wellbeing, because now you’re dealing with somebody who is incompetent and you have to, or, or worse, right?

And you have to, you have to deal with that, or you have to terminate them. And then you have to go through the whole, uh, head trash of like, Oh my gosh, [00:23:00] like I’m ruining this person’s life. I’m going to fire the family, whatever. When in fact, they’re probably miserable working for you because you’re not paying them enough anyway, or they weren’t qualified to do the job.

So now your team is thinking you’re incompetent because you didn’t hire Someone worthy or, or, or, or someone with the right credentials. Uh, so you’ve lost the respect of the team. You’ve long term you’ve lost money because somewhere along the line, you’re failing to service your customer. Someone has to pick up the slack from them and maybe you’re losing customers, uh, or, or your, your work product isn’t as good, but then, you know, once they exit the organization, you’re going to find everything they did wrong.

Some of the best advice I got, and this is back in the paper days. So let me take you back about 20 years back. It was like, Hey, after you terminate someone, sit at their desk for about an hour and just go through it. And now I say they’re computer, but you’d be amazed at the stuff that you’ll find and you’ll realize like, man, I should have, I should have let them go a while back.

And then of course, there’s always the conversation where I’ve had team members that I’ve hired, uh, cheaply and it’s not working out, but I, I don’t have the guts to send them on their way because I [00:24:00] feel like I have a heart, but it’s not that I don’t have a heart. It’s, it’s, I don’t have the guts. And then inevitably what happens is they’re unhappy and they’re like, well, when it comes to termination, like, well, why didn’t you do this sooner?

You knew I was struggling.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah.

John Berry: And when I could have given them a recommendation and set them up and sent them off somewhere where they could have been successful. I knew they weren’t going to be successful here for months, and I didn’t have the guts to pull it off. And, uh, you know, that’s one of those things that I regret.

You know, as a leader, uh, you know, especially during deployments, you can think of all your, the mistakes that you made and the impacts that it had on other people’s lives. And once you’re a leader in the community, it’s the same way. Those decisions have impacts, and you really need to think through those things.

Um. You know, should everybody re enlist? Well, that’s what you’re pumping through the organization, right? Because everybody cares about recruiting and retention. But, you know, I had soldiers that based on what they wanted, what their families wanted, it was a horrible idea for them to re enlist. But I kept selling it because that’s what I was supposed to do as a leader, to pump that recruiting and retention.[00:25:00]

Scott DeLuzio: Right. And like you said, not, it’s not a good fit for everybody. Um, they, they might be miserable doing what they’re doing, but you’re, you’re trying to sell it to them and make it seem like, oh, It’ll get better. It’s almost like a bad relationship where, you know, abusive relationship where, where you’re, uh, you’re, Oh, things will be different next time.

Well, no, they won’t. It’s going to be the same stuff that, you know, the military hasn’t changed that much. And it’s not going to change just by you reenlisting, you know, um, you know, you’re, you got other life circumstances that you’re dealing with as well. And, you know, just look at the overall picture of what this person is dealing with.

Um, Just try to figure it out. Like, is this a good fit? And, uh, you know, as, uh, as you were talking about before with, with your, uh, employee who, who went off and, uh, was very successful, it’s like, okay, that, that’s a success story. And that, that you should be listening. Happy about [00:26:00] that. That person is being successful.

And if this person, uh, who’s in the military and is not being successful and they go off and they do great things and they become a success in the civilian world. Well, okay, good for good for that person. Um, you know, let’s be happy and celebrate that. Like this was a part of their life and a part of their, their background and their training is, was the military, um, serve them for the time that they used it.

But yeah. You know, it’s no longer serving them, so let’s, let’s, uh, celebrate it when, when they go off and they are, uh, they are successful elsewhere.

John Berry: And I think that’s really important, Scott, the team understands this. Because I always say, look, nobody’s going to train forever. And, you know, there’s going to, as we grow, I had a great team member that, you know, by the time we hit about a hundred employees, he was like, man, I was happy when we were at 10 and he’d been around a long time.

And he just, you know, he didn’t, he didn’t want to be, he didn’t want to be around anymore. I had somebody that got off the train when we hit about. 20. And so, so I had a lot of long time viewers. I can tell you the story of the guy that got off the train when we got to 20, [00:27:00] 30, 50, you know, and there was all different reasons.

Uh, and, and one guy, he was all about growth, all about growth, all about growth. And then all of a sudden he just said, you know, no, like I, I, I want something different. I’m burned out. I’m tired. But even me, when I find someone who can do this better than me, uh, I’m Take it, because the mission is more important, is more important than, than me.

And, uh, and that’s how we have to really, really look at it, uh, and let our team members know that, too, that, hey, like, it’s the mission. It’s our service to our clients. And lucky for us, we serve America’s heroes. We serve veterans. So, it means something to us. And, and over 30 percent of our team members right now are veterans.

And so, they get it. Now, I wish I could say I have 100 percent veterans, but truth is, you get the, Under qualified 04, that major who never should have been a major, you get that, you know, that, that, that, that, that 15 year, uh, E4, right? So not everybody in the military is going to be a superstar on the outside, right?

