Finding Purpose and The French Foreign Legion
James served as a Marine in Fallujah and also was in the French foreign Legion. After his time in the military, he started a nonprofit running sailing trips for Veterans.
James tells us a little bit about the unique life of a Legionnaire, and how he is helping veterans find purpose after transitioning out of the military.
Links & Resources
- SV Chasing Horizon Sailing on Instagram
- James Karp on Instagram
- SV Chasing Horizon Sailing on Facebook
Scott DeLuzio: 00:00:00 Thanks for tuning in to a 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.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:00:22 Hey everybody. Today, my guest is James Karp. James served as a Marine in Fallujah and also was in the French foreign Legion. After his time in the military, he started a nonprofit running sailing trips for Veterans. So welcome to the show, James. Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
James Karp: 00:00:41 Yeah, real quick. I grew up as an Army brat during the Cold War, and then 9/11 hit. And I think the 1% of people my age, we all joined the Marines. It was the first time, third Marines out of Hawaii got to travel the Pacific and we went into Fallujah in ‘04 and we did so well that they let us go into Afghanistan afterwards. I got out for a year and I think like most Veterans, I missed the lifestyle and I wanted to do something different. So then I went into the French foreign Legion. As we'll talk today too, there's a lot of careers I did in between, five years here, four years here, which I just found great for Veterans, because I think as a Veteran, you need to find something that gives you meaning and it's challenging, but it's also cool.
James Karp: 00:01:31 I want to hit on that because I've actually never said it out loud. I'm thinking about it when we joined the Marines, we joined the military to find something cool. We get out and I think it's a search to find something cool again. And those civilians I've met were civilians that were working a job. It was no discredit, but it was mundane. It was nice. It was nice, not easy, but very vanilla, but those are the same people, not all civilians, but there's certain people that liked that job. They don't want to do anything outside that job. And I found that sometimes the challenge is Veterans were going into those careers where there was no meaning, no action and not being as happy in life. So different careers I've found; I love promoting. And then obviously now that I'm in Miami, we've got some sailboats out here and we've got some good people that are providing dive lessons and opportunities to get out on the water and do other things besides sit on the couch, drink and post on Facebook.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:02:33 And you're absolutely right. There's a lot of Veterans who get out of the military when, no matter what branch they're in, you're in the Marines, but any branch I think is going to be similar where they get out of the military and they just don't feel that fulfillment or that sense of purpose or belonging in the civilian life that they get into. So I'd like to talk a little bit more about that and see what your thoughts are on finding that sense of purpose and belonging after the military and what it is that you did in those various transitions after the military. That would be something cool to talk about too. But I want to jump into the French foreign Legion a little bit. It's definitely something that has a little bit of mystery around it; it's one of those things that you've heard about. I think everyone's heard about it, and you don't really know too much about it. It's just like one of those organizations that's out there and what is it all about and what made you want to join the French foreign Legion?
James Karp: 00:03:43 I saw a movie on TMC when I was a kid. I can't remember it, but these four brothers joined, went to a random Army, then went to the desert and there's just something romantic. My degree is in history and you just find story after story of men and women, obviously something gets in an itch, they get on a boat or plane and they just go do something crazy. I think the people that joined and for France it started as a way where the economy was so bad, and this is in the 1830s, you had people migrating to France looking for work. After revolutions and France had an empire needed to maintain and losing foreigners is a lot easier than losing citizens. And so I think it started out as just a way to get rid of immigrants, not get rid of immigrants;
James Karp: 00:04:31 that's rough. Provide opportunities for immigrants and also politically have an army that doesn't have so much baggage when there are issues and it's a lot easier to lose the name. And I'll say it's a lot easier to lose an immigrant than it is a citizen. I mean, that was the time where colonialism didn't have a negative connotation than it has today. So that's kind of the history and I'm not a historian on the Legion, just what I've read. It's always been a place where people can go and disappear as well. One of the traditions is you get to change your name and you see it grow and decline with Francis' influence. So when I got in, I want to say it was only a 9,000 man unit, which is important to
James Karp: 00:05:22 always remember because sometimes smaller is better, but sometimes smaller limits your facilities and your training operations. And I was only in for a limited time. I did about a year and then I decided to leave and you're actually able to leave after a year. When people talk about it...I don't want to rag on it. First of all, I want to say to anybody that wants to join the French foreign Legion, look it up, have a three-week plane ticket with a return ticket; if you don't make selection, go to Paris, go to Fort de Nogent, I think, and the taxi will take you there, don't do drugs, they will drug test you and be in shape. The better in shape you are, the better chance you have; bring your discharge papers. Those do help.
