Joey Brown is, in his words, just another average Joe. Joey served in the Air Force as an F15E Strike Eagle weapons systems officer, and has since started a blog called Another Average Joe. The blog and community around it helps connect veterans with resources and build up the veteran community.
In this episode we talk about his transition off of active duty, and how he's found a sense of purpose in helping veterans.
Links & Resources
- Another Average Joe on Instagram
- DoD SkillBridge Program
- Candorful - practice job interviews
- Other episodes with Lyn Christian referenced in this episode:
Scott DeLuzio: 00:00:03 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting Veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I'd like to ask a favor if you haven't done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcast. If you've already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you're there click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes as soon as they come out. If you don't use Apple podcasts, you can visit DriveOnPodcast.com/subscribe to find other ways of subscribing, including our email list. I'm your host, Scott DeLuzio and now let's get on with the show. Hey everybody. Today, my guest is Joey Brown. Joey started an organization called Another Average Joe, which is a Veteran community that helps to connect Veterans with resources that are out there and available for them. Welcome to the show. Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, how you got into the military and where you've gone from there.
Joey Brown: 00:01:10 Hey, Scott, thanks for having me. I really appreciate being on the show. So just some background on how I got to another average, Joe. I think like a lot of people, my age were affected by the events of September 11th to join the military. I don't come from a military family or background necessarily, so that was the big driving factor in joining in the first place for me. I know I didn't necessarily have this preconceived notion that I was going to do 20 years or not, I just said I was gonna do it as long as I enjoyed it kind of mentality. So I went and did Air Force ROTC. And so I'd actually never flown an airplane.
Joey Brown: 00:01:59 I think this is kind of interesting and people when they hear my background, think that's kind of funny, but I was already a cadet and I told myself I was either going to do engineering or fly. And then I got a chance to fly on an incident flight on a tanker and watch them refuel some fighter jets. And I said, that's what I wanted to do. So I ended up there and ended up applying the F 15 E strike Eagle. I was a weapons systems officer. So backseater in a two seat strike Eagle did that for seven years. Scott, I just got out coming up on a year this month and really felt like through the process of getting out I had a pretty quick turnaround between the time I found out the date that I was going to separate and getting out.
Joey Brown: 00:02:44 So I worked really hard. I took advantage of some great programs, the DOD skill bridge being one of them; for readers that don't know, there's more information that I can talk to them about it. I would be more than happy to and it really set me up for success. But with the timing of me getting out in March of 2020, COVID hitting, having a stable job and everything worked out. I realized it could have gone differently. And so I wanted to try and find help for Veterans to get to that point. So I started September of last year, I started a blog called Another Average Joe and started to tell my story and from there I want to take it to the community aspect, because I feel that's what a lot of Veterans miss when they get out, it's just the camaraderie that they had when they were in. And that's a quick intro of where Another Average Joe came from. And I used the name, I wanted it to be service agnostic. I wanted to encompass all Veterans from all backgrounds. it works well with my name being Joey, but Hey, I'm just an average Joe. And if I did it, you can do it too.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:03:54 Right. I like where this is heading. It seems like you're trying to get more of the community aspect of it. That is something that when I talk to Veterans on this podcast and other places, this is frequently one of the things that they are missing, that comradery of like-minded folks that they can talk to and we'll understand where they're coming from, because quite frankly, they've been there too. That's a good direction and I think that's definitely something that people after getting out of the military are having trouble with and they need; they need that sort of community aspect of it, which I know these days is hard with COVID; it's not like you can have big group gatherings of different kinds of meetings and things like that, because that's just not something that people are a lot of times willing to do, or even able to do based on restrictions that are out there, but getting it started up and hopefully we're over this COVID stuff in the near future
Scott DeLuzio: 00:05:04 and then we can get back to meeting in person and all that kind of stuff. So, you said a little bit about Another Average Joe, where the name came from and everything, but what is it all about, as far as resources and things like that. What is the idea behind it and the direction that it's going in.
