Burden of Command & Drive On Collaboration

 
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Earl Breon, a USMC veteran and host of the Burden of Command podcast joins me for a rather unique episode - the first for this podcast anyway - where we do joint collaborative episode. In this episode both Earl and I introduce ourselves to each other's respective audiences so that you can learn more about us, our stories, and what we have to offer to you as a listener.

I would encourage you to also check out his podcast Burden of Command wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Transcript

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 Drive On Podcasts.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. Hi, my name is Scott DeLuzio with the Drive On Podcast,

Earl Breon:    00:00:49    And my name is Earl Breon with the Burden of Command Podcast.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:00:53    And we're doing a joint episode today where we're combining forces and this episode will be played on both of our podcasts today. So, we'll do a little back and forth and get to know each other and we'll be able to tell you a little bit about ourselves and if you're not familiar with us, you'll learn a bit about us through this episode and a little bit of what we got going on. So, Earl, I would say welcome to the show, but it is also your show as well. So, we'll skip over those formalities, I suppose. Welcome to our show, right? Yeah. So, let's jump right in.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:01:39    We had been talking offline a little bit, but before we started recording and we're talking about a few different topics and I think all of these topics are really important topics that each of us have some experience with. But one of them that I thought was especially important is the topic of the transition out of the military. I know a lot of people get out of the military and when they're in that transition period, it almost feels like a light switch is going off where they have this military identity, they're either a soldier or Marine or airman, whatever the case may be and then the next day they wake up and all of a sudden they're a civilian, and now they have to figure out how to go back and navigate civilian life. You have an interesting story about that. Would you mind talking to us a little bit about that story a little bit about how that went for you?

Earl Breon:    00:02:37    Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for asking, and I've shared this story I think at the beginning of my podcast, but it's good to revisit and for your listeners, my story is not the stereotypical story that's out there right now, where we have a lot of say Navy seals and Air Force recon and Rangers that are writing books, and they've got all these glorious metals and combat experience. I served pre 9/11, and my career was abruptly cut short due to the anthrax vaccine situation. Essentially I went through the medical board process, having some issues and the Navy board came back and said, when you're in weather you don't have to worry about passing out when you run well, being a Marine, you do have to worry about passing out when you run my CEO made it very clear.

Earl Breon:    00:03:26    And so, he processed me for an administrative separation. So, I went from being a Marine to being told you've got 10 days and you're no longer a Marine. And I didn't have a lot of time to really process it. You know, I wasn't looking forward to an EAs date. Luckily, I got into some of the transition classes and that helped me get a job in federal civilian service eventually. But in between I had to stop; I was working at a faucet factory in Northern Michigan, my wife's hometown, and it's stuck with me. They're going from this rigid, structured kind of environment where you could rely on the person next to you to being in a place where people showed up to work late, they took off early, and it just grated on me and then eventually getting into the federal workforce, I saw some of those same things. And I'm like, this is your starting time you're supposed to be here then. And I was working with a Navy veteran and he's like, son, you gotta realize you're not in the Marines anymore. Well, dang it. Shouldn't everybody show up to work on time. That's something, I think.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:04:38    Exactly.

Earl Breon:    00:04:40    It took me a while to come to grips with, he was right. I'm not in the Marines anymore. I had to adjust my thinking and I'll tell you I'm sad to admit that I took a little too far the other direction. Because it was like four or five years down the road, I was working with an air force veteran for the first time. And he's like, you were in the Marines. I was like, yeah. Why? He's like, well, you don't act like a Marine and that stung.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:05:08    Right, Yeah. Because once a Marine always a Marine.

Earl Breon:    00:05:12    So, y'all struggled with that balance for a little bit of finding where in the civilian world, where that line of not being the stereotypical Marine is versus being able to hold people accountable.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:05:26    For sure. Right. And that's a struggle that a lot of people go through when they come out. I have posted a question on a Facebook group a few days ago just asking, what are some of the biggest troubles that people have when they get out of the military? And one of the most common things that people were posting was just dealing with civilians and their mindset and their attitude about things, like you were saying about work and things like that. And the other was just that readjustment period and trying to find their place in the world. And the missing the comradery that you have in the service and so, your story is probably not too far from what a lot of other people are going through. And that's why I wanted to bring it up because, I feel like some people might be sitting there thinking, Oh, it is just me. I'm all alone in this, but that's not the case at all. There's a lot of people who are going through this, so, that's really a good background on you and your situation was like when you got out of the military