James Karp: 00:06:10 There's a selection process. And the sad part is sometimes it's not that you can't make it. It's just, there's limited space. Your 9,000 men, they can't take everybody that comes every year. The selection part is always just a crap shoot. I don't know how it works. There are men that I saw with time in the Spanish Legion that didn't make selection. And I saw kids from Poland with no military experience come in. The Legion needs you to stay for five years. So my experience there was that the men that had limited military training before they went in, did better. Because there weren't any standards they were used to. The Legion is what the Legion is and getting in it, that's the way it is. Because when I got out a couple of my commanders, everybody kind of reached out and heard what I had done and wanted to know what it was like. I said, you'll never appreciate how hard the American military is till you go to a foreign military and actually enlist.
James Karp: 00:07:11 I think it's when we work with foreign militaries, they're always going to, when two militaries get together, it's a pissing contest. So the first time I went and worked with ROC Marines. Well, ROC Marines, I've heard, are pretty solid, but like any other militaries, they're going to send you their best guys. And everybody's going to train for that month and you're going to see the best of the best and everybody's going to show off. But the reality is when you get to the actual unit yourself you're going to kind of get a better insight of what's happening. And my experience was it was a lot of waiting around, which is normal in the Army. When you do get selected, you go to the farm and it's just not a boot camp, you go to the farm.
James Karp: 00:07:50 There's like a select thing. They need you to learn how to March real quick, which isn't that hard, they are constantly teaching you French. And then there's just a lot of Garrison duties. It was limited fill time, but hazing and that instructional training you got in the Marine Corps, I just never saw because they don't have a dedicated cadre of instructors. And the way it was was they were just pulling in select and corporals and sergeants to come back to the fourth regiment, fourth regiment’s where you train. So it was like, Hey Sergeant whatever, incorporate whatever this is your squad, don't let them dessert. Was there hitting and slapping? I mean, yes, but my experiences and from Marine Corps boot camp to the French foreign Legion is I'll take a slap in the face before I have to go spend 20 to 30 minutes in a sandpit, right.
James Karp: 00:08:45 It was quick and easy. And then moved on. They tried to starve you and the French found out because the Royal Marines and the world para or the British Perez, we kind of work together. We didn't starve, this wasn't our first rodeo, right? There's only one man with Firewatch, we'd wake up, we'd break into the chow hall and we'd eat bacon gravy. It became a problem because as all the other Europeans were starving a little bit, we were getting a little fat on the neck. They give them, the French love their bread, so any bread that doesn't get eaten that day, it goes to the horses. Well, I'm an American, I'll eat the fuck out anything. I'll just go and steal from the horses. I always tell this story because when he got back to the fourth regimen, I got put on duty to work for, every company has a bar and with the officers who come in are very French.
James Karp: 00:09:45 Everybody has their coffee and at lunch, maybe a wine at the end. And I got to work at the bar; one day, the noodle salad was one day over and they told me to throw it in the back of a dumpster. So I grabbed it. It was a man sized dumpster, and I'm in the back and heck I'm from Texas. So I start scooping the shit out of it, eating it. And this Sergeant walks by, he doesn't know the situation, but he does know I'm an American. He sees this American eat noodle salad out of the dumpster, but <inaudible speaking in French> when you're traveling as an American you're the representative of America. So if that person only meets you, that's all they know about America. Now, somewhere in the world, there's a French Sergeant that will tell people, all he knows about America is he's seen them eat noodle salad out of a trash can. And if you meet that guy, it was me. USA.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:10:44 That's a proud Representative of America right there.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:10:49 It’s gotta be interesting serving with people from all over, because my understanding is the French foreign Legion takes people from all over the world. It's not necessarily just Western countries or anything like that, but they take pretty much anyone from all over. You get a lot of mixed backgrounds coming into different varying levels of military experience, like you said, and different cultural things. And definitely not very many people, probably eating out of dumpsters while you're there. So it has to be pretty interesting. So, I'm glad you got to talk a little bit about that because I'm sure some of the listeners would be pretty interested in hearing about what that process was all like,
James Karp: 00:11:38 The thing is you get a fake name and then when you get out, it's really hard to track out what you did. So you guys can get out and embellish stories. And that's in our military too. The kills go up, the action goes up but I got out and I said, I stick to it. It's a place to, honestly, the people that have the best success, were people that came from no countries that weren't really caring about a military, but they could get in, they got a paycheck. I mean, I knew a Polish guy. He would just sit on his bed, not spend any money. He didn't care. He knew for five years, all this money was going to go back to Poland. He was going to go back and start a business. He didn't care about being in the military. He didn't care about shooting a weapon.
James Karp: 00:12:15 Those guys were the ones that did, but they do serve, they aren't dying in Mali. They were dying in Afghanistan at the time nobody was deploying. And that was my downfall as I was looking around, I was meeting guys, coming back from the regimen and everybody was telling me why you're doing what you do here, but in Southern France. And I'd already had a taste of purpose in the civilian world where that freedom of you can operate with that Marine mentality, but with more freedom. And once you've tasted that and started going business and done things to go back to the military and start over again and not doing anything. I mean, when I talked to the Colonel, we all talked to the Colonel because they did not want us to go to Seville. I said, you gotta keep me busy.