They’re just [00:28:00] not. Uh, we have dirtbags in the military. It’s just, but, but generally speaking, because we know how to build teams and we know how to roll up our sleeves and work, and we understand the importance of our mission. Generally speaking, when we hire military, it makes a huge difference. And I figured this out, you know, I don’t know if you remember this, but I remember I would either have a company commander or a first sergeant.

It could come into a unit and like within three days, they’re changing everything. That doesn’t work in the civilian world. In the civilian world, you want to bring in someone that has the power of a first sergeant or company commander, it’s going to take you 60, 90 days, maybe even a year, to fully onboard them and give them all that power.

But the reason why it works in the military is because that company commander has already Probably been a commander before, or that first sergeant’s at least been a platoon sergeant before, and when they come into that new organization, they’re not new to the culture. They don’t need to learn a whole lot.

They already know what they know, and they can come in and start making changes immediately. It doesn’t work that way in the civilian world. They have to assimilate to the culture and figure out what’s going on. [00:29:00] But I run our organization like a battalion. I’ve got, hey, I’ve got the staff. Who makes decisions like a battalion staff.

Then I have commanders. I have our veterans practice commander, our personal injury factor, our criminal defense commander. These three company commanders run their companies. And the staff does the staff work. And I give them a lot of autonomy. And it’s because we have so many veterans on our team that they get it, right?

Oh, we have a chain of command. Follow the chain of command. Uh, we understand the importance of our mission, and like I said, we’re, we’re serving veterans, so we don’t want to let our, let our heroes down, and so it’s just a different atmosphere. When we can bring in veterans, we can generally get them up to speed with the culture faster, but more importantly, they’re usually, uh, more bought in on the mission.

Now, I don’t want to say that, that we don’t have a lot of great military spouses and other team members who have a great team. Affinity for the military, great respect for the military, but there’s something about veterans being plug and play, where you can bring them in, and they get the culture, and they’re already, they know what it means to be all in, and they’re just, [00:30:00] it’s just so refreshing to like, not have to explain everything.

Now we still have a robust onboarding program, but man. I love bringing someone onto the team, and you can tell like day one, they’re fired up.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, and you actually use a phrase I was going to use to describe what you, you’re doing with your, your firm is plug and play, uh, right. Because you, you take someone out of the military who is already familiar with the chain of command and the structure and, and all of that. And you, you take them and you put them into an organization that’s set up similarly to that, you know, as, as close as you can, you can get it, um, you know, on the civilian side and.

They’re gonna be like, wow, this, this feels a whole lot more familiar than what I was expecting, right? Because you get out of the military, sometimes you don’t know what to expect. You, you might feel like you’re just being thrown out to the wolves and, and who knows what, you know, the outcome is going to be of, of that.

And, and so, uh, when you get put into an [00:31:00] organization, uh, like, like yours, that’s set up. In a similar format, like the military, um, it, it probably makes that transition a whole lot easier if they’re coming straight from the military, even if they’re not, um, makes that transition into your company a whole lot easier.

I would imagine. Right?

John Berry: Absolutely, and there’s some positions, right, like the JAG lawyers, or, you know, you get the, it’s a pretty easy transition, the paralegal. But I’ll tell you what, I love the 42 alpha. Because VA forms and DA forms or DD forms are basically the same thing, right? It’s like the same culture, the same forms world and they can really just get in there and start working in it.

You know, there’s less, I think they have less anxiety. It’s like, yeah, I know how to do this. I can do this. I think for all of us, you know, any new job, any new opportunity, there’s a lot of anxiety. But when you show up and there’s other veterans there, And, and, you know, and, and your clients are veterans, it’s just, it’s so much easier because we’re all worried we’re going to make mistakes, we’re worried we’re not going to fit in, um, we’re worried we’re going to say something stupid or looked up, it doesn’t matter.[00:32:00]

But I’ll tell you, one of the things that really took off, and, uh, you know, I was never the toy soldier type, I didn’t like, and I, look. I’m from the spit, spit shine boots and press BDUs era. That was when I was a lieutenant and I hated that. I’m like, I’m not a toy soldier. I’m a warrior, man. Like this is stupid.

We, uh, when we started hiring a lot, we have more Marines right now than any of the branch and we had a Marine that was functioning in a paralegal capacity and he started showing up. Wearing a suit every day and at first, you know, people started making fun of them, especially the Air Force, Army and Navy guys You know, they all look like Jake from State Farm and the little polos, khaki pants, you know, they’re all giving him crap But then as a showing of solidarity, you know, all the other Marines started wearing suits And then, and then the army guys, you know, were even wearing now blazers, you know, and, and pants, but all of a sudden, like, performance jumped because they put that uniform on, you know, it’s just like the military uniform, like, once you put this on, you’re in uniform, like, it’s, it’s, it’s go time, every day is game [00:33:00] day, and every day it matters, and every day you’re getting better, every day we train, training is not something we do, it is what we do, and so it just became, like, part, part of the culture, and it was, just took one Marine with some guts, and, To say, no, you know what?