Joey Brown: 00:05:28 Yeah, certainly. So I sat down and I said, I want to be able to help Veterans, but I started to look and I talked to a lot of different mentors about it and a lot of them said, go find something specific, right? Like, there's a lot of different resources out there. And it's like, Hey, I went and did this when I got out. So, they helped people in that same background. When I started to look at it, I said, well, those already exist. If you know where you're going to go, I always use the example, like an MBA program. A lot of it seems like a lot of military officers, especially get out and go get their MBA and career pivot all that kind of stuff.
Joey Brown: 00:06:15 There's defined paths, right? There's people that specialize in that, but I wanted to look at it and say, well, what do you know, what if you don't know what you want to do, or if you want to take a slightly less traditional path when you get out and I wanted to connect all those resources together. So that's what Another Average Joe’s about. I don't have a specialty in a bunch of different areas and I never will, but I can connect you to people as I begin to grow the network that have that opportunity, and I think I'm on the episode where you had LAN talked about transitioning military, getting out is such a pivotal moment, because really you can do whatever you want. I've talked with some buddies of mine about this, and you've probably seen it as well. People get so wrapped up in what they did when they were in. And they feel like I did X, Y, Z jobs when I'm in. So that corresponds to X, Y, Z job when I get out. But especially this time you could do anything you want, but if you don't know what opportunities are out there, you're not going to take that chance.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:07:23 Yeah, absolutely. And I've used this example before. I think I might've used it in the episode that you were talking about which I'll link to in the show notes too, for anyone who wants to go back and listen to that episode. But you know, I was an infantry man in the Army and there's not a whole lot of careers in the infantry field that once you get out of the military, there's not a whole lot of door kickers and there's some correlation to other jobs such as police and things like that, but it's not like you can directly take the job that you did in the military necessarily and go and do the same thing a fighter pilot isn't going to be a fighter pilot in the civilian world.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:08:06 You could be a pilot of a commercial aircraft potentially, but you're not going to necessarily be a fighter pilot in the civilian world. So there are some differences there. But just because you had that one particular background doesn't mean that you can't go back to school and learn something else. You've gone through military training. You obviously are teachable. You're generally teachable and you can learn new things. I mean, my college degree is in accounting and I work in IT tech, I develop software now. I don't even use accounting most of the time in my work and it's definitely possible to go and pivot and learn new things especially after getting out of the military. The experiences that you had have definitely shaped who you are, and it could make you, if you leverage those experiences, it could make you into a much more valuable employee to employers in the future. So you're absolutely right with that.
Joey Brown: 00:09:18 Yeah. I agree. And for me, I did the skill bridge internship, which for anyone who doesn't know about the program, I'll give you a quick rundown. Basically, once you get within 180 days of separating, you can do an internship for a company. So you'll get paid your normal military salary, and the company cannot legally pay you. It's really a win-win if there's a high chance of them hiring you afterwards, or if they're going to teach you some kind of skill. So I used it in an internship capacity, but they also have programs for if you're trying to do technical jobs, get technical training for something that will keep your certification or whatever that you can get approved for that as well. And so I can't say enough good things about it.
Joey Brown: 00:10:08 I don't think enough people take advantage, realize you still have to work that through your chain of command. Your commander has to sign off on it and say, Hey, we can let you basically be absent for the last six months. But I think for many people, and it doesn't have to be a full six months, you could work out whatever timing works, but I just don't think enough people know about it. And I think especially with the shift that I've seen in the military, I think they're more willing to approve this kind of thing. But people have to ask and put in the work and if you don't know about it, then you're not going to ask before you get out.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:10:47 And that's one of those things too, where if you don't know that the program exists, you're not going to go and ask to do that type of thing, because that just wouldn't cross your mind that that would even be a possibility if you're not aware of it. So that's where I think things like what you're doing, the kind of community that's out there with the various people and programs and things like that that you can connect people with, will come in handy because no one person is going to know all of the things and all of the resources and programs that are available. And if someone like yourself or group of people who can refer people out to the right programs, especially when people are transitioning out or in that 180 day window, that could be a huge benefit to people, to get them aware of the things that are out there.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:11:43 I know when I came back from Afghanistan I was national guard and when we were deployed to Afghanistan, we came back and they had this whole list of different programs and services, all sorts of things that were available to us. And it was like drinking from a fire hose. And it was just so much stuff that was coming at me that most of it didn't stick. I didn't know what I had available to me because it was just so much information. and all the little pamphlets and flyers and things like that that they gave us was just so overwhelming that I didn't know what to do at all. There's so many different conditions like, do I even qualify for some of this stuff and everything, it just was so cumbersome. It's nice to have some sort of resource available that you can go in and bounce these questions off of to say, what is available for education or for career training and that type of thing.