James Karp: 00:12:58 For three weeks we were just sitting around. I was begging to work at the chow hall just to do something, to have some purpose. So if people are listening, I'm not saying don't join, go join, but be prepared to stare at a wall for three weeks. I don't think it was better than the old Legion. I think this has always been the legion. It's just waiting around and going to fight. But you're going to clean three times a day and the marching is easy. And then even if you only do it a year, it is fun. I mean, the March through these old antiquated towns and, <inaudible spoken in French>. That's the fun part. Like you have little fun moments, but to do five years of just hanging out, I was like, send me to war or send me home.
James Karp: 00:13:45 I can't do this. I tasted it. I tasted the Marines. I was very fortunate in the Marines. And then when I got in it was blowing and going, we were going straight to Iraq, straight to Afghanistan. The couple of moments I had tasted of Garrison were horrible in the Marines. I was very fortunate. I didn't have to do that. I do want to say this though. Peace time, soldiering and Marining. I don't know if that's a word. I think it's harder because you have to keep up that level. So anybody that's serving right now and is pissed off, they're not in combat. It's a weird thing to say, but what you're doing right now and how you're operating and training is going to save lives in the future. I got to a unit that hadn't been to a war since Vietnam, but we went to Fallujah and we did amazing things because for 30 years or 20 years guys that had an operation, they kept that level up.
James Karp: 00:14:42 Even when it's hard to do, it's hard to go out and pretend like you're in war and the guys that did their job and kept that professional, they saved lives in Iraq. So, if you served from 92 to 96 and you didn't hear a shot fired in anger, you saved lives in Iraq because you kept that level. And I've seen in the Legion where I don't think that level has been kept.
Scott DeLuzio: That's a good point.
James Karp: I know there's guys that don't get to go to combat and they have that guilt; never have that guilt. I say to people that serve, you're always in danger. We lose guys all the time, we lost seven at AAV, you lose them in helicopters, live fire ranges. It's a dangerous job. So yeah,
Scott DeLuzio: 00:15:19 For sure. And that's a really good point of how people, especially between major conflicts, like between Vietnam and desert storm and desert storm through post 9/11 era, where there were not any huge major conflicts that the U S was taking part in, if you let that standard slip, then you're right, you're going to end up losing more lives in the future when those guys that ended up going to war somewhere, because it's probably inevitable, but we'll be in some war at some point in the future. So, you definitely, as a leader, you definitely don't want to let those standards slip and you want to pass on that information, that knowledge that you have from deployments, from training, from everything else that you've experienced in your time in the military, pass that on to the next generation of soldiers so they could pass it onto the next generation so that they're eventually ready to go.
James Karp: 00:16:16 And there's always that question. I think everybody in this service is how I am going to react in a real time situation? And I honestly believe if you're not just a total piece of shit, you'll do well. You can't surrender nowaday. There's no running back home. The way they train now, it always goes back to back in the day, the training was harder. I don't think so. I think the training will only get better. Like, well, we didn't make phone calls. Okay. Now we get to make a phone call, whatever; you've got 19 year olds, 18 year olds that know how to operate a whole system with aircraft and artillery coming in. Now they're in more civil affairs operations. They're smarter than World War II, the greatest generation, but the level of education wasn't there. I don't think they would be able to operate in today's climate.
James Karp: 00:17:07 So guys that are listening to this and never served, I tell you what, if you had a good relationship with your team while you were in, I really believe when the shots got fired, I'd have no doubt you would have done fine. Would you be scared? Of course there's only one case. Well, there was only one case I had seen where somebody cowered out and that's his business. He has to live with that. It was funny because he was a talker and he played games. But when the shit hit the fan, so if you weren't a piece of shit and people liked you, because it's that low. I think that you have the training, that'll keep you alive, but you'll have that love. That'll keep your courage.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:17:51 That gives you the drive. Like you're fighting for the people who are standing next to you or wind in the foxhole or whatever it is, whatever analogy you want to use, you're fighting for them. You want to make sure that they stay alive as much as yourself, you don't want to end up seeing a friend get injured or killed or anything like that.
James Karp: 00:18:11 It was a funny story. I add, I don't want to kill too much time. I'm doing archeology now. I was working with this guy. He's out of college, never been in the military. And we were working on archeology. You go to places nobody's going to, some tough country out here. It's a lot of my infantry skills I'm using again. But we got shot at and a couple of bullets went over near this range because I don't think people were in the area. I know when they're quick and I know when they're close and I told him, get the fuck down. When they did, it was close and he did great. He got down and these Coke bottle glasses got down, eyes wide. And he starts crawling to me. I'm crawling, we crawl out, he's tense and it's all just coming at him.