I’m gonna, I’m gonna have a higher standard. And that, and you know, in the military, how infectious that is. Like, hey, I’m an alpha company. Like, screw those bra those losers in Bravo company. They’re a bunch of dirtbags. Like, we’re alpha company. We have better uniforms. We score higher on PT tests. Like, you know, even in garrison, right?

I mean, you can go to the field and, and I was mechanized, so we can talk about Bradley gunnery and, you know, scoring. And, uh, I don’t know if you ever got the, I never got the chance to do EIV. I don’t know if you did it, but, I mean. But it was those things, right, where it’s like, we’re better than the other battalions, we’re better than the other companies.

And that’s just something in the military, when you have that team, you want to be the best team,

Scott DeLuzio: that’s right. Yeah. And that’s similar to what I was, I was talking about before. It’s like, you, you want the best, uh, everything you want, the best scores, uh, if, if, you know, weapons qualification, you want the best, uh, you know, [00:34:00] everything in, in your company. And so, um, yeah, I could totally see how putting that uniform on, you know, just.

Putting a suit on and I’m going to work. This is, this is my uniform when this uniforms on, this is, um, you know, the way I am conducting myself, I’m going to be professional and blah, blah, blah. Right. Uh, versus, um, you know, wearing the same clothes that you might wear on the weekend, um, you’re going to get maybe a diff just a different mindset, uh, with that, and, um, that, that might be.

A big part of it for some people who might be, uh, maybe struggling a little bit with that, that transition is the mindset piece of it. Just make that simple change and see what happens. And in a way, you know, kind of being the leader and see who follows you and, and kind of follows that lead. Right.

John Berry: Absolutely, and you know, I, I think that In the military, [00:35:00] we know that when someone’s doing the right thing, the right thing to do is to follow. We know what right looks like, and we, we have the guts to call it out when it’s wrong, when something is illegal, immoral, unethical, right? We, we, we know that, that we don’t tolerate that.

But the other side of the coin is that when we see excellence, we recognize it and we want to follow it.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right. That’s right. Yeah. Um, yeah. And, and that’s the integrity piece of it. You, you want to call out wrong when it’s wrong. Um, but you, you also want to support right when it’s right. Uh, and you want to make sure that. Right. Is given the opportunity to thrive and, and push forward. Right. Um, so I want to talk a little bit about your podcast, right?

You briefly mentioned it earlier, um, but Veteran Led is a show. And so it’s goal really is to inspire veterans, become leaders in the civilian world, which is kind of what we’ve been talking about here. Um,

John Berry: Not [00:36:00] inspire, just remind, right? Like, I don’t need to inspire you, motivate you. Hey, you’re a soldier. You took the oath. That oath didn’t expire. Get your ass out there and start doing something for your community. Uh, you know, build a company. Do something great. So, I don’t want to ever say I inspire. I just hope that I remind.

Scott DeLuzio: Okay. Well, you know, that reminder, um, is I think important too, because. With a lot of things, you start to forget, maybe, that, uh, that you do have those leadership qualities, that you, um, can thrive using those skills that you learned in the military, those leadership skills, a teamwork, uh, that you talked about earlier is super important, um, uh, too.

Knowing what a good team looks like and how it operates, um, you know, I, I think, um, discipline is another, uh, thing that we learned in the military and how we, like you said, just a minute ago, how we call out when things are right or [00:37:00] wrong, um, and, and we know what right looks like, we know what wrong looks like, and we, we can be disciplined in the things that we do, uh, and, and, If we are using those skills and not letting them go to waste, uh, I think we’ll be pretty successful.

Right. So tell us about the show and the types of things that listeners can expect to hear on your show.

John Berry: Sure, and I guess I want to get to the other, the other part of this, because it’s really important. You know, as a, I was fortunate to have two company commands and a battalion command. I’ve had three soldiers under those commands commit suicide. And I think a lot of it, you know, at least in my mind, You know, what could have been different?

And I think what could have been different was the purpose, the camaraderie. Because we get out, and it, you know, it always seems like when we’re alone that the bad things happen. When the team isn’t there, when the tribe isn’t there, that we feel the pain. When we’re not surrounded by our team, when there’s not an important mission, because I can [00:38:00] remember, you know, my deployments, especially in Iraq, it was like, you know, what I didn’t like was going back to my air conditioned can and sitting and having time to think.

It’s just, you know, and, uh, and that was, you know, that, when the excitement dies down, and then you come, I mean, now let me magnify that, you know, a hundred times, right? Now, all of a sudden, the excitement has died down. And, you know, you think about it, like, what do you think about when you were deployed when you weren’t, you know, when you weren’t actively engaged?

Whether you were on the base or outside the wire, if you were doing something, you’re actively engaged, and, you know, but it was like, then all of a sudden, you get the soldiers, and I didn’t care whether it was the Bosnia, Iraq, whatever. They would come back, and they had some downtime, and they would start thinking about their families, they’d start thinking about their future, they’d start to get down on themselves.

But as soon as you got them back into the mission, they were fine. And sometimes, just make them fill sandbags just to do something, because I don’t want them sitting around, laying around, or doing hip hop training. Because I don’t want to sit around and, and, you know, and then [00:39:00] start, um, you know, it just seemed like that was like when the bad stuff happened.

