A Rocky Transition and Choosing to Change Course

Drive On Podcast
Drive On Podcast
A Rocky Transition and Choosing to Change Course

John Rowley is one of the hosts of the Beyond The Barrel Podcast. The goal of his podcast is to highlight the paths taken by veterans to find success after their service.

John opens up about his rocky transition out of the military, and how he came to the turning point that changed the trajectory of his life.

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Scott DeLuzio:    00:00:00    Thanks for tuning into the Drive On Podcast, where we're 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.  Hi everybody today  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:00:22   my guest is John Rowley. John is one of the hosts of the Beyond the Barrel podcast, which highlights the path that's taken by veterans to find success after their service. So welcome to the show, John, why don't you go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself and your military background.  

John Rowley:    00:00:40    I'm the host of the Beyond the Barrel podcast. I've got a little bit of interesting military background. I joined in 2009. I had a one year old and a pregnant wife, 2009, everything came crashing down economically and I found myself looking for a job. So one of my buddies was talking about joining the National Guard, just because I had a big bonus or whatever, and he's like, man, there's no way you could ever join the military. You don't have the discipline for that. I was like, excuse the fuck out of me.  

John Rowley:    00:01:18    I actually enlisted to be EOD, had no idea what I was getting myself into. I didn't realize it was one of the most difficult jobs in the military as far as academics. And I got there and I thrived, I did really, really well and got to the end of training. So I was almost two years deep into training. I had three weeks left. I had orders to go to Fort Carson, Colorado and begin my career as a bomb disposal technician. And I found out that my wife had been cheating on me the same day I was having a big test. Well, something happened with the test and it was something that wasn't that big of a deal. I could have fought it. And I lost my cool with the instructor. He failed me on purpose, I could have challenged that because I had a good reason.  

John Rowley:    00:02:13    When I found out that he failed me on purpose, he's like, prove it. I just smacked the shit out of him. I just, well, luckily I didn't get kidnapped and kicked out. The military got reclass. We went to Fort Sam Houston, to be a combat medic, and got to my unit. And I was never a stellar soldier. I was never a great runner. I'm a big guy. I was always good at humping and I was good at my job, but as far as speed, wasn't the greatest soldier as far as, basically PT. That was the one thing that ever held me back. I went to Afghanistan. It was a pretty kinetic tour. We went to the Coonara river Province in Afghanistan.  

John Rowley:    00:02:56    Our XO got the medal of honor while we were there. He grabbed a hold of a guy, ran him out of a suicide vest, ran him out of the platoon guide detonated at his feet. And then at a second suicide vest, blew up in the backup platoon. I mean, it was just a bad day, kind of hurt my shoulder on the way out of Afghanistan, tore my labrum, had to have a couple of surgeries and ended up getting med boarded. I don't know how deep you want me to go into my actual military career.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:03:33    Yeah, I mean, it's as deep as you want to go. I mean, this is all good stuff. You said it was your XO who got the medal of honor. Was that right? Yeah. And what was his name? 

John Rowley:    00:03:50    Captain <inaudible>. I don't know how to say it  

Speaker 3    00:03:53    Well. Okay. 

John Rowley:    00:03:55    Actually it was Lieutenant at the time Lieutenant <inaudible>.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:03:58    Okay. No, that's an amazing story to be part of. It's not every day that medals of honor are handed out to soldiers in combat or anything. So it's pretty interesting to hear about that and how that all took place. So I mean, obviously a very unfortunate circumstance took place, but that's part of war; war is a whole series of unfortunate circumstances that come together. The fact that we're even there, but then to be a part of something that was as courageous as what took place there, is even more interesting. So, that's a pretty cool part of that story anyway. 

John Rowley: Same base as Dakota Meyer.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:04:48    Oh really

John Rowley:    00:04:50    Bob Joyce and RC East, got into firefights in the same valley that he got his medal of honor.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:04:57    Wow. Yeah. So that was a pretty kinetic area, I would imagine.  

John Rowley:    00:05:03    I'm pretty sure it's the guys from my base who ended up, I mean, different time, but was the one that went and rescued Markus Luttrell. 

Scott DeLuzio:  Oh, wow. Okay. 

John Rowley: You've got the Kunar River forks off into the Pech River forks off into the Korangal river and, the lone survivor guys, Marcus Luttrell, and his team, they started off in the Korangal and funneled down through the passion into the Kunar. So that operation where they were, I mean, it was a hotbed for terrorists, that's where we were. It wasn't so crazy when I was there in 2012, but I mean, we were in contact almost every day.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:05:46    Right. So let's switch gears a little bit here and talk a little bit about your transition. One of the things that I like to talk about on this podcast, because it's a podcast geared towards helping out veterans and talking about the struggles that they deal with. And one of the things that people do deal with a lot is the transition out of the military. You know, it's not always an easy thing, you're dealing with the loss of sense of purpose, loss of identity as a soldier or trying to find a job and relating with civilians and a whole series of other things that people are dealing with. So, what was your life like after the military, was it a smooth transition, Rocky transition? How did that go for you when faced with that? 