James Karp: 00:18:52 I was like, you realize you just got shot at. He's like, wow, this is what it feels like. Because like, you feel a good high. And you can just see the adrenaline's going on. So now, you don't have the training, but now you know how you're going to react. You're calm, you follow orders. And we went through, not a lot of people get tested like that. And you could see them. So the next day we go back out, we don't go back to that part. We go to a little bit of a safer area, but you're still hearing the cracks and he's flinching. And I start laughing at him. You're doing good shell shock Johnny Johnny shell shock. But it was funny; all day he's disappointed, flinching a little bit. And he's like, how long does this last?
Scott DeLuzio: 00:19:30 It could be awhile. Wow. Well, let's switch gears a little bit. Let's talk about the sailing club that you have for Veterans and the things that you do with that. What's the purpose behind it? And what do you do with the Veterans with the sailing?
James Karp: 00:19:47 I always used to tell people I went to two Wars and then I got divorced. I'm still dealing with this divorce and trying to get my kids back. So now I tell people I've been to three Wars and the third one's been the worst. I mean, it was tragic trying to work these things out. We get back from war and at the end of every movie, you never see what happens. Morality is maybe 10 years down the road, you're going to deal with something again. So I was in Germany at the time. I worked over there teaching English and then went back this time. Anyway, we got divorced, had to leave. I didn't know where to go. I didn't want to go home. And I was bad. I was in a bad zone. So I got on Facebook, got back to the tribe.
James Karp: 00:20:32 A lot of guys reached out and another guy from Bravo, we were in infantry school together. He said, Hey, I'm on a boat in Miami. I want you to come out here. We'll go to sea. I said, fuck it bought a ticket. We flew into Miami. He picks me up, true Marine Corps, fashioned, middle of the night, we get in a boat. We went out to sea and I got this luggage and we're just going out. We were able to go sailing for two weeks down to Key West. I had another buddy that runs a fishing operation, and went fishing with him. I mean, this was perfect. At the time I was drinking again. I had to detox. So before we sailed, I went to the Miami VA to detox which was once again, shout out to the VA for that; I had to get sober again.
James Karp: 00:21:16 When we were talking, he had been in the situation, I was in the situation. We knew other guys in the situation and Sebastian Younger’s book, The Tribe, really hit home. And sometimes we have to come back to the tribe. Maybe not, I'm out there permanently, but maybe not permanently, maybe for two weeks, maybe just for a week, maybe two days because we had gone to the reunions and the reunions were always great. I've only been to one, but every 10 years or every year they do it. But if drinking with the boys for one day or two days is fun and it's important, I'd rather not drink, but what can you do besides drinking as another option and coming out to sail; and especially guys that want to get sober.
James Karp: 00:22:02 They don't have to be sober. We just don't drink on the boat because it is dangerous. There's a lot of ways to die out there if you're dicking around. But if you've been trained in the military and you know what to look for, or at least be on the edge and follow orders, that's the important thing. Followers can have a blast, but you have the adrenaline at the same time. And you go out to these different islands by snorkeling. We've got a diver we know who was in the Navy for 30 years, that gives classes for diving. So we got a couple of guys to go diving. These are the options. This is the club we've formed, we're getting another boat in. And eventually, we want to sail and go grab some coffee and bring it back to the States. That's the end game on it. But right now, logistics, because everybody's working is just getting guys to come out, go for a sail. And it doesn't have to be guys from our battalion; anybody and just kind of reconnecting for that time. And there's something majestic about going, especially when you got the speakers playing the soundtrack to the Vikings.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:23:05 Well, I had listened to another podcast episode that you were on, just kind of prepping for this episode, and you talked a little bit about sailing to go get coffee in other countries. You talked about a sailing trip to Haiti. Is that something that you're looking to do in the future? Is that something you've already done or is this going to eventually be a regular thing where you do this often,
James Karp: 00:23:29 If we want to do it regularly and then we want to do it and we're gonna do it. We're just right now, it's we gotta get this boat down and the timeline pushed it into hurricane season. So, we went, okay, let's do this now. And this is the thing, I challenge anybody to do it, to go form any club. They want to hunt, fish, and sail. We'd like other people to get involved. And if they're on the other side of the country with our banner or not, but just do this, but understand, you're going to have little doldrums where I got to go out to a project in New Mexico and find some artifacts. He's got to go work the rig; another guy's got a good job and so the timelines have been pushed probably six months to a year, but it still happened because we'd come out and we'd go do things. The coffee's going to happen. The more we've looked into Haiti, the more we're looking at Columbia, just because it looked closer.
James Karp: 00:24:33 We're going to do it. I just don't know what country right now. And if we can find some contacts in Haiti, we're going to go too. Hey, I still want to go to Haiti. But the more research we did, Columbia is looking a lot safer right now because nobody wants to die.