And I would say it’s probably a lot worse. And I’m talking to a lot of the veterans we represent that have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s, it’s the lack of team, and it’s the lack of mission and purpose. And once you take that away from someone, and what, I think the problem is not so much that, that that’s a necessity, but it’s a necessity once you’ve tasted it, once you’ve lived it, once you’ve had those brothers and sisters, that once you’ve had a real mission, when you take it away.

You know, it creates this gaping void. It’s just a sense of, like, emptiness. And so, uh, you know, the better that I’m trying to fill that, or remind veterans. To fill that. And so I, you know, I talk about a lot of the lessons that I learned building our company. Look, we made Inc. 5000. It’s the fastest growing company in America, uh, seven years in a row.

Uh, we did it through using military leadership, but most of the lessons I learned that I used were all stuff I learned as a dumb second lieutenant, where I was as useless as wet toilet paper. My NCOs taught me. They taught me the basic leadership skills, and that’s really all you need to know. [00:40:00] You don’t need to be some, you know, War College brainiac to figure this stuff out.

It’s pretty simple, and uh, and the key is just to use it. You have it. You had it when you enlisted. There are some traits you had when you enlisted or you were commissioned, but then you grew those when you were around the great non commissioned officers and officers. So you have that ability. In you.

It’s all, it’s all there. The basic lessons, I haven’t learned anything since probably my first three years in the military, uh, that, that have helped, like, there is nothing new under the sun. All these authors go back and they regurgitate stuff and it’s their own, you know, drivel about whatever, you know, but it’s, it’s all the same lessons.

And the only difference is, you live those lessons. You serve. Everybody else is making up a bunch of bullshit that they’ve never done, talking about leadership. They have no idea what leadership is. Right. They don’t know. Uh, you know, yeah, I’m sure leadership is pretty tough from your air conditioned office over there where you were back with a bunch of venture capital money that wasn’t even your own.

Oh yeah. And [00:41:00] you lost, you lost because you suck. You lost, you know, it’s not the market conditions. It’s not anything else. It’s because you lack the grit and determination and the leadership skills to get there. But you know, and you know why? Because you weren’t a veteran. You didn’t raise your hand. You don’t know what it means to commit to the team.

You don’t know what it means to commit to the mission. So don’t cry and tell me you know everything about business. You don’t know shit. I mean that, yeah, that was one perspective.

Scott DeLuzio: I think it’s, uh, I mean, that’s a pretty good perspective too. Um, because you do have to be sort of humble in, like you said, as a second lieutenant, you learn from your NCOs who, you know, if you look at the. Organizational chart of the, the, the platoon that you were leading, you were at the top and you were learning from the guys who were under you and.

Just knowing your, your place in the whole, uh, scheme of things, where some of those NCOs may have had way more years in, uh, the military than, than you did, [00:42:00] and they have way more experience than you do. Um, you know, it’s, it’s possible that, Hey, maybe they know something that I don’t know, and let’s keep, keep my ears open and, uh, you know, listen to what they have to say and observe what they’re doing and.

Not be just barking orders because the rank on your, on your uniform says that you can, you know, like that, that’s not the, the way a good leader is going to, um, you know, effectively lead their troops. And it’s not going to be the way that you effectively, uh, lead an organization either, uh, come, come the civilian world too, right?

Um, and. I can appreciate what you were talking about earlier too, with, uh, you know, basically starting your show, you know, several of the soldiers that, that you led, um, you know, taking their lives. And that’s obviously a tragedy that we don’t want to happen anymore in the, the veteran, the military, uh, community it’s happening all [00:43:00] too often.

That’s why I started this show was, you know, several of the guys that I served with, uh, took their, their lives. And I couldn’t just sit around waiting for another phone call saying, Hey, you know, another. Another guy that I served with is, is gone. Um, knowing that, Hey, I might be able to help some people and it’s not just helping the guys that I served with.

It’s the whole military community is having, uh, the same type of problem. And so like, like you are doing, why not put some good information out there? And, and help people. Right.

John Berry: I mean, we have a duty to give back. I mean, all those lessons we learned, that is what has made us successful. It was those NCOs that gave us the training, the officers who mentored us. Like, how are we giving back if we’re not getting the message out to veterans? And look, get your VA disability benefits, get your treatment, and don’t be, don’t be afraid, and don’t be ashamed, don’t be embarrassed.

You know, it’s so sad that most of the spouses are coming saying, hey, can you help? Because he won’t ask for help, or she won’t [00:44:00] ask for help, and you know, and it’s like, okay. You know. They gotta be the client. We, we, we, we want to help them, but you earned it, you know, you are blood and sweat and tears. You absolutely Earned it.

And, you know, and I know I, some people, you know, you talk to the infantry guys and say, you know what, yeah, but I had a buddy, you know, lost a leg, like, I don’t deserve anything. And then, and then you got, you know, guys like me who went from the tip of the spear to in the rear of the gun. I mean, I was a rep, right?

You know what rep means? Rear edge along motherfucker, right?