Joey Brown: 00:12:41 Yeah, and one of my goals is to,...I've talked to a lot of people about this, I'm sure you saw this getting out, but the tap program isn't the best, and it's not necessarily the fault of the military, right? It's not the primary person, the military is not to focus on the tap program and so I do like what they did right before I got out where it's now a mandatory year from your separation date that, as long as it's a known separation, in my case, it was a little bit different because I was doing what's called the palace chase program where I was trying to trade active duty commitment for guard commitment. So I was working through that paperwork. So it wasn't like a defined date until I got approved, but for most service members getting out, they know well in advance.
Joey Brown: 00:13:27 I think that's great, even if you go through tap a year before you get out, at least it gets you or should start to get you in the mindset of getting out. And then there's some responsibility you have to go look up these resources and really start this process. I know for me personally, it was like not just leaving the military, but I went through a tremendous amount of self-improvement, just start listening to stuff and learning about the different things that I might want to do, because what I envisioned from the first day I said I wanted to get out to what I'm doing now is totally different but in a good way.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:14:08 And that's okay to pivot, you may go down one path and realize, Hey, you know, this isn't for me, or maybe it's just not the right time or whatever the case may be and it's okay to pivot and change directions as you go down. So how was that transition for you going from active duty to the guard? I've known a few people that I served with who were active duty and they came into the guard. What was that transition like for you?
Joey Brown: 00:14:35 I've personally really enjoyed it from flying the strike Eagle into a sauce unit. So working with the tech P tech Claire control party is really a different perspective, right? So I'm now instead of talking on the radio, flying overhead and working with the guys that are controlling, dropping ordinance, I'm working with the guys on the ground that are dropping the word. And so a shift in the perspective, but that was what I enjoyed the most when I was in, was closer to support trying to limit the acronyms here, but that's okay. But yeah, so just supporting the Army and supporting the guys on the ground through the Air Force. I really liked the mission of the unit, but I also liked the change of pace. It's definitely not active duty and that's what I needed at the point that I was ready to get out.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:15:34 Right. And there's pros and cons to both, you know, the active duty lifestyle and the guard or the reserve lifestyle where it's the one week in a month and two weeks a year, that type of thing. As you move along in your career, people tend to get married and start a family. And that one tends to be a little bit better for family life and being around home with your spouse and potentially kids and things like that. So, it's really a personal decision to make that sort of change. And I think that's important for people to understand too, one's not better than the other, it's just different, they are the right position for you at that time. And if it makes sense that change should happen, then if the time is right for you. So what kind of resources and things will be available for people to look into at Another Average, Joe, with the community that you're looking to to build here?
Joey Brown: 00:16:52 Yeah, certainly. So the website is going to continue to host the blog, and I'll continue to tell my story. What I would like to do is, as I wrap that up, I want to bring other Veterans on to tell their story, different services, different backgrounds, and keep the blog going like that. On the resource side, what I'm looking to do is have the resources centralized on the website and then the community aspect I'm trying to build that slightly differently. So what I'm leaning towards right now is setting up a discord server and basically allowing people to have that kind of open communication, right? So I'll set it up with some guided channels to talk you through the process from making the decision to personal resources, VA claim, whatever it is you might need, then another section for the more professional resources, like different career options and that kind of stuff.