James Karp: 00:24:48 Problem is Cuba is 24 hours away from Key West. And I'm not getting political, I don't care what party is in there. But these dingbats would figure out that capitalism destroys communism through trade. Give me my boats. I get out there. In 24 hours, I'll bring you back some solid Cuban coffee sailed by the Veterans and let the magic happen. And it's trade for trade. We want to bring medical supplies anywhere we go. That's another thing we've thought about and realize that's going to be an easier option to bring medical supplies or just clothes to these closed banks where they're just about to be thrown away and bring those out there. That's for free. Then we're buying coffee from the actual farmers. And I've said this on the other pockets.
James Karp: 00:25:34 I can't get greener than selling in a sailboat, buying from an actual farmer that used horseshit and bringing it back to the States. So, right. I mean, because I know companies that slap that little green on there and I've worked for him and Green's a white terminology suit here, but so that's going to happen. It's just like with anything, I'm out here working. I'm like, Oh man, I feel like we've got time. And then the problem is you'll get like two weeks nothing's happening. And then one week, boom, things are happening. And we got two more boats coming in and we've got the diving going. So it comes and goes and just monitoring that wave. It's a good thing, but yeah the timeline I thought would be a lot quicker, but hurricane season now with priority is not losing what we have. So we gotta get everything into the mangroves if one hits and then once we come out of hurricane season, we're going to get rocking and rolling.
Speaker 3 00:26:37 Cool. Cool. So, what was it like in the grand scheme of things? So all these trips, these sailing trips, and,
Scott DeLuzio: 00:26:44 kind of fixing up the boats that you do have and getting them ready to go. How does that all fit into the idea of trying to help out the Veterans who come down and are doing the work and putting the time in with this stuff.
James Karp: 00:27:01 I'm not anti-medication, but medication doesn't fix everything. And the bottom line I've seen time and time again, because I'm not talking out of my ass. I've been up to the crazy house in Trippler; I've been up to the crazy house and the VA and Veteran after Veteran doesn't have purpose, they and sailing. If it's not sailing, fishing, or hunting that these groups are popping up for a reason, not anti-medication, I'm definitely not anti counseling. There's another group I work out of Houston. I joined their sessions via Zoom. These are amazing. I wish we would have had these when I got out. We didn't, it is what it is, but I want these groups ready for the next war. Because we're America, we're not going to stop. You want to be the best, you gotta do it.
James Karp: 00:27:50 We're going to have more Wars, but I want to have a better system where guys are coming out. And obviously the VA is always going to be overloaded. Having areas where they can go get counseling and, and the bottom line, have purpose. Even if it's for those two weeks, when you're back at your job with your family you're going to Viking up with the boys and the girls, whatever they identify as. And you're going to go back out and do something and have that yearly trip. And it's important. I think it's important in relationships too. When I look back at my last marriage, we traveled a lot, but as a couple, and sometimes it's okay for the woman to go out and travel, the man to go out and travel. These are very important, very healthy things. And we want to provide that because then the Veteran comes back to the family a little bit more regenerated and has some stories in his brain as he's working the job to get money. So it's about finding purpose.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:28:50 And that's, I think the key aspect to a lot of Veteran’s transition issues is just that lack of purpose. You identify as a Marine or soldier, sailor, airman, whatever the case may be for so long. And all of a sudden, one day you take off the uniform and you're out and now you don't have that identity anymore. Now you're, I don't know a burger flipper or whatever it is that you're doing now. And you just don't feel that sense of purpose anymore. Like the job that you're doing now, maybe it just doesn't seem to matter quite as much as the job that you did in the military. And so finding that sense of purpose and a tribe, I think you used that word before you know a tribe of people that are like-minded, they have similar interests and all that kind of stuff. You want to find those people so that you can talk to them and be yourself around them. You can't always be yourself at your nine to five job. There's certain standards that have to be upheld and all that kind of stuff. You don't want to be swearing at customers or whatever. So you want to find the people that you can just be yourself around those people.
James Karp: 00:30:14 Yeah. And Veterans, it's not a hall pass to get out and you start yelling at people. I don't remember the military, unless you're some of the best leaders I had to yell at people, the best leaders I had would just say something and make you feel disappointment and motivation. So when I see Veterans coming out and screaming at people, I wonder how they operated in the military because I was in the Marines and infantry and hardcore and all of that. But some of the best leaders were very down to earth, had a mission and we went, they chewed your ass in a heartbeat. If it was a safety violation. But there's that attitude of coming out and being this hard charger, it can be revamped. Also less is more. And the Veterans mistakes I've learned is civilians are going to be curious, but they don't have a right to know everything.
James Karp: 00:31:03 And when I ask you about your service, you don't have a simple answer. If they want to know about combat, I don't think they have a right to know about it. I don't think they have to write down notes. No, I'm very open about my story and I'll tell everybody things that have happened to me. I want the Veteran to hear about it and know that man, you can really push on, hold onto it and you want to keep that memory. But that trauma is also a defense mechanism. Your body lets you know about that trauma because your body doesn't know when that trauma is going to happen again. And it just wants you to be prepared. I use the analogy of a car wreck. I think people that have been in car wreck drive a lot safer than people that haven't.