John Rowley:    00:06:40    So I got medically discharged and I ended up going to work for my dad. Well, I love my dad to death, but me and him are both very much alpha males. And it's like putting two bulls in a China shop. I was part of his marketing team. He does digital marketing, direct response, in the fitness <inaudible>. And I was spearheading the launch of a supplement company. I handled everything from after the initial formulation of the product, I handled everything getting it out to market, and I had no idea what I was doing. And in the process of all of that, he and my mom were going through a rough area where they're going through a nasty divorce. It turned into me and him butting heads, it culminated in him coming to the office and me not tolerating his shit that day.  

John Rowley:    00:07:39    And I grabbed my seven foot L-shaped desk, and I turned that shit over. I mean, it was big. I turned it over. I had people running out of the office. There were a couple of us and everyone knew that I was relatively calm. Well, I say I was relatively calm. So we were whitewater rafting in the mountains in North Carolina with some buddies and my brother, one of them knew me. He met me during this whole transition period. When I came back from Afghanistan, he met me when I went to Florida.  Yes. Get me into the industry. And I didn't know it then, but I had really bad social anxiety. I had aggression. I was just always amped up and this weekend  

John Rowley:    00:08:30    he's like, it's amazing how much you've changed. And I was like, what are you talking about, man? He's like, wow. He's like, when I met you in Florida, he was like, in Miami we were driving down the road and people were looking around and he's like, your head was on a swivel. You're just waiting for somebody to pounce that you can branch them. And I'm like, I don't remember it like that at all. But my brother's like, dude, you were you bro. So, it's hard to realize when you're in the middle of it. What I tell people when I talk to them about transition, you realize the problems that they're having in their life, if there always seems to be chaos in your life, you gotta take a step back and look at it from that 30,000 foot elevated view because it's true.  

John Rowley:    00:09:17    You can't see the forest for the trees. You know, you're sitting there in the middle of it. No matter where you look, you can't find a direction, but if you could change your perspective and take a step back, everything becomes clear and you could see the rivers. So you could see the valleys, you could see the roadways, you could see where you needed to go. And it's a lot easier said than done. I mean, just as much with your own life, as it is in a forest mountaineering situation, it's not easy to get to 30,000 feet. Do it to see which way you got to go.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:09:50    Yeah, absolutely. That makes a lot of sense. You know, taking it from that 30,000 foot view, looking down at all of the pieces of your life your family life, your spouse, your kids, your other relatives, your neighbors, your friends, your job, taking a look at all of that, taking stock of all of that and seeing how you're interacting with these people and trying to understand how they all play together. You know, if you're coming home from work pissed off, well, that's probably gonna lead to a not so great relationship at home with you, your spouse or your kids, and other friends and things like that. So, it's really important to look at it from that 30,000 foot view, like you said, so I like how you phrase that.   

John Rowley:    00:10:35    When I was going through all of those, I was amped up. But I mentioned earlier that I had found out that my wife was cheating on me at the time, but we had tried to work it out because I knew that if I got a divorce when I was in the military. I would never see my kids. 100% of my money was going to go to Margaret, go to her. And I was just going to be getting bent over and ran from the back of the ball bat. So we tried to make it work. But it lasted six months after I got out, maybe, but I got to the point where this whole thing was going on and I was driving my Harley. My motorcycle was the only piece that I had. The loud exhaust kinda muffled out to my internal screams and the wind was just very freeing for me and very cathartic.  

John Rowley:    00:11:28   I was riding my motorcycle one day and I was on a back road kind of country. You're not really in the country, but I was on a backcountry road and a tractor trailer was coming toward me. And I had that split second, do I pull a Jax Teller? I don't know if you got any Sons of Anarchy fans, but he went full on spray, going to the front of the oncoming tractor trailer and his Harley just leaned back. And then I had that thought, I was like shit, I wouldn't have to deal with this stuff anymore. And I was like, aye, aye, aye. It was a split second thought. And I pulled my motorcycle over. I had a little hard with myself, a little “come to Jesus” meeting and I went and got help.  

John Rowley:    00:12:07    I went to the VA, drove up there, talked to them. I mean, really they didn't do anything for me per se. That was my turning point. That was me admitting that I had a problem that I needed to change. So going forward, I changed and read that I got a divorce. I changed my relationship with my kids. I quit working for my dad so eloquently by throwing a table. I decided to use my GI bill, go back to school. I changed everything. I cut people out of my life. I cut everybody out of my life. I changed everything that I could, I wasn't drinking at the time. At least not that I remember. I might've been, I wasn't drinking heavily. I wasn't abusing it. That was one thing that I decided when I came back from Afghanistan, I saw a lot of my buddies ruining their lives via alcohol, trying to deal with the demons. So they were getting DUIs. They were ruining their military careers. And for a long time, I just decided I wasn't going to drink until I was able to.   