Scott DeLuzio: That’s

John Berry: what? That was active duty infantry, and I’m on my deployment in Bosnia, you know, we start bombing Kosovo, things are heating up. We got National Guard guys on, uh, I was at Camp Demi, you know, we’re making fun of them, right? It’s like, you know, and so, and the logisticians, we made fun of them, because, you know, hey, we’re infantry.

We got, hey, we got the blue cord, like, what do you have? You have nothing,

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right.

John Berry: job is to support us. And so that was that attitude, and you know, so I learned a lot of humility from being, you know, in the rear with the gear, but, you know, a lot of those Uh, our, our logisticians and, uh, you know, our reserve component, uh, team members.

I mean, when it, [00:45:00] when it came to what’s happened over the last 20 years of those deployments, I mean, it was, you know, in serving both, I would say, you know, just as good. The, the, the reserve component became just as good. And in fact, I had a guy that was when I, I ran the, uh, warrant officer, uh, officer and, uh, warrant officer.

Uh, commissioning program. I was the battalion commander of that. And I had a guy that was, he was like the number one engineering company commander in Iraq. And he was a National Guard guy. Now, as a civilian, he ran a nuclear power plant, so that probably helped. Like, he was a genius. But, but, the point is, you know, it doesn’t really matter where you, where you serve.

You learn the lessons. Like, and I don’t care, you know, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force. It’s all the, it’s all the same, right? You learn the same basic skills. We have different acronyms and we love to make fun of each other. But in the end, we all have the same basic skills.

And, you know, there’s, look, if you’re struggling, The benefits are there for you, [00:46:00] but you’ve got to go get them, and you have to be able to, it’s just like me, hey, I had to take off my crossed rifles, you know, sometimes, sometimes we, we, we don’t want to ask for things, but, uh, you know, asking for help is a sign of strength, and I don’t care whether it’s because you’re, you need disability benefits, you need to feed your family, you have mental health issues, you know, Asking for help is courage, and you know what, it seems like, you know, as officers, we hate to ask for help, uh, because our NCOs make fun of us anyway, but, uh, but you know, asking for help is the only way you’re ever going to get better, and I’ve just learned, you know, to, you know, to suck it up, to, you know, don’t worry about your pride, right, you can have your pride later, but if you need help, you ask for help, and I don’t care what it is, maybe your relationship isn’t going well, you know what, there’s 30 other veterans out Then you could probably think of right now who have suffered the same relationship problems that you have.

Scott DeLuzio: that’s right.

John Berry: There’s probably another 30 that you know that are on the other side of that and can [00:47:00] help you. So why not reach out to your fellow veterans? But I’ve learned that in business as well. I’ll go to a conference and I’ve got these problems that are just the weight of the world. I’m like, oh my gosh, like, you know, and all these problems and then I’ll run into like 20 guys there.

Have the exact same problem and another 50 who already solved that problem and the veteran community is no different We’re we all have challenges, but we have this vast resource of leaders who can help us So why aren’t we reaching out and I just you know, I think that we just you know, Scott I appreciate what you do and continue to pound that message, you know, it obviously You’ve written your book and you’ve gone in deep about your loss and, you know, it’s I don’t know any veteran who hasn’t lost somebody or something, but I would focus on the gain.

Focus on the brothers and sisters you have, the experience you have, the opportunity that you have. Man, you have so we’ve lost some, but we have gained so much more through our military [00:48:00] service.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right. Yeah. We we’ve gained a hell of a lot, uh, through, through that. And, and yeah, there’s some loss in there. Um, you know, some of it really heavy kind of weighs on us. Right. But when things get a little bit too heavy. Ask for help, right? I mean, if you’re, you’re trying to move a refrigerator, you’re not gonna do it by yourself, right?

You’re, you’re gonna go ask for help, and no one’s gonna be like, oh, look at that, look at that. You know, Ws, he, he can’t do that like nobody can. So like, yeah, you’re gonna have to ask for help at some point, right? And so I, I think to your point, um, some of this stuff, whether you. I think it should be or not, it, it’s going to be too heavy and you’re going to have to ask somebody for help.

Um, now one of the things, uh, that maybe a lot of the listeners are not familiar with is, um, the fact that, so you’re talking a lot about, you know, how you guys help veterans through your, your law firm. Um, [00:49:00] They may not be familiar with getting a lawyer involved with their disability claims or, or other things like that.

Can you tell us some of the stuff that you guys do to help out the veterans in, uh, in the cases that, that you guys work with?

John Berry: Yeah, I mean veterans don’t need any help filing the claims, right? That’s, it’s pretty simple. You go to your local VA regional office or county veteran service officer. They should, they can help you file the claim. Where we get involved is where veterans are unjustly denied their benefits or they’re not rated fairly.

And the reason why this happens, if you think, now my, you gotta remember my dad was doing this in the Vietnam era and so, uh, and he was doing a lot of it pro bono. And nobody, the law changed in 2007, and I think one of the reasons why it changed is that nobody expected OIF and OEF to go on that long. I mean, we’re in Iraq and Afghanistan for, you know, almost 20 years.