James Karp: 00:31:41 I thought people that have been in combat are a lot safer than people that haven't. Now that you've got the 1% that gets in the car wreck and then they are always looking for the car wreck. So that's when it's so important that everybody goes to some sort of counseling for everything. Trauma in the Veteran is the trauma. The Veterans don't have the pedestal. They shouldn't have the pedestal as the only people in our society that have trauma. I know people that have been molested, beat raped, and I think as a community, well, I need to know that when you express this trauma, go get help and have pride in yourself, being able to move forward not get over it, but appreciate it and move with it, learn from it and grow.
James Karp: 00:32:24 And just people listening right now that haven't been in combat, if you've dealt with any trauma and the fact that you can get up every day, go to work and find meaning, you're just as tough as a Navy Seal. I'm sorry. But if you've been raped and beaten, I challenge any Navy Seal right now, it's ready to go to buds or be raped and beat let's have it out there right now, but the person that's been raped and beaten and I'm using that extreme, they don't get the metals, they don't get the TV show and they don't get to the workout equipment. But they have to know that man, that's a powerful thing to overcome and don't want it to happen. But I know a lot of tough people that have never served.
James Karp: 00:33:07 And I don't like the divide between civilians and Veterans in terms of who gives more to this country. I know plenty of men and women I've worked with who have never spent a day in uniform that have done so much for this country through infrastructure, construction, transportation, truck drivers. I got a chance to work with truck drivers in logistics and the respect level for these guys went up. The amount of hours in danger they're doing and realize that if I kill a thousand Iraqis, nobody back here, it's not going to do anything for the country. No, but two or three trucks stop. And a lot of people are going to run out of some stuff really quick. When you go back to World War II, grunts sell movies, logistics wins Wars, and the people in the factories are the ones. The reason we won this war, We could send men to the beaches all day, but we had more tanks. So the people at home that aren't serving, you can be patriotic and go to work, paying taxes, not being a shit head on the streets is a pretty cool thing.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:34:07 Yeah. That's a good way to put it.
James Karp: 00:34:09 They're being labeled as the worker and I don't like the worker anymore. It's got too many communist connotations and I'm not left or right. I like the term American builder. And when I say the word American builders, anybody that's providing, going to work and stay in the back of the economy, the American builder and the American warrior.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:34:29 There's no question about that. And there's definitely a place for each of those in society. You need to have warriors, you need to have builders, you need to have people who are contributing to society and both groups of those people are contributing to society and that's a good thing to have. And so even like you said, even the people who haven't deployed or been in combat or whatever, they're still contributing because they're still passing that information on to the next generation who may end up at war. So there's a whole lot of stuff going on there. How has your experience with the French foreign Legion influenced the work that you're doing with the boating now and the sailing trips and things like that. Have you found any kind of correlation between that, maybe even your time in the Marines and the sailing and how all that ties together?
James Karp: 00:35:38 So we dress up in red Caps and blue uniforms, like Steve Zhu from life aquatic. We've been walking them around, right. Miami dressed like that. When we went on a little sea adventure I saw that movie and I said, that's what I want to do. One day. I want to have a crew of cool people, because we do know Marine biologists. We definitely want to if we can use our boats for that too, that's definitely going to be something we're doing. We want to get everybody's captain's license. We got everybody a twic card two months ago to the Coast Guard or a department of transportation.
James Karp: 00:36:12 Love that movie. I saw that movie, and I said, one day, I'm going to do that movie. We do want interns and they will all share a clock. I don't know if you've seen that movie.
Scott DeLuzio: No, I haven't.
James Karp: No, but back to the Legion though, that was one of the things I did love about the Legion is giving an opportunity for men to kind of go away. Men and women, women can't join the Legion, but I was just given an opportunity to go away. Not for five years, maybe for two weeks. There is some romanticism of going to sea, having a bag and just going to hit the ocean. Because for me, the ocean scares the shit out of me. It's not dangerous if you're safe and we want everybody to be safe out there, but it's like hunting or any type of outdoor activity.
James Karp: 00:36:54 It's healthy for the body to get a little adventure in it. You get back home and then you really do appreciate a warm shower. You do appreciate good food and you appreciate not having to worry about a wave taking you over and drowning. So there's things about the Legion I like. I think the Legion is a great idea for America. I think if we're going to continue this route, not to get political, but if we're going to continue our globalist route, that wouldn't be a bad idea for men that have been in trouble to have a second opportunity to go somewhere. That's one thing I did love about the Legion is they didn't ask too many questions. I mean, unless you raped or killed anybody or child molester, obviously you had an opportunity to go over it.