Scott DeLuzio:    00:13:14    Well, and that's good because I think a lot of people don't have that introspection and being able to understand themselves, that they are going to abuse it and they're going to go too far with it. And no, I think I'm speaking for a lot of people here where I say, I'm glad you made the decision to pull over, instead of going head on into the tractor trailer. I think pulling over, having that little heart to heart moment with yourself is a good thing that you did. Obviously we don't want to add to that 22 a day number statistic and especially for your family, your parents, your kids and they don't want you to do stuff like that either, you know? And so it's great that you had that turning point. So you said that the VA didn't really help much, what was it that they were able to do, or was it just something that you needed to go someplace and just vent and get stuff off your chest? What was that like? 

John Rowley:    00:14:28    That it was really just that making the decision, it's like, you're driving down the road and you realize you're going the wrong way. You have to make a U-turn, it doesn't matter where you make the U-turn, as long as you make the U-turn and get help from the VA. I mean, it was, I don't know, seven o'clock  

John Rowley:    00:14:48    on like a Saturday. I mean, it's like, they've got mental health providers just sitting there chilling. Hey, we have a problem. And they told me who to follow up with and they're like, are you good? I was like, yeah, I'm good. After I sat there for a little while to talk to people, whatever, it's more able to go in there and decompress and just be like, okay. It was just the culmination of a problem. Let's get it fixed. There's no reason to keep prolonging this. I'm a proponent of therapy and mental health and everything. However, for me, I never really got much out of therapy because I'm  

John Rowley:    00:15:30   one of those people like, okay, you learn this in a book, but you do have coping mechanisms. You've got things that they can do to help. But for me, what always helped me was just being able to unload with somebody who's been there, done that, and talk through your management. I've done anger management. I've done group counseling. I've done private counseling. I've done marriage counseling, individual counseling. I've done it all. And I get them. I actually get the most out of it, first probably when I met my wife, second is my podcast because I'm able to do exactly what you're doing. I'm able to talk to people and talk about their story and figure out what they did to change their life and to achieve their definition of best, whether that be with their family, whether that be, educationally through starting a business.  

John Rowley:    00:16:33    A lot of guys that we talked to are business owners, but we want to highlight that we highlight that path. So being able to talk to these guys on a regular basis for me helps, and just distancing myself from that, right?  Think of it this way, you're at a bonfire and you've got a piece of wood on fire. You pull it away from the fire and it'll still burn a little bit, because of the heat, the farther you're able to get it away from that fire, it's going to go out and it's going to be less easy to reignite that flame. That's kinda how it is with me. Right? I stay away from the drama. I spend time with my family when I can. I work a lot.  

John Rowley:    00:17:14    Now I don't sit still very well. So I'll get back to my story a little bit and all this will play together. So as I was going through this and I decided to get my divorce, I got hammered. I didn't have a job. I had no money. I went from zero debt other than my house and my car to $85,000 in credit card debt, just credit card debt. And then I had her lawyer, all of that on top of that in one year, because I was paying almost $3,000 a month in child support and alimony. I got a funny story. So I was trying to get out of the alimony and alimony was the lion's share of what I was paying to my ex-wife.  

John Rowley:    00:18:03    So I hired a private investigator, my attorney, and she says listen, becauseI don't really want to do this. It seems like a lot of money for nothing, yada, yada. And she was like, he's the best? He's the best. Let's do it. I was like, okay. So I gave her a thousand dollars to get this guy started. A couple days later, I got a phone call. I was like, yo, what's up? She's like, we got him. I was like, okay, what do we get? She's like, somebody picked up your kids from your house and drove them to Raleigh. The PI followed him to sit at the house for a long time. He’s driving a white Ford. She's like, yeah. I'm like, that's my fucking car, he followed him 30 miles. And they sat at my house for hours. When I gave them my car, I gave him a picture of my car. I gave him my license plate. I gave him everything I even gave him our schedule of when I was going to be getting the kids and it didn’t get relayed to this private eye. So I spent a thousand dollars, that I did not have to follow myself to my house.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:19:06    That's amazing. I mean, in a terrible way. Yeah.  