And of course, the withdrawal from Afghanistan is a whole other issue. But my point is this, my point is nobody, the VA could not have predicted that we would have this many, [00:50:00] Service members as veterans, and no one predicted that we would have this great technological advancements like the Upward Humvee, the MRAP, the, uh, you know, Steel Pot, the Kevlar, the ACH, the helmets were always improving, uh, the IBA, right, was better than the black vest I had in Bosnia, there was just, we, we created it.

Better, uh, better gear, life saving gear, but then we had an increase in traumatic brain injuries and other things and and so You know the VA has not been able to keep up and there are some great people that work at the VA that want to help veterans, but anytime you have a very large bureaucracy It’s very difficult to to move quickly and nimbly and so it gets behind the times But also who’s looking out for the person and the one thing I really you know This is where, you know, my own personal feelings, but, you know, when I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, as an officer, you know, I didn’t realize that I would be taking it again.

And, you know, my job [00:51:00] is no longer to, you know, go overseas, but to protect the one, the one person, and protect their constitutional rights, right? And so when they’re, it’s, it’s, you know, someone’s been, uh, injured and they’re being taken advantage of by their insurance company, and they’re not being, you know, we pay insurance our whole lives, and then they don’t pay out, or somebody’s been falsely accused, or a veteran who has earned those benefits, who we have promised those benefits, and they get denied.

That’s where we step in. But there are a lot of great service organizations who can help them file the claims. Well, we take the claims if a veteran’s been denied, we’ll take it all the way up through the federal court system. And there’s generally, there’s every state and territory has a regional office, some have multiple, and then, then there’s the Board of Veterans Appeals in DC, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, then it goes up to the federal circuit, and then the United States Supreme Court.

And what happens is a veteran may have, like, like a lot of us that served infantry, and were you airborne?

Scott DeLuzio: No,

John Berry: Okay, well, lucky for you, but, you know, what

Scott DeLuzio: a leg.

John Berry: Okay, uh, so, [00:52:00] as you probably know, um, you jump out of planes, or long ruck marches, now all of a sudden you’ve got problems with your back, your hips, your legs, your shoulders, and you know, the VA may say, oh, that’s great, 10 percent for tinnitus.

Right? And so it’s like, yeah, but, uh, but what about the rest of the stuff? And so then you have the right to appeal those decisions. And most veterans don’t understand that they can’t appeal. They just get a bunch of paperwork. Like, you know, what’s this? You know, it’s like, oh, a paper. What do I even do with this?

And so they don’t understand they can get paid, that they can, they can, they can appeal, and they can bring out a lawyer. And most of the lawyers Uh, work on a contingency basis, which means we don’t get paid unless you win, unless the veteran wins, we don’t get paid. So it doesn’t cost the veteran any money up front, uh, but they’re looking, you know, these decisions are made based on case law and the code of federal regulations and other things that maybe veterans don’t want to look into.

Of course, you always have the barracks lawyer, but, but the thing is, you know, for a lot of veterans, there’s like, I’m tired of fighting, and we say, hey, that’s no problem, we’ll fight alongside you, you know, let us, Keep the battle going for you. [00:53:00] You’ve already filed the claim. You’ve already submitted the evidence.

Let us help. And sometimes we just have to go to a veteran and say, look, look, the VA, I’ve had Vietnam veterans who say, the VA says I wasn’t in Vietnam because, you know, my DD 2 Latina was jacked up. I never got a DD 215, whatever. And they’re heartbroken, right? And we’re like, okay, let’s go raid the attic.

Let’s get photos. Let’s get letters. Let’s get statements from, money statements from people you serve with. Let’s talk to family members who, who, who suffered that year that you were in Vietnam. You know, it’s, but it’s, it’s just crazy some of the stuff that you see. And it’s, you know, hey look, if it’s not documented, right, it didn’t happen.

So sometimes we’ve got to find the documentation, do the research, look at some of the unit history, and, and put our clients up there, right, because I will tell you that the amazing thing is, I mean, I’ve been doing this for about 20 years now, meeting the heroes and hearing the stories. It’s, it’s, it’s phenomenal.

And, you know, back when I started doing this 20 years ago, hug my dad when we were doing this pro bono, World War II veterans. I mean, just, wow. These guys were, I mean, the amazing stories, but also you [00:54:00] see the light in their eyes and you see like the hope. These are warriors and we haven’t been taking care of our warriors.

What does that say about us as a society? So, I mean, I, I really, I’m really honored to do it, but like I said, what I love is that, uh, for, for veterans, they should, you know, uh, if they can file the claim and get 100 percent on their own the first time, great. Uh, but if they’ve been denied, we’re, we’re, we’re, we’re happy to help and, you know, usually what happens is just the evidence isn’t as good.

I had two guys, they’re like, hey, wait a minute. We were in the same battles. We walked the same streets in Iraq. How come he’s at 100 percent and I’m at 50%? got very similar injuries. And it’s like, well, he had better evidence. Or sometimes, his diagnosis is more severe than yours. But it’s, there’s a lot of misconceptions in the veteran community that, uh, well, Why, you know, why does this person rate it higher?