James Karp: 00:37:34 I don't like the legal system now where we just put this wall down and we say, you're screwed, you messed up your life. For me, I get the little triangle hat going when anytime the government just starts making these concrete rules and saying, well, you're done. You're not going to tell me I'm done. It's like, I appreciate the government, but I'm not scared of it. I'm not anti-government, but there are certain things where we've just put these laws down and we cast people out and go on being duped. That's your problem now.
James Karp: 00:38:08 Somebody with no hope is a very dangerous person, a very dangerous person. They are going to come back and commit crime. So I would love to see a program or paramilitary program where convicts were rehabilitated. Maybe some of the addiction that caused this and got them into some federal organizations where either it was into construction or some sort of, you know not adventurous job, but a high adrenaline job where they are giving back to the community. They are wearing uniforms. People know that those guys over there are criminals. What are they doing now where they're getting paid? They have an opportunity to work for this country again and learn some skills instead of just casting them out. I've been in jail too, and I've been to a channel and it's a sobering experience when you meet these people and their cast out and they have no opportunity. They're going to go back to doing drugs. And we saw this with Iraq and terrorism. I mean, I think why Patreaus was so influential in making sure that the youth had purpose; because you can kill terrorists all day. You kill that guy, you kill one guy, his uncle and his cousins are going to become terrorists.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:39:20 So they’re going to pop up in his place. Exactly.
James Karp: 00:39:23 We're 20 years in Afghanistan and it's like, we're not figuring this out. Once again, that goes back down to purpose. You get out, you take away purpose. You're going to have problems without a question. So I'd like to see that one day back to my organization. It's about, there's a little French foreign Legion mysticism of going out for two weeks and doing it. But it also comes back down to that sober activity. I'm not anti-alcohol if you can drink, drink, but if you can't, think about it, it's not the end of the world too. And I found out that the problem with drinking is what do you do after? And the reality is nobody tells you that when you go to meetings, meetings are great, but the more stuff you find, it's so easy to drink and it's more challenging to find something else to do.
James Karp: 00:40:12 I can go to the gas station, grab a six pack of beer. That's so cute. Six packs grab a 24 pack, until the liquor store opens up in the morning and I'll be fine in my apartment, just staring at the walls and the music, but I'll wake up and feel like shit. It's more challenging to find that organization, sign up, ask what you can do. And then save up money or go on that trip. But it's more worthwhile. And I think alcohol has definitely killed the Veteran community because these guys are getting help from the VA. They're not being honest with the VA. They're going back home. They're adding those drugs with the alcohol and they're killing themselves. And then they're blaming the VA. I met too many Veterans that are sitting there boozing every night, blaming everybody else. And I've said this in the meetings, you don't have a right to do that.
James Karp: 00:40:57 And if you want to do that, that's okay, but you cannot go back and blame society or the VA or the war. We've got it. You know what it is to be a warrior. You know what it is to have discipline, you don't have a right to quit. Especially when we're in our thirties. We still got like 20 more years where we can go do some crazy cool shit. There's a team called Team Rubicon, which I've applied to. I haven't gotten any of their missions, but they'll take Veterans to go do disaster relief.
Scott DeLuzio: Oh really? Okay.
James Karp: That's if, I mean, these are the organizations you need to be involved, that you don't have a right to, if you're in 30 years and you're living off of disabled pay, which is whatever but you're missing out and you want something else, it's your responsibility to go out and give back, but you do not have a right to come back and just vegetate for so many years. You're 30, you wanted to live to say 70, that's 40 years of doing nothing. Not saying go back to school, but there's so many programs you can go to in the community and help boys and girls clubs. There's so many things and I've done it to where I sat around for years, just working at a restaurant, which restaurant work is insane. French foreign Legion was hard but waiting tables.
James Karp: 00:42:11 So I challenged every Veteran to go out. If you want to, if you want a good starter, get back to the civilian world, go wait tables for a good year. It really helps you just adjust to society and it gives just great business skills. Uh, anytime I was having to hire people in logistics, I was looking for a restaurant. If you can survive in a restaurant you can do it. You can do anything
Scott DeLuzio: 00:42:33 You can do just about anything and put up with the customers and the complaints and everything else that goes along with it. And I've been in restaurants. I've seen that happen. I haven't worked in a restaurant, but I've, I've seen it just being a customer in there. It happens all the time. So if you can put up with that, you're golden.
James Karp: 00:42:52 Yeah. That's a great transition job, I think. Before we go, I definitely want to talk about some careers I've done that I think Veterans would be interested in. Teaching English abroad. Even if it's for a year or six months, I actually started it without a degree. And I did pretty well because I had learned how to train people in the Marines. So I took English and I treated it like an M 16. Here are the parts. Here’s how we do it. Then we're going to talk shit. And then we're going to go then I'm not tooting my own horn here, but I was pretty successful in it, especially as a Veteran, you've got a cool story. People are interested in you. The trick is not talking too much though. So you get your story out and then you let people tell your story and listen, and you can have a lot of fun and do a lot of good things and meet a lot of cool people, traveling and teaching English abroad, no matter what country.