John Rowley:    00:19:10    Then so I go through all of this. I've gotten all this debt. During this whole thing I'm a mess. I meet my wife, my current wife now. I was not looking for a relationship. I'm like, I'm never getting married again and it's going to be amazing if I get through this without putting a body in the ground, honestly.  I met her and we're just hanging out. She's like, there's nothing long lasting with him. He's a crazy conservative and this bitch is a crazy liberal but she's wanting to hang out with. So through that of me being crazy, me and her being crazy, we met in the middle and I'm a little bit more open to certain things. Now she's a little bit more open to certain things. And it works really, really well. Without her, I probably would have washed up in the Creek somewhere.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:20:04    It's like a yin and yang kind of thing. It sounds like,  

John Rowley:    00:20:06    Yes, I'm taller. She's short, she's small. I'm Irish, she's a townie. She'd kill the shit out of me in a heartbeat if she needed to, but she didn't, we're going through all of this. And I decided to go back to school. So I was going back to get my engineering degree. My sister and my now wife talked me into going back to school. Both of them went through school and in my household growing up school was never a priority. My mom tried, my dad, oh, my dad tried to say that it was, but he always had a stigma about school. So, because he was in college and got into a car accident and he was going to be in the 1980 Olympics for track, and then drove into a tree the day before he went back to school and ended this track career and almost ended his life.  

John Rowley:    00:20:52    You're welcome. The school was always like a thorn in the side. So, he is a serial entrepreneur anyway. So to me, I don't need school. I'm just going to go work for myself until I realize that getting a job without checking some of those boxes is freaking hard. So I decided, let's do this. Let's go back to school. Let's utilize it. And honestly, the reason I did it was because they were going to pay me and I was broke, honestly.  I went and I got my degree. I was working at a bar at night, a shitty bar making no money, but I was getting phone numbers all the time because I'm charismatic at the time. It was in really good shape. My wife hates it. There's a joke that I would get more phone numbers from the girls at the bar.  

John Rowley:    00:21:40    I was in good shape at the time, but I'm a little chubby now. That's cool. I got comfortable, but I was making no money. And at one point somebody came in and they're like, Hey doc, let me just hit your Harley. I had a beautiful 2009, 2008 bagger with hand-laid gold leaf into the pain. It was beautiful. And somebody didn't see it and backed into it and sent it over a curb and totaled it. Luckily they fled the scene, but the insurance money that came with it, there's a jewelry store right up front. So they got the tag number. I got paid out more than I bought for the bike, but half of me was like, go get a bike. And the other half of me was like, you got no money. I took half of the money and I put it towards paying back child support. So I didn't go to jail. Because it's funny. It was right when I was going to go to  

John Rowley:    00:22:34    jail and the judge was like, listen, you got to pay this money or you're going to go to jail. And I'm like, throw me in jail. I'm not paying her regardless. Now that's being stupid at the time. But I took the other half of the money for a pickup truck. It was a 1997 Ford, F three 50 diesel with 350,000 miles. And you know, big act up. But I was like, it's going to be a construction truck. I got a construction background. The only thing I left for my marriage was with the clothes on my back, my motorcycle and my tools. So I was like, I'm going to do what I can. I bought the truck and I told myself, I will work at this bar and run my business until it's more profitable for me to go to work with my truck, I put an ad out on it. It was the habit next door.  

John Rowley:    00:23:28    They're like, oh, I need somebody to move a bed to the dump. And I'm like, that's right by my house. I'll do it for 40 bucks. And I was like, that's 20 minutes worth of work. I did get 40 bucks. And went back to the bar and quit running. I mean, I did at first, like six months, I did six figures. I went from hauling a bed to now the six figures, bro. So it wasn't that, I was making enough to not get arrested for child support and alimony. And I was able to start paying off my debt. But I started growing this company while going to school and my goal was always to go to work for somebody else, something with benefits, something to where it was stable. And I can learn from somebody because there's something to say about going out there and blazing your own trail.  

John Rowley:    00:24:22    But there's also something about learning from somebody who's done it. When I was doing my company, I was bidding on jobs by going there like, Hey, can you do this? Can you do this? And I'm like, yeah, sure. How to change out a shower pan on YouTube. And I was figuring out how to charge the shit. And I was Googling everything and I was taking on jobs that I had zero like zero experience or skills. I've always been really good at building. I've always been good with my hands, but I was doing things that I hadn't done before now. I did it. I mean, you would never know that. I mean, I went from moving a bed to six months later, I was doing $40,000 bathroom remodels that were eight feet by eight feet.  

John Rowley:    00:25:12    But the tile was $70 a square foot, high-end plumbing. I've got a very keen eye that I was doing very high end renovations, which then helped catapult me into the job that I'm doing now. Now I do commercial, but I'm a commercial general contractor. I build commercial buildings. I do everything from small, really fast paced fit ups because I'm really good at the street. And I don't like it, but I've become my company's go-to guy for these really fast. There's no way we're going to do this job and make money. So they give it to me and then I handle it or jobs and it's like, okay, the owner's going to be a pain in the ass because I go in there and I kill it. So I was lucky enough to be able to identify what I wanted to do.  