Earl Breon:    00:06:45    Now really quick, for my listeners, I want to give you the same courtesy here. Take a second, introduce yourself really quick, give your backstory and who you are.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:06:58    Yeah, sure. So, hi again, my name is Scott DeLuzio. My podcast is the Drive On Podcast and I served in the Connecticut Army National Guard as an infantryman for about six years. I got in around 2005, and for the most part, it was just the one weekend a month, two weeks a year training that the national guard does. We had some state level things that we got called up for natural disasters and that type of thing but nothing too crazy. And in late 2009, we were getting ready for deployment to Afghanistan and I should preface this by saying that my younger brother was enlisted in the Vermont Army National Guard, also, infantryman, and our units fell under the same brigade.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:08:04    So, despite the fact that we were in two separate States, we all fell into the same brigade. And then that whole brigade was deployed to Afghanistan at the same time. So, him and I both we were located in different bases, different parts of the country but we were both deployed to Afghanistan at the same time. We get to Afghanistan in February 2010. And by August, 2010, my brother was killed in action; and so, that's a big part of my story and my background after coming home dealing with the mental health issues that just naturally come with being in combat and also dealing with the grief of losing a loved one and all the complications that came with it is a big part of my story and where I got the incentive to try to help other people out because  it really wasn't easy for me those first few months, even the first couple of years after coming back home with dealing with things like the stresses from combat some of the moral injuries that you might have.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:09:18    We talked about that before we started recording a little bit which I'm sure we can jump into that topic too, because that's an interesting topic and dealing with all that stuff and then the thing that really eats me up inside is seeing the number of veterans who are committing suicide on a daily basis. The company that I was in was fortunate enough not to have any combat related deaths over in Afghanistan, but since coming back home, we've lost several soldiers to suicide. And to me that's just unacceptable. Like there needs to be more going on and more to be done about that. And that's the basis for why I started the podcast a little over a year ago now is that I know there's people in the VA there's people who are out there, mental health professionals who are well meaning they're doing their jobs, are doing the best that they can,

Scott DeLuzio:    00:10:17    maybe they just don't have the resources they need. Maybe they don't have the availability to help everyone and do all the things that they need to do. So, I figured, I'm just one person, how can I reach the most people out there? And I figured, Hey, start a podcast. It's pretty accessible, it's free for anyone to listen to. And I'll talk about things like, what you talked about in your little intro there; talk about the transition periods, the struggles that people go through and bring on real people, not people who have only experienced this stuff in the classroom. People who've actually experienced it in real life, bring them on and talk to them in person talk about their experiences, what they went through, how they overcame these things, or if they haven't overcome them, what they're doing to work on that, to get through there so, that the people who are listening know that they're not alone, that there's other people out there who are going through the same things

Scott DeLuzio:    00:11:16    and for the people who have come through this, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that there's better solutions than some of those permanent solutions that sometimes people decide to choose. So, that's me in a nutshell a little bit about my background and everything.

Earl Breon:    00:11:37    I love that. And it's great. I want to touch on all those, but if you don't mind you know, there's one static question I ask all the guests on my show and I'm sure my listeners are eager to hear your response. When you hear the term Burden of Command with all of your experiences you just shared, what does that phrase mean to you?

Scott DeLuzio:    00:11:59    Burden of Command. That's a good question. The first thing that just jumped in my head was, so, the day that my brother was killed, my commanding officer was the one who informed me that my brother was killed and having known him, my commanding officer and been on a friendly basis with him and everything, that had to be one of the hardest things that he had to do. I never really spoke to him about this afterwards. I feel a little bit bad about that, but I never really spoke to him about it, but that had to have been one of the hardest things that he's really had to do is sit down with another soldier and tell him that a family member was killed.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:12:53    Not a friend, not a distant relative or something like that, but it's like the little kid that you grew up playing in the backyard with, he's not a kid anymore, he's gone and so, I think of the reason why I tell that is I think of this burden that these people who are in charge in the leadership positions that they need to put aside their own emotions and their own personal feelings about certain situations and do what's right for the people who are in their command and take care of those people. That's a heavy burden to carry sometimes. And I think it's not an easy job; obviously, someone has to do these types of things and there's other situations out there. I use one from my own personal background but there's other situations where the leaders have to take charge and put their own feelings and personal situations aside to be able to lead their people, but that's kind of what jumped in my mind when you said that phrase and hopefully that's an acceptable answer for what we're talking about here.

Earl Breon:    00:14:17    Definitely. I mean, that's what I tell folks there's no right or wrong answer. I've gotten a lot of different answers to that question, again for my listeners, they've heard, I've had your dad on the show, Mark DeLuzio, he introduced us. And I'll say the same thing to you that I said to him, sorry for your loss. You know, we talked about that comradery and that brothership, but for you, it was a literal brothership. And as much as it hurts, I'm empathizing with you here on that, as much as it hurts to lose a I'm using air quotes here, brother, as we use the term in the service it had to be a whole other level losing a literal brother.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:15:00    Yeah, for sure. And I remember I think I might've just been in shock like the whole next day. The next day, if anyone's familiar with this, it's called the ramp ceremony where they bring the bodies onto the plane to be flown out of country. And there's a ceremony where lots of officials, there were generals and there were people from other countries, other soldiers from other countries and civilian contractors and things like that all came to pay their respects. Think of it sort of like a wake the way you traditionally would see that. But you know, I was just in shock that day and I had a complete lack of emotions. Like I wasn't sad. I wasn't happy, I wasn't angry. It just was like emotions were just shut off, I think for me, and it was a surreal kind of experience going through all that. So, anyways…

Earl Breon:    00:15:58    Yeah, well, I don't want to hog up all the time since especially this being a joint show. So, where would you like to take the conversation now?