Well, every disability rating is, it goes zero to a hundred percent. And you’ve probably heard of the VA math where, you know, if you’re 50 percent for PTSD and, you know, let’s say, uh, 40 percent for [00:55:00] a, uh, I don’t know, pick your, pick your injury, right? Maybe, uh, shoulder injuries and then like 10 percent for hearing loss.

Well, guess what? Uh, that’s not 100%.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s it doesn’t add up. Right. Yeah. And it, and it boggles people’s minds when they do that. Like just the basic math, even a grunt can do that. If we can figure out that kind of math. Right. But then, then you look at it and it comes up to something different and we’re scratching our heads. I did a whole episode on just trying to figure out the VA math and, and what.

goes into it and everything like that. It’s, it’s, it’s kind of, kind of crazy, uh, you know, how, how it works. It makes sense once when you understand it, but. If you, if you don’t understand it, your mind’s going to be going haywire trying to figure it out. And, and so, um, so absolutely. If, if, uh, folks out there, if you have had claims get denied or you feel like you’re [00:56:00] underrated or, you know, anything along those lines, uh, definitely reach out to, uh, You know, get legal representation, um, to make sure that you’re getting the benefits that you deserve.

Uh, and I know a lot of times guys out there, they don’t even want to apply for the benefits because they feel like they’re taking away from somebody else who maybe is, uh, worse off than they are. And they, they, they deserve it more than me. So I’m, I’ll let them have it. Well, that’s not how it works, right?

It works where. If, if you’re qualified for it and you have all the evidence, like you mentioned, and, and, uh, everything, uh, everything checks out, you should be getting those benefits and, and the money will be available, uh, whether, uh, you’ve applied to it for it or not, like you’ll, you’ll get that money, uh, they’ll, they’ll get that money available, um, when you, you get the money.

Uh, when it’s there, so you’re not taking away from somebody else. It’s not like the VA has, uh, this cap of how much they can, they [00:57:00] can, uh, you know, give out in, in disability, uh, benefits each year. So, um. You know, definitely apply for it. You, you’ve, you’ve earned it, like you said, um, and, and definitely, uh, deserve it as well.

So, um, for the folks who are out there who, uh, are interested in finding out more about getting, uh, some, some sort of, uh, legal representation for their cases, um, where can people go to find out, uh, more about your, your legal services and also, uh, to find your podcast?

John Berry: So, uh, our website is PTSDLawyers. com as in, you know, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder so PTSDLawyers. com We actually do have a disability calculator on the site. It’s not perfect uh, but it’s, you know, we’re improving it every day. Uh, you can’t get all the claims in there, but it works. So, PTSDLawyers. com, uh, and then Everything veteran led.

Uh, so, every podcast, a veteran led podcast, uh, YouTube, Apple, Spotify, [00:58:00] anywhere there’s a podcast, you’ll find veteran led.

Scott DeLuzio: Awesome. Awesome. And I’ll have links to all of those in the show notes too, for the listeners. Uh, definitely go check out the podcast and, and subscribe to that. Follow, follow it all over the place on social media, all that kind of stuff. Um, but, um, most importantly, I think. Check out the legal services if, um, if you’ve been, uh, you feel like you’ve been wrongly denied your claim or you’re underrated or any number of things along those lines, check that out.

Um, because I’m, I’m sure there are ways that, uh, like you said, you can raid the attic for, you know, photos and, you know, other things that can support your evidence that maybe you just didn’t think about and having a team of experienced lawyers on your side. will help you be more successful than just going alone and filing the claim on your own.

Right. So, um, definitely check that out. Um, and again, that the link to, uh, that website will be in the show notes. So, [00:59:00] um, so check that out there. Um, before we wrap up, I like to end each episode with a little bit of humor. And I think this, this segment might be up your alley, um, especially given what it is that you do, uh, professionally.

Um, but the segment is what I like to call. Is it service connected? And it’s sort of like America’s Funniest Home Videos, a military edition. We watch, you know, kind of a quick, funny video and we, we kind of laugh about it and, uh, you know, kind of joke about whether or not whatever happened in that video would be service connected.

Um, just a fun way to end the episode. A lot of times, some of these episodes can be a little bit heavy. So, We like to end it with a little bit of a little bit of humor and a laugh. Um, sometimes at the expense of, uh, some of these, uh, service members in these videos, um, for the audio, uh, only podcast listeners, I’ll do my best to describe the video, um, but your best bet is go check out the video on YouTube or.

Or Twitter, X, whatever they call it [01:00:00] now. And, uh, and check it out there. So you can actually see the video and, uh, share in the laughter at the misfortune of this, uh, poor. Soul, who we’re about to, uh, catch on this video right now. Um, all right. So I got the video up here. Um, we’ll give it a quick watch here.

And it looks like for the audio listeners, it looks like a soldier standing out kind of in the desert, got a shoulder fired, something or other. Um, maybe. Kind of like an AT 4, probably not an AT 4. It’s something else. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but let’s check it out and see what happens. He’s standing there and then he, he fires it and the whole, the thing goes flying behind him and it, he gets knocked on his ass. Looks like he’s holding his face as he’s walking away. Um, definitely, uh, was a significant, uh, blast coming off of [01:01:00] that thing. And he clearly was not trained well enough to, to be firing that, uh, live fire, uh, style.