John Rowley:    00:25:58    And then I went out and found out the path to do it, which actually brings me to a really good point. The VA did a really, really good job with this. So I used my VA benefits and I did what's called the national rehab. I'm sure you're familiar with it. I was reading at a certain level. I was able to use my book rehab and to qualify for that, I had to go and take a personality test and I had to interview people in the space and I had to look for jobs. And all of this is super important because it ensures that you can get a job later on in the career path that you want in the location that you want. Because, and this is what I tell my kids. I have a 14 year old, talking about looking at colleges and stuff, and I'm telling her that you don't research this ahead of time. It's all your stuff. Doesn't align. It doesn't help because if you want to be a veterinarian, if you want to be a large animal veterinarian, like cows and horses and shit like that, but you want to live in Chicago,

John Rowley:    00:27:02    it doesn't work. It doesn't work. Or if you want to be an aerospace engineer and live in Nebraska, it doesn't work. You have to figure out what you want to do with your life. You've got to figure out the boxes that need to be checked, you need to figure out where you want to go and figure out how it's going to all work together. And that's what I did. And luckily I'm in construction so I can go anywhere I want, but I'm in a really, really hot area. And I get job offers almost every day for making way more than I make now. But when I graduated school and I was like, I finally have time to sit back and relax, because I've been doing school and working and building a company and raising my kids and doing all of this. Then I found myself bored. And I was like, what do I do now? Yeah, let's fucking give back. So we started a podcast.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:28:00    Yeah. And I wanted to get to that too. I wanted to get to your podcast because I know the mission of your podcast is very similar to the mission of this podcast, which ultimately is helping out veterans. Where did that idea come from? I know obviously you're saying that you're sitting around, you feel like you're kind of bored. Let's give back, but was there a discussion that took place? I know you have a co-host on the show what was that all about?  

John Rowley:    00:28:27    Yeah, so I actually met my co-host in college. He's still in school. He's getting his electrical engineering degree. He's a couple semesters away from graduating. I was able to land a pretty high paying job. And I feel that based on my experience, in construction experience of the military and my associates degree, where I decided I was going to leave it at that, I was like, I'm 33, 34 years old at this point. I'm extremely employable right now. I don't want to prolong it. So I decided to stop at an associates degree, but we met in school. We were in calculus one. We had gone through almost the entire year, and I was talking to the teacher after class. I'm a talkative person. I'm very, very conversational with people. So I sat in the front of class so I could ask questions and I could talk shit back and forth to the instructor.  

John Rowley:    00:29:19    And he sat in the very back of the class, like a normal broken, combat veteran. He was in the Navy, he was with the Seal team. He wasn't a seal, but he was the comms guy for seal team eight, 10. And he did a stint with <inaudible>. So he was in special operations his entire career. And it was right after Halloween. And he comes up after I'm talking to the teacher. He's like, where's that douche-bag walking around the river wearing your Cammies in an A bag. You have this. And we started talking, we started hanging out, less than a year later, he was one of my groomsmen in our wedding. It was just fast friends and we were talking and I was like, dude, we should, because I had this marketing background.  

John Rowley:    00:30:07    And then I was getting kind of, I don't want to say bored, but I was looking for something more. I was like, let's do a book, which was a stupid idea because I'm pretty dyslexic. So I hate reading and I hate writing. I hate it. Now I do all the writing for our podcast. I do all the show notes and I do all the creatives and I do all that crap, but I hate it. Because it takes me a long time, even just finding a hook for a title, like last night I was trying to think, and I'm just like, does that mean an hour to find the hook? And I'm like, okay, we're good. Let's go ahead and do this. but we're like, we're going to do a book and we started, and it was going to be a lack of a better phrase inside porn buddy  

John Rowley:    00:30:51    for me personally, I didn't give a shit. You want to watch porn, whatever. I don't give a shit. but he had a passion for it. I was like, oh, we can do it. You can write the book and I'll help with the marketing and we'll get it out there. Well, that never happened, we didn't want it enough. And then we were talking about other things, was that okay? Well, we both have a passion for veterans. We can do a veterans success book. And we started talking about that. And the premise for it was we were going to interview a bunch of veterans and then figure out what they did to find success. And we were going to write a book on it. Well, if we were going to interview all these veterans that found extreme success through crazy adversity, why not record it so we can have it for later?  

John Rowley:    00:31:33    And I'm like, well, if we're going to record it, turn the shit into a podcast. Yeah. Makes sense. This is how ignorant I was with the podcast. We're like, okay, we're starting a podcast. I'm sitting here and brainstorming. I'm like, Beyond the Barrel. And I look it up and I'm like, there's already a Beyond the Barrel taken, it's like wine tasting. I actually don't tag them once in their life. I can, they start following me. But we start going through this and we're like Beyond the Barrels, a great name. We're not gonna, cause it's like life Beyond the Barrel and we can take a different angle sooner for later on. So we start this Beyond the Barrel journey and I start reaching out to people. I didn't know anything about the technology.  