Scott DeLuzio:    00:16:08    Well, you had mentioned that you wanted to talk a little bit about the moral injuries and things like that earlier, before we started recording. What were your thoughts on that? What did you want to say on that?

Earl Breon:    00:16:21    Well, it's something I wish more employers and just leaders, period wrapped their minds around. It's an interesting concept and I heard you talk about it a little bit, so, I know you get it, but you know, for the listeners who haven't heard me talk about this before, they call it moral injuries because while there's no physical assault, pain going on your brain lights up the same as if you've had some kind of physical stimulus and it creates that type of pain. When we're talking about things like veterans’ suicide. (A) It's not all combat related (B) it's not all limited to the time and service, and (C) it's real. And it's like any other injury, right?

Earl Breon:    00:17:12    You know, if you get a small fracture in your shin, that's not going to do much. If you get a second one, that's going to put you at more risk of total breakage. But as these things compound, you end up with a total breakage, and that's where we get folks who end up, as you mentioned, committing suicide, the ultimate way out. And, especially in our world, in the veteran world, a lot of people think it's automatic. You were in the service, you were overseas, you have seen some stuff, you've got to have all this baggage. And, I've heard employers verbally say, I'm a little hesitant to hire veterans because the whole PTSD thing. Well, not everybody has PTSD and not all PTSD is combat related. You're just as likely to have somebody with PTSD because they were a victim of childhood rape or something like that.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:18:12    Even a car accident or something like that. Like you could get into an accident on the way to work and then you have some issues where you can't drive down that street anymore, because it just is too much for you to handle. And it's definitely not limited to combat veterans or veterans of any sort.

Earl Breon:    00:18:36    And this has given the skill set to be able to deal with that. You wouldn't tell a victim of sexual assault; I'm not going to hire you because you might have PTSD. So, why would you say it to a veteran? But it's a skillset that a lot of leaders need and it is empathy. And I think that's the thing that shocks a lot of people when they hear veterans talk about this is that's why we use the term brotherhood.  We love one another. And are you familiar with the works of Lieutenant Colonel David Grossman?

Scott DeLuzio:    00:19:12    I'm not, no, but I'm making a note now to check it out.

Earl Breon:    00:19:17    He's great. He's a I think the term that they coined for him as a combat psychologist, he's an army veteran. And he really studies the question that got him going was how one can human being kill another human being. And he goes through the whole thing and he's got all these statistics. He shows that all through history, even in war humans will go out of their way to not kill another human being, even in combat. While these incidents from the civil war the rifles were double loaded and they weren't used on the battlefield, double loaded Romans not using the Gladius the way it's supposed to. They were taught to stab instead of a slash, but they would slash going back to that with that brotherhood.

Earl Breon:    00:20:12    We saw a sharp increase in PTSD rates going from WWII, and there was a slight increase in Korea, but there was a sharp increase in Vietnam. And he says that the really big difference in there was mobility, right after WWII, arguably soldiers saw much worse atrocities, whether you were in the European or the Japanese theater of the war, you saw more terrible things then what you saw even as bad as Vietnam was the difference was that comradery, when it was over, you got put on a ship, you had a couple months steaming back to the USA amongst your brothers and sisters. And there were some in the nurse Corps at the time, sisters to decompress and talk about it. In Vietnam, you were literally in it one day on a plane and back home the next, and you had no decompression time,

Scott DeLuzio:    00:21:15    Right? Yeah. Yeah. And that's something that people are seeing these days too, where they're coming back from overseas and they're not getting the time to have that decompression at least maybe not a sufficient amount of time for that decompression. And I think that's something as a society we can probably have a little more empathy for. I know my return back home was definitely abrupt.  I was out running a mission and then the next day I was on a plane on my way back home. And granted that the flight from Afghanistan is not the quickest flight around back home or whatever. But still, I had very little time with any other soldiers that I knew because after I left the mission that I was on, I was basically with other soldiers but I didn't really know any of them.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:22:21    And so, I didn't really have anyone I could talk to that I trusted and knew and things like that. And the next people that I saw that I could talk to and I really trusted was my family when I got back home. And that to me was a problem because I didn't have that chance to decompress and turn off. And when you're in a combat environment, you're on alert 24/7, pretty much you're in that always on always ready mode. You're always head on a swivel. You're looking for potential problems. And then you come home and people might expect you to just flip that off, like it's a light switch and you really need a dimmer. You need something to slowly turn it down to a lower level and you need to be able to handle that with people that you trust and know, and who also have been through the same experiences as you. So, that's very true.