Joey Brown: 00:17:58 And you're able to facilitate the conversations, right? Because somebody may get on there and say, Hey, I'm doing this. And hopefully there's somebody else that, as the network grows, it's like, Hey, I did something similar or I'm coming from your background. I can help you translate your skills better than I would. And so that's really the community aspect, right? The website is going to continue to grow as I find more resources that I can post on there. Right now it's just resources that I personally used during my transition process. I'm most familiar with them, but actively am working with a bunch of different organizations to connect. I felt a great one, Clada Outlaws, Inc. partnered with them and they pretty much exclusively just try to get Veterans into trade jobs.
Joey Brown: 00:18:48 They've got a great way they do that. And that's kind of what I imagine is bringing all of those different little organizations together that specialize in one thing. And then allowing that open communication where people could come in and just ask questions, because a lot of times, if you're just Googling how do I do this for someone leaving the military, there may be a generic checklist, but if you could talk to a person who's done it, I think that would be the easiest way. So facilitating those conversations is really the big thing for the community aspect.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:19:26 And following in the footsteps, really of people who've been there and done that, that have transitioned out of the military. They started a career in a particular field; they've made all the mistakes already. They've gone down that path and they figured things out and they know what to do, what not to do in a particular career. So it just makes sense to pick their brain and follow after them and that's why I've had people on from the VFW and American Legion and other organizations like that. I think it's important for people to realize that there is a community of Veterans out there, many of which are older, but they've been in your shoes before and they've transitioned out of the military at some point.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:20:26 They've moved on. They started a career, they started their family and they moved on and they've lived life. it does make sense to join these organizations and meet up with these people. Some of these people might be you 20, 30 years in an industry and they have a lot of knowledge in that and it may be the industry that you want to get into. So if they're willing, pick their brain, go there and see what you can get out of them, chat with them and find out what would be good for your career to follow in those footsteps, you know? So outside of lacking the connections and the connections with the people who are maybe in the industries that they want to get to, why do you think it's so hard for Veterans in particular to adjust and find a career after their military life.
Joey Brown: 00:21:42 So, to me, it really comes down to how much effort you put in during the transition. I think people underestimate in some ways, how pivotal it is, right? If whatever you did when you were in, if there's a clear path that's kind of linear to an outside job that you also enjoy and that works for you. That's great. But I think for a lot of Veterans, it's not, and sometimes statistically, I don't know what the statistics are, but Veterans are not as likely to stick around in their first job that they joined, that they have, and I think part of that just is because you don't know exactly what it is you want to do.
Joey Brown: 00:22:40 You're worried about finding a job, putting food on the table, providing for your family, all that kind of stuff, which is important. And so that's why I encourage people to take the time when they're getting that military paycheck to start thinking about it. And it's definitely a balance, right? Whatever your mission is, whatever your job is, you still gotta be there, and contribute; you can't just not show up. But there needs to be a balance and a longer, more thought out transition. So I think that is why Veterans struggle. And I think a lot of people don't want to necessarily talk so openly about it. If you can talk about it, then you can help solve the problem.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:23:24 Yeah. And there's probably a little bit of the culture where it's like, Oh, I can figure it out on my own. I don't need anybody else to help me figure this out. And there's really no shame, I don't think, in asking for help, especially in stuff that you maybe aren't so familiar with, working at a civilian job for instance, is not something that a lot of people from the military have. A lot of people join right out of high school or maybe they went to college or something. And then joined after that. They don't have a whole lot of experience working a civilian job. So applying for a civilian job with filling out the resume and applying, how do you do the interview process, all that kind of stuff, that's just not something that is intuitive necessarily, unless you've done it a few times or someone has taught you how to do that. And so I think reaching out to people finding these programs that are available is definitely a good thing too, to help them out in that transition.