John Rowley:    00:32:14    I didn't know how they were going to record. I didn't have microphones yet. I didn't have a website. I didn't know anything. I was completely clueless. And I started reaching out to people that I had zero business reaching out to, guys like Vincent Rocco Vargas. And I'm like, Hey, we're starting a podcast. Yada, yada, yada, love you. Have you on the show, call me here, email me here, whatever, or messaging me back on Instagram. 10 minutes later, I'd get a phone call. I don't know who this guy is who sent the voicemail. Hi doc, it's Rocco. Give me a call back. We'll talk. Nah. So I call him back and  

John Rowley:    00:32:49    we talked for like 25 minutes, 30 minutes. Really cool dude and I had him on the show a couple months ago. And it was often running like, our first guest was John Berg. Like what the fuck was he doing talking to us with all these crazy followings and crazy stories. And so that was it. We were up and running. We figured it out. I went through a couple of times with hosts in the beginning because my co host Kyle was going through shit. So he just finished his divorce and he went Mia with me for a little while when we were supposed to be starting. So I brought in my other buddy, Chris, who was in another Navy vet event and he had a podcast at the time that he was leaving. And so he had experience, and then apparently I was too ranting. I don't know. I can't do this anymore. It's too stressful. Why am I stressed? I was not in a timely, timely fashion. Come on, man. Come on. You know, better than that.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:33:53    Well, I had a similar story with my podcast. I mean, I never had a co-host on the show, but getting started, I've been doing this for about two years now. And when I first started, I knew I wanted to do a podcast because I thought it was a great way to reach a wide audience. You know, people that I would never be able to reach in other parts of the country, even other parts of the world, I would never be able to reach them just by putting out little stories here and there on a blog or whatever; podcasts just seem to have much bigger reach than that. The audio medium just seems to be something that's taken off anyways.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:34:34    So I was like, I'm going to do it. I'm going to do a podcast. And then I was like, I don't know how to do a podcast. I've never done this before. I don't have a microphone. I had no clue how to edit the audio, no clue. All this stuff was brand new to me. And the first few episodes I recorded by myself and other than my wife, I don't think anyone knew about them, which is like talking about marketing. That's a terrible way to market a podcast but I do want to go back to something that you mentioned earlier and talk about how podcasting sort of acted as a form of therapy for you almost in a way where you get to talk to other people and just that comradery or the conversations that you get to have; just really for me anyways, it actually helps to be able to listen to people's stories and hear where they came from and what they were going through.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:35:34    And then it'd be, oh, well that's kind of a good idea. Like maybe I should do that. You know? Cause it seemed like it worked for that person. Maybe it'll work for me. And you know, honestly, that's kind of my hope for this podcast is that people will hear different stories, different perspectives, and then hopefully be able to apply some of these things to their own lives, you know?  

John Rowley:    00:35:56    Yeah. And realize that life's not that bad. I mean, even when it's bad, it's bad because you're in the middle of it. I thought my life was hard. And then I thought I was talking to other people, one of my first guests, my buddy Matt, while he wasn't my buddy at the time I had just met him. Now he's a buddy of mine. Sitting in his bedroom, he put a gun to his head and he pulled the trigger and it went off and it burned his forehead, and he swore that he would never do it again. And then you've got dudes like Dakota Meyer, man. He was a medal of honor recipient. I was listening to a podcast with him, him and Jocko. And it was obviously your journey because he fought in the same places as me.  

John Rowley:    00:36:40    You know, I've been to the same place as him. I lived in the same buildings as he lived in and he came back and he was saying that he was being given the highest award that a soldier or Marine can get. And he went to his buddy's garage. He parked his car in his auto body garage. And he pulled his Glock out of the glove department. He put it in his mouth and he pulled the trigger and somebody, he doesn't know who unloaded it and he had to load it. Somebody went in there purposely unloaded it. And at that point he said never again. And everybody that I've talked to that has taken that step tried to kill themselves. Every single one of them said never again.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:37:22    And I've even heard of stories where there are people who survived similar to what you were just talking about, that they survived in a suicide attempt, like jumping off a bridge or cliff or something like that. And on the way down, they were like, we're driving it. And they were just, why did I do this? This was a bad decision. And then fortunately they survived, but that's not the case for everybody. And I think it is important for people to understand it is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. And you know, it really needs to be addressed a little bit better than it's being right now. 