Earl Breon:    00:23:16    Yeah, and that's extremely valuable, and again myself right. You know, I was pre 9/11. I never saw combat. I had a lot of training, just in case it ever happened. But even though I'm a veteran, I'm never going to fully identify with it. And we see that a lot in the veteran community and this lack of understanding about how different people are affected differently. I always get a kick out of and I'm not sure if you've noticed, but the fireworks, holidays, 4th of July, things like that, you always get somebody who's well-meaning, that'll pose, Hey, think of veterans as you're setting up your fireworks, this could trigger something. And then you get some salty crusty veteran and it's you don’t know the difference

Earl Breon:    00:24:02    between a Roman candle. And it's like, that's not the point.  You have been able to process that and at the very least think you're okay, there are veterans that just the slightest noise, what happened and it sets them off, and I've heard, again, I've talked with veterans, I've heard, sometimes it's a smell, there is a guy, he was in a particularly what's a good way to put this fecal infested area of Afghanistan. And he said, to this day, anytime somebody around just passes gas or like if there's a baby and they fill their diaper, whatever, just that smell of that fecal matter takes him right back to where that area was. So, you never know, what's going to set somebody off.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:25:00    Yeah. And they're the senses that we have are very strongly tied to your memories and the thoughts that you carry with you, things like smells and sights and noises. I had somebody else on the podcast that had talked about how he was in Vietnam and he later went on to learn how to fly helicopters in the army. And he was on a training mission where he was flying the helicopters, a live-fire training mission, and the sounds of the guns going off and the explosions of the missiles and everything else that he was shooting off triggered a PTSD attack on him and brought him back to being in Vietnam where all these explosions and gunfire and things like that were going off. And it was really hard for him to go through all of that and live through that.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:25:57    All of these senses sounds, sights, smells, tastes even could bring you back to something, even myself. I was listening to a song a few months ago that I hadn't heard since I had been in Afghanistan. And it took me right back to the last time that I remembered hearing that song. And I was like, I felt like I was there. Like I was actually in Afghanistan and it was kind of an interesting thing to see that powerful effect of how closely memory is tied to those senses.

Earl Breon:    00:26:35    Well, yeah. You know, and that's the thing is our brains are weird, wonderful things, right? Like so, what we do a lot here at the leadership failings we do leadership and tie it in with diversity and inclusion training. Our kind of standard motto, if you will, is if you understand all the things it takes to be a good leader, you understand how important diversity and inclusiveness is to build a strong functioning team. And we talk about a lot of these same things as far as from the employer standpoint and how our brain works with neuroscience and those biases.  And there's some crazy research you're talking about the senses; there's a gentleman, John Barge out of Harvard, and he's almost made a game if you will, out of finding what influences human decision making.

Earl Breon:    00:27:38    And he did this one study where he proved through this study, that the temperature of your drink influences how you view your next interaction.  If you have a cold drink in your hand, you're more likely to view your next interaction a little bit more harshly, a little bit more coldly, in his specific scenario, he was talking about the likelihood of hiring someone. And so, leading up to that question, he would give people random drinks. Some people, it was cold, some people it was hot and there was a direct correlation. If you gave somebody a cold drink, they were more likely to not hire that person. If he gave them a hot drink, those feelings of warmth and love and calmness and all that we talked about being warm and fuzzy, they were more likely to hire that person. That's not something you think about.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:28:35    Yeah. And then, tying all this back into a leadership standpoint is that, I mean, you're not dealing with robots here. You know, you're dealing with living, breathing human beings and they have their own backgrounds, their own stories, their own unique set of circumstances that make them who they are and you might look at someone who was in the service and a veteran and say, “Oh, well, I want to stay away from that person because of the PTSD aspect or things like that.” They might be unstable or whatever, but they bring a lot of other things to the table, and you can't dismiss them for one thing that may or may not even be an issue. You know, it's just a little bit of a bias that you might have. And so, we all have our own unique set of issues that we're carrying around with us, whether you served or not. And I think that's just something that you have to learn how to work around. Do you have any background on that and anything that you want to add to that?

Earl Breon:    00:29:48    Well, you know, I mean, you hit the nail on the head, it is a bias and the hardest thing for us to do is get people to admit that they have biases. You know, we've seen classic example, few years back, Paula Dean, she tried to admit and come clean that maybe she had, or that she had used some racial insensitive language, 20 years ago. Nobody found this, nobody stumbled upon it. She admitted it and apologized for it, but she got beat over the head. And basically, Paula Dean went from being everywhere to now, you hardly ever hear of her. But it shouldn't be okay to admit these biases because we all have them. And if your bias as a hiring official is, I'm not going to hire veterans because I don't want to deal with these issues.

Earl Breon:    00:30:38    Okay. Fine. Be forward about that and talk to people. Right. Educate yourself. What is it that is unique about veterans and how can you better lead them? Because like you said, we bring a ton of skills. You know every one of us we have, as we talked about in the opening, there's a set of standards that we love to live up to. We're going to show up on time. We're going to do the job to the best of our ability based on the guidelines that are set out in front of us and we're going to bring a set of leadership skills to the table that most of the people on your team, whether they have a college degree or not have never been exposed to. I mean, you know, for instance you take a Marine versus a straight out of college, that out of college is going to be good, but you're passing up on a lot of experience, leadership, adaptability, all of these things. And companies like Google just did this whole, over the past six, seven, eight years on their hiring practices. They've stopped looking at GPA. They've stopped looking at your level of degree and all that. And they look for, are you dependable? Are you adaptable? Can you get along? Do you have teamwork skills? And they show that those are much more valuable and much better indicator of somebody’s success as an employee. And we bring all of those things to the table