James Karp: 00:43:37 So I employ everybody to go look at that. Don't look for the money, look for the adventure and then come back. It's a great thing to have on your resume. That definitely helped me in the business world. I did it for five years in Germany and I got to work with all sorts of people. I got stories after stories of doing it. I mean real quick I had a lady and her husband was a Congressman in Azerbaijan and she called me. She says, I can't make the appointment while the policy was like, I got to charge you for the class because of the room. So when I checked with the boss and I said, what's the policy on a country being invaded? And he said, what? He said, well, one of my clients says, she's got to go back to us now to buy John.
James Karp: 00:44:12 Cause then I think Armenia was starting to invade her country. All right, let her go this time. Stories you meet when you're doing this and you're traveling all over Europe. I definitely recommend that to anybody, especially if you can do it for a year and come back. Another one was logistics. I found logistics was very challenging and everything I learned in the military, I was able to do in logistics. I was very successful outside a great company. I worked for Meritex. Another thing is you want to find companies that love America and especially love Veterans. So when I started working for Meritex, it was very challenging, a lot of things were going on. But when you have a company that's opened up to Veterans and loves this country and wants to do good things for this country, it's a good time.
James Karp: 00:44:55 During COVID we had to leave for my wife and go back to Germany, but I would have stayed another 20 years. Just love that company. So find a good company. Just Six is a great one. And then archeology, which I'm in right now. I'll tell you what I've been telling people. If you miss the infantry, look into getting your degree in archeology. Because last week I almost stepped on a venomous snake. The day before we had pythons on the trail, we had to be careful, like I told you before we got shot at that day. You're just trudging through stuff all day, finding very cool things, very cool artifacts and traveling around the States. So these little jobs,
Scott DeLuzio: 00:45:37 Infantry definitely knows how to dig holes. We can do that pretty well.
James Karp: 00:45:43 I haven't been complimented on my holes, but I've also at the same time the other thing with people in the military, any career you go in and go with an open mind. And what I learned in the military helped, but going into that thing, I was digging the holes too quick and too big. And people were like this isn’t helpful. This is actually counterproductive what we're doing and where you have problems as the military is, the ego comes in. Well, I think I know how you better cut that shit out. Military is great for a good background, but every job I've told everybody, every job you come in, come into it with an open mind, prepared to start at the bottom, ask for help and learn their way. Do not freaking argue, act like a private, a motivated private. And you'll be surprised how successful and how well people want to work with you. That's another thing guys come out and they know everything. You don't know shit, but what you learn there is great, but it's not 100% you're going to do what they need. So drop the ego, monitor your alcohol and look for purpose. And if you're going to go online dating, go on Bumble.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:46:49 All right. Well, James, it has been a pleasure speaking with you today, learning about what it is you're doing and what you've done. You've definitely had an interesting past and your background is pretty interesting to hear about. So where can people go to get in touch with you, find out more about getting involved with sailing or anything else that you've been doing right now.
James Karp: 00:47:13 It's easier for people in the Miami area. We're right there, just come up and meet us. But on Instagram, we're on SV chasing horizon at Sierra Victor. That stands for sailing vessel. So SB chasing our eyes. And if you look that up, we're on Facebook and we're on Instagram right now. We're posting pictures so people can see what we're doing and if they like it to come out and that's the best way to contact us at least start following. Because if you can't go for another year, at least know where to come when you can. The big thing is scheduling with people. So stay connected, see what we're doing. There's some cool things we do on the side too. We took some kids from the city out on the boats. We try to do that. We've actually only got to do it once, but we're going to do it again. Because it was an amazing time taking inner city youth on these boats. They never get to go, that's things we want to do on the side when we can. So I hope people follow us. It's not a money thing, but don't let the money, we are interested in people coming out and having fun. So that's where we're at.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:48:10 Awesome. Yeah. And I'll have links to all of those in the show notes. So anyone who's looking to follow can definitely find it there pretty easily and get in touch if you want to help out or join up or whatever the case may be. So thank you again James for joining me and sharing your story and what you're up to. It's really been a great time.
James Karp: 00:48:32 Thank you too. And I love these shows, keep doing them because I promise you Veterans are listening to this and I listened to them and I'm feeding back from you guys. So it's like a big group meeting. Everybody's going to take care of something. So I hope more guys are getting on your show, sharing your story because it's history and future generations are going to know what we did.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:48:51 Yeah. That's something that the previous generations didn't have. The luxury of publishing this type of information in short 30, 40 minute clips or whatever to learn about people's stories and what they did; World War II or Korea, whatever the wars where they didn't really have those things. So it's great that we're able to do that. And thank you again for sharing your story.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:49:18 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 DriveOnPodcasts.com. We're also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at DriveOnPodcast.
Leave a Comment