John Rowley:    00:38:08    Want to say it's not being addressed. So I've got a little bit of a different outlook than a lot of people. First off, I want to say that <inaudible> like you said, it's a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but it doesn't take that pain away. All it does is disperse it and amplify it to your family and friends, that's it. But I don't think that we're doing a bad job as a society with better mental health. I really don't. I think there are programs out there. I think that the VA in a lot of areas has the capability to take care of you. I think we've got a problem with realizing that we have a problem before it's too late and abusing alcohol and drugs because I lost more friends to a suicide than I have to combat we were in.  

Scott DeLuzio:  Right. Yeah

John Rowley:    00:39:02    So the fact that more people come home and kill themselves. I knew a guy who was in my unit, man; he came back after a couple of combat tours. He was in the <inaudible>. I think he was on in <inaudible>. But after he got out of the military, he decided to end his life. And then a year later on his anniversary, his twin brother killed himself. And it's like, those parents just lost both of their twin sons. And I got twin girls on the way. My wife's pregnant as shit right now with two girls and losing one to suicide; it's hard. It's something that people should never have to do. Losing family members.  

John Rowley:    00:39:49    And they're both fathers, losing somebody was difficult, but realizing that they did it on purpose is a different level, man. And there's ways around it. First off, you gotta realize you gotta take responsibility for it. Don't just fucking ignore it. It's like, your car is ticking. We're just going to ignore it. You check the oil, you can bring it to a mechanic, see if they can do something. Eventually it's going to throw a rock. The same thing with your mental health. You gotta maintain it and find different ways. Some people do really well with therapy. Some people do really good trying psychedelics. That sounds like a cool experience. I personally never done it, but I know a lot of people that have had really good responses with psychedelic therapy. Talking about it though, there's so many ways that you can afford that, but people just ignore it. And that's the problem, they're not taking it seriously. They're ignoring it. And they're hoping that it goes away and they're hoping that they can numb it with external stuff and it doesn’t go away.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:41:01    No it doesn't. And when you ignore it and you just kind of hope it goes away, it never does, it tends to get worse. And just like anything, like you were saying, like with a car or something like that, but even with your own physical health if your knee is shot and you're trying to keep using it as you were, as if you were 15, 18 years old or whatever, it's not going to work. You know, it's only gonna continue to get worse and it's going to deteriorate and it's going to make it impossible for you to continue going, continue walking or running or carrying heavy things. I'm just not gonna be able to do those types of things. So you have to go get it checked out and your mental health is very similar.  

John Rowley:    00:41:44    The problem is, if you ignore it, this is the motherfucker of it. You ignore it and hide from it. And when it comes back, it comes back when you're low, it comes back when you're alone, it comes back at night. It doesn't come back when you're out having fun with your friends, it comes back when you have the ability to do something about it.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:42:09    Right? It does. Yeah, it does. And even if you are out with your friends or you're out doing something and something's coming up and it's creeping up and it's starting to bring you down, people tend to isolate themselves and withdraw from the situations so that they end up in those situations, like you were just describing. And you know, that's not a good place to be in either, you don't want to be alone in those situations. So, anyways, go ahead.  

John Rowley:    00:42:41    I'm an extrovert. So I like getting out there and doing things. When I had that thought cross my mind, I was just so tired of it. There was nothing that couldn't be changed. It was all stuff that could be changed. And I changed it. And now I'm happy today. I don't think about that kind of stuff anymore. I'm honestly a completely different person.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:43:06    Well, and that's an important point too, is that it was a choice that you made to make this change and not just continue going down the same path and letting just life just happen to you. You made a choice. You actively chose to go back to school and make changes in your life. And without that, if you don't change anything, you can't really expect anything to change for you. You have to be the driving force behind that.  

John Rowley:    00:43:35    Yeah. And more than anything else, I like to tell people that you can't change directions if you're not moving. If you're just sitting there stagnant and you're not doing anything, nothing's going to change, but if you're actively trying to figure out what's going to help, what's going to fix you, it's a lot easier to change directions. And this goes for your mental health. This goes for your career, that goes for education. It goes for your family. It's a lot easier to steer when you're moving. Like, think of it like a car, right. You've got an old car without power steering. And you're trying to make that bitch move. And if you're not, I mean, these young kids, listen, they probably don't know what the hell we're talking about, but you're sitting here cranking on the wheel and it's not moving. But as soon as you start moving a little bit, it gets a whole lot easier.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:44:24    Yeah, it does. And yeah, you're right. Kids these days have no clue what you're talking about, but that's okay. I know what you're talking about. I've been there, I've driven those kinds of cars. So it's true. I mean anything in life,if you're not moving, there's no way you're going to be able to get the momentum to change directions. You really do need that movement. And a lot of times it's looking in on yourself and kicking your own ass and saying, I need to get up and make this change. You know, whether it's changing your job, going back to school, if you're in a bad relationship, getting out of that relationship, fixing relationships, if you can, all of that stuff is a choice that you have to make and you have to do something to get those things done. 