Scott DeLuzio:    00:32:09    Yeah. Well, there's always going to be exceptions for every rule, but yeah, I think you're right. You did hit the nail there on the head that most of us will be coming out of the military with those types of leadership traits. And one of the other things too, that I don't think a lot of people realize, I know this is true in the army. I don't know about the Marine Corps, other branches of the service, but in the army, they always told us that you should be able to do that job above you and the job two jobs above you and including your own and everything below you is in terms of the rank structure and I found that to be very true when I was in Afghanistan.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:32:54    I was a team leader on paper that was in charge of three or four guys at any given time but realistically we'd go out on missions and sometimes I would be in charge of the entire mission and I'd be in charge of 20 or 30 guys at that point. So, I was doing much more than the job that I was supposed to have “on paper.” There's that adaptability that you were talking about where just because something changes and a situation comes up, you need to still be able to do whatever job is presented to you. If everyone in an army unit goes out and does the job that they're doing on paper they're in charge of X number of people and they're doing whatever their job is.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:33:54    and then an enemy attack happens and someone gets taken out, you have to adapt right away. There's no transition period there. It's now you're stepping up into that next guy shoes and taking over his job because that's just how things have to happen. And if you don't, people are, if you hesitate, people are going to end up getting hurt and so, with that sort of training, a lot of veterans I think, are going to have that mindset where that's not in my job description, but it's still a job that needs to get done and I'm going to do it because I see it needs to be done. And I'm just going to take care of it until it gets done. I think that's something that people will miss out on if they pass over veterans for the fact that they're veterans.

Earl Breon:    00:34:44    Yeah, no, a hundred percent. And I like to throw in movie quotes because a lot of people's experiences with the military are through movies. And for the folks who are having trouble, maybe completely grasping on what Scott's talking about here, they have that great scene in the movie, We Were Soldiers with Mel Gibson where they're doing the landing for air Cav. And like, he just walks up to the skid plate and he slams the Sergeant on the chest, you’re dead. And he points to the corporal and says, you're in charge. What do you do? And he hesitates, he smacks him in the chest. So, your dead, and he points the next guy and says, okay, he's dead. What do you do? And yeah, you've gotta be willing. We do the same thing, in the Marines we talked about, everybody's a leader and we're supposed to hold each other accountable and it's true.

Earl Breon:    00:35:33    And I think that's another thing in the civilian world where it's kind of an irony. Because yes, we have a rank structure we're supposed to respect the rank and the command, and maybe the army is a little bit different, but in the Marines, if you see somebody, it doesn't matter if you're a private and you see somebody who's not doing something right. You have a responsibility to look out for them and say something. And in the corporate world, they're almost religious, we're going to stick to the chain of command. And if you jump at it, it's this Cardinal sin. Or if you talk above your pay grade, how many organizations have you ever been in where the janitor feels free to talk to the CEO?

Scott DeLuzio:    00:36:17    Right, exactly. Yeah. I mean, other than are you done with that? Can I take that for you? You know, that type of thing, like outside of that, but there's very little interaction, but one of the things that you have to do is be able to trust your people and interest them to make decisions on their own, delegate decision making abilities to those people because otherwise you're going to start creating some bottlenecks at the top and things are just not going to get done. You have to allow people to be able to make those types of decisions. And that's something that I noticed in the army is something that was very heavily relied upon is the ability for the boots on the ground, the people who are actually in the mission, not the higher ups, the commanders and all the brass who were sitting on the sidelines, who were just hearing what's going on over the radio.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:37:14    They weren't necessarily making all the decisions. They might chime in from time to time, if they have something pertinent to say, but with our missions that we'd be on, we're on the ground. We make the decisions as we see it. And I was a Sergeant an enlisted rank and sometimes I was the highest-ranking person there, and I was making the decisions on what needed to be done. And so, that's not the case in every situation there; there's usually people who are higher ranking out on these missions, but it's not always the case. So, they rely on the people who are there to make those types of decisions. And I think that's something that could definitely be applied to the corporate world. Especially with your audience, the people that you've talked to on a regular basis here, it seems like that's something that they need to be able to let go of and allow those people to take charge and take responsibility for those types of things.

Earl Breon:    00:38:19    Yeah, absolutely. I served in peace time and to make it worse, I was weather. So, I was I think the army used the same acronym. I was opposed personnel other than grunt and, you know, but you're right. I mean, even in my situation, I was in weather and I was in Biloxi when hurricane George hit. Here I am a 19-year-old, just freshly promoted. No, I hadn't even been promoted Lance corporal yet. I was still an E2. And it was my turn to do the brief to the major general to start air force general in charge of the whole base. And my responsibility was giving him a brief on the hurricane track and make a recommendation on what we should do with the millions, maybe even close to a billion dollars’ worth of material and personnel we had on base. Not many corporations are going to invest that level of authority in somebody who has been with the organization less than six months. And in some cases, they shouldn't, but in some cases they should because that instance, I briefed out what was going to happen. And we were able to bug out and lock things down and get aircraft out and Biloxi took pretty close to a direct hit and it was the right call. They could have easily said, look, I'm a major general, I'm the CEO of this thing. Come on.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:39:32    Yeah. What do you really know? Come on. Yeah.