You know, he, he definitely needed a little more training on that than whatever it was that he had. But, um, yeah, it looks like he got his, uh, his bell rung a little bit there.

John Berry: Yeah, I mean that, look, uh, that, that’s, that’s service connected. Now, you may say, well, wait a minute. If he’s, if he’s that stupid to be firing it that way, then it’s a pre existing condition, right? But if, if it’s made, hey, if you have a pre existing condition that’s made worse by military service, then, then, then absolutely you can be service connected for it.

Now, that being said, the real standard, and I don’t want to like, Blow up your whole plan here. But it’s, I believe it’s whether it’s willful or persistent misconduct. If it’s not, then it’s service connected. And my argument is always a, wait a minute, if we’re on duty 24 7, right? Cause you’ve heard that several times and they own us 24 7, then how should it, how could it?

Not always be service connected, because if they own [01:02:00] us, then they also owe us leadership, and someone should be supervising us, and making sure we’re not doing stupid things, right? Is that the function of leadership? So, if there’s a failure, then, in my mind, well, that isn’t, that doesn’t, it’s not willful or persistent misconduct.

And in fact, uh, look, have you ever met Joe? Have 18 year old private? Like, you know, he doesn’t know, so where are we as leaders? When these things are happening. So I look back and say, well, let’s, let’s look at the leadership. What are they doing to help? But I have had a lot of these, I’ll just tell you, this is the thing that blows me away.

It happens all the time. Outside of base, come back from a deployment. What does every male soldier get? A Harley Davidson, right? And inevitably, they crash and they lay down. And I’ve had the VA come back and say, well, uh, you know, that’s, uh, Let me just break it down for you. Negligence is not willful or persistent misconduct.

If he’s speeding and gets in a crash, that can be service connected. Okay, and so I’ve had the VA come back and say, Well, you know, he’s in a motorcycle, uh, two in the morning. You know, and [01:03:00] we think he might have been speedy, even though there’s been no, like, accident or reconstruction that we’re aware of.

And it’s like, no, no, no, no, no. On duty, unless you can show willful or persistent misconduct, it doesn’t count. But I always say, so what? That’s why we have leaders in the military. If you want to put someone on duty 24 7, you provide them leadership 24 7. So the leaders, when that happens, the leaders fail.

You know, and I think I saw one where a guy was, uh, you know, legs open and someone was throwing a boot trying to, you know, get him in the, uh, get him in the groin. It’s in that game. And you know, my question is where’s the leaders, right? Like, come on. Like, we’re gonna deny this guy service connection because his leaders failed to I mean, especially if they’re in the barracks, come on.

But anyway, that’s the lethal standard is willful and persistent misconduct. Uh, and, uh, but if you’re on base firing a weapon system and you do it stupidly, Uh, you should be service connected.

Scott DeLuzio: Absolutely. Yeah. And that’s, like you said, that’s, that’s on the leadership to make sure that you know how to fire that in a safe manner. Um, go through all the training, blah, blah, blah, all that kind of stuff. Right. [01:04:00] If you’re not getting the proper training, then, uh, how, how should you be expected to fire it in a safe manner?

So, uh, absolutely a hundred percent. I think that should be service connected. Um, And, uh, hopefully he wasn’t too injured off of that, but, uh, you never know. And, uh, these things creep up down the line. So one thing I always,

John Berry: buddies probably made fun of him for two years, so, you know. And that’s the guy that really doesn’t understand. Once you screw up, everybody knows

Scott DeLuzio: they’re still making fun of them for it. It’s not, it’s not two years. There’s no, there’s no expiration date on that. They’re still, they’re still getting them. Um, but yeah. Um, one thing I always say with these, these videos is, uh, At least they have it on video. So, you know, that there’s your evidence right there of what happened.

So, um, John, uh, thank you so much for taking the time to join us sharing, uh, you know, what it is that you do and how, um, how we can apply these leadership skills, uh, [01:05:00] teamwork, uh, discipline, all these different things that we’ve. Gathered throughout our time in the military and how we can apply that to our civilian lives.

And, and thank you for, uh, how you’re continuing to serve veterans through your legal service services and, uh, also through your podcast, uh, to, to help, uh, remind people of, uh, you know, what it is that, that they have to offer and what it is that, uh, they learned while, uh, serving in the military. So thank you.

John Berry: I listened to it, and I love hearing the different people who just want to help their fellow veterans. And I think that’s key. To keep spreading the word. We are out there. We all want to help our brothers and sisters.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s right. Absolutely. A hundred percent. I think, uh, we. We just get, sometimes folks just get, uh, too much in their own head that, no, I’m going to, I’ll handle this on my own. I can, I can handle this. I can, I can do this. We’re out there. We, we want to help. We want to see other, other [01:06:00] veterans succeed and be, be successful.

Um, but like we were saying earlier, a lot of times that it’s going to take a team and you got to have the right team members on, on board. So, um, thanks again for taking the time to join us and reminding us of that fact

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, LinkedIn, YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

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