John Rowley:    00:45:13    It's something to say about momentum? Like think, look at any sports team, right? Take a sports team and they're doing bad. They're just game after game, they lose a game and they lose that mental edge. And as soon as they either win, then they're more likely to come back with a win and want to get a couple of wins down the street. They're unstoppable because they've got that momentum; same thing with your life. You start getting little wins. I know everybody's probably heard it, but who was the Admiral that talks about the little victories of getting up and making your bed, right? And that's a little victory. You're starting your day off with a victory.  And I tell my kids this all the time, my daughter was asking me the other day, she was like, dad, what?  

John Rowley:    00:45:52    Self-love? And I was like, well, that's a fucking random question. When we get to talking about it, she is taking notes and everything because she's trying to figure out her life. She keeps trying to talk to boys and I keep hitting her across the head with a bat. And I'm just like, I'm not having that shit you going for that. So I'm trying to get her to be a young, strong, independent woman that doesn't need no man. So we're harping on that. It's like, you have to love yourself before you can love somebody else. And she was asking, well, how do you love yourself? And I'm like, you've got to put yourself first. You've got to do things for you.  

John Rowley:    00:46:31    You got to know who you are, because if you get into a relationship and this is just as much as when you're an adult, you get into a relationship and you're not good by yourself. At that point, you're bound to them. And I've seen this time and time again, they're not with each other because they love each other. And this is actually something that really stuck with me when I met my wife, I met my buddy, Chris, and we met with my buddy, Chris and we were talking, I was struggling financially. My wife's a rockstar. She's in pharmaceutical manufacturing. She's smart as shit. She went to a private university, paid for it out of her own pocket, then went and got her MBA, actually just recently graduated. She's a rock star at work, very, very successful.  

John Rowley:    00:47:16    And she was dating me who was a mentally unstable lunatic. And I was coming out of a relationship where we were stuck together. I didn't want to lose my kids. She didn't want to lose the paycheck. And, that's how it was. And then we got together with my friend, Chris. And he texted me a day later. He was like, don't fuck this up. I'm like, what are you talking about? He's like, you've got something rare. Carly loves you. She’s with you because she wants to be, she's not with you because she needs to be, she doesn't need you for shit, except for reaching something off the top shelf. Because he’s spiteful. And I laugh and I tell her about it and she's like, I don't need you for that. She's like, I got a ladder. Wow.  

John Rowley:    00:47:59    But there's something to say about being in a relationship. You want to be with somebody, not because you need to be with somebody and it's the same thing growing up. Like I'm raising my kids to be like that. I would want them to be independent. I want them to enjoy their life alone. I don't want them to stay alone, enjoy their life before tying themselves down. I had kids when I was young. My ex-wife was 18 and still in high school, she was graduating. So she had the baby, had my daughter right after she graduated. I just graduated. So we were the young stupid people that I don't want to say ruined our lives, but it didn't ruin her life, but it very much challenged our lives. So everything that we had to do was harder because of the decisions that we made when we were younger.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:48:41    Yeah. And that's true. Right? I mean all the decisions that you make, you're basically the sum of the decisions you've made in your life. Like it all adds up, over time and good decisions, bad decisions. They're all going to pile up and create the type of person that you're going to be. And if you don't like where you're at, I think it's really just a matter of making better decisions, and changing who you are.   

John Rowley:    00:49:09    Look at my podcast today because the podcast that went live today is define your future, not your past,  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:49:17    You know what? It's a complete coincidence because I did not listen to that episode yet, but I will check that one out. So, anyways, speaking of your podcast, where can people go to find more about your podcast and subscribe and listen to it?  

John Rowley:    00:49:33    Look around all platforms. So you can go to be on the barrel podcast.com. That'll put you everywhere you need to go. We're on the Beyond the Barrel podcast. On YouTube, Instagram, Facebook. That's everything. If you want to connect with me personally, I'm a little bit more active on my personal stuff. It's JohnDocRowley, doc, because automatic with the infantry and we actually just started this new thing. I think it's going to be funny. I started this new basic white guy persona, where I'm a self-proclaimed social media influencer, and I'm flamboyant and it's funny. And everybody's like, it's hilarious to me because people that know me are like, this is not you. Like, why do you sound like you're this gay man? And the other people are like, right on brother. This is powerful. I love it. Just like, this is fantastic because I don't realize that this is a complete parody.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:50:30    That's funny. That's funny. Well, it's good to have fun with that kind of stuff. Right.  

John Rowley:    00:50:36    I appreciate you having me on the show. I had a great time.   

Scott DeLuzio:    00:50:39    I had a blast too. I think this was a great episode. I liked the content, the information that you shared and everything. I think it was really good messaging and really powerful. So thank you for sharing it.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:50:54    Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website Drive On Podcast.com. We're also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at Drive On Podcast.