Earl Breon:    00:39:34    But, he listened and again, I think that's the thing that a lot of people don't get about military service is yes, the rank is there, almost more of an administrative purpose. Everybody has the same responsibilities and on the same mission and looking for the same things. And you have to have that boots on the ground. Just imagine if you get into an altercation and well, “Hey, this machine gun nest isn't where Intel said it was, I'm going to have to adapt the plan. Let me call HQ. HQ has got a call set com, set coms, got a call from the Pentagon. t would be terrible. Before anybody even got the message up the chain hustle, lesson decision came back down, right?

Scott DeLuzio:    00:40:19    Yeah. That machine guns gone by the time that message gets to the president or whoever all the way at the top of the chain that is going to, that it's going to get to. And then it has to work its way back down. So, yeah, that would be a terrible situation. But the other thing that it does by allowing the people who are on the ground, who are on the front lines, if you will in and taking, being able to take responsibility and make their own decisions is it makes them take ownership of the situation too. And so, when they see things start to go sideways, they know, okay, this is on me because this was my call. This was my decision, my idea, or whatever to go about this route. And you know, they'll take ownership as opposed to pointing fingers at somebody else, which we all know it doesn't really solve anything. It doesn't fix it, the situation, but when I see that things are starting to go sideways, they're going to make darn sure that they're going to fix it and they're going to, they're going to make it work, you know?

Earl Breon:    00:41:23    Yeah, no you know, a hundred percent and I get pushback on that. You know, when we're talking to folks, they're like, well, you know, I just, I don't have, I don't have people on my team that I can trust that level of. Well, that's your fault.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:41:36    That's the leadership problem.

Earl Breon:    00:41:39    If you don't have those people on your team, you did a shitty job of putting your team together,

Scott DeLuzio:    00:41:42    or training your team. You know, maybe you have a bunch of junior people who are not capable of doing that, but they need the training. So, invest in the training, get them the training that they need. If they need experience, get them experience, hold their hand for a little bit to get them trained up to the point where they can make these decisions and you're confident that I don't want to say that they're going to make the right decision because you can't have an absolute, a hundred percent guarantee of that all the time but that they have the ability to make the right decision. And if they don't have that ability, then like you said, you made a poor decision in creating that team, right?

Earl Breon:    00:42:21    No. And we talked kind of poked funded Navy seals earlier but there is a Navy seal, Jocko Willink. He and his friend Lane Bev, and they wrote the book, Extreme Ownership, fantastic book, it was a fantastic book, but even he had to go on this mission afterwards, because what happened was a lot of people read the book and he heard extreme ownership is I need to say, it's my fault. And you had a lot of people's going to say, it's my fault. It's my fault. I take ownership. That is kind of what I was saying. But you still have to do kind of what you're talking here. You still have to do that analysis. Sure. It's your fault. As a leader, you should have put your team together.

Earl Breon:    00:42:59    You should have made better decisions. You should have given better instructions. You said that all these things, but you have to go deeper and figure out why and why, where you failed the team. And even if the team failed, like we're talking about here, even if Tommy didn't do his job, you still failed because you didn't understand Tommy's capabilities and you didn't put him in a position to succeed. You put him in the position to fail. And so that's the thing with ownership. It's not just, it's my fault. It's yes, it is your fault. But do you understand why it's your fault? It's a question. My wife asks me all the time. Do you understand why, what you did?  And that goes back to the whole thing where wives are much smarter, and better leaders than we give them credit for.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:43:46    For sure. Absolutely. You're not going to catch me saying anything other than that.

Earl Breon:    00:43:52    But I mean, it's the truth. You don't understand what you did? When our wives ask us that we feel challenged. I mean, me, I know I do. When my wife asks me, I was like, wait, of course I do. But I really don't. You know, and in my mind, I don't have a clue, but when we talk about ownership, it's not just saying yes, it's saying yes, and I'm going to figure out what went wrong and I'm going to take the responsibility to make a corrective action moving forward. As you mentioned, do I need to train somebody up more? Did I do a terrible job at what the expected outcomes were going to be? Did I just pick the wrong team? We'll go back to the moral injuries and tie that in. Did I not understand that Johnny's dad is in stage four cancer and could die at any second, but you put a high stress task on him. That's not the time to put people in high stress.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:44:45    Right? Exactly. Yeah. That's for sure a great point. I don't think people think about that. They might sit on a pedestal or whatever. They might sit there looking at wargaming look at all the pieces of their puzzle and looking at them at the individuals that they have on their team as tools a means to an end, to get a particular job accomplished or job done. And they may not be thinking of, Oh, well, like you said, Johnny's dad is going through cancer treatment and he's probably stressed out. Or his wife just had a baby and he probably didn't get a lot of sleep the night before, those types of things. These are people, like I said before, we're not dealing with robots here that are just tools that accomplish jobs.

Earl Breon:    00:45:37    One of the reasons veterans have some of the stigma that they do is the homelessness piece, right? You know, there's a large segment of veterans that are homeless. Well, why when you go back and you look at how in the early stages of the global war on terror, the standard method of treatment was here, take a fist full of pills until the pain goes away. And we're just going to keep giving you a fist full of pills, and then you get people addicted to pills, and then you realize, Hey, it's not a good idea to get people addicted to pills. And so, we're going to stop giving you pills. Now you've got a whole bunch of people who are addicted to opioids, but now they have no way of getting opioids when you don't take the time to fix the addiction that you created. And then you just expect them to fend for themselves.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:46:37    Yeah. It's the law of unintended consequences where you're trying to fix one thing and you don't look two or three steps down the road to see what problems are going to end up coming up from all of this.