Joey Brown: 00:24:38 Yeah. I agree. I'll give a good example of what you were just talking about, right. Like imagine all your friends, if you enlisted straight out of high school, imagine your friends from high school, they either went on to college, or they went on into the workforce, most likely, they already have gone through that interview process in one way or another. And then if you went to college and then didn't join the military, well, the people that you graduated college with, they had job interviews. Right? I did, I went to college, I went straight into the Air Force. So the first time I was ever thinking about a job interview was a year ago or a little more than a year ago. And I used a company called Candor Full, another great example. So Candor Full provides totally free virtual practice interviews.
Joey Brown: 00:25:26 And they've got people in all different kinds of industries and there was, I forget the exact kind of backstory of how they got started, but I used them as a huge resource. I have a post about it on the website talking about how it really helped me and I used it to get ready and understand the process. I used it for specific interview with a company that I didn't end up working for, but just that preparation made me so much more prepared when I got to the company where I'm working now to do the interview, that there's no way I would have been that prepared otherwise, I could sit on my own and I could talk to other people about it, but unless you just sit down and do an interview, you learn by doing, or I think a lot of people do in that regard.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:26:23 Yeah. And when I was in college before I even was in the military. But one of the things that the college offered it wasn't like a credited course or anything like that. It was a voluntary extra thing that you could do if you wanted. It was a thing where you would meet with people for mock interviews and they would give you what the job was, and you'd go in there and pretend like you were actually going in for an interview. So you actually had the experience of doing an interview before you actually went to your first interview. They would give you feedback of how you did, how you answered the questions and things like that.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:27:05 They did all sorts of things like, etiquette at business dinners and other things along those lines, how to fill out your resume and how to make a good impression, all that kind of stuff. But it was one of those things where they understood that a lot of the people who are in school came there straight from high school. So a lot of them never were even on an interview, not for a professional job anyways. And so it really did help us as we were thinking about what our career was going to be, it really did help us prepare and do our best on those interviews and everything. So you know, even as college kids could stand to have some coaching in that area. And there's no shame in getting some support in that area. If you're transitioning out of the military either, I think it's a great way to go.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:28:16 Anything else that you would like to add for people who might be in that 180 day window, or thinking of getting; out anything else that you would add as far as advice or resources that you might be willing to share or other tips, things like that for those people?
Joey Brown: 00:28:38 So, looking back at my own transitioning thought process, one of the mistakes that I fell into, and I talked about this with several people now, but early on, I said, well, I'm just going to get out. I felt burned out at the time. I want to get out, I just want to find a job. I really don't care what it is. I remember one day our commander said, Hey, if you just want to go make widgets in a widget factory, you shouldn't be in the military. And I was just like, yeah, that sounds great. I don't care and that's not the right attitude to have. I think that is potentially another reason that people have struggled to find a job that gives them meaning.
Joey Brown: 00:29:26 Because they look at it as, okay. I did whatever it was when I was in, I just want a job when I get out, I think to make that successful transition, you have to find what is going to be next for you, you know? And I can’t answer that for you. You can't answer that for other people, right? It's something you have to find yourself, but what things will be meaningful to you and then that should guide you in the direction of whatever kind of career or job path you are looking into.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:30:00 Right? Yeah. I think that's great advice. You have to do some soul searching and dig down deep and figure out what it is that you want to do. It looks like we're at a good time to wrap this up. So, it has been a pleasure speaking with you and finding out about everything that you've been up to. Where can people go to get in touch with you and find out more about Another Average Joe?
Joey Brown: 00:30:29 Yeah, certainly. So you can check out the website, anotheraveragejoe.com or on Instagram at a third_ABD_Joe that's where I'm most active on Instagram. I've also got LinkedIn and Facebook; they're both called Another Average Joe, a Veteran story. If you look them up on there and then feel free to connect with me personally on LinkedIn as well.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:30:56 Okay, perfect. and I will have links to all of those on your social media and your website, all of that in the show notes for everyone can find it there. And again, it's been a pleasure. Thank you for joining us.
Joey Brown: Thanks so much, Scott.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:31:14 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, DriveOnPodcast.com. We're on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @ DriveOnPodcast.