Earl Breon:    00:46:54    There's a lot of things, this will show my nerdy side, I was a big Star Trek fan and  they're talking about tri-level chess on there. We got a lot of people, especially when it comes to these types of issues, they're playing checkers when it's a tri-level chess kind of game.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:47:13    Okay. Yeah, yeah.

Earl Breon:    00:47:15    We need to do some deeper thinking and deeper understanding and that's why shows like Drive On, I've listened to several episodes, haven't listen to every one, but your show Drive On with some of the guests and some of the topics you've talked. It is a great service and I really hope and believe that some veterans have heard that and hopefully made some better decisions because of the information you shared. So, I appreciate you doing that and taking that opportunity.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:47:46    I appreciate that and even for people who are not veterans who are like we're talking about here in a leadership role where they might have veterans on their team, or they might have people who are going through a stressful time, maybe it's grief, or the loss of a loved one, or some other situations that they're going through. The topics that we talk about on my podcast might help bring some understanding to the human side of things and really I'm trying to reduce the stigma around the mental health topics and other things that traditionally, like I know growing up, just suck it up and deal with it and move on with whatever it is that, in some cases, you just gotta suck it up and deal with certain things, but there's other situations where that's not the right attitude to have and there might be a fine line there, but to help people understand what's going on I think is a big goal of mine help people get a better picture of the mental health that were issues that we're facing.

Earl Breon:    00:49:01    Yeah. Well, you said the key thing right there, a few episodes back I had the fortune of interviewing Jason Armstrong, the chief of police for Ferguson, Missouri. And we started talking about mental health a little bit, obviously around race issues and all that. And he told me they had an officer involved shooting. It was a couple of his officers. He was, I think deputy chief outside of Atlanta and they put out a call for mental health services. And he said, the first thing I did, as soon as I got his, I responded to everybody make me an appointment. And he said, the whole point was I wanted my people at my department to see from somebody in senior leadership, that it was okay to take advantage of. And that's what we need more, I believe in the veteran community, we've got a lot of great personalities.

Earl Breon:    00:49:54    We've got a lot of very influential people and some of them are doing this, but we need more to sit back and say, look, you're here. And General Mattis tried this in a way, several years back, but it got taken out of context. The thing is, you're not broken. You're not weird. You're not weak, you're not any of these things you've seen. You've seen stuff that most human beings shouldn't see even exposed the situation that most human beings should never be in. You shouldn’t be ashamed of the fact that you need some help coping with that. And so, we need more people in positions of authority to tell people how to tough it up, suck it up, put their arm around her shoulder and help them find help. That's how you're going to help bring 22 a day down.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:50:50    Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And I I'd like to see that number go away entirely. That's a big number to chip away at, but every number that we can bring it down, everyone that we can bring it down is great. But yeah, you're absolutely right with that.

Earl Breon:    00:51:10    Yeah. I follow a lot of the folks. I think it was Tim Kennedy, Mr. MMA, Mr. Everything. And he even said, you know, I'd be lying to you if I said that there were times in combat where I didn't freeze and get stuck behind a wall because I couldn't get myself to move. Everybody goes through it. You're in terrible situations. And it bugs me to no end when we see other veterans eating our own.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:51:46    Yeah. For sure. And one of the things that I like to do on my podcast is get very personal what it is that I'm talking about. And I'll tell the stuff that's not the pleasant pretty stuff and I'll talk about my own experiences. I'll talk about how I went to go get some counseling after I got back from overseas.  I don't really want to use the term lead by example, but like to show people that it's okay to do that, I've done it and I didn't come out as some weak sissy whatever, like I feel like I came out actually stronger.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:52:29    We talked about this on my podcast too, one of the earlier episodes where it's not selfish to take care of yourself, because if you're dealing with things, mental health issues or any other kind of health issues and you're dealing with these things and you don't take care of them, they're going to end up making it so that you can't do your job, you can't take care of your family. You can't do the things that you need to do. You can't be present for different things. So, it's not selfish for you to go talk to somebody, to a counselor or to focus on yourself for a period of time, because you need to in order to do that, it's kind of like the example of when you get on an airplane and they tell you about the oxygen mask set, dropped down, and they tell you to put your mask on first before helping others.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:53:20    And if you're sitting there flying with kids, you might think, well, I'm going to do anything to protect my kids. But if your kids are scared, now that these things are falling out of the ceiling and they've never seen them, and there are noises that they're not familiar with. And you try to put that mask on them and they're fighting you along the way. You don't end up getting a mask on. Well, both of you are going to pass out and then you're no good to them. You're not going to help them out at all. So, put your mask on first, take care of yourself first, and then you can help them so, that you both don't end up in trouble, same thing in combat, if someone gets shot or is wounded or whatever you don't just run out to go help them as much as you might want to; you take care of security first, make sure that that threat is eliminated. It's out of the way. And then you can go help that person make sure you get rid of that. You take care of security first and make sure you do it quickly but take care of it so that you don't end up becoming a casualty as well. But now somebody else has to go out and drag you out from the danger zone as well.

Earl Breon:    00:54:24    A hundred percent. And you said it right there, when you went, you felt kind of stronger on the backend and the airplane analogy is great. Another one I like to use is, and it's something that most of us in the military know what I mean? You can't tell it, but looking at me now, I've been out for 20 plus years. So, not as lean and mean as I used to be, but before the anthrax issues hit, I was fairly big into bodybuilding. And you know how that process works and anybody who's into lifting weights knows. When you lift the weights, you put a heavy strain on the muscles and you tear and fatigue them, right? And then we know that we need to take supplements to help aid that healing process. So, when the muscles grow back, they're stronger, bigger, healthier. And so, you can do more going forward. Your mind is a muscle. It's the same thing. These things that we went through are putting our minds under immense stress loads. They're getting broken down in a lot of different ways going and seeking help. It's like taking that supplement. You get through there; you can deal with it. Now you understand more of what you can deal with. So, your mind comes out stronger on the other end, and it's not a fluke that you felt that way. That's actually what happened.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:55:30    That's showing that it worked. Exactly.

Earl Breon:    00:55:33    And so, we know this about fitness. We know this about muscle building. We know this about all this good stuff. We just got to transition. Hey, the things that work for physical fitness work the same for mental fitness and see those services, there's the veterans suicide hotline. There's a what is it? 22 kills is another one that's out there. The VA offers a host of services, take advantage of those.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:56:04    For sure. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And that's the best thing you could do really. And if you feel like you don't want to put that burden on anyone else. That's what those people's jobs are. They're there for that; that's what their purpose is. And by denying that, then the ability to help you is kind of denying them their purpose in life. They're there for that. So, take advantage of it; I don't think there's any problem with that.

Earl Breon:    00:56:33    I agree. I agree.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:56:36    Okay.

Earl Breon:    00:56:37    We've been talking here for about 50 minutes or so,

Scott DeLuzio:    00:56:40    Yeah. It seems that way. Time does fly when we get going on some of these topics and I probably could talk about this for quite a while. I think for this episode anyways, it's probably a good point to wrap up. What do you want to give people who are may be listening on my podcast, where they can find out more about your company and what you do and your podcast and everything like that. So, if they want to tune in, they can find it there.

Earl Breon:    00:57:07    Sure. Appreciate it. My company, my partner is an army veteran. We were the Leadership Phalanx. We rely heavily on some of that Spartan iconography there that is so popular in the military. The podcast that I produce is called the Burden of Command podcast. You can find a link to it there on that show. And yeah, if you want to reach out to me, typically on my show, I give out burdened.command, but given what we're doing a [email protected], but given what we're doing here, if there is a veteran, especially a veteran who's listening, but really anybody who's dealing with some of these issues, I'm not going to be able to talk intelligently about combat related stuff because I've never saw it.

Earl Breon:    00:57:59    But I do understand some of these other things that are going on, I'm not a trained clinical psychologist or any of that, but, I could be a sounding board if you just need somebody to bounce ideas off of, or just talk to [email protected] is my personal email address and feel free to hit me up there. And if you need to talk, we can work them in setting up a zoom call or something like that. But, if you're suffering if you're on the edge, reach out to me.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:58:28    Yeah, absolutely. And I appreciate that you're putting that out there.

Earl Breon:    00:58:34    No, absolutely. And for my listeners on the Burden of Command, how can they find your show and get in touch with you?

Scott DeLuzio:    00:58:41    Yeah. So, again, it's Drive On Podcast. You can go to DriveOnPodcast.com and you can find all the recent episodes listed on there. I have them broken out by category. So, depending on what your into what you want to listen to you can check out those various categories and you can just listen to those episodes that are related to that topic, as opposed to chronologically on all social media, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, all those platforms, all @DriveOnPodcast and you can find contact information on the website and where to subscribe and listen to the podcast all right there.

Earl Breon:    00:59:22    And please listeners, make sure you do that for both of us subscribe, rate, review, do all that good stuff. I don't think people who don't do podcasts, they have a hard time understanding how important that really is right with the algorithms. Scott had some great guests every time you rate and review one of those shows it gets them more exposure and same thing on my show. So, please do that for us. We'd really appreciate it for sure.

Scott DeLuzio:  Absolutely. Yeah. That would be a huge help to do that. So, thanks again, Earl for joining me and I'm glad to be able to join you as well. It's a great conference conversation.

Earl Breon:  Yeah, no, absolutely. And thanks for the folks listening and thank you for coming up with this idea. We kind of glossed over it, but just when we were talking to Scott, it's like, well let's do a joint episode. And so, we did this on the fly and I really hope you all enjoy it. And for my listeners really thank you for sticking with us. I hope you enjoyed this format. Definitely let us know. And on my side, I'll just sign off with, I'll look forward to speaking with you again in the next episode.

Scott DeLuzio:    01:00:39    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.

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